June 28, 2017

David Duckenfield Faces Manslaughter in the UK by Gross Negligence of 95 Men, Women and Children

 Former Ch Supt David Duckenfield faces 95 charges of manslaughter and five other senior figures will be prosecuted over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.
Mr. Duckenfield was matched commander at the FA Cup semi-final when 96 Liverpool fans were fatally injured in a crash.
Ex-South Yorkshire Police (SYP) Ch Insp Sir Norman Bettison, two officers, a solicitor and a Sheffield Wednesday club secretary also face charges.
The Prime Minister said it would be a day of "mixed emotions" for families.
Last year, new inquests into the disaster at the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield concluded the fans had been unlawfully killed.
For legal reasons, Mr Duckenfield cannot be charged over the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died four years after the disaster, prosecutors said.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must apply to the High Court to lift an order imposed after he was prosecuted privately in 1999, which must be removed before he can be charged.

Sir Norman Bettison, Graham Mackrell, Peter Metcalf, Alan Foster, Donald DentonImage copyrightPA/BBC
Image caption(Left to right, top to bottom) Sir Norman Bettison, Graham Mackrell, Peter Metcalf, Alan Foster and Donald Denton face charges

The full list of individuals and charges are:
  • Mr Duckenfield faces manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children
  • Sir Norman faces four charges of misconduct in a public office relating to alleged lies he told in the aftermath about the culpability of fans
  • Graham Mackrell, former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary, will be accused of breaching Health and Safety and Safety at Sports Ground legislation
  • Peter Metcalf, who was a solicitor acting for SYP, is charged with perverting the course of Justice, relating to changes to witness statements
  • Former Ch Supt Donald Denton and former Det Ch Insp Alan Foster are accused of perverting the course of justice 
The defendants, other than Mr. Duckenfield, will appear at Warrington Magistrates' Court on 9 August.
No organization will face corporate charges and no-one from the ambulance service will be charged, said Sue Hemming, the CPS head of special crime and counter-terrorism.
She explained that Sheffield Wednesday - the club that hosted the match - is now a "different company" and, as it is not a successor organization, is not criminally liable for any offenses that might have been committed in 1989.
The CPS brought charges following referrals from the Operation Resolve investigation into the causes of the disaster and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) probe.
The IPCC investigated the conduct of both SYP and West Midlands Police (WMP) in the days and weeks afterward.
Any decision regarding WMP, which was brought in to carry out the original investigation into the conduct of SYP officers, will be made at a later date.

Who were the 96 victims?

Hillsborough victims
Image captionInquests into the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium concluded the fans had been unlawfully killed

Ms Hemming made the announcement of the intended prosecutions to victims' families at a private meeting in Warrington earlier.
She said: "Following our careful review of the evidence, in accordance with the code for Crown prosecutors, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offenses. 
"Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial."

Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall speak to the press outside Parr HallImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionTrevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall spoke to reporters outside Parr Hall, Warrington

Campaigner Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Victoria, 15, and Sarah, 19, died in the disaster, said: "There will be six people facing criminal charges who might not have done if we hadn't been resilient and all stuck together and fought this long fight. 
"There are no winners in this, it doesn't bring anybody back. 
"What it does do is send a message about accountability, as we keep saying, that nobody but nobody is above the law; be it the police or anybody else."
Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, was killed, said: "This is definitely the start of the end. 
"I think everybody needs that, I think we all need peace from Hillsborough but we can never have peace until we've got the truth, justice, accountability. 
"I think that's the time we'll all have peace."

Barry DevonsideImage copyrightPA
Image captionBarry Devonside leaving Parr Hall in Warrington after the charges were announced

Barry Devonside, whose son Christopher, 18, was killed in the disaster, said: "Everybody applauded when it was announced that the most senior police officer on that particular day will have charges presented to him."
Evelyn McDonnell Mills, whose brother Peter McDonnell, 21, died, said she was "really happy", but sad that her brother who campaigned for years and died during the new inquests never got to see their conclusion.

Families react after the CPS announcementImage copyrightPA
Image captionRelatives hugged and wiped away tears after the CPS announced its decision to charge six individuals

Pete Weatherby QC, who represents 22 of the victims' families, said they had "always known that accountability is the most difficult objective".
"They remain keen to see the criminal process properly pursued those who have been charged and given that, the rights of the defendants should be respected.
"They do however hope that the memories of their loved ones and the integrity of the fans who attended Hillsborough will be respected during the process."

Hillsborough stadiumImage copyrightHILLSBOROUGH INQUESTS
Image captionLiverpool fans gathered outside the turnstiles at Sheffield Wednesday's ground on 15 April 1989

At Prime Minister's Questions, Theresa May said: "I know from working closely with the families when I was the home secretary that this will be a day of mixed emotions for them."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn offered a "tribute to all of those that spent a great deal of time trying to ensure there was justice for those that died at Hillsborough".
The current SYP Chief Constable, Stephen Watson, acknowledged the charges but said "it would be inappropriate for me to comment" give that the case was active.
Dr Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, said he hoped the start of criminal proceedings would "lead to a measure of closure for the family members who have experienced a long and traumatic process".
Sheffield Wednesday said the club had no comment to make.
Mr Duckenfield and Mr Denton's legal representative Ian Lewis, from JMW Solicitors, said: "In light of the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to commence criminal proceedings against David Duckenfield and Donald Denton, it would be inappropriate for me as their solicitor, or for my clients themselves, to make any comment."


