Monthly Archives: May 2024

As India Swelters, Experts Say Deadly Heat Is Growing Public Health Emergency

“How much evidence is enough for action?” asked one expert as temperatures soared to over 120°F in New Delhi and 16 people died in Bihar.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 5-30-2024 by Common Dreams

When the water tanker arrives in Delhi. Screenshot: Licypriya Kangujam/X

As a record heatwave scorches large swaths of India, killing 16 people in Bihar state, climate scientists warned Thursday that extreme heat fueled by the worsening climate emergency poses a fast-growing threat to public health and human survivability.

The Indian Meteorological Department said temperatures soared to over 120°F in recent days in New Delhi. The agency said it is investigating an all-time high reading of 127.2°F in the capital on Wednesday that may be attributable to a sensor error. If the reading is accurate, it would mark the highest temperature ever recorded in India.

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United States and Iran Help China Push Global Executions to 10-Year High

Lawmakers in southern U.S. states accused of demonstrating “a chilling commitment” to state-sponsored murder alongside “a callous intent to invest resources in the taking of human life.”

By Jon Queally. Published 5-29-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: AFSC/CC

The number of executions worldwide hit a nearly 10-year high in 2023 thanks to a surge in state killings by Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and the United States.

A new global report published by Amnesty International documents that the death penalty was imposed on 1,153 people last year, though the total is believed to be significantly higher due to the secrecy surrounding China’s penal system. The international human rights group believes “thousands” of people were executed by the Chinese government, but the exact figure is not known.

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Educators Celebrate as Judge Strikes Down New Hampshire ‘Banned Concepts’ Law

One advocate said the federal judge “correctly decided that educators have the constitutional right to teach honest, accurate lessons and wasn’t dragged into the clutches of the extreme right.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 5-28-2024 by Common Dreams

A middle school class. Photo: woodleywonderworks//flickr/CC

Education and free speech advocates cheered Tuesday’s federal court ruling striking down New Hampshire’s classroom censorship law, one of several so-called “white discomfort” bills passed in Republican-controlled states in recent years.

U.S. District Judge Paul J. Barbadoro’s 50-page ruling says that the New England state’s so-called “banned concepts” law is “unconstitutionally vague” and contains “viewpoint-based restrictions on speech that do not provide either fair warning to educators of what they prohibit or sufficient standards for law enforcement to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”

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World Leaders Urged to Protect Syrian Refugees Amid Lebanon’s Crackdown

“Lebanon’s authorities must stop summarily deporting refugees to a place where they are at risk of violations, lift restrictions, and end their vitriolic campaign against refugees,” said one Amnesty campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 5-27-2024 by Common Dreams

Syrian refugee children in the Ketermaya refugee camp, outside Beirut, Lebanon on June 1, 2014. Photo: World Bank Photo Collection/flickr/CC

Amnesty International on Monday reiterated human rights groups’ rising concerns about a Lebanese crackdown on Syrian refugees as the European Union hosted a conference in Brussels focused on “supporting the future of Syria and the region.”

The conference comes at right-wing leaders in the E.U. campaign as anti-migrant ahead of the bloc’s June elections and after European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen in early May announced a three-year, €1 billion ($1.06 billion) assistance package to support “the most vulnerable people in Lebanon, including refugees, internally displaced persons, and host communities,” as well as “urgent domestic reforms” and “border and migration management.”

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‘Sad Day for Free Speech’: Media Matters Layoffs Follow ‘Thermonuclear’ Attack by Elon Musk

“This is how free speech is actually chilled—vengeful dipshit billionaires,” said one media executive, after more than a dozen staffers let go from nonprofit watchdog whose mission is to combat right-wing disinformation and propaganda.

By Jon Queally. Published 5-24-2024 by Common Dreams

Elon Musk, CEO of X, SpaceX and Tesla. Photo: Daniel Oberhaus/flickr//CC

Just months after mega-billionaire Elon Musk launched what he termed a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters for America, the nonprofit media watchdog outfit announced a round of punishing layoffs Thursday which it in part attributed to the financial strain imposed by the legal battle it now faces.

