AP Comparative Government Homework

Homework 23: Please read pp. 312-322 in this excerpt. How China built a propaganda machine and let it loose on Twitter once the virus struck.


Also read this hilarious story about the Chinese government's attempt to rein in its army of 100 million dancing grannies (here's a video about the phenomenon). Also, here's an interesting piece about how the Chinese government uses nationalism to increase its popularity from the Brookings Institute.  And an app for Xi Jingping thought!



At the bleak heart of the world's deadliest coronavirus outbreak--Bergamo, Italy.

Boris Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Old and new struggles for Argentina--and coronavirus comes for Latin America.

Democratic Taiwan has responded better to the virus than the CCP mainland.





Our terrible mayor and his terrible week.

Will this pandemic doom New York City?

Are pangolins to blame?

What should the government spend to save a life?

How genetic mutations turned the coronavirus deadly.

"I'm treating too many young people for the coronavirus"

New York is now warning the rest of the USA.

Actually, coronavirus is showing us the benefits of globalism.




-Due Monday, March 30th



Optional Stuff

Is the black hole at the center of our galaxy a gigantic quantum computer?

Homework 22: Please read pp. 302-312 in this excerpt  Is China devouring Europe? And here's post-pandemic piece: how to think about China.



India--one fifth of the world population--enters total lockdown.

How Iran botched the coronavirus.

North Korea secretly asks the world for help.

In the face of coronavirus, Europe's leaders ditch austerity.

Another mystery--why, despite its high number of infections, does Germany have such a low rate of death?




How the pandemic will end.

"We're in disaster mode": Courage inside a Brooklyn hospital.

"Apocalyptic" surge at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

A very neat model showing the effects of social distancing on the curve.

Stimulus deal shortchanges New York.

Mask shortage due to onerous FDA regulations?

Eminent virologist David Ho gives a super-informative Q&A on the virus.

Social distancing may have to be turned on and off like a spigot.

We've never seen unemployment jump like this before.

The tremendous importance of serological tests.

... and countries and labs are (finally) starting to try to implement serological testing for corona.

...and inevitable regulatory road blocks.



-Due Friday, March 27th



Optional Stuff

Really cool graphic on the NYT--albeit from 2015. Also an amazing "Come Together" cover on the gayageum.

Homework 21: Please read pp. 291-302 in this excerpt.  Also, please read this Economist special report from 2016 on the rise of China's new middle class. And here it is: The Secret Document that Transformed China!




India--one fifth of the world population--enters total lockdown.

A locked down Europe asks "how much longer?"

Luxembourg--COVID19 hotspot.

China, America and the international order after the virus.

The COVID19 recession is going to hurt Africa.






Here it comes--a $2 trillion stimulus package.

Is the coronavirus as deadly as they say?

What I learned when my husband got sick with coronavirus.

America's hospitals have never experienced anything like this.

...and what would happen if America's healthcare workers stopped showing up?

I think I have a mild-to-moderate case of COVID19.  I don't think I could survive worse.

Anyone leaving New York City or the NYC metro area should self-quarantine for 14 days, says White House expert.

People who want to "choose the economy" are not being honest about the consequences of that decision.




-Due Thursday, March 26th



Optional Stuff

Fantastic piece in the New Yorker on how South Korea has become the plastic surgery capital of the world.  Here's a GIF showing how similar the faces of beauty pageant contestants look. Here's 30 startling before-after pictures of Korean plastic surgery.


Also: how the "little ice age" changed history.

Homework 20: Please read pp. 280-91 in this excerpt. Here's an argument that the United States should offer Taiwan a free trade agreement. Also from National Review, a comprehensive timeline of all of the Chinese government's coronavirus lies.




Why is Japan still a coronavirus outlier?

Sweden's preppers say "I told you so"

How South Korea flattened the curve.

Armies are mobilizing to fight the virus.  Not armies of people--literal armies.




De Blasio says NYC school reopening is unlikely this year.