  • From the section Liverpool
  • Cyber Attack Hits Ukraine Then Spreads Around The World

    A screenshot of what appeared to be the ransomware affecting systems worldwide on Tuesday. The Ukrainian government posted the shot to its official Facebook page.
     Computer systems from Ukraine to the United States were struck on Tuesday in an international cyber attack that was similar to a recent assault that crippled tens of thousands of machines worldwide.

    In Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, A.T.M.s stopped working. About 80 miles away, workers were forced to manually monitor radiation at the old Chernobyl nuclear plant when their computers failed. And tech managers at companies around the world — from Maersk, the Danish shipping conglomerate, to Merck, the drug giant in the United States — were scrambling to respond. Even an Australian factory for the chocolate giant Cadbury was affected.

    It was unclear who was behind this cyber attack, and the extent of its impact was still hard to gauge Tuesday. It started as an attack on Ukrainian government and business computer systems — an assault that appeared to have been intended to hit the day before a holiday marking the adoption in 1996 of Ukraine’s first Constitution after its break from the Soviet Union. The attack spread from there, causing collateral damage around the world.

    The outbreak was the latest and perhaps the most sophisticated in a series of attacks making use of dozens of hacking tools that were stolen from the National Security Agency and leaked online in April by a group called the Shadow Brokers. 

    Like the WannaCry attacks in May, the latest global hacking took control of computers and demanded digital ransom from their owners to regain access. The new attack used the same National Security Agency hacking tool, Eternal Blue, that was used in the WannaCry episode, as well as two other methods to promote its spread, according to researchers at the computer security company Symantec.

    The National Security Agency has not acknowledged its tools were used in WannaCry or other attacks. But computer security specialists are demanding that the agency helps the rest of the world defend against the weapons it created.

    “The N.S.A. needs to take a leadership role in working closely with security and operating systems platform vendors such as Apple and Microsoft to address the plague that they’ve unleashed,” said Golan Ben-Oni, the global chief information officer at IDT, a Newark-based conglomerate hit by a separate attack in April that used the agency’s hacking tools. Mr. Ben-Oni warned federal officials that more serious attacks were probably on the horizon.

    The vulnerability in Windows software used by Eternal Blue was patched by Microsoft in March, but as the WannaCry attacks demonstrated, hundreds of thousands of groups around the world failed to properly install the fix.

    “Just because you roll out a patch doesn’t mean it’ll be put in place quickly,” said Carl Herberger, vice president for security at Radware. “The more bureaucratic an organization is, the higher chance it won’t have updated its software.”

    Because the ransomware used at least two other ways to spread on Tuesday — including stealing victims’ credentials — even those who used the Microsoft patch could be vulnerable and potential targets for later attacks, according to researchers at F-Secure, a Finnish cybersecurity firm, and others. 
    Here’s what we know and don’t know about the attack »
    The Ukrainian government said several of its ministries, local banks, and metro systems had been affected. A number of other European companies, including Rosneft, the Russian energy giant; Saint-Gobain, the French construction materials company; and WPP, the British advertising agency, also said they had been targeted.

    Ukrainian officials pointed a finger at Russia on Tuesday, although Russian companies were also affected. Home Credit Bank, one of Russia’s top 50 lenders, was paralyzed, with all of its offices closed, according to the RBC news website. The attack also affected Evraz, a steel manufacturing and mining company that employs about 80,000 people, the RBC website reported.

    In the United States, the multinational law firm DLA Piper also reported being hit. Hospitals in Pennsylvania were being forced to cancel operations after the attack hit computers at Heritage Valley Health Systems, a Pennsylvania health care provider, and its hospitals in Beaver and Sewickley, Penn., and satellite locations across the state.

    The ransomware also hurt Australian branches of international companies. DLA Piper’s Australian offices warned clients that they were dealing with a “serious global cyber incident” and had disabled email as a precautionary measure. Local news reports said that in Hobart, Tasmania, on Tuesday evening, computers in a Cadbury chocolate factory, owned by Mondelez International, had displayed ransomware messages that demanded $300 in bitcoins.

    Qantas Airways’ booking system failed for a time on Tuesday, but the company said the breakdown was due to an unrelated hardware issue.

    The Australian government has urged companies to install security updates and isolate any infected computers from their networks.

    “This ransomware attack is a wake-up call to all Australian businesses to regularly back up their data and install the latest security patches,” said Dan Tehan, the cyber security minister. “We are aware of the situation and monitoring it closely.”

    A National Security Agency spokesman referred questions about the attack on the Department of Homeland Security. “The Department of Homeland Security is monitoring reports of cyber attacks affecting multiple global entities and is coordinating with our international and domestic cyber partners,” Scott McConnell, a department spokesman, said in a statement. 
    Computer specialists said the ransomware was very similar to a virus that emerged last year called Petya. Petya means “Little Peter,” in Russian, leading some to speculate the name referred to Sergei Prokofiev’s 1936 symphony “Peter and the Wolf,” about a boy who captures a wolf.

