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Week In Review: Obama Argues Gay Rights At UN, DADT Repeal, Palestine

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“Week in Review” is a new addition to the New Civil Rights Movement by Tanya Domi, which presents a review of top news throughout the world and in America each Sunday. We begin this week by highlighting several major stories from the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York this week.

International News

Obama Affirms the Human Rights of Gays and Lesbians at the UN

After laying down an aggressive LGBT human rights agenda at the UN during the past year, President Barack Obama called for equal rights for lesbians and gays in an address before the UN General Assembly. “No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” Obama said. Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality, issued this comment on Wednesday: “The President’s remarks today at the UN General Assembly, where he called for the world to ‘stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,’ were historic. Never before has a sitting U.S. President spoken so clearly about LGBT rights in a formal address to the full General Assembly. It shows how far we have come.”

Palestinians Ask the UN for Statehood Vote

https://youtube.com/watch?v=d8_rd3PqT-k%3Fversion%3D3%26hl%3Den_US

 

Mahmood Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, went before the UN General Assembly this week andsolicited the UN for a full Statehood vote n the Security Council. The U.S. has indicated it will veto such a proposal. Abbas was received warmly by the world body during his speech, receiving a standing ovation. Abbas said during his speech, “I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favour of our full membership. I do not believe that anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for a full membership in the United Nations and our admission as an independent state.” Upon Abbas’ return to Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinians greeted him in a raucous celebration.

Pope Calls for Global Religious Alliance Against Gay Marriage and Abortion

During a tour of his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI called on Orthodox Christians to join with the Roman Catholic Church to form a religious alliance against gay marriage and abortion. During a meeting with Orthodox Christians he said, “Knowing, too, the value of family and marriage, we as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation,” adding, “Here the common engagement of Christians, including many Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, makes a valuable contribution to building up a society equipped for the future.” The Orthodox Church also condemns homosexuality and has proven to be a formidable adversary toward LGBT rights in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Putin Announces Second Run for Russia’s Presidency

Endorsed by his party United Russia, Vladimir Putin announced he will run for President again in 2012by switching places with Dimitri Medvedev. Many Kremlin watchers have said the younger Medvedev had been keeping the seat warm for Putin to reclaim for a 2012 run. Theoretically, if successful, this election could extend Putin’s reign of power to 2024 equating his time in power to that of Stalin and Brezhnef. Medvedev announced he would step down from the presidency yesterday, allowing Putin to move forward, with no significant opposition in sight.

13 Million Affected by Famine in Horn of Africa

A predicted famine in Sub Sahara Africa rages on, affecting at least 13 million people who have been disproportiately displaced from Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, a failed state located in the Horn of Africa.  Startling photographs documenting this famine can be attributed to lower wheat crop yields around the world, coupled with poor humanitarian response by state officials.  Somalis are fleeing, by walking out of the poor country that takes about a month, to the Dadaab refugee camp, located in Northern Kenya, the largest such camp in the world today. But arriving to the the camp does not assure access to food or safety and many continue to die in the camp. The U.S. government is providing an array of humanitarian assistance, including $69 million in emergency food aid to support the populations in emergency conditions.

Jailed American Hikers Return to the U.S.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two American hikers who had been held in an Iranian prison for more than two years, were released this past week and returned to the United States on September 25. The two were released from Tehran’s Evin prison under a $1 million bail deal and arrived in Oman on Wednesday in the first leg of their journey home. The third hiker, American Sarah Shourd, was released for health reasons in November 2011. Shourd met Fattal and Bauer in Oman for a joyous reunion. Bauer asked Shourd to marry him while they were imprisoned in Iran. Nick Kristof of The New York Times interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this past week and raised the issue of the American hikers. On Thursday, Ahmadinejad told CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer that homosexuality is, “one of the ugliest behaviors in our society. It is against divine will, divine teachings of any and every faith, and it is certainly at the detriment of humans and humanity.”

