June 3, 2015

First Openly Gay Navy Seal Talks About his Coming Out

 Brett Jones, left, the first openly gay Navy SEAL, plays basketball with his husband, Jason White, and their son, Ethan, 13, outside their Alabama home. David Zucchino Los Angeles Times/TNS

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article22780368.html#storylink=cpy

For years, Brett Jones lived a double life. He was a Navy SEAL, a muscular M-60 gunner trained to kill and survive in enemy territory. He was also gay.
He held his secret close, so close that his SEAL teammates – his closest friends – never suspected. Jones was careful to introduce his male lover, a Navy sailor, as his roommate. He persuaded an attractive friend to pose as his girlfriend whenever the SEALs threw parties.
But one day in 2002, Jones accidentally outed himself. He left an “I love you” phone message for his lover – a stupid mistake, he realized the instant he hung up.
A sailor heard it and turned him in. The Navy launched an investigation designed to dishonorably discharge him.
That mistake led Jones here, to the deeply conservative Bible Belt country of north Alabama, to a brick ranch home on Drury Lane he shares with his husband, Jason White, a burly former police detective and self-professed country boy raised in northern Alabama. The two men are parents to Ethan, a precocious 13-year-old known in the flat, clay and pine country as the only kid in school with two gay dads.
The first openly gay SEAL has built a new life here at age 41 with a family that has replaced the two families he lost – the one that raised him and the one he built with fellow SEALs. Both his parents and the Navy banished him because he’s gay.
On this steamy night, the two gay parents and their straight son are sweating and shoving as they fight to win a roughhouse driveway basketball game called Cheater Ball. That’s followed by shooting practice at a dirt berm in the backyard – a .357 pistol for Ethan, a 12-gauge shotgun for Jones and a Colt M4 carbine for White.
And then Ethan launches a home experiment, constructing a camp stove from a beer can and rubbing alcohol. Flames erupt from the contraption as it boils a pot of water on the kitchen counter.
The three of them horse around, joking and teasing like teenagers. They are close, and necessarily so, since a gay marriage – not to mention gay parenting – is viewed with deep suspicion and outright hostility in perhaps the most anti-gay state in the country.
When Jones and White attend Ethan’s baseball games, they say, coaches and other parents barely speak to them. There are loud whispers and hard stares. No one will sit with them.
“I just want to tell them: ‘It’s not contagious, man. You’re not going to catch it,’ ” Jones says, drawing cackles from White and Ethan.
The parents of Ethan’s friends refuse to allow them to spend the night in the house Jones and White built together in little Toney, population 13,000. But the friends are allowed to stay over with Ethan when he’s at the home of his mother, White’s ex-wife.
School is worse, the family says. It’s a rural county school, almost entirely white and deeply conservative. In science class one day, White says, a teacher stressed that marriage was strictly between a man and a woman. Teachers and students pass Bible verses to Ethan.
“They’re telling him we’re sinners and need help,” White says. “I tell Ethan: ‘Try not to look at them as being hateful. They care about your soul, but they just don’t know any better.’ ”
Jones is accustomed to rejection. When he was in high school, his mother, a devout Christian, overheard his phone conversation with a gay friend.
The next day, Jones says, his parents confronted him. His father, an Air Force pilot, was wearing his blue dress uniform. He was livid. He asked his son, “Brett, are you a homosexual?”
Jones, caught off-guard, denied it at first. But they knew.
“My mom told me homosexuals go straight to hell,” Jones says. “My dad said he wasn’t going to have me infecting our family with that disease.”
They kicked him out. He spent the night in a cheap motel, contemplating suicide. Not long after that, he joined the Navy, serving for 10 years.
It took Jones two tries to pass the Navy’s punishing physical, psychological and emotional tests to qualify as a SEAL, a unit so elite that at least three-quarters of applicants wash out. He had served for six years and two deployments on demanding, secretive missions when his homosexuality was discovered.
It was the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era. Jones, a quarter master 2nd class, lost his security clearance. He was interrogated by a military lawyer who demanded he confess to being gay. He was forbidden to associate with his SEAL teammates unless he was escorted by a Navy master of arms.
His closest SEAL buddies supported him. But other SEALs ostracized him. They gossiped about him, ridiculing gays and saying a homosexual SEAL would destroy unit cohesion.
The Navy dropped its investigation after Jones enlisted a national group that advocates for gays in the military, and after members of Congress intervened. But he knew his SEAL career had been irrevocably destroyed, and he decided not to re-enlist. He quietly left the Navy in 2003.
