January 23, 2018

Results So far of Inter American Court H.R. Deciding in Favor of Gay Marriage

British Made Cookie Adam and Steve (image by Fortnum and Mason)

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights decided in favor of marriage equality while ruling over a petition from two years ago.

Cosa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis told one source:

“The Western Hemisphere is rejoicing over the ruling in a marriage equality case out of Costa Rica. Not only is the ruling binding for the Central American country, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling also sets precedent for 19 other countries who have agreed to abide by the court’s decisions.

The ruling is legally binding in Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.”

That said, the compliance of those other countries isn’t necessarily guaranteed. Luckily, however, Panama has announced their decision to work with the ruling.

Vice President Isabel de Saint-Malo announced on Tuesday to all sections of the government that they would be following the ruling.

“We are sure that with it we will be able to advance an agenda of equity and nondiscrimination even further,” added Saint-Malo, according to TVN, a Panamanian television station.”

“She is complying with the opinion itself that calls upon member states to adjust national law and practices to implement the full human rights protections for LGBTI people,” Iván Chanis Barahona, president of Fundación Iguales, a Panamanian advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Wednesday from Panama City. “This decision of the Panamanian government is consistent with a long tradition of international support and respect of the inter-American human rights system, and Panama’s recognition of the binding, ipso facto jurisdiction of the court on all matters relating to the interpretation or application of the American Convention on Human Rights.”

Gay Assaults in Amsterdam's Water Park Continues in an Alarming Trend

'It seems some biogots and hater don't like either gays or blacks visiting the park'adamfoxie

 Amsterdam Water Park, Holland

The police are looking for witnesses of a serious assault in Westerpark in Amsterdam between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 13th. The police believe the victim, a 48-year-old man, was attacked because of his sexual orientation.

The man was walking in Westerpark near the playground when two men wearing black clothes approached him. They shouted at him and insulted him, before hitting him hard in the face multiple times. A man and woman sitting on a nearby bench shouted at the men to stop and they fled. The perpetrators left the park via Zaanstraat and drove away on a scooter. The victim was left with several injuries. 

Both perpetrators were wearing motorcycle helmets and spoke with a foreign accent, according to the police. One of them was short with a stout posture and was wearing a short black jacket. The second perpetrator was taller with a slim figure. He was wearing a mid-length dark coat. 

The police call on witnesses to come forward. Investigators particularly want to talk to the man and the woman who stopped the attack. 

Over the past months, there were multiple gay bashing and anti-LGBT violence cases in Amsterdam. On New Year's day, a 22-year-old man was attacked in Amsterdam by a group of men who called him a "cancer faggot", and left him with broken teeth. In November two kissing women, in Amsterdam for documentary film festival IDFA, were assaulted. In August the police arrested three men for viciously assaulting a gay couple in the Dutch capital in June. And in May two investigations into assaults on homosexual men in the city were halted due to lack of evidence. Both these incidents happened in January 2017. 

The current anti-LGBT violence trend is not only limited to Amsterdam. Five teenagers are currently awaiting trial for attacking a gay couple in Arnhem with bolt-cutters in April last year. A gay couple in Eindhoven reported being assaulted on the same weekend as the Arnhem couple. And a group of teenagers was arrested for assaulting a lesbian couple in Rotterdam in June. 

By Janene Pieters

2 Army Captains Make History At West Point by Getting Married There

"The New York Timeson Friday
He remembered thinking, “this guy has a lot of guts, and he’s kind of cute, too.” (And both, now active-duty Apache helicopter pilots, were in the Army.)'  Tweeter

Two Army captains who met in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era of the military, became the first active-duty, same-sex couple to get married at West Point when they exchanged vows last weekend.

Capt. Daniel Hall, 30, and Capt. Vinny Franchino, 26, both Apache helicopter pilots, were married at the New York military academy’s picturesque chapel, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The couple met in 2009 when Hall was a senior and Franchino was a freshman. At the time, former President Bill Clinton’s policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect, barring homosexual or bisexual members of the military from disclosing his or her sexual orientation and from speaking about homosexual relationships. 

“We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us,” Franchino told The Times. “So we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay, we were never going to get made fun of, and we were certainly never going to get kicked out of the Army.”

Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011, clearing the way for the pair the pair to come out and go on their first date, which happened in 2012. 

“That’s where some guy called us both faggots,” Franchino told The Times.

