Democratic Rights in the US

The capitalist crisis and the defense of democratic rights

By Andre Damon and Alex Lantier, 23 May 2016

Underlying the global breakdown of democratic institutions is the world economic crisis, the growth of militarism and war, and, above all, the intensification of the class struggle.

Oklahoma governor vetoes bill that would make performing abortions a felony

By Kate Randall, 23 May 2016

If passed, SB1552 would have been the most sweeping anti-abortion bill in any US state since the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade

The controversy in the US over transgender access to public bathrooms

By Tom Carter, 18 May 2016

The actions of the Democrats with respect to the North Carolina “bathroom bill” reflect their strategy of using identity politics to provide a cover for their right-wing and anti-democratic policies.

Tampa, Florida area police operate as guardians of Walmart’s profits

By Matthew MacEgan, 16 May 2016

A recent investigation provides details on the extent to which police departments in the Tampa Bay area have become a virtual private security force for the retail giant.

Missouri carries out first execution of 2016, Alabama execution stayed

By Kate Randall, 13 May 2016

Earl Forrest died by lethal injection Wednesday in Missouri, while Vernon Madison received a stay just hours before his scheduled execution on Thursday in Alabama.

Islamophobic provocations on California campuses

By David Brown, 7 May 2016

Right-wing efforts to equate opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism have led to a series of provocations against student activists on several California campuses.

US intelligence agencies expand electronic surveillance worldwide

By Thomas Gaist, 6 May 2016

Congress is reviewing statutory changes to a little known “Rule 41” that will allow the FBI and other security agencies to hack and spy on computers and networks anywhere in the world, based on a single, non-specific warrant.

The 9/11 cover-up continues

By Andre Damon, 3 May 2016

Over the weekend, CIA Director John Brennan denied allegations of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the September 11 terror attacks and demanded that documents pointing to its complicity remain hidden from the American people.

May Day protest in Seattle results in nine arrests

By George Gallanis, 3 May 2016

News reports indicate that the protesters, dressed in black, threw rocks and bricks, among other things. Nine arrests were reported.

Political prisoner Gary Tyler freed from Angola prison after 41 years

By Helen Hayes, 2 May 2016

Gary Tyler’s frame-up and decades-long incarceration expose the brutal class character of the American judicial system and its vast prison complex.

Ruling upholds North Carolina anti-voting rights law

By Barry Grey, 27 April 2016

Monday’s ruling is part of an escalating attack on the right to vote and democratic rights more broadly.

Federal judge allows lawsuit to proceed against CIA contractors involved in torture

By Tom Carter, 25 April 2016

The case represents the first time a lawsuit in US courts based on the CIA torture program was allowed to proceed past the initial stages.

Illinois legislature agrees to fund higher education at 30 percent of last year’s level

By Alexander Fangmann, 25 April 2016

With no end in sight on the ongoing budget impasse, the agreement between state Democrats and Republicans may be the only money institutions receive for the year.

Microsoft sues US Justice Department over secret data requests

By Josh Varlin, 16 April 2016

The company’s complaint makes clear that it regularly receives requests from the government for its customers’ private data stored on Microsoft’s remote servers.

New revelations of violence at Chicago police “black site”

By George Marlowe, 13 April 2016

Internal Chicago police documents reveal violent abuse of detainees at the secret interrogation center in Homan Square.

Bruce Springsteen cancels North Carolina concert in protest against anti-LGBT laws

By Evan Blake, 11 April 2016

Springsteen has been joined by dozens of corporations who do not share his regard for democratic rights.

US Supreme Court hears arguments on corporate “religious right” to bar birth control to employees

By Tom Carter, 11 April 2016

The cases are based on a tendentious conception of “religious liberty,” as well as the pseudo-legal doctrine of supposed constitutional “rights” for corporations.

Alabama police gun down bipolar woman after family calls for help

By Shelley Connor, 7 April 2016

Melissa Boarts’ parents called 911 hoping someone would intervene to keep her from harming herself.

Mississippi governor signs anti-gay law

By Evan Blake, 6 April 2016

The law, which allows public and private businesses to refuse service to gay people, effectively legalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Immigrant farmworker sentenced to 25 years to life for leaving her newborn in California strawberry field

By Eden Ferrera, 31 March 2016

Nineteen-year-old Rosalba Moran, an undocumented immigrant and victim of rape, was charged with first-degree murder.

