Monthly Archives: February 2019

‘Illegal Boondoggle’: US Government Rebuked for Giving 1,400 Private Companies Access to Dubious Terrorism Watchlist

“We call on congressional leadership to investigate the private sector dissemination of watchlisting information that stigmatizes the innocent and makes none of us safer.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-20-2019

“The indiscriminate dissemination of the watchlist is but the latest indication that the federal government’s watchlisting system is an illegal boondoggle,” said CAIR litigation director Lena Masri. (Screenshot/The Intercept)

Denouncing the database as “an illegal boondoggle,” a civil rights organization on Wednesday is calling for a congressional probe after the FBI admitted it lied for years when it insisted federal authorities do not share the so-called terrorist watchlist with private entities.

In fact, as the Associated Press first reported, the federal government has shared the

controversial Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) with 1,441 private entities including universities, detention facilities, and hospitals. Continue reading

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With Trump Pushing Regime Change in Venezuela, Critics Warn News Outlets Failing US Viewers Once Again

“If the US had a major state TV network it would sound exactly like this. 100% pure, uncritical cheerleading.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2019

Marco Rubio at Citizens United Freedom Summit. Photo: Michael Vadon/flickr

Ahead of a speech in Miami on Monday in which President Donald Trump promoted the ouster of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, progressive media critics continued their warnings that corporate news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and others are carrying water for the White House’s regime change policy in the country despite interventionist failures like the invasion of Iraq in 2002, the overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011, and the long U.S. history of backing bloody coups and civil wars in Latin America going back to the 1980s.

Leading the charge is journalist Adam Johnson, a contributor to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and host of the Citations Needed podcast, who recently warned that the “same U.S. media outlets that have expressly fundraised and run ad campaigns on their image as anti-Trump truth-tellers have mysteriously taken at face value everything the Trump White House and its neoconservative allies have said in their campaign to overthrow the government of Venezuela.” Continue reading

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Despite ‘War Crimes’ Concerns in Yemen, Raytheon Nabs $1.6 Billion Arms Deal With UAE

Announcement comes as resolution to end U.S. complicity in Yemen war edges toward Senate vote

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2019

Destroyed house in Sanaa. Photo: brahem Qasim [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) just inked billions in deals to secure new weapons from top Pentagon contractor Raytheon a week after an Amnesty International investigation further implicated the Gulf nation in war crimes for transferring Western weapons to unaccountable militia groups, thereby deepening the humanitarian crisis and fueling carnage in war-ravaged Yemen.

“The ongoing carnage against civilians in Yemen—including at the hands of the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition and the militias it backs—should give serious pause to all states supplying arms,” said Patrick Wilcken, arms control and human rights researcher at Amnesty International. “Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes.” Continue reading

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The soundtrack of the Sixties demanded respect, justice and equality

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The Supremes, with their polished performances and family-friendly lyrics, helped to bridge a cultural divide and temper racial tensions. AP Photo/Frings

Michael V. Drake, The Ohio State University

When Sly and the Family Stone released “Everyday People” at the end of 1968, it was a rallying cry after a tumultuous year of assassinations, civil unrest and a seemingly interminable war.

“We got to live together,” he sang, “I am no better and neither are you.”

Throughout history, artists and songwriters have expressed a longing for equality and justice through their music. Continue reading

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“It’s What Happens in a Totalitarian Regime”: Capitol Police Slammed for “Disturbing” Physical Attacks on Reporters

“It was insane, people were getting shoved into walls. It was unsustainable. It was violent.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-16-2019

Capitol Police became physically aggressive toward journalists who were trying to speak with senators at the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday afternoon, according to a Roll Call report. (Photo: @pkcapitol/Twitter)

Press freedom advocates and journalists described a Friday report of Capitol Police manhandling and shoving reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building as “bizarre” and “disturbing,” with some calling the altercation an incident far more likely to take place in a totalitarian regime than in a democracy.

