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HeadlinesMay 21, 2012

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Dozens Killed in Yemen Suicide Bombing

May 21, 2012

Dozens of people have been killed in a suicide bombing in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. Early reports say around 100 have died, but the death toll could rise. The bomber was reportedly dressed in an army uniform and targeted a military parade. Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Veterans Return War Medals as Thousands March on NATO Summit

May 21, 2012

Thousands of people marched in Chicago on Sunday in the largest demonstration so far against the NATO summit. The Chicago police have been criticized by activist groups for using violent force to break up protests. On Saturday, a police van was videotaped nearly running over a protester. Dozens of protesters have been arrested over the past two days. The Chicago police have also been accused of targeting independent media activists who have been streaming video of the protests live over the internet. On Saturday night, police detained three livestreamers at gunpoint. At the end of Sunday’s march, Iraq Veterans Against the War held a ceremony where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them in the direction of the NATO summit.

Ken Mayer: “They feel that these medals were given to them in many instances for creating essentially unforgivable acts, inflicting pain on innocent civilians in most cases.”

Alejandro Villatoro: “This is just to demonstrate that the current operations are not working. You know, I came to a conclusion that there is no such thing as war on terrorism. What we’re doing is waging war against the people of Afghanistan, which are resulting into joining the Taliban.”

Chicago Police Accused of Entrapment as Activists Charged in Terror Plots

May 21, 2012

Before the weekend began, three activists were arrested on terrorism charges for an alleged plot to attack President Obama’s campaign headquarters and other sites around Chicago during the NATO summit. Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Jacob Church are accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives. Police say they recovered materials for making Molotov cocktails in a raid last week. But attorneys for the so-called ”NATO Three” say they were set up by government informants who planted the explosives. Supporters also say police seized equipment that was used for brewing home-made beer. Michael Deutsch, an attorney for the protesters with the National Lawyers Guild, accused Chicago police of entrapment.

Michael Deutsch: “Obviously, we don’t have access to all the information that the state has. But what we do know is, is that there were police—undercover police officers that ingratiated themselves with people who come from out of town. And from our information, these so-called incendiary devices and the plans to attack police stations, attack the mayor’s office, is all coming from the mind of the police informants and are not coming from our clients, who are nonviolent protesters. They are not anarchists. They don’t belong to a Black Bloc organization. They’re involved with nonviolent protest. And what we believe is, is that this is a way to stir up prejudice against the people who are exercising their First Amendment rights. ”

NATO OKs New Missile Shield Deployment in Europe

May 21, 2012

In other news from the Chicago summit, NATO leaders have approved the first phase of a U.S.-led so-called “missile defense” shield to be deployed in Europe. The plan will deploy a U.S. warship armed with interceptors in the Mediterranean as well as a radar system in a German base. Russia has condemned the move and threatened to station rockets in areas bordering the European Union.

Nuclear Atomic Agency Chief Visits Iran Ahead of Baghdad Summit

May 21, 2012

The United Nations’ top nuclear oversight official has arrived in Tehran for talks with the Iranian government. The visit from International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano comes ahead of a key summit in Baghdad between Iran and world powers, including the United States later this week. Ahead of his visit, Amano said he is optimistic that a new framework for monitoring Iran’s nuclear sites can be reached.

Yukiya Amano: “We need to keep up the momentum. There has been good progress during the recent round of discussions between Iran and IAEA, so I thought that now is the right time for me to visit Tehran and have a direct talk with high-level officials of Iran.”

House Boosts Pentagon Spending, Backs Indefinite Detention

May 21, 2012

The Republican-controlled House has approved a new military policy bill that would increase spending limits for the Pentagon while upholding indefinite detention. Under the National Defense Authorization Act for the upcoming fiscal year, the United States would allocate $642 billion for the Pentagon, exceeding congressionally mandated spending limits by $8 billion. The New York Times notes the bill “makes clear House Republicans — and many Democrats — are opposed to including the Pentagon in the coming era of fiscal austerity.” In approving the measure, lawmakers also rejected an amendment that would have barred the indefinite detention of suspects seized on U.S. soil.

Alabama Governor Enacts Harsher Anti-Immigrant Law

May 21, 2012

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has signed into law a harsher version of the state’s notorious anti-immigrant law despite publicly calling for its revision. The measure would preserve original provisions, including the requirement that schools check enrolling students’ immigration status, while adding new regulations mandating the publication of the names and photographs of undocumented immigrants who appear in court. Gov. Bentley signed the new measure into law on Friday, just one day after he had called for a special legislative session to make changes.

NAACP Votes to Back Same-Sex Marriage

May 21, 2012

The board of directors of the NAACP has voted for the first time to endorse same-sex marriage. The move follows President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage earlier this month and speculation over whether that would hurt his standing among some African-American voters. In a statement, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said: “Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. … The well-funded right wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed.”

Striking Quebec Students Denounce Emergency Law Curbing Protests

May 21, 2012

Tens of thousands took to the streets in the Canadian province of Quebec over the weekend to protest the provincial government’s latest efforts to end a three-month student strike. On Friday, Quebec lawmakers passed an emergency law requiring demonstrators to inform police of any protest route involving 50 or more people. The measure also bars the wearing of masks at protests.

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