North Carolina Files Bill to Make Gay Marriage Illegal Again

From Out: http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/4/11/breaking-north-carolina-files-bill-make-gay-marriage-illegal-again

House Bill 780 claims the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped “constitutional bounds.”

By Justin Moran
April 11, 2017

Three Republican lawmakers filed today a new bill, which seeks to ban gay marriage in North Carolina, CBS reports. The “Uphold Historical Marriage Act” aims to invalidate the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage, claiming they violated “constitutional bounds” when the Court dismantled Amendment One.

More than 60 percent of those who cast a ballot in May 2012 voted in favor of Amendment One, which prohibited North Carolina from performing or recognizing same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale and Carl Ford are the core sponsors of House Bill 780, which quotes the Christian Bible and states the Supreme Court overstepped “the decree of Almighty God that ‘a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become 22 one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, ESV)'” HB780 also argues the Supreme Court “abrogates the clear meaning and understanding of marriage in all societies throughout prior history.”

If approved, the bill would make the Supreme Court’s federal decision on gay marriage void in North Carolina. Same-sex marriages would become invalid, regardless of being conducted within or outside of the state.

See complete article at:  http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/4/11/breaking-north-carolina-files-bill-make-gay-marriage-illegal-again

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Joe Biden Calls on Trump Admin to Condemn LGBTQ Crisis in Chechnya

From NBC News:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/joe-biden-calls-trump-admin-condemn-lgbtq-crisis-chechnya-n746696

by Mary Emily O’Hara
Apr 14 2017

Joe Biden is “disgusted and appalled” by reports of authorities in Chechnya torturing and killing men who are believed to be gay or bisexual.

On Friday, the former Vice President responded to growing concerns among international governments and human rights groups who have been pressuring the U.S. to take action and address the Chechen crisis with Russia.

“When faced with such crimes of hate and inhumanity, it is the responsibility of every person of conscience to speak out — to oppose this campaign of violence before it continues further,” Biden said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

The reports of a violent, state-sponsored campaign targeting local LGBTQ men in Chechnya first arose on April 1, when the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a story revealing details of a prison-like facility near the Chechen town of Argun.

Novaya Gazeta spoke with Chechen men who reported being arrested and subsequently tortured with beatings and electric shocks, as well as being forced to supply authorities with the names and phone numbers of other LGBTQ people.

A St. Petersburg advocacy group, Russian LGBT Network, set up an emergency hotline to take calls from Chechnya — and now says it has received about 50 calls from people who were targeted or are trying to escape the region. As many as 100 men were believed to have been arrested for suspected homosexuality. Russian LGBT Network told NBC News it believes around 20 men have been killed by authorities as part of the roundups.

“People are very intimidated and not eager to talk. They are hesitant to even talk to us,” Natalia Poplevskaia, the network’s International Advocacy Officer and Monitoring Program Coordinator, told NBC News on Tuesday. “The people who have been targeted by the campaign need some time to get back to normal life.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/joe-biden-calls-trump-admin-condemn-lgbtq-crisis-chechnya-n746696

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We ask why nobody stopped the Nazis, then stay silent as gay men are tortured in Chechnya

From International Business Times:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/we-ask-why-nobody-stopped-nazis-then-stay-silent-gay-men-are-tortured-chechnya-1616686

Gay men are being detained and held in camps in the Chechen Republic.

By
April 12, 2017

It is a largely-forgotten stain on human history and it is a largely-ignored evil in our present. Homophobia, the world over, struggles to be taken seriously.

Gay journalists, such as myself, may write about it. Gay people may speak about it. But where are the statues to the countless millions who have been brutalised by their own countries for centuries? And, as we hear of yet more repulsive and frightening attacks on gay people in Chechnya, where is the worldwide political outrage?

In truth, there is none. Like rubberneckers on the motorway, politicians and social commentators tut and grimace as they respond to reports of barbarism against innocent gay men – and then, they drive on.

It seems increasingly clear that the torture of gay people in Chechnya and neighbouring countries including Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Armenia is taking an ever-darker turn into the depths of human cruelty.

Reports from the Russian LGBT Network suggest that gay men are being rounded up, beaten and abducted; that they are tortured, their hands electrocuted and their bodies beaten. They have been forced to sit on bottles. At least three of the 100 Chechen men taken have – we are told – been murdered and activists are trying to evacuate gay men from danger.

Rightly, the Foreign Office has condemned the Chechen Republic’s leadership not only for their reported barbarity, but also for the miserably-warped claim that they could not arrest gay men in their region because there are none.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesperson, Alvi Karimov, said with Orwellian indifference: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”

And so, gay people across that region and in so many other countries, continue to be tortured, burned alive, imprisoned, beaten, thrown off buildings, ostracised, hanged and forgotten.

