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Pandemic In Puerto Rico: 3 LGBT Murders This Week, 18 In 18 Months

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At least three gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender Americans have been murdered in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico this week, bringing the tragic total to 18 in the past year and a half. While there are both local and federal hate crimes laws that would assist authorities in investigating and potentially stemming the rapid rise of these anti-gay hate crimes, the Republican Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis G. Fortuño, has often refused to implement or access these statutes.

Luis G. Fortuño, whose term began in January, 2009, refused to classify as a hate crime the infamous  decapitation murder of 19-year old Jorge Steven López Mercado, perhaps the most-publicized of the 18 murders. Only under threat from the federal government, was Mercado’s murder investigated as a possible hate crime. Last year, Fortuño attempted to ban same-sex marriage in Puerto Rico permanently via a constitutional amendment.

In addition to the murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado on November 14, 2009, the following have also been classified as LGBT murders:

  • Michaell Galindo
  • Ashley Santiago
  • Angie González Oquendo
  • Fernando López de Victoria
  • Humberto Bonilla Rodríguez
  • Michelle González García
  • La Flaca Soto Fernández
  • Benjamín Acevedo Román
  • Charlotte Crespo
  • Frank Di Giovani
  • Ivan McDonald
  • Edwin Rodríguez Grajales
  • Ezequiel Crespo
  • Eugenio Alberto Rivera Ortiz
  • Karlota Brown
  • Alejandro Torres Torres
  • Ramón ‘Moncho’ Salgado

Tuesday, Edge On The Net National News Editor Michael K. Lavers was the first to recognize that in addition to the deaths this week of Karlota Gómez Sánchez and Alejandro Torres Torres, “Salgado is the 18th LGBT Puerto Rican who has been murdered on the island over the last year and a half.” Lavers added, “This is simply unacceptable. And people really need to begin to pay attention to this appalling situation in Puerto Rico that continues to grow worse by the day.”

Today, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force issued a statement “calling upon authorities to act immediately to address the ongoing anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) violence in Puerto Rico.”

Task Force Communications Manager Pedro Julio Serrano, Founder, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, added,

“The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force stands in solidarity with the LGBT community in Puerto Rico and sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of Karlota Gómez Sánchez, Ramón Salgado and Alejandro Torres Torres. As someone who grew up in Puerto Rico and has been very active in its LGBT community, this is a heart-wrenching moment. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all of the victims’ loved ones at this difficult time. Justice must prevail. This is about members of the Puerto Rican LGBT community feeling safe in their communities and being able to take care of the ones they love. We call upon the authorities and political leaders to effectively address this epidemic of anti-LGBT violence. This must stop now.”

On his personal blog, Serrano said the LGBT communities “are on alert to the danger that lurks and the government’s response is zero. They are killing us with impunity and the government turns a blind eye. The official response so far has been silent or complicit, shameful and immoral as is the case with Fortuño or a blatant homophobia that incites to violence as is the case of Rivera Schatz. It is time for the governor of all Puerto Ricans to recognize that there is a problem of violence against gay people, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in our country, we’re as Puerto Ricans as heterosexuals,” according to a Google translation.

GLAAD today told The New Civil Rights Movement via email they are calling on “local and national media to keep shining an all-important spotlight on the terrible violence being faced by the gay and transgender people in Puerto Rico. We will continue monitoring media and reaching out to journalists to ensure they have the resources they need to do this in ways that are fair, accurate and inclusive.”

HRC on Wednesday “called upon federal and local government officials and law enforcement authorities to strengthen their efforts to implement a long-term strategy to address violence against LGBT individuals in Puerto Rico.”

“The alarming rate of violence against LGBT Puerto Rican’s cannot be tolerated,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a statement. “Puerto Rican government officials and law enforcement, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, must ensure that LGBT people have the protection they need to survive.  When a community has to live in constant fear of violence and even death for who they are, everyone suffers.”

 

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82-Year-Old Black Woman Arrested and Handcuffed by Alabama Police Over $77 Unpaid Trash Bill

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Martha Menefield, an 82-year-old Black woman in Valley, Alabama, had police officers show up to her home on Sunday and arrest her for failing to pay a $77 trash bill, CBS42 reports.

Menefield told CBS42 that she thought the bill had already been paid, “but they said it hadn’t.”

“And the cuffs,” she said, her eyes swelling with tears. “They’re so heavy.”

When the officer told her not to cry, Menefield asked him, “How would you feel if they came and arrested your grandmama?”

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“I’m just happy my grandkids weren’t here to see that,” Menefield said, her voice shaking. “That would have upset them. I was so ashamed. And it’s been bothering me.”

In a post on the city’s social media account, Valley’s police chief defended the arrest.

“City of Valley Code Enforcement Officers issued Ms. Menefield a citation in August of 2022 for non-payment for trash services for the months of June, July, and August,” Chief Mike Reynolds’ statement said. “Prior to issuing the citation, Code Enforcement tried to call Ms. Menefield several times and attempted to contact her in person at her residence. When contact could not be made, a door hanger was left at her residence. The hanger contained information on the reason for the visit and a name and contact phone number for her to call. The citation advised Ms. Menefield that she was to appear in court on September 7, 2022, in reference to this case. A warrant for Failure to Pay-Trash was issued when she did not appear in court.”

