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Week in Review: Occupy Wall Street Goes Global, Congress Kills American Jobs Act, Ugandan Lesbian Awarded Human Rights Prize

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 NYC police aggressively arrest Occupy Wall Street activists, while the movement goes global with actions in Berlin, London, Rome & Tokyo; American jobs bill dies in Congress and a Ugandan lesbian activist honored by human rights prize. 

International

New York City Police Get Aggressive with Occupy Activists; Movement Goes Global, Expanding to More Than 80 Countries

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyziG5bUuBE&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

The New York Police Department (NYPD) cracked down on the Occupy Wall Street activists this weekend, posturing early Friday morning by initially assembling at the mouth of Zucotti Park, dressed in full anti-riot gear intending to drive activists from the park, although its owners informed Mayor Bloomberg late Thursday evening that they were withdrawing their original request to “clean” the park.  But Mayor Mike forgot to tell the NYPD, who apparently lost their cool, as Occupy activists had expanded into Washington Park Square during the week. Ultimately, the Zucotti Park residents did not move. After a decision by the Occupy movement protestors to occupy Times Square on Saturday, the NYPD became aggressive, using barricades to pen people in, preventing them from moving block to block and used horse patrols who charged protesters. Police also locked in and eventually arrested activists and some innocent bystanders who had entered bank lobbies to withdraw money for the purpose of closing their accounts.

United for Global Change

Declaring a global action on Saturday titled United for Global Change with a custom prepared Twitter hash tag, peaceful actions ensued in Berlin, London and Tokyo–the one exception was Rome, where a group of anarchists who were participating– fire bombed cars and pillaged stores, causing extensive damage.  Even laid back Canada got in on the action, with several actions from Ontario to the British Columbia engaged. According to the “Occupy Together” website, 951 cities, located in 82 countries, have participated thus far since the movement began in New York City on Sept. 17.

 

Ugandan Lesbian Awarded Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Prize

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a Ugandan lesbian activist, who has lived in fear for years, moving house to house, to avoid attacks for being a gay person and founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an advocacy group for lesbians, was awarded the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Prize on Oct. 13. Nabagesera is the first gay human rights advocate to receive the award, considered only second to the Nobel Peace Prize in prestige. She was presented the award by the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

G-20 Orders Europe to Get its House in Order; Slovakia Votes Against Bailout and the EU Sets Deadline to Address Monetary Crisis 

In the lead-up to the G-20 meeting this weekend in France, Slovakia the last EU country to vote on a bail out for the Euro zone banking authority, was the first Euro zone country whose government collapsed as it voted down the referendum, before it finally passed the proposal two days later. The bailout fund is set to be 344 billion euros (about $472 billion) to resolve a sovereign debt crisis. The price of passage gives the Social Democrats an early election date. The G-20 advised for the bailout to continue, despite demonstrations throughout the European continent on Saturday and asserted that the EU summit later this month would be decisive in resolving the ongoing crisis.  The Euro zone banking crisis remains a crisis at full boil in Greece, which has yet to reach solvency, along with Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain.  EU officials have given themselves an Oct. 23 deadline to resolve the crisis.

UK Ties Foreign Aid to LGBT Rights

Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom’s Tory-led government, announced this past week that his government would leverage its foreign assistance to bilateral partners based upon their LGBT human rights records.  This foreign policy move is seen by some as much a domestic move to cut back on foreign assistance spending, but to bridge its spending aims to a growing popular issue at home that Cameron continues to pursue, most recently announcing his unqualified support for legalized gay marriage in the UK to the consternation of many of his own Conservative party members and church leaders.  This move was supported by lawmakers in Nepal, as well as gay activists in Nepal, as reported by the New Civil Rights Movement.

Polish Voters Elect First Trans Member of Parliament

Anna Grodzka a trans woman political activist was elected to Poland’s parliament this past week as a member of the Palikot Movement, which swept into office with a progressive liberal slate of candidates that garnered the third-most elected lawmakers in parliament, which is seen as a “change election” by Polish political watchers.  Grodzka is the first trans person to be elected to Poland’s parliament and will serve in the Sejm, the Lower House.  Grodzka is the founder and president of Trans-Fuzja, a non-profit advocacy group on behalf of trans persons.

 

National

 United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit Blocks and Upholds Alabama Immigration law

On Friday, the Federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked two key provisions of the Alabama Immigration law in HICA v Bentley that are according to the Southern Poverty Law Center:  the provision that chills children’s access to school by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; and the provision that criminalizes failure to register with the federal government and carry one’s “papers” at all times.

The school provisions take effect immediately.  The Court did not block provisions dealing with immigration status checks during traffic stops. It also allowed to remain in effect the sections that bar illegal immigrants from entering contracts or engaging in business transactions with government.

The Alabama law took effect two weeks ago, compelling people to leave the state immediately.  The coalition of groups bringing the challenge to the law, include the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center and the ACLU of Alabama, the Asian Law Caucus, the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, AAJC, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  The U.S. Department of Justice has also challenged the law.

Obama Jobs Bill Blocked in the Senate; Rev. Al Sharpton Hosts Jobs Rally on the Mall

To no one’s surprise, Eric Cantor, the House Republican Majority Leader declared President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act legislation dead on arrival in early October, but just this week, the Senate, controlled by the Democrats, was unable to muster the 60 votes needed to cloture proof a vehicle that would provide $444 billion for the president’s number one election issue–jobs for the American worker.  The bill went down 50-49, not even close, although Harry Reid changed his vote to “no” before the vote was recorded and preserved his right to bring the bill back for a vote.

Not to be deterred, Obama has hit the road, exhorting voters to help him generate support for the bill by calling their members of Congress.  In Washington yesterday, Rev. Al Sharpton, the newly successful MSNBC host and the president of the National Action Network, gathered his forces on the National Mall, joined by several national unions that also included Planned Parenthood, and staged a rally for jobs and justice, announcing he would be organizing marches in 25 states, offering to “generate some wind behind the president’s back” to get the jobs bill moving in Congress. In anticipation of the celebration held earlier today to inaugurate the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Sharpton called the crowd together, saying the “dreamer may have been killed, but the dream remains.”  Following his speech, rally participants were encouraged to join Sharpton to walk the mall together in solidarity.

In Memoriam

Frank Kameny, an American LGBT civil rights lion, died of natural causes on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.   He was 86-years-old. Kameny coined “Gay is Good,” arguably the first positive message about homosexuals delivered to the American public.  A public memorial service is expected to be held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 15th, the 50th anniversary of the Mattachine Society.

 

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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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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News

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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