Justice For All

Welcome to the ‘Second Tier’: US Failing Big League on Social Progress

by Jon Queally – Given its immense wealth, the United States is seriously underperforming. And its citizens are paying the price. Contrary to the mythological story known as “American Exceptionalism,” the United States does a poor job, according to a fresh analysis, of meeting even “the basic human needs of its citizens” and should now be considered a “second tier” country in terms of promoting social progress.   Released by the Social Progressive Imperative (SPI), the 2017 Global Social Progress Index reveals that the U.S. ranks 17th in the world when it comes to promoting the general welfare, coming in behind its Canadian neighbor to the north and far behind Scandinavian countries and the other social democracies of Europe. Of all countries, Denmark comes in first when it comes to providing for its citizens and fostering progress on various fronts. The Index, designed to offer “holistic” measurements of a country’s social...

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ACLU Sues DC Police for Attempts to ‘Chill’ Dissent on Inauguration Day

by Jake Johnson – The suit claims D.C. police unlawfully arrested peaceful demonstrators and indiscriminately deployed tear gas and flash-bang grenades against journalists, legal observers, and crowds of protesters. Amid a nationwide crackdown on dissent by President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit (pdf) against the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department alleging officers violated the rights of protestors and journalists attending Trump’s inauguration in January. “It is clear to me that the Metropolitan police came out on Inauguration Day intent on teaching demonstrators a lesson and chilling political speech in the nation’s capital.” —Scott Michelman, ACLU senior attorney The suit claims D.C. police unlawfully arrested peaceful demonstrators and indiscriminately deployed tear gas and flash-bang grenades against journalists, legal observers, and crowds of protesters. “In the course of the roundup and subsequent processing of demonstrators,” the organization claims, “police held detainees for hours without...

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Trump “Simply Doesn’t Care”: Six Members of HIV/AIDS Advisory Panel Resign

by Andrea Germanos – Final straw, they say, was president’s pushing of healthcare legislation that would deal devastating blow to HIV community.   Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS have resigned in protest saying that Donald Trump “simply does not care,” and that he is not only unaware of the continuing impact the epidemic has on communities but is supporting legislation that threatens to reverse recent gains. In a blistering op-ed published at Newsweek, Scott A. Schoettes, counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, outlines the motivations that led him and five of his colleagues—Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses W. Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados—to resign on June 13. The resignations come as Senate Republicans secretly hammer out their Affordable Care Act repeal legislation—a measure healthcare advocates fear will gut Medicaid, bringing drastic harm to people living with HIV. The council was established under the Clinton administration and is tasked with...

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Civil Rights Commission Launches New Investigation Into Trump Admin Practices

by Frank Vyan Walton – Following the news that under AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III administration of the Department of Justice quietly rolling back civil rights protections for Americans… Top officials in the DOJ civil rights division have issued verbal instructions through the ranks to seek settlements without consent decrees — which would result in no continuing court oversight. The move is just one part of a move by the Trump administration to limit federal civil rights enforcement. Other departments have scaled back the power of their internal divisions that monitor such abuses. In a previously unreported development, the Education Department last week reversed an Obama-era reform that broadened the agency’s approach to protecting rights of students. The Labor Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have also announced sweeping cuts to their enforcement. “At best, this administration believes that civil rights enforcement is superfluous and can be easily cut. At worst, it really is...

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Grenfell Fire: Residents Demand Justice

by Shafik Mandhai – Pressure grows on local council and PM Theresa May to hold those responsible for safety failings to account. A member of Al Manaar mosque in West London opens up the doors to its prayer area in a vain attempt to cool the community hall where hundreds of people, including survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, have gathered. The temperature is 30C outside, but the inside of the hall offers little relief to those dabbing away sweat and trying to fan themselves cool with leaflets. Nevertheless, an unrelenting stream of locals, Muslim and not, continues to flow through the mosque’s entrance further cramming the room. They have come to listen to a group of local lawyers and social housing experts who have taken it upon themselves to advise those who have lost their homes on the best course of action. Those addressing the crowd urge a united front and...

