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Trump condemned by lawmakers, LGBT advocates for racist tweets

President tells lawmakers to ‘go back’ to home countries

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President Trump issued racist tweets against four Democratic lawmakers. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

President Trump’s tweets telling four congresswomen who belong to racial minority groups to “go back” their home countries has invoked the ire of LGBT rights supporters, who say the tweets reaffirm the racism of Trump and the deplorables who support him.

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of the LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD, said Trump’s racist tweets were “abhorrent.”

“Not only were they filled with falsehoods, but they reinforce what we have been saying since day one: His hateful rhetoric fosters xenophobia, racism, anti-LGBTQ attitudes and intolerance amongst his supporters and the population at large,” Ellis said.

On Sunday morning, Trump — in apparent reference to tensions in the House Democratic caucus between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — unleashed a series of racist tweets that inspired nationwide condemnation in the week that followed.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump tweeted. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

The four congresswomen Trump referenced were Cortez, the author of the Green New Deal in the House, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) as well as the two Muslim women in Congress: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). (Of these four, only Omar — who was born in Somalia, but obtained asylum as a youth in the United States — is foreign born.)

Given a sense of unity amid public infighting in which Ocasio-Cortez insinuated Pelosi was targeting women of color in her caucus, House Democrats responded with a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s tweets as racist,. The measure passed Tuesday by a margin of 240-187.

Only four Republicans — Reps. Will Hurd (Texas), Fred Upton (Mich.), Susan Brooks (Ind.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) — joined Democrats in voting in favor of the resolution. Rep. Justin Amash, who recently became an independent after announcing he’d leave the Republican Party, also voted “yes” on the measure.

Among those condemning Trump as a racist on the House floor was Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who recalled his days as a civil rights pioneer in denouncing the president’s language.

“I know racism when I see it,” Lewis said. “I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism…The world is watching. They are shocked and dismayed because it seems we have lost our way as a nation.”

The debate on Tuesday to condemn Trump took longer than originally planned. After Pelosi read the title of the resolution, which called Trump’s comments racist, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) tried to undo her remarks from the record, citing rules precluding House members from calling the president of the United States a racist.

After some back and forth in which House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) advised the words were in fact out of order and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), presiding over the chamber as chair, abandoned his seat in protest, the House ultimately voted against striking Pelosi’s words from the record.

(It’s rare to challenge a House speaker’s rules as out of order. The last time a speaker of the House was found to be in violation of that rule was in 1984 when then-Speaker Tip O’Neill was challenged by then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) over what the CSPAN cameras in the chamber should be allowed to show.)

Stacey Long Simmons, director of advocacy and action at the National LGBTQ Task Force, praised the House resolution condemning Trump’s tweets as racist.

“Our squad goals are to eradicate injustice everywhere it lives, from racism in the White House to anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care,” Simmons said. “Every step on that path, like the congressional resolution, is helpful in the struggle. We seek leadership that makes our society safe for everyone to live free. Be you.”

Also praising the resolution was GLAAD’s Ellis, although she said more work is necessary to repudiate the racism espoused by Trump.

“The House resolution condemning these attacks is a step forward, but it’s critical that members of both parties stand together to reject Trump’s dangerous and violent rhetoric,” Ellis said.

House Democrats weren’t done. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump, which cites Trump’s racist tweets as reason to remove him from office.

The House was set to vote on the impeachment resolution Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

For his part, Trump has doubled-down on Twitter — and even tripled-down ahead of the vote on the resolution — in insisting his tweets “were NOT racist.”

“I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump tweeted. “The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country.”

David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said he worries about youth in schools in the aftermath of Trump’s tweets because he thinks bullies will be “empowered [by] hateful language from the highest office of the land.”

“Not only was the president resolute in doubling-down on his racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, problematic beliefs, but signaled being comfortable in all of that because there are other white people who agree with it,” Johns said.

According to the latest polls, Trump’s tweets didn’t hurt him, and may, in fact, have bolstered his standing, at least among Republicans. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Monday and Tuesday revealed his net approval among members of the Republican Party rose by 5 percentage points to 72 percent compared to a similar poll that ran last week. Meanwhile, Trump’s overall approval remained unchanged at 41 percent.

“We shouldn’t be surprised as he’s been consistent in demonstrating these are his beliefs, even when he was campaigning, but I worry greatly about not only the signal that it’s sending, but the damage that it’s doing to our political community, but also to children,” Johns concluded.

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World

Gay man who live-streamed anti-government protests in Cuba detained

Yoan de la Cruz taken into custody on July 23

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Yoan de la Cruz is a gay man who live-streamed the first videos of the anti-government protests in Cuba that took place on July 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

SAN ANTONIO DE LOS BAÑOS, Cuba — A gay man who live-streamed the first anti-government protest that took place in Cuba on July 11 has been detained.

