January 23, 2019

Trump Administration Rolled Backwards The Clock for LGBT and People Living with HIV



                                  



 
Last weekend marked the two-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency. In that time, we have witnessed the rollback of rights and protections for LGBT people and people living with HIV that took decades to win. It is difficult, if not impossible, to estimate the full extent of harm now taking place. But it is undeniable that our communities are much more vulnerable to discrimination in health care, social services, employment, education, and access to basic government services.

One of the most shocking moves occurred earlier this month when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the inauguration of Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro, a former Army captain and longtime congressman who operated at Brazil’s political margins because of his far-right political views, campaigned on a racist, misogynistic, and homophobic platform. In October 2018, a transgender woman and a drag queen were both murdered, with the attackers in both incidents invoking Bolsonaro’s name. On his first day in office, Bolsonaro signed an executive order prohibiting the country’s human rights ministry from hearing any concerns from the country’s LGBT community.


Image result for pompeo and bolsonaro picture
 Pompeo left, Bolsonaro, right
              
 
Despite this, Pompeo tweeted out a photo of himself meeting with Bolsonaro thanking him for a great meeting to “reinforce our shared commitment to democracy, education, prosperity, security, and #humanrights.” Trump, meanwhile, has praised Bolsonaro as a “great leader.” Pompeo’s diplomatic move coupled with Trump’s rhetoric marked an effective end to previous U.S. foreign policy that treated LGBT rights as a foreign policy goal. This shift endangers the safety of LGBT people around the globe.

                                  Image result for pompeo and bolsonaro tweets picture

 
Other moves that have undermined efforts to fight stigma against LGBT people and people with HIV, include the dismissal, in March 2018, of a Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia after he tested positive for HIV. After receiving treatment in the United States and learning that he could keep his viral load near zero by taking daily medication, thus making it practically impossible to transmit the virus to anyone else, the 23-year-old told his Peace Corps health officer that he wanted to complete the remaining 18 months of his two-year term. But he was told that the Peace Corps did not accept volunteers who are HIV positive.

In fact, the Peace Corps agreed to stop automatically terminating HIV positive volunteers in 2008 after the ACLU advocated on behalf of a Peace Corps volunteer serving in the Ukraine who had become HIV positive. Under Trump, however, the Peace Corps has reversed this policy change. It also denied pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, for HIV prevention to Peace Corps volunteers who have requested it.

Domestically, the Trump administration has maintained steady attacks on transgender people. The Federal Bureau of Prisons announced in May 2018 that it will use “biological sex” to make initial determinations in the type of housing transgender inmates are assigned and will place transgender prisoners in facilities that conform to their gender identity only “in rare cases.” This reverses a 2016 policy that housed adult prisoners based on their gender identity, not their birth sex. The move is sure to undermine the safety and security of one of the most vulnerable prison populations and negates decades of progress on LGBT rights and protections that were reflected in 2012’s implementation standards for the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Despite numerous attempts to implement a ban on transgender troops from serving in the military that has been blocked by the courts, the Trump Administration continues to look for innovative ways to discriminate. On the advice of the Family Research Council, an evangelical organization actively opposed to LGBT rights, the Trump Administration has tried to frame the transgender ban as a military readiness issue, despite evidence showing that transgender individuals are able to carry out their official duties with the same effectiveness as their cisgender counterparts and that there are no medical impediments to their service in the military.

Perhaps the most insidious move by the Trump Administration is its continued efforts to legalize discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom under the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). This division was created following a 2017 executive order by President Trump directing agencies to expand religious freedom protections in ways that could increase discrimination against LGBT individuals and same-sex couples. Also in early 2018, OCR collected public comments regarding a new proposed rule stating that “freedom from discrimination on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction…does not just mean the right not to be treated differently or adversely; it also means being free not to act contrary to one’s beliefs.” 

This exceptionally broad language opens the door for health care providers to deny not just general health care services to LGBT people, but also specific services such as STI screening to gay men, fertility treatments to lesbian couples, or gender affirmation treatment to transgender people if the provider holds anti-LGBT religious beliefs.

Taken alone, any one of these initiatives is a horrible step backward. Taken as a whole, though, it will take decades to unravel the damage.

Sean Cahill Ph.D. is director of health policy research for The Fenway Institute and co-author of the policy brief “Trump Administration continued to advance discriminatory policies and practices against LGBT people and people living with HIV in 2018.”

