Showing posts with label Civil Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Civil Rights. Show all posts

October 28, 2018

Just Like The Fight For Civil Rights The Victims of The Bomber are Being Blame "Because Republicans Don't Do This Kind Of Thing"

Before authorities apprehended suspect Cesar Sayoc in connection to the series of mail bombs, the case prompted all sorts of speculation and conspiracy theories. The bombs were all sent to high profile critics of President Trump
"It is a high probability that the whole thing is set up as a false flag to gain sympathy for the Democrats," said talk radio host Michael Savage, "and to get our minds off the hordes of illegal aliens approaching our southern border."
"Republicans just don't do this kind of thing," Rush Limbaugh said on his program. "Remember every mass shooting there is, the Democrats in the media try to make everybody think right off the bat that some Tea Partier did it, or some talk radio fan did it or some Fox News viewer did it. Turns out it's never, ever the case. Not one of these bombs went off. And if a Democrat operative's purpose here is to make it look like, 'Hey, you know, there are mobs everywhere, the mobs are not just Democrat mobs.' " 
Federal officials have declined to talk about the potential political motivations, but the criminal complaint connects Sayoc with a pro-Trump twitter account and photographs of him have begun to surface holding "Make America Great Again" signs at a political rally. He was arrested in a van covered with anti-CNN images and pro-Trump decals.
In a news conference announcing the arrest, Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged Sayoc, "appears to be a partisan." He said a motive will be determined as the case goes forward. 
The conspiracy theories flying around before the arrest hearken back to another era in American history — the 1950s and '60s — when bombs were a tool of political intimidation. 
"Terrorism is nothing new"
During that time, Birmingham, Ala. was known by another name: "Bombingham." 
Jeff Drew grew up on a street called Dynamite Hill — so named because many black family homes were bombed for moving into the predominantly white neighborhood.  
"It would push the furniture off the floor and break the windows," Drew said. "And scare us all to death. So terrorism is nothing new to this part of Birmingham, Alabama. We experienced it firsthand."
There were more than three dozen unsolved racially motivated bombings in Birmingham during the Civil Rights era — mostly houses and churches. A frequent target was the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, leader of the Birmingham civil right movement.
And Drew says there was a pattern after the attacks. Authorities, including then Birmingham Police Commissioner Bull Connor, would accuse victims of planting the bombs.
"That's the most inhumane thing you could think of," Drew said. "Who would bomb their own house?"
But that rumor was widely circulated in white circles says Diane McWhorter, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the Birmingham Civil Rights movement called Carry Me Home.
"The understood motive was that blacks were bombing their own churches and buildings in order to raise money and get publicity for the movement," she said.
She says it was repeated publicly by politicians, including Alabama's segregationist governor, George Wallace. Other common theories were that the bombings were ordered by Martin Luther King Jr., or were part of a communist plot, or were orchestrated by the FBI. 
"It was repeated so often — I mean I grew up hearing this from my own father — that, you know, I think they started believing it," she said. "And part of the reason they were able to believe it was that, until the 16th Street Church bombing in September of 1963 when four young girls were murdered, there had been no real fatalities." 
Even after that deadly Ku Klux Klan attack, police at first zeroed in on the church's black janitor as a suspect.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch wrote a trilogy documenting America in the Martin Luther King Jr. years. He says conspiracy theories were rampant across the South as African-Americans pushed for equal rights. 
"It shows the lengths that people will go to not to acknowledge something that they don't want to believe," he said.
For instance, what happened in Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964. 
"Three of the civil rights workers were kidnapped by a sheriff's posse of Klansmen and murdered and, because the bodies weren't found, Mississippi officials denied that that segregationists could have done this crime," Branch said. "First of all, they said there was a hoax. Sen. James Eastland even told that to the president on the phone."
"Jim, they got three kids missing down there. What can I do about it?," President Lyndon Johnson said on a recorded call
"I don't know," Eastland replied. "I don't believe there's three missing. I believe it's a publicity stunt."
Thriving conspiracy theories
Branch says polarizing times — then and now — lead to an ideological climate where conspiracy theories thrive. 
You hear it today on talk radio, and on social media sites where people have speculated that Democrats are behind the suspicious packages, in order to generate sympathy in the upcoming mid-term elections. 
"Trying to play this blame game and shifting blame somewhere else is just a low point of where we've gotten into this country in our political conversations," Branch said.
Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama is a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the Birmingham church bombers. 
"We are living in a time where words matter just like they did back in the '60s," he said. "There were so many things that happened then based on the empowerment that public officials like George Wallace gave. Do people not understand what it takes to kind of tone down the rhetoric to make sure that things like this don't happen with some deranged fool out there who wants to try to hurt people thinking that he's got the O.K. to do it?"
Jones says he's confident law enforcement will find the truth behind the mail bombs.

