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Current Events Issues

november 17, 2021 Sean
current events issues

Index of Current Events Issues

Issue 1: 2020 United States Census

The United States census of 2020 was the twenty-fourth decennial United States Census. Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2020. Other than a pilot study during the 2000 census,[1] this was the first US census to offer options to respond online or by phone, in addition to the paper response form used for previous censuses.[2] The census was taken during the covid-19 pandemic which affected its administration. The census recorded a resident population of 331,449,281, an increase of 7.4 percent, or 22,703,743, over the preceding decade.[3] The growth rate was the second-lowest ever recorded, and the net increase was the sixth highest in history. This was the first census where the ten most populous states each surpassed 10 million residents.

As required by the United States Constitution, the U.S. census has been conducted every ten years since 1790. The 2010 United States census was the previous census completed. All persons in the U.S. age 18 years and older are legally obligated to answer census questions, and to do so truthfully (Title 13 of the United States Code).[4][5] Personally identifiable information is private and the Census Bureau itself will never release it. However, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) could release the original census returns in 2092, if the 72-year rule is not changed before then.[6]

Seal of the United States Census Bureau.svgUS-Census-2020Logo.pngIncrease2020 census questionnaire.jpgCensus buttons and stickers 20200131-9715.jpgFlyers encouraging filling out the census hang at Sure We Can - Brooklyn, NY - 2020.jpg2020 Census Hiring Pamphlet.jpgIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseDecreaseDecreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseDecreaseDecreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseDecreaseDecreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncrease

Issue 2: Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and colloquially known as Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system's most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.[1][2][3][4]

The ACA's major provisions came into force in 2014. By 2016, the uninsured share of the population had roughly halved, with estimates ranging from 20 to 24 million additional people covered.[5][6] The law also enacted a host of delivery system reforms intended to constrain healthcare costs and improve quality. After it went into effect, increases in overall healthcare spending slowed, including premiums for employer-based insurance plans.[7]

Page semi-protectedGreat Seal of the United StatesExcise taxes percentage 2015Congressional Democrats celebrating the 6th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act in March 2016 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.County By County Projected Insurer Participation in Health Insurance Exchanges.pngflagiconicon

Issue 3: Afghanistan Conflict

The Afghanistan conflict (Pashto: دافغانستان جنګونه‎; Persian: جنگ های افغانستان‎) is a continuous series of wars fought in Afghanistan from 1978 through to the present day.

Previously, the Kingdom of Afghanistan was overthrown in the relatively bloodless 1973 Afghan coup d'état, which brought the monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah’s 39-year reign to an end, and ended Afghanistan’s relatively peaceful period in modern history. Starting with the Saur Revolution military coup five years later, an almost continuous series of armed conflicts has dominated and afflicted Afghanistan, including a Soviet invasion, a series of civil wars between mujahideen groups (notably the Taliban), a NATO invasion, a Taliban insurgency, and fighting between the Taliban and the local branch of the Islamic State. The conflict includes:

By 2014, it had been estimated that 1,405,111 to 2,084,468 lives were lost over the duration of the conflict.[2][3][4][5][6]

War in Afghanistan (1992–2001).png"Interior of the palace of Shauh Shujah Ool Moolk, Late King of Cabul"CategoryFlag of the Taliban.svgAmbox current red.svgflag

Issue 4: Alt Right

The alt-right, an abbreviation of alternative right, is a loosely connected far-right, white nationalist movement. A largely online phenomenon, the alt-right originated in the United States during the early 2010s before establishing a presence in other countries and declining after 2017. The term is ill-defined, having been used in different ways by alt-right members, media commentators, and academics.

In 2010, the American white nationalist Richard B. Spencer launched The Alternative Right webzine. His "alternative right" was influenced by earlier forms of American white nationalism, as well as paleoconservatism, the Dark Enlightenment, and the Nouvelle Droite. His term was shortened to "alt-right" and popularised by far-right participants of /pol/, the politics board of web forum 4chan. It came to be associated with other white nationalist websites and groups, including Andrew Anglin's Daily Stormer, Brad Griffin's Occidental Dissent, and Matthew Heimbach's Traditionalist Worker Party. Following the 2014 Gamergate controversy, the alt-right made increasing use of trolling and online harassment to raise its profile. In 2015, it attracted broader attention—particularly through coverage on Steve Bannon's Breitbart News—due to alt-right support for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. On being elected, Trump disavowed the movement. Attempting to move from a web-based to a street-based movement, Spencer and other alt-rightists organized the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which faced significant anti-fascist opposition. After this, the movement declined.

Page semi-protectedBlack and white historical photograph of several men, some with Nazi armbands, reading a newspaper billboard.Hillary Clinton dressed in a black suit and a green shirt, sitting in a café. She is smiling, and a red teacup is situated in front of her. The foreground is distorted due to the presence of various small objects.File:2017 Charlottesville vehicle-ramming attack.webmFile:YOU WILL NOT REPLACE US (-Charlottesville -UniteTheRight).webmicon

Issue 5: Confederate Monuments and Memorials (Removal of)

The Removal of Confederate Monuments and Memorials is an ongoing process in the United States since the 1960s. Many municipalities in the United States have removed monuments and memorials on public property dedicated to the Confederate States of America (CSA; the Confederacy), and some, such as Silent Sam in North Carolina, have been torn down by protestors. The momentum to remove Confederate memorials increased dramatically following high-profile incidents including the Charleston church shooting (2015), the Unite the Right rally (2017), and the murder of George Floyd (2020).[1][2][3] The removals have been driven by the belief that the monuments glorify white supremacy; memorialize an unrecognized, treasonous[4][5] government, the Confederacy, whose founding principle was the perpetuation and expansion of slavery; and that the presence of these Confederate memorials over a hundred years after the defeat of the Confederacy continues to disenfranchise and alienate African Americans.[6][7][8][9][10]

