Category Archives: Government

In Latest Legal Blow to Trump and Dirty Energy, Federal Appeals Court Upholds Block on Keystone XL Permit

“Contrary to what the Trump administration has argued, the law is clear. We won’t sacrifice imperiled species so giant corporations can profit from the dirty fossil fuels that pollute our waters and climate.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-28-2020

“The Trump administration has repeatedly violated the law in its relentless pursuit of seeing Keystone XL built, and it would have been unconscionable to allow this pipeline to be built through rivers, streams and wetlands while it remains tied up in court,” said Doug Hayes, a senior attorney with Sierra Club, following the ruling by the Ninth Circuit. (Photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

In another legal victory for opponents of Keystone XL and similar pipelines, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that suspended a federal fast-track permit for the controversial tar sands project that campaigners for nearly a decade have opposed as a climate-destroying effort of the first order.

Siding with the previous ruling and against the Trump administration, the court’s ruling said the government and fossil fuel companies behind the project “have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal.” Continue reading

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Trump-Connected Fossil Fuel Companies Permitted to Delay Payments of $56 Million in Pollution Fines During Pandemic

“People are struggling to find rent money for next month, but thank god the Trump administration is providing relief for the millions these poor, vulnerable corporate polluters owe.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-27-20220

The Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant owned by Xcel Energy and located in Becker, Minnesota, shown in 2016. (Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr/cc)

Corporations with close ties to Trump administration officials are among 10 companies being permitted to delay payments of millions of dollars in fines for pollution they caused, according to The Guardian and government watchdog Accountable.US.

The companies had agreed to pay a collective total of $56 million in civil penalties for contributing to pollution in communities across the country, but they were informed in April by the Department of Justice that they can pause their payments during the pandemic. Continue reading

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‘How the Trump White House Sees You’: Top Economic Adviser Under Fire for Calling Workers ‘Human Capital Stock’

“They’ve always been indifferent to human life. And in the face of mass death, the masks are coming off.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-26-2020

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett speaks to members of the press. Screenshot: C-SPAN

In a remark critics characterized as further evidence that the Trump administration views workers as nothing more than disposable tools of economic growth and corporate profit, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday nonchalantly referred to laid-off employees as “human capital stock” as he pushed people to return to their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Voicing optimism about the potential for a speedy economic recovery even as U.S. unemployment surges to levels not seen since the Great Depression, Hassett told CNN Sunday that “our capital stock hasn’t been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so that there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises.” Continue reading

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‘Watershed Moment in Election Law’ as Judge Rules ‘Modern Day Poll Tax’ in Florida Unconstitutional

Advocates for restoring the voting rights of people with past convictions welcomed the ruling as “a powerful reminder that no one can trump the U.S. Constitution.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-25-2020

Screenshot: MSNBC

Civil liberties advocates celebrated after a federal court on Sunday struck down as unconstitutional a Florida law that would have denied the right to vote to nearly a million recently enfranchised state residents with past felony convictions until they paid all outstanding legal fees, fines, and restitution.

After Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelming backed Amendment 4—a ballot initiative that restored the voting rights of Floridians who have fully completed their sentences for felony convictions other than murder or sex crimes—state lawmakers passed legislation that critics condemned as a “modern day poll tax.” Continue reading

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Oil Companies Can Set Their Own Rates for Royalties From Drilling on Public Lands Thanks to Trump: Report

“Oil and gas corporations already pay pennies compared to what they make in profits from plundering public lands—land that belongs to the American people—and now they’ll pay even less.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-22-2020

A drilling rig in the Uinta Basin in Utah, with the Uinta Mountains shown in the background. (Photo: WildEarth Guardians/Flickr/cc)

In a display of loyalty to what Greenpeace called “the most polluting industry in history,” the Trump administration is allowing dozens of oil and gas companies to set their own rates for royalties they’re required to pay on revenue generated from drilling on public lands.

