• Super Bowl: So, I grew up watching tons of football because my dad was a sports writer. And I still enjoy it, so you can be sure I’ll be watching the big SportsBall game on Sunday for moments like the one above – remember the attention this ref (rightfully) received during the big game in 2016?
• Out: Florida Democrat and one-time candidate for governor Andrew Gillum has opened up with more details of that fateful night in Miami when he was found in a hotel room passed out with a male prostitute. “At this point I’m like, ‘This is set up.'”
• The Advocate: A group of 185 actors came out in Germany to demand more LGBTQ+ diversity in film, television, and theater through a manifesto in a national newspaper. Among the issues raised is the fear of losing the opportunity to portray straight people due to biases in casting. “We are actors. We don’t have to be what we play. We act as though we were — that is our job.”
• LA Times: Fox News Media has canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” the program hosted by one of Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters. The cancellation comes a day after voting software company Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News and three of its hosts — Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro.
• AP News: Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators Thursday to clear the world’s first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies. The vaccine was 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, according to early findings from a study of 44,000 people, but it was 85% protective against the most serious symptoms.
• Deadline: Christopher Plummer, who starred in The Sound of Music, won an Oscar for Beginners and was nominated for All the Money in the World and The Last Station, died peacefully today at his home in Connecticut, his family confirmed. Along with becoming the oldest person to win an Oscar, Plummer also won a pair of Emmys and two Tonys during a nearly 70-year career.
BREAKING: Actor Christopher Plummer has died aged 91.
The Oscar Winner and Sound Of Music star passed away peacefully at his home in Connecticut.
• TBT: Remembering a year ago when we discovered Sitges, Spain, for the first time (above) – and it just happened to be Bear Week 🙂
• WSVN Miami: A man was convicted of hate crime charges and sent to prison after he yelled homophobic slurs and beat up two gay men while they were walking their dog in downtown Miami. Quenton Moss, the assailant, was recorded on police body cams bragging to officers, “I split him good. He’s a [expletive]. [Expletive] should die, die.”
• OUT: Author and activist Sarah McBride is poised to become the first out trans person serving in the upper chamber of a state legislature. The former Obama administration staffer and current National Press Secretary for Human Rights Campaign won the Democratic primary for Delaware’s first state senate district. The seat is considered a sure-bet for Democrats and McBride is expected to win the general election in November.
• GLAAD: Bisexual+ Awareness Week seeks to accelerate acceptance of the bi+ (bisexual, pansexual, fluid, no label, queer, etc.) community. BiWeek draws attention to the experiences, while also celebrating the resiliency of, the bisexual+ community. Throughout BiWeek, allies and bi+ people learn about the history, culture, community, and current policy priorities of bi+ communities.
• Associated Press: Germany’s Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer apologized on Thursday for 65 years of discrimination against gay military service members. “I very much regret the practice of discrimination against homosexuals in the Bundeswehr, which stood for the policy of that time,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement. “I apologize to those who suffered because of it.”
• Washington Post: A seven-hour “flight to nowhere” advertised by Australian airline Qantas sold out within 10 minutes on Thursday. The flight will depart Sydney on Oct. 10 and return on the same day, with no stops along the way. But passengers are promised views of the Great Barrier Reef, the Uluru monolith and the Australian outback as the plane flies over the country at low altitudes. The 134 available tickets ranged from $787 to $3,787 in Australian dollars, the equivalent of $575 and $2,765.
• HuffPost: Donald Trump was called out on Wednesday for bragging that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus would be lower if one subtracted the deaths from “blue” states. “The blue states had tremendous death rates,” Trump said. “If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at, we’re really at a very low level.”
According to data collected by The New York Times, 3 of the top 6 states in terms of deaths have Republican governors and 5 of the top 10 voted for Trump in 2016.
Dear @realDonaldTrump: Please stop dividing us. We are not the Red States of America. Or the Blue States of America. We are the United States of America. At the end of the day, we are all Americans. https://t.co/WxTjEqATyI
In France, President Emmanuel Macron warned on Friday that the authorities were doing “everything to avoid a new lockdown.” A day later, the country reported over 7,300 new virus cases, its highest daily tally since March 31 and a number that sent its seven-day average to a new record of 4,668.
As Germany faces its own more modest resurgence, Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week that managing the pandemic would become more challenging in the fall and winter, as the colder weather drives people back indoors. “We will have to live with this virus for a long time to come,” she said.
The sobering comments from Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron come as European countries brace for — or even appear to be entering — a second wave of infections. Nowhere on the continent is the threat more alarming than in Spain, where the Times database shows that the seven-day average has passed 7,600.
• OutRight Action International: The German Bundestag (Parliament) passed a bill today banning the harmful practice of “conversion therapy” on minors. With its passage, Germany joins Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan to become only the 5th country in the world to ban “conversion therapy.”
• Military Times: The Defense Department has issued new guidance that says a past COVID-19 diagnosis is “permanently disqualifying” for those trying to join the U.S. military.
• Pink News: Oscar winner Kevin Spacey has broken his silence for the first time since a rash of sexual assault allegations brought a halt to his acting career. Speaking via video as part of a three-day business conference he reportedly compared his “emotional struggles” after being accused are comparable to those of people affected by coronavirus.
