Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • #FreeAJStaff: Al Jazeera Reporter Sentenced in Absentia Decries Egypt’s Imprisonment of 3 Colleagues

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    Protests are continuing across the globe calling for Egypt to release three Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were convicted on Monday of "spreading false news" in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a "terrorist group." The sentencing came down one day after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo to meet with Egypt’s new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and herald the resumption of stalled U.S. military aid. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt is holding at least 11 other journalists in prison, placing Egypt among the world’s worst repressors of media freedom. We are joined by Al Jazeera correspondent Sue Turton, who was among nine journalists sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison during the same trial. We also hear from PBS NewsHour chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner on how Fahmy saved her life.

  • "Trans Healthcare Now!" Lawsuit Seeks End to Healthcare Discrimination for Transgender New Yorkers

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    In New York, and in most other states, a transgender person with Medicaid cannot obtain coverage for hormone therapy, which non-transgender women routinely obtain in the form of birth control. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project and other groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a 1998 regulation which prevents Medicaid recipients in New York from accessing sex reassignment surgery, hormones and other forms of care. The lawsuit follows a number of recent victories for transgender healthcare. Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overturned Medicare’s blanket ban on sex reassignment surgery, meaning recipients of Medicare will no longer have their claims for coverage of surgery automatically denied. Just last week, Massachusetts became the third state in the country to cover transgender healthcare under Medicaid. All this comes as activists prepare to mark the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City on June 28, 1969, a seminal event that helped launch the modern LGBT movement. We speak with Pooja Gehi, staff attorney at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which filed the class-action lawsuit over Medicaid coverage in New York, and Angie Milan-Cruz, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

  • 50 Years After U.S. Launched Secret War on Laos, Unexploded Bombs Still Killing Civilians

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    Fifty years ago this month, the United States began raining down bombs on Laos, in what would become the largest bombing campaign in history. From June 1964 to March 1973, the United States dropped at least two million tons of bombs on the small, landlocked Southeast Asian country. That is the equivalent of one planeload every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years — more than was dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II. The deadly legacy of the Vietnam War lives on today in the form of unexploded cluster bombs, which had about a 30 percent failure rate when they fell from American planes over large swaths of Laos. Experts estimate that Laos is littered with as many as 80 million "bombies," or bomblets — baseball-sized bombs found inside cluster bombs. Since the bombing stopped four decades ago, tens of thousands of people have been injured or killed as a result. We are joined by Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern, co-authors of "Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos."