White House raises 'grave concerns' over passage of anti-LGBTQ law in Uganda

White House raises 'grave concerns' over passage of anti-LGBTQ law in Uganda

The White House on Wednesday condemned the passage of a law by Uganda’s parliament that would impose severe punishments on individuals who identify as LGBTQ and raised the possibility of economic consequences if it’s enacted.

“We have grave concerns with the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, AHA, by the parliament of Uganda yesterday, and increasing violence targeting LGBTQIA+ persons,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it will impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and… damage Uganda’s international reputation.”

The bill proposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which involves cases of sex involving those infected with HIV or involving minors or other vulnerable populations.

The legislation also proposes life in prison for the offense of “homosexuality” and up to 10 years in jail for attempted homosexuality.

“If signed into law by the President, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other,” Volker Türk, the high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations, said in a statement.

Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 African countries, according to The Associated Press.

John Kirby, a White House spokesperson on national security issues, told reporters that the administration is watching closely to see whether the bill is signed into law.

Kirby said if it’s enacted, the U.S. may have to look at possible economic penalties against Uganda in response.

“And that would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance we provide Uganda is health assistance,” Kirby said.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Source link

TikTok CEO to tell Congress app is safe, urge against ban

TikTok CEO to tell Congress app is safe, urge against ban

Congress could ban the app in the U.S. or force the company to sell off its U.S. business to another operator.

WASHINGTON — TikTok’s CEO plans to tell Congress that the video-sharing app is committed to user safety, data protection and security, and keeping the platform free from Chinese government influence.

Shou Zi Chew is due to answer questions Thursday from U.S. lawmakers concerned about the social media platform’s effects on its young user base and possible national security risks posed by the popular app, which was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs.

Chew is sticking to a familiar script as he urges officials against pursuing an all-out ban on TikTok or for the company to be sold off to new owners.

TikTok’s efforts to ensure the security of its users’ data, including a $1.5 billion project to store the information on Oracle servers in the U.S. and allow outside monitors to inspect its source code, go “above and beyond” what any of its rivals are doing, according to Chew’s prepared remarks released ahead of his appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“No other social media company, or entertainment platform like TikTok, provides this level of access and transparency,” he said.

Chew pushed back against fears that TikTok could become a tool of China’s ruling Communist Party because its parent company, ByteDance, is based in Beijing.

“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew said.

He distanced TikTok from its Chinese roots and denied the “inaccurate” belief that TikTok’s corporate structure makes it “beholden to the Chinese government.” ByteDance has evolved into a privately held “global enterprise,” Chew said, with 60% owned by big institutional investors, 20% owned by the Chinese entrepreneurs who founded it and the rest by employees.

It’s “emphatically untrue” that TikTok sends data on its American users to Beijing, he said.

“TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government,” Chew said. “Nor would TikTok honor such a request if one were ever made.”

TikTok has come under fire in the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific, where a growing number of governments have banned the app from devices used for official business over worries it poses risks to cybersecurity and data privacy or could be used to push pro-Beijing narratives and misinformation.

Chew, a 40-year-old Singaporean who was appointed CEO in 2021, said in a TikTok video this week that the congressional hearing comes at a “pivotal moment” for the company, which now has 150 million American users.

U.S. regulators have reportedly threatened to ban TikTok unless the Chinese owners sell their stake. Lawmakers have introduced measures that would expand the Biden administration’s authority to enact a national ban and called for “structural restrictions” between TikTok’s American operations and ByteDance, including potentially separating the companies.

Chew said TikTok’s data security project, dubbed Project Texas, is the right answer, not a ban or a sale of the company.

The company started deleting the historical protected data of U.S. users from non-Oracle servers this month, Chew said. When that process is completed later this year, all U.S. data will be protected by American law and controlled by a U.S.-led security team.

“Under this structure, there is no way for the Chinese government to access it or compel access to it,” he said.

He said a TikTok ban would hurt the U.S. economy and small American businesses that use the app to sell their products, while reducing competition in an “increasingly concentrated market.” He added that a sale “would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.”

Source link

Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Winning

Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Winning

Who to believe, C-SPAN or my lying eyes? There she was earlier this month, gaveling the House of Representatives to order. It was a shock to see Marjorie Taylor Greene, the fireplug from Georgia, who had been stripped of committee assignments during her first term, running the place in her second. 

The explanation for her day in the grown-ups’ chair lies outside the organization chart of the 118th Congress. Greene famously pushed Kevin McCarthy over the finish line in his dicey bid to be speaker, and he owes her.

