Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a passionate argument for marriage equality and equal opportunities for all citizens. Clinton's messaging is fantastic. Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP ...
Aponte had served as ambassador in San Salvador from September 2010 to December 2011. President Obama made her a recess appointee after she was unable to win Senate confirmation. But her temporary tenure ran out at year's end, reports the New York Times.
In December, the same nominee got just 49 votes. Republicans had raised questions about whether her former boyfriend was a spy for Cuba and said an opinion piece she wrote for a Salvadoran newspaper had offended the people of El Salvador by praising President Mauricio Funes for banning discriminating against gay men and lesbians.
"The op-ed upset a large number of community and pro-family groups in El Salvador who were insulted by Ms. Aponte’s attempt to impose a pro-gay agenda in their country," Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said during a confirmation hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at that time.
This time there was hardly a peep. Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, was the only lawmaker to speak before the vote, and he spoke on behalf of Ms. Aponte’s Puerto Rican heritage. Nine Republicans voted to confirm.
Latino activists are credited with pressuring the Republicans to move forward. The activists targeted Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, notes the AP.
Hispanic groups had pressed Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to break ranks with conservative Republicans to ensure Aponte's confirmation. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged him to follow through on a promise to secure the votes for Aponte. Puerto Rico Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock, a Democrat, questioned whether Rubio would stop a qualified Puerto Rican woman from representing the United States.
Aponte becomes the first Puerto Rican-American woman to serve as a U.S. ambassador. All Democrats and Independents supported the vote. The nine Republican senators voting "yes" were Rubio, Collins and Snowe of Maine, McCain of Arizona, Graham of South Carolina, Murkowski of Alaska, Lugar of Indiana, Ayotte of New Hampshire and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
Very interesting. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former White House economic adviser and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers are said to be the leading candidates to succeed World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who just announced his resignation. Clinton is the leading choice according to two Obama Administration sources, reports Bloomberg.
While Summers has expressed interest in the position and has supporters inside the administration, the position would be Clinton’s if she sought it, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the private conversations.
Clinton, who said previously she doesn’t plan to remain in her post if President Barack Obama wins a second term, repeatedly has denied having an interest in the World Bank job. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland repeated those denials today. "The secretary has addressed this issue many times since last year," Nuland said at a briefing in Washington. "She has said this is not happening. Her view has not changed."
Zoellick announced Wednesday that he would step down at the end of his five-year term on June 30. The Bank announced today it would select a new president by April 20.
Ever since the end of World War II, all 11 World Bank presidents have been Americans and each International Monetary Fund managing director has been European. There has been pressure from emerging markets to broaden the selection process after IMF Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned suddenly last May amidst criminal charges.
The World Bank job would be a fantastic fit for Secretary Clinton. Not sure what Summers brings to the table. It didn't work out so well for him the first time around.
"Before anyone gives me a lecture about homosexuals and their rights, first talk about railways," Museveni told delegates at the end of a regional meeting in Kampala attended by five other African presidents. "Homosexuals also need electricity, homosexuals also need roads, homosexuals also need railways," Museveni said to applause.
Meanwhile: China has announced that it "wants to build roads and railways in Uganda" ... with no conditions on human rights.
Homosexuality is punishable by up to life in prison in Uganda, which has been condemned by the international community for its state-sponsored anti-gay terror campaign. Parliament has revived the extreme Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which seeks the death penalty or life imprisonment for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for a second time—as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or is HIV positive.
President Obama has announced the US is sending "about 100" armed military advisers to Central Africa to assist government troops fighting a vicious insurgency whose leaders are international war-crimes fugitives.
The Lord's Resistance Army is a quasi religious armed movement headed by Joseph Kony. The 20-year-old insurgency has been condemned for its horrific violence, including the murder, rape, kidnapping and mutilation of tens of thousands of men, women, and children across Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, reports Reuters.
Obama made clear the troops would serve as trainers and advisers in efforts to hunt down rebel leader Joseph Kony and would not engage in combat except in self-defense. In a letter to Congress, Obama said the first U.S. forces arrived in Uganda on Wednesday and would be deployed to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo "subject to the approval of each respective host nation."
Obama's decision commits U.S. forces to help confront a rebel group that has drawn international condemnation for decades of chilling violence, including hacking body parts off victims and the abduction of young boys to fight and young girls for use as sex slaves.
The LRA, which says it is a religious group, emerged in northern Uganda in the 1990s and is believed to have killed, kidnapped and mutilated tens of thousands of people. Kony has been indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
LRA commanders have been operating in the wild and largely lawless border regions of the DRC, Central African Republic and Sudan in recent years. Although now thought to number just a few hundred fighters, the LRA's mobility and the difficulties of the terrain have made it difficult to tackle. Attempts to negotiate peace failed in 2008 after Kony refused to sign a deal to end the killing.
