Week in Review: US “Occupy” Movement Explodes; UK’s Cameron Supports Gay Marriage; CA Dream Act Becomes Law
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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Christian Nationalist Group Working to Get Its ‘Biblical Worldview Spread Across the Nation’
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation prohibiting transgender people from using public school facilities that match their gender identity. That legislation was crafted by the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, a right-wing organization that seeks to elect “godly leaders in our nation at every level” and then use them to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundation of our nation.”
Following the signing of this legislation into law, Jason Rapert, a longtime religious-right activist and ardent Christian nationalist who founded the NACL, took a victory lap, crediting his organization for the law and celebrating its success in pushing back “against the things of the devil in our country.”
As Rapert reported, this legislation had first been proposed by Arkansas school board member David Naylor during an annual NACL meeting and then brought to the Arkansas state legislature by state Rep. Mary Bentley, who serves on the board of the NACL.
On Friday, Rapert interviewed Bentley on his “Save The Nation” program, where she celebrated the NACL’s efforts “to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
“Thank goodness we’ve got some common sense left here in Arkansas,” Bentley said. “[It was because of the NACL] that we were able to get that passed as model policy and bring it forth. I just love seeing grassroots come together and school board members coming to the capitol and going to the governor’s desk and just seeing it all work and flow just exactly how we want to. So, for the folks that are supporting NACL and what we’re doing, this is what we want to do across the country.”
“This is an example of the power of the NACL’s ability with model legislation,” Rapert replied. “This was brought by one of our members, and this policy actually could be immediately adopted by school boards in every school district across this country. If the school board wanted to adopt it, this is the model that they can utilize. And in addition to that, just like you did, go and pass it for the state so that this is going to apply to all the school boards in your state.”
Rapert and Bentley agreed that Arkansas has now blazed the trail on this issue, thereby making it easier for legislatures in other states to enact the same law.
“That’s what happens when you can be a leader,” Bentley asserted. “Once you make a trail, it’s a lot easier for people to follow once you get that trail made.”
“Thank you again for being a part of the NACL,” Bentley declared. “It’s just what we need in this nation right now to have it moving forward, to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Pence Ordered to Comply With Subpoena, Testify Before Special Counsel’s Grand Jury
Mike Pence, the ex-vice president, must testify before Dept. of Justice special counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection, a federal judge has ruled, rejecting his claims of executive privilege.
The judge is requiring Pence to answer questions about his conversations with Donald Trump leading up to the insurrection, and to answer any questions related to any possible illegal acts Donald Trump may have committed, according to ABC News’ senior investigative reporter Katherine Faulders and CNN’s Abby Phillip.
Judge James Boasberg, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “outright rejected Trump’s executive privilege challenge, but ruled more narrowly on Pence speech and debate challenge,” Faulders adds.
The judge, apparently citing Pence’s “speech and debate clause” claim, said “that Pence can still decline to answer questions related to his actions on January 6 itself, when he was serving as president of the Senate for the certification of the 2020 presidential election,” CNN reports.
READ MORE: ‘We’re Not Gonna Fix It’: TN Republican Says Congress Can Do Nothing to Stop Gun Violence – Calls for Christian ‘Revival’
NBC News reports Judge Boasberg “did, however, grant Pence a partial victory as to his argument that he was shielded from having to testify about Jan. 6 because of his constitutional role as part of the legislative branch.”
In what some legal experts dismissed as a faulty argument, “Pence’s legal team had argued that the Constitution’s ‘speech and debate’ clause should prevent special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors from eliciting any testimony about communications or activity related to Pence’s role as president of the Senate in presiding over the certification of the election results.”
Overall CNN calls it “another win for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the Trump-aligned effort to subvert the 2020 election. Smith subpoenaed Pence for testimony and documents earlier this year.”
Pence can still appeal.
Watch MSNBC’s report below or at this link.
BREAKING: Former VP Pence has been ordered to testify in the special counsel’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. https://t.co/EuAAgB8ILO pic.twitter.com/wrYoKJcL0g
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 28, 2023
This is a breaking news and developing story.
This article has been updated to add video.
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Taking Guns Away Is Not the Answer’: Scalise Encourages Prayer After Nashville School Mass Shooting
The official line from House Republicans on Monday’s mass shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville is to encourage prayer and making schools “safer,” but “taking guns away is not the answer.”
GOP Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-most powerful Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, on Tuesday encouraged prayer, waiting for more facts, and looking into mental health option, despite his record of voting against them. Six people, including three nine-year olds and three adults, were shot to death after a shooter shot through the doors of Covenant Presbyterian Elementary School.
“The first thing in any kind of tragedy I do is I pray,” Scalise told a reporter Tuesday when asked if there’s anything Congress can do to reduce gun violence and deaths. “I pray for the victims. I pray for their families.”
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) also encouraged prayer over action. “We’re not gonna fix it,” he declared point-blank, while calling for a Christian “revival.”
READ MORE: Tennessee Governor Slammed After ‘Praying’ for Nashville School Community Without Mentioning Mass Shooting
Scalise was shot in 2017 in a rare act of left-wing gun violence by a man angry at then-President Donald Trump. He and House Republicans have repeatedly used that attack to target Democrats and their policies.
“I really get angry when I see people trying to politicize it for their own personal agenda,” Scalise continued, referring to shootings, “especially when we don’t even know the facts. There are facts coming out.”
“It looks like the shooter originally went to another school that had real stronger, much stronger security and ultimately went to this school,” Scalise said, which is false. According to a CNN report, the shooter had previously “scouted” a second location but had a detailed plan and maps of The Covenant School.
“Let’s get the facts,” Scalise insisted, suggesting no action should be taken before any investigations into this shooting are complete.
The Washington Post in a continually-updated report notes, “There were more school shootings in 2022 — 46 — than in any year since at least 1999.”
It adds, “There have been 376 school shootings” since Columbine, in 1999, and, “More than 348,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.”
But Scalise urged Americans to “work to see if there’s something that we can do to help secure schools.”
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And he insisted reducing the number of guns in America, currently believed to be over 400 million – more than the total population of the country – is “not the answer.”
“We’ve talked about things that we can do, and it just seems like on the other side, all they want to do is take guns away from law abiding citizens, before they even know the facts. The first thing they talk about is taking guns away from law abiding citizens. And that’s not the answer, by the way. So why don’t we number one, keep those families in our prayers and see if there were things that were missed. Along the way, we’ve talked about the need to improve mental health in this country, and that’s been a driver of a lot of these shootings as well.”
But just last September, Scalise, along with all but one House Republican, voted against a bill that would “increase access to mental and behavioral health care.”
He also skipped a vote one week earlier on the Mental Health Justice Act of 2022.
Watch Scalise’s remarks in this clip, below or at this link.
Question: There was another terrible school shooting yesterday.. Is there anything Congress should be doing?
Scalise: First thing I do in any kind of tragedy is I pray.. pic.twitter.com/PW1r7qh2yQ
— Acyn (@Acyn) March 28, 2023
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