For years afterward, Jones kept quiet. Then he fell in love with White, who had come out to fellow cops at age 25 in nearby Athens, Ala. White proposed on Christmas morning in 2011, presenting Jones with a ring he and Ethan had picked out. Last December, they drove to Indiana to be married by a court clerk.
White, 37, had lived his own secret, tormented life growing up in Athens, where gays were ridiculed and demonized. His father cracked jokes about homos and fags.
The day White decided to come out, he says, “I told my dad and he stood up and I was bracing for a punch. Instead, he gave me a hug.” His father apologized for all his gay slurs over the years.
White and his brother, Matt, helped convince Jones to self-publish a memoir, “Pride: The Story of the First Openly Gay Navy SEAL,” released in October.
Writing the book helped heal the pain of scorn and rejection, but Jones has neither forgotten nor forgiven the Navy. “They treated me like a criminal,” he says. “I was humiliated.”
He misses his life in the SEALs. “I loved it. I thrived in it. It was my whole life. The bonds I made with those guys was the family I had always wanted,” he says. “I hated lying to them.”
Both White and Jones embrace the holy pursuits of Southern males. They have a safe full of guns and a weight room in the garage. They take Ethan shooting, fishing, hiking and camping. Ethan is taking flying lessons. He wants to be a pilot and an industrial engineer. He says he loves both his dads – he calls White “Dad” and Jones “Brett.”
Jones and White want to sell the house and move Ethan to a public school in nearby Huntsville, which they call “a progressive island” in a state so hostile to gay marriage that its chief Supreme Court justice ordered counties to disobey a federal court order in February permitting gay marriage.
The family feels comfortable in Huntsville, home to scientists and engineers from across the country who work in defense and aerospace. Dads and son attend a Unitarian-Universalist church there and say they have been warmly welcomed. Jones and White own a private security service in the city.
Ethan is convinced he and his dads will be accepted at the Huntsville school. “I’m counting the days,” he says.
Not everyone in rural Madison County is hostile. Some of the neighbors have been friendly and supportive. “We have the only tornado shelter on the street,” White cracks.
Still, they don’t expect a gay pride parade in Toney anytime soon. “Of course, every day I take a drive is a gay pride parade,” White says.
The clients of their security company don’t particularly care that it’s owned and managed by two gay men, White says. The two are a former SEAL and former cop, after all, and Jones served for years as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq after leaving the Navy.
Today, Jones is active in the Trevor Project, which operates 24-hour suicide hotlines for troubled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. He also volunteers with the American Military Partner Association, which advocates for LGBT service members. He gets several messages a week from young gays, some in the military, who are battling depression and discrimination.
A young, gay military officer recently wrote him from Singapore, where homosexuality is illegal. He thanked Jones for “being someone I can identify with and aspire to be like.”
Jones says he has finally reconciled with his mother, though he and his father are not close and only talk by phone a few times a year.
“I love her and she loves me, but we just agree to disagree,” he says of his mother. They never discuss Christianity or “the gay thing,” Jones says.
Cathy Jones, who lives in Austin, Texas, says she loves and admires her son for his honesty and courage.
“I’m a very strong Christian, so it was a very hard adjustment for me,” she says. “I had to come to a place where I could love him and still not agree with him. Now we each accept the other one’s choices in life. I’m all right with the way he is.”
She laughs and recalls Brett’s reckless boyhood. “I was afraid he’d end up in the penitentiary or the graveyard,” she says. “He was a little stinkpot – impulsive, a real daredevil.
“That’s why he did so well in the SEALs,” she adds.
Cathy Jones says she loves Ethan and considers him her grandson. She calls White, her son-in-law, “a wonderful person.”
Jones closed his book with an open letter to Ethan: “No matter what the state of Alabama or anyone else says, we are and always will be a family. … You and your dad make being a father and a husband the most remarkable and unexpected accomplishment of my life.”
On Drury Lane, dinner is almost ready. Jones is coating chicken with chipotle sauce. White is chopping broccoli.
Ethan tries another experiment: making a light bulb from a glass, wire, eight batteries, duct tape and lead filament.
Ethan tapes the batteries to the wire and hooks it to the filament with alligator clips. Nothing happens. His two dads tease him mercilessly.
But moments later, the filament is glowing bright red, lighting up the glass.
Jones wraps his son in a bear hug. “I never doubted you,” he tells him.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article22780368.html#storylink=cpy

