Saudi Arabia has resumed airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, hours after announcing an end to its nearly month-long bombing campaign. The Saudi Defense Ministry said it would conclude the airstrikes and shift to a new strategy focused on a political solution. But after rebels gained ground in the central city of Taiz, the strikes resumed. Meanwhile on Tuesday, two airstrikes killed at least 40 people, most of them civilians. On Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported a TV journalist and three staff members of the TV station Yemen Today were killed in an airstrike in the capital Sana’a.
A United Nations official has called for wealthy countries to collectively accept one million Syrian refugees over the next five years in order to curtail the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants François Crépeau told The Guardian the plan could also extend to Eritreans and other refugees who are fleeing from war. Over 1,750 migrants have died this year in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, 30 times higher than the same period last year. Libya says it has detained 600 migrants in the past few days after stopping boats poised to depart for Italy.
In the United States, Senate lawmakers have reached a deal on an anti-abortion provision tucked into a human trafficking bill, paving the way for a Thursday vote on the stalled confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had refused to proceed with the confirmation of Lynch — who would be the first African-American woman attorney general — until after the Senate passed the trafficking bill. But Democrats objected to a provision they say would have expanded a ban on federal funding for abortion by applying it to a victims’ fund created by criminal fines. The compromise separates the victims’ fund into two streams: criminal fines, which won’t be used for healthcare, and health-related money subject to the existing ban on federal abortion funding.
President Obama has criticized fellow Democrats who oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP. The 12-nation pact would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and is being negotiated in secret. In an interview on MSNBC, Obama responded to criticism from Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who says the TPP would undermine U.S. sovereignty and help the rich get richer.
President Obama: “I love Elizabeth. We’re allies on a whole host of issues. But she’s wrong on this. … Everything I do has been focused on how do we make sure the middle class is getting a fair deal. Now, I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class. And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts, they are wrong.”
The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote today on a bill that would grant Obama so-called fast-track authority to negotiate the TPP, then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. The measure has received a growing chorus of protest, including from Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who said his stance on fast track is “hell no.” Public Citizen and the libertarian Cato Institute recently joined together to write an op-ed criticizing a component of the TPP that would allow corporations to sue countries in front of a tribunal of private attorneys if a law interferes with their claimed future profits. “Analysts with the Cato Institute and Public Citizen usually stand on opposing sides of trade policy issues, but we find common ground in opposing this system of special privileges for foreign firms,” they wrote.
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration will retire next month following a scandal over reports DEA agents in Colombia participated in sex parties with prostitutes hired by drug cartels. Michele Leonhart has also opposed Obama on marijuana policy, criticizing the Justice Department for deciding not to sue states that have legalized pot. The Drug Policy Alliance has launched a petition calling for Obama to appoint a replacement who will “help reduce mass incarceration that is a result of the failed war on drugs.”
The Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the death of an African-American man who died a week after his spinal cord was severed in Baltimore police custody. At least 1,000 people rallied Tuesday at the site of the arrest of Freddie Gray. Police have released the names of the officers involved in his arrest, including the lieutenant who led the initial chase of Gray after he said Gray made eye contact with him, then ran away. According to The Guardian, Lieutenant Brian Rice has a history of domestic violence accusations. An attorney for Freddie Gray’s family questioned Rice’s decision to pursue Gray in the first place, saying, “Running while black is not probable cause. Felony running doesn’t exist, and you can’t arrest someone for looking you in the eye.”
Protesters who walked over 200 miles from Staten Island, New York, to Washington, D.C., to oppose police killings of unarmed people of color rallied at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday. Carmen Perez, an organizer of the nine-day March 2 Justice, said the march should be part of a larger cultural shift.
Carmen Perez: “We can’t just sit on our couches anymore. We can’t wait for somebody to come save us. We have to save ourselves. And so, that’s what we’re doing. One of the things that I feel is really important for people to understand is that the march is one of the tactics in a larger strategy. We need to change the hearts and minds of individuals. We need a cultural shift. We’re coming with three pieces of federal legislation that are going to address police brutality and racial profiling, as well as invest back into our communities and our children.”
