Tag Archives: Public Citizen

Big Brother in the Age of Coronavirus: 100+ Groups Warn Against Exploiting Pandemic to Permanently Expand Surveillance State

“These are extraordinary times, but human rights law still applies.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2020

“Technology can play an important role in the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this does not give governments carte blanche to expand digital surveillance.” (Image: WITNESS/Twitter)

As the number of COVID-19 cases climbed toward a million worldwide on Thursday, over 100 human rights groups issued a joint statement warning that governments’ response to the coronavirus pandemic “must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance.”

The groups acknowledge that the public health crisis “requires a coordinated and large-scale response” but urge governments “to show leadership in tackling the pandemic in a way that ensures that the use of digital technologies to track and monitor individuals and populations is carried out strictly in line with human rights.” Continue reading

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You’ll Never Guess How Big Banks Want the Fed to Handle the Coronavirus: More Wall Street Deregulation

“Surely, the big banks aren’t craven enough to use COVID-19 as an excuse to lobby for long-sought regulatory rollbacks, right? Wrong!”

By for Common Dreams. Published 3-3-2020

The Bank Policy Institute, a lobbying group for big banks, drew criticism for a policy memo suggesting financial deregulation as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Phillipp/Flickr/cc)

A lobbying group for big banks in the United States came under fire Tuesday from financial industry experts for pressuring federal officials to push through long-sought regulatory rollbacks in response to the worldwide economic concerns sparked by the global coronavirus outbreak.

On Sunday, Bank Policy Institute (BPI) chief executive Greg Baer, head of research Francisco Covas, and chief economist Bill Nelson published a post on the group’s website entitled “Actions the Fed Could Take in Response to COVID-19.” The BPI is a lobbying group whose members include Bank of America, Citigroup JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Continue reading

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‘People, Poor Disabled People in Particular, Are Going to Die’: Trump Takes Axe to Medicaid

“Trump wants to destroy Medicaid while claiming to save it. This fiendish scheme is an Orwellian fable conjured up by the most shameless pack of liars to ever occupy our government.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-30-2020

CMS Administrator Seema Verma with President Donald Trump in 2018. Photo: White House

The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan allowing states to convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants, a longstanding conservative goal that critics warn could have deadly consequences for millions of vulnerable people who rely on the healthcare program as a major source of income.

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced the so-called “Healthy Adult Opportunity” initiative in a statement claiming the policy will “improve health outcomes and care” for low-income people. Continue reading

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‘To Protect Our Democracy,’ Tuesday Night Rallies Planned In All 50 States to Demand Congress Votes to Impeach Trump

“Americans from California to West Virginia are ready to hold their representatives accountable and declare that no one—not even the president—is above the law.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-15-2019

At more than 500 rallies planned for Tuesday evening, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to call on the U.S. House to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

The rallies will take place at congressional offices and other public spaces, the night before the House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power when he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and obstructing Congress by stonewalling its investigation. Continue reading

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With Support of Just One Republican, House Passes ‘Historic’ Bill to Restore and Expand Voting Rights

“Brings us one step closer to restoring the Voting Rights Act.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2019

The introduction of H.R. 4 on February 26, 2019. Photo: PFAW

Just one Republican—Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania—joined a united House Democratic caucus on Friday to pass what rights groups hailed as “historic” legislation to restore and expand voter protections that were gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, said passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) is a “critical step” in combating Republican voter suppression efforts that have proliferated in the six years since the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Continue reading

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Trump Labor Dept Slammed for ‘Wholly Inadequate’ Overtime Pay Rule That ‘Leaves Behind Millions of Workers’

“Once again, President Trump has sided with the interests of corporate executives over those of working people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2019

President Donald Trump speaks at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania on Aug. 13, 2019.. Screenshot: YouTube

Labor rights advocates and progressive economists slammed the Trump administration after the Department of Labor announced Tuesday a final rule on overtime pay to replace a bolder Obama-era proposal blocked by a federal court in Texas.

“While the administration may be trumpeting this rule as a good thing for workers, that is a ruse,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “In reality, the rule leaves behind millions of workers who would have received overtime protections under the much stronger rule, published in 2016, that Trump administration abandoned.” Continue reading

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Texas State Bill Would Make Protesting Pipelines a Felony on Par With Attempted Murder

“This needs to be a nation-wide story.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-17-2019

Activists in North Dakota confront pipeline construction activities. A Texas bill would impose steep penalties for such protests. (Photo: Speak Freely/ACLU)

A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.

H.B. 3557, which is under consideration in the state Senate after passing the state House earlier this month, ups penalties for interfering in energy infrastructure construction by making the protests a felony. Sentences would range from two to 10 years. Continue reading

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‘Time to Act’: Nationwide Protests Planned If Barr Fails to Release Full Mueller Report By Tuesday Night

“Barr has offered an alternate timeline for a redacted version of the report—but we deserve the full report and congressional leaders and the American people expect it now.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2019

“We are calling for a National Day of Action on Thursday, April 4, to demand that Attorney General William Barr #ReleaseTheReport if he fails to meet the deadline set by congressional leaders of Tuesday, April 2,” the Trump Is Not Above the Law coalition announced late Monday. (Image: Common Cause)

A coalition of progressive advocacy groups representing millions of Americans is planning mass protests nationwide if Attorney General William Barr fails to release the full Mueller report by Tuesday night, the deadline established by congressional Democrats.

“We are calling for a National Day of Action on Thursday, April 4, to demand that Attorney General William Barr #ReleaseTheReport if he fails to meet the deadline set by congressional leaders of Tuesday, April 2,” the Trump Is Not Above the Law coalition said late Monday. Continue reading

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Senate Urged to Reject ‘Walking, Talking Conflict of Interest’ David Bernhardt to Run Interior

“A dream come true for fossil fuel companies, but a nightmare for the American people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-27-2019

David Bernhardt during his confirmation hearing for deputy secretary 2018. Photo: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Environmental activists are calling on senators to reject the nomination of former fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The calls come ahead of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Thursday morning hearing to consider his nomination.

“David Bernhardt is a walking, talking conflict of interest,” said Alissa Weinman, a senior organizer for the nonprofit Corporate Accountability. “Between his Big Polluter ties and corporate lobbying connections, it’s clear Bernhardt will continue to serve the corporate interests to whom he owes his career, not the people or our public lands.” Continue reading

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‘Crushing Defeat’ for DeVos as Federal Judge Rules She Illegally Delayed Relief for Students Defrauded by For-Profit Colleges

“This is a major victory for student borrowers and for anyone who cares about having a government that operates under the rule of law, instead of as a pawn of the for-profit college industry.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-13-2018

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)

A Washington, D.C. federal judge has delivered a “crushing defeat” of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, ruling that the Trump-appointee illegally delayed Obama-era regulations to provide loan relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges.

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss, in a 57-page ruling (pdf) issued Wednesday, sided with consumer advocates and a coalition of 19 Democratic states attorneys general, determining that DeVos’s actions to delay the borrower defense rule were “unlawful,” “procedurally invalid,” and “arbitrary and capricious.” Continue reading

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