A 23-year old transgender and gay man was beheaded in his home town of Kuruman, South Africa Friday, in an anti-gay hate crime.Â Thapelo Makutle,Â who wasÂ crowned Miss Gay Kuruman, was murdered by two men who remain at large. Reports state that police, for reasons of language and training, are not classifying the murder as a hate crime, and do not understand the significance of the attack. On report states the police reject thatÂ Makutle was beheaded, but acknowledge his throat was slashed.
Mamba Online reports:
According to the group Legbo Northern Cape, Thapelo Makutle was attacked at his place of work in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district on Friday. The organisation said that there was an argument related to “his sexuality and homosexuality”.
His two attackers are believed to have followed him to the room where he lived and on Saturday cut his throat, decapitating him.
They left his body under a blanket as though he were sleeping.
Makutle, who identified as both gay and transgender, was a volunteer for Legbo Northern Cape. He recently participated in the Kimberley Out In Africa Gay and Lesbian Festival, was known as a beauty queen named Queen Bling and was recently crowned Miss Gay Kuruman.
“It’s so sad. I can’t describe the pain that we are feeling right now,” Shaine Griqua, director of Legbo Northern Cape, told Mambaonline. “We have lost a young, talented, gay man who was open about who he was. The last few days have been like a dark cloud.”
He said that no arrests have yet been made in connection with the murder. He expressed his frustration with the lack of support for LGBT people in the Northern Cape and noted that hate crimes are on the rise in the province.
“We recently had a lesbian stabbed three times in a bar because they said that she should be a woman and not a man. She chose not to press charges because she didnâ€™t want her family involved,” Griqua said.
“The government is not interested in this problem,” he added.
A later report form Mamba Online states:
According to the Mothibistad police, Thapelo Makutle’s body was found lying on the floor of his rented room. It is alleged that the victim has been out with his friends that night. He left unannounced and his friends assumed that he had gone home to sleep.
Shaine Griqua, Director of Legbo Northern Cape, who first reported the attack, said that confusion around the state of the body likely stems from miscommunication due to most people in the area not speaking English as a first language.
Griqua believes that the attack was a hate crime and said that he has information that Makutle was killed as a result of an argument about his sexuality and gender appearance, but police have yet to confirm this, saying that the motive is as yet unknown.
He told Mambaonline that the police in the area are ill-equipped to deal appropriately with a hate crime.
“These people [the police] are not reliable. They donâ€™t even know what a hate crime is. If you ask them if it was related to his sexuality they will say â€˜noâ€™ because they don’t understand the context,” Griqua insisted.
Global Post adds:
In a statement, Cosatu’s Northern Cape secretary Anele Gxoyiya condemned “this brutal attack on a young, brilliant and educated soul whose head was chopped off in a hate crime.”
While South Africa is one of the few countries in the world to extend equal rights to homosexuals, and the only nation in Africa to allow same-sex marriage, the reality of life in townships and rural areas for gays and lesbians has been one of often brutal violence.
In a high-profile incident last year, Noxolo Nogwaza, a lesbian activist based in KwaThema township near Johannesburg, was gang-raped and then stabbed and stoned to death, in what the New York-based group Human Rights Watch described as part of an “epidemic” of hate crimes against gays and lesbians in South Africa.
Politics Web published a statementÂ in response to the murder, byÂ Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, Democratic AllianceÂ Parliamentary Leader:
This violent and gruesome assault is yet another reminder that many of our country’s people are still denied the basic rights and freedoms which our Constitution enshrines.
There is a spate of homophobic hate crimes which have recently taken place across our country, including the repugnant and unconscionable crime of so-called “corrective rape” committed against lesbian South African women.
At this time, South Africa needs strong leadership from President Jacob Zuma, and an indication of his commitment to ensuring that all South Africans are able to live their lives free from fear of discrimination or violence.
Unfortunately, the silence from the Presidency has been deafening. This silence is made worse by the fact that President Zuma has in the past shown himself to be prejudiced towards homosexuals.
Last year, the DA welcomed the establishment of a government-led Joint Task Team on a “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Intervention Strategy”, established in September 2011, under the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
Unfortunately, this task team has yet to make any report on its work.
Meanwhile, the spate of crimes continues.
President Zuma must speak out against this weekend’s horrific murder, and the many others like it, which are in danger of becoming all too commonplace in our country today.
I will today be calling for a debate in Parliament about the prevalence of these crimes in South Africa, and calling on MPs to discuss what can be done by the government to address this ongoing problem.
In addition, I will also be writing to the President to ask what immediate steps his government will be taking to address the violence and intimidation that homosexual South Africans must face on a daily basis.
Such crimes, and the President’s silence on them, cannot be allowed to continue.
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After Declaring Churches ‘Essential’ and Ordering States to Let Them Reopen Trump Spends Sunday at His Golf Club
Despite having no constitutional authority to do so President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the nation’s governors to allow churches and all houses of worship to reopen “right away.” He threatened to “override” any governor who did not. To support his actions he declared churches “essential.”
On Sunday President Trump headed to the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, according to press pool reports.
About 100,000 people in America have died from the coronavirus.
Sunday’s golf outing follows Trump spending several hours on the links on Saturday, the first time he’s golfed in 76 days.
Scenes from the president’s return to golf for the first time in 76 days. Coverage using long lens with the president and security aware of the camera. Watch here. pic.twitter.com/KjeRbkyyDu
— Kelly O’Donnell (@KellyO) May 23, 2020
Several protesters on Sunday stood outside the entrance to Trump’s club resort.
