Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Donating to help women get abortions is a First Amendment right – protected by Supreme Court precedent

An abortion provider in San Antonio had to turn patients away after the June 24, 2022, Supreme Court ruling.
Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Lucinda M. Finley, University at Buffalo

Several Texas abortion funds – which are charities that help people who can’t afford to get an abortion pay for their travel, lodging and medical bills – paused disbursements on June 24, 2022, after the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have no constitutional right to the procedure.

The Lilith, Equal Access, Frontera and other funds said they were taking this step to assess the legal consequences of the court’s ruling in Texas, which already had some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws. Abortion funds in some other states, including Oklahoma, were also reportedly halting their work. Continue reading

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‘An Act of Conquest’: Native Americans Condemn SCOTUS Tribal Sovereignty Ruling

“Every few paragraphs of the majority opinion has another line that dismissively and casually cuts apart tribal independence that Native ancestors gave their lives for,” observed one Indigenous law professor.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 6-29-2022 by Common Dreams

The United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. ruled on June 29, 2022 that authorities in Oklahoma and other states can prosecute certain crimes on sovereign tribal land. Photo: Beatrice Murch/flickr/CC

Indigenous leaders on Wednesday condemned a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows authorities in Oklahoma and other states to prosecute certain crimes on sovereign tribal land, a narrowing of a landmark 2020 decision affirming Native treaty rights.

Writing for the majority in the 5-4 Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta decision—in which Neil Gorsuch joined the three liberal justices in dissent—Justice Brett Kavanaugh asserted that “the federal government and the state have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians in Indian Country.” Continue reading

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New GOP Laws ‘Will Devastate Abortion Access Across Large Parts of the Nation’

“Florida has been a critical haven for abortion access in the South, and this ban will decimate abortion access for Floridians and the entire region,” one group said after the governor’s signature.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 4-14-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Adam Fagen/flickr/CC

After Florida’s GOP governor on Thursday signed a 15-week abortion ban inspired by a contested Mississippi law that could soon reverse Roe v. Wade, pro-choice advocates warned of impacts across the region, given that the Sunshine State has long been “an oasis of reproductive care in the South.”

With Gov. Ron DeSantis’ support, Florida’s law is set to take effect this summer. His signature came after Republican state legislators in Kentucky on Wednesday overrode their Democratic governor’s veto of a similar bill and GOP Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed a near-total abortion ban. Continue reading

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Oklahoma state officials resist Supreme Court ruling affirming tribal authority over American Indian country

Large portions of Oklahoma are governed, at least in part, by tribal jurisdiction.
crimsonedge34 via Wikimedia Commons

Kirsten Matoy Carlson, Wayne State University

It’s unusual for someone to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit one of its decisions. It’s very rare for that to happen almost immediately after the ruling was issued. But in the two years since the court’s ruling in a key case about Native American rights, the state of Oklahoma has made that request more than 40 times.

State officials have also repeatedly refused to cooperate with tribal leaders to comply with the ruling, issued in 2020 and known as McGirt v. Oklahoma. Local governments, however, continue to cooperate with the tribes and show how the ruling could actually help build connections between the tribal governments and their neighbors. Continue reading

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‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Linked to 11% Spike in US Gun Homicides: Study

Researchers say the state-level laws “should be reconsidered to prevent unnecessary violent deaths.”

By Kenny Stancil, Published 2-21-2022 by Common Dreams

About 1000 people filled the Minnesota capitol rotunda in 2018 to demand stricter gun control laws. They protested against “stand your ground” and “permit-less carry” laws and demanded stricter laws on guns such as a ban on assault rifles. Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/CC

So-called “stand your ground” laws are associated with hundreds of additional homicides each year in the United States, according to new research conducted by public health scholars, who say that these laws “should be reconsidered to prevent unnecessary violent deaths.”

