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BREAKING: Uganda's Constitutional Court Really Could Strike Down The Anti-Homosexuality Act On Friday, Really (Not An Onion Article)


Many LGBT rights supporters inside the Ugandan Constitutional Court this week say there are strong signs that the justices will strike down the Anti-Homosexuality Act when the court reconvenes on Friday at 9:30 a.m. local time.

Many LGBT rights supporters inside the Ugandan Constitutional Court this week say there are strong signs that the justices will strike down the Anti-Homosexuality Act when the court reconvenes on Friday at 9:30 a.m. local time.
Stringer / Reuters

That may sound surprising, since the Ugandan political system has seemed stacked against LGBT people since legislation imposing up to a lifetime prison sentence for homosexuality was enacted in a surprise vote on December 20, 2013.

That may sound surprising, since the Ugandan political system has seemed stacked against LGBT people since legislation imposing up to a lifetime prison sentence for homosexuality was enacted in a surprise vote on December 20, 2013.
Stringer / Reuters

And yet, the court has aggressively pushed forward with hearing the case over the government’s objections during the first day of hearings, which has left LGBT rights supporters feeling confident.

“I am very optimistic that they will strike it down,” said Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda. “In my opinion having been in court for the past two days, I think the judges are being very independent.”

Nicholas Opiyo, one of the attorneys for the group of ten human rights activists, opposition politicians, and legal scholars challenging the law, also felt very heartened after the first day of hearings concluded on Wednesday.

The constitutional court adjourns to tomorrow further hearing of the AHA petition in Ug. We believe that the court will find in our favour

The Constitutional Court announced late last week that it would begin hearing the case on Wednesday, which caught attorneys on both sides by surprise.

The lawyer for the government, Patricia Mutesi, strenuously objected saying she was not prepared to proceed with arguments, but the five justices unanimously rejected her motion for delay. They also refused to stay their order to proceed so she could have time to appeal to the Supreme Court for more time.

This is unusual haste from a judicial system where trials are routinely delayed for months or years.

“This is expeditious by any standard, but by a Ugandan standard they’re moving at the speed of light,” said one person in the court room.

"This is expeditious by any standard, but by a Ugandan standard they're moving at the speed of light," said one person in the court room.
AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie

This speed had the law’s supporters, like pastor and anti-LGBT activist Martin Ssempa, worried.

Court update: Total legal travesty! The judges seem under much pressure to make some ruling. The Attorney General was mistreated by Court!

Though the petitioners have asked the court to strike down the anti-LGBT law because it violates fundamental right protections in the Ugandan constitution, the court has said it will decide on a procedural challenge to the law before taking up that issue. House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ignored a quorum call by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi when she moved the bill for a vote on December 20. Without a quorum, the petitioners argue, the bill was not lawfully passed.

The court adjourned after the government rebutted this argument on Thursday by claiming the petitioners had not shown any proof that a quorum was absent. The judges said they would rule on this question on Friday morning.

If the court strikes the law down because it was passed without a quorum, it’s an open question whether Mutesi would pursue an appeal of the decision to hold the hearing. Another threat is that parliament could pass the bill again.

But that’s unlikely, say many LGBT rights activists. Under the rules of parliament, lawmakers couldn’t just put the bill back up for a vote, say Uganda watchers. They’d have to start the legislative process from the beginning, including committee hearings and getting statement of the legislation’s financial impact. If President Yoweri Museveni wants to prevent the bill from getting back to his desk — or if international donors lean on him hard enough to do so — that would be an ideal way to kill it quietly. His finance minister issues the financial certification, and it could block the bill simply by stalling on releasing it.

Rumors are flying around Kampala in an effort to make sense of the court’s sudden haste in this case.

There is speculation that it was ordered to strike down the law by President Yoweri Museveni in order to please the World Bank — which is holding up a $90 million loan over the bill — or to satisfy the United States in advance of next week’s Summit of African Leaders in Washington. Others suggest the court is trying to bolster Prime Minister Mbabazi by validating his call for a quorum; Museveni moved aggressively shortly after the vote to isolate Mbabazi to prevent him from mounting a leadership challenge.

Martin Ssempa and his supporters allege judges are being bribed behind the scenes using money from abroad:

@martinssempa:Let us pray that the judges are not bribed by the homos

@martinssempa:the truth will come out and the law will stand.The money given to homos can be invested in other sectors of our economy

The trial is bringing the two sides into close quarters. This picture shows anti-LGBT activist Martin Ssempa introducing his son to Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda.

I was proudly showing him my son,..,@STrimel@frankmugisha with Martin Ssempa at court tday: “

The ruling on the quorum question is due to be handed down at 9:30 am on Friday.

Source: J. Lester Feder & Sarah Karlan for Buzzfeed

Watch This Fox Pundit Call Out Tucker Carlson's 'Christian Nation' Hypocrisy On Refugee Kids


Watch This Fox Pundit Call Out Tucker Carlson's 'Christian Nation' Hypocrisy On Refugee Kids

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has converted to secularism — at least, when it comes to denying help to refugee children who are fleeing violence in Central America.

During a Thursday discussion on the Fox News show Out Numbered, Carlson asserted that President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers were “just affirmatively for illegal immigration” because they wanted to deal with the children as refugees instead of deporting them as quickly as possible.

"What the Republicans are trying to do is they are basically trying to take away due process," Fox News analyst Kirsten Powers pointed out. "It’s taking away from them the opportunity to actually get a fair hearing to determine whether or not they should be granted asylum."

