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NEWS: Danger In The Castro, Lies About Apple, Abortions And Poultry, And The Improbability of Warp Speed

Towleroad-roadicon Gay men being drugged and robbed in the Castro:

It seems there have been too many instances lately in which older gay men are being targeted by (straight) criminals who are coming into gay bars, flirting with men, and then robbing them after they take them home.

Towleroad-roadicon Rosie leaves OWN.

Towleroad-roadicon Upper house of Swiss parliament narrowly votes to allow gay adoption. 

Towleroad-roadicon Producers of This American Life, the world's greatest radio program, are "horrified" that lies about Apple appeared in their show:

MikeDaisyA highly popular episode of This American Life in which monologuist Mike Daisey tells of the abuses at factories that make Apple products in China contained "significant fabrications," the show said today.

... The 39-minute piece aired in January and TAL says after 888,000 downloads, it became its most popular podcast. The story is compelling: It tells of the awful working conditions of Chinese workers making shiny Apple products like iPhones and iPads at factories owned by a company called FoxConn, which also manufactures products for other electronics giants.

The piece essentially made Daisey Apple's chief critic and it also inspired a petition that collected more than 250,000 signatures demanding that Apple better the working conditions at the factories.

Towleroad-roadicon Georgia rep: Stop killing babies, and you'll get chickens.

Towleroad-roadicon New York Times: How Bain Capital supplies the Chinese police state with surveillance technology, and how Mitt Romney stands to profit:

In December, a Bain-run fund ... purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts.

The Bain-owned company, Uniview Technologies, produces what it calls “infrared antiriot” cameras and software that enable police officials in different jurisdictions to share images in real time through the Internet. Previous projects have included an emergency command center in Tibet that “provides a solid foundation for the maintenance of social stability and the protection of people’s peaceful life,” according to Uniview’s Web site.

Such surveillance systems are often used to combat crime and the manufacturer has no control over whether they are used for other purposes. But human rights advocates say in China they are also used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents. “There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel fear,” said Loksag, a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Gansu Province. He said the cameras helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest at his monastery in 2008.

Moonevolution Towleroad-roadicon Joe Nocera on corporate morality.

Towleroad-roadicon Accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk is dead; his life was bookended by horrors. 

Towleroad-roadicon Seinfeld actor Daniel von Bargen shoots himself in the head; survives.

Towleroad-roadicon Barack Obama can't take sole credit for rescuing Detroit. 

Towleroad-roadicon Those neutrinos almost certainly did not travel faster than light. Bummer.

Towleroad-roadicon Watch the evolution of the moon, AFTER THE JUMP ...


Posted Mar. 17,2012 at 11:13 PM EST by in 2012 Election, Abortion, Apple, Barack Obama, China, Georgia, Oprah, Rosie O'Donnell, San Francisco, Science, Switzerland | Permalink | Comments (17)

Scott Heggart: A Jock Came Out (VIDEO)

Void(0)Here is an excellent story from the Ottawa Citizen about Scott Heggart, a brave young ex-junior league athlete who did the thing that vanishingly few major league athletes have done in any sport: He came out to his team.

Heggart knew he was gay from the 6th grade on, but he was an athlete even then, and suffocated by the incessant homophobic machismo of the locker room. His twin identities as a gay male and athlete seemed irreconcilable; as an adolescent, Heggart flirted with suicide, and sometimes tried to "think himself straight." It didn't work. In the 8th grade, at age 15, Heggart summoned his courage and came out to his family -- first to his older sister, and then to his brother and parents. Coming out to his other family, the one with whom he played hockey in the Lanark-Carleton Minor Hockey League, would be trickier. That would take two more years.

But -- and here's where Heggart's story diverges from that of most gay kids -- as he gathered resolve to come out to his teammates, Heggart began posting anonymous videos to YouTube. The videos weren't purely anonymous -- they showed Heggart's face -- but he never attached a name to them, and it seems nobody in Heggart's athletic circles ever noticed them. Incredibly, he posted a video every day for a year, delving deeply and often movingly into the coming out process, and the unique difficulties faced by a gay athlete. The videos developed a sizeable following: To date, his vids have well over half a million views.

As sometimes happens, Heggart found a boyfriend, and it was this that compelled him to let his teammates know about his orientation. Still, he found he couldn't do it face-to-face. And so he changed his "relationship status" on Facebook from "single" to "in a relationship," posted a picture of himself with his beau, and waited.

