Tag Archives: Civil Rights

CIA Operative Gina Haspel Who Tortured, Ordered CIA Torture Tapes Destroyed, and Now Wants To Lead CIA Did Nothing Wrong, Says CIA

“Torture was illegal and immoral after 9/11, and it still is now,” warn critics. And Gina Haspel “should never be allowed to work for the American people again.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2018

Gina Haspel, who was in charge of a black site in Thailand where torture occurred and ordered the destruction of CIA tapes of the human rights violations, has been nominated to become director of the spy agency. (Photo: CIA / with overlay)

In what critics are calling a bald attempt to help Trump’s controversial pick to lead the CIA get through a very difficult confirmation process, the CIA on Friday released a previously classifed memo in which Gina Haspel was “cleared” of any wrongdoing when she destroyed more than 90 videotapes of agency operatives torturing human beings.

According to the Associated Press, which first reported the story, the CIA on Friday “gave lawmakers a declassified memo Friday showing [Haspel] was cleared years ago of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes showing terror suspects being waterboarded after 9/11.” Continue reading

Share

Drones Will Soon Use Artificial Intelligence to Decide Who to Kill

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society

By Peter Lee. Published 4-11-2018 by The Conversation

An Air Force RPA reconnaissance drone is retrofitted for use in attack squadron. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The US Army recently announced that it is developing the first drones that can spot and target vehicles and people using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a big step forward. Whereas current military drones are still controlled by people, this new technology will decide who to kill with almost no human involvement.

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society. There is a chance that warfare will move from fighting to extermination, losing any semblance of humanity in the process. At the same time, it could widen the sphere of warfare so that the companies, engineers and scientists building AI become valid military targets. Continue reading

Share

New AUMF? Critics Warn Against Giving Trump—or Any President—Power to Wage War ‘Virtually Anywhere on the Planet’

The proposal follows Trump’s illegal weekend attack on Syria

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-16-2018

Protesters marched in New York City to oppose military action against Syria in 2013. (Photo: The All-Nite Images/Flickr/cc)

As the 17-year-old War on Terror rages on—and with the international community still reeling from the illegal missile strikes that the U.S., U.K., and France launched on Syria over the weekend—Congress is considering a measure that critics warn will expand the executive branch’s authority to wage war.

Some lawmakers have tried for years to replace the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been used (pdf) by three administrations to justify military actions across the globe. Now that President Donald Trump has repeatedly ignored reminders that only Congress can approve attacks not covered by the authorization, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) plan to introduce a new AUMF that could give even more war powers to the president.

Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, explained that under the proposed AUMF described in reports on Monday, Trump would essentially “get a blank check from Congress to go to war virtually anywhere on the planet.”

Outlining his concerns with various aspects of the proposal, Anders concludes it “would cause colossal harm to the Constitution’s checks and balances, would jeopardize civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad, and would lead to a breathtakingly broad expansion of war without meaningful oversight.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told NBC News that he worries “about an AUMF that is more permissive than what the president currently interprets his authority to be,” adding: “It’s gonna be hard for me to support something that has no sunset and no geographic limitation.”

Columbia Law School professor Matthew Waxman, a former national security official in the George W. Bush administration, said that an AUMF without an expiration date will bolster concerns among those who fear that greenlighting a new measure “entrenches an indefinite war.”

“The political reality, though, is that a much more restrictive AUMF won’t be possible anytime soon,” Waxman said, “and we’ll be engaged in an indefinite war either way.”

Reports about the new AUMF—which could be introduced as early as Monday—follow Kaine’s controversial comments to “CBS This Morning” earlier in the day.

While Kaine sharply criticized the attack on Syria as an “illegal military act,” the senator also said he would have “likely” supported it if Trump had asked for permission from Congress first.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—a long-time critic of the 2001 AUMF and the only member of Congress to vote against it—swiftly condemned Trump’s weekend attack, but many more were criticized for their apparent indifference or tempered responses to Trump’s unconstitutional act.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Share

With Walkout and Rally Planned for Monday, Teachers’ Anger Over Low Pay and Lack of Funding Spreads to Colorado

“Educators are fed up…Colorado has, year over year over year, significantly underfunded our public schools.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-15-2018

Teachers in Arizona last week wore red during a “walk-in,” preceding a possible walkout, to demand school funding. Colorado teachers plan to do the same on Monday. (Photo: @SenQuezada29/Twitter)

Colorado’s teachers’ union expects more than 400 teachers at a rally that’s planned for Monday at the state’s Capitol in Denver.

Continue reading

Share

Here We Go Again: Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Won’t Fix Anything

Current trade agreements are great at creating more billionaires, not so much at protecting the interests of workers.

