Tag Archives: Democracy

Southern Kurdistan’s Referendum: Self-Destiny doesn’t need Permission

Every flower that sprouts in the mountains had to first break through a rock.

By. Dr. Thoreau Redcrow. Published 9-22-2017 by the Region

Rallies and celebrations take place throughout Kurdistan as the referendum vote approaches Monday’s date.. Photo: Al Arabiya/Twitter

 

In a few days on September 25th the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Southern Kurdistan / Bashur (i.e. northern “Iraq”) is set to hold a non-binding aspirational referendum on their region’s independence. For many of the 6+ million Kurds of Bashur it is undoubtedly a day they have dreamt of or longed for; perhaps even a chance which seemed all but a fantasy through the billowing smoke of chemical bombs in Hełebce, or Saddam’s mass graves of the 1980’s.

Moreover, although this referendum is only related to one of the four regions of Greater Kurdistan—leaving those 20+ million Kurds of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), 12 million Kurds of northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and 2-3 million Kurds of northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) awaiting their own eventual ‘independence day’—I have still anecdotally witnessed a surge in Kurdish patriotism and excitement throughout wider Kurdistan and the diaspora at the possibility that the first of the four dominoes may finally fall. Continue reading

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‘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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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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“Vindictive”: CODEPINK Activist Who Laughed During Jeff Sessions’ Hearing to Face New Trial

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this,” said Desiree Fairooz

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-2-2017

Desiree Fairooz (left), seen on May 10, 2017, just days after she was convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing. (Photo: Susan Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

CODEPINK activist Desiree Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ confirmation hearing, will face a second trial this fall after she rejected a plea deal on Friday.

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this. Vindictive!” she wrote on Twitter, while CODEPINK called it “ridiculous.”

As Common Dreams reported, she was convicted in May of disorderly and disruptive conduct during the hearing. While Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” Fairooz, who was in the hearing room, laughed. She held up a sign that read “Support Civil Rights; Stop Sessions” as she was placed under arrest and taken out of the room. Continue reading

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As Tech Giants Threaten Democracy, Calls Grow for New Anti-Monopoly Movement

“It is time for citizens in America and all over the world to stand up to the bullies in our society, the monopolists.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-1-2017

“Americans are fed up with monopolies rigging our economy and politics,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). (Photo: takomabibelot/Flickr/cc)

A major Washington-based think tank’s decision to fire a prominent Google critic earlier this week brought to the surface the massive and “disturbing” influence large tech companies have on political debate in the U.S., leading many analysts and lawmakers to call for the creation of an anti-monopoly movement to take on the threat consolidated corporate power poses to the democratic process.

As Brian Fund and Hamza Shaban note in an analysis for the Washington Post, “funding of think tanks is just one way Silicon Valley is expanding its influence in Washington.” Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are also “regularly setting records in their spending on lobbying and are pushing as many as 100 issues—or more—every year.” Continue reading

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Poll: ‘Scary’ Number of Republicans Support Court-Ordered Press Censorship

45 percent of Republicans favor giving courts the power to shutter “biased” media outlets—a number commentators argued should be “scary for anyone concerned about the future of American democracy.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-1-2017

“This poll seems to show one way how Donald Trump’s norm breaking is trickling down and shaping the opinions of rank-and-file Republicans,” said Will Jordan of the Global Strategy Group. (Photo: Majunznk/Flickr/cc)

As the Trump administration continues to make headlines for its attacks on the press and its attempts to prevent journalists from adequately covering White House press briefings, a recent YouGov/Economist poll (pdf) found that 45 percent of Republicans support giving courts the power to shut down “biased” media outlets—a result commentators argued should be “scary for anyone concerned about the future of American democracy.”

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly pilloried specific journalists and the news media more broadly; at one point he suggested that the First Amendment gives the press “too much freedom.” He has also continued to label the press “the enemy of the American people.” Continue reading

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Kobach Under Fire as Pushback to ‘Repugnant’ Voter Data Demand Swells

Trump’s vice chair of “voting integrity” commission stands accused of violating Hatch Act

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-4-2017

“We deem the President’s Election Integrity Commission to be a baseless tool to promote voter suppression and Mr. Kobach’s unlawful abuse of his role as head of the Commission for partisan ends only underscores the illegitimacy of the Commission itself,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. (Photo: Penn State/flickr/cc)

As the number of states rejecting a “repugnant” and “alarming” voter data demand from the Trump administration’s so-called Election Integrity Commission swells to 41, one of the officials at the helm of that commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is under fire for allegedly violating federal law.

A civil rights group says that in his role as commission vice chair, Kobach, a Republican who’s been dubbed “the king of voter suppression,” appears to have violated the Hatch Act.

The 1939 law, which applies to Kobach in his role as committee vice chair, bars federal employees from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” Continue reading

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After 16 Years, House Panel Takes Step to Cancel ‘Blank Check for Endless War’

‘The 2001 AUMF has provided three administrations with a blank check for war’

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-30-2017

“At long last, I am pleased that my Democratic and Republican colleagues supported my effort to put an end to the overly broad blank check for war that is the 2001 AUMF,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). (Photo: Alex Guerrero/flickr/cc)

A House committee on Thursday took a surprising—yet welcome—step towards canceling the “blank check for endless war.”

That’s because the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee passed a repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used justify ongoing military actions in regions around the world spanning the George W. Bush, Obama, and now Trump administrations.

The amendment to the 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill was put forth by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—the sole member of Congress to vote against the AUMF passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack—and would repeal the AUMF 240 days after enactment of the appropriations bill. Continue reading

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Alarm Raised as Trump Election Panel Requests Detailed Data on All US Voters

‘This meritless inquisition opens the door for a misguided and ill-advised Commission to take steps to target and harass voters and could lead to purging of the voter rolls.’

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-29-2017

Voting line i Brooklyn, 2008. Photo by April Sikorski from Brooklyn, USA (vote here) [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Voting and civil rights advocates are ringing alarm bells on Thursday after it was learned that an election commission established by Donald Trump—one which critics feared from its inception would be used to suppress, not protect, voter access—had sent requests to all fifty states demanding personal and detailed information about voters.

According to The Hill, a letter was sent from Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State in Kansas and vice chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, asking the states for “several pieces of information about voters, including their names, birthdays, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and their voting history dating back to 2006.”

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Rev. William Barber Says GOP Voter Suppression the ‘Real Hacking’ of US Democracy

“We would not be having this healthcare deconstruction if we had the Voting Rights Act!”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-23-2017

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber. Photo: YouTube

In an effort to bring national attention to “homegrown voter suppression” and to launch a campaign of “moral resistance” against Republican attempts to strip healthcare from millions, Rev. William J. Barber and other faith leaders marched in Washington on Friday just ahead of the anniversary of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Writing for NBC News prior to the march, Barber—a member of the NAACP national board of directors and a key figure in the successful effort to overturn North Carolina’s racially gerrymandered districts—argued that absent deliberate efforts by Republican lawmakers to prevent minorities from voting, a Donald Trump victory “would have never been possible.” Continue reading

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