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President Biden Reflects On ‘Deadlist Year On Reacord For Transgender Americans’ During Day Of Remembrance 

President Joe Biden released a statement for Transgender Day Of Remembrance, where he paid tribute to “those we lose in the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans.” 

“We also remember the countless other transgender people, disproportionately Black and brown transgender women and girls, who face brutal violence, discrimination, and harassment.” 

The White House marked the day on Friday with a vigil in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, hosted by second gentleman Doug Emhoff. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance is meant to be the final day of Transgender Awareness Week, and it takes the time to memorialize victims of anti-transgender violence all across the country. The Human Rights Campaign recently declared 2021 as the deadliest year on record for transgender and nonbinary people, with at least 45 transgender or gender-nonconforming people on record being killed in hate-filled acts of violence. 

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 “Our hearts are with all who knew and loved the 45 people who have been killed this year. The march to end this epidemic of violence continues.” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.

Within his statement, Biden called on the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect people from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“The Equality Act will ensure that all people are able to live free from fear and discrimination, a right all Americans should have.” 

The Equality Act was passed in the House back in March, but has since been stalled by the Senate. “In spite of our progress strengthening civil rights for LGBTQI+ Americans, too many transgender people still live in fear and face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” Biden wrote.

According to news reports, “the administration also released a report Saturday from the first Interagency Working Group on Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals, which is made up of representatives from the US Agency for International Development, the Departments of State, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, Interior and Veterans Affairs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.”

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The report also emphasized that the “violence against transgender Americans is the direct result of systemic anti-transgender stigma and hate, pervasive discrimination, disproportionate criminalization, and marginalization and exclusion of gender minorities, with violence against transgender communities heightened today due to a historic spike in legislation targeting transgender people for discriminatory and unjust treatment.”

Biden’s statement is the latest in a series of administrative motions that aim to support the LGBTQ+ community. Biden has since revered former president Trump’s ban on transgender Americans in the military, reinstated a special envoy for LGBTQ+ rights, and issued the first presidential proclamation to mark Transgender Day Of Visibility as an official day in March. 

Beyond the heightened violence that transgender Americans have faced this year, from a legislative standpoint their rights were also being consistently threatened. In fact, 2021 also marked a record year for anti-transgender legislation; 100 bills have been introduced among state legislators across 33 states all of which aimed at restricting the rights of transgender individuals. 

A majority of the bills target transgender youth, to which Bien responded:

“To ensure that our government protects the civil rights of transgender Americans, I charged my team with coordinating across the federal government to address the epidemic of violence and advance equality for transgender people,” Biden stated. 

“I continue to call on state leaders and lawmakers to combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender children. Today, we remember. Tomorrow — and every day — we must continue to act.”

 United Nations Health Expert Condemns US Over Threat To Abortion Rights 

Special rapporteur for the United Nations, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, is calling on the US Supreme Court to uphold the right to abortion in America. Dr. Mofokeng is arguing that the US is risking undermining international human rights laws and are indirectly threatening the right to a safe abortion for other countries around the world. 

Dr. Mofokeng is one of many global observers whose main job is to travel the world and defend human rights. She argues in a brief filed in a US court that by overturning abortion rights, the nation would be violating international human rights treates that were ratified by the US; including the convention against torture, and forcing a woman to carry their pregnancy to term, regardless of the personal risk for the mother and child. 

In an interview, Mofokeng told the media she could have “filed a brief on abortion rights, in any other court, in any other abortion case, globally. However, the US courts are dealing with the direct threat posed to abortion rights in the supreme court’s upcoming session.

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“We have this joke among us that when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. So we know that politically that what happens in the United States… does have an impact in precedents elsewhere in the world.”

Roe vs Wade is the famous 1973 court case that gave Americans the constitutional right to an abortion in privacy. At the time, the case invalidated numerous state abortion bans and restrictions, and allowed individuals to terminate a pregnancy up to the point where the fetus can survive outside the womb; around 24 weeks. 

“If that gets overturned, it has catastrophic implications, not just for the US. I fear overturning Roe would embolden global attacks on reproductive rights.”

Mofokeng’s  most recent UN report outlined “the challenges Covid-19 posed to reproductive rights, and how colonialism continues to impact global policies on reproduction, from sterilization to abortion bans.”

“It means that even those people who are conservative, who are anti-rights, in any country in the world, will actually now start referencing the US court as an example of jurisprudence that should be followed, and this is why this is so dangerous.”

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“If Roe … [were] overturned, many US states will implement bans or near-bans on abortion access that will make individual state laws irreconcilable with international human rights law. This would cause irreparable harm to women and girls in violation of the United States’ obligations under the human rights treaties it has signed and ratified,” Mofokeng’s brief argued.

