Category Archives: Civil Rights

Reinforcing US Status as ‘Bully and Hegemon,’ Bolton to Threaten ICC Over Probes into America’s War Crimes

Human rights advocates decried the Trump administration’s attack on the International Criminal Court as “another low point” in its effort to skirt accountability for war crimes

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-10-2018

Afghans have been waiting decades for justice for war crimes, including some allegedly committed by U.S. forces. The ⁦ICC⁩ is the only hope they have for justice at the moment,” wrote Heather Barr, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Reinforcing the worldwide perception of the U.S. as “a bully and a hegemon” that will not tolerate attempts by the global community to hold it accountable for its deadly actions overseas, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton is set to deliver a speech on Monday that will reportedly threaten International Criminal Court (ICC) officials with sanctions if they dare to move ahead with probes into U.S. or Israeli war crimes.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton will say at an event hosted by the right-wing Federalist Society, according to a speech draft viewed by Reuters. “If the court comes after us, Israel, or other allies, we will not sit quietly.” Continue reading

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‘Stunning But Not Surprising’: Trump Administration Slammed for Secret Meetings About Venezuela Coup

“There are few nations that can lecture other nations on human rights & democracy but the one nation that can never lecture anyone is the United States of America.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-9-2018

The New York Times reported Saturday that the Trump administration met with Venezuelan military officials who sought to overthrow their nation’s president, Nicolás Maduro. (Photo: Noticia al Día)

Critics across the globe are expressing alarm over the “stunning but not surprising” revelation reported by the New York Times on Saturday that, according to 11 American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander, “the Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.”

Some called out the Trump administration for the United States’ record on human rights. American activist and political analyst Ajamu Baraka tweeted, “There are few nations that can lecture other nations on human rights [and] democracy but the one nation that can never lecture anyone is the Unite[d] States of America.” Continue reading

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Facebook Will Fail to Solve #FakeNews

Zuckerberg needs to step back for his company to succeed

By Juan Ortiz Freuler. Published 8-28-2018 by Common Dreams

“It has amassed such power that experts and public opinion refer to it as the digital public square: the place where people protest, sign up for public events, get information about politics, and more.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

Every policy-tweak Facebook attempts to roll out is faced with public criticism. This signals a structural problem: Facebook developed quicker than its own systems of governance and now struggles to carry its own weight. In other words, Facebook seems to lack the legitimacy to exercise the huge power it has amassed over the years.

If the user base were smaller, Facebook would have a group of like-minded individuals that could be more easily catered to. But Facebook has become very big and diverse. With over 2 billion active monthly users, it’s bigger and more diverse than any community we’ve ever seen. Continue reading

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Prisoner strike exposes an age old American reliance on forced labor

American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.
Photo: Return to Now

Calvin Schermerhorn, Arizona State University

Prisoners in 17 states and several Canadian provinces are on strike in protest of prison labor conditions.

Their demonstrations are compelling Americans to understand that some everyday foods are produced behind bars, for cents on the hour, in a system many call “modern slavery.” Prisoners in the U.S. harvest and process eggs, orange juice, ground beef and fish. They also staff call centers, fight wildfires and make sugar.

For this work, they receive, on average, 86 cents a day, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group. Continue reading

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World to Flint Kids: We Still See You

An 11-year-old social media celebrity collects thousands of encouraging letters from around the globe to remind her Flint schoolmates they are not forgotten.

By . Published 8-29-2018 by YES! Magazine

Eleven-year-old Mari Copeny helped raise funds to purchase 15,000 backpacks, which she and her team will stuff with school supplies and distribute to Flint children this week. Photo courtesy of Mari and her family

About 15,000 Flint children will return to school next week with new backpacks stuffed with goodies, some including letters of encouragement and support from people across the globe.