The troops were dispatched "with the consent" of Uganda's government and President Yoweri Museveni. The military effort will be conducted in tandem with "enhanced" diplomatic and intelligence efforts, adds Think Progress Security.
This will help generate a quicker response to LRA attacks on civilian populations, encourage greater and more effective collaboration between regional militaries, and hold these militaries to a higher civilian protection standard.
The regional militaries involved in LRA operations — primarily Uganda, with some assistance from Congo and South Sudan — suffer from a lack of technical capacity and insufficient resources. If we’re honest, they have also suffered from discipline problems — which makes partnering with them tricky business, a dilemma of which the administration is well aware.
"Since 2008, the United States has provided over $40 million in critical logistical support, equipment and training to enhance counter-LRA operations by regional militaries," reports the State Department.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released this statement on behalf of the Obama Administration:
In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.
Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.
The White House Flickr feed released this image of President Obama and his national security team monitoring the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The facial expressions of the President, Vice President and Secretary of State say everything.
ABC News' Nightline produced a dramatized timeline of the covert mission, watch it AFTER THE JUMP ...
This morning's print edition of the New York Times includes a special ten-page supplement behind the raid with analysis. One of the more detailed reports goes behind the scenes in the Situation Room:
On Sunday afternoon, as the helicopters raced over Pakistani territory, the president and his advisers gathered in the Situation Room of the White House to monitor the operation as it unfolded. Much of the time was spent in silence. Mr. Obama looked "stone faced," one aide said. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. fingered his rosary beads. "The minutes passed like days," recalled John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a brief statement on the killing of Al Qaeda terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
"History will record that bin Laden’s death came at a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives and charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations. There is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its heinous ideology."
"The fight continues, and we will never waver. Now I know there are some who doubted this day would ever come, who questioned our resolve and our reach. But let us remind ourselves, this is America. We rise to the challenge, we persevere, and we get the job done."
On Tuesday, R20 mentioned a proposed United Nations Human Rights Council initiative to urge the international community to combat anti-LGBT discrimination and violence. The declaration was later adopted by some 85 countries in a Joint Statement entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based On Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.“
The international declaration called on states to "take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Colombia, Slovenia and the United States co-chaired the core group of countries that worked to submit the statement.
— This statement adds new references not seen in previous LGBT statements at the UN, including: welcoming attention to LGBT issues as a part of the Universal Periodic Review process, noting the increased attention to LGBT issues in regional human rights fora, encouraging the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue addressing LGBT issues, and calls for states to end criminal sanctions based on LGBT status.
— 20 countries joined this statement that were neither signatory to the 2006 or 2008 statements.
— The statement garnered support from every region of the world, including 21 signatories from the Western Hemisphere, 43 from Europe, 5 from Africa, and 16 from the Asia/Pacific region.
"We are proud to recognize [the] historic statement, signed by a record 85 nations, reaffirming the rights of all people—regardless of who they are and whom they love," United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice said in a statement emailed to R20."Nations than ever believe that freedom from violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end."
"Countries around the world participated, including many that had never supported such efforts. And we hope that even more countries will step up," added Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights."
The White House also released a statement supporting the declaration. "The President is proud of the work we have done to build international consensus on this critical issue and is committed to continuing our determined efforts to advance the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Five African nations signed the declaration: Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Seychelles and South Africa. Several Caribbean nations signed as well, including Cuba, Dominica and the Dominican Republic. Their participation is very encouraging.
Perennial human rights abusers such as China, Russia, Belarus, Jamaica and Nigeria did not sign.
The full list of signatories and text of the statement AFTER THE JUMP ...
In a joint statement released by President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the leaders announced mutual commitments between the U.S. and Brazil. In the section on "Democracy, Human Rights, Racial Equality and Social Inclusion," the presidents noted the "need to promote respect for the human rights of LGBT people" and announced plans to establish a "special rapporteur" at OAS.
They agreed to cooperate in advancing democracy, human rights and freedom for all people bilaterally and through the United Nations and other multilateral fora, including ensuring respect for human rights in the context of the democratic movements and transitions; strengthening the UN Human Rights Council as recently demonstrated in the case of the creation of the Commission of Inquiry on Libya; promoting respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals through the establishment of a Special Rapporteur at the OAS; and improving the conduct of free and fair elections regionally and globally, including through the promotion of human rights in the context of elections and increasing their accessibility to disabled persons. rapporteur" at OAS.
Brazil's twenty-six states and Distrito Federal have made progress on LGBT rights in recent years. In December 2010, the federal government decreed that members of same-sex couples are entitled to social security survivor’s benefits in the event of the partner’s death.