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

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//www.youtube.com/embed/xwT2aU95_JA

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 Change.org 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:

//www.youtube.com/embed/PwS2xV2keGs

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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News

Less Than Half of Florida Voters Would Choose ‘Polarizing’ DeSantis New Poll Finds

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Ron DeSantis is facing much more challenging odds of winning re-election than some would assume as a just-released poll finds less than half of Floridians would vote for their Republican governor.

The poll, released by Florida progressive groups but more heavily weighted toward a GOP electorate finds just 48 percent of all registered voters would vote for DeSantis, and 43 percent would choose the Democratic nominee, Florida Politics reports. The Democratic gubernatorial primary is August 23, between U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, their former governor, and Nikki Fried, the current commissioner of agriculture.

“About 2,244 registered Florida voters [were] weighted to reflect a midterm electorate favorable to Republicans. Respondents were surveyed between July 26 and 31.” The poll was released by by Progress Florida and Florida Watch.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law Goes Into Effect as Schools Scramble to Avoid Parental Lawsuits

DeSantis is viewed favorably by 50% of voters, but unfavorably by 48%.

“Given his financial advantage DeSantis remains a favorite to win re-election, but his polarizing nature could put a ceiling on his support,” a memo from pollsters Geoff Puryear and Annika Ramnath reads.

Given DeSantis’ nearly-daily press conferences, often surrounded by children or law enforcement, many forget he won his gubernatorial election in an extremely tight race, by 32,463 votes, a margin of just 0.4%.

READ MORE: ‘Combative’ Press Secretary for Ron DeSantis Registers as Foreign Agent After DOJ Inquiry: Report

To beat DeSantis the Democratic candidate would need to overcome the poll’s five-point spread, meaning securing more than half of the nine percent of undecideds or pulling several points away from DeSantis, or greatly increasing Democratic voter turnout. Back in April DeSantis decried Democrats moving to Florida, calling it “a problem” because “they would continue to vote the same way.”

The polling memo notes that 65% of Florida voters “prefer the Democratic message” on abortion.

“Democrats in Florida need to make sure that as surely as abortion rights were on the ballot in Kansas…abortion rights are on the ballot this fall, and that voters know that Marci Rubio, Ron DeSantis, and legislative Republicans support extreme abortion bans, even for victims of rape and incest,” the pollsters’ memo adds.

DeSantis has doubled down on many of his highly controversial moves, including signing into law the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which made nationwide news for months. He reversed a 50-year law that effectively granted Disney World the ability to assume most governmental operations for its district, as a punishment for the company, a huge employer in the Sunshine State, speaking out in opposition to the anti-LGBTQ law.

Authoritarianism exert Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University, in June told Insider DeSantis is “a very dangerous individual” because “he is equally repressive, but doesn’t have the baggage of Trump.”

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Trump Rambles for 108 Minutes in CPAC Speech Filled With ‘Unapologetic Fascism’: Report

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Former President Donald Trump spoke for nearly two hours in his closing address at the CPAC summit in Dallas.

In Trump’s view, America has been destroyed in the 18 months since he left office, with out-of-control crime, inflation, and oddly enough unemployment, which Trump estimates to be three times the official number.

Trump took the stage to the song “God Bless the USA” and began by thanking the “proud patriots” in attendance.

Trump said he was proud to be joined by Rep. Ronnie Jackson (R-TX), who was his White House surgeon.

“He was an admiral, a doctor, and now he’s a congressman,” Trump noted, saying he asked him which was the best.

“And he sort of indicated doctor, because he loved to look at my body. It was so strong and powerful,” Trump said.

Trump then introduced Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

“This is no time for complacency,” Trump warned. “We have to seize this opportunity to deal with the radical left socialist lunatic fascists. We have to hit them very, very hard. It has to be a crippling defeat.”

He went on to complain about Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed a procedural vote after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote while Trump was speaking, resulting in harsh words for GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“But McConnell is the most unpopular politician in the country, even more so than crazy Nancy Pelosi, and something has to be done,” Trump urged.

Trump said Biden “surrendered our strength and our everything [in Afghanistan], they surrendered our dignity.”

Michael Hardy, senior editor at the Texas Monthly, was one of the local journalists covering the speech. He said that line had “echoes of the Nazi ‘stab in the back theory’ of losing WW1.”

Trump then described crime in “Democrat-run (sic) cities” in very dark terms.

“The streets of our Democrat-run cities are drenched in the blood of innocent victims,” Trump claimed. “Bullets are killing little beautiful little children who never had a chance. Car jackers lay in wait like predators.”

Hardy described that as “some literal blood-and-soil rhetoric.”

And Trump went on saying “we need to courage to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done,” which Hardy said “is a rallying cry for street violence and worse.”

Trump went on to call for a military takeover of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Portland.

“Trump’s rhetoric is significantly more extreme than even a few years ago,” Hardy said. “This might be most frightening speech I’ve ever heard. Full-on, unapologetic fascism. Trump has either been reading Mein Kampf or having someone read it to him.”

Trump repeated his lies about election fraud and teased a 2024 presidential comeback.

Former RNC official Tim Miller said, “I know everyone in the DC GOP is just hoping Trump will die but it’s impossible to watch this CPAC speech and not come to the conclusion that he’s going to run and be very hard to beat in a primary. Sorry to be the bearer of bad weekend news.”

After his speech, Trump danced on stage to the song “Hold On I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave.

“Don’t you ever feel sad; lean on me when times are bad,” Sam and Dave sang. “Then the day comes and you’re down; in a river of trouble and about to drown. Just hold on, I’m coming. Hold on, I’m coming.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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News

Legal Expert Explains How Alex Jones’ Texts Could ‘Connect the Dots’ on Trump for the Jan. 6 Committee

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Appearing on CNN early Saturday morning, former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore stated that the history of texts accidentally released by attorneys representing Alex Jones may fill in the gaps for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Speaking with “New Day” host Phil Mattingly, the legal analyst was asked about reports that the texts may be headed to House investigators, with the CNN host stating, “We saw a dramatic moment in the courtroom, in the Alex Jones proceedings over the course of the last several days. He was informed that his defense team accidentally sent two years of his text records to him.”

“There are connections and overlap with what the January 6 committee is working on when it comes to that. There are discussions of the committee perhaps getting ahold of those,” he continued before asking, “What is the process? Do you see that as a potential thing that can occur?”

“The text messages and the phone records, at least in some part are now in a court record, they’ve been filed in court. That makes them a little bit easier to get,” Moore replied. “The concern I have is the issue of the phone was delivered in all accounts, it may have been delivered in error but they did nothing to correct that or fix that or file a protective order on the evidence. So that information may be subject to a challenge.”

READ: Eric Holder predicts how Donald Trump will be indicted

“The problem for Jones is that information is now known and it’s out there,” he continued. “It’s clear there was deceptive testimony during the course of discovery and I think that makes them a little easier to get.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see these subpoenas come down for the information on the phones and ultimately at the end of the day they will get it,” he elaborated. “It will be used to see if this connects any of the dots that the committee has been trying to do for the last many months. Is there a direction from Trump, is there some direction from other people in Jones’ circle that we find in the text messages there.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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