I got a sun lamp but my cat just sits on it, soaking up all the rays. I guess it's fair, he's an indoor kitty and needs the Vitamin D as much as I do. - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
LGBTQ Lives Are Still Under Threat
The final passage this week of the Respect for Marriage Act, which guarantees that same-sex and interracial marriages must be recognized nationwide, was, as President Joe Biden said in his signing statement, a "blow against hate." But certainly not the final blow.
The Washington Post reports that Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered the state Department of Public Safety in June to compile a list of everyone who had requested a change of gender on their driver's licenses and other government records for the past two years. An initial search turned up 16,000 name changes but a department spokesman claims "no data of any kind" was ultimately provided to Paxton's office. Transgender Texans, their advocates and allies are not reassured.
"This is another brick building toward targeting these individuals," said Ian Pittman, an Austin attorney who represents Texas parents of transgender children investigated by the state. "They've already targeted children and parents. The next step would be targeting adults. And what better way than seeing what adults had had their sex changed on their driver's licenses?"
Meanwhile, in San Antonio on Tuesday night, several dozen members of a right-wing extremist militia showed up heavily armed to intimidate people attending a Christmas-themed drag show at the Aztec Theatre. According to the San Antonio Current, the militia members were outnumbered three-to-one by "a coalition of LGBTQ+ San Antonians, their allies and anti-fascist protesters. Some of the counter-protesters also were armed."
Finally, per the Associated Press, survivors of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado yesterday testified to the U.S. House Oversight Committee "about the onslaught of threats and violence against members of the LGBTQ community as they urged lawmakers to pass a law banning some semiautomatic weapons. ... To the frustration of many Democrats, the year-end agenda doesn't include legislation to ban semiautomatic firearms due to firm Republican opposition."
Club Q founding owner Matthew Haynes took the opportunity to put some pressure on those Republicans. "Are LGBTQ people not part of your constituency?" he said. "Do you not represent us? While we wait for you to answer, we are being slaughtered and dehumanized across this country, in communities you took oaths to protect."
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Death Toll Is Rising from Catastrophic Flooding in Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi is heading home early from the U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. today to deal with a climate disaster that has killed at least 141 people and flooded some 40,000 homes, the New York Times reports. Constant pounding rain this week has triggered the worst flooding and landslides in years, taking out major roads and rendering the city unrecognizable, and the death toll is expected to climb. Tshisekedi on Tuesday cast blame upon major industrial polluters like the U.S. for failing to live up to their commitments on climate change, saying "support must come from countries that pollute and unfortunately trigger the harmful consequences in our countries that lack the means to protect themselves." The DRC has proclaimed three days of mourning for those who've died.
Criminal Referrals from Jan. 6 Committee Coming Soon
The House committee investigating Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 coup attempt could make criminal referrals as early as Monday, ahead of a previously announced schedule, HuffPost reports. The committee's final report is due to be published next Wednesday. Separately, court records released this week revealed that the Trump Organization was secretly found to be in contempt of court for "willfully disobeying" four grand jury subpoenas and three court orders in a 2021 New York case that preceded the company's indictment on tax fraud charges. The company was fined the legal maximum of a whopping $4,000. Finally, two new polls put Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of Trump in a hypothetical Republican primary contest, although most polls of GOP voters still favor Trump.
- U.S. Expected to Announce Patriot Missiles for Ukraine Today It's hoped that the advanced air defense systems can counter Russian bombardment of civilian infrastructure. via NBC News and the Associated Press.
- Military Assumes New Powers as Peru Declares National Emergency Amid protests demanding new elections, Defense Minister Luis Otarola Peñaranda announced that the military and police "will ensure the control throughout the national territory of personal property and, above all, strategic infrastructure." via the AP.
- Turkish Opposition Figure Sentenced to Prison for 'Insulting' Tweets Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu's punishment for criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also includes being banned from politics; he is expected to appeal. via Reuters and the Guardian.
- Progressive Democracy for America PAC Shutting Down Today Staff said the campaign fund "helped elect more than 1,000 progressive candidates and raised $70 million dollars since it started" in the wake of Howard Dean's unsuccessful 2004 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. via Politico.
That's how many U.S. death certificates issued between January 2020 and June 2022 listed long Covid as a cause of death, according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Politico reports that "it remains prohibitively difficult for patients to get treatment for the condition, doctors say, due to low levels of awareness among doctors and patients, lack of funding for specialized clinics, and the time-consuming process of getting diagnosed and treated for a condition that has dozens of symptoms."
ON THE SHOW TODAY
12/15: In a pre-taped conversation, Sam's joined by Eric Alterman, professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College, writer of the "Altercation" newsletter at The American Prospect, to discuss his recent book We Are Not One: A History of America's Fight Over Israel. Then, Emma speaks with Javier Puente, associate professor of Latin American and Latino/a studies at Smith College, to discuss the recent civil unrest in Peru after former President Pedro Castillo threatened to dissolve the country's legislature and rule by decree before being removed from office.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Everyone saw it coming but him, apparently.
"Justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people -- even if a terrible crime placed them in prison. ... [T]he death penalty is immoral. It is an irreversible punishment that does not allow for correction; is wasteful of taxpayer dollars; does not make communities safer; and cannot be and never has been administered fairly and equitably."
-- Outgoing Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, explaining her decision to commute the sentences of all 17 people on death row in the state. Brown's order, effective yesterday, also called for the dismantling of the state's death chamber.
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