Monthly Archives: September 2018

‘Unconscionable’ and ‘Appalling’: In Affront to Those Fleeing US-Backed Wars and Persecution, Trump Slams Door on Refugees

“The U.S. has a direct moral responsibility to open its doors, given that our own nation is an active combatant in many of the conflicts driving the global refugee crisis.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-18-2018

The White House’s resident immigrant hawk, Stephen Miller, and a group of like-minded aides are pressing ahead with policies designed to drastically reduce the number of people entering the U.S. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Launching yet another bigotry-driven attack on those fleeing wars and humanitarian crises in which the U.S. is playing an active and deadly role, the Trump administration announced late Monday that it is reducing America’s refugee admission limit for 2019 to a record-low 30,000.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, called it an “appalling” announcement.

“At a time when the world is facing the largest displacement crisis in recorded history, it is unconscionable that the Trump administration would further dismantle the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program by setting a cap of 30,000 refugee admissions for fiscal year 2019—the lowest resettlement cap in the program’s history,” Win Without War director Stephen Miles said in a statement slamming the White House’s decision. Continue reading

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Free Press Advocates Alarmed by US Government’s “Terrifying” Secret Rules for Spying on Journalists

“It makes me wonder, what other rules are out there, and how have these rules been applied?”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-17-2018

Press freedom advocates have obtained and released federal government documents detailing an invasive process officials can use to spy on journalists. (Photo: ACLU)

Journalists and free press advocates are responding with alarm to newly released documents revealing the U.S. government’s secret rules for using Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders to spy on reporters, calling the revelations “important” and “terrifying.”

The documents—obtained and released by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed last November—confirm long held suspicions that federal officials can target journalists with FISA orders. Continue reading

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Ground-level ozone continues to damage health, even at low levels

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A study finds that higher ozone levels correlate with slower performance times for college endurance athletes. Pavel1964

Jamie T. Mullins, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ground-level ozone is one of six major pollutants regulated nationally under the Clean Air Act. It is not directly emitted, but instead forms in the atmosphere through reactions between other pollutants from cars, power plants and industrial sources. Breathing ozone irritates the airways and can worsen respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

Regulation has reduced ozone levels across the United States over the past four decades, but exposure to ambient ozone still negatively impacts our health, well-being and productivity. In a recent article published in the journal Health Economics, I found that harm from ozone extends well beyond the high exposure levels and sensitive groups that have traditionally been studied. In fact, I identify negative effects of ozone exposure on the performances of intercollegiate track and field athletes under the relatively clean conditions common in the United States today. Continue reading

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After Cutting All UNWRA Humanitarian Aid, US to Award Israel with $3.3B/Year in Military Aid

The bill, combined with even more aid given to Israeli missile defense, would give $38 billion to Israel over the next ten years, roughly equivalent to $23,000 for every Jewish family living in Israel over the next decade.

By Whitney Webb. Published 9-14-2018 by MintPress News

President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: White House

A massive spending bill, which would deliver $3.3 billion dollars in military aid to Israel over the next year, passed the House on Wednesday under cover of a media blackout. The U.S. Senate had passed a different version of the same bill in early August, a vote that also went largely unreported.

Now, after the House’s passage of a slightly altered version of the Senate’s spending bill, officially titled the “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018,” all that remains is for the two chambers of Congress to reconcile their versions before the product is sent to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. According to Skopos Labs, the bill now hasa 90 percent chance of being enacted. If enacted, the bill will be the largest aid package in American history. Continue reading

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The national prison strike is over. Now is the time prisoners are most in danger

Heather Ann Thompson, University of Michigan

Photo: Pixabay

Over the last few weeks men and women across the United States – and even as far away as Nova Scotia, Canada – have protested to demand humane treatment for the incarcerated.

In 2016, when prisoners engaged in similar hunger strikes, sit-ins, and work stoppages, their actions barely registered with the national media. As someone who regularly writes about the history of prisoner protests and prison conditions today, this lack of interest was striking. Continue reading

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‘Crushing Defeat’ for DeVos as Federal Judge Rules She Illegally Delayed Relief for Students Defrauded by For-Profit Colleges

“This is a major victory for student borrowers and for anyone who cares about having a government that operates under the rule of law, instead of as a pawn of the for-profit college industry.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-13-2018

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

A Washington, D.C. federal judge has delivered a “crushing defeat” of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, ruling that the Trump-appointee illegally delayed Obama-era regulations to provide loan relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges.

