Monday, December 27, 2010

History of Associationalism

"Hoover's Lethal Economic Policy Mix"

"Herbert Hoover's Last Laugh"

History of Calvin Coolidge


More Biography

Even More Biography - PBS

Way More Biography

Too Much Biography

"Intervention in Nicaragua"

Primary Sources

Coolidge Speech (1926)

Way Too Much Biography

"Unusual Political Career" - NYTimes (1933)

YouTube Video

History of Harding's "Normalcy"

"Return to Normalcy" (1920)

"From Zero to Hero"


"Harding Declares Return to Normalcy" - NYTimes (1922)

More Biography

"Labor in the Age of Normalcy"

Even More Biography

"Return to Normalcy" YouTube Video

History of Motion Pictures


"History of Edison Motion Pictures"

"Talking Motion Pictures"

"Motion Pictures Rating System"

"The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930"

More Overview

"The Early History of Motion Pictures" - PBS

YouTube Video

Another YouTube Video

Health bill for 9/11 responders clears Congress

The so-called James Zadroga 9/11 health bill was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 206-60 after it cleared the U.S. Senate by voice vote.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The bill would provide medical treatment for emergency responders sickened by toxic dust inhaled at the World Trade Center site in New York in the days following the attack. Republicans had balked at the initial $7.4 billion cost of the 10-year bill, which had been approved by the House, and blocked Senate passage.

Backers early on Wednesday struck a deal whittling down the size of the bill to a five-year bill at a cost of $4.3 billion. The Senate quickly approved it without debate and the House .

The bill provides for a health program for responders sickened by the toxic debris and establishes a victim compensation fund. Victims have five years to file claims.

The cost is paid for by an excise tax on government purchases from companies in countries that are not part of the World Trade Organization procurement arrangements. The U.S. business community had objected to that provision.

The money collected will also help reduce the deficit by $450 million over 10 years, according to estimates.

Senate Passes Arms Control Treaty With Russia, 71-26

The 71-to-26 vote sends the treaty, known as New Start, to the president for his signature, and cements what is probably the most tangible foreign policy achievement of Mr. Obama’s two years in office. Thirteen Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus to vote in favor, exceeding the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution.

“This is the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference after the vote. “It will make us safer and will reduce our nuclear arsenals along with Russia’s.” Reprising one of Ronald Reagan’s famous lines, Mr. Obama added that the return of nuclear inspectors under the treaty will mean that “we will be able to trust but verify.”

The treaty obliges each country to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers deployed within seven years, and it provides for a resumption of on-site inspections, which halted when the original Start treaty expired last year. It is the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years, and the first that a Democratic president has both signed and pushed through the Senate.

The treaty had the support of the nation’s uniformed military leaders and of a host of Republican national security veterans, including former President George H. W. Bush and five former secretaries of state, Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice. But many of the party’s potential 2012 presidential candidates, like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and John Thune, came out against it, as did the two top Republican leaders in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Mr. Kyl, the lead Republican negotiator.

Obama Signs Away ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The military’s longstanding ban on service by gays and lesbians came to a historic and symbolic end on Wednesday, as President Obama signed legislation repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the contentious 17-year old Clinton-era law that sought to allow gays to serve under the terms of an uneasy compromise that required them to keep their sexuality a secret.

“No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie or look over their shoulder,” Mr. Obama said during a signing ceremony in a packed auditorium at the Interior Department here. Quoting the chairman of his joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Mr. Obama went on, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”

The repeal does not immediately put a stop to “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Mr. Obama must still certify that changing the law to allow homosexual and bisexual men and women to serve openly in all branches of the military will not harm readiness, as must Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen, before the military can implement the new law. But the secretary and the admiral have backed Mr. Obama, who said ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a topic of his first meeting with the men. He praised Mr. Gates for his courage; Admiral Mullen, who was on stage with the president during the signing ceremony here, received a standing ovation.