Olympics postponed until 2021

The pushback against the shutdown; Chait says that Trump is waging war on science at the worst possible time.

In a remarkable interview, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says that grandparents would be willing to die to save the economy.

Another GIF showing exponential growth.

New York City's greatest enemy in stopping the spread: density.




-Due Wednesday, March 25th



Optional Stuff

A bit late, but here's a cool article on Pi.

Coronavirus Updates (3/23): More pandemic updates.



Experts say that the virus can be stopped, but only with harsh steps.

The pandemic has caused an increase in the great power rivalry between the US and China.

New York City is now an epicenter of the pandemic!  Woot!

"I'm 26.  Coronavirus sent me to the hospital."

..and why are so many young people in the USA being hospitalized compared to China?

Could loss of the sense of smell be an early sign of COVID19?

Maybe mask-wearing by all is the key to stopping the spread?

Deniers and disbelievers: "If I get corona, I get corona."

No relief from those bozos in Washington.

Rand Paul tests positive.

Great infographic from the NYTimes on how the virus escaped China.

Italy's lessons for the world.

A thread on China's response from a British traveller.

Another great thread from Nick Christakis on the Chinese response.




Coronavirus Updates (3/20): I'm a bit ahead with homework, so I'm just putting up pandemic updates.



I sort of buried this piece in yesterday's links, but it is definitely worth a slow and careful read: the crisis of the liberal zombie order.


A great thread by Nicholas Christakis on what happens if you get, and recover from, covid19.

The search for a vaccine becomes a global competition.

Can't get tested? Maybe you're in the wrong country.

If this survey is right, a staggering 14% of Americans have been laid off.  These are Great Depression-style numbers.

Shady business--US Senators dumped stock after getting a confidential coronavirus briefing in late January.

GOP Senate stimulus bill would send $1200 to every American, with $500 per child.

WHO head says that Africa must "wake up" to coronavirus.

China claims no new cases in Wuhan... though I have some skepticism.

China avoids blame for the virus by trolling the world

...and here's a piece from 2017 wondering if China's wet markets will be ground zero for a future pandemic>

Elon Musk says he will help make ventilators... but how trustworthy are his promises?

As bad as it is for the economy, extreme social distancing is no overreation.




Homework 19: We are beginning to read Ethel Wood's section on China.  Please read pp. 270-280 in this excerpt. Also, check out this nice roundup from the NYTimes on the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp legislature. Can China create its own powerful aircraft manufacturer?  Finally... does a country need to have a viable manufacturing sector to remain rich?



How do different regime types respond to pandemics?

China reports no new cases today.

Will Asian nations face a second wave of imported cases?

Mike Bloomberg's plan for economic stimulus.

The existential inconvenience of coronavirus.

Crisis of the liberal zombie order.



-Due Friday, March 20th


Optional Stuff

Did culture kill the two parent family?

Homework 18 We are beginning China! Check out China's Great Leap Backward, an article from the Atlantic Magazine written by James Fallows--an American journalist who lived in Beijing for many years. The piece is from 2016, but foreshadows many of today's issues.  Also read this article from the New Yorker's Evan Osnos "Xi Jinping may be president for life.  What will happen to China?"  Finally, Handling Xi Jinping, China's "President for Life." Finally, check out this link: crazy smog in Beijing--click on images 2-4 to bring and dispel the haze.



Is it bad to call this a "Chinese virus"? 

Why the British government changed tack on COVID-19.

In the coronavirus pandemic, we're making decisions without reliable data.

Weird Facebook corona post deletion bug.

One trillion dollar corona-stimulus?

Have we become too pessimistic about coronavirus?





-Due Friday, March 20th

Homework 17: Let's finish Russia! I just discovered MUCH better version of the textbook.  Please note that this PDF goes up to the end of China.  Here's the second half.  That being said, please read pp. 246-58. Who is Vladimir Putin's most effective enemy? American businessman Bill Browder.  And how much money does Putin have, exactly?  More on the mess in Crimea here.



