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LGBT Activists Take Aim At Wall Street’s ‘Russia Day’




Video from 2012 “Russia Day” celebration with addition of imagery
of what has happened in Russia in the year since. 

On Monday, November 18, Wall Street will be celebrating “Russia Day,” described by the New York Stock Exchange as an opportunity for “executives to engage in strategic discussions with business peers, asset allocators and investors, and Russian government officials about the opportunities in doing business and investing in Russia today.” The day will culminate with Sergey Belyakov, Deputy Minister for Economic Development of the Russian Federation, ringing the closing bell.

Yes, an official of a country whose president is waging a war on the LGBT community will be ringing the closing bell of the iconic New York Stock Exchange.

Now, activists from New York City to São Paulo, Brazil are using this event as a platform to put the Russian government in the hot seat about Russia’s record on LGBT and human rights.

Already, they have secured three major wins: two sponsors and the keynote speaker have fled from being associated with this event.

After taking fire from LGBT activists, the President of the American Bar Association, James Silkenat, canceled his scheduled keynote address at the Russia Forum NY investors’ conference. Earlier, the Mayor’s Office of New York City also disavowed any ties to the Russia investment conference, after questioned about Russia Center New York’s claim that Mayor Bloomberg was a sponsor of the event.

The petitioner who targeted Silkenat with the petition, Bert Leatherman, a New Yorker and a graduate of New York University Law School now living in Brazil, has moved on. He is now petitioning the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, Duncan Niederauer, to cancel the bell-ringing and other festivities celebrating Russia. Leatherman writes:

The New York Stock Exchange and Goodwin Procter are lending their credibility to the effort to entice American investors into investing in the Russian economy. On November 18, 2013, the NYSE will host Russia Day, when leading Russian government officials — some of them the very architects of Russia’s homophobic law banning any gay-positive speech and tacitly encouraging violence against LGBT Russians — will ring the closing bell at the stock exchange, to sickening applause from NYSE traders.

The other target in his sights was Goodwin Procter LLC, a prestigious law firm whose New York City offices were to be host to Russia Forum NY and the gathered Russian government officials. Goodwin Procter boasts of their LGBT inclusivity on their website, and filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. In whole, their record bears out the firm’s claim Goodwin Procter, LCC is a friend to the LGBT community.

 photo Goodwin-Procter-Logo_zps47c76a75.jpgAnd in fact, Goodwin Procter behaved as a friend. Reached for comment on Tuesday, Lee Feldman, Director of Communications for Goodwin Procter, LLC said, “We’ve informed [Russia Forum NY] that we will not be hosting or supporting the conference.” American Lawyer confirms, a Goodwin Procter spokesperson telling them:

“Recently, several troubling issues, including the Russian government’s anti-gay policies, were brought to our attention, and . . . Mr. Silkenat withdrew as keynote speaker for the event over this past weekend. These issues were discussed at length by Goodwin’s leaders, members of our Russian practice and the leaders of Goodwin’s longstanding partner-led GLBT Committee. Based on these concerns and Mr. Silkenat’s withdrawal, we reached a decision [Monday] night that we could not provide space or support for the event and communicated that to The Russian Center.”

This leaves the seminar homeless mere days before the convening. Queer Nation NY had already announced their intention to protest outside the offices of Goodwin Procter, Monday Nov. 18, concurrent with Russia Day on Wall Street. The location may change but Queer Nation says that protest action will go on, if event’s location can be ascertained. And there will also be an afternoon protest at the New York Stock Exchange, convening at Federal Hall steps at 3:15 pm to greet the 4:00 pm bell-ringing.

This action comes at a very bad time for Russia government, as they are working hard to counteract the effects of capital flight from the country. A recent study by one global financial analyst group estimates that, mostly due to crime and corruption, as much as US$782.5 billion left the country between 1994 and 2011. The figure is described as “massive” and raised “serious questions about the economic and political stability of the nation currently chairing the G20.”

 photo GS_zps59d42613.jpgSergey Belyakov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development is scheduled to ring the closing bell on trading Monday. According to the Moscow Times, in January 2013, Belyakov hired Goldman Sachs “to polish the image of the country’s investment potential abroad and lure foreign cash.” Polishing the image will mean convincing investors  to look past the the bottomless well of graft and corruption that Russia has long been and is still infamous for. And increasingly,  the unseemly spectacle of the country’s brutality to its LGBT citizens is also eclipsing all other news of the country.

