Category Archives: Human Rights

‘How the Trump White House Sees You’: Top Economic Adviser Under Fire for Calling Workers ‘Human Capital Stock’

“They’ve always been indifferent to human life. And in the face of mass death, the masks are coming off.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-26-2020

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett speaks to members of the press. Screenshot: C-SPAN

In a remark critics characterized as further evidence that the Trump administration views workers as nothing more than disposable tools of economic growth and corporate profit, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday nonchalantly referred to laid-off employees as “human capital stock” as he pushed people to return to their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Voicing optimism about the potential for a speedy economic recovery even as U.S. unemployment surges to levels not seen since the Great Depression, Hassett told CNN Sunday that “our capital stock hasn’t been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so that there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises.” Continue reading

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Guatemalan Leader Blasts Trump Admin’s “Contaminated” Deportation Flights as Rights Groups Say Expulsions Show “Reckless Disregard” for Rights and Health

“Guatemala is an ally to the United States, the United States is not an ally to Guatemala,” said President Alejandro Giammattei.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-22-2020

Guatemala’s right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei on Thursday attacked the U.S. government for deporting to Guatemala people infected with the coronavirus, actions he said are overwhelming the Central American country’s healthcare system and show the U.S. is not acting as an ally.

“Guatemala is an ally to the United States, the United States is not an ally to Guatemala,” Giammattei said at a virutal event with the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center,  claiming that the country has not received “even one single mask from the United States” to help boost protective medical supplies. Continue reading

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Senate Bill Would Guarantee Paychecks to Laid-Off Workers for Rest of 2020 ‘To Avoid Another Great Depression’

“We cannot continue to allow tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs, income, and health insurance during this horrific pandemic,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2020

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. Photo: Public domain

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mark Warner, Doug Jones, and Richard Blumenthal on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at stemming coronavirus-induced mass layoffs in the United States by guaranteeing paychecks and healthcare benefits to laid-off and furloughed workers for the rest of 2020.

The Paycheck Security Act—introduced with support from senators across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic caucus, and with the notable backing of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—would massively expand the existing Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover wages, salaries, and benefits for laid-off or furloughed workers up to $90,000 per year. Continue reading

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‘Ticking Time Bomb’: Corporate Lawyers Openly Discussing Suing Nations Over Profits Lost to Covid-19 Measures

“It’s so unbelievably shocking to see corporate lawyers actively discussing having foreign investors use ISDS to challenge countries over their coronavirus lockdown measures, and try to extract ‘expected future profits’ from them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-20-2020

Lidia Senra speaking against ISDS in the European Parliament in February 2019. Photo: Lidia Senra/Twitter

Prominent corporate law firms representing major businesses in the United States, Italy, Spain, and other nations are openly discussing the possibility of companies using a secretive and notorious legal process to sue countries over future profits lost due to government efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the non-profit research group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) documented numerous examples of high-powered corporate law firms—including Ropes & Gray, Alston & Bird, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan—publicly licking their chops over the lucrative opportunity presented by the Covid-19 crisis and government attempts to fight it. Continue reading

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‘National Day of Mourning’ Protests This Week to Condemn GOP Failures Amid Mass Suffering Caused by Covid-19

“This should be political suicide. Let’s make sure it is.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2020

Photo: Sarah Sophie Flicker/Twitter

With Republicans in Congress stonewalling the possibility of any additional coronavirus relief even as tens of millions of people across the U.S are newly out of workuninsuredhungry, and unable to afford rent, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups is planning nationwide protests this week to condemn GOP obstruction and demand the urgent passage of desperately needed aid for people and families.

On Wednesday, funeral-style actions in more than 20 states across the country will mourn the nearly 90,000 people who have died of Covid-19 and denounce President Donald Trump and the GOP for failing to take sufficiently urgent and bold action against the pandemic. The “National Day of Mourning” was organized by MoveOn, Indivisible, the Center for Popular Democracy, and other groups. Continue reading

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Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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‘Shameful Does Not Even Begin to Describe’ Trump EPA Decision on Chemical Known to Damage Children’s Brains

“Yet another abdication of duty by those that are entrusted with protecting Americans from needless and preventable harm.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-15-2020

The EPA signaled Thursday it will not regulate perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, in drinking water. (Photo: wonderisland/Shutterstock)

Environmental campaigners vowed to fight President Donald Trump’s EPA Thursday after the agency said it would propose that the rocket-fuel chemical perchlorate does not need to be regulated, despite its links to cognitive damage in fetal and child development.

According to the New York Times, the EPA plans to tell the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that it is “not in the public interest” to regulate the chemical at all, a year after the agency recommended the allowable amount in drinking water be limited to 56 parts per billion (ppb). Continue reading

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If This ‘Doesn’t Give You Chills I Don’t Know What Will’: McConnell Patriot Act Expansion Would Hand AG Barr Unprecedented Spy Powers

“These amendments would pretty much guarantee the ability of an incumbent administration to spy on its political opponents without consequence.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-13-2020

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Sen. Ron Wyden was joined by privacy advocates Wednesday in forcefully condemning a new proposed amendment to the PATRIOT Act put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would greatly expand the U.S. attorney general’s surveillance powers under FISA.

McConnell’s amendment, which the Senate began debating Wednesday as lawmakers took up the reauthorization of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, would explicitly permit the FBI to collect records of Americans’ internet search and browsing histories without a warrant. It would also mandate that Attorney General William Barr, and his successors, conduct an annual review of the FBI’s submissions into the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. Continue reading

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Again Finding US Permit Invalid, Federal Court Upholds Block on ‘Climate-Busting’ Keystone XL Construction

Again Finding US Permit Invalid, Federal Court Upholds Block on ‘Climate-Busting’ Keystone XL Construction

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-12-2020

“Bedrock laws that protect our water and the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, tribal members, and rural communities cannot simply be ignored as the court recognized again today,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains Resource Council member and a farmer in Montana. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

A federal judge on Monday denied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ request to amend his earlier ruling regarding TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline, reaffirming that a permit issued by the Army Corps was invalid.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled again that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, which allows companies to construct energy projects at water crossings. Continue reading

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‘Conflicts of Interest Abound’: Progressives Sound Alarm as BlackRock Prepares to Lead the Fed’s Covid-19 Corporate Bailout Program

“We cannot afford to allow the interests of private corporations to supersede the needs of the American people and the long-term stability of our economy.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-11-2020

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. Screenshot: CNBC

BlackRock, the largest asset management firm on the planet, has for years faced criticism and protests from progressives over its massive investments in fossil fuelsprivate prisons, and the arms industry—and now the financial behemoth is set to take on a leading role in the Federal Reserve’s sprawling coronavirus bailout program.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that BlackRock—which manages over $7 trillion in assets—will in the coming days help the central bank funnel “money into both new and already-issued corporate bonds, assisting the Fed in its recently adopted role as lender of last resort for businesses.” Continue reading

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