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Advocates Hail Biden Executive Order on LGBTQ Rights as the Most Far-Reaching in US History

“Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love.”

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Civil rights advocates on Wednesday applauded President Joe Biden for signing an executive order on his first day in office bolstering anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people after years of attacks and rollbacks during the Trump administration, and for signaling that he will move to reverse his predecessor’s ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

“Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love,” the order begins.

The order continues:

Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports. Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes. People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination. All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation,” the order states. It goes on to direct the heads of each federal agency to ensure adherence to these principles and to develop plans to implement changes where necessary. 

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hailed Biden’s order as “the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity” in U.S. history. 

HRC president Alphonso David issued a statement declaring that “today, millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their president and their government believe discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not only intolerable but illegal.” 

Biden’s order gives teeth to Bostock v. Clayton County, the June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which declared that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The executive order also stands in stark contrast to the past four years, a period during which LGBTQ people saw their rights repeatedly eroded and, in the case of transgender people, their very existence as human beings challenged

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement that “on his very first day in office, President Biden is stating clearly that there is no place for discrimination in the federal government.”

Bostock v. Clayton County was a major victory for LGBTQ Americans,” added Keisling. “Today’s executive order moves us another step toward a day when transgender people can openly live as who they are without being targeted for discrimination.”

In one particularly egregious rights rollback, the Trump administration banned transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden will soon turn the page on this dark chapter in civil rights history. Ending the trans ban, said Psaki, will be among the “additional executive actions” the president will take “in the coming days and weeks.”

Blake Dremann, a transgender rights advocate and active-duty Navy lieutenant commander, told NBC News that trans people are “excited for the ban to be lifted” and the day when “we never have to tell another service member that being their authentic selves is a barrier to serving their nation.”

“The resilience and success of trans service members has shown we are committed to the success of the nation,” said Dremann. 

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

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Bizarre

Landlord Accused Of Kidnapping Tenants to Evict, Dumping Them in Cemetery

Justin MacLachlan

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Shockingly a New York landlord has been accused of kidnapping two tenants to evict them.

Shawn Douglas is accused of kidnapping two of his tenants from his property and dumping them in a cemetery 30 miles away, ABC News 10 reported.

The two tenants accused Douglas of kidnapping them while armed from their home at his property in the South End neighborhood of Albany, NY. Douglas is out on bail following the disturbing case.

In the police report, the two accusers state they were abducted, restrained with zip ties, and then covered with pillowcases before being dumped off in a cemetery in Ghent.

One of the victims was eventually able to free themselves from the restraints to seek help at a nearby house where they called the authorities on Douglas.

“He’s lucky they came out of that alive. They could have froze to death out there,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told NBC News 10.

New York, has had an existing ban on evictions which expires on May 1st due to the current pandemic. Following the lifting of the ban on evictions, many court cases are expected to attempt to evict tenants across the state.

The Albany Police Department has not released any additional details about the case at this time. But more people could be charged in connection with the alleged kidnapping according to ABC News 10.

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Bizarre

FBI ‘Aware Of’ Alleged Spotting of UFO by American Airlines Pilot Over New Mexico

Elias Marat

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New Mexico has long been considered the mecca for people interested in UFO incidents, with the southwestern state attracting tens of thousands of annual visitors to the alleged sites of close encounters in Roswell, as well as other sightings such as the Lonnie Zamora incident and the Aztec UFO crash.  

With such a rich history of alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects in New Mexico, it should come as no surprise that another close encounter has been reported – this time by a commercial airline pilot on Sunday afternoon.

At around 1 p.m. local time on Sunday, an unidentified aerial craft reportedly whooshed past American Airlines flight 2292 in the northern part of the state, startling the pilot who expressed his shock over the strange object flying overhead at a breathtaking rate of speed.

In a 15-second recording that was obtained by self-described “stealth chaser” Steve Douglass of Amarillo, Texas, and published on his blog Deep Black Horizon, the pilot can be heard excitedly communicating with air traffic controllers about the strange sighting he saw above the clouds during the passenger flight.

“Do you have any targets up here?” the pilot asks the Federal Aviation Administration traffic controllers.

“We just had something go right over the top of us,” he continues. “I hate to say this, but it looked like a long, cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing moving really fast, and went right over the top of us.”

However, the response from Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center can’t be heard due to local air traffic in Amarillo interfering with the channel, Douglass said. The blogger and author of “The Comprehensive Guide to Military Monitoring” also noted that there was no “no significant military aircraft presence was noted on ADS-B logs” and that the flight proceeded to land without incident at its destination in Phoenix, Arizona.

