The Record: This Week in Review

Ireland Prime Minister Apologizes to Women and Children of the Magdalene Laundries

The Prime Minister of Ireland formally apologized to approximately 10,000 women who had served in the Magdalene Laundries.  A 1,000 page report revealed government complicity in the slave labor of women and children in Catholic Church-run institutions.  The Irish government is discussing a compensatory package for the survivors in an effort to make amends.  

New Peace Framework Signed for the Democratic Republic of Congo

Eleven African countries have pledged to not tolerate or support armed groups fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Furthermore, they have agreed to refrain from interfering with the Congo’s internal affairs.  The Congo suffers from persistent violence and this framework is a small step towards reducing that violence.

SCOTUS: Plaintiffs Lacked Standing to Challenge a 2008 Amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

The U.S. Supreme Court has released its decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International, No. 11-1025. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the group of journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates challenging a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act lacked standing because their alleged harms were too speculative. The challenged amendment expanded the government’s authority to intercept international communications involving Americans.

EU Poised to Temporarily Waive Carbon Payments for Intercontinental Flights

The European Union will likely suspend for one year the requirement that all intercontinental flights using EU airports pay for their carbon emissions. The move comes in response to objections to the law from outside the EU and hopes that a global deal to limit airline carbon emissions can be reached. The suspension could be extended beyond one year if there is “clear and sufficient” progress toward a global deal. Any progress on such a deal would likely require a new interest on the part of the United States government in addressing this problem.

Kenya to Hold General Election Next Week; UN Officials Warn of Potential Displacement Crisis

UN officials are calling on the Kenyan government and international organizations to redouble their efforts to prevent violence and displacement in the wake of next week’s general election. After the last general election (in December 2007) 1,100 Kenyans were killed and 600,000 were forcibly displaced. Although a new constitution adopted in 2010 included political reforms addressing the 2007 election violence, the UN officials warn that the reforms have not been fully implemented and ethnic tensions have recently been on the rise.

IMF Paper Calls for Euro Area Banking Union

A recent IMF publication calls for a single supervisory and regulatory framework within the Euro Area for integrating European banking systems.  The paper calls for a “single supervisory mechanism” to oversee all Euro Area banks, in addition to resolution and wind-up powers for dealing with insolvent financial institutions. While this proposal builds on the European Council’s 2012 agreement on a similar arrangement, the IMF calls for substantially more focus on banking sector re-capitalization.

Jack Lew Sworn In As New U.S. Treasury Secretary

On Thursday, Jack Lew officially became the new U.S. Secretary of Treasury. Secretary Lew previously served as Chief of Staff for U.S. President Barack Obama and as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under former U.S. President Clinton.

European Parliament Approves Bonus Caps for Bank Employees

The proposed legislation will limit the bonuses that E.U.-based banks can pay their employees to twice an employee’s annual salary. This legislation would apply equally to employees of E.U.-based banks who worked outside of the E.U. (for example, New York or Singapore). The measure still has to be approved by the 27 member-states of the E.U., and Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has voiced concerns about the proposed measures.