Protests were held nationwide this weekend urging President Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants. Thousands of people marched in at least 62 cities. Some activists marked Saturday as the date when the Obama administration likely reached its two millionth deportation. According to The New York Times, two-thirds of those deported under Obama had committed minor infractions, such as traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.
President Obama has taken aim at the new Republican budget proposal in his weekly address. Obama said the GOP plan would widen inequality.
President Obama: “The Republican budget begins by handing out massive tax cuts to households making more than $1 million a year. Then, to keep from blowing a hole in the deficit, they’d have to raise taxes on middle-class families with kids. Next, their budget forces deep cuts to investments that help our economy create jobs, like education and scientific research. … Policies that benefit a fortunate few, while making it harder for working Americans to succeed, that’s not what we need right now.”
The Republican budget would also repeal the Affordable Care Act. In addition to signing up more than seven million people for private health insurance plans, new figures show Obamacare also added at least three million to Medicaid.
Yemen has issued a temporary ban on U.S. military drone strikes following an attack that killed scores of civilians late last year. The New York Times reports the Joint Special Operations Command is no longer allowed to wage drone warfare in Yemen after the December strike that killed around 12 people attending a wedding. Despite the ban on the U.S. military, the CIA continues to carry out strikes in Yemen. Next month will mark one year since President Obama delivered a speech calling for scaling back the U.S. drone war, including phasing out the role of the CIA.
In an act of protest against drone attacks in Pakistan, a group of artists and villagers have unveiled a giant poster of a young child on a field in a heavily bombed region. Organizers say the child lost her parents and two young siblings in a U.S. drone strike. Her picture is large enough to be picked up by satellite imagery.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s killing of three Americans in Yemen drone strikes. The families of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his teenage son, Abdulrahman, and of Samir Khan had filed the suit accusing top U.S. officials of unlawful killings. But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled the victims’ constitutional rights were never violated, and said the U.S. officials involved cannot be held liable. Despite that ruling, Collyer also added: “The powers granted to the Executive and Congress to wage war and provide for national security does not give them carte blanche to deprive a U.S. citizen of his life without due process and without any judicial review.”
Hundreds of pro-Russian demonstrators have seized government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities. Some are calling for a referendum to break off from Ukraine and join with Russia like the one in Crimea last month. The Ukraine government says the demonstrators are trying to spark new military incursions from Russian forces amassed on the border.
Millions of people turned out in Afghanistan this weekend to cast their votes in a national election. Eight candidates are vying to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai. The high turnout came despite threats of violence from the Taliban. Full results are expected later this week.
Israel is threatening “unilateral” action if Palestinians press ahead with statehood moves at the United Nations. The Palestinian Authority applied for membership in 15 international conventions and treaties last week after Israel reneged on a pledge to free Palestinian prisoners. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian efforts to obtain international recognition “will be answered by unilateral moves [on] our end.” The Obama administration is backing Israel’s opposition to Palestinian statehood efforts. Testifying before a House panel last week, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said trying to “deter Palestinian action … is what we do all the time, and that is what we will continue to do.”
The mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has requested federal monitoring of his city’s police force amidst uproar over a spate of fatal shootings. The latest saw Albuquerque police kill James Boyd, a homeless man who appeared to be surrendering at the campsite where he was sleeping. The FBI is investigating Boyd’s killing in addition to around 22 others by police since 2010. At a news conference, Mayor Richard Berry called federal monitoring an immediate step forward while the investigation continues.
Mayor Richard Berry: “With the length of time it has taken the DOJ to complete the review, coupled with the events surrounding the James Boyd incident, I do not feel that I can wait any longer to take actions, those spelled out in the letter today. I believe it’s the right thing to do for the city of Albuquerque, and I think it’s the right thing to do for the Albuquerque Police Department.”
Berry also announced plans to train city field officers in better handling people with mental illness, who account for the bulk of the police’s victims. Albuquerque has one of the highest per capita rates of fatal police shootings in the country.
An Ohio newspaper is suing government officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, over what it calls the illegal detention of two journalists. Toledo Blade reporter Tyrel Linkhorn and photographer Jetta Fraser were taking stock photos of a General Dynamics tank plant and other local businesses from public areas. But military police confiscated two cameras and deleted a number of photos, including some unrelated to the plant. The lawsuit also says Fraser was unlawfully restrained for more than an hour and threatened with bodily harm.
The whistleblower Edward Snowden and the journalist Laura Poitras have been named recipients of this year’s Ridenhour prize for truth-telling. The annual award is named after the late Ronald Ridenhour, who helped expose the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Poitras has been one of the key journalists to report on Snowden’s disclosures over the past year. In a statement, the Ridenhour awards committee said: “Their act of courage was undertaken at great personal risk and has sparked a critical and transformative debate about mass surveillance.”