Monthly Archives: November 2017

Future of Free Speech at Risk as Supreme Court Hears Critical Digital Privacy Case

“No constitutional doctrine should presume that consumers assume the risk of warrantless government surveillance simply by using technologies that are increasingly integrated into modern life.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-29-2017

In a Supreme Court case beginning Wednesday, the ACLU is arguing that Americans should not be expected to give up privacy rights every time they use a cell phone that pings phone towers nearby, as analog-era legal arguments would hold. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr/cc)

The Supreme Court will hear the first arguments in a landmark case regarding digital privacy rights on Wednesday as civil liberties advocates, joined by tech companies and journalists, argue the court must acknowledge that privacy rights and free speech protections should align with the reality of 21st century technology.

The case, known as Carpenter vs. United States centers around Timothy Carpenter, who was convicted in 2011 of several robberies after the police, without a probable cause warrant, gathered data from his cell phone company. Months of records were turned over, showing that he had been near cell towers close to the sites of the robberies when they took place. Continue reading


‘Kill the Bill, Don’t Kill Us’: Protesters Arrested as GOP Push Senate Tax Bill Forward

Resistance groups hold protests across country as Republicans clear committee vote, advancing bill to Senate floor

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-28-2017

Photo: Brynna Quillin/Twitter

As the Senate Budget Committee debated the Republican tax bill on Tuesday before passing the proposal in a 12-11 vote, about a dozen people were arrested after disrupting the meeting to demand that senators reject the bill.

The demonstrators chanted, “Kill the bill, don’t kill us,” repeating the refrain that was commonly heard in protests against the Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) over the summer. Continue reading


As Trump Spikes Fear of Nuclear War, Hawaii to Bring Back Cold War Air Raid Sirens

“As we track the news and see tests, both missile launches and nuclear tests, it’s the elephant in the room.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-27-2017

Hawaiian officials will begin using an alarm system on Friday to prepare residents for a potential nuclear attack. Community meetings have also been held to let Hawaiians know what to do in the event of an attack by North Korea. (Photo: @USAToday/Twitter)

With President Donald Trump showing little interest in sitting down at the negotiating table with North Korea—regarded by many in the U.S. and around the world as the best method for deterring nuclear development by Kim Jong-un’s government—Hawaiian officials are being forced to take precautions to make sure residents know what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.

At the beginning of next month, the state will begin testing the missile warning system it used during World War II and last tested during the Cold War. Continue reading


How the tax package could blur the separation of church and politics

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If a House provision gets enacted, churches will be able to endorse – not just pray for – political candidates. Andrew Cline/

Susan Anderson, Elon University

The tax package pending in Congress includes a provision that would leave churches and other nonprofits, which by law must be nonpartisan, suddenly free to engage in political speech.

This measure, currently only in the House version of the bill, could potentially change charitable life as we know it.

As an accounting professor who teaches nonprofit taxation, I believe that this significant change deserves vigorous public debate and is too big to bury in tax legislation. Continue reading


Showdown Looms as Trump, Flouting Dodd-Frank, Says CFPB Hater Mulvaney to Head Agency

Agreeing with outgoing director Cordray, Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushes back against White House, saying Trump “can’t override” Dodd-Frank

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-25-2017

Trump said Friday that OMB director Mick Mulvaney, seen here in 2013, would serve as acting director of the CFPB. Critics, however, say that’s not lawful, as it should be the individual named by outgoing director Richard Cordray—Leandra English. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

A battle appears to be brewing between the White House and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), with each having named a different individual to serve as acting director of the agency, and President Donald Trump’s appointment denounced as “legally dubious.”

The showdown gained steam on Friday afternoon when Richard Cordray, who had been leading the CFPB since its inception, tendered his expected resignation, saying he was leaving at the end of the day. Another key event that day was the CFPB naming Leandra English as deputy director of the agency. She had been serving as the agency’s chief of staff. Continue reading


Dozens of #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins and Rallies Planned for Final Resistance Push

The Senate is expected to vote on the Republican tax bill as early as Thursday

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-24-2017

The National Day of Action is planned for Monday as the Trump resistance fights the Republican tax plan, which is expected to raise taxes on middle-income Americans while cutting them for corporations and the richest families. (Photo: @Indivisible12th/Twitter)

The grassroots resistance group Indivisible was gearing up on Friday for a planned National Day of Action, targeting Republican senators who are thought to be potential “no” votes on the GOP’s tax plan—in a final push to keep the bill from passing. The Senate is expected to vote on the plan as soon as Thursday.

