Category Archives: Human Rights

Gun-Maker Slammed for ‘Children’s Assault Rifles’ Based on AR-15

“At first glance, this comes across as a grotesque joke,” said one gun control advocate. “On second look, it’s just grotesque.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 1-26-2022 by Common Dreams

n marketing material for gun-maker WEE1 Tactical, a girl holds a JR-15, a rifle for children inspired by the AR-15. (Image: WEE1 Tactical)

Gun control advocates on Wednesday sharply condemned an Illinois-based company for recently unveiling the JR-15, a long rifle inspired by the AR-15 but marketed for children.

Although it is under 2.5 pounds and 20% smaller than the standard version, the JR-15 “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun,” WEE1 Tactical said in a statement. The weapon “functions like a modern sporting rifle,” but its “lightweight and rugged polymer construction and ergonomics are geared towards children.” Continue reading

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Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

“We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards,” said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. “That’s what this bill does.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 1-22-2022 by Common Dreams

Every Black member of the Mississippi state Senate walked out of the legislative chamber in protest on Friday as the Republican-led body passed a bill critics say will ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, from kindergarten through college.

S.B. 2113—titled Critical Race Theory, Prohibit—passed by a vote of 32-2 as 14 Black lawmakers filed out of the Senate chamber. Two white Democratic senators—David Blount (District 29) and Hob Bryant (District 7)—remained in the chamber to vote against the measure. Continue reading

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Saudi Bombings Kill Scores of Civilians—Including Children—in Yemen

“America is complicit in this,” said one critic of “this horrific war that Biden and his senior officials once promised to end.”

By Andrea Germanos  Published 1-21-2022 by Common Dreams

Aftermath of air strile in Hodeida on January 20, 2022. Photo: Marwa Osman/Twitter

A series of Saudi-led airstrikes were blamed Friday for killing scores of people in Yemen as civilians, including children, continue to suffer deadly consequences of the U.S.-backed conflict that has lasted for years.

Overnight bombings included one that targeted a prison holding mostly migrants in the northern city of Sa’ada, an area described as being under the control of Houthi forces. Continue reading

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Tax on Global Mega-Rich Could Help Lift 2.3 Billion Out of Poverty

“The insane reality is that whilst billions face a daily struggle to survive during this pandemic, billionaire wealth is spiraling out of control. This cannot be right.”

By Jake Johnson.  Pubished 1-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Bryan Ledgard/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A new analysis released Tuesday estimates that an annual wealth tax targeting the world’s millionaires and billionaires would raise enough revenue to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, provide universal healthcare to the people of low- and middle-income nations, and produce enough coronavirus vaccines to meet global demand.

“During 2021, we witnessed the epidemic of Covid-19 and wealth-hiding, and it’s time to reverse course.” Continue reading

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Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

“Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability,” said one critic following new revelations.

By Kenny Stancil.  Pubished 1-17-2022 by Common Dreams

Dana Nessel. Photo: Michigan Attorney General’s Office

Prosecutors investigating Flint’s contaminated water crisis were pursuing a racketeering case against public officials whose austerity-driven policies caused the health catastrophe, but after newly elected Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel took over in 2019, those charges were dropped.

That’s according to investigative journalist Jordan Chariton and Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Charlie LeDuff’s explosive new story, which was published Monday in The Guardian and sparked fresh questions about holding perpetrators responsible for the ongoing calamity. Continue reading

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How the Vietnam War pushed MLK to embrace global justice, not only civil rights at home

President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, talks with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders in his White House office in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 1964.
AP Photo

Anthony Siracusa, University of Colorado Boulder

On July 2, 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. stood behind President Lyndon Baines Johnson as the Texan signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although not the first civil rights bill passed by Congress, it was the most comprehensive.

King called the law’s passage “a great moment … something like the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.” Johnson recognized King’s contributions to the law by gifting him a pen used to sign the historic legislation. Continue reading

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200 Inmates Hunger Strike Over ‘Inhumane’ Rikers Island

“It just keeps getting worse and worse,” said one inmate at the notorious New York City jail. “I don’t wish this upon nobody.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 1-13-2022 by Common Dreams

A large group gathered to support the prisoners inside Rikers Island. Photo: Dean Moses/Twitter

A hunger strike by around 200 prisoners at New York City’s Rikers Island jail entered its sixth day Thursday, as demonstrators continued to protest “deplorable” and dangerous conditions including lack of medical care during a surging Covid-19 outbreak at the notorious lockup, where 15 inmates died last year.

“It just gets worse and worse,” 55-year-old Rikers inmate Nelson Pinero told The New York Times, adding that mice and insects regularly keep him up at night. Continue reading

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‘Good News for Seniors’: Becerra Orders Medicare to Reassess Premium Hike

“It is unconscionable,” said one advocate welcoming the announcement, “for Medicare premiums to increase this dramatically because of one corporation’s greed.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Pubished 1-10-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on January 10, 2022 that he was ordering a review of a planned 15% hike in the Medicare Part B premium. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

As the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that he was ordering a review of a planned 15% hike in the Medicare Part B premium for 2022, healthcare reform advocates stressed the need for Congress to pass a Build Back Better bill with a provision allowing the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that he was instructing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “to reassess the recommendation for the 2022 Medicare Part B premium”—a hike that progressive critics said was largely the result of the pharmaceutical industry’s outrageous profiteering. Continue reading

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Caravans Across California Set to Hit the Road as State’s Single-Payer Bill Advances

“Single-payer healthcare is long overdue, and while we push for Medicare for All nationally, California can lead the way by enacting CalCare.”

