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Electoral System of Australia

Electoral System of Australia


Summary of Electoral System of Australia

Many regard the electoral system of Australia as one of the best voting systems in the entire world.  The voting system is often required under law, and preferential voting elects the candidate with the most votes, regardless of jurisdiction. 

Compulsory Voting

Voting for federal, state, and territory legislatures is required under Australia law.  Voting in municipalities is often required as well.  During the most recent federal election, about 95 percent of the population voted.  Only 5 percent of the population left a ballot blank or failed to properly fill out the ballot. 

If a citizen of Australia fails to vote, they are subject to a $20 fine.  Prosecution is allowable under Australian law, but prosecution does not usually occur. 

Preferential Voting

Preferential voting is used in federal, state parliament, and municipal elections throughout Australia.  The electoral system of Australia is also used in political party elections, trade unions, churches, company boards, volunteer organizations, and sports clubs.  There are two types of preferential voting used in Australia: ‘full’ preferential voting and ‘optional’ preferential voting. 

In full preferential voting, all of the number-one votes are counted for each candidate.  The election goes to the candidate with the majority of the vote (51%).  If none of the candidates have a majority, the candidate with the least votes is excluded right away.  The votes for the excluded candidate then go to the second preference of the voter as described on the ballots.  The process continues until a candidate has over half of the total votes. 

Full preferential voting is used for the federal House of Representatives and the following lower houses: Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory.  Optional preferential voting is used in the lower houses of New South Wales and Queensland. 

Determination of Parliamentary Seats in Australia

The majority of parliamentary seats are determined by proportional representation in Australia.  Proportional representation lets the party’s percentage of overall votes determine the number of seats—40% of the vote ensures 40% of the seats.  There are two variants used in Australia as well, which include the ‘Senate’ model and the Hare-Clark system. 

The Senate model makes it easier for a minor party and independent to win seats.  The system makes it hard for a major party to control the Senate and throughout the following upper houses: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. 

The Hare-Clark system lets party members fight for seats as often as compared to fighting for seats against an outside opponent.  This system lets minority governments operates more than compared with preferential voting.  This system is used for the Tasmanian House of Assembly and the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly. 

Electoral System of Australia: The Breakdown

Commonwealth House of Representatives: preferential, full allocation

Commonwealth Senate: proportional representation, Senate model

New South Wales Legislative Assembly: preferential, optional allocation

New South Wales Legislative Council: proportional representation

Victoria Legislative Assembly: preferential, full allocation

Victoria Legislative Council: proportional representation, Senate model

Queensland Legislative Assembly: preferential, optional allocation

Western Australia Legislative Assembly: preferential voting, full allocation

Western Australia Legislative Council: proportional, Senate model

South Australia House of Assembly: preferential, full allocation

South Australia Legislative Council: proportional, Senate model

Tasmania House of Assembly: proportional, Hare-Clark model

Tasmania Legislative Council: preferential voting, partial allocation

Northern Territory Legislative Assembly: proportional, full allocation

Australian Capital Territory: proportional, Hare-Clark model

Source: https://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/electoral_system.html


United States to Become Energy Independent by 2035

United States to Become Energy Independent by 2035

On November 12, 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that North America will become the largest net oil exporter by 2035.  In a time where fuel and energy costs are at the center of most debates, there is finally good news for the United States.  

The IEA reports that global demand for oil will reach 99 million barrels per day.  Oil from unconventional sources and deepwater wells will help meet the demand, but the world will rely more heavily on OPEC supply.  The IEA predicts that Iraq will account for 45% of the increase in oil production by 2035, and the country will be the second-largest exporter—eventually overtaking Russia for the second spot behind North America.  

The demand for natural gas will increase 50% by 2035.  The demand will be 5 trillion cubic meters by 2035, and half of the production will come from the United States, Australia, and China—with the United States producing the most.  The demand for coal will increase by 21 percent as well, but the majority of coal demand comes from China and India.  

