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South Sudan: Referendum for New Democracy, But Not For Gays?

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Over eight million people, greater than the population of New York City, live in Southern Sudan, an English-speaking autonomous region of the African continent known as the “Heart of Africa.”

Yesterday, in the ten states of Southern Sudan an internationally-recognized public referendum — a vote for independence and democracy — began under the watchful eyes of the international community, led principally by the United States. A vote for independence and democracy, but a vote mired in anti-gay rhetoric by its own out-going president, who says Southern Sudan is no place for gays.

Southern Sudan, a region that has lost millions of people in its fifty-plus years of civil war, is populated mostly by Christians, and swarming with British and U.S. Christian missionaries, lies in the middle of Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.

The United States earned this leadership role in 2005 when President George W. Bush sent to Sudan Episcolpalian minister and former U.S. Senator Jack Dansforth, who negotiated a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan President Omar Hassan Al- Bashir, the Muslim leader of the North, and then-leader, now deceased, Dr. John Garang de Mabior of the Christian-dominated Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement.

The agreement, which called for a voter referendum scheduled for today, ended fifty-five years of war waged along the faultlines of religion between Arab Muslims in the North and Christians and Animists in the South that resulted in the deaths of more than two million people, and creating the phenomenon of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” just as a new war waged by the Al-Bashir government in Khartoum escalated into a genocide against the pastoral Dafuri peoples in the Western geographical area of Sudan.

Consequently, Al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in March, 2009.

Leaders of Southern Sudan, the largest country on the African continent, and the U.S., European capitals, as well as Japan, have hailed this referendum as a major step forward in its democratic development that is likely to result in Southern Sudan’s independence.  Invoking the memory of Dr. Garang de Mabior, the Government of Southern Sudan urged prospective voters to read a compelling statement posted on the government website by Garang just before he died in a tragic helicopter accident in 2005:

“I and those who joined me in the bush and fought for more than twenty years, have brought to you CPA in a golden plate. Our mission is accomplished. It is now your turn, especially those who did not have a chance to experience bush life. When time comes to vote at referendum, it is your golden choice to determine your fate. Would you like to vote to be second class citizens in your own country? It is absolutely your choice”.

But apparently Garang’s words don’t apply if you happen to be a gay person in Southern Sudan, acccording to an interview of President Salvaa Kiir by Radio Netherlands in July 2010.  Kiir said that Southern Sudan was no place for gays and they would never be accepted:

“It is not in our character […] it is not there and if anybody wants to import it to Sudan […] it will always be condemned by everybody.”

Kiir’s comments revealed anti-gay views, as most of South Sudan’s bi-lateral support is from mostly pro-gay rights countries like the U.S. and a number the EU countries, which reflects a lack of political sophistication on Kiir’s part.  Given the immense problems facing his fledgling region, including massive hunger with no food grown in Southern Sudan; a densely illiterate population; lack of infrastructure– only a few finished streets in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan; little or no housing with indoor plumbing; little or no access to potable water; few trained physicians, teachers and other sorely needed professionals and an overwhelmingly young country with more than half of the population under the age of eighteen years old.  Kiir and Southern Sudan need all the friends they can get.

Kiir’s apparent need to speak out against gays is also symptomatic of a troubling trend among East African governments.  In Kampala, the capital of Uganda to Sudan’s West and Nairobi, the capital of Kenya to Sudan’s South East, Kiir’s nascent government is surrounded by significantly notoriously homophobic leaders who have called for killing gays via legislation introduced by David Bahati, a member of Uganda’s parliament that is currently under deliberation and unopposed by President Yoweri Museveni (whose wife, Janet Museveni, has taken a visible and aggressive role espousing anti-gay views.) Most recently, in November 2010, Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya said that gays had no human rights and if caught in the act of having sex would be arrested.  But a public backlash ensued and his spokesman was compelled to walk back from these statement by indicating  that the prime minister had been misquoted.  Classic right?

Odinga comments were quite incendiary, provoking a strong rebuke from the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya:

In an audio recording of Sunday’s speech, the prime minister says in the Kenyan language of Kiswahili that “if a man is caught having sex with the other we jail them, or if a girl is caught with the other … we will jail them”. In the latter part of his statement he used profanity to explain lesbianism.

“We want a country that is clean, a clean way of doing thing has clean mannerisms … we do not want things to do with sodomy,” Mr.  Odinga said.

Kenya’s laws prohibit “sex against the order of nature.” That charge is punishable by up to fourteen years in prison.

