Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Human Rights

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Russia issues new ‘red notice’ request for arrest of British Putin critic Bill Browder

“Russia is facing a showdown with European leaders over claims it is ‘abusing’ the international ‘red notice’ system for arresting criminals, in an attempt to silence critics of Vladimir Putin,” reports The Telegraph. Red Notice is, not coincidentally, the title of Browder’s book about his experiences in Russia.

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NCAA moves championship events out of North Carolina, citing anti-LGBT law

Breaking from The New York Times: “The National Collegiate Athletic Association said on Monday that it would relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year because of concerns over laws passed by the state that it said violated the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

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Canadians stand apart in their warm embrace of refugees

The New York Times explains how Canadian hockey moms, poker buddies and neighbors are adopting Syrians, a family at a time.


Must-see TV: Cubans marvel at rare questioning of Raul Castro

Yesterday, in a historic first, President Barack Obama held a joint news conference in Havana with Cuba’s Raul Castro, where they not only delivered statements to the press, but took questions — something Castro is not used to doing.

It made for a media event that was awkward and testy at times.

Reporting on the news conference, the Associated Press focused on the reaction of the Cuban people, beginning its writeup with these words: “Cubans were glued to their televisions on Monday, many watching in a state of shock as President Raul Castro faced tough questions from American journalists who challenged him to defend Cuba’s record on human rights and political prisoners.”

Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, meanwhile, offered a more thorough recounting of what happened at the news conference, adding useful context.

PBS has posted the video of the news conference for on-demand viewing.

Lastly, The Huffington Post has a roundup of how the state-controlled Cuban mass media is covering President Obama’s visit to Cuba.

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Pam Roach booted off sex-trafficking panel for ‘victim-blaming,’ other insults
“Pam Roach has been kicked off a legislative task force on human trafficking after complaints that she belittled and verbally abused victims of sex trafficking at a meeting last month,” The Seattle Times reports.

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U.S. Supreme Court rules Florida’s system for sentencing people to death unconstitutional

In a nearly unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a Florida law that has given judges the final say over who is put to death is unconstitutional. Juries must decide whether a person is sentenced to death, the Court said, with only Justice Samuel Alito dissenting. Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog has more on the ruling.


A white person identifying strongly with African Americans and African American culture is not a problem at all. The more the merrier in understanding who we are and our place in this nation’s history. A white person running a chapter of the NAACP is not a problem, either. That’s someone so down with the cause that they are putting their time, energy and clout into public activism on behalf of fellow Americans. But a white person pretending to be black and running a chapter of the NAACP is a big problem.

— Jonathan Capehart: The damage Rachel Dolezal has done


The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.

— Arizona Senator John McCain, explaining that the American people have the right to know what is done in their name.


As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.

— Excerpt from President Barack Obama’s statement on the crisis in Iraq, televised earlier this evening from the White House’s State Dining Room.


Follow the groups that are working to stop evictions and turn on the water in Detroit

As many of our readers may be aware, several months ago, the government of Detroit (which is under an emergency management regime) unconscionably decided to start shutting off tap water to low income residents who were behind on their water bills. Since we’ve begun our live coverage of Netroots Nation 2014 in Detroit, many NPI supporters have written to us to ask to report back on the water shutoffs that are affecting thousands of families throughout the city.

Netroots Nation and NPI have joined with the people of Detroit to protest this human rights violation and demand that the City of Detroit end the shutoffs. We participated in a protest yesterday to turn on the water and tax Wall Street, and we heard from a panel of people who are on the front lines this morning.

In a couple of days, after the convention concludes our board and staff members will be returning to the great Pacific Northwest, but the important work of fighting these shutoffs will go on, and we will continue to support the efforts of activists in the Motor City who are trying to end this manufactured crisis.

Here is a list of groups working to turn on the water in Detroit, as well as stop evictions, complete with links (to websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds):

All of these organizations were represented at Netroots Nation, either in the exhibition hall, on the Saturday morning panel that addressed the crisis.

We urge all NPI supporters to follow these organizations online and consider donating to help them help the people of Detroit.


Your shutoff program has created a lot of anger in the city and a lot of hardship and bad publicity the city does not need.

— Judge Steven Rhodes, the judge handling Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy case, telling the city’s deputy utility director that the city’s unconscionable scheme to shut off water to city residents is doing a great deal of harm to the city.


In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now. Many of them may have been hesitant to send their daughters off to school, fearing that harm might come their way. But they took that risk because they believed in their daughters’ promise and wanted to give them every opportunity to succeed.

— Excerpt from First Lady Michelle Obama’s weekly address marking Mother’s Day and and condemning the horrific kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria.