An event announcement from one of my students.
We are screening A Place at the Table, a documentary produced by the creators of Food, Inc., about food insecurity in the United States today. It documents the experiences of three food insecure American families, while challenging the viewers to consider the options for ending American hunger for good.
We are now moving on to International Environmental Law in our IL course. Here are some recent stories to get us thinking:
First, you may want to look at this projection of “what Earth will look like if we melt all the ice”. Florida is gone, amongst other changes.
Second, it is worth looking at the issue of fragmentation (and incoherence) in international environmental law. This is an important theme is this issue-area. Marc Benitah notes over at the International Economic Law and Policy Blog that the Faroe Islands are issuing simultaneous complaints under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and at the WTO. The WTO overlaps with a lot of other fora, so this is not entirely surprising. But the ramifications are important. One question I have is how small countries such as this can expect to have the resources to pursue such cases in multiple fora.
Finally, the West Coast is trying to do its own thing on the environment (again). This time California, Oregon and Washington are “joining” British Columbia to coordinate environmental policy. The Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy is an attempt to deal with climate change at the sub-national level. While individual states in the US cannot pursue trade-related deals on their own, there is little in the constitution that prevents them from making these sorts of pacts. So it raises all sorts of interesting issues regarding sub-national attempts to create foreign policy (and international law) in the US.
Before my International Law class moves on to International Environmental Law, it is worth noting news from the last week that is relevant to topics we recently covered.
Bond v. United States
First, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Bond v. United States. This case should interest us for a number of reasons. One is that it deals with the ability of Congress to implement treaties using statutes that could potentially intrude on the sovereignty of individual states. This is being viewed as a contemporary version of Missouri v. Holland.
The other, very intriguing, issue is whether the Chemical Weapons Convention can apply to a conventional poisoning case. Essentially one woman poisoned another woman in Pennsylvania (for sleeping with her husband and getting impregnated). The case, which normally would be handled by local and state authorities, ended up becoming a federal case as violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Which on the face of it is a very odd interpretation of that treaty.
Privacy and Spying
Spying is all over the news. The US is, apparently, spying on just about everyone. Or, at least, that is what one must think after reading all of these stories. Over at Lawfare, Orin Kerr has a piece discussing whether U.S. law should protect the privacy of foreigners abroad. This is an interesting spin on the themes we have discussed in our class about the extraterritorial application of US law.
As for all of that spying on heads of states stuff, I must say I am shocked anyone is shocked. Hasn’t that always been the case? Isn’t that what we expect?
It is that time of year again. Another November, another election. And again, I have the same gripe about voting here that I have had since moving here: there is no voting guide (for instance, my posts on Nov 6, 2012 and Oct 5, 2010). Sure, growing up in California spoiled me in many ways. Life is easy there. Warm winter days, and the mailman delivered all of the information I needed to know about primaries and elections: where to go to vote, descriptions of the candidates and issues, statements and analysis of the pros and cons of ballot measures, and sample ballots to take to the polls.
But now I live in New England. And just as they prefer their winters to be harder, they apparently prefer to make voting harder. So as a public service to anyone coming across this blog, I now provide you with a list of resources on where to find information about our local elections here in Middletown, CT. I provide this as information only. I have my own opinions about the candidates and issues, but I’ll keep them out of this post.
The City of Middletown
- If you haven’t already registered to vote,
you are too late. Butyou are not too late! Voter registration on voting day is now possible!
- To register for future elections, visit this page on the city website.
- City of Middletown Polling Locations
- A Sample Ballot
OK, so the City has much of the basic information you need. But how do you learn about the candidates and issues? This year, in Middletwon, we are voting for individuals to fill the following important positions: Mayor, Common Council, Treasurer, Board of Education, Board of Assessment Appeals, Planning and Zoning Commission, and “Planning Commission Alternate”.
To learn about the candidates, I suggest the following resources:
- Middletown Patch
- This is the only local source I have found that offers organized comprehensive coverage of local elections. Highly recommended. Specifically…
- This is the page where the Middletown Patch lists all of the candidate bios.
- This is the page that lists their “Elections” stories
- Middletown Press
- This is the local paper. They should be good at providing comprehensive election coverage. But I have never seen them do this. That said, there is the occasional article.
- Middletown Eye
- The website is not organized for easy review of the candidates, but they do have bios on many of the candidates if you are willing to dig through the blog posts.
Besides the candidates we are asked to vote on two “questions”. If we were in California we would have statements for and against each of these provided to us, plus a statement by an analyst on the implications of these decisions, plus a list of groups in favor or opposed to these measures. In Connecticut, you don’t get anything. But I have found a few news stories.
Here are the questions for voters:
1. “Shall the $1,150,000 appropriation and bond authorization for the acquisition of City-wide streetlights, poles, and related equipment, pursuant to the ordinance adopted by the Common Council on September 3, 2013, be approved?”
2. “Shall the $15,200,000 appropriation and bond authorization for the City of Middletown 2013 Road, Sidewalk, and Public Works Facilities Improvement Program, pursuant to the ordinance adopted by the Common Council on September 3, 2013, be approved?”
Most likely there will be more coverage in the media as we get closer to next week’s election. But in the meantime, this should be a start!
Best news of the day: the British Navy is using Brittany Spears songs to scare off Somali pirates.
This is an unconscionable tactic, one that does not befit a country that considers itself civilized. Need I remind the British Navy that torture is illegal under both international and UK law?
The British Navy should also be aware that international law does not completely forbid belligerent reprisals. If the Somali pirates begin to fight back by blaring One Direction at oncoming British ships, the Navy will have no one but themselves to blame.
Some creative examples here. Just thinking a bit about next term…