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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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'ABSOLUTE MASTERCLASS'

Texas AG Ken Paxton’s office “dysfunctional” with child porn and shady political dealings

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is running for a third term in office while facing civil and criminal fraud charges for allegedly handly sketchy trade deals, giving office positions to donors, and trying to overturn the 2020 election.

However, a new Associated Press (AP) story paints Paxton’s office as highly political and dysfunctional.

Paxton’s office botched “Operation Fallen Angel,” an investigation that indicted six men on allegations of forcing teen girls to “exchange sexual contact for crystal methamphetamine.” Paxton’s office largely dropped the charges because they lost track of their key witness.

Another prosecutor said he quit Paxton’s office in January after supervisors pressured him to withhold evidence in a murder case, the AP wrote.

Eight of Paxton’s top deputies quit or were fired in autumn 2020 after they went to the FBI to accuse Paxton of using his office to help a donor who had employed a woman that Paxton admitted to having an extramarital affair with. The FBI’s investigation is ongoing.

The AP story notes that Paxton gave a senior role to a California attorney who gave him $10,000 to fight his 2015 securities fraud indictment. Paxton also hired Tom Gleason, a former police officer whose father donated $50,000 to Paxton’s legal defense. Gleason was given a job advising Paxton on child exploitation as well as Medicaid and voter fraud.

Gleason was fired less than two months into his new job. Paxton’s office didn’t explain why, but “three people with knowledge of the matter” told the AP that, during a work presentation at the agency’s Austin headquarters, Gleason played a video of “a man raping a small child” to highlight the difficult work facing child abuse investigators.

“It was met with outrage and caused the meeting to quickly dissolve,” the AP wrote. “Afterward, Paxton’s top deputy, Brent Webster, told staff not to talk about what happened.”

The AP also wrote that before Texas’ March primary elections, Amber Platt, a deputy over criminal justice cases, held a meeting asking lawyers in Paxton’s offices about which upcoming cases that would best help his reelection chances.

Despite all this, Paxton has a five-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Rochelle Garza.

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'BRUTAL'

Russia is torturing civilians in camps around eastern Ukraine

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The Russian military has established 10 torture sites in the eastern city of Izium, Ukraine, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Torture is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

Eight men died killed under torture in Russian custody, the AP wrote. All but one were civilians.

Russian forces captured Andriy Kotsar, tied him up, and threw him for several days in a trench covered with wooden boards. They beat his legs and arms and smashed his knees with a hammer. They then took his ID and passport so that he would find it hard to prove his identity, get help, or escape.

Russian forces captured him two more times after that. The torture was worse both times, Kotsar said.

“Russian torture in Izium was arbitrary, widespread, and absolutely routine for both civilians and soldiers throughout the city,” the Associated Press investigation found. The torture included waterboarding and electrocution, among other pain-inducing methods.

Mykola Mosyaky, a 38-year-old Ukrainian soldier, was handcuffed, thrown in a pit of dirty water, and hung by the wrists until his skin went numb.

“They beat me with sticks. They hit me with their hands, they kicked me, they put out cigarettes on me, they pressed matches on me,” he stated. “They said, ‘Dance,’ but I did not dance. So they shot my feet.”

Dr. Yuriy Kuznetsov, an emergency room physician in Izium, said that Ukrainians are showing up to his hospital with torture-related injuries, including “gunshots to their hands and feet, broken bones and severe bruising, and burns.” The victims never say how they got their injuries, worried about retaliation if they do.

A father and son who were both tortured said they could hear women’s screams every night as Russian soldiers raped them in a nearby garage.

Russians showed one local woman the body of her battered, unconscious soldier husband, pressuring her to provide information that she knew nothing about.

At least 30 bodies taken from a mass grave in the city showed “visible marks of torture,” including “bound hands, close gunshot wounds, knife wounds, and broken limbs.”

“[Torture] serves three purposes,” said Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch. “Torture came with questions to coerce information, but it is also to punish and to sow fear. It is to send a chilling message to everyone else.”

On September 30,  Russia held sham referendums in the eastern Ukrainian territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. While the referendums sought to cede the territories to Russia, their outcomes were pre-determined by Russia as a way to basically lay claim to the territories.

The U.S. called the referendums illegal and also authorized an additional $12 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of the referendums, “Recently, someone somewhere held pseudo-referendums, and when the Ukrainian flag is returned, no one remembers the Russian farce with some pieces of paper and some annexations. Except, of course, law enforcement agencies of Ukraine. Because everyone who is involved in any elements of aggression against our state will be accountable for it. And I thank everyone who brings these moments of victory closer, who returns the Ukrainian flag to its rightful place on Ukrainian land.”

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'APPARENTLY INEBRIATED'

Supreme Court refuses to protect Mike Lindell from a billion dollar defamation lawsuit

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The Supreme Court just started its new term, and among its first act, it refused to hear an appeal from Mike Lindell — the conspiracy theorist, supporter of former President Donald Trump, and MyPillow CEO — who wanted the court to throw out a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against him.

The lawsuit was filed by Dominion Voting Systems, a manufacturer of voting machines, to litigate against Lindell for his repeated claims that their machinery played a role in “stealing” the 2020 election from Trump. He made his claims on Fox News and various media and social media outlets.

In response to Dominion’s lawsuit, Lindell filed a countersuit accusing the voting machine company of using the court system to “silence Lindell’s and others’ political speech about election fraud and the role of electronic voting machines in it.”

His countersuit also accused the company of “waging lawsuit warfare on private citizens…under the auspices of ‘defending election integrity’…[rather than] fixing their notoriously and demonstrably insecure voting machines.” The lawsuit said the company had “embarked on a concerted, collective enterprise to extort silence from their dissenters or bring financial ruin on any and all who persist in speaking their minds.”

In August 2021, Lindell held a public “cyber symposium” which, he said, would show undeniable proof about how voting machines helped steal the 2020 election.

Rob Graham, a cyber expert who attended the symposium, said, “[Lindell] gave us experts NOTHING today, except random garbage that wastes our time.” Graham said the Lindell had promised to give cyber experts who attended the symposium “packet captures from the November 2020 election could be unencrypted to reveal evidence of voter fraud.” Graham said those packets were never provided.

Fox News refused to run advertisements about the symposium. Lindell was accused of using the symposium as nothing more than to try and maintain relevance and continue the narrative about the “stolen election.”

Several months after the 2020 election, Lindell claimed that Trump would return as president by August. 2021 Lindell said this would occur either through Supreme Court rulings or “two other bonus pathways” involving vote audits in states that Trump lost in 2020.

Lindell said that once the Supreme Court considers his evidence of voter fraud, the justices will unanimously rule 9-0 in favor of allowing Trump to become president once again.

Lindell was wrong.

 

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