IRS tracks your digital footprint

MSN Money | April 11, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service is collecting a lot more than taxes this year — it’s also acquiring a huge volume of personal information on taxpayers’ digital activities, from eBay auctions to Facebook posts and, for the first time ever, credit card and e-payment transaction records, as it expands its search for tax cheats to places it’s never gone before.

The IRS, under heavy pressure to help Washington out of its budget quagmire by chasing down an estimated $300 billion in revenue lost to evasions and errors each year, will start using “robo-audits” of tax forms and third-party data the IRS hopes will help close this so-called “tax gap.” But the agency reveals little about how it will employ its vast, new network scanning powers.

Tax lawyers and watchdogs are concerned about the sweeping changes being implemented with little public discussion or clear guidelines, and Congressional staff sources say the IRS use of “big data” will be a key issue when the next IRS chief comes to the Senate for approval. Acting commissioner Steven T. Miller replaced Douglas Shulman last November.

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Nevada Senate committee passes bill setting up marijuana dispensaries

 | Las Vegas Sun | April 11, 2013

CARSON CITY — A Senate committee has cleared a bill to permit a network of  medical marijuana dispensaries, but those who sell the drug will have to pay a  $20,000 licensing fee.

In 2000, voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow possession of  medical marijuana if prescribed by a physician. But the law did not permit for  dispensaries to distribute it.

Sen. Mark Hutchinson, R-Las Vegas, said the initial fee for licensing a  clinic will be $20,000 with an annual renewal of $5,000. The fees would give the  state Health Division money to regulate dispensaries, and any excess would go to  aid to public schools, he said.

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LGBTQ Inclusive Immigration Reform

 | Huffington Post | April 11, 2013

I have been fighting for the full inclusion of LGBTQ voices in immigration reform since 2008 along side many powerful undocuqueer people. We have gone a long way and we still have much to accomplish so our movements can be united. Needless to say, for us in GetEQUAL, immigration reform is needed and it is a moral imperative for our country. This legislative battle has become a focal point in our organizing because of the lived experience of some of our leaders, including myself.

Recently, a leader in the LGBTQ movement announced that she does not expect the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) to be included in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) — thereby excluding binational same-sex couples from the bill. I have to say that I am not entirely surprised — Washington, D.C., is still stuck in a ’90s mentality, rather than looking at the 2013 political landscape. The country has seen a sharp uptick for LGBTQ rights, yet our congressional leaders are still debating whether protecting these families is an component in the CIR effort.

It would naïve to believe that Congress is considering CIR out of the goodness of their hearts. Republicans and Democrats are trying to deliver on immigration reform to court the Latino vote — we all know that Latinos hold the keys to the White House. So let’s explore how Latinos are actually feeling about the inclusion of protections for same-sex couples…

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Thunderstorms contain ‘dark lightning,’ invisible pulses of powerful radiation

Ivan Amato | Washington Post | April 11, 2013

A lightning bolt is one of nature’s most over-the-top phenomena, rarely failing to elicit at least a ping of awe no matter how many times a person has witnessed one. With his iconic kite-and-key experiments in the mid-18th century, Benjamin Franklin showed that lightning is an electrical phenomenon, and since then the general view has been that lightning bolts are big honking sparks no different in kind from the little ones generated by walking in socks across a carpeted room.

But scientists recently discovered something mind-bending about lightning: Sometimes its flashes are invisible, just sudden pulses of unexpectedly powerful radiation. It’s what Joseph Dwyer, a lightning researcher at the Florida Institute of Technology, has termed dark lightning.

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Tax-filing brings extra challenges for same-sex married couples

GLAD | Bay Windows | April 11, 2013                         

With April 15 on the horizon, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) means that married same-sex couples across the country are dealing with the indignity, confusion, and expense caused by the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

 DOMA means that married same-sex couples cannot file their federal income taxes jointly as married.  For some, this means paying more in taxes, and for others, it means paying less.  For all, it is a stark reminder that the federal government doesn’t respect their marriage or their family. In tax year 2012, couples from Maine and Washington have been able to marry, and are confronting these problems for the first time.

For couples and members of the media, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is making a number of resources available.

Guides for Couples and Tax Preparers

Navigating Income Taxes for Married Same-Sex Couples

 Tax Time and Preserving Your Federal Rights (information on preserving the right to claim a prior-year refund if DOMA is ruled unconstitutional) 

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PBCHRC 25th Anniversay Kick Off Event

Please join us at
The Ritz-Carlton on May 1
for the
“Plum Blush of Dusk Soirée” at The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach
featuring a poetry reading by
openly gay inaugural poet


For the past 25 years, the Palm  Beach County Human Rights Council has been working diligently on behalf of Palm Beach County’s LGBT community.  (To see a history of LGBT achievement in Palm Beach County, click here.)
In recognition of our work, The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach has invited PBCHRC’s supporters to join openly gay poet Richard Blanco at the Plum Blush of Dusk Soirée at the hotel on the evening of Wednesday, May 1st.
Richard Blanco
Mr. Blanco, the first Latino, openly gay and youngest poet to read at the inauguration of a United States president, moved the world with his words at Presdient Obama’s Inauguration last January.  His poem “One Today“, a poignant  highlight of the Inauguration ceremony, was called “a humble, modest poem, one presented to a  national audience as a gift of camaraderie, and in the context of  political, pop, and media culture, a  quiet assertion that poetry deserves its place in our thoughts on this  one day, and every day,” by Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly.   The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach is honored to host the “pop star poet” on his first visit to the Palm  Beaches.  PBCHRC’s 25th anniversary kick-off event is a perfect way to honor  Mr. Blanco as an artist and celebrate the diversity of our community.