It’s McCarthy’s bad luck that his savior has anger management issues. Each day she presents the Speaker with a Hobson’s choice: He could distance himself from Suzy Space Laser to reassure the country he’s not running a mad House, or he could alienate Greene, the bane of the jackbooted “gazpacho,” and lose the House. Before honoring her with the gavel, McCarthy honored Greene with real power, a perch on the House Oversight Committee, where she can go hard on Hunter Biden, and one on the Homeland Security Committee, where she can go easy on Vladimir Putin. The latter comes with MGT’s favorite toy, a microphone, and a new bauble called a security clearance. At a March hearing with Raul Ortiz, head of the U.S. Border Patrol, she refused to abide by classification rules. When she asked Ortiz if he knew about a bomb left at the border (it turned out to be a bag of sand), he demurred, saying it was part of a classified report. “I’m not going to be confidential,” she said.

Greene is already out to be the Joan of Arc of Donald Trump’s looming indictment. She warned Republicans who would “stand by and cheer for his persecution or do nothing to stop it will be. . . remembered, scorned, and punished by the base.” The Georgia representative pinned the witch hunt against Trump on the “weaponized government” as if Jim Jordan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, isn’t literally chair of its new weaponization of government subcommittee. (The former Ohio State wrestling coach who knew nothing, nothing of the team’s molestation scandal is promising to subpoena anyone and anything to do with the indictment.) 

Initially, McCarthy had as much pre-indictment rage as Greene, railing against “a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.” On Sunday, at his caucus’s annual retreat, where a few moderates and plenty of institution-respecting conservatives roamed the halls, McCarthy tried to downplay Trump’s incendiary rants about Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg and the king of Mar-a-Lago’s call for the populace to rise up. Trump’s tirade, McCarthy explained, was an effort to “educate” citizens about the looming prosecution: “He was not talking in a harmful way.” McCarthy urged “calmness.” 

This week, Greene plans to visit imprisoned January 6 insurrectionists as if she’s Amnesty International. A century ago this year, when he was penning Mein Kampf from prison, Adolf Hitler had plenty of visitors to his spacious cell with a view following the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Marjorie, too, has warm memories of a failed insurrection. At a New York Republican gala this winter, Greene said that if she (and Steve Bannon) had been in charge, “We would have won. Not to mention, it would have been armed.” 

McCarthy’s notorious ambition fuels Greene’s one-woman havoc machine, and a Faustian bargain yokes him to her. His old boss, mentor, and Republican predecessor in his Bakersfield, California, seat, longtime Representative Bill Thomas, has called him a liar and a “hypocrite” for putting political aspirations for party leadership before doing what’s right for the country.

Of course, there have always been provocateurs in Congress, but once upon a time, House majorities were not perennially in the single digits, giving leadership more room to ignore their pyromaniacs. The Greene situation is different. Democrats of a certain age may remember Ohio Representative Jim Traficant, known for his conspiratorial floor rants and bad hair reminiscent of a dead squirrel, or California Republican Robert Dornan, who could get so worked up screaming about abortion that you figure he’d have an aneurysm. But in the olden times, oddballs only had late-night C-SPAN to get their ya-yas out. Now, the likes of Marjorie have everything from Twitter to TikTok to countless news outlets, fake and real, to broadcast their message to the world’s seven billion smartphones. Each time we pay attention to her, it’s not because we’re gluttons for QAnon but because she has titular power in an evenly divided House. 

With newfound power, a lot has changed for Greene since her first term. Back then, she was reprimanded by then Minority Leader McCarthy and removed from her committee seats by the House Democratic Caucus with ten Republican crossover votes. Her offenses, unbefitting a candidate or a member, are too long to recount. There’s the famous theory that Jewish Space Lasers cause wildfires and her seeming expressions of support for the assassination of Nancy Pelosi, who she later ridiculed for deploying her “gazpacho” police, confusing Hitler’s secret force with a refreshing chilled tomato soup. On Facebook, she posted a picture holding a gun next to the images of The Squad. She hung a sign on her House office door bleating that “There are TWO genders: Male & Female ” right across the hall from a member with a transgender child. 

Two years later, why display a poster when you’ve moved from the cheap seats to the Speaker’s chair? We’ve arrived at the point where Greene could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose McCarthy, who’s turned gratitude into a vice. Semi-delirious after he eked out victory close to 2 a.m. back in January, he gave Greene a bear hug and posed for a selfie with what could have been a tear in his eye. To the press, California Kevin gushed about the “ironclad bond” he’d forged with the North Georgia congresswoman during their time in a foxhole. He told a friend, “I will never leave that woman. I will always take care of her,” according to The New York Times

Unfortunately, he meant it. In politics, as in Hollywood, the key to success is to fake sincerity, not to practice it. McCarthy could have put her on committee backwaters like Small Business or the Joint Committee on Printing, where her tantrums wouldn’t reveal secrets, but Kevin felt compelled to bequeath her more power. 

