Category Archives: Civil Rights

New AUMF? Critics Warn Against Giving Trump—or Any President—Power to Wage War ‘Virtually Anywhere on the Planet’

The proposal follows Trump’s illegal weekend attack on Syria

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-16-2018

Protesters marched in New York City to oppose military action against Syria in 2013. (Photo: The All-Nite Images/Flickr/cc)

As the 17-year-old War on Terror rages on—and with the international community still reeling from the illegal missile strikes that the U.S., U.K., and France launched on Syria over the weekend—Congress is considering a measure that critics warn will expand the executive branch’s authority to wage war.

Some lawmakers have tried for years to replace the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been used (pdf) by three administrations to justify military actions across the globe. Now that President Donald Trump has repeatedly ignored reminders that only Congress can approve attacks not covered by the authorization, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) plan to introduce a new AUMF that could give even more war powers to the president.

Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, explained that under the proposed AUMF described in reports on Monday, Trump would essentially “get a blank check from Congress to go to war virtually anywhere on the planet.”

Outlining his concerns with various aspects of the proposal, Anders concludes it “would cause colossal harm to the Constitution’s checks and balances, would jeopardize civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad, and would lead to a breathtakingly broad expansion of war without meaningful oversight.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told NBC News that he worries “about an AUMF that is more permissive than what the president currently interprets his authority to be,” adding: “It’s gonna be hard for me to support something that has no sunset and no geographic limitation.”

Columbia Law School professor Matthew Waxman, a former national security official in the George W. Bush administration, said that an AUMF without an expiration date will bolster concerns among those who fear that greenlighting a new measure “entrenches an indefinite war.”

“The political reality, though, is that a much more restrictive AUMF won’t be possible anytime soon,” Waxman said, “and we’ll be engaged in an indefinite war either way.”

Reports about the new AUMF—which could be introduced as early as Monday—follow Kaine’s controversial comments to “CBS This Morning” earlier in the day.

While Kaine sharply criticized the attack on Syria as an “illegal military act,” the senator also said he would have “likely” supported it if Trump had asked for permission from Congress first.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—a long-time critic of the 2001 AUMF and the only member of Congress to vote against it—swiftly condemned Trump’s weekend attack, but many more were criticized for their apparent indifference or tempered responses to Trump’s unconstitutional act.

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With Walkout and Rally Planned for Monday, Teachers’ Anger Over Low Pay and Lack of Funding Spreads to Colorado

“Educators are fed up…Colorado has, year over year over year, significantly underfunded our public schools.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-15-2018

Teachers in Arizona last week wore red during a “walk-in,” preceding a possible walkout, to demand school funding. Colorado teachers plan to do the same on Monday. (Photo: @SenQuezada29/Twitter)

Colorado’s teachers’ union expects more than 400 teachers at a rally that’s planned for Monday at the state’s Capitol in Denver.

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Republicans Unveil Proposal to Push One Million Off Food Stamps

“Rich people who don’t need it get lavish billion-dollar handouts from this president…The struggling poor, on the other hand, are going to see new work requirements attached to their $1.40-a-meal food stamp.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-13-2018

Social welfare advocates on Friday denounced a proposal included in a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill which would impose work requirements on most adults who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. The proposal represents the first concrete attempt by Republicans to erode the social safety net since President Donald Trump took office.

Critics said the plan showed blatant hostility toward the 42 million Americans who rely on the program, and that it would do nothing to “break the poverty cycle” as House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) claimed on Thursday. Continue reading

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Confirming He ‘Does Not Give a Crap About Working People,’ Trump Proposes Rejoining TPP

“In a series of broken promises Trump made to the working people of this country, rejoining the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the biggest yet,” warned Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-12-2018

Photo: End the Illusion

As if his enormous tax cuts for the rich, attacks on the safety net, and efforts to help bosses steal their employees’ tips weren’t proof enough, President Donald Trump further demonstrated that he “does not give a crap about working people” on Thursday by telling lawmakers he is considering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact he withdrew from last year and repeatedly derided as “terrible.”

In a statement responding to the news that Trump has directed his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to examine options for reentering the 11-nation accord, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen argued that the president’s move “could bring short term joy to Democratic campaign operatives” but would be yet another signal that Trump “cannot be trusted on anything.” Continue reading

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On Equal Pay Day, New Study Shows Wage Gap Actually Growing for Women Under 40

Advocates are demanding equitable policies such as paid parental leave and affordable childcare while also declaring “we must address harassment and discrimination!”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-10-2018

Several women’s advocacy groups marked Equal Pay Day by delivering a petition to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to demand the agency collect American employers’ pay data to accurately monitor the nation’s gender wage gap. (Photo: @AAUW/Twitter)

A new report released on Equal Pay Day shows that the gender wage gap has actually worsened for women under 40 in recent years, despite increased media attention on the issue alongside mounting demands that businesses and politicians crack down on workplace sexual harassment, which researchers have tied to pay inequality.

