Category: International

Brunei Adopts Islamic Sharia Law To Stone Homosexuals and Adulterers To Death

Emblem of Brunei

The nation of Brunei has taken the final plunge into extreme Islamic laws with the adoption of the medieval Sharia law. As a result, the kingdom will stone to death homosexuals and adulterers. The expansion of Sharia law into Asia is a troubling development for human rights and civil liberties.

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Chinese Censors Leave Audiences Confused After Cutting All Gay References From Bohemian Rhapsody

The Chinese government maintains one of the most extensive censorship operations in history — an effort to hold the world at its physical and virtual borders. It is not only an effort to prevent citizens from reading of civil liberties or government abuses. It is also a ban on such subjects as homosexuality. That effort has taken a ridiculous term with the censoring of gay language and plots from the hit movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The cuts have left audiences reportedly confused by the disjointed dialogue and story.

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Singer Complains About The Lack Of Free Speech In Egypt So Egypt Bans Her From Performing

Our close ally, Egypt, is again proving the worst expectations of its authoritarian rule. Singer Sherine Abdel-Wahabdemon commented to an audience in Bahrain that “Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned.” Egypt could object and show that it remains a nation committed to free speech. Instead, it immediately proved her correct by banning her from ever performing in her native country. Egypt is obviously not disturbed by the world knowing that it is opposed to basic civil liberties. It was more concerned that its arbitrary arrests and punishments had not silenced this star and it was intent on showing other Egyptians what would happen if they even acknowledge their lack of free speech. What is truly depressing is that the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had the Egypt’s Musicians Union silence a fellow artist, who in turn has begged for forgiveness for acknowledging that free speech no longer exists in Egypt.

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British Columnist Criminally Investigated For “Misgendering” In Debate With Transgender Activist

I have been a critic of the alarming criminalizing of speech in Great Britain through hate speech laws.  Such laws create an insatiable appetite for greater and greater speech regulation and create a sense of empowerment among citizens to silence those with whom they disagree.  We have yet another example of how religious and political speech is being rapidly curtailed in Great Britain under expanding speech codes. Carolina Farrow, a Roman Catholic columnist, is now being investigated because, on Twitter, she referred to the biological rather than identified gender of the child of a transgender rights activist. She is accused of referring to Green’s daughter as a boy. For that, the activist, Susie Green, filed a complaint under Malicious Communications Act, which bars offensive, threatening and abusive content online. Police wanted a “taped interview with caution” on possible charges for transphobic conduct on social media. After criticism, Green decided to drop her demand for a criminal investigation but the point is that such references are now treated as criminal matters. The chilling effect on free speech is obvious.

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“A Very Nice Lion”: Trophy Hunter Shown In Video Shooting Sleeping Lion

As many of you know, I am no fan of such trophy hunts.  I often hike in remote spots to see bears and other animals in their natural habitat. We have previously followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota as well as  subsequent controversies of an Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and killing giant elephants or giraffes  or famed wolves or mountain goats or hundreds of hippos for trophies. Now, a disgusting videotape has emerged of a trophy hunter shooting a sleeping lion and then celebrating as the lion writhes in pain.

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Study: 800,000 People Die Prematurely In Europe Due To Pollution

We have previously discussed how the environmental values often lose out to business or economic arguments because the environment remains something of an abstraction. When President Donald Trump heralds lower gas prices, that is a concrete value. However, when many of us call for cleaner air, it is treated as a good but not an immediate benefit. There is yet another study (in addition to our earlier discussed studies here and here and here) that show the real costs of air pollution. An article published in the European Heart Journal estimates that nearly 800,000 people die prematurely each year in Europe due to pollution and that every life is cut short by about two years. If that cheaper gas is put against a death or a two-year reduction in life expectancy, the political calculus may change.

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Iran Sentences Lawyer To 38 Years and 148 Lashes After Representing Women Opposed To The Islamic Headscarf

We have been discussing the incredible courage of women activists in Saudi Arabia and Iran who are being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for claiming the most basic civil liberties. One of the most inspiring activists is Nasrin Sotoudeh, a world renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran for her representation of women who removed their mandatory headscarf. In an act of unspeakable brutality and savagery, an Iranian court has sentenced her to 38 years and 148 lashes in a trumped up charge of spying, spreading propaganda, and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. In the meantime, ten women are being tried in Saudi Arabia which continues to repress women and girls under its strict Islamic code.