You should be absolutely terrified about the economy right now.

Trump pushes for what would be a $1 trillion fiscal stimulus.

How Italy became ground zero of Europe's coronavirus pandemic.

Why doesn't the USA have barely any coronavirus tests?

Our glorious mayor in action. Or in inaction.

Flattening the curve is a deadly delusion?

Heat and humidity reduce the transmission of COVID-19?

Can city life survive the pandemic?

Pandemic literature.



-Due Wednesday, March 18th



Optional Stuff

Have you heard of "eephing"--also known as "hillbilly beatboxing"?

Homework 16: More Russia. Please read pp. 238-46 in this section.  Also check out this piece "5 years since Putin's intervention in Ukraine: has his gamble paid off?"


-Due Tuesday, March 17th



Trump tries to lure German vaccine company to the USA.

Apparently Israel has been sitting on a pile of top-secret cell phone data, which they will now use to track coronavirus.

Messages from quarantined Italians to themselves from 10 days ago.

Iran rages against the perfect storm (paywalled article unless you click through the tweet).

Will coronavirus kill globalization?

The next phase of China's fight with coronavirus.





Optional Stuff

End the scourge of clock changing! Also, how well do you really know the NYC subway?

Online Class Information--IMPORTANT

 Hello fellow plaguesters.  I hope that you are all doing fine out there and engaging in social distancing!  Regardless of whether schools are open or closed next week, I will not be there and I suggest that you not be there as well.  My plan is to carry on with the curriculum as before, except instead of in-person lectures, I'm going to be doing things on Zoom.  As before, all work will be submitted, graded and returned on Dropbox. 


As far as Zoom lectures are concerned, my plan is as follows:

10am-11am: coronavirus news and updates.  This meeting is optional, but designed to (a) share news and resources and (b) keep coronavirus talk from hijacking all the other course material.

11am-noon: AP Comparative Government

1:30-2:30: Western Political Thought


I intend to start this schedule tomorrow!


I am not sure if you need to have a Zoom account, but it would probably make things easier if you had one.  They are at zoom.us.  The Slack group is proving to be a great resource to share articles, information and cat memes, so if you haven't already done so, please accept the invitation and join the group!  While I will try to keep my site updated, I'm on Slack all the time and there you can get newer updates.  Most importantly, I will be sharing the Zoom invite codes to the Slack group.  At the moment, Zoom is limiting me to 40 minute meetings, but I have applied for a free K-12 waiver.  If I don't have it by Monday, we'll probably have to quit after 40 minutes and rejoin.  It'll be a slight pain, but not impossible. 


Obviously, we are all under a lot of pressure, so if you can't make the meetings I will understand. Still, if you could make every effort to attend, it would be great.


Stay safe out there.  And should things seem dark, remember the following mantra:


I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

Homework:  Hey all.  If you are in my class, you should have received a Slack invite in your stuy.edu email. When you get a chance, please accept and download the Slack app for your phone.  This will enable us to communicate in real time.  Let's all remember to keep things civil and let's also try to remain calm.  Once you accept the invitation, please edit your profile and enter in your name (the default is just your e-mail address).  I'm creating channels for each class, so you can join your group.


The main idea of the group is for me to share work and articles with you and also to facilitate communication.  If school is actually cancelled, or even if it isn't, I'm going to try to do a virtual class using Zoom or some other platform.  I'll give updates on this once I figure out more.


In case you are interested, I wrote an editorial in today's New York Daily News--it can be found here.


ALSO: I do intend to get back to the actual curriculum, so starting next week, expect updates on the reading and other relevant sources.



Coronavirus: no good options.

Why you must act now.

The New York Times coronavirus update page.

CDC worst case scenario.

How will coronavirus permanently change the world?


Homework:  It feels a bit silly to be learning about Russian government when we are in the midst of what may be the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime. 



The state of testing in New York State.  It's bad.

