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UN Vote Allowing Gays To Be Executed Result Of Political, Religious Fundamentalism

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Tens of thousands of readers of The New Civil Rights Movement over the weekend read, “UN General Assembly Votes To Allow Gays To Be Executed Without Cause,” the shocking news about the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural issues vote last week that approved 79 to 70 (17 abstentions and 26 absent) removing “sexual orientation” from a resolution protecting persons from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. This UN vote reinforced an already very difficult and challenging environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their defenders, who live in continual fear of violent attacks and experience blatant discrimination throughout most countries on the African continent.

But who is behind this vote? And just what is generating this animus toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Africa?

Since the 1980s, massive numbers of Christian fundamentalist missionaries, many if not most from the United States, have flooded the African continent in search of new converts to their retrogressive and narrow beliefs. The Roman Catholic Church, decidedly anti-gay, and the Mormons, known as the Latter Days Saints, who condemn  homosexuality, both proselytize throughout Africa. Africa is also a Muslim continent. During a period of rising fundamentalism within many Muslim sects throughout the world, Islam shapes the cultural and religious life of people who live in Northern, Western, Eastern and some Central African countries. Of 53 African countries, 26 countries are members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIS).

The most blatantly destructive policy outcomes of pervasive Christian fundamentalist proselytizing in Africa has been in Uganda, where “The Family,” also known as “The Fellowship,” a Christian and political organization based in the United States, played a key role in advising its parliament to adopt legislation last year that called for the death penalty of known homosexuals.

(MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has covered the exploits of “The Family” in depth, including relentlessly profiling its role in what became Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill. Ugandan MP David Bahati, chief sponsor of the bill, has said, “Homosexuality it is not a human right. It is not in-born.”)

The Family’s key role in advising members of Parliament caused an international uproar against the Ugandan government’s actions by member states of the European Union, as well as from the United States. It also exposed “The Family” to unprecedented public scrutiny, which had managed to avoid the public limelight, despite their continual presence in Washington, D.C. since 1935, hosting the annual National Prayer Breakfast which has been attended by every President since Eisenhower.

Human Rights Watch published Together Apart, Organizing Around Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in 2009, which points out the deep influence of culture and religion upon LGBT persons’ lives throughout the world, and manifestly speaks to the African experience.

Sexuality has become a cultural and religious battleground.  The danger comes from the weight, political importance, and emotion increasingly attached to issues of gender and sexuality. “Fundamentalism”—the impulse toward a forcible return to what are postulated as religious or cultural fundamentals—is a modern term with many definitions. One common characteristic of so-called “fundamentalisms,” proposed by Human Rights Watch elsewhere, is a “drive to seize the state, turn its spotlight on private life, and make it the agent of a newly codified tradition.”

Cultural norms they believe families and communities can no longer uphold. Some governments and politicians try to use fundamentalists in their turn, to prop up their own authority.  Fundamentalisms weave together elements from religion, nationalism, and other ideologies and traditions to invent a “cultural authenticity” that is fixed, unalterable, and monolithic—but threatened by the supposedly corrosive influences of human rights. Sexuality and the body are increasingly its chosen battlegrounds. The argument from culture devastatingly undertakes to paint LGBT people as beings who do not belong, cannot be accommodated, and—because they are intrinsically alien—cannot even be listened to or understood.

From Egypt to The Gambia, from Cameroon to Uganda, from Zimbabwe to Mozambique, the LGBT community on the African continent faces immense discrimination, physical violence, imprisonment, jailings, arrests, deportations and are many times referred to as “lower than dogs,” attitudes and values internalized from colonization, especially Anglo-Saxon laws emanating from the former British Empire.

At the end of the day, despite objections by Sweden, Switzerland and Finland, Mali, Morocco, on behalf of the OIS and Benin’s language, removing “sexual orientation” from the resolution carried the day. From the African Activist blog,

Mali and Morocco are listed as main sponsors for the amendment. A UN press release includes Benin as a main sponsor. Based on the amendment’s footnote, these nations were representing larger blocks of States:

On behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of African States. On behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of Arab States and those that are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Morocco provided the following reasons for passing the amendment removing sexual orientation:

The representative of Morocco, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the Group was seriously concerned by controversial and undefined notions that had no foundation in international human rights instruments. Intolerance and discrimination existed in cases of colour, race, gender and religion, to mention only a few. Selectivity intended to accommodate certain interests over others had to be avoided by the international community.  Such selectivity would set a precedent that would change the human rights paradigm in order to suit the interests of particular groups. An attempt to create new rights was a matter of concern for the Group.  All Member States were urged to continue to devote special attention to the protection of the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society.