Renewable energy is predicted to by the second-largest power source in the world by 2015, and renewable energy will be equivalent with the amount of energy produced by coal by 2035.  Increases in nuclear energy will likely occur in China, Korea, and Russia.  

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven states: “North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency.  This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of the global demand in 2010.”

Source: International Energy Agency

Director of CIA Resigns Amid Sex Scandal

Director of CIA Resigns Amid Sex Scandal

General David Petraeus resigned from his duty as CIA director on November 9, 2012, after an FBI investigation dug up information about an affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell.  Petraeus did not break any laws while committing the affair, but he decided to resign because of what he called his “extremely poor judgment.”

During a statement on November 9, 2012, Petraeus stated: “Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA.  After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.  Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.  This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.”  

General Petraeus was known for his genius in combat.  He commanded the 101st Airborne during the Iraq invasion in 2003, and he was considered a hero by many troops serving in the war.  

Petraeus’ wife, Holly Petraeus, is often considered a model for the “military wife.”  She and David Petraeus have been married for 37 years and moved their family over 20 times throughout his career, and she was always seen closely by David as he was building his career.  

There is some concern with how the FBI handled the investigation and how Petraeus resigned.  Congress was never notified about Petraeus’ activities during the investigation, and members are now asking for more information about the investigation into Petraeus’ activities.  

In the end of his statement to the public, Petraeus stated, “As I depart Langley, I want you to know that it has been the greatest of privileges to have served with you, the officers of our Nation’s Silent Service, a work force that is truly exceptional in every regard. . . .Thank you for your extraordinary service to our country, and best wishes for continued success in the important endeavors that lie ahead for our country and our Agency.”

Source: Central Intelligence Agency

President Obama Re-Elected as US President

President Obama Re-Elected as US President

It was late on November 6, 2012, but President Obama clinched the re-election in an election some thought wouldn’t be decided for days.  The results were close as more and more people stood in lines at the polls, but it was clear President Obama was showing a strong lead going into the evening.  

President Obama initially won Michigan and New Hampshire, both states that were strongly divided between the two candidates.  The results in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin soon showed the Obama clinched two more swing states, and with the electoral votes from California, President Obama only had to win in Ohio.  

The results for Ohio were announced late Tuesday night and bumped up President Obama’s electoral votes to 275.  By Wednesday morning, President Obama had secured 303 electoral votes, and Governor Romney had secured 206 electoral votes.  Only Florida remains undecided, but President Obama showed a slight lead in the state’s majority vote.  If Obama wins Florida, the final electoral vote count will give President Obama a total of 332 electoral votes.  

The national popular vote remained extremely close, but President Obama also showed a slight lead in the popular vote.  

With President Obama’s victory, three US presidents in a row have been elected to a second term.  

During President Obama’s victory speech, he acknowledged Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for their strong campaign.  He praised the United States and voters for their support, but he made a clear statement that the work required by citizens to improve the country does not end with the election.

President Obama ended the speech on a powerful note and gave his ideal of the United States.  He blessed the United States and praised the country as a place where everyone has an equal opportunity if they work hard, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or who they love.  

Following the election, President Obama now faces budgetary issues in the United States and must work with Congress to set up a budget to avoid another fiscal cliff.

Residents Should Use Safety as Winter Storm Athena Nears

Residents Should Use Safety as Winter Storm Athena Nears

As winter storm Athena gets close to the Northeast states—especially areas affected by Hurricane Sandy—the Fire Administration (USFA) urges residents to take safety precautions while staying warm in order to avoid fires.  

Winter storm Athena is impacting mid-Atlantic and Northeast states at this moment, and the conditions are expected to continue through the night.  

