Friday, February 15, 2019

News Round-Up: February 15, 2019

• Took our friends to see Mariah Carey this week at Caesar's Colosseum this week. Michael and I took the outside positions (above) just in case folks wanted to crop us out for a more 'intimate' photographic Mariah moment :)
Backstage with Mariah Carey in Las Vegas

Some news items you might have missed:

• Took our friends to see Mariah Carey this week at Caesar's Colosseum this week. Michael and I took the outside positions (above) just in case folks wanted to crop us out for a more 'intimate' photographic Mariah moment :)

• Police in Venezuela have raided and confiscated lifesaving medications from an HIV service organization.

• Disney is on a winning streak when it comes to the LGBTQ community. A character on the Disney Channel recently said "I'm gay;" Disneyland Paris is hosting an official Pride event this year; the upcoming film Jungle Cruise will have an openly gay character; and now Disney's Instagram account posted a pic of a gay couple getting married at Disney World as part of its Fairy Tale Weddings package.



A post shared by Disney (@disney) on


• Out football player Michael Sam told an audience in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he regrets coming out before the NFL draft in 2014. “The NFL gave me a raw deal,” said Sam. “It was tough to forgive them. I love football. Football gave me an education and gave me the opportunity I so desperately needed at the time.”

• Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a new court filing that search warrants have uncovered communications that connect longtime GOP operative Roger Stone to “Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1,” which is widely believed to be WikiLeaks.

• Handsome classical crossover singer, Daniel Emmet, released the music video for his latest single “Passerà.”

You may remember Emmet as a finalist on Season 13 of America’s Got Talent who was challenged by Simon Cowell to learn a new song in one hour, in Italian, and then perform it on national television - which he did.

This is a voice, kids... Hit play below.



Federal Judge Orders Trump Administration To Stop Discharging HIV+ Military

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to stop discharging HIV+ members of the U.S. military for the time being.

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to stop discharging HIV+ members of the U.S. military for the time being.

The order came in the case of Roe and Voe v. Shanahan, filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, with partner law firm Winston & Strawn, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Airmen who were given discharge orders in November of last year.

Both men had tested positive for HIV in 2017 during routine screenings, and after beginning antiretroviral treatment they were deemed asymptomatic and declared physically fit to deploy, according to The Washington Post.

Even though they had the backing of their commanding officers, they were informed in November that the military prohibits personnel with HIV from being deployed to the Middle East, where the majority of Air Force members are expected to go.

In February 2018, the Trump administration announced its “Deploy or Get Out” policy which ordered the Pentagon to identify service members who cannot be deployed to military posts outside the United States for more than 12 consecutive months, and to separate them from military service.

Both men say they can deploy with no issues as long as they take a supply of medication with them.

One of the airmen told The Washington Post he'd already been deployed to the Middle East twice, and both times his duty didn't require him to leave his base where proper medical facilities were available.

Neither men were given the option of alternative jobs, which they say they would have accepted.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema issued the preliminary injunction Friday after hearing oral arguments in regarding Lamda Legal and Outserve-SLDN’s motion for a preliminary injunction as well as the Trump administration’s motion to dismiss.

Judge Brinkema granted the injunction after ruling the plaintiffs (who filed pseudonymously as “Richard Roe” and “Victor Voe”) were likely to prevail in stopping their discharge.

Peter Perkowski, OutServe-SLDN’s Legal & Policy Director, issued a statement which read:

“We are thrilled that Judge Brinkema recognized not just that the military’s policies were harming our members who are living and serving with HIV. But also indicated that, at least on the evidence before her, the military’s decisions were based on outdated medical science and are categorically denying people living with HIV the same opportunities as their fellow service members. We look forward to a final decision in the case.”



Two Men Arrested In Connection To Alleged Attack On EMPIRE Star Jussie Smollett

The Chicago Police Department has announced the arrests of two men in connection to the alleged homophobic attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett.
Jussie Smollett

The Chicago Police Department has announced the arrests of two men in connection to the alleged homophobic attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett.

According to CNN, the men are the same that were previously identified in surveillance video as “persons of interest.”

Tom Ahern, Chicago Police communications deputy director, told the press that the men are being viewed as “potential suspects,” but have not been charged at this time.

The men were taken into custody for questioning Wednesday night at O’Hare Airport as they returned from a trip to Nigeria.

