Tag Archives: activists

Norway’s Foreign Minister criticizes Belarus after arrests of activists: “Political prisoners must be released”

Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) strongly criticized Belarus on Thursday.

Belarusian security officials stormed the offices of activists fighting for civil rights in the country on Wednesday.

The rights group Vyasna states that the office in Minsk and the home addresses of at least five of the members elsewhere in the country were visited by the security agents. Several were arrested.

Norway strongly condemned the actions of President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

“The authorities in Belarus show a total lack of respect for fundamental human rights,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide tweeted on Thursday.

“Norway condemns the attacks on civil society and the arrest of human rights defenders in Vyasna and other organizations. Political prisoners must be released immediately,” she added.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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This post originally posted here Norway Government & Politics News

Lawyers, Activists Converge on Indianapolis to Advocate for Dorian Murrell; Oppose Racism


Black Lawyers for Justice/Black Rights Matter

“We must have the strongest of justice for the murder of Dorian Murrell.”

— Malik Zulu Shabazz, Esq

INDIANA, IN, USA, July 14, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — Dr. Malik Zulu Shabazz, lead counsel on behalf of Black Lawyers for Justice will hold a news conference with Dorian Murrell’s family and supporters on Friday, July 16, 2021 at 1p.m. Thereafter, a meeting with city prosecutors of the case of Tyler Newby will be held at the Indianapolis Courthouse. Local activists are alleging that Murrell was killed by alleged white supremacist Tyler Newby. Dorian Murrell was struck with a bullet that pierced his heart as he was with friends near Monument Circle around 2 a.m. on May 31, 2021 while attending a George Floyd demonstration in Indianapolis. Five people were shot and three were killed, including Murrell who was unarmed.
Dorian Murrell: Killed During George Floyd Protests, Family Seeks Answers – UNICORN RIOT

Murrell’s family and supporters are incensed that Newby was given bail in this case and they are concerned that justice may elude them, as it has historically been denied African-Americans in Indiana.

Attorney Malik Z. Shabazz will address the upcoming Criminal trial of Newby, who is charged with murder. Trial is set for August 2021. According to Attorney Shabazz, Black Lawyers for Justice is in town from Washington, DC to support a vigorous and thorough prosecution of Tyler Newby. “We must have the strongest of justice for the murder of Dorian Murrell. Furthermore, BLFJ is here to conduct a formal inquiry into human and civil rights violations by the Indianapolis police department and the city of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana.” Friday’s hearing will feature a number of witnesses who will testify as well as public testimony on Black suffering in Indiana.

At 5pm July 16th there will be a Human Rights – Civil Rights Hearing on Systematic Racism in Indiana. The event will be held at Hovey Street Church – 2338 Hovey Street in Indiana.

2nd AMENDMENT/ANTI-RACISM MARCH: On July 17th there will be a national 2nd Amendment march in downtown Indianapolis and participants will gather at 2 pm at Pan Am Plaza in Indianapolis; across from the Black Expo and the Indianapolis Convention Center. The march will be open to regular civilians who are demanding better human rights in Indiana and an end to white supremacy and systematic racism in the Hoosier State. Organizers include: New Black Panther Party, PANSOC, Black Power Movement, Black Men’s Movement and a host other groups.

EVENT: Friday – July 16, 2021 – 1:00 pm
Legal News Conference: Countering White Racism and White Supremacy in Indiana – City County Building – 35 North Pennsylvania Street

Human Rights – Civil Rights Hearing on Systematic Racism – 5:00pm- 9pm
Hovey St. Church – 2338 Hovey Street

EVENT: Saturday – July 17, 2021 – 1pm
March and Rally for Black Power – Pan Am Plaza – 102 West Georgia Street

CONTACT: [email protected] 301.513.5445
MEDIA: [email protected]

Malik Z. Shabazz, Esq.
Black Lawyers for Justice
+1 301-513-5445
email us here

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This post originally posted here usnews

‘We live in a new era’: the next generation of Palestinian activists

On his doorstep in occupied East Jerusalem, Mohammed al-Kurd, a 23-year-old Palestinian writer and hero to many young people around the region, lambasts Israeli repression as he points to stun grenades fired by police the night before.

Kurd is fighting Israeli settlers’ attempts to evict him from his home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, which has been a flashpoint for violence in recent weeks and at the centre of court battles for years.

