September 30, 2017

Trump Says While on his way to Gulf Bad News About PR is Fake News

As President Trump prepares to board Air Force One, heading to New Jersey for the weekend he stops say bad news about PR is fake news. Why doesn't this poor excuse of a human being  doen't go and see?
President Trump sent a number of tweets Saturday in response to the disaster unfolding in Puerto Rico, and in response to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz "begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying."
The big picture: He's turning the focus from his morning tweets, which earned him widespread rebuke, to claiming he's being treated unfairly.
Trump's new tweets: 
  • "Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!' 
  • "The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard. Thank you Ricky!"
  • "Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon of Puerto Rico has been wonderful to deal with and a great representative of the people. Thank you!" 
  • "To the people of Puerto Rico: Do not believe the #FakeNews! #PRStrong" 
  • "My Administration, Governor @ricardorossello, and many others are working together to help the people of Puerto Rico in every way...#FakeNews critics are working overtime, but we're getting great marks from the people that truly matter! #PRStrong"
  • "We must all be united in offering assistance to everyone suffering in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the wake of this terrible disaster."
  • "Results of recovery efforts will speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor. Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!"
Go deeper: Trump's new feud.

Melanie Trump's Donation of Books Was Returned "Thank you but Not for Our School"

A Rich woman like her husband and the woman in charge of school education Betsy Devos, have with no idea of who needs what in this country. A hand Me down is a hand me down,  maybe she thought.  People, all people love free stuff. No, she was wrong.

Some people have scruples and know what they have and what they need.  They don't mean to take what they already have but others need. The thing is she was not always rich nor American nor spoke english. I guess she put all that stuff behind her. As for Betsy DeVos, she has no experience in teaching or books except the one she's read. For the first time in this country we have a Billionaire President who lives in his own made up world who has surrounded himself with a staff of also rich people like him who gave out those positions like if they were thank you cards for the money they contributed to his campaign for president.

A school librarian has kicked the First Lady out.

Just like Sam from Green Eggs and Ham before her, Boston school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro took one look at the Dr. Seuss books Melania Trump donated to her school, and decided she "would not like them here or there."

The First Lady's office declared on Sept. 6 that Trump would donate Dr. Seuss books to schools across America that had been recognized for education excellence to celebrate National Read a Book day. Cambridgeport Elementary School was on the list, but the book slinger in charge there took issue with the gesture for two reasons — she didn't need free books, and they weren't right.
As Liz Phipps Soeiro put it in a a blog post, there were schools that needed books and hers wasn't one of them:

"School libraries around the country are being shuttered," Soeiro wrote. "Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control? Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?"

There was more. Soeiro also wrote she found Dr. Seuss "a bit of a cliche," writing the late author's illustrations are "steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes."

She then drove home her point recommending stories she said illustrate the Trump Administration's impact on children like Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation, and Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation instead of The Cat in the Hat and Oh the Places You Will Go.

She even issued a plea for the First Lady and the President. "You and your husband have a direct impact on these children’s lives. Please make time to learn about and value them," Soeiro wrote.
In response, The First Lady's office said that the librarian's decision was "unfortunate":

"Mrs. Trump intends to use her platform as First Lady to help as many children as she can. She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to schools across the country is but one example," her spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to Fortune.

 "Turning the gesture of sending young school children books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere."


UPDATE: Melania had this Librarian Dismissed:

By now, you’ve likely heard about the Cambridge school librarian and her open letter to Melania Trump. The First Lady had committed the act of sending the school 10 free Dr. Seuss books, in honor of National Read a Book Day. The librarian published a blog post rejecting the gift — it should go to needier schools, she wrote — and trashing Dr. Seuss for good measure, on the grounds of being “a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature” who is also “a bit of a cliché,” and … wait for it … “steeped in racist propaganda.”

It’s such luscious Cantabridgian self-parody that picking it apart feels almost too easy. As most preschoolers are taught, the proper response, when presented with a gift you don’t want, is “thank you,” with no further commentary. And dismissing Dr. Seuss’s entire body of work as racist? “The Sneetches,” published in 1961, is the foundational text for teaching the perils of prejudice. (If you don’t believe me, ask Barack Obama.)

