United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann intends to leave his mark on the United Nations and the global economic-political picture before his one-year term ends in September. D'Escoto, a longtime top official in the communist Sandinista government of Nicaragua, has chosen as his primary vehicle for making this mark the UN Conference on the World's Financial and Economic Crisis to be held June 24-26 at the UN headquarters in New York.
In the midst of his travels through the Middle East and Europe, President Barack Obama used his weekly address on June 6 to talk about healthcare reform, just as Congress began dealing with health insurance-reform legislation.
Karen Handel, Georgia secretary of state, issued a scathing press release following a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to deny preclearance for Georgia's (already implemented) plan to verify the legitimacy of its voter-registration lists, including verifying whether or not applicants are U.S. citizens. Because Georgia, like many other southern states, must pre-clear its voting procedures with the U.S. Department of Justice, denial of preclearance equates to denial of permission to do it.
On June 4, the House voted 310-118 for a bill (H.R. 2027) limiting the use of whole-body imaging devices as the sole or primary method of screening at airports. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sponsored the bill, which drew support from both sides of the aisle.
Dr. Ron Paul’s son, Rand Paul, has formed an exploratory campaign for U.S. Senate from Kentucky. Rand Paul is similar to his father in ideology; he favors a strict application of the Constitution to federal government matters, thus opposes the Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. Department of Education and supports lower taxes and less spending.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reported on June 3 that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has dismissed dozens of lawsuits charging illegal spying on Americans through warrantless surveillance. The EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plan to appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
President Barack Obama tried to strike a conciliatory tone with his June 4 speech at Cairo University. The president referred to such developments as algebra and the magnetic compass as being part of “civilization's debt to Islam.” He included verses from the Koran and the traditional Muslim greeting meaning “peace be upon you” (“Assalaamu alaykum”). He said: “I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
“President Obama, in a pivot from some of his harshest campaign rhetoric, told Democratic senators [on June 2] that he is willing to consider taxing employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for a broad expansion of coverage,” the Washington Post reported on the following day.
Will Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, be for Republicans and for conservatives in general what many have dubbed Vice President Joe Biden? Biden has been called “the gift that keeps on giving” because of his tendency to stick one and Sotomayor may have some of the same rhetorical tendencies.
“George R. Tiller, the nation's most prominent provider of controversial late-term abortions, was shot and killed yesterday in the lobby of his Lutheran church in Wichita, where he was serving as an usher,” the Washington Post reported on June 1. Tiller specialized in performing abortions during the final stages of pregnancy, when the baby is far along in development and, in most cases, could survive outside the womb with proper medical treatment.
The “international community” needs to do more to help Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the eighth Asia Security Summit this weekend. The meeting with Asian defense ministers in Singapore concluded Sunday with the 27 countries represented there calling for “peaceful and cooperative” solutions to security challenges in the region.