Pay ratio

“Despite the great awareness of the gender equity issue, there is evidence that we have lost ground on this important measure of equality,” said John Schwarz, chief executive of Visier, the workforce analytics firm that conducted the study. “These findings should be a wake-up call to business leaders.” Continue reading

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With ‘Merger From Hell’ Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Warnings of Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System

Watchdog groups raise concerns after Wall Street Journal reports that Bayer’s bid to acquire Monsanto has been approved.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-9-2018

(L-R) Executive Vice President for the Agriculture Division of the E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company James Collins, President and CEO of Dow AgroSciences, LLC, Tim Hassinger, CEO of Syngenta International AG Erik Fyrwald, President and CEO of Bayer CropScience North America Jim Blome, and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the Monsanto Company Robb Fraley testify during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee September 20, 2016 on Capitol in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on ‘Consolidation and Competition in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Industry.’Photo: Zimbio

Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the United States.

The reported approval from the Justice Department came “after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets,” the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up. Continue reading

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Israeli Sniper Targets, Kills Journalist in “PRESS” Vest

Corbyn: “The silence from international powers with the responsibility of bringing a just settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict must end.”

By CommonDreams. Published 4-7-2018

Sources in Gaza have confirmed that journalist Yaser Murtaja has died after being shot in the abdomen by an Israeli sniper while covering the protests. He was clearly wearing a vest that identified him as press.

Yaser Murtaja, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, was wearing a “PRESS” flak jacket as he was shot by an Israeli sniper Friday. He died of his injuries in a hospital on Saturday.

The 30-year-old journalist was one of nine people killed and more than 1,000 injured by Israeli troops Friday on the Gaza border.

Thousands of Palestinians continued “The Great March of Return,” the week-long protest on Friday, demanding the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families were driven out when Israel was created. Continue reading

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#DeleteFacebook? Not in Indian Country

The social network has done more for bolstering the modern Indigenous rights agenda than perhaps any other platform of our time.

By . Published 3-23-2018 by YES! Magazine

“It’s not just Indian Country that would feel the extreme disconnect in a Facebook-less scenario. The entire Indigenous world would reel from its absence.” Photo: Sacred Stone Camp/Facebook

In the last 48 hours, I’ve seen several people turn to one social network, Twitter, to vent their frustrations about another one: Facebook.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data from over 50 million Facebook profiles were secretly mined for voter insights, it sparked what some have called a #DeleteFacebook movement.

But not in Indian Country. Continue reading

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Internal Memo Shows Sinclair Threatening Employees to Keep Mouths Shut About ‘Must-Read’ Scripts

“Everything Sinclair gives us or forces upon us is met with uproar, but we have no choice,” one employee said

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-4-2018

“The new scripted ‘fake news’ segment caused a lot of anguish where I work,” one Sinclair journalist told the Huffington Post. (Screenshot: Deadspin.com)

Sinclair Broadcast Group really doesn’t want its employees talking to the press about the Trumpian “fake news” script it has recently been forcing local news anchors to recite.

This was made clear by a memo warning staff at the Sinclair-owned station KATU in Portland, Oregon that “giving statements to the media or sharing negative information about the company can have huge implications.” Continue reading

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To #SaveTheCensus, Major Cities Join 17 States in Lawsuit to Block Trump’s Citizenship Question

“One of the federal government’s most solemn obligations is a fair and accurate count of all people in the country, citizen and non-citizen alike,” says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-3-2018

Led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, Attorneys General from 17 states and the District of Columbia have filed suit against the Trump administration for its plans to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census. (Photo: Eric Schneiderman/Twitter)

Attorneys General from 17 states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration for its decision to ask about immigration status on the 2020 census, a move denounced by immigrant rights advocates as an effort to “undercount communities of color.”

Led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, the state attorneys—along with legal representatives from six cities and and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors—filed suit (pdf) in hopes of requiring the Trump administration “to enforce the federal government’s constitutional obligation to conduct an ‘actual Enumeration’ of the national population every ten years, by determining the ‘whole number of persons in the United States.” Continue reading

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