Two Highly Controversial US Supreme Court Decisions
— Bush Administration Loses on Global Warming…
In one controversial decision, the US Supreme Court disagreed with the Bush Administration on issues related to global warming.
Reuters reported on April 2:
“In a defeat for the Bush administration, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a U.S. government agency has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming. By a 5-4 vote, the nation’s highest court said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] ‘has offered no reasoned explanation’ for its refusal to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions from new cars and trucks that contribute to climate change. The ruling in one of the most important environmental cases to reach the Supreme Court marked the first high court decision in a case involving global warming. President George W. Bush has opposed mandatory controls on greenhouse gases as harmful to the U.S. economy, and the administration has called for voluntary programs instead of regulation. The states and environmental groups that brought the lawsuit hailed the ruling…
“Writing for the court majority, Justice John Paul Stevens… said the EPA can avoid regulation only if it determined that the gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provided a reasonable explanation. ‘If the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment as to whether greenhouse cases contribute to global warming, EPA must say so,’ he said…
“The court’s four most conservative members — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both Bush appointees, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — dissented. They said the environmental groups and the states lacked the legal right to bring the lawsuit in the first place. ‘No matter how important the underlying policy issues at stake, this court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency,’ Scalia wrote.”
— But Wins on “Enemy Combatants”…
In another highly controversial decision, which appears to be inconsistent with prior renderings of the same court, the US Supreme Court sided with the Bush Administration on issues related to the retention of alleged “enemy combatants” without indictment, due process or trial.
AFP reported on April 2:
‘The US Supreme Court Monday decided dozens of Guantanamo Bay prisoners had no right to challenge their detention in federal court, handing the Bush administration a major victory for its ‘war on terror’ legal strategy. Only three of the nine judges on the court said they would be prepared to examine the… petition [which] was filed on behalf of inmates of the Guantanamo camp in Cuba, who have little prospect of facing formal charges, a tribunal or a return to their home countries… Monday’s decision was the latest dramatic legal chapter in a fiery debate over the treatment of Guantanamo inmates that brought the ‘war on terror’ into conflict with civil liberties provisions of the US constitution.”
The Associated Press added on April 2:
“… none of the roughly 385 detainees has yet had a hearing in a civilian court challenging his detention because the administration has moved aggressively to limit the legal rights of prisoners it has labeled as enemy combatants… ‘This is a perfect example of justice delayed is justice denied,’ said Washington lawyer Tom Wilner, who has represented Guantanamo detainees since May 2002. ‘All these people ever wanted was a fair hearing.’… ‘We’re disappointed and for us this is a delay that is unconscionable,’ said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has led the fight to gain court access for the detainees…
“In 2004, the justices ruled that the courts can hear the detainees’ cases, saying that prisoners under U.S. control have access to civilian courts, no matter where they are being held…
“In 2006, the justices ruled that President Bush’s plan for military war crimes trials, envisioned for a small number of Guantanamo Bay detainees, is illegal under U.S. and international law… After the justices’ ruling in 2006, CONGRESS… enacted the law which blocked detainees from coming into U.S. courts and established new rules for the military trials.”
Tsunami Devastates Solomon Islands
The Associated Press reported on April 2:
“Tsunamis triggered by an undersea earthquake crashed ashore in the Solomon Islands on Monday, wiping away entire villages and setting off alerts from Australia to Hawaii, officials said. At least 13 people were killed, and the prime minister warned that the toll would likely grow. In the South Pacific nation’s west, where the devastation appeared the most dense, there were reports of people being swept away as waves plowed up to a half-mile inland. The magnitude-8 quake — the strongest to hit the archipelago in more than three decades — was followed by more than two dozen aftershocks, including at least four of magnitude-6 or stronger…
“The magnitude-8 quake struck shortly after 7:39 a.m. six miles beneath the sea floor, about 215 miles northwest of the Solomons capital, Honiara, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Within five minutes, waves 10-16 feet tall roared ashore and went up to half a mile inland, inundating buildings and sending thousands fleeing for higher ground, witnesses said… The Solomon Islands is an impoverished archipelago of more than 200 islands northeast of Australia, with a population of about 552,000 people, that lies on the Pacific Basin’s so-called ‘Ring of Fire,’ an arc of volcanos and fault lines where quakes frequently happen. The last time a quake this strong struck the Solomon Islands was in 1971, when it was struck by a pair of magnitudes 8 and 8.1 temblors.