The vast majority of these Confederate monuments were built during the era of Jim Crow laws, from 1877 to 1964. Detractors claim that they were not built as memorials but as a means of intimidating African Americans and reaffirming white supremacy after the Civil War.[11][12][13] The monuments have thus become highly politicized; according to Eleanor Harvey, a senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and a scholar of Civil War history: "If white nationalists and neo-Nazis are now claiming this as part of their heritage, they have essentially co-opted those images and those statues beyond any capacity to neutralize them again".[6] In a counter-reaction to the movement to remove Confederate monuments, some Southern states passed state laws restricting or prohibiting the removal or alteration of public monuments.[14]

As part of the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020, there was a new wave of removal of Confederate monuments. An Alabama law prohibiting the removal of historical monuments was deliberately broken by the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, the city council of Anniston, Alabama,[15] and others. The mayor said that the penalty fine was preferable to the unrest that would follow if it were not removed. The Governor of North Carolina removed, on the grounds of public safety, three Confederate monuments at the North Carolina Capitol that the legislature had in effect made illegal to remove. The U.S. Army said it would rename Fort Bragg and its other military bases named for Confederate generals. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines prohibited the display of the Confederate flag, including as bumper stickers on private cars on base; a wave of corporate product re-branding has also ensued. During the George Floyd protests, the campaign to remove monuments extended beyond the United States; numerous statues and other public works of art related to the transatlantic slave trade and European colonialism around the world were either removed or destroyed.


Issue 6: Cybersecurity

Computer security, cybersecurity, or information technology security (IT security) is the protection of computer systems and networks from information disclosure, theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.[1]

The field is becoming increasingly significant due to the continuously expanding reliance on computer systems, the Internet[2] and wireless network standards such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and due to the growth of "smart" devices, including smartphones, televisions, and the various devices that constitute the "Internet of things". Cybersecurity is also one of the significant challenges in the contemporary world, due to its complexity, both in terms of political usage and technology.[3]

Information Security Incidents by Category, Fiscal Year 2014.svg[icon]Ambox current red Americas.svgComputer Retro.svgCategoryOutlineWikiProjectCommons pageEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 7: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a United States immigration policy that allows some individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for an employment authorization document (work permit) in the U.S. To be eligible for the program, recipients cannot have felonies or serious misdemeanors on their records. Unlike the proposed DREAM Act, DACA does not provide a path to citizenship for recipients.[1][2] The policy, an executive branch memorandum, was announced by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for the program on August 15, 2012.

In November 2014, President Obama announced his intention to expand DACA to cover additional undocumented immigrants. Multiple states immediately sued to prevent the expansion, which was blocked by an evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas. Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security rescinded the expansion in June 2017, while it continued to review the existence of DACA as a whole. In September 2017, the Trump administration announced a plan to phase out DACA, triggering multiple lawsuits challenging this action. The government deferred implementation of this plan for six months to allow Congress time to pass the DREAM Act or some other legislative protection for undocumented immigrants. Congress failed to act and the time extension expired on March 5, 2018, but three separate U.S. district courts ordered an injunction preventing the phase-out of the DACA by this date, on the likelihood that the rescinding was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Separately, district court judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas ruled that DACA is likely unconstitutional, but he let the program remain in place as litigation proceeded.[3][4]

Page semi-protectedA Form I-512L issued by USCIS in 2014, permitting a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer to allow the named DACA recipient to enter the United States under the parole authority in the Immigration and Nationality Act.A stamp applied to the Mexican passport of a DACA recipient entering the United States with Advance Parole at John F. Kennedy International Airport in January 2017, with handwritten annotations indicating the passport holder was paroled into the United States.Wiki letter w.svg

Issue 8: Electoral College

An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or entities, with each organization, political party or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way.

Ballot boxA coloured voting box.svgEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 9: Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is[note 1] a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in matters of divorce, property, employment, and other matters.[1] The first version of an ERA was written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman and introduced in Congress in December 1923.[2][3][4]

In the early history of the Equal Rights Amendment, middle-class women were largely supportive, while those speaking for the working class were often opposed, pointing out that employed women needed special protections regarding working conditions and employment hours. With the rise of the women's movement in the United States during the 1960s, the ERA garnered increasing support, and, after being reintroduced by Representative Martha Griffiths in 1971, it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 12, 1971, and by the U.S. Senate on March 22, 1972, thus submitting the ERA to the state legislatures for ratification, as provided for in Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

Congress had originally set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979, for the state legislatures to consider the ERA. Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications.[note 2] With wide, bipartisan support (including that of both major political parties, both houses of Congress, and presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter)[5] the ERA seemed destined for ratification until Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition. These women argued that the ERA would disadvantage housewives, cause women to be drafted into the military and to lose protections such as alimony, and eliminate the tendency for mothers to obtain custody over their children in divorce cases.[6] Many labor feminists also opposed the ERA on the basis that it would eliminate protections for women in labor law, though over time more and more unions and labor feminist leaders turned toward supporting it.

Ambox current red Asia Australia.svgGreater coat of arms of the United States.svgFlag of the United States.svgJohnny-automatic-scales-of-justice.svgA coloured voting box.svgAlice Paul 155017u original.jpgEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 10: Federal Interest Rates

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions' reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The Effective Federal Funds Rate (EFFR) is calculated as the effective median interest rate of overnight federal funds transactions during the previous business day. It is published daily by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.[3]

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate. The target rate is chosen in part to influence the money supply in the U.S. economy.

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Issue 11: Filibuster

A filibuster is a political procedure where one or more members of a Congress or Parliament debate over a proposed piece of legislation so as to delay or entirely prevent a decision being made on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as "talking a bill to death" or "talking out a bill"[1] and is characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. This form of political obstruction reaches as far back as Ancient Roman times and is synonymous with political stonewalling.

