5. Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will replace Tom Donilon as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, a senior administration official said.
UN Ambassador Susan Rice will replace Tom Donilon as President Obama’s national security adviser, a White House official told Fox News. Rice had been considered a leading contender for secretary of state, but Republican-led opposition against her potential nomination spurred the ambassador to withdraw her name from consideration in December 2012. Critics faulted Rice for saying that the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, originated from a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video. The Obama administration later said the violence was a planned terrorist attack. The raid left four Americans killed, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Meanwhile, President Obama on Friday, 21 June 2013 nominated former prosecutor James Comey to head the FBI, a White House official said. Finally, President Obama’s recess appointments to a federal agency — made without Senate confirmation — will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, a major constitutional test of executive power. At issue is the appointment of three people to the National Labor Relations Board. The case sets up a high-stakes Supreme Court fight. Oral arguments will be held in public session later this year or early next.
4. A Series of Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decisions
In major social and economic developments in the world’s lone superpower, the Supreme Court made the following rulings. The Supreme Court on Monday, 17 June 2013 tossed out an Arizona provision in its voter registration law that required proof of citizenship. The 7-2 majority said the state’s voter-approved Proposition 200 interfered with federal law designed to make voter registration easier. The state called it a “sensible precaution” to prevent voter fraud. Civil rights groups countered it added an unconstitutional and burdensome layer of paperwork for tens of thousands of citizens.
Also, The Supreme Court side-stepped a sweeping decision on the use of race-conscious school admission policies, ruling Monday, 24 June 2013 on the criteria at the University of Texas and whether it violates the equal protection rights of some white applicants. The justices threw the case back to the lower courts for further review. The court affirmed the use of race in the admissions process, but makes it harder for institutions to use such policies to achieve diversity. The 7-1 decision from the court avoids the larger constitutional issues.
Next, The Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a provision of the Voting Rights Act that determines which states — primarily in the South — need federal oversight of their election laws. A deeply divided Supreme Court has limited use of a key provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, in effect invalidating a key enforcement provision that applies to all or parts of 15 states with past history of voter discrimination. The case involved a section of the law giving federal authorities open-ended oversight of states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in the covered areas — which include all or parts of 15 states — had to be “pre-cleared” with Washington.
Finally, The Supreme Court struck down provision of Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The Supreme Court also left in place lower court ruling that struck down California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. In these two rulings, the Supreme Court gave major victories to same-sex couples. The first overturned a ban on federal benefits for same-sex married couples. In the second, a California case, the court dismissed an appeal, which means same-sex couples will be able to get married in that state. Subsequently, three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that same-sex marriages can resume “effective immediately” in the state of California, a move the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for. California Attorney General Kamala Harris was already at San Francisco City Hall marrying same-sex couples, her press office said.
3. Arrests made in two major terrorist incidents
A second suspect in May’s slaying of a British soldier in London was charged Saturday, 1 June 2013 with murder, London’s Metropolitan Police said. Michael Adebolajo, 28, also was charged with attempted murder of two police officers and possession of a firearm, police said. Police said attackers killed Lee Rigby a couple of hundred yards away from the Royal Artillery Barracks in the southeast London district of Woolwich on 22 May 2013. Adebolajo and a second suspect, Michael Adebowale, 22, were hospitalized after the attack. Adebolajo was released from the hospital into police custody on Friday, 31 May 2013. Adebowale was charged with murder after he was released from the hospital.
In other terrorism news, Texas actress Shannon Rogers Richardson was arrested in connection with alleged ricin-tainted letters mailed last month to President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, federal law enforcement sources said. Richardson is also known as Shannon Rogers Guess and has had minor roles in the television series The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries. Richardson has been indicted and charged in the mailing of ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a U.S. attorney’s office in Texas said on Friday, 28 June 2013. The three-count indictment accuses Richardson of mailing three threatening letters around May 20 to Obama, Bloomberg, and Mark Glaze — director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Richardson, 35, initially told the FBI that her estranged husband, Nathaniel, sent the ricin-laced letters, but a polygraph exam found her to be “deceptive” on the matter, court papers said.
2. Some Encouraging News from North America to North Korea!
Mexican authorities have rescued 165 kidnap victims who had been held in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas for weeks, the country’s Interior Ministry said. A majority of the victims — 150 — are Central American migrants. Another fourteen are Mexican nationals, and one is from India, the ministry said. They were held captive for as many as three weeks, officials said. Drug cartels that operate in the area are known to have kidnapped migrants in the past and requested ransoms for their release.
In other encouraging news, North Korea proposed high-level talks with the United States to “ease tensions in the Korean peninsula,” its state news agency reported early Sunday, 15 June 2013. The topics that “can be sincerely discussed” include easing military tensions, changing a truce treaty to a peace treaty and nuclear matters, according to the report in the state-run Korean Central News Agency. North Korea has been at odds with many in the international community, including the United States, over its missile and nuclear programs. Tensions flared after North Korea launched a long-range rocket in December and an underground nuclear test in February.
If authorities can cooperate to rescue kidnapping victims and ease tensions on the Korean peninsular, perhaps the world can be safer place!
1. Middle Eastern Turmoil Escalated, Yet Again!
Turkish authorities detained 939 people in connection with anti-government protests across 30 provinces, Interior Minister Muammer Guler told Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu news agency on Saturday, 1 June 2013. The demonstrations began in protest of government plans to level a park in Istanbul, but many demonstrators say they then protested against authoritarian policies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As demonstrators clashed with police Friday, 31 May 2013 in Istanbul, protests spread to several other cities, including Ankara, the capital, and the port city of Izmir. Police eventually cleared Istanbul’s Gezi Park of protesters and took over Taksim Square.
The demonstrations began in late May in protest of government plans to level a park in Istanbul. But many demonstrators say they now are protesting against authoritarian policies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, 13 June 2013, the White House said Turkey’s neighbor Syria had crossed a “red line” with the use of chemical weapons against rebels and added — without specifics — that the United States would increase the “scale and scope” of support for the opposition. United States military support for Syrian rebels will include small arms, ammunition and possibly anti-tank weapons, according to two officials familiar with the matter. The weapons will be provided by the CIA, the officials said.
Finally, Iranian centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani won the Islamic republic’s presidential election, state media announced Saturday, 15 June 2013. Rouhani will succeed two-term President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of the country’s most visible figures, at a time when it is dealing with painful economic sanctions tied to international concern about its nuclear program, but he will not be Iran’s most powerful man. That distinction belongs to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been Iran’s supreme leader since 1989.
All three major Middle Eastern powers, including Turkey, Iran, and of course Syria have been involved in the Syrian Civil War in some capacity over the past year.
For more on this story.
Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS and author of Banned from the Internet?!: “Controversial” Top 10 Lists and Banned from the Internet.