Fast Five: April 24, 2014
    Each week, NBN Politics recaps the top five news stories from the past week and brings you a look at the week ahead. Welcome to the Fast Five.

    Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday backed Michigan’s affirmative action ban in public universities’ admission policies. Seven other states already have similar measures and Tuesday’s ruling could encourage more states to enact such measures or consider non-race based alternatives with the intent of maintaining diversity. Three justices in the majority concluded that the lower court did not have the authority to set aside the law. "This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," Kennedy wrote.

    Supreme Court to hear case on ban on campaign lies

    The Supreme heard oral arguments Tuesday regarding whether states can criminalize lying about candidates during a campaign. Ohio and 15 other states have laws that try to prevent lies during political campaigns and some are speculating that the Supreme Court will deem these laws unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment. The organization arguing against the law stated that under the Constitution, the government cannot decide what constitutes false speech in political campaigns.

    American middle class no longer richest

    According to a New York Times report, the American middle class has lost its status as the most affluent in the world to our neighbor to the north. Canada’s middle class, who had substantially lower incomes in 2000, saw a 20% increase in median income between 2000 and 2010 while U.S. median income remained mostly unchanged. The report blames the U.S.’s middle class struggles on lower minimum wage, weaker union, and higher executive pay, among other factors. 

    Death toll rises in South Korean ferry accident 

    The death toll for the South Korean ferry accident rose to 171 while 131 are still unaccounted for as of Thursday. Passengers were reportedly told to stay in their cabins even after many of the crew members abandoned the ship. Twenty-two of the 29 members crew members survived and nine, including the captain, have been arrested or detained. South Korean authorities have broadened their investigation, banning many involved from leaving the country.  

    U.S. troops sent to Poland amid Ukraine crisis

    600 United States Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland to begin military exercises across four astern European countries. The open-ended military commitment was prompted by Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine. 150 troops would be stationed and rotated between Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Though new troops will replace those originally sent, the forces are scheduled to stay in Europe until the end of 2014 and possibly beyond then.

    The week ahead: 

    Even with a more direct U.S. response to the Ukraine crisis, it is still unclear how Russia will act and how much this conflict will escalate. U.S. forces in Afghanistan may be cut to less than 10,000, which is the minimum demanded by the U.S. military to train Afghan forces. Discussions on the cuts are ongoing between White House, State Department and Pentagon officials. The complete story on the South Korean ferry is still being hashed out as the death toll rises. Investigation will continue with a heavy focus on the conduct of the crew members


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