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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Julian Assange, Apple and Dan Choi
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis
2010-12-22

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The U.S. House has approved a standalone "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal measure by a vote of 250-175, mostly along partylines. The bill's proponents hope that the Senate also passes the measure before going home for the holidays. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and outgoing Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Penn., introduced the measure. Advocates believe they have enough votes in the U.S. Senate (60) to override a Republican filibuster.

Lesbian tennis icon Martina Navratilova was hospitalized in Kenya because there was fluid accumulation in her lungs after she attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, according to CBS Sportsline. Navratilova, 54, was diagnosed with high-altitude pulmonary edema. She was trying to climb the 19,340-foot mountain to raise money and awareness for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation as part of a 27-person team. Navratilova had reached nearly 14,800 feet when she was forced to stop. She said in a statement, "It was something that I have wanted to do for so long, but it was not to be." She was released Dec. 12.

In New York City, Queens resident Daniel Aleman, 27, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for viciously attacking 50-year-old Jack Price, a gay man, last year, the New York Daily News reported. In front of Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron, Aleman apologized: "I'm very sorry for what I did. I was drunk and I was under the influence. I made a very big mistake." Aleman and Daniel Rodriguez—a friend who is awaiting sentencing—attacked Price so ferociously that he spent three weeks in a hospital with a broken jaw and a lacerated spleen, among other injuries.

In California, Adele Starr, who founded the Los Angeles chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), passed away Dec. 10 at the age of 90, according to the L.A. Times. Initially upset when her second son, Philip, told her he was gay in 1974, she launched the chapter two years later. (Philip has been with his husband, Michael Simengal, since 1974; they have a 19-year-old son.) PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby said in a statement, "It is because of [Adele's] commitment to organizing the many people who were working for the common goal of equality for all into the organization that we now know as PFLAG that we have gained the strength, prominence, and ability to become the voice of parents and allies united for equality."

Fabulis, a socical network for gay men, has re-branded to Fab.com, according to a press release. The website now has more than 110,000 members, with approximately 5,000 new users joining weekly. Among other features, Fab.com offers a full-featured iPhone app that allows users to check in and identify their current locations.

In California, openly gay state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has introduced a measure that would require public school items to include the contributions gay people have made throughout history, according to the Sacramento Bee. The bill is similar to a measure the legislature passed four years ago; however, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. Leno said, "Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people."

In Texas, authorities in Houston are looking for a suspect in the murder of Aaron Scheerhoorn, who was stabbed several times Dec. 10 outside Club Blur in the gay neighborhood known as Montrose, according to Advocate.com . Police have determined that the killing was not a hate crime. Scheerhorn reportedly suffered cuts to the hand, left side, chest, forearm and abdomen.

Former President Jimmy Carter has said that the United States will be ready for a gay president in the near future, according to BigThink.com . Carter added, "Step by step, we have realized that this issue of homosexuality has the same adverse and progressive elements as when we dealt with the race issue 50 years ago—or 40 years ago." With the country apparently being fine with the idea of a Black or female president, he said it's only a little while before it's ready for a gay one.

Openly gay former U.S. Army officer Dan Choi has been hospitalized, spending time at the Brockton (Mass.) Veterans Hospital's psychiatric ward after, according to a text message he sent, "experiencing a breakdown and anxiety attack." He added, "My breakdown was a result of a cumulative array of stressors but there is no doubt that the composite betrayals felt Thursday [Dec. 9, when the U.S. Senate rejected a measure that would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"], by elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name for their marketing purposes, have added to the result. I am certain my experience is not an isolated incident within the gay veteran community."

In Colorado, Monica Marquez has been sworn in as a state supreme court justice—becoming the first Hispanic and openly gay jurist in the process, FOX News reported. However, Marquez—a 41-year-old native of Grand Junction who went to Stanford and Yale universities—stressed how objective she plans to be: "On the bench, of course, my allegiance is to the law, not to any particular constituency."

In Minnesota, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer has conceded the race to DLF candidate Mark Dayton, according to UMDStatesman.com . The state's canvassing board certified Dayton as the victor, prevailing by almost 9,000 votes. Earlier this year, Target and Best Buy were in the midst of a firestorm in light of contributions they made to MN Forward, a political action group that supported the anti-gay Emmer. Dayton begins his term Jan. 3, 2011.

In Florida, neo-Nazi John Ditullio has been found guilty on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder, according to the Tampa Tribune. Ditullio broke into a mobile home four years ago and fatally stabbed Kristofer King, 17, because he was gay; he also injured Patricia Wells because she befriended a Black man. It was the second trial For Ditullio, who could get the death penalty; the first ended in a hung jury.

A working group of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has proposed a policy that would allow transgender athletes to compete on teams, Inside Higher Ed has reported. The interpretation endorsed by the NCAA's Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports is almost the same as recommendations issued in a report by the National Center on Lesbian Rights and the Women's Sports Foundation. Among other things, a female athlete who is making the transition to male would be allowed to play on a men's team at any time; however, if the athelete wants hormone treatment, then said athlete "must get a medical exception for the use of testosterone" since the NCAA has banned the substance.