If You Never Use Mass Transit but Live in NYC You Pay $130 a Month to MTA

The MTA is still struggling to close their capital budget deficit of $14 billion, calling on both City and State governments to step up their spending to help maintain, repair and expand the subway network that serves as this city's life-sustaining circulatory system. But a new report commissioned by City Comptroller Scott Stringer's office claims the city contributes far more cash to the agency than previously thought—in fact, according to the report, the amount New Yorkers contribute in taxes is the equivalent of a so-called $130-per-month "invisible fare" for each household, and it's time for the state and federal governments to chip in more.
The city as a whole contributes about $10.11 billion to the MTA annually, according to the report, with $5.31 billion coming from the fares and tolls we pay, and $4.801 billion sourced from taxes and subsidies. The MTA, meanwhile, "only" spends $9.86 billion on riders: $6.808 billion of that goes to New York City Transit while the rest is distributed among bridge and tunnel upkeep, the Long Island Railroad, buses, Metro-North, the Staten Island railroad, and debt service.
This means the MTA actually spends less money on New Yorkers than New Yorkers spend on the MTA. The report also notes that the MTA made about $325 million more in revenue than in operating costs in 2014. 
So what's up with all these budget constraints?
The MTA's 2015-2019 Capital Program proposed spending $15.5 billion on the subway aloneover the next five years, with plans to purchase new subway cars, replace track, and upgrade stations, among other improvements. But that $15.5 billion doesn't even cover completing the 2nd Avenue Subway, which may never be completely finished—and other mega projects that would considerably alleviate current commuter woes.
There's also the issue of the MTA's $34.1 billion debt, with the agency's heavy borrowing stretching all the way back to 1982. A fully funded Capital Program would permit the MTA to move forward with necessary repairs and projects without relying on further borrowing, according to the authority.
Governor Cuomo didn't seem to agree, calling the Capital Program "bloated" and thus far failing to provide the authority with the necessary funds. This has been an ongoing issue this year, and in order to alleviate what the MTA claims is a dire financial situation, earlier this month MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast called on the city to help out by giving the authority $300 million annually. The de Blasio administration has agreed to give the MTA $125 million annually, up from $100 million.
Stringer's report, however, uses fares and tolls to suggest the city contributes far more than $100 million per year, a claim with which the MTA takes issue. "It is incredible that the Comptroller acknowledges in the very first paragraph of his report that 'the MTA needs more funding from every level of government,' but uses fuzzy math to justify letting the city off the hook for using some of its billions in future surpluses to pay its fair share for mass transit," the MTA said in a statement.
Stringer, who is also displeased with our dirty subway stations, might make it seem like the city's off the hook, but the report doesn't let the state or federal governments get away with underfunding the MTA. The report points out that the State only offered $603.5 million to the MTA in 2014, making up about 4 percent of its operating budget. The federal government, meanwhile, has pledged $6.8 billion to the 2015-2019 Capital Plan, an amount Stringer says is $1.6 to $4.6 billion too little to keep the agency afloat. 
"As a critical engine of our regional economy, the MTA deserves support from every level of government," Stringer said in a statement. "But any conversation about how to fill the MTA’s budget gap must acknowledge that the City already contributes more to the MTA than it gets back in services, and that Albany must step up to the plate with greater support.”
Straphangers Campaign president Gene Russianoff seems to agree with Stringer's assessment that the state needs to step up to the plate:
The Straphangers Campaign agrees with the central finding of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s just-released report on MTA funding, “The Invisible Fare.” He concludes that “despite the State’s sole governing authority and the tremendous MTA-related economic benefits that are spread across New York, the State’s contribution to the operating budget is” inadequate. We hope that the report can help revive progress on getting the MTA and its millions of riders a fully funded, five-year capital program.
You can peruse the whole report here [pdf], and be sure to tell your state representatives and Governor Cuomo to stop robbing the MTA of badly needed funding and figure out a way to come up with more cash for a 21st Century subway system.

