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Week In Review: Transgender Day of Remembrance, Crackdown on Occupy Movement, Clinton to Visit Burma



Yesterday and this week, we honor our transgender sisters and brothers, recognize the power of the Occupy Movement as mayors and police organize against fellow citizens and  rely on journalists to keep us informed on the deeply troubling news emitting from Penn State University’s child abuse scandal.


13th Transgender Day of Remembrance

 Sunday marked the 13th International Transgender Day of Remembrance. As we take a moment to commemorate transgender persons’ efforts to achieve justice for the living and pay tribute to those from our community who have been so cruelly murdered because of their gender identity. The New Civil Rights Movement stands with trans people in America and across the world in their efforts to achieve justice and equality and call on all LGBTQ groups to redouble their efforts to advance trans rights–in jobs, housing, medical and identity documentation, to name just a few. We have all witnessed the unprecedented mass media cultural breakthrough by Chaz Bono since his sexual transition from woman to man. We believe that these media outreach efforts, if done properly can advance the public’s awareness about the lives and needs of trans people and provide a window into the challenges of leading a transgender life. Check this calendar for commemorative events.

Clinton to Visit Burma–First in 50 Years

During President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia last week he announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would travel to Burma (also known as “Myanmar,” the previous military regime’s given name) next month to meet with a new civilian government formed earlier this year, that has signaled openness to the West in word and deed.  Its release of home detained Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Sung Suu Kyi, the enduring leader of the democratic opposition in Burma and her positive conversations with President Obama and Secretary Clinton gave the green light for the visit, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State in 50 years.  A photograph of Clinton side-by-side with Suu Kyi will be an historic one,  worth more than a thousand words. Clinton laid out the policy foundation for the Obama Asia trip early in November by delivering a speech titled “America’s Pacific Century.”

Syrian Regime Escalates Violence, Egypt Protesters Challenge Military

Sectarian violence continues to plague Syria, where the city of Homs is ground zero for government orchestrated killings estimated at several hundred casualties a day now, that has been weeks in duration since Arab Spring hit Syria in February. President Bashar al-Assad’s actions, in wake of the Arab League’s suspension, indicates he has no intention of seeking a brokered mediation to end hostilities between the government and Syria’s opposition. Egypt on the other hand, whose opposition succeeded in removing dictator Hosni Mubarak earlier in 2011, has returned to Cairo’s streets in opposition the the military rulers who have slowed a turnover to elected civilian leadership. Demonstrators were violently removed from Tahrir Square in clashes on Friday when the military and police used tear gas on the opposition, that was estimated more than 1,000 persons were injured and 10 persons were killed. Demonstrators are demanding elections and a quick transition to civilian rule.


U.S. Mayors Coordinate Arrests of Occupy Activists, Capitol Hill Weighs In, UC-Davis Cops Overreact

From Oakland to New York City during the past week, the nation’s mayors and police forces engaged in an apparent coordinated effort to drive the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators out of park encampments coast-to-coast, resulting in arrests, violence and outrage by demonstrators, who vowed to continue the anti-Wall Street movement, who seem only limited by their imaginations and ability to adapt to harsh conditions.

The police effort in New York City began early Tuesday morning after an order by Mayor Michael Bloomberg who directed the police action that began at 1:00 a.m. when NYPD raided Zucotti Park in full anti-riot gear, accompanied by the New York City Department of Sanitation and the FDNY, who assisted in throwing away all personal items, including bedding, clothing, books and food.

Not only were demonstrators arrested, but so were journalists, even if they were clearly identified as media. The raid’s obvious timing was directed to avoid and severely limit media coverage, given the action took place during the early hours of the morning. David Badash, the New Civil Rights Movement publisher and editor in chief reported NYPD’s actions, posting blogs at 2:10 a.m. and 4:13 a.m., that were followed up throughout the week, including court judgements evicting movement participants from Zucotti Park and directing that no demonstrators could return to the park with tents or stay overnight.

Meanwhile, a news story reported by the San Francisco Bay Guardian on Friday said that The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization was intimately involved in facilitating a national coordinated effort to roll-up the Occupy Movement at the request of 40-city governments from Oakland to New York City. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan tipped off media that a coordinated effort had been underway during an interview reported by MSNBC on Tuesday. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! confirmed the media reports on Thursday when she interviewed Chuck Wexler, director of the Police Executive Research Forum. Goodman, describing the interview, writes on her blog:

We host a discussion on policing and the Occupy Wall Street movement with Chuck Wexler, director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which helped organize calls among police chiefs on how to respond to the Occupy protests, and with Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle, who recently wrote an article for The Nation magazine titled “Paramilitary Policing from Seattle to Occupy Wall Street.” “Trust me, the police do not want to be put in this position. And cities really need to ask themselves, is there another way to handle this kind of conflict?” Wexler says. Stamper notes, “There are many compassionate, decent, competent police officers who do a terrific job day in and day out. There are others who are, quote, ‘bad apples.’ What both of them have in common is that they ‘occupy,’ as it were, a system, a structure that itself is rotten. And I am talking about the paramilitary bureaucracy.”

