‘What Could Be More Important?’: World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass Extinction Event Now Underway

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2019

Scientists at the UN’s Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction earlier this month—but the report was largely ignored by the corporate news media. (Photo: Danny Perez Photography/flickr/cc)

Scientists at the United Nations’ intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species—but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Deutsche Welle reported Thursday that partially because the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its report on what it called nature’s “unprecedented” decline on the same day that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had their first child, news reports on the study’s grave implications were few and far between. Continue reading

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Over 1,351 Climate Strikes in 110 Countries Planned for Friday as Global Revolt Escalates

“Activism works. So act.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2019

People in more than 100 countries are expected to take part in well over 1,000 strikes on Friday, May 24 to demand climate action from their governments. (Photo: @ExtinctionR/Twitter)

Two months after what was reportedly the largest international climate demonstration ever, young people around the world are expected to make history again on Friday with a second global climate strike.

Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began the global movement in which students around the world have walked out of their classrooms on a weekly basis since last fall to demand climate action, reported Tuesday that at least 1,351 separate strikes are now scheduled to take place all over the world on Friday. Continue reading

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‘This Is Not A Drill’: Amid GOP Attack, Pro-Choice #StopTheBans Rallies Take Place Nationwide

“Now more than ever, we must unite against this unprecedented attack on our fundamental rights and freedoms…Because we are in the fight of our lives.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2019

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue speaks at a #StopTheBans rally in Washington, D.C., aimed at ending the Republican Party’s attacks on abortion rights. (Photo: NARAL Pro-Choice America)

A week after the Alabama legislature sparked outrage that spread across the country with its approval of a near-total ban on abortion care in the state, reproductive rights advocates across the country are holding “Stop the Bans” rallies on Tuesday to demand that state Republican lawmakers end their attacks on abortion rights.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood were among dozens of national groups that began planning a #StopTheBans Day of Action last week after extreme anti-choice laws were passed both in Alabama and Missouri. By Tuesday morning, more than 500 direct actions were planned in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

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Trump’s FCC Chair Accused of Betraying Public Interest Mandate by Backing T-Mobile/Sprint Mega-Merger

He “seems to take smug pleasure in being a blatant telecom shill.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-20-2019

FCC chairman Ajit Pai, seen here at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference, on Monday backed the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Consumer advocates rebuked FCC chairman Ajit Pai on Monday after the Trump appointee backed the proposed mega-merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

“Ajit Pai doesn’t even try to pretend that he works for the public,” said Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer. “He seems to take smug pleasure in being a blatant telecom shill.”

Pai’s approval followed what Engadget put as “a fresh round of promises [from the companies] to win regulators’ hearts.” Continue reading

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‘A Burning Indictment of Our Higher Ed System’: Commencement Speaker Pays Off $40 Million in Student Debt

Billionaire’s gift to nearly 400 graduating seniors of Morehouse College earned him praise—but also sparked criticism of the cost of education

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2019

Morehouse College commencement speaker and billionaire Robert F. Smith announced Sunday he is wiping out an estimated $40 million in student debt for nearly 400 graduates. (Photo: Morehouse College/Twitter)

Commencement speaker Robert F. Smith garnered widespread praise Sunday when the billionaire investor announced he will wipe out an estimated $40 million in student debt for Morehouse College’s nearly 400 graduating seniors—but the move also sparked intense criticism of the cost of higher education in the United States.

“Two things are simultaneously true about this story: 1. This is a very cool thing to do,” tweeted Current Affairs editor Sparky Abraham. “2. That this is so cool and necessary and has such a huge impact on the students’ lives is a burning indictment of our higher ed system.” Continue reading

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‘Unfathomable Evil Recognizing Unfathomable Evil’: Trump’s Possible Pardons of War Criminals Provoke Outrage

“If you were to make a list of ‘top notorious U.S. war crimes of the post-9/11 era’ it would look a lot like the president’s pardoning plans.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2019

President Donald Trump addresses armed forces members at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 15, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delano Scott)

Progressives, human rights advocates, and journalists responded with outrage on Saturday to a New York Times report that President Donald Trump “has requested the immediate preparation of paperwork needed to pardon several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes.”

Unnamed U.S. government officials told the Times that on or around Memorial Day, Trump may pardon multiple servicemembers involved with “high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder, and desecration of a corpse.” 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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Venezuelan Government Denounces US Seizure of Embassy, Arrest of Peace Activists as Violation of Vienna Convention

“We do not authorize any of the coup leaders to enter our embassy in Washington D.C.,” said deputy foreign minister on behalf of Maduro government

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-16-2019

Peace activists lived at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C. for more than a month in hopes of blocking the Trump administration from turning it over to supporters of an effort to oust the country’s elected president. (Photo: Jeremy Bigwood)

Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Ron on Thursday urged the Trump administration not to hand over the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. to leaders of an attempted coup after U.S. law enforcement forcibly removed peace activists who have lived there since last month as guests of President Nicolás Maduro’s government.

“We denounce these arrests, as the people inside were there with our permission, and we consider it a violation of the Vienna Conventions,” Ron said in a statement. Continue reading

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Despite Christchurch Massacre and Others, Trump Refuses to Join ‘Unprecedented’ Global Effort to Tackle Racist Extremism Online

“To be honest, I do not understand the United States,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-15-2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron this week launched the Christchurch Call, a global initiative to combat online extremism. (Photo: @JaneCoombsNZ/Twitter)

The White House announced Wednesday it will not join a global initiative, launched in the wake of a massacre in New Zealand two months ago, to tackle racist and extremist online content.

“By not standing alongside other world leaders to fight hate,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center in response, “President Trump has shown once again that he doesn’t understand the importance of white supremacy in fueling terrorism.” Continue reading

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Objections by Nielsen and Others to Trump Plan for Mass Arrests Were ‘Logistical and Technical,’ Report Shows, Not Moral or Ethical

“To be clear, the heads of DHS/ICE had no issue with the depravity of the plan, they just wanted it to be better organized.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-14-2019

Then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visiting the south Texas border on November 14, 2018. (Photo: Customs and Border Protection, Flickr)

In the weeks before they were fired, top officials in the Trump administration reportedly raised concerns about a White House plan to deport whole families in a proposed show of force against migrants in the country—not for ethical reasons, but because such a plan could raise logistical and technical difficulties.

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ronald Vitiello both found the administration’s plan unworkable and stopped the plan due to what reporting from The Washington Post described as a “lack of preparation” and “the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border.” Continue reading

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