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How New Orleans’ Mayor Balances Welcoming Immigrants with Following Federal Policies

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – ‘If Congress would do its job and actually have comprehensive immigration reform, we wouldn’t have to have these patchwork guesses on who’s doing what.’ What are mayors to do with their immigrant constituents when they want to strike a balance being both a welcoming city to everyone and a city of law and order pressured to follow federal policies as harsh as the ones that President Donald Trump has put forth in his executive orders on immigration? That’s the burning question for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu — the incoming president of the United States Conference of Mayors — who met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April with other U.S. mayors to discuss policies aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants. The meeting came in response after the Trump administration publicly shamed New Orleans and eight other jurisdictions for being “sanctuary cities” to undocumented residents, allowing officials the ability to ignore a federal request to...

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Gender Equality Justice for Unwed American Mothers and Fathers Abroad

by Diana Fletcher – The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a backward, gender discriminating federal law based on shocking stereotypes — one being that most men hardly care about their children born out-of-wedlock. Under this law, a child born abroad to an unwed American mother automatically becomes a U.S. citizen if the mother previously lived in the U.S. for a minimum of one year. Under the very same law, a child of an unwed father can’t become a U.S. citizen unless the father has lived in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years, two of them when he was over the age of 14. How could this law have such requirements? Who would think this? How did that even pass originally? It’s sad and disgusting. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees. They have ruled that these horrid gender lines drawn by Congress violate the Constitution’s guarantee to equal...

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Cosby Trial Begins With Aggressive Opening Statements and an Emotional First Witness

by Jessica Goldstein – A powerful first day for the only criminal case against Bill Cosby. The long-awaited criminal trial of Bill Cosby began on Monday with searing opening statements and the prosecution’s first witness, a woman who alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in 1996. Though nearly 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, only one filed criminal charges within the statute of limitations and has been able to take her case to court: Andrea Constand, who first pursued legal action against Cosby back in 2005, one year after she claims he drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home in a Philadelphia suburb. Cosby stands accused of three counts of aggravated indecent assault and, if convicted, could spend ten years in prison. After over an hour of opening instructions from Judge Steven O’Neill, prosecutor Kristen Feden kicked off opening statements. Her refrain: Most of the facts of the case...

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Trump Yanks U.S. From Paris Climate Pact—American Exceptionalism of the Worst Kind

by Meteor Blades – Pr*sident Donald Trump—the man who lied about all the environmental awards he has received and vacillated between being a total numbskull on climate change and just another opportunist who bends with the wind as long as it doesn’t mean erecting turbines within sight of his golf courses—told the world Thursday what has been expected with trepidation since November 9: The U.S. is puling out of the Paris climate agreement. Given legal considerations, this ceding of U.S. leadership will take three years to complete. But the negative impacts have already begun. From the White House Rose Garden Trump said that the United States would withdraw from the Paris agreement for the “well-being” of the American people, but begin negotiating a new deal right away that he claimed would be fairer to the U.S. Immediately, the U.S. will end its pledge to reduce carbon emissions and no longer contribute to the fund that helps developing...

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This Son of Immigrants Fought For His Country While Rep. Steve King Dodged the Draft

by Nick Gillespie – The nativist Iowa congressman should have met my uncle before railing that you can’t “rebuild civilization” with “somebody else’s baby.” My Uncle Nick—my godfather and the man for whom I’m named—died last week at the age of 84. He was a really great uncle, brother to my mother and his other siblings, husband to his wife, and father to his daughters. He was also, in the repugnant, nativist parlance of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), “somebody else’s baby.” That is, he was born to immigrants from Italy and thus, according to King and other xenophobes, incapable of helping to “restore our civilization.” (For more on that, go here.) Except that Nick Guida did make America a better place, first and foremost by being a good son, brother, husband, father, and uncle. He was a hardworking guy and even started his own business. He also served in Korea when...