In October, Queer Nation NY protested a similar investment seminar also organized by this same group and attended by at least four officials from the Moscow City government. During the course of the protester’s confrontation, attendees at Russia Forum NY shouted truly shockingly homophobic things at the protesters, including this gem straight out of the Russian demagoguery handbook:

“Gay culture should not be promoted because it will destroy the population of the educated classes.”

Goldman Sachs has arranged to send Russian government officials on a worldwide Russian Investment Roadshow. They are courting foreign money men (and women) and attempting to lure foreign capital into the struggling Russian economy. “Russia Day” is another stump stop on the investment roadshow.

For activists nationwide who are not able to make it to New York City on Monday, the CareXO Foundation is sponsoring a Thunderclap social media action for Sunday at noon. The Thunderclap service allows people to pre-schedule Tweets and Facebook posts and the service will then release them at synchronized time, allowing a group to flood social media with their message. In this case CareXO is sending this out:


Gilbert Baker, original designer of the rainbow flag, has designed a 90-foot rainbow banner that Queer Nation NY will unfurl at the New York Stock Exchange while Russian government officials ring the closing bell.

The Russian government has been particular belligerent when confronted on their abuse of human rights, for LGBT people, as well as on the topic of persecution of Greenpeace activists and the imprisonment of political dissidents Pussy Riot. They brush off critiques saying these are internal matters and Russia has no interest in being influenced by “western values.” The Russian government might find such belligerence is ill-suited for the task of coming to America—hat in hand—asking for value of western investment money to bailout  their ailing economy. As with South Africa, Americans of conscience will say, “Nyet.”

Scott Wooledge is a New York City based writer, activist, creative media professional, and political consultant.

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Jim Jordan’s Attack on Manhattan DA Will ‘Backfire’ and Allow Democrats to Expose Coordination With Trump: Columnist



Republican House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan‘s unprecedented attack on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg this week will “backfire” on the GOP, according to a Washington Post columnist who spoke with House Democrats.

Chairman Jordan, who has no constitutional oversight authority over an elected county district attorney, demanded Bragg hand over documents and communications and testify before Congress about his criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s hush money payoffs and business practices. Some believe an indictment could come as early as Wednesday afternoon.

“If Jim Jordan and MAGA Republicans attack the Manhattan DA’s potential indictment of Trump, Democrats will use the proceedings to draw attention to coordination between House Republicans and Trump’s legal team, Dems tell me,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent said Wednesday via Twitter. “This will backfire on the GOP.”

Sargent adds House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin told him: “This is an extreme move to use the resources of Congress to interfere with a criminal investigation at the state and local level.” Raskin likened “GOP ‘political culture’ to ‘authoritarian dictatorships.'”

READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter

Sargent says Democrats “can use this against the GOP.”

He adds: “Trump’s lawyer sen[t] a letter to Jim Jordan urging an investigation into any charges against Trump, the NYT reports. Dems will use any hearings that Jordan holds to shed light on coordination between Trump’s legal team and House Republicans, aides tell me.”

In his Wednesday Washington Post opinion column Sargent calls on Democrats to “marshal some serious creativity in response” to Republican attacks.

“The extraordinary move by House Republicans to insert themselves into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation of Trump provides Democrats with an opening to do just that,” he says.

Sargent says “it’s not clear that Jordan, the Judiciary Committee chair, has thought this through. The course of action signaled by the letter — also signed by Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) — could go sideways for Republicans in unforeseen ways.”

READ MORE: US Secretary of State Denounces Uganda’s New ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill

Raskin is an attorney, constitutional law professor, and was the lead impeachment manager for the second impeachment of Donald Trump. He has become a leading voice for American democratic values and in the fight against the MAGA Republicans.

