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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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‘Train Wreck’: Herschel Walker Criticized for New Ad Claiming God Helped Him ‘Overcome’ His Mental Illness

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After a damning article claiming he paid for one of his girlfriend’s abortions, Republican U.S. Senate nominee for Georgia, Herschel Walker, is out with a new ad that claims he has “overcome” his mental illness thanks to God, while he attacks his incumbent opponent, Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, who he baselessly says “doesn’t even believe in redemption.”

Walker’s own campaign compared the Daily Beast’s report – that says Walker even signed a card mentioning the abortion he reportedly paid for – to Donald Trump’s 2016 “Access Hollywood” video, which almost cost him the election.

Back then, Republicans denounced Trump for a few days before immediately coming back to support him. The Walker revelations are arguably worse, given the GOP’s attempts to ban all abortion, calling fetuses “unborn babies” that deserve all legal protections of born human beings, while declaring abortion murder.

READ MORE: Watch: Herschel Walker Says if Georgia Voters Don’t Elect Him They Won’t Even ‘Have a Chance to Be Redeemed’

And yet, not one Republican has denounced Walker. Donald Trump even rushed out a statement supporting him.

“Reverend Warnock’s running a nasty, dishonest campaign,” Walker says in his new ad, not mentioning – not even denying – that he paid for his girlfriend to have an abortion.

“The Reverend doesn’t even tell my full story,” Walker cries, as if that’s his political opponent’s job.

“As everyone knows, I had a real battle with mental health. Even wrote a book about it. And by the grace of God, I’ve overcome it,” he claims.

READ MORE: ‘Everything Has Been a Lie’: Christian Walker Drops Damning New Video Blasting His Father’s ‘Lies’ Over Abortion

“Warnock’s a preacher doesn’t tell the truth, he doesn’t even believe in redemption,” Walker says, a claim he has repeatedly made despite offering nothing to support the claim. Warnock has even written about redemption.

The ad was posted online by Walker’s deputy campaign manager.

It was immediately panned.

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, the head of its fact-checking unit, says the new ad, “presumably in response to [the] Daily Beast story, mentions his book ‘Breaking Free’ being about [a] redemption story — it is worth noting the alleged abortion took place a year after the book was released.”

Speaking of redemption, Walker’s repeated attack that Warnock does not believe in redemption appears wholly false.

Warnock, who is also the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church until his assassination, criticized then-President Donald Trump in 2018 after the president called certain African nations “shithole countries.”

Trump signed a proclamation honoring Dr. King, in hopes of not losing more support.

“To sign a proclamation honoring Dr. King hours after this kind of hate-filled speech makes a mockery of Dr. King,” Rev. Warnock said on CNN. “I would argue that a proclamation without an apology is hypocrisy.”

“There is no redemption without repentance and the president of the United States needs to repent,” Warnock said, belying Walker’s recent claims.

Attorney Luppe B. Luppen expands on Kaczynski’s reporting.

“Walker published his book “Breaking Free” on April 1, 2008, approximately a year and a half before he reportedly wrote a check to reimburse a woman he had been dating for an abortion on September 17, 2009.”

Walker has stated he was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, which was once known as “multiple personality disorder” or “split personality disorder.”

Political consultant and former Republican, Tim Miller, now an independent and a well-known guest on cable news shows, panned Walker’s ad.

“The end of this ad is absolutely sick,” he observed.

Talking Points Memo founder and publisher Josh Marshall summarizes Walker’s ad:

“So the ad actually says warnocks a liar and then references mental health battle to I guess imply some or all of the stuff is true. Still I used to be violent and crazy but I’m totally better now is a tough closing message.”

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, referring to the infamous “I am not a witch,” campaign ads, tweeted, “Did Christine O’Donnell direct this?”

University of Florida professor Michael McDonald took that one step further, commenting, “I am not a witch.”

Baptist minister Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor & President and author of four books on religion and politics blasts Walker.

“Ad is theological & political train wreck. He claims without evidence Warnock (Baptist pastor) doesn’t believe in redemption. And why is he asking voters to decide state of his soul. ‘Saved by Grace’ as political slogan? He’s acting like there should be religious test for office.”

Watch Walker’s new ad above or at this link.

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'HORRIBLE THINGS'

‘What I Saw Was Abuse’: Allegations of Dr. Oz’s Experiments Killing Hundreds of Animals Fact-Checked by Whistleblower

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Over the course of two decades Mehmet Oz, the “celebrity doctor” known as “Dr. Oz,” now the Republican Party of Pennsylvania’s nominee for a U.S. Senate seat, was the “principle investigator” at a Columbia University research laboratory with “full scientific, administrative, and fiscal responsibility for the conduct” of his studies.

According to the website Jezebel, “a review of 75 studies published by Mehmet Oz between 1989 and 2010 reveals the Republican Senate candidate’s research killed over 300 dogs and inflicted significant suffering on them and the other animals used in experiments.”

It was far more than 300 dogs, too, according to Jezebel.

“Over the course of 75 studies published in academic journals reviewed by Jezebel, Oz’s team conducted experiments on at least 1,027 live animal subjects that included dogs, pigs, calves, rabbits, and small rodents. Thirty-four of these experiments resulted in the deaths of at least 329 dogs, while two of his experiments killed 31 pigs, and 38 experiments killed 661 rabbits and rodents,” Jezebel reported.