They then found out that Hall was being deployed to South Korea with his Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and began dating other people, but eventually got back together.

Soon enough, the pair were walking down the aisle of West Point’s chapel donning their pressed blue formal uniforms, reading their vows, and ducking under a saber-arch salute as an officially married couple.

Franchino said that although he’s been through a lot with his new husband, nothing was worse than when he had to hide his identity.

“We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that,” Franino said. “But despite what we’ve been through, nothing was worse than having served during the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ years.”

January 22, 2018

Pepsi and Stolichnaya in Russian History 60's-90's Exchange of Warships for Pepsi


 This Russian General had Pepsi bottle the drink right on a warehouse by his house since it could not be imported. It is believed he was the original Russian drinker in Russia.

On April 9, 1990, American newspapers reported on an unusual deal. Pepsi had come to a three billion dollar agreement with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had long traded Stolichnaya vodka in return for Pepsi concentrate. But this time, Pepsi got 10 Soviet ships.
This wasn’t the first time that Pepsi sold soft drinks in return for a flotilla. The previous year, the company even received warships. This situation—a soft drink conglomerate briefly owning a fairly large navy—was the unusual result of an unusual situation: a communist government buying a product of capitalism from the country it considered its greatest rival.
It began with a rare exchange of culture. In the summer of 1959, the U.S.S.R. held an exhibition in New York, and the United States reciprocated. The American National Exhibition in Sokolniki Park, Moscow, featured American products: cars, art, fashion, and an entire model American house. A number of still-familiar brands sponsored exhibits and booths, including Disney, Dixie Cup Inc, IBM, and Pepsi.
That month, many Russians got their first taste of Pepsi. One of them was Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. On July 24, then-Vice President Richard Nixon showed Khrushchev the exhibition. It became the scene of the infamous Kitchen Debate. While standing in a mock-up of an American kitchen, Nixon and Khrushchev traded barbs about communism and a recent American resolution on “captive states” under Soviet power. Nixon also led Khrushchev towards a display booth that dispensed nothing other than Pepsi-Cola. Symbolically, the booth offered two batches: one mixed with American water, the other with Russian.
It was a set up. The night before, a Pepsi executive, Donald M. Kendall, had approached Nixon at the American embassy. As the head of Pepsi’s international division, he’d defied the company’s leaders in deciding to sponsor a booth and attend the exhibition. To prove that the trip was worthwhile, he told Nixon, he “had to get a Pepsi in Khrushchev’s hand.”

Kendall is at the front, pouring.

Nixon delivered. A photographer caught Nixon and Khrushchev together as the Soviet leader gingerly sipped his cup of Pepsi. Kendall stands to the side, pouring another cup. Khrushchev’s son later recalled that many Russian’s first take on Pepsi was that it smelled like shoe wax. But, he added, everyone remembered it, even after the exhibition was over.
 For Kendall, the photo was a triumph. He had big plans for the brand’s expansion, and the Khrushchev photo op catapulted him up the ranks at Pepsi. Six years after the American National Exhibition, Kendall became CEO.
A statue of Pushkin watching over the Pepsi signs.
The U.S.S.R. was Kendall’s land of opportunity, and his goal was to open it to Pepsi. In 1972, he succeeded, negotiating a cola monopoly and locking out Coca-Cola until 1985. Cola syrup began flowing through the Soviet Union, where it was bottled locally. It was a coup: As the New York Times put it, the soda was “the first capitalistic product” available in the U.S.S.R. Pepsi had become a pioneer. But there was one issue: money.
Soviet rubles were worthless internationally, with their value determined by the Kremlin. Soviet law also prohibited taking the currency abroad. So the U.S.S.R. and Pepsi resorted to barter. In return for cola, Pepsi received Stolichnaya vodka to distribute in the United States. By the late 1980s, Russians were drinking approximately a billion servings of Pepsi a year. In 1988, Pepsi broadcast the first paid commercials on local TV, starring none other than Michael Jackson. The bartering worked well—Stolichnaya was popular in the United States. An American boycott in response to the Soviet-Afghan war, however, meant that Pepsi wanted something else to trade.

