Tag Archives: World

US repeals meat labeling law after trade rulings against it

It’s now harder to find out where your beef or pork was born, raised and slaughtered.

After more than a decade of wrangling, Congress repealed a labeling law last month that required retailers to include the animal’s country of origin on packages of red meat. It’s a major victory for the meat industry, which had fought the law in Congress and the courts since the early 2000s.

Lawmakers said they had no choice but to get rid of the labels after the World Trade Organization repeatedly ruled against them. The WTO recently authorized Canada and Mexico, which had challenged the law, to begin more than $1 billion in economic retaliation against the United States.

“U.S. exporters can now breathe a sigh of relief,” said Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. The longtime opponent of the labels helped add the repeal to a massive year-end spending bill. After the law was passed, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the government immediately would stop requiring the labels.

Consumer groups say the repeal is a disappointment just as consumers are asking for more information on their food packages. Advocates say the labels help people make more informed buying decisions and encourage purchases of American meat.

Before repeal, the labels told shoppers that a particular cut of meat was “born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States” or “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.” Congress first required the labels in 2002 amid fears of mad cow disease from imported cattle. The labels weren’t on most packages until 2009, though, due to delays pushed by the meat industry.

Repeal became inevitable once the United States lost all its WTO appeals and the retaliation became a possibility. But the consumer groups criticized Congress for repealing the law for ground meat and pork in addition to the fresh cuts of meat that were the subject of WTO concerns.

The bill was “a holiday gift to the meatpacking industry from Congress,” complained the advocacy group Food and Water Watch. Meatpackers who buy Mexican cattle were some of the law’s most aggressive opponents. 

The repeal also was a big defeat for lawmakers from northern border states where U.S. ranchers directly compete with Canadian ranchers. Those lawmakers insisted on including the labeling in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills and this year fought to replace it with a voluntary program once the WTO rulings came down. But after years of success, this time they were not able to find enough support.

Roger Johnson of the National Farmers Union, which has heavy membership in those states, said the group was “furious” about the repeal.

“Packers will be able to once again deliberately deceive consumers,” Johnson said.

Still, there was some good news for food labeling advocates in the spending bill. Despite an aggressive push by the food industry, lawmakers decided not to add language that would have blocked mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients. Also, a provision by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would require labeling of genetically modified salmon recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The issue is expected to come up again in 2016, with Vermont set to require labeling on genetically modified food this summer. 

The day the spending bill passed, Vilsack said he would try to help Congress come up with a middle ground on labeling of engineered foods “in a way that doesn’t create significant market disruption, while at the same time recognizing consumers’ need to know and right to know basic information.”

Boko Haram strikes Nigerian city, at least 50 dead

Boko Haram Islamic extremists struck the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri for the first time in months Monday with rocket-propelled grenades and multiple suicide bombers, witnesses said. At least 50 people were killed and the death toll could go higher.

Another twin suicide bombing killed at least 30 people in Madagali, a town 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Maiduguri, witnesses said. Danladi Buba said two women detonated at a market near a busy bus station at about 9 a.m. Brig. Gen. Victor Ezugwu, the officer commanding in northeast Adamawa State, confirmed the attack but said casualties have yet to be established.

In Maiduguri, capital of neighboring Borno state, at least 30 were killed and more than 90 wounded in overnight blasts and shootouts, and another 20 died in a bombing outside a mosque at dawn Monday, said Muhammed Kanar, area coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency.

The military said there were multiple attacks at four southwestern entry points to the city.

In another blast, two girls blew themselves up in Buraburin neighborhood, killing several people, according to civil servant Yunusa Abdullahi.

“We are under siege,” Abdullahi said. “We don’t know how many of these bombs or these female suicide bombers were sneaked into Maiduguri last night.” He said some residents have found undetonated bombs.

The attack appears to be a challenge to President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration last week that Boko Haram has been “technically” defeated, capable of no more than suicide bombings on soft targets.

Acting on information provided by a captured insurgent, Nigerian troops “intercepted and destroyed” 13 suicide bombers and arrested one female suicide bomber in repelling the attackers, Maj. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, the commander prosecuting Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram, told reporters.

