One quick thing… Can we ask you to participate in a survey about travel to England, Wales, Scotland, London and other destinations that have recently worked to reach our readers. It won’t take too long and we will not be asking you to fill out the regular annual survey this because of how helpful this would be.
“SPYING”Trump gives Attorney General Bill Barr broad authority to declassify documents: ‘The notice comes as Barr is conducting a review of what he has described as “spying” on members of the Trump campaign during the investigation into Russian interference. Sanders said Trump had directed the intelligence community to “quickly and fully” cooperate with the investigation at Barr’s own request.’
JUSSIE SMOLLETT. Case unsealed… “Smollett’s team now actually wants documents on the case to go public in the hopes that the public’s generally condemning opinion of the actor will change once people look at the full picture.”
ALABAMA. State poised to end marriage licenses as bill lands on governor’s desk: “The Alabama House of Representatives gave final passage today to a bill that would end the issuance of marriage licenses by probate judges and instead have them record documents that would serve as the official records of marriage. The bill goes to Gov. Kay Ivey, who could sign it into law.”
$44 MILLION. Harvey Weinstein settlement reportedly near: “We now have an economic agreement in principle that is supported by the plaintiffs, the AG’s office, the defendants and all of the insurers that, if approved, would provide significant compensation to victims, creditors and the estate, and allow the parties to avoid years of costly, time-consuming and uncertain litigation on all sides.”
BOB MACKIE. Famed designer to get documentary: “Slated for a December 2020 release, the as-yet-untitled doc, which is being produced by Anne Chertoff, will examine the Burbank-based designer’s 50-year career, commencing from his start in 1961 at Paramount Pictures working as a sketch artist for Edith Head before moving on to assist Columbia’s costume designer Jean Louis.”
REMEMBRANCE OF THE DAY. Harrison Ford on Chewbacca’s Peter Mayhew. “He was a really sweet man, nice man, and he had a hard time physically. It was really hard for him to do what he did for us, what he did for all of us. And he did it with real dignity and class.”
NEW TUNE OF THE DAY. Ed Sheeran featuring Chance the Rapper, PnB Rock “Cross Me”.
KENYA. High court upholds law making gay sex illegal: ‘Same-sex relations have been banned since the British colonized Kenya in the late 19th century. Kenya’s penal code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Anyone found engaging in same-sex relationships could face up to 14 years in prison.The Kenyan High Court declined to decriminalize same-sex relations. The decision was a setback to the LGBTQI moment in Africa, where same-sex relationships are largely seen as taboo.’
BRAZIL. Top court votes to protect LGBT people from discrimination: “A majority of the 11-member Supreme Federal Court voted to find it unconstitutional to exclude sexual orientation and gender from Brazil’s anti-discrimination law. After the sixth member voted in favor of the ruling, securing the majority, the court suspended the hearing until June 5. The remaining members are expected to vote then, and the ruling would be issued. It would establish a way for people who experienced discrimination or physical attacks based on their sexual identity or gender orientation to sue.”
CHILE. Gay couple attacked by three men in their own store: “Those affected are Sergio Acosta (25) and José Luis Campos (33), the first being beaten, while the second one was largely detained by one of the victimizers so that he could not defend his partner. The events occurred after one of the three subjects regretted buying a product and requested a change for a lower value, but refusing to return the first ballot that had been delivered. Three men attack gay couple in their own store: Although the couple reported the incident to Carabineros and reported the homophobic insults, when they were transferred to detention, the subjects were released and with only a 1UTM fine.”
CHINA. Novelist known for gay content sentenced for “illegal publishing.” ‘China’s burgeoning “danmei” novels have hit an obstacle. An author of the genre, which features homoerotic love stories between two men aimed at a young female audience online, has been sentenced to prison for “illegal publishing.” The author, who writes under the name “Mr. Deep Sea,” was sentenced to a prison term of four years and fined 120,000 yuan ($17,350) for printing and selling copies of her online novels without the legally-required official book number, price and publisher’s name. She was first detained in December 2017 while signing copies of her latest self-published novel, “The Caged Emperor.”’
