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Saturday, August 30, 2008

NEWS & POP CULTURE

Straight Firefighters sue over taunts at Pride Parade:
Four straight San Diego firefighters who were required to participate in the 2007 San Diego pride parade will soon be able to argue their sexual harassment case in front of a jury. San Diego Fire-Rescue Department captain John Ghiotto, engineer Jason Hewett, and firefighters Chad Allison and Alex Kane told KGTV that "during the parade, bystanders taunted them with sexually explicit comments and colleagues called to tease them for participating in the event.” SDFD spokesman Maurice Luque said the men were called in after another crew, which volunteered to participate, canceled at the last minute because one firefighter had a family emergency, reported KGTV. "I was forced into a situation that would compromise what I hold true and what I believe in," Hewett said.

Melissa Etheridge participating in "Stand Up to Cancer" charity event: "Cancer's something that will stop you right in your tracks," said Etheridge, who is one of the many celebrities making an appearance in the upcoming Stand Up to Cancer charity event. "It stops you and life is just like a wave ... right over you. All those things that seemed so important, all those things you stressed about all day long, they just disappear and you're left with yourself and your love of life." Her words of advice: "I want people to know that cancer's not the end ... [it] can be a gift," she said. "Cancer can just be a little awakening."

Florida anti-gay amendment may face defeat this November: A proposed amendment to Florida’s constitution that would limit marriage to people of the opposite-sex could be in for a rough ride at the polls this November a new survey of likely voters shows. The Mason-Dixon poll, taken for The Orlando Sentinel, shows that 57 percent of voters support the amendment while 36 percent said they intend to vote against it. Florida’s constitution requires a 60 percent majority to amend the document. With a four percent margin of error in the poll results are too close to say the amendment is likely to be defeated, but most political analysts say usually such voter initiatives start out with a large percentage which becomes whittled down as opponents make voters aware of the issues and consequences. The issue likely will be determined by the seven percent who said they were undecided. A broad coalition of LGBT groups and their allies say they are mounting a massive campaign to defeat the amendment.

Daddy Yankee comes out... As a young Republican and for McCain: For those of you who have secretly harbored fantasies involving Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican gangsta rap and reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee—and we know you are out there—take note. The Latin American superstar comes out as a proud young Republican and major supporter of John McCain. Newsweek catches up with McCain, Daddy Yankee and hundreds of screaming girls (and boys no doubt) on the campaign trail. MORE

Drew Lachey to host Broadway season kickoff: Drew Lachey will play host to some 50,000 fans expected flock into Times Square on Sept. 14 to kick off the new Broadway season that will find Katie Holmes, Daniel Radcliffe and Haley Joel Osment coming to the Great White Way. The second-season Dancing with the Stars champ, currently appearing in the Tony-winning musical spoof Monty Python's Spamalot, will be joined by other stars for the free Broadway on Broadway 2008 concert, according to the event's organizers, the Broadway League and the Times Square Alliance, and its presenter, Continental Airlines. "I am delighted to be a part of the Broadway community and I love this great city," Lachey, who previously costarred in the New York production of Rent, said in a statement. "I look forward to showing the Broadway fans from New York and around the world just what we have to offer."

Lesbian senator calls for same-sex marriage in Australia: Louise Pratt, the first member of the Australian parliament to have a trans partner, also spoke about the discrimination trans people face. She was elected to represent Western Australia in the Senate. Still just 36, she is a rising star of the Australian Labour party, and showed in her speech this week that she is not afraid to defy the leadership. Pratt said: "I fought against Western Australia’s homophobic laws—laws that not only reflected but fostered prejudice by discriminating against young gays, same-sex couples and their families... I look forward to a time when we will have removed at a federal level all discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexuality... to a time when my friends’ children all enjoy the same rights and protections under Commonwealth law regardless of whether their parents are straight or gay, to a time when, if my gay friends wish to be legally married, they can be." FULL SPEECH HERE

American troops join Canadian forces in Kandahar province: About 800 American troops will be helping Canadian forces in the fight against Taliban insurgents in Kandahar province, military officials announced Saturday. U.S. Lt.-Col. Dan Hurlbut said the Americans have been scoping out the area for a few weeks. Maywand is considered a dangerous place, overrun by the Taliban, and NATO troops haven't spent much time in the area. "Our initial impression is there are some folks who are happy to see us. There are other folks who are probably reluctant, at best, because of the Taliban presence that's been there for so long," Hurlbut said.

