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News in Brief: Obama Restarts Guantanamo Trials, and More

Obama Restarts Guantanamo Trials

Obama Restarts Guantanamo Trials

President Obama has signed an executive order to indefinitely detain prisoners at the military jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Democracy Now! reports. Along with detainment, the White House has also authorized new military commissions at the base, resuming a process that Obama had previously frozen. On his second day in office, Obama had ordered for Guantanamo to be closed. According to Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, the newest announcement is a sign that Guantanamo will stay open “for as far as we can see, because if in fact you can transfer the prisoners, you do try them, then you’ll have to put them some place if you convict them.”

Gary Locke Nominated for US Ambassador to Beijing

According to Reuters, President Obama will nominate Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as the next US ambassador to Beijing, making him the first Chinese-American to serve as Washington’s representative on China. Current Ambassador Jon Huntsman will step down on April 30. Locke had previously criticized China for not maintaining an open market and stated that US concern over China’s trade practices are mostly due to “the distance between the promises of China’s government and its actions.” Locke also emphasized the importance of exploring opportunities with China in its expanding clean energy industry, warning that the US may get left behind as China funds and researches solar, wind and other green technologies.

John Ensign Will Retire

The Hill reports that Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada) will not seek re-election after this session of Congress ends in 2012. “I do not want to put my family, those that I care about, or this state through what would be a very ugly campaign that would ultimately cause a great deal more pain than has already been felt as a result of my actions,” Ensign stated at a news conference in Las Vegas. Although he recently told The Ballot Box that he was planning on running for re-election again next year, Ensign was also considered a vulnerable incumbent against fellow Republican Dean Heller. Ensign also struggled with personal challenges, publicly admitting a 2009 affair and undergoing investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee for allegedly helping his aide, Doug Hampton, find work as a lobbyist.