One of the men previously pleaded guilty to aggravated battery in 2012, and was sentenced to 2 years of probation, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier today, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives “had probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime.” Guglielmi didn’t specify what the alleged crime might have been.

"Interrogations will resume today with the two individuals and their attorney," Guglielmi said in his statement. "While we haven't found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax."

Smollett told the authorities that on January 29, he was attacked by two men who assaulted him, put a noose around his neck and poured an undetermined liquid on him. According to Smollett, the men used homophobic and racial slurs during the attack as well as yelling, “This is MAGA country!”

On Thursday, the CPD shared they had identified the two men, reportedly brothers from Nigeria, using surveillance cameras, public transportation records and corroborating info provided by Smollett.

Chicago news station CBS2 reports police raided the home of the two men finding bleach, shoes, electronics and more.

According to their lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, the men know Smollett as at least one of them has reportedly worked as an extra on Empire.

"They do know Jussie,” she told CBS2. “They have worked with him on Empire. My preliminary investigations show that on set it’s very tight. They’re all very cordial with each other, so they’re baffled why they are people of interest.”

There were conflicting press reports Thursday night as some outlets claimed the Chicago Police Department was looking into whether Smollett staged the attack himself and falsely reported the crime.

Among the theories was that Smollett might have faked the assault to raise his profile as his character on Empire was to be written off the series.

But Guglielmi announced via Twitter that media reports alleging the attack was a “hoax” were “unconfirmed by case detectives.”

The police spokesman added that media sources regarding the attack are “uninformed and inaccurate.”



Additionally, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released the following statement regarding the reports:

“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”




Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Has Extreme Anti-LGBTQ History

Judge Brian Hagedorn of Wisconsin

When an individual sits on the bench as a judge - in any court - the responsibility is to be fair and unbiased in applying the law. The public needs to know judges don’t bring their own personal judgements into the courtroom.

Which is why many in Wisconsin are concerned about the candidacy of State Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn for the state Supreme Court.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, in 2016, Hagedorn helped found the Augustine Academy in Merton, Wisconsin.

The private religious school bans students, teachers, and parents from being in gay relationships.

The school's statement of faith declares that "Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church."

The school’s Code of Personal Conduct (listed in the school teacher application) specifically dictates no “immoral sexual activity” which is defined as “any form of touching or nudity for the purpose of evoking sexual arousal apart from the context of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Violations of the code of conduct could result in teaches being fired. And students face possible expulsion from the school should they or their parents be discovered violating the rules.

It isn’t unusual for a private, faith-based school to have such policies.

However, Hagedorn’s close relationship to the school, which he still oversees, gives pause as to how neutral he would be as a judge on the state’s highest court.

In that the nonpartisan court hears cases that involve LGBTQ discrimination based on “deeply held religious beliefs,” it’s difficult to see Hagedorn putting his personal beliefs aside in such cases.

Analiese Eicher, executive director One Wisconsin Now, expressed her concerns that Hagedorn “remains intimately associated with an organization that actively discriminates against the LGBTQ community.”

Stephan Thompson, a member of the schools board of directors, defended Hagedorn saying he “treats everyone fairly under the law.”

"He is running for the Supreme Court to protect religious freedoms for all Wisconsinites, regardless of faith," added Thompson. "Yet the latest smear is just another example of attacks on his own faith."

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has previously reported on blog posts made by Hagedorn while in law school where he once wrote gay rights could lead to legalized bestiality.

In 2005, he wrote, “The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable.”

Hagedorn has stated he sets aside his personal beliefs as a member of the state Appeals Court, and would continue to do so if elected to the Supreme Court.


Trump Declares National Emergency "I Didn't Need To Do This, I Just Want To Do It Faster"

Donald Trump declares 'national emergency' over border security
Donald Trump declares 'national emergency' over border security

Donald Trump announced today from the White House Rose Garden that he will sign the $328 billion spending bill Congress passed Thursday to avoid another federal government shutdown before a midnight Friday deadline.

The spending package includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fencing along the southern border, much less than the $5+ billion Trump sought for his beloved wall.

Trump also said in his announcement today that he will declare a national emergency in order to redirect funds from elsewhere in the federal government, via executive powers, to cobble together an $8 billion slush fund to repair and build 234 miles of border barrier.

