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Week in Review: Clinton Launches Historical US LGBT Foreign Policy, Plan B Pill Not for Youth, Voter Laws Under Assault

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Hillary Clinton’s Makes US Foreign Policy LGBT History

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a historical foreign policy speech outlining the Obama Administration’s position on LGBT human rights from the Palais des Nations Hall in Geneva on December 6, marking a memorable international Human Rights Day, to rousing applause.  Her iconic lines that “Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same.” Clinton repeated “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” initially delivered by Clinton at the State Department’s LGBT Pride event  in 2010.  The White House released a National Security Council Memorandum concurrently, outlining a presidential directive on authority and mandate for federal government agencies who will be responsible for extending protections to LGBT persons abroad via a number of agencies, including Immigration and Home Land Security.  For LGBT Americans it has been a week of joy and gratification for the memorial text delivered by Clinton, but mixed with regret that a similar strategic policy approach has not been engaged at home.  The NCRM blog will report to its readers this coming week the story behind the speech and the preparation of the  Presidential National Security Council Memorandum along with Clinton’s ground-breaking speech.

Russian Elections:  Votes Rigged Outraging Masses

Across Russia yesterday in numerous cities, Russians gathered in protest, marked by 25,000 who gathered in Moscow, voicing outrage about reported ballot rigging by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia political party, who managed to hang onto to a slim majority in its Duma elections, held on December 4th. Massive voter fraud was reported by the OSCE and a domestic election monitoring group, whose website was hacked by alleged Putin supporters. Putin, who now appears politically weakened by the election results, launched his presidential election bid by lashing out against Hillary Clinton, who he accused of inspiring demonstrations, because she acknowledged the election rigging reported at the OSCE Ministerial meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania early in the week.  The White House also issued similar comments.  Russia has witnessed an effort in the past few weeks initiated in the St. Petersburg City Council that would gag LGBT activists to discuss their lives and political concerns in the presence of minors.  This initiative has been backed by the United Russia political party.  Expect to see more of the same in the run-up to presidential elections scheduled for March 4-11.

France Emerges with a Political Victory as Germany and Britain Struggle to Address Euro Crisis

France President Nicolas Sarkozy, seen as the “second partner” in the principally led German effort to cool-off a very hot Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, led France as an ascendant victor in the Euro debt political negotiations this past week by obtaining a preferred intergovernmental agreement between the European 17 core Eurozone countries, but the outcome left Germany’s Angela Merkel short in getting amendments to the Lisbon treaty for all 27 EU countries, that would apply to the the core 17.  Britain’s David Cameron could not get protection for London’s financial houses, thus vetoing Germany’s proposal, leaving the United Kingdom further from the Europe Union financial family.

Merkel unhappy, put a brave face on half a loaf, did not criticize Britain, but Sarkozy lept at the opportunity, saying at an early morning press conference on Friday morning:  “Those who did not want to join the euro are not in the best place to advise its members of its functioning.”  Cameron returned to London to criticism that his veto was ‘bad for Europe’, according to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg,  his coalition government partner.  In the BBC interview Clegg also said the Lisbon Treaty veto “untenable” for him to welcome, while acknowledging the situation as difficult.  Now it appears that Merkel will pursue an updated Lisbon Treaty, less Britain, making 26 members.

National

Obama and Sebelius Diss Science In Rejecting Plan B Pill Access for Minors

Reproductive rights advocates were shocked this week when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an unprecedented action overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to allow minor girls, 16 and under, to obtain the “Plan B” pill as an over-the-counter medicine, an emergency means to avoid unwanted pregnancies without a prescription.  Seen as a troubling precedent that could open the door to future decisions, most likely associated with controversial sexual health related matters, advocates have expressed surprise and deflation that the Obama Administration would defy scientific opinion that determined that the Plan B pill is safe and should be made available to minors without a prescription.

Added ugliness and political expediency came from President Obama himself, who spoke from the White House press room lectern and backed Sebelius’ decision “saying she was concerned that young people could buy the pill alongside bubble gum and batteries”. He also qualified his remarks as a “father of two daughters” and that “most parents would probably feel the same way. He continued: “It is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine.” The father of first daughters Malia and Sasha, paints a picture of paternalistic protection and ‘father knows best’.  But alas its an election year.  So much for science.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=SVfmQA7ARL0%3Fversion%3D3%26hl%3Den_US%26rel%3D0

Voter ID Laws Under Assault by Republicans; Wisconsin Walker Recall Effort Enjoys 300,000 Signatures 

Marking International Human Rights Day, Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, has been calling the current period in America, one of the “greatest attacks on voting rights laws in a 100 years,” led a coalition march in New York City to the United Nations in an effort to raise awareness of the assault in at least 25 states on U.S. voter identification laws.  Last month, Ohio voters were successful in organizing a recall effort on a State of Ohio Voter ID rights law, that had been amended by Republican Governor John Kasich, whose reactionary policies inspired organizers to obtain enough signatures to place the discredited law on the ballot during the 2012 elections.  Ohio voters openly rejected Democrats in 2010, only to come roaring back at Kasich for his anti-union efforts to strip collective bargaining rights, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the Ohio electorate last month, as well.

