Category Archives: Human Rights

‘Horrifying Step Backwards’ as Sessions Retracts Guidance Designed to End Abuse of Poor by Courts

Attorney General abandons directive to protect the poor from needless fines

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-2017

Civil rights advocates accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of “turning back the clock” on criminal justice reforms after the Department of Justice rescinded Obama-era guidance that protected low-income defendants from being forced to pay gratuitous fees to local courts.

“Profit-minded court policies targeting the most economically vulnerable Americans have resulted in a resurgence of unconstitutional but widespread practices penalizing the poor and people of color,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. “Attorney General Jeff Session’s decision to retract guidance from the Justice Department rooting out practices resulting in a perpetual cycle of fines, debt and jail of America’s poor is a horrifying step backwards in ongoing efforts to reform the criminal justice system.” Continue reading

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“Slave Ship Conditions” for Somalis as Deportation Flight Sheds Light on Horrific Practices Under Trump

For nearly 48 hours, before a deportation flight bound for Somalia was rerouted back to the U.S., 92 people on board were shackled and denied food, water, and access to bathrooms

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-19-2017

Deported Somalis arriving in Somalia. Photo: YouTube

Attorneys for 92 Somali nationals who were held in “slave ship conditions” for nearly 48 hours during a deportation flight, say that the group’s harrowing experience is indicative of immigration officials’ procedures under the Trump administration.

The passengers were denied food, water, and access to a bathroom, according to a class-action lawsuit, filed by the Somalis with the help of four immigrant rights groups including Americans for Immigrant Justice and the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami. Continue reading

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Victory for Civil Liberties as GOP Push to Expand NSA Spying Declared Dead—For Now

“Just like that, in less than 12 hours, last-ditch efforts to cram an NSA surveillance expansion bill were delayed—and possibly derailed. Your voices are heard. Keep it up.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-20-2017

“Like with the tax bill and healthcare, House Republicans are now trying to pass an awful NSA surveillance expansion bill within hours of releasing the text and with zero debate,” Freedom of the Press Foundation executive director Trevor Timm warned in a tweet on Tuesday. (Photo: Joe Brusky/Flickr/cc)

Civil libertarians and internet freedom groups declared tentative victory on Wednesday after House Republicans announced that they have—at least for now—abandoned efforts to sneak through a measure that would have reauthorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and vastly expanded NSA spying powers.

A number of prominent groups and public figures—including Fight for the Future, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), and Edward Snowden—have been working to call attention to the legislation in recent days amid the flurry of tax and budget developments. Continue reading

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Official Calls for UN Peacekeepers to Be Deployed on Streets of Chicago

Published 12-15-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: YouTube

As 2017 comes to a close, the city of Chicago has racked up over 3,400 shootings and over 650 homicides this year, and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin is seeking to implement a highly controversial policy to deal with the problem.

On Thursday, Boykin shared his plans to reach out to the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Support, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, to seek help with “horrific levels of shootings” in the city of Chicago. If the organization were to step in, it would mark the first time a U.N. peacekeeping mission was implemented on American soil.

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Criminalizing Dissent: Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Enters Fourth Week

Published 12-9-2017 by Unicorn Riot

Scene from J20 protest. Photo: It’s Going Down

 

Washington, DC – Several weeks into the first trial of the individuals who were mass arrested during President Trump’s inauguration in DC on January 20 (J20), the prosecution is almost ready to rest its case. The arrests occurred at 12th & L streets when police chased, trapped, and surrounded the ‘anti-capitalist and anti-fascist’ protest march.

The first trial group comprises those who insisted on their right to a speedy trial. Jury selection began on November 15, and the trial itself started with opening arguments on November 20. The next group of defendants exercising their right to speedy trial is set for trial later this month but may be delayed to January; many other trials for the remaining defendants are scattered throughout 2018. Continue reading

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Black Lives Matter Supporters Call Attention to Graphic Video of Arizona Shooting

“Consider that Shaver might well be alive if only the Mesa police department had long ago adopted reforms of the sort that Black Lives Matter suggests.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-9-2017

Daniel Shaver, left, was shot to death by Office Philip Brailsford, right, in January 2016. Prominent Black Lives Matter supporters have drawn attention to his death as the latest clear sign that major policing reforms are needed in the U.S. (Photo: @NolanHack/Twitter)

Black Lives Matter activists were among those who used social media on Friday and Saturday to call attention to the case of Daniel Shaver, a 26-year-old man who was shot to death by a police officer in Mesa, Arizona in January 2016.

A disturbing, graphic video of the shooting was released shortly after the officer who killed Shaver, who was white, was acquitted of second-degree murder.

The video shows Shaver following the officer’s instructions to crawl toward him and begging him not to shoot. Continue reading

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#TrumpToo: Amid Reckoning, Calls to Hold President Accountable Swell

Donald Trump has so far escaped the scrutiny of sexual assualt allegations levied at him that has come to other high profile figures. “That has to change now.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-8-2017

A sign held during the Jan. 21, 2017 Women’s March in Chicago. (Photo: bradhoc/flickr/cc)

The #TrumpToo movement, which is demanding accountability for President Donald Trump’s history of alleged sexual harassment and assault, is gaining more steam this week after the resignations of Democratic lawmakers Al Franken and John Conyers.

A MoveOn.org petition calling for a Congressional and Justice Department investigation into the claims against the president gathered over 150,000 signatures in a week, the group said. As of this writing, it has 161,405 signatures. Continue reading

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Trump Wants a Secret Spy Network Around the World to Fight the ‘Deep State’: Report

By Jake Anderson. Published 12-7-17 by The Anti-Media

Erik Prince and Donald Trump. Photo: The 4th Media

 

A new report by The Intercept contends that a group of pro-Trump operatives may be attempting to form a paramilitary spy network to oppose the “Deep State” intelligence community. According to their sources, the effort is being led by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer. They have received support and assistance from Oliver North. The proposals, which are reportedly being considered by the Trump administration, may create a rogue intelligence apparatus that reports directly to Trump and CIA Director Pompeo — and no one else.

Prince categorically denies the allegations, but a former senior U.S. intelligence official who claims to have firsthand knowledge of the proposals says the network would circumvent the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Continue reading

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Two Months After Nation’s Deadliest Mass Shooting, GOP House Passes ‘Dangerous’ Bill to Undermine Local Gun Control Laws

“If this bill becomes law, the body count of innocent victims killed by concealed carry permit holders will only rise.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-6-2017

Screenshot: ABC News

Gun control advocates denounced a House vote on Wednesday approving major legislation which would allow gun owners to carry licensed concealed weapons across state laws—effectively voiding gun control laws that prohibit hidden firearms in certain states.

The House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 in a 231-198 vote. The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote that the law is “clearly aimed at undermining gun control efforts nationally,” while the National Rifle Association (NRA) called the measure its “highest legislative priority” for the year. Continue reading

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“We Don’t Want to Repress”: Police in Honduras Refuse Orders to Stamp Out Pro-Democracy Protests

“We are tired. And our job is to give peace and security to the Honduran people, not repress them. We want all Hondurans to be safe.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-5-2017

Photo: Heather Gies/Twitter

Amid widening violence and ongoing protests, members of the Honduras National Police force—including those within the U.S.-trained units known as the Cobras—say they are refusing  to obey orders from the right-wing government of the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernández, who has used the security forces to crackdown on demonstrators and imposed a curfew amid allegations of voter fraud in recent elections.

“We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we’re tired of this,” a spokesperson for the police told reporters outside the national police headquarters on Monday. “We aren’t with a political ideology. We can’t keep confronting people, and we don’t want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people.” Continue reading

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