animated_new_years_firewworks

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Winter_Break_by_Meibatsu

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Congress Insiders

Thursday December 20, 2012 – Periods 2, 3, 6, 7

STOCK-Act5   Martha Stewart went to jail for it. Hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam was fined $92 million and will go to jail for 11 years for it. But members of Congress can do the same thing -use non-public information to make stock trades — and there’s no law against it. CBS 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft reports on how America’s lawmakers can legally make tidy profits on information only they know, simply because they won’t pass a law against themselves.

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Gerrymandering

Wednesday December 18, 2012 – Periods 2, 3, 6, 7

gerrymandering2   Today we learned about redistricting and gerrymandering. Then we watched “Gerry-Rigged,” a CNN Presents program on gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a way politicians draw boundary lines for legislative districts in ways designed to keep one party or the other in power in that particular district. In the last 10 years, 78% of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is almost four out of every five members of Congress, did not change party hands even once. In California, with 53 seats, the most in the nation, incumbents were kept so safe that only one of those seats changed party control in the past decade. David Wasserman, redistricting expert for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, says only 20 races for Congress are expected to be tossups in the 2012 election. That’s only 20 out of the 435 seats in the House. “In general elections, it’s almost rigged,” he said. And that may be part of the reason why Congress is so polarized.

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Congressional Members

Monday December 17, 2012 – Periods 2, 3, 6, 7

Incoming-Congressional-Members   Members of Congress, once elected, are likely to be reelected. Members of Congress can use their office to publicize themselves, pursue a service strategy of responding to the needs of individual constituents, and secure pork-barrel projects for their states or districts. House members gain a greater advantage from these activities than do senators, whose larger constituencies make it harder for them to build close personal relations with voters and whose office is more likely to attract strong challengers. Incumbency does have some disadvantages. Members of Congress must take positions on controversial issues, may blunder into political scandal or indiscretion, must deal with changes in the electorate, or may face strong challengers; any of these conditions can reduce members’ reelection chances. By and large, however, the advantages of incumbency far outweigh the disadvantages. Incumbents’ advantages extend into their reelection campaigns: their influential positions in Congress make it easier for them to raise campaign funds from PACs and individual contributors.

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Supreme Court Case Study

Friday December 14, 2012 – Periods 2, 3, 6, 7

Supreme Court Cases  Today we reviewed the stages that a Supreme Court case passes through. We examined the Supreme Court Case Ward v. Rock Against Racism and listened to oral arguments presented in this case and compared it with a regular court case to note similarities and differences in proceedings.

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