Author Archives: Julia Conley

With Roe under threat, sale of location data on abortion clinic patients raises alarm

"Companies that traffic in personal, geolocation, advertising, or other data could become digital crime scenes for eager prosecutors armed with subpoenas," said one expert on technology and gender.

A location data firm said Wednesday that it would no longer sell information about people who visit abortion clinics after reporting on the company’s sales raised alarm, but privacy advocates warned that strict regulation is needed to protect patients from such sales—particularly in light of news that abortion rights are likely to be rolled back by the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading

‘A real threat to democracy’: Musk buys Twitter for $44 billion

"This isn't just some corporate takeover," said one critic. "This is about a set of very specific moves that our oligarchs have been taking that have gradually concentrated economic, political, and discursive power in fewer and fewer hands."

Rights advocates, public health experts, and media critics were among those on Monday who warned that the purchase of Twitter by mega-billionaire Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, creates a direct threat to democracy and the common good by putting the outsized power of the social media platform used by hundreds of millions worldwide into the hands of one man. Continue reading

‘He’s a liar’: New audio tapes confirm McCarthy wanted Trump to resign

"Maybe he lied because he's a spineless sycophant who went to Mar-a-Lago begging for forgiveness days after this call?" said one Democratic lawmaker.

Democratic lawmakers and political observers said late Thursday and Friday that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been exposed as a “liar” not once but twice in the past 24 hours following the release of audio tapes confirming that the California Republican said former President Donald Trump should resign in the wake of the January 6, 2021, insurrection. Continue reading

‘Blatantly unconstitutional’ ban on nearly all abortions signed into law in Oklahoma

"We are at a tipping point for abortion rights nationwide," warned president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Republican Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma was denounced Tuesday for signing into law one of the most extreme forced-pregnancy bills in the United States, a law pro-choice advocates argue is blatantly unconstitutional and must be challenged. Continue reading

‘This law will not stand,’ say equality defenders as DeSantis signs ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "has damaged our state's reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place for all families," said one rights advocate. "Worse, he has made schools less safe for children."

Rights advocates on Monday said they will continue to fight against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attacks on LGBTQ+ families after the Republican governor signed the so-called Parental Rights in Education bill that’s come to be known as the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” proposal. Continue reading

Majority of Americans fear nuclear weapons use after Russia’s Ukraine invasion

Nearly nine in 10 people in a new poll said they fear the U.S. could be drawn into Putin's war in Ukraine, and 75% said they are worried the U.S. will be targeted in a nuclear attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has left Americans on edge, according to a recent poll which found a majority of people in the U.S. are worried that the war has made the impending use of nuclear weapons more likely. Continue reading

Idaho becomes first state to replicate Texas-style abortion ban

"It is appalling that anyone could look at the chaos and harm in Texas over the past six months and think, 'I want that for the people in my state,'" said one advocate.

Reproductive rights advocates are calling on Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little to veto the forced-pregnancy legislation passed by the state House on Monday, which made Idaho the first state in the country to pass a “copycat” proposal modeled on S.B. 8 in Texas. Continue reading

Climate crisis has made western US megadrought worst in 1,200 years

"Climate change is here and now," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. "If a 1,200-year mega-drought isn't enough to make people realize that, I don't know what is."

The megadrought which has gripped western U.S. states including California and Arizona over the past two decades has been made substantially worse by the human-caused climate crisis, new research shows, resulting in the region’s driest period in about 1,200 years. Continue reading

Sotomayor excoriates majority for ‘egregious’ attack on Texas women

"This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies," said the justice. "I will not stand by silently as a state continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee."

U.S Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an outraged dissent Thursday as the high court permitted a right-wing three-judge panel to delay proceedings regarding Texas’ extreme abortion ban—a tactic the conservative court has openly admitted may allow the law to stay in place indefinitely. Continue reading

Displaying ‘inhuman disdain’ for working families, Manchin said child tax credit would be used for drugs

"Sen. Joe Manchin—who is a multimillionaire—doesn't think his poor constituents can be trusted with a little help."

As 36 million families across the U.S. appeared unlikely to receive any further child tax credit payments after the New Year following Sen. Joe Manchin’s refusal to support the Build Back Better Act, progressives on Monday were outraged over reports that the threat to the payments stems from the right-wing senator’s belief that parents might use the money for drugs or other uses he deems unnecessary. Continue reading

Dems face 2022 nightmare, critics warn, if student debt payments restart and child credit ends

These are policy choices," said one economic justice group. "We don't have to choose this. All of this is 100% unnecessary and avoidable."