US federal appeals court ruling could speed up executions

By Kate Randall, 29 March 2016

The Ninth US Circuit Court’s ruling comes as the number of death row exonerees continues to grow, including 156 individuals since 1973.

New York City Rikers Island prison guards on trial for viciously beating inmate

By Sandy English, 29 March 2016

The Democratic Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio has ruled out any reform of the prison system, including closing Rikers Island, the location of regular brutality and abuse.

Indiana and Florida pass new anti-abortion laws

By Gabriel Black, 28 March 2016

The two laws come amidst ongoing attempts to whip up hysteria over doctored videos that were intended to frame Planned Parenthood for allegedly selling fetal tissue.

New York prosecutor urges no jail time for killer cop

By Daniel de Vries, 28 March 2016

Brooklyn’s first African American district attorney is pressing for probation for the NYPD officer convicted of killing of Akai Gurley.

Obama high court pick Merrick Garland: A record of support for police powers

By Tom Carter, 28 March 2016

Garland’s judicial career parallels the rightward trajectory of the American judiciary over the past two decades, and especially since the launch of the “war on terror.”

University of California installs secret spyware system

By Norisa Diaz, 24 March 2016

The UC board president and ex-homeland security chief, Janet Napolitano, has overseen the installation of a massive spyware system.

Obama’s choice to replace Scalia on Supreme Court had won Republican praise

By John Andrews, 17 March 2016

President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, a federal judge and former US prosecutor, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of arch-reactionary Antonin Scalia.

Obama backs attack on encrypted communication

By Evan Blake, 14 March 2016

Speaking at the South by Southwest festival, Obama sought to minimize the far-reaching scope of the FBI’s demands that Apple create anti-encryption software.

Pentagon deploying drone aircraft within the US

By Joseph Kishore, 12 March 2016

The use of military drones is part of a broader expansion of domestic military activity, under the cover of the “war on terror,” which is a serious warning to the working class.

Women inmates file lawsuit against New York state prisons for sexual abuse

By Robert Fowler, 11 March 2016

Officers are not searched upon entering the facilities, so they are able to bring in drugs and alcohol, which according to the lawsuit are then used to coerce prisoners.

Baltimore school police officers face felony charges for assaulting student

By Nick Barrickman, 10 March 2016

The student, whose name has been withheld from the public, endured injuries to his face and ribs.

Leading tech firms join Apple suit over iPhone encryption

By Thomas Gaist, 5 March 2016

FBI demands for access to Apple encryption systems are fueling divisions within the US political and corporate elite.

Albuquerque, New Mexico residents protest fatal shooting by US Marshals

By D. Lencho, 4 March 2016

Wide discrepancies exist between the US Marshals’ version of the shooting death of Edgar Camacho-Alvarado and witness accounts.

FBI director, Apple lawyer testify before Congress on encryption dispute

By Barry Grey, 2 March 2016

The hearing indicated that a majority on the House Judiciary Committee will support a law compelling tech firms to provide the government backdoor access to encrypted information.

Poor evicted under nuisance laws by New York City police

By Steve Light, 1 March 2016

The NYPD is carrying out housing evictions without warning using a “nuisance” law, even when no crime was committed.

Police refuse to release video showing shooting of Salt Lake City teenager

By David Brown, 29 February 2016

Protests have erupted in Salt Lake City, Utah after Saturday night’s police shooting of 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed, who was reportedly holding a broomstick when he was critically injured.

Apple counters government demands as White House expands NSA data sharing

By Tom Hall, 27 February 2016

Thursday’s court filing by Apple accused the government of seeking to establish a precedent to “conscript” American corporations into spying on the population.

US government case against Apple would create broad precedent to override phone encryption

By David Brown, 25 February 2016

Newly released documents highlight the spurious claim of the government that the issue of Apple encryption is limited to one case of terrorism in San Bernardino, California.

White House spearheads assault on cell phone encryption

By Andre Damon, 23 February 2016

The Obama administration’s demand that Apple hack a single iPhone is the spearhead of a concerted drive to undermine the use of encryption worldwide.

