Â This Week in Review is highlighted by gay xenophobia in Serbia, and the burgeoning “Occupy Wall Street” protests were marked by labor unions joining the fight along with 700 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and after seven years of victories one flagrantly partisan decision renders a landmark DADT case “moot.”Â
Belgrade Gay Pride Banned by Serbian Officials
The Serbian government’s National Security Council declared its police forces could not maintain public safety and protect LGBT Pride marchers in Belgrade today, because of the threat of violence by an array of ultra-nationalistic groups, empowering Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic to declare the historically marred event to be legally banned.Â European Union officials expressed their regret at the unsurprising action, noting the Belgrade Pride ban would be considered in Serbia’s EU accession review scheduled for early 2012.
Saudi Women Extended the Vote
Saudi King Abdullah in Abdulaziz al-Saud announced this week that women will be extended the right to vote and run for office in 2015.Â A bold action by the 88-year-old monarch who assumed power six years ago as a reformer, but has been cautious in his governing style. Notwithstanding the advance in women’s human rights in Saudi Arabia, for the time being, women remained banned from driving automobiles. So if a Saudi woman wants to get to the polls, or run for office, she will have to ask her father, husband, uncle or son to take her there. Could Suburu offer to send some of their auto makes and models to Saudi women, as an incentive for government reform? We could come up with a memorable commercial in Suburu tradition.
Anwar al-Awlaki Assassinated in Yemen
Radical Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, an American but considered an enemy of the United States, was assassinated early Friday morningÂ somewhere in Yemen, by missiles launched from an unmanned drone aircraft, under orders by President Obama. Born in New Mexico, al-Awlaki became an influential recruiter of English-speaking home-grown terrorists via the Internet and was considered a key figure in the radicalization of Major Nidal MalikÂ Hassan, the Ft. Hood Army psychiatristÂ who killed 12 people in 2009 and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “Underwear Bomber,” who attempted to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear while traveling on a Northwest plane, Christmas Day, 2009. This blog notes the sigh of relief that must be felt among U.S. government intelligence officers who have been tracking this bad guy for two consistent years.
The German Bundestag Votes to Support Euro Bailout
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor of Germany and all of Europe took a deep breath, when the Bundestag, the lower House, voted three days ago, overwhelmingly in support of a German government bailout plan of more than $598 billionÂ that will alsoÂ expand the authority of the European Financial Stability Facility, the main fund for bailing out indebted euro countries, including Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (known as the PIIGS). Europe continues to wrestle with reticent politicians across the continent, who have hesitated to cover the sovereign debt of the PIIGS countries, while more countries have been urged by the International Monetary Fund and Tim Geithner, the U.S. Treasury head, to contribute to the bailout fund. Â Additional parliamentary votes will take place over the next several weeks. America watches and waits for Europe to act.
OSCE Reviews Human Rights in Eastern Europe, Former USSR
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe began its annual “Human Dimension” meeting in Warsaw, on Sept. 26-Oct. 7, that includes a review of human rights record andÂ practices by 56 participating member states from Europe, Central Asia and North America. Ian Kelley, the U.S. Ambassador to theÂ OSCE, Â in his opening statement at the meeting, addressed the issue of violence against persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, calling it a “widespread problem.” Although LGBT rights are not on the formal meeting schedule, the informal side meetings are populated by organizations who work onÂ LGBT rights in the OSCE region. Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality traveled to Warsaw over the weekend to participate Â in the second week of the review. We will report Bromley’s observations to our readers next week.
Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate Dies at 71
The first African woman to win a Nobel Prize, Wangari Maathai, leader of the “green belt” environmental movement, died this week in Nairobi, Kenya, after sucumbing to ovarian cancer. The most highly regarded woman leader on the African continent, Maathai, a feminist, politician and “rabble-rouser” rose to international acclaim, working with women to plant trees throughout and in the process uplifted many women and their communities, while raising mass consciousness about the vital role of the environment in support of human life.
Log Cabin DADT Cases Declared Moot
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the Log Cabin Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell challenge this week, ruling that the repeal of the statute rendered the legal challenge “moot”. DADT repeal activists were crestfallen in the decision, having banked on a legal strategy that could have rendered reparations to the 14,000 service members who were discharged under the law. SOme called the decision “as bad as it could have been.” The repeal legislation disallowed that option.
Wall Street Protests Grow, Unions JoinÂ
As the “occupy Wall Street” protests progressed into their third week, labor unions joined the growing effort when the Transit Workers Union of New York City declared their active support and joined the burgeoning grass-roots activists who had a number of confrontations with local police,culminating in the arrests of 700 people on the Brooklyn BridgeÂ yesterday, while chanting “We got sold out, banks got bailed out!â€
A major national union, SEIU 32BJ New York City, announced they would hold a rally in the support of the protesters on Oct. 12th. Other actions erupted in Los Angeles and social media activists have launched a website OccupyÂ Together with a full complement of Facebook pages. Twitter handle @OccupyWallStNYC hasÂ become a new phrase in American social media vernacular that is migrating into everyday conversations. Is this the beginning of a new political movement in America? Stay tuned.
