It’s a lonely vigil that the activists from No More Names keep outside the Houston Convention Center. They read the names of Americans killed by gunfire in the U.S. since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
Heather Ross doesn’t seem fazed by being ignored. What does faze her is how long it can take her to read all the names of those killed in one day. Ross says some days can take 20 to 30 minutes.
“You would just look at the whole list and it kept going and going and going and going. … It just doesn’t end,” she says.
There are some victims who are not quite 1 year old, and others have no name or age at all, Ross says. For them, she reads, “No name, no age.”
“You just know where they died. That’s horrible,” she says. “Can you imagine if you died and no one knew who you were — they have no identity for you? They pull people in to identify you and they can’t because your face is gone and there’s nothing?”
As the young woman, raw with emotion, stands in the wind, thousands of people stream by without noticing her, eager to get inside to the NRA convention.
On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states have no constitutional obligation to honor public records requests from non-residents. Journalists, who frequently rely on freedom of information laws to expose corruption and break open stories, fear that the decision may make it harder for them to access public records.
MuckRock, a website that files public records requests on behalf of activists, journalists, and private citizens for a small fee and posts the resulting records online, has a solution. The website has been helping out-of-staters seeking public records in Virginia and seven other states with similar laws—Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Tennessee—by pairing them with locals willing to co-file the requests. After Monday’s decision, MuckRock began offering free website subscriptions to citizens of those states to help keep that information flowing.
MuckRock cofounder Michael Morisy, who also works for the Boston Globe, says he “fully expect[s] more states to at least look into adding these laws as they look for ways to cut down on costs for complying with public records requests and generally decrease the amount of people accessing this tool.”
With the Statue of Liberty serving as a backdrop, thousands of immigrants, union workers and activists rallied Saturday in support of immigration reform that would protect workers and offer a path to citizenship.
Holding signs that read “Dignity for Immigrants,” “Time is Now for Citizenship” and “We are Workers, Not Criminals” the estimated 7,000 who arrived at Liberty State Park by bus and car from all over the state and New York regularly chanted “Sí, se puede” or “Yes, you can.”
The crowd listened to music and speeches by politicians who support a set of reforms that could be unveiled when Congress reconvenes this coming week. The legislation is being proposed by a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators, one of whom is U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
The senators unveiled a proposal in January that calls for a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for immigrants already in the country, but only after improving border security and creating a system that would crack down on employers who hire unauthorized immigrants and provide improved oversight on those here with visas.
Anti-regime activists say a Syrian missile strike has leveled a stretch of buildings and killed at least eight people in the city of Aleppo.
Videos posted online Tuesday showed scores of men searching the destroyed buildings in the Jabal Badro neighborhood for the dead and wounded. One man swung a sledgehammer to break through concrete while a bulldozer hauled off rubble
I have to agree - even with the new demand for controls in the wake of the Newtown Massacre the only limits and regulations that possibly can pass will be minor ones that can also withstand the scrutiny of the Supremes.
It’s a sign of the legalization of American politics that activists worry about being thwarted by the Supreme Court even before they’ve managed to pass anything: Although they haven’t yet squeezed any new regulations through Congress or the state legislatures, gun-control advocates already fear that the Supreme Court will invalidate whatever progress they achieve.
They should stop sweating. Despite its turn to the right on gun control, the Supreme Court should almost certainly uphold any of the new regulations that have a chance of being enacted, according to the logic of its decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. Both liberal and conservative judges, from Justice John Paul Stevens on the left to Judges Richard Posner and J. Harvie Wilkinson on the right, denounced the decisions when they were handed down. But both decisions were relatively narrow, prohibiting states from imposing total bans on the firearms in the home. They shouldn’t be read to threaten the kinds of regulations that states and the federal government are currently debating—including an effective federal database for permit holders. The problem with the constitutional debate over guns, in other words, isn’t the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decisions but an over-reading of them by a handful of lower court judges—mostly notably, Posner himself.
Heller and McDonald struck down the two most restrictive gun regulations in the country—Chicago and D.C.’s total bans on gun possession in the home. No other state or municipality had similarly sweeping bans on private gun possession, and in this sense, the Court was playing a familiar role of bringing state and local outliers in line with a national consensus. Since the decisions came down, there have been hundreds of civil and criminal challenges to gun control laws, and the vast majority of them have been unsuccessful. Unfortunately, a few lower courts have seized on language in Heller and McDonald to strike down state laws that forbid felons from possessing firearms, for example, or that require applicants for concealed carry permits to show a “good and substantial reason.”
Activists in Syria say a government jet has dropped a cluster bomb on a playground, leaving 10 children dead.
Video posted on the internet showed children’s bodies on the ground with their mothers grieving over them.