The Cambridge schools have already taken care of scolding the librarian. Now, we’re left to consider the sadder part of this story: why it’s so easy, these days, for smart people to lose all sense of perspective. Because this librarian is hardly alone. In an age of outrage, tribal warfare, and proudly-proclaimed resistance, we’ve lost something big: The ability to call them as we see them.

Sex, Drugs and Gay ChemSex in Hong Kong

Years of hiding his sexuality from family and friends had left him wary of expressing his true feelings and worried that his true identity would not be accepted by those he loved.
 Even this afternoon, when Jack has summoned the courage to reveal the most intimate aspects of his journey to a complete stranger, he feels the need to remain cautious. 
Chemsex involves bingeing on drugs and having sex with multiple men. Drug availability and mobile apps make hooking up easy, but the risks include addiction, HIV and depression. We talk to victims and those trying to help 
Hence the request to use “Jack” rather than his real name. And hence the fact that while he’s opening up verbally, Jack’s also clutching a large cushion tightly to his chest, as though there’s still a need to keep a layer of protection between himself and the world.
Jack is among a growing number of Hong Kong men caught up in a cycle of “chemsex” binges – with an array of drugs taken over days and sex with multiple partners – and the dark days that follow, when the drugs wear off and a fierce depression sets in. His longest sex-and-drugs session lasted 24 hours.
The 30-year-old started to seek help when – following a particularly intense weekend of drug taking and sex – a dispute with his boss led to thoughts of suicide and Jack found his life spiralling out of control.

“In 2015, I left the office and stood there thinking about walking onto the East Rail Line,” Jack says. “The cloud from the drugs was still there and I just couldn’t think logically. It was all based on emotion, and I had lost control of my emotions.”
The official numbers – supplied to the Post by the Department of Health – read that, among men who have sex with men, the prevalence of chemsex remained at around 11 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
“Poppers (amyl nitrate), drugs for erectile dysfunction and methamphetamine [Ice] are the top three common drugs used by MSM [men who have sex with men] in 2016, while gamma-hydroxybutyric acid [GHB] and ecstasy ranked fourth and fifth,” the department says.
You just want sex. The good feelings come up and it’s overwhelming
As well as the risk of drug addiction, chemsex between couples or at parties with multiple partners increases the risk of HIV infection, as caution is forgotten during the charged-up sex sessions.
“You don’t really think about condoms or even lubricant,” says Jack. “You just want sex. The good feelings come up and it’s overwhelming. Bad thoughts and bad memories just disappear. You find a place to escape … but it is short-lived.”
Jack – and others within the gay community the Post talked to – believe the numbers of those involved in chemsex in Hong Kong have risen over the past five years, due to the availability of the drugs and the continued rise in use of apps such as Grindr, which they say take the hard work out of hook-ups for sex. Personal profiles will include icons such as an ice-cream to let users know what the person is looking for.
“I started with chemsex in 2009, starting with poppers offered to me at a sauna in Mong Kok,” says Jack. “I found the feeling pleasurable and I could just enjoy myself and not worry. I became curious and wanted to try more and more. In 2011, I moved on to meth. It is easy with social media to find someone interested at any time of the week, if you want. There are people who will provide the drugs and the venue.”