So, in the spring of 1989, Pepsi and the Soviet Union signed a remarkable deal. Pepsi became the middleman for 17 old submarines and three warships, including a frigate, a cruiser, and a destroyer, which the company sold for scrap. Pepsi also bought new Soviet oil tankers and leased them out or sold them in partnership with a Norwegian company. In return, the company could more than double the number of Pepsi plants in the Soviet Union. (It also ignited jokes that Pepsi was taking the Cola Wars to the high seas.) “We’re disarming the Soviet Union faster than you are,” Kendall quipped to Brent Scowcroft, President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser.
But that was nothing compared to 1990’s three billion dollar deal. (A figure based on Pepsi’s estimate of how much sales of cola in the Soviet Union and vodka in America would net them over the next decade.) It was the largest deal ever brokered between an American company and the Soviet Union, and Pepsi hoped it would spur more expansion. Pepsi even launched another American institution in the country: Pizza Hut. The future looked bright.

Instead, the Soviet Union fell in 1991, taking with it Pepsi’s deal of the century. Suddenly, their long balancing act turned into a scramble to protect its assets in a free-for-all made more complex by redrawn borders, inflation, and privatization. The LA Times described how the new Pizza Huts were hobbled—their mozzarella was sourced from Lithuania. The company had hoped to pivot from heavy glass bottles to cheaper plastic, but the plastic company was located in Belarus.
Similarly, Pepsi’s partially-built ships were stranded in newly-independent Ukraine, which wanted a cut of the sales. Kendall, who had since retired, lamented that the Soviet Union had essentially gone out of business. Over several months, Pepsi pieced parts of the deal back together. But instead of dealing with a single state, they had to broker with 15 countries. Worse, Coca-Cola aggressively entered the former Soviet Union, and Pepsi struggled to keep its advantage. Among other marketing strategies, it launched a giant, replica Pepsi can up to the Mir space station for a commercial and erected two iconic billboards over bustling Pushkin Square in Moscow.
Russia is still Pepsi’s second biggest market outside of the United States. But their pioneering luster has faded. It didn’t help that Pepsi had been around for so long that other sodas seemed novel by comparison. After only a few years, Coke beat out Pepsi as Russia’s most popular cola. And in 2013, even the billboards over Pushkin Square came down. Maybe Pepsi should have held on to that destroyer.
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New Freedom of Religion Law Makes HHS A complicit on People Dying for Others Religion

 If Jesus was a man on the street, How would he feel about some dying so others can feel better about their religion (Him)?
Since the invention of religion man has always thought that it requires sacrifices and death of others. From the Mayas to the Hebrews, Muslims, to the conservatives Christians of today. Why? To pay for sins? To get a better crop, better luck, health. Then how come it requires the death of others and not the one who has the religion? (Adam)

Jionni Conforti, a transgender man in his 30s, was scheduled to have a total hysterectomy in the summer of 2015. The surgery was deemed medically necessary by both his primary care physician and his therapist as part of his treatment for gender dysphoria, and a surgeon had agreed to perform the operation at a hospital near Conforti’s New Jersey home.

Ahead of his surgery, however, Conforti received an email from the religiously affiliated hospital — considered one of the best hospital systems in the state — saying the surgery could not be performed there.

"This is to inform you that as a Catholic Hospital we would not be able to allow your surgeon to schedule this surgery here at St. Joseph’s,” Father Martin D. Rooney, director of mission services at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in Paterson, wrote.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, an attorney with Lambda Legal who is representing Conforti in a lawsuit against St. Joseph’s, said he fears that what happened to his client could happen to more people as a result of a decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, announced Thursday, to create a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.

Gonzalez-Pagan said he worries that the new division will “use religion as a license to discriminate.” He’s not alone in this fear.


Existing federal and state laws protect health care workers who express religious objections to performing abortions and certain other procedures. HHS said the new division would focus on enforcing these laws, which "protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.”

This move is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration to advance the cause of religious liberty. In May, Trump issued an executive order stating the executive branch would “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” 

Then in October, the Justice Department, led by Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, released a memo outlining 20 principles of religious liberty, asserting “free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs,” and that this right extends to both “persons and organizations.”

Eric Hargan, the acting HSS secretary, applauded Trump after Thursday’s announcement.

“President Trump promised the American people that his administration would vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom,” Hargan said. “That promise is being kept today,”

The administration of President George W. Bush put in place a rule widely interpreted as allowing health care providers to opt out of a range of services, but under President Barack Obama, HHS officials rewrote the rule in such a way as to narrow the scope of services health care providers could elect not to perform. The new division and the subsequent proposed rule released by HHS on Friday — titled Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care — will presumably reverse the Obama-era changes.

“Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced," Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement. "No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice.”

“For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection, but change is coming and it begins here and now," Severino said.

Prior to his HHS post, Severino was the director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, where he advocated for the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision to exclude transgender people.


Critics, including Democrats and LGBTQ advocates, say the creation of a new “religious freedom” division could encourage a broader range of religious objections, with a potentially strong impact on less-settled areas of the law like the status of gay and transgender individuals under anti-discrimination statuses.

"This would be yet another attempt to let ideology dictate who is able to get the care they need," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. "Any approach that would deny or delay health care to someone and jeopardize their well-being for ideological reasons is unacceptable."

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, which is led by six openly LGBTQ members of the House, blasted the announcement of the new division on Twitter, characterizing the move as an attack on transgender people and calling it “absolutely cruel and unconscionable.”

Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new division is an example of the Trump administration's “doubling down” on discrimination “all in the name of religion.”

“We may not know exactly what this new division will look like in practice, but we do know that this means they prioritize religious liberty over the health and civil rights of women, transgender people and others,” Melling said. “They are prioritizing providers’ beliefs over patients’ health and lives.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president, and CEO of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD was blunt in her criticism.

“Any health care worker who has moral objections to providing medically necessary care to an entire vulnerable population is in the wrong line of work,” Ellis said in a statement. “Denying a transgender person — or any person — life-saving care if they walk into an emergency room is far from a moral act, it is unjust and dangerous.”


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people already face health disparities compared to the general population, several studies have shown, and LGBTQ advocates worry about the additional barriers and negative health effects this new division may create.

In a report released Thursday, the Center for American Progress found “LGBTQ people face disturbing rates of health care discrimination,” and such discrimination can discourage them from seeking care. The types of discrimination cited in the report included refusal of a health care worker to recognize a patient’s same-sex partner, purposeful misgendering of a patient and refusal to provide care altogether.

“It is that brazen discrimination that is so dangerous to the lives of LGBTQ people,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.

For some patients, Gonzalez-Pagan said, it’s possible to find another health care provider after being discriminated against or denied care. Conforti, for example, was able to eventually get his hysterectomy, although months later at a hospital farther from his home. But other patients, Gonzalez-Pagan added, aren’t as fortunate.

“If you live in the middle of rural America,” he said, there may “only be one provider close to you.”

“Access to health care cannot be prohibited because of who you are,” he said.
by Julie Moreau

A Trans African Writes Her Story of Transition and How is Couched in African Spirituality


It is rare, if ever, that trans Africans get to write their own story. Author Akweake Emezi not only told the story of her transition, she forces readers to consider that there is yet another dimension to the contemporary understanding of gender—one that is couched in African spirituality.

“My surgeries were a bridge across realities, a spirit customizing its vessel to reflect its nature,” she wrote for New York Magazine’s The Cut on January 19. Emezi is a Nigerian and Tamil writer and artist, whose highly anticipated first book Freshwater is available later this year. Emeli's public profile has steadily increased, most recently in a shoot with her photographer sister Yagazie by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, in the February issue of Vogue.

Emezi’s essay is intensely personal as she recalls the pain and discomfort of reducing her breasts and removing her uterus. It is also an account of a spiritual understanding that is often left out in stories of transition. Specifically, it uses the language of African spirituality in a conversation where African perspectives are usually left out or silenced.

“I’ve never heard of anyone like this,” the surgeon told me.
He was an old white man who had performed many surgeries on trans patients, from breast augmentations to double mastectomies. “Male to female, female to male, fine. But this in-between thing?”

In defining what it means to her to be trans-Emezi begins to understand that she may be an ogbanje, a spirit child that lives between cycles of reincarnation. Found in the Yoruba, Igbo and Urhobo cultures, ogbanje are “born to die”, children born to torment the family by dying young only to be born into another child.

The possibility that I was an ogbanje occurred to me around the same time I realized I was trans, but it took me a while to collide the two worlds. I suppressed the former for a few years because most of my education had been in the sciences and all of it was Westernized — it was difficult for me to consider an Igbo spiritual world equally, if not more valid. The legacy of colonialism had always taught us that such a world wasn’t real, that it was nothing but juju and superstition. When I finally accepted its validity, I revisited what that could mean for my gender. Did ogbanje even have a gender, to begin with? Gender is, after all, such a human thing.

