Category Archives: Human Rights

At #SandtonShutdown, South African Women Disrupt Business as Usual as Fury Over Gender-Based Violence Boils Over

“My body is not your war zone,” read one protest signs.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-13-2019

Protesters march against gender-based violence, organised by several NGO?s and organisations at the JSE in Sandton on September 13, 2019 in Sandton, South Africa. There has been a public outcry after the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town. Several protests and marches have been held across the country to highlight the plight of women and children wh o are constantly fall victims of gender-based violence. Photo: Ndebele Superhero/Twitter

Thousands of protesters rallied outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Friday to protest staggering levels of violence against women in South Africa after a spate of recent killings and rapes fueled civil unrest over the issue.

Protesters carried placards with messages including “My body is not your war zone,” and “We should not need protection to survive in our streets and our homes.” Continue reading

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Trump Rollback of Key EPA Water Protection Rule Denounced as ‘Callous’ and ‘Immoral’ Giveaway to Big Polluters

“This is shameful and dangerous.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-12-2019

As the Trump administration repealed the 2015 Clean Water Rule Thursday, one critic warned that “the EPA’s callous decision endangers communities and threatens our environment.” (Photo: Varanos/Flickr/cc)

Environmental and public health advocates blasted the Trump administration Thursday for finalizing its rollback of an Obama-era regulation designed to curb the pollution of waterways nationwide.

“Fifty years after the Cuyahoga River fire that inspired the Clean Water Act, President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water,” declared Abigail Dillen, president of the non-profit legal group Earthjustice. “This is shameful and dangerous.” Continue reading

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How climate change is driving emigration from Central America

A farmer carries firewood during the dry season in Nicaragua, one of the Central American countries affected by a recent drought. Neil Palmer for CIAT/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Miranda Cady Hallett, University of Dayton

Clouds of dust rose behind the wheels of the pickup truck as we hurtled over the back road in Palo Verde, El Salvador. When we got to the stone-paved part of the road, the driver slowed as the truck heaved up and down with the uneven terrain. Riding in the back bed of the truck, Ruben (not his real name) and I talked while we held on tight, sitting on sacks of dried beans that he was taking to market.

“It doesn’t come out right,” he said, “it just doesn’t pay anymore to work the land. I take out a loan for seed, and then I can’t count on making it back to pay off my debt.” Continue reading

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Joni Ernst Wants to Cut Social Security Behind Closed Doors

Republicans, Democrats and Independents, of all ages, races and genders, overwhelmingly agree. We understand that Social Security is more important than ever. We overwhelmingly reject any cuts to its modest benefits.

By Nancy J. Altman. Published 9-6-2019 by Common Dreams

Congress should address our nation’s looming retirement income crisis by increasing Social Security’s modest benefits. (Photo: Courtesy of AFGE, Flickr | CC 2.0)

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) just said out loud what Republican politicians usually only talk about in secret meetings with their billionaire donors: The GOP wants to cut our earned Social Security benefits—and they want to do it behind closed doors so that they don’t have to pay the political price.

At a recent town hall, Ernst stated that Congress needs to “sit down behind closed doors” to “address Social Security.” She vaguely asserted, “A lot of changes need to be made in this system going forward.” But, she complained, if these changes were proposed in public, she would be accused of pushing “granny over a cliff.” It is not hard to figure out what “changes” she has in mind. Continue reading

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Victory Over ‘Civil Liberties Train Wreck’ as Federal Judge Rules US Terror Watchlist Unconstitutional

After years of abuse and secrecy, court’s decision seen by rights advocates as very welcome but “long overdue”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-5-2019

A Transportation Security Administration agent at a checkpoint verifying passenger identification in John Glenn Columbus International Airport. (Photo: Michael Ball/cc)

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the government’s terror watchlist violates the civil rights of Americans placed on it, opening the door for a major piece of legislation from the global war on terror being overturned.

“This is a really important ruling, long overdue,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “The watchlist is overbroad, opaque, and arbitrary—a civil liberties train wreck.” Continue reading

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Legal Aid Group for Immigrants Says ICE Shutting Down Hotline Was ‘Retaliation’ for Advocacy Work

“The line’s termination undermines trust and accountability of government institutions, dissuades public service by community organizations, and further isolates vulnerable detained individuals.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-26-2019

The non-profit group Freedom for Immigrants is denouncing ICE for shutting down its pro bono hotline offering legal aid for immigrants in detention earlier this month. (Photo: @MigrantFreedom

A non-profit legal aid organization is threatening action against ICE unless the agency restores its pro bono hotline which has enabled tens of thousands of detained immigrants to obtain legal counsel.