In another bell-weather Midwestern state, Wisconsin, organizers there have quickly obtained more than 300,000 signatures of the 540,000 required in an effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker, for his success in stripping collective bargaining rights and requiring workers to pay more for health care, along with diminished pay wages. Organizers are hoping to garner as many as 750,00 signatures to provide insurance for disqualifications. Walker, was the first Republican governor in the country, elected in 2010, that immediately went to work to diminish labor union rights, long held to be a core Democratic Party constituency.  While obstacles remain for Wisconsin efforts to revoke Walker’s mandate, including finding a candidate to take on Walker.  Thus far, former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who lost re-election in 2010, has refused to be a candidate.  But first things first.

 


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, LGBT human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

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The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James  Comer (R-KY) is being highly mocked after declaring he will investigate President Joe Biden for “influence peddling” despite admitting there’s little if any evidence President Biden has engaged in influence peddling.

When pressed, he pointed to Biden’s classified documents and one alleged email from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

But when pressed again by a frustrated CNN host, asking why he’s not investigating ex-president Donald Trump, he couldn’t offer a valid reason, except to claim there no evidence of it.

Some were quick to point out the Trump’s tenure in the White House was filled with alleged influence peddling operations.

Here’s Chairman Comer with CNN’s Pamela Brown on Sunday. While the transcript is a bit simplified, it’s not far off.

“What’s different with Joe Biden is we’re investigating the Biden family for influence peddling,” Comer said on CNN Sunday evening. “We have a strong suspicion that people around Joe Biden, mainly in his family, have been peddling access to the Biden family, with our adversaries around the world, and when we find out that they have multiple classified documents scattered throughout multiple residences and office buildings across the East Coast, then this raises a huge red flag for us. We want to make sure that those documents in the possession of Joe Biden weren’t somehow sent to our adversaries and didn’t somehow compromise our national security.”

READ MORE: The Powerful GOP Oversight Committee Chairman Is Pushing a Baseless Narrative That Biden Is ‘Compromised’

CNN’s Pamela Brown pushed back.

“But you’ve also talked about how you worried about the same situation with the Trump family. Trump had 300-plus documents at Mar-a-Lago, why don’t you have that same concern?” Brown asked. “I mean, there are visitors going in and out of Mar-a-Lago from different countries, including China, there’s been a Chinese spy who was arrested at Mar-a-Lago and it was in an unsecure location at Mar-a-Lago. So would you apply that same concern evenly across the board?

Comer was unimpressed with the facts she presented.

“If someone can show me evidence that there was influence peddling with those classified documents that were in the possession of President Trump, then we would certainly expect it.”

His defense for the Chinese spy? It’s a public place – making all the more dangerous for unsecured classified documents.

“Do you have evidence of influence peddling with the classified documents that was for Biden?” Brown asked. “It sounds like you don’t – you’re looking into it, but why wouldn’t you look into it in the same way for Trump?”

“We have evidence that the Biden family has been very cozy with people from the Chinese Communist Party. We have evidence that Hunter Biden was receiving payments that were that were linked directly to the Chinese Communist Party through those Chinese energy companies. We’re very concerned about all the money connected to Ukraine.”

“How is that connected to classified documents?” Brown again pushed.

READ MORE: Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

“We don’t know we want to look. We see there’s one email that’s been identified that is suspicious that we want to look into. We want to make sure that there’s one email that was on Hunter Biden’s laptop wasn’t one of the classified documents. So I think there’s ample reason to be concerned.”

Comer revealed he has no evidence against President Biden or the Biden family.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) called it a “a politically-driven fishing expedition.”

“Republican hypocrisy on full display,” Gomez tweeted in response. “How can you launch an investigation without any evidence? This is a politically-driven fishing expedition — full stop. Lots of political stunts, not a lot of problem-solving.”

But, as several people noted, there is plenty of apparent evidence against Donald Trump.

HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte called Comer out: “Trump ran a bribery center five blocks from The White House,” he shouted, referring to the Trump D.C. Hotel, while tweeting in all-caps.

“Just a stunning dereliction of duty,” charged Robert Maguire, the research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “Trump brought in tens of millions of dollars as president from businesses he refused to divest, which were used by special interests and foreign governments to enrich him while currying favor with him and his administration.”

Telling Chairman Comer he is “happy to chat,” Mother Jones’ David Corn tweeted, “I know of 2 billion reasons Comer and the House Republicans should look at the Trump family regarding influence peddling and overseas dealings.”

Corn is likely referring to the $2 billion “investment” Trump son-in-law and senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner received.

“Six months after leaving the White House,” The New York Times reported last April, “Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal.”

READ MORE: Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

MSNBC’s Steve Benen likened Comer’s interview to “watching a snake eat its own tail.” Benen also pointed to Comer’s second attempt, Monday morning, which did not go well.

