Friday, July 3, 2015

Jim Webb Announces Presidential Candidacy

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb announced his candidacy for
the Democratic nomination for President Thursday.
Credit: Inquisitr
Former Sen. James "Jim" Webb (D-VA) announced his Presidential candidacy Thursday, becoming the fifth major Democratic and the 21st major candidate for President.

Announcing his candidacy on his website, Webb acknowledged the difficulty he would have acquiring the nomination, saying, "I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money...But our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us."

Webb, who served as a US senator from Virginia for a single term from 2007 to 2013, also served as the secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. In terms of policy positions, Webb is considered possibly the most moderate of the Democratic Presidential candidates, supporting gun rights and opposing some environmental regulations. He holds mostly liberal positions on economic issues, however, and has criticized Democratic frontrunner Hilary Clinton for her late turn to low-income issues. Webb is also known for his opposition to recent military interventions by the United States, which he clearly displayed with his tense encounter with President George W. Bush over the Iraq War and his son.

Webb has also placed a focus on increasing the Democratic vote share among white, working-class people, especially men, a demographic that has increasingly turned towards the Republicans in recent years.

Webb faces low polling numbers compared to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and her current main challenger Bernie Sanders, who has shown potential for becoming a serious hurdle to Clinton's nomination. However, if Clinton's poll numbers begin to decline and her nomination seems less certain, it could shake up the Democratic nomination and could even open a door for a Webb nomination. As of now, however, Webb's candidacy is still considered a long-shot by most political observers.

Webb faces for the Democratic nomination Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and Lincoln Chafee. If he wins the nomination, he could face already-announced Republicans Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, or Chris Christie. He could also face likely candidates Scott Walker and John Kasich.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chris Christie Announces Bid, Faces Uphill Climb after Fall from Grace

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) announced his candidacy Tuesday
at his old high school in Livingston, New Jersey.
Credit: Richard Perry/New York Times
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced his Presidential run Tuesday at his old high school in Livingston, New Jersey, after making his intentions clear with campaign website a few days before. He is the 14th major GOP candidate running in the 2016 election and the 20th major candidate overall.

Chrisite, known for his blunt manner of speaking, highlighted this approach when he said in his announcement speech,"We must tell each other the truth about the problems we have and the difficulty of the solutions." Christie has been known on occasion to fight with members of the media, hecklers, and others during his speeches and press conferences.

Christie, who became governor of the Garden State in 2010 after defeating incumbent Democratic Governor and former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine in 2009, had high approval ratings for most of his term. After declining to run for the Republican nomination in the 2012 Presidential election against Mitt Romney, he worked to increase his national standing, which was aided when he was selected to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Republican National Convention. He went on to win in a landslide victory against Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono in 2013. He was often cited in the media as the frontrunner for the 2016 GOP nomination.

His fortune changed soon after his reelection when some of his top aides were accused of orchestrating the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which connects traffic from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to New York City, as political revenge against Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee Mark Sokolich, who declined to endorse Christie. While no evidence exists to link Christie personally to the lane closures, his approval rating began to decline after the news broke out, and it has not recovered since. From the scandal and among other things, his current approval rating in New Jersey hovers around 30% in New Jersey, and he faces high unfavorability numbers among voters nationally.

While Christie's campaign may not be starting off with high polling numbers, he hopes to gain support by casting himself as "the straight-talking Presidential candidate." Christie's campaign is hoping to attract voters through his blunt manner and speaking about issues clearly, which Christie hopes will increase his standing and distinguish among the crowded GOP field.

Christie faces for the GOP nomination announced candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, and Bobby Jindal. He is likely to also face Scott Walker and John Kasich.

If he wins the Republican nod, he could face Democrats Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, or Lincoln Chafee. He could also face Jim Webb.

Monday, June 29, 2015

US Markets Have Single Worse Day in Two Years over Greek Troubles

Greece is almost certain to default on its debt as negotiations
between European leaders and Greek Prime Minster Alexis
Tsipras ended without a final deal and rather with a
referendum that will either lead to the Greek exit from the
Eurozone or the collapse of the government led by Tsipras's
left-wing Syriza.
Credit: AMTV Media
The Greek financial system is so vulnerable that all banks and financial markets in the country are closed this week to prevent depositors from withdrawing their deposits, and while runs on the Greek banks are prevented (for now), world financial markets did not escape the brunt of the investor's panic.

