Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the Obama administration plans to bring a federal lawsuit against Arizona over SB 1070, the measure recently passed into law which requires police officers to stop any individual they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant, reported Democracy Now!. In an interview with an Ecuadorian television station, Clinton said: “President Obama has spoken out against the law because he thinks that the federal government should be determining immigration policy. And the Justice Department, under his direction, will be bringing a lawsuit against the act.” The Justice Department has not yet confirmed Clinton’s comment, but has said that it continues to review the law.
An overlooked danger in the oil spill crisis has been discovered, reported The Associated Press. The crude oil gushing from the well contains a large amount of natural gas – it is 40 percent methane compared to about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits – and could pose a serious threat to the fragile ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say the methane creates “dead zones” where oxygen is so depleted that nothing can live, and could potentially suffocate marine life. John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill, called it “the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history.”
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The United States has called for an international investigation into the ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, reported Reuters, as its leader announced the estimated death toll to be at 2,000. This is significantly higher than the original official tally of 190. The United Nations and the interim administration, led by Roza Otunbayeva, say the bloody clashes began with planned and orchestrated attacks. The fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, which has driven thousands out of their burned-out homes, has been described by US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake as a humanitarian crisis.
New government figures show a rise in the number of homeless families in the US, reported Democracy Now!. The number of families without a roof over their head has increased to 170,000 last year, an almost 30 percent increase from three years ago. It was the second year in a row that the number of homeless families has increased.
A group of liberal Democrats in the Senate are threatening to vote against any energy legislation which does not address global climate change. The record of conservative and centrist Democrats and Republicans on the 2009 economic stimulus package, which they shrunk, and health care reform, which went through without a public option, has left more liberal senators with little patience. However, reported The Hill, this seems to be exactly what Senate Democratic leaders plan to do. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) detailed a number of components of the proposed legislation, but declined to commit to including provisions addressing climate change in the bill.
Meanwhile, as Congressional Democrats push for legislation to rein in the power of special interests, reported The New York Times, they are simultaneously carving out loopholes for special interests to get the votes needed for the bill to pass. The bill is meant to require more disclosure of the roles of special interest groups in paying for campaign advertising in an attempt to counter a Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations and unions to pour money directly into campaign commercials. However, this backfired when the authors of the bill made an exception for the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington. To calm the ensuing uproar, Democrats expanded the exception to cover even more interest groups as they worked to gain votes for the measure.