Author Archives: ew

About ew

ew came of age during the winddown to the Vietnam War, and like many other Americans, as soon there wasn't an issue that didn't affect him personally, he became indifferent. This gradually changed during the Reagan and Bush I years, continued through the Clinton years and finally came to a head with the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001. He works as a freelance consultant/tester for various music hardware and software companies, and lives in Minnesota.

‘A Great Start’: Peace Advocates Cheer Senate Repeal of Iraq War Authorization

“A larger and far more consequential challenge remains: repealing the 2001 AUMF which authorized the global war on terror,” said one activist.

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 3-29-2023 by Common Dreams

Activists call for an end to endless U.S. wars during a demonstration marking the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and calling on Congress to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that enabled the war. (Photo: Yasmine Taeb/Twitter)

Peace campaigners cheered Wednesday’s vote by the U.S. Senate to repeal the authorizations for the 1991 and 2003 invasions of Iraq, while calling on the House of Representatives to follow suit.

The Senate voted 66-30 in favor of a bill to rescind the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF), with 18 Republican senators crossing the aisle to support the legislation, which now heads to the House. An amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would have empowered the president to attack Iran was defeated on Tuesday.

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‘What Color Shirts’? Far-Right Ben-Gvir to Get Control Over Israeli National Guard

The former head of Israel’s police accused the national security minister of “dismantling Israeli democracy” and “turning Israel into a dictatorship.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 3-27-2023 by Common Dreams

Itamar Ben Gvir. Photo: @OldPrague/Twitter

Democracy defenders on Monday sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agreement to place the country’s National Guard under the control of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right extremist who has advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s move is in exchange for a promise from Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party to remain in the prime minister’s governing coalition despite an earlier threat to exit if Netanyahu delayed a highly controversial judicial overhaul. Facing massive street protests and a general strike by the nation’s largest trade union, Netanyahu agreed on Monday to postpone the legislation until April or early May. Continue reading

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‘When We Fight, We Win!’: LA School Workers Secure Deal After 3-Day Strike

“The agreement addresses our key demands and sets us on a clear pathway to improving our livelihoods and securing the staffing we need to improve student services,” said SEIU Local 99.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 3-25-2023 by Common Dreams

Union negotiators for about 30,000 school support staffers in California’s Los Angeles County struck a historic deal with the second-largest district in the United States on Friday after a three-day strike.

Members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, special education assistants, teaching aides, and other school staff—backed by about 35,000 educators of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)—walked off the job on Tuesday and continued to strike through Thursday. Continue reading

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‘Never Seen Anything Like This’: US Librarians Report Book Bans Hit Record High in 2022

“Each attempt to ban a book by one of these groups represents a direct attack on every person’s constitutionally protected right to freely choose what books to read and what ideas to explore,” said one intellectual freedom advocate.

By Julia Conley.  Published 3-23-2023 by Common Dreams

The Buchanan Public Library in Buchanan, Virginia Photo: Melinda Young Stuart/flickr/CC

Librarians from across the United States released a report showing that pro-censorship groups’ efforts to ban books with LGBTQ+ themes and stories about people of color have driven an unprecedented rise in the number of book challenges, with right-wing organizers pushing library workers to remove works ranging from the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale to children’s books about foods enjoyed in different cultures.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), a record-breaking 2,571 unique titles were challenged in 2022, a 38% increase from the previous year. Continue reading

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Demanding Respect for All School Workers, LA Teachers Shut Down 2nd-Largest US School District

“As workers we are powerful. As parents we are powerful. As the people united, we are unstoppable.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 3-21-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: SEIU Local 99/Twitter

An estimated 65,000 teachers and school staffers from across Los Angeles walked picket lines in the rain on Tuesday as the city’s public school district employees went on strike—but more than half of the picketers were staging the walkout in solidarity, protesting conditions that don’t directly affect them.

The 35,000 teachers who are represented by United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) joined cafeteria workers, bus drivers, teaching aides, grounds workers, and others who help ensure that more than 1,000 public schools in Los Angeles run safely and smoothly, demanding that support staff are treated fairly by the district. Continue reading

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20 years on, George W. Bush’s promise of democracy in Iraq and Middle East falls short

An Iraqi person walks down a road blocked by burning tires in Basra in August 2002.
Hussein Faleh/AFP via Getty Images

 

Brian Urlacher, University of North Dakota

President George W. Bush and his administration put forward a variety of reasons to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In the months before the U.S. invasion, Bush said the looming conflict was about eradicating terrorism and seizing weapons of mass destruction – but also because of a “freedom deficit” in the Middle East, a reference to the perceived lag in participatory government in the region.