The term “chemsex” was first derived by London-based Australian David Stuart, whose arrest on drug charges in 2005 led to his research into the problem – and to the opening of the world’s first chemsex support programme at a clinic in London’s Soho district. A 2015 documentary by digital media company Vice introduced the issue to a wider audience.
In an interview with Agence France-Press in July, Stuart said the term defined the “use of drugs for sex” and was associated with “certain behaviours such as hooking up online, high number of partners and high prevalence of HIV and sexually-transmitted disease”.
London is considered the world’s “chemsex capital” and Stuart estimated that, of the 7,000 to 8,000 gay men who use his clinic, “three thousand are using chems and are coming here with the consequences of chemsex”.
Stuart believes a common theme heard from many attracted to chemsex sessions – which can last for days and include multiple partners – is that they are searching for intimacy as well as escape. Jack agrees.
  “I think it is about the stress,” says Jack, who reveals that although he has come out to his parents, they still expect him to marry a woman and have children.
“Stress, both in the gay community and outside of it. The gay community in Hong Kong is obsessed with being masculine, and fit, and they reject those who are a little bit sissy, obese or even overweight. People are obsessed with the outward appearance. But in chemsex it doesn’t matter. I felt like I could be who I was and not worry about what anyone else thought about me.”
Chau Chun-yam has assisted the gay community in his role as a social worker with The Boys’ & Girls’ Club Association of Hong Kong for the past 10 years. Two years ago the NGO reacted to a rise in drug addiction among gay men by starting a prevention and treatment programme. He has seen an increase in the number of gay men reaching out for help with the associated problems, and also with the desires that make chemsex an attraction in the first place. 
“The rise in the number of gay men using drugs during sex was really first noticed in 2010,” says Chau. “The issue has been around for quite a long time, but it seems to be getting more serious. More and more people are using drugs, and networking apps have made it more visual in the gay community.
“Chemsex is not the same as drug abuse. People not only get addicted to drugs – they get addicted to the super high created by sex and drugs together.”
Chau and his team have set up their own account on Grindr to offer information and advice for those looking for help, including online and face-to-face counselling, while they are currently working with the University of Hong Kong on chemsex research.
“We try to increase the motivation for change,” says Chau. “We try to set up face-to-face counselling, try to support clients by finding out what kind of function the drugs provide for them and advise them on how they can restructure their lives. It’s like any addiction.”
Chau says there are common traits among those he has worked with. “Often they have difficulty coming to terms with their own sexual orientation. They have a strong sense of isolation and shame about their sexuality. A chemsex party is a way of connecting with people. It’s not a healthy way but it’s a substitute for the intimacy and acceptance they really want.”

 Chau adds: “Chemsex is an artificial way of connecting with people. And the combination of drugs and sex can look attractive for a while, and give a sense of that connection. Drugs are initially used as a way to cope with the shame and loneliness they feel as gay men, but soon it becomes an even bigger problem that is difficult to quit.”
He says another common concern is the risk of HIV infection. “For many men with HIV, particularly those who are newly infected, chemsex is a way of escaping the stigma of being infected,” he says. “To help gay men quit chemsex, you have to be able to support them to accept their sexuality and HIV-positive status, and help them build positive relationships with others.”
Although there are obvious psychological forces at play – certainly in terms of addictions – the use of illicit drugs means chemsex falls under the remit of the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau.
A spokesman for the Narcotics Division says the Hong Kong government has adopted a “five-pronged strategy” to deal with drug abuse – preventive education and publicity, treatment and rehabilitation, legislation and law enforcement, external cooperation, and research.
There needs to be strong motivation for change
“A 24-hour telephone helpline and instant messaging service manned by social workers are made available for people with drug problems, including hidden drug abusers and sexual minorities, to seek help,” the spokesman says.
Other initiatives include the Beat Drugs Fund, which “supports the organisation of anti-drug projects addressing the needs of different target groups, including those of hidden drug abusers and sexual minorities”.
But the law is the law, and if you get caught with illicit drugs, you’ll be arrested.
Jack says his struggle continues. He last dipped back into the chemsex scene a month previously and the fight against temptation is a weekly battle, particularly on weekends when he has time on his hands. But the desire to move on is strong, and that is the first step forward, according to Chau.
“There needs to be strong motivation for change,” says Chau. “But people need also to know that there are people willing to give them the support they need.”
South China Morning Post
Mathew Scott

'Employers Can Fire People for Being Gay' by Trump Admin

Why does President Donald Trump care about what gay people do in the bedroom?

The question came up this week, when a lawyer for Trump's Department of Justice argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect LGBTQ Americans from being fired because of their sexual orientation—a complete reversal of the government's position on such matters under previous presidents.

The Justice Department argument Tuesday, before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, came in the case of Donald Zarda who claims he was fired by his company, Altitude Express, for being gay.