The USFA suggests the following steps to prevent fires during the winter storm:

•    contact the fire department right away if you smell natural gas and exit the building right away
•    do not use an oven range to heat your home
•    keep anything at least three feet away from a space heater
•    make sure your space heaters have a “tip switch”
•    only use fuel the heater calls for
•    do not fill up a space heater if it’s still hot or still turned on
•    put a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to catch sparks
•    make sure your wood stove is working properly and has enough ventilation
•    do not put space heaters on carpets or rugs
•    open the damper for the fireplace before you light a fire
•    never leave a space heater on when you sleep

The USFA recommends the following to prevent CO poisoning during the winter storm:

•    do not run a gasoline generator in your home
•    keep the portable generator as far away from your home and your neighbor’s home as possible
•    don’t use a portable propane heater indoors unless the heater is designed for inside use
•    do not use gas or electric stoves to provide heat for your home
•    ask if a space heater is safety-certified before you purchase one

Source: U.S. Fire Administration



McCarthyism before McCarthy
“McCarthyism” is a term that was coined by a cartoon by Herbert Block featured in the Washington Post on March, 29, 1950. It was used to describe the campaigned carried out by Joseph R. McCarthy, who at the time was a Republican Senator of Wisconsin. 
While McCarthyism described the period which Joseph McCarthy campaigned, there were preexisting attitudes from events over 30 years prior that created what is now known as the McCarthy era.
The start of McCarthyism and the McCarthy era can be earliest tracked from the 1910’s. After World War I, there was an extreme sense of patriotism in American society. From here came the birth of the First Red Scare from 1919 to 1920.
There was a nationwide fear of dissent from the government, particularly from communists, anarchists, and socialists. During this time, many civil liberties were ignored, and innocent people were jailed for expressing their dissent. 
Americans were very concerned about the possibility of communists infiltrating the United States, where they could potentially subvert labor unions, schools, and other institutions. There was particular concern with the labor unions, as two of the largest unions had strong objections to WWI and had even held strikes for various reasons. These strikes were often associated to “Reds,” demonizing many of the strikes after as crimes against society to conspire against the government and establish communism.
In the aftermath of World War II and the deconstruction of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Russia was quickly becoming a powerful and influential force on the global stage. Russia was extending communist influence over many parts of Eastern Europe and China was at this point on the verge of becoming a communist state. The Korean War also demonstrated the fight against Communists, as the United States, South Korea, and the U.N. fought against North Korean and Chinese communists.
Both Government and private agencies began to investigate, hoping to find evidence of this subversive activity. In the 1930’s the House Committee on Un-American Activities was formed, and was revived throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s.
In 1950, Joseph R. McCarthy was a young Senator who was hoping to seek political gain. He created an effective and well publicized, but morally questionable campaign using what is now known as McCarthyism, which relentlessly sought to expose Communists in the United States. His McCarthyism-filled Anticommunist campaign, which continued till 1953, attempted to identify and eliminate communists as well as “fellow travelers” in the government. 
In the same year, McCarthy claimed he had a list of 205 names of individuals who were Communists working within the State Department, which he never released. Many Congress members approved of his questionable ethics due to the success he received from them. It was the use of these heavy-handed tactics that Herbert Block coined McCarthyism in his cartoon, just weeks after the announcement of this list.
The Senator’s use of McCarthyism was initially endorsed by many voters and politicians, but ultimately McCarthy destroyed his reputation when he attacked the U.S. army by accusing them of promoting communists. He submitted evidence that was found to be fraudulent and after attempting to wrongly discredit one of the attorneys hired by the U.S. Army, his McCarthyism was quickly exposed his popularity effectively vanished, followed by weakened attitudes of McCarthyism.