Maiduguri, the city under attack, is the birthplace of Boko Haram, which emerged as a much more radical entity after Nigerian security forces launched an all-out assault on their compound in the city, killing 700 people in 2009.

Militants firing indiscriminately from the back of three trucks attacked the outlying village of Dawari, soldiers engaged them, and as people were fleeing, a woman ran into the area yelling “Boko Haram, Boko Haram.” When people gathered, she detonated herself, according to village head Bulama Isa.

A rocket-propelled grenade then exploded, setting alight grass-thatched huts, and a second woman blew herself up, according to Isa. Among those killed was the village chief and 10 of his children, according to residents Ahmed Bala and Umar Ibrahim.

A soldier said the insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades into four residential areas on the outskirts of the city. Soldiers fired back, and many civilians were caught in the crossfire, according to the soldier, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to journalists.

Three suicide bombers blew themselves up at a home near Bakassi Estate, killing 18 people Sunday evening, another soldier told The Associated Press.

A nurse at Maiduguri Specialist Hospital said dozens of critically wounded, mainly children and women, may not survive. The nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak to reporters, said the hospital was so overflowing with patients that some had to be cared for in the maternity ward. About 60 people had wounds from bullets and shrapnel from explosive devices, she said. Other wounded people had to be sent to other hospitals in the city.

Among them was a baby found dead, still tied to the back of her mother, who survived after being hit by shrapnel, the nurse said.

It was hard to do a body count because so many had been blown into pieces, she said, describing torsos and dismembered arms and legs.

Maiduguri, a city of about 1 million people, now hosts almost as many refugees, among 2.5 million people driven from their homes in the 6-year-old Islamic uprising. About 20,000 people have been killed in Nigeria and hundreds others elsewhere as the insurgents have carried their conflict across its borders into Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

30 killed in Congo in clashes between rebels, government

Clashes between rebels and soldiers in a town in eastern Congo killed at least 30 people, including civilians, rebels and a United Nations peacekeeper, the director of an activist group said Nov. 30.

Rebels from the Allied Defense Forces attacked government forces on Nov. 29 in Eringeti in North Kivu province, said Omar Kavota, the executive director of a local group that tracks these attacks. Rebels, a U.N. peacekeeper, civilians and soldiers were among the dead after 10 hours of fighting, according to the information from the Center of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights.

At least 10 others were injured and 43 homes burned in the town, located 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of Beni. The area has been the site of repeated attacks by the rebels, who have origins in neighboring Uganda. Congo’s army and U.N. peacekeepers launched an operation against the rebels in December.

Witnesses told the rights group that some of the attackers called out a jihadi slogan when attacking. Most residents fled the town and fighting eventually ceased, Kavato said in the statement.

The activist group called on the government and international community to act to be sure jihadism does not emerge in eastern Congo, which is home to myriad armed groups, many vying for control of the region’s vast mineral resources. 

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo includes a force intervention brigade with a unique mandate to take offensive military action against rebel groups that have plagued the vast region since the Rwanda genocide two decades ago. 

When refugees arrive in U.S., here’s what they can expect

The Obama administration has announced plans to steadily increase the number of refugees accepted in the United States for the next two years.

Those fleeing Syria and other war ravaged countries whose claims have been investigated and who have been invited to live in the United States are considered refugees.

Refugees and migrants fleeing Syria and others countries often arrive in their new homes with little or nothing. Here’s a look at what they can expect when they arrive in the U.S.:

HOW MANY PEOPLE:

Currently 70,000 refugees from around the world are allowed to come to the United States. The U.S. will accept 85,000 people in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017. People fleeing Syria will account for much of the increase, though not all.

Although more than half of U.S. governors have objected to plans to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States, with some declaring that they won’t allow resettlement in their states, the federal government controls resettlement programs. State authorities have no legal authority to bar refugees from moving to their jurisdictions.

HOUSING AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:

Upon arrival in the United States, each refugee is eligible for a $1,975 arrival and placement grant that is managed by one of nine refugee resettlement agencies working with the federal government. At least $1,125 of that grant must be spent on housing, including a bed for each person, basic furniture such as a couch, kitchen items including dishes and silverware, and weather-appropriate clothing. The remainder is used to cover additional costs for the aid agency.