“Last night we saw gangs of Israeli settlers attacking us and our children with pepper spray,” he said late last month. “If we tried [to defend ourselves] the Israel occupation forces would brutalise us with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.”

Israel’s Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a hearing on settlers’ claims to the Kurds’ home and the homes of three other Palestinian families on August 2.

Kurd and his twin sister Muna are part of a new Palestinian generation, whose calls for justice echo the same values of equality that fuel global campaigns such as Black Lives Matter. The twins, who have a huge social media following, post regularly about their fight to save their home.

In a video of her university graduation speech shared on social media in recent weeks, Muna urged Palestinians not to be “silent about oppression”. “We live in a new era where Palestinians can make themselves heard, despite obstacles and attempts at muzzling,” she said.

The Kurd twins’ social media and real-life activism chimes with an emerging Palestinian movement, which is increasingly uniting young activists from the occupied territories with Arabs who live inside Israel’s 1948 borders and hold Israeli citizenship.

Muna al-Kurd
An image shared by Muna al-Kurd on Instagram, where she has 1.6m followers © Muna al-Kurd

‘Deep understanding of our unity’

Activists have said the new movement, which is leaderless and without a defined vision of the future beyond securing equality and justice for all Palestinians, gained momentum after May’s conflict in Gaza.

About 250 people in the territory were killed by Israeli strikes, many of them women and children, while Palestinian militants Hamas fired thousands of rockets that killed 13 people in Israel.

Large protests against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza swept through not only the West Bank but also mixed Arab and Jewish towns in Israel.

“Israel has always worked on fragmenting Palestinians to create a people whose daily lived reality is different from one another,” said Riya al-Sanah, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, and a civil society activist. “But what the recent uprising has shown is the failure of that policy. We saw on the ground a deep understanding of our unity.”

This resurgent sense of Palestinian unity comes at a time of heightened international solidarity and interest in a cause that had appeared dormant and marginal in recent years.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive US Democratic congresswoman, spoke during the Gaza conflict of “injustice and human rights violations” against the Palestinians and of their “right to survive”.

Palestinian youths practise parkour between houses destroyed by Israeli attacks in Gaza
Palestinian youths practise parkour in the rubble left by Israeli strikes in Gaza on May 31 © Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Despair over two-state solution

Young Palestinians’ anger is rooted in grievances arising from the humiliations of the occupation, the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied territory, discrimination against Arabs within Israel and disappointment with an ageing and autocratic Palestinian leadership.

Settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured by the Jewish state in 1967, are considered illegal by most of the world. But they house about 650,000 settlers and carve up chunks of the West Bank, where Palestinians hoped they would build a future state.

As a result, many activists have given up on the two-state solution, which is still nominally the goal of international diplomacy, even though the peace process has been moribund for years.

Sanah, who lives in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, described her own vision of one state spanning Israel and the occupied territories. She said it would mean “an end to Israeli settler colonialism” and the dismantling of restrictions on movement that blight the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank.

“It’s not that [the Israelis] have to leave [the country],” she said. “We want the elimination of the structures that govern this place and to change them to something more just, [including] removing checkpoints and walls [in the West Bank] that are the physical manifestations of colonialism and also dismantling the institutions which sustain racism.”

For many, this desire is unrealistic at best. “Jews would have to give up their entire privileges to have one democratic state . . . I don’t see that happening,” said Yehuda Shaul, co-founder of Breaking the Silence, an organisation of veteran Israeli soldiers opposed to the occupation.

Map showing Israel and the Palestinian Territories and properties under threat

‘We are not really equal’

In Arab and mixed Arab and Jewish cities inside Israel, discontent has been driven by problems ranging from high crime rates to restrictions on new construction by Arabs, as well as poverty and lack of employment.

“They give us more privileges [than Palestinians in the occupied territories] because we are citizens here, but we are not really equal,” said Amir Toumie, 27, a graduate student from Haifa. “The whole state is built on Jewish supremacy. By law, if I marry a Palestinian from the West Bank, she can’t get citizenship or move into Israel.” 

The police had shown little interest in tackling Arab-on-Arab crime, said Baraa Sherem, a 27-year-old businessman from the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. His father, a former mayor, was badly injured in an unsolved shooting in January that sparked weekly demonstrations “against police and the state”.

