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posted by janrinok on Saturday December 09, @08:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the price-of-democracy dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

In the heat of a late September day in Mozambique, southern Africa, we started filming a meeting of young charity volunteers. They had poured heart and soul into an ambitious project aimed at combating HIV and spreading a message about contraception in the province of Gaza.

Then, out of the blue, and as our cameras rolled, came an unexpected announcement: the volunteers' work was to end because of a new policy from the United States.

Under US President Donald Trump's "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance" policy, any foreign aid organisation that wants US funds cannot "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in foreign countries".

Sebastiao Muthisse from AMODEFA, the Mozambican Association for Family Development, outlined the dilemma the aid organisation faced. They were not prepared to sign Trump's so-called 'global gag rule 'forbidding mention of abortion, and, as a result, projects had to close. For the youngsters it appeared to make no sense. Surely lack of advice on family planning would lead to unwanted pregnancies? Why should they be censored when it came to speaking about abortion?

AMODEFA, a member association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, has worked in Mozambique since 1989. Now, the stance both organisations have taken on the Trump rule means they face losing millions of dollars in US aid, and for AMODEFA in Mozambique two-thirds of their total budget, a sum of $2m.

It's led to hard decisions, particularly when it comes to critical work on HIV prevention.

In a suburb of the capital Maputo, we met Palmira Tembe. Members of Palmira's family have died; five grandchildren are now dependent on her, along with her 13 year-old-son Nelson.

AMODEFA has received funds to help people like Palmira disclose to their families that they have HIV, and to support their care. Palmira told us that prior to the charity's involvement she couldn't tell her son Nelson why he was sick. Now both take HIV medicine together.

We will have generations that are sick without knowing what they have – they will run the risk of transmitting HIV to other people because they do not know their HIV status. In a country where it's estimated that up to 13 percent of people aged between 15 and 49 live with HIV, the support of organisations like AMODEFA can be a lifeline. But the work AMODEFA does with families like Palmira's is under threat, due to their refusal to sign up to the Trump policy.

Project leader Dr Marcelo Kantu is concerned about the future. "We will have generations that are sick without knowing what they have - they will run the risk of transmitting HIV to other people because they do not know their HIV status," he told us.

Visiting those supported by charity work in Mozambique, there was a recurring question: With the heavy price organisations could pay for defying the new US policy, why not forget about the abortion issue, sign up to the Trump rule, and keep American aid money?

Activists and charity workers told us it was not only about upholding a principle of choice, it was about free speech and a law introduced in Mozambique to save lives.

Mozambique liberalised its law on abortion in 2014, not least due to the high numbers of maternal deaths from illegal terminations. Since then, abortion is a legal option up until 12 weeks of pregnancy, and in cases of rape or incest during the first 16 weeks.

But there is Mozambique's new law on the one hand, and the Trump policy on the other.

janrinok writes:

It has long been understood that aid donations are sometimes an integral part of foreign policy; aid can be given in the hope that the recipient will favour the donor further along the line, perhaps with trade agreements or regional political support.

But is this a case of the donor wanting to influence a law that has been passed by a democratically elected government? Should aid be used as a way of dictating 'democracy' to follow the donor's views rather than allowing each democratic nation to evolve into the nation that its own citizens want?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday December 09, @04:04PM   Printer-friendly

Same-sex marriage officially signed into law in Australia

Same-sex marriage has been officially signed into law in Australia, a day after MPs overwhelmingly approved a historic bill. Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove signed off on the law on Friday - a formality required to enact the legislation. The vote on Thursday set off rarely matched celebrations in parliament, including cheers, hugs and a song. Supporters celebrated across Australia, many donning rainbow colours.

"So it is all done. It is part of the law of the land," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said after a brief ceremony on Friday.
He said the law would take effect immediately after midnight.

The first marriage ceremonies will happen from 9 January, given couples must give a month's notice of their intention to wed.

MP Tim Wilson proposed to his gay partner from the floor of Parliament during the debate.

Meanwhile: Austria to allow same-sex marriage with couples able to legally marry from 2019 at latest

Austria's top court has ruled that same-sex couples can marry from 2019 at the latest, bringing the often conservative Alpine country into line with more than a dozen other European nations. Gay marriage is now recognised in more than 20 countries, of which 16 are in Europe. "The Constitutional Court nullified with a decision on December 4, 2017 the legal regulation that until now prevented such couples from marrying," a statement released on Tuesday said. It said however that the current rules would remain in place until December 31, 2018 unless Austria's parliament changes the law before then.

Previously: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage
Taiwanese Court Invalidates Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
Australians Approve of Same-Sex Marriage in Non-Binding Vote

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday December 08, @11:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the Mein-cyberbullying-Kampf dept.

The idea of suing a website might seem abhorrent to advocates of free speech on the internet, but maybe one case shows that it can be justified?

Whitefish Woman's Lawsuit Over 'Daily Stormer' Harassment Proceeding

The Missoulian is reporting [archive] that a Whitefish woman's lawsuit against a Nazi website is going forward.

Montana Public Radio reports that Andrew Anglin, publisher of The Daily Stormer, is being sued by an individual the website targeted because of the mother of Richard Spencer:

The Daily Stormer called for readers to harass her and her family over her dealings with the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Image of part of the complaint (PDF).

