2012-03-13 13:15:15

Democracy Now! Tuesday, March 13, 2012

As Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip reportedly agree to a ceasefire after four days of cross-border violence, we speak with Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the online publication, “The Electronic Intifada.” Earlier today, an Egyptian official said both sides have pledged to end current attacks and implement "a comprehensive and mutual calm." Israel’s latest strikes on Gaza killed at least 25 Palestinians. At least 80 Palestinians were also wounded, most of them civilians. At least four Israelis in border towns were wounded in rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza. The rocket attacks began after an Israeli air strike killed Zuhair al-Qaisi, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, on Friday.

Since last year, 15 states have passed new voting laws that critics say suppress the votes of the poor, students and people of color. This is the topic of a major speech set for today by NAACP head Benjamin Jealous before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The NAACP wants a U.N. delegation of experts to monitor the impact of voter identification laws, as well new restrictions on same-day registration, early voting, Sunday voting, and making it harder to run a voting registration drive. Its outreach to the United Nations has been compared to the group’s efforts in the 1940s and 1950s when it sought international support in its fight for civil rights and against lynching.

The NAACP’s Benjamin Jealous responds to recent attacks on the late Derrick Bell, the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School. Fox News host Sean Hannity played a video showing then-student Barack Obama hugging Bell during a protest over Harvard’s failure to hire minority faculty

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division blocked Texas from enforcing a new law requiring voters to present photo identification after ruling that the rule would discriminate against Latino voters. The move follows a similar decision late last year to block another voter ID law in South Carolina, the first such law overruled by the Justice Department in nearly two decades. We speak with Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine, who has been extensively covering the issue of voting rights in the United States.

As Mississippi and Alabama hold their Republican primaries, we go to Jefferson County, Alabama, where the financial situation is so grim that it cannot hire enough staff to run the today’s election. Critics say Jefferson County, home to Birmingham, represents some of the worst consequences of the pro-corporate agenda backed by leading Republican candidates. Late last year, it filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history after failing to refinance nearly $4 billion in debt. Jefferson County was deep in the red after reaching a complicated scheme with Wall Street investors to finance the cost of rebuilding a broken sewer system. The county reached an agreement with the Wall Street giant JPMorgan to refinance through interest rate swaps, but later sued the firm after its debt ballooned on what was initially a $250 million project. Earlier this month, a bankruptcy judge ruled Jefferson County’s bankruptcy filing can proceed, rejecting the pleas of creditors including JPMorgan Chase Bank and Bank of America. For more we’re joined from Birmingham by Barnett Wright, a senior reporter who covers Jefferson County for The Birmingham News. [Rush transcript to come.

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