The Mafia? Still here just with a different Outfit!

 Today’s Mafia Tattoo guy with skirt Knee Shorts(Mex. LA)

Last April, in a packed federal courtroom, all eyes were on one unremarkable-looking dark-haired man. More than 90 men and women had already been convicted via plea deals, among them Stomper, Thick Neck, Gunner and Menace. But the fearsome Hollywood Mike, who also goes by the classic nickname Capone, had decided to face a jury. For years he’d been terrorizing California businesses. Charges included racketeering conspiracy, extortion, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ultimately he was sentenced to more than three decades in prison after getting entangled in an operation to steal roughly $6 million from customers … who patronized 99 Cents Only Stores.
This gangster was part of a growing international crime group that’s been called California’s Modern Mafia. And what’s more American than a gangster called Capone? Except this group isn’t Italian — it’s Armenian.
Move over, Sicily: Here comes Armenia, West Africa and Russia. Despite reality TV shows like Growing Up Gotti and Mob Wives, which have continued to immortalize the old-school Italian mob scene in and around New York, organized crime as America once knew it has gone the way of revolvers and Caddies. “It’s over for the Italians,” says Robert Lombardo, a criminology professor at Loyola University Chicago. Sure, the Big Five — Lucchese, Genovese, Gambino, Colombo and Bonanno — are still around, but their numbers have dwindled over the years to a fraction of what they once were. And with the decimation of traditional mafias, a whole new type of organized crime, both racially and tactically, has infiltrated the illicit landscape. “There’s been a restructuring,” Lombardo says. 
That restructuring is multifaceted. For starters, criminal allegiances are becoming less family-centric. In a curious consequence of globalization, they’re also blurring once-indelible ethnic lines — Armenian Power, for instance, is known for working with both Russians and Mexicans. And heists can now function much like pop-up shops. The Russian Bratva might partner with a Somali gang for a specific criminal project, usually online, and then disband until their next undertaking. “There’s been a blending,” says Neil Mathison, an agent with the FBI. What used to be a hierarchal family framework, Mathison says, is now more cellular — mini cells emerge and then recede in a similar way to how terrorist groups operate.
It used to be that racketeering busts involved allegations of extortion and loan-sharking. In 2015, it’s less street-level lawlessness and more white-collar scheming. Medicare and tax fraud are among the biggest trends, Mathison says; just this spring, organized crime groups are alleged to have siphoned $50 million from the IRS in phony tax returns. In crime, as in business, the bottom line is money, and whoever is the most innovative with strategy is the one who profits most — and, in these cases, eludes capture. The dearth of hand-to-hand interactions makes the mafia crimes of today much harder to track. That’s not to say drug trafficking and human smuggling aren’t still rampant, but they’ve become more the trade of transnational cartels and neighborhood street gangs — and less so the domain of so-called homegrown mafias.
It’s been a slow, and perhaps inevitable, breakdown of the iconic American mob family, which over the decades has become woven into the country’s fabric of popular culture. (Who doesn’t miss The Sopranos?) Sure, the rise and subsequent fall had to do with stepped-up prosecutions, but it’s also linked to the socioeconomic ascension of immigrant populations. In many ways, marginalized, first-generation Italians had limited means of making a living and supporting their families. Thus, they turned to crime — and, as everyone knows, they were good at it. But the children and grandchildren of yesterday’s mobsters have long moved out of old hoods to the suburbs, and are now going to college to become doctors and, well, lawyers. Armenians, on the other hand, arrived in Hollywood just a few decades ago. 
So who are the future Gottis? We surveyed the experts — both current and retired FBI agents, criminologists and prosecutors — to pinpoint some of the organized ethnic outfits who are making names for themselves in America. Who knows, maybe one might even end up on a new reality TV show.