Many of these arguments would emerge as poorly grounded, given later events. Continue reading

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Nuclear Plant, Minnesota Officials Hid 400,000-Gallon Leak of Radioactive Water for Months

Xcel Energy reported a leak of tritium-contaminated water at its Monticello nuclear power plant on November 22. State authorities just acknowledged they’re monitoring the ongoing cleanup effort.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 3-17-2023 by Common Dreams

Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant, Unit 1 Photo: NRC/flickr/CC

Xcel Energy in late November told Minnesota and federal officials about a leak of 400,000 gallons of water contaminated with radioactive tritium at its Monticello nuclear power plant, but it wasn’t until Thursday that the incident and ongoing cleanup effort were made public.

In a statement, Xcel said Thursday that it “took swift action to contain the leak to the plant site, which poses no health and safety risk to the local community or the environment.” Continue reading

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‘I Will Burn the Session to the Ground’ Over Anti-Trans Bill, Says Nebraska Democrat

“If you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body,” said state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, who has filibustered for three weeks to block a proposed ban on gender-affirming care for youth.

By Julia Conley  Published 3-15-2023 by Common Dreams

Nebraska state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh (D-6) speaks at the secretary of state’s office on August 25, 2020. (Photo: Senator Machaela Cavanaugh/Facebook)

The Nebraska state Senate’s 90-day legislative session reached its halfway point on Wednesday, but not a single bill has been passed yet thanks to a filibuster that was begun three weeks ago by state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh in a bid to stop Republicans from “legislating hate” against transgender children across the state.

Cavanaugh (D-6) was horrified to see an anti-transgender rights bill advance to the Senate floor in late February and was determined to keep it from passing into law, as at least nine other anti-LGBTQ+ bills have in state legislatures so far this year. Continue reading

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US Increases Dominance as World’s Top Arms Exporter

“The impacts of the global arms trade aren’t just about the volume of weapons delivered,” said one expert, citing “a few examples of how U.S. arms deliveries can make the world a more dangerous place.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 3-13-2023 by Common Dreams

U.S. Air Force members load 155 mm M777 towed howitzers onto a C-17 Globemaster III on March Air Reserve Base in California on April 27, 2022. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shawn White)

A Sweden-based research institute published a report Monday showing that the United States accounted for 40% of the world’s weapons exports in the years 2018-22, selling armaments to more than 100 countries while increasing its dominance of the global arms trade.

The report—entitled Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2022—was published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and listed the United States, Russia, France, China, and Germany as the world’s top five arms exporters from 2018-22. The five nations accounted for 76% of worldwide weapons exports during that period.

The five biggest arms importers over those five years were India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, and China.

The United States saw a 14% increase in arms exports over the previous five-year period analyzed by SIPRI. U.S. arms were delivered to 103 nations from 2018-22, with 41% going to the Middle East.

“Even as arms transfers have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states,” Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher at the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program, said in a statement. “Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European states want to import more arms, faster. Strategic competition also continues elsewhere: Arms imports to East Asia have increased and those to the Middle East remain at a high level.”

According to the report, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early last year “had only a limited impact on the total volume of arms transfers in 2018–22, but Ukraine did become a major importer of arms in 2022.”

Ukraine was the 14th-largest arms importer from 2018-22 and the third-biggest last year.

Wiliam Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote Monday that “the impacts of the global arms trade aren’t just about the volume of weapons delivered. The question is how those weapons are likely to be used, and the extent to which they promote stability versus fueling conflict or propping up repressive regimes with abysmal human rights records.”

“On this score the United States has much room for improvement,” he continued. “Transfers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for use at the peak of their brutal war in Yemen, and sales to major human rights violators from the Philippines, Egypt, and Nigeria are a few examples of how U.S. arms deliveries can make the world a more dangerous place.”

“There are a number of promising steps that Congress can take—as articulated by a new coalition, the Arms Sales Accountability Project—that would mandate closer scrutiny of U.S. sales,” Hartung asserted.

“There is also some useful language in the Biden administration’s new arms transfer policy directive, that, if implemented, would significantly rein in the most egregious sales,” he added. “Only time will tell if U.S. policy can be moved towards one based on arms sales restraint rather than arms sales promotion.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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How the ‘Holman rule’ allows the House to fast-track proposals to gut government programs without debate or much thought at all

Reinstituted rules in the U.S. House of Representatives allow members to fire federal staffers and cut programs.
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

 

Charles Tiefer, University of Baltimore

The slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives has just voted to give itself a streamlined way to fire civil servants and shut down federal programs it doesn’t like – outside the standard process of review and debate.

This method, known as the Holman rule, has been used in the past by both parties to cloak political decisions in the language and process of saving taxpayers money. It was included in a package of rules approved as the House began its business in January. Continue reading

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