Northwestern Montana, however, has had some experience in dealing with neo-Nazis in the neighborhood.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday December 07, @01:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-got-your-kleptocracy-in-my-plutocracy...two-great-tastes-that-taste-great-together dept.

Politico reports on a data theft from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) by former employees who now work for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC):

Staffers for Senate Republicans’ campaign arm seized information on more than 200,000 donors from the House GOP campaign committee over several months this year by breaking into its computer system, three sources with knowledge of the breach told POLITICO.

[...] Multiple NRSC staffers, who previously worked for the NRCC, used old database login information to gain access to House Republicans’ donor lists this year.

The donor list that was breached is among the NRCC’s most valuable assets, containing not only basic contact information like email addresses and phone numbers but personal information that could be used to entice donors to fork over cash — information on top issues and key states of interest to different people, the names of family members, and summaries of past donation history. The list has helped the NRCC raise over $77 million this year to defend the House in 2018.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday December 07, @01:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the and-a-polite-discussion-ensued... dept.

Recently published in Journal of Social and Political Psychology by Thomas F. Pettigrew seeks to understand the psychological profile of Trump supporters:

The Trump movement is not singular within the United States (the Know Nothing movement in the 1850s, the Wallace movement in the 1960s, and the more recent Tea Party Movement). Moreover, other democracies have seen similar movements (e.g., Austria's Freedom Party, Belgium's Vlaams Blok, France's National Front, Germany's Alternative for Germany Party (AfD), and Britain's U.K. Independence Party (UKIP).

In virtually all these cases, the tinder especially involved male nativists and populists who were less educated than the general population. But this core was joined by other types of voters as well. Five highly interrelated characteristics stand out that are central to a social psychological analysis – authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, outgroup prejudice, the absence of intergroup contact and relative deprivation.No one factor describes Trump's supporters. But an array of factors – many of them reflecting five major social psychological phenomena can help to account for this extraordinary political event: authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, prejudice, relative deprivation, and intergroup contact.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 05, @05:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the all-your-coin-are-belong-to-us dept.

In May, the bill S.1241 (archive) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Chuck Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa. The bill, if enacted, would call upon the Department of Homeland Security to develop

a strategy to interdict and detect prepaid access devices, digital currencies, or other similar instruments, at border crossings and other ports of entry for the United States

According to a story at (square brackets in original),

the bill would "criminalize [those] intentionally concealing ownership or control of a [digital currency or digital exchange] account.

The Senate held a meeting about the bill on November 28. Witnesses included Charles Davidson of the Kleptocracy Initiative of the Hudson Institute conservative think tank; Douglas Farah of IBI Consultants, which specializes in "issues of national security, transnational crime, terrorism, terror finance and non-state armed actors"; and Kathryn Haun Rodriguez of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange. Ms. Haun, however, made no mention of cryptocurrency in her testimony (PDF).

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday December 05, @10:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the tax-man-cometh dept.

The Verge reports

[On November 29], Coinbase suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Internal Revenue Service, nearly a year after the case was initially filed. A California federal court has ordered Coinbase to turn over identifying records for all users who have bought, sold, sent, or received more than $20,000 through their accounts in a single year between 2013 and 2015. Coinbase estimates that 14,355 users meet the government's requirements.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday December 02, @11:59AM   Printer-friendly

President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December during the presidential transition, bringing the special counsel's investigation into the president's inner circle.

Mr. Flynn, who appeared in federal court in Washington, acknowledged that he was cooperating with the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His plea agreement suggests that Mr. Flynn provided information to prosecutors, which may help advance the inquiry.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday December 02, @06:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the Chinese-swamp-draining dept.

People's Liberation Army General Zhang Yang was found hanged at his Beijing home on November 23:

Xinhua said Zhang had "serious disciplinary violations," something [The South China Morning Post] describes as "euphemism for corruption." NPR's Rob Schmitz, reporting from Shanghai, says the general "had disappeared from public sight more than two months ago amidst a crackdown on corruption within military ranks launched by Chinese leader Xi Jinping."

[...] "Xi Jinping's decision to persecute both Xu and Guo after their retirement reflects his determination to put an end to the dominance of Jiang Zemin (his own patron) over the military. As far as the cleaning up of corruption in the Chinese military is concerned, however, this is just the beginning," The Diplomat wrote at the time Guo [Boxiong] was dismissed from the military in 2015.

China's President Xi Jinping recently consolidated his power, elevating himself to the status of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping as he enters his second 5-year term as President.

Also at The South China Morning Post.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday December 01, @05:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the more-secret-negotiations-violate-democracy dept.

NAFTA's Digital Trade chapter could be finalized next month all before the public has seen a single word of it. The fifth round of re-negotiations for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) finished last week in Mexico and the Digital Trade section might be forced through, unseen by the public, during the next round on December 11th in Washington, DC.

The fifth round of negotiations over a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) wound up last week in Mexico. Following conclusion of the round, Mexican Trade Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters that he hoped that the next round, to be held in Washington, DC in the week of 11 December, could see sufficient progress made that the agreement's Digital Trade chapter could be closed... all before the public has seen a single word of it.

Original Submission