Tag Archives: First Amendment

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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The Peach State or ‘Banana Republic’? Critics Howl Over Georgia GOP’s Proposal to Target Journalists With Secretive Ethics Panel

“It’s not the government’s role to tell journalists how to do their jobs. This bill is unnecessary state meddling with the press.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-4-2019

Georgia state Rep. Andy Welch proposed a bill that would establish a “journalism ethics board” in the state. (Photo: @andywelchga/Twitter)

Press freedom advocates on Thursday warned of dangers posed by a bill put forward by Republicans in Georgia that would create a journalism ethics board in the state and subject reporters to fines if they don’t comply with the new rules.

The so-called “Ethics in Journalism Act” (H.B. 734) would establish an “independent” ethics board with members from the journalism profession selected by the University of Georgia, which is run by the state. The board would create “canons of ethics,” set up a system for issuing and investigating complaints about journalists and news outlets, and issue advisory opinions on whether news organizations have violated laws. Continue reading

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“It’s What Happens in a Totalitarian Regime”: Capitol Police Slammed for “Disturbing” Physical Attacks on Reporters

“It was insane, people were getting shoved into walls. It was unsustainable. It was violent.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-16-2019

Capitol Police became physically aggressive toward journalists who were trying to speak with senators at the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday afternoon, according to a Roll Call report. (Photo: @pkcapitol/Twitter)

Press freedom advocates and journalists described a Friday report of Capitol Police manhandling and shoving reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building as “bizarre” and “disturbing,” with some calling the altercation an incident far more likely to take place in a totalitarian regime than in a democracy.

As Roll Call reported Friday, Capitol Police pushed and “slammed into” reporters on Thursday afternoon around the time that senators were voting on the spending bill. The police attempted to prevent reporters from speaking to lawmakers—a practice that is common in the Senate Capitol basement, where the incident took place. Continue reading

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Blow to ‘Powerful Corporate Interests’ as Federal Court Throws Out Pipeline Company Lawsuit Against DAPL Water Protectors

Greenpeace lawyer confident that decision will deter other companies “from abusing the legal system in their quest to bully those who speak truth to power.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-15-2019

Krystal Two Bulls and other defendants celebrated on Thursday after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit targeting water protectors who organized against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). (Photo: EarthRights International/Twitter)

In a “landmark” ruling on Thursday, a federal court in North Dakota tossed out a “baseless” case against Greenpeace and other environmental and Indigenous activists who organized protests against the deeply controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which drew thousands of people to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 2016.

District Judge Billy Roy Wilson dismissed (pdf) all claims against all defendants in a lawsuit brought by fossil fuel giant Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which sought to hold the water protectors liable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for millions of dollars in alleged damages

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Anti-BDS Laws Challenged as Unconstitutional After Speech Pathologist Loses Job at Texas School for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Pledge


The case has cast a spotlight on all states with “laws that subordinate Americans’ free-speech rights to Israel’s ‘right’ to continue the occupation without criticism or consequence.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-17-2018


“It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats, you know, and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protect our constitutional rights,” speech pathologist Bahia Amawi said of American officials who pass anti-BDS measures, in a video published Monday by The Intercept. (Photo: YouTube/The Intercept)

Texas officials are facing an onslaught of criticism after a speech pathologist lost her job at an elementary school for refusing to sign a pro-Israel pledge mandated by state law—a case that has cast a spotlight on efforts to neutralize the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which opposes Israel’s oppression and slaughter of Palestinians.

According to a database maintained by a U.S.-based pro-Israel group, through executive orders and state-level legislation, elected officials in 26 states have imposed restrictions on people who wish to back BDS—a movement that was inspired by the 1980s initiative that helped force an end to racial apartheid in South Africa. Continue reading

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‘Shameful and Cowardly’: CNN Fires Marc Lamont Hill for Daring to Denounce Oppression of Palestinians

The firing of the cable news contributing analyst called “a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique the Israeli government, and for the ability of journalism and public discourse in the U.S. generally to accommodate dissent.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-30-2018

“I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice,” Hill wrote in a series of tweets after he was fired by CNN. (Photo: CNN/Screengrab)

In a move decried by critics as blatant suppression of dissent and an attack on all who advocate for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people, CNN on Thursday fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill for daring to denounce the oppression of Palestinians and endorse “a single secular democratic state for everyone” over the failed two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

CNN terminated Hill just 24 hours after he delivered a speech at a meeting of the U.N.’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, in which he expressed support for Palestinians’ resistance against brutal Israeli occupation, denounced Israel for actively depriving Palestinians of basic human rights, and called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” Continue reading

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With Statement Equal Parts ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Imbecilic,’ Trump Smears Khashoggi and Vows to Back Murderous Saudis

“This Donald Trump statement—simultaneously pledging never-ending support for Saudi Arabia and blaming Iran for every Middle East problem—reads like a 6th grader’s school report.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-20-2018

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

In a bizarre, exclamation point-riddled statement on Tuesday that one critic said reads more “like a 6th grader’s school report” than an official White House press release, President Donald Trump shrugged at the CIA’s conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—”maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”—and declared that the U.S. will continue to back Saudi Arabia because it is one of the world’s largest oil producers, a major purchaser of American arms, and an ally in the “fight against Iran.”

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn just hours after his statement went public, Trump said Khashoggi’s murder “is a very complex situation, it’s a shame, but it is what it is.” Continue reading

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Journalist James Risen: Trump Is Attacking Free Press ‘In a Way We Haven’t Seen in Modern American History’

“I think the Acosta incident is… a symbol of an attempt to discredit not only CNN but the entire press corps.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-19-2018

Screenshot: CNN

Speaking from his years of experience being pursued by the Obama Justice Department for simply practicing journalism and refusing to reveal his confidential sourcesIntercept reporter James Risen told The Hill on Monday that President Donald Trump is building on his predecessor’s war on the free press by “demagoguing” the media “in a way we haven’t seen in modern American history.”

“Obama tried to put me in jail for seven years… A lot of conservatives try to point to me as an example of Obama on press freedom and I fully agree with the view that he had a terrible record on press freedom,” Risen said. “The difference with Trump is that he is demagoguing the issue in a way we haven’t seen in modern American history.” Continue reading

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