National News

End of Era: DADT Ends

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a Clinton Administration “compromise” in 1993 during the effort to repeal the gay ban was finally repealed this past week that was marked by celebrations from Washington D.C. to San Francisco.  This watershed event was made evident in an official Department of Defense website titled “DADT is Repealed.” Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in observation of the day, “Today, with implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant force, a force of more character and more honor, more in keeping with our own values.”

The White House issued the following statement from President Barack Obama, ‘Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.”

Republicans Boo Openly Gay Soldier During GOP Presidential Debate

In the same week DADT was repealed into the history books, a partisan Republican audience jeered Stephen Hill, an openly gay soldier based in Iraq, who questioned in an YouTube presentation whether Republican candidates for the presidency would reinstate the discredited and unconstitutional policy. Virulent anti-gay candidate Rick Santorum, condemned the jeering by the audience, only to retract his statement a day later. The New Civil Rights Movement captured all the candidates comments or actions about the jeering of the gay soldier following the debate. Ultimately, only John Huntsman, candidate from Utah, expressed his regrets for not condemning the jeers of the audience.

Troy Davis Executed in Georgia Prison Garnering Worldwide Condemnation

Troy A. Davis, sentenced to death row 19 years ago for the killing of Mark Allen MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah, Georgia police officer in 1989, was executed on September 21 after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Georgia Parole Board denied his request for clemency. Pleas for Davis’ clemency were submitted by numerous luminaries, including former Nobel Peace laureates President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as Pope Benedict and the European Union. The Georgia conviction of Davis unraveled in recent years, when several eye witnesses recanted their original statements. The NAACP has established an on-line condolence book for Troy Davis, who will be buried on October 1.

HRC Announces Obama as Keynote Speaker for Annual Dinner

“We are honored to share this night with President Obama who has a tremendous record of accomplishment for LGBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “On the heels of the end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we look forward to celebrating our victories and redoubling our efforts for the fights that remain ahead.”

The event, HRC’s largest fundraiser which is expected to draw nearly 3,000 attendees, will be the evening of Saturday, October 1st at the Washington Convention Center. many wonder if the President will make any major news this time, like supporting full civil marriage equality.

 

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.

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News

McConnell to Step Down as Minority Leader

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Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving party leader in the history of the U.S. Senate, will relinquish his leadership role in November. The Kentucky Republican, who is 82 and has suffered health issues, has served in the Senate since 1985.

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” Leader McConnell said in prepared remarks, The Associated Press reports. “So I stand before you today … to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”

McConnell, who told colleagues Wednesday that “the politics within the Republican Party” have “changed,” is stepping down but not retiring. He plans to serve out his current term to the end, in January 0f 2027.

News outlets have reported McConnell has been under pressure to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for re-election. The New York Times reports “conversations between the Trump and McConnell camps have been happening between key advisers to both men,” despite that neither has “said a word to each other since December 2020.”

In March of 2016, as Majority Leader, he refused to follow the U.S. Constitution’s call for “advice and consent” of Presidential nominees, derailing then-Judge Merrick Garland’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

READ MORE: ‘MAGA-Motivated Conspiracies’: Hunter Biden Decimates Comer and Jordan in Opening Remarks

McConnell partnered with then-President Donald Trump to install a record-number of judges to the federal bench, many chosen by the far-right Federalist Society. But even before Trump’s election, McConnell, PBS’s Frontline reported, held open “vacancies that Trump then filled with conservative federal judges at a breakneck pace.”

“When President Trump took office and McConnell served as Senate majority leader, Trump had more than 100 vacancies to fill in the lower courts, including 17 in the U.S. courts of appeals — all of them lifetime appointments,” according to Frontline. “The Supreme Court hears around 80 cases a year, while the courts of appeals handle tens of thousands of cases annually — often making them the last word in most cases that impact the lives of Americans.”

MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor for 30 years, remarked in a thread on X: “Mitch McConnell’s legacy, at least in part, will be violating the Constitution by denying a president’s Supreme Court nominee a confirmation hearing – ignoring the Senate’s ‘advice and consent’ responsibilities. McConnell then led Trump by the nose, orchestrating the degradation of the Supreme Court, with the predicable results being a callous and conflicted Supreme Court revoking women’s constitutional privacy rights, damaging equality of educational opportunities for minorities, and unleashing business discrimination cloaked in religious piety.”

“McConnell also improperly orchestrated an acquittal at Trump’s first impeachment trial,” Kirschner continued, “enabling Trump to launch a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. American will be better for Mitch McConnell’s departure from the US Senate.”

Watch McConnell’s announcement below or at this link.

 

 

 

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‘MAGA-Motivated Conspiracies’: Hunter Biden Decimates Comer and Jordan in Opening Remarks

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Hunter Biden is testifying behind closed doors in a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, but the President’s son released his opening statement Wednesday morning, accusing Republican Chairmen Jim Comer and Jim Jordan of basing their investigation on an “entire partisan house of cards” of “lies” told by two people who have been indicted, a third who is behind bars, and fourth who has been “exposed” for his “false statements.”

Politico calls Hunter Biden’s opening statement a “blistering rebuke of Republicans’ investigation into his father, President Joe Biden.”

“I am here today to provide the Committees with the one uncontestable fact that should end the false premise of this inquiry: I did not involve my father in my business. Not while I was a practicing lawyer, not in my investments or transactions domestic or international, not as a board member, and not as an artist. Never,” Hunter Biden’s statement begins.

“You read this fact in the many letters that have been sent to you over the last year as part of your so-called impeachment investigation. You heard this fact when I said it weeks ago, standing outside of this building. You heard this fact from a parade of other witnesses – former colleagues and business partners of mine, including my uncle – who have testified before you in similar proceedings. And now, today, you hear this fact directly from me.”

READ MORE: ‘Neck Snapping’: Speaker Johnson’s Latest ‘Flip Flop’ Could Kick Shutdown Down the Road

“For more than a year, your Committees have hunted me in your partisan political pursuit of my dad. You have trafficked in innuendo, distortion, and sensationalism – all the while ignoring the clear and convincing evidence staring you in the face,” Biden’s statement reads. “You do not have evidence to support the baseless and MAGA-motivated conspiracies about my father because there isn’t any.”

Biden goes on to charge Comer and Jordan with building their “entire partisan house of cards on lies told by the likes of Gal Luft, Tony Bobulinski, Alexander Smirnov, and Jason Galanis. Luft, who is a fugitive, has been indicted for his lies and other crimes; Smirnov, who has made you dupes in carrying out a Russian disinformation campaign waged against my father, has been indicted for his lies; Bobulinski, who has been exposed for the many false statements he has made, and Galanis, who is serving 14 years in prison for fraud.”

Alexander Smirnov is the latest witness House Republicans chose whose credibility has been destroyed. Two weeks ago today he was arrested on federal charges including lying to the FBI about the very topic Comer and Jordan have based their entire impeachment investigation on: the debunked “Burisma” conspiracy theory. Smirnov has admitted, according to court documents, those claims were handed to him by Russian intelligence officials.

“Rather than follow the facts as they have been laid out before you in bank records, financial statements, correspondence, and other witness testimony, you continue your frantic search to prove the lies you, and those you rely on, keep peddling. Yes, they are lies. To be clear, I have made mistakes in my life, and I have squandered opportunities and privileges that were afforded to me. I know that. I am responsible for that. And I am making amends for that. But my mistakes and shortcomings are my own and not my father’s, who has done nothing but devote his entire life to public service and trying to make this country a better place to live.”

READ MORE: House Republicans Move to Upstage SOTU With New Hur Investigation Subpoena and Hearing

Biden points to his “battle with addiction,” praises his father for his support, and says, “He helped save my life. His love and support made it possible for me to get sober, stay sober and rebuild my life as a father, husband, son, and brother.”

