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US Hist

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Thomas Nguyen

on 14 December 2010

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Transcript of US Hist

U.S. Constitution Canada's Government China's Government Cuba's Government The United State’s government operates under a document called the Constitution. This constitution has a few different parts. The preamble is the part of this document in which we introduce the constitution, state the general purpose for establishing it, and inform the reader that our power comes from the people. There are then seven articles. Article 1 talks about the Legislative Branch of Government. It sets up the two houses, Senate and House of Representative, making the Legislative Branch bicameral. It states that members of the House of Representatives are voted on every other year and the max number of terms is 5, and also states that members of the Senate serve terms of 6 years with no maximum amount of terms. It tells us that to be in the House of Representatives and you have to be 25 years old and have been a citizen of the US for at least 7 years. You have to have been in the House of Representative before you can be elected to the Senate. It even spells out exactly what the Legislative Branch does. They make laws coin money, establish post offices, declare war (with congress votes), approve president’s appointment of supreme court judges, can override a president’s veto of a bill, ratify treaties, levy taxes (raise or lower), and can remove a president from office (impeach). Article 2 talks about the Executive Branch. The Executive Branch is headed by the president who is elected with a vice president. It states the requirements to be elected president (must be 35 years old and a natural born citizen) as well as affirming that a president serves a term of 4 years with a maximum of 2 terms. The constitution outlines the duties of the Executive Branch as well. The Executive Branch is in charge of carrying out laws/enforcing them, directing foreign policy, making treaties with other nations, commanding the armed forces, granting pardons, calling special sessions of congress, appointing judges to be supreme court justices, and has a check on the Legislative branch by having the ability to veto bills. Article 3 talks about the Judicial Branch. The Judicial Branch is the branch of government in which the Supreme Court is in. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States and is therefore our final court of appeals. The Supreme Court has one chief Justice and 8 regular judges making a total of 9 judges. The average age for becoming a Supreme Court Justice is 60 years old although there is not an age requirement (youngest justice ever was 52). These judges are appointed by the president, approved by Congress, and have all had fairly successful careers as judges. Once appointed a Supreme Court Judge, you remain one until you die, quit, or become mentally incapable. Under article 3 in the Constitution, the Judicial Branch’s duties are also outlined. The Judicial Branch is responsible for interpreting the laws, deciding what the Constitution means to us in the present, and can declare laws unconstitutional. Article 4 talks about the laws in place for the equality of states. It says that states are required to recognize laws of other states meaning if two people are considered married by one state then they are considered married by all states and that if someone is a guilty of something in one state then they are also guilty of that crime in all the other states. This article also tells us that when people from one state are traveling in another, they should be treated equally. It informs us that Congress has the power to add states or turn territories into states as well as guaranteeing that all states have a republican government. Article 5 talks about the amendment process. It informs us that if you want to amend the constitution it must be proposed by a 2/3 vote of the House of Representatives and Senate (otherwise known as Congress). It then must be ratified, or approved by ¾ of the state legislators.
Article 6 talks about debts, superiority, and pledges. It tells us that all states in the US must assume some responsibility for paying of any debts the US is in. It also tells us that all laws and treaties made by the US are to be supreme law. It requires that before they take office, all officers of the US (judges, mayors, the president, senators, ect.) to take an oath of allegiance to the US. Article 7 doesn’t apply to us very much anymore, but when the Constitution was first created it was very important. The 7th article has to do with ratification. It simply states that in order for the Constitution to become law, it had to be agreed on by 9 out of the 13 states. After Article 7 in the Constitution comes the amendments. The most important of these amendments are the first 10. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are our Bill Of Rights. The first amendment lists the freedoms guaranteed to us (freedom of religion, freedom of petition, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech). The second amendment gave us the right to bear arms. The third amendment has not been used since the American Revolution but still remains in our Constitution. It is the amendment that limits the quartering of soldiers, during war or peacetime. The fourth amendment limits searches and seizers; it calls for the requirement of a search warrant to search someone’s house/car/ect. The Fifth Amendment gives rights specifically to people that are accused of a crime. They get protection against self-incrimination (“right to remain silent”), they can’t be tried for the same crime twice, and you have a right to due process, meaning proper legal procedures. The sixth amendment gives you the right to a speedy trial by jury meaning they can’t keep you jail for more than 48 hours before giving you a trial. The seventh amendment gives you a jury trial in civil cases and tells you that you can’t sue someone for more that $1500 (when first written was $20). The eighth amendment gives you the right to not have any excessive fines, or cruel/ unusual punishment. The ninth amendment tells us that any powers not specifically given to the state or federal government is reserved to the people. The tenth amendment tells us that powers that aren’t given to the federal government or banned for the states are given to the states. The US Constitution was written in 1787 by Thomas Jefferson. After the Revolutionary War against England, the newly free United States of America adopted a document called the Articles of Confederation. However this form of government didn’t last long. The US found plenty of problems with the Articles of Confederation, and they decided to write a new form of government. This they called the Constitution. The government of Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy. This means that it has a monarch (king/queen), but it is a limited government. Canada is currently under Queen Elizabeth II. The queen doesn’t really have much power in their government, but they are lead by a Prime Minister. The current Prime Minister of Canada is Stephen Harper. The government of Canada is also similar to a democracy because people vote for representatives. Canada is a multi party system meaning that they have more than one political party trying to take control of the government. In Canada the two parties are the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada. They, like the US, also have many smaller political parties too though. These smaller parties include the New Democratic Party, the Quebec nationalist Bloc Québécois and the Green Party of Canada. Canada’s Legislative Branch is bicameral (much like our own Legislative Branch). Its houses are the House of Commons, the Senate, and Parliament. The Senate has 105 members that are appointed by the governor general (with advice from Governor General). These members serve on the Senate until they are 75 years old. There are an equal number of representatives from Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime region, and the Western Provinces. This number can be increased if the monarch (with advice of the Prime Minister) feels it should be.
