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The Independent Women’s Forum and its sister group have received millions from dark-money groups advancing conservative control of the courts.

Greta Moran
October 24 2020, 1:37 p.m.

ON MARCH 4, the Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that trains conservative political leaders, hosted its monthly “Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast” at its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The headliner of this event was Heather Higgins, an heiress to the Vicks VapoRub fortune, as well as the chair of the Independent Women’s Forum and the CEO of its political advocacy arm, the Independent Women’s Voice, right-wing nonprofits that self-describe as nonpartisan. For most of the event, Higgins stood before a clear podium and fielded questions on how to build conservative political influence — at one point revealing that IWF came up with a memo, used by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on how to support Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 Supreme Court confirmation without alienating the #MeToo movement.

“I will tell you that I’m extraordinarily proud of IWF,” said Higgins. “We wrote a memo. It was used by a lot of members of the Senate and the House, Fox News, and elsewhere. Most important, Susan Collins told me that without that memo, she would not see how to support him. And if you look at the speech she gave on the Senate floor, it’s entirely the playing out and architecture of how we said to structure the argument — what to say and how to say it, which is just so gratifying. We’re watching TV and we’re like, ‘That’s ours! That’s ours!’” After Collins’s hourlong speech, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., announced that he would vote for Kavanaugh, helping achieve the threshold of votes necessary to confirm Kavanaugh.

It’s not the first time the IWF and IWV have sought to exert conservative influence over the Supreme Court, often by leveraging their positions as women’s nonprofits. IWF rose out of “Women for Judge Thomas,” which was formed in 1991 to support Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas amid Anita Hill’s accusation of sexual harassment. In 2016, IWF and IWV were vocal opponents of President Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland and in 2017 pushed for Neil Gorsuch’s quick, quiet confirmation, including by sharing misleading quizzes on the Supreme Court.

Now, IWF and IWV have turned their attention to pushing for the rapid confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, including staging an “I’m With Her” rally outside of the Supreme Court on October 17, at the same time as a Women’s March. They have been quick to place op-eds in support of Barrett for the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, and the National Review. On Fox News, where IWF and IWV are regular commentators, Kelsey Bolar, a senior policy analyst at IWF, criticized the Women’s March for “advocating against women, protesting a highly qualified female nominee to the Supreme Court” — part of a broader strategy of casting criticism of Barrett as anti-woman. IWF and IWV did not return a request for comment.


Previously unreleased video shows Pasco County deputies shooting unarmed man

The 2014 fatal encounter came with little warning and led to a settlement this year.

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office maintained for years that the 2014 shooting of an unarmed black man was justified because the man ignored repeated orders to raise his hands and surrender.

But that explanation is contradicted by a previously unreleased video, obtained Thursday by the Tampa Bay Times, which shows deputies opened fire in seconds with little provocation.

The video, as well as court documents in a civil case, depicts a small-scale drug bust turning violent in an instant. It shows an undercover deputy coaxing the man, Jerry Dwight Brown, into the officer’s car. Then other deputies surround the car to arrest Brown.



B20 Saudi Arabia: With women activists jailed, "empowerment" summit is a sham

23 October 2020, 12:32 UTC

With women’s empowerment topping the agenda at next week’s B20 Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International is reminding business leaders that many of the country’s bravest women’s rights activists are languishing in prison for daring to demand reforms.

Since assuming the G20 Presidency Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in rebranding its image. But Saudi Arabia’s real are behind bars

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

Loujain al Hathloul, Nassima al-Sada, Samar Badawi, Maya’a al-Zahrani, and Nouf Abdulaziz spearheaded women’s rights campaigns, including calling for the right to drive and an end to the repressive male guardianship system. But while Saudi Arabia talks up recent reforms such as the relaxation of social restrictions and the loosening of the guardianship system to court approval from the rich and powerful around the B20, women’s rights activists remain in detention.

