Category Archives: Women’s Issues

Prisoner strike exposes an age old American reliance on forced labor

American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.
Photo: Return to Now

Calvin Schermerhorn, Arizona State University

Prisoners in 17 states and several Canadian provinces are on strike in protest of prison labor conditions.

Their demonstrations are compelling Americans to understand that some everyday foods are produced behind bars, for cents on the hour, in a system many call “modern slavery.” Prisoners in the U.S. harvest and process eggs, orange juice, ground beef and fish. They also staff call centers, fight wildfires and make sugar.

For this work, they receive, on average, 86 cents a day, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group. Continue reading

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As Trump Obscures Anti-Worker Record Ahead of Labor Day, New Report Details His Actual Worker Agenda: ‘Drop Dead’

“Trump has betrayed America’s workforce, sacrificing lives at the altar of industry profits.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-1-2018

“The Trump administration has systematically dismantled fundamental health and safety protections, and undermined the very agency tasked with safeguarding America’s workforce,” Public Citizen’s Shanna Devine wrote in a new report. Photo: pxhere (Public Domain)

In the week leading up to Labor Day, President Donald Trump’s vicious anti-worker agenda has been on full display: In addition to abruptly canceling a modest pay raise for around two million public employees on Thursday, Trump also signed a retirement savings executive order that was denounced as a gift to Wall Street and “a cruel joke on American workers” facing a retirement income crisis.

Yet, as if none of these latest attacks on American workers took place, the White House issued its annual Presidential Labor Day Proclamation late Friday, touting what it describes as Trump’s “historic action to advance prosperity for the American worker.” Continue reading

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‘Massive Victory for the Whole Internet’ as California Passes Nation’s Strongest Net Neutrality Bill

“AT&T and Comcast spent enormous amounts of money lobbying to kill SB 822. They almost succeeded more than once, but we fought back.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-31-2018

“We did it. We passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation,” Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, the primary author of SB 822, said in a statement. (Photo: Fight for the Future)

In a major victory for the open internet that could have ripple effects throughout the United States, the California Senate on Friday thwarted aggressive lobbying by the telecom industry and passed the strongest, most comprehensive net neutrality bill in the nation.

“The passage of SB 822 in California has huge implications for our fight to restore neutrality nationwide,” declared the advocacy group Fight for the Future (FFTF) following Friday’s vote. “We also need to harness the momentum from this huge victory to put pressure on our elected officials in Congress.” Continue reading

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Just Hours After Ordering Pay Cut for Millions of Public Workers, Trump Proposes $100 Billion Gift to Richest 1%

“Trump wants to send another kiss to the rich—unilaterally, without any approval from Congress. He ignores the law, governs for the top one percent, and doesn’t give a hoot about the rest of us.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-31-2018

“Hours after cheating millions of middle class workers, Trump wants to send another kiss to the rich—unilaterally, without any approval from Congress,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) wrote on Twitter late Thursday. (Photo: Timothy Krause/cc/flickr)

Hours after he launched yet another “direct attack” on workers by canceling a modest pay raise for around two million federal employees, President Donald Trump told Bloomberg on Thursday that he is considering a regressive and possibly illegal plan to use his executive power to hand the rich another $100 billion in tax cuts by indexing capital gains to inflation.

“There are a lot of people that love it and some people that don’t,” Trump said of the plan, which would disproportionately reward the top 0.01 percent of Americans. “But I’m thinking about it very strongly.” Continue reading

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Amid ‘Epidemic’ of Campus Sexual Assault, Women’s Groups Decry Rollback of Protections by ‘See No Evil Betsy Devos’

“These new rules further protect abusers in a system that is already rigged in their favor.”

By Common Dreams. Published 8-30-2018

USC students protest the University’s handling of rape and sexual assault cases. (Kylie Nicholson/SCAR)

Women rights groups and victim advocates expressed outrage on Thursday following reports that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has plans to weaken federal protections for sexual assault survivors on U.S. campuses—reducing liability for school administrators and increasing protections for accused sexual predators.