And then what happened? How did his teammates -- uber-macho dudes who casually dropped the worse antigay epithets as matter of course -- respond to Heggart's news?

From the Citizen:

By the next morning, there had been no reaction to his status change, so Scott went to school wondering if anyone had noticed, or if he’d been blacklisted while he slept. Friday came and went. So did Saturday and most of Sunday.

Then, on Sunday evening, one of Scott’s best friends from hockey sent him a private message on Facebook: “What you did man, it takes a lot of courage and I’m proud of you. And I’ve been talking to a lot of people and they all say the same thing.”

His inbox filled up with messages from teammates and classmates, every last one expressing respect and support.

One teammate wrote, “If I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t have had the balls to do that.”

Some of Scott’s teammates apologized for previous slurs. A former football teammate apologized “on behalf of everybody” for making him “feel so uncomfortable.”

And so it went.

There's a good bit more to Heggart's story, and it's well worth giving a read over at the Ottawa Citizen. And take a few moments to watch one of Heggart's most moving videos, AFTER THE JUMP, in which he asks his father to advise other dads who might be struggling with their kids' coming out. Seems like a great guy.


Posted Mar. 17,2012 at 7:03 PM EST by in Canada, Sports, Video | Permalink | Comments (20) Doesn't Know Anything About Dharun Ravi And Tyler Clementi

120317040614-paul-butler-headshot-left-teaseA lot of smart people have spent the last 24 hours explaining the significance of the Dharun Ravi verdict. (If you don't know about the Dharun Ravi verdict, please click here.) One of those smart people is Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor, the current "Carville Dickinson Benson Research professor of law" at George Washington University, and the author of Let's Get Free: A Hip Hop Theory of Justice. Today, published his ruminations in the form of an essay titled "Rutgers Spying Verdict Won't End Bullying." And while the claim made in the title is self-evidently true, it's clear that Butler knows nothing about the Dharun Ravi case.

In fact, Butler is so ignorant of the case that he manages to cram four falsehoods into a single three-sentence paragraph. That graf:

As the whole world knows, Ravi secretly videotaped his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having sex with another man. He let some other people watch the video, and he tweeted that Tyler was gay. Clementi then jumped off a bridge to his death.

Falsehood breakdown:

As the whole world knows, Ravi secretly videotaped his roommate, Tyler Clementi ...

There was no tape. It was a live webcam, turned on for just a moment.

... having sex with another man.

Nope. They were just making out.

He let some other people watch the video ...

Nope. Only one person besides Dharun saw the webcam feed, and only briefly.

... and he tweeted that Tyler was gay. Clementi then jumped off a bridge ...

Technically true, but cruelly misleading. Dharun first tweeted that Clementi was gay long before the webcam-snooping and the suicide. In fact, he did it before the school year had begun -- before he'd even met Clementi in person. Butler's imputation is that Dharun somehow "outed" Clementi, which is nonsense. The only reason Dharun was able to tweet the words "Found out my roommate's gay" so early on was that Clementi was already out'n'proud on the internet. It is the case that Dharun made another reference to Clementi's sexuality on the night he spied Clementi and his lover on the webcam, but it's insane to think such a reference might drive an out person to suicide.

Butler should read Ian Parker's excellent New Yorker article, "The Story of a Suicide," before writing anything else on the subject.

Posted Mar. 17,2012 at 5:15 PM EST by in CNN, Dharun Ravi, Tyler Clementi | Permalink | Comments (41)

Seventeen Year Old Irish Dancer's 'Only In America' Story

And now, a nice St. Paddy's Day story.

If you haven't already, meet Drew Lovejoy. He's 17. He lives in rural Ohio. He's half black, half Jewish. And he's the best traditional Irish dancer of his age in the world. In February, for the third consecutive year, he placed first in hs age group at the All Irish Dancing Championship, in Dublin. A profile of Lovejoy in today's New York Times (whence I borrowed the above pic) calls his an "only in America story" -- a notion which makes me feel rather patriotic.

But Lovejoy's American story is tinged with typically American tragedy. From the Times:

In the dance world, his unusual background was a plus ... But it has served him less well here in his hometown, where a rural stretch of road bisects sweeping pastures dotted with aging barns. He moved here when he was 9, after his mother married Donald Goldberg, a Greenville resident she met at a nearby synagogue. (She had parted with Drew’s biological father, Terrance Lovejoy, when Drew was still a baby, though she remains on good terms with him, and says he sometimes rides to Drew’s competitions with her husband.)

