Thursday, December 17, 2009

News & Pop Culture Roundup: Hate crime complaint in Nova Scotia, Oscar winner dead, Ellen speaks out, teacher acquitted of lesbian affair with student, Cleopatra and more!

Truro mayor's comments provoke hate crime complaint

(Truro, Nova Scotia) Truro police are investigating an allegation that Mayor Bill Mills committed a hate crime when he addressed activity atop Wood Street at Victoria Park. Darryl Moir [pictured], a gay man who made the complaint Monday, said he felt “totally offended” by comments the mayor made last week regarding homosexual activity. “We will let the law of the land actually determine whether he has committed hate crimes against the gay community or not,” Moir said. Moir decided on the weekend to sell his home and terminate a lease to move his costume shop to a Prince St. location. He is now looking at moving to New Glasgow. “I don’t feel safe living in this community,” he said. “I think I would feel safer and more content living somewhere else.” He has contacted the mayor, council members, chief of police and the provincial minister of municipal services. “Bill Mills can end the entire thing by stepping down,” said Moir, who has lived in Truro for the past 17 years. READ MORE

Black groups urge more efforts to improve census count

Black groups on Wednesday urged the government to improve the count of African-Americans in next year's high-stakes census, saying they won't be satisfied with a tally that has historically overlooked millions in their community. The National Urban League, the NAACP, Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson met with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to voice their concerns the Census Bureau might not be doing enough to ensure an accurate tally. Roughly 3 million blacks were missed in 2000, while many whites were overcounted. "The undercount of blacks in the last count and the overcount of whites by 1 percent is not just a Washington statistic," Sharpton said at a news briefing after the meeting. "It manifests itself in goods and services that cost us." READ MORE

A 4-year-old boy has been suspended for having long-ish hair!

4-year-old Taylor Pugh has been suspended from pre-kindergarten because he likes his hair a little on the floppy side. Taylor's locks _ long on the front and sides, covering his earlobes and shirt collar _ violate the school district's dress code. His parents say the boy plans to eventually cut his hair and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. And they are not happy with the district's rules. "They kicked me out that place," said Taylor, who prefers the nickname Tater Tot. "I miss my friends." The follicle fight came to a head last month when Taylor's parents received a signed letter from Floyd Elementary School's principal, threatening to withdraw the boy from school if his hair didn't comply with district standards. When Taylor's parents didn't budge, their son was suspended. Taylor's father, Delton Pugh said the issue is about more than hair. He said his son is being singled out, and that he has seen other male students in the district with hair much longer than Taylor's. "Nobody wants to meet in the middle. It's all or nothing," Pugh said. "He's my son. I love him. I will back him to the end." (GrandForkHerald).

Lady Gaga and Cindy Lauper glam it up for charity

Perhaps the most unique female music artists of their respective generations, Lady Gaga has joined forces, and bedroom eyes, with '80s pop songstress, Cyndi Lauper, in support of cosmetic firm M.A.C.'s Viva Glam program in support of HIV/AIDS awareness in the U.K. The two will be promoting a line of lipsticks sold specifically to benefit the Viva Glam program. Of course, the over-the-top boudoir look featured in this ad barely registers on the radar of bizarre costumes for either of these two songstresses, both renowned for their insane/amazing stylistic sensibilities. (CelebBuzz)

Ellen DeGeneres speaks out on Uganda's vile anti-gay bill:

I'm so thankful for the freedoms that we have in this country; the freedom of speech, the freedom to vote and the freedom to love who we want. And I want to say that what's happening in Uganda makes me incredibly sad. There's an "Anti-Gay Bill" that's proposing to jail homosexuals. They are trying to give life sentences to same-sex couples, and the bill even proposes that they jail anyone who fails to report "gay activity" to the police within 24 hours. This is a horrible violation of human rights and I can't believe something like this is being discussed in this day and age. I think we should be grateful for our freedoms this holiday season. Be thankful for the people who fight for them. And let's continue to be an example to the world through our love and compassion.

Privacy groups file complaint on Facebook to FTC

Ten privacy organizations filed a complaint against Facebook Inc. to the Federal Trade Commission Thursday, arguing that recent changes to the social-networking company's privacy policies and settings violate federal laws. The complaint, spearheaded by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, was triggered by changes Facebook made to its privacy policies and settings in November and December. READ MORE

3rd annual list of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians

This year’s list includes high-profile names like Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham, medical practitioner Kerryn Phelps, performers Sia and Tim Campbell and MTV’s Ruby Rose. There are also several firsts in the list for 2009, including the first posthumous award given to poet Dorothy Porter, and the first transgender female on the list, activist Stefanie Imbruglia. The list is compiled from nominations by the Australian public. “It’s always fascinating to look back on the past twelve months at who has been influential,” says Same Same co-founder Tim Duggan, “and every year the breadth of influence continues to amaze us.” From courtrooms to living rooms, the list covers a wide range of professions and includes former High Court Justice Michael Kirby and Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, the only two people to remain on the list for the past three years. Other notable members of the 25 include the Choir of Hard Knocks creator Jonathan Welch, Oscar winning filmmaker Adam Elliot, drag queen Vanessa Wagner, and Nathan Hudson, the lead singer of Faker. READ MORE

Check out the BBC's lame-ass apology after airing "Should homosexuals face execution" debate
Peter Horrocks is the director of BBC World Service, writes:
"You might have read some of the coverage about a World Service Africa Have Your Say debate yesterday, or my colleague David Stead's blog post about it last night. The original headline on our website was, in hindsight, too stark. We apologise for any offence it caused. But it's important that this does not detract from what is a crucial debate for Africans and the international community. The programme was a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion about proposed legislation that advocates the death penalty for those who undertake certain homosexual activities in Uganda - an important issue where the BBC can provide a platform for debate that otherwise would not exist across the continent and beyond."