Doctors in Italy facing brutal choices--a preview of our own future

12 steps to tackle coronavirus!  We are currently doing none of them!

First cases in NYC public schools! Should trigger a shutdown, right?

Calm before the storm? Covid19 will test our health system like never before.


Homework 15:  Please read pp. 226-238 in this section.  More information on the oil war between Russia, America and the Saudis. Also, Putin makes his move to become president for life.


-Due Thursday, March 12th



Shut everything down NOW.

Coronavirus puts Brexit into perspective.

Italian doctors face tough calls on who to save.




Optional Stuff

Fascinating graphic illustrating the world's nuclear stockpile. Also, rap stars and pre-16th century art resemblances?

Homework 14: More Russia! Please read pp. 215-226 in this section. Also, here's "Understanding Stalin," a review of Stephen Kotkin's biography of Stalin.  Kotkin was the author of the FA piece from last night's homework. Also, can Russia win the great oil war of 2020?



With the fall of Idlib, there is no longer any safe place in Syria.

Saudia Arabia's brash young prince--MBS.

An imperfect deal with the Taliban is better than no deal at all.




China's risky plan to restart the economy after coronavirus.

Southern Italy gets ready for coronavirus.

People in South Korea already thought the Shincheonji Church was a cult.  Now they are at the epicenter of the coronavirus in that country.



-Due Wednesday, March 11th


Optional Stuff

A weasel riding the back of a flying woodpecker?  Can it be real?  Can it be?

And on the subject of birds, why ravens and crows are Earth's smartest birds.

Homework 13: Deeper into Russia! Please read pp. 205-215 in this reading. Also, please read this fantastic article from Foreign Affairs about the rise of Vladimir Putin (Russia's nightmare dressed as a daydream). Also, how Russia views itself as the world's scapegoat (article by Polazzo alum Andrew Roth).



Malaysia's Mahathir gambled with his job and lost.

Oil price war!

Zimbabwe's female bus drivers.



Could South Korea's low death rate be a ray of light?

The EU leaves Italy in the lurch... and can Italians follow rules?

Ashraf Ghani takes the oath of Afghan president--and so does his rival.


-Due Tuesday, March 10th



Optional Stuff

Can we end the madness that is daylight saving time?

Is cryonics just a scam?

Homework 12: We begin our unit on Russia! Please read pp. 191-205 in this reading. About three months ago, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, along with the rest of his cabinet, abruptly stepped down. But why?



Chaos in Syria.  Is Turkey creating another refugee crisis?  And is Erdoğan reaping what he has sown?

Long, but interesting piece from the Lowy Institute on what Australian can do to stop a potential Taiwan crisis.

He was one of Mexico's deadliest assassins--and then he turned on his cartel.



You're likely to get the coronavirus.

Italy, Europe's coronavirus lab.

Can the Spanish Flu of 1918 teach us anything to help today?



-Due Friday, March 6th



Optional Stuff

From 1995 in Newsweek--some people call this "the wrongest article ever written."

Homework 11: We are moving on to a new chapter in the textbook on supranational entities, focusing on the European Union--please read it: 167-186.  Also, please read this article from the 2015 Economist--it's a bit stale, but still has some useful information. Also, check out this piece: the Coronavirus could be the end of the European dream of open borders. Finally, please read this piece by Francis Fukuyama on European identities.


-Due Monday, March 2



Why America radicalizes Brits.

In Africa, the opposition playbook on discrediting elections... and its risks.

Bougainville: Ringing in the change?




What would a Coronavirus outbreak mean for schools?

Most cases are mild--this is good and bad.

Fast spreading Coronavirus pushes Iran closer to lockdown.

Italy needs help with its fast-spreading virus problem.




Optional Stuff

This is an amazing machine!

Homework 10: Please continue on in the textbook up to page 156.  And does the British left have a problem with Tory Indians?



Is it a pandemic yet?

94 year-old Malaysian prime minister Mohamad Mahathir resigns... but why?

Iran's rigged election is a flop.


