Category Archives: Civil Rights

‘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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Israel’s military reservists are joining protests – potentially transforming a political crisis into a security crisis

A member of Israel’s military reserves takes part in a protest on March 16, 2023 in Bnei Brak, a city east of Tel Aviv.
Photo by Eyal Warshavsky/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

 

Dan Arbell, American University

The judicial overhaul plan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, introduced in January, has thrown the country into its most severe domestic crisis since 1973. That crisis intensified on March 26, when Netanyahu fired the country’s defense minister, who had – less than 24 hours before – called on the government to delay its plans to reform the judiciary.

The plan has incited an unprecedented wave of controversy among Israelis, as hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered for a 12th straight week across the country in opposition to the plan. Yet it’s not simply the persistence and size of the protest that is evidence of the crisis. It’s who is protesting. Continue reading

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Trump Rally in Waco Called Not a Dog Whistle, But a ‘Blaring Air Horn’ to Far-Right

“There’s not really another place in the U.S. that you could pick that would tap into these deep veins of anti-government hatred—Christian nationalist skepticism of the government,” said one extremism expert.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 3-24-2023 by Common Dreams

Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a “Save America” rally at Country Thunder Arizona. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

While former U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign insists it is purely coincidental that his planned Saturday rally in Waco, Texas falls during the 30th anniversary of a deadly 51-day siege targeting a religious cult, some Texans and extremism experts aren’t buying it.

Since law enforcement—including Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents—carried out the botched operation at a Branch Davidian compound near Waco from February 28 to April 19 in 1993, the event has been a source of anti-government sentiment for the likes of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and U.S. militia movement members. 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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‘Important Victory’ for Florida Higher Ed: Court Upholds Block on DeSantis Censorship Law

“This is an important step in preserving the truth, civil liberties, and a better future,” said one state ACLU attorney.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 3-16-2023 by Common Dreams

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday kept in place a preliminary injunction against Florida GOP policymakers’ school censorship law in what rights advocates celebrated as “an important victory for professors, other educators, and students.”

The appellate court denied a request from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ administration and higher education officials to block a district judge’s injunction that is currently preventing enforcement of the Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act—rebranded by its supporters as the Individual Freedom Act—in the state’s public colleges and universities. 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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South Carolina Bill to Execute People Who Have Abortions Gets Support From 21 Republicans

“Executing women is not fringe GOP,” said one human rights lawyer. “It’s your horrifically mainstream ‘pro life’ GOP.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 3–14–2023 by Common Dreams

Protestors in front of the Supreme Court on June 24, the day of Roe v. Wade’s overturn. Photo: Ted Eytan/CC BY-SA 2.0.

A new pro-forced pregnancy proposal in the South Carolina General Assembly that would make people who obtain abortion care eligible for the death penalty was portrayed as coming from the fringes of the Republican Party by one GOP lawmaker—but with 21 state Republicans backing the legislation, critics said the idea is representative of the party’s anti-choice agenda.

Proposed by state Rep. Rob Harris, the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023 would amend the state’s criminal code to give a zygote, or fertilized egg, “equal protection under the homicide laws of the state”—meaning obtaining an abortion could be punishable by the death penalty. Continue reading

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Three Years Into Covid Pandemic, World Leaders Say ‘Never Again’ to Vaccine Apartheid

“These past three years should act as a warning for future pandemics,” said former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We need a return to genuine cooperation between nations in our preparation and response to global threats.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 3–10-2023 by Common Dreams

National COVID 19 Vaccine Introduction Launching Program at Eka Kotebe Hospital Addis Ababa, March 13,2021. Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia/fluckr/CC

Around 200 current and former world leaders, Nobel laureates, health and faith leaders, and activists this week marked the third anniversary of the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 pandemic declaration by taking aim at the “vaccine apartheid” that according to one advocacy group was responsible for one death every 24 seconds during the outbreak’s first year alone.

letter led by the People’s Vaccine Alliance notes that three years have passed since “the World Health Organization (WHO) first characterized Covid-19 as a pandemic” on March 11, 2020 and implores governments to “never again” allow nationalism and capitalist greed to supersede human needs.” Continue reading

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