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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NEWS & POP CULTURE

Dick Cheney indicted for "organized criminal activity"

A Texas grand jury has charged US Vice-President Dick Cheney for "organized criminal activity" related to alleged abuse of private prison inmates. The indictment says Mr Cheney - who has invested $85m in a company that holds shares in for-profit prisons - conspired to block an investigation. The indictment has not been seen by a judge, who could dismiss it. Mr Cheney's spokeswoman declined to comment, saying his office had not yet received a copy of the charges. One Texas lawyer said the charges were politically motivated. The indictment was overseen by county District Attorney Juan Guerra, an outgoing prosecutor at the end of his term of office. He cites the case of Gregorio De La Rosa, who died on 26 April, 2001 inside a private prison in Willacy County, Texas. The grand jury in Willacy County, near the US-Mexico border, accuses Mr Cheney of committing "at least misdemeanour assaults" of inmates by allowing other inmates to assault them. It said there was a "direct conflict of interest" because Mr Cheney had influence over federal contracts awarded to prison companies. US grand juries weigh evidence to decide whether a case is worthy of being sent for a full trial, before issuing formal charges known as indictments.

India 'sinks Somali pirate ship'

An Indian navy warship has destroyed a suspected Somali pirate vessel after it came under attack in the Gulf of Aden. INS Tabar sank the pirate "mother ship" after it failed to stop for investigation and opened fire instead, an Indian navy statement said. There has been a surge in piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia. The latest attack came days after the Saudi-owned Sirius Star supertanker and its 25 crew were seized by pirates and anchored off the Somali coast. Vela International, operators of the Sirius Star, told the BBC no demands had yet been received from the pirates. The biggest tanker ever hijacked, Sirius Star is carrying a cargo of two million barrels of oil - a quarter of Saudi Arabia's daily output - worth more than $100 million.

John Barrowman: I fantasize about boy band singer, Gary Barlow

John Barrowman has revealed that he often fantasises about Gary Barlow. The Torchwood star recently recorded 'What About Us?', a song written by the Take That singer, for his new album. "I was ecstatic when the record company found the song for me. It was always on my wish list to have an original track written by Gary Barlow," he told Digital Spy. Barrowman also revealed that he would love to record with Take That, saying: "Hell yeah! That would be the most wicked sixsome I've ever been involved in." However, he admitted to having a particular soft spot for one member of the group. "I have to say my favourite is Gary Barlow. I have a fantasy involving Gary Barlow, an elevator and a lot of other things," he said. John Barrowman's new album Music Music Music will be released in the UK on November 24th.

Commentary: Gay men need to face self-hate head on

Why are gay men sometimes so horrible, mean and stupid, to me, to everyone and to each other? It seems as though too many of us hate ourselves, really hate ourselves. Despite all our progress, our gay marriage and Pride parades, too many of us still take self-destructive and foolish risks, too many act as if we think we are worthless pieces of shit.
Peter Bochove, activist and co-owner of Toronto bathhouse Spa Excess, says the root of the problem of poor self-worth is the messages young people get, particularly those who grow up in small towns. "The big cities may be better but those small towns can be pretty awful for gay kids and it does a lot of damage to them when they are most vulnerable," he says. "The result is poor self-esteem that manifests itself in all sorts of unpleasant ways ranging from risky to outright suicidal behaviour. Some people take risks because they don't care about themselves while others do things certain to ruin their lives because they loathe themselves." READ MORE

Long-lost primate discovered in Indonesia

A team led by a Texas A&M University anthropologist has discovered a group of primates not seen alive in 85 years. The pygmy tarsiers, furry Furby-like, or gremlin-looking, creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than two ounces, have not been observed since they were last collected for a museum in 1921. Several scientists believed they were extinct until two Indonesian scientists trapping rats in the highlands of Sulawesi accidentally trapped and killed a pygmy tarsier in 2000. Sharon Gursky-Doyen, working with one of her graduate students, Nanda Grow, and a team of locals trapped three of the nocturnal creatures in Indonesia in late August. The pygmy tarsiers possess fingers with claws instead of nails, which Gursky-Doyen says is a distinguishing feature of this species, and distinguishes them from nearly all other primates which have nails and not claws. The claws may be an adaptation to the mossy environment, she believes. READ MORE