September 19, 2017

Anti Civil Rights Candidate Gov.Wallace and Trump are Sewn at The Hip by An X and a K

This nation knew they were voting for a racist but the North didn't think he would win and the south didn't care how racist he was.
 He fought civil rights and work with David Duke and the KKK. He had a change of heart in some of his positions in his old age unable to walk because of the assassination attempt.

Former Missouri Republican Senator (1976-1995) John Danforth was, and remains, a highly respected public figure, seen as a man of principle and decency.
He is not a publicity seeker by any means, so when he makes a public utterance, it is not something to be ignored or overlooked.

Recently, Danforth made the statement that Donald Trump does not represent core Republican principles, the kind that drove the public life of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H. W. Bush, and even George W. Bush, all upholding basic principles of justice and fairness.
Instead, Danforth makes the point that Trump is the most divisive political figure in national life since Alabama Governor George C. Wallace.
Fifty-four years ago and for the following decades, Wallace became a nationally noticed political leader, who sought the Presidency in 1964, 1968 (when he had the second-best third-party performance in all of American history), and 1972, until he became the victim of an assassination attempt, which ended that campaign.
It left Wallace paralyzed for life, facing years of pain, suffering, and surgeries to attempt to make his life bearable for the 26 years he lived on until his death in 1998 at the age of 79.
Wallace drew support from white working-class whites, not only in the South, where he won his 46 electoral votes in 1968 but also from millions in the industrial Midwest and rural areas of the nation, similar to Donald Trump’s victories in such places.
Wallace came from a lower but struggling middle-class white background in Alabama, while Trump, on the other hand, grew up in wealth and privilege in an upscale community in Queens County, New York, with his father being a wealthy real estate magnate. So their family background and heritage were diametrically opposite.

But both developed a mental view that the way to advance oneself was to exploit race and ethnicity as a way to provoke an emotional uprising by insecure, struggling middle-class whites.
Wallace became notorious in 1962 when he ran for the second time for the Alabama governorship, and abandoned his earlier “liberal” view on race in the 1958 gubernatorial campaign when he ended up last.
After that, he made it clear that he would exploit the race card, and when he won the governorship, he became a nationally known figure, when in his inaugural address in Montgomery, the state capital, in January 1963, he made the famous utterance: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!”
Wallace sought the Presidency against the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, entering several Presidential primaries, and bitterly opposing the Civil Rights Act of that year.
He became more controversial during the next four years, more incendiary in his public speeches at rallies, and then ran as the American Independent Party nominee for President in 1968, displaying demagogic techniques as he won five Southern states and 46 electoral votes.
He continued to divide and incite the population again over the next four years and was seen as a danger to Richard Nixon in 1972, until he was shot by assassin Arthur Bremer, who had been stalking Nixon before shooting Wallace in Laurel, Maryland, in May 1972.
After his unfortunate shooting and difficult recovery, well covered in my Assassinations book (Chapter 11), Wallace had a change of heart and was asking for forgiveness from civil rights leaders in the last decades of his life, even while serving once again as the governor of Alabama (his fourth term).
So one could say he reformed himself, apparently affected by the assassination attempt against him. It is unlikely that Donald Trump would ever reform, however, as he is a narcissist to the extreme, who has never admitted errors or faults in anything he has asserted or done in his public life.
Donald Trump had a background as a registered Democrat, always outspoken and controversial over the decades, but often seeming to be liberal in his views, although showing signs of racism in his real estate practices in Queens County, New York, as early as 1973, and his outrageous accusations against the “Central Park Five,” the case of the five African American young men accused of rape and assault in 1989.
They were eventually cleared after years in prison, but Trump was unwilling to admit he had been wrong. He continued to insist in fact that they were guilty as charged.
Once Barack Obama became President, Trump’s move into open racism and nativism became endemic, as he accused Obama of “birtherism” without any proof. And he began his national campaign for President in June 2015 with attacks on Mexicans and calling for a Mexico Wall, and displaying extreme Islamophobia, issues that he utilized in gaining the backing of his followers.
He refused to tone down his extremist and emotional tirades, which went much further than even George Wallace had displayed four to five decades earlier.
Both Wallace and Trump aroused crowds at campaign rallies, and ordered critics be thrown out; both attacked the news media as the enemy of the American people; both exploited the worst instincts of voters by exploiting their resentment, insecurities, and bitterness. Trump has continued this same approach as President.
So Senator John Danforth was accurate in stating that Trump has become the most divisive national political figure since George Wallace, with the caveat, however, that Trump is our President, and Wallace never came close to the Oval Office.
While George Wallace divided the nation in his time, the danger that Donald Trump represents is far more menacing.

