The State of the Union – 11/01/15
With this first edition of The State of the Union, I would like to introduce a new initiative on The Hippo Collective’s Politics section. On a weekly basis, at the end of each press cycle, we will publish a review of the United States’ most important political, social and economic news stories. The aim of this project is to create a dependable, well-researched, news bulletin that can be easily read in time for a conversation at work or a dinner party. We hope you will find this report useful and informative.
Certainly this week’s most followed story regards the terrorist attack which occurred on 7 January, 2015 on the often controversial French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in Paris, France. The attack in which armed gunmen killed 12 individuals including various journalists has raised tension in France as President Francois Hollande raised the national security level. The tragic event brought together individuals on a global scale as they express their solidarity. Of particular note was the response of various national and international political cartoonists who have responded by drawing vignettes in support of the right to freedom of expression.
In the United States, many have addressed the situation including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. Obama stated that ‘the fact that this was an attack on journalists, an attack on our free press, also underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press.’ The President offered assistance to French security forces. Kerry, in a separate time condemned the attack stating that the ‘U.S. “stands in solidarity”.’
On Friday 10, January French armed forces located the gunmen. Two concurrent siege situations developed in Paris and a town north-east of the capital called Dammartin-en-Goele. The attackers were killed by agents. Four of the hostages were also murdered. Three of the suspects are dead with a third still on the run. The final member of the terrorist’s group, a woman, reportedly fled to Syria before the Charlie Hebdo assault. (Information acquired from CNN, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal)
Fractures in the GOP:
On a more domestic note, Speaker of the House John Boehner faced a historic challenge to his position as 25 Republicans (in addition to Democrats) ‘declined to support him.’ More recently Boehner has commented saying he dislikes being criticized as ‘spineless.’ He stated that ‘during my years here when I voted, I have the eighth most conservative voting record in the Congress. And it does pain me to be described as spineless or a squish…’ The events show a great amount of division between members of the Grand Old Party as more reactionary Tea Partiers claim he has excessively compromised with President Obama. Boehner concluded by saying ‘I’m up to the job that I was given.’ (Information acquired from Reuters)
Obama announces free community college plan:
In education news, President Barack Obama took to Vine and proposed making two years of community college free. Students would be eligible given they maintain certain academic standards. A White House ‘fact sheet’ outlined the standards as follows: ‘Students must attend at least half time, maintain a grade point average of 2.5 and make regular progress toward completing a degree, according to a White House fact sheet released Thursday.’ It is estimated that this new program could benefit up to 9 million students. As of yet, the White House has not released any information on how exactly the initiative would be funded but with Obama’s fiscal 2016 report due to Congress on February 2, information is likely to be released relatively soon. (Information acquired from Reuters and Vine.com)
Jeb Bush is considered by many analysts as a major potential contender in the race for the Republican Party’s Presidential candidate nomination. These views were certainly bolstered recently as Bush’s ‘allies’ announced a blitz effort to raise the legally required $100M to seek the title. The strategy is meant to collect the funds in only three months. Bush has already raised $25M in Florida alone over the past couple of months partly due to ‘a nationwide fundraising network that his family assembled over decades.’ The move is seen as an attempt to ‘intimidate’ any potential competition from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and others. Candidates are required to obtain $100M by the end of 2015 in order to be eligible to compete for the candidacy. As time move towards election year the public will finally and definitely know the hopeful contenders. (Information acquired from Reuters)