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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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Democrats Discredit GOP Claims on IVF as Republicans Try to Regain Ground After Fallout

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One week after the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled frozen human embryos are “children,” causing several medical institutions to pause their in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs, Alabama and the GOP have seen tremendous nationwide anger, upset, and confusion from the left and the right over the decision, the Christian nationalist chief judge, and the Republican Party that set this in motion.

Now, GOP lawmakers and political groups are trying to regain ground after some Republicans quickly embraced the decision that, as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre predicted Tuesday, would cause “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make.”

“As a reminder,” Jean-Pierre added, “this is the same state whose attorney general threatened to prosecute people who help women travel out of state to seek the care they need.”

President Joe Biden condemned the Alabama ruling: “The disregard for women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable.”

But U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) cheered his state’s Supreme Court, while appearing to not fully grasp what IVF is.

READ MORE: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’: Biden Campaign Blasts Trump Christian Nationalism Plans

“I was all for it,” he said of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, calling young people “our number one commodity.”

But when pressed, Tuberville declared, “I’d have to look at the entire bill, how it’s written, I have not seen it,” referring not to legislation but the ruling.

And when told that women will now not be able to have IVF treatments, Tuberville repeatedly replied it was “unfortunate.”

On Thursday night, speaking to a group of religious broadcasters, Donald Trump denounced the Alabama ruling and vowed to protect IVF. On Friday, the beleaguered Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) issued a memo directing Republicans to defend IVF. Also Friday, the Attorney General for the state of Alabama, mentioned earlier by the White House Press Secretary, effectively suggested he would ignore the state supreme court’s ruling, promising to not prosecute IVF families, as ABC News reported.

But Democrats are making clear that despite whatever claims or promises Republicans make, the IVF ruling is the direction conservatives are taking the Republican Party.

READ MORE: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

“First Republicans banned abortions so women couldn’t terminate a pregnancy. Now they are coming for IVF so women can’t begin a pregnancy. The GOP agenda is about one thing: government control of women,” observed U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) (photo).

CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox reports a new NRSC memo “instructs [GOP] candidates to reject clearly and concisely government attempts to restrict access to IVF.”

Just hours later, Sen. Murphy responded, saying, “umm the chairman of the NRSC sponsored the bill to ban IVF.”

He added, “newsflash: no matter what they tell their candidates to pretend, when they get power they use it to control women.”

The NRSC’s goal is to help get Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate. It is chaired by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a MAGA Republican and member of the Senate’s Pro-Life Caucus.

As Bloomberg’s Matthew Yglesias notes, Senator Daines is an original co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act.

The Center for American Progress’ Colin Seeberger adds, Daines “quite literally has been a longtime co-sponsor of the Lifetime at Conception Act, which would establish legal protections for the unborn just as the Alabama Supreme Court ordered and has led to the suspension of fertility care across AL.”

Meanwhile, Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz notes that the “text of GOP‘s most recent platform claims that ‘the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed’ and calls for a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions — and jeopardize IVF — by granting 14th Amendment rights to fetuses.”

READ MORE: Why Was GOP’s Star Witness Re-Arrested? He May Have Been Trying to Flee the Country: Report

Indeed, as The New York Times reported, far-right Christian conservative Tony Perkins, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBTQ extremist group Family Research Council, called the Alabama Supreme Court ruling a “beautiful defense of life and the Alabama Constitution.”

Friday afternoon Donald Trump followed up his vow to protect IVF with a social media post that claims in part, “Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families. We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder! That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every State in America. Like the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Americans, including the VAST MAJORITY of Republicans, Conservatives, Christians, and Pro-Life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby.”

Former Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer responded, asking: “Why would anyone believe this? In 2016, Trump pledged no cuts to Medicaid and then spent four years trying to gut the program.”

And as Axios reports, “House Democrats’ main super PAC is promising to pour money into attacking Republicans on fertility treatments in the wake of a controversial, first-of-its-kind Alabama Supreme Court ruling, Axios has learned.”

“Trump’s call came a day after President Biden’s re-election campaign blamed him for the ruling, noting his appointment of conservative justices to the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade,” Axios adds. House Majority PAC, in a memo set to be released Friday, listed nearly a dozen current and former House Republicans in competitive districts who have co-sponsored at least one version of the Life at Conception Act between 2021 and 2023.”

See the social media posts and video above or at this link.