This Southern California group isn’t well known off the coast, but it’s certainly caught the attention of law enforcement. Over three decades, it’s quietly grown to more than 250 members with international ties who run sophisticated fraud schemes, like the one that put Hollywood Mike behind bars. 
Armenian Power got its start in the 1980s in East Hollywood. Teenage immigrants banded together to survive the lethal streets, which were regulated by other ethnic gangs. But soon enough the Eurasians had formed bonds with several of their rivals to expand its criminal reach. In 2011, an assistant attorney general was quoted in an FBI press release noting, “The common denominator … is their willingness to commit any crime for profit, and to use any means of violence and intimidation to further their goals.”


Africa is an expansive continent, of course, and its criminals come from all corners. Immigrants from the West, particularly Nigeria, have been fleeing violence in their home countries for the past 30 years. And now authorities are seeing West African criminal enterprises appear from North Carolina to Wisconsin — places that haven’t traditionally been associated with organized crime. Most infamous for their financial scams, Nigerian groups alone cost the U.S. more than $1 billion a year.
Absconding from the other side of the continent, Somalian street gangs are ascending the criminal ranks as they’ve quickly become more sophisticated. Their dominant region of influence? Minnesota. According to census figures, there are about 21,000 Somalian immigrants living in the state, many arriving only in the last 20 years and plagued by poverty. “We’re seeing new ethnic groups mimic old-school mafia, but they’re much more evolved,” says Jim Trusty, chief of the Organized Crime and Gang Section at the Department of Justice. News reports show a penchant for fraud when it comes to car insurance (the Russians are also rumored to be in on this trend) and credit cards, as well as good ol’ armed robbery and prostitution.


Organized crime isn’t just transported to America these days, it’s bred here. There are countless motorcycle gangs and white supremacist syndicates, but the one that seems to be causing the most alarm is the Aryan Brotherhood. “They’re scary because they’re becoming military organized,” Trusty says.
What started as a prison gang in the ’60s has grown to have an estimated 20,000 members. And don’t let the ideology claims fool you. The Aryan Brotherhood is known to work with any and all skin colors in its criminal endeavors. They’re not picky about their modus operandi either, dabbling in murder-for-hire, gunrunning, drugs, counterfeiting and identity theft. Just last year, 36 members of the Texas chapter were convicted in a racketeering conspiracy. “They’re into a lot more — and a lot more structured — than they were in the past,” says Jay Albanese, a criminologist and professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Corruption and organized crime are almost as old as the frigid tundra itself. But as the Soviet Union began to splinter, the region’s mobsters fled for more fertile territories and began to show up on Western shores, particularly on the East Coast in places like Philly. They formally introduced themselves, in few words of course, to the American public in the mid-’90s, after an extortion scheme involving several professional hockey players made headlines. They’ve since quietly dispersed into the shadows. “Russian organized crime doesn’t have a face,” says mafia expert and author George Anastasia.
Commonly referred to as vory v zakone (“thieves in law”), Russians tend to embrace the approach of coming together for a specific crime and then going their separate ways until it’s time for the next one. Known for being savvy and stealthy, they’re often involved in health care, auto insurance or investment fraud. Two years ago, however, the FBI busted an intricate Russian gambling ring, charging several dozen, including prominent New Yorkers. “Trying to figure out Russian gangsters is like trying to figure out Sicilians 100 years ago,” Anastasia warns. “This is still just the beginning.”

MEGHAN WALSH                                                          
                                                                          International Mafia: No Names
Image result for News American Mafia

June 2, 2015

2006 TIME: Jamaica the most Homophobic Place in the World but Change Might be Coming

Attitudes toward civil rights in Jamaica are changing — but more needs to be done

