Tag Archives: First Amendment

With Little Fanfare, William Barr Formally Announces Orwellian Pre-Crime Program

A recent memorandum authored by Attorney General William Barr announced a new “pre-crime” program inspired by “War on Terror” tactics and is set to be implemented next year.

By Whitney Webb. Published 10-25-2019 by MintPress News

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Last Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a memorandum to all U.S. attorneys, law enforcement agencies and top ranking Justice Department officials announcing the imminent implementation of a new “national disruption and early engagement program” aimed at detecting potential mass shooters before they commit any crime.

Per the memorandum, Barr has “directed the Department [of Justice] and the FBI to lead an effort to refine our ability to identify, assess and engage potential mass shooters before they strike.” The Attorney General further described the coming initiative, slated to be implemented early next year, as “an efficient, effective and programmatic strategy to disrupt individuals who are mobilizing towards violence, by all lawful means.” More specific information about the program is set to follow the recent memorandum, according to Barr, though it is unclear if that forthcoming document will be made public. Continue reading

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US State Dept. Under Fire for Using Official Website to Promote Pompeo’s “Christian Nationalist Talking Points”

“The Department of State looks more like it should be representing the Republic of Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale than an America that respects religious equality under the law.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-15-2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered his address, titled “Being a Christian Leader,” to a gathering of the American Association of Christian Counselors last Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo: Screengrab/State Department Website)

The State Department on Monday was accused of blatantly violating the constitutional principle of separation of religion and government by plastering the homepage of its website with an October 11 speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touting his Christian faith.

Pompeo delivered his “Being a Christian Leader” address to a gathering of the American Association of Christian Counselors last Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. The Secretary of State’s trip to Nashville was funded by U.S. taxpayers. 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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DeVos Threatens to Cut Funding for Middle Eastern Studies Programs for ‘Portraying Islam Too Positively’

“This is what a real threat to free speech on a college campus looks like.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-22-2019

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Sunday marked a deadline for the University of North Carolina and Duke University to submit information to the Trump administration about the two schools’ Consortium for Middle East Studies, after the Department of Education accused the joint program of biases against Christianity and Judaism.

The DOE called on the schools to provide a list of events it is supporting in during the school year and a full list of courses it’s offering, claiming in a letter sent late last month that in the program, “there is a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.”
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‘Naked Attack on the Free Press’: Trump Allies Reportedly Raising $2 Million for Campaign to Discredit Journalists

“Intimidating reporters to influence coverage is a tactic of dictators and has no place here,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-3-2019

Donald Trump talks to the press in October of 2018. Screenshot: Fox News

Right-wing operatives allied with President Donald Trump are attempting to raise at least $2 million to fund a campaign to discredit journalists and editors at major U.S. media outlets like the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, New York Times, and HuffPost.

That’s according to a three-page fundraising pitch for the effort reviewed by Axios, which reported Tuesday that the group of Trump allies “claims it will slip damaging information about reporters and editors to ‘friendly media outlets,’ such as Breitbart, and traditional media, if possible.” Continue reading

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Critics Condemn Inclusion of Anti-Semitic, White Nationalist Blog Post in Daily Briefing Sent to Immigration Judges by Trump’s DOJ

“There is no bottom,” Rep. Ilhan Omar said of the Trump administration

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-23-2019

An immigration office in the U.S. Department of Justice sent an anti-Semitic blog post to the entire immigration court system this week, taken from an anti-immigration white nationalist website. (Photo: Ad DeCort/Flickr/cc)

A nationwide organization of U.S. immigration judges demanded immediate action to ensure that the U.S. Department of Justice operates without xenophobia, racism, and anti-semitism after the department sent an email with a link to a white nationalist website to employees of the immigration court system.

As Buzzfeed News first reported late Thursday, the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent a link to a blog post from the white nationalist website VDare, attacking immigration judges and calling for the decertification of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), as part of a regular news briefing it sends to all court employees. Continue reading

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Leaked Draft of Trump Executive Order to ‘Censor the Internet’ Denounced as Dangerous, Unconstitutional Edict

“In practice, this executive order would mean that whichever political party is in power could dictate what speech is allowed on the Internet.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-11-2019

“It’s hard to put into words how mind bogglingly absurd this executive order is,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, following a leaked White House draft of what her group has dubbed the ‘Censor the Internet’ order. Image: Public domain

Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a “Censor the Internet” executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect.

According to CNN, which obtained a copy of the draft, the new rule “calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.” Continue reading

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Citing CIA’s Dark History, Librarians Protest Agency’s Recruiting at Their Conference

“Everything they stand for is a violation of the values of librarianship, so we protested.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-24-2019

A protester holds a sign in front of the CIA’s exhibitor booth at the American Library Association’s 2019 annual conference. (Photo: Callan Bignoli)

A group of librarians demanded the American Library Association abide by its values on Friday as they staged a protest of the CIA’s presence and recruitment at the professional organization’s annual conference.

At the convention, which is taking place June 20-25 in Washington, D.C., the CIA is among the hundreds of exhibitors. Continue reading

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Investigating the investigative reporters: Bad news from Down Under

Australian federal police entering the Australian Broadcast Company headquarters on June 5, 2019. A.B.C. screenshot from videotape

Michael J. Socolow, University of Maine

Sometimes the best journalism tells us the worst news.

The United States has a tradition of learning troubling news through extraordinary reporting efforts from combat zones. During the Vietnam War, award-winning journalism revealed the slaughter of Vietnamese civilians by American soldiers at My Lai. More recently, reports describing the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq embarrassed the U.S. government.

Such investigative reporting ultimately helped American citizens hold accountable those charged with acting in their name. But that didn’t mean the news was welcome, or even appreciated, at the time. Continue reading

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‘Bigotry Is Deadly’: Warnings of ‘Normalized Hate Speech’ After Latest Threats Targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar

Despite threats to the congresswoman’s safety, Trump continued “using her as fodder for ridicule” in a weekend speech

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-7-2019

Ilhan Omar. Photo: Leopaltik1242 [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Advocacy groups, progressives, and politicians are warning about the dangers of “normalized hate speech” and Islamophobia after the latest round of threats targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee and one of the first Muslim congresswomen.

“The political environment, led by an Islamophobe in the White House, has normalized hate speech and emboldened bigots in their actions,” Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), said Saturday. Continue reading

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