Monthly Archives: February 2018

‘Dystopia Intensifies’ as Supreme Court Rules Immigrants Can Be Detained Indefinitely

“The hellish internment camps of ICE and its private contractors have just been given the greenlight by our high court.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-27-2018

In a decision that could be devastating for thousands who have been swept up by President Donald Trump’s deportation dragnet and immensely profitable for the private prison industry, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that immigrants—including those with permanent legal status—do not have the right to bond hearings and can be detained indefinitely.

The 5-3 ruling tosses out a 2015 lower court decision that stated immigrant detainees are entitled to a bond hearing every six months. The Obama administration appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, and the Trump administration continued the case. Continue reading

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These Climate Scientists’ Tweets About the Unusually Warm Arctic Might Scare Your Pants Off

Cities in Europe, meanwhile, are getting hit with unusually cold temperatures and snowfall. That’s days after the U.S. East Coast had record highs.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-26-2018

People take part in the Women’s March in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2018. (Photo: Kathy Knorr/flickr/cc)bluebird womens march Women’s March SF Jan 21 2018

“Shocking,” “absolutely astonishing,” and “remarkable.”

That’s how climate scientists are describing the recent unusually warm temperatures in the Arctic.

As the Washington Post reported last week, the region is “stewing in temperatures more than 45 degrees (F) above normal. This latest huge temperature spike in the Arctic is another striking indicator of its rapidly transforming climate.” Continue reading

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Census Rushes to Respond to Request to Add Citizenship Question

 

Image: JEC Democrats/Medium

By  Justin Elliott. Published 2-23-2018 by ProPublica

The Census Bureau is scrambling to respond to a last-minute request by the Justice Department to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census, according to hundreds of pages of emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The emails show that the DOJ’s December request set off a flurry of activity in the bureau as career Census officials hurried to research the history of how citizenship has been handled in past surveys, raced to come up with alternatives to the DOJ request and vented their frustration over public outrage on the issue. Continue reading

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Reporters Call Foul on NRA Claim That Media “Loves” Mass Shootings

“Journalists are humans, not story-pursuing robots salivating for the death of young kids.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-23-2018

NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, right, told CNN host Alisyn Camerota on Friday that the news media “loves” the ratings delivered by mass shootings—a remark that drew condemnation from journalists on social media. (Photo: @CNN/Twitter)

Journalists on social media pushed back on Friday against NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch’s claim that the news media “loves” mass shootings because they deliver ratings boosts.

“Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it,” Loesch said Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), addressing reporters in the back of the room. “Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media.”

Loesch’s comments echoed those made in a video released this week by the NRA, in which gun rights activist Colion Noir argued, “If there’s one organization in this country that has a vested interest in the perpetuation of mass tragedy, it’s the mainstream media.”

The former Blaze host doubled-down on her comments in a Friday morning interview on CNN with Alisyn Camerota, who told her, “You’re wrong on every single level,” and argued against her claim that shootings provide a ratings boost for news programs.

“Americans have reached saturation level,” said Camerota. “They’re so sick of it and it’s so heartbreaking that they actually often turn away.”

Many in the news media have pushed to refine how news stations cover mass shootings, urging journalists to focus less on the perpetrators of attacks. Much of the ongoing coverage of the shooting in Parkland, Florida last week has focused on efforts by survivors to achieve gun control legislation in order to prevent more shootings—a push that is strongly opposed by the NRA.

On social media, many reporters reminded Loesch and her supporters that journalists are members of their communities whose families are put at as much risk as any other American household by the prevalence of military-style semi-automatic firearms like the AR-15.

Others pointed to the emotional toll covering repeated mass killings—typically with little to no action by legislators in the wake of such attacks, to curb shootings—can take on journalists.

As Catherine Woodiwiss wrote at Sojourners last July, reporters’ prolonged exposure to violent and traumatic events including shootings can correspond with high levels of distress:

In 2014, a study of “frequent and prolonged exposure to deeply disturbing images” published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that the frequency with which a journalist watches violent content correlates with the journalist’s likelihood of having anxiety, depression, PTSD, or alcoholism.

The Radio Television Digital News Association also released a statement about the NRA’s new talking point.

“We are your neighbors. Your friends. We attend the same houses of worship. We go the same classes at the gym. Our children are in the same classes at school…We are deeply affected by tragedy. We are journalists and we do what we do because you have a need to know and understand the world around you.”

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In ‘Tremendous Victory for Taxpayers, Public Health, and Planet,’ Federal Court Rejects Trump Admin.’s Attempt to Suspend Methane Rule

The late Thursday ruling “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-23-2018

A fracking well flare in Scott Township, Pennsylvania. (Photo: WCN 24/7/flickr/cc)

A court has once again rejected the Trump administration’s effort to suspend an Obama-era rule aimed at reducing releases of methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal land.

