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Rubio, Wyden Urge Biden Administration to Press Turkey on Its Troubling Human Rights Record

Bipartisan Letter Cites Portland Trail Blazer Enes Kanter Among the Critics Erdogan has Tried to Silence

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) urged the Biden Administration to press the Turkish government to improve its human rights record, which includes an increasingly authoritarian crackdown on dissent both domestically and abroad.

The bipartisan letter signed by more than 50 other senators cited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for marginalizing domestic opposition, silencing or coopting critical media outlets, purging independent judges and replacing them with party loyalists, and jailing scores of journalists.

“President Erdogan’s foreign policy has also grown more belligerent and combative over time. In recent years, he brazenly attacked U.S.-backed Kurds fighting ISIS in Syria, he purchased Russian air defense systems despite warnings that they were incompatible with U.S. technology, and he encouraged Azerbaijan to use violence to settle a territorial dispute with Armenia,” the senators wrote.

“President Erdogan has also attempted to pressure the U.S. and other countries into extraditing Turkish nationals, whom he blames for the failed coup in 2016. The Erdogan government has sought to silence critics in the United States like Enes Kanter, an NBA player and human rights advocate, by going after his family in Turkey and placing an INTERPOL red notice on him.”

The senators note that the United States has a significant opportunity to influence Turkey’s troubling human rights record because it’s an important ally in a key region of the world.

“We believe that the United States must hold allies and partners to a higher standard and speak frankly with them about issues of human rights and democratic backsliding,” the senators continued. “We urge you to emphasize to President Erdogan and his administration that they should immediately end their crackdown on dissent at home and abroad, release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and reverse their authoritarian course.”

In addition to Rubio and Wyden, the letter was also signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John Thune (R-SD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), James Lankford (R-OK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), John Kennedy (R-LA), Robert Casey (D-PA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The full text of the letter is available here.

BREAKING NEWS: Armenian Genocide Resolution Today in the US Senate

Armenian Genocide Resolution in the Senate:

Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) will request Unanimous Consent to consider the Armenian Genocide Resolution, S.Res.150. Tune in to C-SPAN at approx. 1:00 p.m. EST to watch the Senate Floor live.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a cosponsor of S. Res. 150. However, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) is NOT. Call Sen. Rick Scott’s DC Office NOW (202) 224-5274 and urge him to cosponsor the bill and to vote YES should it come up for a vote!

Now is the time to call your Senators and urge them to support S.Res.150!


Quick Facts about the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the Senate:

  • Senator Bob Menendez introduced the Armenian Genocide Resolution, S.Res.150, on April 9, 2019.
  • Including Senator Menendez, a total of 29 Senators have co-sponsored the resolution. Who else has co-sponsored?
  • Following the historic and overwhelming bipartisan vote in favor of H.Res.296 in the House of Representatives, the the Armenian American community pressed for passage of the stand-alone Senate resolution on the Armenian Genocide.
  • On November 13, Senator Bob Menendez requested Unanimous Consent to consider S.Res.150. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) objected, following a meeting earlier that day with Turkish President Erdogan at the White House. Florida Senator Rick Scott was also in the Oval Office meeting with Erdogan.
  • On November 21, Senator Bob Menendez requested Unanimous Consent again to consider S.Res.150, and was joined by Senator Ted Cruz. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) objected, citing “ongoing diplomatic relations with Turkey.” Senator Menendez vowed not to relent.
  • Today, December 5, Senators Bob Menendez and Ted Cruz will once again request Unanimous Consent to consider S.Res.150 at approximately 1:00 PM EST.

Have questions? Please email us at flarmenians@gmail.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

How Florida, Palm Beach County, and the City of Boca Raton Voted for President

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By Taniel Shant
The Boca Raton Tribune

Without question, the 2016 Election was historic and unprecedented at almost every level in practically every state. From the Electoral College to Florida, and from Palm Beach County to Boca Raton, the following analysis of precinct data, as certified by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, and the State of Florida Division of Elections, reveals some very noteworthy and record-breaking results. It begins with statewide results for President and Senate, followed by voting results in Palm Beach County, and the City of Boca Raton.

As we know, Donald Trump is now the President, but how well did he really do statewide and in Palm Beach County? How did Floridians vote overall, in Palm Beach County, and in the City of Boca Raton in particular?