That unrest was given new momentum by the anger unleashed by the recent Gaza conflict. “I think it has charged all Palestinian youths with a sense of hope,” Sherem said. “Many youths from around the country contact us to learn from our experience.”

Palestinians protesting against the demolition of properties in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighbourhood
Palestinians protest against the demolition of properties in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighbourhood on June 29 © Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Disdain for Arab leaders

The explosion of anger has unsettled Israel, as it underscores the lingering tensions in the state.

Israel’s new coalition includes Mansour Abbas’s Islamist Ra’am party, which became the first Arab party to join an Israeli government in decades. Abbas’s party said it had secured promises of $ 16bn to fight crime and improve infrastructure in Arab towns, as well as pledges to freeze the demolition of Arab homes built without permits.

But many young activists are critical of Arab politicians, whether in the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

“We do not believe in [Mansour Abbas’s] discourse about improving services,” said Sherem. “We won’t sell our identity for money.”

There is also deepening anger at corruption and authoritarianism in the PA, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the ageing Palestinian president whose term expired in 2009 and who postponed long-delayed parliamentary elections in April.

“The PA is a second type of occupation,” said Toumie. “It stands in the way of liberation. It even stops protests in the West Bank, which are the most basic thing people can do against occupation.”

In recent weeks, Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the PA and its leader, died hours after western-trained PA security men arrested him and beat him with iron bars, according to his family. The UN, US and EU have all demanded an investigation.

“The PA is finished,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer. “It is dying a slow death because they don’t have legitimacy any longer.”

‘I want to see protests in every damn city in the world’

While Buttu said she was “excited” by the emerging youth movement, she argued that better organisation and clearer leadership were needed. “The sentiment is definitely unified, but action is still localised.”

For now, young activists have concentrated efforts on initiatives such as a campaign to boycott Israeli products and promote Palestinian businesses. “There is, however, wariness about developing traditional leadership hierarchies,” said Fadi Quran, a Palestinian entrepreneur in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “The new leaders will gain their legitimacy from on the ground initiatives.”

The Kurds, who have already managed to capture the attention of the world, are not giving up. On Twitter in recent weeks, Mohammed wrote: “I want to see protests in every damn city in the world.”

The conversation at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend reaffirmed Republican activists have no intention of moving on

Republicans are facing a set of highly competitive midterm elections in 2022 and still attempting to shape an agenda that will break through to voters. But the conversation at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend reaffirmed once again that the core activists of the Republican Party have no intention of moving on from Trump or the false claims he has trumpeted that the 2020 election was fraudulent, even though there is no evidence of widespread voting fraud in last year’s contest.
Normally, CPAC events serve as an audition arena for the next slate of future Republican presidential contenders. But there was scarcely a hint of that here this weekend as Trump’s flirtation with another run for president in 2024 has effectively frozen the field — with his Sunday speech serving as the main draw for attendees.
Blue flags adorning a truck in the parking lot bore the slogan “Trump Won.” Exhibition booths overflowed with Trump hats, flags, and other “45” swag. One 2024 T-shirt pictured Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis but only standing next to Trump as his potential vice president. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who will speak Sunday before Trump, mentioned the former president within the first two minutes of her last CPAC speech and has allied herself so closely with him that GOP voters often say they’d like to see her as his No. 2 instead of Mike Pence in 2024.
At a gathering branded as “America UnCanceled,” Donald Trump Jr. warmed up the crowd on Friday night with quick-witted condemnations of cancel culture and digs at Hunter Biden. But his biggest applause line wasn’t even his own. During his speech, an attendee bellowed “Trump won!” eliciting a standing ovation and setting off a round of “Trump” chants.
During a midday Saturday panel that was intended to be a “tough love” assessment of the Republican Party, GOP donor Bubba Saulsbury acknowledged that it has been difficult to shift the attention of both donor and voters to future contests because they are still “livid” about the 2020 outcome.
“I know we need to talk about moving forward, but we’ve got to be honest with ourselves about where we’ve been and what happened,” said Saulsbury, adding that every donor he’s met “believes that there was some level of election fraud.”
“Talking to all the donors — they’re apprehensive to donate to anything but election integrity right now, because their thoughts are, ‘Why am I going to spend my money if it’s not going to be a free and fair election?'” Saulsbury said.
Another Saturday headliner, GOP Rep. Jody Hice, who is challenging incumbent Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — the Georgia state official who infuriated Trump by overseeing three ballot counts confirming Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia — steered a panel about Covid-19 toward the topic of election security. When Hice was asked how he would ensure that Americans get the correct information about the Delta variant this fall, he pivoted back to 2020.
“I firmly believe this is the fight of our life politically,” Hice told the crowd to applause. “If we lose election integrity, we lose everything. So that’s my focus right now.” He declined to provide any further comment to CNN.