File:Senator Murphy gun control filibuster.webm

Issue 12: Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering (/ˈɛrimændərɪŋ/ or /ˈɡɛrimændərɪŋ/)[1][2] is a practice intended to establish an arguably unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts, which is most commonly used in first-past-the-post electoral systems.

Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: "cracking" (i.e. diluting the voting power of the opposing party's supporters across many districts) and "packing" (concentrating the opposing party's voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts).[3]

In addition to its use achieving desired electoral results for a particular party, gerrymandering may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group, such as in Northern Ireland where boundaries were constructed to guarantee Protestant Unionist majorities.[4] Gerrymandering can also be used to protect incumbents. Wayne Dawkins describes it as politicians picking their voters instead of voters picking their politicians.[5]

ProhibitionSign.svgBallot boxA coloured voting box.svgUnbalanced scales.svgiconopen accessopen accessCategoryCommons pageEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 13: Government Shutdown

Government shutdowns occur when the government refuses passage of key bills, resulting in the cessation of some or all operations by the government.

Government shutdowns in the United States have occurred periodically since 1980, and are the result of failure to pass appropriations bills before the previous ones expire. Shutdowns of the type experienced by the United States are nearly impossible in other forms of government. The most recent shutdown happened in December 2018.

  • Under the parliamentary systems used in most European nations, stalemates within the government are less likely, but the executive must maintain the approval of the legislature to remain in power (confidence and supply), and typically an election is triggered if a budget fails to pass (loss of supply).
  • In other presidential systems, the executive branch typically has the authority to keep the government functioning even without an approved budget.[1]

Issue 14: Gun Control

Gun control (or firearms regulation) is the set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians.

Most countries have a restrictive firearm guiding policy, with only a few legislations being categorized as permissive. Jurisdictions that regulate access to firearms typically restrict access to only certain categories of firearms and then to restrict the categories of persons who will be granted a license to have access to a firearm. In some countries such as the United States, gun control may be legislated at either a federal level or a local state level.

Issue 15: Hate Speech

Hate speech is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as "public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation".[1] Hate speech is "usually thought to include communications of animosity or disparagement of an individual or a group on account of a group characteristic such as race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation".[2] A legal definition of hate speech varies from country to country.

There has been much debate over freedom of speech, hate speech and hate speech legislation.[3] The laws of some countries describe hate speech as speech, gestures, conduct, writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group, or that disparage or intimidate a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group. The law may identify a group based on certain characteristics.[4][5][6] In some countries, hate speech is not a legal term.[7] Additionally, in some countries, including the United States, much of what falls under the category of "hate speech" is constitutionally protected.[8][9] In other countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

ProhibitionSign.svg[icon]Example of redaction on (a copy of) a documentCategoryCommons pageOutlineEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 16: Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, hydrofracking, and hydrofracturing, is a well stimulation technique involving the fracturing of bedrock formations by a pressurized liquid. The process involves the high-pressure injection of "fracking fluid" (primarily water, containing sand or other proppants suspended with the aid of thickening agents) into a wellbore to create cracks in the deep-rock formations through which natural gas, petroleum, and brine will flow more freely. When the hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, small grains of hydraulic fracturing proppants (either sand or aluminium oxide) hold the fractures open.[1]

Hydraulic fracturing began as an experiment in 1947,[2] and the first commercially successful application followed in 1950. As of 2012, 2.5 million "frac jobs" had been performed worldwide on oil and gas wells, over one million of those within the U.S.[3][4] Such treatment is generally necessary to achieve adequate flow rates in shale gas, tight gas, tight oil, and coal seam gas wells.[5] Some hydraulic fractures can form naturally in certain veins or dikes.[6] Drilling and hydraulic fracturing have made the United States a major crude oil exporter as of 2019,[7] but leakage of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, has dramatically increased.[8] Increased oil and gas production from the decade-long fracking boom has led to lower prices for consumers, with near-record lows of the share of household income going to energy expenditures.[9][10]

Hydraulic fracturing is highly controversial.[11] Its proponents advocate the economic benefits of more extensively accessible hydrocarbons,[12][13] as well as replacing coal with natural gas, which burns more cleanly and emits less carbon dioxide (CO2).[14][15] Opponents of fracking argue that these are outweighed by the environmental impacts, which include groundwater and surface water contamination,[16] noise and air pollution, and the triggering of earthquakes, along with the resulting hazards to public health and the environment.[17][18] Research has determined that human health is affected,[19][20] including confirmation of chemical, physical, and psychosocial hazards such as pregnancy and birth outcomes, migraine headaches, chronic rhinosinusitis, severe fatigue, asthma exacerbations and psychological stress.[21] Adherence to regulation and safety procedures are required to avoid further negative impacts.[22]

Shale gas drilling rig near Alvarado, TexasHydroFrac2.svgCommons pageEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 17: Impeachment in the United States

Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature's lower house brings charges against a civil federal officer, the vice president, or the president for misconduct alleged to have been committed. Impeachment may also occur at the state level if the state or commonwealth has provisions for it under its constitution. The federal House of Representatives can impeach a party with a simple majority of the House members present or such other criteria as the House adopts in accordance with Article One, Section 2, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution. Most state legislatures can impeach state officials, including the governor, in accordance with their respective state constitution.

Most impeachments have concerned alleged crimes committed while in office, though there is no requirement for the misconduct to be an indictable crime. There have been a few cases in which officials have been impeached and subsequently convicted for crimes committed prior to taking office.[1] There have also been cases where a former official was tried after leaving office. The impeached official may continue to serve their term until a trial yields a judgement that directs their removal from office or until they leave office through some other means. Federally, a two-thirds majority of the senators present at the trial is required for conviction under Article One, Section 3, Clause 6 of the Constitution.

