Category Archives: Social Justice

Anti-BDS Laws Challenged as Unconstitutional After Speech Pathologist Loses Job at Texas School for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Pledge


The case has cast a spotlight on all states with “laws that subordinate Americans’ free-speech rights to Israel’s ‘right’ to continue the occupation without criticism or consequence.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-17-2018


“It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats, you know, and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protect our constitutional rights,” speech pathologist Bahia Amawi said of American officials who pass anti-BDS measures, in a video published Monday by The Intercept. (Photo: YouTube/The Intercept)

Texas officials are facing an onslaught of criticism after a speech pathologist lost her job at an elementary school for refusing to sign a pro-Israel pledge mandated by state law—a case that has cast a spotlight on efforts to neutralize the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which opposes Israel’s oppression and slaughter of Palestinians.

According to a database maintained by a U.S.-based pro-Israel group, through executive orders and state-level legislation, elected officials in 26 states have imposed restrictions on people who wish to back BDS—a movement that was inspired by the 1980s initiative that helped force an end to racial apartheid in South Africa. Continue reading

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“It’s About the Students!” 50,000 LA Teachers Join Protest, Accusing District of Hoarding Funds Instead of Investing in Schools


“The community is united behind a UTLA strike if that’s what it takes to reinvest in public education instead of cut it to the bone.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-16-2018


Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers rallied in the city’s downtown area Saturday, ahead of a possible strike. (Photo: @magoo_tweets_2u/Twitter)

Los Angeles teachers set out to provide a “show of force” on Saturday, with tens of thousands rallying in the city’s downtown area to illustrate the power in their numbers, ahead of a potential strike next month.

The city’s teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), has been embroiled in contract negotiations with the school district for 18 months, with union leaders rejecting the district’s latest offer of a three percent retroactive raise starting from July 2017. The teachers are demanding a 6.5 percent raise as well as smaller class sizes and more school support staff. Continue reading

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Quoting Dr. Seuss, Court Throws Out Pipeline Permit and Implores Forest Service to ‘Speak for the Trees’ Instead of Corporate Polluters

Developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project planned for the pipeline to cut across two national forests and the Appalachian Trail

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-14-2018 


A federal appeals court threw out permits for a pipeline project that would have cut across the Appalachian Trail and two national forests. (Photo: Jerry Edmundson/Flickr/cc)

A federal appeals court rebuked the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for allowing an energy corporation to move ahead with its plan to build a pipeline that would cut across two national forests and the Appalachian Trail—arguing that the agency put two energy companies’ profits ahead of its own stated mission of protecting the nation’s forests.

The three judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the company’s permit to build its 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline in its planned area, starting in West Virginia and crossing through Virginia before terminating in North Carolina. As proposed, the $7 billion pipeline would have cut across the George Washington and Monongahela national forests as well as the historic trail, damaging the habitats of at least four endangered species.  Continue reading

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‘Good First Step’ as DeVos Forced to Cancel $150M in Student Loan Debt for Thousands Scammed by For-Profit Schools


“It’s disappointing that it took a court order to get Secretary DeVos to begin providing debt relief to students left in the lurch by predatory for-profit colleges.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-14-2018

Photo: CNN screenshot

After a federal judge struck down billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ attempt to gut protections for students scammed by for-profit colleges, the Department of Education announced on Thursday that—because of the court mandate—it is canceling $150 million in student loan debt for around 15,000 defrauded borrowers.

“The Department of Education illegally delayed implementation of the 2016 borrower defense rule, but because our clients in Bauer v. DeVos were willing to fight back, 15,000 students are finally getting the relief they are owed,” said Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represented the students leading the legal fight against DeVos. Continue reading

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‘What a Despicable Sham’: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Denounces Five House Democrats as ‘Cowards’ for Helping GOP to Block Yemen Vote


“What the hell is the point of Congress? Why are we starving children?” asked the outraged cable news anchor. “Someone make some affirmative argument for the policy, if you think it’s so important to continue killing children. But to kill the possibility of a vote in the rules committee? Cowards.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-12-2018


As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made the moral case  on Wednesday against the U.S.-backed war in Yemen and pushed for passage of a War Powers resolution to end support for the Saudi-led assault on its poverty-stricken neighbor, five Democrats in the House were busy coordinating with Republicans to kill the companion version of the resolution. (Photo: @SenSanders)

While a vote in the U.S. Senate to push forward a War Powers Resolution on Wednesday resulted in applause from peace advocates and critics of the U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen, five Democrats in the U.S. House stirred outrage as they helped Republicans in the chamber pass a rule—attached to massive Farm Bill legislation—that effectively killed the hopes of voting on its version of the resolution for the remainder of the congressional session.