    Reports that the computer virus was a variant of Petya suggest the attackers will be hard to trace. Petya was for sale on the so-called dark web, where its creators made the ransomware available as “ransomware as a service” — a play on Silicon Valley terminology for delivering software over the internet, according to the security firm Avast Threat Labs.

    That means anyone could launch the ransomware with the click of a button, encrypt someone’s systems and demand a ransom to unlock it. If the victim pays, the authors of the Petya ransomware, who call themselves Janus Cybercrime Solutions, get a cut of the payment.

    That distribution method means that pinning down the people responsible for Tuesday’s attack could be difficult. 

    A screenshot of what appeared to be the ransomware affecting systems worldwide on Tuesday. The Ukrainian government posted the shot to its official Facebook page.
    The attack is “an improved and more lethal version of WannaCry,” said Matthieu Suiche, a security researcher who helped contain the spread of the WannaCry ransomware when he created a kill switch that stopped the attacks.

    In just the last seven days, Mr. Suiche noted, WannaCry had tried to hit an additional 80,000 organizations but was prevented from executing attack code because of the kill switch. Petya does not have a kill switch.

    Petya also encrypts and locks entire hard drives, whereas the earlier ransomware attacks locked only individual files, said Chris Hinkley, a researcher at the security firm Armor.

    The hackers behind Petya demanded $300 worth of the cyber currency Bitcoin to unlock victims’ machines. By Tuesday afternoon, online records showed that 30 victims had paid the ransom, although it was not clear whether they had regained access to their files. Other victims may be out of luck, after Posteo, the German email service provider, shut down the hackers’ email account.

    In Ukraine, people turned up at post offices, A.T.M.s and airports to find blank computer screens or signs about closures. At Kiev’s central post office, a few bewildered customers milled about, holding parcels and letters, looking at a sign that said, “Closed for technical reasons.”

    The hackers compromised Ukrainian accounting software mandated to be used in various industries in the country, including government agencies and banks, according to researchers at Cisco Talos, the security division of the computer networking company. That allowed them to unleash their ransomware when the software, which is also used in other countries, was updated.

    The ransomware spread for five days across Ukraine, and around the world, before activating Tuesday evening.

    “If I had to guess, I would think this was done to send a political message,” said Craig Williams, the senior technical researcher at Talos.

    One Kiev resident, Tetiana Vasylieva, was forced to borrow money from a relative after failing to withdraw money at four automated teller machines. At one A.T.M. in Kiev belonging to the Ukrainian branch of the Austrian bank Raiffeisen, a message on the screen said the machine was not functioning.

    Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry, the postal service, the national railway company, and one of the country’s largest communications companies, Ukrtelecom, had been affected, Volodymyr Omelyan, the country’s infrastructure minister, said in a Facebook post.

    Officials for the metro system in Kiev said card payments could not be accepted. The national power grid company Kievenergo had to switch off all of its computers, but the situation was under control, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency. Metro Group, a German company that runs wholesale food stores, said its operations in Ukraine had been affected. 

    At the Chernobyl plant, the computers affected by the attack collected data on radiation levels and were not connected to industrial systems at the site, where, although all reactors have been decommissioned, huge volumes of radioactive waste remain. Operators said radiation monitoring was being done manually.

    Cybersecurity researchers questioned whether collecting ransom was the true objective of the attack.

    “It’s entirely possible that this attack could have been a smoke screen,” said Justin Harvey, the managing director of global incident response at Accenture Security. “If you are an evildoer and you wanted to cause mayhem, why wouldn’t you try to first mask it as something else?” 

    An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the occupation of Justin Harvey. He is the managing director of global incident response at Accenture Security, not the chief security officer for the Fidelis Cybersecurity company.

    Reporting was contributed by Liz Alderman, Andrew E. Kramer, Iuliia Mendel, Ivan Nechepurenko and Isabella Kwai.

    A version of this article appears in print on June 28, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition 

    "Moonlight" was a Success But Homophobic Hollywood Makes it Almost Impossible to Make a Gay Movie Today

    Hollywood is having an “exclusively gay moment”—a phrase inadvertently coined by director Bill Condon this winter and overblown by media attention. Recent films like Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers have “broken ground” or “made history”—according to these headlines, anyway—as major Hollywood releases featuring openly queer characters. Unfortunately, their “coming out” scenes have mostly been lost in translation.

    “I watched Alien: Covenant and there’s a gay couple in it, and I had no idea,” Spa Night director Andrew Ahn tells Vanity Fair, laughing. “And I look for gay shit all the time. I can’t believe I missed it.”

    GLAAD’s fifth annual Hollywood report card confirms that the gay community is still dramatically underrepresented in mainstream movies: just 23 of the 125 films released by studios in 2016 featured LGBTQ characters, and 10 of the 23 gave them less than a minute of screen time. The indie realm has become our primary source for more diversity on screen. It’s what made it possible for Moonlight—a film about a queer person of color—to win the best picture at the Oscars. Yet that space comes with its own complications, as Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has discussed at length.

