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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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North Carolina voters have overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman. While North Carolina law already bans same-sex marriage, the amendment means civil unions and potentially other types of domestic partnerships will no longer be recognized. With Tuesday’s vote, North Carolina becomes the 30th state to ban gay marriage, and more states will consider the issue later this year.
Longtime Republican Sen. Richard Lugar lost a primary race to a Tea Party challenger in Indiana. Lugar is the first Senate incumbent to lose in the 2012 election year. Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Democratic primary voters picked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to face controversial Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election next month.
Senate Republicans have blocked a measure that would prevent a doubling of low-interest rates on federally subsidized student loans. The rates on Stafford loans are set to jump to 6.8 percent on July 1, unless Congress intervenes. But on Tuesday, the Senate failed to advance a measure that would extend the lower rate for another year, falling eight votes shy of the 60 votes needed. Republicans want to pay for the extension by cutting nearly $6 billion from preventative healthcare, while Democrats have proposed ending a loophole on payroll taxes.
U.S. officials have acknowledged the latest militant bomb plot targeting a U.S.-bound airliner was in fact thwarted by a double agent working for the CIA. The White House initially claimed it had arrested the would-be bomber in Yemen last week after finding him with a new type of “underwear bomb” designed to pass through airport security. But on Tuesday, U.S. officials acknowledged the suspect was in fact a Saudi double agent who managed to infiltrate al-Qaeda in Yemen and volunteered to carry out the mission. After receiving the bomb in Yemen, the agent traveled abroad and delivered it to U.S. and Saudi agents. He also reportedly provided critical intelligence used to carry out a U.S. drone strike in Yemen that killed a senior al-Qaeda figure on Sunday.
Clashes are continuing throughout Syria amid new warnings of worsening violence. Earlier today, Syrian rebels killed at least seven fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A convoy of U.N. monitors reportedly narrowly missed a roadside bomb that struck a Syrian military vehicle, wounding seven soldiers. In a briefing to the U.N. Security Council, special envoy Kofi Annan said Syria is close to a civil war.
Kofi Annan: “I believe that the U.N. Supervision Mission is possibly the only remaining chance to stabilize the country. And I’m sure I’m not telling you any secret when I tell you that there is a profound concern that the country could otherwise descend into full civil war, and the implications of that are quite frightening. We cannot allow that to happen.”
The head of Greece’s main leftist party appears to have ruled out a coalition government with centrist groups in a split over the austerity measures and structural reforms demanded of Greece in exchange for the international bailout. Alexis Tsipras of the Coalition of the Radical Left has demanded that any potential allies reject the bailout in order to form a coalition government. But after talks on Tuesday, Tsipras said it is unlikely a deal will be reached. If no party has enough support to form a coalition government, another round of elections could be held next month.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has urged Israel to transfer six hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to a hospital and allow visits from their families. In a statement, the Red Cross said the six are in “imminent danger of dying” after going without food for weeks to protest their administrative detention. It is believed at least 1,400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are currently taking part in the fast.
A Bahraini court opened the retrial of 13 jailed protest leaders on Tuesday, but then quickly adjourned after two of the defendants were too ill to attend. At least one of the two, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, has been on a hunger strike for three months.
The news network Al Jazeera has closed its bureau in China after the Chinese government refused to renew its correspondent’s visa. It is believed to be the first time an accredited foreign correspondent has been forced to leave China in more than 10 years. Peter Ford of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China accused the Chinese government of censorship.
Peter Ford: “The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China regards it as quite unacceptable that the government should use editorial content as a criterion by which it grants or withholds journalistic visas, because that undermines foreign correspondents’ freedom to report, and the government says that it strongly upholds that freedom.”
Utah has enacted the longest waiting period for abortions in the country after passage of a state measure earlier this year. Women seeking an abortion in Utah must now undergo a face-to-face consultation with a medical practitioner and then wait at least 72 hours. A similar measure imposing a 72-hour waiting period in South Dakota was blocked last year.
Authorities in Florida have arrested 10 alleged members of a white supremacist group who were training for a “race war.” Marcus Faella, the leader of the neo-Nazi group American Front, allegedly conducted firearms and explosives training for white supremacists in a fortified compound near Orlando. Faella allegedly planned to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities as part of a “race war” that he viewed as inevitable.
Video and audio recordings have been released showing police officers in California brutally beating a homeless man who later died. On the tapes — and we now advise viewer discretion to our television audience — one of the police officers threatens 37-year-old Kelly Thomas as he sits on the ground. The officers then begin beating Thomas, even though he appears to show no signs of resistance. Thomas can be heard pleading for help, apologizing to the officers and repeatedly telling them, “I can’t breathe.” As the beatings continued, he lost consciousness and later died. Fullerton Police Officer Manuel Ramos is now being charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Another officer, Jay Cicinelli, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force. Prosecutors say Cicinelli used a taser against Thomas multiple times and hit him in the face with the taser. In court testimony, a trauma surgeon said continuous compression of Thomas’ chest caused the breathing problems that led to his death.
The social media site Twitter is fighting a court order demanding it release the account details and message history of an Occupy Wall Street protester. A New York state court has called on Twitter to hand over tweets written by Malcolm Harris, a protester who was arrested with hundreds of others during the Occupy march across the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1. But Twitter has filed a motion to quash the order, saying it constitutes an undue burden. In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union praised Twitter’s move, saying: “If Internet users cannot protect their own constitutional rights, the only hope is that Internet companies do so.”