Progressives are spelling out for the Democratic Party the disastrous implications that are likely to come with the government’s possible failure to extend the enhanced child tax credit right as the White House plans to require tens of millions of people to restart their federal student loan payments—warning that the 2022 midterms could be “brutal” if the party imposes new financial burdens on working families. Continue reading

EPA sued over refusal to close deadly pesticide loophole decimating honey bees

"While EPA fiddles, grave harm to bees and other pollinators continues," said one advocacy group.

After waiting nearly five years for the Environmental Protection Agency to respond to a petition calling for the closing of a regulatory loophole which has proven deadly for honey bee colonies—spelling disaster for farmers’ crops, food security, and biodiversity—two advocacy groups are suing the agency and demanding officials take immediate action to end the use of harmful pesticides known as neonics. Continue reading

‘A gut punch’: Biden Interior Dept quietly plans to strip protections from key species

"We'd hoped that the horrific anti-wildlife tactics so often employed during the Trump era had ended, but it appears we were wrong," said one conservationist.

Conservation advocates accused the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of “deep rot within the agency” Monday as they condemned the Biden administration’s plan to weaken or eliminate protections for several endangered species—a step that officials appear to be taking without any consideration for the threats the climate crisis poses to the animals. Continue reading

Abortion rights ‘in peril’ as Ohio GOP proposes total ban modeled on Texas law

Reproductive rights advocates on Thursday doubled down on their urgent demand that federal lawmakers pass legislation to protect the right to abortion after Ohio Republicans introduced a total ban on the procedure—part of a proposal modeled on Senate Bill 8 in Texas. Continue reading

After CIA plot revealed, press freedom coalition says DOJ must drop Assange case

"A precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be used against publishers and journalists alike, chilling their work and undermining freedom of the press," said the groups.

A coalition of more than two dozen press freedom groups on Monday intensified an earlier call demanding the U.S. Department of Justice drop its charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying the demand is now even more urgent due to recent reports that the CIA plotted to kidnap—and possibly kill—the journalist. Continue reading

‘Shameful and dangerous’: Oklahoma woman faces 4 years in prison for miscarriage

Brittney Poolaw was "charged and convicted of a crime without basis in law or science," her advocates said.

Reproductive rights advocates warned Thursday that the manslaughter conviction of a woman in Oklahoma following her pregnancy loss is just the latest case that sets a “dangerous precedent” for pregnant people across the country—and represents the result of numerous extreme restrictions on reproductive rights including Texas’ six-week abortion ban. Continue reading

Supreme Court announces date for case directly challenging Roe v. Wade

"The fate of Roe v. Wade and legal abortion is on the line."

Abortion rights advocates geared up for a major fight as the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will soon hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case in Mississippi which poses a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade. Continue reading

Haiti official demands ‘humanitarian moratorium’ as US ramps up deportations

The administration's rapid removal of refugees and migrants was denounced as "reprehensible" and "cruel."

With Haiti still reeling from the effects of last month’s earthquake and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse earlier this year, officials in the Caribbean nation on Monday demanded the Biden administration halt the ramped up expulsions of Haitian nationals seeking refuge in the U.S., an estimated 14,000 of whom are expected to be deported from Texas in the coming weeks. Continue reading

‘Four-alarm fire’ for democracy as Texas voter suppression bill becomes law

"Texas already had some of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation, and the passage of this egregious bill just made conditions for voters even worse," said one voting rights advocate.

The voter suppression law signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday already faces legal challenges that were promptly filed by a number of civil rights groups, which argue the restrictive measure is transparently aimed at keeping people of color from casting ballots and violates federal law. Continue reading

To avoid ‘spoiling’ hungry children, Wisconsin school district opts out of free meal program

"No matter their family income, it’s unacceptable for any student to go hungry at school," said the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

Hundreds of families and educators in Waukesha, Wisconsin, are calling on the city’s school board to reverse a decision it made earlier this year to opt out of a federal meal program that was introduced at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, offering free food to students regardless of income. Continue reading

‘Shameful’: Biden DHS chief says Haitian and Cuban refugees will be turned away from US

"Yet again, advocates must remind this administration that seeking asylum is legal," said the Women's Refugee Commission.

Human rights advocates on Wednesday condemned the Biden administration for its “shameful” announcement that amid unrest and economic crises in both Cuba and Haiti, refugees from the Caribbean nations will not be welcomed in the United States. Continue reading

Biden told to move on FCC nomination if he wants net neutrality restored

An unfilled seat on the commission, say advocacy groups, means an executive order from the president has nowhere to go at the moment.

