Originally Published: 9/12/2015
Syrian Refugees: President Obama ordered his administration to make preparations to take in at least 10,000 displaced Syrians over the next fiscal year which begins October 1st. We’re “on track” to allow in 1,500 by the end of the current fiscal year. (NPR) The NY Times reported that the president was “under increasing pressure to demonstrate that the United States is joining European nations in the effort to resettle Syrian refugees.” Is that a lot of people for us to take in? Not hardly. “An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighboring countries or within Syria itself.” More than 3 million have gone to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. 150,000 have sought asylum in the EU. (Syrian Refugees) Germany alone said it could take half a million refugees annually over several years. (AFP) One small village in Lebanon has taken in thousands of refugees. (Global Post) And the U.S. is only going to take 10,000? Not much, but then wealthy Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia have taken in 0. CNN has a great video of what it calls “a country-by-country look at what is being done to address the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide more than 20 years ago.”
Gitmo: The military command at Guantánamo Bay “has stopped honoring security clearances for attorneys representing the only detainee who has agreed to testify against the 9/11 defendants. . . A doctor specializing in the treatment of torture victims has also lost her ability to visit the base.” The military commission judges have no authority over the detention center and, thus, cannot order them to let the attorneys and doctors in. Army colonel James Pohl, the judge in the case, “has ordered government prosecutors and defense lawyers to come to a resolution” that provides the defense attorneys with access. “But that depends on a military command deciding to comply.” (Guardian)
Iran Nuclear Deal: Senate Democrats “blocked a Republican effort to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal, delivering the Obama administration a long-awaited, major foreign policy victory.” (Washington Post) The House Republican conference constructed 3 measures. The first was a “resolution of approval,” which failed. The second was a resolution just like the one that failed in the Senate. The third “would deny Obama the ability to lift financial sanctions for Iran, leaving it up to the next president to decide as the measure would expire the day after the next presidential inauguration, Jan. 21, 2017.” (Talk Radio News)
Ecuador: The Canadian Supreme Court, in a unanimous 7 to 0 decision, ruled that “victims of the contamination by the Chevron oil company in Ecuador can seek compensation from Chevron in Canada.” (Telesurtv) In 2011 an Ecuadorean court found Chevron responsible for environmental contamination in the Ecuadorean Amazon and ordered the company to pay $19 billion in compensation. The ruling was affirmed by the Ecuadorean Supreme Court but it lowered the compensation to $9.5 billion. Then, a U.S. District Court decided that Chevron had “provided enough evidence that judgement on behalf of rain forest dwellers in the country’s Lago Agrio area was secured by bribing a judge and ghostwriting court documents.” So, he reduced the judgment to $9.5 billion. If you remember, I wrote about this and questioned why a U.S. court was involved and why they had reduced a judgement to the amount that was already determined. (TWW, Chevron Off the Hook, 3/8/14) I still don’t have any answers. But it appears that this ruling by Canada’s Supreme Court assures that Chevron, which refused to pay, allows plaintiffs to enforce the ruling by seeking the seizure of Chevron’s assets in Canada.
New Zealand: An award-winning young adult novel, Into the River by Ted Dawe, has been banned from sale or supply by the Film and Literature Board of Review “after an outcry from a Christian group.” It is currently being pulled “from libraries, schools, and bookshops around the country.” The Christian group, Family First, “objected to sexually explicit content, drug use, and the use of a slang term for female genitalia.” (Guardian)
Arizona: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton upheld part of Arizona’s SB1070 law - the so-called “show your papers” section. “The section allows police in Arizona to check the immigration status of anyone they stop. Bolton ruled that immigration rights activists failed to show that police would enforce the law differently for Hispanics than other people.” She also upheld the section that lets police check to see if a detainee is here legally but she voided the laws targeting day laborers. (Reuters) Since Bolton had delivered the same ruling back in 2012 (TWW, Arizona, 9/8/12), I’m not sure what this was about.
California on Cop Killing: Since 2005 police and law enforcement agencies in California have been required to submit to state authorities detailed reports about deaths in custody. But the information was made accessible and searchable for the first time last week on the new Open Justice website. What it reveals is that, between 2005 and 2014, 19% of almost 1,000 homicides by law enforcement were of black men, who made up only 3% of the state’s population. And black men were also arrested and died in custody at disproportionately high rates. (Guardian)
California on Right to Die: Lawmakers have passed a bill that will allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives. “The measure faces an uncertain future with Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian who has not said whether he will sign it.” (Washington Post)
Kentucky: Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was released from jail. (TWW, Kentucky, 9/5/15) She was held for 5 days. “As a condition of her release, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis not to interfere with the issuing of marriage licenses by her office.” But her attorney stated that she “cannot, will not, violate her conscience.” (Washington Post) But her deputy clerk, Brian Mason, tweeted that he will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even if Davis tells him not to.
