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Week in Review: Three Convicted of Anti-Gay Hate Crimes, Croatia Joins EU, 101 US Mayors Affirm Support for Marriage Equality

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International 

Three UK Muslim Men Found Guilty of Distributing Hate Leaflets and Threatening Gays


Considered a landmark decision in the United Kingdom, Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed  were convicted of distributing hate literature against gays, via a pamphlet called “The Death Penalty?,” which included an image of a mannequin hanging from a noose and quoted Islamic texts that said capital punishment was the only way to rid society of homosexuality. The conviction included a second charge of “intending to stir up hatred” on the grounds of sexual orientation. It was the first conviction under the law that went into force in March 2010. Two other men, also charged, Mehboob Hussain and Umar Javed, were found not guilty by the jury. The leaflets were distributed outside a mosque and mailed in the Normanton area of Derby.

According to a report by The Guardian, a UK newspaper, Sue Hemming, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s special crime and counter-terrorism division, said after the verdict was issued: “Everyone has a right to be protected by the law and we regard homophobic crimes, along with all hate crimes, as particularly serious because they undermine people’s right to feel safe.  This case was not about curtailing people’s religious views or preventing them from educating others about those views – it was that any such views should be expressed in a lawful manner and not incite others to hatred.”

Croatia Votes Overwhelmingly to Join EU

Croatian voters went to the polls today and voted overwhelmingly in support to join the European Union, by 66 percent to 33 percent, according to the Croatian Election Commission. The majority supporting vote, comes just six weeks after it was green lighted to hold its referendum.

Despite protests by right-wing nationalists, Croatia, a party of the Dayton Peace Accords, signed in 1995 along with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, that ended two of the most violent wars in Europe since the conclusion of World War II, is one step closer to becoming an a member of the EU club, which is struggling to remain fiscally solvent.

Bosnia, mired in inter-ethnic political conflict, has miles to go before it would be considered a serious candidate for EU membership. Serbia remains calcitrant in its refusal to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, adding an impediment to EU accession.  All three states have had violent demonstrations against gay pride events in recent years, although Zagreb, Croatia hosted a peaceful pride celebration in June 2011 and strongly condemned the attacks on marchers in a pride celebration in Split.

Yemeni President Granted Amnesty, Exits for Treatment in NYC

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the embattled Yemeni President of 33 years, who was recently granted amnesty from prosecution by the Yemen parliament for unspecified crimes potentially committed during the past year of the Arab uprising, will seek medical treatment in New York City, for an undisclosed illness.  He is expected to arrive to the United States on Wednesday, having been given permission for humanitarian reasons by the Obama Administration during the summer.

However, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, before the parliament adopted the law, said international law does not permit amnesty for those who may be responsible for possible war crimes or genocide. She said her office had information to suggest some leaders in Yemen may have committed serious crimes against the people during demonstrations.

“Every individual who commits a crime is accountable and should not be allowed to escape justice,” she said in a statement.

Yemen, who has been a close ally in the U.S. war against Al Qaeda, was surprisingly confronted by the Arab uprising during most of 2011.  Saleh, who spent most of the summer in a Saudi Arabian hospital after surviving an assassination attempt on his life, was pressured into turning over power to his vice-president before stepping down.

National

Gabrielle Giffords Steps Down 

Gabby Giffords, the U.S. Congressional Representative for Tucson, Arizona, just two weeks following the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting that dramatically changed her life, announced today that she is resigning from Congress to focus on her continued recovery from a bullet that entered the left side of her brain.

“Arizona is my home, always will be,” Giffords states. “A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together.”

This video of Gabby saying goodbye, is a tear jerker.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=FaSjIiaI5s0%3Fversion%3D3%26hl%3Den_US%26rel%3D0

101 Mayors for Freedom to Marry 

The Freedom to Marry campaign announced this week, a bi-partisan Mayors for Marriage Equality initiative that includes 101 mayors from across America. The original count at the beginning of the campaign was 70, but mayors have been joining at a rapid rate. The mayors of Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Diego who will co-chair the group under the auspices of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors had its annual meeting in D.C. this past week. For a complete list of mayors who are supporting see this link.

Obama Administration Extends Contraception Coverage Deadline

The Obama Administration extended the deadline for all employers to Aug. 12, 2012, to comply with its interim rule that calls for insurance coverage of preventive services for women, including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement on Jan. 20, reaffirming the Obama Administration’s policy that “women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services. This rule is consistent with the laws in a majority of states which already require contraception coverage in health plans, and includes the exemption in the interim final rule allowing certain religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage. Beginning August 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover these services without cost sharing for women across the country.”

Of course, this HHS announcement set off a round of recriminations by representatives of the  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals, who had lobbied hard for a broad exemption for employers that oppose birth control on religious grounds.

 

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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COMMENTARY

McCarthy Sat for an Interview With Trump Jr. – One Bragged About an ‘Illegal’ Act, One Wished His Dad Would ‘Show Some’ Love

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), sat down for a freewheeling hour-long interview with Donald Trump Jr., the son of the one-term twice-impeached ex-president currently under multiple criminal investigations including for absconding with hundreds of classified intelligence documents.

McCarthy, who had to battle his own Republican caucus 15 times before finally being granted the Speaker’s gavel, is now tied even more to Donald Trump. Trump reportedly was “working the phones,” making calls to House Republicans for days – and even hours before the final vote – strong-arming them to support the weakened McCarthy.

In one segment of the interview, McCarthy tells Trump Jr., “you know what? I’ve been around you guys privately. It is a real family that has real love for one another. And really, it stems of what [Donald Trump] did as a father.”