Trump the headliner

On Sunday, the conference is set to open with two men who just recently addressed a QAnon-affiliated conference: Texas GOP Chair Allen West, who has announced plans to challenge Greg Abbott in the Texas governor’s race, and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert.
Also on the agenda: A presentation on the future of American elections, the second election fraud panel of the three-day conference.
The event also drew Proud Boys as well as the founder of the Oath Keepers, who was recently interviewed by the FBI about his role in the January 6 insurrection, according to the New York Times. He has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing.
Trump will essentially close out the conference Sunday afternoon, after the announcement of the results of CPAC’s straw poll which is intended to measure voters’ interest in the potential GOP White House contenders. One question includes Trump on a list of potential 2024 candidates; the other does not.
But no matter what Trump decides to do in 2024, his refusal to accept his 2020 election defeat is effectively shaping the GOP agenda nationwide a year and a half before the next set of elections.
Republican-led states across the country have put forward more restrictive voting laws, with lawmakers pointing to concerns about nonexistent widespread election fraud to defend the new measures. Laws have already passed in Florida and Georgia, and Texas lawmakers were engaged in a special session of the Legislature over the weekend, debating their own set of proposals that could make it harder to vote. During the 2021 legislative sessions, the Brennan Center for Justice tracked at least 389 bills to restrict voting that were introduced 48 states.
GOP lawmakers have also seized on the opportunity to push post-election audits, yet another way to undermine election confidence, raise money and curry favor with Trump. The so-called audit in Maricopa County, Arizona — which continues to drag on — has drawn Republican lawmakers from multiple states that have expressed interested in launching similar reviews. A Trump ally in Pennsylvania pressed forward with his plans for an election audit last week, sending requests to three counties for everything from their tabulation equipment to voter rolls.
During the CPAC conference white cards were circulating among some attendees with a “7-Pt. plan to restore Donald J. Trump in days, not years.” After the violence at the Capitol on January 6, federal officials are paying more attention to those sorts of fringe theories.
CPAC organizers did not respond to CNN’s request for comment about the cards.
Trump and his allies have encouraged the ludicrous claims that he could be reinstated as President next month. But they have gained enough traction to lead the Department of Homeland Security to issue a warning last month that Trump’s “reinstatement” fantasies could lead to more violence this summer from right-wing extremists.

Green activists furious over EasyJet new domestic routes – ‘more viable by train’

Some of the airlines’ new domestic routes include Birmingham to Newquay, which is less than 200 miles, for £22.99.

EasyJet decided to create more domestic routes to “give Brits more options to reconnect or take a break this summer”.

However, this move has been criticised by green campaigners as it is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace UK said: “Companies like easyJet claim to take sustainability seriously, but their announcement of 12 new domestic routes shows they will not prioritise our planet’s health over their profits until they are forced to do so by law.

“Domestic flights have long been a symbol of how our economic system incentivises our own destruction. These new UK routes show easyJet continues to but profits over the planet,” it continued.

READ MORE: Green list update: 10 countries which could be added to green list

EasyJet has put more than 60,000 additional seats on sale across routes from Belfast to Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasglow.

Some of the airlines’ new domestic routes include Birmingham to Newquay, which is less than 200 miles, for £22.99.

Most of them are viable by train, but easyJet decided to offer cheaper prices than rail operators.

Some people took to social media to criticise the airline’s decision.

What do you think? Join the debate in the comments section here


“Exactly what you need in a #ClimateEmergency! But it’s interesting that Easyjet spins it primarily as an opportunity to “connect with friends, family & loved ones,” said an angry user.

“EasyJet is opening 12 new domestic routes for flights, most are viable by train,” commented another one.

EasyJet UK country manager Ali Gayward said: “We know our customers can’t wait to be reunited with friends and family or to explore the UK so these additional new routes today should prove popular and will further strengthen our UK domestic network providing customers with even more choice.”

Director of Leeds Bradford airport, John Cunliffe, supported the decision.