The simplest myth (pdf) goes that ogbanje were the souls of children who gave up on life because it was too hard. Heaven’s gatekeeper, angered by their lack of zeal, sent them back to the world, where they refuse to live life to adulthood. In some definitions, they are evil or malevolent, while some modern understandings have categorized ogbanje as a personality disorder of someone who is not following their given nature or talents.

In Wole Soyinka’s poem Abiku it is a metaphor for grief and hopelessness, while Ben Okri ogbanje character in The Famished Road is held in the physical world by the love of his parents, even as the spirit world tugs at his true nature. In Emezi’s understanding, they need not be male or female because of their rebellion against man-made norms.

In an essay on the transition of a nonbinary trans writer, this exploration of the metaphysical seems at odds with the clinical descriptions of doctors rooms, surgery and recovery. What makes the essay remarkable is that it challenges western notions of gender and looks at it through an African lens. There is no easy language to explain Emezi’s experience but that is because there are so few accounts of being LGBTQI and African.

In many places in Africa being gay is illegal, and occupying an identity on the broader gender spectrum is unfathomable in many communities. Still too often, Africans who do not conform to a traditional male-female relationship (preferably a union sanctioned by the church and family) faces being ostracized and even death. Acknowledging that there existed an alternative, pre-colonial, non-binary view of gender is almost sacrilege.

It is why Emezi’s essay is important because it forces the reader to think beyond the western notions of gender. To Africans, it’s a reminder that our understanding of gender was never binary, much less exclusionary.
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January 21, 2018

Bob Smith, First Openly Gay TV and Cable Comedian Dead at 59

The comedian is best known for being the first openly gay male comedian to star in his own 30-minute special on HBO.
Bob Smith, the pioneering gay comedian and award-winning writer, died Saturday in his New York City home from complications from ALS, his rep told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 59.

The comedian is best known for being the first openly gay male comedian to star in his own 30-minute special on HBO, which he did in 1994, and to perform on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 

After Smith's groundbreaking 1994 appearance on HBO's HBO Comedy Half-Hour, he performed sets on ABC's Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher in 1998, MTV's Wisecrack in 2005 and Regent Entertainment's Hot Gay Comics.

Smith was also a prolific and decorated writer, penning the autobiographical essay collection Openly Bob (1997), which won the LAMBDA Book Award for humor. In 1999 Smith was nominated for another LAMBDA for his second collection of essays, 1999's Way to Go, Smith. In 2016, Smith published his last collection of essays, Treehab: Tales from my Natural Wild Life, which he wrote in the midst of battling ALS and using his one functional hand on an iPad. Smith also wrote the novels Selfish & Perverse (2007), a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, and Remembrance of Things I Forgot (2011), nominated for a LAMBDA for Best Gay Fiction and shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize. 

As a television writer, Smith wrote for The MTV Video Music Awards, Dennis Miller, Roseanne and MADtv. His sketches for MADtv include "Zapruder Home Movies," a sketch about the 8mm home movie that is "the only known footage of the Kennedy assassination," and "Antiques Roadshow," which spoofed the long-running PBS show by showing the host digging up dark family secrets through antique items such as a flask.

Smith also performed at Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival several times and headlined gay pride parades in the U.S. and in Canada. 

Born in Buffalo, New York, Smith participated in the Greenwich Village comedy scene in New York City in the early '80s but first became well-known as a member of the "Funny Gay Males" trio of comics, also including Danny McWilliams and Jaffe Cohen, which toured internationally and at the the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation in 1993. "Funny Gay Males" became the first openly gay comedians to appear on national television when they appeared on The Joan Rivers Show. 

Smith is survived by his mother Sue, his brothers James and Gregory, his partner Michael Zam — the co-creator of FX's Feud: Bette and Joan — and his children Madeline and Xander.

Originally Posted on Hollywood Reporter


Gay Writer/Comedian Bob Smith Enters 'Treehab'

Some good news about writer/comedian Bob Smith -- whose brand of humor I fell in love with at the 2007 NLGJA conference -- shared via his writer/comedian pal Eddie Sarfaty:
So proud of my pal Bob Smith. His new book, entitled "Treehab," comes out in a few weeks. For 9 years, he's handled having ALS with dignity and humor, and he's refused to give in to the horrible illness, Bob wrote the entire book, typing with one finger on an iPad!!! He's been in the hospital for months but he's almost ready to be discharged, which means he'll definitely be out in time for the book's launch!

