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Clinton: “Disturbing Trend” of International Repression of LGBT People

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointedly referenced a “disturbing trend of 2010 was the repression of vulnerable minorities, including racial and ethnic and religious minorities along with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” internationally, in announcing the 35th State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices, released Friday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

Clinton reiterated her assertion, as well as the U.S. government’s position, that gay rights are human rights–and accentuated the U.S. government’s concerns about the threatened lives of LGBT people in Uganda by stating:

“And because I believe, and our government believes, that gay rights are human rights, we remain extremely concerned about state-sanctioned homophobia. In Uganda, for example, homosexuality remains illegal, and people are being harassed, discriminated against, threatened, and intimidated.”

This may be the first time a U.S. official has publicly uttered the words “state-sanctioned homophobia” in connection to a State Department human rights report. I am no longer surprised by anything Hillary Clinton says or does–she continues to break ground and set new milestones as America’s chief diplomat and advocate for human rights. Despite her formal diplomatic presentation, Clinton’s words today challenge autocratic regimes to do more to protect the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world.

Certainly, hopefully, officials of the Uganda government are probably shocked by being named publicly as state sponsors of hatred toward gays by the U.S. Secretary of State for their unabashed efforts to aid, abet, and harm Ugandan LGBT citizens, which resulted in the murder of gay activist David Kato in January 2011.

Read: “Ugandan Kill The Gays Bill Returns With 2 Million Signature Petition

Clinton’s words matter, especially in light of continuing efforts to bring Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill back before the parliament for a vote before recessing.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

The report also focuses on state-sponsored extrajudicial killings, torture, detention, and disappearance, along with government corruption.

Clinton, who is arguably the most visible and forceful leader in the Obama Administration on LGBT rights, ordered formal reporting on gay rights to be included in the annual human rights country reports when she became Secretary of State in January, 2009.  The 2010 report reflects the first such report that includes a new emphasis on LGBT rights and a renewed emphasis on women’s rights in more than 190 of countries throughout the world.

The report was delayed by a few months due to the North Africa uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and the current humanitarian intervention in Libya, forged by the UN Security Council Resolution 1973.  It takes in account the fluid situation in North Africa and the Middle East and states that the outcome remains to be seen if human rights will be respected in those countries where revolutionary changes are currently underway.

The other two trends reported in the overview of the 2010 human rights report indicate that “more than 90 governments have sought to pass restrictive laws and regulations, hampering the ability of organizations to register, operate freely, or receive foreign funding,” and that, because of “the explosive growth in the use of the Internet, mobile phones and other connective technologies that allow instantaneous communications to billions of people across the globe,” a number of governments have resorted to Internet censorship and sought to block access to the Internet by human rights activists who work to overturn such harsh tactics.

The report also shows that more than 40 governments are now “using a combination of regulatory restrictions, technical controls on access to the Internet, and technologies designed to repress speech and infringe on the personal privacy of those who use these rapidly evolving technologies.”

Since the Iran “Green” uprising in June 2009, the State Department has continually sought to enable activists access to Facebook and Twitter, even when hostile governments strove to deny them access by turning off the Internet. Most recently activists used these social media platforms in Tunisia and Egypt to help organize, eventually overthrowing two dictators who had been in power for decades, all occuring since the beginning of 2011.

Read: “Wikileaks, Twitter, Cable News Fuel Tunisia Uprising Perfect Storm

In another move toward transparency, today also marked the unveiling by Clinton of a new website– humanrights.gov— open to everyone, and empowers human rights defenders with access to information about human rights abuses in countries which deny such information to their own citizens. In a brief peruse of the site, I was quite impressed by the depth and breadth of information contained on it and its nuanced approach to organizing human rights abuses, such as using the term “human integrity,” to report a number of incidents and violation of LGBT persons.

This website marks the first time the Universal Bill of Human Rights is listed on a U.S. government website that also includes the status of all international human rights treaties. Appropriately, this website showcases a famous photo of Eleanor  Roosevelt, unveiling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted under her leadership  and adopted by the UN as its base document in 1948, from which all human rights treaties emanate. This website marks a symmetrical moment–from Eleanor Roosevelt, a controversial First Lady of the United States in her day, who wrote the framework for all human rights documents as an outcome from one of the darkest periods in human history–to that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was also an equally controversial First Lady, and who has broken new ground by forcefully articulating the new human rights of the 21st century.

A more detailed regional and country report analyzing the human rights report’s contents on the status of global LGBT rights is forthcoming.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

 

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Hunter Biden Is Fighting Back

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After years of being the right wing’s punching bag, Hunter Biden is fighting back.

