Ukrainian forces have launched a major assault to reclaim the eastern city of Slovyansk from pro-Russian separatists, sparking the worst fighting since the month-long, pro-Russian uprising began. Pro-Russian forces have shot down two Ukrainian army helicopters, killing the pilots. At least one separatist has also been killed.
Oklahoma has released new details on the botched lethal injection of prisoner Clayton Lockett. An account provided by corrections chief Robert Patton shows the execution drugs were administered by a catheter inserted in Lockett’s groin after medical personnel spent nearly an hour searching for another vein. More than 20 minutes after the injection began, a doctor noticed the blood vein had collapsed and the drugs had leaked. The doctor called off the execution, and Lockett was pronounced dead 10 minutes later, 43 minutes after the injection began. The account also shows Lockett was Tasered earlier on the day of his execution for refusing to be restrained and taken for x-rays. Click here to see more Democracy Now! coverage of “Execution Chaos.”
Reports of sexual assault in the military have increased 50 percent. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the rise means more victims are choosing to come forward following efforts to address the issue. Hagel said he has ordered further steps.
Chuck Hagel: “They also require new methods to better encourage male victims to report assaults and seek assistance. With estimates that men comprise more than half the victims of sexual assault in the military, we have to fight the cultural stigmas that discourage reporting and be clear that sexual assault does not occur because a victim is weak, but rather because an offender disregards our values and the law.”
The Obama administration has released a list of 55 colleges and universities that are under investigation for possible violations of the federal Title IX law because of their handling of sexual assault complaints. The full list, never before made public, includes private schools, like Swarthmore and University of Chicago, public universities like Penn State and Florida State, and Ivy League schools like Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton. On Thursday, students rallied at Tufts University to protest Tufts’ decision to back out of a government agreement to improve its policies after the government told the school its current policies violate Title IX. Click here to watch our interviews with a former Tufts student and a Brown University student who reported rape at their schools.
The White House has issued a report calling for limits on how companies like Facebook and Google apply the data they collect on users. In particular, the report expresses concern about how so-called big data could be used to entrench racial or gender inequality if people are denied opportunities based on digital snapshots. It also calls for Congress to amend federal privacy law to “ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that afforded in the physical world.” The report does not address massive data collection by the National Security Agency.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has unveiled his plan to phase in a $15-an-hour minimum wage, more than twice the current federal minimum. But depending on their size, Seattle businesses will have between three and seven years to implement the rise. Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who ran on a platform of a $15-an-hour minimum wage, opposed the mayor’s plan. She criticized it on Huffington Post Live on Thursday.
Kshama Sawant: “It has several components that actually are on the big-business wish list. A four-year phase-in for big business? Why does McDonald’s need four years to bring their workers out of poverty? Let the CEO of Starbucks, let the CEO of McDonald’s come to City Council and justify why they need to keep their workers one day longer in poverty. There is an 11-year phase-in for other businesses. Every year of phase-in is another year that a worker has to live in poverty.”
Workers around the world took to the streets Thursday to mark May Day, with marches and rallies across Latin America, Europe and Asia. Here in New York City, immigration attorney Reena Arora was among those who gathered in Washington Square Park to demand rights for workers and immigrants.
Reena Arora: “One of the biggest problems facing the immigrant community is wide-scale wage theft. So we have a number of day laborers and domestic workers and workers in all different industries who are not paid their wages at all, just absolutely robbed of their earnings, and there’s no recourse for them because often their claims are so small that no lawyers want to help them fight for their wages back, and there are increasingly numbers of threats of deportation and other ways that make them extremely vulnerable as a workforce.”
At a May Day rally in New York City’s Union Square, teacher Rosie Frascella said she was among those standing up against academic standards known as Common Core, which have been federally approved and adopted by states including New York. Teachers at Frascella’s school in Brooklyn are refusing to administer an English Language Arts test designed to measure Common Core standards.
Rosie Frascella: “My name is Rosie Frascella. I’m a 12th grade English teacher at the International High School at Prospect Heights. And today I stood with 29 other teachers and staff members, and we’ve refused to give the ELA performance-based assessment. The reason we refused to give it is because the first assessment was traumatizing for our students. They were demoralized. They put their heads down, and they cried. It was way above their reading level. And the city was careless and took no consideration in the needs of English language learners. And we refuse to demoralize our students.”