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Member since: Fri Jan 30, 2004, 05:44 AM
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5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Rite Turn: 'First Baptism' For Transgender Man In Montenegro's Serbian Orthodox Church

The Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has given a quiet and seemingly grudging nod to change this week with the baptism of a 19-year-old transgender man.

It appears to be a landmark first for the dominant religious institution in the tiny, conservative Balkan nation of some 600,000 people.

"For me, religion is love," the man, who was christened under his adopted name of Vuk Adzic at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica on November 3, told RFE/RL's Balkan Service.

Adzic said his "secret" covenant with the church followed years of faith that was tested most recently by a brutal late-night beating at the hands of intruders at his family's mountain cottage, hinting at the violent disdain that some Montenegrins show for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.


2. Russia Frees Last Of 'Whale Jail' Animals Into Wild In Far East

Russian officials said on November 10 that they had released the last of dozens of beluga whales whose captivity alongside killer whales in a "whale jail" in the Far East prompted an international outcry and Kremlin intervention.

Images of some of the 97 belugas and orcas in the Srednyaya Bay pens shocked the Russian and international publics and drew complaints from as far afield as Hollywood actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio.

A Russian federal research institute said the last 31 beluga whales -- the mostly white cetacean native to the Arctic and sub-Arctic and known for its canary-like "song" -- were freed into the wild in the Bay of Assumption off the southern coast of southern Primorsky Krai, on the Sea of Japan on November 10.

"This was the final release," Interfax quoted the press service of the Pacific branch of the Russian Federal Research Institute for Fisheries and Oceanography as saying. "No animals remain in the whale jail."


3. Prague to honour little-known saviour of refugees fleeing Nazis

An aid worker who helped refugees flee the Nazis is to be honoured by Prague in a move historians hope will rescue her name and heroic deeds from obscurity.

Marie Schmolka will be awarded honorary citizenship of her native city by the local municipality in recognition of what experts describe as a central role in saving large numbers of Jews and opponents of Hitler before the second world war.

Campaigners hope Monday’s ceremony in Prague’s Archa theatre will pave the way to greater recognition in Britain, where Schmolka died of a heart attack in March 1940, aged 46.

A Jew and a Zionist, Schmolka extended aid to refugees – including communists – fleeing into Czechoslovakia from Germany after the Nazis took power in 1933. Later, as the Czechoslovak representative of the League of Nations commission for refugees, she helped relocate them, including to Palestine and the Dominican Republic, as Hitler’s territorial ambitions began to threaten neighbouring countries.


4. Young female climate activists face hateful abuse online


NBC News has spoken to three young climate activists, all female, and their families who now find themselves in the center of a digital culture war and have to contend with hateful messages from skeptics, misogynists and far-right agitators.

Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who founded the Fridays for Futureweekly school strikes and has become a figurehead of a climate change youth movement, has borne the brunt of the attacks, particularly on messaging platforms including Telegram and forums such as 8chan, security and technology experts say.


"It's shocking to me that people go after anyone and everyone just to bring them down, and I don't understand what they get out of it," said Theresa Sebastian, 15, from Cork, in the Republic of Ireland. "They feel they have the right to degrade us."

Despite lacking an international profile as a climate change activist, Sebastian has endured abuse from accounts that appear to belong to teenage boys and grown men. Some messages criticize her campaigning, while others are hateful comments about her appearance.

Sebastian said she frequently receives racial slurs due to her Indian heritage — she is among the few climate strike organizers of color in Ireland.


5. Aid workers fear winter 'humanitarian catastrophe' at Bosnia migrant camp


Bosnia has seen an increase in the number of migrants ever since Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia closed their borders against illegal immigration.

Since 2018, more than 40,000 migrants have been registered in Bosnia Herzegovina, according to IOM (International Organisation for Migration) data.


"I would say that 99% of people in Bosnia Herzegovina are here because they want to cross into Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and either stay there or move onwards," said Peter Van der Auweraert, the Western Balkans Coordinator for the IOM.


On top of the humanitarian crisis exacerbating in the Vucjak camp, officials in the northwest Bosnian town of Bihac have threatened to close down the Bira migrant centre, located in an old factory in the town, as early as next week.