“If and when there is an indictment, we will be able to reconstruct all the facts of this case in a way that makes sense to the American public,” Raskin told Sargent, who explains: “The aim, he noted, would be to ‘show the justice process is working, and there is no call for extraordinary intervention by the U.S. Congress.'”

Sargent warns, “A Trump indictment will unleash months of information warfare around a numbingly complex matter never before litigated in the public arena. Democrats sometimes undervalue the importance of sheer creativity in politics, and as ugly as the GOP response has been, Republicans are responding to unprecedented circumstances with new innovations. Democrats must meet them on that battlefield.”

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US Secretary of State Denounces Uganda’s New ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill



U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is publicly denouncing Uganda’s latest Anti-Homosexuality legislation, which is being called a “Kill the Gays” bill for its capital punishment penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The legislation passed in a nearly-unanimous vote and now heads to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni‘s desk.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament yesterday would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation,” Secretary Blinken said via Twitter Wednesday morning.

Uganda, a far-right religious country has a long history of targeting and marginalizing its LGBTQ citizens, including passing a modified “Kill the Gays” bill that was signed into law in 2014, only to be overturned in court on a technicality. That law was drafted and promoted with the aid of American far-right evangelicals.

READ MORE: Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case

Ugandan lawmakers on Tuesday passed legislation that makes being LGBTQ illegal, proscribes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, and decades or life in prison for identifying as LGBTQ. It also requires anyone with knowledge of another person being LGBTQ or engaging in same-sex acts to be reported to the government.

“All but two of the 389 legislators voted late on Tuesday for the hardline anti-homosexuality bill, which introduces capital and life imprisonment sentences for gay sex and ‘recruitment, promotion and funding’ of same-sex ‘activities’,” The Guardian reports.

“A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction to suffer death,” the bill states.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, in a statement warned: “If the bill is signed into law, it will render LGBTIQ+ people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other.”

READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter

One of the two Ugandan Members of Parliament who voted against the bill, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, calls it “ill-conceived,” and says parts are “unconstitutional.”

He says it “reverses the gains registered in the fight against gender-based violence and criminalises individuals instead of conduct that contravenes all known legal norms.”

President Museveni, who signed into law a modified version of the 2014 “Kill the Gays” bill, will now have to decide if he wants to sign this version as well.


Image: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

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‘Complete Dog Whistle’: Experts Say Trump Sending Coded Message to Far-Right With Location of Next Rally



As Donald Trump continues his recently launched campaign for 2024, his next stop is raising the eyebrows of some experts who say it’s a deliberate message to the far-right, AZ Central reported.

Trump plans to hold a rally this Saturday in the city of Waco, Texas — on the anniversary of the infamous ATF siege that ended in the fiery deaths of cult leader David Koresh and over 80 of his followers, including 25 children.

The event has been a rallying point for many in far-right anti-government movements, including Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, which caused the deaths 198 people, including 19 children. The Waco siege has also been the catalyst for a wave of anti-government conspiracy theories since then. It also is central to many pro-2nd Amendment advocates, since the ATF initially carried out a raid on Koresh’s compound accusing him and his group of stockpiling illegal weapons.

Experts speaking to AZ Central say that’s exactly why Trump chose Waco.

IN OTHER NEWS: Anti-Trump protesters vastly outnumber MAGA supporters outside Manhattan courthouse: report

“Waco is hugely symbolic on the far right,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “There’s not really another place in the U.S. that you could pick that would tap into these deep veins of anti-government hatred – Christian nationalist skepticism of the government – and I find it hard to believe that Trump doesn’t know that Waco represents all of these things.”

“Waco has a sense of grievance among people that I know he’s (Trump’s) got to be trying to tap into,” Beirich said. “He’s being unjustly accused, like the Branch Davidians were unjustly accused – and the deep state is out to get them all.”

Deputy director for data analytics at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Megan Squire, was a little more direct.

“Give me a break! There’s no reason to go to Waco, Texas, other than one thing – in April,” Squire said. “I can’t even fathom what’s what that’s about other than just a complete dog whistle – actually forget dog whistle, that is just a train whistle to the folks who still remember that event and are still mad about it.”

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