Compiled by MARLENA IDROBO ’16
Nation and World Columnist
House passes bill allowing health insurance policy renewals
On Friday, the House passed a bill that would allow insurance companies to renew through 2014 current health insurance policies that do not meet all the standards laid out by the Affordable Care Act, as well as sell these policies to new customers. The bill, drafted by Republican representative Fred Upton, passed by a 261-157 vote that included 39 Democrats. Through the vote, Congress rejected a proposal drafted on Thursday by the Obama administration that would allow current customers to retain their policies but would not allow the uninsured to purchase them.
Policy gives undocumented immigrants with military family members a path to citizenship
The Obama administration announced on Friday a new policy that will allow some undocumented immigrants living in the United States who are close relatives of active military troops, reservists and veterans to remain in the country and apply for legal residency. The nine-page memorandum released by the Department of Homeland Security also grants these relatives—spouses, children and parents— eligibility for work permits. Margaret Stock, a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who practices cross-border law and who lobbied for the policy, said the measure represents “an enormous step forward for military families and military readiness” and will ease many troops’ fears of their undocumented relatives being deported while they are deployed. Discussion on immigration reform has not reached a consensus in Congress. House Republicans said this week that they would not vote on immigration measures this year, including a bill that the Senate passed in June.
China to end one-child policy and “re-education through labor” camps
China announced on Friday that it would end the country’s 40-year one-child policy as well as the “re-education through labor” system of punishment that began in the 1950s, under which authorities could imprison people without a trial. These were some of over 60 proposals that the Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping, agreed upon over a four-day conference that ended on Tuesday. Other proposals focus on restructuring the economy and include promoting an increase in private investment, improving government transparency in economic matters, protecting the property of farmers and allowing for market competition in sectors such as energy and water. President Xi also stated that the government would increase Internet restrictions. There is no date for when the policies will be implemented, however, leading some experts to believe that the proposed changes could be delayed or reversed by future policies.
Japan cuts back on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as a result of Fukushima disaster
On Friday, Japanese representatives at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw announced that the country would scale back its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 to 3.8 percent of 2005 levels. The new target, which officials say is tentative, would represent a 3 percent rise in greenhouse gases from Japan’s 1990 levels. Government officials said that the new target is a result of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which led to the shutdown of Japan’s nuclear power plants and an increase in fossil fuel consumption. Japan also announced that it would provide about $13 billion to developing countries to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.