Published Monday in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed medical journal, the study compares homicide trends in roughly two dozen states that enacted stand-your-ground (SYG) laws between 2000 and 2016 with patterns from 18 states that didn’t have such laws during the study period. Continue reading

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‘A Win for Civil Rights’: Federal Judge Blocks Florida GOP’s Anti-Protest Law

The court’s decision, said a coalition of civil rights groups, “serves as a powerful reminder that such unjust and unconstitutional efforts cannot stand.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Puvlished 9-10-2021

George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia/CC

Civil liberties and racial justice advocates are celebrating after a federal judge ruled Thursday that Florida’s anti-protest law is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.

In his 90-page decision (pdf) granting civil rights groups’ request for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the law—passed by Florida’s GOP-controlled House and Senate and signed in April by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to demonstrations against police violence and racial injustice—violates rights to free speech and peaceful assembly as well as due process protections. Continue reading

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Feds Targeted BLM Activists to Foil Racial Justice Protests: Report

“The federalization of protest-related charges was a deliberate and cynical effort to target and discourage those who protested in defense of Black lives.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-19-2021

George Floyd protest in Philadelphia 6-1-2020. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

As Black Lives Matter protests grew across the U.S. following the police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, so did the federal government’s persecution of activists who marched in support of racial justice.

That’s according to a new report released Wednesday by the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) clinic at the City University of New York School of Law. Continue reading

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‘This Is a Scandal’: Documents Reveal Obama’s EPA Approved Toxic Chemicals for Fracking in 2011

“We still don’t know the full extent of toxic chemicals that companies are using in their fracking operations. Why is the EPA allowing them to poison our communities without consequence?”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-12-2021

A fracking rig behind a housing development Photo: WildEarth Guardians/flickr/CC

Between 2012 and 2020, fossil fuel corporations injected potentially carcinogenic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or chemicals that can degrade into PFAS, into the ground while fracking for oil and gas, after former President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency approved their use despite agency scientists’ concerns about toxicity.

The EPA’s approval in 2011 of three new compounds for use in oil and gas drilling or fracking that can eventually break down into PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” was not publicized until Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) obtained internal records from the agency through a Freedom of Information Act request, the New York Times reported Monday after reviewing the files.

According to PSR’s new reportFracking with “Forever Chemicals, oil and gas companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and others engaged in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have since 2012 pumped toxic chemicals that can form PFAS into more than 1,200 wells in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.

While the Times noted that the newly released documents constitute some of the earliest evidence of the possible presence of PFAS in fracking fluids, PSR’s report warns that “the lack of full disclosure of chemicals used in oil and gas operations raises the potential that PFAS could have been used even more extensively than records indicate, both geographically and in other stages of the oil and gas extraction process, such as drilling, that precede the underground injections known as fracking.”

“It’s very disturbing to see the extent to which critical information about these chemicals is shielded from public view,” Barbara Gottlieb, PSR’s Environment & Health Program director, said Monday in a press release. “The lack of transparency about fracking chemicals puts human health at risk.”

As the Times reported:

In a consent order issued for the three chemicals on Oct. 26, 2011, EPA scientists pointed to preliminary evidence that, under some conditions, the chemicals could “degrade in the environment” into substances akin to PFOA, a kind of PFAS chemical, and could “persist in the environment” and “be toxic to people, wild mammals, and birds.” The EPA scientists recommended additional testing. Those tests were not mandatory and there is no indication that they were carried out.

“The EPA identified serious health risks associated with chemicals proposed for use in oil and gas extraction, and yet allowed those chemicals to be used commercially with very lax regulation,” Dusty Horwitt, a researcher at PSR, told the newspaper.

In a statement released Monday, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, called the PSR report “alarming,” and said it “confirms what hundreds of scientific studies and thousands of pages of data have already shown over the last decade: fracking is inherently hazardous to the health and safety of people and communities in proximity to it, and it should be banned entirely.”