    For someone like Love Is Strange director Ira Sachs, who’s been in the business for more than 25 years, it can feel “next to impossible” to make LGBTQ films. “I’m encouraged by anyone who manages to make a film with LGBTQ content that furthers the visibility,” he says of movies like Moonlight and this year’s Call Me by Your Name, which is already generating awards buzz. “I need the visibility as much as anyone who’s starting or beginning, and as much as the audience. It’s a reminder that it’s not impossible, that I’m wrong to some extent.”

    Jamie Babbit, who put herself on the map in 1999 with But I’m a Cheerleader, thought the industry would change when Brokeback Mountain came out in 2005—but she too still runs into the same roadblocks that persisted in the 90s. “It’s sad that the Hollywood corporate machine, which is very much queer as far GLBT working in the industry . . . are still intimidated by the bottom line and worried that people don’t want to watch queer stories when that lesson has been, I thought, learned time and time again.”

    LGBT movies are still too often pigeonholed as “niche” entertainment. Justin Kelly had a “heinous realization” to that effect during the first financing meetings for his 2015 film I Am Michael, starring James Franco as a gay man who becomes an anti-gay Christian pastor. Companies would say, “We just did a gay film last year and it didn’t do well.” He recalls thinking, “Would someone say we did a straight film last year and it didn’t do well?”

    Eliza Hittman, approaching the genre as a heterosexual filmmaker, was caught off guard by the reaction to her 2017 Sundance selection Beach Rats. She explored “adolescent female obsessions” with her feature debut, It Felt Like Love—but when she took a more masculine approach to the same concept, it was dismissed by casting directors as the one “with all the gay sex.”

    “It was a little concerning that that was what people were reacting to,” she says, “because I thought the film had a lot more depth than that. But I think people are a lot more protective of young talent, and I think that there are still stigmas around what kind of roles people should and shouldn’t play.” British actor Harris Dickinson, who stars in Beach Rats, had to ask his representation to back down when they “pushed back very hard against the nudity and the content” of the story. Hittman understands their response to some extent—it’s “their job [to] protect their clients”—but she also believes “there’s still a lot of taboos around male nudity and male sexuality that exist in the film.”

    As a trans-Native American woman, Sydney Freeland was told that her 2014 feature Drunktown’s Finest was a “niche of a niche.” She loosely based the concept on her own experience living on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, but many financiers claimed: “there isn’t a market for this, people don’t want to see this, people aren’t interested in this, and so on and so forth.” Ahn, one of the most lauded breakouts of 2016’s Sundance Film Festival, faced similar remarks, which sent him to Kickstarter for his directorial debut about a closeted man in a small Korean-American community. “We couldn’t even get the money to go through preproduction,” he says. 

    And though TV generally has a reputation for being riskier and more creator-friendly than film, Babbit—who helmed episodes of The L Word and Looking, among a lengthy list of shows—believes television is also going backward. “I love Transparent and that’s a great show with queer characters, for sure, but there should be 10 of them now,” she says.

    Babbit has tried to get three different queer-oriented series off the ground over the past five years. “I’m getting the top meetings with the head of Showtime, the head of Netflix, the head of HBO,” she says. But a green light remains elusive. The closest she came was with an adaptation of Ingrid Jungermann’s web series F to 7th, a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style lesbian comedy that “talks about the queer culture from the inside and makes fun of it.” Showtime ordered a script, but she says the project never moved forward. The general response, she says, was, “Oh, if it’s a lesbian show, is there gonna be a lot of hot sex? It’s such a niche.”

    Moonlight grossed $65 million worldwide on a $1.5 million production budget, but the consensus still seems to be that financiers don’t see an audience for these films beyond the LGBTQ community. When they don’t see an audience, they don’t see a profit. When asked to describe the most difficult stage of film development, Sachs doesn’t need to mull his answer. “Capital,” he says. “Very simply, capitalism makes the creation of work for marginalized communities difficult.”

    And capital is why Hollywood, despite the presence of LGBTQ executives, still largely considers the visibility of these characters to be a risk. Take Beauty and the Beast, for example. Out of its $1.25 billion gross, $85.8 million came from China, $37.5 million came from South Korea, and $14.6 million came from Russia—territories with censorship laws that can target LGBTQ content. “The tragedy is that in this moment where we think we’re making progress, which we have domestically, there is an erasure in countries like, let’s start with Russia,” Sachs explains. “I used to go to the gay festivals there, and the last time I sent my films there the festivals had bomb scares two or three times—and that’s one stage.”

    Kelly calls it “a bit insane” when he’s told before even shooting a queer-leaning film that “it will for sure not sell in these 40 markets,” but he’s also not convinced homophobia is the sole deterrent. He also cites the “tragic state of the indie film world”—and he’s right, to some extent. The market has changed since the early 2000s when studios began pushing these stories to specialty divisions like Focus Features and Fox Searchlight—and giving them smaller budgets. “I’m trying to be realistic instead of just complaining that it’s harder to get gay films made,” Kelly says, “even though it is, and even though it annoys me every day.”

