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.
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.