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Related: Here's How Donald Trump Could Actually Be Impeached

The agency inserted itself, even though the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had already sided with Zarda, arguing that LGBTQ employees are protected by Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights law.

That made the hearing odd, to say the least.

"It’s a little bit awkward for us to have the federal government on both sides of the case," observed Judge Rosemary Pooler at one point in the oral arguments.

But Justice Department lawyer Hashim Mooppan pressed on anyway, opposing the EEOC, which was still run by an Obama administration holdover when the case first reached the court.

"Employers under Title VII are permitted to consider employees' out-of-work sexual conduct," Mooppan told the judges. "There is a common sense, intuitive difference between sex and sexual orientation."

The lawyer for Zarda's side disagreed in the most basic terms.

"(It's) as conservative as it could possibly get: if having sex with a man is okay for a woman, it has to be okay for a man as well," Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal, tells Newsweek. "You cannot apply a different rule based on gender, according to the law. Apparently, that wasn’t conservative enough for the DOJ."

The Justice Department argument reflects a "significant undermining of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality," Nevins added.

The arguments came as the full 13-judge Second Circuit reviews an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel in favor of Zarda's former employer. They also came after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in April that people can't be fired because they engage in gay sex.

But the law has been interpreted to include protections for sexual orientation for decades, after multiple lower level district courts concluded beginning in 2002 that employees could not be fired simply for being gay. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in April that Title VII does in fact cover sexual orientation, noting that any other interpretation of the law would be “confusing and contradictory.”

It’s not the first time the Trump administration has moved to shred protections for gays.

Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the department has filed multiple amicus briefs arguing against LGBTQ protections, including one for the upcoming high-profile Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Earlier this month, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall defended Colorado baker Jack Philips, who was found guilty of violating the state's Anti-Discrimination Act when he refused to make a wedding cake for two men who were getting married even though he routinely makes such cakes for straight couples.

Philips argued his case on First Amendment grounds: as an artist and a Christian, he should not be forced to create a work of art that violates his beliefs. Defying lower courts, the Trump administration agreed.

"Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights," Wall wrote in a brief earlier this month. 

Taken together, the Zarda and Masterpiece cases suggest to legal experts that the Trump administration is willfully targeting the gay community.

"It's nothing short of shocking," Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Washington Post. The administration, she said, "has already made its hostility" toward the LGBTQ community abundantly clear.

Nevins thinks he knows why—it's good politics for Trump.

"Trump touted his pro-LGBTQ credentials last year [but] one thing that’s preserved what’s left of his approval rating is that there are people who are happy with his administration fighting the good fight for them," he says. "It’s going to play well for them, even if the DOJ is weighing in on losing sides and their arguments are contrary to even conservative notions."

September 29, 2017

Trump Admin is Feeling The Heat from Puerto Rico-The Dead-Dying Tend To Speak Too

 Toa Baja, P.R. yesterday

The Trump administration moved on Thursday to step up its assistance to Puerto Rico more than a week after Hurricane Maria, appointing a three-star general to coordinate with agencies and vowing to give the island all it needed as aides tried to stave off comparisons to the response to Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.
But on Puerto Rico, the desperation and frustration only grew. Shelters ran out of supplies and residents lined up all night to purchase ice and fuel, only to walk away with a bag of cold water or just a few gallons of gas. Others complained of an absence of basics like tarps for roofs and the continuing lack of running water.
Officials still struggled to get supplies out of port to be distributed across an island of 3.4 million people where there is no electricity and scant phone service. Hospitals ran low on diesel for generators.
The island has become a landscape of long lines and growing impatience with the pace of the response to what Puerto Rico’s governor called the “greatest catastrophe” in its modern history. Lawmakers and local officials alike called on President Trump to place the military in charge and to send more troops, aircraft and ships.
“With all the needs there are, we go out every day to the streets and are face to face with the people — you don’t see a single government agency,” said Elizabeth Perez, a police officer in Ponce, P.R., who recently visited poor neighborhoods in her district and found people living in dire conditions.  
The White House continued to insist that the administration was doing all that it could. A century-old shipping law was temporarily waivedafter officials in Puerto Rico said it was hindering disaster relief efforts. About 7,200 troops are on the island, as are about 2,800 federal relief workers, the White House said. And the Pentagon announced that a new, higher-ranking military commander, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan of the Army, would work with federal aid agencies on the response.
“We will not let you down,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, told Puerto Ricans.
“FEMA & First Responders are doing a GREAT job in Puerto Rico. Massive food & water delivered,” the president tweeted.
But the call for more help grew increasingly urgent. “There is a crisis in Puerto Rico,” tweeted Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida. “Fuel, water & medicine sitting at the docks. Need immediate response by US military. Where is the cavalry?”
Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who is being tried on federal bribery charges, criticized the response after court proceedings. Speaking at Newark Liberty International Airport, where he planned to board a flight to Florida and then one to Puerto Rico, Mr. Menendez called on the president to issue a disaster declaration for the entire island — which, he said, “astonishingly, has yet to happen.”
Military officials involved in past disaster responses said that help for Puerto Rico should have been ramped up much earlier. Russel L. Honoré, the retired lieutenant general appointed by a beleaguered President George W. Bush to take over the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said the government needs to quickly move 50,000 troops to Puerto Rico.