Morocco stated that sexual orientation has “no foundation in international human rights instruments.” Readers, you can be assured that Morocco, the Holy See (The Vatican) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference will band together in unity to oppose the inclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into any international treaty that protects human rights.  My next blog will explain the international system of human rights laws and the Yogyakarta Principles–the application of  international human rights principles to the sexual orientation and gender identity.

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.

Image: Christian flag used by several South Sudan militias


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OPINION

‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

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Suggesting there is an actual “method to the madness,” as the saying goes, in April The New York Times published “The Method Behind Trump’s Mistruths,” implying the falsehoods and lies Donald Trump tells almost if not daily are part of some coherent and intentional plan.

The Times’ Angelo Fichera offered explanations for why Trump lies with tremendous frequency. A few excerpts: “He grossly distorts his opponents’ records and proposals to make them sound unreasonable,” “He exaggerates and twists the facts to make his record sound better than it is,” “He relies on both well-worn and fresh claims of election rigging to suggest he can lose only if his opponents cheat,” and “He makes unverifiable claims about what the world would have been like had he secured a second term.”

Tuesday night, CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale, who started listening to or reading Trump’s every public statement during the 2016 election cycle, debunked 30 of the ex-president’s falsehoods and lies at his Wisconsin rally earlier that day. It took him just three minutes:

Barb McQuade, the well-known MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst, professor of law, and former U.S. Attorney responded to the CNN video: “The lies have become a tribal pose. Some Trump supporters believe his lies. Others don’t care. It is all about allegiance to the tribe over truth.”

Sarah Longwell, the executive director of the Republican Accountability Project and publisher of The Bulwark, earlier this year in The Atlantic wrote: “Trump Supporters Explain Why They Believe the Big Lie.”

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

“For many of Trump’s voters, the belief that the election was stolen is not a fully formed thought. It’s more of an attitude, or a tribal pose,” she added.

John Stoehr, editor of the Editorial Board, said of Dale’s fact-checking, “What interesting here is Dan Dale isn’t just fact checking Trump’s lies. He’s fact checking his delusions. More of that would highlight his habitual incoherence.”

Trump’s public remarks, in interviews and on stage at rallies, do seem to have taken a turn. Some critics, like Stoehr, have pointed out that at times the criminally-convicted ex-president’s words aren’t just false, they don’t make sense.

Journalist Aaron Rupar, founder of Public Notice, has watched and recorded countless hours of Trump’s remarks.

In this clip from just a few weeks ago, he says Trump was “not coherent.”

This video from earlier this month got a lot of attention, with Trump talking about shark attacks, and electrocution from boats.

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump offered one reason why Trump might have injected sharks and electric-powered boats into a campaign speech, despite it being to a crowd in landlocked Nevada: Trump’s New York criminal trial was “centered on Stormy Daniels,” who “explained that one of their encounters overlapped with the Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’ programming. As the two sat in Trump’s hotel room, he volunteered how much he hated sharks and wished they all would die.”

But that semi-logical divining still does not explain Trump’s “cognitive questions” – perhaps best exposed most recently by the author of a new book on Trump, “Apprentice in Wonderland.”

READ MORE: Republican Who Declared His State a ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ Blocks Senate Bump Stock Ban

“Ramin Setoodeh, who interviewed Trump six times after he left office in 2021, told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that there were points during those sessions when Trump seemed to think he still had some presidential powers,” HuffPost reports.

Saying he is the “journalist who spent the most time” with Trump, post-election, Setoodeh notes, “Donald Trump had severe memory issues.”

And while the anecdotes are disturbing, Setoodeh’s summation is far worse: “there was some cognitive questions about where he was and what he was thinking and he would he would, from time to time become confused.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins told Setoodeh, “you talked about his memory, you wrote that, you know, on some days I have the feeling he has no idea who he’s even talking to that he actually forgot, or didn’t remember that the two of you had spoken at your first sit down interview.”

Setoodeh responded, “right.”

It’s not just telling the truth Trump has a problem with, it’s his actual speech.

On Tuesday Raw Story‘s Sarah K. Burris reported on several verbal stumbles Trump made during his Wisconsin rally.

Trump, she wrote, “struggled to remember ABC News host George Stephanopoulos’ name, making a couple of efforts to pronounce it: ‘George Stopalopodis … George Stopodiaiiee.’ ”

“Trump mispronounced citizenship by calling it ‘citizensip.’ ”

“‘Joe Biden is forming granting mass–thinkit,’ Trump meandered in a section of the speech, with an excerpt of the video quickly spreading online.”

Back in March, Salon‘s senior politics writer Chauncey DeVega wrote: “In a recent conversation with Dr. John Gartner, a prominent psychologist and contributor to the bestselling book ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,’ the former faculty member at Johns Hopkins University told me that based on Trump’s speech, memory, recall, and other behavior, he appears to be ‘hypomanic’ and cognitively deteriorating at a rapid rate.”

