Full text: The Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2022 (2)-Xinhua

Full text: The Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2022 (2)

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-03-28 12:07:15

IV. Worsening Subsistence Crisis among U.S. Underclass

The nation sees widening wealth gap, worsening living conditions for low-income groups, increasing homeless people, life-threatening drug abuse, and dropping average life expectancy. U.S. underclass is facing a severe survival crisis.

Wealth gap has further widened. The United States is a poor society with many super riches. Through an in-depth analysis of the U.S. society, the New Class Society: Goodbye American Dream?, demonstrates the wide range of inequalities based on class, gender and race in the United States. Co-authored by Earl Wysong, professor of sociology at Indiana University Kokomo, Robert Perrucci, professor of sociology at Purdue University, and David Wright, professor of sociology at Wichita State University, the fourth edition of this book shows that a new polarized double-diamond social structure has emerged, featuring a privileged class, consisting of the top 20 percent of the population who are wealthy, and a new working class, consisting of 80 percent of the population who live at the bottom of society and are getting increasingly poor and unstable. According to data published by Statista Research Department, Sept. 30, 2022, the Gini coefficient in the United States rose to a record high of 0.49 in 2021, as the poverty rate rose for the second year in a row with 37.9 million people living in poverty. The U.S. Federal Reserve statistics show that the total wealth of the richest 1 percent of the U.S. population reached a record 45.9 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021 and their fortunes have increased by more than 12 trillion dollars, or more than a third, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the approximately 1.7 trillion dollars in excess savings held by American families as of mid-2022, about 1.35 trillion dollars was held by the top half of earners, while just 350 billion dollars by the bottom half.

Inflation continues to hurt low-income households. While U.S. residents' savings have run down, necessities like car repair, food and housing become sharply more expensive, The New York Times reported on Nov. 25, 2022. At the same time, prices climbed 7.7 percent in the year through October, having the most severe negative impact on low-income groups. Lael Brainard, a governor of the Federal Reserve, said that low-income households spend 77 percent of their income on necessities, compared to only 31 percent by higher-income households. An analysis released by National Energy Assistance Directors Association on April 12, 2022, showed that for low and moderate income families, which make up the bottom 40 percent of households in the U.S. society, sharp rises in energy prices would force many of them out of basic goods and services due to extra energy bills.

The homeless has dramatically increased. According to the 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, over 580,000 Americans experienced homeless on a single night in 2022, with 40 percent of them living in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation. Over the past three years, the number of people of no fixed abode increased by at least 22,500 to 173,800 in California. However, the state only provides about 5,000 beds for the homeless, down from a maximum of more than 16,000 rooms in August 2020, according to the state Department of Social Services. The Los Angeles Times reported on December 21, 2022, that the number of the homeless in Long Beach, California, increased dramatically by 62 percent from that of 2020, including 1,282 chronically homeless people with disabilities.

According to a research published in the California Law Review by Sara K. Rankin, a professor at School of Law of Seattle University and the founder and director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, homeless people in the United States are usually the "marginalized groups, such as refugees, people of color, and poor people" who are subjected to persecution, detention, incarceration, or segregation that prevents them from integrating into their communities. This exposes the systemic discrimination that exists in the United States.

Average life expectancy has significantly declined. A report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics in August 2022 showed that U.S. life expectancy fell by a total of 2.7 years between 2019 and 2021 to 76.1 years, the lowest it has been since 1996. Non-Hispanic Native American and Alaska Native peoples saw the biggest decline -- a staggering 6.6 years. Dramatic declines in life expectancy are rare in peacetime. Data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, as of Dec. 29, 2022, the United States reported more than 1.08 million COVID-19 deaths, including more than 260,000 in 2022. While U.S. politicians are tight-lipped about the country's average life expectancy, it is probably the most important measure in assessing how good life is in a country and even, to some extent, how great a country is, reported German newspaper Die Welt on Jan. 15, 2023. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the causes of the dramatic decline in life expectancy in the United States include drug abuse, gun violence and etc. According to a joint study published in the British Medical Journal by scholars from Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Colorado Boulder, and Urban Institute, the deteriorating health situation, high mortality rates and continued injustice against minorities in the United States are largely the product of long-term policy choices and systemic racism. The mass mortality of COVID-19 reflects not only inappropriate U.S. policy choices in response to the pandemic, but also the deep-rooted causes of the deteriorating health situation in the United States over the past decades.

