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American Observances Of IDAHO Focus Inward

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From NYC to San Francisco, America’s LGBT community marked the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) in a far different fashion than our international brothers and sisters.

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) and once again was observed across the globe this year. IDAHO is an annual event marking the day the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its classification of diseases in 1990.

In years past the occasion has been used as a vehicle to demonstrate solidarity for those in countries where discrimination is rife, or where being gay or transgendered is punishable by death. From the murder of gays in Iraq to the murder of activists like David Kato in Uganda, IDAHO is not a celebration. It’s about creating awareness.

In a well-rounded overview on TNCRM, Vincent Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), revisits the hate being exported to places like Uganda, reminding those of us in the U.S. committed to the full civil and human rights of all people, including LGBTQ people, that we have a particular obligation in this situation.

This year, to mark the occasion, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement reaffirming the European Union’s “commitment to equality and nondiscrimination,” while EU Justice and Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding stated that homophobia and transphobia are “violations of human dignity.”

As expected, in places like Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital at least 17 people were injured by a violent outbreak before the start of a rally to mark IDAHO there. According to Radio Free Europe, “thousands of antigay demonstrators led by Orthodox priests broke through police lines and attacked gay-rights demonstrators, who had to be evacuated by police.” Yep, you read that right – lead by Orthodox priests. Men of God. Apparently.

But here in the United States, while unprecedented successes in marriage equality; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; and the relaxing of attitudes in general suggest all is rosy, the situation is a lot more complicated. And not just in the typical bastions of red-State hate.

In New York, a rally was staged on May 16th by the organizations Queer Rising, GLAAD, and New York’s Anti-Violence Project, which although had nothing to do with IDAHO, (and which perhaps should have,) was an urgent response to an unusually violent spate of anti-gay hate in Manhattan.

And yes, even though a steady spate of transgender violence has not precipitated the kind of reaction we’re seeing in New York, the community response is nonetheless an important and necessary step. There is legitimate cause for concern, and New Yorkers are not taking these developments lying down.

In San Francisco, IDAHO seems to have taken on a very different meaning than in years past. And while San Francisco has also seen an alarming increase in anti-gay violence, this year, Gays Without Borders teamed with the Bradley Manning Support Network to observe IDAHO.

A simmering feud which erupted over SF Pride’s decision to rescind the selection of Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal of the June parade by former Grand Marshals, has raged on for weeks, galvanizing activists to form a coalition to get Manning reinstated, and resulting in a series of embarrassing missteps by SF Pride in their attempts to stem the hemorrhaging.

A group of activists, including David Waggoner, former President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and former Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild; Gary Virginia, Community Grand Marshal for 2012, and one of the Members of the Pride Electoral College that voted for Manning, filed a discrimination complaint against SF Pride with the City’s Human Rights Commission.

Manning is the army private accused of the greatest security breach in US history by giving hundreds of thousands of classified war and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. Manning is currently in custody awaiting a Court Martial and facing 22 charges, ranging from the improper use of government computers, to the capital offense of aiding the enemy, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917. He pled guilty to the ten lesser offenses. Reports of unusually harsh interrogation techniques – the very type of abuse he sought to whistle blow over – have been cruelly justified as part of a suicide watch, and many, including the President, and many media outlets, have prematurely convicted him.

SF Pride’s decision has bitterly divided San Francisco’s community, and politicians who typically weigh in on any given opportunity have remained uncharacteristically mute. One SF Supervisor, David Campos weighed in about two weeks into the controversy, as mounting public distaste, the Human Rights Commission Complaint, staged protests outside SF Pride offices and widespread media interest has made it all but impossible to sit on the sidelines.

But it has also breathed life into an increasingly disenchanted segment of the community who are frustrated by the co-opting of the movement by an elite few, claiming to represent and speak for a community they apparently view with disdain. An attempt to shelve the issue until Gay Pride was over, and cancel a public meeting scheduled for May 12, 2013 resulted in a mock meeting outside their offices, where a crowd of protestors did a symbolic reinstatement of Manning as Grand Marshal in their absence. SF Pride’s admission in an exclusive interview with their virtual mouthpiece — the Bay Area Reporter — that they had “fired” a staffer for what was, by their own admission, the systemic failure of their own procedures, did as much to quell the community as President Obama’s firing of the acting IRS commissioner did to end the recent IRS scandal.

On Friday afteroon, the tone-deaf SF Pride CEO, Earl Plante announced the selection of Bebe Sweetbriar as Grand Marshal, stating that Sweetbriar “is a shining exemplar of how the power of local community talent can so positively impact the lives of so many near and far.”

The San Francisco rally in Harvey Milk Plaza, was additionally symbolic. The bitter battle over control over the rainbow flag under which the protest will be held remains unresolved three years later. Attempts to lower the rainbow flag for previous IDAHO solidarity actions were unsuccessful, and the furor that arose last November when Veronika Fimbres had her request to fly the Transgender Pride flag for Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th refused.

