Category Archives: Social Justice

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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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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By Allowing 6 Million Lead Service Lines to Stay In Ground, EPA’s Lead Rule Update Will Do Little to Protect Drinking Water, Critics Say

The EPA must remove service lines “before another generation of children grows up drinking lead from their kitchen tap water,” said the NRDC

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-10-2019

Water rights and public health groups said Thursday that the EPA’s overhaul of the nation’s lead rules would not do enough to protect people from lead toxicity. (Photo: wonderisland/Shutterstock)

Public health groups that have waited decades for the federal government to overhaul its lead-in-water rules were outraged Thursday over EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s “wrongheaded” plan to update the regulations .

The overhaul, which Wheeler detailed at a press conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin, does not include the removal of at least six million lead service lines that have been underground for decades. Continue reading

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In European First, Proposed Constitutional Amendment in Sweden Would Enshrine Rights of Nature

“When we’re in the beginning of an ecological and climate collapse,” said the lawmaker who introduced the measure, “I hope we can re-think our relationship with Nature.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-8-2019

Pine forest in Sweden. The proposed amendment to Sweden’s Instrument of Government would secure the Rights of Nature to “existera, blomstra, regenerera och utvecklas”—which translates as “exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve”—in order to provide the people and government of Sweden the ability to defend and enforce these rights on behalf of Nature. (Photo: Peter Lesseur / EyeEm/ iStock)

Heralded as the first of its kind in Europe, a proposed constitutional amendment in Sweden seeks to enshrine the rights of Nature to ensure that the creatures, fona, and features of the natural world are protected from exploitation and abuse by endowing them with legal status previously reserved only for humans and select animals.

The proposed amendment to Sweden’s Instrument of Government, the nation’s constitutional document, would secure the Rights of Nature to “existera, blomstra, regenerera och utvecklas”—which translates as “exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve”—in order to provide the people and government of Sweden the ability to defend and enforce these rights on behalf of Nature. 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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Another ‘Economic and Racist Attack’ as Trump Moves to Bar Immigrants Who Can’t Afford Costly Private Health Insurance

“Donald Trump is panicking, and using cruel attacks on immigrants to distract and sow fear.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-5-2019

Photo: Trevor Stone/CC

President Donald Trump announced late Friday that, effective Nov. 3, the U.S. will deny visas to immigrants who cannot afford America’s expensive health insurance without federal subsidies, a move rights groups decried as yet another cruel, racist, and unlawful attack on vulnerable people

“Health insurance is hard enough for immigrants to access in this county; it’s hard enough for citizens too,” tweeted United We Dream. “Our healthcare system is shot and the Trump administration knows this. This is another economic and racist attack on a community who deserves healthcare in the first place.” Continue reading

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IRS: Sorry, But It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor

Congress asked the IRS to report on why it audits the poor more than the affluent. Its response is that it doesn’t have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly. So it’s not going to.

By Paul Kiel. Published 10-2-2019 by ProPublica

Charles Rettig testifying at his confirmation hearing on June 28, 2018. Screenshot: C-SPAN

The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.

ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April. Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance. Rettig readily agreed. Continue reading

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Activists Who Confronted Mnuchin During UCLA Protest Now Facing Years in Jail

“Mnuchin was bragging about killing sanctions and their politics of cruelty, but we’re charged with ‘disturbing the peace’ for speaking loudly during his event!”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-1-2019

The UCLA 5, a group of protesters who demonstrated at an appearance Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave at UCLA in 2018, are facing potential jail time for their non-violent action. (Photo: @MichelleXai/Twitter)

Four non-violent campaigners said Tuesday that their First Amendment rights were violated last year by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who attempted to suppress video of the group’s peaceful demonstration against the Trump administration at an event at UCLA in 2018.

Opening arguments in the trial began Friday and continued Tuesday morning at the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Continue reading

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‘Chilling’: Mississippi City Claims Undocumented Man Killed by Police Had No Constitutional Rights

“We’re stunned that someone put this in writing,” a lawyer for Ismael Lopez’s family said.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-30-2019

A city in Mississippi is arguing that 41-year-old Ismael Lopez, who was killed by police who apparently mistook him for a domestic violence suspect, had no constitutional rights because he was an undocumented immigrant. (Photo: Kurman Communications/Flickr/cc)

A court filing publicized late last week drew outrage on Monday over the case of Ismael Lopez, a 41-year-old man who was killed by police two years ago in Southaven, Mississippi.

To avoid responsibility for the man’s death, attorneys for the city are arguing that Lopez had no constitutional rights due to his status as an undocumented immigrant—blatantly contradicting U.S. law and numerous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was among the immigrant rights defenders who drew attention to the case on social media. Continue reading

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