The children were killed when a MiG fighter bombed a playground in the village of Deir al-Asafir, east of Damascus, opposition activists said.
Intensive fighting has continued around the capital. Rebel fighters captured at least part of an airbase on Sunday.
Further footage of the playground attack showed what appeared to be cluster bomblets on the ground.
In one video, two girls could be seen lying dead in a street while another showed a distraught mother standing, apparently inside a clinic, over her daughter’s lifeless body.
Syrian warplanes flattened a building next to a hospital in Aleppo, killing at least 15 people and damaging one of the last remaining sources of medical help for civilians in the northern city, activists said Thursday.
Once a private clinic owned by a businessman loyal to President Bashar Assad, the Dar al-Shifa hospital became a field hospital run by volunteer doctors, nurses and aides united by their opposition to the regime and the need to give medical care to both civilians and rebels.
The facility has taken at least six direct hits in recent months, mostly affecting the upper stories.
On Wednesday night, warplanes bombed a building adjacent to the hospital, turning it into a pile of rubble and spraying shrapnel and debris into Dar al-Shifa itself, activists said.
Imagine this: The three men sit in a Moscow court, awaiting their verdict. The youngest, an experienced dissident described by Western media as a “sultry sex symbol” with “Angelina Jolie lips,” glances at his colleague, an activist praised by the Associated Press for his “pre-Raphaelite looks.” Between them sits a third man, whose lack of glamour has led the New Republic to label him “the brain” and deem his hair a “poof of dirty blonde frizz.” The dissidents — or “boys” as they are called in headlines around the world — have been the subject of numerous fashion and style profiles ever since they first spoke out against the Russian government. “He’s a flash of moving color,” the New York Times writes approvingly about their protests, “never an individual boy.”
If this sounds ridiculous, it should — and not just because I’ve changed their gender. These are actual excerpts from the Western media coverage of Pussy Riot, the Russian dissident performance art collective sentenced to two years in prison for protesting against the government. Pussy Riot identifies as feminist, but you would never know it from the Western media, who celebrate the group with the same language that the Russian regime uses to marginalize them.
The three members of Pussy Riot are “girls,” despite the fact that all of them are in their 20s and two are mothers. They are “punkettes,” diminutive variations on a 1990s indie-rock prototype that has little resemblance to Pussy Riot’s own trajectory as independent artists and activists. “Why is Vladimir Putin afraid of three little girls?” asked a Huffington Post blogger who is not prominent but whose narrative frame, a question intended as a compliment, is an extreme but not atypical example of the West’s reaction to and misunderstanding of Pussy Riot.
As far as Pussy Riot’s problems go, being characterized as “girls” by the press ranks pretty low. So does the lack of vegan food in Russian prisons (the object of a clueless campaign by fellow 1990s throwback Alicia Silverstone). Both are trivial compared to the two years of hard time they face. But Pussy Riot tells us a lot about how we see non-Western political dissent in the new media age, and could suggest a habit of mischaracterizing their grave mission in terms that feel more familiar but ultimately sell the dissidents short: youthful rebellion, rock and roll, damsels in distress. The fanfare surrounding the trial has been compared to Kony2012, and while that may be true in terms of public attention, it is not in substance — unlike the Africans depicted in Kony2012 by American activists, Pussy Riot are the directors of their own campaign. But looking at their Western supporters, one wonders how well their message is getting across.
You don’t call your group Pussy Riot without trying to construct a gender identity.
Anti-Japanese protests have taken place in cities across China after Japanese nationalists raised their country’s flag on disputed islands.
Thousands of people took to the streets in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and a number of other cities demanding that Japan leave the islands in the East China Sea.
In Shenzhen, some demonstrators attacked Japanese restaurants and smashed Japanese-made cars.
The islands are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Early on Sunday, at least 10 activists swam ashore after a flotilla carrying about 150 people reached the Japanese-controlled islands.
The Japanese activists raised their country’s flag after they landed
Japan’s coast guard is questioning the activists, who had earlier been denied permission to visit the islands.
However, as news of the action spread, angry protests broke out across China.
Two young Tibetans, a herder and a migrant carpenter, set themselves on fire and hold up Tibetan flags as the flames engulf them before they stumble and fall on a street in western China, in a graphic video of their immolations released Thursday.
One of the two men who self-immolated Wednesday in Yushu prefecture, a heavily Tibetan area in west China’s Qinghai province, died and the other was badly hurt, the Tibetan Youth Congress and China’s Xinhua News Agency said.
The cases add to about three dozen self-immolations over the past year in ethnic Tibetan areas of China in protest of what activists say is Beijing’s heavy-handed rule in the region. The government has confirmed some but not all of them.