In Arizona, at least fifty people have been arrested in protests against the state’s new anti-immigrant law. The law went effect on Thursday, but not before a federal judge blocked four key parts of the legislation. One of the biggest protests occurred in Phoenix outside of the Fourth Avenue Jail run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Carlos Garcia is an organizer with the Puente Movement.
Carlos Garcia: "We’re going to show Joe Arpaio that we’re not scared of him. We’re going to show the police that we’re not scared of them. Some of us are going to be willing to risk arrest. Those people have already done it. Those people are already trained. If you’re not one of them, go figure out how you can help out or support them. Those folks have already made that decision. But for right now, we’re all going to take on the street. We’re all going to be there and show Joe Arpaio we’re not scared of him, show the Obama administration we’re not going to stop until he stops the ICE ACCESS program and puts Joe Arpaio behind bars." (Video courtesy of Pan Left Productions )
At least six demonstrators chained themselves to the Phoenix jail, including the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray: "We’re out here standing here saying, 'Not one more. Not one more mother gets pulled away from her children. Not one more grandfather gets pulled away from his children and grandchildren. Not one more student gets denied the opportunity to follow his dreams, after his father and mother have sweated in labor for our country.'"
While the protests against the Arizona anti-immigrant law were peaceful, critics of the state law have faced direct threats. Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva had to shut down his Yuma district office after staff members discovered a bullet had shattered a window. US Judge Susan Bolton has reportedly received hundreds of threats at her court offices following her ruling on Wednesday throwing out parts of the law.
Three more US service members have died in Afghanistan, making July the deadliest month for the United States of the nearly nine-year war. At least sixty-three US troops have died so far this month, surpassing last month’s record toll. On Wednesday night, soldiers found the body of Navy sailor Jarod Newlove of Renton, Washington. He was one of two sailors who went missing last week after reportedly being ambushed by the Taliban. Earlier in the week, troops found the body of sailor Justin McNeley from Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
President Obama has signed into legislation a war funding bill that provides $37 billion more for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama signed the bill Thursday without public remarks in a low-key Oval Office session. With the new war spending, the total amount of money that Congress has allotted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has now surpassed $1 trillion.
The McClatchy Newspapers reports the Obama administration has begun modifying export control regulations in an attempt to increase the US share of the global arms sales market. The United States already supplies about 30 percent of the world’s arms. Obama is asking Congress to streamline the bureaucratic process for approving arms sales by setting up a single new agency to oversee the exporting of weapons. Critics say decontrolling weapons systems could fuel regional arms races and allow technology to fall into the wrong hands.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting investigators have found concrete evidence on computers used by Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning that link him with the leak of more than 90,000 classified Afghanistan war reports. On Thursday, the Army said Manning had been transferred from a base in Kuwait to a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Manning was charged earlier this month by the military with illegally taking secret State Department files and leaking a classified video that showed a US military helicopter killing a group of people in Baghdad including two Reuters journalists.
The New York Times reports Justice Department lawyers are exploring whether the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange could be charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for publishing the classified Afghan war documents. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has already called for the criminal prosecution of WikiLeaks. On Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates denounced the leaking of the documents.
Robert Gates: "The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world."
A new US Army report has found that the rate of suicide by soldiers in the Army has risen above the civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War. There were a record 160 active-duty Army suicides in the year from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009. The report faulted commanders for ignoring rising mental health, drug and crime issues among soldiers. One-third of soldiers take at least one prescription drug, and 14 percent of soldiers are on some form of powerful painkiller. The report did not find a link between the rise in suicides and repeat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Seventy-nine percent of the soldiers who committed suicide had had only one deployment or had not deployed at all.
The House Ethics Committee has charged Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel of New York with thirteen separate violations of House rules. Rangel faces a possible ethics trial in mid-September. The charges were announced on Thursday after settlement talks broke down. Charges against Rangel include soliciting donations from people with business before his committee, not paying taxes on a Caribbean home, improperly using a rent-stabilized apartment in New York as a campaign office, and not properly disclosing more than $600,000 in income and assets. Attorneys for Rangel issued a thirty-two-page rebuttal to the charges. Rangel briefly spoke with reporters on Wednesday.
Rep. Charles Rangel: "Sixty years ago, I survived a Chinese attack in North Korea, and as a result, I wrote a book that, having survived that, that I hadn’t had a bad day since. Today I have to reassess that."
Senate Republicans have blocked an Obama administration plan to create a $30 billion loan fund for small businesses. Senate Majority Leader Reid Harry Reid says the Senate will take up the bill again next week.
The House has failed to pass a $7.4 billion bill to provide free healthcare and compensation payments to rescue and cleanup workers who were exposed to dangerous toxic chemicals at the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 attacks. The bill failed in part because the Democratic leadership chose to consider the bill under a procedure that requires a two-thirds vote for approval rather than a simple majority. Such a move blocked potential Republican amendments to the measure.
Citigroup has agreed to pay $75 million to settle federal claims that it hid more than $40 billion in subprime mortgage investments that were deteriorating. The holdings ultimately crippled the bank and forced the federal government to rescue the bank. As part of the settlement, two high-ranking Citigroup executives have agreed to pay a total of $180,000 in fines for their involvement in the subprime mortgage investments.
The Grammy-award winning singer Wyclef Jean has taken legal steps toward running for president in his home country of Haiti, but he says he has not made a definite decision to run. Haiti will hold elections on November 28 to elect a new leader to replace President René Préval, whose term ends in February. Wyclef Jean spoke to reporters at the Port-au-Prince International Airport.
Wyclef Jean: "A lot of rumors going around that I am running for president. I have not declared that, despite what you’re hearing. Right now, like the press is saying, as a family, we must decide what we’re going to do, because it’s a big sacrifice, but it’s the real sacrifice of the country. But we could just say right now the voice of the youth is definitely drafting us."
Two New Orleans police officers have been indicted on federal charges in the beating death of a black man named Raymond Robair one month before Hurricane Katrina. A total of eighteen New Orleans police officers are now facing charges as part of a sprawling Justice Department probe.
An international treaty banning cluster bombs goes into effect on Sunday, but the United States as well as Russia and Israel have refused to sign the treaty. All three countries have used cluster bombs in recent years. Other key countries who have refused to sign the treaty include Brazil, China, India, Pakistan and South Korea.
And it was a year ago Saturday when Iranian authorities detained three American hikers along the Iraq-Iran border. Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd remain in Iranian prison facing espionage charges. A recent report in The Nation magazine said the three hikers were arrested on the Iraqi side of the Iran-Iraq border — not in Iran, as the Iranian government has claimed.