As High Country News reported Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contacted its state offices the day after global oil prices plunged to below $0 per barrel as the Covid-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in demand. Continue reading

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GOP ‘Plot to Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors’ Gains Steam in Senate Covid-19 Talks

“With seniors most at risk from Covid-19, we need to be increasing Social Security’s modest benefits, not creating secret commissions to cut them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2020

Photo: Tony Alter/flickr/CC

A proposal by Sen. Mitt Romney to establish congressional committees with the specific goal of crafting legislative “solutions” for America’s federal trust fund programs has reportedly resurfaced in GOP talks over the next Covid-19 stimulus package, sparking alarm among progressive advocates who warn the Utah Republican’s bill is nothing but a stealth attack on Social Security and Medicare.

Politico‘s Burgess Everett reported Wednesday that Romney’s TRUST Act, first introduced last October with the backing of a bipartisan group of senators, “is getting a positive reception from Senate Republicans” in coronavirus relief discussions, which are still in their early stages. The legislation, Everett noted, “could become part of the mix” for the next Covid-19 stimulus as Republicans once again claim to be concerned about the growing budget deficit. Continue reading

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Guatemalan Leader Blasts Trump Admin’s “Contaminated” Deportation Flights as Rights Groups Say Expulsions Show “Reckless Disregard” for Rights and Health

“Guatemala is an ally to the United States, the United States is not an ally to Guatemala,” said President Alejandro Giammattei.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-22-2020

Guatemala’s right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei on Thursday attacked the U.S. government for deporting to Guatemala people infected with the coronavirus, actions he said are overwhelming the Central American country’s healthcare system and show the U.S. is not acting as an ally.

“Guatemala is an ally to the United States, the United States is not an ally to Guatemala,” Giammattei said at a virutal event with the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center,  claiming that the country has not received “even one single mask from the United States” to help boost protective medical supplies. Continue reading

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Senate Bill Would Guarantee Paychecks to Laid-Off Workers for Rest of 2020 ‘To Avoid Another Great Depression’

“We cannot continue to allow tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs, income, and health insurance during this horrific pandemic,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2020

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. Photo: Public domain

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mark Warner, Doug Jones, and Richard Blumenthal on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at stemming coronavirus-induced mass layoffs in the United States by guaranteeing paychecks and healthcare benefits to laid-off and furloughed workers for the rest of 2020.

The Paycheck Security Act—introduced with support from senators across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic caucus, and with the notable backing of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—would massively expand the existing Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover wages, salaries, and benefits for laid-off or furloughed workers up to $90,000 per year. Continue reading

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‘Ticking Time Bomb’: Corporate Lawyers Openly Discussing Suing Nations Over Profits Lost to Covid-19 Measures

“It’s so unbelievably shocking to see corporate lawyers actively discussing having foreign investors use ISDS to challenge countries over their coronavirus lockdown measures, and try to extract ‘expected future profits’ from them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-20-2020

Lidia Senra speaking against ISDS in the European Parliament in February 2019. Photo: Lidia Senra/Twitter

Prominent corporate law firms representing major businesses in the United States, Italy, Spain, and other nations are openly discussing the possibility of companies using a secretive and notorious legal process to sue countries over future profits lost due to government efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the non-profit research group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) documented numerous examples of high-powered corporate law firms—including Ropes & Gray, Alston & Bird, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan—publicly licking their chops over the lucrative opportunity presented by the Covid-19 crisis and government attempts to fight it. Continue reading

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Think Trump and Republicans Wouldn’t Try to Cancel an Election? Look at What GOP in Georgia Just Pulled Off

“Having NO election is rigging an election.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2020

 

Brian Kemp takes the oath of office becoming the 83rd Governor of the state of Georgia Jan. 14, 2019 at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Photo: Georgia National Guard/CC

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will be permitted to hand-pick the state’s next Supreme Court Justice after that same high court ruled last week that a special election set for Tuesday could be canceled.

Kemp and his Secretary of State, Brad Raffensberger, moved to cancel voting in the state earlier this year after state Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell announced he would step down after his six-year term expires at the end of 2020. Continue reading

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