NPR Buss Editor Analysis: How The Rise Of The Far Right Threatens Democracy Worldwide




Image result for jair bolsonaroImage result for jair bolsonaro


PALLAVI GOGOI


A new president is elected. Within days of being sworn in, he pulls his country out of a U.N. migration pact. His path to power has been pockmarked by disparaging comments about women, including a congresswoman. His preferred choice for top posts are members of the armed forces. When he appoints a fifth military official to his cabinet, he makes the announcement via Twitter, his favored means of communications.

Sound familiar?

These are the tactics of Brazil's new president, Jair Bolsonaro, who was sworn in to office on Jan. 1, 2019.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro will headline the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual gathering that attracts heads of state — 65 of them this year — corporate CEOs and billionaire investors. Bolsonaro's nationalistic rhetoric is in sharp contrast to a gathering that has long stood for globalization and has pushed to strengthen international ties. 

Right-Wing Populist Jair Bolsonaro Sworn In As President Of Brazil
His tactics may remind many of the American president's. But it is actually symptomatic of a global wave that started almost a decade ago and has only strengthened in recent years. From Turkey and Hungary, to India and the Philippines, the voices of nationalism and the far right have become dominant forces that begin with the election of a charismatic, influential and powerful man.

Hungary, for instance, was once a leader in the drive for democracy in East Europe. But after strongman Viktor Orban rose to power as prime minister in 2010, Hungary's democratic institutions have been dramatically weakened.

In his first year in office, Orban's party amended the constitution 10 times. A wholly new constitution was put in place. It whittled down the power of courts, changed how elections are supervised and dramatically curbed media. New positions were created and filled with Orban allies. The moves have been broadly condemned, including by the European Parliament and the United States. 

Hungary Has A Xenophobia Problem
Orban is one of the strongest symbols of this shift. He was one of the first Western leaders to endorse Donald Trump and pursue friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last year, Orban won a third term in a landslide victory after pledging to create a "Christian homeland."

Similarly, in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte swept to power in 2016, promising to be tough on drug criminals. As he carried out that promise, it resulted in the deaths of thousands of alleged drug dealers across the country. Human rights groups say the innocent poor have borne the brunt of these killings. Duterte uses profanities with abandon, he has compared himself to Hitler and has insulted world leaders. He too wants to change the constitution in Philippines. 
Duterte Pulls Philippines Out Of International Criminal Court.

And Turkey, once a bastion of secularism, today is rife with religious conflict. Its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president since 2014, has crushed dissent and jailed journalists. Last year, the government's Directorate of Religious Affairs ordered all of Turkey's nearly 90,000 mosques to broadcast a verse from the Koran through loudspeakers on their minarets. The move led Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to declare that Sharia is gradually taking over long-secular Turkey.

And then there's India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the world's largest democracy. Under his Hindu nationalist party, the country has pursued laws that hurt the minority Muslim population. For instance, his party declared that eating beef is "against the idea of India." This led to a ban in the sale of cows for slaughter. While beef is taboo for Hindus, it isn't so for Muslims and the decree led to the closing of many slaughterhouses and meat shops, traditionally owned by Muslims in India.
 
India's Ban On Beef Leads To Murder, And Hindu-Muslim Friction
The nationalist zeal has also led to curbing of charities operating in India. Tens of thousands of foreign-funded non-government organizations, like Greenpeace India, Ford Foundation and Amnesty International, were either put on notice or had their licenses revoked. Amnesty, which often accuses the Indian government of human rights violations, said a raid of its offices was aimed at silencing critics.

In Brazil, President Bolsonaro pushed forth an almost identical move after taking office earlier this month. He used an executive order that gave his government far-reaching and restrictive powers over non-governmental organizations working in Brazil.

Ultimately, it is moves like these that have global hackles rising for proponents of democratic values.

In almost each of these instances, the leaders have swept into power on a promise to accelerate economic growth and create new opportunities for those left behind by globalization. But the promises are often laced with undercurrents of nationalism that harp on race or religion and closing borders.

These leaders often have a strong base of support. And often they have a pro-business agenda, which stock markets cheer. The American stock market has been on a roller coaster — calmer now after a rough ride at the end of the year. But for many months after Trump's election, investors gave the U.S. president a clear thumbs up. Brazil's investors are doing the same, and Bolsonaro has tweeted about it.
 
