One of two Virginia police officers accused of assaulting a US Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario by pointing their guns and pepper-spraying him during a traffic stop has been fired, according to an official statement.
Officer Joe Gutierrez was terminated from his employment after an investigation determined he did not follow policies set by the police department, the town of Windsor, Virginia, said in a statement.
The statement did not detail any punishments for the other officer involved in the incident, Daniel Crocker.
It added that disciplinary action and department-wide requirements for additional training were implemented after the incident.
The firing comes after Nazario filed a lawsuit against the two police officers in federal court over what court papers say was a violent traffic stop on December 5, 2020, where officers pointed their guns, knocked him to the ground, pepper-sprayed him and “threatened to murder him”.
Nazario, who is Latino and Black, alleged Gutierrez and Crocker violated his constitutional rights, with his lawsuit including assault, illegal search and illegal detention.
“I can say quite clearly: don’t come over,” Mr Biden said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, aired on March 17.
By HILLARY ESSIEN
U.S. President Joe Biden told immigrants finding their way to the U.S. “don’t come over” as his administration tries to respond to an increase of unaccompanied children seeking asylum at the borders.
“I can say quite clearly: don’t come over,” Mr Biden said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, aired on March 17.
Mr Biden revealed that the immediate issue was children needing safety at the border and the administration moved to increase the number of beds available and fast track the process of placing children with U.S.-based sponsors while their legal cases play out.
The American president said his long term plan for the border included creating programs to address the factors driving people from their home countries such as violence, poverty, corruption and the climate crisis – and to allow children to apply for asylum from those countries, instead of at the border.
On January 20, Mr Biden set aside a number of former president Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policies, such as halting the construction of a border wall and proposing legislation to create a citizenship pathway for the nearly 11 million people living illegally in the country.
When asked if Trump’s policies being set aside encouraged the surge of migrants to the borders, Mr Biden deflected, pointing out similar surges in 2019 and 2020.
The Welsh Labour leader has suggested the Union “is over” in its current form and should be reinvented as a “voluntary association” of four nations.
In comments rejected by Downing Street, First Minister Mark Drakeford complained of a lack of interaction with Boris Johnson and claimed there was “no institutional architecture to make the United Kingdom work”.
Appearing before the Commons Welsh affairs committee, he added: “It is all ad hoc, random, and made up as we go along. And I’m afraid that really is not a satisfactory basis to sustain the future of the UK.”
Mr Drakeford also described his own relationship with Mr Johnson as “remote” and claimed that the limited number of meetings during the pandemic had made the “security of the future of the UK” more difficult.
Calling for a new devolution settlement after the crisis, he added: “I do think the effect of the pandemic and the last 12 months has been to polarise opinion in Wales about the way it should be governed.
“What we have to do…is we have to recognise that the union as it is, is over. We have to create a new union.
“We have to demonstrate to people how we can recraft the UK in a way that recognises it as a voluntary association of four nations, in which we choose to pool our sovereignty for common purposes and for common benefits.
“Without the Prime Minister playing his part in all of that, I think it undermines the efforts of those of us – and I include myself certainly in this – who want to craft a successful future for the UK.”
Mr Drakeford’s comments appear to put him at odds with Sir Keir Starmer, who has sought to enhance Labour’s position as a unionist party since becoming Labour leader in April last year.
Asked about the intervention, the Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters he “absolutely” did not share Mr Drakeford’s view on the Union.
A Downing Street spokesman added later: “We have confronted this virus as one United Kingdom, working with the devolved administrations and local partners. This will continue as we move to build back better together.
“There have been hundreds of meetings and calls with the devolved administrations and local partners since the pandemic began – including the weekly calls between the first ministers, deputy first ministers and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
“This has also included COBR meetings, committees and dozens of other meetings with UK Government Ministers and officials. This will continue to be a key part of the planning and communication of the overall response.
“The PM has always fully supported devolution and this government continues to put the union at the heart of everything we do.”
Separately, Number 10 also pushed back against claims that a second Scottish independence referendum could take place by the end of this year.
