CNN – Nov. 30, 2012
President Obama on a visit to a Pennsylvania toy factory warned of a “Scrooge”-like Christmas if Congress does not pass a bill to extend tax cuts for 98% of Americans and avoid the fiscal cliff. The visit and speech were a part of Obama’s campaign to develop public support for his efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff and the tax increases and spending cuts that are associated with it. If the cliff is not avoided, Americans can expect to pay upwards of $2,000 more to the government. As of early Friday night, no talks were planned between congressional leadership and the White House to avoid the situation and both sides seem to have reached a stalemate in debating the matter.
New York Times – Nov. 30, 2012
Israel has decided to move forward with the development of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem, defying the United States government with a program that is seen as very detrimental to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The announcement that the Israeli government would begin plans with the development and zoning of the project come after the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of Palestine as a state. Senior White House officials said the actions were “unhelpful” and remains behind their stance that there should not be any development of housing in the East Jerusalem region.
BBC News – Nov. 30, 2012
Tens of thousands opposed the new broad powers given to Egypt’s new president, which were announced last week, gathered in Tahrir Square, hours after the new constitution was approved. The Muslim dominant constituent assembly finished voting on the draft on Friday. The draft will then be sent Mr. Morsi, who will potentially call a referendum. The Supreme Constitutional Court will rule on Sunday if the assembly should be dissolved. An emergency decree issued last week said any authority could not revoke Mr. Morsi’s decisions, including the judiciary, until the new constitution has been ratified and a fresh parliamentary election is held. It also was noted that the courts could not dissolve the constituent assembly. Mr. Morsi said that he would give up his extraordinary and controversial powers once the new constitution is approved by a referendum.
USA Today – Dec. 1, 2012
The US economy grew 2.7% in the third quarter this year, which is more than what was expected. The growth is believed to be caused by greater strength in exports and inventories as well as an increase in housing investments. The numbers were revised after their original estimates of 2.0% growth were determined to be too low. While it was deemed a victory by President Obama, details of the report still have economists worried because of expected slower growth in the fourth quarter and decreasing investment in technology and software industries.
Reuters – Nov. 30, 2012
Mexico’s new incoming President named his close allies to head finance and interior ministries on Friday. He faces many challenges as he attempts to spark growth in the country and reduce drug-related violence. Pena Nieto was sworn into office on Saturday and is attempting to win over skeptics by staying true to the centrist roots of his political party the Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Reuters – Nov. 30, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court’s nine justices met in private on Friday to consider whether to enter the legal debate over same-sex marriage, but has not announced a decision yet. The high court is deciding whether to review five separate challenges to a federal law that prevents married same- sex couples from receiving federal manage benefits such as Social Security survivor payments and tax exemptions. It is also considering a review of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, narrowly approved by voters in 2008. As early as Monday morning, the court could announce whether it will review the topic. Thirty-one states have passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, while Washington D.C. and nine staves have legalized it, three of them on this Election Day.
Bloomberg – Nov. 30, 2012
Americans unexpected decrease in spending as Superstorm Sandy decreased wages showed that the world’s largest economy is slowing again as lawmakers seek ways to avoid the fiscal cliff. Incomes were little changed last month, but the biggest Atlantic storm to ever hit the U.S. decreased annual wages by $18.2 billion. The outlook for consumer spending is volatile and weak, with risks increasing because of the fiscal cliff. The possibility that lawmakers will not reach a compromise to prevent about $607 billion in tax increases and government spending cuts from taking effect next year raises the risk of decreasing consumer confidence as December deadline looms.
ALJAZEERA – Nov. 28, 2012
China’s government is currently debating loosening the restrictions to their strict one-child policy in urban areas. Due to an increasingly ageing society, it is predicted that by 2050, one-third of their population will be over 60 years old. The possible policy changes have erupted from an increasing amount of forced abortions among women, despite that this action is considered illegal in the country. China’s policy makers must take into account the demographics of the current population and future population in order to effectively implement the gradual changes.
New York Times – Nov. 27, 2012
Syrian rebels recently shot down a military helicopter outside Aleppo, suggesting that the rebels now have weapons with new, more dangerous capabilities. In the past months, rebels have used mainly machine guns, however this recent helicopter downing suggests that the rebels now have access to even more dangerous weaponry. The multiple government airstrikes, occurring in places other than Aleppo as well, have confirmed that rebels have a large and ever-growing stock of heat-seeking missiles.
UM News Service – Nov. 28, 2012
University of Michigan researchers are currently undergoing a detailed study of the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, in society, the environment, human health, technology, public perception, law and policy, and geology/hydrodynamics. “Fracking” is the process in which large amounts of water, sand, and chemicals are injected deep underground to break apart and free trapped natural gas. Gov. Rick Snyder has noted that the state of Michigan will be a partner in U of M’s study and has advocated for their research in being environmentally responsible and leading energy efficiency research.