November 9, 2016

ACLU Will to Go War with Trump

 This morning, Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States, and the ACLU has a message for him.

President-elect Trump, as you assume the nation’s highest office, we urge you to reconsider and change course on certain campaign promises you have made. These include your plan to amass a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims into our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women for accessing abortion; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and change our nation’s libel laws and restrict freedom of expression.

These proposals are not simply un-American and wrong-headed, they are unlawful and unconstitutional. They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments. If you do not reverse course and instead endeavor to make these campaign promises a reality, you will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at every step. Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers and millions of card-carrying members and supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.

One thing is certain: We will be eternally vigilant every single day of your presidency. And when you leave the Oval Office, we will do the same with your successor as we have done throughout our nearly 100 years of existence. The Constitution and the rule of law are stronger than any one person, and we will see to that. We will never waver.

ACLU By Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director

November 9, 2016
NEW YORK — In response to Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following statement:
“For nearly 100 years, the American Civil Liberties Union has been the nation’s premier defender of freedom and justice for all, no matter who is president. Our role is no different today.
“President-elect Trump, as you assume the nation’s highest office, we urge you to reconsider and change course on certain campaign promises you have made. These include your plan to amass a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims into our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women for accessing abortion; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and change our nation’s libel laws and restrict freedom of expression.
“These proposals are not simply un-American and wrong-headed, they are unlawful and unconstitutional. They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. If you do not reverse course and instead endeavor to make these campaign promises a reality, you will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at every step. Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers, and millions of card-carrying supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.
“One thing is certain: we will be eternally vigilant every single day of your presidency and when you leave the Oval Office, we will do the same with your successor.

The ACLU released its analysis of candidate Trump’s policy proposals in July, which can be found at:

October 26, 2016

In Louisiana an Immigrant May Not Get Married [Gay or Straight]

 Humans without human Rights! Louisiana


When Victor Anh Vo went with his fiancée to obtain a marriage license, he instead received a nasty shock: The couple was legally barred from getting married. Both Vo and his fiancée are American citizens of legal age—but Vo was born in a refugee camp and has no official birth certificate. As a parish clerk informed the devastated couple, that disqualifies him from obtaining a license, because Louisiana law forbids anyone without a birth certificate from marrying within the state.

This requirement is no ancient rule. It was enacted just last year during a fit of legislative xenophobia driven by paranoia that immigrants were committing marriage fraud in Louisiana. Now a coalition of attorneys from the National Immigration Law Center, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, and the law firm Skadden, Arps is challenging the measure in court. Their fight to overturn the law is the first big marriage equality battle post-Obergefell, and it poses a nearly identical question: Can states deny individuals their fundamental right to marry because they don’t think certain people deserve to get married?

On the surface, the Lousiana law, dubbed Act 436, might not appear especially insidious. The bill simply adds documentary requirements to the marriage licensing process. Applicants must now provide a Social Security number and a birth certificate before receiving a license. If they don’t have a Social Security number, then they must present a birth certificate and a passport. If they don’t have a passport, they need official documentation showing that they are in the United States legally—in addition to a birth certificate. (A previous statute allowed an individual with no birth certificate to prove his or her identity before a judge, but that judicial bypass procedure is now gone.) The upshot of these requirements is that someone like Vo, who was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam, cannot ever get married in Louisiana.