It came after the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford suggested a new poll could take place just months after the Holyrood elections in May.
Responding, a Downing Street spokesman said: “We’ve been very clear on our position; the PM will be the voice of the majority of Scottish people who voted decisively to remain part of the UK. He will stand against anyone trying to break our United Kingdom.
“Scottish people have been clear that what they want to see is the UK Government and devolved administrations working together to defeat this pandemic.”
Joe Biden and the Democrats are poised to pass the most radical piece of legislation in history. That’s right: The most sweeping, transformative and radical law in human history is on the brink of being enacted—unless the American people stand up and demand it be defeated.
On Friday, Biden demanded that Congress “swiftly pass” the Equality Act, also known as H.R. 5, which would obliterate the legal recognition of biological sexes. The very concept of male and female, man and woman, would be abolished and declared “discriminatory” and “oppressive” under this bill. It is not just a fundamental assault on reality, but human nature itself.
The Equality Act does more than designate the “LGBTQ+” community as a “protected class,” shielding them from discrimination in housing and employment. Rather, its goal is totalitarian: To impose transgender ideology upon American life, society and culture, opening a Pandora’s Box that will have devastating consequences. It is a hammer that will be used to persecute other groups—especially, women and girls. Call it Biden’s “War on Women.”
The bill would enable any man or boy who “identifies as female” to go into any women’s restroom, locker room, showering facilities or compete on a women’s sports team (including elementary, high school, college and professional athletics). It eviscerates Title IX, even enabling transgendered men to claim scholarships and federal funding set aside for female student athletes. Women’s sports will be destroyed as stronger, faster and more muscular men, identifying as “female,” will be allowed to compete.
More ominously, it will be legal for transgendered men to disrobe and expose themselves naked in women’s showers, locker rooms and gym restrooms. It violates and undermines the equality, safety and privacy of women and girls everywhere. Which begs the question: Where are the feminists?
In fact, this legislative monstrosity—in the name of “equality”—privileges men who claim to be female over everyone else, trampling on women’s rights, parental rights, free speech, religious freedom and the rights of medical experts and professionals. For example, under H.R. 5, it would be illegal and criminal for parents to refuse their 8-year-old child if he or she wants to take puberty blockers or begin hormone replacement therapy. This would be considered “transphobic bigotry,” potentially resulting in the parents losing custody of their child or suffering some other form of punishment.
Doctors and medical experts who oppose or disagree with having children take puberty blockers or undergo hormone therapy, because of its severe (and possibly permanent) emotional, psychological and physical consequences, would lose their licenses to practice medicine. Hence, medical experts would have to choose: violate the Hippocratic Oath (and their moral conscience) and obey the dictates of this insane law or have their careers destroyed.
Moreover, the Equality Act would turn Pope Francis into a criminal, the equivalent of a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who wishes to uphold the Jim Crow segregationist system. The bill specifically exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, thereby allowing the federal government to sanction and punish any religious institution, faith-based group or church that believes in basic biology and biblical teachings on sex and marriage.
Every major religion—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism—under this bill would be engaging in “discrimination” and “oppression” against the transgender community. Why? Because they champion the belief that the differences between men and women are real, that the male and female sexes are rooted in biological reality and grounded in God’s natural design for humanity. This is the very opposite of “transhumanism” or transgender ideology, which argues that gender or biological sex is a “social construct,” and not real; rather, they are a tool of social oppression and human repression that must be dismantled. The Equality Act codifies transgender ideology, which is a form of cultural Marxism.
“Trans rights are human rights,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about Biden’s radical push for transgender “civil rights.” She has it the other way around: women’s rights are human rights; parental rights are human rights; religious rights are human rights; and free speech rights are human rights.
The Democrats want to subsume everyone else’s rights to those of the LGBT community. This is progressive authoritarianism. It is a war against the family, reality, Christianity, the Bible, Western civilization and ultimately, God.
