Category Archives: National Security vs Police State

Report Exposes Right-Wing Effort to Ban Criticism of Israel in US Schools

“Fanatical Zionists are pushing U.S. state legislatures to pass sweeping new restrictions on free speech.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-17-2019

Concerns about state-level legislation outlawing anti-Semitism in U.S. public schools relate to a wide definition of anti-Semitism that goes beyond protecting Jewish people from hate speech. (Image: Shutterstock)

Human rights and free speech advocates responded with alarm Thursday to a Guardian report revealing that pro-Israel and right-wing lobbyists are encouraging Republican state lawmakers to pass legislation that could outlaw discussions about the Israeli government’s human rights abuses and occupation of Palestinian territory at all levels of the U.S. public education system under the guise of fighting anti-Semitism.

Concerns about the legislation relate to its wide definition of anti-Semitism that goes beyond protecting Jewish people from hate speech. According to The Guardian: Continue reading

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It’s Time for Effective Oversight of Police Violence

Would the possibility of mandatory sentencing make a police officer think twice before pulling the trigger? What about them having to forego their pensions, or pay victims’ families from their 401Ks?

By . Published 10-14-2019 by YES! Magazine

Thurma. n Blevins “Please don’t shoot me!” March in Minneapolis on July 31,2018. Photo: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

Atatiana Jefferson is dead.

The 28-year-old was shot and killed in her Texas home by a Fort Worth police officer on October 12. According to reports, the officer was responding to a nonemergency call for a wellness, or welfare, check. Jefferson’s neighbor made the call when he saw “both her front doors opened and all the lights on in her house” at 2 a.m.

Police body cam footage of the shooting shows the officer walking around Jefferson’s house for a little over a minute before yelling, “Put your hands up. Show me your hands [unintelligible],” and immediately fires his weapon. The officer—who is not heard identifying himself as law enforcement in the footage—claims he “perceived a threat,” according to a statement issued by Fort Worth police. Continue reading

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Trump Condemned for ‘Morally Reprehensible’ Plan That Rights Groups Warn Means Death for Asylum-Seekers

“Instead of offering protection to people fleeing these conditions, the United States is instead pursuing a disastrous plan that could carry deadly consequences.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26-2019

Undocumented immigrant children at a U.S. Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas. Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Human rights advocates on Thursday warned that a “suspect” asylum deal negotiated between the White House and the president of Honduras—along with similar agreements with Guatemala and El Salvador—could endanger thousands of refugees and could even prove deadly for many people in search of safety.

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday it struck a deal with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to send asylum-seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border to Honduras if they have not already sought asylum there en route to the United States. 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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‘Outright Blackmail’: Trump Admin. Reportedly Offered Captain Multi-Million Dollar Bribe in Effort to Seize Iranian Tanker

“The U.S. complains loudly that Iran engages in ‘blackmail.’ Yet Brian Hook is directly emailing tanker captains offering bribes to get them to bring their ships into U.S. clutches.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-4-2019

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo . (Photo: Fox Business)

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday accused the Trump administration of engaging in “outright blackmail” after the Financial Times reported a State Department official offered the captain of an Iran-owned oil tanker millions of dollars to divert the ship to a nation which would detain it on behalf of the United States.

According to FT, Brian Hook, head of the State Department’s Iran Action Group, sent an email promising the captain of Iranian supertanker Grace 1 “several million dollars” to do the bidding of the Trump administration. Continue reading

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‘Naked Attack on the Free Press’: Trump Allies Reportedly Raising $2 Million for Campaign to Discredit Journalists

“Intimidating reporters to influence coverage is a tactic of dictators and has no place here,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-3-2019

Donald Trump talks to the press in October of 2018. Screenshot: Fox News

Right-wing operatives allied with President Donald Trump are attempting to raise at least $2 million to fund a campaign to discredit journalists and editors at major U.S. media outlets like the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, New York Times, and HuffPost.

That’s according to a three-page fundraising pitch for the effort reviewed by Axios, which reported Tuesday that the group of Trump allies “claims it will slip damaging information about reporters and editors to ‘friendly media outlets,’ such as Breitbart, and traditional media, if possible.” 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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Americans’ support for immigration is at record highs – but the government is out of sync with their views

Polls show that Americans feel more welcoming toward immigrants than they have in the past. Evgenia Parajanian/Shutterstock.com

Mariano Sana, Vanderbilt University

Since its start, the Trump administration has implemented policies to step up immigration enforcement and reduce the number of immigrants admitted into the U.S.

Many of these efforts – like the border wall, the travel ban, family separations, DACA termination and detention centers – have received wide media attention. In addition, the White House slashed refugee admissions, ended a number of special programs and changed rules used to adjudicate visa applications. Continue reading

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Concerns Over Police Brutality Persist as Hong Kong Protesters Shut Down One of World’s Busiest Airports

Now in their 10th week, the protests were sparked in June by a controversial extradition bill

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2019

The Hong Kong airport protest. Photo: @percylurcher/Twitter

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters effectively shut down Hong Kong International Airport on Monday, the fourth day they have occupied one of the world’s busiest airports as part of the mass demonstrations—against police brutality and a controversial extradition bill—that have rattled Hong Kong since June.

The protests were initially spurred by a bill that, NPR explained, “would have allowed people in radHong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trials in courts controlled by the Communist Party, sparking fears of politically motivated prosecutions targeting outspoken critics of China.” Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam quickly suspended the measure and later declared it “dead,” demonstrators continue to demand its full withdrawal and Lam’s resignation. Continue reading

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Leaked Draft of Trump Executive Order to ‘Censor the Internet’ Denounced as Dangerous, Unconstitutional Edict

“In practice, this executive order would mean that whichever political party is in power could dictate what speech is allowed on the Internet.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-11-2019

“It’s hard to put into words how mind bogglingly absurd this executive order is,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, following a leaked White House draft of what her group has dubbed the ‘Censor the Internet’ order. Image: Public domain

Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a “Censor the Internet” executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect.

According to CNN, which obtained a copy of the draft, the new rule “calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.” Continue reading

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