Each day, he has to mollify Greene and her ilk. Last month, McCarthy went to the White House for an anodyne meeting with Joe Biden on the debt ceiling, which the Greene wing is dead set against raising. McCarthy and Mitch McConnell have signaled they won’t allow default. To make up for taking the meeting, McCarthy jingled his keys to distract Baby Marjorie and gave over 40,000 hours of January 6 surveillance video, which the right had been clamoring for, to the always measured and tranquil Tucker Carlson. Earlier, she’d pushed hard for the tape’s release, aware it would expose the Capitol’s security system, but told CNN afterward that it was “foolish to release certain parts publicly. We can’t give away our national security.” With that, McCarthy should realize that Greene’s followers are unique in the animal kingdom. They can be thrown all the red meat in the world, but rather than curl up in a food coma afterward, they howl for more. 

In a dull moment, Greene brought up another subject McCarthy could do without. She’s had it with the United States and called for secession as a national divorce. “From the sick and disgusting woke culture, issues shoved down our throats, to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done,” she said. Greene seemed to forget, if she ever knew, that red states are on blue-funded welfare, paying less in federal taxes than they enjoy in federal services. It’s doubtful she stopped to wonder whether her Georgia, a purple Biden state with two Democratic senators, might end up part of Wokestan.

The split will be based on irreconcilable differences with any state that promotes electric bikes and has an abundance of gluten-free options. She’s suing for ownership of the libs, the wedding china, and the moral high ground. 

Greene ignores questions like who gets custody of the nuclear missiles or whether Austin and Miami could merge with the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Otherwise, the code of un-Wokestan is clear. She believes in school boards censoring books, governors jailing gynecologists, libraries cracking down on alleged drag storytime, and chain drugstores being prohibited from displaying sex toys next to the Crest 3D Whitestrips. 

No one’s asked the blue states how they feel about Greene’s proposal, but who could object to being separated from Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, and Tommy Tuberville?

Sadly, Greene is not alone. Polls show a disturbing sympathy for secession. Among southern conservatives, secession has long had the support of more than 60 percent of those in Dixie. In a recent country-wide Rasmussen poll, a plurality of Republicans and a third of likely voters believe the red and blue states should split up. In 2022, researchers at the University of California, Davis, Violence Prevention Research Program found that half of those surveyed believed there could be a civil war in the United States in the next several years.

The usual normies objected to the divorce, including Senator Mitt Romney—for all he’s going to do about it—and former Representative Liz Cheney, who’s now Private Citizen Cheney for her other heresies. But not a peep from McCarthy. Into the void came Biden speaking at the Democratic Party’s recent retreat in Baltimore. “A little bit more Marjorie Taylor Greene. . . and you’re gonna have a lot of Republicans run our way.” He paused. “Isn’t she amazing?” Another pause. “Oof.”

Woody Allen captured McCarthy’s angst in his fictional speech to graduates standing at a crossroads: “One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness,” he declared. “The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” Amen.

Source link

DC police prepare for possible Trump-related protests

DC police prepare for possible Trump-related protests

Last week, the former president posted to his social media website “Truth Social” that he believed that he would be arrested on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — Local law enforcement agencies are preparing for possible protests if former President Donald Trump is indicted later this week.

Last week, the former president posted to his social media website “Truth Social” that he believed that he would be arrested on Tuesday.

Since then, authorities in D.C. and New York have prepared for possible blowback from his supporters.

Chris Rodriguez, the director of DC’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said the District is preparing for anything that could happen.

“We’ve been communicating with our federal partners, our state partners across the country to sort of compare what we’re seeing in social media as to anyone who may be planning to come to the District of Columbia to commit violence,” he said.

However, he said during a press conference Monday, that the threat to D.C. appears lows.

“Right now, we’re not seeing really an organized effort to come here to the District,” he said.

The United States Capitol Police have already placed bike racks around the Capitol Building grounds. However, they differ heavily from the fencing that was placed around the area after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. Locals can still walk in and outside the grounds area.

Capitol Police would not provide any more details as to how it planned to further secure the area around the Capitol Building ahead of any possible future protests.

The Metropolitan Police Department also released a statement saying it is preparing for possible protests in the future.

“The Metropolitan Police Department is not aware of any First Amendment activities relating to former President Donald Trump in the District of Columbia. MPD will continue to monitor and will plan accordingly with our federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of DC residents and visitors. MPD encourages the public to remain vigilant, if you see something, say something. Please report immediate suspicious activity by calling 911.”

Locals, like Northern Virginia resident Gurjit Singh, who was touring the Capitol grounds Tuesday, said he was thankful for security preparations. He said things looked very different around the Capitol compared to the day before the insurrection.

“Not as much security,” he said. “It was just different. Different atmosphere.”

Source link