MACEDONIA. First Gay Pride march is on next month: ‘The North Macedonian capital is set to host on June 29 what activists have described as the Balkan country’s first gay-pride parade. The event will be “a form of protest for affirmation, support, and protection of human rights” of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Antonio Mihajlov of the National Network Against Homophobia and Transphobia (NNHT) told a press conference in Skopje on May 20.’
NORTHERN IRELAND. Thousands rally in support of marriage equality: “Attempts to legislate for same-sex marriage have been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party, a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May, despite opinion polls in recent years showing most in the region are in favor. Sara Canning, the partner of journalist and LGBTQ rights campaigner Lyra McKee who was murdered in April, led the march alongside a number of gay and lesbian couples. Canning said that she and McKee had been planning to marry.”
TUNISIA. LGBTQ rights group to push for gay sex to be decriminalized: ‘The government went to court to block Shams when the advocacy group registered in 2015, saying that the correct process had not been followed. A 2016 ruling in Shams’ favor was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Monday. Shams’ director Mounir Baatour said the court victory would help its campaign to legalize same-sex relations, which are punishable with three years imprisonment under Article 230 of the North African country’s penal code.’
RUSSIA. 1 in 3 Russians would disown a gay friend, according to study: “The Levada Centre study, published on Thursday, indicated that more than half the population still had a negative opinion on LGBT+. Nearly a third said they would disown a friend if they found out they were gay, while only three percent suggested they had a favourable opinion. On a positive note, the polls showed nearly half (47%) believed LGBT+ people should be treated equally in front of the law. This was the highest number since 2005 (51%), when polling on the question began.”
PHILIPPINES. Congress launches online poll on same-sex unions. ‘The poll, posted on the chamber’s website, asked whether the respondents are in favor, against, or undecided about the proposal on the legalization of same-sex unions as civil partnership in the country. … The survey comes ahead of the celebration of “Pride Month” in June and days after same-sex marriage was legalized in Taiwan. A petition seeking to allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines filed by gay lawyer Jesus Falcis is pending before the Supreme Court. An oral argument on the proposal was held in June last year.’
POLAND. Gay couple returns painting stolen by Nazis to Warsaw. “The two men, Craig Gilmore and David Crocker, were recently back in Poland using the connections they gained with their goodwill gesture to reach out to the local LGBT community, offering financial donations and messages of solidarity to a group that faces misunderstanding and discrimination….In early April, with cameras rolling, Gilmore, an opera singer, dropped to one knee in a Warsaw park and proposed to Crocker, an artist, who said yes.”
MOROCCO. How gays are being persecuted just 20 miles from the Spanish border: “Like many others, Youssef is afraid of Article 489 of the Moroccan criminal code, which punishes sexual relations between people of the same sex. Punishments range from six months to three years behind bars and a fine of up to 1,000 dirhams, which is around €100. The judge can decide on the severity of the sentence, taking into account the seriousness of whatever act has been committed and the personal circumstances of the accused. But there are no established mitigating circumstances. The defendants are at the mercy of the judge. According to the Procurator’s 2018 Report, 197 people were arrested for being homosexual in Morocco in 2017. When the report was published last June, there were still 137 cases open.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a staunch critic of Trump and the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, fell ill and was attended to by medics during a press conference he was hosting with NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio.
Said Rogen: “We do not want people to feel bad when they’re watching our movies. I’ve had people come up to me and be like, ‘That made me feel like sh*t when I was in the movie theater and everyone was laughing about that.’ Like the ‘How I know you’re gay’ thing [from The 40-Year-Old Virgin], it’s something people have been like, ‘It’s not fun to be in the theater when people are laughing at that, knowing what they’re probably actually laughing at.’ And I don’t want anyone to have that experience watching our movies.”
Not surprisingly, politics have pervaded the debate.
