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THIS WEEK'S ARTICLES
Netanyahu Reverses On Statehood Again
Bush Faces Test of School Exam Legacy
Ted Cruz to Declare Bid for White House
Militants In Iraq Siphon State Pay
Ohio Governor Weighs Jumping Into 2016 Fray

Netanyahu Reverses On Statehood Again
by: Nicholas Casey and Carol E. Lee
Mar 20, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Israel

SUMMARY: With the prospect of losing the Israeli parliamentary elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day before shifted to the right, essentially repudiating his 2009 declaration in favor of a two state solution in peace negotiations. In response to this reversal, the U.S. said that it would not automatically continue to use its veto to block resolutions opposed by Israel in the U.N. But the next day after Netanyahu's party scored a surprising victory, the prime minister said that he did not stray from his 2009 support of a two state solution, but only that the conditions today were not ripe for its implementation. Netanyahu said that he is concerned that the Islamic State or militants loyal to Iran could become influential in a Palestinian state. Further he repeated his conditions for such as state that it be demilitarized and that it recognize Israel as a Jewish State, which Palestinian leaders refuse to do because it would disenfranchise Arab citizen in Israel and would undermine their long held demand that Palestinians, who became refugees after the establishment of Israel in 1948, could reclaim their land in Israel. President Barack Obama called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election victory, indicating that the U.S. remains committed to a two state solution in a peace agreement. The two heads of state also discussed the nuclear talks with Iran, where the U.S. and Netanyahu's positions diverge. The White does not believe that a peace settlement will be possible while Obama and Netanyahu are in office, noting the policies of the Israel prime minister to encourage Jewish settlements on the West Bank and to impose financial penalties on Palestinians.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Nicholas Casey and Carol E. Lee report on the reversal of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the reaction of the White House. The class can first discuss the multiparty situation in Israel and the effort of Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party to appeal to the right to gain votes. The consequence of his comments on Israeli Arabs and of his questioning the two state solution brought him votes from the right and even some votes that would have gone to the Zionist Union Party by making the election more about security than domestic issues, which the Zionist Union Party had emphasized. Some analysts have argued that the two state solution is necessary not only to secure peace but without it the increase in the number of Arabs will ultimately make Jews a minority in Israel. The class can discuss this issue, which is widely debated in Israel. Additionally, students can comment on why Netanyahu has alienated the Obama administration on the two-state solution, the Iranian nuclear talks, and his end-run around the administration in his address to Congress when U.S. support of Israel is vital to the security of his nation. Given all that has occurred, Israel's invitation, immediately after the election, to Republican Majority Leader John Boehner to visit Israel seems to make the conflict worse. With the parliamentary elections over, why do analysts believe that the governing coalition in Israel will be more to the right than the current governing coalition? While the two conservative parties, the Jewish Home and Yisrael Beitanu, did lose seat, Likud, Netanyahu's party, gained 10 seats, giving them 30 seats in the 120 seat Knesset. The class can compare the needed post-election coalition building in Israel, like other multiparty states, with that of the U.S with two dominant parties.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) Why does Prime Minister Netanyahu have to form a coalition with other parties to govern? How does the coalition that it is anticipated that he would form differ from the one that currently governs?

2. (Introductory) Contrast how the two main parties in Israel in this election, the Likud and Zionist Union, differed in framing the issues in the election.

3. (Advanced) The U.S. has said that Israel will not be able to rely on the U.S. veto in the U.N.'s Security Council. What resolutions dealing with Israel has the U.S. vetoed in the last few years?

4. (Advanced) Discuss how support of Israel has recently played out in the U.S. between Democrats and Republicans.