By Saturday morning the Occupy Movement story moved from city parks to Capitol Hill when MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes reported he had obtained a copy of a memorandum prepared by the D.C. lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranfor, which reportedly has close ties with Speaker John Boehner, who wrote a memorandum to the American Bankers Association proposing an $850,000 strategy that would include monitoring and efforts to undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement in support of politicians who are opposed to the grassroots movement.

But the denouement of the week was video and photographs of the University of California-Davis police pepper spraying protesting students who were sitting on the ground, engaged in non-violent constitutional civil disobedience. This video and photographs give new meaning to the adage that “a photograph is worth a thousand words.” The two officers involved in the pepper spray incident are under investigation by a University task force and are currently on paid administrative leave. Faculty and students are calling for Chancellor Linda Katehi to step down. Katehi has dismissed such calls for the time being.

Failure Likely as Deadline Looms for Super Committee on Deficit Reduction

The Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that calls for $1.2 trillion in the government debt over the next 10 years, says that a compromise with Republicans  is not likely who face a looming deadline tomorrow and a Wednesday vote by committee members on negotiated cuts and revenues. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said Sunday during a CNN television interview that “no-compromise with the Republican members of the committee is in sight” and that the main sticking point was concerning “shared sacrifice” by all Americans, a euphemism for raising taxes on those who earn more than $1 million a year, a Democratic policy that the Republicans have refused to agree to during the past 10 weeks of debate and negotiation.

If the Super Committee fails to reach a compromise on the cuts, a process known as “sequestration” will kick-in automatically cutting substantially large sums of money across the U.S. government budget. Both Democrats and Republicans admitted  today that sequestration is probably the only way out of the shameful morass.

Prop 8 Ruling Allows Anti-Gay Marriage Proponents Standing

The California State Supreme Court issued an advisory ruling on Thursday that gives standing to Proposition 8 proponents to challenge the Court’s  constitutional ruling on December 8.  The full transcript of the Court’s decision is here.  The American Foundation for Equal Rights seems unperturbed by the ruling and fully expects the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the District Court constitutional ruling on behalf of marriage equality.

Penn State:  Sandusky Claims Innocence, NCAA Opens Investigation of Penn State’s Athletics, Paterno Diagnosed with “Recoverable” Lung Cancer

The second week of the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal seems to only get worse, as more new stories emerged, including a Saturday announcement that former coach Joe Paterno has been diagnosed with “recoverable” lung cancer. Paterno is 84-years old. The painful reality that there are more terrible facts to emerge is something truly hard to fathom, with the media taking command in reporting each new fact that emerges to a stunned and captivated story that is simultaneously repulsive and deeply offensive.

Stunningly, Jerry Sandusky, former defense coordinator coach for the football team, who has been charged with 40 counts of sex abuse of children, gave a telephone interview to Bob Costas, the highly regarded NBC sports journalist, that was initially broadcast on MSNBC’s Hard Ball with Chris Matthews and later on NBC’s Hard Rock with Brian Williams on Monday evening that revealed a halting Sandusky, who delayed his denial that he was sexually aroused by young boys, in a direct question posed by Costas, but admitted that he “should not have showered with those kids.”

More investigations have ensued, including the NCAA who communicated by letter to Penn State on Thursday which informed the university, in a blow that it would not be limiting its investigation to the football program, but would include all athletics at Penn State University. Other agencies investigating the beleaguered university include the Attorney General of Pennsylvania State, the Board of Trustees of  Penn State University, The Second Mile, the organization that Sandusky founded for at risk children, the U.S. Department of Education and potentially the FBI, who could be looking into Sandusky’s travel to out-of-state sporting events, which he took children with him who he allegedly sexually assaulted and raped during these trips.

Media reports indicate that The Second Mile is in the process of spinning off its programs to other agencies and may close its doors, due to the child sex abuse scandal.

Penn State University is required by the Jeanne Clery Act, a federal statute, to annually report all campus crimes to the Department of Education.  Failure to report crimes, can result in a $27,500 penalty for each infraction and can expose the University to violations of Title X education requirements.

Given the magnitude of the Penn State scandal, the media has taken command of this story with Sports Illustrated magazine publishing a “special edition” cover story this week titled “Special Report:  Scandal. Shame. A search for answers at Penn State.”

While the New York Times got credit for breaking this story, the reporter who initially reported that Sandusky had been summoned to a grand jury was scooped by Sara Ganim, a 24 year-old crime reporter at the Harrisburg Patriot-News on March 31st, who graduated from Penn State in 2008. Ganim has garnered national attention for her intrepid reporting, most recently for her published interviews on Nov. 7 of two mothers of children who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Sandusky. The Patriot-News published a story to readers by writing they broke the story when they had the facts.

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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Dominion Wins ‘Blockbuster Victories’ Against Fox News – Last Legal Issue Will Be Decided by a Jury: Report



Dominion Voting Systems won what are being called “blockbuster victories” Friday afternoon when a judge ruled the company suing Fox News for $1.6 billion in a major defamation lawsuit had met its burden of proof that Rupert Murdoch‘s far-right wing cable channel had repeatedly made false statements.