It is also profoundly anti-science. Human anatomy is defined by the differences in the two sexes. Females have two X chromosomes (XX), while males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (XY). The entire animal kingdom is also divided between the male and female sexes. In short, the Equality Act—and by extension, transgenderism—seeks to subvert and overturn the most basic truth of society: God created both man and woman. Even the communists—Lenin, Stalin, Mao—and the fascists—Hitler, Mussolini—never sought to eradicate the biological sexes. This is how insane (and deranged) liberals have become.
Biden claims to be a Catholic. It is high time the Catholic Church broke its silence. She must speak out against this totalitarian assault on American society before it’s too late. And if necessary the Church should deliver a public ultimatum to Biden: withdraw your support or face excommunication. Mortal enemies will no longer be tolerated
(-Jeffrey T. Kuhner is host of “The Kuhner Report” on WRKO AM-680 in Boston. His daily show airs 6:00-10:00 am EST. He can be reached at: JeffreyKuhner@iheartmedia.com)
Syria said US air strikes against Iranian-backed militias in the east of the country on Friday were a cowardly act and urged President Joe Biden not to follow “the law of the jungle.”
An Iraqi militia official close to Iran said the strikes killed one fighter and wounded four. US officials said they were limited in scope to show Biden’s administration will act firmly while trying to avoid a big regional escalation.
Washington and Tehran are seeking maximum leverage in attempts to save Iran’s nuclear deal reached with world powers in 2015 but abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, after which regional tensions soared and fears of full-scale conflict grew.
“Syria condemns in the strongest terms the cowardly US attack on areas in Deir al-Zor near the Syrian-Iraqi border,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It (the Biden administration) is supposed to stick to international legitimacy, not to the law of the jungle as (did) the previous administration.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the US strikes, calling them “illegal aggression” and a violation of human rights and international law.
“You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” Biden told reporters in Texas when asked what message he was sending Iran with the strikes.
The air strikes, early on Friday local time, targeted militia sites on the Syrian side of the Iraqi-Syrian frontier, where groups backed by Iran control an important crossing for weapons, personnel and goods. Western officials and some Iraqi officials accuse Iranian-backed groups of involvement in deadly rocket attacks on US sites and personnel in Iraq over the last month.
Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also criticized the US strikes and called for “unconditional respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the air strikes in Syria were meant to send the message that Biden will act to protect Americans.
Future US actions in the region will be deliberative and will aim to deescalate tensions in Syria, Psaki said.
ATTACKS ON US FORCES IN IRAQ The Iraqi militia official close to Iran said the strikes targeted positions of the Kataib Hezbollah (KH) paramilitary group along the border. KH later confirmed the death of one of its fighters and identified him as Sayyid Rahi Salam Zayid al-Sharifi. “The American enemy persists in its criminality and kills the protectors of the nation and the honorable people of the country, not deterred from shedding innocent blood as long as the wages of murder are received from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates,” a KH statement said. Local sources and a medical source in eastern Syria told Reuters that at least 17 people had been killed, but gave no further details. That toll could not be confirmed. The Pentagon said it had preliminary information about casualties, but did not provide any details. In recent attacks, a non-American contractor was killed at a US military base at Erbil International Airport in Kurdish-run northern Iraq on Feb. 15 and, in the days that followed, rockets were fired at a base hosting US forces, and near the US Embassy in Baghdad. Biden’s decision to strike only in Syria and not in Iraq gives Iraq’s government breathing room as it investigates the Erbil attack, which also wounded Americans. Kataib Hezbollah has denied involvement in recent attacks against US interests. Iran denies involvement in attacks on US sites. Several attacks, including the one at Erbil airport, have been claimed by little-known groups which some Iraqi and Western officials say are a front for established Iranian-backed groups such as Kataib Hezbollah.