Florida anti-gay amendment ratified

(Tallahassee, Florida) Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning has formally ratified results of Florida’s general election, including Amendment 2, which limits marriage to opposite-sex couples and bans civil unions. But the final figures released by Browning show that the measure passed with less than a two percent plurality. The official count was 4,890,883 to 3,008,026. That was 61.9 percent of the vote for the amendment. Florida requires that constitutional amendments must have more than 60 percent to be approved. In addition to banning gay marriage and civil unions, the amendment also could be used to deny partner benefits to unmarried couples who live together. The amendment says, “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.” Florida already had a law restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples, but supporters of the amendment said the law could be overturned in court. The state was one of three this month that approved constitutional bans on gay marriage. The others were California, where same-sex marriage had been legal, and Arizona.

Obama picks first African-American attorney general

(Washington) US president-elect Barack Obama has named longtime lawyer Eric Holder to be attorney general, which if confirmed would make him the first African-American ever to hold the post, US media said Tuesday. Holder, who served as deputy attorney general under former president Bill Clinton, has accepted Obama's invitation to head the Justice Department, Newsweek magazine said, citing legal sources close to the presidential transition. Obama's transition team did not immediately comment on the report, which was later confirmed by NBC news. "Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted," Newsweek said, adding that "the announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments." Holder would face Senate confirmation hearings in order to officially take on the post, which would put him at the head of the Justice Department as the US government's chief law enforcement officer. "He was on the short list from the beginning and obvious choice," Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff told CNN. "Also, a symbolic choice. This will be the first, he will be the first African-American to head the Justice Department, and that's a pretty big deal in its own right." Holder 57, is a partner in the Washington law firm of Covington and Burling. He has served as a superior court judge in the nation's capital and was named the capital's US attorney by former president Clinton before taking the post of deputy attorney general under Janet Reno in 1997. MORE


  • Proposed Chicago gay school retooled
  • Somali pirate attacks 'out of control': Maritime watchdog
  • Ukraine celebs back gay-bashing "traditional love" campaign
  • Clinton lawyers vetting her for secretary of state
  • Anti-gay Alaskan Senator, Ted Stevens loses re-election bid
  • Admirals, generals call for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
  • Gay marriage throughout New England by 2012?
  • Al-Qaeda message condemns Obama via audio message
  • Sweden removes transvestism and other 'sexual behaviours' from list of diseases


    • The Simpsons outs macho character as gay in latest show

      Long-running TV comedy show The Simpsons has revealed that the character of Duffman is gay. The revelation comes in the latest episode of the programme, now in its 20th series. Sweet Conclusions follows Homer as he sets up a business breaking up with people on behalf of his clients. The episode marks the return of two gay men that Homer once shared a flat with during a short break from Marge, Grady and Julio. Duffman is a spokesperson for Duff beer, and his catchphrase "Ooh Yeah!" is a favourite with fans. The character is based on Budweiser's former mascot Bud Man.

      Hugh Jackman to 'STAR' again on Broadway?

      As rumored a number of months ago by the New York Post's Michael Riedel, it looks like Hugh Jackman might indeed be planning to make his return to both New York City and the Broadway stage. Over the years the film and stage superstar rented various homes for he and his family, until now...could this mean he will tread the boards again in the whispered about 'A Star Is Born' musical? The "Boy From Oz" has decided to set up shop overseas for a while, after purchasing a reported multi-million Manhattan apartment reports the Perth Now website "Perth Confidential". A spokeswoman for the Australia star confirmed to the website that he had bought the stunning apartment in one of New York's most sought after buildings, the Meier Towers. Currently renting a house in Woollahra, Perth Confidential understands the X-Men Origins actor plans to move his wife Deborra-Lee Furness and children Oscar and Ava to the Big Apple next year to start work on the new Broadway musical 'A Star Is Born'. However, Jackman has not officially announced plans to play the main role of Norman Maine in the stage show adaptation of the classic 1937 film.

