The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women advocates ofÂ non-violent action; UK’s PrimeÂ MinisterÂ endorses gay marriage to party loyalists–Â Tories and religious leadersÂ protest strongly;Â the American”Occupy” movementÂ exponentially explodes. TheÂ New Civil Rights MovementÂ introduces “In Memoriam”.Â
Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Three Women for Non-Violent Activism
Ellen Johnson-Sireaf, president of LiberiaÂ and Leymah Gbowee,Â a Liberian peace activist and Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni media and human rights activist were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 7 “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for womenâ€™s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
President Obama praised the winners stating:Â Â â€œOn behalf of the American people, I congratulate the recipients of this yearâ€™s Nobel Peace Prize, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. Todayâ€™s award honors three extraordinary individuals, and sends a powerful message that the struggle for universal rights and human dignity can only be fulfilled with the full participation of women around the globe.”
European Banks Face New Stress Tests
The European Banking Authority, the top EuropeanÂ banking regulator, called for a second round of peripheral Eurozone bank stress tests this past week that could potentially identify capital shortfalls across the banking system that could totalÂ as muchÂ as $266 billion.Â Europe continues to struggle with an EurozoneÂ sovereign debt crisis, teetering on collapse whichÂ has beenÂ in crisisÂ for weeks and months.Â Principal countries of concern are Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (aka the “PIIGS”).
UK PM David Cameron Declares Support for Gay Marriage
David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, declared his support for legalized gay marriage at a Tory Party conference this past week to less than an enthusiastic audience that was markedÂ by protest,Â prompting someÂ party delegates walk out.Â The Conservative Party leader forcefully expressed his support for gay marriage:Â “Conserrvatives believe in ties that bindÂ us; that society is stronger when we make vows toÂ each other.Â So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative.Â I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative”. Cameron’s endorsementÂ was immediately repudiated by a spokesperson of theÂ Church of England,Â joined by various leaders of the British Roman Catholic Church.
U.S. Envoy hosts Eastern European LGBT Human Rights Defenders
Ambassador David Johnson, head of the U.S. delegation thatÂ attendedÂ the Organization for Security andÂ Co-operationÂ in Europe’s annualÂ ‘Human Dimension’Â Implementation meetingÂ in Warsaw this past week, hosted a reception for LGBT human rights defenders who continue to face fierce andÂ frequentÂ violent oppostion to gay pride events around Europe, most recently in BelgradeÂ on Oct. 2 whenÂ Serbian government officials cancelled a planned pride march due to ultra-nationalistic opposition that threatened violence.
Mark Bromley, chair of the CouncilÂ for Global Equality, who also attended the meeting, saidÂ in a statement toÂ the New Civil Rights MovementÂ that the U.S. government’s role has proven to be a constructive one, although the 56-member state organization has yet to formalize a systematicÂ review of LGBT human rights in the OSCE region:Â “The U.S. government is now working closely with many EU colleagues to raise LGBT concerns in the discussion, even if it is not formally on the agenda.Â Ambassador Johnson raised LGBT human rights issues several times during the meeting.”
Occupy Movement Explodes Across AmericaÂ
The “Occupy” social and politicalÂ movement in America continues to expand in the numbers of cities where actions are taking place, as activists increase, compelling organizers to create a second location in New York City at Washington SquareÂ ParkÂ and growing numbers of new cities join the disaffected ranks as the nacent movement enters its 4th week which beganÂ on Sept. 17Â with aÂ small group of demonstratorsÂ on Wall Street.Â Â Â Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist, among other luminaries made the trek to Wall Street toÂ meet and talk with demonstratorsÂ , givingÂ political heft to their disenchantment with American banks and investors,whoÂ were bailed out theÂ U.S. government in recent years.