Low-income refugee families with children may be eligible for temporary assistance for needy families, a welfare program in which state rules govern eligibility and the amount of money families receive, for up to five years. Immigrants without children or otherwise not eligible for the temporary assistance program qualify for the refugee cash assistance program run by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. Eligibility for that program lasts eight months.

Elderly, blind or disabled refugees may be eligible for cash assistance through the Supplemental Security Income program for up to nine years.

HEALTH CARE:

Low-income refugees may be eligible for Medicaid for up to seven years. While immigrants to the U.S. are not generally eligible for Medicaid, refugees invited to move to the U.S. are exempt. Each state determines which refugees meet the eligibility requirements. Those who don’t qualify for Medicaid can receive refugee medical assistance for up to eight months.

WORK:

Refugees must register with the Social Security Administration after arrival and are almost immediately eligible for a work permit. Social services, including job placement programs, are available to refugees for up to five years.

OTHER ASSISTANCE:

Low-income refugees may also be eligible for food-assistance programs.

No poverty, hunger in 15 years? UN sets sweeping new goals

A season of goal-setting begins this month as the United Nations launches a new 15-year plan to fight grinding world poverty, improve health and education and quell climate change.

The Sustainable Development Goals are set for adoption by the 193 U.N. member states shortly after Pope Francis brings his activist message to the world body on Friday — a message sure to include calls to pull back from the abyss of a heating world and to spread global wealth among the neediest.

More than 150 world leaders, including President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, are expected to speak at a three-day summit dedicated to adopting the goals. That meeting precedes the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. beginning Sept. 28.

The new goals land on the global agenda in advance of December’s world meeting in Paris aimed at a comprehensive agreement on curbing accelerating global warming.

The SDGs consist of 17 broad goals and 169 specific targets. They replace the United Nations’ expiring Millennium Development Goals, eight of them, adopted in 2000.

Despite significant progress, the only one of those original goals achieved before this year was halving the number of people living in extreme poverty. That was due primarily to economic growth in China.

Critics of the new goals say they are too broad, lack accountability and will lead to disenchantment among those in the world most in need of hope.

Supporters say there is no choice but to go big in a world of expanding population, growing inequality, dwindling resources and the existential threat from global warming.

“Let’s be realistic about this. This is about survival,” said Susan Brown of the WWF International. “We actually don’t have another choice. We are expanding into our natural resources at a rate which is not sustainable. And I don’t want to think about what the end-game looks like in 15 years if we don’t get this right.”

The goals are estimated to cost the world between $3.5 trillion and $5 trillion a year between 2016 and the end of 2030.

They were the work of a long process involving most countries as thousands of people came together in many gatherings to hash out the new agenda. It will be financed not only by the so-called “developed North” but also by the “needy South” from national development — reaping financial benefits from economic advances among people who are healthier, more equal and better educated.

The earlier Millennium Development Goals relied more on wealthy nations helping poorer ones, and were devised by people working for then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

That kind of top-down approach “wasn’t going to be the case,” with the new agenda, said Michael Elliot, CEO of One.org, an anti-poverty advocacy group. It was clear “the new development agenda had to be truly South as well as North, that it had to be universal, it had to be global, that it had to have from the start a component that reflected a whole set of concerns on the part of developing nations.”

Roger-Mark DeSouza, director of climate, security and population at the Wilson Center, applauds the goals and process that produced them, but he worries about implementation. “That’s the crux of the matter, and I think that is still to be determined.”

“To make the goals realistic across these different country settings, there needs to be more opportunities for community engagement,” he said. 

The 169 targets have not been fully outlined in terms of how success would be measured.

“The targets become critically important to watch in New York (when the goals are officially adopted),” said Ken Conca, an expert in water development and professor at American University’s school of international service. “The things that are most wildly aspirational tend not to be the targets.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has praised the goals but warned that “further progress will require an unswerving political will, and collective, long-term effort. We need to tackle root causes and do more to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.”

World brands scored on social justice policies

Oxfam International recently ranked the world’s 10 largest food and beverage companies on their policies and commitments to improve food security and sustainability. The scorecard covers seven themes impacting the lives of people living in poverty around the world: transparency, farmers, women, agricultural workers, access to land, water and climate change.