In this bitingly funny and often surprising memoir, award-winning author and groundbreaking comedian Bob Smith offers a meditation on the vitality of the natural world—and an intimate portrait of his own darkly humorous and profoundly authentic response to a life-changing illness. In "Treehab"—named after a retreat cabin in rural Ontario—Smith muses how he has “always sought the path less traveled.” He rebuffs his diagnosis of ALS as only an unflappable stand-up comic could (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease? But I don’t even like baseball!”) and explores his complex, fulfilling experience of fatherhood, both before and after the onset of the disease. Stories of his writing and performing life—punctuated by hilariously cutting jokes that comedians tell only to each other—are interspersed with tales of Smith’s enduring relationship with nature: boyhood sojourns in the woods of upstate New York and adult explorations of the remote Alaskan wilderness; snakes and turtles, rocks and minerals; open sky and forest canopy; God and friendship—all recurring touchstones that inspire him to fight for his survival and for the future of his two children. Aiming his potent, unflinching wit at global warming, equal rights, sex, dogs, Thoreau, and more, Smith demonstrates here the inimitable insight that has made him a beloved voice of a generation. He reminds us that life is perplexing, beautiful, strange, and entirely worth celebrating.

If You Are Already in Jamaica Stay in Your Room, British Gov Warns

This blog has warn torurist but particularly Gay Men, Lesbians and Trans many times to stay away from Jamaica. Now the warning comes to all British Tourists from their government and that should go for Americans also.


British tourists are being warned they should stay inside their resorts in Montego Bay, Jamaica. 
The Jamaican government has declared a state of emergency in the St James parish, after a number of "shooting incidents". 
The Foreign Office has told British tourists to stay in the confines of their hotels as a "major military operation" takes place. 
About 200,000 British tourists visit Jamaica every year. 
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "[Tourists] should follow local advice including restrictions in selected areas, and exercise particular care if travelling at night. 
"[They] should stay in their resorts and limit travel beyond their respective security perimeters."
Jamaican prime minister, Andrew Holness
Image captionJamaica PM Andrew Holness says the government had been planning the operation "for some time"
On Thursday the country's prime minister, Andrew Holness, said the state of emergency was "necessary" in order to "restore public safety" in the St James area. 
Chief of defence, Major General Rocky Meade, said forces were targeting gangs, with "particular focus on those that are responsible for murders, lotto scamming, trafficking of arms and guns, and extortion".
He added: "We ask that you co-operate with the troops." 
State of Emergency declared in St James Parish which includes Montego Bay, in response to recent violence including shooting incidents. Follow local advice including restrictions in selected areas, exercise particular care if travelling at night. http://ow.ly/fu4A30hRMc5 
Simon Calder, the Independent newspaper's travel editor, said gang crime in the area had been "intensifying".
He told Radio 5 live: "Last year there were an average of six killings a week - and since the start of the year it has got even worse."
It also estimated there had been 38 killings across the country in the first six days of 2018, compared with 23 over the same period last year.
Montego BayImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionTourists are drawn to Montego Bay's white sandy beaches
As the UK Foreign Office has not warned against travel to Jamaica, Mr Calder said holiday firms have no obligation to offer customers alternative destinations. 
He added: "I've never seen Foreign Office advice quite like this before. Normally the UK government says either 'it's OK' or 'don't go'."
A military checkpoint in Montego BayImage copyrightBECKS PALOU
Image captionBecks Palou says the military told her group it was fine to travel around the country

 Bristol-based Becks Palou is part of a group of friends on holiday in Montego Bay.

They left their hotel early this morning to drive to Kingston, the capital, after staff said it was safe to travel. 
Ms Palou, who is originally from Spain, said they were delayed by stops at military checkpoints but were able to reach their destination.
She said: "When we went out on the road, we arrived at the checks and we were let through. Soldiers felt it was fine to travel. 
"It feels safe, more than usual because the roads are quieter."
Sean Tipton, from the Association of British Travel Agents, said that hotels in Montego Bay have "very strict security" which means tourists can feel safe.
He told the BBC: "If you look at the incidents that have occurred, they have been directed at local people. 
"It's obviously terrible for them, but in terms of instances affecting tourists, I haven't actually come across one in Jamaica for quite some time."
He also stressed the importance of following the advice from tour operators and the Foreign Office and not leaving resorts unless on an organised excursion.

Are you in Montego Bay? Have you been affected by recent events? If it is safe to do so, you can share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

7 Violent Robberies From Dating App are Targeting Gay Men

Police are investigating whether seven robberies in Dallas last month were hate crimes because the victims were lured through the LGBT dating app Grindr. 
The attacks were reported throughout December in the southeast patrol division, police wrote in a memo to the Dallas City Council on Friday.

Police said that on Dec. 12 they arrested a 17-year-old suspect believed to be responsible for luring four of the victims to a vacant apartment on Chariot Drive earlier that day.

They are now investigating whether the teen could be responsible for the other attacks, though they say other suspects are at large. The teen's name has not been released.

One robbery was reported in the 8000 block of Rothington Road about 1:10 a.m. on Dec. 7. Two more robberies were also reported Dec. 7 and 8 at a vacant apartment in the 8000 block of Chariot.
Police said the victims were robbed and beaten.

Grindr is a dating app geared toward the gay community, and police said the suspect in the December crimes used the app to find victims.
"Criminals have been using dating apps to target victims in Dallas and other cities," police wrote in their memo. 

Violent crimes, which include murders and aggravated assaults, increased last year compared to 2016 but remained at historically low levels.

An annual review of violent crimes in Dallas showed declines in some areas last year — murders, for example, dropped from 172 to 165 — and increases in others: Rapes and aggravated assaults were on the rise.

Police advise people to research safe meeting locations for their dates, and to meet in well-lit areas. They also suggest telling a friend or loved one where you will be and for keeping a phone handy in case you need to call 911.

The December attacks remain under investigation, and Crime Stoppers is willing to pay as much as $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call police at 214-671-3584 or their local police department as soon as possible.
Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477.

The Police advises:

• Always research a safe meeting location and familiarize yourself with the area. 
• Always meet in a well-lighted, public place. 
• Never go alone. 
• Always meet during the day. 
• Keep your cellphone close and be ready to call 911 at the first sign of trouble. 
• Never give out personal or financial information. 
• Let someone know where you will be and who you will be meeting. 
• Leave if you feel uncomfortable.

Arrest of Murder Suspects of Gay Men at Gay Village Bring The Police Role into Question

 GayVillage, Toronto

 By Friday morning, McArthur's Facebook page had been removed.The man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the disappearances of two men from Toronto’s gay village made his first appearance in a Toronto courtroom Friday morning. Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old landscaper, will remain in custody until his next court appearance on February 14. 

There is a publication ban on evidence presented in court.

The Toronto Police announced on Thursday that McArthur had been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen who went missing last summer from Toronto’s gay village at Church and Wellesley streets.

The Toronto Police said an investigation into other possible victims is ongoing. It has fuelled longstanding fears in Toronto’s gay community that a serial killer was targeting men in the village.

A number of Kinsman’s friends and those he worked with as a volunteer at the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation were present at the hearing.

“Everyone is traumatized,” John Allan, an acquaintance of Kinsman’s, said at the courthouse.

“I hope that [McArthur] talks and tells what he did,” said Alphonso King, who also knew Kinsman.

Kinsman’s sister, Patricia, told reporters she plans to be at every one of McArthur’s hearings. She told CBC News that she had never heard of McArthur prior to his arrest.

While the police have so far refused to release a photo and confirm the identity of McArthur, images from his Facebook page were widely circulated by media outlets Thursday evening.

Bruce McArthur also appears on silverdaddies.com, a gay dating website. The description on that site matches the details on McArthur released by police, including his age and that McArthur owned a landscaping business. 

Some Facebook photos show him as a mall, Santa Claus. In others, he’s shown with family, friends, and at a Toronto Pride celebration among York Regional Police officers.

McArthur is shown in a number of photos with an Iranian man from 2014 to 2017. It's unclear what their relationship was, however they appeared to have traveled together, and he was also featured in family photos. After news of McArthur's arrest, a number of Facebook users questioned the current whereabouts of the man — who had listed Morneau Shepell as his employer on his own Facebook page. That detail had been removed from his Facebook page by Friday morning.

A spokesperson for Morneau Shepell confirmed to VICE News on Friday that the man had given the company permission to the confirmation that he worked there. The man did not immediately respond to messages from VICE News on Facebook or by email.

By Friday morning, McArthur's Facebook page had been taken down.

