Human Rights & Individual Liberties
October 10th – MotherJones – The Supreme Court Just Blocked Scott Walker’s Voter ID Law
As a consequence of two emergency orders issued by the US Supreme Court on Thursday, voters in Wisconsin and Texas won’t be required to present photo-IDs anymore at the November midterm elections.
In the past few years, several Republican States have passed restrictive voting laws to limit the vote of minorities on election day. Among them are the “voter ID laws” : by preventing registered voters without government-issued IDs to vote, they leave a large share of the electorate aside. In Texas alone, 600,000 people lack the document, most of them being black or Hispanic.
The Supreme Court, whose decision highlights a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act, puts an end to a recent trend of high courts upholding voting restrictions in different States.
October 7th – Wired -Twitter Sues the Government For Violating Its First Amendment Rights
Last week, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the US Government over its First Amendment right to disclose surveillance requests received from federal agencies, like the FBI and the NSA. In a bid to guarantee more transparency to its users, the San Francisco-based social network claims the right to release more details about how the federal Government surveils the platform.
A year ago, a group of tech companies led by Google negotiated with Washington an expansion of the publicly available statistics on social-networks surveillance. However, the disclosure prerogatives granted by the White House are still vague and all the FISA-related requests remain classified.
October 7th – The Wall Street Journal – Supreme Court allows Gay Marriage to Begin in 5 States
Following last week’s US Supreme Court decision, same-sex marriage is now allowed in 30 American States. After lower jurisdictions deemed gay marriage bans unconstitutional in Utah, Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, the 5 State governments decided to appeal to the federal Supreme Court for abrogation.
By declining to hear the appeals, the Justices effectively authorized same-sex union in these jurisdictions, bring up to 60% the proportion of Americans people living in States where gay marriage is legal.
Environment and Sustainable Development
October 8th – The Guardian – US east coast cities face frequent flooding due to climate change
By 2030, climate change could lead US east cost cities to face flooding up to 48 times a year, scientists say. In a report released last wednesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists raises awareness around the growing number of tidal floods, due the rising of sea level, that cities on the Atlantic coast will undergo in the future.
Although the number of flood days have already quadrupled since 1970, statistics are likely to keep increasing as wave crests grow higher. By 2045, half of the coastal towns “can expect to see more than 100 tidal floods a year”, the report says.
October 7th – The New York Times – In the U.S., a Turning Point in the Flow of Oil
Last July, a tanker carrying 400,000 barrels of crude oil left Texas for South Korea to become “the first unrestricted export of American oil to a country outside of North America in nearly four decades”.
Despite Barack Obama repeating this shipment did not represent a change in Washington’s energy trade policy, environmentalists worry the country will turn into a major oil exporter and keep exploiting its sub-soil resources further.