Can I, as a British subject, call on a political will to demand answers from Chechnya? Can we order our Foreign Secretary to gather his international counterparts and hold a summit? There is no such will to draw upon. A condemnation from the Foreign Office has gone largely unnoticed and it’s unlikely to have made any difference to the men waiting to become corpses alongside the three who have apparently already been beaten to death in a camp near the Chechen capitol, Grozny.

Continue reading at:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/we-ask-why-nobody-stopped-nazis-then-stay-silent-gay-men-are-tortured-chechnya-1616686

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Naomi Klein — How to Jam the Trump Brand

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Canada is moving to legalize marijuana — and it may violate international drug law to do it

From Vox:  http://www.vox.com/2017/4/13/15219524/canada-marijuana-legalization-bill

Canada’s move to legalize marijuana is big not just for Canada. It could impact global — and US — drug policy.

by German Lopez
Apr 13, 2017

Canada wants to legalize marijuana — and it may be willing to break international law to do it.

On Thursday, the ruling Liberal Party in the Canadian Parliament introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. It would be the first developed country in the world to fully legalize pot since the international war on drugs began in the 1970s.

The bill will set the minimum age for purchasing marijuana at 18, although provinces could raise the age within their borders. The federal government will handle licensing producers, while provincial governments will manage distribution and retail sales. And Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household and possess up to 30 grams per person. For the most part, the bill follows the recommendations made by a recent federal task force on marijuana legalization — although the bill could change as it works its way through Parliament.

None of this should seem too shocking in the US, where already eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 28 have allowed cannabis for medicinal purposes. What sets Canada apart, though, is it’s doing this as a country. Currently, Uruguay is the only nation in the world that legally allows marijuana for recreational purposes.

This is an important distinction from state-by-state legalization because Canada, like the US, is part of international drug treaties that explicitly ban legalizing marijuana. And although activists have been pushing to change these treaties for years, they have failed so far — and that means Canada will be, in effect, in violation of international law when it moves to legalize. (The US argues it’s still in accordance with the treaties because, even though the federal government allows marijuana legalization to continue at the state level by taking a hands-off approach, federal law still technically prohibits cannabis.)

Still, the move is, according to advocates of legalization, long overdue. When Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party was elected in 2015, one of the main promises he ran on was to legalize marijuana. But the process of actually beginning to legalize stalled as the government waited on the task force report on legalization, and finally put a bill together based on the recommendations.

“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” Trudeau’s Liberal Party declared on its campaign website. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

 The bill, of course, is not law just yet. It will need Parliament’s approval — which may require wrangling some changes to get — to become law. But the bill’s chances seem good: Liberals control a majority of the House of Commons, and on legalization they’re backed by the even more liberal New Democratic Party. Conservatives ran in opposition to legal pot, but at this point they are a fairly small minority in the Canadian government. Still, the bill may face some hurdles in the independent Senate, a legislative body that traditionally is more ceremonial in function but is recently doing more to assert its authority.
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Hannah Is a Girl. Doctors Finally Treat Her Like One.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/08/opinion/sunday/hannah-is-a-girl-doctors-finally-treat-her-like-one.html

NEW HAVEN — Hannah is a 14-year-old girl, clad in leggings and an oversize T-shirt, with long brown hair that she curls around a finger. She was also born a boy.

The government can’t seem to decide whether it should affirm children like Hannah. President Trump jumped from supporting workplace protections for transgender people to ending supportive policies for transgender students in public schools. The Supreme Court waffled on whether or not these kids can use the bathrooms of their identified genders, sending the question back to the Fourth Circuit. Last month, North Carolina repealed a law that forced transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificates, while strangely prohibiting schools from adopting policies that would let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.

Politicians could learn something from the doctors who treat these patients. Over the past few years, it has become clear that if we support these children in their transgender identities instead of trying to change them, they thrive instead of struggling with anxiety and depression.

Hannah is using a puberty-blocking implant and getting ready to embark on the path of developing a female body by starting estrogen. Ten years ago most doctors would have called this malpractice. New data has now made it the protocol for thousands of American children.

Being transgender doesn’t affect Hannah much. She is a straight-A student and auditioning for her school’s production of “Annie.” She’s both embarrassed and excited to talk about the two boys who asked her out this year.

“I turned to him and said, ‘You know I’m transgender, right?’ ” she tells me. “He said that he knows I’m transgender and that he also knows I’m pretty and sweet.”

Taking her red cheeks as a sign to change the subject, we switch back to medicine. I feel around her bicep, where a hard rod just beneath her skin releases a drug that turns off the brain cells that would otherwise kick off puberty. The implant has been in place for two years, preventing the process that would have deepened her voice and given her an Adam’s apple. She has been happy with the blocker, but is ready to move on.

“I’m tired of being the only girl in my grade who looks like a little kid,” she says.

