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    ‘European Union’



    News Round-Up: Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

    Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

    Tensions between Ukraine, Russia, and Western powers continue to escalate; a NJ student suing her parents loses first court battle; Pope Francis says that he could potentially accept civil unions; and a 10-year-old boy is suspended after pointing his fingers in the shape of a gun. Meanwhile, John Travolta speaks out about his Idina Menzel flub on Oscar Night; an emoji version of “Drunk in Love” is taking over the web; and you can see the Oscar selfie that broke Twitter and has the Twitter record for the most retweets ever! 

    - Veronica + Maura

    CRUCIAL

    Ukraine crisis: Western leaders pile pressure on Russia: http://rtvote.com/1ga99e8
    Western governmental powers have begun to threaten Russia with sanctions if their military presence in Ukraine does not decrease. In retaliation, Russia has begun drafting a law that “would allow Russia to confiscate assets belonging to the U.S. and European companies if sanctions are slapped on Moscow.” The European Union will meet Thursday in Brussels, and US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian equivalent to Kerry’s position, in Paris. This conflict stems from the removal of the Russian-allied government and the increase in tension in the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, where a heavy Russian population resides.

    Student’s lawsuit against parents for support loses first round in court: http://rtvote.com/1lyMnEg
    18-year-old New Jersey resident Rachel Canning made news this week for suing her own parents to make them pay for varying expenses: her final semester at her private high school, her living expenses, her legal fees, and her college tuition. Canning says her parents forced her out of her home and made her live on her own and was subject to mental and physical abuse, while her parents say she left of her own accord because she “didn’t want to obey their rules.” A judge refused to hear the request of payment for both the high school and living expenses, but in April, another hearing will be held for other issues presented in the lawsuit.

    Ohio student points finger like gun, is suspended: http://rtvote.com/1fHONbj
    A 10-year-old boy who pointed his finger like a gun and pointed it at another student’s head was suspended by his principal. The other student didn’t see it, but a teacher did and reported it to the school’s administration. The boy, who said he was “just playing around,” had been warned before by the school, Devonshire Alternative Elementary, about pretending to play with guns, as have all the other students; they were also told of potential consequences if they were caught participating in this behavior. 

    Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions: http://rtvote.com/1hMh1X0
    On Wednesday, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage (“marriage is between a man and a woman”), but also hinted at the possible acceptance of civil unions. Pope Francis is the first Pope to even hint at an acceptance of civil unions and is one of the most “gay-friendly” popes in history. Possible changes to the church regarding the women’s role and the contraception ban could also be in the works as the Pope’s first year comes to a close.

    Three children pulled to safety after woman drives van into ocean: http://rtvote.com/1kyfwiB
    A pregnant South Carolina woman, driving a minivan with three children inside, drove into the ocean in Florida. Rescuers said that they heard the children screaming that their mother was trying to kill them. People worked frantically to remove the children and the mother from the waterlogged vehicle. The children, aged 3, 9, and 10, were carried to shore and examined at a hospital before being declared “okay”. The mother walked to shore, dazed, and has refused to talk about the incident.

    CULTURAL

    See the now-infamous selfie that broke Twitter on Oscar Night! http://rtvote.com/1hLqDBZ

    John Travolta’s response to his Idina Menzel flub: http://rtvote.com/1cuhUoa

    The best and worst moments from the Oscars are in! http://rtvote.com/1gakNpt

    An emoji version of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love”? http://rtvote.com/1e1MWP0

    Dancing with the Stars just announced its latest cast: http://rtvote.com/1l14Y8T

    Veronica Barger
    Bio: Veronica is currently studying communications, law, economics, and government at American University in Washington, DC. Originally from New Jersey, she has held an interest in politics since the 2008 presidential election. Being a newly registered voter, she understands how important it is for young people to register to vote and have their voices heard. She looks to spread that message with Rock the Vote.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Introduction to the Euro Crisis

    Monday, June 18th, 2012

    There are 17 nations in Europe that use the euro. Many economists warned when the euro was first conceived that it would not work in a crisis because of the way Europe is structured. The United States is a good comparison because each state has its own government, just as each country in Europe has its own government. But if there is a large housing bubble in Nevada, people can just move to California or Arizona – in Europe, the language and cultural barrier makes it difficult to move to a different country. The United States federal government will also end up taxing California or Arizona more to pay for the increased unemployment benefits and aid going to Nevada. There is no such federal government in Europe; each country sells its own bonds and spends its own money.

    The euro also led to big problems with prices rising in some countries faster than others. Let’s look at a model economy with two countries, country A and country B. The people in country A save all of their money and lend it to country B. The people in country B spend their money and the money they borrow from country A. Prices will rise in country B much faster than in country A. This is what happened in Europe – Germany was country A and the smaller countries, especially Ireland, Greece, Italy, and Spain, were country B. Now, after the financial crisis, prices are much higher in Spain than Germany, and these prices include the price of labor. No companies will move to Spain or start hiring there because labor costs are so high. Only crippling deflation in Spain or higher inflation in Germany can bring costs back in line.

    Why is Europe in crisis? The 2008 financial crisis was worldwide and the primary cause of the Eurozone’s problems right now. When it happened, it affected some countries in the Eurozone more than others. Tax revenue fell as people lost their jobs, and these countries had to spend money in order to keep unemployment down, causing them to take on more and more debt.

    The immediate problem is that some countries, such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal (the PIIGS countries) are paying very high interest rates on their new debt. When countries run deficits – and almost all countries run deficits most of the time – they have to borrow that money from the marketplace. People think that these countries are especially at risk of not being able to pay, so they charge very high interest rates. In return for help in paying these rates, Germany (the strongest Eurozone country) has demanded that these countries drastically cut spending and raise taxes, which looks good in the short term but hurts the economy. This austerity has cut off any economic recovery, and hurts the countries even more because tax revenue continues to fall.

    There are two main scenarios that are thought to be possible: the Euro stays together with much greater integration amongst countries, or the Euro breaks apart in some form.

    If the Euro stays together, there will have to be a massive bailout from Germany and the European Central Bank (their version of the United States Federal Reserve). In order to prevent this crisis from happening again, countries will likely have to integrate further, making the Eurozone look more like the United States, with states sending each other money. Nobody wants the Euro to break apart, but few want this greater integration right now.

    If the Euro does not survive, it is likely that Greece will exit first and go back to its pre-Euro currency, the Drachma. If Greece exits, many investors will expect Spain, Italy, and Portugal to exit, which will drive up their interest rates and force them to exit. The Euro may live on in countries relatively unaffected by the crisis, such as France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland. However, it would be a huge blow to the European economy and to the political stability of Europe.

    David Winegar
    Bio: David Winegar is the Digital Media intern for Rock the Vote. He is a sophomore at Duke University.
    @davidswinegar
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com