• Hurricane Sandy is Coming

    In a New Jersey weather service bulletin issued Sunday ahead of Hurricane Sandy, officials used some unusual language to try to convince those at risk to evacuate: "If you are reluctant ... think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive," the bulletin read. Meanwhile Sunday, President Obama declared New York and Washington D.C. in a state of emergency, as he and Romney both canceled campaign trail events due to the storm. As New York City begins to shut down all buses and trains, Washington D.C.—which has a flood warning—also announced it would shut all Metro service for Monday.

    Hurricane Sandy, which is already rearing her head in the form of flood waters in New York and Virginia, is expected to turn inland on Monday and really hit during the evening, and on Tuesday morning. As of 8 p.m. Sunday night, the storm was about 485 miles southeast of New York City, moving at 15 mph with 75 mph winds. Thousands of flights have already been canceled in preparation for the storm, as major airlines and airports halt all travel. Forecasters say the worst-case scenario has the metropolitan area of New York getting up to 11 feet of flooding.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Is our country prepard enough for natural storms? Why or why not?
    • Should the federal or state governments be tasked with recovery? Why?
    • Should responders have to serve those who refuse to evacuate? Why or why not? 
  • A Key Endorsement?

    After almost 40 years of endorsing Democratic candidates, the Des Moines Register has switched its tune and announced Saturday it’s going with Mitt Romney. With a “vigorous debate over this endorsement,” the Register decided Romney was more adept to pull “the economy out of the doldrums.” The editorial explained that “Romney has made rebuilding the economy his No.1 campaign priority—and rightly so.” So far, 18 newspapers nationwide have backed Romney, while 23 have come out in support of President Obama.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Why is this endorsement important?
    • How do you think it will help Romney?
    • How do you think it could hurt Obama?
  • Bank of America Sued by the Federal Government

    Federal prosecutors hit Bank of America with a $1 billion lawsuit Wedesday, accusing the bank of mortgage fraud that contributed to the housing crisis. Bank of America became entangled in the scheme—known as “High-Speed Swim Lane” or “Hustle”—when it purchased Countrywide Financial in July 2008, just as the economy was slipping into recession. Countrywide, a mortgage lending giant, was already known for approving risky loans when it introduced its “Hustle” program to churn out more loans, effectively eliminating a system that ensured the mortgages were being made to buyers who could afford them. A top U.S. attorney said the bank’s fraud was “spectacularly brazen in scope.”

    Discussion Questions:

    • Why did the U.S. government sue Bank of America?
    • Do you agree with the suit? Why or why not?
    • Should Bank of American be blamed in this case? Why or why not?

     

  • Third Parties Have Their Day

    The third-party presidential candidate debate was tonight in Chicago, with Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson participating. Larry King and Christina Tobin served as moderators, kicking off the night by asking candidates their opinions on the “top two” system of selecting candidates—a method that most, unsurprisingly, opposed. The Democratic and Republican parties are putting a “stranglehold on our democracy,” Anderson said, with Johnson labeling Obama and Romney “Tweedledee and Tweedledum.”

    Discussion Questions:

    • How would you describe the debate?
    • Who impressed you?
    • Why do you think none of these candidates were invited to debate President Obama and Governor Romney?
  • The Gender Gap in 2012

    The margin between female and male voters is nearing a record high this election. Polls find that if only women voted, President Obama would take the election with at least the margin of victory he had over John McCain. While if only men voted, Mitt Romney would easily be in the Oval Office. The largest gender gap was between Bush and Gore in 2000, but with polls showing an average of an 18-point gap, this cycle could provide the biggest split between the sexes yet. Many wonder, however, if Romney can close the gap.

    Discussion Quqestions:

    • Why do you think we may be seeing a gender gap?
    • Do you think Romney can overcome the gender gap?
    • What advice would you give Romney to overcome the gender gap?
  • Hillary Clinton Takes the Fall for Libya

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assumed full responsibility Monday for the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya on Sept. 11 that claimed the lives of four Americans. The blame game is over. “I want to avoid some political gotcha,” she said in an interview Monday with CNN. She confirmed Vice President Joe Biden’s controversial claim that the White House didn’t know that there were requests made to enhance security in Benghazi, saying that those requests were handled exclusively by the State Department. She said that the mission now is to ensure it never happens again: “We can’t not engage. We cannot retreat.”