She has a point. A review of recent studies suggests we could start cross-sex hormones as early as 14, so that transgender kids don’t suffer the stigma of starting puberty years after their classmates.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/08/opinion/sunday/hannah-is-a-girl-doctors-finally-treat-her-like-one.html

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Gun advocates fear armed Trump supporters as they escalate threats of violence against progressives

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/gun-advocates-fear-armed-trump-supporters-as-they-escalate-threats-of-violence-against-progressives/


15 Apr 2017

A friend writes, “For basically the past six months or so I’ve been trying to tell my lefty friends in so many words, ‘Hey, there are a bunch of people on the Internet who are waiting for someone to tell them it’s okay to start shooting at you.’” He became concerned when a thread at the non-political firearms-enthusiasts website he regularly follows became filled with comments in all caps referring to liberals as enemies who must be shot. Developments both online and off following Donald Trump’s election have caused me to share his concern.

In December, an author at the biggest and most explicitly non-political gun site, the Firearms Blog (its tagline is “Firearms, not politics”), recounted his experience with an outfit that offers tactical training based on the methods of the Israel Defense Forces. The moderator soon had to begin deleting comments. One that remains protested, “as if through the millennia, hundreds of nations, principalities and city-states reached the same conclusions,” and urged the curious to check out Judaism.is/genocide.html where one can watch the film Jewish Ritual Murder Revisited: The Hidden Cult.

Four days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, a community member on a moderate firearms law site, PAGunBlog, a civil redoubt welcoming “active participation by both firearms enthusiasts and people who hate them,” described his shock from that morning’s web-surf when “a long-time commenter who I recognized as right-leaning but mostly moderate commented that ‘The Jews own and control everything in America…’ Not many months ago no one except a flaming neo-Nazi would have dreamed of expressing such an opinion, but today it seems to have become an acceptable element of our discourse. I noticed that no one replied to or castigated the comment.”

Then came February 1 in Berkeley and things really started getting scary.

The saga of what happened when Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak at the flagship campus of the University of California has since become foundational, not just with the alt-right but with quite nearly the entire right. Alt-right provocateur Yiannopoulos was turned back by violent protests, which culminated in the burning of a portable generator. Stuffed down the wingnut memory hole are the events that preceded the mêlée. The violence was, in fact, preceded by peaceful protests by approximately 1,500 Berkeley students, until they were waylaid by a tiny handful of off-campus “Black Bloc” and “antifa,” or anti-fascist, cadres who believe racist speech licenses violent resistance. It was also preceded, less than two weeks earlier, by the shooting of a Milo protester in Seattle, by a gunman who has yet to be charged with any crime.

The Battle of Berkeley accelerated the construction of a body of mythology: the left has escalated its resistance to Trump into literal war, so Trump supporters must be prepared to resort to violence to oppose it.

How afraid of this should you be? The most interesting answers to that question do not come from the left. They come from concerned voices on the right, who’ve been monitoring the chatter with mounting alarm, going public with pleas to liberals to still the antifa renegades before bodies begin piling up. The most convincing evidence that they have a point comes in the ensuing comment threads, where the need to prepare for armed force is taken as gospel.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/gun-advocates-fear-armed-trump-supporters-as-they-escalate-threats-of-violence-against-progressives/

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State Dept. mum on gay ‘concentration camps’ in Chechnya

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/11/state-department-mum-gay-concentration-camps-chechnya/

by Michael K. Lavers
April 11, 2017

The State Department has yet to publicly comment on authorities in Chechnya sending gay men to secret prisons that have been described as “concentration camps.”

The Washington Blade was unable to ask Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner about the issue during a telephone briefing on Tuesday. He did not talk about the Chechen prisons with reporters before the call ended.

Toner on April 7 released a statement in which he expressed concern about the arrest of at least 100 gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic.

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, has reported at least three of the men who were arrested were later killed. A State Department spokesperson on Monday referred the Washington Blade to Toner’s statement in response to a request for comment on the prisons about which Novaya Gazeta reported last week.

“We are increasingly concerned about the situation in the republic of Chechnya, where there have been numerous credible reports indicating the detention of at least 100 men on the basis of their sexual orientation,” said Toner. “Some reports indicate many of those arrested have been tortured, in some cases leading to death. We categorically condemn the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis.”

We are deeply disturbed by recent public statements by Chechen authorities that condone and incite violence against LGBTI persons,” he added. “We urge Russian federal authorities to speak out against such practices, take steps to ensure the release of anyone wrongfully detained, conduct an independent and credible investigation into these reports and hold any perpetrators responsible.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/11/state-department-mum-gay-concentration-camps-chechnya/

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NC lawmaker calls Abraham Lincoln a ‘tyrant’ like Hitler

From The Charlotte Observer:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article144233494.html

By Jim Morrill
April 12, 2017

Republican Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County made the comparison in a Facebook post in response to a comment criticizing a bill he’d introduced that would nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in North Carolina.

