Category Archives: Civil Rights

Americans’ support for immigration is at record highs – but the government is out of sync with their views

Polls show that Americans feel more welcoming toward immigrants than they have in the past. Evgenia Parajanian/Shutterstock.com

Mariano Sana, Vanderbilt University

Since its start, the Trump administration has implemented policies to step up immigration enforcement and reduce the number of immigrants admitted into the U.S.

Many of these efforts – like the border wall, the travel ban, family separations, DACA termination and detention centers – have received wide media attention. In addition, the White House slashed refugee admissions, ended a number of special programs and changed rules used to adjudicate visa applications. Continue reading

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Warnings of ‘Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination’ Against LGBTQ Workers as Trump Pushes Religious Exemption Rule for Contractors

“This rule seeks to undermine our civil rights protections and encourages discrimination in the workplace—and we will work to stop it,” said the ACLU

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-14-2019

Photo from We Won’t Be Erased – Rally for Trans Rights, Washington, DC. Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr

Rights groups on Wednesday accused the Trump administration of attempting to permit workplace discrimination against LGBTQ employees and other vulnerable people after the Labor Department unveiled a rule that would allow federal contractors to cite religious beliefs to protect themselves from bias claims.

On Twitter, the ACLU said the proposal “aims to let government contractors fire workers who are LGBTQ, or who are pregnant and unmarried, based on the employers’ religious views.” Continue reading

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Concerns Over Police Brutality Persist as Hong Kong Protesters Shut Down One of World’s Busiest Airports

Now in their 10th week, the protests were sparked in June by a controversial extradition bill

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2019

The Hong Kong airport protest. Photo: @percylurcher/Twitter

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters effectively shut down Hong Kong International Airport on Monday, the fourth day they have occupied one of the world’s busiest airports as part of the mass demonstrations—against police brutality and a controversial extradition bill—that have rattled Hong Kong since June.

The protests were initially spurred by a bill that, NPR explained, “would have allowed people in radHong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trials in courts controlled by the Communist Party, sparking fears of politically motivated prosecutions targeting outspoken critics of China.” Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam quickly suspended the measure and later declared it “dead,” demonstrators continue to demand its full withdrawal and Lam’s resignation. Continue reading

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Leaked Draft of Trump Executive Order to ‘Censor the Internet’ Denounced as Dangerous, Unconstitutional Edict

“In practice, this executive order would mean that whichever political party is in power could dictate what speech is allowed on the Internet.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-11-2019

“It’s hard to put into words how mind bogglingly absurd this executive order is,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, following a leaked White House draft of what her group has dubbed the ‘Censor the Internet’ order. Image: Public domain

Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a “Censor the Internet” executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect.

According to CNN, which obtained a copy of the draft, the new rule “calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.” Continue reading

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Privacy Advocates Celebrate Court Ruling on Class-Action Suit Targeting Facebook’s Facial Recognition Tech

“Both corporations and the government are now on notice that this technology poses unique risks to people’s privacy and safety.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-9-2019

A federal court ruled Thursday that a class-action suit targeting Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology can continue. (Photo: Legal Loop)

Civil liberties advocates celebrated after a federal court in San Francisco ruled Thursday that Facebook users in Illinois can sue the social media giant on the grounds that its facial recognition technology violates a strict state privacy law.

“This decision is a strong recognition of the dangers of unfettered use of face surveillance technology,” Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said in a statement after the ruling. Continue reading

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Health and Labor Groups Sue Trump EPA for Refusal to Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children

“Farmworkers, families, and developing children must be safe from chlorpyrifos.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-8-2019

The Environmental Protection Agency ended household use of chlorpyrifos in 2000 but still allowed famers to use it on crops, including corn. (Photo: Pixabay)

A coalition of health and labor organizations sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal last month to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide tied to brain damage in children.

Represented by nonprofit environmental legal firm Earthjustice, the 11 groups filed a petition for review (pdf) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, challenging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s July decision to reject the call from environmental groups for a ban on the pesticide. Continue reading

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Citing Racist Massacres and ‘Inexcusable’ Prevalence of Guns, Foreign Countries Issue Travel Safety Warnings for United States

“The world is watching.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-6-2019

Screenshot: Fox News

While President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have spent the past several years claiming foreign migrants and refugees pose a threat to Americans, a pair of massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend has compelled two Latin American countries to warn their own  citizens of the travel dangers lurking in the United States.

The foreign ministries of Venezuela and Uruguay issued urgent warnings to people in their countries who may travel to the U.S. following the deaths of 31 people in the two mass shootings. Both countries informed their citizens of the “indiscriminate possession” of guns by the U.S. population and the refusal of the federal government to address the problem. Continue reading

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As Rosselló Resigns, Renewed Protests Demand ‘Real and Radical Change’ Instead of Continued Austerity and Corruption

“We didn’t demand the resignation of a corrupted government, for having another equally corrupted. We are demanding a real alternative.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-3-2019

Stepping down after mass protests over alleged corruption and leaked messages in which he denigrated women and LGBTQ people, Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello appointed his secretary of state to succeed him—but elation over the success of the recent protests gave way to more demonstrations against the new governor.

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans marched to the governor’s mansion Friday night, decrying the appointment of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi as an illegitimate continuation of Rossello’s policies. Continue reading

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There’s a dark political history to language that strips people of their dignity

 

Baltimore’s inner harbor. Photo: needpix

William A. Donohue, Michigan State University

Dehumanizing language often precedes genocide.

One tragic example: Extreme dehumanizing language was a strong contributor to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. As I have written, the Hutu majority used a popular radio station to continually refer to Tutsi tribal members, a minority in Rwanda, as “cockroaches.”

As support for this characterization grew among Hutus, it essentially stripped away any moral obligation to see Tutsis as fellow humans. They were just vermin that needed to be eradicated. Continue reading

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‘A Dystopian Surveillance State Being Built in Plain Sight’: Pentagon Tests Radar-Equipped Balloons to Spy on Vehicles Across Midwest

“These programs are not about stopping violence, they’re about social control.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-2-2019

The Pentagon is experimenting with the use of radars attached to high-altitude balloons this summer, sending up to 25 balloons across six Midwestern states to conduct surveillance on vehicles over a 25-mile swath under each balloon. (Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr/cc)

Millions of Americans across the Midwest this summer are being subjected to surveillance from above as the Pentagon experiments with the use of surveillance radars attached to high-altitude balloons.

As The Guardian reported Friday, the defense and aerospace contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation was authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to send up to 25 balloons across six states to track vehicles. Continue reading

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