The impeachment proceedings are remedial rather than punitive in nature, and the remedy is limited to removal from office. Because all officers in the Federal government are confirmed in the senate, Officers appointed under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution may also be disqualified from holding any other appointed office under the United States in the future. Because the process is not punitive, a party may also be subject to criminal or civil trial, prosecution, and conviction under the law after removal from office. Also because the conviction is not a punishment, the president is constitutionally precluded from granting a pardon to impeached and convicted persons.

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Issue 18: Internet Privacy

Internet privacy involves the right or mandate of personal privacy concerning the storing, repurposing, provision to third parties, and displaying of information pertaining to oneself via Internet.[1][2] Internet privacy is a subset of data privacy. Privacy concerns have been articulated from the beginnings of large-scale computer sharing.[3]

Privacy can entail either personally identifiable information (PII) or non-PII information such as a site visitor's behaviour on a website. PII refers to any information that can be used to identify an individual. For example, age and physical address alone could identify who an individual is without explicitly disclosing their name, as these two factors are unique enough to identify a specific person typically. Other forms of PII may soon include GPS tracking data used by apps, as the daily commute and routine information can be enough to identify an individual.[4]

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Issue 19: Iran Nuclear Deal a.k.a. the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; Persian: برنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, romanizedbarnāmeye jāme'e eqdāme moshtarak (برجام, BARJAM)),[4][5] known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany)[a] together with the European Union.

Formal negotiations toward JCPOA began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations for the next 20 months and, in April 2015, agreed on a framework for the final agreement. In July 2015, Iran and the P5+1 confirmed agreement on the plan, along with the "Roadmap Agreement" between Iran and the IAEA.[8]

Negotiations about Iranian Nuclear Program - the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Other Officials of the P5+1 and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Iran and EU in Lausanne.jpgIranische Atomenergieorganisation logo.svgChinaFranceGermanyEuropean UnionIranRussiaUnited KingdomUnited Statesiconflagflag

Issue 20: ISIS

Islamic State (official name since June 2014;[98] abbreviated IS), at times known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; /ˈsəl, ˈsɪl/), and as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS; /ˈsɪs/),[99] or by its Arabic acronym, Daesh (داعش, Dāʿish, IPA: [ˈdaːʕɪʃ]),[100] is a militant Sunni Islamist group and former unrecognized quasi-state[101] that follows a Salafi jihadist doctrine.[102] Islamic State was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and gained global prominence in 2014 when it drove Iraqi security forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive,[103] followed by its capture of Mosul[104] and the Sinjar massacre.[105]

IS originated in 1999, pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and participated in the Iraqi insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces. In June 2014, the group proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate[106][107] and began referring to itself as the Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah; IS).[1] As a caliphate, it claimed religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.[108] Its adoption of the name Islamic State and its idea of a caliphate have been criticised, with the United Nations, various governments, and mainstream Muslim groups rejecting its statehood.[109] In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks on both government forces and opposition factions, and by December 2015, it held an area extending from western Iraq to eastern Syria, containing an estimated eight to twelve million people,[54][55][110] where it enforced its interpretation of sharia law. They were estimated at the time to have an annual budget of more than US$1 billion and more than 30,000 fighters.[111]

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Issue 21: Islam

Islam (/ˈɪslɑːm/;[a] Arabic: اَلْإِسْلَامُ‎, romanizedal-’Islām, [ɪsˈlaːm] (About this soundlisten) "submission [to God]")[1] is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that Muhammad is a messenger of God.[2][3] It is the world's second-largest religion with 1.9 billion followers, or 24.9% of the world's population,[4][5] known as Muslims.[6] Muslims make up a majority of the population in 47 countries.[7][8] Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique,[9] and has guided humanity through prophets, revealed scriptures, and natural signs.[3][10] The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of God, as well as the teachings and normative examples (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570 – 632 CE).[11]

Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.[12] Muslims consider the Quran, in Arabic, to be the unaltered and final revelation of God.[13] Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam also teaches a final judgment with the righteous rewarded in paradise and the unrighteous punished in hell.[14] Religious concepts and practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, as well as following Islamic law (sharia), which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment.[15][16] The cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam.[17]

From a historical point of view, Islam originated in early 7th century CE in the Arabian Peninsula, in Mecca,[18] and by the 8th century, the Umayyad Caliphate extended from Iberia in the west to the Indus River in the east. The Islamic Golden Age refers to the period traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century, during the Abbasid Caliphate, when much of the historically Muslim world was experiencing a scientific, economic, and cultural flourishing.[19][20][21] The expansion of the Muslim world involved various states and caliphates such as the Ottoman Empire, trade, and conversion to Islam by missionary activities (dawah).[22]

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Issue 22: Islamophobia in the United States

Islamophobia in the United States can be described as the affective feelings of distrust and hostility which some Americans have towards Muslims, Islam, and those persons who adhere to the religion and/or those persons who appear to adhere to it as well as members of groups which are associated with it.[1]In the United States today, there are numerous attempts to mislead Islamic teachings, degrade and slander Islamic groups, and undermine and discredit the faith itself. The theory provided here is that Islamophobia is both a product of and a contributor to the United States' racial ideology, which is founded on socially constructed categories of profiled features, or how people seem.

Advocate groups like the Center for American Progress explain that this social phenomenon is not new; rather, it has increased its presence in American social and political discourse over the last ten to fifteen years. They cite the fact that several organizations donate large amounts of money to create the "Islamophobia megaphone".[2] CAP defines the megaphone analogy as "a tight network of anti-Muslim, anti-Islam foundations, misinformation experts, validators, grass root organizations, religious rights groups and their allies in the media and in politics" who work together to misrepresent Islam and Muslims in the United States.[2] As a result of this network, Islam is now one of the most stigmatized religions, with only 37 percent of Americans having a favorable opinion of Islam, according to a 2010 ABC News/ Washington Post poll.[3] This biased perception of Islam and Muslims manifests itself into the discrimination of racially perceived Muslims in the law and media, and is conceptually reinforced by the Islamophobia network.

