News in Brief: Protests in Yemen Remain Passionate, and More

Protests in Yemen Remain Passionate, but Peaceful

Tens of thousands of protesters and pro-government counter-protesters took the streets in Yemen on Thursday, but the demonstrations remained mostly peaceful in stark contrast to the upheaval in Egypt, according to The Washington Post and other Western outlets. Protesters called for the ousting of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and engaged with heated – but merely vocal – shouting matches with pro-government demonstrators who argued for stability. Eyeing the unrest in Egypt, Saleh pledged to leave office by 2013 on Wednesday, but that promise wasn’t enough to quell dissent. Only a few instances of minor violence have been reported to the relief of observers wary of Yemen’s tribal rivalries.

Journalists in Egypt Beaten, Detained

Journalists covering the political protests and uprisings in Egypt have been attacked and detained by police and other pro-government actors. The Washington Post reports that pro-government supporters in Cairo have beaten journalists, and at least two Post staff members and three members of the Al Jazeera news service have been detained by the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Andrew Burton, a young American photographer, describes being attacked by pro-government protesters and then protected by the Egyptian Army and anti-Mubarak protesters on his blog. “The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, a coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. “The government has resorted to blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs.”

US Census: Minorities Could Gain More Power in Washington

The US Census reports that racial minorities accounted for 85 percent of the nation’s population growth in the last decade, according to The Associated Press. Hispanic Americans accounted for much of the population growth in districts gaining to seats in the House of Representatives, and some experts expect more Hispanic leaders to find power in Washington. “There are going to be a lot of additional Hispanic officials elected when redistricting is done,” said E. Mark Braden, a former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee, who now advises state governments on redistricting. “But folks in power don’t give up control that easily – there will be tension between the ins and outs.”

States Considering Arizona-Style Immigration Legislation

Legislatures in at least 15 states are considering Arizona-style legislation that would give law enforcement officials the authority to question the immigration status of anyone stopped for minor infractions or suspicious behavior, according to MSNBC. Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law is currently on hold due to legal challenges, and The Washington Post reports that state budget cuts and fear of expensive federal lawsuits could hinder conservative’s efforts to pass SB 1070 copycats. The Mississippi legislature, however, succeeded in passing similar legislation earlier this month amid protests from civil and immigrant’s rights groups.

Republicans Challenging Obama’s Climate Policies

President Obama outlined a plan today to make commercial buildings more efficient, but his administration’s broader energy policies are expected to meet resistance from Republicans in Congress, who have pledged to challenge new climate regulations enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Obama’s latest energy initiative aims at reducing the overall energy use in commercial buildings by 20 percent in the next decade, but House Republicans have raised concerns that new “clean energy standards” promoted by the White House will give too many advantages to the renewable energy sector, The Hill reports. Senate Republicans are also making moves to curtail the EPA’s current effort to regulate greenhouse gases produced by industrial sources like power plants, and on Monday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) introduced legislation that would prevent the EPA from regulating climate-changing gases without approval from Congress, according to the Environment News Service.