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THIS WEEK'S ARTICLES
Police Move to Revamp Tactics
Militias Win Bloody Battles for Iraq
Party Victory Sets Stage for Antiabortion Push in 2015
For Obama, Low Oil Prices Bring Hope
Senate Report Blasts CIA on Interrogations

Police Move to Revamp Tactics
by: Pervaiz Shallwani, Zusha Elinson, and Gary Fields
Dec 05, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Cities, Race

SUMMARY: After grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City failed to indict white police offices in shooting to death of African-Americans that they had stopped and a policeman in Cleveland shot and killed a child brandishing a non-lethal gun, police have come under attack for using unwarranted deadly force. These incidents have sparked nation-wide protests, pressing for change. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating, and Democrats and libertarian Republicans in Congress are calling for an examination of police tactics and the criminal justice system. Police departments acknowledge the need for new training rules and are increasingly adopting the use of body cameras to record incidents to get a more accurate picture of the circumstances that led to the use of force. Some police leaders are stressing the need to examine the interaction between the police and individuals that went on before fatal events to determine what could have been done to avoid deadly confrontations. For example after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed a mentally ill African-American who had grabbed the officer's baton, the chief of police fired the officer not for the killing but for an improper pat-down that resulted in the fatal confrontation. Some courts are also examining the behavior of police that led to the use deadly force. Some believe that these well-publicized cases could lead to a turning point in law enforcement.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Pervaiz Shallwani, Zusha Elinson, and Gary Fields's front page story examines some of the reforms being proposed to stem the widely-reported incidents of police use of deadly force against black citizens. Problems in the relations of the police to the community, especially involving race, have a long history. The class can review the riots of the 1960s, which often began in many cities with an incident involving the police. One controversial reaction was to establish civilian-review boards that would examine the conduct of police officers outside of the police's own internal review structure. The controversy over the adoption of these boards can be reviewed. Especially given the responsibility that police have in communities, students can speculate why some police departments, including those in the recent cases, have not meticulously examined applicants' past job records that could raise red flags about their fitness to be police officers. Also in terms of recruitment, students can discuss whether the socio-economic background of many police is more likely to result in police forces that are racially prejudiced. Whether racial stereotyping is also done by some black police officers can be examined as well. The implementation of "community policing," intended as way to reduce conflicts that could lead to use of deadly force by police, can be assessed. Lastly, the class can give their views on the use of body-cameras by police, which has recently received mixed reactions.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) In several of the recent incident of the police using deadly force against back citizens and local grand juries failing to indict the police officers involved, the Justice Department has entered these cases. What can the Department of Justice do?

2. (Introductory) Several surveys by different groups have shown a decline in trust in government. Do you believe that this has had an effect on the situations surrounding the police use of deadly force or the reaction to these cases?

3. (Advanced) In Ferguson, Mo., and New York City grand juries were used to review the incidents where deadly force was involved. Explain the purpose and use of the grand jury system, why all federal indictments must be by grand juries, and why many states do not use them as a regular part of their criminal justice system.

4. (Advanced) Discuss the advantages and questions being cited for using of body cameras.

Reviewed By: Edward Miller, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Hundreds of Police Killings Are Uncounted in Federal Stats
by Rob Barry and Coulter Jones
Dec 03, 2014
Page: A1


Militias Win Bloody Battles for Iraq
by: Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan
Dec 06, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Iraq, Middle East, Mideast

SUMMARY: Shiite militias, such as Al Qara, are the most effective fighters, supplementing the Iraqi government force, against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). These Shiite militias see the fight against the Sunni-based Islamic State as a holy war. In contrast to the Iraqi army, they are better trained, free of the Iraq's legal bureaucracy, and not restrained by human rights restrictions, which they claim can't be followed against an organization like the Islamic State that is itself brutal. Observers fear that they are as inhuman as the group they are fighting. Nonetheless they are treated as heroes in the Iraqi media. These militias attacked U.S. troops during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and fear that the current U.S. build up to help in the fight against the Iraqi State is a pretext for resuming occupation. While the U.S. doesn't support these Shiite militias, there is concern that increased U.S. financial support to Iraqi fighters could trickle down to them. U.S. officials are worried about Iraqi's government inclusion of these Shiite militias in their National Guard units and their relationship between the Hezbollah terrorist group, which is supported by Iran. The U.S. is working to gain the support of Sunni tribes in the fight against the Islamic State and are fearful that the rise of Shiite militias could worsen the sectarian conflict in Iraq.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan examines the Shiite militias that have emerged as an effective force fighting the Islamic State, but a group that is as brutal as the Sunni Islamic State fighters. Students can first describe the sectarian conflict in Iraq and the Middle East, which significantly defines sides in several conflicts. While the Islamic State is Sunni, the governments of Iraq and Iran are primarily Shiite, which has led to both the U.S. and Iran fighting on the same side against the Islamic State forces. When Iran struck the Islamic State in Iraq this week, U.S. officials, appreciating the help, had to emphasize that these attacks were not coordinated with the U.S. However, while Iran opposes the Islamic State as the U.S., they support the al Assad Syrian government, which the U.S. does not. Given the brutality that Bradley and Adnan say characterize these militias, students can discuss how the U.S. should deal with them when they along with the Kurds are the primary on the ground fighting force. Even if the U.S. doesn't directly support the militias, would students consider the U.S. complicit if it does not counter them? Are U.S. objections to the Iraqi government sufficient? In this vein, could the Iraqi government harness the militias in the fight against the Islamic State and set restrictions on their actions to stop the brutality that has described their actions?