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

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Netanyahu Culled Votes From the Right
by Nicholas Casey
Mar 19, 2015
Page: A8


Bush Faces Test of School Exam Legacy
by: Arian Campo-Flores
Mar 21, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Education Policy, Presidential Election, Republicans

SUMMARY: Jeb Bush, probable presidential candidate, has supported the Common Core educational standards and testing as key to assessment. As Florida governor, he instituted standardized tests to achieve accountability, which he proudly says increased achievement and helped close the gap between white and minority students. The educational foundation that he started, The Foundation for Excellent in Education, strongly supports the Common Core and testing. As Bush begins a run for president, he finds many conservatives opposed to the Common Core, which they perceive as federal intervention in education, and to the extent of testing that is now done, a concern not restricted to conservatives. A Rasmussen poll in February found that 52% of the respondents said that schools place too much emphasis on testing and 69% thought that there now was too much teaching to the test. While Bush has not repudiated his education positions, he now says that the federal government should not impose any particular educational standards or tests on states. Several states and a number of school boards are now reducing the number of standardized tests. Some parents are opting out of the tests for their children.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: With conservatives increasingly opposing the Common Core and many standardized exams, Arian Campo-Flores examines the changed tone of Jeb Bush, who has been a strong supporter of these two education policies, as he begins to seek the Republican Party's presidential nomination. The class can begin by explaining what the Common Core is, who actually developed it, and why it is being seen as federal intrusion on state and local education when the circular goals were not developed by the federal government. It can be noted that when the National Governors Association supported the development of the Common Core, there was little opposition to it as suggested by its adoption by most states. Students can discuss why concern about the Common Core has developed. The major connections with the federal government are probably the inclusion of the adoption of the Common Core, among other elements, in grant applications for Race to the Top funding. Further, with problems with the No Child Left Behind Act and its requirement that all children meet grade level criteria, the Obama administration has given waivers to many states since Congress has not been able to renew and amend the law, which has been temporarily extended. To get a waiver, states have included the Common Core standards and testing in their "report cards," allowing them to avoid the strict penalties under the NCLB law. These actions have led conservatives to associate the Common Core with the federal government. The class can then examine the issue of standardized testing. Based upon the goals in the Common Core, two testing firms are available for standardized exams. Students can discuss the problem of time devoted to testing, including why some school districts seem to have so many standardized exams; the issue of teaching to the test, which some testing supporters say is fine if the test represents the educational goals; the problem of distorting the curriculum away from important areas not tested; the use of test results to evaluate teachers; and cheating by staff members as a consequence of the need to show educational progress. A further problem that can be evaluated is that the new tests are computer based. Lastly, the class can compare Bush's educational positions with that of the other major candidates. Several students could focus on an individual candidate, examining their position and report back to the class.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) What is the Common Core and why was it developed?

2. (Introductory) How has Jeb Bush changed is positions on educational reform now that he is presumably running for president?

3. (Advanced) Tests have always been part of education. What specifically are arguments against the use of standardized tests as education accountability measures?

4. (Advanced) Each state decides for itself whether to adopt the Common Core as their educational standards, which test to use to evaluate achievement, and whether school districts have choice regarding their implementation in their area. Given this, why has opposition to the Common Core grown among conservatives?

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

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Common Core Supporters Run Ads in Iowa
by Beth Reinhard
Mar 04, 2015
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Ted Cruz to Declare Bid for White House
by: Janet Hook
Mar 23, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: ideology, Political Parties, Presidential Election, Republicans

