Warren Mass

The State Department announced on May 29 that Secretary of State John Kerry had made his final decision to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, effective on that date.

 

The Senate battle for and against renewing expired parts of the PATRIOT Act — that the National Security Agency (NSA) has used to justify the collection of phone records — continued on June 1, after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked extension of those powers during a special session of the upper house the previous day.

In a White House statement released on May 26, President Obama stated: “I called on the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear up the confusion and uphold our basic duty to protect these vital [water] resources.”

 

A report released on May 26 by Amnesty International said that Hamas — the more violent faction of the Palestinian National Authority that took control of Gaza from Fatah in 2007 — carried out a “brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel and others.”

 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans decided on May 25 to let stand a February 16 injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, that blocked President Obama’s executive action to grant amnesty to four million illegal aliens.

 

The Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party’s People's Daily, said in an editorial on May 25 that “U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea ... if the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities” in the disputed Spratly Islands. China calls the disputed territory the Nansha Islands. 

 

The dogged insistence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on renewing the expiring portions of the PATRIOT Act intact has created a logjam in the Senate that will likely lead to those provisions expiring at midnight on May 31.

Voters in Ireland went to the polls on May 22 to decide a national referendum to change Ireland’s constitution to give homosexual couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples. If the referendum passes, it would make Ireland the first nation to legally recognize same-sex "marriage" by popular vote.

 

In his commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut on May 20, President Obama elaborated on "the challenge I want to focus on today — one where our Coast Guardsmen are already on the front lines, and that, perhaps more than any other, will shape your entire careers — and that’s the urgent need to combat and adapt to climate change."

A NASA study released on May 14 claims that the Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica is weakening quickly and will likely disintegrate completely in the next few years, contributing to rising sea levels. However, other NASA data released in May dispels this gloomy forecast, and shows show polar sea ice is approximately five percent above the post-1979 average. It was in 1979 that satellite instruments began measuring the ice caps, so figures from that year serve as a base line.