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Illinois Advances Legislation That Would Register More Than a Million New Voters

by Kira Lerner – The state legislature unanimously passed automatic voter registration after it was vetoed last year. Illinois’ legislature unanimously passed legislation Monday that would make it the ninth state with automatic voter registration, adding over one million new voters to the rolls. The bill would automatically register eligible citizens who visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, Secretary of State’s office, and several other state agencies unless they opt out. It heads to Gov. Bruce Rauner (R)’s desk after final approval by the state senate, which also unanimously passed it earlier this month. Advocates estimate that roughly one million out of 2.2 million unregistered but eligible Illinois voters will be added to the rolls once they visit a participating agency. The bill marks the second time lawmakers in Illinois have attempted to enact automatic registration. Last August, Rauner vetoed a similar bill, citing the threat of non-citizens committing voter fraud even...

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Salt Lake City Police Invested in Training and Haven’t had an Officer-involved Shooting in Two Years

by Kelly Macias – In the United States, we’ve come to accept a narrative that part of being a police officer means that an unfortunate reality of the job is that someone (a civilian) may lose their life in a justifiable shooting. This line of thinking is simplistic and prevents us from looking at much-needed reform within the institution of policing and it doesn’t have to be true. Less than six months into the year, police officers have already shot and killed 367 people—a number slightly higher than the last two years. But there is evidence that when police embrace training tactics that involve communication and empathy, they don’t have to take lives. In Utah’s capital, police have actively embraced a tactic called de-escalation. The officers being trained in de-escalation are encouraged to communicate and empathize with suspects, take stock of the factors contributing to a confrontation, and consider ways to disengage before the situation spirals out...

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After ‘Heroic Intervention,’ Funds Being Raised for Portland Victims

by Lauren McCauley – Taliesin Myrddin and Ricky Best died after confrontation with alleged racist; Micah Fletcher survived despite extensive injuries to his neck. In a cruel twist to a devastating story about bravery in the face of hate, friends of Micah Fletcher, the sole survivor of the Oregon transit stabbing on Friday, are now trying to raise funds to pay for his life-saving medical treatment. “Our friend was stabbed and critically injured while being a good Samaritan and heroically intervening during the racist terrorist incident that left two men dead,” reads the Go Fund Me page. “He bravely did what anyone should do when confronted with terrorism and stepped in to stop the harassment of Muslim women by a known White Supremacist.” Fletcher was one of three people who approached suspect Jeremy Christian on the Portland MAX train on Friday after Christian was seen “yelling anti-Muslim hate speech at the...

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Fearing for My Life During a Traffic Stop: Rising Police Violence in the Borderlands

by Ankur Singh, Truthout | News Analysis – Three cop cars with their sirens blazing were coming fast behind me. It was a dark night in April 2017 in Nogales, Arizona, along the US-Mexico border. The infamous wall was visible from where I was stopped. I am an Indian-American college student who had been living in Nogales for the past few months studying journalism and education. My heart dropped as I pulled over to the side of the road. “Driver!” a Nogales Police Department (NPD) officer yelled at me through the loud metallic intercom of his vehicle. I didn’t know how to respond since the officer’s statement wasn’t really a question or a command, so I just shouted, “Yes?” out the window. In my driver-side mirror, I saw an agent creeping toward my car with his blinding, bright flashlight and gun pointed directly at me. Two more officers stood...

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Why Jeff Sessions Is the Best Argument for Reducing Prosecutorial Power

by Taylor Pendergrass, Senior Staff Attorney , NYCLU – Rumors of the demise of the War on Drugs have been greatly exaggerated, but there have been some recent signs of a draw down. Both red and blue states have been taking steps to reduce incarceration for people charged with drug-related offenses. At the federal level, changes to sentencing guidelines and policies giving prosecutors more discretion in prosecuting drug crimes, implemented by former Attorney General Eric Holder, is credited for a major part of the 14 percent drop in the federal prison population. That progress, however, did not sit well with the current attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III. On May 12, Sessions single-handedly resurrected a mass incarceration zombie by revoking the Holder policy and reimplementing an approach that is likely to maximize prison time for any person the federal government charges with a drug crime. Sessions’ move ignores a widespread...