Why did the Louisiana legislature add these extensive new requirements, which then–Gov. Bobby Jindal happily signed into law? Rep. Valarie Hodges, Act 436’s sponsor, initially asserted that the bill was necessary to “combat marriage fraud” broadly. But after the bill passed, Hodges acknowledged that its true purpose was to combat immigration fraud, stating that her measure was necessary to prevent immigrants from marrying citizens solely to get lawful permanent resident status. Immigrant marriage fraud, however, is not known to be a particular problem in Louisiana—and federal law explicitly grants the federal government, not the states, the power to combat it.

I asked Alvaro Huerta, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, what he thought the bill’s true purpose was.

“Act 436’s intention isn’t really combatting marriage fraud writ large,” Huerta told me. “The bill is trying to get at immigrants—and, in particular, making it very difficult for undocumented immigrants to obtain marriage licenses.”

Audrey Stewart, the managing director at the New Orleans Center for Racial Justice, agreed. “This law is not about marriage fraud,” she told me. “It is an attack on immigrant families and communities. And it’s rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment.”

But Act 436’s challengers don’t even need to prove the bill’s insidious intent in court: It is, by its own terms, almost certainly unconstitutional under Obergefell. In that decision, the court reiterated that marriage is a fundamental right, a critical component of the “liberty” protected by the Constitution, and held that states may not deny marriage rights based on some arbitrary distinction. Nationality or immigration status is surely as arbitrary a distinction as gender—so a law that restricts marriage rights on those bases is just as invalid as a law that restricts marriage rights on the basis of sexual orientation. That’s why the suit against Act 436 opens with the stirring peroration from Obergefell, an encomium to marriage proclaiming that all loving couples deserve “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

“Obergefell didn’t explicitly extend to immigration,” Huerta told me, “but the argument is there. It’s spot-on precedent for this case. Louisiana can’t pass laws that infringe on that right to marry unless they have a very compelling state reason. And we can’t think of any compelling reasons for wanting to keep some people, particularly immigrants, from getting married to the people that they love—or preventing the people who love immigrants from marrying them”
Without the certificate, how can we be sure they were actually born?

Huerta noted that even if the suit doesn’t prevail under Obergefell, Act 436 is still a straightforward violation of the Equal Protection Clause (which generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin). But Obergefell is the headlining precedent here, and the all-stars of the marriage equality movement have already lined up to support the suit. Indeed, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has already signaled its eagerness to contribute to the litigation in any way it can. I asked the group’s legal director, Shannon Price Minter, why the group was jumping into this battle. He provided me with the remarks he delivered to the National Immigration Law Center in throwing his organization’s support behind the suit:

Speaking on behalf of the LGBT community, whose fundamental freedom to marry was only recently recognized in this country, just last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, we are appalled by Louisiana’s blatant attempt to deny the fundamental right to marry to immigrants, which of course includes many LGBT people who have come to this country from other places and who are now living in Louisiana.
As LGBT people know from recent experience, the purpose and impact of such laws are so invidious and harmful—and especially so here, when the discrimination is targeted at a class of people, immigrants, who have already experienced so much discrimination and abuse and who are under attack in such a vicious way by one of our presidential candidates.

Laws such as these are intended to—and do—send a clear message that immigrants are not entitled to equal dignity and respect, and that their relationships are not worthy of the same protections as other. They have a devastating practical impact as well, as same-sex couples experienced for so many years, in denying couples the ability to protect their relationships and their families.

The connection Minter draws between this litigation and same-sex marriage is potent and depressingly topical. This election season has featured relatively little conversation about gay people’s rights—and extensive debate about the rights of immigrants. Much like George W. Bush campaigned on homophobia in 2004, Donald Trump has rooted his campaign in vicious xenophobia, promoting legalized discrimination against immigrants and making many feel unwelcome in the United States. For LGBTQ advocates, the parallels to their own recent history are impossible to ignore. And Louisiana will soon discover that after Obergefell, the constitutional guarantee of “equal dignity” for all cannot be so easily abridged.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues

May 25, 2016

World Freedom Ratings

 During his time visiting Vietnam, President Barack Obama urged the communist government to learn from its past human rights abuses, insisting that greater freedom for Vietnamese citizens is the key to the economic success the country desires. The development comes only a day after the President lifted what was left of a U.S. arms embargo on the country stemming from the Vietnam War.