The U.S. government actively promotes the legalization of marijuana regardless of people's health. Marijuana is a controlled narcotic drug by the UN International Drug Control Conventions. In the 1970s, the United States promulgated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which classified marijuana as a federally controlled substance. The federal and state governments of the United States have failed to regulate drugs and substance abuse and even pushed for the legalization of marijuana under the influence of lobbyists groups, resulting in more and more young people becoming victims. In their book Can Legal Weed Win? The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics published in 2022, Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner, researchers with the University of California, Davis, underlined that one of the pipe dreams behind the legalization push is the intention to make legal cannabis a new cash cow for the government through tax. Marijuana sales in the United States have exceeded 30 billion dollars so far, and the U.S. marijuana market is expected to reach 65 billion dollars by 2030. According to the data released by Open Secrets, from 2018 to 2021, some marijuana and products-related enterprises and trade associations in the United States spent more than 16.6 million dollars on political lobbying, with an average annual expenditure of about 10 times that of 2016; In the first three quarters of 2022, more than 5.6 million dollars were spent on marijuana lobbying. Enterprises and organizations profiting from marijuana trade money for power, and form interest groups with politicians, thereby letting drugs and substance abuse going unchecked, a striking demonstration of Washington's failure in social governance.

Drugs and substance abuse endanger life and health. According to a survey released by U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 59.3 million Americans over 12 years of age abused drugs in 2020, of which 49.6 million smoked marijuana. According to public information on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 40 percent of American high school students use marijuana for a long time. According to a report released by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in August 2022, 43 percent of young Americans have smoked marijuana in a year, 8 percent have used hallucinogens, and 11 percent have smoked marijuana every day, the highest level in record. According to a study released by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Studies on August 4, 2022, the number of Americans dying from drugs and drug abuse has increased dramatically in recent years, by more than 100,000 per year. More than 107,000 cases involving deaths from drug overdose occurred in the 12-month period ending in August 2022, according to data from the U.S. CDC. Marta Sokolowska, the Deputy Center Director for Substance Use and Behavioral Health in FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, pointed out that drug abuse has become one of the most devastating public health crises in the United States.

The absence of governance endangers environmental rights. The American Broadcasting Company reported on June 21, 2022, that in Louisiana, a large amount of industrial waste has led to many "cancer alleys" along the Mississippi River, which has a 95-percent higher risk of cancer due to air pollution than the rest of the country. The Chicago Tribune reported on July 13, 2022, that at least one per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance, known as forever chemicals, that may be harmful to health was detected in the drinking water of more than 8 million residents in Illinois, accounting for about 60 percent of the local population. In the context of the deteriorating environmental situation, the United States Supreme Court ruled in June 2022 that the Environmental Protection Agency had no right to regulate carbon emissions without authorization from Congress, nor could it require power plants to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the United Nations, pointed out that the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States was "a setback in our fight against climate change."

V. Historic Retrogression in Women's and Children's Rights

In 2022, a major setback occurred in the protection of the rights of women and children in the United States. Women's right to abortion lost constitutional protection. Sexual assaults in schools, the military, and prisons continued to be high. Children's lives and legal rights were facing serious threats.

Banning abortion violates women's rights. In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that guaranteed women's abortion rights. It ended nearly 50 years of constitutionally protected abortion rights and would lead to a ban on abortion in about half of the states. Reuters reported on Dec. 1, 2022 that Indiana's attorney general asked the state's medical board to discipline an Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio as Ohio banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. BBC reported on June 29, 2022, that U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said: "It is hard to believe that America is taking a backseat, is backsliding, when the rest of the world is moving to give women the kinds of rights they should have had a long time ago." Michelle Bachelet, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, pointed out on June 24, 2022, that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on abortion is "a huge blow to women's human rights and gender equality." The ruling "represents a major setback after five decades of protection for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. through Roe v Wade."