Melanie Griffith: Bruise was from cancer surgery

There's a scary explanation for the bruise that appeared this week under Melanie Griffith's right eye -- the actress claims it was the result of a surgical procedure to remove early stages of skin cancer from her face. But there's good news: Melanie's rep said the procedure was performed in time to prevent any further complications. (TMZ)

Are you a verbal learner or a visual learner? Learning styles debunked:

Are you a verbal learner or a visual learner? Chances are, you've pegged yourself or your children as either one or the other and rely on study techniques that suit your individual learning needs. And you're not alone -- for more than 30 years, the notion that teaching methods should match a student's particular learning style has exerted a powerful influence on education. The long-standing popularity of the learning styles movement has in turn created a thriving commercial market amongst researchers, educators, and the general public. READ MORE

“Mad Men” creator says openly gay actors, even Neil Patrick Harris, can expect limited opportunities

Mad Men creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner said Wednesday that despite Neil Patrick Harris coming out and now working more than ever, “let’s not pretend” that openly gay actors are not limiting their future career choices when they go public. “I’m sure that there are limitations to the kinds of roles that he can get in the future,” Weiner said during the Hollywood Radio and Television Society luncheon at the Century Plaza Hotel. “… He knows that and would rather live his life honestly.” Weiner’s remarks came during a panel discussion featuring him and the show-runners behind Modern Family, Glee, and How I Met Your Mother on which Harris stars and the womanizing Barney Stinson. Mother co-creator Carter Bays was asked about Harris’s coming out in the fall of 2006 – during the show’s second season – and he describe it as “a crazy time … it was definitely unchartered water for us as second year show-runners.” READ MORE

New York Governor extends protections to transgender New Yorkers

New York Governor David A. Paterson issued an executive order extending anti-discrimination policies to gender identity for state employees Wednesday. “Governor Paterson has taken significant action to advance equality for all New York state employees,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The ability to provide for our families is non-negotiable. We applaud Governor Paterson for his commitment to the LGBT community and look forward to working with fair-minded New York legislators to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act which will protect private employees.” READ MORE

Monument lifted from Cleopatra's underwater city

Archaeologists on Thursday hoisted a 9-ton temple pylon from the waters of the Mediterranean that was part of the palace complex of the fabled Cleopatra before it became submerged for centuries in the harbor of Alexandria. The pylon, which once stood at the entrance to a temple of Isis, is to be the centerpiece of an ambitious underwater museum planned by Egypt to showcase the sunken city, believed to have been toppled into the sea by earthquakes in the 4th century. Divers and underwater archaeologists used a giant crane and ropes to lift the 9-ton, 7.4-foot-tall pylon, covered with muck and seaweed, out of the murky waters. It was deposited ashore as Egypt's top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, and other officials watched. The pylon was part of a sprawling palace from which the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt and where 1st Century B.C. Queen Cleopatra wooed the Roman general Marc Antony before they both committed suicide after their defeat by Augustus Caesar. The temple dedicated to Isis, a pharaonic goddess of fertility and magic, is at least 2,050 years old, but archaeologists believe it's likely much older. The pylon was cut from a single slab of red granite quarried in Aswan, some 700 miles (more than 1,100 kilometers) to the south, officials said. "The cult of Isis was so powerful, it's no wonder Cleopatra chose to make her living quarters next to the temple," said coastal geoarchaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. (AP)

Australian music teacher acquitted of lesbian affair with student

An Australian music teacher has been acquitted over allegations she had a lesbian affair with a 15-year-old pupil. Leonie Pech, 42, was charged with seven counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and two counts of indecent assault. Pech's lawyers had argued she was a busy teacher and had simply seen musical potential in the pupil. They argued that she had only counselled the student about personal issues. She was found not guilty today on all nine charges. READ MORE

FBI makes arrest in 'Wolverine' copyright infringement case

The FBI has accused a man of copyright infringement for allegedly uploading to the Web the feature film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" last spring. Gilberto Sanchez, 47, was arrested in the Bronx, N.Y., early Wednesday morning by FBI agents without incident, law enforcement sources told CNET. A spokeswoman from the FBI's Los Angeles field office, which led the investigation, confirmed the arrest. If convicted, Sanchez faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or gross loss attributable to the offense, whichever is greater. When the feature film from 20th Century Fox was leaked to the Internet in April, it caused panic in Hollywood because the movie, which reportedly cost $100 million to make, was not scheduled for theatrical release until May. The fear was that Internet distribution of an unauthorized copy would hurt ticket sales. By the time the movie screened in theaters, the unauthorized copy had been watched 4.1 million times, according to market researcher BigChampagne. READ MORE

RIP: Oscar Winner Jennifer Jones, dead at 90

Jennifer Jones, the Oscar-winning star of the 1943 blockbuster The Song of Bernadette and the wife of Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick, died of “natural causes” earlier today at her home in Malibu. Jones was 90. READ MORE