ATLANTA — June 19 marks a pivotal point in American history. On June 19, 1865, the last slaves in Texas and more broadly the Confederate South were freed.Nationally and in cities like Atlanta, the day has been celebrated with parades, plays and other festivities that honor the African-American culture that developed during and after slavery. With COVID-19 on the horizon, some of those events will not take place due to social distancing. Efforts like HellaJuneteenth, a California advocacy campaign, has invited folks to honor the holiday in a virtual space and by pushing to recognize the day as ...
Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R) admonished Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D) on Thursday as he was trying to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Clemmons began his remarks by noting that it has only been 76 years since the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated from the Nazi army.
"We all have a duty to prevent the hate and discrimination that persists to this day," he said. "Now in recent years we have passed laws that are contrary to this. Just recently it was reported a Jewish couple has been denied the opportunity to provide a child a loving home because of their religious faith. That's a result of a law we passed in this body."
"Books are being stripped out of public libraries that give detailed personal accounts from survivors and about victims of the Holocaust," the lawmaker added. "I, myself, had a resolution some of you disagreed with in recent years that denounced anti-Semitism and neo-Nazis."
At that point, Sexton interrupted to complain about the remarks because they were made during the "welcoming and honoring" portion of the calendar.
"This is welcoming and honoring," Sexton said. "That sounded like a floor speech based on legislation. So I don't know which way you're going but it is welcoming and honoring."
Clemmons continued: "I simply want to recognize on this International Holocaust Memorial Day that we have duty. Let's come together. This is something about which we should be united and honoring and recognizing our history and working to avoid it from happening again."
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Sarah Palin was spotted dining out again at a New York City restaurant, prompting officials there to issue a health warning.
The former half-term Alaska governor and failed vice presidential candidate tested positive for COVID-19 while in town for her defamation suit against the New York Times, and city officials expressed concern after Palin was twice spotted dining at Elio's restaurant -- including once after her diagnosis, reported Gothamist.
"Any New Yorker who came into contact with Ms. Palin [is encouraged] to get tested, just as we encourage all New Yorkers to get tested regularly, especially those who believe they may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19,” said City Hall spokesperson Jonah Allon in a statement.
The trial was delayed Monday after Palin tested positive for the virus, and the judge noted that the outspoken vaccine opponent had not been inoculated, although she dined outdoors at Campagnola on Tuesday and returned Wednesday to Elio's, where she also ate outside.
“Tonight Sarah Palin returned to the restaurant to apologize for the fracas around her previous visit,” said Elio’s manager Luca Guaitolini in a statement on Wednesday night. “In accordance with the vaccine mandate and to protect our staff, we seated her outdoors … We are a restaurant open to the public, and we treat civilians the same.”
The city will not penalize Elio's for allowing Palin to eat indoors without proof of vaccination, because violations must be directly observed by an inspector, and the vaccine requirement does not extend to outdoor dining.
Xiomara Castro will be sworn in Thursday as the first woman president of Honduras, which is grappling with poverty, migration, drug trafficking and corruption, after apparently resolving a crisis in congress that threatened her leadership.
The 62-year-old leftist former first lady's inauguration will put an end to 12 years of right wing National Party rule.
"Twelve years of struggle, 12 years of resistance. Today the people's government begins," Castro, the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed in 2009, wrote on Twitter.
From dawn, queues formed outside the national stadium in the capital Tegucigalpa where 29,000 people will watch the inauguration.
In order to implement her campaign promises, Castro needs the support of congress but last week a crisis broke out when rival factions in her Libre party voted in their own presidents of the legislature.
Negotiations to end the impasse seemed to have reached a successful conclusion on Thursday as Castro's choice, Luis Redondo, opened a legislative session.
Rebel Libre deputy Jorge Calix, who presided over a rival session on Tuesday, did not repeat the move this time.
On Wednesday night, Castro revealed she had offered Calix the job of Cabinet Coordinator -- a similar role to chief of staff -- in her government, in a bid to convince him to drop his claim to the congress president role.
Calix, who had led a band of close to 20 dissident Libre deputies supported by the right wing opposition, sparked hope of a breakthrough by replying to Castro with: "You will soon receive my answer."
The congress dispute is an embarrassing distraction for the president-elect, with US Vice President Kamala Harris, King Felipe VI of Spain and Taiwan Vice President William Lai due to attend the inauguration.
Once she assumes office, Castro will inherit "a country in a deep crisis, above all a social crisis, whose despair, whose deterioration of living conditions have become so profound," Eugenio Sosa, a sociologist at the National University of Honduras, told AFP.
The main reflection of the crisis, he added, "is in the massive exodus of families to the United States."
Castro's challenge, though, before even taking office, was to try to resolve the congress dispute.
The schism emerged last Friday when a group of Libre dissidents ignored an agreement with the Savior Party of Honduras (PSH), whose support was key to Castro winning the November elections.
PSH leader Salvador Nasralla agreed to withdraw from the presidential race in return for the position of vice president and a pledge to support the PSH's Redondo as president of congress.
But dissidents refused, arguing that congress should be led by the party with the most members -- Libre has 50 deputies, to just 10 for the Savior party.
The dispute turned nasty, with some deputies coming to blows.
Castro accuses the dissidents of allying with the National Party of outgoing president Juan Orlando Hernandez to prevent the changes she promised in her campaign, including the restitution of laws against impunity that were rolled back by the previous administration.
During her visit, US vice president Harris is due to hold talks with Castro on the root causes of Central American migration toward the United States, a senior US official said.
"The topics will include expanding economic opportunity, combating corruption, and humanely managing migration," the official added.
Some 71 percent of the close to 10 million Hondurans live in poverty, according to an NGO called FOSDEH.
"Everyone wants to leave because there's no work. If there were more job opportunities here, there would be no need to look for another country," university student Jensi Davila told AFP in Tegucigalpa.
Honduras is also wracked by violence instigated by criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking. The murder rate is close to 40 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Lai is due to hold separate talks with Castro and Belize Prime Minister John Briceno during his visit.
Taiwan's foreign ministry said Lai's meeting with Castro would be "to exchange views on issues of mutual concern."
Honduras is among just 14 countries that still recognize Taiwan.
China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory, has spent decades successfully encouraging the island nation's allies to switch sides.
During her election campaign, Castro vowed to "immediately open diplomatic and commercial relations with mainland China" if she won.
© 2022 AFP