In 2006, Time magazine called Jamaica “the most homophobic place on earth.” The country was experiencing excessive violence and hate crimes against gays and lesbians. Three years later, a friend and I were robbed and sexually assaulted in Jamaica. We are both lesbians. When I first reported the incident to the police, an officer told me I should “leave this lifestyle and go back to the church.” But I didn’t. I reported the incident and testified against my assaulter. I became an advocate for other women like me.
In April, at a town hall meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, President Barack Obama included my story when he spoke about a generation that cares “less about the world as it has been, and more about the world as it should be and can be.” These two moments—when an official insulted me and when the U.S. president acknowledged me—show how far Jamaica has come in the last few years.
Although the LBGT community in Jamaica still faces challenges on many fronts, attitudes are changing, as detailed in a recent report from Human Rights First. Given this momentum, international partnerships and pressure on the government have the power to help change the lives of LBGT Jamaicans.
Jamaica’s “anti-sodomy law,” a holdover from British colonial rule, criminalizes “the abominable crime of buggery” and acts of “indecency” between men. Few have been convicted under the law, but many use it as pretext for unfairness and violence. Broadcasting companies have cited it when refusing to air ads promoting tolerance and respect for LGBT people. Dancehall music artists have used it to justify violent homophobic lyrics.
Many LGBT youth are forced to live on the streets after being kicked out of their homes. People can lose their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many avoid healthcare centers, even for HIV treatment, for fear of mistreatment. Mobs have attacked and even killed LGBT people. Few are investigated for these crimes, and even fewer are convicted.
Those with intersecting identities, such as lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender people seem to get a double dose of gendered violence and prejudice.

Overturning the “anti-sodomy law” requires not just a legal case but a transformation of social attitudes. Last year, threats forced activist Javed Jaghai to withdraw his challenge to the law. A 2011 poll found that about 76% of Jamaicans oppose amending the law. Even larger majorities believe that homosexuality is immoral. 
But against this grim backdrop, there is hope. Officials including Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry, Minister of Justice Mark Golding, and chair of the Jamaican National Family Planning Board Dr. Sandra Knight have spoken boldly in favor of the human rights of LGBT people. Reverend Margaret Fowler of United Church ministers to homeless LGBT youth and urges her congregation to do the same. Anglican priest Father Sean Major-Campbell has welcomed LGBT people into his church.
Just last month at a Human Rights First reception for International Day Against Homophobia, I stood next to reggae singer Etana, as she told a room full of people on Capitol Hill that we must work to make Jamaica a place that is safe for all people. Another prominent reggae singer Tanya Stephens has created constructive dialogue around the issue, and her song “Do You Still Care?” humanizes the experience of members of the LGBT community in Jamaica. A range of groups—including Quality of Citizenship Jamaica, J-FLAG, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, Pride in Action, Aphrodite’s PRIDE, and the Colour Pink Group—also support the change.
Together, these leaders are changing the narrative around LGBT human rights in Jamaica.
Now is the perfect time for the United States to act. President Obama is very popular in Jamaica and could have a huge influence in promoting the rights of the country’s LGBT people. Newly appointed Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons Randy Berry traveled to Jamaica last month. He should work to partner with Jamaica to combat homophobic violence and unfairness. The tourism industry and other U.S. businesses in Jamaica should also make changes to ensure that their LGBT customers and employees have access to a safe, supportive environment.
There’s a Jamaican phrase, “Every mickle mek a muckle,” which means “Every little bit adds up.” I am looking forward to the day when LGBT Jamaicans can live freely thanks to the combined efforts of civil society and our partners to bring about “the world as it should be.”

Angeline Jackson is a human rights activist and executive director of Quality Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ).

Three Young Gays Beaten and Jailed in Moscow

Police detain Nikolai Alexeyev (C), a gay rights activist , during an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) 
community rally in central Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2015. (Photo:Reuters)

The organiser of an unauthorised gay pride rally in Moscow was jailed for 10 days on Monday along with two other activists for disobeying police.
The event’s main organiser, Nikolai Alexeyev, was jailed after being detained by police at Saturday's brief protest outside the Moscow mayor's office.

"The court hearing was a farce!" he wrote on Twitter.

Two other activists, Yevgeny Gerasimov and Vadim Gruzdev were also sentenced to 10 days in police cells, reported OVD-Info website, which monitors detentions of activists.

On Saturday Alexeyev rode past the mayor's office on the main Tverskaya Street on a quad bike decked with a rainbow flag and waving an orange smoke flare. The mayor's office had refused permission for a rally and a court rejected activists' appeal.

Police detained around a dozen people at the rally after some 30 nationalist counter-demonstrators in camouflage clothing and football fans hurled eggs at the activists and attacked them.
Anti-gay protesters attack a gay rights activist during an LGBT community rally in central Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2015. (Photo:Reuters)

Gays in Russia face regular harassment and requests to hold pride parades have been consistently rejected by authorities in the capital.

