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San Francisco To Lower Flags For IDAHO

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This Thursday, May 17, San Francisco will honor the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) with an official recognition of the day by the city, and the lowering of both the United Nations and American flags at United Nations Plaza.

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is designated as a mechanism to draw attention to homophobia which, deliberately, can be expressed in different ways.
President Obama’s historic articulation of support for marriage equality along with North Carolina’s vicious enshrining of hatred and bigotry into their constitution is indicative of how far we have come and how far we have still to go when it comes to civil rights in the United States.

San Francisco’s recognition of IDAHO and flag lowering resulted in concerted efforts by Gays Without Borders (of which I am a member), whose primary focus over the last four years is shining a spotlight on both the setbacks and advances of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across our planet.

Our network spans Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Our work, which involves raising awareness and driving action, includes cross-communication with embassies and governments, (goading them, if necessary), to issue public proclamations condemning or condoning actions occurring within their borders and beyond, and of circulating solidarity letters, staging street visibility actions and other awareness raising campaigns using social media.

The resolution was introduced by Supervisors Capos, Olague and Kim, following a meeting with their representatives Hillary Ronen and Chris Durazo, along with Mohammed Nuru from the Department of Public Works (DPW), John Updike of the SF Dept. of Real Estate and Greg Crump of DPW, the Mayor’s Office, Michael Petrelis and me.

From L to right: Hillary Ronen, Chris Durazo, Clinton Fein, Mohammed Nuru, Michael Petrelis, and John Updike. Photo courtesy Michael Petrelis.

Following its introduction, the lowering of the flag along with official recognition of IDAHO was voted unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. It is an important and powerful gesture for which we are very grateful.

Efforts by Gays Without Borders also resulted in DPW waiving a hefty $1,467.90 fee to lower the flags.

The resolution is especially poignant this year, given recent verifiable reports of dozens of gay, emo and goth youth being targeted on lists and violently killed by having their skulls crushed with concrete blocks. And just this week, reports of the death sentence being given to four gay men come from Iran.

Our original request to lower the flags was not intended to mourn our own community, but rather to demonstrate solidarity with a broader, global gay community, many of whom are being tortured or killed this very moment for expressing who they are.

We believe lowering the flag sends a powerful and important message, portraying San Francisco as the inspirational city it is, in which diversity of its citizens is not only tolerated, but respected, celebrated and nurtured. A city where, with the blessing of our leaders, is able to demonstrate its solidarity.

Unfortunately, Harvey Milk Plaza will be excluded from participating on this important day. Attempts to lower the flag at Harvey Milk Plaza over the last couple of years have proven to be more of a battle with the control queens from Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC) as well as Supervisor Scott Weiner, who appears too inexperienced to mediate a dispute over a flagpole or too beholden to business interest to lead. (Hopefully he doesn’t have any higher political ambitions.)

Gays Without Borders wanted to ensure a successful outcome, and thus resolved early on that working with a slew of bureaucracies including the Board of Supervisors to get a unanimous resolution, the DPW, the Mayor’s Office and the San Francisco Department of Real Estate, represented a more likely chance of success than navigating the backstabbing, bitching and stonewalling we’ve encountered with MUMC and Scott Wiener. It was a smart decision.

This is not about the city mourning on the day of this important victory for the LGBT community – indeed, the removal of homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses on a May 17 by the World Health Organization (WHO) finally set the stage to end over a century of homophobia in the medical field, and simply inspired the date, which has been taking place since 2006.

IDAHO is a rallying event taking place across the world, offering an opportunity for people, regardless of their sexual orientation, to counter homophobia and demonstrate solidarity — particularly with individuals unable to live their sexual orientation in the face of unspeakable violence, and frequently death, if they do.

On May 17 at noon, San Francisco will stage a ceremony at UN Plaza explaining why the flags are being lowered for 24-hours, with guest speakers still to be announced.The UN and US flags will fly at half staff to honor and remember all of the LGBT people murdered and maimed globally in the past year.

Gary Virginia of Gays Without Borders will serve as the emcee. Here are the names of confirmed speakers:

– Brendan Behan, Executive Director of SF Pride
– David Campos, Member of the Board of Supervisors
– Clinton Fein, Political artist and activist
– Veronika Cauley Fimbres, African-American trans advocate
– Michael Petrelis, Person living with AIDS
– Melanie Nathan, Lesbian blogger and activist
– Amy Whelan, Attorney for National Center for Lesbian Rights

In addition, community video documentarian will be taping the event and Heidi Beeler of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band will play “Taps” as the flags descend.

 

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

‘Big Whop’: Even Right-Wing Critics Are Slamming Elon Musk’s ‘Underwhelming’ Hunter Biden Twitter Escapade

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Right-wing Twitter users are weighing in to express their disapproval of the so-called bombshell “Twitter files” Elon Musk promised to deliver on Friday, December 2.

According to The Daily Beast, Musk was set to address Twitter’s decision to implement a policy that would restrict headlines and reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on the social media platform. However, the leak ended up being a failure for many right-wing experts.

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing radio host who previously served under the Trump administration, offered a critical response to Musk’s release after journalist Matt Taibbi shared a full Twitter thread about the findings.