Gov Steve Bullock to Speak to Democrats Abroad

Add November 14, 9:00am DC time to your calendar and join a call with Steve Bullock! He'll spend time with Democrats Abroad sharing his policy stance on Americans abroad issues (and other issues too, time permitting).

When: November 14, 2019 at 9:00am Eastern Daylight Time

Where: Zoom call
As this is an online call, you will need an internet connection in order to attend.

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Russian Authorities See 'Violent Sexual Assault' In Video Of Kids Chatting With Gay Man

It seemed like a good idea at the time: create a series of YouTube videos in which children sit down to talk to people who are often marginalized by society. For instance, the elderly, the disabled, people with eating disorders, or homosexuals.

"It was a purely social project," a source involved with the project told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity out of fear of harassment or persecution. "It was absolutely noncommercial."

But one video in the Real Talk series – in which children between the ages of 6 and 13 ask questions of a male homosexual -- caught the attention of a group of socially conservative Russian State Duma deputies. Under pressure from the lawmakers, the Investigative Committee announced on November 2 that it was opening a criminal probe on suspicion of "violent sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14."


For several months, the video didn't attract any particular attention. But sometime in the summer, State Duma deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoi, Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov, and Public Chamber member Elina Zhgutova began filing complaints with law enforcement agencies, urging them to look into alleged violations of the rights of children.


2. Italian Holocaust survivor given police escort after far-right threats

An Italian Holocaust survivor has been assigned a police escort after an escalation of threats from far-right extremists.

Liliana Segre, a senator for life, receives an average 200 online threats a day, many against her life. Earlier this year, a teacher from the Veneto region wrote on Facebook that Segre “would do well in a nice little incinerator”.


Animosity towards Segre, 89, was amplified after the far-right parties, the League and Brothers of Italy, as well as Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, refused to back the proposal, sparking fury from the Vatican and Rome’s Jewish community.

Renato Saccone, the prefect of Milan, where Segre lives, was moved to act after Forza Nuova, a neo-fascist political party, hung up a banner criticising the anti-fascism movement close to a theatre where the 89-year-old was making a speech on Tuesday.


3. Angela Merkel's CDU wins Gorlitz Mayor race, beating far-right AfD

The eastern German city of Gorlitz, nicknamed "Gorliwood" because of the dozens of movies filmed there, backed Chancellor Angela Merkel's party on Sunday, electing Christian Democrat (CDU) candidate Octavian Ursu as mayor and rejecting AfD candidate Sebastian Wippel.

Wippel would have been the country's first mayor from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. He won the first round of the election on May 26 with 36% of the vote but did not manage to defeat the CDU candidate in the second round.

Ursu won the runoff with just over 55% after other parties supported him.


4. France's Macron Says NATO 'Brain-Dead,' Russia Says Comment 'Golden'

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned fellow European countries that NATO is dying because of Washington's lack of predictability under President Donald Trump, a view quickly rejected by Germany but hailed by Russia.


"What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO," Macron told The Economist on November 7.


"The French president has found rather drastic words to express his views. This is not how I see the state of cooperation at NATO," Merkel told a news conference in Berlin alongside alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg.


However, Macron's assessment was hailed in Moscow, where Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called it "golden words...a precise definition of the current state of NATO."


5.Attempted Murder, Alleged Sodomy, Poison Pills: A Plague Of Scandals Consumes Georgia’s Orthodox Church

First there was the priest sentenced for allegedly plotting to poison a top church official. Then there was the other priest who alleged that Georgia’s prime minister and a billionaire businessman wanted to kill the church’s revered spiritual leader.

Oh, and don’t forget the priest who nearly got into a fight with clergymen and who, after being forcibly thrown out of an extraordinary meeting, accused the church’s leader on live TV of being “possessed by the sin of pederasty and sodomy.”


“What is going on now is what I would call the biggest scandal in the history of the Georgian church,” Mirian Gamrekelashvili, a Munich-based academic, told RFE/RL.


The political intrigue that has been simmering for several years has focused in part on longstanding accusations of corruption, and the vast wealth that the church has amassed with little transparency or oversight.