“Monday’s earthquake occurred when the Australian tectonic plate suddenly dived beneath the Pacific plate, said David Wald of the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado… In 2004, a magnitude-9 quake sent tsunami waves slamming into the coastlines of a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean’s rim, killing about 230,000 people.”
Europe Angry at USA and Australia
AFP reported on April 2:
“European anger at the United States and Australia, the only two major countries to reject the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, spilled over here on Monday as UN scientists prepared to deliver a damning report on climate change… As the four-day meeting got underway, European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas spelt out the latest plans for cutting European Union (EU) greenhouse-gas emissions through ever-tighter, legally binding curbs. He compared that with the voluntary approach of the United States, which he bluntly named ‘the number one emitter in the world.’ ‘(The US) approach doesn’t help in reaching international agreement and doesn’t reduce (US) emissions, because they are right now 60 percent above the 1990 level,’ Dimas observed tartly… ‘We expect the US to come closer and NOT TO CONTINUE WITH A NEGATIVE ATTITUDE in international negotiations… it’s absolutely necessary that they move.’…
“The EU championed the Kyoto Protocol after it was abandoned by the United States in March 2001. It sets the only specific global target for reducing carbon emissions… the treaty has been almost crippled by the absence of the United States, which alone accounts for about a quarter of all this pollution. President George W. Bush, in one of his first acts in office, said he would not put the draft to the US Senate for ratification. Bush said US commitments under Kyoto were too costly and the accord was unfair, as only industrialised countries — and not fast-growing large developing ones such as China and India — are bound to make targeted cuts. Australia has followed the United States in refusing to ratify Kyoto… EU leaders last month vowed to unilaterally cut the 27-nation bloc’s emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 and deepen this to 30 percent if other partners follow suit. But, to EUROPEAN FRUSTRATION, that offer has so far found no echo — and the US-Australian pitch for a voluntary approach is seen in some quarters as a spoiling tactic.”
The Iran Crisis–Iran “Pardons” British Sailors
On April 4, The Associated Press reported about an announcement by the Iranian government to release 15 British sailors. The article explained:
“President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defused a growing confrontation with Britain, announcing the surprise release of 15 captive British sailors Wednesday and then gleefully accepting the crew’s thanks and handshakes… The announcement in Tehran was a breakthrough in a crisis that had escalated over nearly two weeks, raising oil prices and fears of military conflict in the volatile region. The move to release the sailors suggested that Iran’s hard-line leadership decided it had shown its strength but did not want to push the standoff too far… Syria, Iran’s close ally, said it played a role in winning the release… Ahmadinejad… declared that even though Iran had the right to put the Britons on trial, he had ‘pardoned’ them to mark the March 30 birthday of the Prophet Muhammad and the coming Easter holidays… During Ahmadinejad’s news conference, the hardline president said Britain had sent a letter to the Iranian Foreign Ministry pledging that entering Iranian waters ‘will not happen again.’ … the standoff showed that Tehran has ways to push back after the U.S. and Britain beefed up their military presence in the Persian Gulf this year.”
In spite of the announcement of the release, the recent crisis has revealed remarkable frightening and embarrassing developments for Great Britain, Europe, as well as the United States, as the following articles show.
The Iran Crisis–Britain Left Without Real Support
On April 2, Der Spiegel Online discussed the controversy between Iran and Britain in its article, titled, “A Dangerous Game of Power and Propaganda.”