Issue 23: Marijuana Legalization

In the United States, the non-medical use of cannabis is legalized in 18 states (plus Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia) and decriminalized in 13 states (plus the U.S. Virgin Islands) as of June 2021.[1] Decriminalization refers to a policy of reduced penalties for cannabis offenses, typically involving a civil penalty for possessing small amounts (similar to how a minor traffic violation is treated), instead of criminal prosecution or the threat of arrest.[2][3] In jurisdictions without penalty the policy is referred to as legalization, although the term decriminalization is sometimes used for this purpose as well.[3]

During a wave of decriminalization in the 1970s, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis in 1973. Ten more states followed by the end of 1978, influenced by the Shafer Commission's endorsement of decriminalization in 1972. By the end of the decade the tide had turned in the other direction, however, and no state would decriminalize again until 2001.

Efforts to legalize cannabis included a number of ballot initiatives leading up to 2012, but none succeeded. In 2012, success was finally achieved when Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize. In 2014 and 2016 several more states followed, and in 2018 Vermont became the first to legalize through an act of state legislature. All jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis allow for its commercial sale, except the District of Columbia. All allow for personal cultivation except Washington State and New Jersey.

At the federal level, cannabis remains prohibited for any use under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The Justice Department has generally not enforced federal law in states that have legalized cannabis, under the guidance of the Cole Memorandum that was adopted in August 2013. The Cole memo was rescinded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January 2018, however, granting U.S. Attorneys greater authority to enforce federal law.

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Issue 24: Mass Shootings

Mass shootings are incidents involving multiple victims of firearm-related violence. The precise inclusion criteria are disputed, and there is no broadly accepted definition.[2][3][4] One definition is an act of public firearm violence—excluding gang killings, domestic violence, or terrorist acts sponsored by an organization—in which a shooter kills at least four victims. Using this definition, one study found that nearly one-third of the world's public mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 (90 of 292 incidents) occurred in the United States.[5][6] Using a similar definition, The Washington Post records 163 mass shootings in the United States between 1967 and June 2019.[7]

Gun Violence Archive, frequently cited by the press, defines a mass shooting as firearm violence resulting in at least four people being shot at roughly the same time and location, excluding the perpetrator.[8][9] Using this definition, there have been 2,128 mass shootings since 2013, roughly one per day.[8][10]

The United States has had more mass shootings than any other country.[11][5][12][13][14][15] Shooters generally either die by suicide afterwards or are restrained or killed by law enforcement officers or civilians.[16] Mass shootings accounted for under 0.2% of homicides in the U.S. between 2000 and 2016.[citation needed]

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Issue 25: Me Too Movement

The Me Too (or #MeToo) movement, with variations of related local or international names, is a social movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment where people publicize allegations of sex crimes.[1][2][3] The phrase "Me Too" was initially used in this context on social media in 2006, on Myspace, by sexual assault survivor and activist Tarana Burke.[4] Harvard University published a case study on Burke, called "Leading with Empathy: Tarana Burke and the Making of the Me Too Movement".[5]

Similar to other social justice and empowerment movements based upon breaking silence, the purpose of "Me Too", as initially voiced by Burke as well as those who later adopted the tactic, is to empower sexually assaulted individuals through empathy and solidarity through strength in numbers, especially young and vulnerable women, by visibly demonstrating how many have survived sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.[4][6][7]

Following the exposure of the widespread sexual-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein in early October 2017,[8][9] the movement began to spread virally as a hashtag on social media.[7][10][11] On October 15, 2017, American actress Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter, "If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem," saying that she got the idea from a friend.[12][13][14][15] A number of high-profile posts and responses from American celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow,[16] Ashley Judd,[17] Jennifer Lawrence,[18] and Uma Thurman, among others, soon followed.[19]

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Issue 26: Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in the United States is set by U.S. labor law and a range of state and local laws.[2] The first federal minimum wage was created as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but declared unconstitutional.[3] In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act established it at $0.25 an hour ($4.60 in 2020 dollars[4]). Its purchasing power peaked in 1968 at $1.60 ($11.91 in 2020 dollars).[4][5][6] Since 2009, it has been $7.25 per hour.[7]

Employers generally have to pay workers the highest minimum wage prescribed by federal, state or local laws. As of January 2020, there were 29 states and D.C. with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum.[8]: 1[9] This results in almost 90% of U.S. minimum wage workers earning more than $7.25.[8] The effective nationwide minimum wage (the wage that the average minimum wage worker earns) is $11.80 as of May 2019. This is the highest it has been since at least 1994, the earliest year effective minimum wage data was available.[8]: 1

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Issue 27: Net Neutrality

Network neutrality, most commonly called net neutrality, is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all Internet communications equally, and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, source address, destination address, or method of communication.[4][5]

With net neutrality, ISPs may not intentionally block, slow down, or charge money for specific online content. Without net neutrality, ISPs may prioritize certain types of traffic, meter others, or potentially block traffic from specific services, while charging consumers for various tiers of service.

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Issue 28: North Korea

Relations between North Korea and the United States have been historically tense as both countries have no formal diplomatic recognition of one another. The source of contention dates back to the Korean War in which both countries fought on opposite sides. Since the armistice was signed, areas of contention have since revolved around North Korea's nuclear weapons program, missile tests, and its human rights record. In response, the United States has imposed many sanctions against North Korea. Despite no formal recognition, both sides have maintained contact to deescalate tensions.