Solitary confinement and the brutality of the US prison system

“Angola 3” prisoner Albert Woodfox released after 45 years

By Kate Randall, 23 February 2016

The circumstances surrounding Woodfox’s trial and incarceration epitomize the brutality of the United States prison system, and the arbitrary and sadistic manner in which judicial authorities mete out their punishments.

Illinois inmates terrorized by prison guard unit

By George Gallanis, 22 February 2016

A class action lawsuit has been filed by hundreds of prisoners from four Southern Illinois state prisons over sexual humiliation and other forms of sadistic punishment by guards.

Antonin Scalia’s death during secret junket points to new ethical violations

By John Burton, 20 February 2016

Antonin Scalia died as he lived, violating legal ethics by hobnobbing with wealthy and powerful people whose interests are directly affected by decisions of the Supreme Court.

White House steps up drive to outlaw encryption

By Andre Damon, 19 February 2016

Tuesday’s ruling by a US judge demanding that Apple create a “backdoor” to its mobile device operating system is part of the drive to weaken, or even criminalize, encrypted communications.

FBI wins court order forcing Apple to install backdoor in iPhone security systems

By Thomas Gaist, 18 February 2016

The Obama administration is seeking to use last year’s attacks in San Bernardino to intensify the assault on democratic rights and expand the police-state spying powers of the government.

The glorification of Antonin Scalia

By Tom Carter, 16 February 2016

The sickening tributes across the official US political and media spectrum to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly on Saturday at the age of 79, are a barometer of the putrefaction of American democracy.

The legacy of Antonin Scalia

By Tom Carter, 15 February 2016

Scalia has personified the rightward march of the American political establishment over the past three decades, as it jettisoned what remained of its commitment to democratic institutions.

Supreme Court blocks Obama plan on climate change

By John Burton, 12 February 2016

The Supreme Court has issued a summary order that effectively invalidates the Obama administration’s new regulations to lower carbon emissions from power plants.

New Mexico: Relatives sue sheriff for the fatal pepper ball shooting of 88-year-old

By D. Lencho, 9 February 2016

Last September, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputies fired over 50 rounds of pepper balls at 88-year-old great-grandfather Fidencio Duran.

UN panel condemns detention of WikiLeaks founder

Stop the persecution of Julian Assange!

By Bill Van Auken, 5 February 2016

Despite a ruling that Assange has been subjected to “arbitrary detention,” both the UK and Sweden vow to continue his persecution.

Albuquerque, New Mexico police murder case moves towards trial

By D. Lencho, 5 February 2016

It has been nearly two years since the March 16, 2014 fatal shooting of homeless camper James Boyd by Albuquerque police officers.

US: Georgia executes oldest inmate on its death row

By Kate Randall, 4 February 2016

The Supreme Court denied a last-minute request for a stay, clearing the way for Brandon Astor Jones’ lethal injection early Wednesday morning.

CIA planned rendition operation to kidnap Edward Snowden

By Thomas Gaist, 30 January 2016

The CIA stationed a plane in Copenhagen for the specific purpose of seizing the whistleblower, documents published by Danish media on Thursday show.

Detroit schools’ injunction against teachers: An anti-democratic attempt to crush protests

By Eric London, 23 January 2016

DPS is threatening to fire all protesting teachers, encouraging teachers to snoop on each other and employing reactionary legal arguments to attack public education.

Illinois professor fired for expressing sympathy for Muslims

By Joe Williams, 18 January 2016

Wheaton College has begun termination proceedings against Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a tenured professor who wore a hijab during the Christian Advent period to protest anti-Muslim bigotry.

Obama’s State of the Union address and the breakdown of American democracy

By Eric London and Barry Grey, 14 January 2016

There is an objective significance to the reduction of the State of the Union address, an American political tradition that goes back to George Washington, to an empty and cynical media spectacle.

Supreme Court hears arguments in union dues case

By Shannon Jones, 12 January 2016

The lawsuit targets millions of dollars in union revenue from labor agreements that compel public employees to pay a fee to a union even if they choose not to be a member.

Obama seeks Silicon Valley aid to spy on social media

By Thomas Gaist, 9 January 2016

A delegation of top Obama administration officials met with tech industry leaders Friday as part of efforts to step up government spying on social media and other online communications.

FBI arrests mentally ill Rochester man in fabricated ISIS plot

By Josh Varlin, 9 January 2016

The FBI arrested Emanuel Lutchman, a 25-year-old man with a history of mental illness, based on a supposed plot to attack a bar in Rochester, New York, on New Year’s Eve.