“Since assuming the G20 Presidency Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in rebranding its image, throwing out slogans about women’s equality and insisting it is ready for change. But Saudi Arabia’s real changemakers are behind bars,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“B20 leaders must not be fooled by this shameless hypocrisy, and we call on them to show they care about human rights as much as business opportunities. Any business operating in or with Saudi Arabia has a responsibility to ensure they are not contributing to human rights violations through their activities.”

The B20 is the official forum for business leaders to present policy recommendations to the G20, ahead of the main summit in November. This year high profile participants include representatives from HSBC, Mastercard, PwC, McKinsey, CISCO, ENI, Siemens, Accenture and BBVA


'Stunning' Executive Order Would Politicize Civil Service

Trump, horrendous until the bitter end!

President Trump signs directive that would potentially pull thousands of federal employees in "policy-making" positions out of the competitive service, making them at-will employees.

OCTOBER 22, 2020 12:56 PM ET

President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order creating a new classification of “policy-making” federal employees that could strip swaths of the federal workforce of civil service protections just before the next president is sworn into office.

The order would create a new Schedule F within the excepted service of the federal government, to be composed of “employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions,” and instructs agency heads to determine which current employees fit this definition and move them—whether they are members of the competitive service or other schedules within the excepted service—into this new classification. Federal regulations stating that employees hired into the competitive service retain that status even if their position is moved to the excepted service will not apply to Schedule F transfers.

Positions in the new Schedule F would effectively constitute at-will employment, without any of the protections against adverse personnel actions that most federal workers currently enjoy, although individual agencies are tasked with establishing “rules to prohibit the same personnel practices prohibited” by Title 5 of the U.S. Code. The order also instructs the Federal Labor Relations Authority to examine whether Schedule F employees should be removed from their bargaining units, a move that would bar them from being represented by federal employee unions.

“Except as required by statute, the civil service rules and regulations shall not apply to removals from positions listed in Schedules A, C, D, E, or F, or from positions excepted from the competitive service by statute,” the order states.

The order sets a swift timetable for implementation: Agencies have 90 days to conduct a “preliminary” review of their workforces to determine who should be moved into the new employee classification—a deadline that coincides with Jan. 19, the day before the next presidential inauguration.


How to read Pope Francis' message of love for LGBTQ people

Opinion by Allison Hope

Updated 5:24 PM ET, Wed October 21, 2020
Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions

(CNN)The highest Catholic in all the world has pushed the door towards LGBTQ inclusion open further by pronouncing that same-sex couples, historically excluded from traditional religious and civil institutions like marriage, ought to have legal protections that recognize their unions.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Pope Francis, in an interview for a documentary released in Rome on Wednesday, said that civil unions should be the law of the land for same-sex couples.

"What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered," he said, elaborating that LGBTQ people are children of God.
"I stood up for that," he added.

In the past, Pope Francis has said he is not against civil unions, but this is the first time since becoming Pope that he has directly stated he favors them. (He advocated for same-sex civil unions when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.)
His recent comments stand in stark contrast with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis leads, which has long taken the posture that same-sex acts are "intrinsically disordered."

The Pope's comments, while shared in the context of a documentary and not necessarily as a formal, written decree or a consensus among the Catholic leadership in Rome or elsewhere, will have a huge global ripple effect on communities, jurisdictions, families and individuals. The Pope's compassion is a welcome sign from a religion that has long alienated LGBTQ people. Whether part of an active ploy to lure back disaffected congregants or a genuine statement of inclusion, his words are a helpful evolution for the many LGBTQ people who have been ostracized simply because of who they are and who they love.



Trump’s attack on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has left workers vulnerable to Covid-19.

Sharon Lerner

October 20 2020, 8:55 a.m.

