By Robert A. Vella
Western Europe is baking under a dangerous climate change heat wave that is breaking temperature records, causing wildfires and power outages, and creating life-threatening conditions for humans and animals alike. The Iran Nuclear Agreement, which E.U. leaders admitted this week that they were powerless to save, may have been revived yesterday when a proposal with China was announced that would circumvent economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. If it works, President Donald Trump would suffer yet another embarrassment on the world stage. At home, Trump’s national emergency declaration to divert federal funds allocated for other purposes to build his border wall project was immediately and permanently blocked by a federal judge. Trump subsequently vowed to appeal the decision. Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an Alabama case challenging a court decision which invalidated an anti-abortion law passed in that state, another federal court struck down a similar law enacted in Indiana. Education secretary Betsy DeVos, the queen of privatization schemes, repealed a department policy designed to prevent for-profit colleges from scamming students with deceptive marketing claims. A bipartisan attempt in the U.S. Senate to rein-in Trump’s warmongering against Iran failed to garner sufficient votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. In Florida, governor Ron DeSantis signed a partisan Republican bill to counteract a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by voters last November granting former felons the right to vote. Such individuals, who have already paid their debt to society, must now pay court-ordered fees and fines before they can exercise their democratic rights. This is justifiably referred to as voter suppression, and the ACLU is filing a lawsuit against it. Finally, Democrats in Oregon folded like a house-of-cards in a stiff breeze when Republican legislators illegally fled the state to stop a cap-and-trade bill from becoming law. If you recall, a similar situation arose in Wisconsin several years ago with the roles reversed and Dems were the ones who fled in protest; but, Republicans didn’t fold and the Democrats eventually returned to the state whimpering in defeat.
PARIS/MADRID (Reuters) – Hundreds of firefighters battled on Saturday to contain wildfires in southern France as a stifling heatwave brought record-breaking temperatures to parts of Europe, killing at least three people in Italy.
In the Gard region, where France’s highest temperature on record was registered on Friday at 45.9 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit), scores of fires burned some 600 hectares (about 1,500 acres) of land and destroyed several houses and vehicles, emergency services said.
The World Meteorological Organization said this week that 2019 was on track to be among the world’s hottest years, and 2015-2019 would then be the hottest five-year period on record.
It said the European heatwave was “absolutely consistent” with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
Nuke deal revives
It’s a sign of the Trump administration’s isolation on the world stage when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, as it tries to cripple Iran financially and drive it to the negotiating table for a “more comprehensive deal” – something Iran has said won’t happen.
(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump was ready to break ground Monday morning on his long-promised Mexico border wall.
But a court ruling late Friday dealt the president another setback. A federal judge who last month blocked a pair of construction projects in Arizona and New Mexico added four more sites in Arizona and California. And the Oakland, California-based judge turned his temporary injunction into a permanent one.
Trump promised to appeal the ruling immediately, and complained that district court judges can issue nationwide injunctions.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge blocked an Indiana law that would ban a second-trimester abortion procedure on Friday, just days before the law was set to come into force.
The order putting the Indiana law on hold was released hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to revive a similar law in Alabama that sought to ban dilation and evacuation abortions.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is rescinding an Obama-era rule that was created to protect students from abusive for-profit colleges.
The rule, known as Gainful Employment, required for-profit colleges and career certificate programs to post debt-to-earnings ratios, proving that their students could find good-paying jobs upon graduating. If the average ratio did not meet government standards, the school’s federal funding would be revoked.
Forty Republican senators have voted against the proposal from Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.) and Tom Udall (N.M.), which would block the president from using funding to carry out military action without congressional authorization. An additional nine GOP senators, viewed as no votes, are not expected to vote.
Though the vote remains open, the opposition and absences block supporters from being able to muster the 60 yes votes they needed to get the amendment added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
MIAMI (AP) — Florida felons will have to pay court-ordered financial obligations if they want their voting rights restored under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday.
During the spring legislative session, Democrats argued that forcing felons who’ve completed their prison sentences and probation to also pay court fees and fines goes against the spirit of the constitutional amendment voters passed in November. The amendment to restore voting rights for felons other than convicted murderers and sex offenders was approved with 64.5% of the vote.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that have supported the restoration of voting rights for felons filed a federal lawsuit Friday challenging the new state law.
“Over a million Floridians were supposed to reclaim their place in the democratic process, but some politicians clearly feel threatened by greater voter participation. They cannot legally affix a price tag to someone’s right to vote,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Julie Ebenstein.
Oregon’s Republican state senators will return to the Capitol on Saturday following a weeklong walkout over a proposed climate change cap-and-trade bill, Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. (R) announced on Friday.
Though the Democratic Party holds an 18-11 majority in the state Senate, Oregon law requires 20 senators be in attendance to hold session. With all of the GOP Senate members in hiding, the Senate was unable to vote on any legislation for eight days and the bill — once expected to pass — now faces almost certain death.
Senate Democratic leader Peter Courtney indicated on Tuesday that the bill no longer had enough support among Democrats — and Baertschiger said Friday that both Courtney and Brown had privately assured him that their party would now be voting no.