Human Rights & Individual Liberties
November 8th – Time – Obama Nominates Loretta Lynch As Attorney General
Nominated by President Obama to replace Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch is poised to become the first African American woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Although Barack Obama could have sought her confirmation before the previous Democrat-dominated Senate, he left the task to the newly-elected 114th Senate, where Republicans have the majority. The decision is slated to be taken in early 2015.
Lynch is said to have a rather low-key personality, with strong track records of independence and fairness, as a District Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. During a press briefing, Barack Obama said it is “hard to be more qualified for this job than Loretta.”
November 7th – The Washington Post – Judge Rejects Effort of Guantánamo Bay Detainee to Change How He Was Force-fed
A federal judge rejected a Guantánamo Bay detainee’s request to change the way he was force-fed during hunger strikes. Compared to torture by the convict’s attorneys, the continuation of these practices may render hunger strikes more difficult in the future.
Among the requests he made to the Court, Abu Wa’el Dhiab said “he wanted a doctor, rather than a prison official, to determine when he should be force-fed. He wanted to be taken to the feedings in a wheelchair, and he wanted the feedings to be conducted using a one-point, rather than a five-point, restraint. He also wanted the feeding tube to be left in for three days at a time to reduce the frequency with which it was inserted and removed from his nose.” All of his demands were rejected by the Judge.
November 5th – Foreign Affairs – Deadly Deportations: How Obama’s Immigration Policies Break the Law
Last month, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting the systematic deportation of vulnerable refugees from Honduras, a country undergoing “what is arguably the worst human rights crisis in the hemisphere.” Foreign Affairs argues that Washington’s handling of Honduran migrants is breaking international law.
Indeed, bound by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the 1980 Refugee Act, the United States is prohibited from “refoulement”, that is returning refugees to a country where they face persecution.
The report also highlights the conditions of those waiting to be deported, “detained for weeks, often in abysmal conditions.”
Environment and Sustainable Development
November 7th – MotherJones – Here Comes the Sun: America’s Solar Boom, in Charts
Solar energy production is growing at a rapid pace in the U.S. Since the mid-2000s, the power generated by new solar installations has grown, on average, 66% a year, far outpacing any other energy source. A recent analysis by experts at Deutsche Bank showed that, by 2016, solar energy will have become cheaper than traditional electricity coming from the grid. However, advocacy groups from the coal industry are working hard on reducing states and federal incentives, meant to promote a cheap solar energy.
But the fiscal battle over energy price can only last so long. Data show that, overtime, the cost-competitive advantage of solar over coal will surely win ratepayers’ favor.
November 7th – Salon – The Koch Brother’s Underhanded Attack on Wind Energy
Unlike solar, wind-generated energy is not yet sustainable on its own. It requires fiscal incentives to be competitive on the energy market. Therefore, the waning wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), which will have to be renewed very soon by the Congress, is in the center of many discussions.
The Koch brothers, along with allies from the coal industry, addressed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in which they warn that Democrats will try to extend the PTC during the lame-duck session, that is before the new Congress takes office. If the PTC is not renewed by then, the 114th Republican-dominated Congress will make the task even more challenging, with important consequences for the development of wind energy, in the near future.