Ecuador and Goliath: U.S. oil giant Chevron was recently ordered by a court in Lago Agrio in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle to pay $8 billion in damages. Faulty drilling practices by Texaco, which was purchased by Chevron in 2001, damaged rainforest and harmed indigenous peoples in the 1970s and 80s. Chevron, however, said in a release, “The Ecuadorean court’s judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable.” The oil company says it will not pay the ordered amount and plans to appeal the decision. The case has triggered many similar suits in international arbitration and in U.S. courts. The oil industry is paying close attention to the case due to the threat of a precedent being created that could lead to further lawsuits. Good luck, Ecuador. Maybe you’ll finally be able to get oil giants to take responsibility for all those “externalities.” Still, don’t hold your breath.
Youth in Revolt: Last Friday, history was made. The young people of Egypt stood up and, united, threw off a decades-old dictator in the hopes of establishing democracy and freedom. The youth of Egypt have proven to young people across the Middle East that it is possible to exact change without violence or terrorism, as al Qaeda would have them believe. The future of Egypt is uncertain for the time being, and there may still be dark days ahead, but the accomplishments of the protestors cannot be dismissed. As of this writing, only three days after the protests in Egypt succeeded, thousands have taken to the streets of Tehran, in Iran. While the last Iranian protests in 2009 were unsuccessful, this might be the chance for the youth of Iran to rise up and, like Egypt, throw off an oppressive regime once and for all.
How Offensive: According to an article by Kent Faulk of The Birmingham News, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday that former Franklin County District Attorney John Pilati will have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison next month. Pilati has served 41 of the 42 months he was sentenced to serve in prison for fondling five young men aged 17 to 20 during searches. Pilati is scheduled to be released on March 24, and previously had argued that the judge could not force him to register because he was not found guilty of a sex offense against a minor. The appeals court, however, ruled that his conviction constituted a sex offense against a minor and that he would have to register. Pilati continues to deny all accusations, claiming that the men who accused him were out for revenge.
Welcome Home: Throughout much of the 20th Century, the Southern United States was a breeding ground for racism and prejudice. Birmingham itself was once symbolic of that dark time as a whole. However, according to new census data and an article by Hope Yen of The Associated Press, more and more of the nation’s African- American population is moving back to the south. During the Great Migration, hundreds of thousands of oppressed citizens fled the racially segregated South for northern metropolitan areas. But with growing political and social opportunity, many are moving back to their Southern roots. 57 percent of U.S. blacks now call the South home again, the greatest percentage since the 1960s. Though we still deal with a dark track record, the changing of demographics is a definite signs that times truly have changed in the South.