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Seven Things You Need to Know About the G7 Summit (VIDEOS)

What does the G7 stand for, who are the key players and what are the potential bust-ups this year? The leaders of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – countries collectively known as the Group of Seven (G7) – are meeting on Friday for a two-day summit in the resort town of Taormina, Italy. The bloc meets annually to discuss a wide range of issues, including global economy, security and energy – and this year will be no exception. But with four out of seven leaders sitting at the G7 table for the first time, including US President Donald Trump, experts will be looking for signs about potential policy shifts amid growing global challenges. Syrian conflict tops G7 summit agenda Trump, in particular, is likely to face peer pressure over his protectionist and climate-sceptic stance, which has put him at odds with some of the...

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‘From Laughable to Inevitable’: $15 Minimum Wage Hits Congress

by Lauren McCauley – Responding to grassroots labor movement, Democratic lawmakers show that they are ready to join the pro-worker fight. Answering the call from millions of underpaid American workers who for years have pounded the pavement demanding a living wage, progressive lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation in both the House and Senate that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, “reversing the growing trend of income inequality between the top and everybody else,” as stated by Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who made the $15 minimum wage a pillar of his 2016 presidential bid, said as he introduced the bill alongside Scott and others that he knows the idea “is a radical concept for our Republican friends, but we believe in the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, that if you work 40 hours a week or...

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A Court Just Blocked Trump’s Muslim Ban Because Trump Couldn’t Keep His Mouth Shut

by Ian Millhiser – Authoritarianism for Dummies. Donald Trump is his own worst enemy. At least, that’s the biggest takeaway from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding an injunction against the most recent version of Trump’s Muslim ban. Ten of the thirteen judges who heard International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump ruled against Trump’s policy, although there was some disagreement as to why among the judges in the majority. As Chief Judge Roger Gregory explains in the court’s primary opinion, the court may have reached a different outcome had Trump and his aides simply kept their big mouths shut. As was the case in several other decisions halting the Muslim ban, Trump lost in large part because he spent months traveling around the country bragging about his plan to violate the Constitution. The primary tension in the Muslim ban cases is between the First Amendment’s prohibition...

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CBO: Trumpcare Would Strip Coverage From 23 Million, Make It Worse for the Rest

by Deirdre Fulton – In their rush to push the American Healthcare Act through the chamber this month, Republicans did not wait for a revised report from the CBO. The cruel and destructive bill known as Trumpcare would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 23 million, according to the revised Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score released Wednesday afternoon. The GOP-controlled House passed the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) by just two votes earlier this month, after adding an amendment gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing states to get waivers on the essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare—including maternity and mental health care. In their rush to push the bill through the chamber, Republicans did not wait for a revised report from the CBO. That assessment, published late Wednesday afternoon, found that 14 million more people would be uninsured under Trumpcare next year. Nineteen...

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Of Confederate Monuments, NOLA’s Mayor Asks: “Is This Really Our Story?” (MUST SEE VIDEO)

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘The monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.’ Last week, as New Orleans completed the controversial and long-awaited task of taking down Confederate monuments from its public spaces, Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the occasion by delivering a speech that has since been lauded as “stunning,” “incredible,” “powerful,” and “a clear-eyed view of our past as well as our present.” Many said the speech would go down in history. Jamelle Bouie ✔@jbouie This may rank with LBJ’s Howard commencement as 1 of the most honest speeches on race given by a white Southern pol. http://pulsegulfcoast.com/2017/05/transcript-of-new-orleans-mayor-landrieus-address-on-confederate-monuments … 11:04 PM – 22 May 2017 Transcript of New Orleans Mayor Landrieu’s address on Confederate monuments | The Pulse Just hours before workers removed a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee — the fourth Confederate monument to be...

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