    Adding to the headache of financing and distribution is marketing. “There is a way for people to find [LGBTQ films] who have the appetite to find it, but you’re not gonna get the marketing push that all the studio movies get because it’s such big business now,” Babbit says. Films like Moonlight, The Imitation Game, and Carol did get a wide promotion, but they were also awards season contenders. For smaller releases, “yes, you can get distribution on Netflix or Amazon or Sundance Selects, IFC, whatever—but you’re not gonna get any marketing behind it,” Babbit explains.

    And that’s assuming a film is actually screened in theaters—because as Ahn learned with Spa Night, “once you get a distributor, it’s not like you’re guaranteed to play theaters. The theaters themselves have to choose what they want to screen, and I had no idea that’s how it worked.”

    The home turf war continues with the MPAA. Love Is Strange reignited questions of homophobia when the film, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, was branded with an R-rating for strong language. “That film couldn't be more appropriate for a young audience,” Sachs says. The R-rating for 2014’s Pride, the story of gay activists teaming up with striking miners in 1984 Wales, incited a similar controversy, and Harvey Weinstein very publicly contested the rating (and won) for this year’s 3 Generations, about a trans teenager. 

    “I’d find friends of mine with 15-year-old kids not taking them to the movie [because] they assumed the content would somehow be disruptive to their children because of the R-rating,” Sachs recalls of his experience, “which was just kind of tragic on some level.” The director objects to the way the rating board operates: “Literally, the members of the MPAA had to be married people to represent a kind of family value,” he says, referring to a point made in Kirby Dick’s 2006 documentary about the MPAA, This Film Is Not Yet Rated. “This is disgusting.”

    It’s still possible to find support for queer stories in the industry. Ahn, for one, points to Marcus Hu, an openly gay executive at Strand Releasing who advocated for his film. But if not for Sachs’s “alternate universe” of individuals he could rely upon outside the traditional filmmaking sphere, he would not have been able to make Love Is Strange. In fact, all of these directors found hope by building their own worlds and finding their own audiences. Ahn, Freeland, and Hittman were supported through fellowship programs like the Sundance Labs and Cinereach, while Kelly forged his own path with the blessing of Gus Van Sant, with whom he worked on 2008’s Milk. He’s teaming up with James Franco once more for a biopic of J.T. LeRoy.

    As a member of Queer Art, non-profit supporting LGBTQ voices in film, visual arts, performance, and literature, Sachs is trying to create this sort of universe on a systematic level. “I think what is important—and is still possible—is that artists take risks, and those risks are both personal and financial. And to be brave enough to take risks is what has created a history of queer cinema,” he says.

    “I don’t think it’s going to be the mainstream that’s going to do the work,” Ahn notes of LGBTQ representation. “I think it’s more a grassroots-y thing, and it just has to keep building and building.” When it comes to seeing real change in mainstream Hollywood, he predicts, “I think there has to be a couple more Moonlights.”

      Vanity Fair

    German Chancellor Merkel Pivots on Gay Marriage Which Now Makes It Possible to Happen

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened the door to a free vote in parliament on legalizing same-sex marriage, after signaling a shift in her party's position on it.
    Mrs. Merkel surprised the German media by saying she favored a "decision of conscience" on gay marriage.

    Her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have previously opposed it - unlike the rival Social Democrats (SPD), Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens.
    Some MPs want a vote on it this week.

    It is not yet clear whether the vote will happen before parliament's summer break, as Mrs. Merkel does not want opponents to score political points from it.
    Mrs. Merkel's comments sparked intense debate on social media, and the hashtag #Ehef├╝ralle (marriage for all) is trending on Twitter.

    Many of Germany's EU partners have legalized gay marriage, notably the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and the UK.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the Brigitte event in Berlin, 26 Jun 17Image copyrightEPA

    Chancellor Merkel said same-sex marriage was an issue currently preoccupying the CDU
    "I'd like to steer the discussion more in the direction of a decision of conscience," Mrs. Merkel said in a Berlin debate organized by the magazine Brigitte.

    She said same-sex marriage was "a really personal matter", so she wanted the CDU and its Bavarian allies, the CSU, "to react differently to this question". It should not be politicized, she stressed.

    Reports say the CDU leadership spent an hour and a half discussing the issue on Sunday night while preparing its manifesto ahead of Germany's 24 September parliamentary election.
    The opposition parties have set agreement on same-sex marriage as a condition for joining a coalition after the election. Germany is currently governed by a CDU-SPD coalition.
    A Twitter message from MPs in the SPD Bundestag (lower house) group said: "Vote now! We say Yes to marriage for all".

    Tweet by SPD politician Martin Habersaat: "Vote now! We say Yes to marriage for all"
    Germany has civil partnerships but the CDU has opposed gay marriage, in order to keep its most conservative supporters loyal and to avoid friction with the CSU, which champions traditional families.

    In the 2013 election campaign, Mrs. Merkel had expressed reservations about gay marriage, saying: "I'm not sure, as far as the children's welfare is concerned."