In 2013, President Vladimir Putin approved legislation banning the dissemination of "gay propaganda" among minors.
The law has been widely condemned in the West as stoking intolerance.

Human Rights Watch last December sounded the alarm over a rising number of homophobic attacks in Russia, saying that the ban on "gay propaganda" effectively legalised discrimination.

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, and only stopped classifying it as a mental illness in 1999.

Mother Rapes Gay son to Make him Straight


A gay boy was raped by his own mother in a misguided attempt to cure him of homosexuality.
An Indian LBGT organisation has warned that parents are so desperate to have straight children they are encouraging cousins, brothers and even mothers to rape their children.
Gay sex is punishable with up to ten years in prison in India, meaning anxious families feel they have no choice but to carry out the "corrective rapes".
A homosexual girl who was in a relationship with another woman was also raped by her cousin in a bid to cure her.
A string of victims have sought help from the LGBT Collective in Telangana, which reported fifteen cases within the past five years.
But Vyjayanti Mogli who works in the southern Indian organisation's crisis intervention team said there were many more victims who were scared to speak out.
He told the Times of India: "We are sure there are many more cases, but they go unreported,
“We came across such cases not because they reported the rape, but because they sought help to flee their homes."

Indian parents are so desperate to have straight children they are encouraging cousins, brothers and even mothers to rape their children, an LBGT organization has warned

Rape: The attack took place in Telengana
He said many victims wanted to block out memories of being attacked by a loved one so preferred to try and forget and cut off contact with their families rather than report it.
Shockingly, the parents are normally aware of the rape and have handpicked a family member, normally a cousin but also brother, father or mother, for the task.
Mr Mogli said in some communities in South India, marriages amongst cousins are common and parents decide which relation their daughter will be married to soon after her birth.
If this girl is discovered to be in a relationship with another girl, "elders in the family believe having sex with the 'would-be', even if it's forcibly, will cure her", he added.
The case of the teenage boy raped by his own mother was one of the many "shocking real life instances" from Bangalore that Hyderabadi filmmaker Deepthi Tadanki is dramatising in his upcoming film, Satyavati.
He said no one wanted to talk about corrective rape and his attempts he had tried reaching out to NGOs for information, only to be rebuffed.
He said: "Many rapes go unreported in India, and it will take years before something like corrective rape even gets talked about. That's why I wanted to tell this story."
In 2013 the Indian Supreme Court reinstated a colonial law which banned gay sex.
Meanwhile a mother in California has been arrested after she made sex tapes with her 16-year-old son.
According to a 'Daily Mail' report, Mistie Rebecca Atkinson, 32, said the relationship was not one of incest, rather a 'genetic attraction'. Mom and son were reunited after 15 years. She's been sentenced to four years and eight months in prison.
The incident came to light after the teen recorded his mother giving him oral sex on his phone. The boy was living with his dad and she had no custody rights. She first contacted him last year via Facebook and started sending inappropriate messages.
She allegedly also sent nude pictures of herself to the teenager.

May 31, 2015

Well Paid, Great Benefits, Not too Dangerous: “Police Officers"


Baltimore’s streets are quiet again. Baltimore’s state’s attorney Marilyn J. Mosby moved quickly in securing indictments against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, and her decisive action has calmed the city for now. 
But getting a grand jury to indict police officers is a lot easier than getting convictions at trial. 
That’s because like any prosecutor trying to hold cops accountable, Mosby will be working on an uneven playing field. 
To prove her case, she won’t just need sufficient evidence. 
She will also have to overcome a number of deep-seated structural impediments to convicting police officers of crimes—no matter how guilty they are. 
It’s hard to prosecute cops. There are two main reasons for this: The first is the special deference that jurors, judges, and prosecutors show officers thanks to the widespread perception that they are heroic public figures valiantly trying to protect us. The second is the bevy of special laws around the country that are designed to shield police officers from the very tactics the police regularly use on ordinary suspects. 
For example, in most states, law enforcement officers cannot be questioned until they have been given a few days to get their stories straight. And many states have passed laws—such as Section 50-a of New York’s Civil Rights Law—that are specifically designed to make it almost impossible to obtain or use at trial records of a police officer’s prior brutality or misconduct.
These two factors can make convicting police officers extremely difficult, and it is no accident; it is the direct result of the sustained effort by police unions to protect officers from even the most deserved discipline or prosecution.
471368942Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesBaltimore Police officers arrest a man near Mowdamin Mall, April 27, 2015 in Baltimore.

