Beyond the Hedges
Oklahoma Senate approves bill
The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill that gives police the power to stop drivers to check their citizenship status. Under the new bill, police are allowed to seize real estate, vehicles, computers and firearms that are used for illegal purposes. The original bill included a provision that penalized employers for intentionally hiring undocumented workers, and required that employers fire those respective workers. However this provision was removed after lobbying from state business interests. The bill was passed by a 29-15 vote. The State House will vote on the bill next.
Sources: Reuters, NewsOK.com
Wisconsin law challenged
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed a formal complaint on Wednesday against Republican lawmakers. Ozanne claims a key meeting of Republican lawmakers was held on March 9 with less than two hours notice, which violates the state's open meeting law. During the meeting, Republican committee members allegedly separated the anti-union provision from the budget repair bill in an effort to quickly pass the measure without a quorum. The bill passed through the senate 18-1. The Republican-majority Senate had been stymied for weeks, as 14 Democratic senators had left the state in order to delay action on the measure. Ozanne intends for the anti-union measure to become void on this basis.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters
Japanese earthquake crisis
The fifth-largest earthquake ever measured hit Japan on March 11, causing over 100 billion dollars worth of damage thus far. Over 5,000 casualties have been confirmed, but some sources estimate deaths to be more than 10,000. The most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in at least 100 years, the epicenter of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake was approximately 230 miles offshore from Tokyo. Since then, the nation has suffered a number of aftershocks of magnitude greater than 6.0. The resulting tsunami severely damaged Sendai, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The tsunami travelled approximately six miles inland, carrying buildings and automobiles with it. The tsunami crossed the Pacific ocean at 500 miles per hour before reaching Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, but no major damage has occurred in those regions.
As a result of the natural disaster, a nuclear power complex has been damaged in Fukushima in what may be the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has declared the situation to be "very serious," as core damage has occured at reactors one, two and four of the plant. There is also no water remaining in the fourth reactor's cooling pool, resulting in extremely high levels of radiation, and a fire also broke out at reactor four after a blast created a hole in a building that housed spent fuel rods. Although radiation levels in the vicinity spiked temporarily after the disaster, a top Japanese government spokesman has announced that the radiation levels around the complex do not pose an immediate health risk. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that at least 20 people have become ill due to possible contamination from the radiation leaks.
Sources: CNN, Reuters
Libyan turmoil affects U.S.
The Obama administration is seeking permission from the United Nations to confront Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi's military forces. Thus far, a no-fly zone has been imposed on the oil-rich nation and President Obama has publicly declared the necessity of Gaddafi leaving office. Although U.S. diplomats have indicated that the Obama administration is willing to intervene militarily, negotiations inside the UN Security Council have yet to result in a unified response from the US and its international allies. Timely military action is necessary as Gaddafi's military forces are regaining control in Benghazi, a rebel stronghold. Meanwhile, four New York Times journalists who were covering the fighting were reported missing on Wednesday. According to a secondhand source, they were picked up by government forces, although the Libyan government has assured the paper that the journalists will be released quickly if this is the case.
Sources: Washington Post, Los Angeles Times
More from The Rice Thresher
Amy Dittmar, the senior vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, has been selected as Rice’s new provost, incoming president Reginald DesRoches announced Thursday. DesRoches, the current provost, will become Rice’s president on July 1, and Dittmar will start August 1.
The 109th Convocation ceremony was held in person this past Friday night, with no restrictions on attendance. Hundreds of class of 2022 Rice undergraduates passed under the Sallyport before meeting at Rice football stadium for the ceremony.
The Student Association executive board drafted a formal complaint against the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship to present to University Court for violation of the SA Constitution nondiscrimination policy that every Rice organization is required to adhere to. This complaint comes in light of the recently published Thresher article, where several students shared their experience with discrimation within the club on the basis of sexual orientation.