Tuesday, September 15, 2009

News and Pop Culture

Cleveland City Council pledges $700,000 for 2014 Gay Games

The Cleveland City Council on Monday pledged $700,000 to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission to help the city’s bid to land the 2014 Gay Games. The news, first reported by Spangle Magazine, should provide a boost to Cleveland as it competes against Boston and Washington DC for the Games. The Federation of Gay Games will award the bid at its meeting in Cologne, Germany, on Sept. 29. “We’re showing in good faith that we want to bring the Gay Games here and are willing to put up some cash,” Tracey Nichols, Mayor Frank Jackson’s economic development director, said. “We need to show that this is a strong commitment.” Read more at Outsports.

Out actress, Kelly McGillis joins cast of vampire film, Stake Land

Top Gun star Kelly McGillis, who came out in an interview with SheWired.com in April, reportedly has joined the cast of Stake Land, a vampire road movie directed by Jim Mickle. Horror aficionado site Bloody Disgusting described the film, written by Mickle and Nick Damici, as “a post-apocalyptic vampire story in the style of The Grapes of Wrath." “McGillis plays a nun who joins a small team of survivors (including Damici, Danielle Harris of Rob Zombie's Halloween and Halloween 2 remakes, and Conor Paolo of Gossip Girl) as they make a treacherous journey north to safety through the war-torn United States," reported the website. "McGillis's character, Sister, faces a crisis of faith during the vampire bloodshed, ultimately taking up arms to do battle with her newly formed family unit.” The project from Glass Eye Pix and Dark Sky Films is currently shooting in Pennsylvania and New York.

Never-before-seen photos of Jackie O.

Just days before the Sept. 12 anniversary of Jacqueline Bouvier marrying into the Kennedy clan in 1953, LIFE.com has unearthed a series of never-before-seen photos of the first lady of Camelot. The stunning pictures range from a scene of the chaos of her wedding day to candid shots of Jackie during husband John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign and her state visits abroad as the wife of the leader of the free world. In one eerily prescient photo, she wears a pillbox hat as her husband waves to crowds in a convertible car. To see the collection go to LIFE.com.

Indonesian rights groups condemn new laws, including 400 lashes for homosexual sex

Indonesian rights activists condemned as "cruel and degrading" Tuesday a new Islamic law calling for adulterers to be stoned to death in the country's staunchly conservative Aceh province. The law -- which also allows punishments of up to 400 lashes for offences including rape, the consumption of alcohol, homosexual sex and gambling -- was passed Monday by lawmakers in the region at the northern tip of Sumatra island. The law replaces elements of Indonesia's criminal code with sharia, or Islamic law, for Muslims. It allows the death penalty for married people and 100 lashes for unmarried people found guilty in cases of adultery. "The laws that have been approved in Aceh are cruel and degrading to humanity," National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) head Ifdhal Kasim told AFP. The law went against the secular basis of Indonesia, and the rights group is appealing to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to review the legislation, Kasim said. "This will bring Aceh back to the past. Throwing stones is like Aceh in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries," Kasim said, adding the law would likely embolden conservatives pushing for sharia on a national level. Read more at AFP.

Norma Rae inspiration dies at 68

The woman who inspired the 1979 film Norma Rae, about a fight to unionize a Southern textile plant, has lost her battle with cancer. Crystal Lee Sutton died Friday of brain cancer in Burlington, N.C., according to her son Jay Jordan. She was 68. She was the woman who led the fight in the 1970s to unionize the JP Stevens plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., in the face of a virulently anti-union company. The workers there had faced years of low wages and dangerous conditions. The film Norma Rae earned an Oscar for Sally Field as the worker turned organizer, and was nominated for a best picture Oscar. It took years for JP Stevens to agree to a contract. Sutton went on to be a labour organizer. She was certified as a nursing assistant, but had not been able to work for several years. In her final years she was engaged in a battle with her health services organization, which refused to approve her treatment for her cancer. She told the Burlington, N.C. Times News this was the kind of inequity the working poor face in the U.S. health-care system. (CBC)

Minorities make up half of DADT firings

Nonwhite military personnel are more likely than their white counterparts to be discharged under the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" law, according to information obtained by Servicemembers United. While racial minorities account for approximately 29% of active service members, according to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, about 45% of the 640 men and women discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" in fiscal year 2008 were nonwhite. Read more at Advocate.

'Desperate Housewives' actress, Kathryn Joosten has lung cancer

Kathryn Joosten, better known to TV audiences as Desperate Housewives‘ Mrs. McCluskey, has lung cancer, People.com reports. The two-time Emmy winner received the diagnosis less than a week ago, a recurrence of the lung cancer she battled in 2001. “I’ve got a little hang up here,” she said of the battle she faces. “But we’re going to handle it and move forward. I’m doing great.” The 69-year-old, who also played Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing, says her treatment may disrupt shooting on the ABC series.

Widespread occurrence of intersex fish found in U.S. rivers

Intersex in smallmouth and largemouth basses is widespread in numerous river basins throughout the United States is the major finding of the most comprehensive and large-scale evaluation of the condition, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research published online in Aquatic Toxicology. Of the 16 fish species researchers examined from 1995 to 2004, the condition was most common by far in smallmouth and largemouth bass: a third of all male smallmouth bass and a fifth of all male largemouth bass were intersex. This condition is primarily revealed in male fish that have immature female egg cells in their testes, but occasionally female fish will have male characteristics as well. Scientists found intersex fish in about a third of all sites examined from the Apalachicola, Colorado, Columbia, Mobile, Mississippi, Pee Dee, Rio Grande, Savannah, and Yukon River basins. The Yukon River basin was the only one where researchers did not find at least one intersex fish. Read more at Science Daily.

Legendary 92-year-old singer, Vera Lynn, tops U.K. album charts

The voice that charmed British soldiers during the Second World War is back at the top of the charts. Vera Lynn, now 92, has a No. 1 record in Britain with her We'll Meet Again — The Very Best of Vera Lynn. The album, with hits such as We'll Meet Again and (There'll be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover, beat even the remastered Beatles albums that were issued last week. She is the oldest living artist ever to top the U.K.'s album charts and her success falls 70 years after Britain's entry into the Second World War. Lynn said she was "absolutely staggered, considering the record was made 70 years ago." Known as the "Forces Sweetheart," she spent the war years keeping spirits up among British soldiers with her wartime BBC radio show, Sincerely Yours, and live appearances for the services around the world. Lynn said she has no plans to return to singing. British music writer John Aizlewood attributed Lynn's resurgence to "pensioner power" and a longing for simplicity and old-fashioned values. An HMV spokesman predicted the album would also sell well at Christmas. The Fab Four are also moving up the charts with their remastered music. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band reached the highest position at No. 5, followed by Abbey Road at six, Revolver in ninth place and Rubber Soul at 10. (CBC)