LIMITED RESPONSE US lawmakers from both political parties welcomed the strikes but a number of Democrats questioned the legal justification under which they were carried out and the continuation of military operations in the Middle East. “I am very concerned that last night’s strike by US forces in Syria puts our country on the path of continuing the Forever War instead of ending it,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US strikes totally destroyed nine facilities and partially destroyed two facilities at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision to carry out the strikes was meant to signal that, while the United States wanted to punish the militias, it did not want the situation to spiral into a bigger conflict. The Iraqi military issued a statement saying it had not exchanged information with the United States over the targeting of locations in Syria, and that cooperation with the US-led coalition in Iraq was limited to fighting Islamic State. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Iraq was able to help the United States determine who was responsible for the recent attacks in Iraq, but Baghdad did not assist in the targeting process in Syria. Iraq’s foreign minister will visit Iran on Saturday to discuss the regional situation including ways to avoid tension and escalation, Iraq’s foreign ministry said late on Friday. It was not clear how, or whether, the US strikes might affect efforts to coax Iran back into negotiations about both sides resuming compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
■Trump-era measure restricting many visa applicants cited need to protect US jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic.
US President Joe Biden has revoked a proclamation issued under the Trump administration that blocked many green card applicants from entering the United States.
The order by former President Donald Trump, known as Presidential Proclamation 100014, cited a need to protect US jobs amid high unemployment rates caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on Wednesday, the White House announced that Biden overturned the measure through an executive order, saying Trump’s ban separated families and “does not advance the interests of the United States”.
“To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” the statement reads.
Human rights advocates have been calling on the Biden administration to overturn the measure, which was set to expire on March 31.
“I’m thrilled that Biden has cancelled this proclamation,” Curtis Morrison, an immigration lawyer based in California, told Al Jazeera.
“But I’m also worried,” said Morrison, explaining that the US is currently facing a backlog of hundreds of thousands of visa applicants.
“That backlog may take [Biden’s] entire first term to clear out, unless he is ambitious to doing something to solve that problem.”
Since taking office on January 20, Biden has overturned several of Trump’s anti-immigration policies, including the so-called Muslim ban and a policy that forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their US asylum applications are processed.
But his efforts – including a bill unveiled this month that would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people who live in the US – are expected to be met with stiff resistance by Republicans in Congress.
Lawsuit brought by Bennie Thompson and NAACP argues ex-president and lawyer violated law known as Ku Klux Klan Act
By David Smith in Washington @smithinamerica
Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the former president’s personal lawyer, have been accused of conspiring to incite the violent riot at the US Capitol, in a legal action filed under a historic law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act.
The lawsuit was brought on Tuesday by the Democratic congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and the eminent civil rights organisation the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
It comes three days after Trump was acquitted by the US Senate on a charge of inciting the 6 January insurrection, only for the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who voted to acquit, to point out that presidents are “not immune” to being held accountable by criminal or civil litigation.
The suit alleges that Trump, Giuliani and the extremist groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers conspired to incite the attack on the Capitol with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.
It argues that they therefore violated a law often referred to as the Ku Klux Klan Act, passed in 1871 in response to Klan violence and intimidation preventing members of Congress in the Reconstruction south from carrying out their constitutional duties. The NAACP, founded in 1909, says the statute was designed to protect against conspiracies.
Joseph Sellers, who is with the Washington law firm Cohen Milstein and filed the lawsuit on Thompson’s behalf, told the Associated Press: “Fortunately, this hasn’t been used very much. But what we see here is so unprecedented that it’s really reminiscent of what gave rise to the enactment of this legislation right after the civil war.”
Thompson, who chairs the House homeland security committee, was among members of Congress who donned gas masks and were rushed to shelter in an office building during the mayhem of 6 January, in which five people died. Members of he Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged with taking part in the riot.
Thompson said in a statement that Trump’s “gleeful support of violent white supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger. It is by the slimmest of luck that the outcome was not deadlier.
“While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the President accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned. Failure to do so will only invite this type of authoritarianism for the anti-democratic forces on the far right that are so intent on destroying our country.”
Filed on Tuesday in federal district court in Washington, the suit charts an expansive effort by Trump and Giuliani to undermine the election result despite state officials and courts rejecting their false allegations of fraud. The two men portrayed the election as stolen while Trump “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his supporters leading up to the attack on the Capitol, the suit says.