Police are investigating five properties in Ontario they say are “associated with” McArthur, including four in Toronto and one in Madoc, a town between Toronto and Ottawa. Local news reported late Thursday night that Ontario Provincial Police officers were searching a property in Madoc, however, the Toronto Police said they would not confirm this, and that “investigators have nothing new to add today and will not be commenting or confirming any details that have been reported in the media.” 

Esen and Kinsman are just two of a series of disappearances that have taken place in Toronto’s Gay Village since 2010.

In October, Toronto police formed a task force called project called Project Prism to investigate cases of people who have gone missing from the community, including Esen and Kinsmen. Project Prism followed an 18-month-long probe called Project Houston, which investigated the disappearances of three other gay men from 2010 to 2012 but failed to find out what happened to them.



Andrew Kinsman, left, and Selim Esen, right, have both gone missing in recent months, prompting community concern and the allocation of dedicated police resources. (Toronto Police Service)

The arrest and first-degree murder charges of a suspect in the case of two men who disappeared from downtown Toronto have provided some sense of relief in the city's Gay Village but raised questions and criticisms about how police handled the investigation.

"I sort of feel like the police department has egg on their face because we told them a while ago that we felt that it was a serial killer and we also felt as though there was a connection between the people who were missing," Alphonso King, a community resident, and friend of victim Andrew Kinsman, told CBC News.
"I think it's important that they understand that when a community speaks up and says 'We think that something is going on here' — listen." 
Police established Project Prism to investigate the disappearances of Kinsman and Selim Esen. Kinsman, 49, went missing from Toronto's Cabbagetown neighborhood in June, while Esen, 44, was last seen in the Yonge and Bloor area last April. Both areas are close to the predominantly gay neighborhood of Church and Wellesley.
Project Prism was also created to share information with Project Houston, another task force looking into the 2012 disappearances of three other men in the Church and Wellesley area. 

'Never saw any police'

But King suggested the community felt abandoned by police, that they were more concerned about photo ops than actually "looking after our community and making sure that we're safe."
"I didn't notice any more presence in the village after we expressed concerns. You would have thought that there would have been more people on patrol and more people walking about. But I never saw any police," he said.
On Thursday, Toronto police announced they had a suspect in custody,  Bruce McArthur, 66, of Toronto, who they allege was responsible for the deaths of Kinsman and Esen.  
However, police also indicated that McArthur was tied to other victims who have yet to be identified.

Jesse Calleya said he believes the police were taking the investigation seriously, but that they weren't keeping the community updated on its progress. (Mark Gollom/CBC News)
It seemed like an about-face for the police, who last December held a news conference in which they attempted to assuage any fears that a serial killer may be loose in the community.
On Thursday, when asked about the previous comments denying the presence of a serial killer, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said: "In policing, what we do is we follow the evidence, and what I said at the time ... was accurate at that time." 
Those comments though provided little comfort to community activists like Nicki Ward, who said they had pushed police to acknowledge the missing person status of those who had disappeared. 
"We are validated in our concerns but there's no joy to be had in that," said Ward, director of the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association. "Why weren't we listened to earlier? Perhaps some lives could have been saved if that was the case."
The disappearances had rattled many members of the Gay Village, who were told by community leaders to be cautious when going out. Posters about the missing men have been plastered all over the neighborhood, while community members launched social media sites to keep a focus on the issue.

'A lot of tension'

"There was a lot of tension, a lot of people looking over their shoulder," said Jesse Calleya, a barber at The Men's Room. "Everybody would walk home together or take an Uber together just because you never knew. A lot of people were just buddying up.
"And now they have somebody in custody. I feel there's been a lot of weight lifted off the shoulders of people in the community."

Community resident Raj Kalang praised police for their efforts in the case/ (Mark Gollom/CBC News)
Calleya said he believes police were taking the investigation seriously, but that they weren't keeping the community updated on its progress.
"The people in the community felt like they were being abandoned and felt like nothing was happening."
However, community resident Raj Kalang had nothing but praise for the police.
"It's not easy to track down all these things. I think they did the best."

'A great job'

Michael Sunley, who also lives in the neighborhood, said police "have done a great job.

Sunley's partner, Paul Hyde, left and Mike Sunley, right, said they were confident in the police's abilities to arrest a suspect. (Mark Gollom/CBC)
"I acknowledge and recognize when police are doing their job, they can't tell you everything," he said. "Because if you compromise the investigation, that's a bigger problem than sharing everything with the public."
Sunley's partner, Paul Hyde, agreed.
"Ultimately we always felt confident someone would get caught."

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