The 52-year old attorney, investor, lobbyist, father of five, and Navy veteran who just happens to be the son of the President of the United States, is calling for state and federal investigations into how his personal, private information from his now-infamous laptop was disseminated, according to CBS News.

Biden is also threatening a defamation lawsuit against Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

READ MORE: Watch: Angry, Santos Reacts to News DOJ is Investigating His Alleged ‘Ghosting’ With $3000 Raised for Veteran’s Dying Dog

The “flurry of letters to the Delaware attorney general, the Department of Justice, the I.R.S. and attorneys for Fox News and Carlson,” CBS reports, “represent an aggressive new strategy for the president’s son, who is facing long-running federal criminal investigations, as well as new probes promised by congressional Republicans, according to a source familiar with Biden’s approach.”

“This marks a new approach by Hunter Biden and his team,” the source told CBS News. “He is not going to sit quietly by as questionable characters continue to violate his rights and media organizations peddling in lies try to defame him.”

Biden lost his mother and sister in a car crash injuring him and his brother when he was just two years old, and later, that same brother, Beau Biden, the longtime Delaware Attorney General, died from an aggressive cancer of the brain.

CBS reports Biden’s “computer data that was turned over to the FBI showed no evidence of tampering or fabrication, according to an independent review commissioned by CBS News.”

READ MORE: ‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

But The Washington Post last year hired two forensic investigators, and they reached different conclusions.

“From a forensics standpoint, it’s a disaster,” said Jake Williams, who the Post describes as “a forensics expert and former National Security Agency operative who once hacked the computers of foreign adversaries.” The other investigator, Matt Green, the Post says is “a Johns Hopkins University security researcher who specializes in cryptography.”

“The drive is a mess,” Green told The Post.

The Post found that “the lack of what experts call a ‘clean chain of custody’ undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.” The “clean chain of custody” refers to the fact that countless individuals have had access to the hard drive.

“The vast majority of the data — and most of the nearly 129,000 emails it contained — could not be verified by either of the two security experts who reviewed the data for The Post,” the newspaper reported. “Neither found clear evidence of tampering in their examinations, but some of the records that might have helped verify contents were not available for analysis, they said. The Post was able in some instances to find documents from other sources that matched content on the laptop that the experts were not able to assess.”

Meanwhile, CBS News also reports that in a ” letter sent Wednesday, Biden attorney Bryan Sullivan demanded that Fox News and Tucker Carlson devote airtime to retracting statements made about Biden paying ‘rent’ to his father, ‘in what Mr. Carlson implied was essentially a money laundering scheme to finance President Biden’s lifestyle prior to his election … and alluding to Mr. Biden having unauthorized access to classified documents because of his presence at President Biden’s house.’ Sullivan writes that the claims were false, and even after others acknowledged as much, Carlson continued to make them.”

“The letter, which cites California’s defamation statute, notes that the Daily Caller website retracted an article that made similar claims.”

Image via Wikimedia and a CC license

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Watch: Angry, Santos Reacts to News DOJ is Investigating His Alleged ‘Ghosting’ With $3000 Raised for Veteran’s Dying Dog

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Out of all the unethical actions reportedly taken by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) – lying about his education, work, ethnicity, and funding, while mysteriously becoming rich overnight – some feel one of the worst things he allegedly did was abscond with thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe charity drive raised to help a veteran’s dying service dog get the care they needed to live.

“Of all the Santos outrages, none has cut more deeply with the public than his (alleged) theft of money from a disabled Navy veteran & his dying dog,” tweeted Larry Sabato, the famed political scientist. “How low will Santos go? This low.”

Now, the Dept. of Justice is investigating the alleged charity fraud scheme.

The veteran, Richard Osthoff, says two FBI agents contacted him on Wednesday, “on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York,” Politico reports.

“Osthoff gave the agents text messages from 2016 with Santos, who he says used his plight to raise $3,000 for life-saving surgery for the pit bull mix, Sapphire — then ghosted with the funds, as first reported by Patch.”

READ MORE: ‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

ABC News’ Will Steakin caught Congressman Santos in the halls of the Capitol and asked him if the FBI had contacted him.

Santos, appearing angry, said he had “no clue” about the issue, and said he had never met Osthoff – although Osthoff told Patch he only spoke to Santos, and only a few times.

“He talked to you more than he talked to me,” Santos said, although it was unclear if he was referring to the FBI or Osthoff, or someone else. “I haven’t been reached out by them.”

Attorney Joshua Schiller told Politico the reportedly missing charity funds could be a quick way to prosecute Santos.

“I think there is an urgency here because Santos is currently in a position to make laws,” Schiller said. “I can think of examples where the government used a lesser indictment to seize assets and try to cause the defendant to plea to a deal before bringing a second or third indictment on more serious charges, and I bet that is the case here.”