FLORIDA

florida-election-2016In Florida, Donald Trump defeated Hilary Clinton by 119,770 votes, 49.1% to Clinton’s 47.8%. With over 9 million votes cast statewide, overall turnout (not just President) in Florida was 74.48%, almost 20% higher than the national average of 55%, in the 2016 general election. There are many reasons why Trump defeated Clinton, in Florida and across the U.S. Depending on who you ask, the outcome can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as decreased turnout of African-Americans and Hispanics, who showed up to vote for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but who stayed home for Clinton in 2016. Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Florida invested heavily in a grassroots strategy that helped propel Trump. Another factor is the unpopularity of both major party nominees, as evidenced by third-party Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson’s 2.2% share of the electorate in Florida, up from 0.5% in 2012.

Meanwhile, in the Florida Senate contest, incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) defeated Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), 52% to 44.3%. Although more ballots were cast for President than for Senate in Florida, Rubio received more votes than Trump in the Sunshine State; 4,835,191 votes for Rubio, to 4,605,515 votes for Trump, a difference of 229,676 votes. As such, Rubio received more votes than any statewide candidate ever in Florida history. Rubio also becomes the first Republican Senator in Florida to win re-election in a presidential election year.

In total, over 3.4 million registered voters in Florida did not vote for President, approximately 27%.

PALM BEACH COUNTY

What we saw play out at the state level was similar in Democrat-heavy Palm Beach County. Voters here should be pleased to know that our turnout was 74.58%, slightly higher than the state. Clinton received 55.7% of the vote in Palm Beach County, compared to 40.5% for Trump. Interestingly, support for both Clinton and Trump was less than it was for Obama and Romney in 2012, who received 58.21% and 41.18%, respectively. Again, both Trump and Clinton were deeply unpopular with Palm Beach County voters, so much so that Libertarian Gary Johnson received almost 5X the vote he received in 2012.

As expected, Murphy outperformed Rubio in Palm Beach County. However, Senator Rubio received over 15,000 more votes in Palm Beach County than Donald Trump. Another interesting statistic is the surge of Early Voting. Approximately 36% of all votes in Palm Beach County were cast during twelve days of Early Voting.

In total, 229,171 registered voters in Palm Beach County stayed home, and did not vote, about 25%.

CITY OF BOCA RATON

In the 2016 general election, the City of Boca Raton consisted of 37 precincts. Although Clinton won 20 precincts, Donald Trump actually won Boca Raton with 48.1% to Clinton’s 47.9%, a difference of 98 votes.

In total, turnout in the City of Boca Raton was 77.2%, while 14,545 registered voters did not vote

In the end, the 2016 general election was wild rollercoaster ride. Records were broken, history was made, and the pieces of the political chessboard were moved around across the nation, in the Sunshine State, and in our county. No doubt, it is time for our elected officials to govern, and get to work on behalf of the people. While there is much to be proud of as Floridians, and especially as citizens of Palm Beach County, there is a lot of work left to be done to expand voter access and information, introduce new technologies, increase voter turnout, and make voting more efficient and accurate.

PALM BEACH COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 5

Taniel Shant

In my race for County Commission District 5 (West Boca Raton, West Boynton Beach, West Delray Beach), I fell short of my goal, with 36% of the vote. However, the 36,930 votes I did receive were the most for a Republican ever in this seat. Additionally, I raised over $50,000, the most for a Republican ever in this seat. I also won my home precinct on Election Day, and 12 overall, again the most for a Republican ever in this seat. While my opponent clearly won, her share of the electorate was actually 5% less than when she ran in 2012, despite a 9% increase in registered voters. I was able to outperform my party and break some records, prompting the Palm Beach Post to recognize the “strong turnout” for my candidacy, and I am proud of the campaign that my team and I ran.

At the end of the day, I congratulated my opponent on her re-election. This was my first run for public office. Although I was up against extremely high odds ­– a Democrat incumbent in a “safe” Democrat seat who raised 2.5X times what I raised – it was important to me that my first race be in the district and community in which I was raised. As I stated throughout the campaign, West Boca has been my home since 1984. Public service is about giving back to your community and helping people, and I feel that it is important that those who do run, do so first in their home communities. I met so many wonderful people in this process, and I learned a lot about the people in District 5; their concerns, the challenges families and small businesses face, and how government can improve lives. It is an experience I will carry with me forever and I am truly grateful to have had the support of so many people in my home community.

An edited version of this article originally appeared in The Boca Raton Tribune.

Taniel Shant is a resident of suburban Boca Raton, and former candidate for Palm Beach County Commission District 5. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University and Master’s Degree in Political Management from The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. You can follow him on Twitter @TanielShant.