May 14, 2010

What just happened?! His Girl Friday edition

It's been quite a week.
  • Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (predictably, but still, sadly) signed a law passed by the state legislature cutting state funding to any public school that offers an ethnic studies program or curriculum.
  • Jackson, N.Y. passed a law requiring all official town business to be conducted in English. Nearby towns are following suit, and the ACLU is starting to take exception. Will this cluster of towns be the Arizona of the east coast?
  • In other Arizona-related news, the Los Angeles City Council has responded to Arizona's new immigration law by banning official travel to Arizona and vowing to block future contracts with companies there.
  • If you're looking for something to boycott outside the state of Arizona, California workers have a song for you (hint: Lady Gaga wouldn't want you to get caught here). Seriously though, do your homework before making your next hotel reservation.
  • MoveOn (taking a page from UFCW Local 1776's book) has endorsed Joe Sestak for the Pennsylvania Senate. Sestak faces newly converted Democrat Arlen Specter in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
  • After much delay, anticipation, and amendment, the Senate unveiled its climate change plan, which includes a new-and-improved section on offshore drilling that is said to reflect "mounting concern" over the massive oil spill that's still happening in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Hmm, yeah, about that oil spill... it seems the Minerals Management Service, the bureau responsible for managing the country's natural gas and oil resources, gave oil companies, including BP (the company responsible for the oil spill) permission to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without obtaining the requisite permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species. Oh, and that other agency (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) repeatedly warned the MMS about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf. MMS ignored those warnings, and the concerns voiced by its own staff biologists and engineers. Great work, MMS!
  • At least someone is still trying to do something to protect the environment: the EPA issued new rules to curb carbon pollution by power plants and other big polluters.
  • In a shocking blow to our nation's cultural patrimony, NBC canceled Law and Order. Will this prompt the release of WWJOD? bracelets? Did you correctly guess that the acronym stands for "What would Jerry Orbach do?"?
  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off for its last scheduled mission (we mention this mostly to distract you from the sad news about Law and Order).
  • Wal Mart has agreed to pay $86 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by thousands of employees in California who were never paid holiday or overtime wages.


Matt said...

And don't forget the defeat of an amendment to a recent Senate bill that would have raised the liability cap for oil corporations involved in oil spills from the current $75 million dollars to $10 billion. The amendment was sponsored by my Senator, Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Here's the headline from Democracy Now! 5/14/10:
On Capitol Hill, efforts to increase the liability cap for oil companies involved in oil spills has failed. Under existing law, BP may be required to pay just $75 million in economic dangers related to the Gulf spill. Last week, a group of Democratic senators introduced the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act, which aimed to increase the liability cap from $75 million to $10 billion. On Thursday, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska helped defeat the bill to lift the cap.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “It would be impossible, or perhaps close to impossible, for any energy company that is smaller than the super majors, smaller than the national oil companies, to operate in the OCS. $10 billion in strict liability would preclude their ability to obtain financing, to obtain the bonds or insurance for any exploration.”
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey defended lifting the cap to $10 billion.

Sen. Robert Menendez: “First of all, when we call these ‘independent drillers,’ some of these independent drillers that are portrayed as small ‘mom and pop,’ you know, some of them are like $20 billion companies, so they’re not quite the ‘mom and pop’ view that we have of small ‘mom and pop’ businesses, number one. And if you drill, you need to be able to pay for the damages, because otherwise imagine if this particular spill had been done by a, quote-unquote ‘small company.’ Then who would be responsible? Just because they were too small?”

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