“What he got in return for being a loving and supportive parent is a barrage of hate-filled conspiracy theories that hatched this sham impeachment inquiry and continue to fuel unrelenting personal attacks against him and me.”

Biden charges Republicans with taking his “communications out of context,” and alleges they “relied on documents that have been altered, and cherry-picked snippets of financial or other records to misrepresent what really happened.”

He then told the Republican Chairmen they used “a few references to my family in emails or texts that I sent when I was in the darkest days of my addiction.” And he starkly warned: “If you try to do that again today, my answers will reveal your tactics and demonstrate the truth that my father was never involved in any of my businesses.”

U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA), who is attending today’s hearing, blasted Speaker Johnson, Donald Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We’ve been in the deposition now for about an hour, and one thing is crystal clear: Republicans have zero evidence linking Hunter Biden to any sort of business dealings with the president,” he told MSNBC. Garcia also accused Speaker Johnson of having “absolutely no plan” as the government shutdown deadline approaches.

Watch below or at this link.

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‘Neck Snapping’: Speaker Johnson’s Latest ‘Flip Flop’ Could Kick Shutdown Down the Road

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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, opposed to a government shutdown but appearing willing to allow it to happen, during Tuesday’s White House meeting offered President Joe Biden and top congressional leaders to kick the can down the road in his latest policy “switch.” His reputation for flip-flopping is so strong it’s being described by the D.C. press as “neck snapping.”

“Johnson has offered to shift existing government funding deadlines from March 1 and March 8 to March 8 and March 22,” Punchbowl News reports, calling it “Johnson’s Latest Shift.” Johnson had chosen the March 1 and March 8 dates and the concept of a “laddered” government shutdown, which other stakeholders opposed but accepted.

Johnson has made clear he opposes stop-gap funding, or continuing resolutions, known as CR’s, which this would be.

“After saying late last year he was done with any more short-term stop-gaps to avoid a shutdown, Mike Johnson had to do one in January and may have to do one again. Facing a partial shutdown Friday, he’s bowing to reality and floating another CR,” notes CNN’s Manu Raju. “Negotiators say they’re making progress to complete at least some of the annual funding bills (that they were supposed to get done by last October.)”

READ MORE: House Republicans Move to Upstage SOTU With New Hur Investigation Subpoena and Hearing

The Speaker is now offering up a continuing resolution, but with strings attached.

“Any CR would be part of a larger agreement to finish a number of appropriations bills, ensuring adequate time for drafting text and for members to review prior to casting votes,” Johnson Press Secretary Athina Lawson said in a statement, Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report.

“In this offer, Johnson also is making an explicit threat – if the Louisiana Republican doesn’t have a bipartisan agreement in hand by Friday, he’s not willing to pass a short-term CR to avert a shutdown. Johnson will let government funding lapse starting at midnight Friday. Four bills expire at that point.”

Punchbowl reports this is the “first time” that “Johnson is making explicit to Democrats and the White House that he’s willing to shut down federal agencies unless he has a global agreement – of sorts – on all 12 FY 2024 appropriations bills.”

“These kinds of course changes have become a hallmark of Johnson’s speakership. Plans shift drastically without much notice. Lawmakers are often settling into one strategy when the entire scheme changes. It’s neck snapping,” declare Punchbowl’s Sherman and Bresnaahan.

READ MORE: Republican Furious No ‘Real Wins,’ Like on ‘Transgender Surgeries’ as Shutdown Looms

The House has been on vacation for the past two weeks, and is not scheduled to be back in session until Wednesday evening, giving them just over 48 hours to craft legislation, pass it, have the Senate pass it, and the President sign it into law, all before the 12:01 AM Saturday shutdown deadline.

As Axios reported Tuesday night: “More than a year after Republicans took back the House, the sum result of their work on government spending so far is to extend the budget passed under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).” Axios added, “What comes next in the shutdown drama is solely up to House Speaker Mike Johnson.”

 

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