Nyad: Â Marathon Swimmer Withdraws in Third Attempt in Swim to Miami from Havana
Diana Nyad, the 61-year-old ultra-endurance athlete and lesbian heart-throb, reluctantly ended her third-time marathon swim quest from Cuba to Florida last Sunday,after sustaining life threatening stings by man-of-war jelly fish while attempting to swim the 103 miles to Miami’s South Beach. Â Nyad’s efforts were closely reported by the New York Times, Associated Press and USA Today, among others. Bye, bye Diana! We lesbians especially will miss you!
Obama Takes a Congratulatory Bow at HRC Dinner
President Barack Obama took a victory lap by appearing at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner last night Â just 12 days following the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But to no activist’s surprise, Obama did not make news by announcing his full-throated support for marriage equality, or that he would sign an executive order to extend non-discrimination job protections to federal workers based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. It appears that those two perks, can wait, for now.
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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‘Wannabe Dictator’: Milley Appears to Slam Trump After Ex-President Suggested He Should Be Executed
General Mark Milley, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military advisor to the President, during his retirement speech Friday appeared to deliver strong criticism of former President Donald Trump, who appointed him to that post but since has waged war against him.
“Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous, not just because it is the exact sort that incites violence against public officials,” professor of global politics and political scientist Brian Klass wrote at The Atlantic after Trump’s most recent attack on the Chairman, “but also because it shows just how numb the country has grown toward threats more typical of broken, authoritarian regimes.”
Trump had written, “if the Fake News reporting is correct,” General Milley “was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States. This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act.”
Milley was acting within his duties in a White House approved conversation, according to Klass.
On Friday, Milley appeared to blast Trump.
“We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen, or a tyrant, or dictator. We don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator,” Milley declared. “We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution, and we take an oath to the idea that is America, and we’re willing to die to protect it.”
“Every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Guardian and Coast Guardsmen, each of us, emits our very life to protect and defend that document, regardless of personal price to a country.”
Vanity Fair on Thursday reported General Milley “said he has taken security precautions to protect himself and his family after Donald Trump all but called for his execution last week.”
Watch Milley’s remarks below or at this link.
🚨🚨🚨Wow, outgoing CJS Chair Milley hits Trump at retirement ceremony: “We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen, or a tyrant or a dictator. And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator …we take an oath to the Constitution … and we’re willing to die to protect it”. pic.twitter.com/AH2eQObge4
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) September 29, 2023
Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?
The passing of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who served the people of California since 1970 in numerous roles, first at the local level, then as a Senator and Chair of powerful Committees, raises many questions about the future, including: What will Republicans, and especially Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, do? Will Democrats be able to replace her on the Senate’s powerful Judiciary Committee and Rules Committee?
Senator Feinstein’s role on the Judiciary Committee for much of this year has been in the news, largely due to her ill health. Some have said the narrow Democratic majority in the Senate and on the Judiciary Committee prevented her from resigning.
There are more Republicans in the Senate (49) than Democrats (48, until Feinstein’s passing), but the three independents who generally vote with Democrats gave them a 51 vote “majority,” with the Senate President, Vice President Kamala Harris, casting the tie-breaking vote 31 times, as of July. Her 31st tie-breaking vote is matched only by one other Vice President, who also cast a total of 31 tie-breaking votes.
What happens now?
Does President Biden’s historic pace of appointing judges – more than the last three presidents at this point in their tenure, end, at least until 2025? As of July, President Biden has nominated and had confirmed more Black women judges (13) than all other U.S. President combined, and placed on the federal bench 44 Black judges in total. Does than also grind to a halt? He has placed on the federal bench at least 27 Hispanic judges. Earlier this year President Biden nominated two more Hispanic women judges. UC Santa Barbara’s The American Presidency Project noted, “if both are confirmed, President Biden will have confirmed more Latina circuit judges than any President in history.” It also noted, Biden “has nominated 27 AA and NHPI individuals to federal judgeships and 20 have been confirmed. This includes six AA and NHPI circuit court judges.”
And what happens if a U.S. Supreme Court Justice dies or retires?
In April, PBS NewsHour reported, “Republicans blocked a Democratic request to temporarily replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, leaving Democrats with few options for moving some of President Joe Biden’s stalled judicial nominees.”
“South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, objected to a resolution offered by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have allowed another senator to take Feinstein’s place on the panel while the Democrat recuperates from a case of shingles. Republicans have argued that Democrats only want a stand-in to push through the most partisan judges, noting that many of Biden’s nominees have bipartisan support and can move to the Senate floor for a vote.”
Minority Leader McConnell also made clear his objections at the time.
“’Let’s be clear,’ said McConnell in remarks on the Senate floor. ‘Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporarily absent colleague off a committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees.'”
