Category Archives: Human Rights

Southern Kurdistan’s Referendum: Self-Destiny doesn’t need Permission

Every flower that sprouts in the mountains had to first break through a rock.

By. Dr. Thoreau Redcrow. Published 9-22-2017 by the Region

Rallies and celebrations take place throughout Kurdistan as the referendum vote approaches Monday’s date.. Photo: Al Arabiya/Twitter

 

In a few days on September 25th the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Southern Kurdistan / Bashur (i.e. northern “Iraq”) is set to hold a non-binding aspirational referendum on their region’s independence. For many of the 6+ million Kurds of Bashur it is undoubtedly a day they have dreamt of or longed for; perhaps even a chance which seemed all but a fantasy through the billowing smoke of chemical bombs in Hełebce, or Saddam’s mass graves of the 1980’s.

Moreover, although this referendum is only related to one of the four regions of Greater Kurdistan—leaving those 20+ million Kurds of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), 12 million Kurds of northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and 2-3 million Kurds of northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) awaiting their own eventual ‘independence day’—I have still anecdotally witnessed a surge in Kurdish patriotism and excitement throughout wider Kurdistan and the diaspora at the possibility that the first of the four dominoes may finally fall. Continue reading

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‘Blank Check to Kill With Impunity’: Trump to Quietly Scrap Drone Restrictions

Human rights groups argue the move could led to an upsurge in civilian casualties, which are already soaring under Trump

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-22-2017

Photo: Drone Wars UK

President Donald Trump is reportedly gearing up to roll back even the most limited restrictions on U.S. drone operations overseas, further opening the door for the expansion of airstrikes and commando raids into nations like the Philippines and Nigeria and setting the stage for an upsurge in civilian casualties—already at record highs in Afghanistan and soaring in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA, told the New York Times in an interview that while Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes “fell far short on human rights protections,” any move to water down drone warfare rules even further would be a “grave mistake.” Continue reading

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In First, Two Major Cities Sue Big Oil for Climate Crimes

San Francisco and Oakland charge that fossil fuel companies “stole a page from the Big Tobacco playbook” with misleading campaigns and should pay for damage from rising seas

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-21-2017

The Embarcadero at high tide. Photo: Heidi Nutters/flickr

Environmentalists are celebrating two new lawsuits filed by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, California, in attempts to hold some of the world’s largest oil companies to account for fueling climate change.

“It’s time to hold these climate deadbeats accountable,” said Greenpeace’s climate liability campaigner Naomi Ages, after the suits were announced this week. Continue reading

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Instead of Protecting the Earth, EPA Agents Now Forced to Serve as Pruitt Bodyguards

Unsurprisingly, the number of environmental crime cases has declined rapidly since Pruitt took charge

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-20-2017

Pruitt’s 24/7, 18-member security detail “demands triple the manpower of his predecessors” and is forcing “officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes,” the Washington Post reported. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Thanks to a hiring freeze, budget cuts, and the exorbitant travel needs of Trump’s cabinet, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agents are being forced to ditch climate crime investigations in order to serve as personal bodyguards for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, resulting in what one critic called an “evaporation of criminal enforcement.”

The EPA head has traditionally had one of the smallest security details among cabinet members,” the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. But Pruitt’s expansive security team—which cost taxpayers over $830,000 in his first three months as EPA chief—has shattered all precedent. Continue reading

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Refusing to ‘Sit Down and Shut Up,’ Trumpcare Opponents Mobilize Against GOP

“We have millions of Americans on our side,” declares Sen. Elizabeth Warren as groups aim to thwart ACA repeal once more

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2017

Progressive groups and senators rallied outside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to protest GOP attacks on the national healthcare system. (Photo: PFAW/@peoplefor/Twitter)

Progressive groups and lawmakers continued to mobilize on Tuesday in response to Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to cut off millions of Americans from healthcare by dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Following “red alerts” issued after weekend reports revealed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote for a new bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that’s been called “Trumpcare by another name,” several groups planned a Tuesday afternoon rally at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday CIA: 7 Truly Terrible Things the Agency Has Done in 70 Years

By Carey Wedler. Published 9-18-2017 by The Anti-Media

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency inlaid in the floor of the main lobby of the Original Headquarters Building. Photo by user:Duffman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, President Trump tweeted birthday wishes to the Air Force and the CIA. Both became official organizations 70 years ago on September 18, 1947, with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947.