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“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Gorka said, adding, “We know the Dems in DC collude with the Dems in Palo Alto [Califonia]. Big Whop.”

He went on to reiterate his arguments when grilled by his far-right followers who were convinced that Musk’s Twitter files were some kind of “smoking gun.”

Per the news outlet: “Responding to a user claiming the Twitter company emails were ‘a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,’ the radio host fired back: ‘Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.’”

Speaking to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine also disapproved of the release. “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she alleged. According to The Beast, Devine also claimed: “sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week.”

READ MORE: Marco Rubio: ‘Not a crime’ to break federal law by taking top secret national security documents from the White House

She added, “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”

Free Beacon reporter Joe Simonson also echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. “Twitter files [are] underwhelming so far,” Simonson tweeted. “Just revealing what we already knew: Twitter was staffed by democrats who did the bidding of Democrats.”

READ MORE: Lauren Boebert to file defamation lawsuit against PAC claiming that she was once a ‘paid escort’: report

 

Image by Daniel Oberhaus (2018) via Flickr and a CC license

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'HELPING NORMALIZE A NAZI'

Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports

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Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.

“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”

WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

As did other Twitter users.

Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”

At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye WestNick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.

“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”

READ MORE: 15-Year Old Campaigning Door-to-Door for Raphael Warnock Shot Through Door– ‘No Indication’ Politically Motivated: Police

Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.

SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”

“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.

Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”

Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

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In the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting last month at an gay nightclub’s drag show event that left five people dead, the anti-LGBTQ slur “groomer” and other anti-LGBTQ hate speech posts on Twitter skyrocketed, “peaking at 885% over their highest level before the shooting,” NBC News reports.

“Barely 24 hours after the Colorado Springs hate crime attack,” Salon reported last week, “Elon Musk’s new Twitter responded to the massacre by reinstating the account of James Lindsay, the right-wing activist responsible for popularizing the anti-LGBTQ slur ‘OK groomer,’ which over the last 10 months has been used to imply that demands for LGBTQ rights or representation are tantamount to child molestation. In August, Lindsay was banned from Twitter for using a variation on the term, which under Twitter’s old regime was prohibited as a form of hateful conduct. But by Monday night, not only was Lindsay back, but ‘OK groomer’ was trending on the platform under its new ownership.”

Slurs against gay men on Twitter have increased by a daily average of 58% in the weeks following Elon Musk taking the critically influential social media platform private, firing its board, and welcoming back thousands of previously-banned accounts, according to information from NBC News and The New York Times.

“Travis Brown, an independent software developer in Berlin who tracks Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project studying extremism,” NBC News reports, shared data “that showed a wide variety of far-right accounts had been reinstated since Musk’s announcement” of a so-called “general amnesty.”

READ MORE: 15-Year Old Campaigning Door-to-Door for Raphael Warnock Shot Through Door– ‘No Indication’ Politically Motivated: Police

“In that time, Brown has logged an estimated 12,000 reversals of past bans, in a set that, while not a definitive list of reversals, provides a window into the types of users being welcomed back to the platform and leaving experts alarmed.”

In addition to “spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists,” NBC adds.

Musk’s general amnesty “has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”

The New York Times adds, “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.”

“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day,” The Times reports. “And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”

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

Significantly, antisemite Kanye West‘s restored Twitter account was suspended Thursday night, hours after – but not because – the far right rapper told Alex Jones of his support for Adolf Hitler.

“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.” 

Musk apparently personally had West’s Twitter account suspended when the artist who goes by “Ye” posted an image of a Jewish six-pointed star embedded with a Nazi swastika. The account, at least for now, remains suspended.

The Times reporting, which includes information from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, calls the increase in hate speech on Musk’s Twitter “unprecedented.”

“Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy,” The Times reveals.

Musk himself set the stage. At the end of October he retweeted a false, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who had recently been bludgeoned in a “near death” attack in their San Francisco home, allegedly by a man who has promoted far right extremism. He later removed that retweet.

Just last week Bloomberg News reported Musk was “restoring a string of accounts previously suspended for harassing transgender people, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community as the country confronts the aftermath” of the Colorado Springs mass shooting. “Advocates say the shooting… highlights the potential real-world violence that can stem from rhetoric against the trans community. They noted that anti-trans abuse has been mounting on the platform since the shooting.”

READ MORE: Chasten Buttigieg Stunned as Nicolle Wallace Reports New DHS Warning Lists LGBTQ People as ‘Targets of Potential Violence’

As Musk welcomes back thousands who were banned for various reasons, from hate speech to disinformation to spamming to attacks on minorities and more, NBC’s reporting makes clear that left wing activists are finding their accounts suspended for apparently no legitimate reason.

“Chad Loder is an independent journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers whose reporting on the Jan. 6 riot has been cited in Justice Department charging documents. Loder, who uses they/them pronouns, recently had their account suspended, briefly reinstated and then suspended again without a clear reason.”

For his part, Musk took to Twitter to refute reports hate speech has increased dramatically.

 

Image by The Royal Society/Debbie Rowe, Photographer via Wikimedia and a CC license

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