Tuesday, February 07, 2017

News and Pop Culture Round-Up

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Remember When Some People Thought Librarians Were Going to Become Obsolete Because the World of Information Was Migrating to the Web?
Librarians are stepping into the breach to help students become smarter evaluators of the information that floods into their lives. That’s increasingly necessary in an era in which fake news is a constant. Janelle Hagen is a school librarian whose job goes far beyond checking out books. She and many other librarians are equipping students to fight through lies, distortion and trickery to find their way to truth. Helping students become smarter evaluators of the information that floods into their lives has become increasingly necessary in an era in which fake news is a constant. “It was because of all of the buzz (about fake news). You can look at the Google analytics, and the search for ‘fake news’ was unprecedented.“ she said. “It’s our job as teachers to address what’s going on in the world.”

US Senate Confirmed President Trump's Controversial Nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, by Slenderest Possible Margin

Betsy DeVos
US Vice-President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to secure her cabinet role, splitting the chamber 50-50. It was the first time ever that a vice-president has interceded in such a way for a cabinet secretary. Mrs DeVos, a billionaire who has no experience with public schools, faced a rocky confirmation hearing last month. Senate Democrats staged a 24-hour debate into Tuesday to hold up her confirmation. They hoped their all-night speaking marathon would pressure more Republican senators to oppose the nomination, but their efforts were in vain. No Democrats voted in favour of Mrs DeVos. Two Republican senators stood by their plan to oppose her confirmation, leaving the Senate in a deadlock.

RELATED Democrats Focus On Derailing Anti-Gay Betsy DeVos (Trump's Pick For Education Secretary)

After Realizing He Was Gay, Rugby Referee Nigel Owens Asked Doctors to Chemically Castrate Him!

Nigel Owens
In a horrifying revelation by one of the world’s only openly gay professional sport’s referees, Nigel Owens, 45, asked his doctor to chemically castrate him when he realized he was gay. He also revealed that he suffered from bulimia and also attempted suicide as a young adult after describing that his sexuality was “totally alien” to him. Nigel Owens came out of the closet in 2007 at the age of 35. He was the first openly gay referee at the highest level of the game.

“How to Survive a Plague” Being Developed as National Geographic Channel Miniseries

The 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague followed grassroots AIDS activists in the 1980s as they fought for medical treatment and research. In 2016, David France, who directed the Academy Award–nominated film, published a book of the same title, offering a deeper dive into the topic. Now, Variety reports that the National Geographic Channel has announced it is developing the story into a scripted miniseries with producer Scott Rudin.

RELATED David France: Life On The Frontline of the AIDS Epidemic

Think Lady Gaga's Super Bowl Performance Wasn't Political? You Missed the Point

Clearly, many people watching didn't realize that the song "Born This Way" is designed for the LGBTQ community. If you've been to a Pride march in the past four years, you know a thing or two about dancing to "Born This Way" while you're surrounded by a ton of glitter, bare skin, and glorious, rainbow solidarity. Let's just be clear here, though: Performing a song that's so blatantly gay in front of an audience that includes Mike Pence, one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians today, is absolutely political — especially when it contains lyrics like "No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life." (P.S.: According to USA Today, that was "likely" be the first time the word "transgender" was said onstage at a Super Bowl.)

RELATED My Review: Lady Gaga, Woody Guthrie, Politics & Super Bowl LI

Mike and Victor
After shopping around, Mike Cerantola and his fiancé Victor thought they’d finally found the perfect photographer for their November wedding. Cerantola contacted local photography company Premiere Productions to set up a meeting. Things started off fine, until the photographer asked for details about his bride. “I mentioned that there’s only going to be one house since we already live with each other and I said there is no bride. We're two guys.” The photographer responded by email. "I regret that I cannot take this wedding because it is at odds with my personal religious beliefs," he wrote. Cerantola couldn’t believe what he was reading. “I was a little shocked to hear that and this kind of thing has never happened to me before,” he said. According to the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) the photographer’s response is illegal. “You cannot discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation especially in the case of commercial business services available to the public,” said CRARR’s executive director, Fo Niemi. “That's on top of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.” Niemi is encouraging the couple to take legal action. “We have to stop this kind of use of religion as a proxy to promote anti-gay bias,” he said.

Evan Rachel Wood Receives the HRC Visibility Award

The Human Rights Campaign presented actor Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) with the HRC Visibility Award at the 2017 HRC North Carolina Gala. She spoke of the importance of being seen & heard and shared powerful remarks about bisexual visibility. It was a beautiful speech! I was so inspired by her story. She spoke her truth and it was incredibly moving. Bravo, Evan Rachel Wood!

WATCH VIDEO: Evan Rachel Wood Receives the HRC Visibility Award