Sexual assaults of women are shocking. One in five female students in the United States said they had been sexually assaulted in college, and the trauma affected their entire educational experience. CNN reported on Sept. 1, 2022 that reports of sexual assaults in the U.S. military spiked 13 percent in 2021, with nearly a quarter of female soldiers saying they had been sexually assaulted in the military and more than half saying they had been sexually harassed. The United States Senate issued an investigation report on Dec. 13, 2022, saying that over the past decade, cases of sexual assault on female prisoners by prison administrators happened in more than two-thirds of federal prisons, with 5,415 cases filed by U.S. prison authorities. The Associated Press reported on Feb. 6, 2022 that in 2020 there were 422 complaints against prison administrators for sexually assaulting prisoners. A federal women's prison in Dublin, California, has been dubbed a "rape club," where inmates say they have been subjected to rampant sexual assaults by correctional officers and even the warden.

Rampant gun violence threatens the lives of children. The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report on Oct. 14, 2022, saying that from 2011 to 2021, nearly 18,500 children aged 17 and under were killed by gun violence in the United States. In 2021, an average of seven children were killed by shootings per day. The Washington Post reported on Dec. 11, 2022 that in 2022, more than 5,800 children under the age of 18 were injured or killed by shootings in the United States. As of Dec. 1, 2022, fatal gun shootings involving children had more than doubled from 2021, and non-fatal gun shootings involving children had also increased by 80 percent. In June 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden publicly admitted that "guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America. The number one killer. More than car accidents. More than cancer. "

School shootings continue to rise. The United States is the country with the most frequent school shootings in the world. According to the "K-12 School Shooting Database," the number of school shootings in the U.S. in 2022 was 302, the highest since 1970; The number of casualties reached 332, the highest in the past five years. On May 24, 2022, a serious mass shooting occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. An 18-year-old high school student entered the campus with an AR-15-style rifle purchased at a sporting goods store and killed 19 students and two teachers. The shooting is regarded as the deadliest after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. In his remarks on the incident, U.S. President Joe Biden admitted that since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a decade ago, there had been over 900 shooting incidents reported on school grounds. "What struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world," he said. The Washington Post reported on May 28, 2022, that the "K-12 School Shooting Database" had recorded more than 2,500 instances of threats to carry out school shootings since 2018. According to a report by BBC on May 25, 2022, Cheryl Lero Jonson, an American expert on school shootings, pointed out that young Americans today have become the "mass shooting generation."

Child poverty rates are disproportionately high. According to the data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 13, 2022, the national poverty rate in the United States in 2021 was 12.8 percent, and the child poverty rate was 16.9 percent. In the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as Washington, D.C., child poverty rates stood as high as 27.7 percent, 26.9 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively. Research by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University pointed out that the child poverty rate in the United States rose from 12.1 percent in December 2021 to 16.6 percent in May 2022, representing 3.3 million additional children in poverty. The book "Invisible Americans: The tragic cost of child poverty" by U.S. columnist Jeff Madrick points out that the United States is a country with historically biased attitudes toward poverty, which can't even agree on how many poor Americans are there, let alone reducing the number of poor people and poor children; If measured by a fairer and newer standard, the real number of poor people in the United States is about 60 million, and that of poor children may exceed 20 million. "Child poverty in the U.S. is a disgrace."

Illegal use of child labor persists despite repeated prohibition. According to the figures estimated by the National Center for Farmworker Health, a U.S. non-profit organization, between 300,000 and 800,000 minors were employed on farms in the United States. The Slate Magazine pointed out that fast-food employers have committed a raft of child labor violations, making teenagers work excessive hours that violate limits protecting children's health and education. Constant banning of child labor ends in failure, with the root cause lying in the loopholes in the U.S. legal system. Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain crisis, the United States has been suffering labor shortages. Many states passed new bills to extend the working hours for minors. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, millions of U.S. teens were employed in agriculture, food service, retail, entertainment and construction industries in 2022. According to the Reuters' report published on Feb. 28, 2023, the issue of illegal employment of minors has become increasingly serious, where it had seen a nearly 70 percent increase in child labor violations since 2018. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, in the last fiscal year, 835 companies were found to have violated child labor laws by employing 3,800 minors, and there has been a 26 percent increase in employment of minors in hazardous occupations. The USA Today reported on Nov. 13, 2022 that a Wisconsin industrial cleaning company is accused of illegally employing more than 30 children, ages 13-17, as cleaners in meatpacking plants and farms. Several underage employees were injured on the job, including a 13-year-old burned by caustic cleaning chemicals. Reuters reported on Dec. 16, 2022 that at least four major suppliers of automobile companies have employed child labor at Alabama factories, and staffing agencies supplied those immigrant minors to work in plants. Today, the United States is still the only country among the 193 member states of the United Nations that has not put its signature on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The prospects for solving its problem of child labor remain dim.

