Human Rights

The Supreme Court's "Citizens United" Decision Threatens the 1964 Civil Rights Act

DiscriminationIn Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally last week, held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, Beck claimed that he and his Tea Party followers would "take back the civil rights movement." While King's speech led Congress to pass the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, Beck's movement could lead to that Act's abolishment. Although Beck has not publicly called for overturning the 20th century's greatest piece of equality-advancing legislation, the libertarian philosophy he espouses is at odds with the way the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination by private businesses. While Beck did not clearly state how he would reclaim the civil rights movement (he asserted that his rally was nonpolitical and aimed at "restoring America's traditional values") other leading libertarian right-wingers have called for abolishing some of the Act's most important elements, saying they constitute unnecessary government interference with the market. While undoing the Civil Rights Act through political channels would be almost impossible, the U.S. Supreme Court may have granted the right-wing a means to do so through the judiciary. The Court's reasoning in its January 2009 Citizens United decision could put some of the most important parts of the Civil Rights Act at risk.

Flotilla Ship "Painted" to Cover Bullet Holes

In the aftermath of the crimes perpetrated against those riding on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by the Israeli government, it has been well-documented that the Israeli hasbara machine somehow transformed the victims into victimizers. A bit over two months later, the spin continues unabated.

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Former U.S. Soldiers Describe Indiscriminate Military Violence in Iraq

Three former American soldiers who served in Iraq are going public about the realities of the U.S. military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they claim routine acts of excessive violence upon local citizens stem from the U.S. chain of command. Former Army Specialists Josh Stieber, Ray Corcoles and Ethan McCord say that they thought they were going to Iraq to help the Iraqi people and advance freedom and democracy.

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Tom Ridge Joins the Marcellus Shale Coalition's Natural Gas Gold Rush

Tom Ridge's bookFormer Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has, for the most part, been out of the spotlight for the past year since he wrote his book titled The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...And How We Can Be Safe Again, which came out in September of 2009. In that book, Ridge confessed that, although unsurprising to anyone who understood the rampant fear-mongering and propaganda that took place in the post-9/11 Bush era, he was pressured by others in the Bush Administration to purposely manipulate the infamous color-coded National Security Alerts for political reasons, and in particular, during the run-up to former President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.

"Big Shopping Malls" and "No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza"

GazaRecently, the newest batch of Israel-related hasbara was released on a mass scale by the Israeli news website, Ynetnews, which is the online English language news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most-read news source. It is akin to the New York Times or the Washington Post of the United States, and one of Israel's news sources of prominent distinction.

"There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza"

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel hasbara-extraordinaire, Felix Frankfurter, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Alan Dershowitz, are both on the record as saying that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza." They are not outliers in holding that opinion. Indeed, former neo-conservative Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the current Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, as well as Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev, are all on the record sharing these sentiments.

Israel's Spin Machine: It Keeps Spinning, and Spinning, and Spinning

Gaza flotilla (Reuters)As per usual, when push comes to shove, the right-wing Israeli government, along with the Israel Defense Forces spinmeisters, have gone back to the simple formula: when they do something illegal and barbaric, blame the victim, for the United States will obligingly agree and stand by that narrative. Like always, while the rest of the world protests in condemnation and speaks out against Israel's actions and crimes, the U.S. government stands by complicitly, continuing to shower Israel with over $3 billion per year in military aid into perpetuity.

Obama and Israel Shun the International Community

Gaza flotilla (Reuters)From video of Gaza flotilla (Reuters)President Obama came to power promising to end the foreign policy of the Bush era and institute a commitment to international cooperation and diplomacy, especially with the Muslim world. The controversy surrounding Israel's recent raid on a Turkish aid flotilla has made it difficult for the Obama administration to fulfill that promise. The administration does not want to alienate Turkey, a large Muslim nation with aspirations of joining the European Union, nor does Obama want to anger Israel, which has strong historical ties to America. Trying to pacify both nations, the Obama administration has taken an ambivalent and ambiguous position on how to resolve the conflict, which does not include a definitive statement on an international investigation into the causes and culpability of the confrontation. While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared last Tuesday that the United States "supports the Security Council's call for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation" and "an Israeli investigation that meets those criteria," the administration is merely "open" to the possibility of international participation.

The Right Wing's Next Target: The Greenlining Institute

Greenlining InstituteLast year, right-wing activists masqueraded as a pimp and a prostitute and used a phony storyline and a hidden camera to take down the community group ACORN. ACORN was eventually absolved and the unsavory tactics of the right exposed, but that hasn't stopped the right from moving on to a new target: the Berkeley, California-based Greenlining Institute. Like ACORN, the Greenlining Institute is a progressive organization that advocates for the poor and works for economic justice. It also supports implementation and enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act, a federal law passed in 1977 to mitigate deteriorating conditions in low and moderate-income neighborhoods by addressing the practice of redlining -- denying credit or insurance to people based on their ethnic background or neighborhood. Groups like ACORN and the Greenlining Institute draw the wrath of wealthy corporate interests because they seek government regulation of lucrative but abusive or harmful business practices.

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