Below are visualizations overviewing freedom rankings across the globe, top U.S. trade partners and Vietnam's GDP per capita growth over time

 (Interactive Graph) 

May 21, 2016

Your Body does Not Care Where it Relieves it self but Politicians Do

 Written by Jeffrey Kluger and it was originally posted on Time yesterday.

Ted cruz examining dildoRepublican Ted Cruz by #GOPdildo                                                                          

Your genes don't care who you share a bathroom with, but your politicians do

Want to see a living experiment in what happens when traditional gender lines are truly blurred? Forget North Carolina or Mississippi or any of the places in the U.S. where politicians have made the question of which person uses which bathroom an unlikely cultural flash point. 
Take a look instead at Samoa—the tiny island nation that can teach the world’s most powerful democracy a thing or two about the basic business of human sexuality. Samoa, like the U.S. and every other country in the world, is home to plenty of men and plenty of women, but, unlike any other country in the world, it’s also home to the fa’afafine. 
The fa’afafine are, nominally, boys—with a boy’s anatomy and a boy’s chromosomes and, therefore, the “boy” box ticked on their birth certificate.
But the fa’afafine are something more too. They’re typically gay, yes, but they think and act and dress and feel almost entirely “in the manner of a woman,” which is what fa’afafine means. They are thus considered—even embraced as—a third sex.
Typically, the fa’afafine assume traditional female roles in the Samoan culture and, while they are less likely to have children of their own than heterosexual males are, they compensate by being exceedingly dedicated alloparents—the broad category of family caregivers that also includes uncles and aunts and grandparents. That makes the fa’afafine especially prized by evolution. Babies with a greater number loving adults looking after them have a better chance of surviving than those with fewer.
Oh, and as to which public bathrooms the fa’afafine use? Nobody flipping cares.
That’s worth keeping in mind as advocates of restrictive bathroom laws argue that separate accommodations for men and women are more than merely custom, they’re fundamental to human nature—just the way nature wants things to be. On its surface, a scientific argument like this does seem to track.
All evolution is in one way or the other built around the goal of reproducing yourself and your genes, so it stands to reason that there should be no ambiguity about the gender we present to the world, and typically there isn’t. Indeed, we work hard to advertise our maleness or femaleness in the most appealing ways possible. That’s the purpose of sexual signaling like makeup for women or muscle shirts for men.
Ambiguity in this context should be unsettling, especially in public places that require us to disrobe even partially. Things get more disturbing still when the specter of male sexual predators masquerading as females to gain access to women’s bathrooms is thrown into the mix. But none of these arguments bear close scrutiny.
The easiest part to dispense with is the least scientific part—the dangerous man in the girls’ bathroom. Transgender people are no more or less likely to be sexual predators than any other people, and a biological male who wanted to cross-dress to gain access to a bathroom not meant for him would have been doing it already—and presumably could continue to do it despite local laws.
As my colleague Michael Scherer reports in this week’s TIME cover story, “The FBI and local law enforcement do not keep consistent stats on the number of crimes committed in public restrooms, so there is no way to track every claim…But there is not yet any anecdotal evidence that trans-friendly rules have been abused by predators, or that incidents of violence or sexual assault have increased.”
More nettlesome is the human nature argument. It’s undeniable that for most people the idea of mixed gender bathrooms may take some getting used to, but the question is why, and the answer has less to do with evolution than socialization. Even in cultures that have rigid bathroom-division norms, the rules break down fast depending on context—consider camping trips; co-ed dorms; crowded stadiums or theaters where women waiting in long bathroom lines are often waved into the men’s room to help speed things up. And those comparatively conservative cultures are by no means the only kind.
“There is no evolutionary, genetic or primordial drive for a gender binary as we do it and absolutely no primordial drive for two bathrooms, one labeled male and one labeled female,” says anthropologist Elijah Edelman of Rhode Island College. “We have thousands of cultures that do not, and have not, had the gender binary we have right here.”
Even outside the bathroom, sex divisions in the U.S. have blurred and blurred again over just the past half century so that what was once jarring—men with long hair, women in pants, earrings and piercings and tattoos on both sexes—has become entirely unremarkable. A culture that embraces a style trend like the 1990s’ androgyny chic is not a culture governed by genetically determined gender roles.
“We are not sacks of genes walking through the world acting on instinct alone,” says anthropologist Eric Plemons of the University of Arizona. “We are people who learn to see ourselves and each other through the frameworks of cultural practices.”
Yes, some of those those cultural practices can be more deeply felt than others. The proper way to hold a fork is a cultural practice too, but we don’t get terribly rattled when it’s violated. However, the mere fact that we do get rattled—at least at first—by the unexpected anatomy of somebody sharing a locker room with us, does not mean that’s the way we’re all hardwired.
“It would be worth asking who thinks trans-people using the bathroom is such a big deal,” says Plemons. “Clearly groups living in different geographic regions of the U.S. do not have substantively different evolutionary pasts, so why is panic about trans-people organized so differently across the country?”
The answer to that question is partly benign—a large heterogeneous country is likely to be home to many different regions with many different customs and practices. And it’s partly cynical—with some of those regions adopting policies that appeal to an ideological faction, even if it comes at the expense of a minority.
But all of the people in all of those places do come factory-loaded with a human sense of fairness and compassion and empathy—and those are traits that cut across all cultures. For legislators considering restrictive bathroom laws, that should be all the science that’s necessary.

