Category Archives: Human Rights

Pentagon Fails Another Audit, Yet Congress Poised to Approve $847 Billion Budget

“This isn’t using our taxpayer dollars wisely,” said the National Priorities Project. “It’s robbing programs that we need, like the discontinued child tax credit that cut child poverty by half.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-1-2022 by Common Dreams

F-35A Lightning II drops a 2,000-pound GBU-31 bomb. Photo: Public Domain

Anti-war advocates blasted U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, one day after it was reported that Congress is expected to pass an $847 billion military budget for the coming fiscal year even though the Pentagon recently failed its fifth consecutive annual audit and nearly 40 million people nationwide are living in poverty.

Last month, “the Pentagon once again failed to pass a basic audit showing that it knows where its money goes,” the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies said in a statement. “And instead of holding out for any kind of accountability, Congress stands ready to give a big raise to an agency that failed to account for more than 60% of its assets.” Continue reading

Share Button

Lame-Duck Dems Must Lift Debt Limit, Advocates Say as GOP Doubles Down on Social Security Threats

“Democrats must do whatever it takes to defeat Republican attacks on our earned Social Security benefits,” said one advocate. “That means raising the debt ceiling this year, before Republicans take control of the House.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-30-2022 by Common Dreams

#StoptheShutdown Press Conference with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in 2019. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Progressives on Wednesday warned that time is running out for Democratic leaders to take Republicans at their word regarding slashes to social safety net programs, as U.S. Sen. John Thune indicated the GOP will use a potential fight over the debt ceiling next year as leverage to push cuts—unless the Democrats act now to raise the debt limit while they still control the Senate and House.

Thune (R-S.D.), who is the number-two Republican in the Senate as the chamber’s minority whip, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the party has a “long list” of policy priorities for the next Congress, which will commence on January 3. The party plans to put forward budget reforms including to federal programs which they have long claimed, erroneously, are unsustainable. Continue reading

Share Button

Senate Report Details Failure to Confront ‘Persistent and Lethal’ Threat of White Supremacists

“The federal government has continued to allocate resources disproportionately aligned to international terrorist threats over domestic terrorist threats,” the report reads.

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-29-2022 by Common Dreams

Charlottesville “Unite the Right” Rally, 2017. Photo Anthony Crider/flickr/CC

Despite the fact that federal law enforcement agencies have in recent years acknowledged that white supremacy represents a major threat to public safety in the United States and is fueling domestic terrorist attacks, a new U.S. Senate report reveals that authorities are continuing to pour resources into fighting international threats instead of addressing extremism stateside.

After a three-year investigation, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this month released a nearly 130-page report detailing how the FBI—part of the Justice Department—and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have “failed to adequately align resources to address the threat from domestic terrorism, despite the agencies highlighting the magnitude of the threat in their annual strategic intelligence assessments.” Continue reading

Share Button

90+ Groups Warn ‘Kids Online Safety Act’ Could Have ‘Damaging’ Effects

“Congress needs to pass real laws that rein in the abuses of Big Tech and protect everyone’s privacy and human rights rather than using kids as pawns to advance poorly drafted legislation in order to score political points,” said one critic.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 11-28-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Julia M Cameron/Pexels

Nearly 100 LGBTQ+ and human rights groups warned in a Monday letter to Congress that while “privacy, online safety, and digital well-being of children should be protected,” proposed legislation intended to do so would instead negatively impact all internet users.

Specifically, the letter says that the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) “would undermine those goals for all people, but especially children, by effectively forcing providers to use invasive filtering and monitoring tools; jeopardizing private, secure communications; incentivizing increased data collection on children and adults; and undermining the delivery of critical services to minors by public agencies like schools.” Continue reading

Share Button

Effort to recover Indigenous language also revitalizes culture, history and identity

Myaamia Heritage Program students get a lesson from Daryl Baldwin, executive director of the Myaamia Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Scott Kissell, Miami University, CC BY-ND

 

Daryl Wade Baldwin, Miami University

When the federal government set up boarding schools in the 19th century to assimilate Native American children into American culture, one of the objectives was to get them to turn away from the use of their native languages. In recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the U.S., The Conversation turned to Daryl Baldwin, a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma who is a leader in Native American language and cultural revitalization and a member of the National Council on the Humanities, for insight into a tribal community’s efforts working with a university to help bring languages back.

How were Indigenous languages lost?