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Why Was GOP’s Star Witness Re-Arrested? He May Have Been Trying to Flee the Country: Report

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The re-arrest of Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who allegedly may have provided House Republicans with Kremlin propaganda that was the basis for their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden and attack his son Hunter, raised some eyebrows on Thursday.

Smirnov, once considered House Republicans’ Jim Comer and Jim Jordan’s star witness, was re-arrested even after a magistrate judge ordered him released, and at his attorneys’ offices, raising eyebrows from even national security experts, insisting there had better be a good reason for it.

Now, according to a noted legal expert, it appears there was.

“A California judge seems to be suggesting [Smirnov’s] lawyers are complicit in his efforts to flee, in a remarkable line ordering detention for the FBI source whose lies propelled Biden impeachment efforts,” writes professor of law and MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney.

READ MORE: ‘Insultingly Stupid’: Trump’s Move to Toss Out Classified Docs Case Torn Apart by Experts

U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II in his order wrote on Thursday: “It has come to this Court’s attention that counsel for defendant has sought an emergency hearing in the District of Nevada to arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”

After detailing Smirnov’s arrest and release, Judge Wright ordered his re-arrest, adding: “The U.S. Marshal Service is advised there is to be no deviation from this Order.”

Just Security’s Adam Klasfeld calls Judge Wright’s order “wild,” and adds that Smirnoff’s lawyers released “a terse statement about the extraordinary order.”

“They did not respond to questions about the language in the judge’s order suggesting a ‘likely’ aim to ‘facilitate’ their client ‘absconding from the United States.'”

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Vaccine-Laced Lettuce and Tomatoes? Tennessee GOP Lawmaker Worried

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A Tennessee Republican state lawmaker says he’s worried Tennesseans might overdose on vaccines if they eat too many tomatoes.

State Rep. Scott Cepicky claims vaccines can already be added to foods like lettuce and tomatoes, and to tobacco products, so he has filed legislation to require grocery store items containing vaccines to be labeled.

“University of California Riverside has already perfected the ability to put human vaccines into our lettuce right now,” Rep. Cepicky told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday while discussing his legislation. “Also, tomatoes, has the ability to do that also per UC Berkeley. And then big tobacco, RJ Reynolds and stuff has perfected the ability to put a human vaccine in tobacco products.”

NCRM could find no evidence supporting his claims, although researchers starting in 2021 were studying if it is possible to do so.

Cepicky, who has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), warned, “there is no law, deeming those that when you go into a grocery store, you should know as a consumer, this head of lettuce is a head of lettuce. The head of lettuce right next week could contain a vaccine in it. All we’re saying is if it does have the vaccine in it, make sure it’s listed as a pharmaceutical so people can get the proper dosage.”

READ MORE: ‘Insultingly Stupid’: Trump’s Move to Toss Out Classified Docs Case Torn Apart by Experts

Facing some pushback from Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Cepicky went on to say, “This is more of a consumer protection bill right here, is to make sure that if you’re going in to buy tomatoes, and there’s a polio vaccine in there, that you are aware of what you’re buying has a polio vaccine. The problem you have is if it’s not treated as a pharmaceutical, being the size and difference between you and me, how many tomatoes do I have to eat to get the proper dosage versus how many tomatoes that you have to eat? And if you eat too many do you get a overdose?”

Asked if his legislation was necessity, Cepicky added, “Well, if you’d have a child that is allergic to a certain vaccine, and it’s not disclosed, when you go to buy that, that vegetable, whatever it is, and your child dies from that, I would think that having place is going to make sure that that is treated as a pharmaceutical so that the consumers know exactly what they’re buying.”

Anti-vaxers gained a foothold during the COVID pandemic, spreading false claims about vaccines. Last year the fact-checking website Snopes deemed it “false” that “mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines has entered the food supply via genetically modified plants bred to contain it or through the consumption of vaccinated livestock.”

“Claims regarding COVID-19 vaccines ‘in your salad‘ have persisted on the internet and recirculated due to misreadings or misinterpretations of several press releases or scientific research,” Snopes added, “Mike Flynn, during a September 2021 podcast appearance, referenced this research, describing it as ‘putting the vaccine in salad dressing.'”

READ MORE: Kremlin Infiltration of Congress Alleged by Ex-Trump Prosecutor: Republicans ‘Duped or in on It’

Flynn, the former Trump U.S. national security advisor, is a far-right Christian nationalist and Trump MAGA activist.

Tennessee lawmakers voted to move Rep. Capicky’s forward.

Watch Rep. Capicky’s remarks below or at this link.

 

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