    Discussion Questions:

    • Why do you think Clinton made this announcement?
    • Wll this help Obama? Why or why not?
  • Romney v. Obama, Round 2

    Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama surrounded themselves with debate coaches this weekend as they prepared for their second encounter. The president in particular, whose first debate appearance was widely criticized as moribund and lackluster, was said to be honing his linguistic cutlery with advisers at a resort in Williamsburg, Va. “Governor Romney has been making pitches all his life,” said Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki of the president’s opponent. Obama missed prep sessions before the first debate, in several cases because of the assault on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

    Discussion Questions:

    • What advice would you give to President Obama going into the debate?
    • What adivce would you give to Governor Romney going into the debate?
  • The Potential VPs Square Off

    Forget their performance at Thursday night’s debate—do the candidates have any regrets about this campaign overall? “There are things that occurred in this campaign—in every campaign there are things we regret,” Biden said. “[But] my record stands for itself. It’s all about the middle class ...The president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled. Until they have a clear shot ... peace of mind. Until they can turn to their kids and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be OK.’ That’s what it’s all about.” Ryan responded with a much more rehearsed-sounding closing than Biden, saying, “Romney and I want to earn your support. We’re offering real reforms. Romney is uniquely qualified to get this job done ... The choice is clear.”

    Discussion Questions:

    • Who do you think won the debate? Why?
    • What do ou believe is the point of vice presidential debates?
  • A Twitter Error

    Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, will no longer contribute to Fortune and Reuters. Tuesday’s announcement comes following widespread mockery of Welch’s Friday Twitter comments that “these Chicago guys” (Obama) may have manipulated Friday’s jobs report to get the unemployment rate below 8 percent. In an editorial for The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, Welch reiterated his suspicion of the "implausible" numbers, and compared the fallout from his comments to living in a Communist country. He did have one regret: "If I could write that tweet again, I would have added a few question marks at the end."

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should Welch have quit? Why or why not?
    • Why do you think the comments gained so much attention?
  • Alabama Student Shooting

    He was unarmed. A University of South Alabama police officer shot and killed a naked student who repeatedly confronted him. The officer was investigating a banging on a window of the station when he found an 18-year-old unclothed man acting “erratically” Saturday morning. The student ran at the officer several times before taking a bullet to the chest. An investigation into the tragedy has been launched.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Was this excessive force? Why or why not?
    • How do you think the media should present this story to not sway public opinion in the matter?
  • Debate One To...

    Barack Obama and Mitt Romney butted heads over their plans to tackle the deficit, talking taxes, small business and government subsidies in Wednesday night’s debate. Romney had a quote-worthy moment when discussing cutting subsidies to government programs: “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” he said. “And I like PBS. I love Big Bird!” (Big Bird later responded on Twitter “WTF Romney?”) Obama chided Romney’s definition of a small business, saying under it someone like Donald Trump would qualify “and I know Donald trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything.” Romney, typically unemotional, got heated at one point, telling Obama that his promises weren’t good enough: “You’ve been president for four years,” while Obama said Romney’s “big, bold idea is ‘nevermind.’ Most Americans indicate they believe Romney was the winner.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Who do you think won the debate? Why?
    • Do you believe debates matter to voters? Why or why not?

     

  • Manufacturing Grows!

    Finally, some good news. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of manufacturing activity grew this month, following three months of decline. The index came in at 51.5, beating 49.7, the consensus expectation among economists surveyed by Bloomberg. A number greater than 50 indicates overall expansion. The rest of the world’s manufacturing is still shrinking: euro-zone manufacturing has contracted for 14 straight months, while China’s has fallen for 11 consecutive months.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Why do you think manufacutring jobs have increased?
    • How will this impact the presidential campaigns?