Eight of the “Big 10” improved overall scores since February 2014, but French dairy producer Danone and the U.S. based Coca-Cola Company failed to improve in the overall scorecard, according to Oxfam, a confederation of 17 groups working to solve problems of poverty in 94 countries.

The United Kingdom-based ABF took last place again on the scorecard. The other three companies at the bottom of the scorecard are Kellogg, General Mills and Danone, which holds the undesirable record of scoring the lowest on any theme in the scorecard. The company received only one out of 10 for supporting the rights of women farmers and agricultural workers.

“After two years of sustained pressure from the hundreds of thousands of Oxfam supporters, the Big 10 are definitely moving in the right direction,” said Monique van Zijl, who manages the Behind the Brands campaign. 

Oxfam launched the campaign in February 2013.

“Behind the Brands now enters its third year and what it shows is that no company is too big to ignore the demands of their consumers. The same goes for their suppliers, agricultural producers and traders that are also starting to change in line with the demands of the Big 10,” said van Zijl.

Women’s World Cup final draws record U.S. TV audience

The Women’s World Cup final between the United States and Japan attracted a record U.S. television soccer audience, while Japanese viewing figures were higher than when they won the tournament in 2011.

The July 5 game, which capped a month-long tournament played in six Canadian cities, was the most watched soccer match of all time in the United States as 25.4 million Americans tuned in to watch their team’s 5-2 triumph, FIFA said in a statement.

The American audience for the game was 39 percent higher than the previous high set in 2014 when 18.2 million tuned in for the group stage match between the U.S. men’s team and Portugal at the World Cup in Brazil.

It was also 41 percent higher than the previous record for a women’s soccer match, which was set in 2011 when the United States lost to Japan on penalties in that year’s World Cup final.

FIFA also said an average audience of 11.6 million in Japan tuned in for the match, an 18 percent increase on the figures achieved during the 2011 final.

It was also higher than for any match that did not involve Japan at the 2014 World Cup.

The United States cruised to victory over rivals Japan at Vancouver’s BC Place where a sensational hat-trick by Carli Lloyd in the game’s first 16 minutes sent the Americans on their way to a first World Cup title since 1999.

World shocked at nation’s enduring racism, gun violence

China wasted little time returning such charges following the shooting at a historic black church in South Carolina that left nine people dead. Elsewhere, the attack renewed perceptions that Americans have too many guns and have yet to overcome racial tensions.

Some said the attack reinforced their reservations about personal security in the U.S. — particularly as a non-white foreigner — while others said they’d still feel safe if they were to visit.

Especially in Australia and northeast Asia, where firearms are strictly controlled and gun violence almost unheard of, many were baffled by the determination among many Americans to own guns despite repeated mass shootings, such as the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

“We don’t understand America’s need for guns,” said Philip Alpers, director of the University of Sydney’s GunPolicy.org project that compares gun laws across the world. “It is very puzzling for non-Americans.”

A frontier nation like the U.S., Australia had a similar attitude toward firearms prior to a 1996 mass shooting that killed 35. Soon after, tight restrictions on gun ownership were imposed and no such incidents have been reported since.

Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif, a prominent Indonesian intellectual and former leader of Muhammadiyah, one of the country’s largest Muslim organizations, said the tragedy shocked many.

“People all over the world believed that racism had gone from the U.S. when Barack Obama was elected to lead the superpower, twice,” he said. “But the Charleston shooting has reminded us that in fact, the seeds of racism still remain and were embedded in the hearts of small communities there, and can explode at any time, like a terrorist act by an individual.”

A 21-year-old white man, Dylann Storm Roof, is accused of fatally shooting nine people at a Bible study at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. An acquaintance said Roof had complained that “blacks were taking over the world.”

Racially charged shootings in the U.S. have received widespread global attention.

Prominent Malaysian social commentator Marina Mahathir said many in her country find it puzzling why the U.S. government won’t restrict gun ownership laws. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms.

“We are mystified by the freedom of guns there. It’s a bizarre idea that everyone should have their right to arms,” said Marina, the daughter of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

In Britain, the attack reinforced the view that America has too many guns and too many racists. The front-page headline of The Independent newspaper said simply, “America’s shame.”

The newspaper said in an editorial that America seems to have moved backward in racial relations since Obama’s election, and that the “obscene proliferation of guns only magnifies tragedies” like the church shooting.