New Zealand court approves Kim Dotcom’s extradition to the US

By John Braddock, 8 January 2016

The ruling is a significant legal victory for the US and New Zealand’s National Party government, which has operated in concert with Washington throughout the affair.

Chicago attorney resigns after judge rules he concealed evidence in police shooting case

By Alexander Fangmann, 7 January 2016

A Senior Corporation Counsel for the city resigned after a judge sanctioned him and overturned a jury verdict that found in favor of two police officers in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Obama administration rings in new year with deportation of children

By Andre Damon, 6 January 2016

More than 100 people were taken into custody over the weekend in a series of nationwide raids targeting refugees fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Obama announces executive measures for gun control

By Tom Eley, 6 January 2016

Not even Obama claims that his proposals, which amount to a further expansion of the already vast police-intelligence apparatus, will resolve the scourge of gun violence in the US.

Justice Scalia repudiates separation of church and state

By Patrick Martin, 4 January 2016

The Supreme Court justice’s statement that there is no barrier to the US government discriminating in favor of religious believers adds to his litany of bigoted attacks on democratic rights.

After grand jury whitewash in Tamir Rice killing

More police murders across the US

By Tom Eley, 30 December 2015

Police have taken repeated exonerations, often in the face of overwhelming evidence, as in the murder of Tamir Rice, as a green light for more violence.

Federal agency prepares new crackdown on US travelers

By Patrick Martin, 30 December 2015

The Transportation Security Administration will reject driver’s licenses from at least nine states as valid ID for boarding an airplane, with the first notices to be issued in January.

Cleveland cop who killed twelve-year-old exonerated

By Tom Hall, 29 December 2015

The decision not to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann for killing Tamir Rice is the outcome of a well-orchestrated campaign by the county prosecutor’s office.

George Washington University apologizes for censorship of Palestinian flag

By Isaac Finn, 29 December 2015

The incident at the Washington, D.C university is only one of many similar attacks on free speech rights aimed at suppressing criticism of Israel.

Obama administration prepares raids on Central American immigrants

By Patrick Martin, 28 December 2015

Most of those targeted are women and children who have sought to escape gang attacks, drug-related violence and brutality by US-backed security services in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Notes on police violence in America

Texas grand jury refuses to indict police officers involved in the death of Sandra Bland

By Nick Barrickman and Tom Hall, 24 December 2015

Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell in July where she was being held after a traffic stop.

US cops killed more people this year than in 2014

By Tom Hall, 22 December 2015

Despite mass protests against police violence by tens of thousands of people over the past year, the wave of police terror gripping the US has only intensified.

Notes on police violence in America

Four recent police shootings spark outrage

By John Andrews, 21 December 2015

Newly released video recordings that captured two brutal law enforcement shootings starkly demonstrate that police violence and official cover ups continue unabated.

Los Angeles shuts down entire school district after email terror threat

By Don Knowland, 16 December 2015

The message which apparently prompted the closure of more than 1,000 schools had been determined to be a hoax by early Tuesday afternoon.

Tennessee woman arrested after attempting self-induced abortion

By Naomi Spencer, 16 December 2015

A Murfreesboro woman has been charged with attempted murder after trying to induce an abortion with a coat hanger.

US Supreme Court considering end to “one person, one vote” principle

By John Burton, 15 December 2015

Last week, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases brought to abolish the basic democratic principle that legislative districts be apportioned based on total population.

Notes on police violence in America

Chicago police officer accused of jamming gun down throat of suspect acquitted

By Gabriel Black, 15 December 2015

A notorious Chicago judge acquitted a veteran police officer Monday of official misconduct and aggravated battery, despite DNA evidence on his gun.

US Supreme Court justice argues black students should attend inferior schools

By Tom Carter, 12 December 2015

Sixty years after court-ordered school desegregation, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued that black students would be better off attending schools where classes would not be “too fast for them.”

Defense rests in trial of first police officer charged in killing of Freddie Gray

By Nick Barrickman, 12 December 2015

Typifying the callous approach of the defense was the testimony of Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a forensic pathologist, who coldly asserted that Gray’s death was “just an accident … and accidents happen.”

