Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in cities across the country Sunday urging Congress to pass legislation that would legalize the estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the US. An estimated 500,000 people took to the streets in Dallas. The marchers filled the downtown streets with chants of “Si Se Puede!”–Spanish for “Yes, we can!”. In St. Paul, Minnesota, 30,000 people rallied at the state capitol. In Birmingham, Alabama, demonstrators marched along the same streets where activists clashed with police in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. Other protests were held in New Mexico, Michigan, Iowa, Alabama, Utah, Oregon, Idaho and California. Michael Martinez, who attended a rally in San Diego, said: “It’s not about flags, it’s not really about race. It’s about just equal opportunities for everybody and nobody being above or below the law and nobody being exploited by the law. It’s that simple.” More protests are planned for today in nearly 100 cities across the country.
Speculation over the possibility of a US military attack on Iran is increasing amid reports the Bush administration has drawn up plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. In a major piece in the New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says there is a growing conviction in the defense and diplomatic community that the Bush administration’s ultimate goal in the nuclear standoff with Iran is regime change. A high-ranking former defense official said the Bush administration’s military plans are premised on the hope “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” The official went on to say: “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, 'What are they smoking?' ”
The Washington Post is reporting the Pentagon is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of al-Qaeda figure Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. Some military intelligence officials believe the campaign may have exaggerated Zarqawi’s importance and helped the Bush administration link the Iraq war with the September 11 attacks. The propaganda effort has also been reportedly used to build sentiment against non-US foreigners in Iraq. One military briefing was entitled: “Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response.” Another document lists “U.S. Home Audience” as a target audience for the campaign.
The White House has publicly admitted President Bush authorized the disclosure of pre-war intelligence on Iraq. But White House spokesperson Scott McLellan said the disclosure wasn’t illegal because information disclosed by the President is considered declassified. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, has testified that President Bush authorized him to leak a highly classified intelligence document on Iraq to the press in an effort to defend the administration’s decision to go to war.
Critics said the administration’s response has been inadequate. In an interview with Brit Hume of Fox News, Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said: “I think that it is necessary for the president and the vice president to tell the American people exactly what happened… I think too often we jump to conclusions before we know what all of the facts are, and I’m not about to condemn or criticize anybody, but I do say that there’s been enough of a showing here with what’s been filed of record in court that the president of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people.”
In Peru, a retired army officer who once tried to overthrow the Fujimori government is leading the country’s presidential race. With less than half of the votes counted, Ollanta Humala is ahead with 27 percent of the vote. The race will likely to go to a second round runoff vote in May. Humala has called for the nationalization of Peru’s natural resources, new taxes on foreign mining companies, a veto on a trade agreement with Washington and an end to US-sponsored eradication of coca.
And in Nepal, a curfew remains in place in the capital of Kathmandu amid widespread protests against the royal government. A coalition of opposition parties are leading a campaign to end the rule of King Gyanendra, who seized power in a coup last year.
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