The procedural vote in the Senate, said resolution co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), will help send a message to the world that the chamber will soon end its support for “this brutal, horrific war in Yemen led by an undemocratic, despotic regime.”

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‘For Taking Great Risks in Pursuit of Greater Truths,’ Journalists Under Attack Named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year

“They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world…who risk all to tell the story of our time.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-11-2018

Jamal Khashoggi and some of the Capital Gazette staff were included in TIME magazine’s Person of the Year issue, which honored journalists who have been killed, imprisoned, and attacked in the past year. (Photo: TIME Magazine)

Capping off a year marked by accusations of “fake news,” hurled at journalists by President Donald Trump and other global threats to press freedom, TIME magazine selected as Person of the Year journalists who have spent the past year fighting increased hostility toward their work—including those who lost their lives as a result of their reporting.

Calling journalists under attack “guardians” of the truth, the  magazine announced the selected Tuesday as it prepared to release four covers of the yearly issue. Continue reading

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‘We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up ‘Til It’s Won!’: 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill

More than 1,000 young Americans joined the youth-led group’s demonstration on Capitol Hill

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-10-2018

More than 1,000 young protesters lined the halls of Congress and lobbied at congressional offices on Monday to demand that their elected representatives back the Green New Deal. (Photo: @skenigsberg/Twitter)

Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23. Continue reading

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More Than a Thousand Arrested as Yellow Vests Protests Over Economic Frustration Rage on Across France

“The Gilets Jaunes that you see in the streets,” said one organizer, “they’re being bled dry financially. The wealth gap is getting wider, and we’ve reached a point where there are the very rich and the very poor.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-9-2018

Some 1,220 people were arrested in France on Saturday as more than a hundred thousand took to the streets—leading to a lockdown and armored vehicles pouring into Paris—as part of the “Yellow Vests” or “Gilets Jaunes” movement that initially came as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel, which critics warn would primarily impact the working- and middle-class.

The movement’s name comes from many supporters wearing the yellow high-visibility vests that all drivers in France are required to keep in their vehicles. Although Macron’s centrist administration announced last week that it was suspending fuel and electricity hikes for six months, outrage over growing inequality across the country has continued to produce massive protests. Continue reading

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In Another Blow to Keystone XL, Judge Rules TransCanada Can’t Conduct Pre-Construction Work

Indigenous and environmental groups as well as locals landowners celebrated the court victory, denouncing the proposed tar sands pipeline as “reckless and risky.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-8-2018

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have succeeded in blocking construction on the tar sands project for the past decade. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

Opponents of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline—from indigenous and environmental groups to local farmers and ranchers—celebrated a win in court after a federal judge ruled on Friday that the fossil fuel giant cannot conduct pre-construction work on the pipeline until the full environmental review ordered last month is complete.

“Somehow TransCanada still hasn’t gotten the message that Keystone XL is a lost cause,” observed Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes. “We’ve held off construction of this dirty tar sands pipeline for a decade because it would be a bad deal for the American people, and [Friday’s] ruling is yet another reminder that it will never be built.” Continue reading

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Celebrating a Congress That Looks ‘Like America,’ Ilhan Omar Shrugs Off Right-Wing Islamophobic Rant

“You’re gonna have to just deal.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-7-2018

Reps.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) at freshmen orientation on Capitol Hill last month. (Photo: @JossieValentin/Twitter)

Incoming Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Friday reminded a right-wing pastor and others who would lament the new cultural diversity of the U.S. Congress that the 2018 midterm elections simply gave Americans—particularly Democratic voters and progressives—the representation they asked for in Washington: the kind that looked like America.

After conservative minister and radio host E.W. Jackson delivered an Islamophobic rant on his show on Wednesday, decrying Omar’s status as one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress and warning that the Capitol is turning into a “institution of Sharia law,” the current state legislator replied simply that the pastor would “have to just deal.” Continue reading

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