Luis Ángel Adán Roble, a gay man who was once a member of Cuba’s National Assembly, in a July 28 tweet wrote Yoan de la Cruz used Facebook Live to livestream a protest in San Antonio de los Baños, a municipality in Artemisa province that is just outside of Havana.

The San Antonio de los Baños protest was the first of dozens of anti-government demonstrations against mounting food shortages, the government’s response to the pandemic, a worsening economic crisis and human rights that took place across Cuba on July 11. Many of those who participated in the protests chanted “libertad” or “freedom.”

Cubalex, a U.S.-based Cuban human rights organization, confirms authorities detained De La Cruz on July 23. The Blade has not been able to confirm De La Cruz’s current whereabouts.

“Yoan is the man who live-streamed the July 11 protests from San Antonio, nothing else,” tweeted Adán. “They took him from his house a few days ago and he is being accused of ‘incitement of the masses.’ Free Yoan, he did not commit any crime!”

The Los Angeles Blade has confirmed De La Cruz is gay.

Vida Bohemia, a drag queen who is De La Cruz’s friend, also demanded de la Cruz’s release.

“If he didn’t throw a stone, (if) he didn’t break glass, (if) he didn’t hit anyone, (if) nobody yelled down below, please let him go,” Bohemia told 14ymedio, a website founded by Yoani Sánchez, a journalist who is a vocal critic of the Cuban government. “He has a mother, a grandmother, a family and thousands of friends suffering.”

Maykel González Vivero, editor of Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, is among the hundreds of people who were arrested during the July 11 protests. The New York Times reports that De La Cruz is among the estimated 700 people who remain in custody.

Thousands Cuban Americans gathered in front of the White House on July 26 to demand the Biden administration do more to support the protesters on the island. They later marched to the Cuban Embassy.

The White House under the Global Magnitsky Act has sanctioned Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police (PNR), the Interior Ministry Special Brigade, Defense Minister Álvaro López Miera, PNR Director Oscar Callejas Valcarce and PNR Deputy Director Eddie Sierra Arias for their role in the government’s crackdown on the July 11 protests. Yotuel Romero, a Cuban singer who co-wrote “Patria y vida!”, a song that has become an anthem for anti-government protesters, is among those who met with President Biden at the White House on July 30.

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National

FBI joins investigation into murder of LGBTQ Atlantan

Atlanta Police continue to search for the suspect in the deadly stabbing of a woman asking that anyone with information to please come forward

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Katie Janness and her dog Bowie via Facebook

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Police Department’s murder investigation into this past Wednesday’s stabbing death of 40-year-old Katie Janness and her dog in Piedmont Park, located about 1 mile northeast of downtown between the Midtown and Virginia Highland neighborhoods, has been joined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI).

WXIA 11 Alive news reported that the FBI is assisting the Atlanta Police Department, (APD) however a spokesperson for the APD told WXIA the department wouldn’t provide any specifics about the FBI’s involvement with the investigation, nor did the Atlanta Field Office of the FBI comment. 

The Georgia Voice, the local LGBTQ newspaper, reported that Janness, a member of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community and a bartender at the LGBTQ-owned Campagnolo, was found stabbed to death in the park on Wednesday (July 28) after walking her dog Bowie, who was also killed.

Janness was found by her partner of six years, Emma Clark, after Clark tracked her with her phone’s GPS.

“Today, I lost the love of my life and baby boy,” Clark said in a post shared to a GoFundMe page. “It was tragic. She was the most intelligent, kind, humble, and beautiful person I have ever known. I wanted to spend every second with her. [Bowie] was the sweetest, most loyal companion. My heart is so very broken, my world will never be the same.”

A vigil was held for Janness on Thursday evening at Piedmont Park.

Atlanta Police continue to search for the suspect in a deadly stabbing of a woman in Piedmont Park

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Janness’ murder is believed to be the first homicide inside the park in 12 years and according to family members of Janness’ longtime girlfriend, a security camera at an intersection near the park’s entrance captured the last known picture of Katherine Janness and her dog before the two were killed.

But other cameras in the area weren’t working, including one facing the entrance. As of Friday the AJC also reported, as of Friday afternoon, Atlanta police had released few details about the murder investigation that has left city residents and parkgoers on edge.

Atlanta Police are asking that anyone with information to please come forward, and tipsters can remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.