North Dakota: A new law which “explicitly forbids lethal weapons” on drones “allows law enforcement drones to be armed with so-called less-than-lethal weapons - including stun guns and beanbag rounds.” These so-called non-lethal weapons have been shown to kill. (ARS Technica)
Washington: The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that privately run schools are not public schools under the state’s constitution. In other words, charter schools have been expelled from the public school system. This’ll be interesting.
The Counted: Up to 815 from last week’s 787. (Guardian) That’s 28 people killed by law enforcement this last week.
Planned Parenthood: The House judiciary committee held a hearing demanding that Planned Parenthood answer for the “alleged atrocities” exposed in the doctored video. However, Planned Parenthood was not invited. Yeah. No kidding. (Guardian) Oh, and 28 House Republican lawmakers are threatening to shut down the government by not passing a budget (or continuing resolution) if Planned Parenthood is not defunded. (Huffington Post)
Fighting Marriage Equality: States that took marriage equality laws to the U.S. Supreme Court are now facing the costs. “States that defended same-sex marriage bans - most did, to some extent - are now being asked to pay the legal fees for those litigants under a 40-year-old federal law that says the court ‘in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.’” Michigan has received a demand for $1.9 million from the attorneys for plaintiffs. Kentucky has received a bill for $2.1 million. South Carolina has already been ordered to pay $130,000. And Florida is fighting a bill of $700,000. Some states have reached agreements for payment: Pennsylvania settled for $1.5 million, Wisconsin for $1.05 million, Virginia for $580,000, Oregon for $132,000, Colorado for $90,000, Utah for $95,000, and North Dakota for $58,000. “The varying prices reflect the length of the battles or their intensity.” (Al Jazeera) And don’t forget that this is in addition to the costs the states incurred themselves for their side of the fight.
Cucumbers: 2 people have died and 70 hospitalized in 30 states due contracting salmonella from cucumbers from Mexico. 341 people have been diagnosed. “More than half those who have become ill are children younger than 18 years of age.” (Washington Post)
Frankenvirus: Scientists are going to “reanimate” a 30,000-year-old virus that was found preserved in the frozen “wastelands” of Siberia, “one of several pre-historic viruses to have been unearthed in the last 15 years.” While this will be of “great scientific interest, they warned that the effects of climate change were likely to unearth more such microscopic pathogens, a reality which could pose an increased threat for the spread of disease.” [Emphasis added.] (Al Jazeera)
Bee Colony Collapse: Last May the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the pesticide called sulfoxaflor, marketed by Dow AgroSciences. Sulfoxaflor belongs to a class of pesticides call neonicotinoids (TWW, Polluted Streams, 8/29/15) that have been implicated in bee colony collapse. (Nature) But this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the EPA’s approval was “based on flawed and limited information,” and overturned the approval. (LA Times)
Going Green Saves Money: A report by The New Climate Economy found that if cities around the world implemented certain carbon-reducing strategies - including making buildings more efficient and investing in public transportation - they could save a combined total of $17 trillion by 2050.
Navy Goes Green: The Department of the Navy has signed an agreement to add solar power to 14 naval installations. It’s the “largest purchase of renewable energy by a federal entity.”
General Mills: General Mills is the 6th largest food company in the world and it just announced plans to cut its greenhouse gas emission by 28% by 2025. They’re vowing to cut the emission across the “entire value chain - from farm to fork to landfill.” Guess they figured out they can’t make Wheaties without wheat.
Low Income Workers: Since 2009 low income workers have seen their take-home pay falling, according to a new study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “The declines were greatest for the lowest paid workers in sectors where hiring has been strong - home health care, food preparation, and retailing - even though wages were already below average to begin with in those service industries.” (NY Times)
Paid Sick Leave: Obama has ordered companies doing business with the federal government to provide paid sick leave for their employees. This adds to the recent executive actions he has made. (TWW, Labor Law Violations, 8/2/14; Discrimination, 6/21/14; Equal Pay, 4/12/14; Minimum Wage, 2/1/14) “White House economists say that will lead to higher productivity in an era of stagnant wages, while nudging private companies and Congress to join in updating work conditions.” The order requires companies with federal contracts “to let workers accrue up to 7 days of paid sick leave each year.” (LA Times)
Prosecuting Banksters: Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced to federal prosecutors nationwide a new policy that will “prioritize the prosecution of individual employees - not just their companies - and put pressure on corporations to turn over evidence against their executives.” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said: “Corporations can only commit crimes through flesh-and-blood people. It’s only fair that the people who are responsible for committing those crimes be held accountable.” (NY Times) Up until now the priority has been with prosecuting the corporations - which then may get a fine, part of which they write off their taxes. No person committing the crimes that led to the 2008 financial crisis has gone to jail because of the former policy. So, this is good. Let me remind you, however, that this doesn’t apply to anything that has already been settled or is currently in the process of prosecution or settlement.