Category Archives: Social Justice

‘Spitting in the Eye of Transparency,’ Govt Reveals Just 22 Mar-a-Lago Visitors

Watchdog groups promise to keep fighting Trump administration in court after it refuses to release full list of presidential visitors to so-called Winter White House

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2017

On Friday, the Trump administration released a list of visitors from President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Photo: Shealah Craighead/TheWhite House)

“See you in court, Mr. President,” a watchdog group warned on Friday, after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under pressure from a federal lawsuit, released just two pages of Mar-a-Lago visitor records, despite earlier promises to reveal the full list of visitors to President Donald Trump’s so-called Winter White House.

After waiting months for a response to our request for comprehensive visitor logs from the president’s multiple visits to Mar-a-Lago and having the government ask for a last minute extension, today we received 22 names from the Japanese prime minister’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, and nothing else,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Continue reading

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Standing With ESPN Journalist Against Trump’s White Supremacy, #NaziBucketChallenge Goes Viral

Calling out Trump’s racist views, critics stand in solidarity with ESPN anchor

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2017

Protest rally in Boston vs ‘white supremacy’. Photo: YouTube

In a display of a solidarity with the black female ESPN sportscaster under attack by the White House for calling out President Donald Trump as a “white supremacist” earlier this week, the hashtag #NaziBucketChallenge was going viral on Friday as people from all walks of life waited to see if they would receive the same kind of harsh treatment for criticizing the president publicly.

It all started on Monday, when ESPN anchor Jemele Hill called Trump a white supremacist on her Twitter account.

Jemele Hill Tweet

The controversy intensifed, however, after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders publicly called for Hill’s firing during a White House press briefing on Wednesday.

But Hill’s criticism, which is widely shared among private citizens and public figures, hardly came out of nowhere.

Her tweet followed, among other examples, the firestorm surrounding Trump’s response to last month’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, in which he failed to denounce the neo-Nazis who organized the gathering and insisted that counter-protesters were equally to blame for the violence that erupted.

The comments also came two weeks after Trump’s pardon of his longtime supporter Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who detained Latinos with no evidence of any wrongdoing and established a detention center that he compared favorably to a Nazi concentration camp.

The president’s former top strategist, Steve Bannon, also has well-established ties to white supremacists, having served as the executive director of Breitbart News both before and after his work with Trump.

Hill later deleted the tweet and clarified that the views she had expressed were her own and not her employer’s; ESPN said Thursday it had accepted her apology. But that didn’t stop Trump from wading into the controversy and demanding an apology from ESPN in an early-morning missive on Friday.

A number of well-known Trump critics spoke out in solidarity with Hill—and challenged the White House to call for their dismissal as well.

The campaign picked up speed following Trump’s statement on Thursday in which he repeated his views on the violence in Charlottesville, saying that there were “some pretty bad dudes” among the anti-racism counter-protesters. Everyday Americans began using the #NaziBucketChallenge hashtag, making it clear that Trump’s white supremacist views have been noticed by people of all races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and genders.


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EU Watchdog Under Fire for Monsanto Analysis Copy/Pasted into Roundup Safety Report

Ahead of vote to determine whether farmers can continue using Monsanto’s popular pesticide, new Guardian report raises concerns that agency failed to fully analyze Roundup’s risks

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2017

Later this year, the European Union will vote on whether to renew the license that allows European farmers to use Monsanto’s popular weed-killer, Roundup. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr/cc)

Europe’s food safety agency reportedly relied on a review that lifted language from a Monsanto report when concluding that the possible cancer-causing ingredient in the company’s popular weed-killer Roundup is safe, raising concerns that the agency failed to properly analyze the pesticide’s potential dangers.

“If regulators rely on the industry’s evaluation of the science without doing their own assessment, the decision whether pesticides are deemed safe or not is effectively in the industry’s hands,” said Greenpeace’s European Union (EU) food policy director, Franziska Achterberg, who added that this discovery “calls into question the entire EU pesticide approval process. Continue reading

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Corporations Have Legal Personhood, But Rivers Don’t? That Could Change

Indian Country could finally see an end to nonconsented infrastructure projects if they follow New Zealand’s Maori in achieving legal protection for natural entities.

By . Published 9-12-2017 by YES! Magazine

The Whanganui River, New Zealand. Photo: Pinterest

 

In mid-March of this year, New Zealand officially recognized the Whanganui River as a living entity with rights. The river, which the Maori consider their ancestor, is now offered protection through the New Zealand legal system against any human or human-led project that threatens its well-being. It is a critical precedent for acknowledging the Rights of Nature in legal systems around the world.

The communities seeking protection for their natural entities through this approach are operating from a non-Western, often indigenous paradigm that holds a spiritual reverence to homelands and natural systems and an urgency to protect their natural resources. These values are not held in the laws of colonial governments like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, or the United States. But that does not mean they cease to exist, and, in fact, we are seeing a revival. Continue reading

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Ahead of Meeting, Trump Election Commission Ripped as ‘Stain on Democracy’

The so-called Election Integrity Commission is little more than a “platform for the extremist views of those who support voter suppression,” rights groups say

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-11-2017

Screenshot: CNN

As President Donald Trump’s so-called Election Integrity Commission is set to meet for the second time on Tuesday in New Hampshire, voting rights groups are slamming the panel as a “stain on democracy” and urging resistance to any attempt by the Trump administration to “restrict access to the ballot under the guise of eliminating voter fraud.”

