May Day rallies were held across the United States on Wednesday in the annual show of support for worker and immigrant rights. Thousands of people marched in Los Angeles to call for fair and humane immigration reform.
Guillermo Hermasso: “We want to send a message to the Congress that we need to pass the immigration reform now because it is hurting our children. And if they pass the immigration reform, it could help because they’re going to pay taxes. Everybody pays taxes. We are working right now, and we pay taxes. So we need legalization now.
Jessica Faulkner: “There are so many people here for change and for unity. And so, I think it solidifies with all of the people here sending a message for progress and for immigration reform and workers’ rights.”
A series of actions were held in New York City, many staged by the group Occupy Wall Street. At least five arrests were reported when a group of demonstrators marched to join a rally in Union Square. One of the speakers at the rally, KFC worker Joseph Barrera, said the recent campaign to pay fast food workers a living wage is growing by the month.
Joseph Barrera: “To show you guys the progress that we have made, back in November we were 200 strong. Now it may seem like a little bit, but by April, our second strike, we had 400 people. We doubled in size. That’s right. Now, not only did that inspire people, but our courage and our unity — and the fact that we are here to fight and we’re not giving up — spread halfway across the country. Last week or two weeks ago, the citizens of Chicago, the workers, got together, and they also struck. Now we’re not stopping there. We’re not stopping halfway across the country. We’re trying to spread this all across America.”
In the largest confrontation between protesters and police on May Day, at least 18 people were arrested in Seattle. Some demonstrators broke windows and threw rocks, bottles and metal pipes, while police used pepper spray and flash bombs. Scores of demonstrators and officers were injured. It was the second consecutive year of May Day clashes in Seattle.
Three people have been arrested on charges of obstructing the investigation of last month’s bombing of the Boston Marathon. Police say the three conspired to destroy or hide the backpack and laptop of the surviving bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the alleged offenses took place after the bombing and that public safety is not at risk.
Gov. Deval Patrick: “Based on the briefings I have — I have had, this is not about — this should not raise any concerns in anyone’s minds about a continuing threat to the public. This is about getting all the way to the bottom of the story of what happened at the marathon.”
Reporter: “Is it your understanding that they did or did not have a role in the bombing incident?”
Gov. Deval Patrick: “It’s my understanding that they did not.”
One suspect is a U.S. citizen, and the other two are foreign students from Kazakhstan who went to school with Tsarnaev at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. On Wednesday, attorneys for the two foreign students said their clients are innocent.
Robert Stahl: “Dias Kadyrbayev absolutely denies the charges. As we’ve said from the very beginning, he assisted the FBI in this investigation. He is just as shocked and horrified by the violence in Boston that took place as the rest of the community is. He did not know that this individual was involved in the bombing.”
Harlan Protass: “My client, Azamat Tazhayakov, feels horrible and was shocked to hear that someone that he knew at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was involved with the Boston Marathon bombing, just like many other individuals who were interviewed on campus. He has cooperated fully with the authorities and looks forward to the truth coming out in this case.”
Prosecutors say the three will be charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has ordered the expulsion of the United States Agency for International Development — USAID — from his country. In a speech, Morales cited the recent comments of Secretary of State John Kerry referring to Latin America as the U.S. backyard. He also accused USAID of using international assistance for political destabilization.
Bolivian President Evo Morales: “Some institutions from the U.S. embassy continue to conspire against this process, against the people and especially against the national government. And that is why, using this gathering and the first of May, we’ve decided to expel USAID from Bolivia. USAID is leaving Bolivia. I ask our brother foreign minister to immediately speak with the U.S. embassy. No more USAID which manipulates, uses our brothers with charity.”
Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008, prompting the United States to ban Bolivia’s top envoy shortly after. In Washington, a State Department spokesperson rejected Morales’ claims and said the United States is mulling a response.
Patrick Ventrell: “The U.S. government does deeply regret the Bolivian government’s decision to expel the U.S. Agency for International Development. We deny the baseless allegations made by the Bolivian government. Whether we’ll take an action in response is yet to be determined, but the people who suffer because of this are the Bolivian people who were receiving our assistance.”
North Korea has sentenced a U.S. citizen and human rights activist to 15 years of hard labor. Kenneth Bae is accused of committing unspecified crimes against the state. A native of South Korea, Bae is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Activists say he may have been detained after taking pictures of starving children. Bae will likely be used as a bargaining chip should the United States and North Korea hold talks.