“The announcement of the new route to Belfast International airport further strengthens the connectivity between Northern Ireland and the Leeds city region, the largest economy in the UK outside of London.”

However, director of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven, said the move showed that the UK is not taking seriously the target to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government committed to cut emissions by 68 percent by 2030.

He said: “The UK Government claims to be a climate leader but is considering lowering taxes on domestic flights despite them being cheaper than train fares on many routes.

“What will it take to make ministers understand that you can’t hit carbon reduction targets without carbon reduction policies?”

An easyJet’s spokesperson replied to this: “The new routes which will operate this summer have been introduced in response to the demand we’re seeing for domestic air travel in the UK and as with all our flights, we offset all of the carbon emissions from the fuel used for them.”

She also said the company was using more efficient aircraft and “supporting the development of radical new technologies to achieve zero-emission flying in the future, which we are committed to transitioning to as soon as they are available”.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Activists Say Facebook Allows Drug Ads to Target Teens

Teenagers on Facebook can be targeted by ads endorsing alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking, and eating disorders, according to a report by a watchdog group. The Tech Transparency Project created six test ads and submitted them to Facebook, saying it wanted to reach users ages 13 to 17. Facebook approved all the ads within hours, including one promoting pill parties in 43 minutes.

“This is an easy fix, and Facebook should have had the foresight to make it a long time ago,” said Tech Transparency Project director Katie Paul. “Whether this was an oversight or a money-grab is not important. It’s completely unacceptable.”

As you scroll around Facebook and the wider web, its algorithms keep tabs on your behavior. Eventually, it places you into categories based on what it’s observed about you: your political leanings, your favorite music, your interests and hobbies, and so on. This is what draws advertisers, who want to show ads tailored to these groups.

But many users are unaware that Facebook can infer everything from their race to their sexuality or relationship status just from their online activity. Moreover, several of these categories are inappropriate for minors. The report found that Facebook used teenagers’ behavior to place them in interest categories for “alcoholic beverages,” “extreme weight loss,” and “tobacco,” even noting if the teens were single so they could be targeted by dating site ads.

All Facebook users are placed in interest categories. But minors under 18 aren’t supposed to be placed in certain adult categories. Facebook has gotten in hot water for showing inappropriate ads to children since at least 2014. As recently as 2019, an investigation by The Guardian found that children were still being labeled as interested in tobacco and alcohol.

Reporters have uncovered other issues with the company’s algorithmically created categories. In 2017, a ProPublica report found that the company was permitting advertisers to target users who listed their own occupation as “jew hunters.” The next year Facebook apologized for indicating that thousands of users in Russia were “interested in treason.” Then, in 2019, Facebook settled with civil rights groups who alleged the company allowed advertisers to discriminate against certain groups when posting ads for jobs and housing.

Facebook has guardrails in place to stop these from being shown to underage users, but TTP’s director says the test ads were approved “in a matter of hours.”

“There’s absolutely no reason why Facebook should have tagged nearly a million teens as potentially interested in “alcoholic beverages” and other categories,” Paul said.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company could not comment without seeing the report. \

TTP created six test ads, each designed around a topic users under 18 aren’t supposed to see. These include an ad for “ana tips” (“ana” is a well known abbreviation for anorexia), which TTP says it targeted at users that Facebook classifies as being interested in “extreme weight loss” and “diet food.” A fake vaping ad targeted underage users classified as interested in “electronic cigarettes” and “tobacco.” Advertisers aren’t permitted to target users under 18 with dating site ads, but TTP’s test ad was approved in only two hours.

In addition to creating the categories, Facebook also shows advertisers its “estimated reach,” the number of users who may see any ad once it’s placed. Facebook estimated as many as 900,000 users would see the alcohol ad, while as many as 5 million would see the dating site ad. Without immediate correction to how the social network monitors its own rules around ad placement, the group warns, Facebook is “positioned to profit from harmful messages … aimed at a vulnerable age group.”

More Great WIRED Stories

Author: Sidney Fussell
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

‘Let them take a knee’: Sports union, German activists promise legal help to athletes sanctioned for protesting at Tokyo Olympics

Author RT
This post originally appeared on RT Sport News

Athletes who may be tempted to violate the ban on protesting at the Olympic Games in Tokyo got some encouragement from the World Players Association and a German activist group, which pledged to help them fight any sanctions.