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss, in a 57-page ruling (pdf) issued Wednesday, sided with consumer advocates and a coalition of 19 Democratic states attorneys general, determining that DeVos’s actions to delay the borrower defense rule were “unlawful,” “procedurally invalid,” and “arbitrary and capricious.” Continue reading

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Nuclear Plants, Toxic Waste Sites Under Threat as Florence Readies ‘Mike Tyson Punch to Carolina Coast’

As new pathway of storm predicted, National Hurricane Center calls looming storm “very large and incredibly dangerous”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-12-2018

Satellite image of Hurricane Florence swirling in the Atlantic Ocean as it approaches the U.S. coastline in the early hours of Wednesday morning. (Photo: CIRA/RAAMB)

With reports of skyscraper-likes waves out at sea, the potential for historic coastal surges and rainfall, and severe threats to vulnerable nuclear plants and other industrial waste sites—a behemoth Hurricane Florence is fast-approaching the southeastern U.S. coast on Wednesday as weather experts and emergency management officials intensify their warnings about the dangers the “once-in-a-lifetime” storm poses.

With state governments in South Carolina and North Carolina issuing evacuations along the coast and other potential flood zones, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has said that it is mobilizing for a storm that could knock out power for weeks and lead to the displacement of tens if not hundreds of thousands of residents across multiple states. Continue reading

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With Most Benefits Going to Rich, ‘Reckless and Stupid’ GOP Tax Scam 2.0 Could Cost $3 Trillion Over Ten Years

“Think how many kids we could put through college, roads we could pave, families that could get child care, seniors that could get help with prescription drugs with that much money. Shame!”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-11-2018

Tax reform press briefing October 31, 2017. Screenshot: YouTube

In their latest “reckless and stupid” bid to deliver massive rewards to ultra-wealthy Americans, House Republicans on Monday introduced three pieces of legislation that make up the GOP’s so-called “Tax Reform 2.0” package.

But with less than two months to go before crucial midterm elections, early estimates indicate the GOP’s proposals would blow a nearly $3 trillion hole in the federal budget over ten years while sending the vast majority of the benefits to the top. Continue reading

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Reinforcing US Status as ‘Bully and Hegemon,’ Bolton to Threaten ICC Over Probes into America’s War Crimes

Human rights advocates decried the Trump administration’s attack on the International Criminal Court as “another low point” in its effort to skirt accountability for war crimes

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-10-2018

Afghans have been waiting decades for justice for war crimes, including some allegedly committed by U.S. forces. The ⁦ICC⁩ is the only hope they have for justice at the moment,” wrote Heather Barr, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Reinforcing the worldwide perception of the U.S. as “a bully and a hegemon” that will not tolerate attempts by the global community to hold it accountable for its deadly actions overseas, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton is set to deliver a speech on Monday that will reportedly threaten International Criminal Court (ICC) officials with sanctions if they dare to move ahead with probes into U.S. or Israeli war crimes.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton will say at an event hosted by the right-wing Federalist Society, according to a speech draft viewed by Reuters. “If the court comes after us, Israel, or other allies, we will not sit quietly.” Continue reading

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‘Stunning But Not Surprising’: Trump Administration Slammed for Secret Meetings About Venezuela Coup

“There are few nations that can lecture other nations on human rights & democracy but the one nation that can never lecture anyone is the United States of America.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-9-2018

The New York Times reported Saturday that the Trump administration met with Venezuelan military officials who sought to overthrow their nation’s president, Nicolás Maduro. (Photo: Noticia al Día)

Critics across the globe are expressing alarm over the “stunning but not surprising” revelation reported by the New York Times on Saturday that, according to 11 American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander, “the Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.”

Some called out the Trump administration for the United States’ record on human rights. American activist and political analyst Ajamu Baraka tweeted, “There are few nations that can lecture other nations on human rights [and] democracy but the one nation that can never lecture anyone is the Unite[d] States of America.” Continue reading

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