Five & One: December 13, 2010

    Logo by Nina Lincoff / North by Northwestern

    This quarter, North by Northwestern is hosting weekly columns from Politics & Policy, a new undergraduate publication with a focus on — you guessed it — politics and policy at local, state, national and international levels. Five & One breaks down what news to read — and what news to ignore.

    For winter break, Politics & Policy offers an abridged version of our regular feature.

    5. Wikileaks supporters take down financial websites

    Supporters for Wikileaks, organized under the name Anonymous, have caused extended shutdowns of the Mastercard, Visa and PayPal websites in recent days. The group has declared its intent to publicize and combat what it sees as the illegal actions taken to remove Wikileaks and similar sites from the internet.

    4. Tax cut compromise faces Democratic opposition

    Significant portions of the House Democratic caucus threatened to block President Obama’s compromise tax bill last week. Although the Democratic resistance could be a harbinger of disgareements between the President and his party during the coming Congressional term, it will likely not result in the tax compromise‚Äôs failure. Several influential Democratic leaders, including Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Barney Frank, have stated that the bill will likely move forward Democratic opposition notwithstanding.

    3. Paul likely to clash with Fed chairman

    Republican Representative and libertarian leader Ron Paul was named chairman of the Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee, the House committee which oversees the Federal Reserve, last week. The position gives the outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve a prominent position from which to launch investigations, hold hearings, and pressure the central bank. Although Paul has not been shy in expressing his opposition to the Federal Reserve in the past, he has suggested that he will take a cautious approach, at least at first. Nonetheless, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will likely be facing significantly more scrutiny from the upcoming Congress.

    2. Nations move to recognize Palestinian statehood

    Both Argentina and Brazil have officially recognized Palestine as a state along 1967 borders. With other South American countries expected to follow suit, it is possible that the Palestinian Authority will request formal recognition of statehood from the UN in the near future. Israel has criticized both countries, calling the moves “regrettable”.

    1. Possible change in South Korean rules of engagement

    It’s possible that the U.S. and South Korea have agreed to a major change in the rules of engagement regarding North Korea. Historically, the U.S. would hold command responsibility over all forces deployed on the peninsula. This has served as a check on any potentially explosive retaliatory actions by the South Koreans; the possibility that South Korea could retain more control over its forces could lead to rapid escalation in future engagements.


    0. Cancun deal not likely to have effect

    Despite reading an agreement on emission reduction this week, countries involved in the Cancun Agreements have not reached a decision that is likely to impact global levels of greenhouse gasses. While the summit was intended to bolster the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the latest climate conference will not have a meaningful effect. Because each country has an incentive to free ride on emission reduction of other countries, there will likely be little to no global reduction in emissions.


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