Category Archives: Social Justice

Critics Fume as ICC Excludes US From Probe Into Afghan War Crimes

“Allowing powerful states to get away with multi-year, multi-continent torture against so many feeds impunity for all.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-27-2021

Photo: pixabay

A Monday announcement from the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor saying his office is seeking approval to resume its investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State—but excluding alleged atrocities committed by U.S. forces—sparked a flurry of outrage from human rights defenders.

“It seems there is no end to the betrayal of Afghans—now so many victims of torture and other abuses by U.S. and former Afghan government forces have been told there is no justice for you,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted Monday in response to the announcement. Continue reading

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PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

“PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better,” said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. “It’s only getting worse.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2021

A fire crew battles the Zogg Fire on October 2, 2020. Photo: California Conservation Corps/Wikimedia Commons

One year after its aging equipment sparked a wildfire that killed four people in Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric on Friday was hit with 31 charges, including 11 felonies, by a county prosecutor who cited the formerly bankrupt utility giant’s “repeated pattern” of causing such conflagrations.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced the charges—which include four counts of felony manslaughter—at a Friday press conference during which she said there is “sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that PG&E is “criminally liable for their reckless ignition” of the last autumn’s Zogg Fire, which burned more than 56,000 acres, destroyed over 200 buildings in Shasta and Tehama counties, and killed countless wild and domestic animals. Continue reading

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Water Protectors Challenge Minnesota AG Keith Ellison’s Silence on Line 3 Pipeline

“What is your plan?” one demonstrator asked while interrupting a speech by Ellison. “Are you going to take a stand?”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2021

Camp Migizi co-founder Taysha Martineau appeals to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison after a protest against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in St. Paul on September 23, 2021. (Photo: Movement to Stop Line 3)

Water protectors fighting to stop Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline expansion interrupted a Thursday evening speech by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to challenge the Democrat’s silence on the multi-billion-dollar project, which violates Anishinaabe treaty rights while endangering local ecosystems, Indigenous communities, and the global climate.

“In 2015 at an anti-tar sands rally, you promised to stand with the First Nations brothers and sisters—that’s a quote—and defend Mother Earth,” one protester shouted out as he was removed from the St. Paul auditorium hosting a ceremony for the new dean of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. “And yet you’ve been silent on Line 3… What is your plan? Are you going to take a stand?” Continue reading

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‘This Is Big’: House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, “sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-23-2021

Ro Khanna at a symposium at the Brookings Institute in 2019. Photo: Paul Morigi/flickr/CC

Anti-war groups on Thursday welcomed the U.S. House’s passage of an amendment to the annual defense bill that would cut off the flow to Saudi Arabia of U.S. logistical support and weapons “that are bombing civilians” in Yemen.

“This is BIG,” tweeted the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) following the afternoon 219-207 vote, which fell largely along party lines, with just 11 Democrats voting “no.” Continue reading

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‘This Cannot Happen’: Biden DHS Seeks Contractor for Migrant Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay

The solicitation for bids—which requires some guards who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole—comes as the administration is under fire for mass deportations of migrants, including thousands of Haitians

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-22-2021

Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay. Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“This is an embarrassingly bad decision. Do better.”

That’s how U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) responded Wednesday to reporting that the Biden administration, already under fire this week for its immigration policies, “is seeking a private contractor to operate a migrant detention facility at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with a requirement that some of the guards speak Spanish and Haitian Creole.”

Though the White House, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not respond to requests for comment, the revelation from NBC News‘ Jacob Soboroff and Ken Dilanian sparked widespread condemnation. Continue reading

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#UprootTheSystem: Climate Movement Readies Another Global Strike

Youth activists are demanding not only climate action but also equitable Covid-19 vaccine distribution.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-21-

Climate activists are set to hold events worldwide on Friday, September 24, 2021, as part of the latest global climate strike. (Image: fridaysforfuture.org)

Young climate activists including Greta Thunberg are gearing up for another global strike on Friday when they’ll demand that world leaders “uproot the system” to create a just future for all.

“Time and time again the leaders today show that they do not care about the future, at least their actions don’t reflect it,” Thunberg said at a press conference Monday. Continue reading

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Unemployment Benefit Cut-Off Will Slash Annual Incomes by $144 Billion: Analysis

“By failing to extend unemployment benefits, Congress and the White House will harm working people struggling in the pandemic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-17-2021

People’s Unemployment Line protest in Philadelphia, 2020. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

The decision by Congress and the Biden administration to let pandemic-related unemployment programs expire earlier this month will slash annual incomes across the U.S. by $144.3 billion and significantly reduce consumer spending, the Economic Policy Institute estimates in an analysis released Friday.

Drawing on recent research (pdf) examining the 26 states that prematurely ended the emergency unemployment insurance (UI) programs, EPI argues that the “best available evidence” indicates the benefit cut-offs thus far have resulted in “all pain and no gain.” Continue reading

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Biden Admin. Sued for Letting Big Oil Harass ‘Imperiled’ Polar Bears

“We’re hopeful the court will overturn this dangerous rule that puts polar bears in the crosshairs.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-16-2021

A new rule announced on August 4, 2021 by the Biden administration will allow fossil fuel companies operating in northern Alaska to harass polar bears and walruses while searching or drilling for oil. Photo: Andreas Weith/Wikimedia/CC

A coalition of conservation groups sued the Biden administration on Thursday over the U.S. Department of the Interior’s recent rule allowing fossil fuel companies to harass polar bears and walruses while searching and drilling for oil and gas in the Southern Beaufort Sea.

Announced last month by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the rule was quickly blasted as “disturbing” by Kristen Monsell, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups behind the new federal lawsuit (pdf) in Alaska. Continue reading

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House Dems Unveil Bill to Stop Wall Street From Destroying the Planet

“The Federal Reserve’s role is not to surrender our planet to corporate polluters and shepherd our financial system to its destruction,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, among the Democrats urging the Fed to end fossil fuel financing.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-15-2021

The Marathon Oil refinery in St. Paul Park, MN. Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia/CC

Progressives on Wednesday applauded Democratic Reps. Mondaire Jones, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib for unveiling a bill that would prevent Wall Street from continuing to bankroll fossil fuels, the primary driver of the climate emergency.

The Fossil Free Finance Act (pdf) would require the Federal Reserve to mandate, via regulation or guidance, that all banks and other financial insitutions with more than $50 billion in assets phase out the funding of coal, oil, and gas extraction as well as industries linked to deforestation, in accordance with science-based targets for slashing carbon pollution. Continue reading

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‘Dismaying’: Human Rights Groups Blast Biden Plan to OK Millions in Military Aid for Egypt

A coalition of 18 organizations called the administration’s decision “a terrible blow to its stated commitment to human rights and to the rule of law.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-14-2021

Members of the women-led peace group CodePink, including co-founder Medea Benjamin (center), protest against Egyptian human rights abuses in this undated photo. Photo: CodePink

Left-leaning Democratic lawmakers joined human rights groups Tuesday in decrying the Biden administration’s reported decision to withhold a small portion of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt over human rights crimes perpetrated by the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity—the administration’s decision had not yet been announced—told multiple media outlets Tuesday that of the $300 million in military aid to Egypt that is subject to human rights conditions, $170 million will be initially authorized. Continue reading

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