While the rules that unfairly protect the police must be changed, it is also high time to re-examine the foundation of these policies: the public perception—lovingly curated by police unions—of the very nature of police work. 
For the last three decades, police unions have managed to portray their members as indispensable heroes in a deadly and dangerous war. Fallen officers, like Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate, who were shot in Mississippi on May 9, or Brian Moore, whose funeral in New York was a few days earlier, are uniformly described as heroes. One need only listen to the fife and drums, witness the squadron of NYPD helicopters flying the missing man formation, or gaze at the image of tens of thousands of white-gloved officers standing at attention to understand the profound nature of their particular brand of heroism.
But as we read the heartrending newspaper coverage and weep at the pomp that attends a line-of-duty death, we can become a party to a false and dangerous narrative that does more to rend our society asunder than heal our legitimately broken hearts.
That’s because the story of the hero cop is also used to legitimize brutality as necessary, justify policies that favor the police, and punish anyone who dares to question police tactics or oppose the unions’ agendas. Quite simply, in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the story of the hero cop has become so powerful and pervasive that even questioning police behavior is decried as disloyal, un-American, and dangerous.
SWAT teamCharles KrupaA SWAT team marches through a neighborhood while searching for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown, Mass.
Just last week a third-grade teacher at Forest Street Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey, was lambasted for promoting “anti-police sentiment.” Her offense: having her third-graders write get-well cards to Mumia Abu-Jamal, a man serving a life sentence for killing a police officer nearly 34 years ago. The simple display of sympathy—Jamal was recently hospitalized due to complications from diabetes—was decried by Chris Burgos, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, as “brainwashing” and promoting an “anarchy driven agenda.” Richard Costello, political director for the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, described the get-well cards as “psychological child abuse.” Both unions demanded the teacher be fired, and the school district obeyed.
The hero cop narrative is also belied by the facts. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, police work does not crack the top-10 list of mostdangerous jobs. Loggers have a fatality rate 11 times higher than cops, and sanitation workers die in the line of duty at twice the rate that police do.
Brian Moore NYPD officerNYPD via ABC NewsNYPD officer Brian Moore, 25, died May 4, 2015 after being shot in the head by a suspect while on duty two days earlier.
Yes, police officers are sometimes shot and killed, but this is a fairly rare phenomenon. 
Indeed, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, of the 100 officers killed in the United States in the line of duty in 2013, far more crashed their cars or were hit by cars than were shot or stabbed
In fact, if you compare the murder rate among police officers with the murder rate in several American cities, you find that it is far safer to be a NYPD officer than an average black man in Baltimore or St. Louis. 
Moreover, we pay our police officers handsomely in New York City. It costs taxpayers more than $8.5 billion a year to pay for the NYPD, and between salary, overtime, and the value of their benefits, the average beat cop costs the taxpayers more than $150,000 per year. That is not an argument for paying police officers less, just that we already pay these civil servants a lot more money than most people realize to do a job that is a lot less dangerous than most people imagine.
Baltimore PoliceREUTERS/Jose Luis MaganaU.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, accompanied by Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony Batts, speaks to police officers during a visit to the Central District of Baltimore Police Department in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, May 5, 2015
We should appreciate the value and sacrifice of those who choose to serve and protect. But that appreciation should not constitute a get-out-of-jail-free card for the vast army of 800,000 people granted general arrest powers and increasingly armed with automatic weapons and armored vehicles.  
There are real-world harms that follow from the myths perpetuated by police unions. Arguments about the dangerous nature of police work drive the increasing militarization of police departments. The life-and-death nature of the job is used to push for extremely generous medical leave, overtime, and pay packages. Most insidious of all, the exaggerated danger and trumped-up heroism drives an us-versus-them mentality that suffuses contemporary big-city policing and bleeds into the criminal justice system, causing systemic imbalances that chronically favor the police over citizens.
original article on Slate

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