News Round-Up: September 8, 2020

(via Instagram/GusKenworthy)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Out Olympian Gus Kenworthy (above) shared some fun pics from the desert this Labor Day weekend complete with shirtless black tutu snap. “This year’s Burning Man was canceled but it didn’t stop us from getting weird in the desert.”

Pink News: Russian ‘Cossack soldiers’ prowled the streets of the Russian city of Yekaterinburg during Pride week attempting to hunt down LGBTQ people. They wound up targeting straight people they thought looked queer.

Stat News: A large, Phase 3 study testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at dozens of sites across the U.S. has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom.

New Music: Grammy nominee Tayla Parx’s playful new music video, “Dance Alone,” has soulful sass and groove to spare. “We’re all stuck inside while coping with being away from loved ones more than usual,” says the native Texan. “We need human connection, but at least when you’re home dancing in your pajamas while blasting your favorite song, you feel a little less alone. You have the music to keep you company.”

Instinct Magazine: Chasten Buttigieg, husband to former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, shares in his new book I Have Something To Tell You, that he ran away from home as a teen thinking he would only be a disappointment to his parents due to being gay. ” I was so convinced by everything that I had learned for 18 years that I would be a disappointment and the society I grew up in told me that I was twisted and broken.”

Washington Post: Broadway alone accounts for more tickets sold each year than for all of the metropolitan area’s professional sports teams, and the industry pumps on the order of $13 billion annually into the city economy. Check out this thoughtful exploration of what will be involved, and what it will take, to bring Broadway back to life post-pandemic.

The Advocate: A New Jersey man faces both federal and state charges – including malicious use of explosives, unlawful possession of two destructive devices, and unlawful possession of a short-barreled rifle – in connection with an explosion at a gym owned by a female couple. Some in the local LGBTQ+ community suspect it was a hate crime.

InstaHunks II: A few more photos from Gus Kenworthy’s faux Burning Man desert fun…

Neo-Nazi Pleads Guilty To Planning To Bomb Las Vegas Gay Bar

Conor Climo (screen capture)

A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty Monday to a federal weapons charge after plotting violent attacks on an LGBTQ bar, a synagogue, and the Anti-Defamation League.

Conor Climo, 24, signed the plea agreement that was filed in January in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the agreement reads, in part, “Defendant stated that he wanted to do more against the groups he hated by carrying out violent attacks against them.”

“Defendant admitted to discussing plans for violent attacks online against the Anti-Defamation League, a local Las Vegas synagogue, and a local bar,” continued the document.

In the agreement, Climo admitted the unnamed bar catered to an LGBTQ clientele.

Climo was arrested in August last year after being monitored communicating via encrypted internet chat with individuals identified as white supremacists.

He reportedly told an undercover FBI informant he was “scouting places to attack.” In his communications with the undercover agent, Climo sent a satellite image of the synagogue he planned to target which highlighted a possible escape route.

Climo also used homophobic language and spoke about surveilling an LGBTQ bar in downtown Vegas in the encrypted chats.

When the investigators arrived at Climo’s home with a search warrant, they found “hand-drawn schematics and component parts of a destructive device” which included oxidizing agents, flammable liquids and circuit boards. An AR-15 assault-style weapon and a bolt-action rifle were also confiscated during the search, according to NBC LA.

He was charged with possessing an unregistered firearm in the form of the component parts of a destructive device.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office said, “Climo would regularly use derogatory racial, anti-Semitic and homosexual slurs.”

Appearing in court wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit on Monday, the Review-Journal writes, “Climo stood with closed fists at a podium, mostly answering ‘yes, your honor’ and ‘no, your honor,’ to a series of standard questions.”

As reported in August, Climo made headlines in 2016 for ‘patrolling’ his neighborhood wearing battle gear and carrying an assault-style rifle and survival knife.

At the time, he told local ABC News affiliate KTNV, “I’ll pretty much stay within constitutional bounds when I’m doing this.”

‘Pretty much stay within constitutional bounds???’

He also told the reporter he would be looking for ‘suspicious activity,’ which he defined as “people outside when they’re not supposed to be.”

In the interview, Climo admitted he had no formal training in patrolling, policing, or dealing with possibly tense situations.

CNN reports Climo will return to court on May 14 where he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the plea deal, he will also be required to undergo mental health treatment and be monitored via an electronic device upon his release from prison.

Climo’s story is especially chilling as Las Vegas was the site of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, when 58 people were killed and more than 500 hurt in October 2017.

Here’s the 2016 report from KTNV:

Defense Secretary “Didn’t See” Specific Evidence Of Upcoming Attacks On US Embassies

L-R Defense Sec. Mark Esper, House Intel. Chairman Adam Schiff

During an appearance on CBS’ Meet The Nation, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he “didn’t see” specific evidence that top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was planning attacks on four U.S. embassies, but added that he ‘believed’ such attack would have occurred.

“The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said was he believed,” said Esper.

