Category Archives: Religion

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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The Turkish invasion of Syria: A new hope for Jihadists

What are the geopolitical stakes of Turkey’s invasion of Syria?

By Chris Den Hond. Published 10-16-2019 by openDemocracy

Translated by Janet Biehl

From the moment Trump ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria, Turkey wasted no time in launching an invasion of northern Syria. To understand the geopolitical stakes, I asked four people close to the situation for their assessments:

Salih Muslim, is spokesperson for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria. Fehim Taştekin, is an analyst and journalist, based in Vienna. Agit Polat, is spokesperson for the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F) and based in Paris. Raphaël Lebrujah, is a journalist in Qamishlo.

I asked each of them about several important topics. Continue reading

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US State Dept. Under Fire for Using Official Website to Promote Pompeo’s “Christian Nationalist Talking Points”

“The Department of State looks more like it should be representing the Republic of Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale than an America that respects religious equality under the law.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-15-2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered his address, titled “Being a Christian Leader,” to a gathering of the American Association of Christian Counselors last Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo: Screengrab/State Department Website)

The State Department on Monday was accused of blatantly violating the constitutional principle of separation of religion and government by plastering the homepage of its website with an October 11 speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touting his Christian faith.

Pompeo delivered his “Being a Christian Leader” address to a gathering of the American Association of Christian Counselors last Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. The Secretary of State’s trip to Nashville was funded by U.S. taxpayers. Continue reading

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Kurds Strike Deal With Syrian Government to Battle Turkey’s Offensive After Trump Orders Evacuation of Remaining US Troops

“About 130,000 people have been displaced in Syria… with at least 60 civilian casualties in Syria and 18 dead in Turkey.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-13-2019

A protest in support of the Kurds in front of the Turkish Embassy in Seattle. Photo: Amy Moreno/Twitter

Kurdish forces in northern Syria announced Sunday that the Syrian government has agreed to deploy troops to battle an ongoing Turkish offensive against the Kurds after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of the remaining 1,000 American troops in the region.

Following a call with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last weekend, Trump withdrew about 50 U.S. troops from the Turkey-Syria border. Critics accused Trump of betraying Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey on Wednesday launched airstrikes and ground incursions targeting Kurdish-held areas. Continue reading

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The Blunt Truth About Turkey’s Attack on US-Backed Kurds in Syria

The media’s framing of this offensive seems to be part and parcel of its overall coverage of the Syrian war since 2011.

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 10-11-2019 by The Mind Unleashed

Turkey’s offensive into Syria bears all the hallmarks of a potential crime. It is also has the added uncertain elements of a potential regrouping of the remnants of the Islamic State’s caliphate, as thousands of prisoners could end up being freed once key positions are abandoned by Kurdish forces, or overrun by Turkey.

Yet no one seems to be asking if in fact this is one of the covert aims of the offensive, given Turkey has been heavily documented as a key backer of ISIS forces in Syria for years. Sounds absurd, but we are talking about a regime who was caught providing ISIS fighters with medical treatment. Continue reading

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Less Than 24 Hours After Saying ‘Time to Bring ‘Em Home,’ Trump Orders 1,800 US Troops to Saudi Arabia

“Remember when Donald Trump tweeted that he was ‘trying to end the endless wars?’ That was yesterday.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-11-2019

Less than a day after President Donald Trump bragged to supporters at a campaign-style rally in Minnesota Thursday that he was working hard to bring U.S. soldiers home from foreign wars, the Pentagon announced Friday that 1,800 troops and advanced weapons systems have been ordered to Saudi Arabia—a move critics decried as both hypocritical and deeply dangerous.

“This is a dangerous escalation of a crisis created by the president’s inability to conduct a coherent and sensible foreign policy and his reliance on the war hawks who profit from endless war,” advocacy group Win Without War said on Twitter. Continue reading

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Critics Warn ‘Deeply Chilling’ Betrayal by Trump Paves Path for Turkish Slaughter of Kurdish Allies

“One way in which Trump is very consistent and stable when it comes to American presidential norms over the decades is betraying Kurds.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-7-2019

Photo: Steen Schøn/Twitter

In a move that was cast by critics as both irresponsible and a betrayal of key allies in the Middle East, President Donald Trump announced Sunday that U.S. forces are withdrawing from north-eastern Syria and leaving the region’s Kurdish population vulnerable to slaughter as neighboring Turkey readies an invasion.

“The Americans are traitors,” a Kurdish official told NBC News as the news broke late Sunday night. “They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre.” Continue reading

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This year at the Supreme Court: Gay rights, gun rights and Native rights

The Supreme Court begins its newest session on the first Monday in October. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Morgan Marietta, University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Supreme Court begins its annual session on Oct. 7 and will take up a series of cases likely to have political reverberations in the 2020 elections.

Major cases this year address the immigration program for young people (“Dreamers”) known as DACA, the Affordable Care Act (again), and public money for religious schools.

Justices will also consider cases that involve several aspects of defendants’ rights: whether criminal convictions require a unanimous jury, minors can be given a life sentence and a state can abolish the insanity defense. Continue reading

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After Supreme Court Agrees to Hear First Abortion Case With Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, Warnings Right-Wingers Could ‘Decimate’ Access in Louisiana

“We are counting on the court to follow its precedent; otherwise, clinics will needlessly close.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-4-2019

A contested Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals resembles a Texas law the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2016. (Photo: Jordan Uhl/Flickr/cc)

Reproductive rights groups on Friday emphasized the importance of legal precedent after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging an anti-choice Louisiana law—the court’s first abortion rights case since President Donald Trump’s appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the bench and shifted the court to the right.

Act 620, a 2014 Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, is similar to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. Such measures—which critics call “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws—have become popular among right-wing legislatures trying to circumvent Roe v. Wade and restrict access to abortion care. Continue reading

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DeVos Threatens to Cut Funding for Middle Eastern Studies Programs for ‘Portraying Islam Too Positively’

“This is what a real threat to free speech on a college campus looks like.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-22-2019

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Sunday marked a deadline for the University of North Carolina and Duke University to submit information to the Trump administration about the two schools’ Consortium for Middle East Studies, after the Department of Education accused the joint program of biases against Christianity and Judaism.

The DOE called on the schools to provide a list of events it is supporting in during the school year and a full list of courses it’s offering, claiming in a letter sent late last month that in the program, “there is a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.”
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