• New Music: Trans pop-star Kim Petras has released her brand new single “Malibu,” a glittering, summery pop-bop. “‘Malibu’ is a return to color, the feeling of being in love, and the escapism pop that I love the most,” says Kim.
• Towleroad: A gay couple in Tulsa is speaking out after a “Christian” neighbor put up horrific anti-LGBT signs, including a rainbow flag with a black “X” in his yard, directly across the street from their house.
• Media Matters: Fox News has devoted seven and a half times as much coverage to Shelley Luther, a Dallas, Texas, salon owner, jailed for reopening her business in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order than the network has given to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man in Georgia who was out for a jog and was killed by two white men with ties to local law enforcement.
• Vox: For folks who might be conflicted about Tara Reade’s allegations aimed at former Vice President Joe Biden, I encourage you to read this detailed account from a journalist who interviewed Reade several times. Reporter Laura McGann notes that as a supporter of the Me Too movement, she writes, “I wanted to believe Reade when she first came to me, and I worked hard to find the evidence to make certain others would believe her, too. I couldn’t find it.”
• HuffPost: Donald Trump has regularly cast blame on those in the White House before him, saying falsely that he was left with “empty cupboards” when he replaced then-President Barack Obama. When asked by ABC News what HE had done to restock those cupboards over the past three years, Trump replied, “Well, uh, I have a lot of things going on.”
ABC: You’re three years into your term. What did you do when you became president to restock those cupboards that you say are bare?
A fire raced through a zoo in western Germany in the first few minutes of the new year, killing more than 30 animals, including apes, monkeys, bats and birds, authorities said. Police said paper sky lanterns launched nearby to celebrate the arrival of 2020 were probably to blame.
Several witnesses saw cylindrical paper lanterns with little fires inside flying in the night sky shortly after midnight Wednesday near the Krefeld Zoo, Gerd Hoppmann, the city’s head of criminal police, told reporters.
“People reported seeing those sky lanterns flying at low altitude near the zoo and then it started burning,” Hoppmann said.
The zoo near the Dutch border said its entire ape house burned down and more than 30 animals — including five orangutans, two gorillas, a chimpanzee, and several monkeys — were killed, as well as fruit bats and birds.
Only two chimpanzees were able to be rescued from the flames by firefighters. They suffered burns but are in stable condition, zoo director Wolfgang Dressen said.
Police say sky lanterns launched to celebrate the new year may have caused the zoo fire that killed more than 30 animals in Germany pic.twitter.com/s0R5yGVlTp
• InstaHunks: Here in Las Vegas, they do things a little differently during the holidays. For instance, a cactus could be used as a Christmas tree. But I could only find this pic (above) of a Chippendale and…what was I saying? Dangit – I know I had some point to make. Oh well 🙂
• The Daily Beast: Stonewall House, the first-ever LGBT-welcoming senior housing development in New York City has officially opened. The first residents are expected to move into the 145-unit building in Brooklyn before Christmas, with the rest of the residents moving in throughout January.
• CNBC: A judge on Wednesday dismissed New York state criminal charges filed against Paul Manafort, the fallen Republican lobbyist who served for several months as President Donald Trump’s campaign chief in 2016. Judge Maxwell Wiley said during a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court that New York’s double-jeopardy law barred the state indictment against Manafort.
• Medium: Over 1,000 American historians have signed a letter supporting the impeachment of Donald Trump. “It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.”
• Reuters: Germany could become the first major European power to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ across the entire country. The legislation, which parliament is expected to pass by the summer, will punish violations with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to 30,000 euros ($33,100).
• Christmas Music: In its first 12 months, the 1984 all-star charity recording “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” raised £8 million to help efforts to ease famine in Ethiopia. The original recording remains one of the biggest selling singles in UK history.
The president also repeatedly made clear his level of anger about the longstanding trade policies that he said have hurt America’s workers and undermined the country’s national security by weakening America’s “balance sheet.”
Mr. Trump said that the United States continues to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, which he has said is one of the worst trade deals that the United States ever agreed to.
On Saturday, he said that the United States might have to negotiate separate trade deals with Mexico and Canada if they can’t reach a three-way agreement to make the broader trade agreement fair for Americans.
Angela Merkel’s office has released this photo taken today at the G7, which tells you a lot about how things went. pic.twitter.com/IXX6K3ayys
Grenell — who has faced Democratic opposition over mean tweets he made about the appearance of women and other comments downplaying the significance of Russia’s influence in the 2016 election — was confirmed by a largely party line vote of 56-42.
Among the Democrats who joined Republicans in voting to confirm Grenell were Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-M0). All Republicans present voted for Grenell’s confirmation.
Both of the senators from Grenell’s home state of California — Sen. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein — voted “no” on his confirmation.
First nominated by President Trump in September, Grenell’s confirmation means an openly gay person high-profile seat in the administration and serve as U.S. envoy to the world’s fourth largest national economy.
Resistance to Grenell’s nomination came in part due to comments he made on Twitter years ago about the appearance of women, including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Callista Gingrich and Rachel Maddow.
He has since deleted the comments online and apologized, but in the context of the #MeToo movement today the comments became a flashpoint anew.
Grenell famously resigned from the Mitt Romney presidential campaign in 2012 after only two weeks as a foreign policy adviser due to pressure from conservatives over his sexuality.