Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Senate To Hold Two Votes On Ending #TrumpShutdown

The Senate will vote Thursday on two separate bills that would bring an immediate end to the partial government shutdown: one backed by President Trump that includes $5.7 billion for his border wall and another that would simply extend funding for shuttered agencies through Feb. 8.
Donald Trump

The New York Times reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have agreed to hold two votes in the Senate on Thursday regarding the ongoing Trump Shutdown.

The Senate will vote Thursday on two separate bills that would bring an immediate end to the partial government shutdown: one backed by President Trump that includes $5.7 billion for his border wall and another that would simply extend funding for shuttered agencies through Feb. 8.

The plan, a compromise between Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, offers the first hint of a path out of the partial shutdown, which is now in its fifth week and has left 800,000 federal workers without pay. The two announced it Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor.

”People are saying isn’t there a way out of this mess, isn’t there a way to relieve the burden on the 800,000 federal workers not getting paid, isn’t there a way to get government services open first and debate what we should do for border security later?” Mr. Schumer said. “Well, now there’s a way.”

Nick Sandmann: "As Far As Standing There, I Had Every Right To Do So"

Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann tells Savannah Guthrie he had "every right" to stand his ground during his encounter with Native American elder, Nathan Phillips

NBC News previews the upcoming interview with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann.

In the short preview, Savannah Guthrie asks Sandmann if he feels he owes anyone an apology or see any fault in how he handled the incident.

"As far as standing there, I had every right to do so," says the teen. "My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I'd like to talk to him."

"In hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing," he adds.

Interesting that his first response is having "every right" to stand where he was.

My gut from the beginning was that this was about him 'standing his ground' and not ceding or giving in to the Native American.

I don't know if it was intentional disrespect or if it just came off that way. But it has always appeared to me that he was trying to play 'big man' in front of his fellow students.

Sandmann does come off very coached here, but then, it's public knowledge his family hired a high-powered GOP-aligned public relations firm to do crisis management here.

I'm married to a publicist who's handled crisis management situations. I've seen the kind of coaching that goes on before public appearances.

Watch the segment below.

Guthrie apparently asks Sandmann about the look on his face during the encounter and more in a larger segment set to air tomorrow on TODAY.

By the way, check out the tweet from Savannah Guthrie announcing the interview. Notice the ratio between 'Likes' (6.7K) and Comments (28K).

Triathlon Union Reverses On Rainbow Flag Ban

Out athlete Gus Kenworthy with rainbow flag (screen capture)

Out and proud athletes have often flown a rainbow Pride flag before, during or after a competition.

But last week, Outsports reported the International Triathlon Union, the governing body for triathlon events around the world, had effectively banned rainbow flags from being flown at ITU events.

The LGBT sporting site noted that the phrase “sexual orientation” had been quietly added to a rule about displaying ‘propaganda’ two months ago.

Part X regarding the general conduct of athletes read, “Athletes will avoid displaying any kind of demonstration of political, religious, sexual orientation or racial propaganda.”

The penalty for flying or displaying a rainbow pride flag could be disqualification and removal from competition.

At the time, a spokesperson for ITU told Outsports the language was “similar wording that is included in many other sporting organizations.”

The ITU has now reversed course and rescinded the ban on rainbow flags or symbols.

Here's the new statement via Outsports:

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) is aware of articles published recently suggesting that our institution is banning the rainbow flag at our events, and would like to clarify our position.

The ITU has always stood for equality, inclusion and respect, and would never knowingly take such a decision that would infringe on the rights and freedoms of people to express themselves and banning the display of rainbow flags.

In light of the misunderstanding, ITU will immediately revisit the rule to ensure that individuals’ rights of expression continue to be embraced.

ITU regrets that this interpretation of the updated rules could have affected any person. It was never ITU’s intention that anyone could be hurt by this decision, one that was never intended to be taken against any group of individuals, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation.

ITU is proud to be an organisation that is absolutely inclusive from its inception, and will continue to be so in the future.

It’s seems disingenuous to say there was a ‘misunderstanding’ when the ITU spokesperson clearly articulated the new rule to Outsports just last week.

Out UK athlete Jack Bristow (image via Bristow)

UK out athlete Jack Bristow told BBC Sport, "Banning the flag 'for our own good' is not a good look."

"It wasn't really an issue beforehand, so I don't know why they introduced this rule and it seems to have backfired on them," he added. "But it's great they have responded so quickly and been prepared to listen to feedback."

(h/t Outsports, BBC Sport)

Notorious 'Ex-Gay' Therapist Announces He's Gay And Actively Seeking To Date Men

Notorious 'ex-gay' therapist David Matheson announced he is now living an openly gay life and is seeking to date men.
David Matheson (image via Facebook)

My grandmother used to say all the time, "Ye who protesteth the loudest, do it the mostesth!"

