The death toll from the collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh has surpassed 1,000 as more bodies continue to be pulled from the rubble. In a rare moment of hope today, a woman was reportedly rescued alive, 17 days after the building collapsed on top of her. According to Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper, the woman, named Reshma, was nearly unscathed. Meanwhile, a haunting photo of the disaster has been circulating on the Internet. The image shows two corpses in the rubble, a man and a woman, intertwined in an embrace. The Bangladeshi photographer, Taslima Akhter, wrote in a piece for TIME magazine: “Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable — it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, 'We are not a number — not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too.'”
An Ohio prosecutor says the man accused of raping three women he held captive for roughly a decade could face the death penalty. Ariel Castro has been ordered held on $8 million bond following his arraignment on charges of kidnapping and rape. His alleged victims — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight — escaped earlier this week in a case that has captivated the country. Castro allegedly beat at least one of the women in order to terminate pregnancies that began while they were imprisoned in his home. Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said Castro could face additional charges.
Timothy McGinty: “Based on the facts, I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, all his attempted murders and each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetuated against the hostages during this decade-long ordeal, in violation of 2903.01 and 2903.09 of the Ohio Revised Code. My office of the county prosecutor will also engage in a formal process in which we evaluate whether to seek charges eligible for the death penalty. Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct.”
Minnesota state House lawmakers have approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The state Senate is expected to pass the measure, and Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will sign it into law. Eleven other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage, including Rhode Island and Delaware, which both passed laws this month.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has signed legislation he says is aimed at making the city “the most LGBT-friendly” in the world. The landmark bill includes the first-ever tax incentives for businesses that offer health coverage for life partners and transgender health needs. It extends rights to same-sex partners in medical decision making and requires health insurance for city employees to cover transgender health costs, including sex-change surgeries.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says Afghanistan will allow the United States to keep nine military bases in the country after the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops at the end of next year. For months, U.S. and Afghan leaders have been holding secret talks about the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Karzai made the remarks in a speech at Kabul University Thursday.
President Hamid Karzai: “They want nine bases all over Afghanistan, including Kabul, Bagram, Mazar, Jalalabad, Gardez, Kandahar, Helmand, Shindand and Herat, and we agreed to give them these bases. Our conditions are that the U.S. should guarantee to bring security in our country and support Afghanistan’s forces, as well as build up our economic infrastructure.”
In a statement, the U.S. embassy in Kabul said the United States is not seeking permanent military bases in Afghanistan, but instead hopes to use Afghan facilities.
Uruguay has sentenced a military general to 28 years in prison for the death of a professor nearly four decades ago. General Miguel Dalmao is the first active general convicted of human rights violations during the country’s dictatorship. He was in charge of a jail where political activist and professor Nibia Sabalsagaray was found dead in 1974. Dalmao claimed she hanged herself from a peg that was just four inches above her head, but her autopsy showed signs of torture. His lawyer told the Associated Press he has already appealed Wednesday’s decision.
The son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was kidnapped by gunmen on Thursday in latest act of attack ahead of Pakistan’s election. Ali Haider Gilani was campaigning for a provincial assembly seat with the Pakistan People’s Party when he came under attack. There were reports his secretary had been shot dead and that Gilani himself was shot and bleeding. No one has claimed responsibility, but his party has been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban. Gilani’s father said the incident should not deter people from voting this Saturday.
Yousaf Raza Gilani: “My message to the masses is that they should show patience. They should remain patient. Let the law take its own course. Election is a national obligation. They should go out to the polls thinking of it as a national obligation. But our protest is there.”
More than 110 people have been killed by Taliban attacks on secular parties in the past month in the run-up to the election. The Taliban has threatened more attacks on election day. Among the candidates running for prime minister is cricket star Imran Khan, who was injured Tuesday when he fell from a mechanical lift at an election rally.
Senate Republicans blocked a confirmation vote on President Obama’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency by boycotting a committee meeting Thursday. They are accusing Gina McCarthy of issuing “unresponsive answers” to more than 1,000 written questions about EPA policies and practices. McCarthy currently leads the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation after being easily confirmed for that post by the Senate in 2009. The move came one day after Senate Republicans delayed a vote on Obama’s pick for labor secretary, Thomas Perez.
Hundreds of fast-food workers in Detroit are walking off the job today to demand a $15-an-hour wage and the right to unionize without intimidation, as such demands continue to spread to fast-food restaurants across the country. Employees from at least 60 stores, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Subway, are expected to take part in the action. Detroit is the fourth city to see such a strike over the past five weeks after workers in St. Louis walked off the job earlier this week, following similar actions in Chicago and New York.
In a victory for workers, the New York City Council has passed a bill requiring businesses to grant five paid sick days per year. Bill sponsor Gale Brewer hailed the measure as “one of the most progressive pieces of legislation ever in history.” The bill is a compromise that exempts smaller businesses and delays the requirement from coming into effect if the economy is bad. Sick-pay legislation had been blocked for three years by Speaker Christine Quinn, who is running for mayor and had faced increasing pressure to bring the issue to a vote. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto the bill, but it appears to have enough support to override his veto; just three council members voted against it Wednesday, with 45 voting in favor. Roughly 1.3 million workers in New York City are docked pay if they stay home sick — that is four in 10 employees. The bill would cover roughly 925,000 of them.
Workers and civil rights activists are headed to Baltimore this weekend for a two-day Poor People’s Campaign and March to demand an end to police brutality, mass incarceration and austerity and to continue the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This weekend marks the 45th anniversary of the Poor People’s March on Washington on May 12, 1968. King helped launch the campaign but was assassinated weeks before the march on April 4, 1968. His widow Coretta Scott King and thousands of others marched on that Mother’s Day weekend to call for an end to poverty. This weekend, marchers will walk 41 miles, from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.
There are reports that the grandson of Malcolm X has been killed in Mexico. A family friend said Malcolm Shabazz was 28.