October 24, 2015

Disgusting Deceptive Ads used to repeal an LGBT Anti discrimination Ordinance


The battle over Houston’s nondiscrimination law took a real ugly turn last week, when opponents aired one of the most outrageous and disgustingly deceptive ads in their effort to repeal it at the ballot box in November.

Even though the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) protects 15 different characteristics from discrimination in Texas’s largest city, those who want to kill the legislation are focused on only one of them: gender identity. And they are ginning up support and misinformed hysteria by calling it “the bathroom ordinance.”



Take a look at the ad from an outfit called the Campaign for Houston. The last frame is as terrifying as the entire ad is flat-out false. Here’s what it says:

Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom at any time simply by claiming to be a woman that day. No one is exempt, even registered sex offenders could follow women or young girls into the bathroom and if a business tried to stop them they’d be fined. Protect women’s privacy. Prevent danger. Vote “no” on the Proposition 1 “bathroom ordinance.” It goes too far.
What goes too far is this bigoted ad and its perversion of the facts. It is an outright lie to say “any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom at any time simply by claiming to be a woman that day.” Such a statement reveals a willful ignorance of what it means to be transgender. In addition, the so-called “bathroom ordinance” people completely ignore a rather specific Houston law that has been on the books since 1972.

According to Code 1968, 28-42.6; Ord. No. 72-904, 2, 6-2-72 , “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally enter any public restroom designated for the exclusive use of the sex opposite to such person’s sex without the permission of the owner, tenant, manager, lessee or other person in charge of the premises, in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.”

In short, if you’re in the bathroom for any purpose other than relieving yourself, you’re breaking the law. And if you’re in there to molest children or commit rape, you’re also a monster.

Due to a legal challenge to HERO, the Texas Supreme Court ordered the Houston City Council to repeal the law or put it up for popular vote this November. The straightforward question asks whether the law should go into effect.

Of course, the answer to the Houston ballot question should be yes. HERO foes ignore the fact that nine other Texas cities with more than 100,000, including Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin, already have anti-discrimination laws on the books. Houston isn’t breaking new ground here.

That there is such a pitched battle over the Houston statute is further proof that the fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans did not end with the Supreme Court’s marriage-equality ruling in June. And it makes clear that opponents will stop at nothing to ensure that full equality never comes.


Last week, Samantha Power received an award from the Council for Global Equality. The group, which pushes to have American foreign policy inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, presented the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations with its Global Equality Leadership Award. While Power’s remarks were focused on gay rights around the world and had nothing to do with Houston, the sentiment they expressed definitely applied to Houston.

“If we are horrified by the Islamic State singling out LGBT people for attacks and executions, and of course we should be, why shouldn’t we be horrified when other rights of LGBT persons are violated? When, for example, police refuse to investigate attacks against LGBT persons? Or when businesses, schools or other institutions turn away LGBT persons because of who they are?” Power asked. “While the gravity of these abuses vary, all of them reject the inherent rights and dignity of LGBT people.”

Power then added this: “We are all striving to create respect for LGBT rights in those countries because we are not willing to accept a world where basic human rights can only be enjoyed in constricted places. Whether that place is a home or a neighborhood or a state or a country. There can’t be no-go zones for these rights to be real.”

If the voters of Houston reject Proposition 1, they will create a no-go zone for LGBT people. And they better be prepared for the backlash that will result.

