SPLC files suit to stop anti-LGBT harassment by students and faculty in Mississippi’s Moss Point School District

Southern Poverty Law Center

Southern Poverty Law Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Southern Poverty Law Center | December 17, 2013

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit in federal court today to stop pervasive anti-LGBT bullying and harassment committed by students – and even faculty members and administrators – within the schools of Mississippi’s Moss Point School District.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Destin Holmes, a district student who endured such severe harassment she was eventually driven out of school. She temporarily left the district in March 2012 to be homeschooled after the then-principal at Magnolia Junior High School called her a “pathetic fool” and told her, “I don’t want a dyke in this school.”

The SPLC demanded in March that the district take immediate action to end the bullying and harassment. The demand came after an investigation found that district students, faculty and administrators have targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and nonconformity to gender stereotypes. A mutually agreeable resolution that would protect and preserve the rights of students like Destin was not reached.

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Noting Pope Francis Is “Not Pro-Gay,” Advocate Names Him Person of the Year

Emblem of the Papacy

Emblem of the Papacy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PAUL SCHINDLER | Gay City News | December 17, 2013

Writing that “Pope Francis is still not pro-gay by today’s standard,” the Advocate magazine has named the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics its Person of the Year.

“Like it or not, what he says makes a difference,” the magazine argued in making its announcement on December 16. “Sure, we all know Catholics who fudge on the religion’s rules about morality. There’s a lot of disagreement, about the role of women, about contraception, and more. But none of that should lead us to underestimate any pope’s capacity for persuading hearts and minds in opening to LGBT people, and not only in the US but globally.”

The magazine hung its faith in Francis’ “capacity” –– and willingness –– “for persuading hearts and minds in opening to LGBT people” on several comments the new pope made in recent months.

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Obama, Biden, Their Wives Will Skip Russian Olympics

President Barack Obama and Vice President Jose...

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PAUL SCHINDLER | Gay City News | December 17, 2013

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will not attend the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the White House indicated on December 17 in announcing the official US Presidential Delegation to the Games.

With neither Vice President Joe Biden nor any former president on the list, 2014 will mark the first time since the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, that no American official of such high rank will be in attendance, according to USA Today.

Observers of the controversial anti-gay legislation in Russia, which has spawned a wave of lethal violence against LGBT people there, have been awaiting White House word on who would be representing the US at Sochi.

Queer Nation NY, which has led protests in New York against the Russian law for months, hailed the Obama administration’s announcement.

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Democrat Wants to Take Obamanomics to the Next Level: Give Unemployment to People With Jobs

, member of the United States House of Represe...

, member of the United States House of Representatives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Independent Journal Review | December 17, 2013

Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee has hit upon the mother lode of economics genius, and I hope nations around the world are paying attention. If you give everybody unemployment insurance, your economic problems are solved:

“Let us vote to provide for unemployment insurance for working men and women…”

It’s unclear what Sheila Jackson-Lee meant with this pearl of wisdom; nearly 1.3 million Americans are set to run out of their maximum 99 weeks of unemployment payments, and the nation already has an “unemployment insurance” program.

But it’s safe to assume that doling out more entitlements to Democrat voters is exactly what she had in mind. How about focusing on creating jobs for a “change”?

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All Three Branches of Government Are Now Demanding NSA Reform

National Security Agency Seal

National Security Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Philip Bump | The Wire | December 17, 2013

One of the National Security Agency’s primary defenses against criticism has been that it is subject to robust oversight from all three branches of the federal government. In the past week, however, all three branches have called for reform.

NSA oversight was never as robust as the “three branches” claim, which the agency has made repeatedly. (One quick example, from an August presentation: “all three branches of our government exercise oversight over NSA’s use of [FISA] authority.” Or just do a Google search.) The executive branch oversight is largely self-administered, as Ryan Lizza’s recent New Yorker article makes clear. Congressional oversight has been the sole purview of the House and Senate intelligence committees, each of which is chaired by a staunch defender of the agency. Judicial oversight has been conducted by a secret court that has been forced to defend allegations that it is merely a rubber-stamp.

Now, each of those branches is proposing — or, in some cases, insisting upon — significant reforms to how the NSA conducts its surveillance.

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The Internet Giants Oppose Surveillance – But Only When the Government Does It

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zoe Carpenter | The Nation | December 17, 2013

Eight prominent Internet technology companies unveiled an open letter last week calling for reforms to the government surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden. “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual—rights that are enshrined in our constitution,” reads the letter, published on a website that lays out five principles for reform, including greater oversight and transparency, as well as an end to bulk data collection.

Executives from seven of the firms will meet with President Obama on Tuesday, in the shadow of a federal judge’s ruling that the collection of domestic phone records is “almost certainly” unconstitutional. The opinion from US District Judge Richard Leon reinforces the impression that NSA overreach constitutes a primary threat to privacy and civil liberty. But some privacy advocates caution that even if the NSA’s programs are scaled back, surveillance infrastructure will persist in the private sector—thanks to the same companies now calling for reform, whose business models depend on the collection and sale of vast quantities of personal information.

“It’s one-stop shopping for the NSA,” warned Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a consumer privacy advocacy group. “What they’ve done is create a global commercial surveillance system that is engaged in the same kind of pervasive tracking and analysis [as the NSA].”

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