The nation's top military academies saw a 64-percent increase in sexual assaults during the 2009-10 academic year, according to an Advocate.com item. The Department of Defense announced that—between West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy—there were 41 sexual assaults reported, an increase of 16 from the previous year. In addition, the department estimated that the 41 attacks represented less than 10 percent of all sexual assaults, as most are not reported.

In Massachusetts, authorities at Harvard University have determined that an situation in which 36 LGBT-themed books were destroyed by a liquid that appeared to be urine was actually an accident, according to the Harvard Crimson. Officials discovered that library personnel had accidentally spilled a bottle of the substance that had been found on the shelf, although no one knows why a bottle of urine was in the library in the first place. The library plans to replace all the books as soon as possible.

A public service announcement produced by the New York City Health Department has horrified some gay-rights groups, who say that the ad demonizes gay men, according to ABC News. The video—which has aired on networks such as Logo, the Travel Channel and Bravo—says, "When you get HIV, it's never just HIV. You're at a higher risk for dozens of diseases even if you take medications, like osteoporosis, dementia and anal cancer." The video then shows what some call graphic representations of those illnesses. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York (GMHC) are demanding the video be withdrawn, condemning what they call "scare tactics." However, the city does not intend to withdraw the ad.

Computer titan Apple is in the middle of a tug-of-war between supporters and opponents of an iPhone game that can only be "won" if the user is against gay and abortion rights, according to Gawker.com . The app Manhattan Declaration asks people to oppose "immoral sexual partnerships," among other things. Apple removed the app (in part because of pressure from gay-rights groups), but the original authors plan to resubmit "Manhattan" without the controversial quiz. GLAAD is gathering signatures to pressure Apple to reject the new app.

In Georgia, U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten, Sr., approved a $1.025-million settlement for the patrons of the gay bar Atlanta Eagle, who sued the city and police for violating their civil rights in a 2009 bar raid, according to Courthouse News Service. Batten signed the order "based on the evidence in the record, that each of the above named plaintiffs was unlawfully searched, detained, and or arrested and that none of the plaintiffs was personally suspected of any criminal activity." Twenty-six men were named in the settlement as well as the Eagle and Rawhide Leather, a retail store in the same building.

Washington, D.C.'s, National Portrait Gallery has censored "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," the first major U.S. museum exhibition to deal with gay and lesbian identity in the arts, according to Xtra.ca. The exhibition, which opened Oct. 30, is composed of 105 works by artists ranging from Annie Leibowitz to Keith Haring. However, the gallery removed the four-minute video installation "A Fire in My Belly" by David Wojnarowicz after conservatives objected to a clip of ants crawling on a crucifix.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has claimed that he does not know Bradley Manning, the gay Army private who reportedly leaked classified material, according to ABC News. Assange—currently under house arrest in England and fighting extradition to Sweden on sexual-assault charges—said, "I had never heard of the name Bradley Manning before it was published in the press. Wikileaks' technology [was] designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never know the identities or names of people submitting us material." Manning, currently being held in a military brig in Quantico, Va., allegedly told ex-hacker Adrian Lamo that he had "developed a relationship with Assange" over several months.

Speaking of Manning, the U.S. military has said that he is being treated humanely in prison, according to AFP. Manning is under a maximum-security regimen because officials see him as a risk to national security. Manning is allowed out of his cell for one hour a day for exercise outside or at an indoor gym, leading some to say he is being abused. However, spokesman First Lieutenant Brian Villiard said that inmates "are treated with firmness, fairness, dignity and compassion."

The Justice Department has announced the settlement of an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint against Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. in BayamÃ"n, Puerto Rico. The Justice Department initiated its investigation in response to an allegation that Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. discriminated against an HIV-positive applicant by denying her enrollment. The institute made an offer of enrollment to the complainant; will cease requesting information about HIV/AIDS status from future applicants; will provide training to all employees about disability-based discrimination; and will pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the United States and $8,000 in damages to the complainant.

Mathew Staver, the president of the anti-gay group Liberty Counsel, is upset about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) and plans to push Congress to bring the ban back, according to Advocate.com . After thanking its members for sending more than 6 million pro-DADT "message units to politicians, Staver stated, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have totally disgraced their respective offices throughout the 111th Congress, and their handling of this vital issue is just the most recent example of their betrayal of the public trust." A recent poll found that eight out of 10 Americans supported the repeal of DADT.

The Chicago HIV/AIDS agency Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) has been awarded $75,000 from the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The money will fund The L.I.F.E. Program® (Learning Immune Function Enhancement), a health-enhancement and wellness-counseling program for people living with HIV. TPAN is the 18th site to offer The L.I.F.E. Program®, which is now in six states.

In Colorado, Florida authorities have arrested the writer of a controversial "guide for pedophiles," according to WSBT.com . Phillip Ray Greaves II was arrested for distributing obscene material depicting minors in conductful harmful to minors. (Greaves was arrested on obscenity charges connected to Florida because the author sold and mailed his book to undercover detectives.) Greaves' book, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct, was sold on Amazon.com—but the website stopped selling it after there was public outrage.


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