The magazine wrote:
“In the drama surrounding the 15 captured British sailors, Tehran is resorting to propaganda while London is relying on the West for support… British Prime Minister Tony Blair was quick to register his ‘disgust’ with the Iranians’ parading of his country’s sailors on television. He had frozen his government’s relations with Tehran the day before. On Sunday about 200 Iranian students threw firecrackers and bricks into the British embassy compound. On Monday Iranian television showed fresh footage of the naval personnel, saying they had all admitted to entering Iran illegally…
“Ali Larijani, the Iranian national security advisor, criticized London’s alarmism and called it ‘stupid and misplaced’ — as if hostage taking hasn’t already been a hallmark of Tehran’s foreign policy for decades. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded an ‘apology.’ London, for its part, threatened Iran with more than just diplomatic action if it did not promptly release the British hostages. The markets, the most important seismograph when it comes to earthquakes on the international political front, reacted immediately, and the oil price began creeping back up to the $70 level.
“In the past this would have been enough to start a war, with one power provoking and another being forced to take action — if only to avoid losing face. In the last century, the game the Iranians were playing with the British at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab would have been a classic maneuver designed to produce one outcome: war…
“British Prime Minister Tony Blair OUGHT TO HAVE NO TROUBLE GAINING ALLIES against a country under as much international pressure as Iran and securing the prompt release of the prisoners. BUT THIS ISN’T THE CASE, because the simple question the British face from enemies and, indirectly, from friends is this: Why exactly are you in the Gulf region in the first place? LIKE AN EVIL CURSE, the war George W. Bush and Blair launched against Iraq is heightening tensions throughout the region with each month that passes. Knowing that most countries question the legitimacy of the Western presence, Ahmadinejad can take full advantage of the crisis. That starts with no longer having to pay serious attention to threats from Bush or Blair, leaders generally regarded as too weak to engage in another showdown.
“Under these circumstances, it was to be expected that Blair and Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett believed, in the first days after the kidnapping incident, that bilateral contacts would be the best way to gain the prisoners’ release… But by Tuesday, the fifth day of the hostage crisis, the climate at home in Britain had changed. The London Times clamored over the ‘pusillanimous timidity of British officials and politicians, who have failed disgracefully to confront Iran with the ultimatum this flagrant aggression demands.’… Blair was in a tight spot. He had warned the Iranians against parading their hostages on TV, as they had done in a comparable case in 2004, but his warning merely encouraged the Iranians to do just that…
“By then the time to err on the side of caution had ended, at least for the British. London asked its European friends for their support, asked its Middle Eastern partners to mediate and even appealed to pro-Iranian groups Hezbollah and Hamas for their help. When the British asked the UN Security Council to condemn the kidnappings they were dealt their FIRST PAINFUL DEFEAT in the current crisis. Instead of complying with the British request, the Security Council merely voiced its ‘deep concern’ over the affair. Russia, a veto power, suggested that the two parties to the conflict return to bilateral negotiations. Nevertheless, at a meeting last Friday in Bremen, which had actually been convened to discuss tentative signs of improvement in the Middle East conflict, the EU foreign ministers lent their support to London and asked their chief diplomat Javier Solana to appeal to the Iranian president. However, NO ONE IN BREMEN MENTIONED ANYTHING ABOUT OTHER EU COUNTRIES FOLLOWING IN BRITAIN’S FOOTSTEPS AND PUTTING THEIR RELATIONS WITH IRAN ON ICE until the prisoners are released.”
The Iran Crisis–Prompted by USA?
Britain’s The Independent wrote on April 3, 2007:
“The botched US raid… led to the hostage crisis,” continuing: “How a bid to kidnap Iranian security officials sparked a diplomatic crisis.”
