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Rage, Resign, Reject and Recriminate
News Roundup: From the 'Summer of Rage' to terroristic upheaval. A court-heavy edition.
WHAT’S THIS?: The Stringer publishes every other week with a roundup of news items that you may have missed, sometimes with a global bent.
‘SUMMER OF RAGE’
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions have elbowed their way to the front of the news since the last edition. Unsurprisingly, the decision to soak up the most airtime was their unpopular undoing of Roe v. Wade, launching what activists have dubbed the “Summer of Rage.” It immediately became a fundraising gambit, giving a jolt to the Democrats.
The court’s decision killed the federal guarantee of abortion rights, sending the question back to the states. It’s already led to a tangled mess of contradictory policies varying by state. Protests continue as clinics shutter in anti-abortion states. The court’s marshal has leaned on Maryland to use anti-picketing laws to quell the protestors outside of justices’ homes. On Friday, the Biden administration issued an executive order that promised to put a bandaid on the problem, including pro bono lawyers for people who need to cross state lines.
IDEOLOGUES IN ROBES
Other big-ticket—and sometimes activist—decisions made by this court so far:
CORONAVIRUS: The court slapped down the Biden administration’s vaccination/testing requirement for big companies—though they did allow vax requirements for health care laborers. What coronavirus?
RELIGIOUS FEE-DOM: The court swatted away Maine’s ban on using public funding at religious schools, embracing the principle that religious freedom means the right to get on the public dole. They also opened up prayer on school grounds. What separation of church and state?
CLIMATE: The court restrained the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate GHG gases. What climate change?
INDIAN RELATIONS: The court decided that American officials get to prosecute non-Native Americans for crimes against Native Americans, constricting the 2020 decision that said a large swath of Oklahoma as Native American territory. What sovereignty?
TORTURE: The court backed CIA contractors in their refusal to give information to Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, a Palestinian who was abducted and tortured by the CIA before being held captive at Guantanamo. They apparently (and incorrectly) thought he was a high-ranking person in al-Qaeda. The court’s decision asserted “state secrets” and thwarts a criminal investigation. What public right to information? What right to face your accuser?
CIVIL RIGHTS: The court blocked “Miranda rights” lawsuits against police. What civil rights?
Other items that may have gotten drowned out:
BYE, BOJO: Boris Johnson finally lost all public confidence, and he’s leaving office how he held it: scandal-racked and shamefaced. The prime minister’s decision to name someone for MP, even though Johnson knew he’d committed sexual assault, finally wore down Johnson’s high-grade Teflon. Johnson is hoping to stick it out until the Tories take over, but the conservative party is planning to throw him out before then. Good luck in the breadlines, BoJo.
CAN YOU BE A TERRORIST AND AUSTRALIAN?: Delil Alexander, a dual national of Australia and Turkey, was arrested by the Kurdish police after joining ISIL. His citizenship had been snatched away by Australia—based on a law that strips citizenship from terrorists—but Australia’s High Court has now ruled the law unconstitutional. Australian citizen or not, Alexander still has free (mandatory) housing in “detention” in Syria. Talk about benefits.
NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE: A massacre in western Ethiopia felled 200 ethnic Amaras in western Oromia, triggering recriminations. In a briefing to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Kaari Betty Murungi, chair of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, warned of “early-warning indicators of further atrocity crimes against innocent civilians, especially women and children.”
BURYING PINOCHET: Chile’s new constitution will see a public referendum on September 4. The draft constitution has been heralded as a “progressive” document that seeks to enshrine social rights, but whether it’ll come out on top of the referendum is not clear. If passed, the constitution will oust the old one which was a creation of the repressive junta-controlled era and is affiliated with the rule of the despot Augusto Pinochet, the long-time leader of that era. Tunisia, the lone democratic flower to come from the Arab Spring, is also in the process of a constitutional update that critics say would further uproot democracy in the country.
TOOTHLESS LIONS: Blaise Compaoré, former despot of Burkina Faso, returned from exile in the Ivory Coast, the first time he’s set foot in the country in eight years, to meet with the junta in charge of the country. Compaoré was supposed to be joined by other former leaders in a bid to project strength as the country suffers attacks from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, but three of them flaked. Compaoré’s return has led to protests—especially since Compaoré was sentenced to jail while in exile—and wistful hopes for a return to stability. Reuters quotes Arouna Loure, a transitional parliamentary representative, as saying, “If you believe that Mr. Blaise Compaore is the lion that will come save our country, then you are deeply mistaken because this lion doesn't have teeth anymore.”
THROWING AWAY THE KEY: Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was convicted last year of murdering George Floyd, got hit with another 21 years in lock-up this week, after pleading guilty to using excessive force, a civil rights violation. Chauvin was already doing 22 years for murder. Floyd’s murder became a once-in-a-generation flashpoint for protests across the globe after a video of Chauvin kneeling on his neck went viral.
CORPORATE BRIBERY, BAD: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is dusting off the Robinson-Patman Act. The act is sometimes called the “Magna Carta of Small Business” because it protects small businesses from unfair practices by larger corporations. The agency put pharmacy benefits managers on notice last month, and experts expect a case to be brought imminently. Since Lina Khan took the helm, the FTC has been on something of an antitrust crusade, leading to hopes that the act will take the wind out of the corrupt corporate practices of large firms.
SHARIA ‘DIVORCES’ IN SOUTH AFRICA: In South Africa, Muslim women married under Sharia—Islamic law—now have recognition under South African law as the court was looking to extend protections for marriage and divorce to them. The constitutional court was quick to add that they’re not ruling on the constitutionality of Sharia.
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