"What the Republicans want to do is the opposite of humanitarian, and I think that we need to be clear about that," she added. "That’s not hawkishness, that’s un-American."

"So, you’re saying that the United States has an obligation," Carlson interrupted. "Anyone who’s suffering around the world has a right to come here and be supported by you and me?"

"Hey, have you ever been to the Statue of Liberty?" Powers shot back. "I’m saying, yes, we are a refuge. We are a refuge to the people of the world who look to us as a ‘shining city on the hill.’ Does that sound familiar to you?"

"So, I have a moral obligation to share my earnings, and my country with people I’ve never met because they are suffering?" Carlson complained.

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BREAKING: Ebola patient headed to Emory University Hospital in #Atlanta.


Emory University Hospital is expected to receive a patient infected with the deadly Ebola virus within the next several days, the university announced Thursday.

It’s unclear when exactly the patient will arrive, according to a statement from Emory. The Clifton Road hospital has a specially-built isolation unit to treat patients exposed to certain serious infectious diseases. Set up in collaboration with the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the unit is physically separate from other patient areas and is one of only four such facilities in the country.

CIA Admits To Spying On Senate Intelligence Committee


CIA Admits To Spying On Senate Intelligence Committee

In March, CIA Director John Brennan swore there hadn’t been any hacks into the Senate Intelligence Committee’s network. Today, the CIA issued a statement apologizing for his department’s use of social engineering to gain access to the committee’s computers.

New York Times:

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to prepare its damning report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.

The report by the agency’s inspector general found that C.I.A. officers created a fake online identity to gain access on more than one occasion to computers used by members of the committee staff, and tried to cover their movements as they rooted around the system, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation’s findings.

A statement issued Thursday morning by a C.I.A. spokesman said that John O. Brennan, the agency’s director, had apologized to the two senior members of the intelligence committee and would set up an internal accountability board to review the issue. The statement said that the board, which will be led by former Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, could recommend “potential disciplinary measures” and “steps to address systemic issues.”

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BREAKING: Explosions Heard Around MH17 Site As Investigators Finally Arrive


After days of delay, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, along with investigators from Australia and the Netherlands, have finally been able to reach the crash site of Malaysia Air Flight 17. Their arrival comes a complete two weeks after the plane went down. 

The teams have been delayed, because of the fighting in the area around the site. Yesterday, pro Russian separatists reportedly laid mines around the area of the crash, further preventing investigation efforts. 

After the rescuers arrived today, new explosions were allegedly heard near the crash site. One reporter in the area reported a “powerful” blast,and noted smoke about six miles from the MH17 site. 

The pro-Russian separatists maintain their innocence, claiming it is Ukraine, rather than the rebels, who have sparked the renewed fighting in this area. Sergey Kavtaradze, an aide to rebel leader Aleksandr Boroday said, ”Ukraine continued to violate the ceasefire in the MH17 crash area, not allowing OSCE observers and experts from the Netherlands and Australia to enter the area.”

The Ukrainian government has denied any such involvement and even announced a one-day ceasefire, although that does not appear to have taken hold. Instead, troops are currently focusing on cutting off supply lines to the rebels. They believe this will encourage them to move away from Donetsk and the MH17 crash site. 

Source: Polly Mosendz for The Wire

Not An Onion Article of the Day: Taco Bell Manager: I Was Fired For Hiring Hispanics [TW: Racism, Ethnocentrism, White Privilege, Anti-Hispanic & Anti-Latino Bigotry & Discrimination]


Juanita O’Connell, a 60-year-old Taco Bell employee, has sued the company after she says she was fired for hiring Hispanic employees.

O’Connell, who is of Mexican descent herself, has worked at the company since 1987 and was most recently a general manager. In her complaint filed with the district court in Indianapolis, she alleges that last year her operations leader, Mark Lewis, told her not to hire Hispanics. When he came to her store and saw a Hispanic employee, he said, “Didn’t I tell you not to hire Hispanics” or something similar. “She does have a witness who was present when he made that statement,” her lawyer, Joel Paul of the Ramey & Hailey law firm, told ThinkProgress.

About two weeks later, she says a higher up issued her a disciplinary warning “after asking [her] misleading questions about her operation,” the complaint states. Then three hours later, she was fired, told that she violated the manager code and had an I-9 violation.

The complaint also alleges that she was treated differently than other, similar, non-Hispanic, male employees in violation of Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, and other characteristics.

Taco Bell has not returned a request for comment.

O’Connell is seeking “whatever she’s entitled to under the law,” Paul said. In the complaint, she requests Taco Bell pay lost wages and benefits, attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, and any other relief.

She’s not the only one bringing a case against a fast food company that alleges racial discrimination. Two former McDonald’s employees have accused the company of failing to address the racial slurs used by their manager, calling his employees n***er, saying the restaurant got busy at the end of the month because black customers had gotten their welfare checks, and sending them racially charged videos. The women also allege that the manager sexually assaulted and harassed them.

People of color are overly represented in low-paid fast food jobs — restaurants are the single largest employer of people of color, and they make up 35 percent of fast food prep and cook positions despite representing 32 percent of the workforce. But as some of these cases show, the environment can often be racially charged. The restaurant industry is also notorious for gender harassment, as it’s the single-largest source of sexual harassment claims.

Source: Bryce Covert for ThinkProgress

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