Map indicating locations of North Korea and United StatesGreater coat of arms of the United States.svg(117th) US House of Representatives.svg117th United States Senate.svgFlag of the United States.svgEmblem of North Korea.svgFlag of North Korea.svgSomaliaflagflagiconCategoryNorth KoreaEmblem of North KoreaUnited States

Issue 29: Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic (also known as the opioid crisis) refers to the extensive overuse of opioid medications, both from medical prescriptions and from illegal sources. The epidemic began in the United States in the late 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when opioids were increasingly prescribed for pain management and resulted in a rise in overall opioid use throughout subsequent years.[3] Use of opioids constitutes a public health emergency.[4][5][6] The great majority of Americans who use prescription opioids do not believe that they are misusing them.[7]

CDC reports, "Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period."[8] From 1999 to 2020, nearly 841,000 people died from drug overdoses[9], with prescription and illicit opioids being responsible for more than 500,000 of those deaths, up to 2019.[10] In 2017 alone, there were 70,237 recorded drug overdose deaths, and of those deaths, 47,600 involved an opioid.[11][12] A report from December 2017 estimated 130 people every day in the United States die from an opioid-related drug overdose.[13]

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Issue 30: Paris Climate Agreement

The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris), often referred to as the Paris Accords or the Paris Climate Accords, is an international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015. It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. The Agreement was negotiated by 196 parties at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference near Paris, France.

The Paris Agreement was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 (Earth Day) at a ceremony in New York. After the European Union ratified the agreement, sufficient countries had ratified the Agreement responsible for enough of the world's greenhouse gases for the Agreement to enter into force on 4 November 2016. As of November 2021, 193 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are parties to the agreement. Of the four UNFCCC member states which have not ratified the agreement, the only major emitter is Iran. The United States withdrew from the Agreement in 2020, but rejoined in 2021.

The Paris Agreement's long-term temperature goal is to keep the rise in mean global temperature to well below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limit the increase to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F), recognising that this would substantially reduce the impacts of climate change. Emissions should be reduced as soon as possible and reach net-zero by the middle of the 21st century.[3]

This is a good article. Click here for more information.ParisAgreement.svgFile:Paris agreement signed.webmMap showing that the US, various European countries and Japan contributed most the Green Climate FundiconflagiconCC-BY icon.svgClimate change icon.pngList-Class articleList-Class articleCategoryCategoryList-Class articlePrincess of Asturias Foundation Emblem.svgEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 31: Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (PPFA), or Planned Parenthood, is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and globally. It is a tax-exempt corporation under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3)[4] and a member association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). PPFA has its roots in Brooklyn, New York, where Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in 1916. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921,[5] which changed its name to Planned Parenthood in 1942.

Planned Parenthood consists of 159 medical and non-medical affiliates, which operate over 600 health clinics in the U.S.[2][3] It partners with organizations in 12 countries globally.[2][3] The organization directly provides a variety of reproductive health services and sexual education, contributes to research in reproductive technology and advocates for the protection and expansion of reproductive rights.[3] Research shows that closures of Planned Parenthood clinics lead to increases in maternal mortality rates.[6][7]

PPFA is the largest single provider of reproductive health services, including abortion, in the U.S.[11] In their 2014 Annual Report, PPFA reported seeing over 2.5 million patients in over 4 million clinical visits and performing a total of nearly 9.5 million discrete services including 324,000 abortions.[14] Its combined annual revenue is US$1.3 billion, including approximately $530 million in government funding such as Medicaid reimbursements.[3][13] Throughout its history, PPFA and its member clinics have experienced support, controversy, protests,[15] and violent attacks.[16]

This is a good article. Click here for more information.Extended-protected articlePlanned Parenthood.svgEdit this at WikidataiconflagEdit this at WikidataWomen's health icon.svgCategoryCommons pageWikiProjectEdit this at Wikidata

Issue 32: Political Action Committees (PACs)

In the United States, a political action committee (PAC) is a 527 organization that pools campaign contributions from members and donates those funds to campaigns for or against candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislation.[1][2] The legal term PAC has been created in pursuit of campaign finance reform in the United States. This term is quite specific to all activities of campaign finance in the United States. Democracies of other countries use different terms for the units of campaign spending or spending on political competition (see political finance). At the U.S. federal level, an organization becomes a PAC when it receives or spends more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election, and registers with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), according to the Federal Election Campaign Act as amended by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCain-Feingold Act).[3] At the state level, an organization becomes a PAC according to the state's election laws.

Contributions from corporate or labor union treasuries are illegal, though they may sponsor a PAC and provide financial support for its administration and fundraising. Union-affiliated PACs may only solicit contributions from members. Independent PACs may solicit contributions from the general public and must pay their own costs from those funds.[4]

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Issue 33: Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary city (French: ville sanctuaire; Spanish: ciudad santuario) refers to municipal jurisdictions, typically in North America, that limit their cooperation with the national government's effort to enforce immigration law. Leaders of sanctuary cities say they want to reduce fear of deportation and possible family break-up among people who are in the country illegally, so that such people will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school. In the United States, municipal policies include prohibiting police or city employees from questioning people about their immigration status and refusing requests by national immigration authorities to detain people beyond their release date, if they were jailed for breaking local law.[1] Such policies can be set expressly in law (de jure) or observed in practice (de facto), but the designation "sanctuary city" does not have a precise legal definition. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimated in 2018 that 564 U.S. jurisdictions, including states and municipalities, had adopted sanctuary policies.[2][3][4]

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Issue 34: Sexual Assault on Campuses

Campus sexual assault is the sexual assault, including rape, of a student while attending an institution of higher learning, such as a college or university.[1] The victims of such assaults are more likely to be female, but any gender can be victimized.[2] Estimates of sexual assault, which vary based on definitions and methodology, generally find that somewhere between 19 and 27% of college women and 6–8% of college men are sexually assaulted during their time in college. In 2007, 23 psychologists conducted a study in which 47% of women in the United States have been sexually assaulted or raped in the past year. This was very beneficial to many other researchers in the same field.[3][4][5]

