Human Rights & Individual Liberties
October 24th – Reuters – Police in Ferguson committed human rights abuses: Amnesty report
In a report released on Friday the 24th of October, Amnesty International says that police in Ferguson, Missouri, committed human rights abuses as they sought to quell mostly peaceful protests that erupted after an officer killed an unarmed black teenager.
Responding to these allegations, Brian Schellman, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, said police “had one mission, and that was the preservation of life.”
The report goes further calling on state lawmakers to make Missouri law comply with international standards making lethal force by police a last resort.
October 27th – The New York Times – Is Affordable Care Act Working?
“Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced? Yes, the number of uninsured has fallen significantly. Has insurance under the law been affordable? For many, yes, but not for all…” In the form of an interactive story, the New York Times yesterday published an extensive assessment of how the “Obamacare” has performed in its first year.
Put together by 6 journalists and data researchers, the study concludes that “the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama’s main promises, (…) but it has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash.”
October 27th – International Business Times – Midterm Election 2014 Polls Show Republican Senate Candidates With Momentum In Battleground Races
Republicans are only 6 seats away from gaining majority in the U.S. Senate and, according to statistics, they may well make it.
In states like Colorado, Iowa or Arkansas, the battle is tight between the 2 parties, but early votes gave the lead to GOPs. However, 6 seats is what they need, providing Democrats don’t take over any Republican-held bastions. In Kansas, polls give independent candidate Greg Orman a comfortable 10-points lead over incumbent GOP Senator Pat Roberts. If elected, Orman said he would “causus” with whichever party holds the majority after the election.
In case of a tie in seat numbers countrywide, Vice President Joe Biden, as president of the Senate, would keep the Democrats in control.
October 23rd – US News – Midterm Election Could Top $4 Billion in Spending
$4 billion dollars! The Center for Responsive Politics’ latest projection regarding the 2014 election spendings sends shivers down the spine.
To help readers get their heads around this amount, US News provides a few comparative figures : $4b equals the total spending for the 2000 Bush-Gore presidential campaign, and that year’s congressional election combined.
For the third time in a row, Republicans are set to outspend Democrats. A tenth of the GOP’s $2b budget comes from “anonymous” donors, whereas Democrats get the majority of their donations through the Super-PAC mechanism. Contrary to a common belief, the latter contains some disclosure requirements.
Environment and Sustainable Development
October 27th – MotherJones – Five Things That Are Still Broken Two Years After Superstorm Sand
Although large sums of money have been unlocked to help survivors rebuild their communities, the situation is still far from getting back to normal. Only 1 in 5 victims say they materially recovered from the hurricane, polls show.
On the one hand, New York City’s “Build it back” program is stalling : more than 90 percent of applications to the program have yet to receive any financial assistance. Federal loans to small business owners have also been delayed.
On the other hand, governmental agencies which handed out money to Sandy survivors are now asking to get some of their money back. As an example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has asked around 850 households to return a total of $5.8 million in Sandy relief money, in early September.
October 21st – The Guardian – US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise Despite Obama’s New Climate Change Push
Despite growing efforts from the White House to reduce carbon emissions, energy-related CO2 pollution has risen 2,5% in a year.
This rise puts an end to several years of decline, and may have been caused by the chill Arctic temperatures of last year’s polar vortex (i.e. cyclone), scientists say. EIA data also show a 4.8% increase in the use of energy from coal, and a 10% fall in energy from natural gas.
What does that mean for Obama’s anti-climate change campaign? Well, that the goal is falling out of reach. Between 2005 and 2012, emissions had decreased by 13% and were on their way to meet the 17% reduction goal by 2020. Over the course of last year, the same ratio has shrunk to 10%…