-Due Thursday, February 27th.


MINI-PAPER 1: In two to three  pages, decide which form of government is superior--that of the United States or that of Great Britain. A word of caution: It's okay to say that US Government works best for the US and British government for the Brits, but if this is your choice, be sure to elaborate... Couldn't the US be a unitary state?  Why not let the British regions be autonomous? You get the idea.


-Mini Paper Due Monday, March 2nd.



Optional Stuff

Is the dreaded Rebound Effect making our gains in energy efficiency meaningless?

Homework 9: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 136-45. Meet Rishi Sunak--the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. This piece argues that with Javid's ouster, Johnson is now fully in control.


Also, please check out an example of Prime Minister's Questions from February 12th--note that Question Time starts about at about the 1:00 mark on the video. "Question 1" is the traditional first question, to which the PM always gives the same response.  To read along, check out this transcript (which picks up at 3:11--after the end of Question 1). Obviously, the star of the show is the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and his chief inquisitor is Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour party.  Corbyn is an interesting individual--representing the old, pre-Blair Labour party. And, of course, Johnson just defeated Corbyn in big election that happened in late December. Corbyn immediately goes for the jugular at 5:05 (note that Johnson had US citizenship up until recently). If you are curious about the Windrush Generation, check here.


The men and women seated on the front benches are the government (on the Tory side) and the shadow government (Labour). The bald dude behind Johnson is recently ousted Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid.


Note: when members stand after a point, it means that they are trying to get the attention of the Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) to ask a question. Note that all of the comments of the Prime Minister are always directed towards the Speaker.  The Speaker calls for order (frequently) and also calls on members to ask questions.


...and here's a clip of former PM David Cameron calling (since ousted) Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls a turkey. And he's a short clip showing the best of Bercow, the much put-upon former Speaker of the House. Here's another medley of Bercow hits.



-Due Monday, February 24th



Does the Coronavirus expose the limits of Xi's centralized power?

The three most polarizing words in India.

Why was the Gambia the country that brought charges against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice?



Optional Stuff

This person does not exist. AI generated faces that (usually) look uncannily real.


Try this dialect quiz from the New York times to which sort of British/Irish accent you have!  Hint: probably none.


Homework 8: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 122-36. This piece says that the real story is not Brexit, but the weakening pull of the EU. Also, breaking news--UK cabinet reshuffle!



Also, please read Our World In Data--some amazing charts here.



China, ultra-competence and the Coronavirus.

Climate emergency in Africa?

Sugary drink consumption plunges in Chile after the posting of new warning labels.


-Due Friday, February 14th


Optional Stuff

Ten not entirely crazy theories explaining the great crime drop.

Homework 7: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 114-122.  Spiked, a pro-Brexit site, writes that it's time for Britain to seize the day.  Meanwhile, the Economist frets that there is not really enough time to forge an effective trade deal.


-Due Thursday, February 13th



Africa's top candidate for an economic leap is Ghana.

The collapse of Angela Merkel's chosen successor reveals major problems in German politics. (Here's a bit more about the Thuringia brouhaha)

Urgent questions that scientists are asking about Coronavirus.


Optional Stuff

Where the hell are the flying cars that I was promised in my youth?

Homework 6: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 102-114.   Also, please read this piece: Britain has changed forever.


-Due Tuesday, February 11th



Coronavirus shocks China's elite.

Five takeaways from Ireland's election shocker.

Venezuela's loss, Latin America's gain?



Optional Stuff

If you donít speak Japanese but would like, momentarily, to feel like a linguistic genius, take a look at the following words. Try to guess their meaning from the two available options

1. nurunuru (a) dry or (b) slimy?
2. pikapika (a) bright or (b) dark?
3. wakuwaku (a) excited or (b) bored?
4. iraira (a) happy or (b) angry?
5. guzuguzu (a) moving quickly or (b) moving slowly?
6. kurukuru (a) spinning around or (b) moving up and down?
7. kosokoso (a) walking quietly or (b) walking loudly?
8. gochagocha (a) tidy or (b) messy?
9. garagara (a) crowded or (b) empty?
10. tsurutsuru (a) smooth or (b) rough?

