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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

  • Video of U.N. Peacekeepers’ Sexual Assault of Haitian Prompts Calls to Focus on Post-Quake Rebuilding

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    The commander of the Uruguayan Navy’s United Nations mission in Haiti has been dismissed after the circulation of a video that allegedly shows Uruguayan peacekeepers sexually assaulting an 18-year-old Haitian man. Haitian President Michel Martelly condemned the alleged abuse yesterday and said the victim had been subjected to "collective rape." The attack occurred in July, but graphic cell phone video of the alleged attack only surfaced in recent days. This latest episode follows others by U.N. forces. In December 2007, 100 Sri Lankan soldiers were deported from Haiti following charges of sexual abuse of under-age girls. In 2005, U.N. troops went on the rampage in Cité Soleil, one of the poorest areas in Port-au-Prince, killing as many as 23 people, including children. Yesterday, there were demonstrations in Port Salut, the seaside town in Haiti where the incident is alleged to have occurred. We go to Port Salut to speak with journalist Ansel Herz, who broke the story. "Some people want MINUSTAH, the entire force in the country—it’s now about 12,000 soldiers—to simply leave," says Herz. "Others are asking that they transform their mission from one of military so-called 'peacekeeping' into development—building roads, building schools, helping create the infrastructure that Haiti needs to get back up on its feet after the earthquake." [includes rush transcript]

  • "Fear, Inc." Exposes the So-Called Experts and Donors Behind Islamophobia in the United States

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    A new report by the Center for American Progress called "Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America" shows how a small group of self-proclaimed experts backed by a host of donors are spreading fear and hostility toward Muslims in the United States. According to the report, these so-called experts peddle Islamophobia in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs and carefully crafted anti-Islam talking points. It also notes that right-wing Norwegian murderer Anders Breivik repeatedly cited these "experts" in his so-called "Manifesto." Among those the report highlights is Robert Spencer, author of a blog called "Jihad Watch" and leader of the group Stop Islamization of America, which coined the term "victory mosque at Ground Zero" to refer to a local effort to build a moderate Islamic center in New York City, turning it into an international spectacle. We speak with one of the report’s authors, Faiz Shakir, vice president of the Center for American Progress and editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress.org. "[Spencer] wants basically a society in which we are concerned about the presence of all Muslims in America," says Shakir. "This is the running theme of all the Islamophobia network." [includes rush transcript]

  • Saint of 9/11: Remembering NY Fire Chaplain Mychal Judge, Gay Catholic Priest Killed at WTC

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    Hundreds of people marched the streets of New York City Sunday to honor the memory of Fr. Mychal Judge, the first recorded victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. Judge, a New York City Fire Department chaplain, was 68 years old when he was killed while giving last rites to a firefighter at the scene. He was a larger-than-life figure, with admirers and friends across the political and social spectrum, and whose life is commemorated in the acclaimed documentary, "Saint of 9/11." The film is notable for its effort to portray a half-hidden secret about the priest: he was gay. In his private diaries, the revered Catholic priest wrote of how "I thought of my gay self and how the people I meet never get to know me fully." We speak with Brendan Fay, longtime gay rights activist and independent filmmaker who produced "Saint of 9/11," and play excerpts from the documentary as well as his upcoming film, "Remembering Mychal." [includes rush transcript]

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