Trump To Davos: 'America Is Open For Business'
Last year, Trump told the crowd at Davos: "I'm here to deliver a simple message: There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business." Bolsonaro will likely echo the same sentiments.

Trump also said: "America First does not mean America alone." Undoubtedly, Bolsonaro believes in Brazil First. And Orban in Hungary First. Likewise, Erdogan for Turkey and Modi for India. But if it is everyone for himself, and keep the others out, who really wins?

Pallavi Gogoi is NPR's chief business editor.

Simm’s Book: “THE White House OUT of Control"




 White House lower corridor





President Trump watched on television, increasingly angry as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan criticized his handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He held the remote control “like a pistol” and yelled for an assistant to get the Republican leader on the phone.
“Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your ass for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’ ” Trump told Ryan, then a Wisconsin congressman. “Why do you think Nancy [Pelosi] has held on this long? Have you seen her? She’s a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth another Republican gets elected. But they stick with her . . . Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?”
The tormenting continued. Trump recalled Ryan distancing himself from Trump in October 2016, in the days after the “Access Hollywood” video in which he bragged of fondling women first surfaced in The Washington Post. “I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Trump told him, according to former West Wing communications aide Cliff Sims. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what’d I do? I saved your a--.” Paul Ryan's path to supporting Donald Trump 
 House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) did not always support Donald Trump's quest to the White House. 
The browbeating of the top Republican on Capitol Hill was one of the vivid snapshots of life inside the Trump White House told by one of its original inhabitants, Cliff Sims, in his 384-page tell-all, “Team of Vipers,” which goes on sale next week and was obtained in advance by The Post. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Sims, who enjoyed uncommon personal access to Trump, recounts expletive-filled scenes of chaos, dysfunction, and duplicity among the president, his family members, and administration officials.
Unlike memoirs of other Trump officials, Sims’s book is neither a sycophantic portrayal of the president nor a blistering account written to settle scores. The author presents himself as a true believer in Trump and his agenda and even writes whimsically of the president, but still is critical of him, especially his morality. Sims also find fault in himself, a rarity in Trump World, writing that at times he was “selfish,” “nakedly ambitious” and “a coward.
The author reconstructs in comic detail the Trump team’s first day at work when the president sat in the residence raging about news coverage of the relatively small size of his inauguration crowds, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer scrambled to address it.
Spicer had worked the team “into a frenzy,” and it fell to Sims to write the script for his first statement to the media. Nervously chewing gum, Spicer dictated “a torrent of expletives with a few salient points scattered in between.” At one point, Sims’s computer crashed and he lost the draft, so it had to be rewritten. And in their rush to satisfy the impatient president, nobody checked the facts. Spicer, he writes, was “walking into his own execution.”
“It’s impossible to deny how absolutely out of control the White House staff — again, myself included — was at times,” Sims writes. The book’s scenes are consistent with news reporting at the time from inside the White House.
President Trump speaks at a Dec. 18, 2018, roundtable event at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
 
Sims depicts Trump as deeply suspicious of his own staff. He recalls a private huddle in which he and Keith Schiller, the president’s longtime bodyguard and confidant, helped Trump draw up an enemies list with a Sharpie on White House stationery. “We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-feeders,” Trump told them. 
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly told the staff that he viewed his job as serving the “country first, POTUS second,” which Sims interpreted as potentially hostile to Trump’s agenda.
Sims recounts that Kelly once confided to him in a moment of exasperation: “This is the worst [expletive] job I’ve ever had. People apparently think that I care when they write that I might be fired. If that ever happened, it would be the best day I’ve had since I walked into this place.”
A conservative media figure in Alabama, Sims came to work on Trump’s 2016 campaign and cultivated a personal relationship with the candidate-turned-president. Sims writes rich, extended dialogue from his conversations with Trump and others in the administration.
As White House director of message strategy, Sims regularly met Trump at the private elevator of the residence and accompanied him to video tapings — carrying a can of Tresemmé Tres Two hair spray, extra hold, for the boss. At one such taping, about an hour after Trump had tweeted that he saw MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski “bleeding badly from a facelift,” the president sought feedback from Sims and Spicer. 
“They’re going to say it’s not presidential,” Trump said, referring to the media. “But you know what? It’s modern-day presidential.” The president then raged about the “Morning Joe” program on which Brzezinski appears and instructed Spicer, “Don’t you dare say I watch that show.”
President Trump greets House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) at a Dec. 20, 2017, White House event celebrating passage of the tax cut bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other lawmakers looking on. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
 Sims also recounts a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime friend, and former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon at which Sessions suggested a polygraph test of national security officials to root out “leakers” after The Post reported the transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with the Mexican president and Australian prime minister.
At times, Trump evinced less rage than a lack of interest. Sims recounts one time when Ryan was in the Oval Office explaining the ins and outs of the Republican health-care bill to the president. As Ryan droned on for 15 minutes, Trump sipped on a glass of Diet Coke, peered out at the Rose Garden, stared aimlessly at the walls and, finally, walked out. 
Ryan kept talking as the president wandered down the hall to his private dining room, where he flicked on his giant flat-screen TV. Apparently, he had had enough of Ryan’s talk. It fell to Vice President Pence to retrieve Trump and convince him to return to the Oval Office so they could continue their strategy session.
 White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci talks with reporters outside the White House on July 25, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
 