“Our election process must be secure, fair, and transparent,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, but Trump is using his “sham commission to spread the lie of rampant fraud as a Trojan Horse for voter suppression.” Continue reading

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Inspired by Standing Rock, First Nations ‘Tiny House Warriors’ Protest Pipeline Project

“As Kinder Morgan tries to force through a pipeline without our consent—risking polluting the land and poisoning our rivers—we are rising up to create a resistance rooted in family, community, and hope.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-8-2017

Greenpeace Canada helped build the first of 10 tiny houses in the path of the pipeline, which will cross through hundreds of miles of First Nations territory. (Photo: Ian Willms/Greenpeace Canada)

First Nations and allies in British Columbia, Canada, are protesting an expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline by building 10 tiny houses in its proposed path, which runs through more than 300 miles of Secwepemcul’ecw, unceded tribal territory.

“We, the Secwepemc, have never ceded, surrendered, or given up our sovereign title and rights over the land, waters, and resources within Secwepemcul’ecw,” tribe leaders said in a statement, adding that they “have never provided and will never provide our collective consent to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project. In fact, we hereby explicitly and irrevocably refuse its passage through our territory.” Continue reading

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Pushing ‘False Equivalence’ Between Survivors and the Accused, DeVos to Roll Back Title IX

After meeting with fringe “mens’ rights” group, Education Secretary will re-examine guidance that protects campus assault survivors

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-7-2017

Protesters left signs outside the Department of Education on Thursday as Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she would open a comment period before rolling back Title IX guidance. (Photo: @gregpiper/Twitter)

Advocates for sexual assault survivors criticized the Trump administration’s announcement on Thursday that it would roll back Obama-era guidance on campus assault.

As dozens of protesters gathered outside to demand continued protections for survivors, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a speech at George Mason University that the administration will begin a public comment period as it restructures its sexual assault policy—but she made clear that she would not uphold the previous administration’s guidance. Continue reading

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118-Mile March From Charlottesville Reaches DC Demanding End to White Supremacy

“This is the time for us to stand up for justice and equality.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. published 9-6-2017

“This is the time to confront white supremacy in our government and throughout our history,” the organizers of the march wrote. (Photo: Baynard Woods/Twitter)

The 118-mile March to Confront White Supremacy arrived in Washington, D.C. Wednesday after ten days of walking from Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of white supremacist violence that left one woman dead and many more injured. The march was organized to both denounce systemic racism and demand justice.

“We are marching from Charlottesville to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate our commitment to confronting white supremacy wherever it is found. It’s clear that we can no longer wait for Donald Trump or any elected official to face reality and lead,” the organizers wrote on their website ahead of the march. “This is the time for us to stand up for justice and equality. This is the time to confront white supremacy in our government and throughout our history.” Continue reading

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Ditching Watchdog, Betsy DeVos Signals ‘Open Season to Defraud’ Student Borrowers

A week after hiring for-profit college official to oversee fraud unit, Trump’s Education Department terminates relationship with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-5-2017

Student debt in the U.S. has reached more than $1.3 trillion. The Department of Education recently announced it would not work with the CFPB to hel students with complaints about their student loan servicers. (Photo: Tom Woodward/Flickr/cc)

Calling the move “outrageous and deeply troubling,” consumer advocates and opponents of skyrocketing student debt spoke out Tuesday against the Trump administration’s decision to end the working relationship between the Department of Education and the government watchdog tasked with helping oversee the federal student loan program and protect borrowers.

At the direction of Congress, under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, the Department of Education has shared information with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since 2011 in order to provide assistance to borrowers with complaints about Federal student loans. But the Department, now run by Secretary Betsy DeVos, informed the Bureau in a letter last week that it was ending the relationship. Continue reading

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In NAFTA Talks, Canada Demands US Drop Anti-Union ‘Right to Work’ Laws

Right to work laws are “a sledgehammer that dilutes worker organization and bargaining, paving the way for lower wages and a host of labor violations”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-4-2017

“A total of 28 states, including three this year, have passed right-to-work legislation,” writes Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. (Photo: Together We Will SJ‏/Twitter)

Canada has demanded that the United States eliminate anti-union “right-to-work” laws as part of ongoing NAFTA negotiations, the Canadian Globe and Mail reported.

One group of negotiators spent all day Sunday working on the labor file,” The Globe and Mail noted. “One source familiar with the discussions said Canada wants the United States to pass a federal law stopping state governments from enacting right-to-work legislation; the source said the United States has not agreed to such a request.”

In addition, Canadian negotiators are reportedly pressuring both the United States and Mexico “to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does.” Continue reading

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