June 28, 2015

After World Record Victory, What’s next for this gay Community?


The Senator leading the push for a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill in Congress tells TIME that he is working with civil rights groups so the coming legislation isn’t just about being gay or lesbian.

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling granting same-sex couples the right to marry in every state, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon was laying the groundwork for a sweeping bill that would expand gay rights even further. He says he plans to introduce within the next two months. “We need to put forward a bill that captures that full range. We cannot nibble around the edges,” he said in an interview.

Friday’s ruling, while a tremendous milestone for gay rights, had no effect on what conservative attorney Ted Olson, who argued California’s landmark same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, called a “crazy quilt” of laws that unequally treat gays and lesbians.
Indeed, more than 206 million Americans — nearly two thirds of the country — live in states where employers can be fired someone for being gay. Only 18 states and the District of Columbia prohibit housing discrimination based on a tenant’s sexuality or sexual identity. Three others prohibit discrimination based on sexuality. The remaining 166 million Americans live in states where landlords can evict someone for their sexuality.

That’s why Merkley is working with fellow Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey on the Senate’s version of a sweeping non-discrimination law that would bar individuals from being denied services—including housing and jobs but also mortgages and education—based on their sexuality. In the House, efforts are being led by Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, an openly gay lawmaker, and civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia.
“Equal dignity involves equal opportunity. It involves equality in the basic functions of our society,” Merkley said. “There should be the ability for the LGBT community to fully participate without discrimination.”

Merkley is also working with a coalition that includes the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and National Council on La Raza. The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Women’s Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign are also lending their advice to Merkley’s drafting process.
“We want to place nondiscrimination for the LBGT community on the same foundation as is anti-discrimination in the Civil Rights Act,” Merkley said.

The politics, however, could be tricky. Neither House Speaker John Boehner nor Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was a fan of earlier gay rights proposals. Yet that was before the Supreme Court decided all Americans have the right to marry. No Republican is yet publicly working with Merkley’s council.
“There is a sense of acceleration on this. There has been a huge change, year by year,” Merkley said. “The inherent logic is that if you believe that every individual should be able to be married with the person that they love, then you believe that every individual should pursue employment without discrimination. … You surely also believe that people should have equal access to mortgages, equal access to public accommodations, equal access to housing, equal access to all of the fundamentals of our society that give a person a full chance to participate and to thrive.”

August 23, 2014

Brainier-less Law Maker Introduced a Kill Switch for Police on Smart Phones in California

Tech and civil liberties groups are pushing back on a California "kill switch" bill that they warn could be used to silence protests like the ones seen this week in Ferguson, Mo.
Critics say a California bill passed on Monday contains a dangerous carve-out that could give law enforcement the power to shut down cellphones during emergency situations, possibly including public demonstrations.
 The California bill is aimed at curbing cellphone theft by requiring all smartphones sold in the state — home to 37 million people — to come equipped with a feature that allows users to remotely wipe their personal data and make the devices inoperable.
It requires that the “kill switches” be turned on by default, though a user can opt out of using the tool.
If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the bill will add to the features that some companies already offer to let users disable their phones if stolen.
But the bill “is not explicit about who can activate such a switch,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a June letter opposing the bill.
“And more critically, the solution will be available for others to exploit as well, including malicious actors or law enforcement.”
Concerns about the provision have been heightened by the demonstrations this week in Ferguson, where police at times demanded that protestors and journalists turn off the video cameras on their phones.
Jake Laperruque, fellow on privacy, surveillance and security at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said the California bill could create the potential for an abuse of power by law enforcement.
“This could effectively be co-opted to disrupt protests,” Laperruque said.
“So much of what’s happening [in Ferguson] is relevant,” he continued, wondering what the situation would look like “if this was required there.”
The bill’s supporters say it incorporates protections against the hypothetical police actions.
The measures specifically references California law that requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to interrupt communications services except in the cases of “extreme emergency” situations.
In situations where there is “immediate danger of death or great bodily injury and there is insufficient time, with due diligence, to first obtain a court order,” law enforcement officials must quickly obtain retroactive court approval for activating the kill switch.
Max Szabo — a spokesman with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, which supported the bill — called critics concerns “alarmist” and “akin to ambulance chasing.”
“This legislation addresses the violent, global epidemic of smartphone theft,” he said.
“Not only does the bill forbid usage of such technology by government without a court order, these solutions will only be available on smartphones.”
According to 2013 figures from the Public Policy Institute of California, roughly 58 percent of California residents have smartphones.
Because the bill only requires kill switches for smartphones — as opposed to all cellphones — “the utility of limiting speech for a fraction of protesters defies logic and basic commonsense,” Szabo said.
In its letter, the EFF notes that current California law limits when law enforcement would be able to use the kill switches but also “provides the necessary legal roadmap” to disable cellphones in some circumstances.
“Because it is difficult to implement a ‘kill switch’ that can only be utilized at the behest of the device user but not third parties or the government, EFF strongly believes the state should not mandate this backdoor be installed into phones in California.”
Laperruque agreed that those legal protections are insufficient.
“If you give law enforcement a tool that can be abused, you’ll have an instance of asking for forgiveness rather than permission,” he said.
The bill “creates a pretty concerning risk considering history on the issue,” he said, recalling a controversial 2011 decision by San Francisco’s subway authority to interrupt cellphone service in the hope of clamping down on protests.
While the bill is specific to phones sold in California, phone companies may “just start doing this nationally” to cut down on costs, meaning law enforcement could soon have access to the power in every state, Laperruque said.
Laperruque said the focus should be on creating a federal cellphone kill switch bill, such as the one from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), which would let device owners wipe their phones of personal data and make the phones inoperable if stolen. 