Conditions of juvenile detention centers are harsh. The Houston Chronicle reported on Aug. 23, 2022 that conditions are poor in the juvenile detention center located in Gatesville, Texas. Teens serving sentences for serious crimes are being locked alone in poky cells for 23 hours a day. Instead of bathroom breaks, they're given empty water bottles in which to relieve themselves. Sports programs and other activities designed to rehabilitate and redirect the troubled young people have been eliminated. Instead of attending class, they get work packets to complete in their cells, which denied their access to counseling and therapy. The Los Angeles Times reported on Nov. 29, 2022 that the juvenile detention system in Los Angeles County was in chaos. The staffing crisis in juvenile detention centers has led to frequent incidents of young detainees' conflicts and violent corrections by prison guards. The increased isolation, lack of supportive structure and violence are having detrimental effects on incarcerated youths' mental health. One incarcerated minor said he didn't feel he was being "treated like a human being."

VI. Wanton Violation of Other Countries' Human Rights and Trampling on Justice

American scholar John Mearsheimer points out that under the "liberal hegemony" policy, the United States tends to constantly provoke wars, which increases conflicts in the international system and creates instability. "These armed conflicts usually end up failing, sometimes disastrously, and mainly at the expense of the state purportedly being rescued by the liberal goliath." The United States pursues power politics in the international community, frequently uses force, provokes "proxy wars," indiscriminately imposes unilateral sanctions, seriously violates the rights of immigrants and refuses to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, thus becoming a saboteur of global peace and development and a stumbling block to human rights progress.

Overseas military operations have caused humanitarian catastrophes. On Dec. 20, 2022, non-profit U.S. media outlet Common Dreams pointed out in an article titled "Warren, Jacobs Accuse Pentagon of Vastly Undercounting Civilians Killed by US Military" that according to data from the UK-based monitor group Airwars, U.S. airstrikes alone have killed as many as 48,000 civilians in nearly 100,000 bombings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen since 2001. According to data released by the Costs of War project at Brown University, since the 21st century, the U.S. government undertook what it labeled "counterterrorism" activities in 85 countries, directly killing at least 929,000 people and displacing 38 million people. And the U.S. military operations around the world have violated freedom and human rights of people in the United States and other countries. A woman and two children were killed in U.S. drone strikes in the Al-Hadba area of Al-Wadi, Yemen, on Nov. 30, 2022. "... the violence that characterizes the modern United States at home and in its conduct overseas -- from the prevalence of gun -- related deaths to the controversies over preemptive military action and drone strikes."

Provoking "proxy wars" behind the scenes. In order to pursue its own interests, the United States was the one behind the scenes to provoke wars in other countries and regions. Colm Quinn, a staff writer at Foreign Policy, published an article on July 14, 2022, saying that U.S. operations are no longer confined to the Middle East, but have broadened in geographic scope, only more covertly. Katherine Yon Ebright, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice's liberty and national security program, described it as "light footprint warfare." Under a program known as 127e, U.S. special operation forces are authorized to train proxy forces to carry out U.S. missions abroad. Foreign militants have access to U.S. arming, training, and intelligence support and are dispatched on U.S.-led missions against U.S. enemies and toward U.S. objectives. From 2017 to 2020, the Pentagon launched 23 "proxy wars" under the name of 127e in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. At least a dozen countries have participated in the operations targeting Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Tunisia, Cameroon, Libya, and others.