By Brett Wilkins  Pubished 1-7-2022 by Common Dreams

Single-payer healthcare advocates prepare to participate in an April 16, 2020 auto caravan in Ukiah in support of A.B. 1400, also known as CalCare, which would provide all California residents with medically necessary care with no co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs. (Photo: Bob Dass/Flickr/cc)

As a bill to deliver single-payer healthcare to Californians is set to advance to a state legislative health committee next week, more than a dozen automobile caravans will take to the streets of cities and towns across the Golden State on Saturday to promote and show support for what could be a first-in-the-nation universal care program.

The proposed legislation, A.B. 1400 or CalCare, would provide all medically necessary healthcare to every California resident, regardless of immigration status, with no co-pays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket costs.

A related bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 11, that was introduced Wednesday by Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-27) and Alex Lee (D-25)—two of A.B. 1400’s primary sponsors—would fund CalCare via a gross receipts tax, payroll tax, and a personal income tax on high earners.

On Thursday, A.B. 1400, which had previously stalled due to questions over how it would be funded, was approved by the Assembly Rules Committee—with strong Republican opposition—and will advance to the Health Committee next week.

At least 15 California caravans are planned for Saturday, from San Diego in the south to Eureka in the north. California Nurses Association (CNA) will host a rally and car caravan to the state Capitol in Sacramento.

“A.B. 1400 and ACA 11 provide Californians a clear understanding of what they can expect from a truly publicly financed, single-payer healthcare system and allows them to decide for themselves if they are better off paying for the most expensive healthcare in the world with the worst outcomes of any wealthy nation or guaranteed healthcare for all with CalCare while reducing overall healthcare costs,” Kalra said in a statement.

“Those that profit off the immoral status quo may not like it, but I am confident that the vast majority of working and retired Californians will see the benefit of significant cost savings as we remove debilitating insurance costs, out-of-reach prescription drugs, and arbitrarily high hospital fees,” he added.

Mike Bonin, who serves on the City Council of Los Angeles—one of more than two dozen municipalities supporting the bill—said in a statement that “single-payer healthcare is long overdue, and while we push for Medicare for All nationally, California can lead the way by enacting CalCare.”

“Unanticipated medical expenses should not doom people to bankruptcy, poverty, or homelessness,” Bonin continued, noting that A.B. 1400 “would offer healthcare coverage to three million uninsured Californians. As we have done with the minimum wage and the fight against the climate crisis, California can lead and show what’s possible.”

Oakland City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Sheng Thao said that “in Oakland, we know health disparities overwhelmingly impact our BIPOC communities in East and West Oakland. As cities across the state work to end health disparities we need California to step up and reaffirm that healthcare is a human right, that nobody should go bankrupt because they are sick, and that our health system prioritizes patients over profit.”

“They can do this by passing AB1400 this year to expand quality, affordable healthcare to every Californian,” she added.

Stephanie Roberson, CNA’s government relations director, said that “in 2022, we already have one guarantee: out-of-pocket healthcare costs for Californians will continue to sharply rise. This time, let’s guarantee Californians can get the care they need without going into medical debt, starting a GoFundMe campaign, or going homeless or not paying for food or heating bills instead.”

Activist Ady Barkan, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), noted that “our whole society has been profoundly disrupted by the Covid pandemic because we have built a healthcare system that prioritizes profits over people, and private wealth over public health.”

“Our state leaders must listen to our cities—large and small—who bear the brunt of our healthcare crisis and deliver guaranteed health care for all through A.B. 1400,” he added.

While then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, supported single-payer legislation in the past and called for such a program while campaigning for governor, he has not taken a position on CalCare.

“I don’t know how to do it, because it’s never been done,” Newsom said of single-payer during his gubernatorial run in 2018. “But I believe it can be done. And if any state can prove it, we can. I’m willing to tackle this.”

In addition to the 26 cities and Santa Clara County—home to San Jose—that support the bill, groups including the California Democratic Party, the California Labor Federation, CNA, Public Citizen, and various local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) back the measure.

“Guaranteed single-payer healthcare for all people regardless of citizenship status would have made my family’s life much more stable and safe when we were undocumented immigrants,” Dr. Haemin Cho, secretary and co-chair of the Progressive Democrats of America’s San Francisco chapter—a supporter of A.B. 1400—told Common Dreams. “CalCare is the best thing we could do during this crippling pandemic to ensure all families are safe from financial ruin due to illness. It can save lives and stabilize our economy.”

Lee, the legislation’s co-author, lamented that “despite being the richest country in the world, the United States is still the only country in the developed world without a system of universal healthcare.”

“The pandemic has made evident that tying your healthcare to employment isn’t just antiquated, it’s dangerous,” he added. “Now is the time to realize healthcare is a human right—and California will lead the way with CalCare.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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Prosecutor Sought Funding From Oil Giant Enbridge to Jail Line 3 Water Protectors: Report

“First the police, now the prosecutors—who’s next to violate constitutional rights of water protectors and ask Big Oil to pay for it?”

By Julia Conley.  Published 1-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Sheriff’s deputies and police make arrests after their mobile field force (MFF) retook the occupied Enbridge Line 3 Two Inlets pumping station.. Photo: Unicorn Riot

With Canadian oil giant Enbridge pouring more than $4 million into a fund that was used by the law enforcement agencies which have arrested hundreds of people for protesting the company’s thousand-mile-long tar sands pipeline, the prosecutor who is bringing charges against the environmental defenders believed he was also entitled to benefit from the fund, according to an independent investigation.

The Center for Protest Law and Litigation (CPLL) revealed Thursday that Jonathan Frieden, the lead prosecutor seeking to jail hundreds of opponents to the Line 3 pipeline, sought more than $12,000 last July from the so-called Line 3 Public Safety Escrow Trust, which the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordered Enbridge to pay into as a condition of the pipeline’s construction. Continue reading

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