Short takes on the news
Hatch vs. U.N. • Neither the Republicans in the Senate nor the Democrats in the White House liked the fact that the United Nations General Assembly last week granted what it calls "nonmember observer state" status to Palestine. It is a seldom-used designation (the Vatican is the only other one) that does not grant the Palestinian Authority full status but does give it access to such organizations as the International Criminal Court. Many are worried about Palestine trying to drag Israeli officials into that tribunal. And the Obama administration is worried that upgrading the Palestinians' global status would make it harder to concentrate on direct Israel-Palestine or U.S.-Israel-Palestine talks. So the step does further complicate one of the world's most complicated problems. But the idea floated by Utah's senior senator, Orrin Hatch, to summarily cut off all U.S. financial support for the world body would just make the peace process even more complicated, and further alienate the U.S. from the rest of the world. This is an area where Hatch actually has little influence. And, in this case, that's good.
Lee vs. Hatch • While Utah's other senator, Mike Lee, stands with Orrin Hatch on the issue of funding for the U.N., Lee is leading in one area where Hatch, sadly, refuses to follow. The Senate last week passed an amendment to the annual Defense Authorization Bill offered by Lee and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would make it clear that American citizens and legal permanent residents arrested on American soil and charged with terror-related crimes must be processed through the normal criminal justice system, with all rights of due process. The measure would end the use of the kind of indefinite and unreviewed detention that administrations of both parties have used for people who, on the administration's word alone, we are supposed to assume are terrorists. The bipartisan amendment passed the Senate 67-29, with Hatch among those voting no.
A limit on waste • Good for Rusty Lundberg, director of the state Division of Radiation Control, who last week signed an order enforcing the guts of a deal struck years ago between EnergySolutions and then-Gov. Jon Huntsman. The new version of the license for the hazardous waste storage facility in Tooele County sets a limit on the size of the nuclear waste repository, while allowing some internal rearrangement that the company says will make its operation more efficient. The matter had been in and out of court for years, but the resolution is good for all concerned.