Long-term arbitrary imposition of unilateral sanctions. In recent years, the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on other countries have increased exponentially, which has greatly weakened the capacity and level of human rights protection of the sanctioned countries. Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star reported on Dec. 28, 2022 that the United States, the most prolific enforcer of unilateral sanctions in the world, currently has sanctions in place against more than 20 countries, including Cuba since 1962, Iran since 1979, Syria since 2011 and Afghanistan in recent years. Many of them are unable to provide essential food and medicines to their populations. The Washington Post reported on June 13, 2022, that nearly half of all Afghans do not have enough to eat, and childhood malnutrition is on the rise. On Dec. 20, 2022, several independent experts of the UN Human Rights Council issued a joint statement that the U.S. sanctions against Iran contribute to environmental harm in Iran, prevent all people in Iran from fully enjoying their rights to health and life and violate Iranian people's rights to clean environment. On Nov. 10, 2022, Alena Douhan, UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, stated that unilateral sanctions have exacerbated the suffering of the Syrian people and constitute a grave violation of human rights. The U.S. wanton imposition of sanctions has triggered human rights crises in other countries, which has been strongly condemned by the international community. On Nov. 3, 2022, the UN General Assembly voted for the 30th consecutive time to condemn the American economic, commercial and financial embargo of Cuba with 185 out of the 193-member General Assembly supporting the condemnation.

Repeatedly and deliberately undermining global climate governance. The United States is the world's largest emitter with the most greenhouse gas emissions in cumulative terms, with its per capita carbon emissions staying high. It refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, once arbitrarily withdrew from the Paris Agreement, and delayed fulfilling its commitments under the Green Climate Fund. Even after returning to the Paris Agreement, the United States has not yet turned its commitments into actions. Instead, it has used the issue of climate change as a partisan tool for political manipulation. According to estimates released by the U.S. economic research company Rhodium Group on Jan. 10, 2023, the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.3 percent year-on-year in 2022. The country lacks sincerity and effectiveness in fulfilling the obligations under the Paris Agreement. The Costs of War Project released by Brown University finds that the U.S. Defense Department is one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters. Post-9/11 U.S. military actions around the globe have "contributed significantly" to climate change.

Exclusive immigration policies create tragedies. The United States arrests migrants on a large scale in its southern border area, creating a serious of humanitarian crises. Nearly 2.4 million migrants were arrested at the U.S. border in 2022, an increase of 37 percent over 2021 and the highest number ever recorded. Migrants' right to life is seriously threatened. Fox News reported on Oct. 22, 2022 that 856 migrants died at the U.S. southern border in 2022, the highest number on record. Mexico News Daily reported on Nov. 16, 2022 that Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared an "invasion" of migrants at U.S.-Mexico border, saying that he would take measures such as dispatching the National Guard to expel illegal immigrants and deploying gunboats to secure border security. CNN reported on Dec. 16, 2022 that U.S. immigration policies put migrants and asylum seekers at risk, with thousands abducted, sexually assaulted, or violently attacked. The immigration policy has been severely torn apart due to political polarization. Migrants have been reduced to a tool of partisan divide, facing extreme xenophobia and cruel treatment. The farce of "dumping" migrants has been staged on a large scale. CNN reported on Dec. 26, 2022 that more than 100 migrants, including children, were transported to Washington D.C. and abandoned on the roadside on Christmas Eve in 2022. The temperature was below freezing, and some migrants wore only T-shirts in the frigid weather. Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the U.S. government's border immigration policy as a threat to the basic rights of asylum seekers and undermines the foundation of international human rights and refugee law.

Refusing to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Guantanamo Bay detention camp, established in 2002, once held up to about 780 people, most of whom were detained without trial and were subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment. The camp is "an ugly chapter of unrelenting human rights violations" by the United States. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and other independent experts issued a joint statement in January 2022, pointing out that the notorious Guantanamo detention facility is "a stain on the U.S. Government's commitment to the rule of law." They demanded that the U.S. government close it and provide remedy and reparation for those egregiously tortured and arbitrarily detained, and hold those that authorized and engaged in torture accountable as required by international law.