With the support of Supervisor Scott Weiner, Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC) snubbed community requests to set up a transparent system to govern the process of dealing with requests related to the flag, instead killing the option altogether.

Last night’s IDAHO protest to reinstate Bradley Manning took place under the rainbow flag in all its glory.

Disclaimer. I am one of the signatories to the complaint filed with San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission against SF Pride. I am also part of the coalition of activists that has loosely formed in response to the events surrounding SF Pride and Bradley Manning. I have also met with city officials in San Francisco, including the Human Rights Commission, in relation to the legitimacy of MUMC’s claim of ownership of a flag on city property.

Image: Former Community Grand Marshal, Gary Virginia, expressing support for Manning on May 17’s IDAHO Rally in San Francisco. By Clinton Fein.

Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoy.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.” Fein’s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.

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News

Rick Scott’s IVF Pledge Using His Own Grandkids Slammed as ‘Lie’ by Democrats

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U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), running for re-election and running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader, has put out a new seven-figure ad that uses his children and grandchildren as he pledges to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but Democrats in the Sunshine State are accusing him of lying.

“My wife Ann and I have two daughters and seven perfect grandkids. Each is a precious gift from God. But sometimes families need help. Millions of babies have come into this world from IVF, in-vitro fertilization. In fact, our youngest daughter’s receiving an IVF treatment right now, hoping to expand her family. She and I both agree IVF must be protected. For our family, for every family,” Senator Scott says in his latest ad he’s also posted to social media (below).

Democrats are calling Sen. Scott out for what they say is a lie.

On Thursday, Scott voted against the Right to IVF Act, Democratic legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who blasted him on Friday: “You literally voted against my bill to protect IVF yesterday.”

READ MORE: Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill in a 48-47 vote. Only two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats for the legislation.

“Rick Scott voted against protecting access to IVF — a miracle treatment that has allowed millions of Americans to start families,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement that also includes his voting record and statements on IVF and other issues including abortion. “Scott has made it crystal clear that he will stop at nothing to rip away personal decisions from women and their families — and it will cost him his Senate seat.”

“Scott previously blocked legislation to protect IVF treatment that was introduced in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that stored embryos have the same legal protections as children,” the Florida Democratic Party statement also reads. “Scott is now trying to cover up his anti-IVF record by touting an ’empty, symbolic’ resolution that would do nothing to actually protect IVF and spending millions to lie to Floridians about his phony support for IVF.”

The Florida Phoenix last week reported, “Scott, a Republican, will likely face former South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. Both candidates must get through their respective party primary elections in August.”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

“Mucarsel-Powell has been relentless in criticizing Scott’s record on abortion rights. Last week, her campaign issued a statement noting that the Scott had received an “A+” rating from Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion organization that opposes IVF.”

Political consultant Dana Houle observed, “If you’re running ads trying to convince people you’re not opposed to IVF (which in effect he is, since he voted against protecting it) you’re in pretty big trouble. It’s crazy to think that it’s likely that one of the decisive events of the 2024 campaign occurred in Alabama.”

That also appears to be the position of Florida Democratic Party executive director Phillip Jerez, who responded to Scott’s ad by asking, “Didn’t you vote AGAINST the IVF bill in the Senate yesterday?”

“Rick Scott is now putting up this 7-figure ad because he needs to work OVERTIME to lie to Floridians,” Jerez added. “He’s never won an election by more than 1% and never in a presidential year. Rick Scott is in trouble.”

David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, and screenwriter known for his colorful language, also responded to Sen. Scott: “Shitheel, you voted against the bill to protect IVF and then ran out to tweet this horseshit the next day. Even by our American standards of grifting, empty political hacks, this is wondrous.”

See Sen. Scott’s ad above or at this link.

RELATED: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

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Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

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In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, an accessory used in America’s most-deadly mass shooting, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

“The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns,” is the headline of Ian Millhiser’s report at Vox. He says Friday’s ruling “effectively legalizes civilian ownership of automatic weapons.”

“Bump stocks increase an AR-15’s rate of fire from 180 rounds per minute to 400-800 rounds per minute,” explained Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. “They inflict mass carnage by allowing the gunman to shoot automatically, without pulling the trigger. Yet the Supreme Court declares that they do not create a ‘machinegun.’ ”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

Legal and gun experts might delve in to the mechanics of what makes a gun a gun, what makes a machine gun a machine gun, add in the conservative justices’ “textualism” and “originalism” theories where words are supposed to only mean what they meant when the Constitution, or, in this case, a law was written, but as Stern and Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman discussed (social media post below), the Supreme Court appears, they say, to have interpreted the plain language of words differently than their plain meaning to reach the conclusion they did:

Indeed, as senior advisor to the nonprofit organization Court Accountability and self-described “lapsed lawyer” Mike Sacks noted, in her dissent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Sacks adds, “Sotomayor calls out *every* *single* *one* *of* *her* *Republican* *colleagues* for abandoning their textualist ‘principle,’ in a paragraph that concludes, “Today, the majority forgets that principle and substitutes its own view of what constitutes a “machinegun” for Congress’s.”