Luz Escamilla concedes to Erin Mendenhall in Salt Lake City mayor's race

Luz Escamilla has conceded the race to Erin Mendenhall.
Both women are Democrats

A little disappointed because I thought it would be nice for SLC to have a Hispanic mayor
But, both women are progressive, are energetic and I think will be a credit to the city
Voting for Ms Mendenhall ended a 12 year run of the city voting for a state legislator to lead the city
Ms Mendenhall is a Councilwoman in Salt Lake City, and that was probably a key reason why people went with her

Congrats to Erin Mendenhall and good luck. To Luz Escamilla, good luck with your future plans.

In case you didn't know Nats catcher Kurt Suzuki is either a douche, vacuous or a trumpite

From the undefeated

But the most shocking moment for many Nationals fans came when Kurt Suzuki stepped to the mic, donning an actual MAGA hat, an undoubtedly political statement. There’s no way around what that means, no matter how you slice it. “Make America Great Again” was quite literally a campaign slogan. Period.

After the blowback, Suzuki offered up a retort that was beyond shortsighted. “It was amazing. That was the president. Just trying to have some fun,” the Hawaii-born catcher told USA Today. “Everybody makes everything political. It was about our team winning the World Series.” I mean, if that were the case, why not just wear an actual hat of the championship team you play on and contribute to?


So he wore a magat hat to help make it about the world series?

Democrats gain 6 seats in Marion City-County Council

Indianapolis Democrats gained ground in the City-County Council during Tuesday’s municipal election, with four Republican incumbents falling to their Democratic challengers and four Democratic newcomers winning seats.

The victories propelled Democrats toward gaining six seats overall and a 20-5 majority on the council. All 25 council seats were up for grabs.


District 2 was a vital seat for Republicans, and the opposing candidates brought in more money than the candidates in most of the other races.


In District 5, Democrat Alison Brown defeated Republican incumbent Adam Cox with 55% to Cox’s 45%. The previous council member, Republican Jeff Coats, did not run for reelection. It was one of the few council races to make news during the election cycle after an ad posted by Cox that appeared to attack Brown’s sexuality drew criticism, though Cox told IndyStar the ad was taken out of context.


Jazmine Long. The Model Voter

But one Indianapolis voter told IndyStar it took her several hours — and a number of trips — to cast her ballot.


Jazmine Long, 34, said she moved from Hamilton County to Indianapolis in December, and updated the addresses on her photo ID and voter registration at a BMV branch in March.

Long said when she went to vote at her new north-side polling place at 8:30 a.m., workers were not able to scan her photo ID. She was not offered a provisional ballot and was told to return to the location where she last voted, she said.

But when Long arrived at her former polling place in Carmel, poll workers there told her to return to her new polling place on the north side of Indianapolis, she said. Long said she drove to and from the two locations six times before she was given a provisional ballot shortly before 1 p.m. at the north-side polling place.


4 hours and a few trips back-and-forth because, come hell or high water, she was gonna vote!
I admire people like her. I realize not everyone may have the ability of time (due to work, or other obligation) to do that
But, I do admire her for voting no matter the difficulties
To Ms Jazmine Long, a tip of the hat

Indiana elections 2019: Democrats win three seats in historic Hamilton County election

In a historical shift in the state's most staunch Republican Party stronghold, three Democrats claimed upset victories in Hamilton County's city council races on Tuesday night.


Every council seat in both cities has been held by Republicans for at least decades and veteran politicos cannot remember the last time a Democrat sat on the councils of either government, even when the two were towns.

"This is a major step for the Democratic party in Hamilton County,” said Joe Weingarten, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. “It is slowly turning blue and all I can say is wait until next year.”

Republicans have long counted on Hamilton County's support in elections, and typically the primaries are considered the municipal elections where the winners are determined. But a revamped county Democratic party entered candidates in 13 local races in Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield this year, the most since 2003.


5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Spain's rape laws in the spotlight after men cleared of gang-raping teenager

Women's rights campaigners in Spain called for a change in the law on Friday after a court in Barcelona cleared five men of raping a 14-year-old girl, ruling that they did not use violence.

The men, who denied the charges, took turns to have sex with the teenager after a party in Manresa, a town to the north of Barcelona, in October 2016, the court heard.

