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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Morning News: Nov. 14, 2023

SCOTUS Ethics Code

The US Supreme Court adopted its first-ever formal code of ethics for its nine justices yesterday after facing criticism over reports of some justices' ethical practices, such as undisclosed gifts and trips seen as a possible conflicts of interest. The high court was previously the only court in the federal judiciary without a formal code of conduct.

The policy, signed by all nine justices, generally follows existing rules for lower courts and leaves compliance up to each judge. The code (see here) contains rules that limit the kinds of gifts federal judges and their families can accept and formalizes when judges should recuse themselves from a case, among other guidelines. The justices of the high court said they were issuing the code to dispel any misunderstandings, though it is unclear how the rules would be enforced.

The development follows a series of reports about justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch that were published this year.

See a video of the history of judicial ethics here.

UK Cabinet Shake-Up

Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron was appointed foreign secretary yesterday as part of a broader shake-up of current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's cabinet. The moves, which saw new faces at several ministries, were prompted by Home Secretary Suella Braverman's dismissal earlier in the day. Braverman was fired after publishing an unapproved opinion piece last week claiming British police forces were politically biased.

Cameron served as a moderate Conservative prime minister from 2010 to 2016 (see highlights) and triggered the referendum that led to Brexit. Following his resignation in 2016, Cameron reportedly earned up to $10M annually as a lobbyist for defunct Greensill Capital, a lender under investigation in Germany and Switzerland. Since Cameron is currently not a member of Parliament, Sunak appointed him to the unelected House of Lords (see how it works).

The upheaval comes as the Conservative Party—who have held power since 2010—continue to poll behind Labour by double digits, with elections legally required by January 2025.

Iceland Eruption Risk

Icelandic officials warned of an imminent volcanic eruption following tens of thousands of earthquakes since late October, including over 2,000 yesterday. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the coastal town of Grindavík on the country’s southwest Reykjanes peninsula, where many of the earthquakes have occurred.

Officials say an underground tunnel of magma 9.3 miles long is currently moving upward below the earth's surface, and the ground in the north and western parts of Grindavík has subsided by about 3 feet. Iceland is home to more than 100 volcanoes, 32 of which are active, and is among the most volcanically active places in the world, with about one eruption every five years. Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. See what happens before a volcano erupts here.

Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula previously erupted in March 2021, and has since had two smaller eruptions. Prior to 2021, the peninsula had not seen an eruption in over 800 years, when there were several eruptions—known as the Reykjanes Fires.

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