In January Patch reported on the heartbreaking story.

“Two New Jersey veterans say George Santos promised to raise funds for a lifesaving surgery for a service dog — then disappeared,” the report says.

“In May 2016, Richard Osthoff was living in a tent in an abandoned chicken coop on the side of Route 9 in Howell, New Jersey, with his beloved service dog Sapphire. A veteran’s charity gave the pit mix to Osthoff, a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2002, he told Patch.”

READ MORE: Watch: Kevin McCarthy Leads Over a Dozen Republicans in Prayer at Event Co-Sponsored by Five Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

“When Sapphire developed a life-threatening stomach tumor, Osthoff, now 47, learned the surgery would cost $3,000. A veterinary technician took Osthoff aside and told him, ‘I know a guy who runs a pet charity who can help you,’ Osthoff recounted.”

The GoFundMe drive was successful, raising over $3000, but the person running it, believed to be Santos, put Osthoff though several hoops, forcing him to travel from New Jersey to Queens to see a different vet, who then claimed he could not operate on the dog.

Sadly, without the surgery, there was no hope for the dog.

“Sapphire died Jan. 15, 2017. After being out of work with a broken leg for over a year, Osthoff couldn’t afford the dog’s euthanasia and cremation, he said.”

“I had to panhandle. It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do,” Osthoff told Patch.

Patch’s report includes screenshots of text messages and Facebook posts that include a photo of the ailing dog.

Watch the video of Rep. Santos above or at this link.

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‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

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Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is being mocked for his handling of the run-up to critical negotiations over the debt ceiling with President Joe Biden – negotiations that, if they fail, could shut down the federal government and even throw the economy into a tailspin.

McCarthy first decided to take his fight – which includes drastic cuts to life-saving Social Security and Medicare, a non-starter for Democrats – not to the Oval Office but to Twitter.

“Mr. President: I received your staff’s memo,” tweeted the Speaker, still damaged from having to make still-secret promises to his own caucus members while taking 15 tries to get elected. “I’m not interested in political games. I’m coming to negotiate for the American people.”

That memo, according to CNBC, “sought to portray the 3:15 p.m. ET meeting as a showdown, one between a Democratic president who will protect Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and food stamps, and a House Republican majority that will demand cuts to these programs in exchange for helping Democrats avoid a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt.”

Meanwhile, many on Twitter responded by accusing him of trying to act like a “tough guy” with the President.

READ MORE: Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’

Comedian Dana Goldberg mocked McCarthy, tweeting, “Nothing says ‘I don’t want to play games’ like tweeting a response to the President of the United States.”

Former Lincoln Project Executive Director Fred Wellman had even harsher words for the Speaker.

“You were elected by a bunch of idiots in Bakersfield and made Speaker by a handful of insurrectionists and nutjobs. You don’t speak for the American people. You barely even speak for the House of Representatives, Kev,” he said.

Wednesday morning, again not taking his battle to the Oval Office, McCarthy aimed higher.

At the National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance, a far-right wing event sponsored by several Christian organizations, at least five of which appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, McCarthy prayed for God to open his and President Biden’s hearts.

READ MORE: Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

“Father, I want to lift up those who are not here today. I want you to open their hearts,” McCarthy prayed, asking for “the patience of Job,” and “the intellect the leadership that you gave David.”

“Father, I want to lift up the president. Father, you know I will meet with him today. Father, I ask. I asked that you open both of our hearts that you put our meaning, our meaning that seeks your truth.”

Later, McCarthy, heading to the White House, told reporters, “I’ve got a big plan. The first question is does the President wants to continue reckless spending or find a way that we can be responsible, sit down and find common ground where we put ourselves on a path to budget. Make a balanced budget,” he said, according to NBC News’ Kyle Stewart and CNN’s Manu Raju.

Many were unimpressed.

Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) asked, “His big plan is to ask the president a question?”

Georgetown Law professor Josh Chafetz offered this in response:
“Step 1: Ask loaded question
Step 2: ???
Step 3: … also ???”

Journalist Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, noted: “McCarthy’s opening position: A balanced budget. So basically cut a quarter of federal spending or he’ll burn down the world.
I’m sure the political media will be outraged.”

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas asked, “If he’s got a plan, where is it?”

The Biden-McCarthy meeting began at roughly 3:17 PM and ended at approximately 4:41 PM, according to observations from Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman.

McCarthy talked to reporters after his meeting with the President, saying he felt they could find some “common ground.”

After first tweeting about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then literally praying to God on-camera in public about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then talking to reporters about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, McCarthy stood outside the White House after his first round of talks with the President and told reporters: “I’m not going to negotiate this in the press.”

Watch below or at this link.

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