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News and Pop Culture Roundup

Gay Basketball Hero, John Amaechi, Says Clubs, Not Fans, Are To Blame for Homophobia in Sport

"Former NBA star John Amaechi has said it is coaches, executives and club owners who are to blame for homophobia in football," reports UK Pink News. Amaechi was responding to PR advisor Max Clifford's comments earlier this week that "vicious" homophobic fans were the reason why so few gay sportsmen were willing to come out. There are no out gay premiership footballers. The only one to ever come out, Justin Fashanu, was severely bullied and later killed himself. Amaechi, who came out at the end of his career and is the only basketball player in the history of the NBA to do so, told PinkNews.co.uk that he believed the problem was caused by "woeful" leadership in sport and the under-resourcing of initiatives such as Kick It Out. He said: "The coaches, administrators and owners of our major sports and their governing bodies struggle to handle the idea of women in their board rooms and black people coaching their teams, never mind a gay person on their pitch. Read more at UK Pink News.


Here's 'The Situation' -- Dude Was a Stripper

Before "The Situation" took his shirt off on "Jersey Shore" -- dude used to take his pants off for anyone willing to shove a dollar in his banana hammock. TMZ has learned The Situation -- aka Mike Sorrentino -- was a member of the "All American Male" exotic dancer crew back before his reality show days. We're told The Situation worked for the group -- which gyrates from New York to New Jersey -- back in 2004. These photos were taken at a bachelorette party -- we're told The Sitch gave a "great lap dance." More at TMZ.


Percy Sutton, Attorney for Malcolm X, Dead at 89

Percy Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X before launching successful careers as a political power broker and media mogul, died Saturday at age 89. Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, confirmed Sutton's death. She did not know the cause. His daughter, Cheryl Sutton, declined to comment when reached by phone at her New York City home on Saturday before midnight. The son of a slave, Percy Sutton became a fixture on 125th Street in Harlem after moving to New York City following his service with the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. His Harlem law office, founded in 1953, represented Malcolm X and the slain activist's family for decades. READ MORE


Pregnant Soldiers in War Zone Won't Be Punished

A controversial policy that put pregnant soldiers in war zones at risk of discipline will be rescinded under an order from the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Gen. Raymond Odierno has drafted a broad new policy for the U.S. forces in Iraq that will take effect Jan. 1, and that order will not include a pregnancy provision that one of his subordinate commanders enacted last month, according to the U.S. military command in Iraq. Odierno's order comes about a week after the pregnancy policy issued by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo triggered a storm of criticism. Cucolo had issued a policy that would permit the punishment of soldiers who become pregnant and their sexual partners. (AP)


Iowa 2010: The Looming War Over Gay Marriage

In 2010, one of the biggest political fights in Iowa history: The War Over Gay Marriage. In April, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Same-sex marriage became legal three weeks later. Social conservatives, outraged by the court decision, demand the opportunity to vote on the issue. The Democrat-controlled Iowa Legislature refuses. For the court ruling to be overturned, an amendment must be approved by two consecutive general assemblies before it can be sent to Iowa voters. Republicans are vowing to make same sex marriage the top issue in Iowa in 2010. Democrats hold large majorities in the Iowa House and Senate, but voter wrath could change that in 2010. READ MORE


Eastern European Gay Rights Group Raided by Police
The Inclusive Foundation, a gay rights group based in the eastern European country of Georgia, was raided by police earlier this month and its leader arrested. The foundation is the Georgian member organisation of ILGA-Europe, a European NGO working for gay and lesbian rights. According to Inclusive Foundation, the December 15th raid was carried out unlawfully. It said that the five armed police officers did not wear uniforms, provided no search warrant, did not identify themselves and did not explain the reason for the raid. A statement from the foundation read: "Members of the LGBT community were present in the office during the raid for a regular meeting of the Women’s Club. The men confiscated cell phones of all those present in the office, did not allow them to contact their families, and made degrading and humiliating remarks, such as ‘perverts’, ‘sick persons’, Satanists. Read more at UK Pink News.


Nigerian Charged with Trying to Blow Up U.S. Jet

A Nigerian man who said he had links to al Qaeda was charged on Saturday with trying to blow up a U.S. passenger plane with high explosives as it prepared to land in Detroit, U.S. officials said. The suspect, who was being treated for extensive burns at a Michigan hospital, was overpowered by passengers and crew on the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam. The passengers, two of whom suffered minor injuries, disembarked safely from the Delta Air Lines plane. "We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism," a White House official told Reuters. The Justice Department identified the suspect as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, from Nigeria, and said he had been charged with attempting to blow up the plane by setting alight an explosive device that was attached to his body. The charges were read to Abdulmutallab during a hearing at the hospital, where he appeared in a wheelchair. Another hearing will be held on Monday in federal court in Detroit and bail will not be considered until January 8, 2010. READ MORE


Father of Would-Be Plane Bomber Warned U.S.

U.S. government officials tell The Associated Press that the Nigerian man charged with trying to destroy a jetliner came to the attention of U.S. intelligence in November when his father went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to express his concerns about his son. A congressional official said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, popped up in U.S. intelligence reports about four weeks ago as having a connection to both al-Qaida and Yemen. Another government official said Abdulmutallab's father went to the embassy in Abuja with his concerns, but did not have any specific information that would put him on the "no-fly list" or on the list for additional security checks at the airport. (AP)


After United 93, Air Travelers React to Threats
They heard a pop that sounded like fireworks. They saw a glow of flame followed by a rush of smoke. And that was enough for passengers on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to pounce. From several seats away, Dutch tourist Jasper Schuringa says he jumped to extinguish a fire ignited by a quiet man who just moments before allegedly told passengers his stomach was upset and pulled a blanket over himself. Schuringa said his first thought wasn't to signal a flight attendant or wait for an air marshal to break cover, but rather, "He's trying to blow up the plane." "I basically reacted directly," Schuringa said Saturday in an interview with CNN. "I didn't think. I just jumped. I just went over there and tried to save the plane." READ MORE


Further Progress Toward AIDS Vaccine: Rabies-Virus Vaccine Protects Monkeys

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University are one step closer to developing a vaccine against the AIDS disease. Led by Matthias J. Schnell, Ph.D., director of the Jefferson Vaccine Center, the researchers found that a rabies virus-based vaccine administered to monkeys protected against the simian equivalent of the HIV virus (SIV). The data were published in the journal Vaccine. READ MORE



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