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South Sudan Mired in War Declares Independence As World’s Newest Country

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In August 2010 Tanya Domi spent a few weeks in Sudan advising the Government of Southern Sudan in preparation for its long-anticipated independence that was overwhelmingly approved by voters on January 9. This past weekend Southern Sudan celebrated its independence and America, a key partner in the effort, gave its blessing and pledged its continued support for the fledgling democracy that faces a difficult journey in the months and years ahead.

The Republic of South Sudan this past weekend became Africa’s 54th newest nation and the world’s 195th country, declaring its independence from the Republic of the Sudan, forged by more than 50 years of war, two million dead, and millions of refugees dispersed throughout the world.

The United States has played a key role in supporting Southern Sudan’s quest for freedom, with significant support by the Bush Administration who brokered a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 between the North Arabic speaking and Muslim region of the Republic of the Sudan, led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the Christian and animist African south, led by  President Salvaa Kiir, a former general in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA).

Al-Bashir is an indicted war criminal who is wanted for war crimes committed in Darfur by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Consequently, Sudan has been isolated by most of the world community, although al-Bashir has visited China and the Islamic Republic of Iran in recent months.

South Sudanese citizens overwhelmingly voted for independence in a Janurary 9 referendum that was stipulated to by the CPA. Ironically, the Republic of the Sudan became the first nation to recognize South Sudan yesterday.

Other nations who joined in recognizing the world’s newest country include Britain, China and Russia, according to Voice of America. China has a major presence in Sudan as it is the majority consumer of Sudan’s crude oil commodities. A testament to its growing influence in the region, was an appeal issued by the U.S. to China, exhorting it to assist in pressuring al-Bashir to recall his Army out of the border states, which has caused a major humanitarian disaster resulting in more than 70,000 internally displaced persons who have fled violence.

President Barack Obama “welcomed the birth of a new nation” on Saturday and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered her congratulations. Clinton said in her remarks that the South Sudanese people had overcome many obstacles, with remaining issues to address:

The realization of this historic day is a testament to the tireless efforts of the people of South Sudan in their search for peace. We commend South Sudan’s  current leaders, including President Salva Kiir Mayardit, for helping guide Southern Sudan to this moment. And we recognize the determination and courage of the many southern Sudanese who never abandoned their hope that peace was possible and who stood in long lines on January 9 to cast their votes.

…The challenges are many, but the South Sudanese people have demonstrated their capacity to overcome great odds. The United States will remain a steadfast partner as South Sudan seeks to peacefully meet these challenges and build a free, democratic and inclusive society. The strong ties between our peoples go back many decades, and we are committed to continuing to build on the partnership we have already established in the years ahead.

War continues on South Sudan’s northern border in Abyei, a disputed region between South Sudan and the Republic of the Sudan, where a majority of Sudan’s oil deposits are located that provides hard currency to both governments.

The other area of dispute between the North and the South is the Nuba Mountains located in the  Southern Kordofan State, which borders South Sudan and is presently experiencing calculated violence instigated by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) according to the UN and other Sudan experts tracking the situation,  such as highly regarded expert human rights lawyer and journalist Bec Hamilton.

Advocates have documented troop movements by the SAF through satellite photo imagery resulting in countless murders of civilians who have been senselessly slaughtered in an ongoing campaign that has been actively prosecuted under the leadership of ICC indicted war criminal Ahmad Muhammad Harun . This military campaign by the North has been underway since at least late May, although the situation has been fraught with tension for many months, which began with Harun’s ominous reassignment from Darfur in March 2009.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is believed to have evacuated its international staff in the Southern Kordofan State on June 12, due to an escalation of violence by the SAF, which also resulted in the displacement of more than 70,000 civilians.  The Sudan Army has been reinforcing its presence in the area documented by satellite photography by governments, NGOs and  activists, published here by Voice of America.

On June 27 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1990 that called for the deployment of 4,200 peacekeepers to address the escalating violence in the Abyei region, but not in South Kordofan.

Khartoum relies on the hard currency generated by oil sales and has disputed South Sudan’s territorial claims.  These unresolved issues have demanded the attention of U.S. Special Envoy Ambassador Princeton Lyman who was sent out to the region by Secretary Clinton in August 2010 to bolster referendum preparation a and replaced Special Envoy Scott Gration in March.