Many, perhaps most, assume that impeachment of a president should be, or inevitably will devolve into a political melee. The few historic examples that exist show political motivations – to varying degrees – in the impeachment proceedings against Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Clinton.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The Washington Post in March that “impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path.”
Politics now characterize the serious issue of whether Trump has obstructed justice and committed other offenses worthy of his removal from office.
As a scholar of law, I believe that under our Constitution, impeachment – or the decision not to impeach – must not be based on partisan considerations.
Rooted in the Constitution
Some advocates of impeachment have recognized the correct basis to decide whether Congress should investigate and impeach President Trump.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania announced in a May 21 press release, “We took an oath to uphold our constitution and the President’s efforts to cover up his acts, and those of his campaign and administration, threaten the foundation of our democracy.”
Leaving aside whether the present record supports an impeachment inquiry against Trump, I believe Warren and Scanlon are right that the decisions whether to impeach and possibly remove any president from office should be rooted in the Constitution itself.
The Framers decided that power as drastic as removing a sitting president should belong to Congress, the branch of government most closely associated with the will of the people.
Rather than leaving impeachment to the Supreme Court or other small, unelected body, impeachment becomes the tool of the national will – not a political will, but rather the national will to respect the Constitution’s neutral legal requirements.
Of course, as the Framers well knew, by its very nature Congress would be, and indeed is, politically partisan. Voters elect members of Congress to enact laws based on those voters’ policy preferences. Inevitably, laws favored by the “majority” may frustrate or even hinder voters whose candidates lost.
Such is the normal “give and take” of democracy.
However, the Constitution clarifies that regarding impeachment, Congress cannot conduct business as usual. Like declaring war, impeachment is one of the rare matters where politics should be utterly inappropriate.
Accordingly, Congress must base its decisions whether to impeach and to remove a president from office on a factual, politically neutral record demonstrating whether the president actually has committed, in the Constitution’s language, “Crimes.”
This plain text tells us that impeachment is not a device by which a disgruntled Congress may negate the voters’ political choice, even if Congress honestly believes a duly elected president’s policies are unsound, reckless or dangerous. Rather, Congress must approach the matter whether a president has committed constitutional “Crimes” as if it were jurors in a courtroom.
Commentators, then, rightly have denounced the seemingly political nature of Clinton’s impeachment and, roughly 130 years earlier, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.
Offenses against the government
Importantly, history shows that the Constitution’s term “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not limited to actual criminal conduct.
Noted scholars Ronald Rotunda and John Nowak explain that the Framers wisely intended the phrase “or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” to include undermining the Constitution and similar, “great offenses against the federal government (like abuse of power) even if they are not necessarily crimes.”
For instance, Alexander Hamilton asserted that, while likely to be criminal acts, impeachable wrongdoings “are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men … from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”
And founding father Benjamin Franklin agreed that impeachment is “the best way … for the regular punishment of the Executive when his misconduct should deserve it, and for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused.”
Thus, out of respect for the democratic process, a president cannot be impeached to promote Congress’ political agenda. Nor should lawmakers avoid impeachment because of perceived political cost.
Rather, given its remarkable gravity, a president should be impeached for conduct that – if committed by any president regardless of political or party affiliations – so taints or corrupts the presidency, he or she must be removed to preserve the integrity of American government.
Thus, the standard for impeachment must be politically neutral. Otherwise, impeachment becomes an illegitimate device to overturn elections.
Pornhub is getting into the apparel business with a bathing suit that purports to hide your horny moment at the beach. And April Fool’s Day was nearly two months ago. Hmm.
Writes the company: “Whether it’s the swarms of half-naked bods, a warm breeze catching you just the right way or simply because your little buddy’s got a mind of his own, if your start to rise our patented Bonerless Technology will stop the tide. So grab your shades and your surfboard and leave your worries at home, because turning your next hard-on into a hard-off will be a day at the beach.”
The product’s page claims that “an inner layer of form-fitting material holds in the excitement” and “ergonomic design provides maximum comfort in your time of need.”