THE CORONAVIRUS HAD already begun tearing through the JBS Foods beef processing plant in Greeley, Colorado, when Kim Cordova wrote to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in late March. Cordova, the president of UFCW Local 7, asked the federal agency to send inspectors to that plant, where 3,000 members of the union work, as well as to five other businesses where members of the local work. Many of the JBS workers, who cut, process, and package the meat from the newly slaughtered animals, had begun to fall sick with Covid-19. Yet JBS hadn’t provided the workers with masks and in some cases had advised specifically against wearing them, according to Cordova. The workers didn’t have enough room to distance themselves from their co-workers in the cafeteria, the locker rooms, or elsewhere around the plant. Although Cordova had been in direct communication with the management at JBS about the health hazards at the plant, the largest of its kind in the country, talks had recently hit a wall.

A few days later, Cordova received a call from OSHA letting her know that help was not on the way. “He said they didn’t have the staff and they weren’t doing any on-site visits. They just didn’t have any direction,” she recalled. “And I told them, people are going to die in this facility.”

Cordova’s prediction proved true on April 7, when Saul Sanchez, a 78-year-old production worker became the first worker at JBS Greeley to die of Covid-19. Eventually five of his co-workers — Eduardo Conchas De La Cruz, Way Ler, Daniel Avila Loma, Tibursio Rivera Lopez, and Tin Aye — also died of the disease, as well as a seventh employee, whom JBS identified as “one of our corporate colleagues.” So far, at least 292 workers at the plant have been infected with the virus, and 51 workers have been hospitalized with Covid-19. Cordova said she knows of at least three family members of JBS Greeley workers who also died as a result of the outbreak.

On May 14, OSHA finally sent an inspector to the beef plant. But according to Cordova, the visit was brief. “They did a quick walk-through, more like a run-through,” she said. Although the union suggested that OSHA interview workers who had been sick with Covid-19, the inspectors declined to do so. “I understand that you can’t talk to the workers who are dead,” Cordova said. “But what about the ones who almost died?” And while the local offered interpreters so the inspectors could communicate with the workers, who speak dozens of languages, Cordova said the OSHA representatives declined.


The priorities of Republicans: The Fed continues to offer contradictory rationale....



Rep. Barbara Lee @RepBarbaraLee: In order to dismantle systemic racism,


Would love to see Lee get a cabinet position.

Nomi Prins @nomiprins: Featured in this corruption scandal...


Funny how you never see the cops take these guys in.

Watchdog group accuses Amy Coney Barrett of "unconscionable cruelty" in teen rape case

Barrett decided to overturn a $6.7M jury award to a teen allegedly raped in a jail run by ex-Sheriff David Clarke

OCTOBER 16, 2020 10:23PM (UTC)

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has been accused of "unconscionable cruelty" by a watchdog group over her role in an appellate court decision overturning a district court which found a Wisconsin county liable for millions in damages to a woman who alleged she had been repeatedly raped by a jail guard.

"After a 19-year old pregnant prison inmate was repeatedly raped by a prison guard, Amy Coney Barrett ruled that the county responsible for the prison could not be held liable because the sexual assaults fell outside of the guard's official duties. Her judgment demonstrates a level of unconscionable cruelty that has no place on the high court," Kyle Herrig, president of the progressive watchdog group Accountable.US, told Salon. "The only thing more concerning than the rush to confirm by Senate Republicans is what we are learning about Amy Coney Barrett's extremist record. It is hardly surprising that she has dodged question after question during her testimony."

Barrett was one of the three judges on a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel which reversed a $6.7 million verdict against Milwaukee County in 2018 after a corrections officer was charged with repeatedly raping a pregnant 19-year-old inmate.

Former corrections officer Xavier Thicken was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault in 2013 after the woman alleged that he had raped her during and after her pregnancy at a jail run by the controversial former Sheriff David Clarke. Those charges were dropped when he agreed to plead guilty to felony misconduct in public office in 2014.

The woman later filed a lawsuit against Milwaukee County. In her testimony, she alleged that Thicklen had raped her in different parts of the jail when she was eight months pregnant and demanded that she perform oral sex on him after giving birth.

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