APD detectives are also asking those who live in this area to review footage from their security cameras and contact the police if they find anything that may be pertinent to this investigation. The timeframe for review should be between 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday to 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

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The CDC’s eviction moratorium ending at midnight Saturday stoking fears

CDC’s eviction ban expires at midnight tonight, millions of primarily lower income Americans are facing losing their homes

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Graphic via NBC News YouTube Channel

LOS ANGELES – As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) eviction ban expires at midnight tonight, millions of primarily lower income Americans are facing losing their homes. Hopes of a federal extension approved by Congress failed this week and now lawmakers are on a six-week recess.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that he would let the current CDC eviction moratorium expire instead of challenging the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that extended the deadline to tonight. The high court ruled to extend moratoriums to the end of July but made it clear it would block any further extensions unless there was specific congressional authorization.

A White House official said that President Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium because of the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus which is highly contagious. However, the official conceded there were also concerns that challenging the high court may lead to a ruling that potentially could restrict the Biden administration’s ability to take unilateral actions in future public health crises.

On Friday, Missouri Democratic Representative Cori Bush angrily denounced House colleagues for adjourning for the August recess without passing an extension of the CDC eviction moratorium.

“The House is at recess. People are on vacations. How are we on vacation when we have millions of people who could start to be evicted tonight?” Bush told CNN’s Jessica Dean. “There are people already receiving and have received pay or vacate notices that will have them out on tomorrow. People are already in a position where they need help, our most vulnerable, our most marginalized, those who are in need,” she said, adding, “How can we go vacation? No, we need to come back here.”

The CDC’s eviction ban was intended to prevent further spread of the coronavirus by people put out on the streets and into shelters. Congress had approved nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the pandemic, but that funding has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and landlords owed payments. According to persons knowledgeable of the assistance system structure, one of the reasons for the delays are over complicated administrative requirements for renters seeking help.

The President had pleaded with local governments to “take all possible steps” to immediately disburse the funds. “There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic,” he said in a statement released late Friday.

While the Senate was in a rare Saturday work session on the president’s infrastructure package during a floor speech Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren stated, “We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis. We have the tools, and we have the funding. What we need is the time.”

The President’s apparent action angered many lawmakers in his own party on Capitol Hill some who expressed anger furious that he expected Congress to provide a last-minute solution to protect renters that they were unable to deliver.

Representative Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.” Waters quickly produced a draft of a bill that would require the CDC to continue the ban through Dec. 31. At a hastily arranged hearing Friday morning to consider the bill she urged her colleagues to act, Stars and Stripes reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored colleagues to pass Waters’ bill extending the deadline, calling it a “moral imperative,” to protect renters and also the landlords who are owed compensation. Landlords are opposed to extending the CDC’s eviction moratorium and are also urging local and state governments to speed up disbursement of the funding designed to hep renters from losing their homes and landlords to meet their obligations.

When House Democrats failed to garner support for Waters’ legislative efforts, they then tried to simply approve an extension by consent, without a formal vote, but House Republicans objected.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as of March of this year, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent and as of July 5, the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey showed that in the next two months approximately 3.6 million Americans will face immediate eviction proceedings.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that some places are likely to see spikes in evictions starting Monday, while other jurisdictions will see an increase in court filings that will lead to evictions over several months.

The Biden administration is trying to keep renters in place through other means. It released more than $1.5 billion in rental assistance in June, which helped nearly 300,000 households.

The departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs extended their foreclosure-related eviction moratoriums through the end of September on households living in federally insured, single-family homes late Friday, after the president had asked them to do so.

In Los Angeles, the threat of a spate of evictions will greatly exacerbate the greater LA region’s homelessness crisis. This past week in a 13-2 vote Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to stop people from camping in public spaces including the areas around parks, schools, homeless shelters, bridges and overpasses, and other similar structures.

A spokesperson for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he will sign the ordinance.  Once signed, the measure will go into effect 30 days later.  Opponents of this ordinance are decrying it as another effort to criminalise the homeless population.

Homeless and civil rights activist Eddie Cruz told KTLA, “this ordinance is targeting a specific group of people in the unhoused community. We believe that this is an irresponsible attack from the City Council and an irresponsible way to deal with the homelessness crisis that is occurring in Los Angeles,” Cruz said.

In a new poll released last week conducted by Inside California Politics and Emerson College of more than 1,000 registered voters, half rated Governor Gavin Newsom’s response to the homelessness crisis in California as ‘poor.’

Newsom’s low marks comes after he signed the largest funding and reform package for housing and homelessness in California history as part of the $100 billion California Comeback Plan. The package includes $10.3 billion for affordable housing and $12 billion over two years towards tackling the homelessness crisis including $5.8 billion to add 42,000 new housing units through the states’ Project Homekey .

Another $3 billion of this investment is dedicated to housing for people with the most acute behavioral and physical health needs.

However, say activists, there is no sense of urgency in assisting people navigate through what most people see as an overly complicated application process matched with tens of thousands who will be immediately impacted and without a time cushion to work through the assistance process once the moratorium is lifted.

Eviction Moratorium Ending

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