In response to charges that schools have poorly supported women who have complained of sexual assault, in 2011 the United States Department of Education issued a "Dear Colleague" letter to universities, advising academic institutions on various methods intended to reduce incidents of sexual assault on campuses.[6] Some legal experts have raised concerns about risks of abuses against the accused.[7] Following changes to disciplinary processes, lawsuits have been filed by men alleging bias and/or violations of their rights.[8]

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Issue 35: Sustainable Energy, Renewable Energy, and Green Energy

Energy is sustainable if it "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".[1] Most definitions of sustainable energy include considerations of environmental aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions and social and economic aspects such as energy poverty. Renewable energy sources such as wind, hydroelectric power, solar, and geothermal energy are generally far more sustainable than fossil fuel sources. However, some renewable energy projects, such as the clearing of forests to produce biofuels, can cause severe environmental damage. The role of non-renewable energy sources in sustainable energy has been controversial. Nuclear power is a low-carbon source whose historic mortality rates are comparable to wind and solar, but its sustainability has been debated because of concerns about radioactive waste, nuclear proliferation, and accidents. Switching from coal to natural gas has environmental benefits, including a lower climate impact, but may lead to a delay in switching to more sustainable options. Carbon capture and storage can be built into power plants to remove their carbon dioxide (CO
) emissions, but is expensive and has seldom been implemented.

Fossil fuels provide 85% of the world's energy consumption and the energy system is responsible for 76% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Around 790 million people in developing countries lack access to electricity and 2.6 billion rely on polluting fuels such as wood or charcoal to cook. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement will require a system-wide transformation of the way energy is produced, distributed, stored, and consumed. The burning of fossil fuels and biomass is a major contributor to air pollution, which causes an estimated 7 million deaths each year. Therefore, the transition to a low-carbon energy system would have strong co-benefits for human health. Pathways exist to provide universal access to electricity and clean cooking in ways that are compatible with climate goals, while bringing major health and economic benefits to developing countries.

Featured articlePage semi-protectedConcentrated solar power parabolic troughs in the distance arranged in rectangles shining on a flat plain with snowy mountains in the backgroundWind turbines beside a red dirt roadWoman cooking bread on an electric stoveMass rapid transit trainA car drives past 4 wind turbines in a field, with more on the horizonWind-turbine-icon.svgCategoryPhotograph of a woman carrying firewood she has gathered on her headMap of people with access to energy. Lack of access is most pronounced in India, Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.Countries such as the US and Canada use twice as much energy per capita as Japan or western Europe, and 100 times as much commercial energy per capita as some African countries.Graph showing the expansion of wind and solar renewable energy capacity from 2011 to 2020long rows of dark panels, sloped about 45 degrees at the height of a person, stretch into the distance in bright sunshinePhotograph of wind turbines against a hazy orange skya river flows smoothly from rectangular openings at the base of a high sloping concrete wall, with electricity wires above the river3 enormous waisted vertical concrete cylinders, one emitting a wisp of steam, dwarf a building in the foregroundMan lighting a lamp hung from the ceilingA green field of plants looking like metre high grass, surrounded by woodland with urban buildings on the far horizonChart showing the proportion of electricity produced by fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables from 1985 to 2020Energy-related emissions produced by sector in decreasing order: industry, land use, building, transport, other, and fugitive emissions from fossil fuel productionShort terraces of houses, with their entire sloping roofs covered with solar panelsPhoto with a set of white containersPhotograph two fans, the outdoor section of a heat pumpGroup of cyclists using a bike lane in Vancouver, CanadaBuilding with windcatcher towersElectric induction ovenPhotograph of a row of cars plugged into squat metal boxes under a roofGraph of global investment for renewable energy, electrified heat and transport, and other non-fossil-fuel energy sourcesWind-turbine-icon.svgCrystal energy.svgMicon-Turbine.JPGCategoryCommons pagePortalWikiProjectWindmills D1-D4 - Thornton Bank.jpgCategoryList-Class article

Issue 36: Taxes in the US

The United States of America has separate federal, state, and local governments with taxes imposed at each of these levels. Taxes are levied on income, payroll, property, sales, capital gains, dividends, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees. In 2010, taxes collected by federal, state, and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of GDP. In the OECD, only Chile and Mexico are taxed less as a share of their GDP.[1]

Taxes fall much more heavily on labor income than on capital income. Divergent taxes and subsidies for different forms of income and spending can also constitute a form of indirect taxation of some activities over others. For example, individual spending on higher education can be said to be "taxed" at a high rate, compared to other forms of personal expenditure which are formally recognized as investments.

Taxes are imposed on net income of individuals and corporations by the federal, most state, and some local governments. Citizens and residents are taxed on worldwide income and allowed a credit for foreign taxes. Income subject to tax is determined under tax accounting rules, not financial accounting principles, and includes almost all income from whatever source. Most business expenses reduce taxable income, though limits apply to a few expenses. Individuals are permitted to reduce taxable income by personal allowances and certain non-business expenses, including home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, charitable contributions, and medical and certain other expenses incurred above certain percentages of income. State rules for determining taxable income often differ from federal rules. Federal marginal tax rates vary from 10% to 37% of taxable income. State and local tax rates vary widely by jurisdiction, from 0% to 13.30% of income,[2] and many are graduated. State taxes are generally treated as a deductible expense for federal tax computation, although the 2017 tax law imposed a $10,000 limit on the state and local tax ("SALT") deduction, which raised the effective tax rate on medium and high earners in high tax states. Prior to the SALT deduction limit, the average deduction exceeded $10,000 in most of the Midwest, and exceeded $11,000 in most of the Northeastern United States, as well as California and Oregon.[3] The states impacted the most by the limit were the tri-state area (NY, NJ, and CT) and California; the average SALT deduction in those states was greater than $17,000 in 2014.[3]

The United States is one of two countries in the world that taxes its non-resident citizens on worldwide income, in the same manner and rates as residents; the other is Eritrea. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of imposition of such a tax in the case of Cook v. Tait.