The Obama administration is seeking to block access to emergency contraception without a prescription for women of all ages. On Wednesday, the Justice Department moved to appeal a federal judge’s ruling earlier this month ordering that the “morning-after pill” be made available over the counter without age restrictions. Back in 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blocked the sale of the drug to younger women without a prescription, overruling FDA drug regulators for the first time in history after they moved, based on scientific research, to eliminate all age limits. Advocates for reproductive justice say the Obama administration’s actions are based on politics, not science, and that they prevent access to a safe and needed medication to women who lack ID. On Tuesday, the FDA announced it was approving the emergency contraceptive pill “Plan B One Step” for sale without a prescription to women 15 and older, a move critics say still does not go far enough toward allowing all women to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
President Obama has nominated a former telecom industry lobbyist as the new chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Tom Wheeler is a former venture capitalist and Obama fundraiser who has also served long stints heading two powerful industry groups representing cable and Internet corporations. If confirmed, Wheeler will replace outgoing FCC Chair Julius Genachowski. In a statement, the media reform group Free Press criticized Wheeler’s nomination, saying: “The FCC needs a strong leader — someone who will use this powerful position to stand up to industry giants and protect the public interest. On paper, Tom Wheeler does not appear to be that person … but he now has the opportunity to prove his critics wrong.”
A two-year-old girl in Kentucky is dead after an accidental shooting by her five-year-old brother. The brother of Caroline Starks was playing with a .22 caliber single-shot Crickett rifle he had been given as a gift. The children’s mother was outside at the time and said she did not realize the gun still had a shell inside the chamber. The rifle is specifically made for and marketed to kids under the brand name of “My First Rifle.” The website of its manufacturer, Pennsylvania-based Keystone Sporting Arms, shows photos of scores of children posing with the guns and says the weapon is meant to “instill safety in the minds of youth shooters.”
A 16-year-old African-American Florida high school student has been arrested and expelled for a science experiment that went awry. Kiera Wilmot mixed together some household chemicals in a small water bottle, causing a reaction that produced some smoke. No one was wounded, and no damage occurred. But police led Wilmot away in handcuffs and charged her with “possession/discharge of a weapon on school property and discharging a destructive device.” The school district has since expelled her. She will now have to finish out her remaining high school years in a program for expelled students. Speaking to local news station WTSP, Wilmot’s principal criticized her punishment.
Ron Pritchard: “She’s a good kid, and she made a bad choice and stuff. And like I say, I don’t think — she was not trying to be malicious, to harm anybody or destroy something in school or anything else.”
Although Wilmot is only 16, she will be tried as an adult.
A federal jury in Iowa has awarded a record $240 million to a group of mentally disabled workers who suffered abuses and discrimination at the turkey processing plant where they worked. The company Hill Country Farms was found guilty of maintaining a hostile work environment and discriminating against the workers over their disability. The workers were paid substandard wages, hit by fellow employees, called names, confined to rooms, denied bathroom breaks and prevented from seeking medical attention. The 32 workers were awarded $7.5 million each. It is the largest settlement in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s nearly 50-year history, but Hill Country Farms is unlikely to pay the full amount.
An aviation executive in Virginia is being investigated for potential hate crime charges after he allegedly assaulted a Muslim taxi driver who was driving him home. The driver, Mohamed Salim, is a former U.S. sergeant who served in the Iraq War and at the Guantánamo Bay prison. Salim says Ed Dahlberg, president of the company Emerald Aviation, attacked him and broke his jaw after confronting him with anti-Muslim slurs. Salim recorded some of Dahlberg’s comments on his cellphone.
Ed Dahlberg: “Yes, if you’re a f—-ing Muslim, flying jets into the World Trade Center, then f—- you! I will slice your f—-ing throat right now!”
Mohamed Salim: “So you’re threatening me?”
Ed Dahlberg: “Yeah! Will you denounce it? Will you say that it was bad? No! You won’t,”
Mohamed Salim: “Sir, whatever you said is recorded.”
Ed Dahlberg: “I don’t give a flying f—-.”
Mohamed Salim: “I’m going to call 911 right now.”
According to Salim, Dahlberg soon got out of the cab, but then returned to punch Salim in the face, breaking his jaw. Dahlberg has been charged with misdemeanor assault, and police are weighing further charges. Salim discussed his ordeal in an interview with The Washington Post.
Mohamed Salim: “I’m a U.S. Army sergeant reserve. I sacrificed my life. I’m not a terrorist. I’m a Muslim and American in the U.S. Army.”