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On World AIDS Day, DOJ Says Tennessee Law Discriminates Against Those With HIV

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World AIDS Day

The Department of Justice celebrated World AIDS Day by calling out a Tennessee law that discriminates against people with HIV.

The DOJ released a report Friday that the state’s aggravated prostitution law violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. A person arrested under the aggravated prostitution law is normally changed with a misdemeanor, and faces up to six months in prison and a $500 fine. However, if the person arrested has HIV, the crime becomes a felony, and if they’re convicted, they would face between three and 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

“Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution law is outdated, has no basis in science, discourages testing and further marginalizes people living with HIV,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “People living with HIV should not be treated as violent sex offenders for the rest of their lives solely because of their HIV status. The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are protected from discrimination.”

READ MORE: Activists Arrested After AIDS Funding Protest in Kevin McCarthy’s Office

The law was originally passed in 1991. It classifies HIV-positive sex workers as violent sex offenders, according to WKRN-TV. This means that in addition to the sentence, those convicted are put on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry, usually for the rest of their lives.

The DOJ advised the state—and particularly, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, which enforces the statute most frequently, the department says—to stop enforcing the law. It also calls on the state to repeal the law and remove anyone from the registry when aggravated prostitution is the only offense. If this doesn’t happen, Tennessee could face a lawsuit.

Tennessee isn’t the only state to have laws applying to only those living with HIV. In 1988, Michigan passed a law requiring those with HIV to disclose their status before sex, according to WLNS-TV. The law is still on the books, but was updated in 2019 to lift the requirement if the HIV-positive person has an undetectable viral load. The law now also requires proof that the person set out to transmit HIV.

Laws like these can work against public health efforts, according to the National Institutes of Health. The NIH says these types of laws can make people less likely to be tested for HIV, as people cannot be punished if they didn’t know their status. In addition, critics say, the laws can be used to further discriminate. A Canadian study found a disproportionate number of Black men had been charged under HIV exposure laws.

World AIDS Day was first launched in 1988 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations to highlight awareness of the then-relatively new disease. The theme of the 2023 World AIDS Day is “Let Communities Lead,” calling on community leaders to end the AIDS epidemic.

Featured image by UNIS Vienna/Flickr via Creative Commons License.

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Arrested Again: Ex-FBI Informant and GOP Former Star Witness Alexander Smirnov

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Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who was arrested just eight days ago and charged with lying to the Bureau about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, has again been arrested, his lawyers state in an emergency court filing Thursday.

Smirnov allegedly used Russian intelligence to smear the Bidens, falsely claiming both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden had each accepted $5 million bribes. His claims were the basis of House Republicans’ impeachment investigation into President Biden.

But as NBC News’ Tom Winter reported, it’s a “mystery,” at least for now, why Smirnov was arrested again, his lawyers say, on the same charges as the first time.

Winter says earlier today at his attorneys’ offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Apparently agents showed up with a valid arrest warrant out of the Central District of California and took him into custody, but according to his attorneys, it was for the same exact indictment and the same exact charges that he had been previously hit with.”

RELATED: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

CNN adds that the warrant “this time” was “signed by federal district Judge Otis Wright, who will oversee the criminal case out of California.”

The federal government asked for Smirnov to be detained but a magistrate judge allowed him to be released last week.

Winter reports that Smirnov’s attorneys say “they would like to know why” he was re-arrested, “and there’s no indication on the docket that the judge has granted some sort of emergency motion to remand him, basically to pull him off the streets because he’s violated his agreement.”

“So a bit of a mystery at this point,” Winter adds.

CNN notes that after his first arrest, “Smirnov was released by Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts in Nevada on Tuesday with several conditions, including GPS monitoring and the surrender of his two passports.”

READ MORE: Experts Ask if Trump Disclosed Classified Intel After Nuclear Weapons Talk at Town Hall

Politico’s Kyle Cheney posted the arrest warrant. See it below or at this link.

 

Image: Screenshot of Smirnov with his face hidden from camera view

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‘Reached His Limits’: Engoron ‘Brings the Hammer Down’ on Trump Attorney

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New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has refused a “last ditch effort” from Donald Trump’s attorney to delay imposing the $355 million judgment in Attorney General Letitia James’ civil business fraud case against the ex-president.

“Once the judgment is officially entered, it will start the 30-day clock for Trump to file an appeal. During that period, Trump will need to put up cash or post bond to cover the $355 million and roughly $100 million in interest he was ordered to pay the state,” CNN reports.

MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin pointed to an email Judge Engoron sent Trump’s attorney Clifford Robert that reads in part, “You have failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay.”

On social media Rubin notes, “Judge Engoron has reached his limits. It appears that he has signed the judgment and that all that needs to happen now is for the clerk to enter it.”

READ MORE: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

On-air at MSNBC, Rubin explained that Trump’s attorney asked Engoron “to stay the judgment without Donald Trump having to post a bond.”

Robert, according to Rubin, tried to use “a technicality in New York Civil Practice saying they should have filed a motion and they didn’t file a motion, they should have given us notice. We should have been able to counter propose our own judgment.”

Engoron, she continues, asked, “‘What exactly are you objecting to?’ And when Trump’s lawyers couldn’t articulate beyond a small but meaningful error with respect to the calculation of interest for Allen Weisselberg, that was the only real error that they identified. They couldn’t come up with anything else.”

“That’s when Engoron sort of dropped the hammer on them and said, ‘look, enough is enough. You have given me no reason for a stay.”

Rubin notes that at this point, “We’re just waiting for the clerk to start that 30 day clock.”

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Nikki Haley Just Laid the Groundwork to Endorse Donald Trump

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Down in the polls by double digits, former Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who recently took off the kid gloves and has been battering her Republican opponent Donald Trump, just laid the groundwork to endorse the man she calls “unstable and unhinged,” by labeling President Joe Biden “more dangerous.”

“I think what’s really important is to know that the majority of Americans dislike Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Haley told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in remarks that aired Thursday (audio below). “So we think that there needs to be an alternative.”

“While critical of both men — who she called ‘too old’ to be president — she said ‘Biden is more dangerous’ due to his management of immigration and the economy,” NPR reports. “Haley hinted that, if Biden and Trump were to face a rematch, she would back Trump if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.”

Trump, despite facing 91 criminal felony charges and civil judgments totaling possibly more than a half-billion dollars (including accruing interest,) is beating Haley, the former South Carolina governor. FiveThirtyEight‘s national polling average puts Trump at 77.7% and Haley at 16.4%. Even in her home state, Donald Trump is trouncing Nikki Haley, 63% to 35% in one recent poll, and 63% to 34% in another.

READ MORE: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

Haley did beat the one-term twice-impeached four-times indicted ex-president in January fundraising, a feat some strategists say will allow her to stay in the race longer.

Haley is going directly after Trump, and “launched her sharpest attack yet Tuesday, describing him as getting ‘more unstable and unhinged,'” AFP reported.

“He’s getting meaner and more offensive by the day,” she added. “He’s completely distracted, and everything is about him. He’s so obsessed with his demons in the past that he can’t focus on the future Americans deserve.”

She did not stop there.

“It’s not normal to spend $50 million dollars in campaign contributions on personal court cases,” Haley told supporters. “It’s not normal to threaten people who back your opponent, and it’s not normal to call on Russia to invade NATO countries.”

And yet, despite promising her base she will stay in the race even after South Carolina, and despite attacking Trump, Haley is now paving the way to endorse her former boss.

“I have a lot of concerns about Trump regaining the presidency. I have even more concerns about Joe Biden being president. I mean, you look at both of these men and all they have done is given us chaos, all they have given us is division,” Haley told NPR.  “We need to starting bringing normalcy back to America and that’s why I think we need to have a new generational leader that focuses on the solutions of the future instead of all the issues of the past.”

READ MORE: Experts Ask if Trump Disclosed Classified Intel After Nuclear Weapons Talk at Town Hall

Haley “compared the ex-president to a ‘bully,’ and stressed that he failed to obtain significant portions of the electorate in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“People don’t like when he goes off the teleprompter and says crazy things like he’d rather take Putin’s side over our allies,” she said. “People don’t like it when he mocks the military. People don’t like it when he calls people names.”

Some think an endorsement from Haley for Donald Trump won’t come.

“Haley endorsing Trump would be career ending for her. MAGA will never support her now. You can’t staddle this. You are either Trump or Never Trump. There is no middle ground between Liz Cheney and Donald Trump,” says former Washington State lawmaker and former state GOP chair Chris Vance, who opposes Donald Trump and describes himself as “a politically homeless Never Trump Conservative.”

Listen to Haley’s remarks to NPR below or at this link.

Image: Haley and Trump in 2020.

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