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) What is the relationship and shared goals among Hezbollah, Iran, and the Shiite militias?

2. (Introductory) How did the former Iraqi government give rise to the Shiite militias and the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL)? What pressure did the U.S. put on the Nouri al Maliki government in an attempt to head off this problem?

3. (Advanced) How are human rights violations being deal with in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Could this be applied to Iraq?

4. (Advanced) Given brutality of the Syrian government, the Islamic State, and the Iraqi militias, what do you believe U.S. action in the region will accomplish?

Reviewed By: Edward Miller, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Iraqi Minorities Press for Militias to Fight Islamic State
by Matt Bradley
Sep 28, 2014
Online Exclusive

U.S.-backed Plan for Iraqi National Guard Falters
by Tamer El-Ghabashy
Oct 16, 2014
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Party Victory Sets Stage for Antiabortion Push in 2015
by: Beth Reinhard
Dec 08, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Abortion, Congress

SUMMARY: Despite the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortions up to the time the fetus is considered viable outside the womb, typically considered 24 weeks, antiabortion advocates are pressing for a ban on abortions at 20 weeks, the time they say that a fetus can feel pain. Thirteen states have passed similar restrictions. However, only 1.3% of abortions are performed after 21 weeks, typically because the woman is facing a health risk or the baby is severely deformed, a condition that may not be known until an ultrasound is done around 20 weeks. While 60% of voters would back the 20 week cut-off, supporters may have difficulty in getting the 60 votes needed to cut off a Senate filibuster. Republican leaders have other domestic and foreign policy issues on their agenda. Even if it should be enacted, President Obama would probably veto it to protect abortion rights. The last time Congress limited abortions was in 2003, when late-term abortions were banned.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Beth Reinhard reports on the hope of antiabortion groups to enact further abortion restriction in the 114th Congress, when Republicans become the majority in both the House and Senate. Students can review the basic decision on abortion, especially Roe v. Wade, the privacy ground of that decision, and cases dealing with allowable limits, such as Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), which allowed Congress to ban late-term abortions . While it is not likely that Congress or state legislative action will get the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, those opposing abortion are hoping to chip away at abortion rights. Students can list some of the limitations that these groups may try to impose. Further, the class can examine restriction that are being pushed in states, including requiring outpatient centers performing abortions meet outpatient surgery center rules and requiring doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Additional, the personhood amendment, which has been rejected by the voters in several states, can be explained. Lastly, the prohibition of U.S. federal money for abortions, known as the Hyde Amendment can be described, as well as how it impacts the Affordable Care Act.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) The primary abortion rights case is Roe v. Wade. What was the constitutional basis for the decision? How did it relate to the 1965 Connecticut contraceptive case?

2. (Introductory) What is the Hyde Amendment and how does it affect the Affordable Care Act?

3. (Advanced) In the states, why has there been a problem with laws passed that require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital?

4. (Advanced) If the ban on abortion after 20 weeks has two exceptions--rape and incest. Does it legally matter that it does not provide a health exception for the mother?

Reviewed By: Edward Miller, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Supreme Court Blocks Some Texas Abortion Restrictions
by Jess Bravin
Oct 14, 2014
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For Obama, Low Oil Prices Bring Hope
by: Gerald F. Seib
Dec 09, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Energy Policy, Middle East, Mideast