As Roll Call reported Friday, Capitol Police pushed and “slammed into” reporters on Thursday afternoon around the time that senators were voting on the spending bill. The police attempted to prevent reporters from speaking to lawmakers—a practice that is common in the Senate Capitol basement, where the incident took place. Continue reading

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Blow to ‘Powerful Corporate Interests’ as Federal Court Throws Out Pipeline Company Lawsuit Against DAPL Water Protectors

Greenpeace lawyer confident that decision will deter other companies “from abusing the legal system in their quest to bully those who speak truth to power.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-15-2019

Krystal Two Bulls and other defendants celebrated on Thursday after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit targeting water protectors who organized against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). (Photo: EarthRights International/Twitter)

In a “landmark” ruling on Thursday, a federal court in North Dakota tossed out a “baseless” case against Greenpeace and other environmental and Indigenous activists who organized protests against the deeply controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which drew thousands of people to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 2016.

District Judge Billy Roy Wilson dismissed (pdf) all claims against all defendants in a lawsuit brought by fossil fuel giant Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which sought to hold the water protectors liable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for millions of dollars in alleged damages

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‘No One Should Be Surprised’: After Long Career Stiffing Workers, Trump Blocks Back Pay for Federal Contractors

Lack of back pay for low-wage contractors also called a “policy and political failure” for Democratic leaders, who were accused of failing to publicly fight the president’s cruelty

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-14-2019

The Trump International Hotel and Tower under construction in Chicago, Illinois., 2006. Photo: Antonio Vernon (public domain)

As a real estate mogul, Donald Trump was notorious for swindling low-wage workers out of pay.

So—as economist Robert Reich put it—”no one should be surprised” that Trump is continuing this cruel practice as president, this time by reportedly refusing to sign any government funding deal that includes back pay for the estimated 580,000 federal contractors who were furloughed or forced to work without pay for over a month due to the shutdown.

“I’ve been told the president won’t sign that,” Sen. Roy Blunt told ABC News, as Democrats made a last-minute push on Wednesday to attach back pay for contractors to the bipartisan federal spending package. “I guess federal contractors are different in his view than federal employees.” Continue reading

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‘The US Government Has Scarred My Daughter and Me for Life’: Families Sue Trump Over Deliberate and ‘Inexplicable Cruelty’

“The government’s use of emotionally traumatizing children to try to achieve a policy objective very clearly meets all the legal elements of the offense intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-12-2019

Photo: ACLU

Accusing the Trump administration of deliberate and “inexplicable cruelty” perpetrated against them under it’s so-called “zero tolerance” immigration policy, six families have filed suit against the U.S. government for the harm and “lasting trauma” they continue to suffer.

In the filing, six mothers described having their children torn away from them, with officials giving them little to no information about where their children were, if they were safe, and when they would be reunited—treatment that the lawyers involved in the suit argue fit the legal definition of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. Continue reading

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New Legislation Aims to Avert Arctic Giveaway to ‘Corporate Polluters’ Sneaked Into GOP Tax Scam

Announcement comes as scholars warn fossil fuel drilling in Arctic refuge “would contribute to the escalating crises of climate change and biological annihilation.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-12-2019

A member of the Porcupine caribou herd, which conservation groups say would be horribly impacted if fossil fuel exploration and extraction takes place in ANWR’s coastal plain. New legislation sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) aims to make sure that doesn’t happen. (Photo: G MacRae/flickr/cc)

Conservation groups are cheering the introduction on Monday of a measure to stop fossil fuel extraction in a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

“This bill calls a halt to the administration’s headlong rush to sell off this special wilderness to corporate polluters,” said John Bowman, senior director for federal affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And it preserves the fundamental human rights of the Gwich’in people whom these lands have sustained for thousands of years, and who—among two-thirds of all Americans—oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge.”

The legislation is a renewed effort by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), and would repeal a provision included in the GOP’s 2017 tax bill (pdf). Denounced as “a Big Oil polar payout,” the provision opens the refuge’s coastal plain to oil and gas exploration and drilling. Continue reading

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Scientists Warn Crashing Insect Population Puts ‘Planet’s Ecosystems and Survival of Mankind’ at Risk

“This is the stuff that worries me most. We don’t know what we’re doing, not trying to stop it, [and] with big consequences we don’t really understand.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-11-2019

Photo: Pixnio

The first global scientific review of its kind reaches an ominous conclusion about the state of nature warning that unless humanity drastically and urgently changes its behavior the world’s insects could be extinct within a century.

Presented in exclusive reporting by the Guardian‘s environment editor Damian Carrington, the findings of the new analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that industrial agricultural techniques—”particularly the heavy use of pesticides”—as well as climate change and urbanization are the key drivers behind the extinction-level decline of insect populations that could herald a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems” if not addressed. Continue reading

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