The 15 minute poetry reading and reception (cash bar) will be an intimate gathering held by the firepit on the hotel’s oceanfront terrace from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday May 1st.
Prior to the poetry reading, a very limited capacity VIP “meet and greet” will be held in the hotel’s Presidential Suite, an amazing oceanfront space designed to bring luxurious fun and cheeky character to a traditionally proper suite. A wall uniquely dedicated to “shoe art” adds to the unexpected tone of the Presidential Suite. Miami native Robert Tabor designed the shoes, all of which pay tribute to past First Ladies and other worldly dignitaries. The Hilary Clinton shoe is a high-powered blue pin stripe pump with a heel prominently spiked through a dog house (aptly labeled, Bill). The Barbara Bush shoe is a classic orthopedic wing tip in signature blue fashion with a red ribbon tie, topped by her famous three-strand pearls. The Jackie Kennedy shoe is a ’60’s style square toe, covered in pink wool boucle and pill box hat. Other shoes include Betty Ford, Margaret Thatcher, Marie Antoinette, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth and, of course, Michelle Obama.
To attend the poetry reading and reception, click on the “Make a Donation with PayPal” link to your left and donate $40.  (For each increment of $40 donated, a ticket will be set side under your name for the  poetry reading and  the reception being held from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.).

To attend the VIP event (including the  poetry reading and reception), click on the “Make a Donation with PayPal” link to your left  and donate  $250.  (For each increment of $250 donated, a ticket will be  set side  under your name for the  VIP event being held from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., as  well as for the the Poetry Reading and  the reception).

Checks may also be sent to PBCHRC at P.O. Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402.
As these are strictly limited attendance events which are likely to sell out quickly, PBCHRC strongly suggests you purchase your tickets as soon as possible.

Thanks to the generosity of The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach, all proceeds from the evening will go directly to the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
For more information about “Plum Blush of Dusk”  and/or The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach, please call 1-561-533-6000 or  visit, palmbeach

The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach
100 South Ocean Boulevard Manalapan, Florida 33462

A Brave Push for Empowerment in South Africa

JOSEPH EHRMAN-DUPRE | Gay City News | April 11, 2013

Where in the world could endemic homophobia be cured — if only briefly — by a game of soccer? One such place is South Africa, a country united by sports and an idyllic post-apartheid Constitution, but divided by social and cultural realities that can seep in with violent force. Something about that nation’s post-apartheid constitutional guarantee of equality is not connecting with events on the ground, according to Joy Phindi Malaza, who works with a Johannesburg-area women’s group comprised largely of black lesbians.

The disparity can be starkest, she said, when it comes to the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) South Africans.

Malaza is the program coordinator at the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), based in the black Soweto district, and she was in New York and other US cities in late winter under the sponsorship of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

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Don’t Put LGBTQ Immigrants Back in the Closet

DANIEL DROMM AND ANA MARÍA ARCHILA | Gay City News | April 11, 2013

In recent weeks, two issues have dominated the news: same-sex marriage and immigration reform. Too often, the media and politicians present these topics as separate human rights struggles. In truth, they are intimately linked to one another, and the fight for comprehensive immigration reform offers a critical opportunity for advancing LGBTQ equality by including same-sex couples.

Take the story of Pablo and Santiago, a couple who participated in a recent LGBTQ Immigration Forum organized by Make the Road New York and Immigration Equality. Santiago, a US citizen, fell deeply in love with Pablo while visiting Venezuela in the 1980s. Santiago asked Pablo to come with him to New York City, and 26 years later they are still together.

Two years ago, Pablo and Santiago got married, but Pablo is still undocumented, because our current immigration laws do not recognize his same-sex marriage. Simply because Santiago is a man, he cannot sponsor his loving husband to become a US citizen.

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Advocates Agree Schumer Not Getting Job Done on Same-Sex Partner Immigration

PAUL SCHINDLER | Gay City News | April 10, 2013

In the wake of New York Democrat Chuck Schumer’s April 7 statement that a draft immigration reform bill agreeable to him and the other members of the Senate Gang of Eight will be ready this week, advocates for ending restrictions on Americans in binational same-sex couples having their partners or spouses treated the same as married heterosexual spouses under US law are conceding a setback.

Manhattan Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who for years has led the effort to pass the Uniting American Families Act, which would end that ban, said he now believes the Senate bill will be introduced without UAFA’s inclusion. A wide spectrum of leaders in the immigration reform movement support relief for same-sex couples in any comprehensive package adopted, but the four Republicans in the Gang of Eight, including Arizona’s John McCain and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, pushed back hard earlier this year when President Barack Obama’s outline for reform embraced UAFA.

Immigration Equality, an advocacy group for LGBT and HIV-affected immigrants, shares Nadler’s assessment of the state of play.

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A Kinder, Gentler Dolan?

ANDY HUMM | Gay City News | April 11, 2013

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, asked on two Easter Sunday morning news shows about his message for the LGBT community, sounded open enough that the New York Times headlined its story “Dolan Says Catholic Church Should Be More Welcoming to Gay People.”

On ABC’s “This Week,” Dolan said the Church “has to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. I admit we haven’t been too good at that.”

The Times didn’t speak to any gay Catholics — or gay folks, at all — but the LGBT Catholic group Dignity-USA has sent an open letter to Dolan ( asking for a meeting to learn what he means by doing “better.” The group, the letter said, was hopeful that “your recent comments mark the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between the bishops and LGBT Catholics.”

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