“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” it continues. “It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”
Presidents are typically shielded from the courts for actions carried out in office but this one focuses on Trump in his personal rather than official capacity. Seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, it alleges that none of the conduct at issue is related to Trump’s responsibilities as president.
Sellers explained: “Inciting a riot, or attempting to interfere with the congressional efforts to ratify the results of the election that are commended by the constitution, could not conceivably be within the scope of ordinary responsibilities of the president. In this respect, because of his conduct, he is just like any other private citizen.”
Trump faces a potential slew of lawsuits now he has lost the legal protections of office. Additional actions could be brought by other members of Congress or police officers injured in the riot, a prospect acknowledged by the White House on Tuesday.
Jen Psaki, the press secretary, told reporters Biden “certainly supports the rights of individuals, members of Congress and otherwise, to take steps through the judicial process but I don’t think we have a further comment on it than that”.
She added: “I am not going to speculate on criminal prosecution from the White House podium. The president has committed to having an independent justice department that will make their own decision about the path forward.”
Trump defence lawyers are expected to argue that his speech was protected by the first amendment to the constitution and point out that, in a speech on 6 January, he told supporters to behave “peacefully”.
Jason Miller, a Trump adviser, said in a statement Trump had not organised the rally that preceded the riot and “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on 6 January”. (The Guardian)
■ Seven Republican Senators vote with Democrats to convict
■ The Senate found Trump not guilty of inciting insurrection after a majority of Republicans voted against convicting the former president.
By Dareh Gregorian
The Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection largely along party lines, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in U.S. history and the second for Trump.
Only seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress. The final vote was 57 to 43, far short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction.
Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted guilty.
The vote means the Senate cannot bar Trump from holding future federal offices.
Moments after the vote concluded, the former president issued a statement praising his legal team and thanking the senators and other members of Congress “who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”
With control of the Senate split 50-50, the House managers always had an uphill battle when it came to convincing enough Republicans to cross party lines and convict a former president who is still very popular with a large part of the GOP base.
In his closing argument, House manager Joe Neguse, D-Colo., argued, “The stakes could not be higher. Because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning.”
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., urged the senators to think of the future.
“Senators, this trial, in the final analysis, is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are,” Raskin said.
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen, meanwhile, insisted his client did nothing wrong and maintained he was the victim of vengeful Democrats and a biased news media. He called the impeachment proceedings a “charade from beginning to end.”
The managers’ task became more difficult Saturday when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in an email to his colleagues that he would vote to acquit since Trump was already out of office.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” the influential Kentucky Republican wrote in the email, which was obtained by NBC News.
McConnell, who’d rebuffed Democratic efforts to start the trial while Trump was still in office, had condemned Trump’s conduct after the riot and said he’d keep an open mind about voting to convict — something he’d ruled out entirely during Trump’s first impeachment trial last year.
McConnell suggested in the email that Trump could still face other penalties.
“The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House,” he wrote.
Opening arguments began on Wednesday, with House managers blaming the riot on Trump’s months-long campaign to cast doubt on the 2020 election, and his repeated assertions that the only way he would lose was if the election was “stolen.” They focused on his fiery speech on the morning of the Jan. 6 riot, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” — and his refusal to take action after they did.
Trump declined a request from managers to testify at the trial, and refused to even submit a statement for it, facts Raskin urged senators to keep in mind on Saturday.
“I ask any of you, if you were charged with inciting violent insurrection against our country, and you’re falsely accused, would you come and testify? I know I would,” Raskin said.
The trial was the fourth of an impeached president. No president has ever been convicted.
■ Nigeria’s anti-gay laws have been increasingly criticised by global rights groups, which have categorised the country as overtly homophobic.
President Joe Biden has issued a presidential memorandum aimed at expanding protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people worldwide, including potentially through the use of financial sanctions.
Nigeria’s anti-gay laws have been increasingly criticised by global rights groups, which have categorised the country as overtly homophobic.