DeVega quotes Gartner saying, “in my opinion, Donald Trump is dangerously demented.”

“I had to speak out now because the 2024 election might turn on this issue of who is cognitively capable: Biden or Trump? It’s a major issue that will affect some people’s votes,” Gartner said. “Not enough people are sounding the alarm, that based on his behavior, and in my opinion, Donald Trump is dangerously demented. In fact, we are seeing the opposite among too many in the news media, the political leaders and among the public. There is also this focus on Biden’s gaffes or other things that are well within the normal limits of aging. By comparison, Trump appears to be showing gross signs of dementia. This is a tale of two brains. Biden’s brain is aging. Trump’s brain is dementing.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Democrats Have One Way to Correct Corruption of Justices Thomas and Alito: Expert

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News

Republican Who Declared His State a ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ Blocks Senate Bump Stock Ban

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In 2021, as the Republican Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts signed a “largely symbolic” proclamation declaring The Cornhusker State a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” Now, calling the legislation a “show vote,” U.S. Senator Ricketts has blocked a Democratic bill that would have restored a ban on bump stocks, like the one used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Just four days ago, in a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito made clear: if lawmakers want to ban bump stocks, they can, by passing a federal law:

“Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

On Tuesday, Senator Ricketts blocked a bipartisan bill banning bump stocks – what the Supreme Court suggested and what Donald Trump had done – which was sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

READ MORE: ‘Morally Bankrupt Loser’: Top Trump VP Contender Wants to Deport 20 Million People

Bump stocks increase the rate of fire from approximately 45-60 rounds per minute, to 400-800 rounds per minute.

Senator Ricketts called the vote on banning the lethal accessory that effectively increases the rate of fire by a factor of ten, “another day in the Democrat summer of show votes,” and called the legislation “a gun-grabbing overreach.”

“This bill will not pass,” Ricketts also said, as the Associated Press reported. “It won’t pass because enough people in this building still believe in the Constitution, and the Constitution affords Americans the right to own a firearm.”

Watch Ricketts’ remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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On July 1, criminally-convicted former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon is expected to begin his four-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress after a federal appeals court in May rejected his last-ditch claim he was merely following advice of counsel by ignoring a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has a plan to make Bannon’s conviction and prison sentence disappear – and that of former top Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who is currently serving his four-month prison sentence.

“I fully support and am co-sponsoring @RepThomasMassie’s resolution to rescind the subpoenas for Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro by repudiating Nancy Pelosi’s illegitimate J6 committee,” Congresswoman Greene wrote on social media Tuesday.

“Nancy Pelosi violated House rules by refusing to accept McCarthy’s appointed Republicans on the committee. Now, our Republican-led House must nullify any actions taken by the illegitimate J6 committee,” Greene wrote, falsely.

Two federal courts have ruled the House January 6 Committee was legally constituted.

READ MORE: Matt Gaetz Ethics Committee Sexual Misconduct and Drug Use Probe Expands

“We must also hold the J6 Committee members accountable for the destruction of the committee’s records,” she clamored, also falsely.

The New Republic‘s Hafiz Rashid is mocking the Georgia GOP lawmaker: “MTG’s New Plot to Save Trump Allies From Jail May Be Her Stupidest Yet.”

“Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to think you can just rewind time,” TNR writes. “Unfortunately for Greene and other House Republicans, rescinding the subpoenas doesn’t magically mean no crime was committed.”

Bannon, who served as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign CEO, his Chief White House Strategist, and Senior Counselor to the President, before returning to the far-right wing website Breitbart, where he was a founding board member and later, executive chairman.

But now Bannon, a far-right provocateur, hosts the “War Room” podcast, which Media Matters last year called “the media home of Project 2025 and Trump’s retribution plans.” Last year he called for Rep. Greene to become Speaker of the House.

Project 2025 is The Heritage Foundation’s massive plan to remake the entire Executive Branch, fire thousands of civil servants, and turn the Dept. of Justice into an arm of the next Republican President.

“Bannon has continued his usual activities, such as telling a Turning Point Action convention audience Saturday who exactly will be on Donald Trump’s anticipated ‘retribution’ list and naming Justice Department officials,” TNR added. “But now, after escaping prison once thanks to a Trump pardon over a border wall fraud scheme, he will soon be behind bars, and not in a minimum-security prison camp as he wants, but in a low-security prison like Rikers since he still has an open criminal case against him.”

READ MORE: Whoopi Goldberg Mocks ‘Crook’ Trump for ‘Black Church’ Trip

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