    But in the interview on Monday she described visiting a lesbian couple in her constituency, who are foster parents to eight children. If the state entrusts children to the care of such a couple, she said, "I can no longer argue so simply on the basis of children's welfare".


    The Act Protecting Half Our Waterways Bother's Trump so He is Eliminating it

    Benjamin Lowy | Getty Images

    The Trump administration seeks to rescind a 2015 regulation that defined which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act.

    The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers outlined a process for removing the Obama-era rule on Tuesday.
    The agencies said this is the first step in advance of a broader review of the federal government's role over the nation's waters.

    The Trump administration is taking steps to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation's streams from pollution.

    The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday outlined a process for rescinding a 2015 regulation that defines which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act.

    President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February ordering EPA to review the rule, which farmers, fossil fuel companies, and property-rights groups have criticized as too strict. Environmentalists counter that the rule is essential to protecting water for human consumption and wildlife.

    The agencies say they'll move immediately to withdraw the existing measure as an interim step, then undergo a broader review of how far the federal government's jurisdiction over the nation's waters should reach.


    NYPD Inspector Who Went Wild Pepper Spraying Protesters on Wall St

    The scene of women in pain after being pepper-sprayed on 12th Street near University Place after a march from the Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan. (JEFFERSON SIEGEL)

    We follow this story closely in 2011 and covered how outraged NYC and the Country were outraged watching a Police Inspector act worse than a rookie cop lost on his first demonstration. Hopefully, this is the last we hear from this dude, so we wanted to show you that his real punishment was to be transferred to Staten Island.
    Maybe this most have been when Staten Island had the Garbage Dump at Fresh Kills so he must've been right at home. At a time when cops are getting off after killing young black is interesting to know that nothing really happens to this cop even though his victims were white and their injuries were permanent. The city took the tax payers money and paid those victims but again the man in charge of this got a few days vacation clipped and moving to Staten Island.
    If you got to "Cops Gone Wild" label and check on 2011 you can see our coverage. Any problems with those pages please let us know and we will take care of them.
     Anthony Bologna, the NYPD Deputy Inspector known as the "pepper spray cop" from a YouTube video released on Sept. 27, 2011, has retired from the force. (CJGRAPSKI VIA YOUTUBE)

    An NYPD deputy inspector who rose to infamy after he pepper-sprayed women for no apparent reason during Occupy Wall Street has retired with a full pension.
    Anthony Bologna — whose inexplicable action got him dubbed Tony Baloney in a legendary “Daily Show” skit — called it a career after 35 years on the job.
    Fellow cops will fete Bologna on July 11 at a Lower Manhattan restaurant in Battery Park, near the Zuccotti Park home base of OWS. The restaurant features $28 pasta bolognese, and tickets are $75 for the event.
    “I think it’s just a little disappointing that he was never really penalized for pepper spraying me,” said Kelly Schomburg, 24 of Boston, who was 18 when Bologna sprayed her. “It absolutely felt swept under the rug.” 
    Bologna, 63, rose to infamy on Sept. 24, 2011, when he used the spray on protestors, most of them women, at an OWS gathering near Union Square.
    Videos of Bologna approaching the group and blasting them with pepper spray went viral and helped galvanize the movement that had begun just days earlier.
    Cops corralled Schomburg and the others behind orange netting when Bologna abruptly began spraying them. The city settled at least seven subsequent lawsuits to the tune of $382,501. 
    Bologna lost 10 vacation days after the incident. In October 2011, he was transferred to Staten Island. He retired in April. The transfer was portrayed as disciplinary but it actually cut Bologna’s commuting time. Some thought Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance should have brought charges against him.
    “He goes to Staten Island, where he has less of a commute and retires with a huge pension,” said lawyer Ron Kuby, who represented some of the women Bologna sprayed.
    “Right now instead of retiring, he should be getting off probation.” Kuby said the treatment of Bologna is part of a Vance pattern of coddling cops.
    “The DA allows and encourages police officers to engage in misconduct,” he said. “This cop lost his temper because a bunch of women didn’t do what he told them to do. I hope DA Vance is invited to the party. He certainly earned his invite.”
    Added Schomburg’s lawyer Debra Greenburger, “It's deeply troubling that he has never been held accountable .”
    Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, sent the Daily News a list of 20 cops the office has either indicted or convicted.
    "This Office has a clear track record of prosecuting official misconduct cases involving on-duty officers and other uniformed employees, including correctional personnel," she said. Within the NYPD, Bologna has his supporters. Roy Richter, head of the Captains Endowment Association, said the cop had a distinguished run.
    “Late in his career, he became well-known for all of the wrong reasons, but overall he served the NYPD honorably and he had a very successful career,” Richter said. “He’s leaving on his terms with his head held high and he’s looking forward to a happy retirement.”
    In the “Daily Show” sketch, actor Christopher Meloni lampoons Bologna as a macho nut who carries multiple canisters of pepper spray and then goes rogue after he is suspended and sprays random people on a city street.
    Schomburg moved back to Boston and is in now in college for women’s studies.
    “It was a really upsetting period of my life,” she said. “I was swept up in a storm. It’s not something I look back on fondly.”
    Bologna joined the NYPD in 1982 and spent much of his career assigned to the First Precinct in Lower Manhattan and the Manhattan South Task Force.
    Richter said Bologna reached the department’s mandatory retirement age.