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“There Will Be Blood Up To Your Knees”: Returning “ISIS Brides” Attack Female Reporters And Pledge New Fighting

The dilemma posed to the West by the returning “ISIS brides” was on display this week as the last group of die-hard women were transported by anti-ISIS forces to safe areas away from the final holdout in Syria, Baghouz. The burka-wearing women were shown in a video shouting abuse at female reporters and even grabbing them by their hair in anger of the failure to comply with Islamic strictures. One woman yells at a female reporter “Have you not read the Koran, are you not ashamed?” Another simply says “We will seek vengeance, there will be blood up your knees.” The scene is unfolding in Syria as we brace for litigation in the United States over the return of Hoda Muthana, an ISIS bride who once supported the terrorist organization but now wants to return. Muthana has an intriguing claim to citizenship.

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Fit To Be Tied: Fitness Coach Under Fire For Workout Video In Kenya

Instagram photo

Well-known fitness coach and Vogue contributor Russell Bateman is under fire this week after videos on his Instagram show his fitness group Skinny Bitch Collective using tribal Maasai people as props for a work out video. It is truly a disgrace as these affluent white women do lunges and squats around tribal women like they are mannequins. It is hard to image that neither Bateman nor his SBC women saw the scene as troubling and jarring.

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“I Will Take Him At His Word”: Trump States That He Believes Kim Jong Un Had No Knowledge Of Warmbier’s Mistreatment

President Donald Trump shocked many around the world on Thursday by declaring that he believes North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is innocent of any knowledge of the mistreatment of American Otto Warmbier that led to his death. That statement smacked of willful blindness to the guilt of a man who routinely orders the execution of officials and makes others transcribe copious notes to be sure that he continues to exercise tight control over the country. The comment rekindled memories of Trump saying that he believed Vladimir Putin on Russian meddling in the election and rejected the views of American intelligence on North Korea in favor of Putin’s assurances on that country’s missile program. It also reminded many of Trump’s continued opposition to hold the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of a Washington Post journalist in Turkey despite the contrary findings of U.S. intelligence. Update: Warmbier’s parents have issued a scathing rebuke in response to the President’s statement.

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The “Plain Vanilla” Rape Defense: Counsel For Former Vatican Treasurer Shocks Court With Claim For Lower Sentence

Occasionally we discuss great and not-so-great defenses in litigation. This would fall under the latter. Robert Richter, the attorney for Cardinal George Pell in his sentencing hearing for sexual assault, shocked many with his assurance to the court that one of the incidents was a “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating.” It is a a statement that seems tailored to destroy any chance of leniency for your client. On the legal Richter scale, that would be a 9 or more level argument with total destruction.

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Putting The Capital Back Into Capital Murder: Saudi Crown Prince Gathers Fawning Leaders To Prove His Immunity

I have previously expressed my outrage at the position of the Trump Administration in failing to hold Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year. The evidence is overwhelming that the Crown Prince (who has a blood-soaked reign in the Kingdom) ordered the savage murder. Now, the Crown Prince is doing a world tour and assembling fawning leaders to show that he is effectively immune from such quaint notions as murdering journalists. Countries like Pakistan have accepted billions from the Kingdom and are now pandering to the Crown Prince, including giving the accused murderer a gold-plated submachine gun.

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Is Mueller Uncovering Ukrainian Rather Than Russian Collusion?

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on status of the Mueller investigation and what we have learned about Russian collusion. On Friday, Mueller filed what could be his last major filing before the submission of his report to Attorney General Bill Barr. It was the Manafort sentencing report and, once again, it was long on Ukrainian and short on Russian collusion. Indeed, Manafort’s lobbying efforts were designed to help Ukrainian figures on issues stemming from their internal political tensions and investigations. For example, the highly detailed filing discusses how Manafort was given millions to further a “furtive activity in connection with the United States’s consideration of a resolution condemning Ukraine for President Yanukovych’s locking up his political opponent Tymoshenko.” Mueller discusses the focus of Mueller’s work as “lobbying for Ukraine.” While Mueller could still present evidence of Russian collusion, this filing continues a notable trend in the omission of such evidence by key players. If Manafort was an agent for Russia, it would likely have been mentioned in his sentencing report and used as the basis of either a FARA or related charge. Instead, the filing shows Manafort was working for Ukrainian not Russian interests in these criminal enterprises.

Here is the column:

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“I Don’t Care. I Believe Putin”: McCabe Levels Shocking Claim Against Trump

“I don’t care. I believe Putin.” Those six words could be the focus of serious congressional oversight in the coming weeks. Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe stated that President Donald Trump refused to accept intelligence on North Korea’s missile program and instead that he would rely on what Putin told him. It is a shocking claim, but what makes this claim so notable is that McCabe is suggesting that it was made before witnesses other than himself. That means that it should be capable to confirmation or refutation. However, this could have the makings of a massive privilege fight between the legislative and executive branches.

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