Speaker of the House

Speaker of the House

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the highest ranking officer of the United States House of Representatives. The position requires the speaker to head the House as well as the majority political party as well as various procedural and administration functions. The Speaker of the House also leads his or her own congressional district.
The authority of the Speaker of the House is given in Article one, section 2 which specifically states “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”
This means that the representatives of the House can choose the Speaker as their presiding officer from the members of the majority party. One elected, the Speaker have the ability to choose other officers such as the clerk for the House, doorkeeper, sergeant at arms, chaplain, and other nonmembers. They can also initiate the process of removing federal officers by a vote and then trial by the Senate.
While a speaker does not officially have to be an elected member of Congress, this has never happened. The Speaker of the House is chosen every midterm election by a vote of the members of the house. After elected the Speaker of the House serves a two year term. While serving, they still act as the representative from their congressional district.
While the Speaker of the House does not always preside over regular meetings, they do often preside over special join sessions of Congress when the House of Representatives hosts the Senate. Here the Speaker of the House will determine when bills should be debated or voted on.
One of the most important features of the position of Speaker of the House is that the Speaker is only behind the Vice president in terms of the line of Presidential Succession, followed by the President pro tempore of the Senate. To date, this succession has never been acted on.
Currently Republican representative John Andrew Boehner from Ohio’s 8th district is the 61st Speaker of the House. Boehner is a graduate of Xavier University who earned a Bachelor’s degree in business. He first worked in the private sector soon ran for public office in 1984 in the Ohio General Assembly.
Boehner was then elected Congress in 1990 where he served on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce as chairman. He was elected as a House Majority Leader in 2006 and finally as the Speaker of the House in 2010. 

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller

The Oil Industry’s Revolutionary Man: John D. Rockefeller

Early Life
John D. Rockefeller was born in Richford, New York on July 8, 1839. From an early age, his parents created an understanding of the value of money and how important work and savings were to being successful.  In 1851 his family moved to Owego, New York and a year later he attended Owego Academy where he particularly excelled in arithmetic.
His family then moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1853. Here John D. Rockefeller attended high school between 1853 and 1855. Rockefeller found himself to be particularly apt at math and debate
College and Early Career
John D. Rockefeller completed 10 weeks at Folsom’s Commercial College in the spring of 1855. In  his brief time there he learned bookkeeping, commercial history, penmanship, mercantile customs, and banking  and exchange. He also learned how to properly write up contracts from his father.
At the age of 16, John D. Rockefeller started his job search and through perseverance, obtained a position in 1855 as an assistant bookkeeper at Hewitt and Tuttle. His strong work ethic and honesty impressed his employers and by 1858, he had acquired more responsibilities at Hewitt and Tuttle, such as arranging complicated transportation deals.
John D. Rockefeller began to explore his own trading ventures that he felt he could be successful in. In 1859, John D. Rockefeller started a business with his neighbor, Maurice Clark that commissioned merchants in hay, grain, meats, and other goods. Clark and Rockefeller soon became a very successful and competitive business, which rapidly expanded during the Civil War.
John D. Rockefeller realized that business would be limited in Cleveland with incoming railroad innovations. He shifted his attention away from agricultural products to raw industrial materials that were available in the area. 
John D. Rockefeller’s Shift to the Oil Industry. 
Oil was found in Pennsylvania in 1859, shifting the attention of the economy. In 1865, Rockefeller purchased the firm of Andrews, Clark & Company which handled oil refining and quickly began to extend the company out. With a few changes in partners, the firm became Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler and by 1868, it was world’s largest refiner.
John D. Rockefeller later started the Standard Oil Company of Ohio in 1870, which held one tenth of all the oil business at the time. He then decided to consolidate all oil refining firms to create one large organization, creating Standard Oil in 1871. While Standard Oil was successful for many years after, it was eventually dissolved in the 1890’s.
The End of Rockefeller’s Career
John D. Rockefeller had a partial nervous breakdown in the early 1890’s. Meanwhile his business was so large and he has acquired so much wealth that he did not know what to do with it. Much of it was invested as well as donated to charities. He sold his iron-ore businesses and retired in 1897.
From retirement until his death, John D. Rockefeller participated in many philanthropic activities, for example helping to finance the University of Chicago as well as starting the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.
Rockefeller died on May 23, 1937 at the age of 97.