Sims reconstructs moments of crisis for the West Wing communications team in play-by-play detail, including the domestic abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter and the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director.
He paints Spicer, counselor Kellyanne Conway, and communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp in an especially negative light, calling Conway “the American Sniper of West Wing marksmen” and describing her agenda as “survival over all others, including the president.” 
Sims writes that former aide Omarosa Manigault cursed members of the Congressional Black Caucus when they asked for a moment of privacy in the West Wing after meeting with Trump and before addressing the media.
“Privacy?!” Manigault said. “You think you can come up in our house and demand [expletive] privacy? Hell, no! You must be outta your . . . mind.”
Perhaps the book’s most cinematic chapter of chaos is “The Mooch Is Loose,” a reconstruction of Anthony Scaramucci’s 11 days as White House communications director.
Sims was Scaramucci’s right-hand man and describes the flamboyant aide’s hunt for “leakers,” which began with his own staff. Scaramucci assembled the 40-odd media aides and threatened to fire them all, Sims writes, as if he were a “fire-breathing dragon that had just returned from laying waste to the unsuspecting peasants in the village.”
Sims writes that Scaramucci ordered them to reply to anyone in the White House instructing them to leak information to a reporter, including then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, by saying: “I cannot do that. I only report to Anthony Scaramucci and he reports directly to the president of the United States.”
Even Trump was amused.
“Can you believe this guy?” the president told Sims. “He’s completely out of his mind — like, on drugs or something — totally out of his mind. We’ll figure it out, but the guy is crazy.”

January 22, 2019

Premier Footballer Emiliano Sala 28 Plane's Has Gone Down Over Chanel Islands



Image result for emiliano sala plane down

Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala was on a light aircraft which went missing over the Channel Islands.

The £15m Argentine striker, 28, was one of two people on board the Piper Malibu which lost contact off Alderney in the Channel Islands on Monday night.
Cardiff City, which signed Sala from French club Nantes in a record deal on Saturday, said it was "very shocked".
Guernsey Police said there was "no trace" of the Cardiff-bound flight and his family said they felt "desperate".

Live: Cardiff striker Sala missing
Sala - born in Argentina, made in France
Sala - timeline of Cardiff City signing
Sala's father, Horacio, told Argentine TV channel C5N, he heard the news from a friend.

"I didn't know anything. I couldn't believe it," he said. "I'm desperate. I hope everything goes well."
Meanwhile, John Fitzgerald, chief officer of the Channel Islands Air Search, said the probability of finding anyone alive from the missing aircraft was "reducing very rapidly".

                  
 Map showing location of Alderney and lighthouse
"I think with the sea temperatures and the sea conditions the chances of finding anybody alive are reducing all the time," he said.
"The sea temperatures are very, very cold and just sap the core temperature of anybody in the water very, very quickly."

The plane left Nantes in north west France at 19:15 and had been flying at 5,000ft when it contacted Jersey air traffic control requesting descent, Guernsey Police said.

The plane lost contact while at 2,300ft and disappeared off radar near the Casquets lighthouse, infamous among mariners as the site of many shipwrecks, eight miles (13km) north-west of Alderney.

The force added UK authorities have been calling airfields on the south coast to see if it landed there but there had been no confirmations and a decision about an overnight search would be made at sunset.


Media captionCardiff City signed the 28-year-old from French club Nantes
A spokesman for the French Civil Aviation Authority said the Piper PA 46 Malibu aircraft was French but had not been registered in France.