    New York Daily News

    June 27, 2017

    The Evidence Has Been in On HIV Prevention! U=U (Undetectable=Untransmittable) U=U

    I remember making enemies from some in the HIV community (not in NYC) back on 2009 when I posted information about PrEp (prophylaxis). Nobody wanted to believe it and the government did not want to emphasize it because it did not want to be seen to the religious right that it was encouraging gay sex, safe or not, because that incorrectly was thought as the thrid rail of politics.

    PREP keeps an HIV- individual negative even when condoms are not use. We know the truth about condoms and how people lie about using them and how many people become HIV with the same lie ( sorry it must've come off).

    Now we have something that works when the HIV+ individual takes the responsibility to use the meds correctly and becomes undetectable ( virus does not show in the blood with one of the standard tests used by different labs).

    The responsibility comes back to the HIV individual to become undetectable and be ready to prove it when asked for the latest test (usually a blood test is given every 3 months), which will show if the virus is undetectable and if not it will show the viral load. A nine month or year old test is worthless. It has to be undetectable, not low and current; Otherwise, the parties involved have to go to condoms and or prep.

    U=U is a new reality which is not new but now this month some states and city governments have been ready to inform people on this week's HIV prevention day (Wed 27).

    I posted this at least a year ago and still, some people did not want to believe it. Why? I can only think that because it takes a little work to be undetectable or to stay HIV-  1. Take the HIV test and if proven positive starts meds as soon as possible, (Untransmissible, when undetectable) if meds are use correctly and your body works with them there will be a point on most people that they will become not able to transmit.
    2. Keep your lab and Dr appointments 3. Take the meds as prescribed. 

    Just last month in London one of the world famous gay bars kept a gay man from coming in because on a search for weapons they found a bottle of HIV meds.

    Instead of congrats buddy! He was shame and kept from coming in, hopefully, he is able to financially recoup for this stupid mistake.

    You can make this HIV prevention strategy work for you by taking your HIV treatment as prescribed and seeing your healthcare provider regularly. Your ongoing healthcare should include blood tests to check your viral load and ensure that it remains undetectable.
    Wait until you have had at least two consecutive undetectable viral load test results before depending on this strategy.
    To make this strategy keep working for you, adherence is key. If you have trouble taking your HIV medications every day, don't be afraid to ask for help from your doctor, pharmacist and/or peer counselor.
    If your viral load does not become undetectable or if it becomes detectable again, this can increase the risk of transmission. In that case, you may need to use other prevention strategies, such as condoms, until your viral load becomes undetectable.

    What About Other STIs?

    Maintaining an undetectable viral load can prevent HIV transmission but it does not prevent the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydiagonorrhea, and syphilis. However, condoms can reduce the risk of many STIs, so you might want to use HIV treatment and condoms.

    What Is an Undetectable Viral Load?

    Viral load refers to the amount of HIV in the blood of a person living with HIV. HIV treatment can reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to a level too low to be measured by a viral load test. At that point, a person's viral load is said to be undetectable. For most people, this occurs after taking HIV treatment for three to six months.
    Having an undetectable viral load does not mean you are cured of HIV. The virus is still in the body. If you stop taking HIV treatment or miss too many doses, HIV will start replicating again and the viral load will once again become detectable.

    What are the Benefits of Having an Undetectable Viral Load?

    We now know that it's good for your health: Starting treatment as soon as possible after becoming HIV positive decreases a person's risk of developing serious illnesses and allows people to live long, healthy lives. Having an undetectable viral load can also prevent HIV transmission.

    How Do I Know if I'm Undetectable?

    The only way to know is to have regular viral load tests. If your viral load becomes detectable again, there may be a risk of HIV transmission. An ongoing detectable viral load may also indicate that your HIV treatment is no longer working properly. If your viral load becomes detectable, talk to your doctor.

    How Can I Know That Maintaining an Undetectable Viral Load Prevents the Sexual Transmission of HIV?

    A significant body of research has been accumulating over the years. In 2016, the final findings from two large international studies -- PARTNER and HPTN 052 -- were published. These studies showed that not a single HIV transmission occurred between serodiscordant sex partners when the partner living with HIV was on treatment and had an undetectable viral load.
    As Dr. Myron Cohen, the principal investigator of HPTN 052, stated: "We now have 10,000 person years (of follow-up) with zero transmissions from people who are suppressed."
    As a result, we can confidently say that when a person taking antiretroviral treatment maintains an undetectable viral load, they do not transmit HIV to their sex partners.
    The Prevention Access Campaign -- an international coalition of HIV advocates, activists and researchers who are spreading the word that undetectable HIV is untransmittable -- has turned this scientific evidence into a simple message: U=U. Researchers from all the major treatment as prevention studies have endorsedit.

    What Does U=U Mean to You?

