Category Archives: Civil Rights

The tricky ethics of Google’s Project Nightingale, an effort to learn from millions of health records

Sharing electronic medical records broadly could identify trends as well as mistakes, but it also poses privacy concerns. Metamorworks/Shutterstock.com

Cason Schmit, Texas A&M University

The nation’s second-largest health system, Ascension, has agreed to allow the software behemoth Google access to tens of millions of patient records. The partnership, called Project Nightingale, aims to improve how information is used for patient care. Specifically, Ascension and Google are trying to build tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, “to make health records more useful, more accessible and more searchable” for doctors.

Ascension did not announce the partnership: The Wall Street Journal first reported it. Continue reading

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Why the US military usually punishes misconduct but police often close ranks

NYPD officers turning their backs on New York mayor Bill de Blasio after he remarked on police violence, Jan. 4, 2015.
AP Photo/John Minchillo,

Dwight Stirling, University of Southern California

Many U.S. military members publicly disavowed President Trump’s decision to pardon Edward Gallagher, the former SEAL commando convicted of killing a teenage detainee in Iraq in 2017.

Gallagher’s alleged war crimes were nearly universally condemned up the chain of command, from enlisted men to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. Indeed, it was Gallagher’s SEAL colleagues who reported the former commando’s actions.

This insistence on holding fellow service members accountable for bad behavior sharply differentiates the military from the police. Continue reading

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With Support of Just One Republican, House Passes ‘Historic’ Bill to Restore and Expand Voting Rights

“Brings us one step closer to restoring the Voting Rights Act.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2019

The introduction of H.R. 4 on February 26, 2019. Photo: PFAW

Just one Republican—Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania—joined a united House Democratic caucus on Friday to pass what rights groups hailed as “historic” legislation to restore and expand voter protections that were gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, said passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) is a “critical step” in combating Republican voter suppression efforts that have proliferated in the six years since the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Continue reading

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‘Impeach Trump for This’: Video Shows Final Hours of Teen’s Horrible Death in US Immigration Detention Center

Contrary to claims by Border Patrol, “they didn’t take him to the hospital. They didn’t release him. They didn’t even seem to check on him as he was dying on the floor of his cell.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-5-2019

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant, was seriously ill when immigration agents put him in a small South Texas holding cell with another sick boy on the afternoon of May 19. By the next morning, he was dead. (Photo: via Facebook)

Footage from an immigrant detention center in Texas obtained by Pro Publica and published online Thursday shows the final hours of 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez—who died from complications of the flu while in custody—but also strongly indicates the border patrol agents responsible for his care lied about what happened that night.

Carlos, according to the news outlet, Continue reading

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Report Details How Social Security Has Become Rigged for the Wealthy While Leaving Behind Those It Was Designed to Help

“The program’s become less progressive,” said Jim Roosevelt, a former Social Security Administration official and grandson of FDR.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-3-2019

The benefits of Social Security, a program designed to help vulnerable and low-income people, have since the 1980s become increasingly skewed toward the wealthy due to demographic shifts and soaring inequality, according to a new report.

Proponents of Social Security expansion, responding to the report (pdf) by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, said the New Deal-era program’s increasing regressivity was not inevitable, but the result of lawmakers’ refusal to enact basic progressive reforms such as lifting the cap on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Continue reading

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Jair Bolsonaro accused of inciting genocide before the International Criminal Court

A complaint against President Jair Messias Bolsonaro has been presented in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. This adds international pressure to his continuous attacks on human rights, indigenous peoples and environmentalist NGOs

By openDemocracy. Published 11-29-2019

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, seen here at the U.N. General Assembly’s 74th session on Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo: Cia Pak/U.N.)

A group of Brazilian lawyers, along with a powerful human rights group and some former ministers, denounced President Jair Bolsonaro before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for inciting the “genocide of indigenous peoples” of Brazil and committing “crimes against humanity”.

The Arns Commission and the Human Rights Defense Collective delivered a note to Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, this last Wednesday. Lawyers promoting the complaint reported to democraciaAbierta and other media that the document is 60 pages long and identifies 33 actions and official speeches of Jair Bolsonaro that might have a criminal character, as established by the Rome Statute, ratified by Brazil in 2002. Continue reading

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Israel’s West Bank settlements: 4 questions answered

A new housing project in the West Bank settlement of Naale, part of the Israeli government’s recent push to increase its presence in the disputed territory, Jan. 1, 2019.
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

Dov Waxman, Northeastern University

Editor’s note: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Nov. 18 said that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank do not violate international law. That pleased Israeli Jews who see the territory as rightfully theirs and infuriated the Palestinians who live there and claim it as their land.

Here, a professor of Israel studies and the author of a new primer on the Israeli-Palestinian confict explains the history of the West Bank settlements – and why they’re so controversial. Continue reading

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Thousands of Activists Stage Protests at Three German Coal Mines to Demand Bolder Climate Policies

“We’re at a critical moment—the window of opportunity to stop the climate crisis is closing rapidly.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-30-2019

Climate activists protests at three coal mines in Germany Saturday. (Photo: Ende Gelände/Twitter)

On the heels of Friday’s global youth-led climate strike, thousands of activists staged demonstrations at three coal mines in Germany Saturday to protest the government’s plan to phase out coal by 2038, which activists say isn’t soon enough.

The German news agency dpa reported that “protesters ran into the Jänschwalde and Welzow-Süd open-cast mining sites in the eastern state of Brandenburg, as well as the United Schleenhain lignite mining area in neighboring Saxony.” Continue reading

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‘Their Secret Agenda Today Is Exposed’: Corbyn Says Leaked Trade Docs Show Tory Plan to Privatize NHS With Trump’s Help

The U.K. Labour leader said the move, if successful, “could lead to runaway privatization of our health service.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-27-2019

U.K. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn holds redacted copies of the Department for International Trade’s U.K.-U.S. Trade and Investment Working Group report following a speech about the National Health Service in Westminster, London. Photo: Devutopia/Twitter

U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday unveiled over 450 pages of leaked documents that he said expose British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s effort to open up the National Health Service to corporate exploitation in trade negotiations with U.S. President Donald Trump.

During a press conference, Corbyn said the Trump administration’s negotiators are “demanding” that the NHS be put “on the table” in talks over a possible post-Brexit trade pact between the U.S. and U.K. Continue reading

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Law Enforcement Crushing Pipeline Dissent in Minnesota at Water Protectors’ Blockade of Enbridge Terminal

Police were about to saw off the leg of a tripod from which a protester was hanging, activists said.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-25-2019

Water protectors on Monday blocked the entrance to an Enbridge terminal in Minnesota to display ongoing opposition to the proposed Line 3 tar sands project. (Photo: ResistLine3 via Twitter)

Police in Clearbrook, Minnesota were accused of putting the “profits of oil companies before human life” after activists said law enforcement on Monday began sawing the leg of a tripod from which a tar sands protester was suspended.

An estimated 30 protesters blockaded the entrance to Enbrige’s Clearbrook Terminal in a display of ongoing opposition to the oil company’s proposed Line 3 project, which would bring tar sands from Alberta to a Wisconsin shipping hub, passing through Minnesota. Continue reading

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