The newspaper pointed out:
“A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an OFFICIAL visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines… The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment. Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil – and the angry Iranian response to it – should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realise that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf… The two men were in Kurdistan on an official visit during which they met the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and later saw Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), at his mountain headquarters overlooking Arbil… The attempt by the US to seize the two high-ranking Iranian security officers openly meeting with Iraqi leaders is somewhat as if Iran had tried to kidnap the heads of the CIA and MI6 while they were on an official visit to a country neighbouring Iran, such as Pakistan or Afghanistan…
“US officials in Washington subsequently claimed that the five Iranian officials they did seize, who have not been seen since, were ‘suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraq and coalition forces’. This explanation never made much sense. No member of the US-led coalition has been killed in Arbil and there were no Sunni-Arab insurgents or Shia militiamen there.
“The raid on Arbil took place within hours of President George Bush making an address to the nation on 10 January in which he claimed: ‘Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops.’ He identified Iran and Syria as America’s main enemies in Iraq though the four-year-old guerrilla war against US-led forces is being conducted by the strongly anti-Iranian Sunni-Arab community…
“The raid in Arbil was a FAR MORE SERIOUS AND AGGRESSIVE ACT. It was not carried out by proxies but by US forces directly. The abortive Arbil raid PROVOKED A DANGEROUS ESCALATION in the confrontation between the US and Iran which ultimately led to the capture of the 15 British sailors and Marines – apparently considered a more vulnerable coalition target than their American comrades.”
Is the USA Losing Another Ally?
The Australian News reported on April 2:
“One of the most enduring strategic relationships in the Middle East is showing signs of serious strain, after a series of public accusations and diplomatic snubs by Saudi Arabia against its erstwhile allies in Washington. The row came to a head last week when King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, used his opening speech at the Arab League summit to CONDEMN THE OCCUPATION OF IRAQ AS ILLEGAL, and went on to declare that the ARAB WORLD WOULD NOT ALLOW FOREIGN FORCES TO DETERMINE THE FUTURE OF THE REGION… The Bush administration was put out by the comments from a ruler regarded as a close friend by George W. Bush and the President’s father, George Sr.
“… the clash over Iraq follows a spate of recent incidents suggesting the damage to the relationship extends beyond this issue. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, flew to Washington last week to offer King Abdullah’s apologies that he would not be able to attend a state dinner in his honour at the White House this month. No reason was offered for the snub, but observers suggest the Saudis may be DISTANCING THEMSELVES FROM WASHINGTON in a bid to improve their standing in the region.”
Why do the USA and Great Britain find themselves–more and more–isolated and alone on the political world scene? You will find the surprising answers in our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Germany Sends Fighter Jets to Afghanistan
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 3:
“Germany on Monday increased its contribution to the NATO force in Afghanistan by deploying six Tornado jets. The planes will be used for reconnaissance in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency threatens international peacekeepers and Afghan citizens alike… Germany has refused to send Bundeswehr troops into southern Afghanistan — a stance that has at times drawn criticism from its international ISAF partners. A recent TNS poll taken for SPIEGEL showed that 57 percent of Germans believe the country should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.
“With public support waning, [German Minister of Defense, Franz Josef ] Jung took pains Monday to express the restricted role the Tornados will play. The Tornados, he said, would aid in the fight against the Taliban, but he cautioned that efforts would be taken to ensure that the civilian population was not harmed in operations that benefited from the reconnaissance. And while the Tornados will be equipped with weapons, they will only be used in cases of self-defense.”
As in every war, such a “noble” position is simply impossible to maintain. There WILL be casualties, to be sure, and the big question is, how will the Germans react when that happens?
Crisis in Ukraine
Der Spiegel Online reported on April 3:
“Ukraine has plunged into its most serious political crisis since the 2004 Orange Revolution. A shaky truce between pro-Western and pro-Russian camps has broken after President Yushchenko ordered parliament to be dissolved… Ukraine’s simmering internal power struggle has escalated into a dangerous stand-off after PRO-WESTERN President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree to dissolve parliament and called new elections, a decision the assembly said was akin to a coup.