The group was preparing for #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins taking place across the country on Monday, at the offices of several senators including Arizona’s John McCain and Jeff Flake, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)—focusing attention on some of the lawmakers who were targeted last summer during the fight against the Republican healthcare plan. Continue reading


Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Anti-Choice Law That Critics Warned Endangered Women

“The court’s decision once again makes clear that politicians cannot force their way into private medical decisions that should stay between patients and physicians. Access to vital reproductive health services should not depend on a woman’s zip code.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-23-2017

In 2013, protesters gathered outside the Senate Gallery at the Texas State Capitol minutes before midnight to stall a bill that would put strict regulations on abortion facilities from going to a vote. (Photo: Lauren Gerson/Blackbird Film Co./Flickr/cc)

After temporarily halting a Texas abortion law that was slated to take effect earlier this year, and which critics warned would endanger women who seek to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester, a federal judge issued a blow to the state’s notorious anti-choice Republicans on Wednesday and permanently blocked the legislation.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel issued a permanent injunction on Senate Bill 8, which sought to ban dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures after 15 weeks, despite that it’s among the most common types of abortion procedures for women in their second trimester of pregnancy and amid warnings that it would force pregnant women and providers to turn to more costly and risky options. Texas, a hotbed for anti-choice measures, already bars women from having an abortion after 20 weeks. Continue reading


Thanksgiving Guide: How to Celebrate a Sordid History

A day seen by many Americans as a day of celebration, a day for family, and a day for giving thanks, is perceived by many Native Americans as a day filled with ignorance, a day filled with anger and a day full of mourning.

By Emma Fiala. Published 11-22-2017 by MintPress News

While millions of Americans prepare this week to get into the holiday spirit, beginning with Thanksgiving, how many are prepared to view the day through an accurate lens? While to many Americans the holiday serves as a reminder to give thanks, it is seen as a day of mourning by countless others. The truth is: European migrants brutally murdered Native Americans, stole their lands, and continue to do so today.

Start by acknowledging that almost everything taught about Thanksgiving in most schools across the country is a lie. Most Americans remember celebrations in elementary school in honor of Thanksgiving that included activities ranging from coloring pages to parades to plays. Everyone knows the drill: The Pilgrims fled Europe before landing on Plymouth Rock. The resident natives taught them how to farm the land, they all sat down for a big meal in 1621, and everyone lived happily ever after in the United States. Continue reading


Trump’s “Frightening” Pick for Top Census Job Thinks “Competitive Elections Are Bad for America”

Thomas Brunell is a political science professor with no government experience, and would politicize the agency tasked with counting every resident of the U.S.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-21-2017

The U.S. Census is a nonpartisan accounting of every person who lives in the country, but President Trump’s top pick for its new deputy director could politicize the Census Bureau with his views on redistricting. (Photo: PaulSh/Flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump’s top pick for deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau is the author of a book about the dangers of a competitive electoral system—leading to fears among voting rights advocates that the appointment would lead to a politicization of the agency which is heavily involved in how voting districts are drawn.

Thomas Brunelll, a political science professor at the University of Texas, is the author of the 2008 book Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America, in which he argued that voting districts packed with like-minded voters are fairer than those with a mix of Democratic and Republican voters. Continue reading


FDA Raids in Florida Suggest Trump Admin. Policy Change That Benefits Big Pharma

News of the raids follows the president’s nomination of a former drug company executive to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-20-2017

Raids by federal agents in Florida suggest a policy shift that will make it more difficult for Americans to access low-cost prescription medications. (Photo: Chris Potter/

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raided nine stores in Central Florida that assist customers with placing orders for low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other countries, Kaiser Health News reported Monday, suggesting a shift away from a long-standing policy that benefited consumers but was strongly condemned by the pharmaceutical industry.

“The storefronts primarily serve seniors who prefer in-person assistance with buying medicines from Canada and other countries, rather than using an internet site,” Kaiser reports. Bill Hepscher, co-owner of six of the stores raided last month, estimates his business serves about 10,000 people a year, and that Florida has about 20 stores similar to his. His stores are located around Tampa Bay and Orlando. Continue reading