The National Immigration Detention Hotline was available to immigrants in ICE detention through ICE’s pro bono extension, *9233#, but the agency blocked access to the hotline on August 7. According to Freedom for Immigrants, the group that ran the service, ICE objected to the organization’s work publicizing the harsh and unsafe conditions the Trump administration has subjected immigrants to. Continue reading

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‘No Pay, We Stay’: 23 Days Into Train Blockade Protest, Kentucky Coal Miners Demand Stolen Wages With Support of Progressives Nationwide

“I see us blocking the trains until we get paid.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-21-2019

Coal miners from Blackjewel coal company have been blocking a train in Cumberland, Kentucky since July 29, to prevent a shipment from their former employer until Blackjewel pats them their lost wages. The miners were suddenly put out of work when the company declared bankruptcy in July. Photo: BlackJewel Miners Blockade/Twitter

As of Wednesday, coal miners in Cumberland, Kentucky are now 23 days into a train blockade that they say will go on until their former company pays them.

The miners suddenly lost their jobs in the middle of a shift on July 1 when their company, Blackjewel, announced it had gone bankrupt. The company wrote two weeks’ worth of bad checks for a total of 1,700 coal miners, including 350 people in Harlan County, Kentucky. The company owes a total of $5 million to its former employees—about $3,000 per person. Continue reading

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A Month Ahead of Global Climate Strike, Thousands Pledge to Attend Rallies Across Planet to ‘Turn Up the Political Heat’ and Demand Action

“Time is running out. This decade is our last chance to stop the destruction of our people and our planet… This is why we strike.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-20-2019

Photo taken at the Global Climate Strike in London on Friday 15th March 2019. Next month, thousands of people from all over the world plan to rally to mark the one-year anniversary of the climate strike movement, which teenaged advocate Greta Thunberg began last year. Photo: Garry Knight/flickr

Organizers behind the global climate strike movement—from teenage students to adults who have fought for climate action for decades—on Tuesday called on all people who want to halt the climate crisis to join the worldwide action on September 20.

350.org, one of dozens of international, national, and local groups organizing the strike, announced Tuesday that with a month to go before the demonstration, thousands of people have already signed up to take part in the strike and the Week of Action that’s planned for the days that follow. Continue reading

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Trump’s Domestic Gag Rule Forces Planned Parenthood to Withdraw From Title X Funding, Threatening Healthcare of 1.5 Million Women

“This is about control. Period. We will resist.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-19-2019

Reproductive rights groups on Monday condemned the Trump administration’s Title X rule, which bans health clinics from counseling patients on abortion care. (Photo: Mikasi/cc/flickr)

Reproductive rights advocates slammed the Trump administration on Monday after Planned Parenthood announced that the White House had forced it to decline funding used to provide healthcare to more than a million low-income women.

The organization said it was withdrawing from Title X funding, citing the Trump administration’s “domestic gag rule,” which prohibits health centers receiving the funds from counseling patients about where and how to obtain abortion care. Continue reading

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A long walk back to the garden: Woodstock turns 50

Whatever happened to that blissful dawn? I want it back.

By Gregory Leffel. Published 8-13-2019 by openDemocracy

Woodstock, 15 August 1969. | James M Shelley via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Woodstock…Over your half-open name
rumors of life raised a curtain
where linger, limned by childhood memories,
the legacies of ancient ties
binding our tribe to the garden primeval. Edgar Brau

It’s Woodstock’s fiftieth. Happy birthday! But which Woodstock shall we celebrate? I prefer the nostalgic “legacies of ancient ties binding our tribe to the garden primeval” version from Edgar Brau’s acclaimed poem “Woodstock.” But that’s just me, and it’s a long story.

There’s also the received popular media version, the historical event itself: half-a-million efflorescing, tie-dyed baby-boomers in full bloom at flood tide; three days in rock and roll heaven; three days of peace in a nation at war with itself. The Sixties, a decade by turns fractured, violent, deadly, righteous, subversive, creative and mythological got captured in a single image, as if one picture could distill the decade’s entire ordeal and make sense of it. Continue reading

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