READ MORE: Dr. Oz Trounced in Newsmax Interview as Host Demands Explanation for ‘Wegner’s’ and ‘Crudité’ Ad

A whistleblower, veterinarian Catherine Dell’Orto provided testimony “about Oz’s research” and “detailed extensive suffering inflicted on his team’s canine test subjects, including multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which sets minimum standards of care for dogs, cats, primates, rabbits, and other animals in the possession of animal dealers and laboratories. The law specifically requires researchers and breeders to use pain-relieving drugs or euthanasia on the animals, and not use paralytics without anesthesia, or experiment multiple times on the same animal.”

Jezebel also reports “Dell’Orto testified that a dog experimented on by Oz’s team experienced lethargy, vomiting, paralysis, and kidney failure, but wasn’t euthanized for a full two days.”

“She alleged other truly horrifying examples of gratuitously cruel treatment of dogs, including at least one dog who was kept alive for a month for continued experimentation despite her unstable, painful condition, despite how data from her continued experimentation was deemed unusable. According to Dell’Orto, one Oz-led study resulted in a litter of puppies being killed by intracardiac injection with syringes of expired drugs inserted in their hearts without any sedation. Upon being killed, the puppies were allegedly left in a garbage bag with living puppies who were their littermates.”

READ MORE: Watch: Herschel Walker Says if Georgia Voters Don’t Elect Him They Won’t Even ‘Have a Chance to Be Redeemed’

That particular detail was so shocking U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), commented, “WTF.”

“Dell’Orto also noted that while Oz wasn’t the one who euthanized the dogs and puppies himself, ‘When your name is on the experiment, and the way the experiment is designed inflicts such cruelty to these animals, by design, there’s a problem.'”

Oz’s Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman summed up the allegations, tweeting, “Dr. Oz is a puppy killer.”

PEOPLE magazine followed up with Dell’Orto to fact check the Jezebel report.

It did not get any better for Dr. Oz.

“Dell’Orto tells PEOPLE she witnessed the inhumane treatment of dogs in lab experiments investigating aspects of heart function over which Oz served in the role of ‘principal investigator’ — including leaving dogs in pain and paralyzed for weeks, with no discernible research benefit, before they were euthanized or died,” People reports.

While others in the same role as Oz involved themselves personally in experiments to “ensure minimal suffering,” People reports, Dell’Orto says with Dr. Oz, “What I saw was abuse.”

“‘The puppies killed in the bag were killed by a vet tech,’ not by Oz, Dell’Orto tells PEOPLE.”

In another experiment one dog “was kept alive for 29 days post-operatively despite being paralyzed and with no clear research benefit, says Dell’Orto.”

“Horrible things that went on,” Dell’Orto said.

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Kellyanne Conway Is Now a Religious Right Crusader Using Christianity to Attack Democrats as a Paid Fox News Contributor

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Former Trump 2016 campaign manager and Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway has remade herself multiple times. A pollster who once had as a client Todd Akin – the GOP lawmaker who made the phrase, “if it’s a legitimate rape” infamous – Conway also did polling for Donald Trump when he was considering a run for New York governor.

Once inside the White House Conway was one of the newsiest officials, often appearing before the Fox News cameras almost daily.

Fox News viewers will once again get to see the former top Trump aide almost daily – this time as a paid Fox News contributor who is using her Christian faith as a sword to attack Democrats.

Conway is the latest Trump White House official to be hired by Fox News, and while she’s not Trump’s spokesperson any longer, she may wrangle the gig into getting her old one back. Puck reports she is being considered to helm Trump’s expected 2024 presidential run.

READ MORE: Watch: Herschel Walker Says if Georgia Voters Don’t Elect Him They Won’t Even ‘Have a Chance to Be Redeemed’

In fact, the two have something in common.

“I will tell you why he wants to run for president,” Conways told CBS News on Friday. “Donald Trump wants his old job back.”

Conway joins a long list of her former colleagues at what has become a far right wing media outlet catering to promoting anything Trump, while downplaying any negative news about the former president who is currently being investigated by prosecutors in Georgia and the U.S. Dept. of Justice for an array of possible felonies, reportedly including ones under the Espionage Act.

Conway will be right at home working alongside Kayleigh McEnany, Mike Pompeo, Larry Kudlow, and Trump’s daughter-in-law and former Trump campaign official Lara Trump.

READ MORE: ‘Everything Has Been a Lie’: Christian Walker Drops Damning New Video Blasting His Father’s ‘Lies’ Over Abortion

In April Vox reported that “while he hasn’t been hired by Fox, former Trump adviser Stephen Miller — known for helping to develop Trump’s nativist immigration policy — has become a fixture as a guest on Sean Hannity’s and Laura Ingraham’s shows.”

“Since the start of President Joe Biden’s term,” Media Matters reported in February, “Fox News has hired at least nine editors who previously worked for former President Donald Trump’s administration, Republican campaign offices, or Republican politicians. Many of those editors now cover politics for FoxNews.com.”

On Tuesday Conway appeared on Fox News and attacked Democrats, saying Hispanic voters “see a Democratic Party that’s openly hostile to religion. They can’t even give their thoughts and prayers when there’s a tragedy. It’s only thoughts now.”

The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump calls Conway’s analysis “overly simple and, in part, … explicitly dishonest.”

“Kellyanne Conway claimed that Democrats are hostile religion, something that will surprise the vast majority of Democrats, who are religious,” he adds on Twitter. “There’s a reason that ‘religious’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘Republican.'”

One day earlier, in a segment with a chyron that reads, “The Importance of Religion,” Conway told her former and now current colleague, Larry Kudlow on Fox Business, “People are afraid to make the sign of a cross before a meal in public, they’re afraid to express their — they actually think their religion could get them canceled now, not just their politics, and think about that.”

Conway, perhaps best known for her “alternative facts” flub, offered no proof of her claim.

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