Despite international pressure, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in January 2014, prescribing between 10 to 14 years in prison for cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners, public show of same-sex relationship, registration, operation or participation in gay clubs, societies and organisation, amongst others.
As a predominantly conservative country, it is unlikely that Nigeria would revisit its anti-gay marriage law to strengthen bilateral relations with the United States.
However, the Biden Presidency threatens” “swift and meaningful” responses, including financial sanctions against countries found guilty of human rights abuses of LGBTQI+ persons.
The memo warned: “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”
“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” said the memorandum, building on a 2011 directive issued when Biden was serving as vice president.
“The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle – speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.”
Biden campaigned on a pledge to pass LGBTQ rights legislation known as the Equality Act in the first 100 days of his administration and make LGBTQ rights a top priority.
The memo directs US agencies working abroad to work harder to combat the criminalisation by foreign governments of LGBTQ status or conduct, and directs the State Department to include anti-LGBTQ violence, discrimination and laws in its annual human rights report.
It calls for increased efforts to ensure that LGBTQ asylum seekers have equal access to protection, expanded training for US federal personnel, and potential increased use of priority referrals to expedite resettlement of vulnerable people.
It also instructs agencies to consider appropriate responses, including the full range of diplomatic tools, and potentially financial sanctions and visa restrictions, when foreign governments restrict the rights of LGBTQ people.
Biden announced the push during a forceful speech at the State Department, vowing to rebuild US credibility worldwide.
“To further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally,” he said.
Below is the full statement by Biden:
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
This memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons). That memorandum, for the first time, directed executive departments and agencies (agencies) engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons everywhere. This memorandum builds upon that historic legacy and updates the 2011 memorandum.
All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love. Around the globe, including here at home, brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights. The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values. It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.
Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons. Specifically, I direct the following actions, consistent with applicable law:
Section 1. Combating Criminalization of LGBTQI+ Status or Conduct Abroad. Agencies engaged abroad are directed to strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct and expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct. The Department of State shall, on an annual basis and as part of the annual report submitted to the Congress pursuant to sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d) and 2304(b)), report on human rights abuses experienced by LGBTQI+ persons globally. This reporting shall include anti-LGBTQI+ laws as well as violence and discrimination committed by both state and nonstate actors against LGBTQI+ persons.
Sec. 2. Protecting Vulnerable LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers. LGBTQI+ persons who seek refuge from violence and persecution face daunting challenges. In order to improve protection for LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum. In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively identify and respond to the particular needs of LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the Federal Government takes all appropriate steps, such as potential increased use of Embassy Priority-1 referrals, to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.
Sec. 3. Foreign Assistance to Protect Human Rights and Advance Nondiscrimination. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs shall expand their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector to promote respect for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and combat discrimination. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs should consider the impact of programs funded by the Federal Government on human rights, including the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, when making funding decisions, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.
Sec. 4. Swift and Meaningful United States Responses to Human Rights Abuses of LGBTQI+ Persons Abroad. The Department of State shall lead a standing group, with appropriate interagency representation, to help ensure the Federal Government’s swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons abroad. When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.
Sec. 5. Building Coalitions of Like-Minded Nations and Engaging International Organizations in the Fight Against LGBTQI+ Discrimination. Bilateral relationships with allies and partners, as well as multilateral fora and international organizations, are key vehicles to promote respect for and protection of the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and to bring global attention to these goals. Agencies engaged abroad should strengthen the work they have done and initiate additional efforts with other nations, bilaterally and within multilateral fora and international organizations, to: counter discrimination on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct; broaden the number of countries willing to support and defend the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons; strengthen the role, including in multilateral fora, of civil society advocates on behalf of the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons; and strengthen the policies and programming of multilateral institutions, including with respect to protecting vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers.