“We will work with our affiliates to ensure courageous athletes who take a stand for human rights are properly supported, including through legal and other means,” World Players Association executive director Brendan Schwab said on Thursday.

The move came in response to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision, announced on Wednesday, to enforce its longstanding Rule 50 prohibition against athlete protests at the Tokyo Games. The IOC cited an Athletes Commission poll showing that around 70% of respondents consider such protests to be inappropriate. “The political neutrality of the Olympic Games is a way to protect athletes from political interference and exploitation,” the IOC added.
Also on rt.com Podium protests BANNED at Tokyo & Beijing Olympics ‘to protect athletes from political interference & exploitation’
While athletes will be free to express their views at press conferences, social media and other outlets, the ban applies to the field of play, official ceremonies and the medal podium. In those spaces, Rule 50 prohibits political, racial and religious propaganda by Olympic competitors. The IOC is expected to clarify its punishments before the games start on July 23. Violators could be sent home in some cases.

Athleten Deutschland joined the World Players Association in criticizing the decision, saying competitors “should be free to peacefully declare their support for the values of our free and democratic society at any time.” The group vowed to support members and minority athletes who are sanctioned for standing up for “fundamental values.”

Both groups also argued against using a survey to justify blanket restrictions to block freedom of expression, particularly when the views being expressed may be held by a minority of people.

“Human rights, such as freedom of expression, are universal,” Athleten Deutschland said. “Freedom of expression enables criticism of power and protects particularly the stances of minorities.”

The controversy comes amid the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept across the US in the past year, as well as rising political unrest around the world. Protests at sporting events, such as kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games, has led to backlash from fans, many of whom look to sports as an escape from the politics in their day-to-day lives.
Also on rt.com ‘Everything offends everybody’: US football rep axed over speech querying ‘social justice warriors’, knee-taking & slavery claims
The IOC figures to be challenged on its protest prohibition. US hammer throw champion Gwen Berry, who was put on probation by the US Olympic Committee in 2019 for raising her fist after winning gold at the Pan-Am Games – alluding to the iconic raising of black-gloved fists on the medal stand by American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968 – expects athletes to make their views heard in Tokyo.

“This doesn’t deter me,” Berry said of the IOC ruling. “We’ll speak out. We’ll say what needs to be said. And we’ll do what needs to be done.”

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Austin activists say Chauvin verdict offers hope for Mike Ramos case

Author Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Austin activists say Chauvin verdict offers hope for Mike Ramos case

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some Black Lives Matter advocates in Austin are celebrating former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction Tuesday.

“Today is just a huge sigh of relief,” said Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition.

“It’s not a relief, because he’s going to jail,” he added, saying that’s part of the system they’re hoping to reform. “It’s a sigh of relief, because it says that, you know, today, it’s true that Black lives do matter. And when you break that truth, you’ll be held accountable.”

Moore hopes Tuesday’s conviction of Chauvin for murdering George Floyd is a sign for future cases.

He told KXAN he was already thinking about the impending trial of Austin police officer Christopher Taylor. A grand jury indicted him last month for the deadly shooting of Mike Ramos.

“I literally just got a text message from Brenda Ramos, the mother of Mike Ramos. She was, you know, elated to see the verdict. So, I think she’s feeling really reenergized. I think she’s feeling hopeful — as am I,” Moore said.

KXAN turned to an expert on criminal law and justice for perspective.

“It remains rare to see criminal convictions of police officers for the use of force and even rarer to see murder convictions for police officers for the use of force,” said Jennifer Laurin, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

Laurin said while the verdict out of Minnesota has no legal bearing on use-of-force cases here, she thinks it’s still a learning moment for many prosecutors.

“Noting what sorts of strategies seem to be persuasive, learning about which experts are potentially more or less persuasive witnesses,” Laurin explained. “I think that prosecutors, even outside the particular jurisdiction in which the case occurs, watch these cases to learn more about how they might make a more persuasive presentation to a particular jury.”

She also notes the unusual nature of Minnesota law that helped prosecutors win their case.

“Second-degree murder in Minnesota can be proved through a theory called ‘felony murder,’ and it can be proved based on the jury believing that an assault occurred and that an individual died in the course of that assault,” said Laurin.

Laurin said that makes murder and felony murder a broader offense in Minnesota than in other places, including, she believes, in Texas.