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN and head of the U.S. delegation that traveled to Juba for its inaugural celebration, spoke about the challenges ahead.  She remarked:

Yet even on this day of jubilee, we remain mindful of the challenges that await us tomorrow. No true friend would offer false comfort. The path ahead will be steep and pitted. But the Republic of South Sudan is being born amid great hopes—the hope that you will guarantee the rights of all citizens, shelter the vulnerable, and bring prosperity to all corners of your land; the hope that you will be able to live in peace and justice with your neighbors, bind up the wounds of war, and work with the Government of Sudan to resolve swiftly and peacefully all outstanding issues in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

South Sudan has some of the worst human development indicators in the world, where it is estimated that 90 percent of its population lives on less than $1 a day.  It also has one of highest illiteracy rates in the world estimated at 78 percent of the population with only eight percent of women reported to be literate. Vastly underdeveloped, with little infrastructure and dependent on oil revenues shared by its difficult relationship with Khartoum, virtually all of its food is imported into the country.  Last year the U.S. spent nearly $700 million on food aid to the region alone.

 

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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COMMENTARY

Trump An ‘Enemy of the Constitution’ Declares Nicolle Wallace, Blasting Call to ‘Terminate’ Nation’s Founding Document

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MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace slammed Donald Trump as an “enemy of the Constitution” on Monday after the ex-president, over the weekend, called for the U.S. Constitution to be terminated.

Trump demanded “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” in light of his most recent – and false – claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

That was Saturday, on his Truth Social account.

On Monday, Trump denied having ever said it, despite the post still being up.

Wallace characterized Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution “an extraordinary statement even by the standards of a failed wannabe autocrat who plotted a coup against his own government and recently dined with white supremacists.”

READ MORE: ‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’

“The disgraced ex-president made his contempt for our democracy as clear as ever, when he called for the United States Constitution to be ‘terminated.'”

Quoting The Washington Post, Wallace said: “Trump’s message on his Truth Social platform reiterated the baseless claims he has made since 2020, that the election was stolen, but he went further by suggesting that the country abandon one of its founding documents.”

She also played a clip of Republican Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio from Sunday’s ABC News.

Rep. Joyce in the clip twists and turns but ultimately admits that if Trump is the GOP nominee for president in 2024 he will vote for him.

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

“Well, again, it’s early I think there’s gonna be a lot of people in the primary I think at the end of the day, you will have — wherever the Republicans tend to pick up I will fall in behind because that’s –”

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos interjected, asking,”Even if it’s Donald Trump, as he’s called for suspending the Constitution?”

“Again, I think it’s gonna be a big field. I don’t think Donald Trump’s gonna clear out the field like he did in 2016.”

“I will support whoever the Republican nominee is,” Joyce added.

“And I don’t don’t think that at this point he will be able to get there because I think there’s a lot of other good quality candidates out there.”

“He says a lot of things,” Joyce continued, refusing to denounce Trump.

“Let’s not speed past that moment,” Wallace urged. “This is exactly how Trump happened. All the Republicans in Washington and around the country said, [Trump] ‘says all sorts of stupid you know what. Dorsn’t mean he’s going to do it.'”

“He did all of it, all of it. And then some,” she chastised.

Watch below or at this link.

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'REGURGITATING RIGHT WING TALKING POINTS'

‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared angry and even hostile at several points throughout Monday’s oral arguments in a case brought by a Colorado right-wing evangelical Christian website designer who is suing the state because she wants to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples who are getting married.

The case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, promises to be one of the most important of the term, and arguments extended more than two hours.

During one of the more heated moments, conservative Justice Gorsuch attacked Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson, claiming the state forced an infamous anti-LGBTQ baker who also went before the Supreme Court, winning his 2018 case in a very narrow ruling, into a “re-education program.”

RELATED: ‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes

Jack Phillips, a business owner who refused to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, citing his religious beliefs, was required to attend a class so he could become familiar with Colorado anti-discrimination law.

The Supreme Court’s ruling at the time called it, “additional remedial measures, including ‘comprehensive staff training on the Public Accommodations section'” of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

Justice Gorsuch instead called it a “re-education program,” and slammed the state’s Solicitor General, Eric Olson, with it on Monday.

“Mr. Phillips did go through a re-education training program, pursuant to Colorado law, did he not, Mr. Olson?” Gorsuch asked the solicitor general.

“He went through a process that ensured he was familiar –” Olson responded, before Gorsuch cut him off.

“It was a re-education program, right?” the justice blared.

“It was not a ‘re-education program,'” Olson replied, holding his ground.

“What do you call it?” Gorsuch, dissatisfied, pressed.

