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The first general strike of the two main Greek Unions, which represent half of the five million workers of the country, has led to the paralysis of some of the main sectors like schools, universities, banks and transports. This last group has even failed to fulfill some of the minimum services. Ferris that travel among the islands have also stopped their services, along with both national and international flights, which led to the closing of the main airports in the country. Only the Stock Market in Athens worked with normality.
The main mobilizations of the workers happened in the cities of Salonica and Athens, where people  were protesting against the austerity plan that Papandreu agreed to  follow two weeks ago in Paris. They shouted things like “Let the rich pay the crisis” and “the people is more important than the markets”. After the demonstrations there were some incidents between the Police and 50 people armed with stones and small handcrafted explosives.

A protestant fights the Police authorities

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President Obama

President Barrack Obama delivered his first annual State of the Union address to Congress last week on Wednesday, January 27.  He talked about jobs, Health Care reform, government spending and foreign policy. Here are things you might want to know about and related to his speech.

Jobs:

Obama will focus mainly on getting the economy in shape. He mentioned the word “jobs” 16 times and made this topic a focus of his speech. He promises to provide jobs for the unemployed by taking $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks repaid from the bailout packages and give it to community banks for small business loans.

Health Care Reform:

Before the special Massachusetts election took place on January 19, Obama’s first State of the Union speech was initially going to be a celebration of the signing of the health care reform into law but now that Republicans (Scott Brown) won, the health care reform is halted. Obama said he would not give up on the health care reform, as he has gotten so close already however, he gave no promises as to passing the bill.

Government Spending:

The national debt is getting too big and is increasing at a scary rate. As of right now, the debt is $12 trillion and rising $30,000 per second. On cutting the budget deficit, Obama called for a 3-year freeze in spending on air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition an national parks and would only spend on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Critics say that this proposal would be of a negligible help to the deficit since the things he is cutting on are minor and will not cost nearly as much as the entitlement programs that he has chosen to continue to throw money in.

Foreign Policy:

As the speech turned to foreign policy, Obama did not fulfill the curiosity of the American public- why are there now 30,000 more American troops going to Afghanistan?  More importantly, when is he going to end the war? All he said was “Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let’s leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future for America and for the world.”

Maine’s same sex marriage law has been abolished.  The law was repealed on Wednesday by an extremely close 6% margin.  Advocates for gay and lesbian rights, however, are far from giving up.  Betsy Smith, a campaigner for same sex marriages said to a crowd of her supporters “Having the protection of the law, as well as the respect and dignity that comes only with marriage, is a journey on which we will continue.”  The movement, nonetheless, is not without its opponents.  Frank Schubert, part of the 53% of voters that supported the repeal had this to say about the victory: “It has all come together tonight, the institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across this nation.”

However, Scott Fish, a spokesman for the repeal insists that his movement has never been anti-gay.  “The campaign was very clear about that,” he told reporters Wednesday. “This was a campaign about protecting traditional marriage.”   Perseverance seems quite present on both sides of the issue, and it’s probable that it will come up again.

 

Hace 100 dias que el presidente de Estados Unidos Barack Obama esta en el mando. Desde que Obama tomo el cargo el 20 de enero de 2009, esta familia se ha vuelto la mas famosa de todas. Han estado en portadas de revistas alrededor del mundo y hasta Bo (el perro de la familia)  se ha vuelto famoso. Las revistas compiten entre si para poner fotos de la familia, ya sea plantando en su huerto ecologico o jugando con el perro Bo. Aunque este pais esta enfrentando una epoca muy dura, la imagen del presidente no se ha visto afectada. Robert Watson, profesor de la universidad de Lynn en Florida dice “A menos que la economía empeore mas o que cometa un error, no creo que su aura desaparecera por un tiempo”. La gente dice que Obama ha aportado una energia nueva a este pais lo cual es muy positivo. Se espera que este presidente ayude mucho a la crisis mundial.

Longtime Republican Senator Arlen Specter has announced that he will be switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party. In a statement posted by his office Specter said “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.” Specter’s switch would give the Democrats the 60 seats needed for a filibuster-proof senate majority as long as Al Franken holds his lead in the disputed Minnesota Senate race. In a statement to Specter, President Obama said “You have my full support, and we’re thrilled to have you.” Others on the right did not have as kind of words for Specter. Party Chairman Michael Steele called out Specter saying “Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not. Let’s be honest, Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.” Specter took office in 1980 and has been a leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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proclamation472x225For years it has been the duty of both mayors and governors to issue proclamations for just about anything requested.  Once a request is sent in, it is the job of the mayor or governor to accept or decline the proclamation. Requests are generally honored as long as the topic is not controversial and the requestor is from the correct state.  Just this past year proclamations have been signed for Backpack Day, Fire Ant Awareness Day, Bean Day and Clown Week.  United States governors also issued official proclamations for hundreds of causes that cannot be found on any calendar or greeting card.  March 27 was Medical Billers Day in New York.  April 26 was Tai Chi and Qigong Day in Alaska.  September was the Clean Hands Month in Nevada.  You name it and there is a likelihood a proclamation has been passed in its honor.  “This is a time-honored tradition in American politics,” said David Canon, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

artduncangiArne Duncan, the new secretary of education, is rallying to have his way and change the system of American education. I personally do not agree with his plans for the system and hope that he will not get his way. Should he have his way, kids will no longer be able to enjoy summer vacations the way they were used to. Long summer breaks, something very significant in childhood, will become a thing of the past should Duncan get what he wants as far as this is concerned. He plans to make the school years longer and significantly cut summer breaks. He feels that it is more beneficial to kids in school if they spent more time in the classroom learning. He is trying to raise the standard of American education to that of countries such as India and China whose education systems are currently superior. I do not believe however, that making school days longer and reducing vacations is the right course of action that should be taken in order to achieve this.


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