Road closures
2 p.m.
San Juan
Hurricane Maria
Sept. 20, 8 a.m.

“They need to scale up,” said General Honoré, who was widely praised for turning around the response to Katrina. During that relief operation, he said, “I had 20,000 federal troops. Not federal workers, federal troops.”
He added, “And Puerto Rico is bigger than Katrina.”
Even improvements in Puerto Rico seemed to beget more complications.
As officials tried to move more goods out of the main port in San Juan, the capital, they struggled to find drivers. Some trucking companies were low on diesel and had trouble acquiring more. Some drivers lost their homes in the hurricane, or simply could not be reached by phone.
So the government put out a call for truckers to send a text message to a hotline or simply show up at the convention center in San Juan that has been converted into a command center for the government. Those who heeded the request were frustrated by what they found.
“They’re not letting us move at all,” said Danny Custodio, 37, who stood in the atrium of the convention center with his cousin on Thursday afternoon. “We’re in a crisis. Just open up the port so I can get what I need to get and take it where I need to take it.”
Officials said that some containers were sitting in the port because businesses, many still shuttered, were not in a position to receive supplies. Warehouses were damaged. And apart from generators, no power source was available to keep perishable goods cold.
About 600 containers did leave the port on Wednesday, up from 450 a day earlier, said Omar Marrero, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority. He said that he expected that as many as 1,200 could leave on Thursday.
Throughout Puerto Rico, residents say they have yet to see their mayors distribute aid. In Ponce, people who waited overnight to buy an allotted two small bags of ice had to repeat the act each night because, without electricity, the previous day’s purchases had melted.
Hector Marquéz, 66, said he goes to the ice line every day at 3 a.m. to be ready for its 7 a.m. opening. “Have you seen a single tarp over anyone’s house? People lost their roofs. Where are the tarps?” Mr. Marquéz said. “They haven’t brought anything here.”
He rattled off a list of what he could not find: bottles of water, gas canisters to light stoves, food.
“Whatever little bit you had is running out,” he said. “The trucks with food do not come. No trucks come with anything. You go to the supermarket, and it’s almost empty.”
Officer Perez, in Ponce, said that people were in “inhumane conditions, almost without food, without drinking water.” 
She said that “when I went up in the police car, they said that in a week, this is the first agency that will come up here to see what the status is.”
Some humanitarian aid still cannot even get to Puerto Rico.
Freddy Rolon, 43, arrived Wednesday with fellow firefighters from Texas, but the donated water and other supplies that aid organizations had gathered were still in Florida, he said.
“We have hundreds of containers that are full, ready to get to the island,” Mr. Rolon said. “All that is ready to deploy.”
Administration officials conceded that the response appeared to be sluggish and inadequate, but they defended its efforts and blamed news media accounts for exaggerating the situation.
“I understand the coverage, in some cases, is giving the appearance that we’re not moving fast enough,” Thomas P. Bossert, Mr. Trump’s homeland security adviser, told reporters outside the White House. He said there was “an understandable degree of devastation” and a sense that “there’s nothing that can happen fast enough.”
“But what I will tell you is that we are mobilizing and marshaling the resources of the United States of America in a way that is absolutely professional, fast and adequate to meet the needs,” Mr. Bossert added.
Later, at the daily White House briefing, Mr. Bossert deflected the criticism coming from elected officials and others by promising that they would be “blown away” when they saw “the full totality” of the United States government’s response.
“This is textbook,” he insisted, “and it’s been done well.”
Still, Mr. Bossert acknowledged that the administration has ramped up its efforts, recognizing that its initial steps were insufficient.
The Army Corps of Engineers was put in charge of restoring power on the island. Administration officials also said that federal forces — active-duty military and National Guard and reservists — had joined officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help.
Patrick M. Shanahan, the deputy defense secretary, spoke by phone with Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico on Thursday and pledged that the Pentagon would “deploy all needed resources,” the Defense Department said in a statement.
Of Mr. Trump’s planned visit next week to the island, Mr. Menendez said, “I’m glad he’s going to visit so that he gets a full amount of understanding.” But that understanding, he added, would come late, and after two other hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, lashed the United States.
“Knowing that this was a Category Five hurricane after Irma — what did you expect on the island?” Mr. Menendez said.