The leftist Mexico City newspaper La Jornada said the U.S. has become a “structurally violent state” where force is frequently used domestically and internationally to resolve differences.

“In this context, the unchecked and even paranoid citizen armament is no coincidence: Such a phenomenon reflects the feeling of extensive sectors about the supposed legitimacy of violent methods,” it said.

In China, the official Xinhua News Agency said the violence in South Carolina “mirrors the U.S. government’s inaction on rampant gun violence as well as the growing racial hatred in the country.”

“Unless U.S. President Barack Obama’s government really reflects on his country’s deep-rooted issues like racial discrimination and social inequality and takes concrete actions on gun control, such tragedy will hardly be prevented from happening again,” Xinhua said in an editorial.

On China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging service, some users compared the United States to lawless Somalia and said racial discrimination was fueling violence and high crime rates. Many reflected the official view that gun ownership and violent crime are byproducts of Western-style democratic freedoms that are not only unsuited to China but potentially disastrous.

Recalling the recent killings of Chinese and other foreign students in the U.S., office worker Xie Yan said he was still eager to visit the U.S., but would be “extremely careful” there.

Xie said he had heard much about racism in the U.S., but was uncertain about the underlying dynamics.

“We tend to see the U.S. as a violent place, but I don’t think we understand a lot about racism there. Chinese are free to study, visit and live there so it doesn’t feel like we’re discriminated against,” Xu said while waiting for a train on Beijing’s busy subway line 1.

Like Australia, China has had its problems with racial and ethnic discrimination. China is overwhelmingly dominated by one ethnic group, the Han, and activists decry the lack of awareness about discrimination in jobs and housing faced by minorities such as Tibetans and Turkic Muslim Uighurs from the northwest.

Chinese police have been accused of heavy-handed tactics against those labeled separatists or terrorists, although such measures appear to be supported by most Chinese.

In Japan, discrimination tends to be based less on skin color than on national origin, resulting in biases against Chinese and Koreans, said Hiroko Takimoto, 41, a patent attorney in Tokyo.

Racially motivated killings are “simply something Japanese as a people cannot understand,” she said.

Yukari Kato, vice president of the company Ryugaku Journal that assists Japanese students on overseas programs, including about 2,000 in the U.S., said violence there was nothing new and most of the country remained perfectly safe.

“It’s no different from Japan. There are places where you can become a victim of crime. You just have to be prepared to defend yourself,” she said.

However, Yuka Christine Koshino, 21, a political science student at Tokyo’s Keio University, said she was devastated by the shootings, particularly after having participated in racism awareness campaigns while studying at the University of California, Berkeley. Those interactions had given her hope that the situation was improving. The shootings “shocked me,” said Koshino.

Chairman of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates Max de Mesa shared the sentiment of civil rights activists in South Carolina who pointed out that the Confederate battle flag, the symbol of the pro-slavery South during the Civil War, continued to fly over the state even as it mourned for the nine people killed.

“Some of the (old) structures and some of the attitudes remain and they were even nurtured, at least that is being shown now,” de Mesa said.

“That would be no different from a suicide bomber,” he said. “For a jihadist, `I will be with Allah if I do that.’ The other says, `I am proving white supremacy here.'”

Indonesian intellectual Syafi’i Maarif said he hoped the incident would help Americans stop equating terrorism with Islam.

“Terrorism and radicalism can appear in every strata of society under various guises and in the name of ethnicity, religion and race,” he said.

UPDATED: LGBT communities celebrate Pride nationwide

When he was a kid, Philippe Rodriguez knew the first sun–kissed days of June meant school vacation was just ahead.

But since he came out four years ago, sun and June mean Pride for Rodriguez, who is looking forward to three days of entertainment and education, community and culture at PrideFest, which took place June 5–7 on Milwaukee’s lakefront at Henry Maier Festival Park aka the Summerfest Grounds aka Pride Park.

“The first time I went to Pride, it was life–changing for me,” said Rodriguez, 23, of Milwaukee. “I thought I was out before my first Pride. But I was wrong. I came all the way out at Pride.”