Many actions throughout history put pressure on tribal communities to abandon the use of their languages. This included the forced assimilation that resulted from the Indian Civilization Act of 1819. This act established Indian boarding schools to teach subjects such as math and science while suppressing the use of Indigenous languages and cultures. Continue reading

Share Button

‘The Nightmare Materializes’: Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel’s National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir’s elevation to national security minister could have a “catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-25-2022 by Common Dreams

Itamar Ben-Gvir and radical right political activist Bentzi Gopstein in Sheikh Jarrah in February 2022. Photo: שי קנדלר/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right Israeli lawmaker who was convicted of incitement to racism against Arabs and supporting a terrorist organization in 2007, is poised to become Israel’s national security minister after reaching a deal Friday with incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Haaretz reported that the agreement between Likud and Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party is the first Netanyahu “has signed with another party as part of the coalition negotiations following this month’s elections, which saw his bloc winning the majority of votes.” Under the terms of the deal, Reuters observed, Ben-Gvir “will have an expanded security portfolio that will include responsibility for Border Police in the occupied West Bank.” Continue reading

Share Button

Indigenous People Push Back Against US ‘Thanksgiving Mythology’

“We will not stop telling the truth about the Thanksgiving story and what happened to our ancestors,” says Kisha James, whose grandfather founded the National Day of Mourning in 1970.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 11-24-2022 by Common Dreams

“Many of the conditions that prevailed in Indian Country in 1970 still prevail today,” Kisha James said in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 24, 2022, pointing to life expectancy, suicide, and infant mortality rates—along with the rising death rate for Native women. (Photo: screenshot/hate5six/YouTube)

The United American Indians of New England and allies gathered at noon Thursday at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts for the 53rd National Day of Mourning—an annual tradition that serves as “a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide.”

“We don’t have any issues with people sitting down with their family and giving thanks,” Kisha James—who is an enrolled member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and is also Oglala Lakota—told BBC. “What we do object to is the Thanksgiving mythology.” Continue reading

Share Button

Austin AFL-CIO Council Becomes Latest to Urge Biden to End Medicare Privatization Scheme

The labor council’s newly passed resolution warns that the scheme “allows doctors and their offices to convert a patients’ traditional Medicare choice into ACO-REACH coverage without first informing their patients.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-21-2022 by Common Dreams

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

The labor council of the Austin, Texas AFL-CIO has passed a resolution urging the Biden administration to terminate a Medicare privatization scheme that is quietly moving ahead despite vocal opposition from doctors, seniors, and progressive lawmakers.

The pilot program, which inserts private middlemen between patients and healthcare providers, was unveiled with little notice during the final months of the Trump administration despite internal concerns about its legality. The experiment has since been largely upheld by the Biden administration, which announced mostly cosmetic changes earlier this year, winning applause from industry groups that lobbied against complete elimination of the program. Continue reading

Share Button

Patients Push Biden HHS to Act as Pharma Firm Charges $190K for Lifesaving Prostate Cancer Drug

“HHS can clearly insist on limiting the U.S. price of Xtandi to the median price for other large high-income countries,” said advocates, “particularly since the drug has already generated more than $10 billion in sales from Medicare alone based upon these unconscionable pricing disparities.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 11-20-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: GlobalGiving

“Cancer does not wait, nor should cancer patients have to wait for years for their government to act.”

That’s the message patient advocates reiterated in a Friday letter asking the Biden administration to help them secure a lifesaving prostate cancer drug that costs nearly $190,000 per year despite its development being 100% taxpayer-funded.

Last year, prostate cancer patient Eric Sawyer petitioned U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to grant march-in rights—under which the government can grant patent licenses to companies other than a drug’s manufacturer—for enzalutamide, which is sold under the brand name Xtandi. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Morally Deplorable’: Biden Admin Recommends Immunity for MBS in Khashoggi Case

“The Biden administration has not only shielded MBS from accountability in U.S. courts, but has effectively issued him a license to kill more detractors and declared that he will never be held accountable.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-18-2022 by Common Dreams

President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz. Photo: Saudi Press Agency/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The Biden administration said in a U.S. federal court filing on Thursday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be granted sovereign immunity in a civil case brought by the fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a stance that human rights advocates condemned as a betrayal of the president’s vow to hold the Saudi leader accountable.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in the new filing that the White House “has determined that Defendant bin Salman, as the sitting head of a foreign government, enjoys head-of-state immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts as a result of that office and is entitled to immunity from the court’s jurisdiction of this suit while he holds that office.” Continue reading

Share Button