Tortured, Eyes Gouged Out and Killed in Texas Because of His Gender Identity

I would like to share with you this page from USA Today It makes me sick just to post it but here it is and is something we have to be made aware. When violence like this happens we need to know because is both a bell's gong signaling we are not there yet and we need to shead light to these dark-hearts evil people because the light kills many germs. Hope it kills these ones.  Adam

Joey Steinfeld, also known as Ally, was killed in early September. Steinfeld's burned remains were found in Texas County. Three people have been charged with first degree murder and abandonment of a corpse. Another has been charged with tampering with evidence and abandonment of a corpse.Wochit

Missouri authorities say they don't believe the killing of a transgender teen was motivated by the 17-year-old's gender identity, despite the horrific details of the gruesome death.
The burned remains of Ally Steinfeld, born Joseph Matthew Steinfeld, were found last week near a mobile home just north of Cabool in southern Missouri.
Two young women, Briana Calderas, 24, and Isis Schauer, 18, told authorities they helped burn Steinfeld's body after 18-year-old Andrew Vrba gouged out Steinfeld's eyes, repeatedly stabbed the teen — including multiple times in the genitals — and bragged about the killing earlier this month, according to court records.
Vrba told investigators he initially tried to poison Steinfield, then described how he stabbed Steinfeld in the living room of Calderas' mobile home, according to a probable cause statement.
However, the Associated Press reports that Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. and Sheriff James Sigman both say the teen's gender identity wasn't a motivator in the killing.
No motive is given in the probable cause statement. All three are charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse.

"I would say murder in the first-degree is all that matters," Stevens Jr. told the Associated Press. "That is a hate crime in itself."
Missouri law allows certain low-level felonies and serious misdemeanors to be charged as hate offenses, if prosecutors believe an offender was motivated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or disability of the victim or victims. In that case, there can be "enhanced penalties for certain offenses."
The charges filed against those accused in Steinfeld's killing are not covered by the hate offense statute — first-degree murder already carries more significant penalties than a hate offense.
At the federal level, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows criminal prosecution of hate crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, race, color, religion, national origin or disability. But to do so, a federal agency would have to take the case to court.