And last year, Rodriguez witnessed a milestone for Milwaukee’s LGBT community during the first night of PrideFest, when the news broke that a federal judge had overturned the state’s ban on same–sex marriage and that Milwaukee and Dane counties were issuing marriage licenses.

“I have friends who say Pride is passé,” he said. “But every year I go and I feel such Pride in me and my people that I could cry.”

Pride is so not passé.

Just glance at the LGBT Pride calendar.

Pride is celebrated in thousands of cities around the world, from Adelaide, Australia, to Zurich, Switzerland. 

LGBT communities in hundreds of U.S. cities observe Pride, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Salisbury, North Carolina.

“Our parade is one of the largest in all of New Mexico,” proud Pride celebrant Sandi Gray said of the Albuquerque festivities that take place on June 13.

Salisbury’s celebration takes place over a week in June, with Sordid playwright, director and stand-up guy Del Shores headlining.

“We welcome people from all over the state, all over the South, for Pride,” said Pride celebrant Lenny Durham. “It’s the most important event of the year for the community.”

Many Pride celebrations take place in June, keeping a tradition that dates to the first Pride march, held in 1970 in New York City one year after the rioting at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. But for various reasons — high heat and humidity in the South, for one — Pride gets celebrated throughout the year.

Take a look …

June 

= June 10–14: Key West Pride, Key West, Florida

= June 11–14: Boqueron Pride, Boqueron, Puerto Rico

= June 12–20: Heartland Pride, Omaha, Nebraska

= June 12–13: Kalamazoo Pride, Michigan

= June 12–14: Capital Pride, Des Moines, Iowa; Los Angeles Pride, West Hollywood, California

= June 13: Albuquerque Pride, New Mexico; Albany Capital Pride, New York; Baton Rouge Pride, Louisiana; Brooklyn Pride; Long Island Pride, Huntington, New York; SMC Pride, San Mateo, California; Outspokane, Spokane, Washington

= June 13–14: Pride Northwest, Portland, Oregon

= June 14: Philly Pride, Philadelphia

= June 15–21: Oklahoma City Pride, Oklahoma

= June 19–20: Boise Pride, Idaho; Arizona Gay Days, Scottsdale; Wilton Manors Pride, Wilton Manors, Florida

= June 19–21: Stonewall Columbus Pride, Ohio; New Orleans Pride; Capital Pride, Olympia, Washington

= June 20: Rhode Island Pride, Providence; Salisbury Pride, Salisbury, North Carolina; Central New York Pride, Syracuse

= June 20–21: Denver Pridefest

= June 21–28: Gay Pride Houston; New York City Pride; Chicago Pride (parade June 28)

= June 21: Rocket City Pride, Huntsville, Alabama

= June 22: Central Oregon Pride, Bend, Oregon

= June 26–27: Augusta Pride, Georgia; Nashville Pride, Tennessee; Hampton Roads Pride, Norfolk, Virginia

= June 27: Cincinnati Pride; Cleveland Pride; NWA Pride, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Northern Arizona Pride, Flagstaff; Lexington Pride, Kentucky; St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg, Florida; Santa Fe Pride, New Mexico

= June 27–28: Twin Cities Pride, Minneapolis; Pride St. Louis; San Francisco Pride; Seattle Pride

July

= July 4: Pride San Antonio, Texas

= July 10–18: Tacoma Pride, Washington

= July 11: Pride Alive, Green Bay

= July 12–13: Bellingham Pride, Washington

= July 18–19: San Diego Pride

= July 18: Kenosha Pride March

= July 18–29: Colorado Springs Pride, Colorado

= July 20: Kitsap Pride, Bremerton, Washington

= July 24: Deming Pride, New Mexico

= July 25: Reno Pride, Nevada

= July 25–26: Baltimore Pride

August

= Aug. 1: Delaware Pride, Dover; OC Pride, Santa Ana, California

= Aug. 1–9: Charleston Pride, South Carolina

= Aug. 2: West Street Beach Pride, Laguna Beach

= Aug. 5–9: Wyoming Equality Rendezvous, Cheyenne

= Aug. 8: Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival, Oregon

= Aug. 9: Madison Pride Parade

= Aug. 15–16: Charlotte Pride, North Carolina

= Aug. 15–21: Carnival, Provincetown, Massachusetts

= Aug. 22–23: Toledo Pride, Ohio

= Aug. 22–30: Austin Pride, Texas

= Aug. 30: Silicon Valley Pride, San Jose, California

September

= Sept. 8–14: Las Vegas Pride

= Sept. 11–13: Oregon Coast Pride, Lincoln City, Oregon

= Sept. 12: South Bay Pride, Chula Vista, California; Virginia Gay Pride, Richmond; Savannah Pride, Georgia; Worcester Pride, Massachusetts