Given McConnell’s history, including refusing to even allow then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court to get a confirmation hearing, much less an up-or-down vote, it might seem unlikely he will allow Senator Feinstein to be replaced on any Committee.
But, NewsHour’s April reporting may now give Democrats some hope.
“If Feinstein were to resign immediately, the process would be much easier for Democrats, since California Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint a replacement. The Senate regularly approves committee assignments for new senators after their predecessors have resigned or died. But a temporary replacement due to illness is a rare, if not unprecedented, request.”
Sen. Feinstein also served on several powerful Committees, including Intelligence, Appropriations, and especially the Rules Committee.
Will Republicans allow Senator Feinstein’s replacement to serve on Judiciary, and the other Committees as well?
California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom “must now appoint someone to the U.S. Senate ahead of next year’s election. He has long said he would appoint a Black woman if Feinstein did not finish her term, but he recently specified on ‘Meet the Press’ that he would do so as an ‘interim appointment,'” The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday. “Only one of the top three candidates to replace Feinstein, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, is a Black woman. Polls have shown Lee trailing two opponents, Reps. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, and Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.”
“Republicans have said they would block Democrats from replacing Feinstein on the committee, which must approve President Biden’s judicial nominees,” The Chronicle added. “Newsom has said that without her, Democrats — losing their committee majority — might not be able to get any more federal judges through Congress this term.”
“’I have to remind my friends and progressive colleagues,’ Newsom told reporters last month, ‘if she does resign and the governor, I guess me, appoints someone, we may not get another federal judge out of the Judiciary Committee.’”
Some experts disagree with “conventional wisdom.”
“The claim that Republicans can and will block DiFi’s [Senator Feinstein’s] replacement on the Senate Judiciary Committee was pulled out of thin air by Democrats seeking a pretext to defend her refusal to retire. It is almost certainly false, and it’s irresponsible to promote this claim as a certainty,” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who writes about the courts and the law, said Friday.
“Democrats confirmed nearly 100 Biden judges with an evenly divided SJC [Senate Judiciary Committee],” Stern adds. “It just takes somewhat longer.”
Politico on Friday reported, “Democrats will need 60 votes to appoint a senator to fill Feinstein’s role on the Judiciary panel, meaning at least 10 Republicans would need to vote in favor of filling Democrats’ majority on the panel, assuming they move to do so before someone is appointed to the California Senate seat.”
“Senators are typically assigned to committees by unanimous consent, but such orders are subject to debate and can be filibustered. Republican senators could slow, or stop, Democrats from filling the Judiciary roster,” Politico added. “The panel, under Democratic control, has been advancing scores of judicial nominations that Republicans object to. Leaving the panel short one Democratic vote would hamper the majority’s steady confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominees.”
Back in June, amid clamor from some progressives for Sen. Feinstein to step down, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) warned, “The fact is simple: if Senator Feinstein resigns, Mitch McConnell gets to decide whether Democrats have a Senate Judiciary majority.”
‘These Are Our National Secrets’: Democrat Slams GOP for Ignoring Trump Classified Documents Found ‘In the S——’
U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) blasted House Republicans for ignoring the hundreds of classified documents photographed on stage and “in the s——” at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and residence, while going after President Joe Biden who she said not one witness at Thursday’s impeachment “inquiry” had identified what crime he allegedly committed.
“As I prepared,” Rep. Crockett told members of the House Oversight Committee Thursday, “I said, ‘What is the crime?’ Because when you’re talking about impeachment, you’re talking about high crimes and misdemeanors, and I can’t seem to find the crime and honestly, no one has testified of what crime they believe the President of the United States has committed.”
“But when we started talking about things that look like evidence, they want to act like they blind, they don’t know what this is,” Crockett said, waving photographs of boxes allegedly containing classified and top secret documents on stage and in a restroom at Mar-a-Lago.
“These are our national secrets, looks like in the s—— to me,” she said, as NBC News described her remarks. “This looks like more evidence of our national secrets, say on the stage at Mar-a-Lago. When we’re talking about somebody that’s committed high crimes it’s at least indictments, let’s say 32 counts related to unauthorized retention of national security secrets, seven counts related to obstructing the investigation. Three false statements, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, falsifying business records, conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts related to efforts to obstruct the vote certification proceedings, one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights, 23 counts related to forgery or false documents statements, eight counts related to soliciting, and I could go on because he’s got 91 counts pending right now.”
“But I will tell you what the President [Biden] has been guilty of. He has unfortunately been guilty of loving his child unconditionally, and that is the only evidence that they have brought forward and honestly, I hope and pray that my parents love me half as much as he loves his child. Until they find some evidence we need to get back to the people’s work, which means keeping this government open so that people don’t go hungry in the streets of the United States, and I will yield.”
Congresswoman Crockett’s remarks quickly went viral, with just this video getting 4.6 million views in just four hours.
Watch below or at this link.
Omg wow this pic.twitter.com/fnYcAXzcNf
— Acyn (@Acyn) September 28, 2023
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