Tag Archives: Ron Wyden

‘Bombshell’: Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an “in-plain-sight national security threat,” one expert warned that “a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 12-3-2021 by Common Dreams

Photo: Unsplash

Multiple news outlets revealed Friday that Apple notified at least 11 U.S. State Department officials that their iPhones were recently hacked by an unknown party or parties with spyware developed by the private Israeli firm NSO Group.

The “bombshell,” first reported by Reuters, comes after Apple sued NSO Group last month in an effort to protect iPhone users from its Pegasus spyware, which the Israeli company claims to only sell to government law enforcement and intelligence agencies and was the focus of a major reporting project earlier this year. Continue reading

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Big Pharma Spent ‘Horrifying’ Sums of Money to Weaken Drug Price Reform

The industry is expected to break its lobbying record after spending tens of millions of dollars to undermine a popular proposal to reduce prescription drug costs.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 11-5-2021 by Common Dreams

Photo: Daniel Foster/flickr/CC

While progressive advocates are still optimistic that a limited drug pricing provision will be included in the Build Back Better Act, the Washington Post on Friday detailed the “massive, months-long advertising, lobbying, and political donation blitz” that Big Pharma and its allies carried out to kill a stronger and overwhelmingly popular proposal that would have done more to protect Americans from the industry’s deadly price gouging.

As Common Dreams has reported, pharmaceutical corporations and private health insurers spent $171 million on lobbying through the first nine months of the year, the most of any industry. Big Pharma’s 1,600 lobbyists outnumber members of Congress by a ratio of three to one. Continue reading

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‘Catastrophe’ Feared as 35 Million People Are Set to Lose Jobless Aid in 3 Days

“Millions will suffer as they lose this critical source of income and the loss of spending will suppress job growth.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-3-2021

Members of the Georgia State Defense Force from across the state pack supply boxes at Second Harvest of South Georgia food bank in Valdosta, Ga. Photo: Georgia National Guard/Wikimedia/CC

Millions of jobless workers are set to lose critical unemployment benefits in roughly 72 hours—and neither Congress nor the Biden administration seem prepared to do anything about it.

Despite the ongoing threat posed by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the White House and Democratic lawmakers have provided no indication that they plan to prevent several pandemic-related unemployment programs from expiring on September 6, which—in a cruel irony—happens to be Labor Day. Continue reading

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Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s “Big, Beautiful Tax Cut”

Billionaire business owners deployed lobbyists to make sure Trump’s 2017 tax bill was tailored to their benefit. Confidential IRS records show the windfall that followed.

by Justin Elliott and Robert Faturechi. Published 8-11-2021 by ProPublica

Image: Pixafree.org/CC BY-SA 3.0

 

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In November 2017, with the administration of President Donald Trump rushing to get a massive tax overhaul through Congress, Sen. Ron Johnson stunned his colleagues by announcing he would vote “no.”

Making the rounds on cable TV, the Wisconsin Republican became the first GOP senator to declare his opposition, spooking Senate leaders who were pushing to quickly pass the tax bill with their thin majority. “If they can pass it without me, let them,” Johnson declared. Continue reading

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Democrats Urged to Reject Latest GOP Attempt to Hold Social Security ‘Hostage’

“Lindsey Graham and his fellow Republicans will stop at nothing to cut the American people’s earned Social Security and Medicare benefits.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-2021

Senator Lindsey Graham. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday said he would be willing to vote to raise the federal debt ceiling in exchange for a policy that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a proposed trade-off that progressive advocacy groups implored Democrats to reject.

With members of Congress staring down an August deadline to increase the debt limit—the amount of money the federal government is legally permitted to borrow to meet its financial obligations—Graham (R-S.C.) told Bloomberg that he could bring himself to vote yes on a debt ceiling hike if Democrats agree to legislation establishing commissions tasked with crafting Social Security and Medicare “reforms.” Continue reading

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Privacy Champions Urge Passage of ‘Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale’ Act

“Intelligence and law enforcement agencies must come to understand that the American people are off limits to warrantless mass surveillance, no matter how it is done.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2021

Phpto: Microsiervos/flickr/CC

Federal agencies have taken advantage of legal loopholes to collect massive amounts of personal information from cell phone and internet users without congressional or judicial authorization for years, but that practice is being challenged by a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers who introduced legislation on Wednesday that would prevent the U.S. government from buying individuals’ information from data brokers without a court order.

Led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a group of 20 senators introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (pdf) in the upper chamber of Congress. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also unveiled an equivalent bill in the House. Continue reading

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Congress Urged to Take ‘Immediate Action’ to Stop Debt Collectors From Snatching Relief Checks

A legislative fix is needed, said one observer, to prevent “a flood of new judgments from debt collectors to siphon stimulus funds out.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-14-2021

Screenshot: C-SPAN

Direct payments from the newly approved coronavirus relief package began landing in people’s bank accounts with striking quickness this weekend, but a glaring shortcoming of the American Rescue Plan caused by the arcane procedural tool that Democrats used to pass the bill could prevent checks from reaching many vulnerable households.

Unlike the Covid relief bill that Congress passed through regular order in December, the new $1.9 trillion legislation does not include protections barring debt collectors from hoovering up the checks and using them to pay off people’s private debts—which, as The American Prospect‘s David Dayen put it, makes the American Rescue Plan “also a cash cow for debt collectors.” Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Alarmed by US Spy Agency’s Purchase of Warrantless Phone Location Data

“Congress must end this lawless practice and require the government to get a warrant for our location data, regardless of its source.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2021

Image: Free Press

Digital rights advocates reacted with alarm to a report published Friday detailing how Defense Intelligence Agency analysts in recent years bought databases of U.S. smartphone location data without first obtaining warrants.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is part of the Department of Defense and is tasked with informing military and civilian policymakers about the activities and intentions of foreign governments and nonstate actors. Continue reading

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‘This Is His Top Priority’: McConnell Advances Another Trump Judge as Covid Relief Bill Remains Unfinished

“As a government shutdown looms, and as the pandemic rages on across America, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to push through Trump’s judges until the very end.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-19-2020

Photo: THE WORLD NEWS/Twitter

Having kept the Senate in session over the weekend to complete work on a nearly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package and an omnibus government funding bill, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday moved to advance yet another of President Donald Trump’s right-wing judicial appointees as the desperately needed stimulus legislation remained unfinished.

The Republican-controlled Senate’s vote to limit debate on Thompson Michael Dietz, a Trump nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, came as Majority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) suggested that coronavirus relief talks could spill into Monday as negotiators struggled to resolve a number of outstanding issues. Continue reading

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