Bloomberg’s Emily Wilkins, the Vice President of the National Press Club, apparently mistakenly, said to Comer: “So you are asking questions about Trump.”

He made clear he is not.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

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A Pennsylvania principal drew criticism last week after telling a Bucks County school librarian to take down posters with a famous quote by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winning human rights activist, professor, and Holocaust survivor, just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Central Bucks School District reportedly has ties to an organization that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Despite being under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights after an ACLU complaint, the Central Bucks School District earlier this month voted 6-3 to pass “a contentious policy that bans teachers from engaging in ‘advocacy activities’ and displaying inclusive symbols like Pride flags in their classrooms,” WHYY reported earlier this month.

Citing that new rule, known as Policy 321, the school principal told Central Bucks High School South librarian Matt Pecic to take down four posters that displayed Wiesel’s famous quote from his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, WHYY reports.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” Wiesel said.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

The principal reportedly told Pecic if he did not comply human resources would have to get involved. Pecic, who has worked for the school district for three decades, met with the principal accompanied by his union representative.

“If I didn’t take it down, I knew there would be consequences that could impact me,” Pecic said. “It’s a horrible feeling. And you feel like you have to do something that you don’t agree with.”

Making the issue even more difficult, “Pecic’s ninth-grade daughter, a Central Bucks student at Holicong Middle School, originally emailed him the quote,” WHYY reports.

“This is where I get choked up,” Pecic said. “She said that ‘this quote reminds me of you.’”

Pecic describes himself as someone who often speaks up, “if I disagree with something, especially if I think it’s not for the benefit of students, I will say something.”

On Thursday, after uproar from the community, the district stepped in and allowed the posters with Wiesel’s quote to be put back up.

READ MORE: Trump-Aligned Christian Nationalist Group ‘Taps Into Unholy Well’ That Threatens Democracy

“We regret that the decision was made to remove it,” the district said in a statement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported,  “and in a manner that promotes not only the importance of the novel, but continued awareness and education surrounding the Holocaust and its National Day of Remembrance this coming Friday. The district apologizes for any hurt or concerns this has caused, particularly for those in the Jewish community.”

The Central Bucks School District hired a public relations firm, Devine + Partners, at the cost of $15,000 a month, “in an attempt to repair strained public relations and improve the school district’s image,” The Buck’s County Herald reported last summer.

Devine + Partners was hired to help after “a series of executive decisions made by the Central Bucks School District, most of which appear targeted towards the LGBTQ+ student body.”

“This includes the removal of Pride Flags in the classroom, under the justification that they were political symbols, and as such, not fit for the classroom. It also includes only allowing students to attend Human Growth and Development classes that matched with their assigned genders at birth, and pausing said classes shortly after they began, effectively outing these students to their teachers and peers.”

READ MORE: McCarthy Sat for an Interview With Trump Jr. – One Bragged About an ‘Illegal’ Act, One Wished His Dad Would ‘Show Some’ Love

WHYY is a separate report notes on Monday that the Central Bucks School District has ties to an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Family Research Council.

The district is currently reviewing five books after rolling out a new, harsh policy “which aims to keep books that a yet-to-be-determined group might deem ‘inappropriate’ for unspecified ‘sexualized content’ out of school libraries,” WHYY reported in July.

“Recent updates to the policy were reviewed by a conservative Christian law firm, Independence Law Center, as first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times,” WHYY adds. “The Independence Law Center is the legal arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is a statewide branch of the national organization Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Earlier this month NBC 10 Philadelphia reported on the passage of Policy 321 by the school board. Watch below or at this link.

 

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Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has empaneled a special grand jury and prosecutors are now presenting evidence against Donald Trump in their revived investigation into hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and one other woman during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Calling it “a dramatic escalation of an inquiry that once appeared to have reached a dead end,” The New York Times reports the Manhattan DA is “laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months,” and says it “a clear signal” that Bragg “is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.”

Among the witnesses testifying is David Pecker, “the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal” with Daniels.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

Prosecutors have also contacted members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and have subpoenaed phone records and other documents that could provide evidence.

But The Times notes that a “conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.”

Cohen broke with Trump and in 2016, “made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump,” The Times reported in 2018.

The payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016, Cohen testified.

He was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

“Days before then-President Donald Trump left the White House, federal prosecutors in New York discussed whether to potentially charge Trump with campaign finance crimes once he was out of office,” CNN reported on Friday, citing a new book from CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

But they “decided to not seek an indictment of Trump for several reasons, Honig writes, including the political ramifications and the fact that Trump’s other scandals, such as efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, insurrection, ‘made the campaign finance violations seem somehow trivial and outdated by comparison.'”

Award-winning journalist and author Brian Karem tweeted: “As someone who worked extensively with [Michael Cohen] on the book ‘Revenge’ I can say this: Facts show that the MOST dangerous criminal case against Donald Trump could be made by the Manhattan D.A.”

Read The Times’ full report here.

This article has been updated to include Brian Karem’s tweet.

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