EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency today issued a key ruling saying that greenhouse gas emissions pose a threat to public health and welfare. The decision allows the EPA to possibly issue a slate of sweeping new regulations. The administrator of the EPA Lisa Jackson has said she would rather have Congress come up with laws regulating greenhouse gases. But the decision gives the EPA latitude to take action if Congress doesn't act. The EPA identified six gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluorid) that are contributing to global warming. The EPA also noted in the decision that global climate change disproportionately affects different groups, like the poor, the elderly and indigenous populations. We don't exactly know what actions will be triggered by this decision, but it signifies a huge break from the Bush administration, which denied the existence of global climate change until 2007. Another great example of why elections have consequences.
TORTURE MEMOS: As you've probably heard, President Obama released Bush administration legal memos from 2002 to 2005 which show just how far the previous administration was willing to go in the name of protecting the country. I would recommend reading the memos. They range from the gruesomely inhumane (like waterboarding and sleep deprivation) to the bizarre (some terrorist suspect apparently was afraid of bugs, so the CIA put him in a box with a caterpillar. President Obama says that he is not releasing these memos for retribution, but to learn the lessons of past 8 years. I hope they do put Bush administration on trial, both because I think it would be just, and because I want to hear them explain how sticking a terrorist in a box with a bug is supposed to keep our country safe. It seems so elementary to me that a tortured prisoner would say anything to end the harsh treatment. It also seems elementary that doing things like this is not to best way to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.
NY20: It has become even more clear that Democrat Scott Murphy has beaten Republican Jim Tedisco in the special House election to replace Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in upstate New York. Murphy leads by about 273 votes with all absentee ballots and military ballots counted. The only outstanding votes are those challenged by either campaign as invalid. The vast majority of these challenges have come from Tedisco, which means that it's almost impossible that Murphy's lead will evaporate. Bottom line, the Republicans pegged this race as a chance to prove they could still win elections outside the Deep South, and that opposition to the stimulus package was political gold, and they were apparently very wrong.
That's it for tonight. Since it's Friday, we get the pleasure of listing the comment of the week. This one comes from Karen, who talked about the President's Cuba policy. PLEASE leave some comments on any entry you like. We will choose the best one and feature it on the blog every Friday. Also, if you are not already an official follower of the blog, please make yourself one!
I visited Cuba in November, just after the election. Everywhere I went people talked about Obama, and about how certainly he would change US-Cuban policy very soon. I said that I thought policy would change, but perhaps not soon, since there were, and are, so many important issues. The announcement of the easing of restrictions for family to visit and send money surprised me only be how early in the administration it happened. My feeling is that the Cuban government does not really want the embargo to end - it will make their control over the country much harder. By using the embargo as an excuse for nearly everything that the people want and the government doesn't want them to have, the Cuban government has a perfect boogeyman. We, the US, has succeeding in creating a strong Cuban government which, by denying the population access to the world's media, keeps most cubans uniformed about changes in the world around them. It's a small island with lovely people, poor roads, and great poverty. Let's celebrate change with the Cuban people very soon!