Donald Trump’s installation of three radical right-wing “justices” on the Supreme Court is paying off for the forces trying to overturn Roe v. Wade. On September 1, in a 5-4 vote, the high court allowed the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country to go into effect, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson. SB 8, known as the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” bans all abortions after physicians detect, or should have detected, a fetal heartbeat. That generally occurs at six weeks of pregnancy, when most women don’t even know they’re pregnant.
The split vote on the Court signals the likelihood that the “justices” — who were so quick to allow Texas’s Machiavellian law to take effect — will seize the opportunity next term to overturn Roe v. Wade when it considers the constitutionality of a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. That would open the floodgates to similar legislation in other states preventing women from having abortions.
About 85 percent to 90 percent of Texas women who have abortions are at least six weeks into their pregnancy, which means the law will prohibit nearly all abortions in the state. There is no exception for rape or incest. Women in Texas will now have to travel to another state to secure an abortion or resort to life-threatening back alley coat-hanger abortions.
President Joe Biden’s decision to end the Afghan war – one that should never have been fought in the first place — was correct. Missing from the national discourse, however, is analysis of the illegality of the 2001 U.S.-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan (dubbed “Operation Enduring Freedom”) and resulting war crimes committed by four U.S. presidents and their top officials and lawyers. Once again, the United States has lost a war it started illegally. But as U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the Biden administration continues to kill — and promises to persist in killing — Afghan people.
Twenty years of the U.S. war and occupation in Afghanistan cost at least $2.26 trillion and resulted in the deaths of more than 2,300 Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. The “war on terror” George W. Bush launched with his “Operation Enduring Freedom” has included the torture and abuse of untold numbers people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantánamo and the CIA black sites. It has exacerbated right-wing terrorism in the United States and provided the pretext for the ubiquitous surveillance of Muslims and those who dissent against government policy. And whistleblowers who expose U.S. war crimes have been rewarded with prosecutions under the Espionage Act and lengthy prison sentences. We must not forget the illegality, death and destruction that the war in Afghanistan has caused over the decades, lest we repeat our lethal mistakes.
There’s a good chance that California — a solidly blue state — will get a right-wing Republican governor as a result of the September 14 recall election. If Gov. Gavin Newsom is recalled, the health, civil rights and future of Californians — and people across the country — will be profoundly threatened. It is also possible that Newsom’s defeat could change the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, since the next California governor may be in a position to appoint a senator.
In defending his governorship, Newsom emphasizes that a GOP leader would likely roll back progressive reforms.
“The recall is an attempt by national Republican and Trump supporters to force an election and grab power in California,” Newsom’s ballot statement in the Official Voter Information Guide says. “The leaders of the Republican recall seek to repeal California’s clean air protections, roll back gun safety laws and take away health care from those who need it.”
On August 11, in a rare occurrence, the U.K. High Court’s Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde and Justice Dame Judith Farbey overruled the July 5 decision of Justice Jonathan Swift and allowed the Biden administration to add two additional grounds for its appeal against Julian Assange, who is being held on charges filed by the Trump administration under the Espionage Act. Assange was indicted for revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo that Chelsea Manning furnished him and WikiLeaks. He faces 175 years in prison if he is extradited from the U.K., tried and convicted in the United States.
Justice Swift had ruled that the United States could base its appeal on three of the five grounds it requested. The August 11 ruling allows the U.S. to argue two additional grounds as well. The expansion of the U.S. appeal is a worrying sign for Assange — and for the future of investigative journalism.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement got a powerful boost when Ben & Jerry’s announced its boycott in the illegally Occupied Palestinian Territory. On July 19, the iconic ice cream company said in a statement, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” which includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The statement quoted an op-ed penned by co-founders Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in The New York Times, calling the boycott “a rejection of Israeli policy, which perpetuates an illegal occupation that is a barrier to peace and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people who live under the occupation.”
Israel lashed back, threatening “severe consequences” for the boycott and urging U.S. states to employ anti-boycott laws. In every case but one, however, courts have struck down such legislation as unconstitutional. Boycotts are protected by the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech, association and assembly.
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.