That echoes in my mind as I report that a prominent therapist in the so-called conversion therapy industry has announced he has left the ‘ex-gay’ movement and is actively looking to date men.

Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit think tank and advocacy group that fights against anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination, obtained screen captures of a private Facebook group that shared the news David Matheson, who penned the controversial ‘ex-gay’ book, Becoming a Whole Man, is now living his life as an openly gay man.

During his career as a therapist, Matheson has authored several ‘ex-gay therapy’ programs including the notorious Journey Into Manhood program.

Rich Wyler, Journey Into Manhood’s director, broke the news in the Facebook group writing, “David…says that living a single, celibate life ‘just isn’t feasible' for him, so he’s seeking a male partner.”

Wyler added, “He has gone from bisexuality to exclusively gay.”

TWO reached out to Matheson and received a statement which was appallingly absent any regret for his actions in the past. He also reveals he plans to remain in the Mormon Church.

“My time in a straight marriage and in the ‘ex-gay’ world was genuine and sincere and a rich blessing to me,” Matheson said in text messages to TWO. “I remember most of it with fondness and gratitude for the joy and growth it caused in me and many others. But I had stopped growing and was starting to die. So I’ve embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process.

“I wasn’t faking it all those years,” he added. “I’m not renouncing my past work or my LDS faith. And I’m not condemning mixed-orientation marriages.”

“I continue to support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity,” he wrote in closing. “With that freedom, I am now choosing to pursue life as a gay man.”

At least one former client of Journey Into Manhood rejected the announcement.

“While I am pleased for Mr Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr Matheson himself,” said Chaim Levin, who was psychologically harmed by the program Matheson helped design for Journey Into Manhood. “I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included.”

A 2007 New York Times article revealed Matheson had earned a master’s in counseling and guidance from Brigham Young University. He began full-time practice in New Jersey in 2004, where he charged clients $240 per 90-minute session.

Matheson helped develop the ‘program’ for Journey into Manhood, which took gay men go into the forest where they were encouraged to engage in “manly” activities in an effort to change their sexual orientation.

“For some people ‘gay’ is never going to work,” he told ABC’s Nightline in 2010 while discussing Journey Into Manhood. “That kind of life, and that kind of living, is never going to gel — ever — with their value system.”

“For those men, that’s why we exist, so that they can have another way, another approach of dealing with their sexual feelings,” Matheson added.

Since the publication of TWO's report, Matheson has posted a coming-out essay on his Facebook page, which reads in part:

I know my work helped many, many people because they’ve told me so. But I’m sure I’ve hurt some people too.

Not that I would excuse myself, but any shortcomings I had as a therapist came from too narrow a view of what “emotionally healthy” can look like. They came from my own homophobia and narrow mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people. And I’m sorry for the confusion and pain my choice may be causing others.

Even today, as a newly-out gay man, I still find too much homophobia in myself.

(h/t Truth Wins Out)

Trump Told WH Press Secretary "Not To Bother" Holding Press Briefings

Donald Trump tweeted this morning that there are fewer and fewer White House briefings because he personally told White House press secretary 'not to bother' since 'the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately.'
Donald Trump
Donald Trump tweeted this morning that there are fewer and fewer White House briefings because he personally told White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders 'not to bother' since 'the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately.'

Informing the people of the United States of the ongoing business of government shouldn't be shut down because Trump doesn't like the news.

The tweet was probably predicated by this story from ABC News:

Supreme Court Allows Trump Anti-Transgender Military Ban To Go Into Effect

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down orders that allow Donald Trump’s ban of transgender military service members to go into effect immediately while appeals work their way through the lower courts, according to The New York Times.
Transgender Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down orders that allow Donald Trump’s ban of transgender military service members to go into effect immediately while appeals work their way through the lower courts, according to The New York Times.

The high court issued a brief, unsigned order this morning saying SCOTUS had lifted the injunctions that, until now, blocked the anti-trans policy.

The vote was 5-4 with Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen dissenting.

This morning’s orders stay the injunctions initially issued by Federal District Court judges in Washington State (Trump v. Karnoski) and California (Trump v Stockman), both in the Ninth Circuit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had previoulsy vacated a third injunction on January 4.

For the time being, current trans soldiers will not be booted out immediately.

The policy, as tweaked by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, allows transgender service members who are already serving openly to continue to do so and to receive transition-related care.

In July of 2017, President Trump surprised American military leaders and the world when he announced his plan to ban trans military service members after “consultation with my Generals and military experts” due to the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members.

