John Kerry Hub

Secretary of State John Kerry Calls Gambian President's Gay 'Vermin' Remarks 'Unacceptable'

Jammeh Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement yesterday in response to remarks from Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Tuesday which labeled homosexuals "vermin" that should be exterminated like malaria-causing mosquitos.

Said Kerry:

The United States is deeply troubled by the hateful rhetoric used by President Jammeh in his National Day speech on February 18. All people are created equal and should be able to live free from discrimination, and that includes discrimination based on sexual identity and sexual orientation. We call on the Government of The Gambia to protect the human rights of all Gambians, and we encourage the international community to send a clear signal that statements of this nature have no place in the public dialogue and are unacceptable.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms belong to all individuals. The United States stands by you no matter where you are and no matter who you love.

Said Jammeh on Tuesday:

"We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively...We will therefore not accept any friendship, aid or any other gesture that is conditional on accepting homosexuals or LGBT as they are now baptised by the powers that promote them...As far as I am concerned, LGBT can only stand for Leprosy, Gonorrhoea, Bacteria and Tuberculosis; all of which are detrimental to human existence."

State Department Spokesperson Grilled Over Nigeria's Anti-Gay Law: VIDEO


Yesterday we reported on the signing of an oppressive anti-gay law by Nigeria's President Jonathan Goodluck.

NigeriaThe Washington Blade's Chris Johnson questioned State Department spokesperson Marie Harf about the new Nigerian law and the administration's objections to it.

While the law bans same-sex marriage and gay unions, its more troubling aspects deal with the banning of LGBT organizations and meetings. Harf said the State Dept. agrees with that assertion:

Obviously, we respect the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the prerogatives of its national assembly to pass legislation. We just don’t support any legislation that institutionalizes discrimination against one select group of people, and I think one of the key reasons we are opposed to this is that the law goes far beyond prohibiting same-sex marriage.

JonathanHarf also said the State Dept had been monitoring it since its inception and had been in contact with Nigeria about it:

“Since the law was in draft form, we’ve been in continual contact with the Jonathan administration, the National Assembly and a wide variety of Nigerian stakeholders,” Harf said. “Our conversations have been focused on our concerns that portions of the law, again, appear to restrict Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association — provisions that we’ve been very clear we do not support.”

Harf said she did not know whether sanctions or restrictions on aid were on the table as a result of this.

Watch Harf take questions from Johnson, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "State Department Spokesperson Grilled Over Nigeria's Anti-Gay Law: VIDEO" »

State Department Spokesperson Grilled on India Ruling Criminalizing Gay Sex: VIDEO


State Department spokesman Jen Psaki was grilled for several minutes today about the Indian Supreme Court decision recriminalizing sodomy and could not say what action the United States might take to encourage the Indian government to remedy the human rights issues raised by this ruling.

Psaki said that Secretary of State John Kerry had not spoken with the Indian government directly about the ruling as it had taken place today but said that the United States opposes any laws denying equality to LGBT citizens and is "concerned" about today's ruling.

One reporter suggested there is a problem that the U.S. is threatening sanctions on Ukraine because it is violating human rights and said that it is not clear "whether this has come up, will come up, or will ever come up" with the Indian government and the perception appears that relations are "full speed ahead"

Replied Psaki: "As you know we don't group every country, and everything that happens into the same category, and every circumstance is different."


Continue reading "State Department Spokesperson Grilled on India Ruling Criminalizing Gay Sex: VIDEO" »

Obama Announces $100 Million Initiative to Build Off Successes and Achieve HIV Cure: VIDEOS


President Obama held a World AIDS Day event at the White House today at which he announced a $100 million initiative to develop a cure for HIV, the Washington Blade reports:

“The United States should be at the forefront of new discoveries in how to put HIV into long-term remission without requiting live-long therapies, or better yet, eliminate it completely,” Obama said.

In a fact sheet published after the event, the White House clarified the $100 million would be distributed over the course of three years and would catalyze further research for new therapies to improve outcomes for people with HIV.

Rowena Johnston, amfAR’s vice president and director of research, said in a statement after the event the administration’s efforts to find a cure for HIV would build off previous successes in the past year.