SUMMARY: Failing oil prices, responding principally to increased supply, has a foreign policy dividend for the United States. The resulting decline in oil revenues is hurting oil rich nations, including Iran, Syria, Russia, and Venezuela, which have disputes with the U.S. For example, there may not be a need to ramp up sanctions against Iran if they fail to agree to nuclear limits in the present negotiations because their economy and government budget are being hurt by falling oil prices. Russia, who is enduring sanctions because of their action in Crimea and Ukraine, has seen its economy decline both because of the Western sanctions but also because of the fall in oil prices. Even the terrorist organization, the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), is experiencing a funding shortfall because selling oil is one of the Islamic State's most prominent source of revenue.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Gerald F. Seib examines the geopolitical effects of the fall in oil prices. Discussion can begin by dissecting the reasons that oil prices have tanked. Among the most obvious reasons is the increased production of oil in the U.S., which has been one of the largest customers of oil in the world. With the rapidly increased production of oil shale and slant drilling, the U.S. has lessened its reliance on other countries, especially the Middle East, and may in the near future be an oil exporter. This is having an impact on other nations who are oil producers, especially Russia, Venezuela, and oil-rich nations in the Middle East. To avoid this problem in the past, these nations, especially those in OPEC, have cut production to keep the price up. Students can analyze why they are not currently cutting their production to stabilize the price. Is it possible that they want to see the price fall to halt some of U.S. oil shale's production because low prices may make it uneconomical to produce oil from these sources? The failure to drop production could also be a consequence of conflict among OPEC nations. Students can also consider other negative effects of the dropping energy costs, including slowing the transition to renewal energy sources and the delaying or abandoning of large, more efficient energy projects. Especially for the U.S., Europe, and Japan, the benefits to the economy can be reviewed. The drop in oil prices, especially for gasoline, will give these economies a boost, similar to a tax reduction. This is particularly important for Europe and Japan, whose economies are weak and could be a drag on the U.S.'s recovery. Lastly, the class can suggest how much of the oil price decline is a consequence of increased supply and how much may be a result of a decline in demand in weak economies including Europe, Japan, and China.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) How have Middle Eastern oil produces stabilized the price of oil in the past? Why are they not doing so now?

2. (Introductory) While has oil shale in the U.S. now becoming a significant part of the supply of oil?

3. (Advanced) Other than market supply and demand for oil, how have oil traders affected the price of oil in the past?

4. (Advanced) Iran is an exporter of oil. Given this, why do they say they need nuclear power to produce energy in their country? Wouldn't the price drop help their economy by reducing their cost of energy?

Reviewed By: Edward Miller, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Falling Oil Prices Test OPEC Unity
by Benoît Faucon, Summer Said, and Andrew Peaple
Nov 16, 2014
Online Exclusive


Senate Report Blasts CIA on Interrogations
by: Siobhan Gorman, Devlin Barrett, Felicia Schwartz, and Dion Nissenbaum
Nov 10, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Congress, Intelligence Agencies, Terrorism

SUMMARY: The executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the treatment and interrogations of detainees under President George W. Bush revealed brutal treatment of the terrorist suspects and questioned the value of information they provided. The interrogations were conducted by agents of the CIA, who tried to block the release of the Report. The White House and all Democratic Party members of the committee supported having the report made public while all Republicans on the committee, except for Susan Collins (R., Maine), opposed making the material public. The Report contended that the CIA did not fully inform Congress, the White House, or other federal agencies regarding what methods were being using in the detention program. The Report further found that Bush was not informed by the CIA on the interrogation program until 2006 and that Secretary of State Colin Powell was explicitly left out of the loop for fear that he would express strong opposition. The harsh physical interrogation methods were not approved. Former CIA officials and the current director contended that that the interrogations did produce actionable intelligence that saved lives. They further contended that they did brief the Senate Intelligence Committee and its staff 35 times from 2002 and 2008 and the House Intelligence Committee 20 times.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Siobhan Gorman, Devlin Barrett, Felicia Schwartz, and Dion Nissenbaum report on the release of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the harsh treatment of detainees by the CIA. The class can first review a similar report by the Church (D., ID) Committee in 1975 and 1976, which questioned the activities of the U.S. intelligence agencies, questioned the extent to which they were approved by the president, and recommended reforms. Students can list some of the key reforms recommended by that committee, including banning government assassinations of foreign leaders. Second, students can assess the benefits and problems concerning the release of the current Report, extending from concern about retribution against the U.S. to the need to make facts public to reform the process and agencies involved in interrogations. Oversight of the agencies appears to be as inadequate today as it was deemed to be in the mid-1970s. Further the extent of President Bush's knowledge of the actions can be examined. In 2007 Bush said he was not aware of the details of the interrogations when the CIA in one memo said they he was briefed in 2006. In another response the CIA said that he was informed in 2002 and approved of the actions. Additionally, the class can review the political fights over releasing the results of the investigation, which Senate Intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein said would not have been done once Republicans took over as the majority party in the Senate The CIA strongly opposed the Report's release. Lastly, students can suggest whether any individuals should be prosecuted because of the brutal interrogations.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) What were the main issues before the Church Committee in 1975 and 1976 and how do they compare the broad issues related by the current Senate Intelligence Committee Report?

2. (Introductory) What kinds of protection in interrogations do individuals have under the Geneva Accords? Do they apply to the detainees that the CIA harshly questioned?

3. (Advanced) What did the Military Commission Act of 2006 do with harsh interrogations techniques, which had been debated at the time of its enactment?

4. (Advanced) How has past and present CIA directors responded to the Report's criticisms of the actions of CIA agents with detainees?

Reviewed By: Edward Miller, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Value of Coercive Tactics Is Hotly Debated
by Siobhan Gorman and Felicia Schwartz
Dec 10, 2014
Page: A4


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