Sec. 6. Rescinding Inconsistent Policies and Reporting on Progress. Within 100 days of the date of this memorandum or as soon as possible thereafter, all agencies engaged abroad shall review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take steps to rescind any directives, orders, regulations, policies, or guidance inconsistent with this memorandum, including those issued from January 20, 2017, to January 20, 2021, to the extent that they are inconsistent with this memorandum. The heads of such agencies shall also, within 100 days of the date of this memorandum, report to the President on their progress in implementing this memorandum and recommend additional opportunities and actions to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world. Agencies engaged abroad shall each prepare a report within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, and annually thereafter, on their progress toward advancing these initiatives. All such agencies shall submit these reports to the Department of State, which will compile a report on the Federal Government’s progress in advancing these initiatives for transmittal to the President. The Department of State shall make a version of the compiled annual report available to the Congress and the public.
Sec. 7. Definitions. (a) For the purposes of this memorandum, agencies engaged abroad include the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.
(b) For the purposes of this memorandum, agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs include the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, USAID, DFC, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.
Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) The Secretary of State is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
■ Meena, 36, flew to the Inauguration on the private plane of a Biden donor and posted about the trip on her Instagram stories
By Morgan Phillips | Fox News
Meena Harris, the industrious and outspoken niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, is creating an optics issue for the White House.
Meena, 36, flew to the Inauguration on the private plane of a Biden inaugural donor and posted about the trip on her Instagram stories.
The Stanford and Harvard Law graduate has a children’s book about her aunt and mother that’s No. 4 on the New York Times bestseller list– “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea.”
The book was published in June 2020, before Kamala was vice president, and thus breaks no laws. But White House officials told Politico the book couldn’t have been published today because it uses Kamala’s name and likeness. It’s unclear whether Meena is allowed to continue to draw royalties for the book, and she won’t say if she still is.
After members of President Biden’s family appeared to profit off his political sway during his years as senator and vice president, the White House has tried to distance itself from any further ethical violations. “It’s the White House’s policy that the president’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest or in any way, in any way they could reasonably be understood to imply his endorsement or support,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
In December, transition lawyers said they were drafting new ethics rules for business ventures of the Biden and Harris families that “are likely to be more restrictive than the rules that governed the Obama administration,” according to The Washington Post.
The VP’s office is taking the same stance. “The Vice President and her family will uphold the highest ethical standards and it’s the White House’s policy that the Vice President’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities that could reasonably be understood to imply an endorsement or support,” Sabrina Singh, spokesperson for the vice president, said in a statement to Politico.
The day after the inauguration, transition ethics lawyers had to tell Meena she could not continue to sell a number of items for her clothing brand Phenomenal that beared her aunt’s name– the “Kamala Harris Swimsuit,” “phenomenal Kamala Tank,” and “Kamala T-shirt.” The items that appeared last fall are no longer listed on her site.
Phenomenal has sold other items referencing Kamala during the campaign, including a sweatshirt MVP, standing for “Madam Vice President,” and another with the phrase “I’m speaking” on the front, alluding to Kamala’s repeated line during her debate with former Vice President Mike Pence.
After Biden picked Kamala as his running mate in August, Meena convinced the Biden team to sell a shirt in the campaign store bearing her name and that of fellow influencer Cleo Wade. The shirt read “THE FIRST BUT NOT THE LAST,” alongside a picture of a young Kamala, referencing Kamala’s historical swearing-in as first female vice president.
The Biden campaign agreed, but by Sept. 6, Meena’s name had been removed as a collaborator, according to an internet archive dug up by Politico.
“For appearance sake, Meena’s name was removed because we didn’t want to make it seem or appear that she would be benefiting or profiting from the campaign,” a White House official said, adding that neither Meena nor Wade made any money off the shirt.
This month, Meena was slapped on the hand again by ethics lawyers when in a collaboration with Beats by Dre, her clothing company adorned the same phrase “The First But Not The Last,” to Beats headphones they mailed out to influencers and celebrities ahead of the inauguration. The Biden team was not made aware of the collaboration in advance, according to Axios.
In her latest venture, Meena announced weeks after the election she was starting a production company with former Obama White House staffer Brad Jenkins, Phenomenal Productions.