“I think that has to be seen as part of the story for why the prosecution’s path to conviction in this case was actually — as difficult as it was — easier than it would be in many other jurisdictions where a particular theory on which they prevailed would not have been available,” she said.

That means in other jurisdictions, prosecutors would “have to prove more with respect to the seriousness of the felony and the manner in which it was committed,” she said.

Taylor’s grand jury indictment is the first known indictment of an Austin police officer for first-degree murder resulting from a use-of-force incident, according to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

There’s no timeline yet for when that trial will begin.

Texas officials and activists say murder conviction for George Floyds death

Megan Menchaca

This article originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed

English rugby’s plans to impose ‘height & weight safety checks’ for trans players triggers pile-on from enraged activists

Enraged activists have responded after reports that trans players in England might be required to submit to height and weight checks to determine if they could potentially harm their fellow players in women’s rugby.

The English Rugby Football Union (RFU) draft policy which is set to go live on their website on Wednesday to determine public backing for the plan also proposes a scheme which would require transgender women to detail their prior sporting experience before being cleared to play by the sport’s governing body, The Guardian reported.  

It doesn’t, however, doesn’t go as far as the decree from World Rugby which has banned trans women from international rugby, citing a “20-30% greater risk” for potential injury when a female player is involved in a collision with a player who has undergone male puberty. 

The proposed RFU policy would target players who are in excess of 5ft 7in (170cm) tall and around 198lbs (90kg) in weight.

The RFU says in their proposal that the aim is to “strike a balance between fairness, inclusion and safe participation,” while also acknowledging that the physical safety of players is foremost in their thoughts.
Also on rt.com ‘Unequal & unsafe’: Piers Morgan slams transgender athletes being allowed play women’s rugby, heaping pressure on English union
We understand there are several misconceptions about transgender participants in rugby as well as in wider society. The policy aims to provide a fair opportunity for all those who wish to take part,” the RFU says in a video to accompany the draft legislation.

It’s important to consider the individuals involved and the sense of community and acceptance that our transgender players tell us rugby provides for them.

In 2020, an exploratory body working on behalf of the sporting global governing body, World Rugby, determined that players who are born male “are stronger by 25%-50%, are 30% more powerful, 40% heavier, and about 15% faster than players who are assigned female at birth.
Also on rt.com LGBT champions Stonewall UK call to secure place for trans athletes in female rugby, while shutting off angry comments
It was also suggested that the impact of a trans player taking medication to suppress testosterone is negligible, leading to calls for banning trans players from the sport on health and safety grounds.

The RFU has previously followed the decree of the International Olympic Committee which had stated that trans athletes who take the necessary hormone suppressants to an adequate level for 12 months are eligible to compete – but the proposal from the RFU indicates that a policy change could be underway, after independent research indicated that it “identified that differences in height, weight and strength provide transgender women with a potential advantage over cisgender women“, per The Guardian. 
Also on rt.com ‘It will DESTROY women’s sports’: Tennessee governor Bill Lee wades into transgender athletes row
The new proposal suggests that potential players should undergo a height and weight assessment to determine if there are any physical advantages that a candidate may have. The policy also suggests that trans men will be required to sign a waiver saying they understand the potential risks in playing men’s rugby. 

Throughout the last three years, the RFU has received just over 50 applications from trans men, women and athletes identifying as men who want to play women’s rugby. Each one was cleared to play by an independent panel. 

News of the potential policy change was greeted with pessimism from LGBTQ groups. Stonewall’s Maria Munir argued that “no one should be excluded because of who they are and it’s vital that everyone – including trans and non-binary people – is given the opportunity to play the sports that they love.”

Predictably, the news also drew a pile-on from activists on Twitter.

I’m 170cm and a few years ago I was about this weight. I was so weak I couldn’t have hurt a small child except by falling down (admittedly a real risk at the time). Would they have humiliated me like this if I’d tried to join a rugby club to improve my mental and physical health?” wrote one in reaction to the proposal.

“Transphobes have finally defined what a woman is. Turns out it’s someone under 90kg or 170cm tall. Glad they’ve cleared that up. What heroes. Protecting women by drawing lines about what we’re allowed to look like. Top work. Lovely stuff,” read another sarcastic message. 

Statistics indicate that around 1 in 4 rugby players will be injured throughout the course of a season, with neck and head injuries frequent concerns. It is estimated that around 25% of these injuries occur when players of contrasting experience and/or size tackle one another.  


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