President Joe Biden on Friday was urged to appoint a third Democratic commissioner to the empty seat on the Federal Communications Commission after the president signed an executive order encouraging the panel to reinstate net neutrality rules. Continue reading

Schumer backs Sanders’ proposal to include dental, hearing, and vision care in Medicare

"With the current Medicare platform, those three things are just left out, like it's no big deal," said the Democratic leader. "But it is a big deal and we should fix it."

Following calls from progressives to include an expansion of Medicare in the infrastructure bill being negotiated in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced late Sunday his support for covering dental, vision, and hearing care under the popular 56-year-old program, backing a proposal long pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Continue reading

GOP attack on education continues as Texas bans teaching of ‘critical race theory’ in schools

As GOP tries to stop students from learning about nation's history of racism, thousands of teachers across the U.S. have signed a pledge refusing "to lie to young people" about the past—or the present.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott became the latest Republican state leader to approve legislation aimed at controlling public school teachers’ ability to accurately teach U.S. history and discuss current events, signing a bill late Tuesday that bars educators from including “critical race theory” in their classroom work. Continue reading

International leaders join call for end to all legal barriers to abortion

"Women must have the right to decide about their own bodies—that is a human right."

Several international lawmakers and leaders joined rights activists Wednesday in a call for all legal barriers to abortion care to be removed worldwide, demanding clinics that were shut down during the pandemic be reopened and for a “global campaign of factual and unbiased information” to counter well-funded anti-choice groups. Continue reading

‘If you want to save the USPS,’ says watchdog, ‘fire Louis DeJoy’

"The entire board and then Mr. DeJoy should be handed their walking papers," said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). "Their unquestioning support for this postmaster general is unacceptable."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on Thursday reiterated its call for the ouster of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the Republican megadonor accused of attempting to sabotage the U.S. Postal Service last year as millions of Americans relied on the agency to participate in the presidential election. Continue reading

‘A dangerous attack on our democracy’: McConnell backs Trump’s refusal to concede to Biden

‘There is no decisive pool of 'illegal' ballots, and Republican Party messaging on this score is at best a cynical attempt to delegitimize a decisive presidential defeat.’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday made his first public remarks since President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, but he made no mention of the Democratic former vice president—instead claiming the election results have not been decided and that President Donald Trump is “100% within his rights” to refuse to concede. Continue reading

Amid US sanctions, Venezuelan oil tanker at risk of spilling 1.3 million barrels and devastating Caribbean ecosystems

"The Caribbean Sea would never be the same" should the oil spill, climate scientist Eric Holthaus tweeted.

The companies that own a Venezuelan oil vessel that’s been positioned off the country’s coast for nearly two years called on the U.S. to give a “green light” to unload 1.3 million barrels of oil after local environmental advocates on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago expressed alarm over the recent appearance of the boat, which is tilting to one side and looks to be on the verge of sinking. Continue reading

‘We Need Medicare for All’: Tens of millions more expected to lose employer-based insurance by 2021

The strain on employers ‘just shows how ridiculous it is to have a system where a person's health insurance is tied to their job.’

While for-profit health insurers have reported record-high earnings this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, small companies across the U.S. are reporting difficulty paying premiums for their employees—and tens of millions of workers are expected to lose their employer-based health insurance by the end of the year, even if they keep their jobs. Continue reading

As big box stores thrive, 1 in 5 small businesses expect to close in next 6 months without urgent federal aid

‘Many of them still need more financial assistance just to keep their doors open and staff on payroll,’ the National Federation of Independent Businesses said.

One in five small businesses reported in a survey Monday that they will have to shut their doors permanently if economic conditions—and the federal government’s efforts to improve them—don’t change in the next six months. Continue reading

Privacy advocates herald bill to curb corporate use of ‘enormously invasive’ facial recognition technology

‘Do we really want to live under constant surveillance by unaccountable corporations?" said Sen. Bernie Sanders. ‘I don't.’

New legislation put forward by Sens. Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders on Tuesday would curb the use of facial recognition software by corporations and help to slow the spread of “abusive” surveillance, according to leading privacy advocates. Continue reading

Despite surging need amid pandemic, GOP moves to roll back SNAP when food assistance ‘matters now more than ever’

‘SNAP delivered. Like it always does.’

Pointing to the success of the SNAP food assistance program during the coronavirus pandemic, economists on Monday said Republicans’ plan to end the expansion of the aid would be “unconscionable.” Continue reading