So, what did the big guy actually say? These four multimedia resources help sort through the nitty gritty of the president’s speech. Continue reading
A collection of embedded short news clips, animations, commentary and original videos
Disclaimer: This is a video produced by the White House, not an independent source.
Change is a–coming to the president’s Cabinet.
As President Barack Obama prepares for his second term in the White House, he’ll be joined by a handful of new faces to help guide him through the sausage factory we call government. The Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads (or “secretaries”) of 15 executive agencies, each of whom helps advise the president. PBS NewsHour Extra lists a good description of each position (you know, in case you’re looking for a new job).
It’s pretty common for a president entering a second term to switch up his Cabinet a bit. Of course, whether the departing Cabinet member has chosen to leave or was told to get packing is not always clear.
Each new Cabinet member is nominated by the president, but most need to be confirmed by a majority vote of the U.S. Senate. The practice of picking Cabinet members dates back to America’s first president, George Washington, who had a four member Cabinet that included Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War and Attorney General. Continue reading
Wait … Californians actually voted to tax increase their own taxes?
Get outta here!
Like most Americans, California residents don’t look too kindly on the notion of raising taxes. In fact, voters have rejected statewide tax measures the last seven times they’ve been on the ballot!
So in many ways, it’s pretty miraculous that on Tuesday 54 percent of California’s electorate approved Proposition 30, which temporarily increases sales tax for everyone by a quarter cent and raises income taxes for those making over $250,000. The measure, which Governor Jerry Brown crafted and threw himself behind, is expected to raise about $6 billion a year and prevent massive cuts to the state’s already beleaguered public education system.
Here’s how it’ll affect you:
Brown staked much of his political reputation on winning what became a bitter, hard-fought, and incredibly pricey fight; both sides waged a relentless ad war, collectively spending more than $120 million.
“I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?” Brown told supporters at the victory party late Tuesday night. “Well here we are. We have a vote of the people – I think the only place in America where a state actually said, let’s raise our taxes for our kids, our schools, for our California dream.”
And he was right. In a state where voters haven’t approved a tax hike in almost three decades, the very real threat of huge cuts to education appears to have actually resonated with voters.
The consensus seemed to be: “Yes, taxes suck, but some things are just too important to lose.”
The temporary nature of the tax, also, likely made the measure more palatable to voters.
Interestingly, it was younger voters who turned out in force on Tuesday in support of the measure. Voters ages 18-29 – who Brown and his campaign targeted – made up almost 30 percent of the electorate and were critical in pushing the measure through.
It’s been a long, hard slog, but the presidential race is finally coming to a close (back to good ole’ dish detergent and cereal commercials!). And for young people especially, the outcome could have a huge impact. There are some vast differences between what another four years of Democratic President Barack Obama will look like and a Republican Mitt Romney presidency.
So yes, it matters! Continue reading
On November 6, California voters will decide whether the state should revise it’s tough-on-crime three strikes law. If passed, Proposition 36 would reduce sentences for second and third strike offenders. Opponents of the measure warn that doing so will lead to an increase in violent crime. San Francisco State University film students Owen Wesson, Aaron Firestone, Marine Gautier, and Daniel Casillas took to the road this fall to collect a range of perspectives on a thorny, emotionally-charged issue that questions how best to handle crime prevention and fairly administer justice in California.
In California, felons serving time in prison or county jail are denied their right to vote. So too are ex-felons who have served their prison terms but are still on parole.That amounts to a fairly significant population – many thousands of California residents – who have temporarily lost their right to vote as a result of criminal convictions.
(Most inmates in county jail awaiting trial or serving time for a misdemeanor, or who are on probation, can still vote, according to the California Secretary of State’s voting guide for current and former inmates).
And this raises an important question: is voting a privilege that should be denied to people who commit crimes, or is it an inalienable right? Continue reading
This animation by NPR does a good job showing where the super PACs and campaigns are funneling their cash to buy up airtime for political ads. Forgot California – in the months leading up to election day, it’s all about the battleground states!
Taxes. Not too many folks like paying ‘em, and even fewer understand what they’re actually paying for. In November, California voters will decide on two major competing tax measures – Proposition 30 and 38. The initiatives are both intended to shield public schools from devastating budget cuts, although they each propose to do so in pretty different ways. Deciding which path makes the most sense requires first understanding the basics of California’s tax system. Pretty enticing, huh? Well, before we lose your attention to the latest gripping cat flick on YouTube, at least take a quick look at this animation produced by freelancer Josh Kurz. It’s a surprisingly digestible primer on a topic that’s admittedly pretty freakin’ dry … but one that’s also got some pretty huge real life consequences for almost all of us.
(Scroll down to see another KQED video and detailed summaries on both propositions)
When asked, during the second presidential debate, about their respective positions on assault weapons, both candidates gave only vague responses. Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney offered any indication that they would would push for stronger gun control laws.
In case you haven’t been paying attention for the last, say, 40 years, gun control has long been a thorny issue in American politics, partly because of the ongoing heated debate over how the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted, and partly because of the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying group that has successfully dissuaded ranks of political leaders from pushing for more restrictive firearms legislation. Continue reading