Monthly Archives: December 2015

Come Again? State Department Claims It Brought Peace to Syria in 2015

Spokesperson John Kirby’s annual roundup included controversial “success stories”

By Sarah Lazare, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-29-2015

John Kirby briefs reporters at the Pentagon, 2014. DoD photo by Casper Manlangit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Kirby briefs reporters at the Pentagon, 2014. DoD photo by Casper Manlangit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

State Department spokesperson John Kirby is raising eyebrows after he released a recap of 2015 “success stories” in which he credits the United States for bringing “peace” and “security” to Syria and “stepping up” to help the country’s people at a difficult time.

“The United States and many members of the international community have stepped up to aid the Syrian people during their time of need,” wrote Kirby in his laudatory year-in-review released late last week. He went on to claim that “the United States has led the world in humanitarian aid contributions since the crisis began in 2011.” Continue reading

Share

California Politicians Could Soon be Forced to Wear Logos of Top Corporate Donors

Editorial Note:
This needs to become a national campaign. There is enough support, with 70% of Americans wishing to see Citizens United overturned. Transparency of the politicians voting in state and national congresses is part of the foundation of democracy, not the influx of dark money and votes contrary to constituent benefits.

Written by Carey Wedler. Published December 28, 2015 by AntiMedia.

Popular memes calling for politicians to wear the logos of their corporate sponsors have circulated the internet for years, but the suggestion may soon be a reality for California legislators. In the next week, a potential ballot measure, submitted to the Office of the Attorney General in October, is expected to receive title and summary for the 2016 election, meaning its advocates will be able to collect signatures in order to secure its official place on the ballot. The proposed law would require legislators and candidates to sport the emblems of groups that donate money to their campaigns.

As the advocacy group that launched the measure, California is Not for Sale, muses:
“Imagine this: a California Senator is speaking on the floor and proposes a bill he just drafted that will give oil companies huge tax advantages. Now imagine if on his jacket, he was wearing Chevron, Shell, and BP logos – some of his top ten contributors. Our law will bring this under-the-table-corruption to the surface and expose these politicians who take political contributions in exchange for favors for what they really are: corrupt.” Continue reading

Share

Pentagon Deliberately Thwarting Efforts to Close Guantanamo

Reuters exposes ‘pattern’ of obstructionism that has prevented or delayed the transfer of cleared detainees

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-28-2015

Camp 5 exercise yard, Guantánamo Bay. Photo: Michael Billings [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Camp 5 exercise yard, Guantánamo Bay. Photo: Michael Billings [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

President Obama’s repeated pledges to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center have been routinely and deliberately undermined by his own Department of Defense, according to a damning new investigation published on Monday.

Citing numerous administration officials, Reuters exposed a “pattern” of bureaucratic obstacles imposed by the U.S. Pentagon which have successfully thwarted efforts to transfer cleared detainees from the notorious offshore prison. Continue reading

Share

2015: The Year That Black Lives Mattered, At Last

Written by Terrance Heath. Published on December 26, 2015 by Campaign for America’s Future Blog, republished by Common Dreams on 12-27-15.

Over 3000 protesters gathered in the Mall of America Saturday in support of the BlackLivesMatter movement. Image via Facebook.

Over 3000 protesters gathered in the Mall of America on December 20, 2014 in support of the BlackLivesMatter movement. Image via Facebook.

Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Laquan McDonald. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott. Rekia Boyd. Tamir Rice. Most Americans have at least heard their names, and the stories of how they died. We have seen videos and images of their deaths, or of the aftermaths. They are African-Americans who have been killed by police, or died in police custody, in just over a year. There are many more.

We know their names because of the ⌗BlackLivesMatter movement, born after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin. The ubiquity of smartphones and mobile internet access put the tools of the media in the hands of savvy, young, blacks who used them to demand America pay attention to what had long been going on — and going unheralded — in black communities, where the police acted as an occupying force, and court systems turn jails into debtors’ prisons with endless, exorbitant fees and fines.

This was the year that #BlackLivesMatter mattered. It arrived precisely at a moment of crisis that called for a movement that values and demands respect above respectability, doesn’t hesitate to disrupt “business as usual.”

Continue reading

Share

There’s A Way to Save Our Future. So Why Aren’t More People Talking About It?

Transitioning to organic regenerative agriculture practices ‘offers the best, and perhaps our only, hope for averting a global warming disaster.

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-24-2015

"Organic regenerative agriculture and land use is the other half of the climate solution," says Katherine Paul of the Organic Consumers Association. (Photo: File)

“Organic regenerative agriculture and land use is the other half of the climate solution,” says Katherine Paul of the Organic Consumers Association. (Photo: File)

A critical tool in the fight against global warming is right below our feet.