The final, and likely greatest legal issue Dominion will have to prove will be actual malice. That issue will be decided in a jury trial, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis ruled Friday, according to Law & Crime.

Unlike previous cases, Fox News will reportedly not be able to argue the on-air statements its personalities made were opinion.

CNN legal analyst and Brookings senior fellow Norm Eisen calls Friday’s decision a “huge win for Dominion on their summary judgment motion against Fox News.”

READ MORE: Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’

“Dominion won partial summary judgement that what Fox said about them was false! Now they just have to prove actual malice and damages,” Eisen says. “Meanwhile Fox’s motion was totally denied.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor adds: “Dominion’s evidence Fox made false statements with reckless disregard  is as strong as any I’ve seen.”

The judge was very clear in his ruling.

“While the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to Fox, the record does not show a genuine issue of material fact as to falsity,” Judge Davis wrote. “Through its extensive proof, Dominion has met its burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to falsity. Fox therefore had the burden to show an issue of material fact existed in turn. Fox failed to meet its burden.”

READ MORE: ‘Propaganda Network’: Media Reporter Says Dominion Filing Exposes Fox News as ‘Void of the Most Basic Journalistic Ethics’

Attorney and MSNBC host and legal analyst Katie Phang points to this key passage in Judge Davis’ ruling.

Court watchers and news junkies are familiar at this point with the massive legal filings Dominion has made in which it exposed how Fox News knowingly made false statements regarding the 2020 presidential election. Those filings, each hundreds of pages, also detail internal Fox News communications and bombshell conversations between the company’s top personalities, executives, and even Chairman Rupert Murdoch.


Image of Rupert Murdoch via Shutterstock

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Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’



The U.S. Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms on Friday jointly issued a statement warning they “anticipate” Trump protests across the country. The statement is not time-specific, and it states it has no information on “credible threats,” but some Democratic offices are allowing staffers to work from home Friday and Tuesday.

“The Sergeant at Arms and United States Capitol Police (USCP) anticipate demonstration activity across the country related to the indictment of former President Trump. While law enforcement is not tracking any specific, credible threats against the Capitol or state offices, there is potential for demonstration activity. USCP is working with law enforcement partners, so you may observe a greater law enforcement presence on Capitol Hill,” the statement reads.

“The SAA and USCP are monitoring the potential nationwide impacts to Senate state offices,” it adds.

The House Sergeant at Arms was conspicuously absent from the statement. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has control over that office.

READ MORE: Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor

Additionally, Axios is reporting, “several House Democrats are allowing staffers to work from home as a safety precaution,” noting that “the memory of Trump supporters ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 is still fresh on the mind.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is allowing staff to work from home for safety reasons. She told Axios, “I don’t ever want to see a Jan. 6 again.”

“I’ve been in the Trump hate tunnel, Donald Trump has gone after me, and quite frankly I don’t have security. I don’t have entourages.”

She’s not the only Democrat to raise concerns.

“Much of the language from the former President and his devotees is similar to what inspired Jan. 6th,” U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips said. “I’m concerned about safety for my colleagues and my staff.”

READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump

Meanwhile, House Republicans are issuing full-throated support for Trump and calling for protests.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was called out by name in a six-page letter Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent to Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan Friday morning, announced she will be in New York on Tuesday to support Trump when he is arraigned. She has posted several tweets since Trump was indicted.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Thursday seemingly designed to gin up rage and action in the MAGA base.

“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”


Image by Elvert Barnes via Flickr and a CC license

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Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor



Donald Trump, and all of America, could spend the next 18 months – or longer – engrossed in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s trial of the ex-president, and that could bring the trial close to Election Day.

That’s according to a former prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Charles Coleman, who is now a civil rights attorney and MSNBC legal analyst.

Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, “How long typically might a case like this take?” Coleman offered a two-tiered answer.

“A case like this is usually going to take a year or a year and a half,” Coleman said.

That could be through September of 2024.

READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump

“Wow,” a surprised Jansing replied. “So it’s going right up into the campaign.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Coleman. “But it’s important to understand I said a case ‘like this.’ This particular case, I expect may take longer because I am anticipating a number of different legal maneuvers by Donald Trump’s defense team.”

That theoretically means into October of 2024, or longer.

“I do see motions to dismiss at a number of different terms, more likely than not to the point that the judge probably will ultimately end up admonishing them and telling them stop filing motions to dismiss. I think that that’s going to happen,” Coleman explained.

“I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, I do believe that we are going to see an attempt to try to change the venue, in this case outside of somewhere in the five boroughs. All of that is going to extend the time deeper and deeper into election season.”

READ MORE: Manhattan DA Unleashes on Jim Jordan With Stern Warning: You May Not ‘Interfere’ With Trump Prosecution

Reuters agrees, reporting Friday morning, “any potential trial is still at minimum more than a year away, legal experts said, raising the possibility that the former U.S. president could face a jury in a Manhattan courtroom during or even after the 2024 presidential campaign, as he seeks a return to the White House.”

And because “Trump’s case is far from typical,” Reuters notes, his trial could extend “past Election Day in November 2024.”





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