SUMMARY: Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is the first Republican Party candidate formally to declare a candidacy for president, which he did in a speech at a Christian university in Virginia. Cruz, who is part of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration. Cruz, in his first term in the Senate is seen by some Republicans as too polarizing and responsible for the tarnished image of the Republican Party with the 2013 shutdown of the government. Cruz responds that Republicans have not done well with more moderate candidates, such as Bob Dole, John Mc Cain, and Mitt Romney and needs to focus on the conservative agenda. While the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found 40% of Republican primary voters willing to support Cruz, 38% said they could not. The potential primary field in the Republican Party is large, including many who are appealing to the party's right wing.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Janet Hook reports on Senator Ted Cruz's (R., Tex.) declaration of his candidacy for the president. While he is first, many others are expected to enter the ring with most on the Republican side vying for votes of very conservative voters within the party. The class can first list positions on various issues that conservatives take, including repeal of the Affordable Care Act, elimination of President Barack Obama deferred prosecution on some undocumented immigrants, absolute opposition to abortion, cut in domestic spending, and on a variety of social issues. Of the conservative candidates, students can differentiate positions of Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky), who will formally announce his presidential candidacy in the next few weeks and considers himself a libertarian, and candidates such as Cruz. Responding to charges that he is a polarizing figure, Cruz said that Republicans have not done well with more moderate candidates, such as Mitt Romney, and need to nominate a true conservative. A similar position of Barry Goldwater, who said that the electorate needed a choice not an echo and supported conservatism, can be evaluated. In doing this the class can examine public opinion polls on several issues to assess the ideological position of the electorate. How close ideologically would the class say the conservative Republicans are from general opinion of the electorate?

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) The Republican Party leadership in the Senate has criticized the actions of Senator Ted Cruz, an usual move for party leaders. For what have they chastised Cruz?

2. (Introductory) Create an ideological scale and place the Republican Party's candidates on that scale in relation to each other.

3. (Advanced) Why do you believe that Senator Cruz chose Liberty University, a conservative Christian University started by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, to announce his campaign?

4. (Advanced) Compare Senator Ted Cruz idea about winning the presidency with that of the late Senator Barry Goldwater, who ran in 1964.

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

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Five Questions About Ted Cruz's 2016 Kickoff
by Janet Hook
Mar 23, 2015
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Militants In Iraq Siphon State Pay
by: Damian Paletta and Adam Entous
Mar 24, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Iraq, Terrorism

SUMMARY: The U.S. is working to reduce funds available to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) by destroying their oil refineries and by pressuring other nations not to pay ransoms. To cut Islamic State resources, the Iraqi government banned money transactions insides Islamic State-controlled territories. Because of this, the Iraqi government pays its workers in Mosul by courier. Taking advantage of this, the Islamic State is taking a 30% cut from the payroll funds and charging trucks that bring goods to Mosul. While the U.S. provides Iraq with hundreds of millions of dollars each year, it is not known whether U.S. funds have been skimmed off by ISIS. Governments face a dilemma as to what to do. If government salaries are cut off, individuals will not have enough money to buy food. Additionally, cutting out salaries goes against the strategy by the Shiite dominated government in Bagdad of winning support of Sunnis in Mosul. However not to cut funds allows the Islamic State to continue to buy weapons and fortify Mosul against an attack by U.S. and Iraqi forces expected this spring. Because of the Islamic State's occupation of Mosul, the city has seen its population cut in half.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Damian Paletta and Adam Entous examine the skimming of the government payroll in Mosul as a source of funds for the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). The class can first list the most significant sources of revenue for the Islamic State, including from oil sales, bank robberies, ransoms, donors, sale of antiquities and Iraq's government payroll. To attack the financial underpinning of ISIS, the U.S. has attacked the oil refineries to reduce the ability of ISIS to sell oil on the black market. The impact of the falling price of oil on ISIS can be discussed, especially with the dwindling funds from ISIS's attacks on banks. Examining salaries paid to individuals in Mosul, the class can discuss the importance of this money and of the money provided tribal leaders in the last years of U.S. ground involvement in Iraq. Given this, students can suggest ideas to continuing paying government employees in Mosul but minimizing the take by the Islamic State. With the money, ISIS must be able to buy goods and weapons. Given the increased opposition to ISIS from other governments, who is selling ISIS weapons?

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) It has been alleged that some of the Islamic State money has come from Middle East countries. Which have been implicated and why would they give the Islamic State money?

2. (Introductory) Why did the U.S. pay Sunni tribesman in Iraq? Is the Islamic State now paying some of them?