“It was a process to make sure he was familiar with Colorado law,” Olson explained.

“Some might be excused for calling that a ‘re-education program,’” Gorsuch snapped.

“I strongly disagree, Justice Gorsuch,” Olson said, defending the law.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who provided the clip above, warns: “It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes ‘reeducation training’ on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules.”

RELATED: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Ruling in the Gay Wedding Cake Case

“Astounding that Gorsuch, A Supreme Court Justice,” tweeted Adam Cohen of Attorneys for Good Government, “Refers to Colorado giving courses on following civil rights law, As ‘reeducation training.'”

“Like being taught not to discriminate against LGBTQ is the same as being sent to a gulag for protesting communism in the Soviet Union,” he added.

Professor Elizabeth Sepper of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law says, “Justice Gorsuch describes education about antidiscrimination law and compliance as a REEDUCATION PROGRAM. This is beyond offensive. It was a central and SOFT tool of many civil rights movements and was essential to targeting market discrimination.”

Columbia Law School’s Elizabeth Reiner Platt, the Director of The Law, Rights, and Religion Project responded, “OMG Gorsuch repeatedly insists that a training on civil rights law is a ‘reeducation program.’ Good grief.”

Attorney Andrew L. Seidel, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State tweeted, “WHOA. Gorsuch asks a very hostile question about sending the bakery to ‘a re-education program.’ He spits the phrase with venom and repeats it several times. He’s regurgitating right wing talking points.”

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'INAPPROPRIATE'

‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in one of the most important cases of the term, a case that will determine if the nation’s highest court will or will not allow a person citing their personal religious beliefs to openly discriminate in the marketplace against same-sex couples.

In likely the most salient and important hypothetical example, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson described in great detail a photographer wanting to re-create scenes from 1940’s Christmases with Santa Clauses and children, in sepia tones, and making them historically accurate.

She asked the attorney representing the right-wing Christian website designer who does not want to have to provide her product to same-sex couples, if under her legal theory the hypothetical photographer would have to create photos of a white Santa with Black children.

Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom‘s attorney arguing in favor of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, was forced to admit that the photographer would be able to say they would not take photos of Black children with a white Santa.

RELATED: Listen Live: SCOTUS Hears Christian Right Religion vs. LGBTQ Civil Rights Challenge

Later, Justice Samuel Alito, one of the Court’s most far-right jurists, decided to use Justice Jackson’s hypothetical analogy to make a point, and he did so by mockingly joking about Black children wearing KKK costumes.

“Justice Jackson’s example of that, the Santa in the mall who doesn’t want his picture taken with Black children,” Justice Alito began, getting the basics of the analogy incorrect.

“So if there’s a Black Santa at the other end of the mall, and he doesn’t want to have his picture taken with a child who is dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, now does that Black Santa have to do that?”

Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson replied, “No, because Klu Klux Klan outfits are not protected characteristics under public accommodation laws.”

READ MORE: ‘Anathema to the Soul of Our Nation’: Trump Pilloried for Demanding ‘Termination’ of the US Constitution

“And presumably,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor interjected, “that would be the same Ku Klux Klan outfit regardless whether if the child was Black or white or any other characteristic.”

That’s when Alito decided to make a “joke,” while thousands of Americans were listening to the Court’s live proceedings.

“You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits all the time,” he said, presumably sarcastically.

He then laughed, and some viewers in the gallery joined with him.

Many on social media were outraged and offended.

“He is so inappropriate today. And offensive,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “The Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits? Not funny. Is this the highest Court of the most powerful country in the world? Good grief.”

Minutes later, NYU School of Law Professor of Law Melissa Murray weighed in, saying, “I’m going to need Justice Alito to stop joking about seeing ‘Black children in Ku Klux Klan costumes.'”

“Seriously, what am I listening to?” she asked, to which Ifill replied, “Just awful.”

“The joke about Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits?” Ifill also lamented. “No Justice Alito, these ‘jokes’ are so inappropriate, no matter how many in the courtroom chuckle mindlessly.”

Columbia University Professor of Law Katherine Franke tweeted, “Justice Alito is resorting to KKK jokes. Ha ha ha. As if what’s at stake here is funny, and isn’t taking place in a context in which LGBTQ people feel like we have a target on our backs. And, ahem – Klan jokes aren’t funny under any context.”

The Rewire News Group tweeted, in all caps, “I knew Alito wouldn’t be able to resist bringing up the Ku Klux Klan,” and then: “What the hell, Sam.”

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