As many as two million people took to the streets in more than 100 cities and towns across the country on Monday to march for immigrants’ rights. Undocumented workers, legal immigrants, labor unions, immigrant rights advocates and their supporters demonstrated in what was billed as the National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice. In New York, more than one thousand demonstrators crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and packed the streets in lower Manhattan for a rally near City Hall. In Atlanta, as many as 80,000 people flooded the streets. In Phoenix, an estimated 100,000 rallied at the Arizona Capitol. 25,000 marched in Madison, Wisconsin. 10,000 in Boston. 8,000 in Omaha, Nebraska. The rallies Monday followed a day of demonstrations in San Diego, Miami, Birmingham, Alabama, Utah, Idaho and Iowa. A rally in Dallas drew half a million people, the largest protest in the city’s history. In Washington DC, hundreds of thousands streamed past the White House to a rally on the National Mall. The demonstration took place just yards from the Capitol, where Senators last week failed to reach agreement on wide-ranging immigration reform that would allow the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country a chance to work here legally and eventually become U.S. citizens. We’ll spend the hour looking at the growing immigrant rights movement after headlines.
In his first public comments on Iran since reports emerged that his administration has drawn up plans for an attack, President Bush was dismissive — but did not issue an explicit denial: “The doctrine of prevention is to work together to prevent the Iranians from having a nuclear weapon. I know — I know we’re here in Washington; you know, prevention means force. It doesn’t mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy. And by the way, I read the articles in the newspapers this weekend. There was just wild speculation, by the way. What you’re reading is wild speculation, which is kind of a, you know–happens quite frequently here in the nation’s capital.”
The issue has received renewed attention following a recent piece by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. The article cites defense officials saying the Bush administration has drawn up elaborate plans to use tactical weapons against Iranian nuclear sites. Seymour Hersh was also in Washington Monday, where he discussed the possibility of a US attack. Hersh said: “It’s going into what they call operational planning, in which there’s serious, consistent very carefully drawn up bombing campaigns and what you will. I mean, there’s no decision made about what to do but it’s not just pie in the sky, this is serious stuff.”
Meanwhile, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that the President’s approval rating remains near an all time low of 38 percent. Sixty percent of Americans disapprove of the President’s performance. On Capitol Hill, support for the Republican-controlled Congress is at its lowest point in nine years. Barely one-third of voters approve of the Congress’ performance. 55 percent of voters say they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate in their House district come November’s mid-term elections.
In Italy, Romano Prodi, the opponent of incumbent President Silvio Berlusconi, is claiming victory in the closest election in Italy’s modern history. The latest results show Prodi’s coalition taking control of the House. Berlusconi’s candidates hold a one-seat lead in the Senate. Turnout was at over 84 percent. Berlusconi is seeking his third term in office with a coalition that includes the former neo-fascist party National Alliance and the anti-immigrant Northern League.
In Peru, a populist former army officer has seen his lead increase in the country’s presidential race. Ollanta Humala now leads all candidates with just over 30 percent of the vote. Lourdes Flores, a former congresswoman heavily backed by Peru’s business community, is in a tight race with ex-president Alan Garcia for second-place. One of them will likely go up against Humala in a runoff vote next month. Humala has been bitterly opposed by Peru’s business community. On Sunday, he and his wife were trapped for more than an hour by rock-throwing protesters when they tried to vote in a wealthy neighborhood of Lima.
In Iraq, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders have rejected an effort to preserve the term of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. Jaafari was dealt another blow Monday when the Shiite coalition led by former premier Iyad Allawi voted to reject him as well. Iraqi politicians have come under pressure from the Bush administration to replace Jaafari with a new prime minister.
In other news, France has scrapped a widely unpopular job law that would have made it easier for employers to fire young workers. French President Jacques Chirac announced the decision following two months of protests attended by millions of people. Student groups and unions hailed the decision as a major victory over a measure they claimed would have only worsened job security in France. Chirac said the measure would be replaced by a new initiative to help disadvantaged young people find work.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has threatened to expel US ambassador William Brownfield. Chavez said Brownfield provoked a protest on Sunday when he traveled to a poor neighborhood with a large armed security detail. The ambassador’s car was pelted with tomatoes and eggs during the visit, with demonstrators shouting: “Get out, coup-backer!, Get out, rubbish!”
In Britain, an official inquiry into the Gaza shooting death of British peace activist Tom Hurndall has ruled he was deliberately targeted by an Israeli soldier. Coroner Andrew Reid said he would ask the attorney general to look into prosecuting the soldier’s commanders. The Israeli government boycotted the entire proceedings. Hurndall was shot in April 2003 as he tried to protect Palestinian children from Israeli tanks. He was in a coma for nine months before dying in a London hospital.
Back in the United States, another high-ranking former military officer has called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In an article published in Time magazine, Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold said Rumsfeld should be replaced. He is the third retired senior officer in recent weeks to do so. General Newbold also said he regretted he hadn’t more openly challenged the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq. He also encouraged current officers to speak up if they harbor doubts about the US occupation of Iraq.
This update on the Duke rape case–attorneys for the accused Lacrosse team members say DNA testing has failed to link their clients to the alleged rape of a dancer. According to the attorneys, none of their clients’ DNA was found on the woman or any of her possessions. They said the results prove the case should be dismissed. District Attorney Michael Nifong responded: “I believe a sexual assault took place. I’m not saying it’s over. If that’s what they expect, they will be sadly disappointed.”
And Roger Toussaint, the president of New York city’s Transport Workers Union, has been sentenced to 10 days in jail for authorizing December’s three-day transit strike. Union officials had requested a sentencing of community service. Toussaint must surrender himself to authorities within 30 days.