Category Archives: Civil Rights

Investigating the investigative reporters: Bad news from Down Under

Australian federal police entering the Australian Broadcast Company headquarters on June 5, 2019. A.B.C. screenshot from videotape

Michael J. Socolow, University of Maine

Sometimes the best journalism tells us the worst news.

The United States has a tradition of learning troubling news through extraordinary reporting efforts from combat zones. During the Vietnam War, award-winning journalism revealed the slaughter of Vietnamese civilians by American soldiers at My Lai. More recently, reports describing the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq embarrassed the U.S. government.

Such investigative reporting ultimately helped American citizens hold accountable those charged with acting in their name. But that didn’t mean the news was welcome, or even appreciated, at the time. Continue reading

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Justice Denied, Delayed, or Done Right? Serious Concerns as Prosecutors Throw Out Charges in Flint Water Crisis Cases

Citing the “flawed foundation” of the initial probe, state prosecutors announced they are launching a new “uncompromising” investigation

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-13-2019

Photo: Mark Dixon/flickr

In a move that elicited fresh concerns and demands for justice, the Michigan prosecution team investigating the Flint water crisis announced Thursday that it was dismissing all pending criminal charges against eight former and current officials and launching a new probe, citing concerns with the initial one.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Fadwa Hammoud as the state’s solicitor general in January and assigned her to take over the criminal cases related to Flint’s water crisis, which started five years ago when a governor-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s water supply to a polluted river. Continue reading

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At White House Gates, Hundreds of Religious Leaders Demand Trump and His Enablers “Repent of Their Sins”

“We must show up in person to deliver a prophetic indictment.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-12-2019

Religious leaders walk towards the White House on Wednesday as part of the “Moral Witness Wednesday” protest against the Trump administration. (Photo: AFSC via Twitter)

Hundreds of interfaith leaders stood ready to face arrest outside the White House on Wednesday where they delivered a “moral indictment to an immoral administration.”

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‘Sea Rescues Have Been Criminalized’ as German Boat Captain Faces 20 Years in Prison For Saving Refugees

“We have only followed international law, especially the law of the sea, where the highest priority is to save people from distress.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-11-2019

Captain Pia Klemp in 2017. (Image: Seawatch)

A German boat captain faces a long and costly trial in Italy for charges targeting her humanitarian efforts on behalf of refugees.

Captain Pia Klemp, 35, told Basler Zeitung on June 7 that her upcoming trial in Italy for years of efforts with the civilian lifeboat “Iuventa” that saved at least 1,000 lives will take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Klemp faces up to 20 years in prison, but, she said, whether or not she ends up in jail—she would challenge any conviction in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France if necessary—the damage has been done. Continue reading

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DHS Agents Treat Undocumented Immigrants as Criminals in Hospitals, Shackling Them to Beds and Impeding Care, Study Finds

“I couldn’t think of the rationale of chaining someone who is so sick he almost died.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-10-2019

Photo: Pride Immigration

Doctors at hospitals near the U.S.-Mexico border report that border patrol agents regularly treat undocumented immigrants like convicted criminals when taking them to receive medical care after apprehending them.

Dozens of asylum-seekers and migrants arrive at hospitals near the border every day in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, often dehydrated and suffering from other complications from their trek across the desert from their home countries. Continue reading

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“This Is What Fascists Do”: Trump Attempted to Suppress State Dept Analyst’s Testimony on Climate Crisis

“This is as damning as it is shameful.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-9-2019

State Department intelligence analyst Rod Schoonover’s testimony was nearly suppressed last week by the Trump administration. Schoonover testified before a House committee about the national security risks posed by the climate crisis. (Photo: Environmental Change and Security Program/Flickr/cc)

The Trump administration issued one of its most blatant attacks on climate science this past week when it tried to stop a State Department employee from testifying on the climate crisis, reports showed on Saturday.

As the Washington Post reported, intelligence analyst Rod Schoonover’s testimony was submitted to the White House for approval ahead of his planned appearance before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His remarks focused on the national security risks posed by the climate crisis. Continue reading

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Convicts are returning to farming – anti-immigrant policies are the reason

Migrant agricultural workers kept out of the US by tough immigration laws are now being replaced by prison labor. Shutterstock

Stian Rice, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Prison inmates are picking fruits and vegetables at a rate not seen since Jim Crow.

Convict leasing for agriculture – a system that allows states to sell prison labor to private farms – became infamous in the late 1800s for the brutal conditions it imposed on captive, mostly black workers.

Federal and state laws prohibited convict leasing for most of the 20th century, but the once-notorious practice is making a comeback. Continue reading

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Demanding End to ‘Rotten’ Opposition to Medicare for All, Doctors and Nurses to March on American Medical Association’s Annual Meeting

“It’s time for the AMA to join the majority of physicians who support improved Medicare for All.”

-By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-7-2019

Medicare for All Rally, Los Angeles – Feb 2017. Photo: Molly Adams/flickr

Accusing the American Medical Association of putting “profits ahead of patient care” by joining the corporate fight against Medicare for All, a coalition of physicians, nurses, and allies plans to march on the organization’s annual meeting on Saturday to demand an end to its longstanding opposition to single-payer.

The AMA is America’s largest association of physicians, one of the largest lobbying organizations in the U.S., and a founding member of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a coalition formed by insurance and pharmaceutical interests to combat Medicare for All. Continue reading

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‘Absolutely Disgusting’: West Virginia Senate Passes Bill That Would Ban Teacher Strikes

The Republican measure was condemned as “pure retribution” for the mass teacher strikes that swept the state last year

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-3-2019

Teachers, school service workers, and their supporters, including all the labor unions in West Virginia, rally at the capital on behalf of better wages for state workers, and demanding a fix for the state’s underfunded and broken PEIA health insurance programs in 2018. Photo: Rich McGervey/flickr

In a move that was widely viewed as an attempt to exact revenge for last year’s mass walkouts, the West Virginia state Senate on Monday passed a sweeping education bill containing a Republican amendment that would ban teacher strikes.

Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), called the GOP provision “pure retribution, retaliation.” Continue reading

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Journalist killings, arrests and assaults climb worldwide as authoritarianism spreads

Reuters reporters Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo after being freed from prison, in Yangon, Myanmar, May 7, 2019. Ann Wang/Pool Photo via AP

Randy Covington, University of South Carolina

Myanmar, nudged by the conscience of the world, recently released two Reuters journalists imprisoned for more than 500 days – good news in what otherwise has been a dismal period for media freedom.

The 2019 Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence and created “an intense climate of fear” worldwide. Continue reading

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