    I spent 21 years stigmatizing myself while trying to provide a positive front in my work with people living with HIV. I feel somewhat hypocritical because while fighting against stigma and discrimination, I perceived HIV as making me damaged goods, dirty and less than. I lived in fear of transmitting HIV and built walls to keep others out.
    U=U has impacted me to my very soul. I am now aware that I am much more than a virus. I can look forward to meaningful relationships with others and opening my heart.
          -- Tom, Bonny River, NB
    I am an HIV-positive woman. I have known for a long time, through consultations with HIV specialists, that I was not able to transmit the virus. This has given me a sense of relief when having condomless sex. The scientific proof makes me feel optimistic about stigma changing. It is an enormous move forward in normalizing people living with HIV, as we will no longer be marginalized. Through education, the public will respond to HIV in a more supportive manner and the quality of life for me and the HIV community will improve.
          -- Anonymous, Montreal
    It took us too long to disseminate the findings of the PARTNER study. We were not simply cautious in our messaging regarding this transformative research, we were silent. Why did it take people with HIV and the organizations that represent us so long to get the U=U message out? Some thoughts: deep-rooted stigma against people with HIV; paternalism in our organizations and the alignment of ASOs with an under-informed government agenda, held in place through diminishing funding; and a disengaged, less scientifically literate National PHA movement that seems prepared to settle for the status quo in HIV.
          -- Darien, Toronto
    This research is wonderful but many people are not aware that U=U. We need more education and we need to deal with the social stigma of HIV before the positive impacts of U=U can be widely felt. Despite all the research, the stigma is still there -- not just in serodiscordant relationships but also in society.
    I am in a long-term relationship and I've been undetectable for three years, but many women with HIV are fearful of being criminalized for not disclosing their HIV status. We still have lots of work to do before we can fully enjoy the benefits of U=U.
          -- Madhuri, Calgary
    [Ed's note: U=U has not yet had an impact on HIV laws in Canada. A person living with HIV in Canada still has a legal duty to disclose their HIV status to a sex partner before: (1) sex (vaginal or anal) without a condom; and (2) sex (vaginal or anal) with a condom unless you have a low viral load (less than 1,500 copies/ml). It is not clear how the law applies to oral sex.]
    As an activist and as a person living with HIV who is privileged to have access to life-saving treatments and good healthcare, U=U is something I embrace and celebrate. U=U has presented people with HIV with even more reason to demand universal access to treatment and healthcare. As part of the North American U=U Steering Committee, I have connected with peers and activists across the globe to advance this important message locally and globally. As a member of the Canadian Positive People Network, it is my hope that our network can further explore how we can spread awareness of U=U -- among poz folks, within the HIV sector, and with public health, government and the general public.
          -- Christian Hui, Toronto
    All of us here at CATIE, and indeed around the world, are celebrating the most significant development in the HIV world since the advent of effective combination therapy 20 years ago. The "fabulousness" of this news cannot be overstated. With or without a condom, if you're undetectable you won't pass along HIV! This is an absolute game-changer and those who live with HIV can proudly share this information.
          -- Laurie Edmiston, Executive Director of CATIE

    Apple, Microsoft and Another 48 Companies Urge The Court to Back Gay Workers

    Dozens of companies, including Alphabet's Google, Microsoft, CBS and Viacom urged a federal appeals court on Monday to rule that a law banning sex discrimination in the workplace offers protections to gay employees.

    The brief submitted by 50 companies to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan marks the first time such a large group of businesses has backed arguments about employment discrimination that LGBT groups and the administration of former President Barack Obama have made for years.

    The companies said the bias against gay employees is widespread, with more than 40% of gay workers reporting harassment and other forms of discrimination in various studies. The lack of a federal law clearly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has hindered recruitment in states that have not adopted their own, the companies said. 

    Tate Modern Uses Virtual Reality to Recreate Modigliani’s Early 20th Century Paris
    "Recognizing that our uniform federal law protects LGBT employees would benefit individual businesses, and the economy as a whole, by removing an artificial barrier to the recruitment, retention, and free flow of talent," wrote the companies' lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

    The companies asked the 2nd Circuit to revive a lawsuit by the estate of Donald Zarda, who claimed he was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor on Long Island after he told a customer he was gay and she complained. Zarda died in a skydiving accident after filing the lawsuit.

    In April, a panel of three 2nd Circuit judges dismissed Zarda's case, saying the court's decision in a separate case in 2000 that said discrimination against gay workers is not a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 foreclosed his claims.
    Tim Cook Is Getting More Praise for His Work in LGBT Advocacy

    Tim Cook Is Getting More Praise for His Work in LGBT Advocacy
    He’s the first openly gay CEO in the Fortune 500.
    But last month, the full court, which can overturn the prior ruling, agreed to review the case. That came weeks after a different appeals court in Chicago became the first to rule that Title VII protects gay workers.

    Zarda's former employer, Altitude Express, says Congress did not intend for Title VII to apply to gay workers when it passed the law more than 50 years ago, and courts do not have the power to change the meaning of the law.A different appeals court in Atlanta, Georgia, is currently considering whether to revisit a March decision that dismissed a lawsuit by a former hospital security guard who said she was harassed and forced to quit because she is gay.


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