In his post, Pittman said North Carolina should uphold traditional marriage “in spite of the opinion of a federal court.”

“And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it?” he wrote. “Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

Pittman could not be reached Wednesday.

“Rep. Pittman and his ultra-conservative allies in the General Assembly have no sense of decency, no sense of shame and no sense of historical fact,” state Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement. “I call on North Carolina’s Republican leaders to immediately condemn these outrageous and offensive statements.”

Pittman’s post came a day after White House spokesman Sean Spicer had to apologize for comments about Hitler. Spicer said that unlike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hitler had not used chemical weapons during World War II. Hitler sent millions to the gas chamber.

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Migrants from west Africa being ‘sold in Libyan slave markets’

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/10/libya-public-slave-auctions-un-migration

UN migration agency says selling of people is rife in African nation that has slid into violent chaos since overthrow of Gaddafi


Monday 10 April 2017

West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home.

Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labour. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalised that people are being traded in public.

“The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”

The north African nation is a major exit point for refugees from Africa trying to take boats to Europe. But since the overthrow of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi, the vast, sparsely populated country has slid into violent chaos and migrants with little cash and usually no papers are particularly vulnerable.

One 34-year-old survivor from Senegal said he was taken to a dusty lot in the south Libyan city of Sabha after crossing the desert from Niger in a bus organised by people smugglers. The group had paid to be taken to the coast, where they planned to risk a boat trip to Europe, but their driver suddenly said middlemen had not passed on his fees and put his passengers up for sale.

“The men on the pick-up were brought to a square, or parking lot, where a kind of slave trade was happening. There were locals – he described them as Arabs – buying sub-Saharan migrants,” said Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger who helps people wanting to return home.

She interviewed the survivor after he escaped from Libya earlier this month and said accounts of slave markets were confirmed by other migrants she spoke to in Niger and some who had been interviewed by colleagues in Europe.

“Several other migrants confirmed his story, independently describing kinds of slave markets as well as kinds of private prisons all over in Libya,” Manente said. “IOM Italy has confirmed that this story is similar to many stories reported by migrants and collected at landing points in southern Italy, including the slave market reports. This gives more evidence that the stories reported are true, as the stories of those who managed to cross-match those who are returning back to their countries.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/10/libya-public-slave-auctions-un-migration

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/north-carolina-republicans-block-transgender-bathrooms

A new bill would treat “unauthorized” bathroom users as trespassers.


Apr. 4, 2017

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have filed a bill that could make it more difficult for transgender people to use the bathroom by imposing stiff penalties on anyone convicted of “trespassing” in a restroom.

House Bill 562, co-sponsored by state Rep. Brenden Jones, was filed on Tuesday, shortly after the NCAA announced that it was lifting its boycott of North Carolina because the state’s Legislature partially repealed a law that had required people to use bathrooms consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The text of the new bill does not mention transgender people or even refer to a person’s sex. Instead, it states that entering or remaining in a bathroom “without authorization” after being asked to leave by the owner of the facility, a manager, or anyone else in the room will be considered trespassing. “My bill will do two things,” Jones wrote in a Facebook post last Thursday. “First, it will specifically state it is a second degree trespass for entering the restroom or changing room of the opposite sex; secondly, it would enhance the punishment from what is now, a class 3 misdemeanor punishable up to only 10 days, to a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable up to 120 days in jail.” Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Requiring “authorization” to be in a bathroom could be particularly harmful for transgender people, says Cathryn Oakley of Human Rights Campaign, a gay and transgender rights advocacy group. By Oakley’s reading of the bill, a trans male college student could be prosecuted for trespass if he uses the men’s room on his campus after being asked to leave by another student in the room.

Last week, the state Legislature replaced House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, with a new law that LGBT groups have described as “HB2.0” because it opens the door for these types of restrictive regulations. The replacement law prevents cities, schools, and localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for trans people in bathrooms, preventing any local guarantees that trans people can use facilities consistent with their gender identity. “There’s no backstop to prevent further anti-LGBTQ legislation from being introduced, debated, and potentially passed,” Oakley says. “The North Carolina General Assembly is not going to stop going after transgender people.”

The latest bill, says Democratic Rep. Deb Butler, appears to be a direct response to the recent replacement of the original bathroom bill. “A faction of the Republican Party here in North Carolina is angry that HB2 was repealed,” she says. “They wanted it, they liked it just the way it was. This is, I am sure, their attempt to thumb their nose at the compromise.” Butler says the new bill will likely be introduced to the Legislature on Wednesday and assigned to a committee. “The lunacy persists.” A companion bill has been filed in the state Senate.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/north-carolina-republicans-block-transgender-bathrooms

 

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