“The denial of safe abortions and subjecting women and girls to humiliating and judgmental attitudes in such contexts of extreme vulnerability and where timely health care is essential amount to torture or ill treatment.”

In one recent analysis, the Guttmacher Institute found “26 states are certain or likely to outlaw abortion should Roe be overturned.”

“The rise in global anti-gender and anti-women’s rights is such that people will grasp at anything that seems to make their case solid, and  the case before the supreme court now relies on non-medical, non-scientific misinformation,” said Mofokeng.

“It means we have a risk of now having global jurisprudence – or at least influences in the global world – using jurisprudence that’s ill-informed. And that’s very dangerous, to undo the court’s decisions takes decades, sometimes a lifetime, – and that’s why it’s dangerous.”

US Special Envoy To Haiti Resigns Over ‘Inhumane’ Expulsions Of Haitian Migrants 

The Biden Administration’s special envoy to Haiti resigned this week after citing “inhumane large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants to their homeland,” which has already been ravaged by natural disasters, and civil unrest. 

Daniel Foote was appointed to the envoy position back in July after Haiti’s president was assassinated. An envoy refers to a messenger or representative, especially one on a diplomatic mission, within the government. Beyond the recent headlines regarding the harsh treatment Haitian migrants have been enduring, Foote was known for often complaining about the lack of urgency coming from Washington when it came to improving Haiti’s conditions and infrastructure after so many natural disasters. 

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Foote wrote Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week, stating that he was “stepping down immediately with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes.”

“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life.”

“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own,”  he wrote

One official within the White House claimed that Foote had consistently tried to have a greater oversight presence in Haiti, especially when it came to policies that would improve the nation’s infrastructure. The administration consistently told Foote his requests were not appropriate, according to the official who chose to remain anonymous. 

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The White House and Biden Administration has been under major fire in recent weeks when it comes to Haiti. Many Democrats and immigration rights activists have gone online to condemn the government for expelling thousands of Haitians without a chance to seek asylum; which violated American principles.

Even more recently, images were blasted all over social media showing Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics against Haitian migrants, including a whip, leading many to make the obvious comparison to slavery and the power dynamics that still exist within the American system to this day. 

US officials are currently ramping up their deportation efforts and organizing to get seven expulsion flights from the US to Haiti a day; this would mark one of the swiftist and large-scale expulsions from the US in decades, and in the middle of a worldwide health crisis. 

“When someone who is tasked with Haiti policy at the highest level resigns because recommendations are ignored and dismissed it’s not only troubling, but shows you this administration does not tolerate anyone who won’t go along with their distorted view of the facts. Dan Foote is a world class diplomat who refuses to be told what to do. I wish more foreign service officers had his courage to stand up and call out their bosses,” said Damian Merlo, a Republican strategist who has worked for years on Haiti policy and is now a registered lobbyist for the country’s government. 

Syrigne of Covid Vaccine

China Looking For Foreign Vaccine Options After Admitting To Ineffective Vaccines

This weekend, the director of China’s health agency claimed that Covid-19 vaccines being produced by private and state-run groups are not very effective. This announcement comes after an Oregon congressman began pushing for more effective and compassionate vaccine property rights to be shared among the world to end the pandemic more quickly.

The Associated Press initially reported that the director of the China Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, claimed Chinese vaccines “don’t have a very high protection rate.” Sinovac is the privately-owned company that has been producing Covid vaccines in China. Sinopharm is a state-owned firm responsible for the same thing. International testing has revealed that the vaccines from both businesses are 50% effective in preventing moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms.

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Despite the fact that Pfizer and Moderna have both tested to be 97% and 94% effective respectively, Gao Fu casted doubt on mRNA technology in general, so both vaccines weren’t even put under consideration. This weekend, however, Gao Fu claimed that China is considering other vaccine options now, as their goal is to vaccinate 40% of it’s population by June; for reference they currently have about 5% of their 1.4 billion population vaccinated.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have claimed that 35% of US residents have received at least one of their shots by now. Earl Blumenauer is the Oregon Congressman who also discussed how access to effective vaccines “is a key to global herd immunity from COVID.”

“None of us are safe, we’re only a plane ride away form being reinfected.”

Several lawmakers share Blumenauer’s viewpoints, and have even signed a request to the Biden Administration to temporarily lift intellectual property rights to the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson&Johnson vaccines. “The idea is for other countries to produce effective vaccines too.”

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“It’s in everyone’s interest to do this, we’ll only be safe when the whole world can be protected, but it’s hard when wealthy countries like the US bought up most of the initial supply of effective vaccines.”