It was not easy. Drew was a dancer, unusual for boys here, and black in a mostly white town. Bullying eventually prompted his mother to pull him out of school and start him in an online education program. He is still there today.

While most townspeople accept him, with some going out of their way to make him feel comfortable, Drew said he still does not feel entirely at ease. He does not walk the dog after dark.

“I feel like I have to watch my back,” he said, his hands resting flat on the green kitchen tablecloth.

I can't find any recordings of Lovejoy's recent performances, but here you can view a vid shot shortly after his first Dublin championship. (I'd post it to the blog, but the "embed" function's been disabled.)

Posted Mar. 17,2012 at 2:47 PM EST by in Dance, Dublin, Ireland, Ohio | Permalink | Comments (30)

St. Patrick's Day, NYC: Revelry, Beer, Discrimination

Imgres-2Happy St. Paddy's Day! At this very moment, many hundreds of festively attired and potentially very drunk people are either marching or preparing to march in New York City's 251st annual St. Patrick Day's Parade. It'll be a helluva spectacle. But the parade will include no gay floats or banners.

To which one may reasonably respond: So what? It's an Irish thing. What's more, it's an Irish Catholic thing -- the parade's run by a Catholic fraternal order with the tellingly silly name "The Ancient Order of Hibernians," the leaders of which four years ago likened out, gay participation in their 5th Avenue processional to neo-Nazis marching in an Israeli parade. 

But -- while it may be one thing for a Catholic fraternal order to be discriminatory, Michelangelo Signorile and GLAAD argue that it's quite another thing for NBC to enable its discrimination. And that's what's happening. From Signorile:

It's frankly appalling that NBC, and now its parent company Comcast, still sells the broadcast rights (on its local affiliate, WNBC) to the intolerant bunch that runs the parade (in 2007 that amount was $300,000) and then helps the organizers sell advertising to major companies. More than that, one of NBC's top executives, a man who aids the organizers in getting those ad dollars, was chosen as this year's Grand Marshal.

And from GLAAD:

Once again this year, New York's NBC Affiliate is airing ... and thereby undoubtedly financially supporting this discriminatory event. In fact, the Grand Marshall of this year's parade is Francis X. Comerford, Chief Revenue Officer and President of WNBC.

The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is a New York tradition. But so is community spirit. So is standing up for your fellow New Yorkers. So is diversity and inclusion. What message is WNBC sending its LGBT and allied viewers?

"The idea that a group of LGBT people aren't allowed to participate in a parade in the middle of New York City in the year 2012 is completely out of touch with a majority of Americans - regardless of ethnicity or religion - and it is frankly indefensible" said GLAAD's Vice President of Programs and Communications, Herndon Graddick. "GLAADwill be requesting to meet with WNBC to ensure that, if such discriminatory practices remain in place, the event isn't one associated with such an important and inclusive media outlet that should represent the full diversity of New York City."

Both Signorile and GLAAD point out that several high-profile guests have in the past turned down invitations to appear in the Hibernians' big green slog, most notably former Irish President Mary McAleese, and Signorile notes that with Comcast's takeover of NBC, even the company broadcasting the parade may well sit the thing out next year. Unless the Hibernians change their minds. 

Posted Mar. 17,2012 at 12:55 PM EST by in Catholic Church, GLAAD, Michelangelo Signorile, New York, Religion | Permalink | Comments (30)

Two Men Kiss, Get Booted From Santorum Rally: VIDEO

Rick Santorum was 15 minutes into his very gloomy speech in the Grace Gym at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, IL, when -- suddenly! From the bleachers!

"Mic check! Mr. Santorum! Mr. Santorum!"

And the crowd's heads turned, and a storm of booing filled the gymnasium's air as two men stood and kissed, rather langurously. The crowd was grossed out. The booing coalesced into a chant of "USA! USA! USA!" as the kissers -- Timothy Tross and Ben Clifford -- were escorted from the building. 

It's unclear if the men are gay, or if they were straights out to make a political point. From the Palatine Patch:

“I don’t think the message should be about what my sexuality is,” Tross said. “It’s the message that he’s saying about sexuality that matters.”

Watch a hunk of Santorum's speech, complete with interruption, AFTER THE JUMP ...


Posted Mar. 17,2012 at 11:04 AM EST by in 99 Percent Movement, Illinois, Occupy Wall Street, Rick Santorum | Permalink | Comments (53)


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