As PSR notes, PFAS—highly potent toxins that accumulate in the body and persist in the environment—pose a threat to human and environmental well-being. Negative health effects linked to PFAS include low infant birth weights, disruptions of the immune and reproductive systems, and cancer.

“The potential that these chemicals are being used in oil and gas operations should prompt regulators to take swift action to investigate the extent of this use, pathways of exposure, and whether people are being harmed,” said Linda Birnbaum, board-certified Ph.D. toxicologist and former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Hauter added that “this says nothing of the dreadful impact fossil fuel extraction and burning is having on our runaway climate crisis. Fracking threatens every person on the planet, directly or indirectly.”

According to the Times:

In a 2016 report, the EPA identified more than 1,600 chemicals used in drilling and fracking, or found in fracking wastewater, including close to 200 that were deemed carcinogens or toxic to human health. The same EPA report warned that fracking fluid could escape from drill sites into the groundwater and that leaks could spring from underground wells that store millions of gallons of wastewater.

Communities near drilling sites have long complained of contaminated water and health problems that they say are related. The lack of disclosure on what sort of chemicals are present has hindered diagnoses or treatment. Various peer-reviewed studies have found evidence of illnesses and other health effects among people living near oil and gas sites, a disproportionate burden of which fall on people of color and other underserved or marginalized communities.

“The Obama-Biden administration approved the use of toxic PFAS chemicals for fracking a decade ago,” said Hauter, “and all these years later, President Joe Biden’s practices haven’t seemed to change a bit.”

“The Biden administration has claimed to be concerned about PFAS contamination throughout the country,” Hauter said. “Biden himself pledged during the campaign to halt new fracking on federal lands. Meanwhile, this administration is approving new fracking permits at a pace similar to Trump, with no letup in sight.”

Earlier this month, whistleblowers at the EPA accused the Biden administration of continuing the “war on science,” with managers at the agency allegedly modifying reports about the risks posed by chemicals and retaliating against employees who report the misconduct.

As Common Dreams reported, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a formal complaint on behalf of four scientists with the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, demanding an investigation into reports that high-level employees routinely delete crucial information from chemical risk assessments or change the documents’ conclusions to give the impression that the chemicals in question are safer.

Calling Monday’s revelations about the Obama administration’s decision to greenlight the use of PFAS in fracking “a scandal that should lead every nightly news program,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org and director of Fossil Free Media, noted that “we still don’t know the full extent of toxic chemicals that companies are using in their fracking operations.”

“Why is the EPA allowing them to poison our communities without conscience?” he asked.

Hauter called on Biden “to immediately make good on his promise to halt new fracking on federal lands,” adding that “his administration must take urgent action to contain the use of PFAS chemicals and their deadly spread into our water and our communities.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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100 years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, lessons from my grandfather

Smoke rises from damaged properties after the Tulsa race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June 1921. Oklahoma Historical Society via Getty Images

Gregory B. Fairchild, University of Virginia

When Viola Fletcher, 107, appeared before Congress in May 2021, she called for the nation to officially acknowledge the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

I know that place and year well. As is the case with Fletcher – who is one of the last living survivors of the massacre, which took place when she was 7 – the terror of the Tulsa race riot is something that has been with me for almost as long as I can remember. My grandfather, Robert Fairchild, told the story nearly a quarter-century ago to several newspapers. Continue reading

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GOP Oklahoma Governor Signs Trio of ‘Cruel and Unnecessary’ Anti-Choice Bills Into Law

“These extreme bills are designed to cut off abortion access for people in Oklahoma—a state that already has more abortion restrictions than almost any other.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-26-2021

Stop Abortion Bans Rally in St Paul, Minnesota 2019. Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr/cc

Reproductive rights advocates on Monday excoriated Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt after the Republican signed into law a trio of anti-choice bills they say are among the nation’s most draconian.

Declaring he was keeping his “promise to sign all pro-life legislation,” Stitt approved the following bills, which will take effect on November 1: Continue reading

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