State Department disputes HRC claim US refused to sign Chechnya statement

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The State Department on March 20 disputed the Human Rights Campaign’s claim the U.S. refused to sign a U.N. statement that calls for an investigation into Chechnya’s anti-LGBTI crackdown.

Albania, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the U.K. and Uruguay signed the statement that was presented during a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 18.

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The Other Side of Life: Lent and the Twin Abstentions

By : Jason Leclerc
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My fellow God-fearers, know that we are two days into the Lenten season, bookended by Mardi Gras and the Resurrection. Like Jesus fasted in the wilderness before launching his ministry, we are to give up something that sates us. Although my usual self-denial is metaphorized by 40 days without swearing or chocolate, I’m giving up on something much more gosh darn important and savory and much more central to who I am.

Abstention one: I’m giving up on defending Republicans. Abstention two: I’m taking a break from actively bashing Trump.

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Trump seeks $300 million to beat HIV by 2030 — but cuts global programs

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In the aftermath of President Trump’s State of the Union pledge to eliminate new HIV infections by 2030, his newly unveiled budget request for the U.S. government provides additional funds for domestic HIV/AIDS programs in contrast to earlier proposals that sought to cut those programs — but related international programs are facing cuts.

The fiscal year 2020 budget requests a $300 million increase in funds to combat HIV/AIDS, but also seeks to roll back Medicare and Medicaid — programs on which many people with HIV/AIDS rely — and continues the proposed steep cuts to U.S. initiatives seeking to fight the global epidemic.

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DOD unveils plan to initiate Trump transgender policy on April 12

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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With court orders barring President Trump from enforcing his transgender military ban out of the way, the Defense Department late March 12 unveiled its plan to make the policy a reality, announcing it would begin April 12.

15-page memo signed by David Norquirst, who’s performing the duties of deputy secretary of defense, spells out the timeline, procedures and potential exemptions for implementing the plan ordered by Trump and created by former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

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03.07.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I try not to watch the president when he’s on TV. I’m sure somewhere there is an argument to be made that I should watch so I am informed, but I’d rather just read about the highlights. It’s like watching a comedian fail. I get uneasy, embarrassed for him and the country. Why is it so difficult to speak in coherent sentences?

Now I have this image of the commander in chief hugging the American flag while mouthing, what appears to be, the word “mama” at the Conservative Political Action Convention. This of course preceded an hours-long stream of consciousness oration that mimicked a cocaine-induced rant.

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Weeks after 2030 HIV pledge, report shows US headway stalled

By : wire report
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NEW YORK (AP) | Three weeks after President Donald Trump announced a campaign to end the U.S. HIV epidemic by 2030, new government data show that progress against the disease stalled recently.

After declining for several years, the estimated number of new HIV infections held about steady from 2013 to 2016, the latest available data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Feb. 27.

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Social media provides fuel for Jussie Smollett story

By : wire report
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CHICAGO (AP) | The story Jussie Smollett told police had it all: racism, homophobia, politics, celebrity — all tied up with a hangman’s noose. There was no question the news coverage was going to be massive.

In many ways, that coverage is an object lesson in the foibles of modern reporting. The story showed where news outlets teeter on the line between driving social media and being driven by it, between healthy skepticism and cautious credulity.

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Police say Smollett staged attack because he was ‘dissatisfied’ with salary

By : Mariah Cooper OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Jussie Smollett’s mugshot. (Courtesy of Chicago PD)

Actor Jussie Smollett allegedly paid $3,500 to orchestrate a “bogus” hate crime because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox series “Empire,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a press conference on Feb. 21.

Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He was taken into custody early morning on Feb. 21.

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Heather Nauert withdraws name from consideration as next UN ambassador

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The State Department on Feb. 16 announced spokesperson Heather Nauert has withdrawn her name from consideration to become the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

“I am grateful to President Trump and Secretary Pompeo for the trust they placed in me for considering me for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations,” said Nauert in a statement that deputy State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino released. “However, the past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration.” 

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Smollett says he redacted phone files to protect privacy

By : wire report
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CHICAGO (AP) | Jussie Smollett on Feb. 12 said he redacted some information from his phone before giving it to Chicago police investigating a reported attack on the “Empire” actor in order to protect the privacy of contacts and people who are not relevant to the attack.

Smollett’s representatives issued a statement a day after police said the heavily redacted phone records he turned over to detectives this week were insufficient for a criminal investigation.

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Bipartisan group of lawmakers introduce bills to protect transgender servicemembers

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Feb. 7 introduced bills that would allow openly transgender people to enlist in the military and protect trans servicemembers who are already serving.

U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Anthony Brown (D-Md.) introduced House Resolution 1032 in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced an identical bill in the U.S. Senate.

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Trump praises Karen Pence for teaching at anti-LGBT school

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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President Trump made a series of veiled anti-LGBT statements under the guise of “religious freedom” Feb. 7 at the National Prayer Breakfast, including praise for Karen Pence for teaching at a Christian school that bars LGBT students and teachers.

In his introductory remarks at the annual event, Trump pointed out the second lady and said, “She just went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school. Terrific woman.”

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