Asian markets dropped precipitously when they opened Monday, foreshadowing the drops to be seen around the world. US markets, while not dropping as much as Asian markets, had their single worse day in two years, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 2.0%, the biggest single-day drop since June 2013. Germany's DAX index fell 3.6%, the Nikkei (Japan) dropped 2.9%, and the Shanghai index dropped 3.3%.

The panic is due to Greek's financial troubles and the perceived improbability that the country will be able to remain in the Eurozone. With the a Greek exit (called the "Grexit") possible and the fact that Greece will be unable to pay off its debt and default, leading Standard and Poor's to downgrade Greek bonds to "junk" status and give a 50% possibility of the "Grexit" happening.

In addition, the closing of the banks and markets in Greece could lead to an economic decline in Greece as the economy will slow down dramatically this week. In addition, the Greek government will likely be forced to print the old Greek currency, the Drachma, following the possible "Grexit."

On July 5, a national referendum will determine whether the Greek people will accept further austerity measures in order to prevent further economic instability and further debt default. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza-led government are pushing for a no-vote, which would lead the "Grexit." However, recent polling shows the "yes" vote leading the "no" vote, a result likely to lead to the collapse of Tsipras's government.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day of Terror: Three Terrorist Attacks Shake the World

UPDATE 6/26/15 7:59 CDT:

Somalian terrorist group al-Shabaab attacked an African Union base in Somalia, killing at least 30. The militant group has claimed to be in control of the base and the surrounding area, though that has not been confirmed.

Read more:

Today was a sorrowful day in the Middle East and France, where three terrorist attacks, all believed to have been perpetrated by Islamist terrorists, with two attacks linked directly to the Islamic State terrorist group (often called IS, ISIS, or ISIL).

The attack in Kuwait, a bombing targeted at the Shiite mosque Imam Sadiq Mosque, was the first terrorist attack in the small oil-rich country in over twenty years. The attack occurred during a crowded prayer time and was perpetrated by an IS-affiliate, Najd Province. The same group had committed attacks in Saudi Arabia in May, killing 26. This attack killed 27.

In the attack in Tunisia, a gunman opened fire on beachgoers in the resort town of Sousse at the Hotel Imperial Marhaba. The terrorist killed at least 39 people while also injuring at least an addition 39. He acted alone and was killed by police after he committed his act of violence. IS claimed responsibility through their social media outlets. 

The third attack, near Lyon, France, is less cut-and-dry. The attack occurred at an American-owned energy plant, Air Products and Chemicals, in which a terrorist caused a chemical explosion at the plant, inuring two. A another man was found to be decapitated with his head on a fence post. A banner containing an Islamic profession of faith seems to tie the attack to Islamist extremism, and the attack may have been linked to calls from IS for Muslims to commit attacks during the month of Ramadan. The primary suspect in the attack, Yassine Salhi, has been apprehended.

As all these situations are still developing, some details may not be completely accurate. This story will be updated as more details come forth. 

Read more:




Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide in 5-4 Decision

Sketch of Justice Anthony Kennedy announcing the majority
opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex
marriage in the United States Friday.
Credit: Art Lien/SCOTUS Blog
The United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all US jurisdictions Friday in a 5-4 ruling. The majority opinion, written by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, was joined by the court's liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The dissenters, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, all filed separate dissensions.

In the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, Kennedy, writing for the majority, held that same-sex marriage has always been a right under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, in addition, Kennedy wrote about the positive moral dimensions to marriage and that the Constitution did not allow for a ban on same-sex unions “on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex."

The four remaining justices, considered to make up the conservative side of the court, seemed to be unable to agree on a single dissension, hence the four separate ones. The lead dissension, filed by Roberts, contained the quote: "This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be." Roberts's dissent was joined by Thomas and Scalia, while Scalia's was joined by Thomas, Thomas's by Scalia, and Alito's by Scalia and Thomas. 

The ruling was greeted with joy by backers of same-sex marriage, while opponents greeted it with differing opinions, from disappointment but resignation to dismay and vows to keep fighting the decision. The four Democratic Presidential candidates for 2016 all praised the ruling, while GOP candidates had differing opinions. 

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, citing his Catholic faith, criticized the ruling but did not call for attempts to amend the Constitution to reverse the ruling. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called for a Constitutional amendment to allow states to enact gay marriage bans, a similar sentiment to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum both vowed to not resign themselves to the ruling, rather promising to continue to fight against same-sex marriage in the United States. Sen. Lindsey Graham, in contrast, called for the Republican Party to drop any attempts to oppose the ruling, a sentiment similar to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.