At the time of Trump's announcement, Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland (pictured above) told Air Force News, “I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military.”

“You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life," he added.

The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a statement saying there is ‘no medically valid reason’ for banning transgender people from serving in the United States military, but all four service chiefs (Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force) have testified they’ve seen no negative effects from transgender military personnel serving the country they love.

According to a 2016 RAND Corporation study, there are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals out of the 1.3 million service members on active duty.

From The New York Times:

The policy, announced on Twitter by President Trump and refined by the defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, generally prohibits people identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from military service. It makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly and for those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

Nominations For 2019 Academy Awards Announced

Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani  announced the nominations for the 91st Academy Awards, and Roma and The Favourite head up the pack with 10 nods each.

A Star is Born snagged 8 nominations and Black Panther received 7 noms.

Black Panther is the first super-hero movie to receive a Best Picture nod.

And should Roma win, it would be the first film to be named Best Picture with zero ticket sales since Netflix doesn't release its films in a traditional manner.

Bohemian Rhapsody got some love from the Academy too. The Freddie Mercury biopic was nominated for Best Picture, while Rami Malek was nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Queen lead singer.

As expected, Lady Gaga got her nods for Best Original Song and Best Actress for A Star is Born,

I'm not happy that Bradley Cooper was snubbed in the Best Director category.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the biopic of lesbian biographer Lee Israel, played in the film by Melissa McCarthy, got 3 nominations.

McCarthy received a Best Actress nod, Richard E. Grant scored a nomination for Supporting Actor, and the film’s third nod was for Adapted Screenplay.

The Favourite is the big winner for LGBT-themed films scoring the most nominations, with 10 in total. All three female leads - Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz - all received nominations.

The film has received kudos from LGBTQ groups for its depiction of a lesbian love triangle.

More than half of this year's Best Picture nominees - The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, Green Book, and Vice - this year are LGBTQ-inclusive.

Other LGBT-related nominations include Mahershala Ali Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the openly gay pianist Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book.

Troye Sivan will have to be happy with his Golden Globe nod for his song “Revelation” from Boy Erased, as he was left out of the Best Original Song category. Look for Gaga’s “Shallow” to be the front runner in this category.

Check out the full list of nominees below and tune in for

The 91st Academy Awards air on ABC , Sunday, February 24.

Best Picture
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star Is Born

Best Actor
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Best Actress
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (Vice)
Marina de Tavira (Roma)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Best Directing
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Alfonso CuarĂ³n (Roma)
Adam McKay (Vice)

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Best Original Screenplay
The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book

Best Animated Film
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Cinematography
Cold War
The Favourite
Never Look Away
A Star Is Born

Best Costume Design
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons

Best Documentary Short Subject
Black Sheep
End Game
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence

Best Film Editing
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book

Best Foreign-Language Film
Cold War
Never Look Away

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots

Best Original Score
Black Panther
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Best Original Song
“All the Stars” (Black Panther)
“I’ll Fight” (RBG)
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns)
“Shallow” (A Star Is Born)
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)

Best Production Design
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns

Best Animated Short Film
Animal Behaviour
Late Afternoon
One Small Step

Best Live-Action Short Film

Best Sound Editing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place

Best Sound Mixing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Star Is Born

Best Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Monday, January 21, 2019

News Round-Up: January 21, 2019

Diego Lozano of Spain

Some news items you might have missed:

• In case you ever wonder why folks like to visit Madrid, Spain... Meet InstaHunk Diego Lozano :)

• Lady Gaga called out Vice President Mike Pence during her Las Vegas concert this weekend: "Mike Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife works at a school that bans LGBTQ — you’re wrong … You say we should not discriminate against Christianity. You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.”

• There was some serious lip-lock action on the premiere of The CW's new reboot of Roswell last week.

The series follows three young aliens who live in secret in a small New Mexico town. It turns out one, Michael (played by Michael Vlamis) is bisexual, and got down smooching his former bf, Alex (Tyler Blackburn) at the end of the episode.

• The new book, Team of Vipers, by former Trump aide Cliff Sims looks to be quite the read. It's been described as, "Not a sycophantic portrayal of the president nor a blistering account written to settle scores."

Bloomberg: The U.K. Labour Party is calling for a vote in Parliament that could pave the way to a second referendum, raising the possibility that Brexit could be reversed.

Variety: The CW has released the first look at transgender actress Nicole Maines, playing a superhero named "Dreamer" on the January 27 episode of DC Comic’s Supergirl.

Maines plays the first ever transgender superhero on television in an episode that explores the source of Dreamer’s powers. Maines will appear again in a later episode airing Feb. 17.