Dear Flint Kids: It’s the start of a new school year, which means it’s a new start for you … I feel really special that my letter would reach such a special person like you …

Dear Flint Kids: It’s the start of a new school year and anything is possible. Believe in yourself …

Continue reading

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As Trump Obscures Anti-Worker Record Ahead of Labor Day, New Report Details His Actual Worker Agenda: ‘Drop Dead’

“Trump has betrayed America’s workforce, sacrificing lives at the altar of industry profits.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-1-2018

“The Trump administration has systematically dismantled fundamental health and safety protections, and undermined the very agency tasked with safeguarding America’s workforce,” Public Citizen’s Shanna Devine wrote in a new report. Photo: pxhere (Public Domain)

In the week leading up to Labor Day, President Donald Trump’s vicious anti-worker agenda has been on full display: In addition to abruptly canceling a modest pay raise for around two million public employees on Thursday, Trump also signed a retirement savings executive order that was denounced as a gift to Wall Street and “a cruel joke on American workers” facing a retirement income crisis.

Yet, as if none of these latest attacks on American workers took place, the White House issued its annual Presidential Labor Day Proclamation late Friday, touting what it describes as Trump’s “historic action to advance prosperity for the American worker.” Continue reading

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‘Massive Victory for the Whole Internet’ as California Passes Nation’s Strongest Net Neutrality Bill

“AT&T and Comcast spent enormous amounts of money lobbying to kill SB 822. They almost succeeded more than once, but we fought back.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-31-2018

“We did it. We passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation,” Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, the primary author of SB 822, said in a statement. (Photo: Fight for the Future)

In a major victory for the open internet that could have ripple effects throughout the United States, the California Senate on Friday thwarted aggressive lobbying by the telecom industry and passed the strongest, most comprehensive net neutrality bill in the nation.

“The passage of SB 822 in California has huge implications for our fight to restore neutrality nationwide,” declared the advocacy group Fight for the Future (FFTF) following Friday’s vote. “We also need to harness the momentum from this huge victory to put pressure on our elected officials in Congress.” Continue reading

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Amid ‘Epidemic’ of Campus Sexual Assault, Women’s Groups Decry Rollback of Protections by ‘See No Evil Betsy Devos’

“These new rules further protect abusers in a system that is already rigged in their favor.”

By Common Dreams. Published 8-30-2018

USC students protest the University’s handling of rape and sexual assault cases. (Kylie Nicholson/SCAR)

Women rights groups and victim advocates expressed outrage on Thursday following reports that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has plans to weaken federal protections for sexual assault survivors on U.S. campuses—reducing liability for school administrators and increasing protections for accused sexual predators.

The proposed rules, first reported by The New York Times, narrow the definition of sexual harassment to mean “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.” Continue reading

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Legal Analysis Exposes Kavanaugh’s Long History of Siding With Corporate Power Over the Common Good

“The most eye-catching conclusion,” says the author, is the Trump nominee’s inconsistent reasoning coupled with an “overwhelming tendency to reach conclusions favorable to corporations.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-29-2018

Critics of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh protested at Foley Square in New York City on Aug. 26. (Photo: Ivan Pereira/Twitter)

Bolstering calls for the Senate to block President Donald Trump’s deeply unpopular U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, an analysis out Wednesday reveals that Kavanaugh has overwhelmingly sided with corporate power over public interest while serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit over the past 12 years.

The new report (pdf), authored by Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, found that Kavanaugh ruled against public interest 87 percent of the time for more than 100 split-decision cases involving consumer and regulatory issues and administrative law, environmental protection, worker rights, alleged police or human rights abuses, and antitrust enforcement. Continue reading

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UN Probe Says Repeated Bombing of Yemen Civilians by US-Backed Saudi Coalition Likely Amounts to War Crimes

“Despite the severity of the situation we continue to see a complete disregard for the people in Yemen,” says co-author of UN’s investigative report

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-28-2018

A young boy runs with his tire past buildings damaged by Saudiled airstrikes in Saada Old Town in Yemen. (Photo: Giles Clarke/OCHA)

Evidence presented as part of a wide-ranging investigation sponsored by the United Nations and released Tuesday shows that the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates waging a war in Yemen—armed and with backing from the United States and the United Kingdom—have likely “perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate, violations and crimes under international law.”

Conducted by the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen, a body of Yemen and regional experts created by the UN Human Rights Council, the report documents how indiscriminate bombing by the Saudi-led coalition has devastated the Yemeni population and details how civilian targets have repeatedly been struck. Continue reading

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