'I want them to fry in the chair'

Steinfeld identified as a male-to-female transgender lesbian on social media and spoke with her sister, Ashleigh Boswell, about being transgender.
Boswell said Steinfield had been dating Calderas for about three weeks and seemed happy. The last time Boswell spoke with Steinfield was on Sept. 1. Boswell said Steinfield said she was trouble but didn't go into details.
"We honestly don't understand why they done it," Boswell said. "It just don't make any sense."
Steinfeld's father, Joseph Steinfeld Sr., said the family got worried when no one heard from the teen on Sept. 9, what would have been the younger Steinfeld's 18th birthday. The family traveled from their home near St. Louis to Texas County to hand out missing person fliers and talk to teen's new group of friends — the same people who are now suspects in the murder.
"I personally talked to AJ (Andrew Vrba). The hand that killed my son, he shook my hand," Joseph Steinfeld Sr. said. "I want them to fry in the chair. I want them to get the needle. I don't know how somebody can do what they did to my child."
He and his wife, Amber, say they are angry that they had to learn the gruesome details about their child's death in the media and not from investigators.
"It's a nightmare we can't wake up from."

Authorities say the three suspects burned Steinfeld's body, placed some of the bones into a garbage bag and put the bag in the chicken coop. Calderas admitted helping burn the body and led authorities to the knife used in the killing, according to the probable cause statement.
A fourth person, James T. Grigsby, has been arrested in connection with Steinfeld's death. Grigsby, who is about 25, according to court records, is charged with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with evidence in a felony case.
Steinfeld Sr. said he is waiting for investigators to come to his house and take DNA samples from him and his wife so their child's body can be identified. After the results come back in a few weeks, then the family can begin making funeral arrangements.
"I don't know how I'm going to pay to bury him," the upset father said. "But I can't cremate him again."

'I am proud to be trans. I am beautiful'

Steinfeld grew up mostly in House Springs, Mo., near St. Louis, the teen's mother Amber Steinfeld told the Associated Press. The family moved briefly to Florida, then to Texas County, an area of rugged hills in southern Missouri.
Steinfeld dropped out of high school upon turning 17, Amber Steinfeld said. At about the same time, the rest of the family moved back to House Springs, but Steinfeld stayed in Houston, Mo., living with different friends.
In May, Steinfeld posted on Instagram that she was coming out and was "mtf," or male-to-female. In a posting on June 13, Steinfeld referred to herself as "Trans male to female and I am mostly lesbian but pansexual." In another that same day she wrote, "I am proud to be me I am proud to be trans I am beautiful I don't care what people think." 
Steinfeld's parents acknowledge their teen "wanted to be a girl" and "identified as female." But both Amber and Joseph Steinfeld Sr. continue to use male pronouns when referencing the teen.
LGBTQ community, advocates weigh in
The teen's murder has drawn the attention of LGBTQ individuals, groups and advocates from around the world.
Steph Perkins, executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group PROMO, said "We don't know enough about what happened to really speculate (if the murder was a hate crime)... But the things we do know align with other acts of violence against transgender people.
"When someone is targeted because of their gender identity, I think it's especially important to look at that because clearly we in the U.S. are not doing a good job about teaching each other how we all deserve to be treated with respect, safety and dignity," he continued. "If this murder did relate to Steinfeld's gender identity, it's important for us as a state and Houston as a city to be able to talk about that and what that means."
Meredith Talusan is a transgender writer and advocate who has studied more than 100 cases of trans murders for Unerased, an investigative feature and database for online news site Mic.
Talusan lives in New York but has been keeping up with news stories about Steinfeld's death.
"Given the information that is publicly available, especially the fact that the victim was stabbed in the genitals, I do think that eliminating the possibility of a hate crime being committed is premature," she said. "That also isn't unusual. There have been a number of cases in which police departments early on in the case don't pursue a hate crime as a possibility."
Chris Sgro, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said Steinfeld was the 21st transgender person killed this year in the U.S.
"This violence, often motivated by hatred, must come to an end," Sgro told the Associated Press. "We will continue to mourn Ally and fight back against transphobia and anti-trans violence."
Anti-Defamation League regional director Karen Aroesty said in a statement: “We are deeply concerned about the gruesome murder of Ally, clearly a young transgender woman. We commend law enforcement officials for the swiftness of their investigation but urge them to investigate the horrific details of the murder based on her self-identified status as transgender.
"Whether the incident should ultimately be considered to be hate-based depends on a number of factors but most important, whether the perpetrators targeted Ally because of her trans status. Hate crimes not only cause unique harm to the victim, but also affect the entire community.”
Contributing: The Associated Press

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