“I care do you, 100,000 dead,” one protestor’s sign read.
GOP Sees President’s ‘Re-Election Less Certain’ Now That Voters Have Seen the Real Trump: Report
According to a report from the Washington Post, Donald Trump, who had hoped to run a campaign on a strong economy before his botching of the coronavirus pandemic led to almost 40 million job losses, is now looking at running a campaign similar to 2016 that was described as “disruptive.”
The Post notes, “Trump’s moves in recent days make clear that the president has decided to revive the disruptive themes of his 2016 bid, aimed at branding his opponent as a corrupt member of the Washington establishment and himself as an insurgent problem-solver. It’s a message that often has seemed incongruent with the present reality as Trump leads the federal government’s response to the worst crisis in a generation,” however, “Trump’s reluctance to recalibrate his political tactics even as the country faces twin health and economic crises could be the gamble that determines his fate in an election less than six months away, according to campaign officials, strategists and pollsters on both sides of the aisle. The approach also stands as a test of whether running again as a disrupter can work in a time of already profound disruption.”
The problem for Trump this go-around is that the public has watched his performance over the past three and a half years, and what was sold in 2016, may not work this time.
“[Joe Biden pollster John] Anzalone pointed to public polling indicating that Trump’s handling of the coronavirus has cost him significantly with voters, who give the president low marks for his stewardship. Biden has gained ground with suburban voters, independent voters and senior citizens, groups that had previously leaned toward Trump but have drifted away during his presidency, Anzalone said,” the Post reports.
The report notes that the pollster explained that, “… some voters who cast their ballot for a ‘hypothetical Trump’ in 2016 have been disappointed with the real version and will be prime targets for Biden in the coming months. He pointed to senior voters, who have had some of the most dramatic swings away from Trump toward Biden in recent polls.”
“It’s different than voting on the hypothetical Trump — someone who’s going disrupt things and be a change agent,” he elaborated. “That hasn’t gone very well for him, and it is perceived by voters that it hasn’t gone very well for him.”
Republican insiders agree, saying Trump faces an uphill battle as the November election nears.
“Some Republicans acknowledge that the political landscape has changed since 2016, making Trump’s pathway to reelection less certain,” the Post notes. “Mark Jefferson, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, said Trump’s support is stronger with rural voters than it was in 2016, but ‘we’ve still got work to do in suburban parts of the state.’”
Also hindering the President’s 2020 re-election bid is his inability to hold his widely-covered MAGA rallies.
“The campaign has not had discussions with the state party about having rallies in Wisconsin, Jefferson said, a sign that such events might be a ways off. He said the prospect of not having rallies would be ‘disappointing’ but pointed to the effort by Trump’s team to mount a virtual campaign,” the Post reports. “Some Trump advisers have begun to prepare for the prospect that rallies may not be able to return until just weeks before the election. That level of uncertainty has permeated some of the comments of allies who still favor Trump to win but now acknowledge the unprecedented challenge he faces in vying for a second term at a time of public disruption and hardship.”
You can read more here.
Republicans Think Bill Gates Is Using COVID-19 to Implant Tracking Devices Into People
A new poll from Yahoo News and YouGov show that 44 percent of Trump-supporting Republicans think Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is using the coronavirus epidemic as a way to secretly implant microchips into billions of people so he can track their movements.
Additionally, 50 percent of Americans who primarily watch Fox News believe the conspiracy theory even though neither Fox nor Trump have ever repeated it.
The poll results are troubling because they suggest that even if a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, conservatives may reject it as a form of social control. In fact, the poll found that 56 percent of Trump voters say they’re either unsure about or likely to reject a COVID-19 vaccine, something that could cause the epidemic to continue killing people even after a preventative measure has been found.
This far-right conspiracy theory against Bill Gates has been pushed Rick Wiles on his TruNews platform and the pseudoscientific Natural News “alternative health” blog. It has also circulated on conservative social media groups as part of the right-wing’s growing hysteria against vaccinations and other government public health regulations.
While The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated millions towards COVID-19 research, Snopes points out the rumor started because in December 2019 the organization financed a pilot study to explore the possibility of an entirely hypothetical vaccine that would “impart an invisible mark” or a small infrared “quantum dot” tattoo allowing medical workers to use a smartphone or black light to determine who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t.
The rumor has also been propelled by Gates’s interest in “digital identity” technology which would give each person “a cloud-based storage of medical and/or personal-identification documents accessible only with the consent of the owner but available anywhere in the world.”
Gates has also publicly praised South Korea for its stringent contact tracing methods, using Bluetooth phone technology and public surveillance camera footage to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But neither Gates nor his foundation have ever discussed inserting microchips into people to track them.
Regardless, medical misinformation now seems to be a defining characteristic among a majority of Republicans. The poll also found 53 percent of Fox News viewers, 49 percent of Trump voters, and 44 percent of all Republicans think the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment against COVID-19 even though multiple studies have shown that to be untrue — in fact, it can even trigger fatal heart arrhythmia in patients.
Additionally, 65 percent of Fox News viewers, 58 percent of Trump voters, and 57 percent of Republicans believe “Chinese scientists engineered coronavirus in a lab, from which it accidentally escaped,” a conspiracy theory that has been denied by federal intelligence agencies.
Roughly 73 percent of Fox News viewers, 68 percent of Trump voters, and 63 percent of Republicans, say they’re more worried about COVID-19’s effect on the economy than its effect on people’s health. The same percentages also think the economy should reopen “as soon as possible to prevent further economic damage.”
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