“The decision,” writes Meleah Geertsma, a senior attorney with NRDC, “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry, at the expense of Americans’ health and the environment.” Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Decry ‘Unconscionable’ State Dept Decision to Cut Women’s Rights From Annual Report

“This development is a transparent attempt by the Trump administration to not only de-prioritize reproductive rights, but effectively erase them from the broader conversation on human rights.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-22-2018

At the direction of a top State Department aide, the department’s annual human rights report will be stripped of language relating to women’s reproductive rights and discrimination. (Photo: Marc Nozell/Flickr/cc)

Human rights groups on Thursday denounced the State Department’s plans to re-frame its upcoming global human rights report, paring down its focus on women’s reproductive rights and discrimination—saying the decision is clear evidence that the rights of marginalized groups are insignificant to the Trump administration.

“Reproductive rights are human rights,” said Tarah Demant, Amnesty International USA’s director of gender, sexuality, and identity, in a statement. “This development is a transparent attempt by the Trump administration to not only de-prioritize reproductive rights, but effectively erase them from the broader conversation on human rights. We must not let this attack on basic rights go unchallenged.” Continue reading

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New Report Details How Americans Who Have Debt Held by Collection Agencies Can Get Thrown in Jail

New ACLU publication looks at how “debt collection industry uses prosecutors and judges as weapons against millions of Americans who can’t afford to pay their bills.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-21-2018

“Consumers have little chance of justice when our courts take the debt collector’s side in almost every case—even to the point of ordering people jailed until they pay up,” says report author Jennifer Turner. (Photo: Bill Smith/flickr/cc)

Threatened with arrest for a case involving a few dollars in debt held by a collection agency?

This is not a science fiction, nor a scenario from the United States more than 185 years ago when debtors prisons were still allowed. Rather, it’s a part of the current justice system where, in states across the country, state courts and local prosecutors abet debt collectors in arresting and jailing some of the tens of millions of Americans who have debt held by private collection agencies.

The injustice is laid out in new report from the ACLU, “A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt.” Continue reading

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Research Exposes $16 Billion Bottled Water Industry’s Predatory Marketing

The industry spends billions of dollars per year convincing Americans that bottled water is safer than tap—even though more than two-thirds of the product comes from municipal water sources

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-20-2018

Americans spend about $16 billion per year on bottled water—which comes largely from the same sources as tap water. (Photo: Raul Pachecho-Vega/Flickr/cc)

Bottled water companies have relied on predatory marketing practices and exorbitant lobbying efforts to sell Americans on the inaccurate belief that pre-packaged water is cleaner and safer than tap water—a notion that is costing U.S. households about $16 billion per year.

In a new report entitled “Take Back the Tap,” Food & Water Watch explains that 64 percent of bottled water comes from municipal tap water sources—meaning that Americans are often unknowingly paying for water that would otherwise be free or nearly free. Continue reading

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Instability Mounts in Puerto Rico Amid Privatization Efforts and Power Authority’s Cash Shortfall

“If this is not disaster economics and this is not setting the stage for commercialization of services that are there to promote equality, I don’t know what is.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-19-2018

Many rural areas in Puerto Rico remain without power, and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said Monday that privatization has directly resulted in delays to restoration. (Photo: Western Area Power/Flickr/cc)

As nearly 250,000 Puerto Ricans remain without power five months after Hurricane Maria struck the island territory—the longest blackout in U.S. history—the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said Sunday it will reduce its operating reserve to save money, as the island’s government moves toward privatizing the authority.

A federal judge denied PREPA a $1 billion loan over the weekend, saying the authority could not prove it needed the additional cash injection. The company will now reduce its reserve by 450 megawatts, saving $9 million per month but likely resulting in more power outages. Continue reading

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Genocide? As Gaza Dries Out, Israel Turns Off Fresh Water Spigot

Rather than heeding the warnings from the UN to open up Gaza’s blockade and allow vital aid, what we have witnessed over the course of the last decade is a periodic all-out Israeli assault on Gaza’s vital infrastructure.

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 2-15-2018 by MintPress News

Palestinian children fill their bottles with water from a UNICEF tap in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo: UNICEF

Near the end of last month, Haaretz reported that, according to an expert hydrologist, 97 percent of Gaza’s drinking water has been contaminated by sewage and salt. The UN also confirmed that this was the case early last year, and clearly, the situation has remained unchanged even up until 2018. Robert Piper, the UN’s local coordinator for humanitarian and development activities, has called the situation “really very serious” and stated that “[w]e are falling far behind the demand for clean drinking water for Gazans.”

This kind of mistreatment is part and parcel of an overall package of deprivation that continues to plague the Palestinian people. There are some 2 million residents in Gaza affected by this egregious policy, famously one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Gaza’s water resources are fully controlled by Israel and the division of groundwater is something that was provided for in the Oslo II Accord. However, despite the fact that under the Accord Israel is allocated four times the Palestinian portion of water resources, it has been revealed that Israel has been extracting 80 percent more water from the West Bank than it agreed to. Continue reading

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