Virginia’s uranium mining battle flips traditional views of federal and state power

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The Supreme Court is likely to rule on the case by June. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Cale Jaffe, University of Virginia

The Supreme Court will decide in 2019 whether a Virginia law that bans uranium mining is preempted by the Atomic Energy Act, the U.S. law governing the processing and enrichment of nuclear material.

The case, Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, will require the court to interpret laws governing nuclear fuel production. But its most significant, long-term impact might be the glimpse it provides into the court’s view of the proper balance between federal regulatory power and the rights of states in setting their own policies. Continue reading

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States are on the front lines of fighting inequality

 

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Rally in support of raising the minimum wage in University City, Mo. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Christopher Witko, Pennsylvania State University

When Democrats regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., almost immediately took aim at America’s growing income inequality by recommending a 70 percent tax rate on income over US$10 million.

Income inequality refers to the unequal distribution of income between the rich and poor.

Inequality in the U.S. has dramatically increased since the 1970s, under both liberal and conservative administrations in Washington. And the kind of policy Ocasio-Cortez is proposing will be impossible to pass with the polarized politics in Washington D.C. Continue reading

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Watch: Devastating New ‘Land of the Free’ Music Video Decries Violence and Cruelty of Trump’s America

Set to a short film by Spike Lee, The Killers take on Trump’s wall, tear-gassing of asylum-seekers, mass incarceration, and gun violence

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-15-2019

Filmmaker Spike Lee spent a few weeks in 2018 documenting migrants’ experiences at the U.S.-Mexico border for The Killers’ “Land of the Free” music video, over which he reportedly was given full creative control. (Photo: YouTube/screenshot)

In a powerful indictment of cruelty across the United States, The Killers’ new song “Land of the Free”—released Monday with a devastating music video directed by Spike Lee—decries President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, the dehumanization and abuse of asylum-seekers, mass incarceration, institutional racism, and the nation’s refusal to address the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence.

Watch: Continue reading

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Merkley Calls for FBI Perjury Probe into Homeland Secretary Nielsen After Child Detention Memo Leaked

“Merkley deserves a ton of credit for his leadership here. This is good, honest,

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2019

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Jan. 16, 2018. Photo: DHS/flickr

After releasing a damning draft memo that showed the Trump administration planned to “traumatize” migrant children with family separations and expedite deportation by denying asylum hearings, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday called for an FBI investigation into whether Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen lied when she testified before Congress about the policy.

In a letter sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the senator noted that “compelling new evidence has emerged revealing that high-level Department of Homeland Security officials were secretly and actively developing a new policy and legal framework for separating families as far back as December 2017.” Continue reading

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The ‘Shameful’ Answer to #WheresMitch? Not Ending Shutdown, But Voting on Extremist Anti-Choice Bill

“If Senator McConnell is able to push through an anti-abortion bill to score political points, he surely should be able to schedule a vote on the House of Representatives’ bills to reopen the government.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-17-2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to hold a vote in recent weeks on bills that would reopen the government, but on Thursday called a vote on a extreme anti-choice bill. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Freshman members of Congress and others who have been demanding to know the whereabouts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in recent days got their answer on Thursday, as McConnell held a Senate vote not on whether to reopen the government, but on a bill that would restrict abortion rights for low-income women.

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (S.109) would have permanently restricted federal funds from going to abortion care, codifying the Hyde Amendment so the Senate doesn’t have to pass it—as it has since 1976—in annual appropriations bills.The legislation would have also banned abortion care in federally funded medical facilities and barred healthcare plans subsidized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from covering abortions. Continue reading

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As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is ‘Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe’

“Sleepwalking? Nah,” remarked Naomi Klein, decrying the “Davos Class” policies of global deregulation, privatization, unending consumption, and growth-worship. “Pretty sure your eyes were wide open.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-16-2019

Dusk, looking north at the chimney and main buildings of the Fawley Power Station. Photo: Jim Champion/CC

Ahead of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week—which convenes the world’s wealthiest and most powerful for a summit that’s been called both the “money Oscars” and a “threat to democracy”—the group published a report declaring, “Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe.”

While WEF has made a habit of recognizing the threat posed by the human-made climate crisis in its Global Risks reports—for which it has garnered some praise—author and activist Naomi Klein was quick to challenge the narrative presented in the latest edition (pdf), pointing out that many of the polices pushed by the very people invited to the exclusive event have driven the global crisis. Continue reading

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In Rebuke of Trump’s Effort to ‘Weaponize’ 2020 Census Against Immigrant Communities, Federal Judge Strikes Down Citizenship Question

“Today’s ruling is a strong signal to the Trump administration that any attempts to politicize and corrupt the 2020 census will fail.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-15-2019

Common Cause called the Trump administration’s goal of including a citizenship status question on the 2020 U.S. census “an attempt to racially rig the census” last year. Photo: kidskunst.info

Civil liberties and immigration rights advocates are applauding a ruling decision by a federal judge New York on Tuesday after the court struck down the Trump administration’s attempt to insert a citizenship question in to the 2020 Census.

Ruling on a lawsuit filed by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the ACLU, and other groups, U.S. District Judge Jess Furman said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census, acted illegally when he requested that the question be added. Continue reading

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As Corporate Power Threatens Americans’ Right to Water, Groups Offer UN Body List of Issues to Raise With US

“Civil and political rights must encompass the human right to water, which is increasingly under threat by corporations that seek to use and abuse our water supplies for profit.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-14-2019

“The more we learn about various issues affecting the human right to water in the U.S., including millions of residents having their water shut off because they can’t pay their bills, the more there is to be deeply concerned about,” said Maude Barlow, board chair of Food & Water Watch. (Photo: Detroit Water Brigade)

When it comes to ensuring the human right to clean water, the United States has a long way to go.

That’s the thrust of a new letter (pdf) to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as the body gets ready to review how the U.S. is faring in its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty seen as part of the “International Bill of Human Rights.” Continue reading

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‘A Reckless Advocate of Military Force’: Demands for John Bolton’s Dismissal After Reports He Asked Pentagon for Options to Strike Iran

“Make no mistake: Bolton is the greatest threat to the security of the United States!”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-13-2019

President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly asked the Pentagon last year to draw up options to strike Iran. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Reminding the world that he is, as one critic put it, “a reckless advocate of military force,” the Wall Street Journal revealed on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton “asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department.”

“It definitely rattled people,” a former U.S. official said of the request, which Bolton supposedly made after militants aligned with Iran fired mortars into the diplomatic quarter of Baghdad, Iraq that contains the U.S. Embassy in early September. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.” Continue reading

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‘Not a Good Answer’: Privacy Advocates Reject Democratic Proposal for ‘Technological Wall’ With Expanded Border Surveillance

“‘More surveillance’ has become the default answer to far too many difficult policy questions.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-11-2019

A U.S. surveillance tower seen from Nogales, Mexico, near the wall that runs between Mexico and the United States. (Photo: Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr/cc)

Progressives in recent weeks have applauded Democrats’ refusal to bend to President Donald Trump’s demands for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, a key component of his xenophobic anti-immigration agenda. But on Friday, digital rights advocates called on Democratic lawmakers to expand their fight against the wall into a fight for all human and constitutional rights—instead of suggesting alternative “border security” proposals that would infringe on civil liberties.

Fight for the Future launched a campaign Friday to fight against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) suggestion on Thursday that a so-called “technological wall” would be an appropriate alternative to Trump’s planned concrete or steel wall. Continue reading

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