New makeup of federal appeals courts may help cement Obama’s legacy
Nine of the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals have shifted from being majority Republican-appointed to majority Democrat-appointed as Obama fills slots on the benches. The ideological change could impact the outcome of the legal challenges to Obama’s controversial healthcare, immigration and clean air laws. The transformation of the courts swung into high gear following the adoption of the “nuclear option,” which allowed Senate Democrats to override Republican filibusters of Presidential appointments. Many of the newly-confirmed judges are young, promising Obama a lasting legacy in the courts and posing new long-term challenges to Republicans. Conservatives have the chance to curb further change in the courts should Republicans regain control of the House in the November midterm elections.
Big companies agree to cut the use of coolants, reduce emissions
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Red Bull and Target are among the high-profile firms that have agreed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out a class of chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. HFCs are up to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to the White House. By 2026, the agreements are expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 percent of the total global emissions in 2010. The administration announced the deal just one week before global leaders convene in New York to begin what will be a 15-month negotiation toward a climate deal. The negotiations will be centered on reducing carbon emissions, which linger in the air for centuries while HFCs disintegrate after 15 years.
Arab nations to join air campaign against Islamic State, U.S. diplomats say
The Obama administration announced that several Arab nations have offered their support in the air campaign against the Islamic State (IS). Although officials have not released their names, the new allies are believed to include the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The United States has ruled out any possibility of coordination with Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria. Although a coalition is slowly taking shape, any sustained campaign to root out IS will require broader commitment and ground forces, which states have been reluctant to supply. For all the efforts to involve Arab nations, the Shia-dominated Iraqi government might face a challenge in coordinating with its Sunni neighbors.
U.S. pledges 3,000 troops to fight Ebola
As one war rages by air in Iraq, another is being fought in the hospitals and clinics of West Africa. Yesterday, Obama announced that the United States will commit up to 3,000 troops to help stop the spread of Ebola. Aid will focus primarily on Liberia, where U.S. troops will construct up to 17 treatment centers and train as many as 500 health care workers per week. Four hundred thousand Ebola home health and treatment kits will be distributed, along with tens of thousands of diagnostic kits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also increase the number of doctors and health professionals sent to West Africa. Meanwhile, the Pentagon will help coordinate relief efforts. However, the disease is spreading quickly, and it is unclear whether aid efforts are coming fast enough to contain the virus.