READ MORE: Watch: Nancy Pelosi Says ‘I Have Absolutely No Intention of Seeing the Deadly Assault on My Husband’s Life’

Don Jr., a bit choked up, comes out and says point-blank he wishes his father would “show some of that” love.

“I appreciate that, ya know, I want him to show some of that.”

Just before those remarks, McCarthy, again praising Donald Trump, says he’s a great father and grandfather, claims none of the ex-president’s children are “into drugs,” “have problems,” or “laptops” – presumably a dig at Hunter Biden and his father, President Joe Biden.

“I’ve watched him too, the pride he has [in] his children – and this is what I’ll say to you: Look, raising a family is not easy. You know – you’re a great father. But they don’t see him as a grandfather – I see your kids walk up.”

READ MORE: ‘Deliberately Deceived the Nation’: Legal Experts Stunned by ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Report on How Barr and Durham Protected Trump

“But you know what? You think of your life, okay? He was successful,” McCarthy continued, praising the disgraced ex-president. “He comes from a successful life. I’ve watched all you kids, as brothers and sisters love one another. You’re not into drugs. You don’t have problems. You don’t have laptops. You don’t have these other things,” McCarthy claimed.

Trump Jr. interjected, saying, “According to the press I’m really into drugs.”

Also in that interview, McCarthy admitted to “flipping cars” (buying for one price, quickly selling at a higher price) when he was in college, only to say it was illegal.

“I didn’t have the athletics to get a scholarship. I went to junior college, which was a great school,” McCarthy says. “But while I’m going there, I meet this guy that owns a liquor store but has a car dealer license – I’ll let you figure out how I met him,”

“But one day I say, ‘I’ll give you 100 bucks if you take me to L.A.,’ because L.A. has these car auctions – you got to be a dealer to get in there.”

READ MORE: ‘X-Rated’: Christian Nationalist Mastriano Promises Bill to Ban Public Drag Shows After High School’s ‘Queer Prom’

“So I started going down there, I start flipping cars, to pay my way through college. I find out later it’s illegal but I don’t know why I do it, I’ve been an entrepreneur, right?”

Don Jr. again interjects, telling the camera, “By the way, just just so you understand. We may have to cut this. Nancy Pelosi is gonna try to figure out how to impeach you for doing something like that.”

Trump Jr. also criticized most members of Congress who he said don’t have the same “hustle” as he does. He claimed his father made him work minimum wage jobs and he worked “for tips,” which both agreed was important.

“Like, no one’s ever had to make payroll. No one’s gonna sign the front of a check as opposed to the back,” Trump Jr. complains.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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BREAKING NEWS

DOJ Signals It Is Conducting a Criminal Investigation of George Santos

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The U.S. Dept. of Justice Friday signaled it is conducting a criminal investigation of U.S. Rep. George Santos‘ campaign finances when it asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to pause its probe into the embattled New York freshman GOP lawmaker.

“The request is the clearest sign to date of an active criminal investigation examining the congressman’s campaign finances,” The Washington Post reports.

But NBC News goes one step further.

“Federal prosecutors in New York have opened an investigation into Rep.-elect George Santos, two law enforcement sources confirmed Thursday,” NBC states. “The probe by federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York is at least the second investigation into Santos.”

READ MORE: Another Santos Financial Concern: GOP Lawmaker Claims Campaign Paid WinRed Triple the Fees It Should Have

“The two sources confirmed that prosecutors are examining Santos’ finances, including potential irregularities involving financial disclosures and loans he made to his campaign as he was running for Congress,” NBC adds.

The Santos campaign this week, according to The Daily Beast, amended FEC filings that originally claimed about $625,000 in “personal” loans from the candidate’s personal funds were actually not from the candidates personal funds. Santos has since refused to state where the money came from.

DOJ also asked the FEC for any “relevant documents” for the Santos’ campaign, The Post noted.

READ MORE: Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

“Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday interviewed two people about Santos’s role in Harbor City Capital, an investment firm that was forced to shut down in 2021 after the SEC accused it of operating a ‘classic Ponzi scheme,'” according to The Post’s reporting.

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News

Watch: Nancy Pelosi Says ‘I Have Absolutely No Intention of Seeing the Deadly Assault on My Husband’s Life’

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U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the former Speaker of the House, told reporters she has no intention of watching just-released video of the almost fatal, brutal attack on her 82-year old husband, allegedly by a hammer-wielding, far-right conspiracy theory promoting extremist.

DePape had “posted antisemitic screeds and entries defending former President Donald Trump and Ye, the rapper formally known as Kayne West who recently made antisemitic comments,” CBS News reported one day after the attack.

Earlier Friday, before the video had been released by a judge’s order, Rep. Pelosi said did not know if she would watch the video.

Later, Friday afternoon, Pelosi said she would not.

READ MORE: Pelosi Attack Video Release Leads to Criticism of Musk, Right Wingers Who ‘Trafficked in Homophobic Conspiracy Nonsense’

“As you know, today there was a release of some information. I have not heard the 911 call. I have not heard the confession. I have not seen the break-in, and I have absolutely no intention of seeing the deadly assault on my husband’s life.”

Prosecutors have described the attack as “near-fatal.”

She also thanked “people for all of their prayers,” and for “asking about the progress my husband is making, and he is making progress, but it will take more time.”

Apparently choking up, she added that she would not be making any more statements about this case as it proceeds, except again to thank people and inform them of Paul’s progress.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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