Two police officers indicted for murder of six-year-old

By Gabriel Black, 12 December 2015

Evidence released after the indictment shows that the six-year-old and his father posed no threat to the police officers.

Amid terror scare, US House passes new restrictions on visa-free visits

By Patrick Martin, 9 December 2015

The bill, passed with near-unanimous bipartisan support and backed by the White House, is an attempt to use the Paris and San Bernardino attacks to expand state repression.

The forced resignation of Erika Christakis at Yale University

By David Walsh, 9 December 2015

Yale University lecturer Erika Christakis, at the center of controversy since the end of October, has decided not to continue teaching courses at the university.

Public meetings in Detroit and New York

The roots and political implications of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino

9 December 2015

On December 9 and December 12, the IYSSE is holding meetings on the attacks in France and the US, and the way they are being used by the ruling class.

Obama’s San Bernardino speech and the rightward lurch of US politics

By Barry Grey, 8 December 2015

The drumbeat for military escalation is the result of a calculated decision to utilize the San Bernardino killings to overcome growing popular disaffection and opposition to war.

US border agents cleared of charges in murder of immigrant Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas

By Toby Reese and Jake Dean, 7 December 2015

Five years after the death of Hernandez-Rojas at the hands of US border agents, the Department of Justice has decided to close the investigation.

Jury seated in first Freddie Gray police murder trial

By Tom Hall and Nick Barrickman, 3 December 2015

The media and political establishment are preparing for a crackdown on mass protests if the six Baltimore cops charged in the killing of Freddie Gray are acquitted.

Planned Parenthood shooter motivated by right-wing smear campaign

By Tom Carter, 30 November 2015

Responsibility for the deadly attack in Colorado Springs on Friday rests with the ringleaders of the ultra-right campaign against Planned Parenthood.

The conspiracy to cover up the police murder of Laquan McDonald

By Christopher Davion and Kristina Betinis, 30 November 2015

The statements of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other officials are aimed at obscuring their own role in covering up for the criminal actions of police officer Jason Van Dyke.

“This is a whitewash, that is exactly what this is”

One year since the murder of Tamir Rice, police who killed him are still free

By Samuel Davidson, 26 November 2015

Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by Cleveland, Ohio, police on November 22, 2014, as the boy was playing with a toy gun in a park near his home.

New York City police deploy new counterterrorism unit

By Sandy English, 23 November 2015

The ultimate purpose of the new police unit is to deal with opposition from the city’s increasingly impoverished working class to growing social inequality and the drive toward war.

Paris terrorists operated “in plain sight”

By Patrick Martin, 21 November 2015

At least six of the nine men involved in the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris were known to the French and Belgian security services.

US politicians seize on Paris attacks to promote xenophobia

By Andre Damon, 19 November 2015

Republican presidential candidates and elected officials have called for the closure of mosques, a religious check on refugees and even the use of concentration camps to hold migrants.

US Supreme Court expands immunity for killer cops

By Tom Carter, 12 November 2015

The Supreme Court’s decision reflects the fact that, in the face of rising popular anger over police killings, all of the branches of government are closing ranks behind the police.

Paramilitary police in Miami force passengers to leave plane at gunpoint

By Andre Damon, 11 November 2015

In a pattern becoming increasingly familiar throughout the United States, a minor security incident was used to launch a military/police lockdown at Miami International Airport Monday.

The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: Part four

A recipe for total war and military dictatorship

By Thomas Gaist, 6 November 2015

This is the last of four articles analyzing the new US Department of Defense Law of War Manual.

The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: Part three

A recipe for total war and military dictatorship

By Thomas Gaist, 5 November 2015

This is the third of four articles analyzing the new US Department of Defense Law of War Manual. The first article was posted November 3, the second on November 4.

The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: Part two

A recipe for total war and military dictatorship

By Tom Carter, 4 November 2015

This is the second of four articles analyzing the new US Department of Defense Law of War Manual.The first article was posted November 3.

The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: Part one

A blueprint for total war and military dictatorship

By Tom Carter, 3 November 2015

This is the first in a series of articles analyzing the new US Department of Defense Law of War Manual.

FBI Director James Comey’s apology for police murder

By Andre Damon, 31 October 2015

The implication of Comey’s argument is that those who expose police brutality serve to promote violent crime and should be suppressed.