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Journal Entry #1
An article entitled “Could the government shut down over refugees?” by Deirdre Walsh and Ted Barrett, which was published by CNN on November 19, 2015, focuses on the topical and highly controversial issue of the refugees-related program. Hence, in response to the recent tragic events in Paris, the GOP has drafted a bill that is aimed at suspending the program that would allow Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the USA (Walsh & Barrett, 2015). In turn, the House Democrats and President Obama have made a statement that they would veto such a bill, since they did not see a significant threat to the national security of the country. According to the article, such a confrontation between the two factions of the House and, respectively, President Obama and Speaker Ryan could have a detrimental impact on the work of federal government, unless the two parties come to some agreement. One of the most severe consequences could be government shutdown that most governmental officials have been hoping to avoid.
The essence of confrontation consists in different perceptions of the program, relating to refugees. On the one hand, President Obama and his supporters do not see an essential threat to the national security of Syrian and Iraqi refuges, primarily consisting of children and women (Walsh & Barrett, 2015). On the other hand, Speaker Ryan and the GOP consider that the suggested legislation may be deemed as “a reasonable response to concerns about new attacks” (Walsh & Barrett, 2015). In any case, it is yet to be seen whether the confrontation between two political factions will result in another government shutdown.
Journal Entry #2
Nowadays, the price of prescription drugs has become an extremely topical and widely debated issue in the USA with the overwhelming majority of citizens, calling for some decisive action to be taken by the federal government. This is the main topic of the article entitled “Administration is seeking ways to keep prescription drugs affordable” by Roert Pear that was published on November 20, 2015, by The New York Times. The concern about the price and affordability of live-saving drugs has been caused by an overnight surge in the price of medication against parasitic infection from $13.5 to $750 per pill, produced by Turing Pharmaceutical (Pear, 2015). As a response to this significant price increase and other similar concerns voiced by common citizens facing huge bills and worrying about their future inability to afford necessary drugs, the Obama Administration has begun building a political case around the issue and organized a forum, inviting doctors, lobbyists, insurers, drugmakers, and consumer advocates (Pear, 2015). They have attempted to find a possible solution to the issue, potentially through some governmental action.
However, the article under consideration argues that the Congress is “unlikely to act on the issue in the coming year”, even though some administrative action has to be taken by federal officials (Pear, 2015). The forum has come up with some suggestions, but none of them can be implemented without proper governmental support. At the same time, lobbyists and other stakeholders agree that costs of drugs have to be reduced, since most patients facing life-and-death situations should not worry about prices. Besides, increase in drugs’ prices creates a paradoxical situation when the contemporary medicine comes up with new effective treatments for many illnesses, yet these treatments are not available to people who need them most. Therefore, the issue of prescription drugs has transformed from a private matter of pharmaceutical companies and patients into a political problem that needs to be solved by the federal government.
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Journal Entry #3
Birth control and a respective provision of the Affordable Care Act, envisioning its provision within the framework of health insurance, provided by the employer, have been a topical and controversial political issue for several years now. The issue has been raised to the forefront of national attention when the Supreme Court agreed to accept seven appeals from several religious nonprofits that want to challenge the provision. This topic is covered rather comprehensively in an article entitled “Supreme Court to hear another birth control case”, written by Irin Carmon and published by MNSBC on November 6, 2015. Hence, the Supreme Court has decided to accept appeals in the form of a consolidated group with a view to reaching some comprehensive decision by July of the following year.
The appealing religious nonprofits, like the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged and other, claim that the provision of the Affordable Care Act, relating to provision of birth control means to insured employees violates their right for religious freedom (Carmon, 2015). In turn, representatives of the Obama Administration and other healthcare advocates have expressed a hope that the Supreme Court’s ruling would ensure that employees of all organizations can obtain reproductive coverage, in case they want and need it without their employers vetoing this fundamental right (Carmon, 2015). The future decision of the Supreme Court will add to the long-lasting and unresolved dispute surrounding birth control means and their availability under various insurance coverages.
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Journal Entry #4
French politics and that of the entire European Union are likely to be significantly influenced by the recent Paris attacks, yet it is to be seen in what way, particularly. The article entitled “French politics shifts right after Paris attacks” by Mark Mardell, which was published by BBC on November 19, 2015, focuses on this issue. In particular, the author provides a brief overview of the response to the terrorist attacks, voiced by President Hollande and his major political opponent Marine Le Pen from the Front National (Mardell, 2015). Hence, the initial reaction of President Hollande was quite harsh and implied that France would initiate a severe confrontation with the ISIS with a view to destroying the latter. Although “the sense of a national urgency is no doubt fully justified”, some politicians, like the ones from the FN, claim that it is too late to discuss the terroristic threat (Mardell, 2015).
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