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Rights activists alarmed as Mike Pompeo installs anti-gay anti-abortion activist to head new commission on ‘natural law’

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the formation of a new commission that will take a “fresh look” at human rights through the lens of “natural law,” and civil and human rights advocates are outraged. In preliminary filings the State Dept. noted the Commission will explore “our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

“Natural law,” is religious right wing extremist code for anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights, especially marriage for same-sex couples.

Critics are outraged.

The director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program weighed in:

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Secretary Pompeo, a known right wing Christian extremist in his own right, has named Mary Ann Glendon, a professor who is also his former mentor, to lead the “Commission on Unalienable Rights.”

Glendon is an anti-abortion, anti-gay Catholic activist who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (the Vatican) under President George W. Bush. She is also known for her opposition to the use of condoms to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“I hope that the commission will revisit the most basic of questions: What does it mean to claim something is, in fact, a human right?” Pompeo told reporters Monday, adding, as Yahoo News notes, that “words like rights can be used for good or evil.”

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Glendon should understand Pompeo’s remarks. She penned a 2004 op-ed supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In a unique twist of language she claimed the amendment “should be welcomed by all Americans who are concerned about equality and preserving democratic decision-making.”

And in a shocking move Glendon chastised the awarding of a Pulitzer Prize to the Boston Globe for its work exposing pedophile priests. She reportedly said; “If fairness & accuracy have anything to do with it, awarding the Pulitzer to the Boston Globe would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden.”

Anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins was briefed on the Commission before it was officially announced, CBS News reports.

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A State Dept. official says the Commission is a “personal project” of Secretary Pompeo’s, and Politico reports the Commission “was conceived with almost no input from the State Department’s human rights bureau, people familiar with the matter say, effectively sidelining career government experts who have focused on human rights policy and history across numerous administrations.”

As extreme as Glendon is, the preliminary proposed Chair was Robert P. George, a Princeton professor who co-founded NOM, the extremely anti-gay National Organization For Marriage.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International issued a scathing rebuke t Pompeo and his new Commission. In “Trump Administration Commission on Unalienable Rights Politicizes Human Rights for Hate,” the human rights organization’s national director of advocacy and government affairs, Joanne Lin, said:

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“This administration has actively worked to deny and take away long-standing human rights protections since Trump’s inauguration. If this administration truly wanted to support people’s rights, it would use the global framework that’s already in place. Instead, it wants to undermine rights for individuals, as well as the responsibilities of governments.”

“This approach only encourages other countries to adopt a disregard for basic human rights standards and risks weakening international, as well as regional frameworks, placing the rights of millions of people around the world in jeopardy.”

“International agreements, like the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, have been upheld by prior administrations over the last 71 years, regardless of their party. This politicization of human rights in order to, what appears to be an attempt to further hateful policies aimed at women and LGBTQ people, is shameful.”

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Venice coffee costs German tourists 950 euros and they were asked to leave the city

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Two German tourists were fined Friday for making themselves a coffee on the steps of the famous Rialto bridge in Venice and asked to leave the city, the municipal authorities said.

The two backpackers from Berlin, aged 32 and 35, had made themselves comfortable at the foot of the world-famous landmark and got out their portable coffee-making equipment when they were spotted by a passer-by and reported to the police, the city authorities said in a statement.

Using a newly-passed law, police officers fined them 950 euros ($1,050) for unseemly behavior and asked them to leave Venice.

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School district threatens parents their children may be put in foster care over unpaid lunch bills

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A Luzerne County, Pennsylvania school district is under fire for sending letters to parents who owe money for their children's lunches. The letters threaten that if the bills remain unpaid their children could be removed from their homes and placed in foster care.

"Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without breakfast and/or lunch. This is a failure to provide your child with proper nutrition and you can be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child's right to food," the letter reads, as NBC News reported.

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Trump pits Apollo 11 astronauts against NASA chief — he thinks he understands space travel better

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President Donald Trump welcomed surviving Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the White House Friday, using the occasion to tell his space chief he would prefer to go straight to Mars without returning to the Moon.

It is a theme he had touched upon earlier this month in a tweet, and this time drew on the support of the two former astronauts, who are taking part in celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of their mission, to make his case to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"To get to Mars, you have to land on the Moon, they say," said Trump, without looking convinced.

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