"We can confirm Emiliano Sala was on board," he said.
"This morning, the French research started with one French national navy ship and one aircraft. The investigation will determined which authority will take the lead on the research."
Sightings of red flares were reported during a lifeboat and helicopter search, but "nothing of significance was found", a Channel Islands Air Search spokeswoman said.

Police said on Tuesday more than 100sq miles had been searched by five aircraft and two lifeboats. The search had resumed after being called off overnight "due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility".

Cardiff Airport confirmed the aircraft was due to arrive from Nantes but a spokeswoman said there were no further details.
Guernsey harbour master Captain David Barker said no distress call had been received and if the search continues into the night it is unlikely to have a good outcome.
"It's far easier to see something on the surface in daylight," he said. "We are looking for any traces of an aircraft, a life raft, persons in the water, life jackets."
Flowers have been left outside the Cardiff City Stadium

                                
Flowers have been left outside the Cardiff City Stadium

The Met Office said conditions were not "too intense" at the time the aircraft went missing but had become wetter and windier later in the evening.
John Fernandez, a reporter for BBC Guernsey, said it was a difficult area to search.
"A number of search vessels are out searching the area. It's known for its strong currents - there are a number of shipwrecks," he added.
"The search area is absolutely massive at the moment. They're searching a number of different spots at the moment - they're not sure whereabouts this plane might have gone down."
'Last goodbye'
Cardiff signed Sala for a club record fee after protracted negotiations with Nantes and he was due to join his new teammates for training on Tuesday. Training was cancelled.
In a statement, the club's chief executive Ken Choo said they were praying for "positive news" for the player and pilot.


Emiliano Sala told Cardiff City he wanted to "start training and get down to work"
Exit player
Media captionEmiliano Sala told Cardiff City he wanted to "start training and get down to work"
He added: "We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.
"Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation."
He has been among the top scorers in France in recent years and had scored 13 league and cup goals this season, third behind Kylian Mbappe and Nicolas Pepe.
When his move to Cardiff was announced, he said: "It gives me great pleasure and I can't wait to start training, meet my new teammates and get down to work."
The most recent tweet from Sala's account was a picture of him and his former team-mates, captioned "La ultima ciao", or "the last goodbye".

 Twitter post by @GaryLineker: Terribly worrying news that @CardiffCityFC’s new signing, Emiliano Sala was on board the small plane that has gone missing. Hopefully, somehow, they’ll be found and safe.Image Copyright @GaryLineker@GARYLINEKER
Sala began his playing career at Argentine side Club Proyecto Crecer, before moving to French club Girondins Bordeaux in 2012.

His previous side, Nantes, has postponed its games against Entente on Wednesday and St Etienne on Saturday, according to its match schedule.
Local journalist Arnaud Wajdzik said the atmosphere in Nantes is "very emotional", and people planned to gather in the town square this evening for a vigil.

Reacting to the news at Cardiff City Stadium, Keith Morgan, chairman of the Cardiff City Supporters Trust, said he was shocked by the news.
"We're obviously still hoping it's not confirmed but when or if it is, we will contact Nantes offering all our help," he said.

"I think fans realise what's important and things like this put everything into perspective. Football is important in all our lives but not more than a person's life."
Supporter Christopher Jenkins, 45, of Caerphilly, said: "I was nearly crying with my wife - it's a massive shock to everybody."

Supreme Court Brings-back The Trump Ban on Transgender Soldiers




       







 The Supreme Court on Tuesday revived the Trump administration’s policy of barring most transgender people from serving in the military. In a brief, unsigned order, the justices temporarily stayed trial court decisions blocking the policy while litigation in the lower courts moves forward.

The vote was 5 to 4. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.

The policy announced on Twitter by President Trump and refined by the defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, generally prohibits people from identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from military service. It makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly and for those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

Challenges to the policy have had mixed success in the lower courts. Trial judges around the nation issued injunctions blocking it, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, is expected to rule soon on whether to affirm one of them. 

On Jan. 4, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a third injunction, that one issued by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a federal trial judge in Washington. The appeals court said its ruling was “not a final determination on the merits.” But it handed the administration at least a provisional victory.

The Supreme Court granted stays of two other injunctions, issued by Federal District Court judges in California and Washington State, both in the Ninth Circuit.

Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, representing the administration, had argued that the stays were needed to address a troubling phenomenon.

