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Thursday, April 10, 2014

  • As Deportations Top 2 Million, Should Activists Push for Executive Order or Congressional Action?

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    Protesters took to the streets in more than 60 cities on Saturday to call on President Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants. Some marked it as the date when the Obama administration likely reached its two millionth deportation. This comes as The New York Times reports that two-thirds of those deported under Obama had committed minor infractions, such as traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. More than 5,000 children whose parents were removed from the country have ended up in foster care. But some activists say presidential action on deportations is not enough. They are focused instead on the passage of a bill in Congress that includes a path to citizenship. As Obama’s policies come under increasing scrutiny, we host a debate: Should the immigrant rights movement push Obama to take executive action to immediately stop deportations, or should the focus remain on pressuring Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill? We are joined by two guests: Pablo Alvarado, president of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

  • Wall Street’s Land Grab: Firms Amass Rental Empire, Ousting Tenants & Threatening New Housing Crisis

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    The Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, is now the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the country. In one day alone, Blackstone bought up 1,400 houses in Atlanta. And as private equity firms gobble up huge swaths of the housing market, they are partnering with big banks to bundle the mortgages on these rental homes into a new financial product known as "rental-backed securities," reminiscent of the "mortgage-backed securities" that helped cause the last financial crisis. Could this new private equity rental empire help spark the next housing crisis? We are joined by Laura Gottesdiener, author of "A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home," who calls this wave of purchases "a land grab." Gottesdiener’s latest article focuses on New York City’s rental market, a case study in what critics call "predatory equity." Large firms have used abusive tactics to oust tenants in a bid to hike up rents — and tenants have been resisting. We are also joined by Benjamin Warren, who, along with nearly 1,600 families in 42 buildings, is a victim of one of the largest single foreclosures in the city’s recent history.

  • Not a Bug Splat: Artists Confront U.S. Drone Operators with Giant Picture of Pakistani Child

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    In an act of protest against drone attacks, a group of artists and villagers have unveiled a giant banner on a Pakistani field featuring the face of a young child. Organizers say the child lost her parents and two young siblings in a U.S. drone strike. Her picture is large enough to be picked up by satellite imagery. The "Not a Bug Splat" campaign is the work of Pakistanis, Americans and the French street artist JR. The project derives its name from a piece of military software that generates computer models of the destruction a bombing raid might cause — those models reportedly resemble the remains of a squashed insect on a windshield. Now, drone operators will see the face of the little girl staring up at them instead. We speak with Dr. Akash Goel, a physician who is one of the co-creators of the "Not a Bug Splat" project.