U.S. air traffic upgrade hit by delays, higher costs

A new high-altitude air traffic control system is taking longer than expected to bring on line and at higher costs than planned, a U.S. government watchdog said on Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration has already spent $1.8 billion on the system aimed at providing faster routes and safely packing more planes into the high-altitude cruising phase of flight.

Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel said it could take between three to six years and up to $500 million more to finish the project managed by the FAA and its contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

Airlines will be required to outfit new planes with cutting edge navigation equipment at considerable cost. Only a few carriers have made even modest investments with industry pushing government to cover a substantial amount of new costs.

Democrats Seek Changes to Senate Procedures

Frustrated by routine filibusters and other procedural blockades, Senate Democrats are urging their leadership to negotiate with Republicans to change the rules that govern how the Senate does business.

The Democrats would leave intact the ability of the minority party to filibuster legislation and nominations, meaning that in most cases it would still take 60 votes to get anything done. But they want to require senators to be on the floor if they intend to try to debate a bill to death and would make other changes to streamline the Senate’s operations, including ending the practice of secret “holds” by a single senator on legislation or nominees.

Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.

Report: Fla. has 1,403 gangs with 56,200 members

Florida's first gang census shows the state has 1,403 documented gangs with 56,200 members, associates and suspected members.

Since the gang reduction strategy began in 2007 the statewide prosecutor's office has charged more than 170 gang members. About 110 of those defendants have received sentences totaling more than 950 years in prison.

Many Children Lack Doctors, Study Finds

Nearly 1 million children live in areas with no local doctor. By relocating doctors, the study suggests, nearly every child could have one nearby.

The growth in the number of pediatricians and family physicians has outpaced the growth in the child population in the United States, Dr. Shipman and his colleagues found. Yet the study’s analysis shows that nearly all 50 states have an extremely uneven distribution of primary care doctors for children.

Quarter of students fail exam for Army

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can't answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report by the Education Trust found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates don't get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military. Questions are often basic, such as: "If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?"

The military exam results are also worrisome because the test is given to a limited pool of people: Pentagon data shows that 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don't even qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn't graduate high school.

Recruits must score at least a 31 out of 99 on the first stage of the three-hour test to get into the Army. The Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard recruits need higher scores.

The study shows wide disparities in scores among white and minority students, similar to racial gaps on other standardized tests. Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don't pass, compared with 16 percent of whites. The average score for blacks is 38 and for Hispanics is 44, compared to whites' average score of 55.

Divided FCC adopts Internet rules

A divided Federal Communications Commission banned Internet service providers like Comcast Corp from blocking traffic on their networks, provoking warnings the rules would be rejected in the courts and threats from Republican lawmakers to overturn them.

The 3-2 decision on Tuesday highlighted a huge divide between those who say the Internet should flourish without regulation and those who say the power of high-speed Internet providers to discriminate against competitors needs to be restrained.

But the FCC did allow Internet providers like Comcast, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc to "reasonably" manage their networks and to charge consumers based on levels of Internet usage.

House Passes Overhaul of Food Laws

The House of Representatives gave final approval on Tuesday to a long-awaited modernization of the nation’s food safety laws, voting 215 to 144 to grant the Food and Drug Administration greater authority over food production.

The bill, which President Obama has indicated he will sign, is meant to change the mission of the F.D.A., focusing it on preventing food-borne illnesses rather than reacting after an outbreak occurs.

Under the legislation, food manufacturers will be required to examine their processing systems to identify possible ways that food products can become contaminated and to develop detailed plans to keep that from happening. Companies must share those plans with the F.D.A., and provide the agency with records, including product test results, showing how effectively they carry them out.

The agency, which has sometimes been criticized for its failure to check up on risky food producers, will be required to conduct more frequent inspections in the United States and abroad. The law will also give the F.D.A. the power to order food recalls. Currently, it can only request a recall, even when there is evidence that tainted food has made people sick or represents a clear health hazard.

While the legislation contains many changes that advocates had long pursued, many of its important provisions, including the requirement that companies put in place food safety plans, do not go into effect for as long as 18 months. The agency will use much of that time to write rules that it needs to carry out the law.