= Sept. 12–13: Roanoke Pride, Virginia

= Sept. 13: Pride Vermont, Burlington; Oakland Pride, California

= Sept. 19–20: Wichita Pride, Kansas

= Sept. 20: Dallas Pride

= Sept. 24–27: Sedona Pride, Arizona

= Sept. 26: North Carolina Pride, Durham; Space Coast Pride, Melbourne, Florida; Mid-South Pride, Memphis, Tennessee

October

= Oct. 3: Northern Virginia Pride, Canterville; Ocala Pride Festival, Florida

= Oct. 3–4: Fort Worth Pride, Texas; Jacksonville Pride, Florida

= Oct. 4: Long Beach Pride, Little Rock

= Oct. 9–11: Pridefest South Florida, Fort Lauderdale

= Oct. 10: North County Pride, Oceanside, California; Orlando Pride; Oswego Pride, New York

= Oct. 10–11: Atlanta Pride

= Oct. 16–17: Winston–Salem Pride, North Carolina

= Oct. 17: World Interpride 2015, Las Vegas; Tucson Pride, Arizona; San Gabriel Valley Pride, Pasadena, California

November

= Nov. 6–8: Palm Springs Pride, California 

Walker compares Capitol protesters to ISIS

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said on Feb. 26 that his experience taking on thousands of protesters in his state helped prepare him to take on terrorists across the world.

The likely Republican presidential contender sparked pointed criticism from labor union leaders across the country after remarks delivered on the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington. The annual conference features more than a dozen potential Republican presidential contenders over three days hoping to win over conservative activists.

Asked how he would handle the Islamic State group if elected president, Walker said, “For years I’ve been concerned about that threat, not just abroad but here on American soil.”

“If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” he said.

Walker is gearing up for a 2016 presidential contest in which foreign policy figures to play prominently.

Islamic State militants have captured large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria over the last year. They declared a self-styled caliphate on territories that are under their control, killing members of religious minorities, driving others from their homes, enslaving women and destroying houses of worship.

Walker’s comments drew sharp reaction from union leaders.

“It’s disgusting that Gov. Walker would compare everyday heroes – educators — to international terrorists,” said Betsy Kippers, a teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

“Gov. Walker, I know terrorism. I know that your own state’s citizens speaking up for what’s right isn’t terrorism,” said Jim Tucciarelli, a union representative in New York City whose office was one block away from the 9/11 attacks. “Today, after hearing your words, I also know the sound of cowardice.”

“Scott Walker’s outrageous slander against his fellow citizens illustrates his contempt for the fundamental expression of democracy – that has been the sad hallmark of his Administration,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.  “Whether campaign hyperbole or not Scott Walker owes Wisconsinites an apology.”

Walker has limited experience with foreign policy. He recently returned from a trip to England.

The Wisconsin governor has faced particularly aggressive protests from labor unions over his budget policies in the four years since he took office. He survived a recall election in 2010 and a bitter re-election test last fall.

Walker spokesman Kirsten Kukowski sought to clarify his remarks after the speech.

“Gov. Walker believes our fight against ISIS is one of the most important issues our country faces. He was in no way comparing any American citizen to ISIS,” Kukowski said, using one acronym for the Islamic State group. “What the governor was saying was: When faced with adversity he chooses strength and leadership.”

Walker dedicated much of his remarks Thursday to the threat of radical Islam. He said he receives regular threat assessments from the FBI and the leader of Wisconsin’s National Guard.

“We need a president, a leader, who will stand up and say we will take the fight to them and not wait `til they bring the fight to American soil,” he said. “We need to show the world that in America you have no better ally and no greater enemy.”

Walker was briefly interrupted during his remarks with a “Run Scott Run” chant.

“I’ve been running three times in the last four years,” he said, “so I’m getting pretty used to it.”