FSRN Weekly Edition – December 23, 2016
- President Obama takes pre-emptive policy actions ahead of exit
- Obama bans offshore drilling in large portions of Arctic and Atlantic oceans
- First Nations communities take Canadian government to Supreme Court over fossil fuel projects
- Trump surpasses 270 Electoral College votes; activists work to reform Democratic Party
- Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe announces reelection bid amid growing polarization
- Los Angeles outlaws sleeping in cars, further criminalizing homelessness
In its final weeks in office, the Obama administration is dismantling the regulatory framework for what president-Donald Trump called a “Muslim Registry” while on the campaign trail. The Department of Homeland Security issued an update to the Federal Register removing rules for the post 9-11 National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, program, calling it obsolete and effectively eliminating all remnants of the dormant program as of Friday.
Under NSEERS, male visa holders from two dozen Muslim-majority nations were required to go through a special registration process. The government suspended the program in 2011, but left its legal framework intact…until now.
The president-elect returned to the registry theme this week, after an attacker in Germany drove a truck into a Christmas Market – killing 12 people.
In another of what’s shaping up to be a series of preemptive policy strikes against the incoming administration, President Obama banned offshore drilling in large areas of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans this week. Climate change and environmental activists quickly hailed the decision; the Alaska delegation to the US Congress swiftly condemned it. The action comes as Trump stacks his cabinet with climate change deniers and fossil-fuel industry insiders. Obama said the ban is designed to permanently protect fragile ecosystems and block massive infrastructure investment in the carbon economy that exacerbates climate change and slows the transition to renewable energy. FSRN’s Nell Abram talks to Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, an Inupiaq grandmother, former mayor of Barrows Alaska and Environmental Justice Adviser for the Alaska Wilderness League. She says the decline of ice already caused by climate change increases the risks of drilling in the Arctic.
Obama issued the drilling ban in concert with a similar action by his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. First Nations and environmental groups have been increasingly critical of what they see as Trudeau’s backtracking on campaign promises to protect the environment and respect indigenous sovereignty. Recently approved expansions of pipelines in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, are meeting fierce opposition from local Indigenous communities.
Currently, two such communities are challenging the Canadian Federal Government before the Supreme Court. They argue the government failed to seek their informed consent for development projects which they say threaten the values of their culture and the well-being of the environment. Patrick Barrios reports from Ottawa.
The Electoral College met Monday at statehouses across the country in what turned out the be the largest departure from the ceremonial routine in U.S. history. So-called ‘faithless electors’ – delegates who refused to vote in line with their state’s election results – popped up in states like Minnesota, Maine, Ohio and Washington. Protesters disrupted the vote in Wisconsin, and were ushered from the room before the state’s electors cast their votes for Donald Trump. But after significant procedural delays, electors in Texas put Trump over the top of the required 270 votes necessary to capture the presidency of the United States.
As the nation awaits the inauguration, analysts and some Democrats are pondering whether the Democratic Party can regain a competitive edge without significant changes in its leadership and strategies FSRNs’ Evan Davis spoke with activists in Central Ohio who are already working to reform the Democratic Party at the local level.
In Zimbabwe, the country’s long-ruling party has cleared the way for nonagenarian Robert Mugabe, one the world’s longest serving leaders, to run for another presidential term. The 92-year-old is a polarizing figure inside the southern African country where he’s revered by many as a hero of the country’s post-colonial liberation. But others blame him for chronic economic mismanagement that has resulted in one of the world’s highest rates of unemployment. FSRN’s Garikai Chaunza explains.
Homelessness in the U.S. has increased nearly 150 percent in the last decade, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. The most fortunate among the homeless population have vehicles they can use as shelter. But the LA City Council voted overwhelmingly – with just one councilman dissenting – to restrict sleeping in cars near homes, schools and parks, just as voters approved $1.2 billion dollars to build more housing for the homeless. The council majority says the restrictions are an improvement. Critics on the streets believe the move is tone-deaf and will push the homeless further into poverty. FSRN’s Lena Nozizwe has the story.