Monthly Archives: February 2021

‘The CDC Must Appeal Immediately’: Trump-Appointed Judge Strikes Down Pandemic Eviction Moratorium

The pause on evictions was put in place to help stem the spread of Covid-19.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-26-2021

Photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr/CC

A Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas on Thursday sided in favor of a group of landlords and ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional.

“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium. It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic. Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our nation’s history until last year,” wrote Judge John Barker of the  U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Continue reading

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Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

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‘It’s Not Up to Him,’ Respond Critics as DeJoy Says He Plans to Remain Postmaster General for a ‘Long Time’

“DeJoy is daring Senate Democrats to do something about him.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-24-2021

Screenshot: C-SPAN

Update:

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said during a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday that he intends to remain in his role “for a long time” and added, “Get used to me.”

But critics were quick to note that how long DeJoy remains postmaster general is ultimately up to the Postal Service Board of Governors, which is composed of up to nine Senate-confirmed officials who have the authority to remove and replace DeJoy. The postmaster general does not serve a fixed term. Continue reading

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A Good Start: Minnesota’s Return of Dakota Land Makes Space for Healing

While most Native communities in Minnesota, such as the Ojibwe and others fighting pipeline projects through their land recognize that their fight for sovereignty is far from over, the land transfer to the Lower Sioux is a good, if small start in countering centuries of whitewashed history.

By Raul Diego  Published 2-22-2021 by MintPress News

 

The state of Minnesota returned 114 acres of land to the Lower Sioux tribe after the final vote of the Minnesota Historical Society completed the last step in a four-year process that capped off a long fight by the sovereign Dakota nation to recover official title to their original home.

Mni Sota Makoce is the Dakota phrase that the name for “Minnesota” is derived from, which means Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds (or Cloud-tinted Waters). Incorporated as the thirty-second state of the Union in 1858, the ancestral home of the Anishinaabe and Dakota people saw the gradual arrival of French fur traders and loggers followed by other Western Europeans looking to make their fortunes mining for iron ore and exploiting other natural resources in a place settlers would later describe in the much more banal terms “land of ten thousand lakes” in tourism brochures of the early twentieth century and embossed on the state’s license plates since the 1950s. Continue reading

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‘No Safe Amount’: Environmentalists Sound Alarm Over Texas Refineries’ Release of Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds of Pollutants During Storm

337,000 pounds of benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide were flared, as well as an indeterminate amount of methane.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-22-2021

Flaring at Shell Deer Park Refinery, Deer Park TX. Photo: Roy Luck/flickr/CC

Texas oil refineries released hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants including benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide into the air as they scrambled to shut down during last week’s deadly winter storm, Reuters reported Sunday.

Winter storm Uri, which killed dozens of people and cut off power to over four million Texans at its peak, also disrupted supplies needed to keep the state’s refineries and petrochemical plants operating. As they shut down, refineries flared—or burned off—gases in order to prevent damage to their processing units. Continue reading

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Facebook: Genocide is Cool but Don’t Threaten our Profits

“Facebook’s willingness to block credible news sources also stands in sharp distinction to the company’s poor track record in addressing the spread of hateful content and disinformation on the platform.” — Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International Australia

By Alan Macleod  Published 2-19-2021 by MintPress News

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr?CC

Australia’s 18 million Facebook users woke up yesterday to find that, without warning, local and global news sites were unavailable, meaning that they could not view or share news at all. Facebook users across the world were also unable to read or access any Australian news publications. The tech giant had taken the step of essentially shutting down its site and “unfriending” an entire nation in response to the government’s proposals to tax them.

Lawmakers in Canberra had drawn up plans to “level the playing field” between social media giants and the traditional press. In practice, this would mean Facebook and Google handing over a sizable chunk of their advertising profits to the government to subsidize struggling news outlets, on whom they depend for content. Continue reading

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Report of Illegal $80 Million Arms Transfer by Erik Prince to Libyan Warlord Raises Question of Who’s Backing Former Blackwater CEO

Prince has “been linked to the Trump administration, the Emirati leadership, and the Russians,” noted one expert.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-20-2021

Erik Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. Screenshot: C-SPAN

Erik Prince, the founder and former CEO of the mercenary firm Blackwater and a close ally of former President Donald Trump, sent weapons to a Libyan warlord in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, according to a confidential U.N. document reported Friday by the New York Times.

The U.N. report, which investigators sent to the Security Council on Thursday, reportedly details how Prince sent foreign mercenaries armed with attack aircraft, gunboats, and cyberwarfare capabilities to support renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar during a major 2019 battle in eastern Libya. Continue reading

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‘Dirty and Dangerous’: New Data Show Higher Rates of Contamination in Pork Plants Using New Slaughter System

Plants adopting the Trump-approved New Swine Inspection System had, on average, nearly double the rate of fecal and digestive matter contamination of other facilities.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-19-2021

Workers process parts from slaughtered pigs at a Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph, Missouri on April 28, 2017. (Photo: USDA)

New data released Friday revealed pigs slaughtered at plants piloting a controversial new system—which speeds production while replacing many government inspectors with slaughterhouse employees—had much higher rates of fecal and digestive matter contamination than animals processed in other plants, information that the Trump administration hid from the public while expanding the system.

The consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch said in a statement that from 2014 to 2017, pork processing plants implementing the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) on a trial basis had, on average, “nearly double the violations than comparably sized plants outside the program” and “were almost twice as likely to be cited for contamination.” Continue reading

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‘We Need Answers’: House Dems Demand Probe Into US Military Purchases of Location Data From Muslim-Focused Apps

“We cannot pick and choose who the Constitution applies to,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib. “Our government cannot continue to violate the privacy of Americans.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2021

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers concerned about possible violations of civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Bill of Rights asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Thursday for more information about how and why the U.S. military is buying “access to large quantities of personal data” collected from cellphone applications targeted toward Muslim users.

The letter (pdf) requesting an investigation into U.S. military purchases of private location data was led by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Continue reading

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New York AG Sues Amazon Over ‘Flagrant Disregard’ for Worker Safety During Pandemic

“We won’t let corporate bullies put hardworking New Yorkers in harm’s way,” said the state attorney general, Letitia James.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2021

Screenshot: YouTube

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday sued Amazon, accusing the retail giant of disregarding worker safety during the coronavirus pandemic and retaliating against employees who raised concerns—a move that came just days after she declared that “we won’t be intimidated” in response to the company’s preemptive lawsuit.

The state’s suit (pdf), filed in the New York Supreme Court, follows an investigation launched last March and claims Amazon violated multiple labor laws as the virus struck. Continue reading

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