By . Published 4-13-2018 by YES! Magazine

 

On Thursday, President Trump flipped his position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, suggesting the U.S. might want to rejoin the pact. His announcement sent Wall Street indices shooting upward in jubilation and angered labor leaders. It left China—which has been sorting out how to respond to Trump’s announced steel and aluminum tariffs—even more bewildered as criticism grows of its “Made in China 2025” initiative to dominate the high-technology sector.

Trump’s about-face is especially striking given that exiting the TPP was a crucial plank in his economic agenda on the campaign trail and one of his first acts as president. That pledge played well to the frustrations of people who know the global economy is ripping them off and are understandably angry. Continue reading

Share

Republicans Unveil Proposal to Push One Million Off Food Stamps

“Rich people who don’t need it get lavish billion-dollar handouts from this president…The struggling poor, on the other hand, are going to see new work requirements attached to their $1.40-a-meal food stamp.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-13-2018

Social welfare advocates on Friday denounced a proposal included in a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill which would impose work requirements on most adults who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. The proposal represents the first concrete attempt by Republicans to erode the social safety net since President Donald Trump took office.

Critics said the plan showed blatant hostility toward the 42 million Americans who rely on the program, and that it would do nothing to “break the poverty cycle” as House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) claimed on Thursday. Continue reading

Share

Confirming He ‘Does Not Give a Crap About Working People,’ Trump Proposes Rejoining TPP

“In a series of broken promises Trump made to the working people of this country, rejoining the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the biggest yet,” warned Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-12-2018

Photo: End the Illusion

As if his enormous tax cuts for the rich, attacks on the safety net, and efforts to help bosses steal their employees’ tips weren’t proof enough, President Donald Trump further demonstrated that he “does not give a crap about working people” on Thursday by telling lawmakers he is considering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact he withdrew from last year and repeatedly derided as “terrible.”

In a statement responding to the news that Trump has directed his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to examine options for reentering the 11-nation accord, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen argued that the president’s move “could bring short term joy to Democratic campaign operatives” but would be yet another signal that Trump “cannot be trusted on anything.” Continue reading

Share

On Equal Pay Day, New Study Shows Wage Gap Actually Growing for Women Under 40

Advocates are demanding equitable policies such as paid parental leave and affordable childcare while also declaring “we must address harassment and discrimination!”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-10-2018

Several women’s advocacy groups marked Equal Pay Day by delivering a petition to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to demand the agency collect American employers’ pay data to accurately monitor the nation’s gender wage gap. (Photo: @AAUW/Twitter)

A new report released on Equal Pay Day shows that the gender wage gap has actually worsened for women under 40 in recent years, despite increased media attention on the issue alongside mounting demands that businesses and politicians crack down on workplace sexual harassment, which researchers have tied to pay inequality.

Pay ratio

“Despite the great awareness of the gender equity issue, there is evidence that we have lost ground on this important measure of equality,” said John Schwarz, chief executive of Visier, the workforce analytics firm that conducted the study. “These findings should be a wake-up call to business leaders.” Continue reading

Share

With ‘Merger From Hell’ Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Warnings of Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System

Watchdog groups raise concerns after Wall Street Journal reports that Bayer’s bid to acquire Monsanto has been approved.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-9-2018

(L-R) Executive Vice President for the Agriculture Division of the E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company James Collins, President and CEO of Dow AgroSciences, LLC, Tim Hassinger, CEO of Syngenta International AG Erik Fyrwald, President and CEO of Bayer CropScience North America Jim Blome, and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the Monsanto Company Robb Fraley testify during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee September 20, 2016 on Capitol in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on ‘Consolidation and Competition in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Industry.’Photo: Zimbio

Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the United States.

The reported approval from the Justice Department came “after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets,” the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up. Continue reading

Share

Israeli Sniper Targets, Kills Journalist in “PRESS” Vest

Corbyn: “The silence from international powers with the responsibility of bringing a just settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict must end.”

By CommonDreams. Published 4-7-2018

Sources in Gaza have confirmed that journalist Yaser Murtaja has died after being shot in the abdomen by an Israeli sniper while covering the protests. He was clearly wearing a vest that identified him as press.

Yaser Murtaja, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, was wearing a “PRESS” flak jacket as he was shot by an Israeli sniper Friday. He died of his injuries in a hospital on Saturday.

The 30-year-old journalist was one of nine people killed and more than 1,000 injured by Israeli troops Friday on the Gaza border.

Thousands of Palestinians continued “The Great March of Return,” the week-long protest on Friday, demanding the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families were driven out when Israel was created. Continue reading

Share