On July 27, a federal district court judge in Alexandria, Virginia, sentenced former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale to 45 months in prison for revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes.
In 2015, Hale, whose job involved identifying targets for drone strikes, provided journalist Jeremy Scahill with secret military documents and slides that exposed shocking details about the U.S. drone program. Hale’s revelations became the basis of “The Drone Papers,” which was published on October 15, 2015, by The Intercept.
The corporate media have been bashing the Cuban government in response to the recent protests in Cuba, while President Joe Biden claims, “We stand with the Cuban people.” But they ignore or minimize the leading cause of economic suffering in Cuba: the U.S.’s illegal and punishing economic blockade that Biden has left in place.
Every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has maintained the blockade against Cuba. Although former President Barack Obama was constrained by the 1996 Helms-Burton Act from completely lifting the blockade — which is now exclusively within the power of Congress — he took several steps to ease its effects on the Cuban people.
As the father and brother of imprisoned journalist Julian Assange wrapped up their month long “Home Run for Julian” tour through 16 U.S. cities, the government’s principal witness against Assange recanted his testimony. Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, whom the Department of Justice (DOJ) had recruited to build its case against Assange, admitted to the Icelandic newspaper Stundin that he fabricated key allegations in the indictment in return for immunity from prosecution by the FBI in a quid pro quo.
The admissions of Thordarson — that he lied about Assange being a hacker — threatens to unravel the government’s case. “The factual basis for this case has completely fallen apart,” Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson told Democracy Now!
Divided strictly along ideological lines, the Supreme Court construed what was left of the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA) to uphold two Arizona voter suppression laws that civil rights organizations had challenged for disproportionately burdening voters of color. This decision sends a dangerous signal to states that the courts are likely to uphold their voter suppression laws that make it harder for people of color to vote.
In Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the Court’s six right-wingers ruled, over the dissent of the three liberals, that Arizona’s “out of precinct policy” and “ballot harvesting” provision did not violate Section 2 of the VRA. Section 2 forbids any voting procedure that “results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race.”
Samuel Alito, who authored the majority opinion, wrote that voting restrictions should be struck down only if they impose substantial burdens on voters of color that prevent them from voting. He said, “where a State provides multiple ways to vote, any burden imposed on voters who choose one of the available options cannot be evaluated without also taking into account the other available means.”
On June 28, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet released a stunning 23-page report accompanied by a 95-page conference room paper for the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) documenting systemic racism and human rights violations by police forces against Africans and people of African descent throughout the world. The report considered more than 340 interviews and more than 100 written submissions from civil society organizations.
Bachelet grounded her analysis in “the long-overdue need to confront the legacies of enslavement, the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and colonialism and to seek reparatory justice.” She took aim at “misconceptions that the abolition of slavery, the end of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and colonialism” and subsequent reforms have eliminated “the racially discriminatory structures built by those practices and created equal societies.”
The report finds:
The dehumanization of people of African descent — a practice rooted in false social constructions of race created to justify enslavement, pervasive racial stereotypes and widely accepted harmful practices and traditions — has sustained and cultivated a tolerance for racial discrimination, inequality and violence, which continues to have a disproportionate impact on the enjoyment of their human rights.
In a long-awaited decision, the Supreme Court rejected a right-wing challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California v. Texas, preserving health insurance for 21 million people who are predominantly low-income and people of color.
The 7-2 opinion, written by Stephen Breyer, held that the plaintiffs did not have standing to contest the constitutionality of the ACA. Thus, since they could not demonstrate that they had been harmed by the “individual mandate,” the plaintiffs had no right to sue in the first place. Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. They would have thrown out the entire ACA.
Republican attorneys general from 18 states, led by Texas, and two individuals claimed the ACA’s mandate that individuals purchase health insurance was unconstitutional, even though there is no longer any penalty for failure to buy such insurance. The plaintiffs’ argument didn’t pass the straight face test, even for four of the Court’s conservatives. John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett all agreed with the three liberals on the Court that the plaintiffs had no standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place.
The Vietnam War ended in 1975, but Vietnamese people today continue to suffer the effects of Agent Orange, the deadly dioxin-containing chemical weapon that the U.S. sprayed over 12 percent of South Vietnam from 1961-1971, poisoning both the people and the land.
Descendants of the approximately 2 to 4 million Vietnamese people, hundreds of thousands of U.S. Vietnam veterans, and Vietnamese-Americans who were exposed to the toxin continue to record disproportionate rates of congenital disabilities and higher rates of many diseases.
U.S. veterans receive some compensation from the U.S. government, but very little assistance has been given to the Vietnamese people, the intended victims of the defoliant Agent Orange.
Israeli police are now threatening to carry out mass arrests against Palestinian citizens of Israel — arrests intended to punish those who took part in sit-ins and other protests in solidarity with Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Gaza.
This latest attack on Palestinian rights comes just days after Israeli police once again attacked Palestinians at Al Aqsa Mosque, and after the Israeli military viciously bombed Gaza for 11 days, killing 248 Palestinians and wounding more than 1,900, destroying 16,800 Palestinian homes and displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians.
Outrage against Israel’s ongoing apartheid system and routine attacks on Palestinian rights and lives is mounting worldwide, setting the stage for a new burst of energy in the global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli regime — a nonviolent movement in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality.
As Israel continues to pummel the Palestinian people with bombs and artillery shot into Gaza from troops amassed along its borders in preparation for a ground invasion, the Biden administration has reaffirmed its unwavering support for Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians.
Israel could not commit its crimes without the overwhelming support of the U.S. government. U.S. officials are aiding and abetting Israel’s crimes with massive military aid and scotching any criticism of Israel in the UN Security Council.
President Joe Biden said he didn’t think Israel’s attack on Gaza has been a “significant overreaction.” He expressed his “unwavering support” for Israel’s“right to defend itself” from rocket attacks from Gaza, but he did not condemn Israel’s airstrikes that are killing Palestinian civilians and destroying residential buildings, or the Israeli attacks on worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
This week’s news of the Biden-Harris administration’s about-face on U.S. refugee policy was a win for all the progressive forces that have been pressuring Biden to discontinue Trump’s egregiously low cap on the number of refugees accepted each year. But the victory did nothing to change the other massive structural ways in which the Biden-Harris administration is continuing to perpetuate the humanitarian crisis at the border through its embrace of Trump’s other asylum policies.
For example, even as the Biden-Harris administration now says it will increase the refugee cap to 62,500, rather than adopting Trump’s annual cap of 15,000 refugees as it had earlier announced it would do, the Biden-Harris administration is still continuing the Title 42 program that Trump imposed a year before, effectively closing the border to most refugees with no due process, court date or record of an asylum application.
Since Trump implemented the Title 42 program on March 20, 2020, more than 630,000 people have been expelled from the United States, 240,00 of them on Biden’s watch.