The UN launched a major campaign in September for decriminalization of sodomy laws and the repeal of laws that stipulate gays should be executed because of their sexual orientation. UN Secretary General Ban-ki-moon made unprecedented supportive remarks last fall about the oppression of gays and lesbians calling for the decriminalization of discriminationatory laws arouund the world as a UN priority. He added that  “laws criminalizing people on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity violate the basic principle of non-discrimination.”  He also said that while attitudes take time to change, cultural arguments maintaining discrimination do not trump the human rights of  lesbians and gays.  Ban-ki-moon is the first UN secretary general to forcefully speak out on the of human rights of lesbians and gays.

In December, UN General Assembly members who are supportive of LGBT rights were successful in reinserting “sexual orientation” into a resolution on extra judicial killings to be included as a protected class.  Anti-gay forces had been successful in removing “sexual orientation” in a draft resolution in November. `

That’s the good news. Another piece of good news is that Kiir announced before the referendum that he would be stepping down after the votes were counted and certified.  Let’s hope that the new South Sudanese citizens receive the benefit of good advice from the United States and other Western capitals on extending rights to LGBT people, just as to more than 180 different indigenous tribes in Southern Sudan, to balance out the extreme homophobia in Eastern Africa.  The gay and lesbian Southern Sudanese need a hand up instead a one-way ticket out.

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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

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

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The White House on Saturday afternoon responded to former President Donald Trump’s demand for the “termination” of the United States Constitution over non-existent “fraud and deception” in American elections, which he continues to claim cost him the presidency in 2020 and that he is expecting Republicans to embrace in his 2024 reelection campaign.

Trump wrote on his struggling fake Twitter app Truth Social:

ELECTION INTERFERENCE AT A LEVEL NEVER SEEN BEFORE!!!

Trump followed up with:

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

He went on to add:

UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!

I wonder what Mitch McConnell, the RINOS, and all of the weak Republicans who couldn’t get the Presidential Election of 2020 approved and out of the way fast enough, are thinking now?

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the elections of 2022, or 2020, or any other major historical contest, let alone that which was pervasive enough to affect the results. And the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next – which Trump has attempted to upend through his lies and ultimately by mounting an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 – is a key tenet that holds the American democratic experiment intact.

White House Deputy Press Secretary and Senior Communications Adviser for Strategic Response Andrew Bates touched on those points in a statement:

The American Constitution is a sacrosanct document that for over 200 years has guaranteed that freedom and the rule of law prevail in our great country. The Constitution brings the American people together – regardless of party – and elected leaders swear to uphold it. It’s the ultimate monument to all of the Americans who have given their lives to defeat self-serving despots that abused their powers and trampled on constitutional rights. Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned. You cannot love America only when you win.

The Democratic National Committee also fired back at Trump, as reported by Politico:

Donald Trump lost by 7 million votes in 2020 and his calls to undermine our democracy cost his party key races in 2022. The continued silence by Republican leaders, including his potential primary competitors, shows a MAGA party that is beholden to Trumpism, his divisive rhetoric, and his extreme positions.

Democratic lawmakers denounced Trump as well.

Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia tweeted:

Days after Trump dined with men who praise Hitler and the Nazis, he demands the ‘termination’ of the Constitution’s electoral process so he can be illegally reinstated. Trump’s words and actions are unacceptable, they stoke hatred and political violence, and they are dangerous. Every Member of Congress swore an oath to ‘defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ Donald Trump has openly declared himself an enemy of the Constitution, and Republicans must repudiate him.

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz said:

Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution and it is the final straw for zero republicans, especially the ones who call themselves ‘constitutional conservatives.

New York Representative Richie Torres noted that “January 6 was Donald Trump’s attempt at terminating the US Constitution. He’s a repeat offender.”

California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who regularly faces death threats, stated that “every congressional reporter should demand responses from Congressional Republicans about Donald Trump’s call for the Constitution to be terminated … how many of them called themselves ‘Constitutional conservatives’ during the Obama years???”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said that “Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 results. Georgia VOTE. You stood tall against Trump and his minions last time. A win for [incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael] Warnock is another win for democracy.”

While outrage over Trump’s “truth” was not exclusive to the left, few on the right have stepped up to rebuke Trump. One exception, however, was ex-United Nations Ambassador and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who posted that “no American conservative can agree with Donald Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution because of the results of the 2020 election. And all real conservatives must oppose his 2024 campaign for president.”

 

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‘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.

READ MORE: Trump plotted to trade Mar-a-Lago files for ‘sensitive documents’ about his 2016 campaign Russia ties: report

“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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