In addition, the increased inspection of food manufacturers will happen only gradually, with regulators given up to five years to visit high-risk facilities. After that, high-risk plants must be inspected every three years.

Long-term care volunteers save Fla. $1.8 million

An annual report shows volunteers saved Florida $1.8 million by inspecting nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the budget year that ended June 30.

The report on Monday said the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program handled a record 9,098 complaints with only 376 volunteers - 41 fewer than the prior year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

History of the Treaty of Versailles


The Treaty of Versailles

"German Protest"

More Overview

Even More Overview

Way More Overview

"The Terms of the Treaty"

Too Much Overview

"On the Legacy of the Treaty"

So Much Overview

YouTube Video

History of the League of Nations



"The Covenant of the League of Nations"

More Overview

"Woodrow Wilson: The League of Nations"

"The Idea of a League of Nations"

"The Senate and the League of Nations"

Even More Overview

"The League of Nations and the United Nations"

History of Wilson's Fourteen Points

Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points (1918)

Wilson's Address to Congress (1918)

Hertling's (Germany) Reaction (1918)



More Overview

Even More Overview


"President Specifies Terms as Basis for World Peace" - NYTimes

"Wilson Outlines the Fourteen Points"

"Justice to All Peoples"

Key Vote: Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010

Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010
- Vote Passed (277-148, 8 Not Voting)

The House gave final approval to this bill extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that were due to expire at the end of 2010 for another two years. The bill also extends unemployment benefits for 13 months. The president signed the bill into law later in the day.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted YES

Key Vote: Dont Ask, Dont Tell Repeal Act of 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
- Vote Passed (250-175, 9 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill repealing a 1993 law prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in the military. The Senate passed the bill several days later, clearing it for the president’s signature.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO

Key Vote: Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
- Vote Agreed to (65-31, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate gave final approval to this bill repealing a 1993 law prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in the military. The president lobbied for repeal and is expected to sign the bill into law.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES
Sen. George LeMieux voted NO

Key Vote: Cloture Motion; DREAM Act

Cloture Motion; DREAM Act
- Vote Rejected (55-41, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate fell short of the votes needed to move forward on this bill that would provide a path to legal status for certain undocumented children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents. The measure is unlikely to be brought up again in the 111th Congress.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES
Sen. George LeMieux voted NO

Key Vote: Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010

Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010
- Vote Agreed to (81-19)

The Senate approved this bill extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that were due to expire at the end of 2010 for another two years. The bill also extends unemployment benefits for 13 months. The House gave final approval to the measure several days later. The president signed the bill into law shortly after House passage.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES
Sen. George LeMieux voted YES

Key Vote: DREAM Act

- Vote Passed (216-198, 20 Not Voting)

The House passed this measure that would provide a path to legal status for certain undocumented children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents. Shortly before the vote, the House voted to replace the language of a bill further along in the legislative process with the language of the DREAM Act. The Senate may take up the bill the week of December 13.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO.

Key Vote: Continuing Resolution

Continuing Resolution
- Vote Passed (212-206, 16 Not Voting)

The House passed a long-term continuing resolution to fund government operations through the end of fiscal year 2011 at fiscal year 2010 levels. The overall funding would remain $1.09 trillion, but billions of dollars in program funding would shift. The bill would also include an overhaul of food safety laws and expand Food and Drug Administration enforcement powers. It is unclear at this time whether the Senate will take up this measure. The current continuing resolution expires December 18, 2010.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO

Key Vote: National Defense; Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell

Cloture Motion, Defense Authorization Act
- Vote Rejected (57-40, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward on this bill authorizing defense expenditures for the 2011 fiscal year. The bill included a provision that would have repealed the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law. The bill is unlikely to move forward if it includes the "don’t ask" provision. This will be the first time in 49 years a defense authorization bill has not been cleared.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES
Sen. George LeMieux voted NO