U.S. Treasury

U.S. Treasury

The Basics about the U.S. Treasury
The United U.S. Department of the Treasury, or just the U.S. Treasury, is an executive agency that acts as the federal government’s treasury. 
While many of the functions of the U.S. Treasury were being carried out even before the Declaration of Independence was signed, it was officially established in 1789 by the First Session of Congress.
Purpose of the U.S. Treasury
The U.S. Treasury works to maintain a strong economy and promote conditions that allow for stability and growth, while protecting the integrity of the financial system and effectively managing the government’s resources.
The Department works alongside other agencies within the federal government, with foreign governments, and financial institutions across the world to manage economic growth throughout the world.
Some of the responsibilities of the U.S. treasury include mainlining systems within the country’s financial infrastructure, advising the President concerning on issues related to finance or the economy, revenue collection, borrowing funds to run the federal government, and implementing economic sanctions against possible foreign or national security threats to the U.S. government.

Some other tasks of the U.S. Treasury include the following:
Overseeing coinage and currency production
Collecting taxes paid to the U.S.
Supervising national banks
Investigating and prosecuting those forgers and tax evaders
Enforcing tax laws and Federal finance laws
Advising on policies related to domestic and international finance
The U.S. Treasury is headed by the Secretary of the Treasury.  This position is fifth in line in the U.S. presidential line of succession. Furthermore, the Secretary is traditionally a member of the President’s Cabinet, and after the Clinton administration, a member of the U.S. National Security Council.
The Secretary of the U.S. Treasury manages the U.S. Emergency Economic Stabilization fund and also signs Federal Reserve notes that later go on to become legal tender. As of January 2009, Timothy Geithner has been acting as the Secretary of the Treasury.
After the Secretary of the Treasury, the next positions highest positions are the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, followed by the Treasurer of the United States and the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of the Treasury. These positions are currently held by Neal S. Wolin, Rosie Rios, and Mark A. Patterson, respectively.
The U.S. Treasury is organized into two major sections: the Departmental offices along with the operating bureaus. The Departmental Offices are mainly responsible for creating policy and managing the entire department. The operating bureaus execute specific operations given to the department. 
Beyond the major sections, the U.S. Treasury is further divided into divisions which are headed by the Assistant Secretaries. These offices include:
Domestic Finance
General Council
Economic Policy
International Affairs
Tax Policies
Legislative affairs
Public Affairs
Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Treasurer of the United States

Change is coming: EPA Plans Rules on Clean Gas

Change is coming: EPA Plans Rules on Clean Gas


The Obama administration is moving ahead with a plan to require cleaner gasoline as a means to reduce smog and traces of sulfur in gasoline. 
The rules are set to take effect in 2017, and their impact would not be realized until a decade later, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A study released by the Environmental Protection agency stated the new rule has the potential to save 2,000 lives a year and significantly reduce the likelihood of childhood asthma. 
“We estimate the rule to reduce smog by 30 percent”, said Bill Becker the director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents several air quality control agencies throughout the world. 
A significant point of contention is how significantly the harsher rules would add to the price of gasoline. Oil and Refinery industry experts have postulated that such a move would require motorists to pay nearly 10 cents more per gallon of gasoline; however, the White House claims the move would add less than a penny per gallon, based on studies released by the Environmental Protection Agency. 
Representatives of the energy industry disagree with the government’s estimates. “There is a boatload of federal regulations coming from the EPA that could put upward pressure on gas prices,” said Bob Greco, a managing director at the American Petroleum Institute. 
The new rule targets sulfur, which is naturally present in crude oil. The more sulfur present in gasoline, the less efficiently an automobile runs. The new rules would force refineries to reduce sulfur content by nearly 60 percent to 10 parts per million from 30 parts per million, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The United States Federal Government estimates the rule change to have the same effect as taking 33 million automobiles off the road. 
Refineries serving the European Union, Japan and California are already required to meet these stricter rules. 
The Sierra Club praised the plan as executive director Michal Brune proclaimed the rules to be an excellent use of current technology to “clean up our cars and fuel sources. “
The rules were developed with advice from car manufacturers, refiners and state officials, according to the Obama administration. 
Of the 111 refineries covered by the new rule, only 16 will need to purchase new equipment to meet the associated regulations. 
“Today’s proposed standards are the next step to protect public health; these rules will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they require to offer the same car models throughout the United States,” said EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe.  
Source: whitehouse.gov