Payroll taxes are imposed by the federal and all state governments. These include Social Security and Medicare taxes imposed on both employers and employees, at a combined rate of 15.3% (13.3% for 2011 and 2012). Social Security tax applies only to the first $132,900 of wages in 2019. There is an additional Medicare tax of 0.9% on wages above $200,000. Employers must withhold income taxes on wages. An unemployment tax and certain other levies apply to employers. Payroll taxes have dramatically increased as a share of federal revenue since the 1950s, while corporate income taxes have fallen as a share of revenue. (Corporate profits have not fallen as a share of GDP).

Property taxes are imposed by most local governments and many special purpose authorities based on the fair market value of property. School and other authorities are often separately governed, and impose separate taxes. Property tax is generally imposed only on realty, though some jurisdictions tax some forms of business property. Property tax rules and rates vary widely with annual median rates ranging from 0.2% to 1.9% of a property's value depending on the state.

Sales taxes are imposed by most states and some localities on the price at retail sale of many goods and some services. Sales tax rates vary widely among jurisdictions, from 0% to 16%, and may vary within a jurisdiction based on the particular goods or services taxed. Sales tax is collected by the seller at the time of sale, or remitted as use tax by buyers of taxable items who did not pay sales tax.

The United States imposes tariffs or customs duties on the import of many types of goods from many jurisdictions. These tariffs or duties must be paid before the goods can be legally imported. Rates of duty vary from 0% to more than 20%, based on the particular goods and country of origin.

Estate and gift taxes are imposed by the federal and some state governments on the transfer of property inheritance, by will, or by lifetime donation. Similar to federal income taxes, federal estate and gift taxes are imposed on worldwide property of citizens and residents and allow a credit for foreign taxes.

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Issue 36: UK Leaving EU (Brexit)

Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union

Brexit (/ˈbrɛksɪt, ˈbrɛɡzɪt/;[1] a portmanteau of "British exit") was the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) at 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020 (00:00 CET).[note 1] The UK is the first and so far the only member state to have left the EU, after 47 years of having been a part of the union — the EU and its predecessor the European Communities (EC), which included the European Economic Community — since 1 January 1973.[note 2] Following Brexit, EU law and the Court of Justice of the European Union no longer have primacy over British laws, except in select areas in relation to Northern Ireland.[2] The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 retains relevant EU law as domestic law, which the UK can now amend or repeal. Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, Northern Ireland continues to participate in the European Single Market in relation to goods, and to be a de facto member of the EU Customs Union.[3][4]

The European Union and its institutions have developed gradually since their establishment, including 47 years of British membership, and grew to be of significant importance to the UK. Throughout that time Eurosceptic groups had existed, opposing aspects of the Union and its predecessors. The Labour prime minister Harold Wilson's pro-EC government held a referendum on continued EC membership in 1975, in which voters chose to stay within the bloc with 67.2 per cent of the vote share, but no further referendums were held as European Integration continued and became "ever closer" in the subsequent Maastricht Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon. As part of a campaign pledge to win votes from Eurosceptics,[5] the Conservative prime minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum if his government was re-elected. His (pro-EU) government subsequently held a referendum on continued EU membership in 2016, in which voters chose to leave the EU with 51.9 per cent of the vote share. This led to his resignation, his replacement by Theresa May, and four years of negotiations with the EU on the terms of departure and on future relations. This process was both politically challenging and deeply divisive within the UK, with one deal rejected by the British parliament, general elections held in 2017 and 2019, and two new prime ministers in that time, both Conservative. Under Boris Johnson's majority government, the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020; trade deal negotiations continued within days of the scheduled end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The British government postponed the implementation of import controls for goods entering the UK from the EU until 2022 in order to reduce supply issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Custom controls only applied to British goods entering the EU during this period.

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Issue 38: Voter Fraud

Forms of electoral fraud, sometimes referred to as election manipulation, voter fraud or vote rigging, involves illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of a favored candidate, depressing the vote share of rival candidates, or both.[1] It differs from but often goes hand-in-hand with voter suppression. What exactly constitutes electoral fraud varies from country to country.

Electoral legislation outlaws many kinds of election fraud,[2] but other practices violate general laws, such as those banning assault, harassment or libel. Although technically the term "electoral fraud" covers only those acts which are illegal, the term is sometimes used to describe acts which are legal, but considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of an election or in violation of the principles of democracy.[3][4] Show elections, featuring only one candidate, are sometimes classified[by whom?] as electoral fraud, although they may comply with the law and are presented more as referendums/plebiscites.

In national elections, successful electoral fraud on a sufficient scale can have the effect of a coup d'état,[citation needed] protest[5] or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election, a small amount of fraud may suffice to change the result. Even if the outcome is not affected, the revelation of fraud can reduce voters' confidence in democracy.

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Issue 39: Wildfires

Wildfires can happen in many places in the United States, especially during droughts, but are most common in the Western United States and Florida.[2] They may be triggered naturally, most commonly by lightning, or by human activity like unextinguished smoking materials, faulty electrical equipment, overheating automobiles, or arson.

Fire management policy favored aggressive wildfire suppression starting in the early 20th century.

In the 21st century, higher temperature and droughts driven by global warming have become more of a concern, and there has been increased advocacy for controlled burns and other measures to prevent fuel from accumulating in wild areas that can create more intense, larger, and difficult to control fires.

Firefighters are generally employed by governments, including municipal and county fire departments, regional mutual aid organizations, and state agencies like the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Wildfire response is coordinated at the federal level by the National Interagency Fire Center, with the participation of the U.S. National Weather Service, and various agencies of the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Commerce. Fire squadrons of the United States Army are also sometimes called to large fires.

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