Tuesday, March 13, 2012

  • Ceasefire Reached After Israeli Air Strikes Killed 26 Palestinians in Gaza

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    As Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip reportedly agree to a ceasefire after four days of cross-border violence, we speak with Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the online publication, “The Electronic Intifada.” Earlier today, an Egyptian official said both sides have pledged to end current attacks and implement "a comprehensive and mutual calm." Israel’s latest strikes on Gaza killed at least 25 Palestinians. At least 80 Palestinians were also wounded, most of them civilians. At least four Israelis in border towns were wounded in rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza. The rocket attacks began after an Israeli air strike killed Zuhair al-Qaisi, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, on Friday. Most of the Palestinian victims were killed on Saturday, making it the deadliest 24-hour period Gaza has seen since the Israeli attack in December 2008 and January 2009 when some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. “Israel presents this as they’re attacking terrorists who are en route to commit some kind of attack, and that’s the claim they always make,” Abunimah says. “But in fact, in almost every case, they’re attacking people in their homes, riding in cars, just walking in the street.” [Rush transcript to come. Check back soon.]

  • NAACP Head Benjamin Jealous in Geneva Seeking United Nations Help to Protect Voting Rights in U.S.

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    Since last year, 15 states have passed new voting laws that critics say suppress the votes of the poor, students and people of color. This is the topic of a major speech set for today by NAACP head Benjamin Jealous before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The NAACP wants a U.N. delegation of experts to monitor the impact of voter identification laws, as well new restrictions on same-day registration, early voting, Sunday voting, and making it harder to run a voting registration drive. Its outreach to the United Nations has been compared to the group’s efforts in the 1940s and 1950s when it sought international support in its fight for civil rights and against lynching. Its visit to the United Nations also comes days after the group joined with thousands of people in Alabama to retrace the historic 1965 civil rights march in Selma. In what became known as "Bloody Sunday" on March 7, 1965, police attacked demonstrators at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge as they tried to march for voting rights. Outrage over the crackdown led to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. [includes rush transcript]

  • NAACP Slams Fox News Attack on Obama for Praising, Hugging Pioneering Black Prof. Derrick Bell

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    The NAACP’s Benjamin Jealous responds to recent attacks on the late Derrick Bell, the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School. Fox News host Sean Hannity played a video showing then-student Barack Obama hugging Bell during a protest over Harvard’s failure to hire minority faculty. Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Hannity’s program called Bell a "radical college racist professor." "I think, quite frankly, Sean Hannity was afraid to talk to Derrick Bell directly, because this [video] has been out there for years," Jealous says. "If he had, he would have encountered somebody of tremendous compassion, of tremendous intelligence and of tremendous patriotism." [includes rush transcript]

  • Ari Berman: "GOP War on Voting" Targets Swing States with New Voter ID and Registration Laws

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    On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division blocked Texas from enforcing a new law requiring voters to present photo identification after ruling that the rule would discriminate against Latino voters. The move follows a similar decision late last year to block another voter ID law in South Carolina, the first such law overruled by the Justice Department in nearly two decades. We speak with Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine, who has been extensively covering the issue of voting rights in the United States. He is the author of the book "Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics," just out in paperback. [includes rush transcript]

  • Who Will Run Today’s Primary in Birmingham, AL, After JPMorgan Scheme Results in County Bankruptcy?

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    As Mississippi and Alabama hold their Republican primaries, we go to Jefferson County, Alabama, where the financial situation is so grim that it cannot hire enough staff to run today’s election. Critics say Jefferson County, home to Birmingham, represents some of the worst consequences of the pro-corporate agenda backed by leading Republican candidates. Late last year, it filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history after failing to refinance nearly $4 billion in debt. Jefferson County was deep in the red after reaching a complicated scheme with Wall Street investors to finance the cost of rebuilding a broken sewer system. The county reached an agreement with the Wall Street giant JPMorgan to refinance through interest rate swaps, but later sued the firm after its debt ballooned on what was initially a $250 million project. Earlier this month, a bankruptcy judge ruled Jefferson County’s bankruptcy filing can proceed, rejecting the pleas of creditors including JPMorgan Chase Bank and Bank of America. For more, we’re joined from Birmingham by Barnett Wright, a senior reporter who covers Jefferson County for The Birmingham News. [includes rush transcript]