On Thursday they were sentenced to between 10 and 12 years in jail for sexual abuse, avoiding more serious charges of rape or sexual assault because the court said the girl was drunk and unconscious, did not fight back and the men were not violent.


The verdict has reignited a debate over the Spanish judiciary's treatment of women, which intensified with the 2016 "Wolf Pack" case, in which an 18-year-old woman was gang-raped during the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona.


2. A Turkmen Doctor Came Out And Now He (And His Family) Have Gone Missing

A young man in Turkmenistan who detailed his tormented life being gay in a conservative country has vanished along with his family after going to a police station where he had been summoned.

Twenty-four-year-old Kasymberdy Garayev -- whose mother and father and siblings have also disappeared -- worked as a cardiologist at a prestigious clinic in Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital.

He recounted to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service the many problems he had being gay in Turkmenistan -- where homosexuality is still considered a crime -- in a story published on October 21.


He said that only members of his family knew about his sexual orientation and even they attempted to convince him to “live a lie” and conceal the truth from everyone.


3. Controversial new Russian internet law could increase censorship, critics say

A new Russian internet law came into effect on November 1 that lawmakers say is designed to protect the country's internet "Runet" in case of a cyber-attack or other external threat.

The "sovereign internet" law would allow the country's telecommunications body Roskomnadzor to isolate the Runet from the global network in the event of an attack.

The head of Roskomnadzor, Alexander Zharov, has said that they would only resort to blocking the internet or certain providers in an emergency.


"Now the government can directly censor content or even turn Russia’s internet into a closed system without telling the public what they are doing or why," said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.


4. EU leaders face legal action over Czech PM's alleged conflict of interest

The EU’s most powerful decision-making body is being taken to court accused of failing to act on an alleged conflict of interest centred on the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš.

Lukáš Wagenknecht, a Czech senator, said he had launched legal action at the European court of justice after the European council – the body representing EU leaders – failed to respond to his concerns about the alleged conflict of interest.


The billionaire prime minister of the Czech Republic was found by EU lawyers in 2018 to have a conflict of interest, because his Agrofert agro-food conglomerate had benefited from at least €82m (Ł71m) in EU subsidies that year alone.

As a member of the European council, Babiš has a veto over the EU budget, giving him a say over how much money is allocated to farm subsidies compared with research.


5. Sure, Help The Homeless, These Moscow Residents Say, But Don't Do It In Our Neighborhood

"If you want to do good deeds, do them – but don't make those around you uncomfortable," said Kira Gorchakova, a resident of Moscow’s Begovoi district when asked about a shelter and consultative center for homeless people that has been proposed for her neighborhood.


For the last two months, Begovoi residents have been discussing a proposal by the nongovernmental organization Nochlezhka to open a small center to aid homeless people. Under the plan, the facility would provide legal, medical, and psychological consulting, as well as provide up to 15 beds for temporary shelter for its clients.


"You have in your minds the image of a dirty, bad-smelling person," Sverdlin told the audience. "But 16 percent of those with whom we work have higher educations. Fifteen percent have been released from orphanages. Many of them are elderly people without families. And 40 to 45 percent of them are people who came from poor regions to earn a living and who were tricked by their employers.


His audience remained skeptical throughout his presentation and most walked out after less than an hour. Opposition to the initiative has been spearheaded by local councilwoman Zoya Andrianova, who says she has gathered the signatures of some 1,500 residents of the Begovoi district, which is on the northwestern edge of the city center, on a petition against it.


Indonesian man flogged after breaking adultery law he helped draw up

An Indonesian man working for an organisation that helped draft strict religious laws has been publicly whipped himself after he was caught having an affair with a married woman.

Flogging is a common punishment for a range of offences in the deeply conservative Aceh region on Sumatra island, including adultery, drinking alcohol, and having gay or premarital sex.


The organisation for which Mukhlis works advised the local government and legislature on drafting and implementing Aceh’s religious law, including public flogging.


Definition of irony. I guess he thought the laws were for thee and for he.
The organization he works for is a menace. They help draft laws for the local government. They whined last summer because of a plan to form a women's soccer league and the stadium isn't specially built fotr only female players, match officials and spectators
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