While liberal blogs, like Fire Dog Lake and Wonkette have beenÂ regularly reporting and blogging on “OccupyÂ Wall Street” since its earliest beginnings–the movement appears to have gained legitimacy asÂ mainstream media, including all major television networks who are reporting from Wall Street nightly, as well as on the additional 85 cities, who apparently are alsoÂ “under occupation”.Â Â President Obama acknowledged the demonstrators’ anger during presidential press conference this past week.Â Criticism of the demonstrators has been forthcoming from Republican Party circles by presidential candidate Herman Cain who said on Wall Street Journal televison this past week:Â “I don’t have facts to back this up, but it appears that these are planned and orchestrated demonstrations” to deflect attention from failed Obama Adminstration policies.Â Congressional Majority Leader Eric Cantor has called the activists “mobs”.
Nation observes 10th anniversary of Afghanistan war–longest in U.S. history
Friday marked the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.Â DuringÂ the past decade, more than 2,500 international troops have been killed,Â including nearly 1,800Â American troops in the ongoingÂ military effort called “Operation Enduring Freedom.â€Â Additionally, more than 14,000 American soldiers have been injured, $450 billion has been spent in prosecuting the warÂ that accumulates at $2 billion weekly.Â Stanley McCrystal, the Army’s former commanding general in Afghanistan remarked on Friday before an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that the [U.S.] was only halfway through accomplishing its goals there because of “our understanding of Afghanistan isÂ frighteningly simplistic”.Â McCrystal also said that the biggest challenge for the U.S. remainsÂ toÂ assist AfghanisÂ in the Â establishment of Â “a stable, legitimate government that is an effective counterbalance to the Taliban”.
California Adopts Dream Act; Alabama’s Immigration LawÂ Creates Humanitarian Disaster
Governor Jerry Brown of California, put the most populated state into the pro-support columnÂ for undocumented immigrantÂ students, when he signed the California Dream Act yesterday,Â giving legal access toÂ theseÂ students for tuition assistanceÂ enabling them toÂ Â attend California state universities beginning in 2013.Â The Congress failed to adopt a federal version of similar benefits that was included in the theÂ United We Dream Act in 2010,Â despite a gallant effort.Â Supporters continue to pursue a federal remedy.
Meanwhile, the State of Alabama adopted a draconian anti-illegal immigrant law that has resulted in families leaving the state in droves.Â The law’s adoption resulted in an immediate shortage of farm workers, compelling farmers to appeal to the StateÂ to use prison gangs to bring in this year’s harvest.Â The Southern Poverty Law Center declared this week that the new Alabama law is creating a humanitarian crisis for immigrants, legal and undocumented. The SPLC has received more than a 1,000 callsÂ to their immigrationÂ telephone hotlineÂ since the law was passed.
Paula Ettelbrick, Gay Rights Pioneer, Dies at 56
Paula Ettelbrick, a lesbian feminist and heralded gay rights activist who had held a number of leadership positions with gay rights groups, sucumbed to an aggressive form ofÂ ovarian cancer Oct. 7. Ettelbrick was broadly recognized for her groundbreaking contributions and wasÂ honored byÂ aÂ New YorkÂ Times news obituary in her passing.
Steven Jobs, the “Thomas Edison” of the 21st Century, Dies at 56
Steven Jobs, a co-founder of Apple Computers and considered the Â Thomas Edison of the computer age, died on Oct. 6th after losing a battle to a rare form of pancreatic cancer.Â Jobs, who had been sick for several years, worked through the last weeks of his life.
Matthew Sheppard, Remembering his LifeÂ 13 Years Later
Matthew Sheppard was a 21-year-old college student, when he was lured outside a bar under a ruse, beaten senseless, pistol whipped and left for dead, strung up on an unforgiving Wyoming fence that eventually claimed his life.Â Eleven years later, Barack Obama would sign the Â Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.Â We remember Matthew, his sacrifice and the work continues.