The House of Commons has 308 members. These members are elected by the people. This is a bit different than how we elect people in America though. In America the person with the majority of votes wins. In Canada, the candidate with the most votes of any candidate wins.
Canada’s Executive Branch instead of being headed by a president like the US, Canada is headed by a prime minister. Canada also has a cabinet of people that lead various agencies. These people are usually around 30 years old and are elected by the Prime Minister. They are also usually from the same political party as the Prime Minister though this is not a requirement. The monarch is passed from generation to generation and appoints a Governor General. This appointment is advised by the Prime Minister. The Governor General does not have a set number of years for a term although he/she usually serves for about 5 years. The Governor General appoints a leader for the House of Commons who then usually appoints the Prime Minister. Canada’s Judicial Branch is also very similar to ours. The highest court in Canada is the Supreme Court of Canada. This is also the final court of appeals in the Canadian Justice System. In the Supreme Court of Canada there are 9 judges. 8 Puisne Judges and 1 Chief Justice of Canada make up the Supreme Court of Canada. Canada’s government is limited by the Constitution. Provincial governments (like our state government) can only pass laws specifically given to them under their constitution. These laws includes education, officers for that province, municipal government, charitable institutions, and anything else that specifically has to do with something only local. Anything not given to the provinces is reserved to the federal government. Therefore only Parliament can pass laws that have to do with the postal service, the census, the military, navigation and shipping, fishing, currency, banking, weights and measures, bankruptcy, copyrights, patents, First Nations, citizenship, and much more. A lot of Canada’s government principles and procedures are based on England’s government because until 1931, they were a part of it. Canada’s government is also very similar to the government of the US.
Canada’s current Constitution is the British North America Act of 1867 and its following amendments. The British North America Act of 1867 was written by the British Parliament; however John A. MacDonald was the main author of it. The purpose of this Constitution was to describe the union of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and set up rules for how its government would work. After looking at many different factors (including the American Civil War) the founders of the Canadian Constitution decided it would be better for it to have a strong federal government like the US.
As you can see, Canada is very similar to the US. Canada has the same three branches of government (as specified in both Constitutions), they have a limited government, they have a Supreme Court with 9 judges (1 chief justice and 8 others), and much more of their government practices specified in their Constitution is very similar to the government practices of the US. Cuba is known to many as a dictatorship, although they claim they are simply a socialist and communist country. Cuba’s government is run under the Soviet- Style Constitution of 1976. Cuba’s Legislative Branch consists of the National Assembly of People’s Power (NAPP). This organization contains 609 members that are elected every 5 years, and they meet twice a year for a few days. Citizens are allowed to propose laws through Article 88 if they have at least 10,000 eligible signatures on it. Sometimes they are hypocrites though, for The Varela Project though had submitted a petition with 11,000 signatures calling for a political as well as an economic reform. This was countered by the government by the government of Cuba getting 8.1 million signatures requesting that the Cuban Constitution be untouchable. Cuba’s Executive Branch contains the Council of State and The Council of Ministers. The Council of State includes 31 members while the Council of Ministers only has 9. The Supreme Power of the Cuban Government is given to the Council of State and the National Assembly of People’s Power. Although, the main amount of power goes to the Council of State, because the NAPP only meets twice a year. In Cuba’s Judicial Branch the People’s Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Even though the Constitution does allow for other independent courts, they are all under the NAPP and the Council of State. Due process (or the right to a speedy trial) is often denied to citizens, especially if it is some kind of a political case. In Cuba, the rights of citizens can be denied to anyone who doesn’t agree with the government. Citizens do have some rights in Cuba though. All citizens over 16 who aren’t guilty of a crime can vote. The citizens’ lives are mainly controlled by the government. They are controlled by the government’s mass organizations, the government, and the State Security Department more specifically. The State Security Department’s job is to monitor and control the community therefore citizens are afraid to act or speak out because they don’t know exactly who is working for the SSD. Cuban citizens don’t have many freedoms at all. Unlike the US, the government can put citizens in jail due to their political beliefs. The government has greatly limited the freedom of speech and of press even though their Constitution allows freedom of speech and press as long as it “conforms to the aims of a socialist society”. Even their use of the internet is very strictly controlled. Cuba’s Constitution was written in 1976. It was written by Joaquín Infante to establish a communist/ socialist form of government. They believe “that only under socialism and communism, when man has been freed from all forms of exploitation - slavery, servitude and capitalism - can full dignity of the human being be attained”. This means that they think that socialism and communism help people by getting rid of things like slavery. Cuba’s government is not much like ours in the US. Instead of a democracy created with freedom of the people specifically in mind, Cuba created a communist country with nothing but power in mind. The few similarities have to do with Cuba’s very limited Bill of Rights. Cuban citizens are given rights, but unlike the US, they can be taken away very quickly and easily. The People’s Republic of China is ruled under the theory of communism. Around 73 million people are members of the Communist Party, for being in it gives you many privileges (better schooling, information etc). The Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, which is ruled by 5-9 individuals, controls the Communist Party. They have a huge influence over the legislative branch, the National People’s Congress. The Legislative Branch consists of only one main house, the National People’s Congress consisting of around 3000 people elected by the people every 5 years. They are supposedly “responsible” for passing laws dealing with areas such as human’s right and taxation, but usually most of the “laws” are passed by the Communist Party (The Politburo) and are only sent to the National People’s Congress to get “approved”. The Legislative Branch is considered by many, including BBC, to be “symbolic” still with nearly no power over the actually governing. They also are responsible for electing the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (consisting of 150 people), which basically is where the main influence is located since they actually interpret the laws contrary to many other nations who reside these powers to the judicial branch. Also, while the National People’s Congress only convenes for once a year; the Standing Committee meets every few months to discuss laws. While in theory and in China’s Constitution, the National People’s Congress is supposed to be the leading organ in the law-making abilities, its actual job is basically to be just “there”. In modern days though, the National People’s Congress slowly gains some independence and although very rarely, have overturned some bills brought to them by the Politburo and the Standing Committee. The Executive branch, consisting of the president, vice president, and state council, are “elected” by the Legislative branch. Congress elects the president and vice president every five years. The National People’s Congress is also responsible for “electing” members to the State Council (heads of government agencies) though these elections are known ahead. The State Council is consisted of 50 members and is responsible for the state budget playing mostly an economic role. The president, on the other hand, acts as the Head of State. The highest court in the judicial branch is the Supreme’s People court, and it still has to answer to the National People’s Congress. The judicial branch does not have the ability to actually interpret the constitution, only to judge cases. There are 23 provinces in China, for China considers Taiwan to be the 23rd province, 4 municipalities (including Beijing) which are ruled by the council of state, and 5 autonomous (self-ruled) regions (including Tibet). The powers basically flows down from the top level to counties and city and finally to towns. The National People’s Congress in also responsible for “electing” chairman to the Military Affairs Commission, but job goes to the most powerful person- the commander-in-chief. 11 men: usually senior generals or high-ranking leaders lead the Military Affairs commission. They have control over the armed forces (the People’s Liberation Army) and the state’s nuclear arsenal as well as controlling the police force that guard over the state’s secret, important buildings, etc.
The military, unlike the U.S have a political role. Their main duty is to “defend the party”, and many officers in the military are party members.
In conclusion, China has a very complicated government. Mainly, the head of the Communist Party, the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Part of China, basically controls the Legislative Branch, the National People’s Congress, therefore controlling the whole government since Congress is responsible for military, the judicial, and the executive branch. Rights as citizens in China are given “as long as it does not go against the party’s views”. Basically, even though China is trying to let the public perceive them as a fair government with all the ways the branches “interact”, in all truthfulness, the 5-9 men in the Politburo basically control the whole government. China’s government is run under the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. This was written by Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in 1982. It was written to close the gap between social classes, to develop the country more as well as allowing contribution by more people, and allowing other parties in the Chinese government. The U.S. government and China, even though usually are vastly different from each other, also have seem to have slightly a few similarities. One would be that both China and the U.S. have 3 branches- the legislative, judicial, and executive (even if the exact way they are ran are different). Also, the three branches must work with each other with the legislative branch making the laws, the executive branch carrying them out, and the judicial determining if the citizens are following the law. They also both "allow" citizens to vote for their representatives for the legislative branch. dictionary.com defines constitution as the fundamental political principles on which a state is governed we say a constitution is simply a set of rules that states how a government works Constitution: Thank you for watching our presentation :)
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