In Detroit, Michigan, the police officer who shot and killed seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in her own home during a night raid being filmed by a reality TV show has been reinstated for active duty. Joseph Weekley fatally shot Aiyana as she slept on the couch with her grandmother in 2010. Two attempts to prosecute him resulted in hung juries. Detroit Police Chief James Craig told The Detroit News that Weekley will operate on limited duty and won’t work in the field.
Activists rallied at the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday to call for him to reject a proposed deepwater port which would be used to import natural gas. Patrick Robbins of Sane Energy Project said Cuomo should reject Port Ambrose and support renewable energy.
Patrick Robbins: “We’re here today to tell Governor Cuomo to veto Port Ambrose, a liquified natural gas port that would be built off the coast of Long Island. We have other options. We know that we can build offshore wind in that same area. That is what the people want. That is what they need. We want clean, renewable jobs. We’re asking Governor Cuomo to stand with the people and not the private equity and the big banks that want Port Ambrose to be built.”
The protest marked the second of three days of action on climate change by Rising Tide NYC. On Monday, the group marked the fifth anniversary of the BP oil disaster. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers and sparked the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Kate McNeely and Ana Nogueira said they were standing in solidarity with Gulf Coast residents, who continue to suffer from the spill’s impacts.
Kate McNeely: “Standing in solidarity with Gulf South communities that are asking BP to stop lying, pay what they owe, and that fossil fuels must go.”
Ana Nogueira: “Disasters like the BP oil spill that happened five years ago are not one-off things. It’s going to happen again. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. We can no longer have our communities be sacrifice zones. There are alternatives.”
Last month was the hottest March on record worldwide. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first quarter of the year was the hottest start to any year on record, beating the previous record set in 2002. Arctic sea ice meanwhile hit its smallest extent for the month since record keeping began 35 years ago. We’ll have more on the environment as we mark Earth Day later in the broadcast.
Actor Ben Affleck has apologized after hacked Sony emails published by WikiLeaks showed he asked that the revelation he had a slave-owning ancestor be omitted from the PBS documentary “Finding Your Roots.” In a post on social media, Affleck said he regretted the request, but had been “embarrassed” by his link to a slave owner.
The sentencing phase of the trial of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has opened in Boston, with the jury to decide whether Tsarnaev faces the death penalty or life in prison. A pair of newlyweds who lost limbs in the bombings have become the latest to call on the federal government to drop its pursuit of the death penalty. In a statement, Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes wrote, “the defendant’s objective on April 15, 2013, and our objective in deciding his punishment should not be one and the same. … we must overcome the impulse for vengeance.” The parents of eight-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the attack, have also opposed the death penalty for Tsarnaev.
And hundreds of students, educators and scholars from across the country have sent a letter to city authorities in Orange, New Jersey, urging them reinstate a teacher suspended for letting her third grade students write get-well cards to imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer, but Amnesty International has found he was deprived of a fair trial. Speaking before the school board last week after her suspension, Marilyn Zuniga said her students wanted to send letters to Abu-Jamal after learning he was seriously ill.
Marilyn Zuniga: “On February 5th, I presented a 'Do Now' that stated, 'What is the main idea of this quote: So long as one just person is silenced, there is no justice.' This quote is by Mumia Abu-Jamal. In April, I mentioned to my students that Mumia was very ill, and they told me they would like to write get-well letters to Mumia. The most important fact to highlight in this entire matter is my love for and commitment to my students.”
In their letter urging Zuniga’s reinstatement, top educators and scholars, including Noam Chomsky, Marc Lamont Hill and Kevin Kumashiro, dean of the University of San Francisco School of Education, wrote, “It seems to us that we are at a moment in world history where it is important to encourage teachers to help their students develop empathy for others, and to see themselves as people who want to strive to make the world a better place. How we pursue these aims is a legitimate question, but threatening to fire teachers who are trying to engage students’ hearts seems to us to be profoundly wrongheaded.”