“It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” Mr. Francisco wrote. “Unfortunately, this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”

“Such injunctions previously were rare, but in recent years they have become routine,” he wrote. “In less than two years, federal courts have issued 25 of them, blocking a wide range of significant policies involving national security, national defense, immigration, and domestic issues.”
The administration had also asked the justices to immediately hear appeals, an unusual request when an appeals court has not yet ruled. The court turned down those requests.

The Supreme Court’s rules say it will review a federal trial court’s ruling before an appeals court has spoken: “only upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this court.”

In a separate brief, Mr. Francisco wrote, “This case satisfies that standard.”

“It involves,” he wrote, “an issue of imperative public importance: the authority of the U.S. military to determine who may serve in the nation’s armed forces.”

He told the justices that prompt action was required to ensure that the Supreme Court could rule before its term ends in June. The alternative, he said, was to defer Supreme Court arguments in the matter to the term that starts in October, with a decision probably not coming until 2020.

But lawyers for current and prospective members of the military challenging the policy said there was no need to upend the status quo while the case proceeded.

“Transgender people have been serving openly in all branches of the United States military since June 2016, including on active duty in combat zones,” their brief said. “Transgender individuals have been permitted to enlist in the military since January 2018.”

“The government has presented no evidence that their doing so harms military readiness, effectiveness or lethality,” the brief said.

The hundreds of people grandfathered in under the new policy, the brief added, “cannot be squared with the government’s claims of urgency to eliminate all other transgender personnel.”

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

Follow Adam Liptak on Twitter: @adamliptak.

Gay Community Helping to Evacuate Gay Men in The New Chechen Gay Purge


                       
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he not be further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya, the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, April 28, 2017. LGBT activists said, Jan. 14, 2019, that at least two people have died and about 40 people detained in what has been described as a new crackdown on gay people in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he is not further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya
                                  
By Moscow 




LGBT activists say they have begun helping people flee from the Russian republic of Chechnya amid what they claim is a new wave of detentions and torture targeting the gay community there.
The LGBT Network, a St. Petersburg-based rights group, said last week that 40 people had been detained and at least two were tortured to death in what they believe is a renewal of a campaign of terror that took place in 2017 and saw dozens of gay men kidnapped and tortured by Chechen security services.

Chechnya is a majority-Muslim autonomous republic in southern Russia, ruled by dictatorial leader Ramzan Kadyrov. In 2017, reports emerged that over 100 men suspected by authorities as gay had been rounded up and brutally tortured, setting off international condemnation and leading to U.S. sanctions against Kadyrov and some of his senior lieutenants.
 Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's Chechen Republic, attends a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Oct. 5, 2017. 
(Anadolu Agency/Getty Images, FILE)  Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's Chechen Republic, attends a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Oct. 5, 2017.
The LGBT Network said in a statement it believes a new campaign of persecution that began in early December is now underway. Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper which helped expose the 2017 campaign, has said its sources also suggest a new wave of detentions. 

Chechen authorities have denied the reports of the detentions, as they did in 2017. Chechnya’s minister of information, Dzhambulat Umarov last week called the allegations “utter crap” but then added homosexuality “has no place” in Chechnya. Kadyrov has previously said homosexuals don’t exist in Chechnya and said that if they do, they should leave "to purify our blood."

The LGBT Network said it helped dozens of men escape Chechnya in 2017 and 2018. In a statement on Monday, the organization said those fleeing this current purge have allowed them to build a clearer picture of the detentions and provided details of brutal treatment.

According to the group, both men and women have been swept up this time. They have described being beaten and raped using electro-shocker clubs. Men recounted being shaved, forced to wear women's clothing and to call each other by women's names, according to the group.

The organization said one detainee told them prisoners were being denied food and given dirty water after it had been used to wash the floor. The only drinking water they received was when it was time to pray, the group said.

The LGBT Network said it had now identified several sites where people were being held illegally, including a police station in Chechnya's capital, Grozny. According to the group, some of those seized are also being held in the town of Argun, which was one of the centers of the 2017 detentions.
The use of police stations, the activists said, was further evidence that the kidnappings were being carried out by members of Chechnya’s state security services.

Igor Kochetkov, LGBT Network's program director, said the group believes the new roundup began after police detained the administrator of a social media group popular among LGBT people in the North Caucasus. Security services officers then used the person's phone contacts to find new targets, according to Kochetkov.

