Category Archives: Civil Rights

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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‘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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#ReleaseDishaRavi: Global Outrage After India Arrests Climate Activist Over Farmer Protest Toolkit Shared by Greta Thunberg

Ravi’s arrest “is an unprecedented attack on democracy,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “Supporting our farmers is not a crime.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-15-2021

Disha Ravi leaving her court hearing. Photo: Harteerath Singh/Twitter

Public figures within and beyond India are demanding the release of Disha Ravi, a climate campaigner accused of sedition for allegedly editing and distributing an activist “toolkit” in support of the ongoing farmers’ protest that was tweeted by Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg.

petition calling for Ravi’s release has over 12,100 signatures. Activists, actors, politicians, and others have condemned her weekend arrest, which followed months of farmer-led demonstrations against agricultural reforms and other policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist government. Continue reading

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‘End… This Human Rights Atrocity,’ Says Amnesty After Biden Admin Signals Goal to Close Gitmo

Asked whether the president will shutter the prison, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “That certainly is our goal and our intention.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-12-2021

Witness Against Torture demonstrates for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay offshore prison. (Photo: Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

Human rights advocates on Friday welcomed reporting, confirmed by the White House, that President Joe Biden intends to close the Guantánamo Bay offshore military prison, which has long drawn global condemnation for torture and detention conditions.

“We are pleased to hear that the Biden administration wants to review the U.S. policy of almost 20 years of indefinite detention without charge of Muslim men at an offshore prison,” said Daphne Eviatar, director of the Security With Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA, in a statement. Continue reading

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Aung San Suu Kyi overlooked Myanmar’s deepest problems

Ambition drove the military’s coup. But long before that, the country’s deposed leader squandered many opportunities for real change

By Khin Zaw Win.  Published 2-12-2021 by openDemocracy

Aung San Suu Kyi ‘failed to pay attention’ to Myanmar’s ethnic groups. Photo: Comune Parma/CC

The Myanmar coup is a sad and onerous turn of events for a country with a long and unhappy experience of military rule. It is important to note that this is not an institutional crisis. What we are witnessing is a squabble among court factions for the throne.

In such power struggles, the wellbeing of the country and the people generally aren’t of concern. The military’s attitude in this regard is well known, but there would have been higher expectations of the country’s ousted party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Continue reading

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In ‘Particularly Cruel’ Act, Maine Hospital Vaccinates Out-of-State Union-Busters as Vulnerable Residents Forced to Wait

“It’s concerning that MaineHealth would put their own anti-union agenda, and their own bottom line, ahead of the health and well-being of Maine people.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-11-2021

“MaineHealth is comfortable calling nurses heroes but draws the line at treating them like heroes or respecting their desire to form a union,” said Maine’s Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry (D-Brunswick). Photo: Medic454/wikimedia commons/CC

Maine’s largest health network is being condemned this week by organized labor leaders, a local editorial board, and elected officials after it vaccinated union-busters who traveled from Florida and New York to the Pine Tree state to undermine a unionization effort at a Portland hospital while the state’s frontline workers and eligible residents in high-risk groups were forced to wait.

“Every out-of-state consultant and lawyer that MaineHealth flew in as part of their intimidation campaign got the vaccine instead of someone’s grandparent or loved one,” Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, a Democrat from Allagash, said in a statement Tuesday. Continue reading

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‘Downright Scary’: In 2021 Alone, GOP Introduces 100+ Voter Suppression Bills in 28 States

“Democrats have a clear choice. They can get rid of the filibuster to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act to stop GOP voter suppression, or they can allow the GOP to undermine democracy for the next decade.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-5-2021

Photo: Mark Buckawicki/Public Domain

Since former President Donald Trump failed to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, Republicans in more than two dozen states have introduced over 100 bills to restrict voting access, an alarming development that voting rights advocates have pointed to as yet another reason for Democrats to abolish the filibuster, an anti-democratic tool currently allowing the GOP minority to block the enactment of a suite of popular pro-democracy reforms.

Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman on Thursday reported on the GOP’s ongoing nationwide push to make voting more difficult—particularly for communities of color and other Democratic-leaning constituencies—and in some cases to empower state legislatures to overturn election results. He called state-level Republicans’ efforts “a huge scandal that should be getting as much attention as Trump’s plot to overturn the election.” Continue reading

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‘Better Late Than Never’: Palestinians Welcome ICC Decision Enabling War Crimes Probe of Israel

An investigation “would not, for sure, bring my kids back to life,” said a survivor of an Israeli airstrike. “However, I am certain that I need to continue to try to find some sort of justice.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-6-2021

Israeli white phosphorus attack on the main compound of the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) in central Gaza City on 15 January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead.. Photo: HRW/CC

Palestinian families and human rights groups are welcoming a Friday decision that clears the way for the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations against Israel of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of apartheid in occupied Palestinian territories as a long-overdue step toward justice.

Given that the state of Palestine—as recognized by the United Nations and scores of countries, though not the United States nor Israel—is party to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s pre-trial chamber I decided by majority that the court’s jurisdiction “extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” Continue reading

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‘Enough Is Enough’: 8 Senate Dems Slammed for Going ‘Hand-in-Hand With GOP’ to Oppose Covid Relief for Undocumented Workers

“Let us be clear on this. Not only do undocumented community members pay taxes, they are also suffering as much as anyone else because of this pandemic.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-5-2021

John Hickenlooper speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 456,000 and U.S. senators participated in a 15-hour overnight voting session, eight Democrats elicited outrage and condemnation from rights advocates and progressives for backing a GOP amendment to explicitly exclude undocumented immigrants—including essential frontline workers—from receiving direct Covid-19 relief.”We expected this vote from Republicans, but seeing Democrats vote this way is a betrayal to the values they say they stand for.”

The “vote-a-rama” on a series of nonbinding Republican amendments culminated in the Senate approving along party lines a budget resolution that could eventually enable congressional Democrats to implement President Joe Biden’s $1.9 American Rescue Plan—which does not include relief checks for undocumented immigrants. Continue reading

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