Category Archives: Government

UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement ‘To Benefit Humanity’

“We’re at a critical juncture in history,” said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. “We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-26-2021 by Common Dreams

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay speaks during a November 25, 2021 press conference announcing the adoption of a global artificial intelligence framework agreement by all 193 member states. (Photo: Christelle Alix/UNESCO/Flickr/cc)

Tech ethicists on Friday applauded after all 193 member states of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization adopted the first global framework agreement on the ethics of artificial intelligence, which acknowledges that “AI technologies can be of great service to humanity” and that “all countries can benefit from them,” while warning that “they also raise fundamental ethical concerns.”

“AI is pervasive, and enables many of our daily routines—booking flights, steering driverless cars, and personalizing our morning news feeds,” UNESCO said in a statement Thursday. “AI also supports the decision-making of governments and the private sector. AI technologies are delivering remarkable results in highly specialized fields such as cancer screening and building inclusive environments for people with disabilities. They also help combat global problems like climate change and world hunger, and help reduce poverty by optimizing economic aid.” Continue reading

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KXL Pipeline Company Exploits NAFTA Provision to File $15 Billion Claim Against US

“NAFTA’s legacy of granting multinational corporations special rights to sue governments taking action to protect the environment lives on.”

By Andrea Germanos.  Published 11-24-2021 by Common Dreams.

Climate activists hold signs against the Keystone XL project at a September 20, 2013 protest. (Photo: Joe Brusky/CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Canadian company behind the canceled Keystone XL pipeline filed a formal request for arbitration this week under the North American Free Trade Agreement to seek over $15 billion in economic damages over the Biden administration’s revocation of the cross-border oil project’s permit.

In its Monday filing, TC Energy criticizes the permit’s cancellation as “unfair and inequitable” and argues the U.S. government should pay damages for the “regulatory roller coaster” the company endured while seeking to build the pipeline. Continue reading

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Civil Rights Groups Denounce ‘Unlawful’ Book-Banning Effort by Texas GOP

“We will not stand by and watch politicians play games with the education and well-being of our children.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-23-2021 by Common Dreams.

Two prominent national civil rights groups on Tuesday blasted efforts by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state Rep. Matt Krause—both Republicans—to compel school districts to censor hundreds of books, including many popular LGBTQ+, reproductive rights, and racial justice titles, following the passage of laws prohibiting the teaching of the racist history of the United States and banning transgender athletes from interscholastic athletics.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. issued a statement condemning “Texas politicians’ efforts to force schools to begin pulling books from their classrooms and libraries shelves under the guise of state law.” Continue reading

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In First, US Labeled ‘Backsliding’ Democracy as Global Authoritarianism Grows

A new report calls the rejection of the 2020 election results by many in the Republican Party as an “historic turning point” for the United States.

By Julia Conley. Published 11-22-2021 by Common Dreams

The Capitol riot. Photo: Blink O’fanaye/flickr/CC

For the first time in its four years of compiling annual data on the state of democracy around the world, an international think tank added the United States to its list of “backsliding” democracies in the report it released Monday, pointing to factors including politicians’ continued false claims that the 2020 presidential election results were illegitimate as one of the key elements weakening the country’s democratic system.

The Global State of Democracy report, released by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), called former President Donald Trump’s public questioning of the election results in November 2020 “a historic turning point” both for U.S. democracy and the world, pointing to a knock-on effect in several countries. Continue reading

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‘Blatant Partisan Power Grab’: Wisconsin GOP Attempts to Seize Control of State’s Elections

“Give Republicans this: they’re not dismantling democracy in secret. They’re doing it right out in the open.”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 11-20-2021 by Common Dreams

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Wisconsin Republicans, at the urging of Sen. Ron Johnson, are pushing to unilaterally seize control over federal elections in the battleground state, an effort that observers warned is part of the GOP’s multi-pronged assault on democracy in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s defeat last year.

