Trump administration launches global effort to end criminalization of homosexuality

The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it’s still illegal to be gay, U.S. officials tell NBC News, a bid aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” said a U.S. official involved in organizing the event.

Although the decriminalization strategy is still being hashed out, officials say it’s likely to include working with global organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as other countries whose laws already allow for gay rights. Other U.S. embassies and diplomatic posts throughout Europe, including the U.S. Mission to the E.U., are involved, as is the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Narrowly focused on criminalization, rather than broader LGBT issues like same-sex marriage, the campaign was conceived partly in response to the recent reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran, the Trump administration’s top geopolitical foe.

Grenell, as Trump’s envoy to Germany, has been an outspoken Iran critic and has aggressively pressed European nations to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions. But while the Trump administration has had some success in pressuring Iran through stepped-up U.S. penalties, efforts to bring the Europeans along have thus far largely fallen flat.

Reframing the conversation on Iran around a human rights issue that enjoys broad support in Europe could help the United States and Europe reach a point of agreement on Iran. Grenell called the hanging “a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights,” in Bild, a leading German newspaper, this month.

“This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time,” Grenell wrote. “Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”

He added that “politicians, the U.N., democratic governments, diplomats and good people everywhere should speak up — and loudly.”

Yet by using gay rights as a cudgel against Iran, the Trump administration risks exposing close U.S. allies who are also vulnerable on the issue and creating a new tension point with the one region where Trump has managed to strengthen U.S. ties: the Arab world.

In Saudi Arabia, whose monarchy Trump has staunchly defended in the face of human rights allegations, homosexuality can be punishable by death, according to a 2017 worldwide report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). The report identified 72 nations that still criminalize homosexuality, including eight where it’s punishable by death.

That list includes the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Afghanistan — all U.S. allies — although those countries aren’t known to have implemented the death penalty for same-sex acts. In Egypt, whose leader Trump has effusively praised, homosexual relations aren’t technically illegal but other morality laws are used aggressively to target LGBT people.

New U.S. pressure on those countries to change their laws comes as the Trump administration is working to use nascent ties between Arab nations and Israel to form a powerful axis against Iran, a strategy that dovetails with the administration’s planned rollout of an ambitious plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In the Gulf state of Oman, for example, the Trump administration has touted a recent, historic visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a sign that old taboos are eroding. But any campaign to decriminalize homosexuality would ostensibly also have to call out Oman, where prison sentences can be handed out for being gay.

The push to end laws that outlaw homosexuality abroad also stands in contrast to the Trump administration’s mixed record on gay rights at home.

As a candidate, Trump was ambiguous about his position on many gay rights issues, but notably became the first Republican nominee to mention LGBT rights in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. His convention also featured another first: PayPal founder Peter Thiel became the first gay person to acknowledge his sexuality in a speech to the GOP convention, declaring he was “proud to be gay.”

Trump, after being elected, also said he was “fine” with same-sex marriage. But since he took office, his administration has scaled back some workplace protections for gay people and has argued in court that a federal anti-discrimination law doesn’t protect gay employees. He has also announced a ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military, which the Supreme Court last month said could be implemented even as lower-court challenges play out.

U.S. officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is supporting the work by U.S. embassies and consulates to fight violence and discrimination against LGBT people. In his Senate confirmation hearing, Pompeo asserted: “I deeply believe that LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person in the world would have.”

Grenell, known for his hawkish views on national security, is also currently under consideration to be Trump’s ambassador to the U.N., three U.S. officials tell NBC News, after Trump’s previous pick for the job, Heather Nauert, withdrew from consideration over the weekend. Grenell once served as spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. when that role was inhabited by John Bolton, who is now Trump’s national security adviser.

Planning for the campaign to decriminalize homosexuality started before the U.N. job became open. It was a topic of conversation over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference, where Grenell discussed it with a visiting congressional delegation that included Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.; and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

Despite the dozens of countries that still outlaw homosexuality, LGBT rights have proliferated in recent years in many parts of the world. Two dozen countries now recognize same-sex marriage, according to the ILGA report, while another 28 recognize domestic partnerships. The last U.S. laws outlawing same-sex activity were invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas.

Grenell, in his editorial in Bild, pointed out that India, Belize, Angola, and Trinidad and Tobago recently decriminalized same-sex conduct among consenting adults. But he said “reasonable people” must keep speaking out about laws in other places, including Iran and Chechnya, the Russian region where authorities have cracked down violently on gay people in recent years.

“While a student at Evangel University, a Christian liberal arts college in Missouri, I was taught by biblical scholars that all truth is God’s truth, no matter where it is found. The truth for LGBT people is that we were born gay,” Grenell wrote. “People can disagree philosophically about homosexuality, but no person should ever be subject to criminal penalties because they are gay.”

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/trump-administration-launches-global-effort-end-criminalization-homosexuality-n973081

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Trump: John Kelly Will Depart White House By Year’s End

John Kelly is expected to depart his role as White House Chief of Staff by the end of the year, President Donald Trump said on Saturday, ending a tenure marked by tensions with his boss and confrontations with other key administration figures.

The president announced the news on the front lawn on the White House, following days of swirling speculation around the retired Marine Corps general’s exit for months amid disagreements with Trump. Nevertheless, in his brief remarks to reporters, Trump called Kelly “a great guy” and that he appreciated his service.

“We’ll be announcing who will be taking John’s place” over the next day or two, Trump said. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, is among the candidates who could succeed Kelly.

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FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/trump-john-kelly-will-depart-white-house-by-years-end/

Trump insists ‘no collusion,’ calls for Mueller investigation to end following filings in Cohen, Manafort cases

President Trump called for an end to the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, a day after a series of court filings connected him with two felonies.

“AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!,” Trump said on Twitter.

The Mueller probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has been estimated by various sources to cost less than $20 million, though no official figures are available.

Trump’s defense Saturday came after court sentencing documents in separate cases against Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen were filed by federal prosecutors in New York and by Mueller. The memo for the New York case, for which Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges related to campaign finance violations and tax fraud, said Cohen made two payments during the 2016 campaign to women who had affairs with Trump “in coordination with and at the direction of” the then-candidate, now president. It called for Cohen to face substantial prison time.

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FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/trump-insists-no-collusion-calls-for-mueller-investigation-to-end-following-filings-in-cohen-manafort-cases/

Trump Weighs in on France Chaos: ‘End Paris Agreement, Return Money Back to the People’

U.S. President Donald Trump has weighed in on the growing chaos in Emmanuel Macron’s France, calling it “very sad” and suggesting it is time the scrap the Paris climate agreement and “return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes”.

Macron, who has became a hero to left-liberals and something of a globalist poster boy after he bucked a populist surge on both sides of the Atlantic to win the French presidency, saw his poll rating crumble to 18 percent and his people out on the streets in their tens of thousands after he imposed a “green” fuel tax which fell heavily on rural people and the working class.

The essentially leaderless Gilets Jaunes, better known as the “Yellow Jackets” or “Yellow Vests” to English-speakers, have blocked roads and come out onto the streets of Paris in their thousands four weekends in a row now, and already forced the French leader to abandon the tax rise — but this has not been enough to mollify an increasingly revolution-minded populace, requiring him to deploy thousands of regular and paramilitary police to try and contain protests which have begun to take on the appearance of a civil insurrection.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes? The U.S. was way ahead of the curve on that and the only major country where emissions went down last year!

Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes? The U.S. was way ahead of the curve on that and the only major country where emissions went down last year!

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FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/trump-weighs-in-on-france-chaos-end-paris-agreement-return-money-back-to-the-people/

Trump Wants to End “Uncontrollable Arms Race” With Russia, China

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday proposed talks with the leaders of China and Russia aimed at halting what he described as an “uncontrollable” arms race.

Trump’s comment follows an October announcement in which he said he would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a Cold War deal with Russia to cut missile numbers.

Critics say the move, which has not been finalized, would spark a new arms race with Russia. Trump at the time said he would build up America’s nuclear stockpile “until people come to their senses.”

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FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/trump-wants-to-end-uncontrollable-arms-race-with-russia-china/

UN Calls For US to End Embargo on Cuba

The UN General Assembly on Thursday called for an end to the decades-old US embargo on Cuba, adopting a resolution by an overwhelming majority and rejecting U.S. moves to criticize Havana’s human rights record.

It was the 27th time that the 193-nation assembly has issued the call to lift the embargo imposed in 1962.

The resolution presented by Cuba was adopted by a vote of 189 to 2 with no abstentions. The US and its ally Israel voted against while Ukraine and Moldova did not vote.

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FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/un-calls-for-us-to-end-embargo-on-cuba/

Leftists Who Donated To Stormy Daniels’ Legal Fund End Up Having to Pay Trump’s Court Fees

Much hilarity ensued after it was pointed out that leftists who donated over $500,000 dollars to Stormy Daniels’ legal fund would now basically have to pay for Donald Trump’s court fees.

Last night it was revealed that Trump had defeated the defamation suit brought by Daniels after Trump accused her on Twitter of lying about a man allegedly threatening her to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she claims to have had with the president.

“On Monday, Federal District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles dismissed Daniels’ lawsuit against Trump, calling his tweet “rhetorical hyperbole normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States,” reports Yahoo News.

The ruling prompted a number of people to point out that a lot of the money leftists sent to Daniels in the hope of bringing down Trump has now actually gone straight back to Trump.

“Stormy Daniels has to pay all of Trump’s legal fees,” remarked one Twitter user. “All of the “resistance” people who donated to her GoFundMe is now literally paying Trump.” I’m crying with laughter.”

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/leftists-who-donated-to-stormy-daniels-legal-fund-end-up-having-to-pay-trumps-court-fees/

Mexican election front-runner offers referendums, could end term early

“I’m conscious of my historic responsibility,” he told supporters. “I won’t fail the people, I won’t betray the country.”

Lopez Obrador did not give more details of how the “popular consultations” would be carried out. Mexico’s constitution does not mention recall referendums.

He repeated his plan to amend an article in the constitution to make it possible to try presidents for corruption.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-election/mexican-election-front-runner-offers-referendums-could-end-term-early-idUSKCN1GS2VS

Netanyahu lashes out at police as graft probe nears end

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at police over claims detectives probing graft allegations against him were targeted by private investigators as the probe reportedly nears completion.

Pressure has built on Netanyahu with police investigating him reportedly set to hand over their recommendations to the attorney general next week in the long-running probe.

Israeli media have reported that police are expected to recommend that the long-serving prime minister be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.yahoo.com/news/netanyahu-lashes-police-graft-probe-nears-end-095416837.html

“Explosive”, “Shocking” And “Alarming” FISA Memo Set To Rock DC, “End Mueller Investigation”

All hell is breaking loose in Washington D.C. tonight after a four-page memo detailing extensive FISA court abuse was made available to the entire House of Representatives Thursday. The contents of the memo are so explosive, says Journalist Sara Carter, that it could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice and the end of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-01-18/explosive-shocking-and-alarming-fisa-memo-set-rock-dc-end-mueller-investigation