The proposed rules, first reported by The New York Times, narrow the definition of sexual harassment to mean “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.” Continue reading

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Legal Analysis Exposes Kavanaugh’s Long History of Siding With Corporate Power Over the Common Good

“The most eye-catching conclusion,” says the author, is the Trump nominee’s inconsistent reasoning coupled with an “overwhelming tendency to reach conclusions favorable to corporations.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-29-2018

Critics of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh protested at Foley Square in New York City on Aug. 26. (Photo: Ivan Pereira/Twitter)

Bolstering calls for the Senate to block President Donald Trump’s deeply unpopular U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, an analysis out Wednesday reveals that Kavanaugh has overwhelmingly sided with corporate power over public interest while serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit over the past 12 years.

The new report (pdf), authored by Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, found that Kavanaugh ruled against public interest 87 percent of the time for more than 100 split-decision cases involving consumer and regulatory issues and administrative law, environmental protection, worker rights, alleged police or human rights abuses, and antitrust enforcement. Continue reading

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Eyeing Landmark Verdict in Roundup Cancer Case, Vietnam Demands Monsanto Be Held Liable Over Agent Orange

“We believe Monsanto should be responsible for compensating Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange for the damages caused by the company’s herbicides”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-27-2018

A man wears a shirt calling for justice for Agent Orange victims during the March Against Monsanto in San Francisco on May 23, 2015. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

In the wake of a U.S. court ordering Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man who says its weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer, Vietnam has called on the agrichemical giant to pay reparations to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

“This case is a precedent that rejects previous arguments that the herbicides supplied to the U.S. military by Monsanto and other U.S. chemical companies during the Vietnam War are not harmful to people’s health,” spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Tra said to reporters last week. Continue reading

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Lawyers Turn to Activism as Civil Liberties Come Under Attack

A new generation of social justice attorneys has risen to defend against the hard-line policies of the Trump administration, from immigration and abortion access to voting and gender rights.

By . Published 8-6-2018 by YES! Magazine

To train a new generation of lawyers to fight for the rights of immigrants after the 2016 elections, Claire Thomas started an asylum clinic at the New York City law school where she taught.

In Seattle, Michelle Mentzer retired five years early as an administrative law judge so she could volunteer as an attorney with the ACLU.

And in Texas, Anna Castro traded her full-time job for contract work so she could prepare to attend law school to better serve her community. Continue reading

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Saudis Move to Behead Female Activist as Facebook Censors Anti-Saudi Content

Although Saudi Arabia has killed or injured several thousand women in neighboring Yemen, beheading a female is completely unprecedented inside the Kingdom thus far.

By Randi Nord. Published 8-23-2018 by Geopolitics Alert

Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a 29-year-old woman activist for crimes such as chanting slogans at a protest. Beheading a woman is unprecedented in the kingdom. Meanwhile, Facebook has sprung into action to protect Riyadh’s back by initiating a crackdown on hundreds of accounts posting anti-Saudi content.

  • Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five activists with non-violent charges.
  • All of the activists belong to the kingdom’s historically oppressed Shia minority. One is a woman.
  • Facebook has coincidentally begun removing anti-Saudi accounts under the guise of fighting “Iranian interference.”
  • A private cybersecurity firm with ties to the US military tipped off Facebook to the accounts.

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Turkey’s currency collapse shows just how vulnerable its economy is to a crisis

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Sometimes you have to look back to move forward. AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Can Erbil, Boston College and Umit Ozlale, Özyeğin University

If you happen to be a tourist in Turkey right now, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, things look grim.

The Turkish lira has lost as much as a third of its value relative to the U.S. dollar in less than a month and recently hit a record low. As a result, all imported goods became more expensive practically overnight. And because Turkey is heavily dependent on foreign goods, most everything was affected, including gasoline, food, furniture and clothing. Turks are worried that more price hikes and possible shortages of imported medicine are on the way. Continue reading

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