We start this morning with Boko Haram, a radical, armed group that wishes to create an Islamist state in Nigeria. They’re basically Nigeria’s own personal al-Qaeda, and they were designated a terrorist group by the United States last week (which may have been a mistake, seeing as one of the commentators in the discussion above notes that such a designation may be a “badge of honor” for the group). The violence they’ve perpetrated (and reprisals they’ve inspired) have killed over 100 people, and President Goodluck Jonathan (yes, that’s his name) has now fired his defense minister and national security adviser. For more background, watch the al-Jazeera discussion above, and read this from the New York Times.
Other stories on our radar include the Times’ report out of Texas, where two lawsuits are now challenging the lack of air-conditioning in most of their prisons:
Only 21 of the 111 prisons overseen by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the state prison agency, are fully air-conditioned. Many of the prisons that do have air-conditioning in areas where medical services or educational programs are provided to inmates do not offer it in the sections where they live…
An appeal is pending in a lawsuit initially filed in 2008 by a former inmate claiming that 54 prisoners were exposed to Death Valley-like conditions at a South Texas prison where the heat index exceeded 126 degrees for 10 days indoors. And several inmates at other prisons died of heat-related causes last summer; a lawsuit was filed Tuesday in one of those deaths.
Further north, homicides are up a staggering 38% in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is struggling to deal with the surge in gang violence.
Per a new NBC/WSJ poll (PDF), President Obama is gaining ground in swing states and challenger Mitt Romney is less likeable than before (and that’s saying something). The same poll showed six out of 10 respondents say that President Obama inherited the current economy from President Bush.
Texas Republicans want to repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Much more about this on the blog later today.)
The corporate coup d’etat at the University of Virginia has failed, and their president, Teresa Sullivan, has been reinstated.
The EPA scored a major victory yesterday. Read The Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen’s take on it.
Seth Freed-Wessler of Colorlines predicts what will come next for Arizona’s SB 1070, which was gutted by the Supreme Court – and the other harsh immigration legislation that followed it around the nation.
Is Arizona governor Jan Brewer rethinking that victory lap she took after the Supreme Court struck down much of that immigration law?
In These Times profiles a young man adjusting to life in Mexico after deportation.
Jaclyn Friedman has a thought-provoking feminist critique of Pixar’s new film Brave.
The NCAA has finally come to its senses: there will be a playoff to determine a college football champion.
Florida is drowning in rain, but Republicans are holding up federal flood insurance with a anti-abortion “personhood” amendment, much like the one that Mississippi voters rejected last fall. (Yes, you read that correctly – an anti-abortion amendment Read this post by Alison McQuade at EMILY’s List, then watch our own Rachel Maddow and Kent Jones examine that and other bills Republicans are jamming up as they demonstrate their laser-like focus on “jobs, jobs, j…abortion.”
(Worth watching, if only for the sight of Kent pulling a Luther for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.)