These If you want to learn more about this phenomenon, check out this really interesting article about ideophones.


These clips of early color motion pictures from 1922 are really haunting--some of the earliest use of color you will ever see.


Check out Li Hongbo's bonkers paper sculptures.

Homework 5: We are beginning our Britain unit!  To that end, please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 94-104.  Also, please read this insider account of the rise of Euroskepticism that would eventually lead to Brexit.



-Due Monday, February 10th



Why won't Carrie Lam shut Hong Kong's border with Mainland China?

The Muslim world's question: "what happened to us?"

How dollarization saved Ecuador's economy.



Optional Stuff

The crime rate perception gap. And from the same site, expert predictions of  what will happen in 2020.

Homework 4: Please continue on in the textbook.  Please read pages 54-80.  Also, a primer on charismatic leadership--why we love tyrants. Also, why Britain brexited.


-Due Wednesday, February 5th



Here's the New York Times's indispensable Coronavirus page.

Britain may be leaving, but it left its mark on the European Union--and what effect will its departure have?

The impact of Turkey's ambitious foreign policy.



Optional Stuff

Pogo remix!

Did early humans tame themselves by killing off aggressive males?

Homework 3: Please continue on in the textbook.  Please read pages 34-54.  Also, please read this report from the (libertarianish) Niskanen Institute about the rise of two separate moral systems in the United States. And if you found it interesting, this piece in by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times reflects more on its conclusions.  Both pieces are from 2017, but are still very relevant.


-Due Monday, February 3rd



Will Boris Johnson reverse Thatcherism?

Coronavirus and the panic epidemic.

Is Burkina Faso playing with fire by arming its citizen militias?


Optional Stuff

Can you create a band using only musicians that you find on Fiverr?

Ranking all 53 Superbowls.

Homework 2: This is the first excerpt from the textbook.   Please read pages 12-34.  Also, check out this piece written by Bill and Melinda Gates entitled "Three Myths on the World's Poor."  Finally, please read this riveting story: Trapped in Iran.


-Due Thursday, January 30th



Trump's Middle East peace plan is actually about power.

Is the Wuhan virus China's Chernobyl?

Iran's Guardian Council purges reformers from the election roster.



Optional Stuff

Best Simpsons opening sequence ever?

Check out George III's collection of military maps.

Homework 1: Please go to this form and enter your information!




You should do the following:


1) Make sure you have a Dropbox account.


2) Share a folder with me.  The format should be as follows:  If your name were Patrice Lumumba and you were in my 4th period AP Comp Gov class, the folder would be entitled: Patrice Lumumba, CG4. Please do not omit the "CG" in front of your period number. My e-mail address for sharing is mpolazzo@gmail.com


3) Upload a headshot of yourself that (a) is not too large and (b) actually looks like you. Place it in the shared folder. Name it patricelumumba.jpg (substitute your first and last names).  Please note that all headshots should be in JPEG form!


4) All uploaded data is due by the start of the period that I teach you on Wednesday!




Please check out this famous article by Harvard prof (and Stuy alum!) Samuel Huntington from Foreign Affairs--a counterpoint to the utopian philosophies that emerged around the time of the end of the Cold War.  Later this was turned into a book. 



The Optimist's Guide to 2020.

Did Putin just appoint himself president for life?

The Wuhan coronavirus--how upfront has Beijing been... and the race to contain this new killer bug.


BONUS CONTENT: Special report on Taiwan's elections.



-Due Wednesday, January 29th


Optional Stuff

How good are you at recognizing foreign languages?  Test your skill with Name that Language!

Those of you as obsessed with Chipotle as I am will find this oral history of Chipotle very interesting.

The Atlantic Magazine has an amazing photo blog called "In Focus."  Check it out here. Particularly stark pictures of Wuhan here.