Johnny Depp gives his inner rock star a workout: Johnny Depp went back to one of his first loves – playing the guitar – at a benefit concert in Pompano Beach, Fla., Friday night. The Oscar nominee played a 90-minute set with his bandmates from The Kids, a power-pop group formed in 1978 when Depp was a South Florida high schooler, at the 2,800-seat Club Cinema. Last year, Depp reunited with his band for a similar gig, held in honor of the band’s late manager, Sheila Witkin, with proceeds donated to the Dan Marino Foundation. The former Miami Dolphin football player's charity funds programs for children with special needs – including the Marino Autism Research Institute. Marino's 17-year-old son Michael has autism.

Belgian married gay couple jailed in Senegal for "acts against nature":
A 61-year-old Belgian and his 63-year-old Senegalese husband have been sentenced to two years in jail for "homosexual marriage and acts against nature." The couple, Richard Lambot and Moustapha Gueye, were married in Belgium in July and then returned to Africa. "To help Moustapha Gueye get papers to live in Belgium, Richard Lambot married him," Lawyer Seyni Ndione told the Herald Sun. While gay marriage is legal in Belgium, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years in Senegal. While there are occasional arrests and convictions of gay men, social stigma and blackmail are the most prevalent abuses faced.

Exploring the function of sleep:
Is sleep essential? Ask that question to a sleep-deprived new parent or a student who has just pulled an "all-nighter," and the answer will be a grouchy, "Of course!" But to a sleep scientist, the question of what constitutes sleep is so complex that scientists are still trying to define the essential function of something we do every night. MORE


Michael Phelps and other medalists to appear on Oprah: Gold medalists Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Kobe Bryant and 150 other U.S. Olympic team members join the queen of TV, Oprah Winfrey on the Sept. 8th. Winfrey's company, Harpo Productions, calls the episode a "welcome-home celebration." Also on the bill for the special show: beach volleyball gold medal team members Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh; gold medal basketball players Carmelo Anthony, Lisa Leslie and Dwyane Wade; and silver medal swimmer Dara Torres.

Did Michael Phelps get a gold medal for a race he lost?: In his next-to-last medal race, the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps trailed Milorad Cavic all the way to the wall. Nobody who saw the race in real time, including Phelps' mother, thought he had won. Yet the scoreboard showed him beating Cavic by one-hundredth of a second. "The scoreboard said I got my hand on the wall first," Phelps declared afterward. Sorry, but none of these assurances holds water. The scoreboard doesn't tell you which swimmer arrived, touched, or got his hand on the wall first. It tells you which swimmer, in the milliseconds after touching the wall, applied enough force to trigger an electronic touch pad. As to whether Phelps touched first, there's plenty of unresolved doubt. MORE

Hollywood private dick to the stars found guilty of wiretapping: Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano has been convicted by a jury of wiretapping and conspiracy to commit wiretapping. The conviction Friday relates to the secret tapping of phone conversations of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian. MGM executive Kerkorian was alleged to have asked for an investigation of his ex-wife in an effort to prove he was not the father of her daughter. Entertainment lawyer Terry Christensen was convicted of aiding and abetting a wiretap. Pellicano — who dug up dirt to use in lawsuits, divorces and contract disputes brought against his wealthy and occasionally famous clients — was convicted in May on 76 out of 77 charges of racketeering after a trial that exposed the seamy underside to Hollywood. He was accused of wiretapping stars such as Sylvester Stallone, and running the names of others, including as Gary Shandling and Kevin Nealon, through law enforcement databases in an effort to get dirt on them. Fourteen other Hollywood figures, including entertainment lawyers, were also charged. Pellicano, 64 will be sentenced Nov. 17 and could face up to 10 years in prison on the fresh conviction.

Barack Obama makes gay history:
In his speech Thursday night centered around renewing America’s promise, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made perhaps the strongest statement of support for gays and lesbians in this country’s political history, rousing a crowd of some 84,000 at Denver’s Invesco Field to cheers and bringing the cause of equality straight into the homes of middle America. “I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination,” the Illinois senator said on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address. The affirmation came as Obama accepted his party’s nomination for president, in a passage where he squarely took on the Republican values triumvirate of God, guns, and gays. He started with a woman’s right to choose. “We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country,” Obama declared. Gun control was next: “The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gun violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the 2nd Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.” Then came the line about gays, which drew the loudest reaction of the three. MORE

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