      Commentary: Building bridges in the wake of Prop. 8

      As a society we can look at the election of Barack Obama as a symbol of racial equality. But the man and the campaign he ran are about far more than his racial background. Let’s model his even-tempered, thoughtful approach -- his civility in the face of cruelty, his graceful composure in the face of conflict, his ability to reach toward those who opposed him and understand how working with them can further common goals. For within the community of humanity -- in general and specifically -- that is what this crisis requires right now. There’s always a tendency for people to create little fiefdoms of belief. I believe x, so this is my camp. You believe y, so that is your camp. Within the Prop. 8 debate, such fiefdoms threaten the entire movement. The bedrock of fiefdoms is made up of hardened prejudices that create enemies, not allies. "I’m a gay white male and I think African-American churchgoers are ignorant and extremely homophobic," or "I’m a transgender African-American and I think gay white males are all inherently racist." Thus everything said or done is perceived through this filter and accepted as truth. Us vs. them. It’s dogmatic and shortsighted to continue to think this way. There’s no openness, no space for dialogue. There’s only media-fueled finger-pointing. It’s like that moment when your parent looks at you and says, “You know better.” READ MORE

      Remember the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier as a result of cyber-bullying? The court case has now begun

      Initial jury selection has begun in the trial of a Missouri woman alleged to have used a fake MySpace profile to bully a girl who later killed herself. Lori Drew, 49, allegedly posed as a boy on the website to befriend Megan Meier, 13, who hanged herself after the "boy" broke off the virtual relationship. Ms Drew denies charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorisation. The trial is being seen as a landmark case concerning internet law. Megan, a neighbour of Ms Drew in St Louis and a former friend of her daughter, took her own life in October 2006. It is alleged that she killed herself after receiving several cruel messages from a fictitious 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans, including one saying the world would be better off without her. Prosecutors say Ms Drew and several others created the boy on MySpace, the social networking website, after Megan Meier fell out with her daughter. Ms Drew is being charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act - usually used against computer hackers, as prosecutors were unable to find any existing laws within the state of Missouri under which she could be tried. Each of the four counts against Ms Drew carries a maximum five-year jail term. She is not being charged over Megan's death itself and District Judge George Wu had considered excluding evidence of the suicide from the trial, to avoid prejudicing the defence case. READ MORE

      Palahniuk: It was easy to hand over 'Choke'

      [Out gay writer] Chuck Palahniuk has revealed that he found it easy to hand over the Choke film rights to first-time director Clark Gregg. The Fight Club author said that he had no trepidation in letting Gregg adapt the book because he never expected the film version to go into production. He explained: "At the time [Clark] bought the option he had just gotten his first screenplay produced and that was What Lies Beneath. That turned out so well, and people were so impressed by it, that it was kind of easy to hand off and see what he would do with it. "Also part of you doesn't expect it will ever go into production. So, it's kind of easy because you think it's never going to happen, so why not?" Palahniuk added that he was not concerned that his original story would be drastically changed while going through the Hollywood system. He said: "You know, that's less of a possibility now because thanks to David Fincher being so faithful to Fight Club, the book had such a passionate following that I think people recognise that if they monkey with the story too much it is going to p*** off the existing audience for that story and they don't want to do that."

      2008 AfterElton Visibility Awards: Nominations Now Open!

      Two years ago we started the AfterElton.com Visibility Awards to recognize the best in gay representation across a wide-spectrum of pop culture including television, movies, music, and books. And we also selected the AfterElton.com Man of the Year to recognize a gay or bisexual man who made a significant contribution to gay visibility. Our winner in 2006 was CNN anchor Thomas Roberts in recognition of his becoming the highest profile out newsman in the country. And in 2007 we chose Silvio Horta, the executive producer of Ugly Betty, for his work in making his show one of the most gay-friendly on television. This year, however, we’ve decided to let you do the choosing. And not just for Man of the Year. You’re going to get to select the winners in sixteen different categories ranging from Outstanding TV Drama to Favorite Lesbian to our Straight Ally of the Year. This will be a two-part process. Until November 26th, you can enter one nominee in each category per ballot. More info here.

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