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  1. #9496

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Nearly a third of Poland has declared 'LGBT-free zones.' The EU is denying funds to them.
    After nearly a third of Poland towns and municipalities declared "LGBT-free zones," the European Union has stepped in and denied funding to them.

    Six towns in Poland that have adopted the homophobic policies have been denied funding, according to a statement from the EU's Commissioner for Equality.

    "EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities," said Commissioner Helena Dalli in a tweet Tuesday.

    They applied for grants as part of a "town twinning" proposal, which would connect two communities in separate nations for joint partnerships. Other applicants that didn't adopt "LGBT-free zone" policies were approved.

    The news comes as sitting president Andrzej Duda won a re-election as part of the right-wing Law and Justice party. In his tenure, the nation has intensified its anti-LGBT sentiment after Duda signed a "family charter" that pledged to “ban the propagation of LGBT ideology in public institutions.” Further, he proposed an amendment that would prohibit same-sex couple adoptions.

    Towns elsewhere in the EU, including France and the Netherlands, have reneged on "sister city" partnerships with Polish towns that have aligned themselves with "LGBT-free" ideologies.

    Nearly a third of Poland's 38 million residents live in zones declared by local officials as "LGBT-free," which have no legal power but mirror a rising anti-LGBT tide in the country.

    Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro called the rejection "unlawful," urging for a reversal from the EU Commission and arguing that the views of all citizens should be respected by the EU.

    Poland joined the EU in 2004.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  2. #9497

    Re: World News Random, Random

    "EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities." This is exactly the concept I was asking about up-thread. Several of you had very wise thoughts about how this is clearly the policy but that the degree to which the EU would penalize member states about LGBTQ rights might not be very intense. I'm hoping that the EU will put some real teeth into their punishment of these area. This trend, present in several countries of the EU now, must be reversed.


  3. #9498

    Re: World News Random, Random

    How a surprising election has jolted the dictator of Belarus

    Opinion by Vladimir Kobets and David J. Kramer
    July 31, 2020 at 3:58 p.m. EDT

    Supporters of presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya attend her campaign rally in the town of Maladzechna, about 40 miles northwest of Minsk, on Friday. (Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images)

    Vladimir Kobets is executive director of the International Strategic Action Network for Security. David J. Kramer, who served in the administration of George W. Bush, is director of the European and Eurasian studies program at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.

    Suddenly facing an invigorated opposition in the run-up to presidential elections on Aug. 9, Belarus’s longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko needed to pull a rabbit out of his hat. How convenient that he has just uncovered a “conspiracy” against him and the country, this one coming from Russia.

    On Wednesday, Belarusan authorities announced a criminal investigation against 33 employees of Wagner PMC, a Russian security contractor involved in nefarious activities in places such as Ukraine, Syria and Libya. A unit of the Belarusan KGB — yes, they still call it the KGB — arrested the Russians in a sanatorium near Minsk, the Belarusan capital. Belarusan authorities claim that 170 other militants are still at large across the country. The Kremlin strongly denied the Belarusan accounts.

    Still, post-Soviet Russia does have a long history of meddling in Belarusan affairs, and circumstances have recently conspired to make Lukashenko vulnerable. He has dismissed the novel coronavirus pandemic, leaving the country’s businesses wide open and citizens unmasked even as polls show that an overwhelming majority would prefer decisive action against the virus. The economy, suffering from decades of mismanagement, is on the verge of collapse.

    All this helps to explain why the opposition’s latest rallies have been drawing huge crowds. Among the Belarusan people, Lukashenko’s act is getting old, and people are fed up with his 26 years of authoritarian rule. This is especially true among the younger generation. Those in their late teens and 20s want change, and they are not shy about calling for it. They want to live in a democratic and free country. They see integration with Europe, despite all its challenges, as their preferred orientation, not Russia. And they rely on social media, rather than official information sources, for news about what’s happening in the country.

    Lukashenko is feeling the heat and has pulled familiar tricks in the lead-up to the election. Three opposition candidates were excluded from running. Two of them — blogger and protest leader Sergei Tikhanovsky and banker Viktor Babariko — were thrown in jail on spurious charges.

    Svetlana Tikhanovskaya took her husband’s place, persevering in the fight to register as a presidential candidate. She has emerged as the chief rival to Lukashenko despite the president’s absurd arguments that under the country’s constitution the presidency is meant for a man, not a woman.

    The wives of other men denied registration as candidates have rallied around Tikhanovskaya and become a political force in the country. Despite concern about the pandemic, these women are generating unprecedented turnout for preelection rallies across the country.

    Crowds in the thousands are showing up even in small provincial towns with no history of protests. That Tikhanovskaya is a language teacher, not a politician, is a big draw for voters. If she wins, she has pledged to hold new, fair and free elections within six months.

    The official media are playing up the alleged Russian plot as evidence that Moscow is waiting to strip Belarus of its independence if Lukashenko doesn’t win. That can’t be entirely discounted. Yet while Belarusans are well-advised to remain wary of the Kremlin, they should also keep in mind that their current dire condition is the result of Lukashenko’s incompetent and brutal leadership.

    It is Lukashenko, after all, who left the country vulnerable to Russian pressure and dependence, including when he signed a treaty in 1999 creating a “union state” with Russia. Lukashenko thought this treaty would ultimately enable him to become ruler of a united Belarus-Russia state. Instead, it remains the Kremlin’s main instrument for potentially bringing the country under Moscow’s direct control.

    Lukashenko’s dictatorship is the main reason his country’s relations with the West have stayed in a deep freeze for decades. Despite a recent warming in ties with the West that included an ill-advised visit to Minsk on Feb. 1 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Western leaders should have no illusions. Lukashenko is neither a friend nor the solution to his country’s problems. Should Lukashenko “win” — the most likely scenario, given his long history of rigging elections — the West should push for an end to the government’s repression and urge a start to a national dialogue with the opposition and civil society.

    In a free and fair election, Belarusans would likely vote for a change in leadership and a shift in their country’s orientation toward the West. Neither Lukashenko nor Moscow wants that to happen. The stakes are high, and Western leaders should make clear that they stand for a free and fair process and with the people of Belarus, no matter what.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  4. #9499

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Weirdly, my reaction to that article about Belarus' history of elections being fixed is that the USA has no leg to stand on in criticizing or demanding any change in how those elections are done. Let's clean our own noses first. GH

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