Wednesday, September 23, 2009

News and Pop Culture Round-Up

LL Cool J, and Chili Peppers could be inducted into Rock Hall of Fame

LL Cool J [pictured], Kiss and the Red Hot Chili Peppers could be among next year's inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are part of an eclectic group of 12 acts in contention for the 2010 class. Other first-time nominees include Genesis, Jimmy Cliff, The Hollies and songwriter Laura Nyro. Some of the names on the ballot have been there before — Donna Summer, Darlene Love, ABBA, the Chantels, and the Stooges. Only five acts make it in. The 25th annual induction ceremony is slated for March 15 in New York City. The inductees will be announced in December. (AP)

Openly gay members of U.S Congress, Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin push for ENDA in Washington

Two openly gay members of Congress on Wednesday urged their colleagues to pass a sweeping job discrimination bill that would – for the first time – protect gays and transsexuals from workplace bias. The testimony from Reps. Barney Frank [pictured], D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., comes as supporters of the measure believe Congress is closer than ever to banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Frank told the House Education and Labor Committee that opponents of the bill often accuse the gay rights community of pushing a “radical agenda.” “Trying to get a job or join the military has not been the hallmark of radicalism,” he said. Baldwin, whose home state of Wisconsin was the first to pass a law protecting gay employees from bias in 1982, said it was time “to bring our laws in line with the reality of American life.” The Employment Nondiscrimination Act would ban employers from making any decisions about hiring, firing, promotions or pay based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It would exempt the military, religious groups and businesses with fewer than 15 employees. Opponents complain some of the bill’s language is too murky. It offers protection based on “perceived” sexual orientation and for workers who have “undergone” or are “undergoing” gender transition without defining those terms. Read more at

TMZ: Megan Mullally injured in car accident

We've learned Megan Mullally was injured in a car wreck last week -- forcing her to cancel two performances of a play she's currently starring in. Cops tell us the former "Will and Grace" star was involved in a two car accident at around noon last Wednesday in Beverly Hills. We're told both parties complained of minor injuries -- cops say they have yet to determine who's at fault. Mullally's injuries caused her to cancel Thursday and Friday's performances of her play "The Receptionist" at the Odyssey in Los Angeles -- but she was back on stage by Saturday ... accompanied by a brace on her wrist. Lucky for Mullally, the play is currently on hiatus until October 3.

Over a third of New Zealanders say homosexuality is 'morally wrong'

A small survey of New Zealand residents has found that 39 per cent believe homosexuality is morally wrong. The research was carried out by UMR, which conducted telephone interviews with 750 people. Women and young people were found to more likely to say homosexuality was morally acceptable. Sixty-nine per cent of women said it was, compared to 53 per cent of men. It was also found that 71 per cent of those under 44 years of age had liberal views on homosexuality but only 41 per cent of those over 60 felt the same. Other findings of the survey showed that 52 per cent of people thought wearing fur was morally unacceptable. Cloning humans was found to be the most contentious issue, with only seven per cent of respondents saying it was acceptable. (Pink News)

Dust storm shrouds Sydney, Australia

Australia's worst dust storm in 70 years blanketed the heavily populated east coast Wednesday in a cloud of red Outback grit, nearly closed the country's largest airport and left millions of people coughing and sputtering in the streets. No one was hurt as a result of the pall that swept in overnight, bringing an eerie orange dawn to Sydney, but ambulance services reported a spike in emergency calls from people with breathing difficulties, and police warned drivers to take it easy on the roads. Dust clouds blowing east from Australia's dry interior — parched even further by the worst drought on record — covered dozens of towns and cities in two states as strong winds snatched up tons of topsoil, threw it high into the sky and carried it hundreds of miles (kilometers). Read more at AP.

The View's Joy Behar: Let Elton John and his partner adopt

Sure, Elton John may be gay, but he's also a renowned musician, a celebrated humanitarian, and has been knighted by the Queen of England. In fact, for some people he is the Queen of England. Plus, there's no downside to gay adoption. In the United States, organizations like the National Adoption Center, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all agree that having homosexual parents does not negatively affect children. But you know what does negatively affect children? Growing up with no parents. So now 14-month-old Lev is stuck in some depressing orphanage that makes Guantanamo Bay look like the presidential suite at the Waldorf. He'll likely end up in foster homes and -- if he lives long enough -- maybe he can turn into a bitter, vodka-swilling drunk. All because the Ukrainian government won't let him be adopted by two loving gay parents who are fabulously rich and want to give him a home with the best healthcare available, dressed in Versace jammies and cashmere Huggies. READ MORE.