The details being described now are similar to those from multiple testimonies from men in 2017 to news media and rights groups, which described kidnapping and torture.
A man who fled Chechnya after being tortured and then released in 2017 told ABC News then that he had been beaten with plastic rods and electrocuted. The man, who ABC News for his safety referred to by the pseudonym Dmitry, described being held in jail with several other men and hearing them scream as they were tortured.

"They split my eye, my lip, broke my ribs, they electrocuted me," he told ABC News in April 2017.
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he is not further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya, the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, April 28, 2017. LGBT activists said, Jan. 14, 2019, that at least two people have died and about 40 people detained in what has been described as a new crackdown on gay people in the Russian republic of Chechnya. 
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he is not further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya, the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, April 28, 2017. LGBT activists said, Jan. 14, 2019, that at least two people have died and about 40 people detained in what has been described as a new crackdown on gay people in the Russian republic of Chechnya. ...+

He also described being denied food and provided with water only around prayer-times.
With the reports of new detentions, activists have blamed Russian federal authorities, saying they have failed to intervene and given Chechen authorities free rein to continue the persecution. In 2017, after heavy international condemnation, Russia launched a probe into the reports of abuses, but the investigation has since gone nowhere. Activists demanding that police act were detained in Moscow.

A report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) released in December found that kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial killings were regularly used by Chechen security forces and that the LGBT community had been targeted in “successive purges.” It found that there had been three “waves” of detentions beginning from December 2016 and until summer 2017, and noting new cases had continued into the fall.
The report criticized Russia, saying “Russian authorities responsible for investigating alleged crimes against LGBTI citizens persecuted in Chechnya appear not to have lived up to their responsibilities.”
The U.S. State Department last week said it was "deeply disturbed" by the news reports, calling them "credible." In a statement, it called on Russia to "live up to its international obligations" and "its own constitution." 

Public attitudes toward homosexuality in Chechnya are very conservative and the gay community is obliged to meet largely in secret, fearing violence even from their families. The anti-gay campaigns in the republic have emerged against a backdrop of broader efforts in Russia to stoke homophobic sentiment, as the Kremlin has promoted what it calls traditional values and painted homosexuality as a primarily Western phenomenon, linked to democracy and human rights.

Chechnya's minister for information, Dzhambulat Umarov, suggested to Radio Free Europe last week that he believed homosexuality was being imposed from outside.

“Don’t sow the seeds of sodomy in the blessed land of the Caucasus,” Umarov told Radio Free Europe. “They will not grow,” unlike in “perverted Europe,” he said.

The LBGT Network said it has helped get 150 men to get out of Chechnya since March 2017, sheltering them in houses and assisting them with finding asylum. The Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian LGBTQI rights group, said it helped bring 57 people from Chechnya to Canada following the 2017 campaign.

In 2017, Dmitry who wanted to find asylum abroad told ABC News he was terrified that Chechen security forces might find him if he stayed in Russia.
"They have very long arms and they will hound us," Dmitry said in 2017. "I have to get out of here."


Couple Attacked and Targeted as Gay in Austin






A photo of Tristan Perry in the hospital after he says he and his boyfriend were attacked along Red River Street for holding hands. (Photo Courtesy Spencer Deehring).  
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AUSTIN (KXAN) —  A gay couple in Austin say they were the target of a homophobic slur, then attacked in downtown Austin in the early hours of Saturday morning. Both were hospitalized for their injuries.

Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry say they love holding hands with each other and being affectionate. A friend had a birthday party Friday night, so the couple and their friends went to several bars downtown to celebrate. The two say they only had two drinks early on in the night and drove downtown so they wanted to make sure they were sober by the time the night was over.

The two were walking out from Rain nightclub on 4th Street at around 2:45 a.m.

Because of the head trauma he sustained, Perry doesn't remember any of what happened next.

Deehring believes that they were walking near 7th Street and Red River Street (though he says it's possible they could have been a block or two away from that point) when a man walked past them and said a homophobic slur to them.

"I hate that word," Perry interjected. "I'm not going to have someone walk all over me, but that also doesn't warrant getting punched in the face or having a broken nose."

Deehring recalls making a retort back to the man, saying something like "I'm sorry I couldn't hear you."

Then he said that man called over to his group of friends who were out of sight, motioned for them to come over, and within a few seconds, the group was following Deehring and Perry as they walked to their car.