3. (Advanced) How has the world price of oil affected the Islamic State?

4. (Advanced) The Islamic State is skimming off government payment to employees in Mosul. One way to stop this is to drive ISIS out of Mosul. An effort to do so is expected this spring. Evaluate the potential success of this probable action?

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

RELATED ARTICLES: 
International Group Fights Islamic State Financing
by Samuel Rubenfeld
Mar 20, 2015
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U.N. Moves to Choke Off Islamic State's Cash
by Joe Lauria
Feb 12, 2015
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Islamic State Mostly Financed Through Extortion Rackets
by Samuel Rubenfeld
Feb 27, 2015
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Ohio Governor Weighs Jumping Into 2016 Fray
by: Janet Hook
Mar 25, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Presidential Election, Republicans

SUMMARY: With a quarter of those expected to vote in Republican candidates dissatisfied with the field, according to an early March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich is considering whether to throw his hat into the ring. Like several other probable candidates, Kasich is a fiscal and social conservative, working to incorporate a balanced budget amendment into the U.S. Constitution,. In his first term as governor, he tried to limit collective bargaining of state workers, which was overturned in a referendum. However, unlike most other Republican candidates besides Jeb Bush, he supported the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act, supports the implementation of the Common Core educational standards, and is willing to consider a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Admittedly against a week Democratic Party candidate, Kasich was able to win reelection, coming in first in 86 of Ohio's 88 counties. His personality, which some see as a drawback to a national candidacy but others see as a benefit, is to be blunt, which some find abrasive. The Ohio governor directly answers questions, such as saying that Social Security will need to be changed and any candidate not admitting it is not fit for office. He also is willing t introduce American ground troops into the fight against the Islamic State.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Janet Hook reports on the potential candidacy of Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich for president. As the article states, about a quarter of Republicans are not satisfied with the current field. The class can cite problems related to each candidate, such as Rich Perry being under indictment; Chris Christie's problems with bridegate that could lead to an indictment and fiscal problems of New Jersey; Bobby Jindal's fiscal problems at home; Scott Walker's frequent change of positions, lack of foreign policy knowledge, and fiscal problems in Wisconsin; Jeb Bush's support of policies that conservative Republicans oppose and the issue of electing a third Bush as president; Ben Carson, inexperienced and unknowledgeable about public policy; and Ted Cruz, the only declared candidate but one seen as a polarizing figure. This gives Kasich, who had a weak campaign for president in 2012, an opening. Students can name advantages and drawbacks that he would have to gain the nomination. A frequent cited advantage for Walker is that he won three elections in four years in Wisconsin, a competitive state. However, one was a recall election, showing that a large number of voters wanted him out office before the end of his term. In Kasich's case, he easily rode to a reelection victory, also in a competitive state in the North. Further, unlike the other governors in the race, Kasich has had experience at both the state and federal levels, having served in Congress for a number of years. The importance of Ohio with many electoral votes can be cited. A question that the class can address is whether it could be too late to get into the race in terms of money commitments already being made.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) How important has Ohio been in presidential elections?

2. (Introductory) Both John Kasich and Chris Christie have blunt, possibly combative, personalities. Assess whether personality would be a significant drawback to Kasich and Christie's presidential election chances?

3. (Introductory) Do you believe that John Kasich's position on Medicaid expansion and the Common Core will make it impossible for him to get the Republican nomination for president?

4. (Advanced) John Kasich is a strong supporter of a federal balanced budget. Analyze this concept from the perspectives of deficits and fiscal policy.

5. (Advanced) Why did John Kasich's attempt at eliminating collective bargaining rights of public employees fail while Scott Walker's similar policy is now law?

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

RELATED ARTICLES: 
GOP's John Kasich Isn't Backing Off Support for Common Core
by Janet Hook
Mar 24, 2015
Online Exclusive


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