August 2, 2014

PM in Turkey Prohibits Women to Laugh in Public- What would women do now?LoL


Women? Laughing? IN PUBLIC?! Not on Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc’s watch! In a speech this week, Arinc decried supposedly immoral women who dared to visibly chuckle. “A woman should be chaste,” Arinc said. “She should know the difference between public and private. She should not laugh in public.”
Although ludicrous, Arinc’s stance is not altogether shocking given prevailing attitudes toward women amongst Turkey’s leaders. Stifling a women’s ability to laugh – to express and experience joy – is part of a larger effort to stifle women’s rights in general.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with his wife Emine Erdogan-  Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Bulent Arınc, advised women they should not laugh out loud in public
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with his wife Emine Erdogan- 
the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Bulent Arınc, advised women they should not laugh out loud in public Photo: AP
Women and progressive men in Turkey found Arinc’s words to be, well, laughable, and as such took the most appropriate course of action: laughing a lot in public. Throughout the country, citizens posted photos of themselves on social media unabashedly laughing, tagging their posts with #direnkahkaha, which translates to “resist laughter.”
“[Arinc’s] words perfectly illustrate his and the AK Party’s attitude towards women,” said Mehtap Dogan, a member of the Socialist Feminist Collective. “In their eyes, women should not have any rights, they treat us like a separate species. Using moralism to hide behind, they defend violence, rape, and sexism.”
Meanwhile, Arinc dismissed claims of any wrongdoing, calling it a “disgusting, ugly, and unfounded fabrication.” Granted, he definitely did say those words in his speech, but he didn’t intend for that to be the takeaway, apparently. “I believe I have made a useful speech,” he said. “If I had only said women should not laugh, then I have done something irrational, but my speech was about manners and moral rules.”
Arinc elaborated that it’s women who indulge in “fake laughter” (whatever that means) that really upset his sensibilities. He also took the opportunity to make a swipe at ladies who “never miss the chance to wrap themselves around a dancing pole,” further demonstrating his general disdain for women.
While Turkey’s feminist activists have been attempting to steer the conversation toward ongoing violence toward women, it’s a shame that the prime minister continues to blame women for supposed wrongdoing rather than promoting positive change.
Fortunately, not all of Turkey’s leaders believe in limiting women’s happiness. Presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a member of the oppositional party, publicly denounced Arinc’s comments, telling his supporters, “Our country needs our women to laugh and to hear everyone’s joyful laughter more than ever.”
Indeed, the defiant women are taking that call to heart by refusing to bow to unreasonable pressure. In this case, literal laughter is the best way to laugh off Arinc’s sexist condemnation. May the women of Turkey continue to snicker at these antiquated “morality” claims and pursue gender equality.

Featured Posts

Alan Merrill "I Love Rock'N'Roll Dies of COVID-19

By Mark Savage BBC music reporter   BBC Image copyright Image caption The singer had a long and varied career in mus...