Fred Shuttlesworth, Co-Founder of the SCLC and Civil Rights leader, Dies at 89
The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a major civil rights leader who battled Â racisim and the Jim Crow South, who was also a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, died this past week at the age of 89.Â He was a key decisionmaker in taking a principled stand againstÂ theÂ Jim Crow policies ofÂ Birmingham, Alabama–a city that witnessed the use of dogs turned on black children by then-Sheriff Bull Connors, which became a major turning point in turning back racism in Southern United States.
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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‘Hardball? You Bet’: Dems ‘Need to Be Prepared’ After McCarthy Exit Urges Top Political Scholar
The American voters sent 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats to the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections, the exact same margin, but flipped, as the 2020 election. But today, with the announcement that ousted, former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is not only not running for re-election but is quitting Congress at the end off the year, Republicans have a big majority crisis — because of their now tiny majority.
It’s no longer 222 to 213.
After McCarthy’s exit, and with the recent expulsion of now-former Congressman George Santos (R-NY) Republican Speaker Mike Johnson will have a very slim majority.
“The party’s margin in the House fell to three seats from four with the expulsion of Representative George Santos of New York last week,” The New York Times explains. “That leaves almost no wiggle room for Mr. Johnson, who is already dealing with a revolt from the far right for working with Democrats to keep the government funded and faces another pair of shutdown deadlines in mid-January and early February.”
“When the House returns in January,” The Washington Post adds, “Republicans can lose only two votes from their ranks to pass any legislation at a time when the chamber faces major decisions on government spending and foreign aid. That dynamic could force Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the post after a tumultuous three weeks following McCarthy’s ouster, to work with Democrats to avert a partial government shutdown as soon as mid-January.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) has announced he will retire and exit Congress early next year.
But possibly even before that, Speaker Johnson’s tiny majority could at some point become an opening for Democrats, according to a top political scientist and scholar, Dr. Norman Ornstein.
“Democrats need to be prepared to act swiftly and decisively if the numbers drop below 218– even if only for a day. Quick motion to vacate, [Hakeem] Jeffries as Speaker, immediate agenda,” writes Dr. Ornstein, a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “where he has been studying politics, elections, and the US Congress for more than four decades.”
Ornstein offers more opportunities should Democrats be able to take the majority back soon.
“Reconciliation bill to secure robust spending, eliminate debt limit permanently, taxes on rich to pay for permanent child tax credit.”
He adds, the number of Republican members “would need to get down to 213. But any set of problems– a Covid outbreak, for example– could bring those numbers down, if only for a day or two. Have a plan ready! Hardball? You bet.”
David Rothkopf, the noted foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator, responding to Ornstein’s remarks appeared to urge Republicans to join with Democrats to elect a Democratic Speaker, or even to switch parties:
“This. C’mon you GOPers from purple districts. Trump will have you purged and sent to Siberia. We just need 2 of you. You can be unloved by the GOP or heroes to the rest of America! Make your move now.”
Of course, special elections will be held to replace both Santos (scheduled for February 13, 2024) and McCarthy (likely summer, according to The Post), and at some point Johnson.
But with the extremely large number of members of Congress who have exited or will be, as Ornstein says, Democrats need to be ready.
Comer Threatens ‘Contempt’ Despite Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Quoting Chairman’s Media Appearances
Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer is now threatening Hunter Biden with “contempt” of Congress if he refuses to testify behind closed doors. The President’s son has repeatedly offered to testify in public.
Abbe Lowell, the attorney with “close ties inside the Trump White House” who is now representing Hunter Biden, Wednesday morning again reiterated his demand that any testimony before the House Oversight Committee be in a public hearing, and he used Chairman Comer’s own words to make his point.
But Comer, who is moving toward impeaching President Joe Biden despite having offered no actual proof of any impeachable offense, was quick to tell Politico: “He’s been subpoenaed. We expect him to show up. They don’t get to make the rules.”
“I would expect Congress to hold the president’s son in contempt,” Comer said, if Hunter Biden refuses to testify in a closed-door session.
