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UPDATE: Organized Thugs Attack Kosovo 2.0 Magazine Launch of Sexuality Edition

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Last night in Pristina, Kosovo, an organized group of thugs, two times in one evening, violently disrupted the launch of a magazine edition dedicated to examining heterosexual and same sex sexuality in the Western Balkans

UPDATE:  Kosovo 2.0 has issued a letter to the public about Friday evening’s events that confirm that the organized violence was predicated on the mob’s intolerance for the LGBT community.  We urge the appropriate human rights organizations and freedom of media organizations to investigate this gross breach of justice as soon as possible.

 In great anticipation, the KOSOVO 2.0‘s magazine staff in Pristina, Kosovo had planned the launch of a ground breaking edition that set out to examine heterosexual and homosexual sexuality and the lives of how people experience the most intimate aspect of their lives in the Western Balkans.

But throughout the day on Thursday and Friday, the magazine received a number of threats from a group of extremist Muslim men, referred to as “Lumpy”, according to a Kosovo News report. The magazine notified the police, who sent over two police to the Youth Center, known as “Red Hall” where the magazine planned its launch with readings by contributing writers.

Around 6 p.m. CET, according to Besa Luci, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, a group of approximately 20 men, brandishing clubs, entered the Center in Pristina and destroyed the set, breaking television monitors, projectors and DVD players.  The mob also beat up a male magazine staff member. His condition is unknown at press time.

“I saw him being beaten,” said Luci.  “But we were running for safety, while the thugs were screaming and breaking up the televisions and projectors.”

This launch, planned since mid-summer was the culmination of considerable work led by Luci and her staff, along with a slew of guest editors, copy editors and freelance writers who joined in the effort.  Indeed, this reporter was the guest editor for the LGBT portion of the magazine.

Although there were about three to four police officers on the scene, they were outmanned, as the mob was able to destroy most of the set.  A video capturing the mob in action was shown on Kosovo television news last night.  View the video below which shows the mob entering the Youth Center and destroying property as an unidentified brave woman who confronts them by continually screaming “stop”.  They fortunately did not physically attack her.

According to Luci, the police were very supportive through most of the day.  Luci said the police used a crowd control agent to disperse the men.  She did not know if there were any arrests.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=zjcJBm1jRxc

Despite the violence, Luci and her team continued with the planned readings, amid the destroyed set, attended by about 200 people, who bravely stood witness.  Among the luminaries attending were Sami Kurteshi, the director of the Kosovo Ombudsman Office, as well as an unnamed U.S. Embassy official.

“This is about freedom of expression. We are not going to stop and we are going to keep pushing on discussing sexuality and LGBT issues, ” Luci said.  “We are more committed than ever before.”

The readings featured an exchange of letters between internationally renowned lesbian feminist peace activists Igballe Rogova, founder and director of the Kosovo Women’s Network, based in Prishtina and Lepa Mladjenovic, a founder of Belgrade’s Women in Black and the Autonomous Women’s Center, based in Belgrade.  Rogova read her personal letter, “Love beyond borders:  A letter to Lepa, my feminist mentor” and Mladjenovic read her letter to Igballe, “Notes about lesbian bodies in our different hetero nation states.” Both essays were published in the LGBT section of the magazine, which will be cross-posted here later in an agreement between Kosovo 2.0 and The New Civil Rights Movement.

Following the readings, the magazine planned a dance party that was scheduled to begin at 11 p.m. But it never took place.  A Kosovo 2.0 staff member informed this reporter late last night that “our extremist friends had promised to return at 10:45 p.m. to prevent the party from happening. Special police forces came to the venue to protect us. At 10: 30, over 100 angry men came to protest, and there was only [the special forces], and a small group of us [were present] at the venue. We ultimately ended up cancelling the party and the police evacuated us in groups of four and six [persons]. Now we’re all safe and home, and completely exhausted”.

The region has been wracked by anti-gay violence during the past 12 years, which began in Belgrade in 2000 when the first attempts to hold a gay pride parade there was disrupted in violence.  The 2010 Belgrade gay pride parade has been the only pride march held without  violence in Serbia in the past decade.  Violence has erupted against the LGBT community from Split, Croatia to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past few years.  Just recently in Skopje, Macedonia, a leader of  the advocacy organization LGBT United Macedonia was badly beaten, requiring hospital treatment.

Images courtesy of Kosovo 2.0

Tanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement blog.  She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia.  Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues.  She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL.  Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.

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RACISM A FEATURE NOT A BUG FOR GOP

McCarthy Mocked for Claim GOP Is Not Party of ‘Nativist Dog Whistles’ After Greene’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus

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“The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin”

After four years of a Republican President who worked almost daily to spread or lend support to racism, white nationalism, or white supremacism – including having top advisors inside the White House who embraced those ideologies – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is having a hard time tamping down the Pandora’s Box of hate Donald Trump unleashed.

McCarthy has refused to take a strong stand against the most dangerous members of his caucus, trying to allow the extremist Congressmen and Congresswomen to actively lie, disrupt House business, and spread hate on a daily basis. Because they are raising millions.

In response to Republican white supremacist members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona announcing they are forming the “America First Caucus,” McCarthy tried to stand up to those radicals, as Forbes notes, via tweet.

It did not go well.

The America First Caucus’s “platform” says “a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”

It’s focus? All the current GOP buzzwords, like “Election Fraud,” “Sovereignty,” “Big Tech,” “Immigration,” “America First Education,” and “The Chinese Communist Party,” among others.

One portion that is raising a lot of eyebrows talks not about America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, which the far right often uses to single out some immigrants, but another term that narrows that opening even further: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

Late Friday afternoon McCarthy tried to push back.

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” he tweeted. “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles.”

The Republican Party, even decades before Donald Trump, has been the party of nativist dog whistles, as many reminded him.

Here’s what some are saying.

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ANALYSIS

‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Democracy: ‘Desperate’ GOP May Sink to New Depths to Fight Election Reform – With SCOTUS’s Help

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While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.

Some of these tactics were highlighted analysis by Crooked Media’s Brian Beutler and on the Democracy Docket website.

Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.

“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”

He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”

Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”

But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.

Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”

Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”

On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:

After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:

Image via Shutterstock

 

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RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY

Scandalous Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. Sued for $10 Million by Liberty University

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Jerry Falwell, Jr. is being sued by the school his father founded. Liberty University has filed a $10 million complaint against its former president.

“The new suit, which alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty, claims that Mr. Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees, while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses. Mr. Falwell also failed to disclose and address ‘his personal impairment by alcohol,’ the suit alleges, according to The New York Times.

But according to Talking Points Memo, which published the entire complaint, the lawsuit is far more scandalous.

“The evangelical institution claims in the suit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia, that Falwell concealed his relationship with Giancarlo Granda from the university.”

“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.

“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.

The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply  damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”

Falwell, Jr.’s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit.

In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a “fatal attraction” extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda.

“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed.

But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship.

“Jerry enjoyed watching,” Granda alleged.

This is a breaking news and developing story.

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