While the FAA has yet to comment on the strange encounter, American Airlines has confirmed that the recording of the radio communications with the pilot is fully authentic.

“Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21,” a spokesman for the airliner wrote in an email to Fox News. The spokesman added that any additional inquiries should be addressed to the FBI.

However, the FBI response was equally opaque.

“The FBI is aware of the reported incident,” bureau spokesman Frank Connor wrote in an email. “While our policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, the FBI works continuously with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to share intelligence and protect the public.”

Furthermore, authorities at the nearby Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque reported that they had been alerted to the supposed encounter through the media, but officials at the base were not discussing the matter.

“We have no knowledge of this. We’re not aware of anything,” Lally Laksbergs told Wall Street Journal. Officials at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico have not yet responded to media inquiries.

However, Douglass has expressed doubt that the close encounter was with a military projectile.

“It was a Sunday. Basically, it’s a military’s day off,” Douglass told KVII News, where he works as a photographer. “When tests occur, the military notifies the FAA, aircraft are kept out of the area and their schedules and strict flight lanes as aircraft need to stay in to not interfere with these tests. That’s not what happened.”

“Whatever it was came fast, right at them and right over them, which gave them a big enough scare that they had to report it,” he added. “If the military can’t explain what it is, what’s flying out there that we don’t know about?”

In recent years, officials with the U.S. government have been increasingly vocal in its discussions of UFOs, which they prefer to refer to as unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs.

In September 2019, U.S. Navy officials admitted that widely-circulating video footage captured by Navy pilots purportedly showing UFOs flying through the skies did, in fact, depict actual “unknown” objects that flew into U.S. airspace. The videos had been released months prior by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences (TTS), a private “UFO research organization” founded by former Blink 182 frontman Tom De Longe. 

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Activism

Akon Finally Breaks Ground On His Futuristic $10 Billion Solar Powered “Crypto City”

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The rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Akon has been making significant progress on his development plans in Africa, which involve the creation of a futuristic city that runs on clean energy and cryptocurrency.

In January of last year, Akon revealed that his agreements with Senegal President Macky Sall were going forward, and a few months later it was announced that the engineering and consulting firm KE International was awarded a $6 billion contract to build the city. The company previously said it had already received $4 billion from investors for the first two phases of Akon City’s construction, giving the project a price tag of at least $10 billion. 

The project goes much further than just this one city and it has already begun to make an impact across the continent. In the short time since the deal was finalized last year, a large number of solar street lights, and solar home lighting units, have been installed across 14 African countries, according to Akon Lighting Africa.

The effort was made possible by a private-public partnership model and a well-established network of partners including SOLEKTRA INT, SUMEC, and NARI.

Phase 1 of construction on the city is expected to be completed in 2023, and will include roads, a hospital, residences, hotels, a police station, a waste facility, a school, and a solar power plant. The entire city is expected to be finished around 2029. The city’s economy will be facilitated by Akon’s cryptocurrency “Akoin,” which runs on the Stellar blockchain. Stellar is a crypto ecosystem that includes its own cryptocurrency XLM, and also allows for the development of other projects, such as decentralized exchanges and additional currencies like Akoin. Banks around the world have also been considering using the Stellar blockchain for stablecoin deployment. 

Akon believes that cryptocurrency is the solution to the corruption problems that create widespread inequality in Africa because the blockchain provides a record that would make corruption extremely obvious if it were to take place. With an independent cryptocurrency, governments are unable to print money and devalue the currency, and the control of the money is decentralized.

In an interview with TMZ last year, Akon compared the vision that he has for the city with the fictional “Wakanda” from the movie Black Panther.

“This movie literally made an idea of what Africa could really be. It’s just ironic that I was already working on this before the movie came out, but it’s something that helped me a lot when I was trying to explain to explain to people what I was trying to do,” Akon said.

The city’s crypto-economic system will also solve many problems specific to the developing world, like instantly calculating conversation rates for currencies, which is often an obstacle because there are so many different regional currencies and methods of trade. In some cases, people even use prepaid cellphone minutes as a currency because it is easier to use and exchange than traditional currencies. Akon says that the Akoin wallet will allow users to trade between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, and cellphone minutes instantly without having to go through a major exchange using Atomic Swap technology. The app will also teach users to become more familiar with the technology in general.

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