So where is this “shovel-ready solution” amid all the talk of climate fixes in the wake of the COP21 summit in Paris?

An Associated Press article published Thursday, for example, professes to outline “methods to achieve negative emissions,” wherein humans remove more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than they put in it. The AP quotes scientists who say “it’s clear” that the goals laid out in Paris “cannot be reached without negative emissions in the future, because the atmosphere is filling up with greenhouse gases so fast that it may already be too late to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C.” Continue reading

Share

Happy Holidays, Super PACs: FEC Removes Yet Another Block Against Dark Money

Little-noticed rule allows candidates to solicit money for super PACs as long as it’s done in a small meeting

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-25-2015.

Activists rally for a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on Friday, January 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Brendan Hoffman)

Activists rally for a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on Friday, January 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Brendan Hoffman)

The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has quietly released a new advisory opinion that will make it even easier for candidates and their staffers to solicit for super PACs donations.

The opinion states that candidates can ask for funds from donors as long as they are meeting in small groups—as small as three people, according to the Washington Post, which first reported on the story Thursday. Continue reading

Share

Christmas Plea to World From Father of Drowned Syrian Child: Open Your Doors

‘Hopefully next year the war will end in Syria and peace will reign all over the world.’

Written by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-24-15.
Abdullah Kurdi, a Syrian refugee whose son drowned off Turkey this year, recorded a holiday message for Britain's Channel 4. (Image: Channel 4)

Abdullah Kurdi, a Syrian refugee whose son drowned off Turkey this year, recorded a holiday message for Britain’s Channel 4. (Image: Channel 4)

The father of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body washed up on a beach in Turkey—the powerful photo of which captured the human tragedy of the refugee crisis—will deliver a Christmas message in which he urges the world to have sympathy for those fleeing the ravages of war.

Abdullah Kurdi, who, in addition to losing three-year-old Alan, also lost his wife, Rehanna and five-year-old son Ghalib when the boat bound for Greece they were on capsized, will deliver the remarks in this year’s alternative Christmas message on the UK’s Channel 4. An excerpt of the message and transcript have already been released. Continue reading

Share

Undeterred by Mall’s Crackdown, Black Lives Matter Shuts Down Business-As-Usual

Racial justice protest in Minneapolis moves from Mall of America to airport after lockdown

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-23-2015

A standoff between police and protesters in Minneapolis on Wednesday. (Photo: @BLongStPaul/Twitter)

A standoff between police and protesters in Minneapolis on Wednesday. (Photo: @BLongStPaul/Twitter)

Heavy-handed security efforts at the Mall of America and elsewhere did not deter Black Lives Matter protesters, who disrupted holiday shopping and travel on Wednesday to call attention to systemic racism and police brutality in Minneapolis and beyond.

After police at the mall threatened to arrest hundreds of peaceful protesters, Black Lives Matter activists moved their demonstration to nearby light rail trains and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to local news outlets. Continue reading

Share

Despite Soaring Support for Abortion Rights, Anti-Choice Crusade Continues

New poll conducted in wake of deadly attack on Planned Parenthood clinic finds public support for abortion rights at highest point in two years

Written by Sarah Lazare, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-15.

 

(Photo: citizenbobnyc/Flickr)

(Photo: citizenbobnyc/Flickr)

Public support for legal abortion in the United States is at its highest point in two years, with nearly six out of ten people backing the reproductive right, according to a new poll (pdf) conducted in the wake of last month’s mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic that killed three people.

The Associated Press and GfK, which jointly conducted the survey, found that 58 percent of respondents say abortion should be legal in “most or all” cases. This marks a jump from 51 percent at the beginning of the year. The poll is based on surveys of 1,007 adults conducted in early December, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Continue reading

Share

Backing MSF, Human Rights Watch Says US Must Consent to War Crimes Probe

‘We believe that there is a strong basis for determining that criminal liability exists,’ group states in new letter to Gen. Carter

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-21-2015

The bombing in October killed at least 42 patients and staff. (Photo: MSF)

The bombing in October killed at least 42 patients and staff. (Photo: MSF)

There is “strong” evidence that the U.S. military attack on a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan two months ago constituted a criminal act, and should be investigated as such, Human Rights Watch said Monday in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (pdf).

“The attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz involved possible war crimes,” said the advocacy group’s Washington director Sarah Margon. “The ongoing U.S. inquiry will not be credible unless it considers criminal liability and is protected from improper command influence.” Continue reading

Share