Berkeley professor of public policy and former Cabinet Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “Koch-backed groups called on SCOTUS to overturn the federal bump stock ban. Clarence Thomas secretly attended Koch fundraising events, but of course didn’t recuse from this case — he wrote the majority opinion. Our nation’s highest court is beyond compromised.”

NBC News reported in December of 2018 that Donald Trump “had urged the federal government to ban bump stocks this past spring following a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, the device gained notoriety when a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured at least 527 others attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, had 22 semi-automatic rifles and 14 of them were equipped with bump stocks. They allowed him to fire the rifles continuously with a single pull of the trigger, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

That shooting to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern day history.

See the social media posts above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

 

 

 

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OPINION

‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

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Donald Trump’s first return to Capitol Hill since the violent and deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection he fomented elicited responses of celebratory embrace, near-coronation, and a whitewashing of history from House and Senate Republicans and some of the mainstream media. That has critics sounding the alarm, likening their remarks to those of the subjects of authoritarian dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Trump is the Republican Party’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, a convicted felon awaiting sentencing who remains criminally indicted and out on bail in three other jurisdictions, an adjudicated rapist and fraudster who has been credibly accused by at least 18 to 23 or more women of varying degrees of sexual misconduct including harassment, assault, and rape, who allegedly had sex with a Playboy Bunny, and a porn star, the latter just four months after his third and current wife had given birth to their four-month old son.

He is a one-term, twice impeached ex-president who made over 30,000 “false or misleading claims” during his four years in the Oval Office, whose “inept and insufficient” response was in part responsible for about 40% of the COVID-19 pandemic deaths in the U.S., according to a February 2021 study that deemed them preventable.

And as of today, Donald Trump is 78 years old, and the subject of a New Yorker column published Friday alleging “age-related diminishment of a candidate.”

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

The ex-president met with House Republicans Thursday morning at the same restaurant where a pipe bomb was found outside on January 6, 2021. It’s just a seven-minute walk from the halls of Congress, where many of those same lawmakers who were jovially dining with and cheering on Trump, had huddled, hunkered-down, and fled through that centuries-old symbol of American democracy, afraid for their lives as supporters of the then-Commander-in-Chief – some of whom have said in court documents they believed were acting under his instructions – attacked the U.S. Capitol building and police, used the American flag as a spear, defecated on the walls, broke windows, damaged, destroyed, and stole U.S. Government property, hunted for the Democratic Speaker of the House, calling her by name, and hunted for the Republican Vice President, chanting their threats to “hang Mike Pence,” in a coordinated effort to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election he had lost by over seven million votes, and 74 Electoral College votes.

None of that matters now to the people’s elected representatives of the Republican Party in the House and Senate.

U.S. Senator, venture capitalist, and former “Never Trumper,” J.D. Vance (R-OH) on Thursday, walking in Washington, D.C. after he and nearly all of the Republican Senators met with Donald Trump and gave him a 30-second standing ovation, told reporters the GOP has absolved Trump of guilt and responsibility for the deadly insurrection three years ago.

“Well look, I think no real Republican with any credibility in the party is still blaming him for January the 6th. Frankly, some of his critics were in the room (Thursday) and were supportive and are supportive. So I think it’s a good thing and the Republican Party’s in a good place.”

After House Republicans had breakfast with Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, criticized for apparently not remembering Congress is a co-equal brach of the U.S. government and Donald Trump is no longer a leader of any branch of government, glowingly bragged the ex-president “said I’m doing a very good job.”

Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman, blasted Senate Republicans after they met with Trump, saying they “just rolled the red carpet out and welcomed him back with smiles and handshakes.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

He posted a photo of Trump warmly shaking hands with Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who reportedly had not spoken to Trump since before the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S Capitol, and on that day declared him “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection.

Journalist and Public Notice founder Aaron Rupar posted a “supercut” of Republicans responding to Trump’s visit, also likening their embrace to how subjects speak of dictators.

Award-winning Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall praised Rupar and blasted Republicans: “For all the ‘triumphant returns’ and ‘Trumps flexes’ and all the rest I don’t think anyone beside @atrupar really captured it. This was Pyongyang in the Rotunda. The maniacal clapping in unison, MTG almost breaking down in tears cuz Trump smiled at her. Total North Korea vibe.”

Critics are slamming not only House and Senate Republicans, but the mainstream media’s coverage, especially a social media post by the Associated Press, which declared Trump’s return to D.C. “triumphant,” a term often reserved for a conquering or undefeated hero.

Veteran journalist and D.C. Bureau Chief of Mother Jones, David Corn, co-author of the 2018 book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” criticized the AP’s post, saying: “Sounds like a North Korean report.”

Award-winning journalist Steve Silberman called the AP’s post, “an instant candidate for the Museum of American Fascism.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Buttigieg on Martha-Ann Alito: Flags Symbolizing Love vs. Insurrection Are Different

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