HIV uses several strategies to escape immune pressure

A study of how HIV mutates in response to immune system pressure by Emory Vaccine Center researchers shows that the virus can take several escape routes, not one preferred route. The results are online and scheduled for publication in the September issue of the journal Public Library of Science Pathogens. The human immune system has the ability to temporarily overpower HIV in early infection. Recent research has shown that most newly infected patients develop neutralizing antibodies. These are blood proteins that glob onto the virus and would allow patients to defend themselves – if they were facing only one target. The problem: HIV's ability to mutate, disguising itself enough to get away from the antibodies. HIV eventually wears down the immune system into exhaustion. The Emory team's results suggest that if researchers succeed in identifying a vaccine component that can stimulate neutralizing antibodies, HIV's capacity for rapid mutation could still be a confounding factor. Read more at Science Daily.

John Travolta recounts son's death at Bahamas extortion trial

John Travolta said Wednesday he tried desperately to save the life of his seizure-prone son and made perhaps his first public description of the boy as autistic as he testified in the trial of two people accused of trying to blackmail him. With his wife, Kelly Preston, looking on inside the Nassau courtroom, Travolta said that he performed CPR on his son after a nanny alerted him the teen had fallen ill at a family vacation home on Grand Bahama island. Jett Travolta later died from a seizure. "I ran downstairs with my wife to help my son," Travolta said. Travolta is the star witness at the trial of two people — paramedic Tarino Lightbourne and former Bahamian Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater — who are accused of trying to extort $25 million from the movie star. Both defendants pleaded innocent to extortion charges at the trial that began Monday in this island chain off the Florida coast. Read more at AP.

AfterElton's Eight Favorite Bisexuals Ever

Since 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day has been observed on September 23rd. In light of the occasion, we thought we'd honor our bisexual brothers by making a list of our favorite male switch hitters ever. Read more at

Mackenzie Phillips reveals incest with musician father

Actress Mackenzie Phillips [from the 70's hit TV show, One Day At A Time] has made a shocking revelation prior to the release of her new memoir, announcing that she had a sustained incestuous relationship with her famed musician father, John Phillips. Phillips, 49, is set to discuss the relationship and her infamous, long-running battle with substance abuse on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show airing Wednesday as her book is released. In a preview for the title, High on Arrival, Phillips says that by the age of 19 she was already a heavy drug user and regularly stoned. The former One Day at a Time star claims that in 1979, on the eve of her wedding to her first husband, rock music manager Jeff Sessler, her father arrived to try to stop her from getting married. After getting high together, Phillips says she later awoke and discovered her father raping her. A sexual relationship that she called "consensual" continued for about a decade after, she said. The relationship ended when she became pregnant and, unsure of who had fathered the child, chose to have an abortion, Phillips told Winfrey. She also said that her siblings "definitely have a problem with" her revelation. During the interview segment, Winfrey read out a statement from Phillips's stepmother Genevieve Waite, her father's wife at the time of the alleged abuse. Waite said he was "incapable, no matter how drunk or drugged he was, of having such a relationship with his own child." John Phillips, a member of the famed group the Mamas and the Papas, died in 2001. (CBC)

Navy reviewing abuse of gay sailor, Joseph Rocha

The Navy is reviewing how it handled the case of a gay sailor abused by fellow servicemen in Bahrain for two years until he sought a discharge by coming out to his commanding officer, a military spokesman said Tuesday. Joseph Rocha, now 23, decided to leave the Navy in 2007 by telling his commander he was gay, in violation of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the constant hazing while he served with military dog handlers based in Bahrain to support the Iraq war. An internal Navy investigation into his unit found dozens of examples of hazing and sexual harassment against multiple sailors between 2005 and 2006. The result of the investigation was not clear; a copy of the report released under the Freedom of Information Act has all recommendations blacked out. Read more at

Read Joseph Rocha's story in his own words here