Latin America shows why ecocide must be an international crime

Every state has an interest in prosecuting those who destroy our planet – we must ensure there are no ‘safe havens’

By Rodrigo Lledó. Published 5-21-2024 by openDemocracy

A lithium mine in Chile Photo: Reinhard Jahn/CC

Before leaving power in 1990, Chilean general and dictator Augusto Pinochet created a legal framework that guaranteed him absolute impunity. It didn’t work. He was arrested on charges of genocide and terrorism in London in 1998 by order of the Spanish justice system and, upon his return to Chile, finally had to face justice.

Years later, I had the opportunity to lead a team of public lawyers trying nearly 900 cases of crimes against humanity during the Chilean dictatorship. Though Pinochet was already dead, his accomplices had to be duly judged. But decades after his rule, human rights continue to be routinely violated in Latin America, often for defending the environment.

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Southeast Abortion Clinic Wait Times Soared After Florida Ban

Before the ban, the average Florida resident lived 20 miles from a clinic and would need to wait five days to access an abortion; after the ban, the driving distance jumped to 590 miles and the wait time to almost 14 days.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 5-24-2024 by Common Dreams

Abortion rights supporters rallied in Lake Eola Park, Florida, on April 13, 2024. (Photo: ACLU of Florida/X)

Wait times have increased at 30% of the abortion clinics in the states closest to Florida its draconian six-week abortion ban went into effect on May 1.

The data comes from a survey carried out by Middlebury University economics professor Caitlin Myers and her undergraduate students, which was reported by The Washington Post on Friday.

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US Supreme Court Accused of ‘Full-On Gutting of the Equal Protection Clause’

The right-wing majority’s ruling in South Carolina case will make it “nearly impossible for any plaintiff to prove racial gerrymandering in court,” said one legal expert.

By Julia Conley Published 5-23-2024 by Common Dreams

Activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments in the Alexander v. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP gerrymandering case in Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Upholding a district map that was previously found by a lower court to be unconstitutional due to its racially gerrymandered boundaries, the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority demonstrated on Thursday that it is “a MAGA Court,” according to one advocate for judicial reform.

In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the majority opinion, the court ruled in favor of a South Carolina district map which was drawn by the GOP-controlled state legislature and moved 30,000 Black voters from the state’s 1st District to the 6th District.

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‘Crucial’: FCC Proposes Forcing Disclosure of AI Use in Political Ads

“Americans expect and deserve to know whether the content they see on our public airwaves is real or AI-generated content—especially as the technology is increasingly being used to mislead voters,” one advocate said.

By Jessica Corbett Published 5-22-2024 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: YouTube

Amid the U.S. political primary season and mounting fears of how artificial intelligence can be abused to influence elections, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to force the disclosure of AI use in campaign advertising.

“As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement. “Today, I’ve shared with my colleagues a proposal that makes clear consumers have a right to know when AI tools are being used in the political ads they see, and I hope they swiftly act on this issue.”

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Global Tribunal Issues ‘Historic’ Ruling for Oceans and Small Island Nations

“Protecting the global commons of the oceans and atmosphere is a matter of life and death,” said one expert who praised the decision.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 5-21-2024 by Common Dreams

Fighting against climate change in Tuvalu: reclaimed land, Photo: UNDP Climate/flickr/CC

An international tribunal on Tuesday delivered a decision that green groups and leaders of small island nations celebrated as a “groundbreaking victory for ocean and climate protection.”

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) announced in an advisory opinion that greenhouse gas emissions are marine pollution under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and parties to the treaty “have the specific obligation to adopt laws and regulations to prevent, reduce, and control” them.

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‘We Must Fight Against Fascists’: Protests Greet Far-Right Summit in Spain

“We are not going to allow them to take even one step back,” one protester said as far-right political leaders set their sights on the European Union elections.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 5-20-2024 by Common Dreams

Dozens of people protest during a rally against the “Viva 24” event in Madrid, Spain on May 19, 2024. Photo: EFE Noticias/X

As European Union voters prepare for June elections, far-right leaders gathered in Madrid for a weekend rally hosted by Spain’s Vox party—a gathering at the Palacio de Vistalegre that drew protests and warnings about their plans for the continent.

Rally speakers delivered “strong messages against illegal migration and the bloc’s climate policy while declaring their support for Israel in its war against Hamas,” according to The Associated Press.

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Solidarity Marches Held Across Globe to Demand Cease-Fire in Gaza

Organizers held rallies in the U.S., Europe, and Asia to mark Nakba Day and condemn Israel’s bombing and starvation of Palestinian civilians.

By Julia Conley. Published 5-19-2024 by Common Dreams

The London march. Photo:: PSC/X

As one United Nations official on Saturday said that “brand new words” are needed to adequately describe the devastation Israel has wrought across Gaza in its U.S.-backed military assault, tens of thousands of people across the globe marched in solidarity with Palestinians to demand an end to the “ongoing Nakba.”

The marches were held to honor Nakba Day, which was marked on May 15—the 76th anniversary of the mass displacement of 700,000 Palestinians who were forced from their homes when Israel declared statehood in 1948. The protesters demanded a cease-fire in Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed at least 35,456 people since October, the majority of them women and children.

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In ‘Abandonment of Public Education,’ Louisiana to Allow Tax Dollars to Pay for Private Schools

“We must build and maintain a public education system that serves all children,” said one Democratic lawmaker.

By Julia Conley. Published 5-18-2024 by Common Dreams

Then-Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry testifies during a hearing in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, March 30, 2023. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call)

After an aggressive push by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, the Louisiana Senate advanced a bill this week that would allow public funds to be used for private school tuition—sending what one Democrat called an “abandonment” of the state’s public schools to the state House, where it is expected to pass.

The state Senate approved the Louisiana Giving All True Opportunity to Rise (LA GATOR) Scholarship Program in a vote of 25-15 on Thursday, with just four Republicans joining the Democratic Party in opposing the bill.

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‘Alliance With White Nationalists’: Texas Gov Rebuked for Pardoning Shooter of BLM Protester

“This pardon not only undermines the justice system but also sends a chilling message that politically motivated violence is acceptable,” said Democratic Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 5-17-2024 by Common Dreams

Garrett Foster and his fiancée. Photo: Anna Mayo

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a pardon on Thursday for Daniel Perry, who was convicted of fatally shooting Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster in 2020.

Abbott’s pardon came less than an hour after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended it, Austin-based investigative journalist Tony Plohetski noted on social media. In addition to releasing him from prison, the pardon grants Perry “restoration of full civil rights of citizenship,” including the right to own a gun.

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‘Consumers Win’ as Supreme Court Rejects ‘Radical’ Attack on CFPB

Amid celebrations over the ruling, one legal expert warned, “Don’t confuse ‘SCOTUS slaps down a wackadoodle 5th Circuit decision’ with ‘SCOTUS is more moderate than its critics claim.'”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 5-16-2024 by Common Dreams

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra. Screenshot: CNBC

Legal experts and progressive advocates on Thursday applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision to uphold the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding mechanism but also cautioned against praising the far-right justices.

While Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented, fellow right-winger Clarence Thomas penned the opinion in CFPB v. Consumer Financial Services Association of America, joined by the other three conservatives and three liberals—two of whom wrote concurring opinions.

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