“As indicated in my November 28, 2023, letter,” Lowell wrote to Chairman Comer earlier on Wednesday, in a letter published by The Washington Examiner, “Mr. Biden has offered to appear at a hearing on the December 13, 2023, date you have reserved, or another date this month, to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter stated in your November 8, 2023, letter.”
Lowell made clear his motivation for a public hearing before cameras.
“He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings.”
But Lowell cited Comer’s own words from a few of his numerous media appearances to demonstrate how the Chairman welcomed an open-door public hearing. The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona noted that Lowell, in his letter, “again cites Comer practically daring Hunter to publicly testify.”
Lowell cited Comer’s remarks on October 31 on “The Benny Show.”
“We’re in the downhill phase of this investigation now because we have so many documents, and we can bring these people in for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose , . . . .”
Also, his September 13 statement on Newsmax.
“Hunter Biden is more than welcome to come in front of the committee . . . he’s invited today. We will drop everything.”
He also cited Comer’s “November 8, 2023, statement in your cover letter addressed to me: ‘Given your client’s willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”
(Emphasis included in Lowell’s letter.)
“We look forward to working out the schedule,” Lowell concluded.
Jim Comer Decimated by NBC Reporter in ‘Under Two Minutes’
Republican House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer melted down in an interview with NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles on Tuesday as he once again appeared unable to prove President Joe Biden engaged in money laundering or other illicit acts.
“So sir, there were the two checks,” Nobles told Comer (video below), “the $40,000 check and the $200,000 check that came from the president’s son and into the President’s bank account. There was also subsequent bank records, which were provided through the [Oversight] Committee, that demonstrate that there were also subsequent pieces of information that went from the President to the president’s son.”
Comer repeatedly denied Nobles account.
“That is not true,” Comer claimed.
“So that you’re saying that that information has been made up then?” Nobles tried to confirm. “Where did that information come from? That came from the Committee.”
“I don’t know,” Comer claimed. “We haven’t seen that information.”
“That is Committee information that is collected from the bank records that your committee has obtained,” Nobles, in something of a “Perry Mason” moment, informed Chairman Comer.
“Just show the check,” Comer insisted.
“Do you have a canceled check for every wire transfer that’s ever come into your account?” Nobles asked.
“Yes,” Comer declared.
“And that’s what has been shown, there is bank records that demonstrate an exact same amount of money,” Nobles explained, as Comer talked over him.
“Are you saying, okay, sir, are you saying those bank records do not exist?” Nobles pressed, “That show the money leaving the President’s account and into his son’s?”
“They were money laundering. You see wires going all over the –” Comer charged.
“Sir, answer this specific question: Is there a bank record that demonstrates the exact amount of money that came from the President’s account into his son’s account that matches the checks that then went back to him? Does that exist? Yes or no?”
“No, no!” Comer blared. “There’s money coming from a law firm.”
“That doesn’t exist? That doesn’t exist, sir?” Nobles asked.
“It does not exist. It’s coming from a law firm. Who put who put the money in the law firm? How do you know the money came from Joe Biden? It could have come from one of Hunter shell companies. You have no idea,” Comer replied.
“Okay. So you are saying that that money that that money exists?” Nobles, making his case, concluded. “That transfer does exist there in the bank records that you and your committee –”
“No!” Comer then declared. “You don’t know what that transfer is.”
Tim Mulvey, the former communications director for the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack responded to the clip, writing: “In my experience, when a chairman goes on tv and can’t answer even the most basic questions about ‘blockbuster’ evidence without utterly unraveling, it might not be the strongest case.”
“In under two minutes,” wrote Adam Cohen of Lawyers for Good Government, “James Comer goes from checks that confirm harmless transactions between Joe and Hunter Biden ‘do not exist’ To ‘they exist, but we claim they might be suspicious.'”
White House spokesman Ian Sams posted the clip on social media late Tuesday night, with a snarky comment.
Watch the video below or at this link.
— Ian Sams (@IanSams46) December 6, 2023
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