“I didn’t see one, with regard to four embassies. What I’m saying is that I shared the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies. The embassy is the most prominent display of American presence in a country.”

But later in the broadcast, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff says there was nothing shown to him in ‘Gang of 8’ intelligence briefings that showed any specific evidence regarding attacks on 4 U.S. embassies.

Mass Suicide Bombings In Sri Lanka Kill 200+, Hundreds More Injured

Churches and hotels in Sri Lanka have become the targets of horrific coordinated mass suicide bombings killing more than 200 and injuring 450+ more.

From the Washington Post:

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks. Three people have been arrested and four are being questioned, police said. Three police officers were killed in a raid on a house in Colombo as they attempted to interrogate an individual in the attacks.

Blasts ripped through three churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa at approximately 8:45 a.m. as worshipers were gathering for services, police said. Bombers also struck three hotels and a banquet hall in Colombo, the nation’s capital. An eighth blast occurred at a home under a flyover in the city.

Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s minister for defense, said the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. All of the explosions occurred between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m.

The bombings were the deadliest violence in the country since the end of its civil war in 2009. Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation, but is also home to significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. Easter is the holiest day of the Christian calendar.

Was Internalized Homophobia A Factor In The Austin Bomber’s Deadly Attacks?

Austin bombing suspect Mark Conditt was communicating with gay men via Grindr before his deadly bombing spree
Austin bombing suspect Mark Conditt

Six weeks after the deadly bombing spree by 23-year-old Mark Conditt in Austin and San Antonio police are still searching for clues as to the motivation for his actions.

New evidence suggests it’s possible internalized homophobia may have played a part.

Conditt’s early life revolved around being home-schooled by his conservative Christian family. He attended church each week and took part in Christian youth groups.

But in 2012, Conditt penned an online essay while attending Austin Community College that virulently denounced homosexuality.

The blog post read, in part:

Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple. The natural design is apparent. It is not natural to couple male with male and female with female. It would be like trying to fit two screws together and to nuts together and then say, “See, it’s natural for them to go together.” In addition, political protection of a sexual practice is ludicrous. I do not believe it is proper to pass laws stating that homosexuals have ‘rights.’ What about pedophilia or bestiality? These are sexual practices. Should they also be protected by law? If homosexuality is protected by law, why not those as well?

It was around this time that Conditt also cut off a childhood friend, Sierra Jane Davis, whom he knew from the Pflugerville home-school community.

When she shared the news that she was transitioning, “He told me that he couldn’t support my decision to live this life,” said Davis.

But then there was a turning point for Conditt.

He ceased attending church, quit Christianity and announced he was an atheist.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Conditt’s two roommates thought he might have been gay.

It was that revelation that led police to discover he had used Grindr to exchange messages with men.

It’s not apparent if his family knew he was out.

When asked about the possibility, Davis says, “It’s not something we talked about, but I do know that it would have been difficult for him and his family.”

Currently there’s no proof that he was working with a terrorist or paramilitary organizations. Nor are there any white supremacist or racially-motivated clues to point to at this time.

Trump Backtracks On Syrian Missile Strike Threat

Donald Trump

Donald Trump backtracked today on his previous Twitter rant threatening Russia and Syria with a missile strike saying that an airstrike wasn’t necessarily imminent.

“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place,” Trump tweeted this morning. “Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS.”

Trump curiously asked for praise from Americans for doing his job: “Where is our ’Thank you America?’”

Trump yesterday:

Trump today:

News Round-Up: February 13, 2018

Some news items you might have missed:

• It’s a “light and shadow” kind of day here in Las Vegas. And so, I give you the handsome Ignacio Pérez Rey photographed by the incomparable Joan Crisol.

• A recently unearthed quote from Academy Award winner Marlon Brando confirms he had homosexual experiences.

• Underwear designer Andrew Christian has found a way to deal with all those pics of beleagured porn boy Topher DiMaggio on his website after “suspending” Topher as a “trophy boy.” The answer? They simply cut off his head.

• The 30-year-old man who set off a bomb in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan ( a popular gay neighborhood)  in September of 2016 has been sentenced to two life sentences plus 30 years for his actions.

• This popular Miami first grade teacher was fired for marrying her wife. The Catholic school she taught for had a “moral turpitude” clause in her contract they say she broke. Florida, as you may know, has no protections for LGBTs in the workplace.

• Pop diva Toni Braxton has a brand new single “Long As I Live” out now, and is one of several tracks Toni co-wrote and produced for her upcoming new album, Sex and Cigarettes, due out March 23. Check out the new single below.

U.S. Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb In Afghanistan

From CNN:

The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” was dropped at 7:32 pm local time Thursday, the sources said. A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

Officials said the target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex and personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said later Thursday. The strike “targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely.”

The military is currently assessing the damage. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, signed off on the use of the bomb, according to the sources. The authority to deploy the weapon was granted to Nicholson by the commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, Stump said.

This is the first time a MOAB has been used in the battlefield, according to the US officials. This munition was developed during the Iraq War.