"They started following behind us pretty closely yelling every expletive you can think of," Deehring said. "The last thing I said to one of the guys before they attacked both of us was like, 'I don't have anything more to say to you guys, we're just going home, leave us alone.'"

That's when Deehring said one of the men punched Perry in the face, breaking his nose and causing him to fall to his knees. Next, he recalls two other men stepped in and hit Perry again until he was laying on the ground. Then, Deehring said another man kicked Perry in the back of the head.

Deehring said he immediately tried to tackle the men who were attacking his boyfriend.

"That was my first reaction, was to stop them from kicking him because he couldn't receive one more blow to the head or he may well have been dead," he said.

But Deehring said he was knocked unconscious by the men punching him.

A bystander called 911 and waited there until police and EMS arrived, which Deehring estimates took more than 20 minutes. Both Deehring and Perry were hospitalized.

"If the bystander had not been there [the attackers] may have continued, it may have been much worse," Deehring said.

The couple believes that their attackers were set off by seeing them holding hands.


Perry has a laceration on the back of his head, his nose is broken,  he has swelling in his face up to his cheekbones, his lip is busted, his teeth are chipped, he has neck and upper back pain and his memory has some lapses.

Perry was planning to take the state board exam for his cosmetology license this week, now he fears he will have to delay it. He was rehospitalized Sunday morning after his bleeding continued and symptoms persisted but he has since been discharged.

Deehring has swelling to his mouth and jaw as well as lacerations on his forehead that required skin glue. He also thinks he has bruising from blows to the back of his head and neck.

Both Perry and Deehring have difficulty chewing and are experiencing pain.

"It shouldn't happen to anyone else, and it breaks my heart that it's probably going to [keep happening] until these guys are caught," Perry said.


"Living in Corpus Christi and moving to Austin,  I thought, 'Oh everyone is going to be so open-minded,'" Perry said. "I think that a lot of people think that and it's overlooked that this could happen to anybody, anywhere, anytime."

             




A photo of Tristan Perry in the hospital, he says he and his boyfriend were attacked while holding hands in downtown Austin. Photo Courtesy Spencer Deehring. 
Anna Nguyen, the president of the Austin chapter of PFLAG, told KXAN Sunday she sees this attack as "alarming."

In her 26 years living in Austin, she recalls many attacks on LGBTQIA individuals.

"But it feels as if lately the frequency has ratcheted up quite a bit," she said.

"I think Austin as a community needs to step up its game and prove its one of the most LGBTQIA friendly cities in the country by deeds and not just by words," she said.

She hopes that APD can quickly make headway on finding the person who attacked Perry and Deehring. Nguyen added that in the meantime there are many LGBTQIA groups in Austin that victims of attacks can turn to for support. The couple says they have filed a police report and KXAN is waiting to hear back from Austin police and Austin-Travis County EMS for their records on the case.

In the last few months KXAN has spoken with Austin Police several times about the crimes they see downtown, Assistant Chief Justin Newsom told KXAN that the most common type of calls APD officers responds to downtown are "disturbances" or fights. He estimates around one happens every day and that these calls often involve people who are intoxicated. Newsom told KXAN in December and Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday reiterated in January that they feel more officers are needed to meet the growing number of demands downtown.

While Perry and Deehring wait to hear from an APD detective, they are trying to encourage others to be cautious when out at night and not to travel alone.

"If he wasn't there I don't know that I would still be here today," Perry said looking at Deehring.

They decided to share what happened to them over Facebook for the benefit of others who may have gone through something similar but might not feel comfortable talking about it.

"We want people to understand that it is possible for this to happen, it's not something where you could say its 2019, this doesn't happen anymore, we are living proof of it," Deehring said.

Deehring explained that in sharing about this attack, he also came out to his loved ones about his sexuality. Both he and his boyfriend said they were grateful for the outpouring of support they've received since.

They have a message they want to share:

"Spread love, end all this hatred, end all this closed-mindedness always watch your surroundings, always be aware of your surroundings, don't walk alone," Perry said.

"Be aware of your surroundings, but don't change who you are as a person, don't ever change who you are as a person and don't be afraid to go out there and explore the world, just as you are," Deehring said. "We're gonna do that too."

The couple explained that while this attack has rocked them, they plan to continue going out in public and being affectionate in public.

They have created a GoFundMe page for their medical expenses, which you can find here.

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A photo of Tristan Perry and Spencer Deehring. Photo Courtesy Spencer Deehring.
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