• Does Torture Work?

    A probe looking at the effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques in the United States military is expected to conclude that the methods didn’t produce breakthroughs. One official familiar with the investigation says they found no evidence that the tactics aided long-term antiterrorism operations. Democrats from the Senate Intelligence Committee have spent three years examining records charting daily operations of investigations to disprove claims by Bush supporters that waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other tactics led to counterterrorism coups. The CIA had began starting to pull back from these techniques before Obama banned them upon taking office.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you believe torture is effective? Why or why not?
    • Should the American military abandon all torture techniques? Why or why not?
  • Watch What You Say on Facebook

    Sergeant Gary Stein will be kicked out of the Marines for Facebook comments he made criticizing President Obama on a page used by Marine meteorologists. He'll get an other-than-honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits, three months before his contract would have been completed. Service members are allowed to criticize political candidates, but not as representatives of the Armed Forces.

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    Discussion Questions:

    • Should Stein be removed for his comments?
    • Should a Marine be allowed to publicly state his views of the President? Why or why not?
  • Death Penalty in California

    One of the largest death rows in the United States may shut down if California voters approve a measure in November that would replace death with life in prison without parole as the state's toughest penalty. More than 700 people on death row would have their sentences commuted if the measure passed. Part of the motivation is financial since the legal process takes so long. Most of the 700 prisoners are more likely to die of old age than by injection, and the 13 inmates that California has successfully executed in the last 23 years cost taxpayers $4 billion.

    Discussion Questions:

    • What are the arguments for and against the death penalty?
    • Do you believe this measure will pass? Why or why not?
  • North Carolina Sentence Overturned

    A North Carolina judge ruled last week that an African-American man who killed a white teenager in 1991 was sent to death row in part because of racial discrimination. The judge ordered that the man be immediately taken off death row and instead serve a life sentence without parole. Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks found that black jurors were excluded from Robinson's trial. His case is the first of many that will likely be filed under the state's new Racial Justice Act, which allows death-row inmates and capital-murder defendants to present evidence of racial bias in court.

    Discussion Questions:

    • What is the goal of the Racial Justice Act?
    • Do you agree with its premise? Why or why not?
  • American Soliders and Taliban Victims

    A solider from the U.S. Army released photos this week of soldiers posing with the remains of Afghan suicide bombers. The soldiers are smiling and appearing to be enjoying their clean-up duty. Defense Secretary Panetta has apologized for the actions while President Obama has requested an investigation into the photos.

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    Discussion Questions:

    • What punishment should these troops face?
    • What impact do you believe the photos could have on American war efforts?
  • The Romney Family Pet

    Animal rights have been an ever increasing topic of media and public skepticism. This week, Mitt Romney found himself in potentially hot water after admitting he used to travel with their family pet strapped to the roof of their car. As would be expected, this admission has led to many negative perceptions.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should this issue impact Romeny's candidacy? Why or why not?
    • In what ways could this impact perceptions of Romney?
  • Romney and Women

    Mitt Romney has long been presumed to have a problem with female voters--especially when considering economic issues. Recently, a spat between Hilary Rosen and Romeny's wife, Ann, has drawn even more attention to potential gender gaps in results. Rosen publicly claimed that Romney, a stay at home mom, had never worked a day in her life.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should this issue matter in the presidential race? Why or why not?
    • What does this spat tell us about women and politics?
  • Obamaville?

    Rick Santorum has launched the first dramatic attack against President Obama in the 2012 campaign season with the first of eight ads entitled "Obamaville." The ad is quite negative and plays on many current American fears.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you believe this ad is effective? Why or why not?
    • Is this ad too negative? Why or why not
  • North Korea: The Next Nuclear Threat?

    South Korean intelligence officials have warned that the North is preparing a nuclear weapons test to follow its long-range missile test. North Korea is reportedly preparing a site, where nuclear tests were held in 2006 and 2009, for a third demonstration to come after the missile test. The 2006 and 2009 tests put an end to an agreement reached in 2005 for the country to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Japan has already prepared its missile-defense system in response to the these actions.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Is North Korea a nuclear threat?
    • How should the U.S. respond to this latest North Korean possible action?
  • Race in America Today

    John Derbyshire, a write for the conservative National Review, has come under fire after he wrote a column for Taki’s Magazine. Derbyshire wrote that white parents should advise their children not to attend “events likely to draw a lot of blacks” and that the “mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites.” White parents should give their children this advice, Derbyshire writes, because it “may save their lives.” Derbyshire has since been terminated.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should Derbyshire have been fired? Why or why not?
    • Do you believe America still suffers a problem with racism?
  • Private Golf Clubs: Females Stay Out?

    Each year the Masters rolls around, the Augusta National Golf Club is forced to ask why it has no female members. The club, which claims it does not "talk about [their] private deliberations,” has recently been scrutinized because one of its three tournament sponsors, IBM, has a recently appointed female CEO, Virginia Rommetty. The past four male CEOs at IBM have all received member invitations.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should private clubs be forced to include members of both genders?
    • How do you believe women could best protest the decisions of members at Augusta?
  • Obama Maintains Confidence with Healthcare

    Despite a rough time before the Supreme Court, President Obama remains confident that his healthcare plan will be found constitutional. Recently, he has reminded the justices that they are an “unelected group of people,” and said he could not see them taking the “extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” Yet the outcome will not be determined till the judges rule sometime in early June.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Is Obama's criticism of the Court fair? Why or why not?
    • How do you think the Court will ultimately rule? Why?
  • Time to End the Penny?

    Canada has recently decided to eliminate its penny in the next few months--calling the coin nothing but a nuisance. "The penny is a currency without any currency in Canada, and it costs us 1.5 cents to produce a penny," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said. He went on to say that during a Senate committee hearing last year, not one witness said the penny should be spared, and that New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden and other countries have transitioned to being penny-free. Many Americans would like to see the U.S. follow suit.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Why should the United States keep the penny?
    • Why should the United States eliminate the penny?