After spending years as a wartime intelligence agency called the Office of Strategic Services, the agency was solidified as a key player in the federal government’s operations with then-President Harry Truman’s authorization. Continue reading

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EU Watchdog Under Fire for Monsanto Analysis Copy/Pasted into Roundup Safety Report

Ahead of vote to determine whether farmers can continue using Monsanto’s popular pesticide, new Guardian report raises concerns that agency failed to fully analyze Roundup’s risks

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2017

Later this year, the European Union will vote on whether to renew the license that allows European farmers to use Monsanto’s popular weed-killer, Roundup. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr/cc)

Europe’s food safety agency reportedly relied on a review that lifted language from a Monsanto report when concluding that the possible cancer-causing ingredient in the company’s popular weed-killer Roundup is safe, raising concerns that the agency failed to properly analyze the pesticide’s potential dangers.

“If regulators rely on the industry’s evaluation of the science without doing their own assessment, the decision whether pesticides are deemed safe or not is effectively in the industry’s hands,” said Greenpeace’s European Union (EU) food policy director, Franziska Achterberg, who added that this discovery “calls into question the entire EU pesticide approval process. Continue reading

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‘Mind-bogglingly Dangerous’: Trump EPA Rolls Back Water Pollution Limits for Coal Plants

“A bold-faced gift to the coal industry at the expense of the health of families everywhere”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-14-2017

The EPA placed a delay on a rule that would have limited wastewater pollution from coal-fired plants. (Photo: pennjohnson/Flickr/cc)

In a move that critics are calling “deeply disturbing,” the Trump administration announced on Wednesday a two-year delay to an Obama-era rule limiting wastewater pollution at coal plants.

In 2015 the Obama administration developed new limits on metals including lead, mercury, and arsenic in coal-fired plants’ wastewater, set to go into effect in 2018. The pollutants in question “can cause severe health problems, including cancer and lowered I.Q. among children, as well as deformities and reproductive harm in fish and wildlife,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which fought against the rollback of the limits. Continue reading

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Inspired by Standing Rock, First Nations ‘Tiny House Warriors’ Protest Pipeline Project

“As Kinder Morgan tries to force through a pipeline without our consent—risking polluting the land and poisoning our rivers—we are rising up to create a resistance rooted in family, community, and hope.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-8-2017

Greenpeace Canada helped build the first of 10 tiny houses in the path of the pipeline, which will cross through hundreds of miles of First Nations territory. (Photo: Ian Willms/Greenpeace Canada)

First Nations and allies in British Columbia, Canada, are protesting an expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline by building 10 tiny houses in its proposed path, which runs through more than 300 miles of Secwepemcul’ecw, unceded tribal territory.

“We, the Secwepemc, have never ceded, surrendered, or given up our sovereign title and rights over the land, waters, and resources within Secwepemcul’ecw,” tribe leaders said in a statement, adding that they “have never provided and will never provide our collective consent to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project. In fact, we hereby explicitly and irrevocably refuse its passage through our territory.” Continue reading

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Pushing ‘False Equivalence’ Between Survivors and the Accused, DeVos to Roll Back Title IX

After meeting with fringe “mens’ rights” group, Education Secretary will re-examine guidance that protects campus assault survivors

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-7-2017

Protesters left signs outside the Department of Education on Thursday as Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she would open a comment period before rolling back Title IX guidance. (Photo: @gregpiper/Twitter)

Advocates for sexual assault survivors criticized the Trump administration’s announcement on Thursday that it would roll back Obama-era guidance on campus assault.

As dozens of protesters gathered outside to demand continued protections for survivors, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a speech at George Mason University that the administration will begin a public comment period as it restructures its sexual assault policy—but she made clear that she would not uphold the previous administration’s guidance. Continue reading

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