“This risks further deepening of global inequities, sparking new tensions and divides, with really serious ramifications for stability and progress around the world. Letting Covid circulate in other countries will yield stronger variant strains, which may be resistant to current vaccines.”

Martha Newsome is the president of Medical Teams International, a Pacific Northwest-based organization that works to vaccinate people in poorer countries.

“It’s literally a human rights issue. I think sometimes we just think ‘I need to get my family vaccinated, I need to get my community vaccinated,’ but we will not get out of this pandemic isolation that we’re feeling until everyone is vaccinated.”

The pharmaceutical industry opposes sharing intellectual property rights, however, which Blumenaur claims is a “short-sighted, and frankly inhumane attitude to have when facing a global health crisis. If we don’t defeat this virus together, it’ll come back to bite us.”

Refugee

It’s Time The World Took Another Look at The Way We Look After Refugees

This month UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke to the Global Refugee Forum about the way the world looks at refugees, and how we must ‘reboot’ our approach to them. At the first meeting of its kind in Geneva, Mr Guterres said we should be doing more to understand the reasons why so many people are feeling the need to flee their homes while respecting their rights and protecting them where possible.

“Now more than ever, we need international cooperation and practical, effective responses. We need better answers for those who flee, and better help for communities and countries that receive and host them.”

After ‘a decade of displacement’ the global forum – defined as the ‘blueprint’ for restoring the human rights of refugees – comes as Mr Guterres calls for joint action, describing the Global Compact on Refugees as “our collective achievement and our collective responsibility. It speaks to the plight of millions of people. And it speaks to the heart of the mission of the United Nations.”

UN data states that there are currently over 70 million people who have been forced to leave their homes, an increase of 2.3 million from last year and double the amount 20 years ago. Over 25 million have become refugees, unable to go back home thanks to civil unrest, war and persecution, desperately trying to make a new home in thousands of refugee camps throughout many other countries across the world.

Although there are international agreements that were created decades ago, Mr Guterres stated that we need to “re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime.”

“Indeed, at a time when the right to asylum is under assault, when so many borders and doors are being closed to refugees, when even child refugees are being detained and divided from their families, we need to reaffirm the human rights of refugees.”

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Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the event’s co-host has also called on the world to ‘reboot’ the way it deals with people who need protection.

“Injustice, conflict and violence. This is why we are here. Our world is in turmoil, and 25 million refugees are looking to us for solutions.”

Mr Grandi also stated that there are “71 million people uprooted from their homes globally, inside and outside their countries, it’s time to reboot our responses.’ Yet instead of helping those in most need, the responsibility had been passed onto the poorest countries by those ‘with more resources.”

With this outlook “refugees are pushed aside too…often in camps, cut off from the social and economic life of the communities hosting them. Humanitarian aid helps, and remains vital, but is not enough and not adequate to turn the tide from despair to hope.”

Switzerland Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis confirmed that his country has dedicated $125 million to refugee protection for the next four years and gave his support for more countries to share the burden.

Currently 8 in 10 refugees are taken in by developing countries however Swiss cities and towns are continuing to provide assistance in the integration into communities.

Speaking on the crisis Mr Cassis quoted a saying from one of the most famous refugees, Albert Einstein:

“Life is like a bicycle; you have to move forward to avoid losing your balance…This applies to all of us, we must not lose our balance and look ahead.”

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Mr Cassis went on to highlight how religious partners could play a positive role when helping find ways to solve refugee issues including integration and protection, quoting the ‘unique’ written agreement, based on ‘ethics and solidarity’ between the country’s Muslims, Christians and Jews.

While Heiko Mass, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke for Germany, saying the refugee ‘burden’ should be shared amongst ‘a greater number of shoulders’.

However Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan brought the forum’s attention to the struggles that developing nations were facing stating that the amount of vulnerable families heading over their borders ‘causes problems that cannot be imagined by richer countries.’

Although Pakistan currently houses nearly three million refugees in ‘a country with massive unemployment’ Mr Khan commented that Europe was also struggling to cope with refugees, thanks to the new trend of socialist politicians who ‘cashes in on public distress’.

Confirming his desire for a rethink into the way the world looks at refugees, Mr Guterres declared:

“This is a moment for ambition. It is a moment to jettison a model of support that too often left refugees for decades with their lives on hold: confined to camps, just scraping by, unable to flourish or contribute. It is a moment to build a more equitable response to refugee crises through a sharing of responsibility. One might say that as refugees go, so goes the world. Today we must do all we can to enable that humanitarian spirit to prevail over those who today seem so determined to extinguish it.”