The New York Times reported Friday that the state Republican Party is taking “direct aim” at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), an agency that the GOP established six years ago. According to the Times, “The onslaught picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the GOP-led Legislature, fueling Republican demands for more control of elections.” Continue reading

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Trouble on the Belarus-Poland border: What you need to know about the migrant crisis manufactured by Belarus’ leader

Hopes for a better future?
Maxim Guchek/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images

Tatsiana Kulakevich, University of South Florida

Using migrants as pawns is perhaps nothing new. But rarely do you have a situation in which one country encourages a migrant crisis on its own border for nakedly geopolitical reasons.

That is what appears to be happening at the Poland-Belarus border, where violence has broken out between Polish border guards and Middle Eastern migrants who traveled there via Belarus, and who are set on reaching the European Union. Meanwhile, there is growing concern over those camped out in freezing conditions. Continue reading

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‘Victory of Global Significance’: Modi to Repeal Laws That Sparked Year-Long Farmers’ Revolt

“After a year of strikes—and having faced brutal repression that claimed some 700 lives—India’s farmers are victorious in their struggle.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 11-19-2021 by Common Dreams.

Farmers in India have been organizing massive, sustained, historic protests against proposed neoliberal reforms. Photo: CAGJ

Workers’ rights activists around the globe rejoiced on Friday after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his government will repeal three corporate-friendly agricultural laws that the nation’s farmers have steadfastly resisted for more than a year.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of over 40 farmers’ unions that led the protests, called the development a “historic victory” for those “who struggled resolutely, unitedly, continuously, and peacefully for one year so far in the historic farmers’ struggle,” India Today reported, citing a statement from SKM. Continue reading

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‘The Time Is Now’: 200 Activists Arrested While Demanding Biden, Congress Defend Voting Rights

“We are here today to send a message that President Biden must take action now to ensure the promise of our democracy and protect our freedom to vote.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-17-2021 by Common Dreams

Roughly 200 voting rights activists were arrested while advocating for voting rights. Photo: League of Women Voters of the US/Twitter

Activists on Wednesday took to the streets of Washington, D.C., where organizers said around 200 people were arrested while demanding the passage of key voting rights legislation, an end to the filibuster, and bold action from President Joe Biden in defense of an imperiled democracy.

“This movement is about ensuring that the arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice,” People for the American Way president Ben Jealous said in a reference to a famous Martin Luther King Jr. quote as he spoke outside the White House prior to his arrest. Continue reading

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‘Reckless’ FDA and Big Pharma Greed Blamed for Medicare Premium Hike

“All Part B Medicare beneficiaries soon will be forced to bear significant financial burden as a direct result of the FDA’s reckless decision.”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 11-16-2021 by Common Dreams

Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Screenshot: FDA

Medicare Part B recipients will soon be hit with one of the biggest premium increases in the history of the government program, a hike driven in large part by the Food and Drug Administration’s scandalous approval of a costly—and, according to many experts, dubious—Alzheimer’s drug.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that monthly Medicare Part B premiums will be raised to $170.10 in 2022, up from this year’s level of $148.50. Continue reading

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Indigenous Leaders Hail Biden’s Proposed Chaco Canyon Drilling Ban as ‘Important First Step’

“We are most hopeful that this action is a turning point where the United States natural resource management planning philosophy focuses on the protection of all living beings.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-15-2021 by Common Dreams

Deb Haaland—then a Democratic congresswoman representing New Mexico’s First District but now U.S. interior secretary—visits Chaco Canyon in 2019. (Photo: Monica Sanchez/Natural Resources Democrats/Flickr/cc)

A coalition of Southwestern Indigenous leaders on Monday applauded President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland following the announcement of a proposed 20-year fossil fuel drilling ban around the sacred Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico—even as the administration prepares to auction off tens of millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas extraction later this week.

“Chaco Canyon is a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived, worked, and thrived in that high desert community,” Haaland—the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history—said in a statement Monday. Continue reading

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