“The United States called on both sides to remain calm as PRO-RUSSIAN Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, supported by the parliament, urged Yushchenko to withdraw the decree or risk plunging the country into an uncertain future. Parliament says it will withhold government funding for the election, scheduled for May 27… ‘I have signed a decree today to disband parliament. I have taken this decision in line with the constitution,’ Yushchenko announced on Monday. ‘My actions were prompted by a crucial need to preserve the state, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.’ Parliament said the decree ‘bears all the signs of a step towards a coup d’etat’ and said the chamber would defy it…”
Very Active Hurricane Season Predicted
The Associated Press reported on April 3:
“The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season should be ‘very active,’ with nine hurricanes and a good chance that at least one major hurricane will hit the U.S. coast, a top researcher said Tuesday. Forecaster William Gray said he expects 17 named storms in all this year, five of them major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. The probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coast this year: 74 percent, compared with the average of 52 percent over the past century, he said.
“Last year, Gray’s forecast and government forecasts were higher than what the Atlantic hurricane season produced. There were 10 named Atlantic storms in 2006 and five hurricanes, two of them major, in what was considered a ‘near normal’ season. None of those hurricanes hit the U.S. Atlantic coast — only the 11th time that has occurred since 1945. The National Hurricane Center in Miami originally reported nine storms, but upgraded one storm after a post-season review.
“Gray’s research team at Colorado State University said an UNEXPECTED LATE EL NINO contributed to the calmer season last year. El Nino — a warming in the Pacific Ocean — has far-reaching effects that include changing wind patterns in the eastern Atlantic, which can disrupt the formation of hurricanes there.
“A weak to moderate El Nino occurred in December and January but dissipated rapidly, said Phil Klotzbach, a member of Gray’s team. ‘We do not think that’s going to be an inhibiting factor this year,’ Klotzbach said.
“The team’s forecasts are based on global oceanic and atmospheric conditions. The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, averages 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year. The devastating 2005 season set a record with 28 named storms, 15 of them hurricanes. Four of those hurricanes hit the U.S. coast, the worst among them Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and leveled parts of the Gulf Coast region. Gray has spent more than 40 years in tropical weather research. He heads the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State.”
Strange Beliefs of Orthodox Christianity
The Associated Press reported on April 2 about some rather strange comments by Pope Benedict XVI–leaving the reader wondering whether the pope was speaking “in jest”–or whether he was actually serious. In commenting on the anticipated declaration of sainthood of late Pope John Paul II, the news report stated:
“Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he can already hear the voice of John Paul II among the saints, indicating on the second anniversary of his predecessor’s death that he too was fully in favor of canonization… In the communion of saints, it seems we can hear the living voice of our beloved John Paul II, who from the house of his father, we are sure, continues to accompany the Church,’ Benedict said.”
The article continued pointing out additional rather strange-sounding requirements for becoming a Roman Catholic saint:
“On Monday, the congregation also received documentation concerning the purported miraculous recovery of a French nun, Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, who says she was cured of Parkinson’s disease after she prayed to John Paul. The Vatican’s complicated saint-making procedures require that a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession be confirmed before beatification. A second miracle after beatification is necessary for canonization. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints will appoint medical experts to determine if there are medical explanations for the nun’s recovery. Theologians will then determine if the cure came as a result of prayer to John Paul. If panels of bishops and cardinals agree John Paul led a virtuous life and that the nun was indeed miraculously cured, they will forward the case to Benedict. He will then decide if his predecessor deserves to be beatified.”
All of this sounds rather incredible to a Christian believing in the literal teachings of the Bible. According to Scripture, a converted Christian is called a saint–while still alive (Psalm 16:3; Colossians 1:2). When he dies, he does not ascend to heaven (John 3:13; Acts 2:34), but he sleeps the sleep of death until his resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2). For more information, please read our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”