From Politico:

In addition to the funds Congress has appropriated, the White House will seek to redirect $3.6 billion from a military construction fund, $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from a Pentagon drug prevention program, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters Friday.

Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi called the emergency declaration "a lawless act" and "a gross abuse of the power of the presidency.”

Even some Republicans have been privately and publicly urging Trump to avoid such a step, fearful that the expansion in powers could propel a future Democratic president to take the same step on climate change or gun violence.

During his speech, Trump repeated his assertion regarding 'national emergencies' that, “This has been done many times in the past - President Obama did it – it’s not such a big deal.”

Trump also took a slap at ultra-conservative Ann Coulter.



















Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day From Artist Silverjow


I just love Instagram artist Silverjow's illustrations. There's whimsy, character, attitude and relationship in all he does.

These two characters say so much in each design.



And here's Silverjow's 2018 Valentine's Day illustration...



Happy Valentine's Day 2019


I originally posted this seven years ago, in 2011, the first year of The Randy Report.

Handsome hubby Michael and I have been together for more than 24 years now.

More wine...

*********************************

With today being Valentine's Day, obviously, my mind wanders to MY Valentine, Michael. That's him, up above.

It's hard to believe that we've been together 17 Valentine's Days. Before we met, it looked like V Day was always going to be something to sing sad songs about.

Music is such a part of my life that I relate it to everything. Even the day Michael and I met, I explain that it was exactly as Oscar Hammerstein II wrote: "Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger; you may see a stranger across a crowded room; and somehow you know, you know even then, that somewhere you'll see him again and again."

I know, it sounds oh so cheesy, but it was that black and white. It's just the best way to explain how I knew. There are days I can't believe he's in love with me.  Still.

Not that we have this flawless romance.

On days we disagree, I simply remind him I'm his favorite :)

Interestingly, when we got married, we didn't really have a song for the day because we were just so amazed that we were given the right to get married.

Probably the only big event in my life that doesn't relate to a song. Just Michael.

It goes without saying that all day long today I'll be playing various iterations of "My Funny Valentine." It's such a great tune, and so many awesome artists have brought it to life.

Barbra Streisand's version is still my favorite. A bit of drama in the beginning, and then that thrilling climax.



Lucia Micarelli is a fantastic violinist who does a gorgeous, romantic version of the song.



And then there's Ella Fitzgerald's version - sublime.



I recommend you get all of them, sit back and enjoy.

I think I relate Valentine's Day and romance to music because music has rhythm, hills & valleys and texture; a lot like time-tested love does.

A lot like Michael and I do.

Michael is my valentine; he's the music that makes me dance. I hope you all dance the way we do. (that's a euphemism, kids...)

I encourage everyone to pour a glass of wine, light some candles, turn out the lights, listen to some great music and enjoy. Whether alone or with your honey, it's a good day to remember to love someone. Someone else, or even if that someone is yourself. That might even be the best place to start.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Conflicting Reports In The Media Regarding Alleged Assault On Jussie Smollett

There's rampant confusion in the media tonight as I'm seeing conflicting reports regarding the alleged attack on Empire star, Jussie Smollett.
Jussie Smollett on 'Good Morning America'

There's rampant confusion in the media tonight as I'm seeing conflicting reports regarding the alleged attack on Empire star, Jussie Smollett.

Chicago police confirmed that they are talking to two persons of interest in connection with the alleged attack.

Local news station ABC7 Eyewitness News reports police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of Empire.

In a statement released Thursday, police said they identified the two people in surveillance photos and tracked them down using cameras, public transportation records and corroborating info provided by Smollett.

CBS2 reports police raided the home of the two men finding bleach, shoes, electronics and more.

And, according to CBS2, the men know Smollett as they've reportedly worked as extras on Empire. That information came from their attorney, Gloria Schmidt.

"They do know Jussie,” she told CBS2. “They have worked with him on Empire. My preliminary investigations show that on set it’s very tight. They’re all very cordial with each other, so they’re baffled why they are people of interest.”

However...

As these reports began to circulate, Chief communications officer for the CPD, Anthony Guglielmi, tweeted that media reports alleging the attack was hoax are “unconfirmed by case detectives.”

Guglielmi added that media sources regarding the attack are “uninformed and inaccurate.”



Additionally, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released the following statement regarding the reports:

“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”



I don't know what is or isn't true here, so I'm just reporting what I'm seeing.