“This year, we saw a series of breakthroughs in HIV cure research that have brought us more clarity than we’ve ever had on the precise steps and tools needed to finally end AIDS,” Johnston said. “We cannot achieve the President’s goal of an AIDS-free generation without continued investment in the research necessary to ultimately help us find a cure for this disease.”

More at The Blade...

Obama also said he plans to sign into law the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013, which extends the Bush-era President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to confront HIV/AIDS overseas. And added that wait lists for federal drugs for HIV/AIDS had been eliminated as part of a $35 million initiative implemented two years ago.

Watch full remarks from Secretary of State John Kerry and Obama, AFTER THE JUMP...

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John Kerry Defends International Accord to Halt Iran's Nuclear Program: VIDEO


Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on CNN's State of the Union this morning to discuss the nuclear deal that would freeze Iran's nuclear program.

Watch Kerry defend the deal, AFTER THE JUMP...

IranThe details of the plan, via the NYT:

Iran, which has long resisted international monitoring efforts and built clandestine nuclear facilities, agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, a level that would be sufficient for energy production but that would require further enrichment for bomb-making. To make good on that pledge, Iran will dismantle links between networks of centrifuges.

Its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, a short hop from weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes. Iran agreed that it would not install any new centrifuges, start up any that are not already operating or build new enrichment facilities.

The agreement, however, does not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a low level of 3.5 percent, or to dismantle any of its existing centrifuges.

The paper adds:

Two former American national security advisers, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, recently sent a letter to key American lawmakers endorsing the administration’s approach. “The apparent commitment of the new government of Iran to reverse course on its nuclear activities needs to be tested to insure it cannot rapidly build a nuclear weapon,” they wrote.

But some experts, including a former official who has worked on the Iranian issue for the White House, said it was unlikely that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would ever close the door on the option to develop nuclear weapons. Instead, they said, any initial six-month agreement is more likely to be followed by a series of partial agreements that constrain Iran’s nuclear activities but do not definitively solve the nuclear issues.

Israel is not happy with the deal, wanting a stronger agreement that would have done away with Iran's enrichment program permanently.

NetanyahuTweeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

"This is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake. Lifting the pressure, this "first step", might be the last step. Like the agreement reached with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place. For years the intl community has demanded that Iran cease uranium enrichment. Now it consents to it, in direct contravention of UNSC res. Iran is taking only cosmetic steps that could easily reversed, and in return, sanctions that took years to put in place will be eased. Without continued pressure, what incentive does Iran have to take serious steps that actually dismantle its nuclear weapons capability?"

Congressional Republicans are not happy with the deal, CNN reports:

In tweets and official statements, House and Senate Republicans argued that the administration was appeasing a duplicitous enemy without securing enough concessions in return.

"Unless the agreement requires dismantling of the Iranian centrifuges, we really haven't gained anything," tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.

"By allowing the Iranian regime to retain a sizable nuclear infrastructure, this agreement makes a nuclear Iran more likely," said Sen. Marco Rubio, the freshman Florida Republican and potential presidential candidate in 2016. "This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands."

Watch Kerry defend the deal, AFTER THE JUMP...

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John Kerry Lays Foundation for U.S. Response to Chemical Attacks in Syria: VIDEO


Watch Kerry's statement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Secretary of State John Kerry offered a long statement yesterday on suspected chemical attacks in Syria, warning that military response could come at any time:

"President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people," Kerry said at the State Department, laying the foundation for U.S. involvement in the bloody Syrian civil war...

"It is undeniable," that chemical weapons were used, Kerry said. "This is about the large scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all.

Britain is preparing a contingency plan for intervention, the NYT reports:

British fighter aircraft were reported to have been sent to Cyprus, a likely launching pad for any non-missile strike.

“We are continuing to discuss with our international partners what the right response should be, but, as part of this, we are making contingency plans for the armed forces,” Mr. Cameron’s spokesman said. The intention of any strike, British officials have said, is to deter further use of chemical weapons.

Watch Kerry's statement, AFTER THE JUMP...

David Mixner posts a list of things to consider as air strikes seem, at this point, inevitable:

What are the ramifications of those decisions and does it bring us closer to peace?. This is not about 'crossing the line' since the 100,000 killed already is just as horrifying as the several thousand who died by gas. The 'line' really doesn't exist and never has existed.

Continue reading "John Kerry Lays Foundation for U.S. Response to Chemical Attacks in Syria: VIDEO" »


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