Since the arrest, Menefield has been thinking about the role of God in her life.

“I’ve been questioning God a little bit,” she said. “I guess cause I’ve been so upset. I had a daycare here for eight years, and I’ve been asking the Lord. I say ‘Why did this happen to me as much as I’ve done for people, Lord? I’ve paid my tithes every Sunday. I ushered at church. I was just questioning. Something’s just not right.”

Read the full report over at CBS42.

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BREAKING NEWS

‘Another Happy Jobs Day’: Economists Thrilled With ‘Amazing’ Report as Jobs Growth Beats Expectations, Wages Increase

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The Biden economy added a whopping 263,000 jobs last month, crushing expectations of 200,000, and wages are growing as well, leading one economist to declare “another happy jobs day.”

The U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adds that unemployment remains at a near-historic low of 3.7% in November, “and has been in a narrow range of 3.5 percent to 3.7 percent since March.”

University of Michigan School of Economics Professor Justin Wolfers exclaimed, “It’s yet ANOTHER happy jobs day. Payrolls rose +263k, well above expectations.”

“This expansion just keeps on rolling on,” added Wolfers, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.

RELATED: ‘This Is a Very Strong Economy’: Experts Cheer October Jobs Report – Blast Those Claiming ‘Recession’

Wolfers also takes on those who have been falsely pushing “recession” talking points.

“BTW, remember all that recession talk? It was nonsense. Bollocks. Cow dung,” he tweets. “There never was a recession. And the economy sure doesn’t look like it’s in one now. Job growth at this rate is the economy singing: ‘This is a robust expansion.'”

And he also slams the doom and gloom forecasters.

Economist David Rothschild sums up where the Biden economy is compared to the rest of the world.

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“Economy is far from perfect,” he writes, “but conditional on the worldwide pandemic and supply chain issues generated from pandemic: US economy has done *amazing* over last 2 years.”

In news alerts The New York Times reported hiring “continued to exceed expectations,” The Wall Street Journal called it “a sign of continued strength in the labor market,” and even Fox News reported it as “stronger-than-expected.” CNN referred to the jobs report as “robust” and “defying expectations.”

“America’s jobs engine kept churning in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, a show of continued demand for workers despite the Federal Reserve’s push to curb inflation by tamping down hiring, The Times reported. “The labor market has been surprisingly resilient in the face of successive interest rate increases by the Fed over the past year. Even sectors normally sensitive to borrowing costs, like construction and manufacturing, have been slow to back off the brisk pace of growth they posted coming out of the pandemic.”

The BLS also broke down unemployment numbers by demographics.

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (11.3 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.7 percent), Asians (2.7 percent), and Hispanics (3.9 percent) showed little or no change over the month.”

 

Image: Matt Smith Photographer / Shutterstock

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BREAKING NEWS

‘The Law Is Clear’: Appeals Court Rules Trump Handpicked Judge Should Never Have Appointed Special Master

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A three-judge panel on the conservative 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Donald Trump, and effectively against his hand-picked federal district court judge Aileen Cannon in the ex-president’s “special master” case.

The judges, all three conservatives, two of whom appointed to the bench by Trump himself, ruled that Judge Cannon should never have agreed to Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to review all the items the Dept. of Justice removed from his Mar-a-Lago residence by executing a legal search warrant.

Cannon had ordered the special master to specifically review approximately 100 classified documents, and blocked the DOJ from accessing them while they were under review. That block halted its investigation into Trump’s likely illegal retention of the documents and other items – over 10,000 – he removed from the White House and was string at Mar-a-Lago.

RELATED: In Trump’s ‘Special Master’ Appeal 2 of 3 Judges Are Ones He Appointed – and Both Previously Ruled Against Him

CNN calls Thursday’s ruling “a major defeat for former President Donald Trump.” The appeals court’s ruling halts  “a third-party review of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate,” and “removes a major obstacle to the Justice Department’s investigation into the mishandling of government records from Trump’s time in the White House.”

“The law is clear,” the judges wrote in their ruling Thursday, posted by NBC News’ Daniel Barnes. “We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations.”

“And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations,” they continued. “Accordingly, we agree with the government that the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction, and that dismissal of the entire proceeding is required.”

READ MORE: ‘Roughing Him Up’: Judges Scorch Trump’s Attorney in Tense Hearing Over His ‘Secret’ Argument

They also wrote: “In considering these arguments, we are faced with a choice: apply our usual test; drastically expand the availability of equitable jurisdiction for every subject of a search warrant; or carve out an unprecedented exception in our law for former presidents. We choose the first option. So the case must be dismissed.”

“The district court,” meaning Judge Cannon, “improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction in this case. For that reason, we VACATE the September 5 order on appeal and REMAND with instructions for the district court to DISMISS the underlying civil action.”

 

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