What triggered Musk’s initial outrage in November was MMFA reporting about “pro-Nazi content” on the social media platform X, owned by Musk, appearing alongside ads by prominent corporations in the content stream shown to users.

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Latin America shows why ecocide must be an international crime

Every state has an interest in prosecuting those who destroy our planet – we must ensure there are no ‘safe havens’

By Rodrigo Lledó. Published 5-21-2024 by openDemocracy

A lithium mine in Chile Photo: Reinhard Jahn/CC

Before leaving power in 1990, Chilean general and dictator Augusto Pinochet created a legal framework that guaranteed him absolute impunity. It didn’t work. He was arrested on charges of genocide and terrorism in London in 1998 by order of the Spanish justice system and, upon his return to Chile, finally had to face justice.

Years later, I had the opportunity to lead a team of public lawyers trying nearly 900 cases of crimes against humanity during the Chilean dictatorship. Though Pinochet was already dead, his accomplices had to be duly judged. But decades after his rule, human rights continue to be routinely violated in Latin America, often for defending the environment.

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Southeast Abortion Clinic Wait Times Soared After Florida Ban

Before the ban, the average Florida resident lived 20 miles from a clinic and would need to wait five days to access an abortion; after the ban, the driving distance jumped to 590 miles and the wait time to almost 14 days.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 5-24-2024 by Common Dreams

Abortion rights supporters rallied in Lake Eola Park, Florida, on April 13, 2024. (Photo: ACLU of Florida/X)

Wait times have increased at 30% of the abortion clinics in the states closest to Florida its draconian six-week abortion ban went into effect on May 1.

The data comes from a survey carried out by Middlebury University economics professor Caitlin Myers and her undergraduate students, which was reported by The Washington Post on Friday.

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US Supreme Court Accused of ‘Full-On Gutting of the Equal Protection Clause’

The right-wing majority’s ruling in South Carolina case will make it “nearly impossible for any plaintiff to prove racial gerrymandering in court,” said one legal expert.

By Julia Conley Published 5-23-2024 by Common Dreams

Activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments in the Alexander v. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP gerrymandering case in Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Upholding a district map that was previously found by a lower court to be unconstitutional due to its racially gerrymandered boundaries, the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority demonstrated on Thursday that it is “a MAGA Court,” according to one advocate for judicial reform.

In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the majority opinion, the court ruled in favor of a South Carolina district map which was drawn by the GOP-controlled state legislature and moved 30,000 Black voters from the state’s 1st District to the 6th District.

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‘Crucial’: FCC Proposes Forcing Disclosure of AI Use in Political Ads

“Americans expect and deserve to know whether the content they see on our public airwaves is real or AI-generated content—especially as the technology is increasingly being used to mislead voters,” one advocate said.

By Jessica Corbett Published 5-22-2024 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: YouTube

Amid the U.S. political primary season and mounting fears of how artificial intelligence can be abused to influence elections, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to force the disclosure of AI use in campaign advertising.

“As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement. “Today, I’ve shared with my colleagues a proposal that makes clear consumers have a right to know when AI tools are being used in the political ads they see, and I hope they swiftly act on this issue.”

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Global Tribunal Issues ‘Historic’ Ruling for Oceans and Small Island Nations

“Protecting the global commons of the oceans and atmosphere is a matter of life and death,” said one expert who praised the decision.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 5-21-2024 by Common Dreams

Fighting against climate change in Tuvalu: reclaimed land, Photo: UNDP Climate/flickr/CC

An international tribunal on Tuesday delivered a decision that green groups and leaders of small island nations celebrated as a “groundbreaking victory for ocean and climate protection.”

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) announced in an advisory opinion that greenhouse gas emissions are marine pollution under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and parties to the treaty “have the specific obligation to adopt laws and regulations to prevent, reduce, and control” them.

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