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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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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

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U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) allegedly made a social media post appearing to praise Adolf Hitler while referring to “the Jews and Black” people, and frequently made pejorative “jokes” about being Jewish according to friends interviewed by Patch and screenshots of now-deleted social media posts.

In 2011, Santos “commented on a Facebook post with what appear to be intended-jokes about Hitler, a phrase that appears to salute Hitler and observations about ‘the Jews and black[s],’ exclusive screenshots obtained by Patch show.”

Patch, which published a screenshot of  what appear to be Santos’ comment, reports he had written this: “hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiiiiiiitlerrrrrrrrrrr (hight hitler) lolololololololololololol sombody kill her!! the jews and black [sic] mostly lolllolol!!! Dum”

Sarah Fishkind, whose LinkedIn profile describes her as a political organizer, posted video Thursday afternoon of her conversation with Rep. Santos.

“Do you have any comments about your most-recently-leaked Facebook comments about killing all Jews and Black people?” she asked, according to her post.

“I’m sorry?” Santos, appearing to be stunned, replied.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

“It’s on the news right. now,” she responded, “that you Facebook commented.”

Santos replied with a frustrated huff, then said: “That’s going to be hard to hold.” It’s unclear what he meant by that comment.

Santos ran and won his congressional seat claiming to be a gay Jewish Republican, only later to falsely claim he never said he was Jewish, but “Jew-ish.” He also lied about his grandparents fleeing the Holocaust.

Jewish groups have condemned his false claims of Jewish heritage, which include false claims that his grandparents were “Holocaust refugees.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment

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John Eastman, the far-right attorney, disgraced former law professor, former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and current chairman of the anti-LGBTQ National Organization For Marriage (NOM) is facing eleven counts of alleged ethics violations, and disbarment, by California state bar regulators. Among the allegations, “intentional acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.”

As The New York Times reported last fall, “after the November election, Mr. Eastman wrote the memo for which he is now best known, laying out steps that Vice President Mike Pence could take to keep Mr. Trump in power — measures Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.

So has the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which late last month referred Eastman – in the same breath as Donald Trump – to the Dept. of Justice for possible prosecution on criminal charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported California state bar regulators “say they will seek to strip” Eastman of his law license.

READ MORE: Ginni Thomas Looking Like ‘Full Fledged Potential Co-Conspirator’ After Discovery of Emails With Eastman: Legal Expert

“The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land — an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy — for which he must be held accountable,” the State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement. “Eastman has not been charged with any crimes to date.”

“The 11 charges arise from allegations that Eastman engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states,” the State Bar of California’s statement adds.

Law & Crime’s Adam Klasfeld further explains that Cardona “intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment for alleged violations of Business and Professions Code section 6106, which punishes making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of ‘moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.'”

Last week The New York Times described Eastman as “a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss,” but it is his fellow Republican attorneys who delivered the judgment on his skills.

“Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world,” The Times reported. “Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as ‘gravely, gravely irresponsible,’ calling him the ‘serpent in the ear’ of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted ‘chewing out’ Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas ‘nutty.'”

READ MORE: Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

It wasn’t just Republican attorneys in the Trump White House.

During the January 6 insurrection, Eastman, certainly no silent architect, stood at the same podium Donald Trump would speak at, and delivered a fiery speech alongside Rudy Giuliani. Six days later his colleagues at Chapman University demanded his firing.

The disbarment may be the least of Eastman’s self-inflicted woes.

“He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments,” according to The Times, also adding that the “F.B.I. seized his iPhone.”

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This article was updated at 5:41 PM ET with details reported by Law & Crime, including references to “moral turpitude.”

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

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Special Counsel Robert Durham, appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, uncovered possible financial crimes by Donald Trump but made no attempt to prosecute them, The New York Times reveals in massive, bombshell report published Thursday after a months-long investigation.

“Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it,” The Times’ Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner report.

The “potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes” came during a trip Barr and Durham, his special counsel, took together. They “decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore.”

But, “Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”

That’s just one aspect of The Times’ extensive and disturbing report.

It also reveals that there was little justification for Barr to install Durham as a special counsel to investigate what Trump wrongly maintained was an unjustifiable investigation into his ties to Russia.

In fact, The Times “found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.”

READ MORE: ‘Failed Spectacularly’: Top Legal Experts Call for Ethics Probe Into Bill Barr’s Handpicked Special Counsel John Durham

In another shocking revelation, The Times reports Durham “used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media.”

The Times does not explain how Durham obtained the Russian disinformation.

“Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.”

Attorneys on Durham’s team apparently had significant qualms with his actions, leading at least two to resign.

“There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known,” The Times reports. “The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)”

BARR THREATENED NSA

The Times also reports that Attorney General Barr bought into Trump’s false claims that there had been “no collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia.

READ MORE: Republicans Claiming ‘Censorship’ Threaten to Haul AT&T and DirecTV Into Congress for Dropping Far-Right Newsmax

Importantly, The Times states point-blank that the Mueller Report “detailed ‘numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,’ and it established both how Moscow had worked to help Mr. Trump win and how his campaign had expected to benefit from the foreign interference.”

According to The Times’ account, “soon after giving Mr. Durham his assignment,” in May of 2019, “Mr. Barr summoned the head of the National Security Agency, Paul M. Nakasone, to his office. In front of several aides, Mr. Barr demanded that the N.S.A. cooperate with the Durham inquiry.”

The NSA is a wholly separate entity from the Dept. of Justice. It is an agency under the Dept. of Defense and reports to the powerful Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Barr apparently did not care, and, “repeating a sexual vulgarity, he warned that if the N.S.A. wronged him by not doing all it could to help Mr. Durham, Mr. Barr would do the same to the agency.”

DURHAM TRIED TO SCUTTLE A REPORT’S FINDING THAT TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION WAS WARRANTED

“Mr. Durham’s team spent long hours combing the C.I.A.’s files but found no way to support the allegation” that the investigation into Trump and Russia was the result of some anti-Trump deep state operation.

Barr and Durham actually “traveled abroad together to press British and Italian officials to reveal everything their agencies had gleaned about the Trump campaign and relayed to the United States, but both allied governments denied they had done any such thing. Top British intelligence officials expressed indignation to their U.S. counterparts about the accusation, three former U.S. officials said.”

The Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General’s investigation found there was, in fact, sufficient cause for the DOJ to have opened up the Trump-Russia investigation, contrary to Barr’s personal beliefs.

So he tried to have that finding removed from the final report.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

The Times reports that “the broader findings contradicted Mr. Trump’s accusations and the rationale for Mr. Durham’s inquiry,” which should have shut down what ultimately became Durham’s four-year long investigation that netted almost nothing.

The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, “found no evidence that F.B.I. actions were politically motivated. And he concluded that the investigation’s basis — an Australian diplomat’s tip that a Trump campaign adviser had seemed to disclose advance knowledge that Russia would release hacked Democratic emails — had been sufficient to lawfully open it.”

So Barr tried to discredit Horowitz’s report.

“Minutes before the inspector general’s report went online, Mr. Barr issued a statement contradicting Mr. Horowitz’s major finding, declaring that the F.B.I. opened the investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.” He would later tell Fox News that the investigation began “without any basis,” as if the diplomat’s tip never happened.”

Read the entire Times report here.

 

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