News Round-Up: April 5, 2021

Lil Nas X hits #1 again with "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)"
Lil Nas X hits #1 again with "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)"
Lil Nas X (screen capture)

Some news items you might have missed:

Billboard: Lil Nas X’s latest single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. This marks his second Hot 100 #1 after his breakthrough smash “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, reigned for a record 19 weeks in 2019.

The Advocate: Kate Winslet is speaking out against the “judgment, discrimination, and homophobia” in Hollywood that is preventing actors from coming out. The Ammonite star said she knew “at least four actors” that are staying in the closet due to fears that being out would hurt their careers.

Gr8erDays: Today would have been the 113th birthday of gay icon Bette Davis, plus a host of other top-shelf stars catalogued by pop culture guru Matt Rettenmund.

Instinct Magazine: A staffer in Australia’s Parliament was fired last week after after sex tapes recorded within its halls involving him were leaked to the press by his former boyfriend.

Washington Post: A record 4 million Americans were vaccinated against COVID-19 on Saturday. An average of 3.1 million shots were administered each day over the past seven days, and nearly 1 in 4 adults are now fully vaccinated.

Twitter: United Airlines weighed in today on the topic of Georgia’s new voter suppression law: “Legislation that infringes on the right to vote of fellow Americans is wrong.” p.s. Republicans got mad…

Survey: 71% Of Republicans Oppose Making Voting Easy

According to a new survey by Pew Research Center, the number of Republicans who say “everything possible” should be done to make voting easy has dropped precipitously since 2018.

Of course, this comes after their candidate lost the 2020 presidential election thanks to record-breaking voter participation.

As a response, state legislatures have introduced over 360 voter restriction bills this year.

Many election experts say the new laws will disproportionately affect voters of color, as well as those with disabilities.

Georgia, whose close elections for president and U.S. Senate drew national attention, has already passed a bill that effectively suppresses the vote in the Peach State.

Some aspects of the Georgia law include reducing the time period voters have to request absentee ballots, limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, and making it illegal to hand out water to voters standing in line for hours.

Crunching the Pew Center’s data:

59% of U.S. adults overall say everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote, while 39% say citizens should have to prove they want to vote by registering ahead of time.

85% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents say everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote, while 14% say citizens should have to prove they really want to vote by registering ahead of time.

28% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents say everything possible should be done to make it easy for all citizens to vote, while 71% say American citizens should prove they really want to vote by registering ahead of time.

It’s worth noting that prior to the 2018 mid-term elections, 48% of Republicans said everything possible should be done to make it easy to vote, while 51% said citizens should have to prove they really want to vote by registering ahead of time. That shows a clear 20 point shift in Republican attitudes on voting in less than 3 years.

Broken down by race, 84% of Black adults and 69% of Hispanic adults say everything possible should be done to make it easy to vote, only 51% of white respondents said the same.

On the issue of election security:

• 61% of U.S. adults overall say it would not make elections less secure if election rules were changed to make it easier to register and vote.

• 82% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents say the same.

• 37% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents say the same.

Read the full report from Pew Research here.

Florida Moves To Outlaw Handing Out Water To Voters

Voters stand in line waiting to vote

Voters stand in line waiting to vote

A Florida lawmaker has introduced legislation that would follow Georgia’s lead in barring handing out water or food to people waiting in line to vote within 150 feet of a polling venue.

Via Politico:

“It’s influencing the vote and that’s what we are trying to stop because they are a captive audience,” Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), the bill sponsor and the former chair of the Republican Party of Florida, said at a hearing Monday. “The 150 feet area is supposed to be a safe zone where they are not going to be bothered by a campaign.”

Ingoglia also said that nothing in the proposal would prevent local election supervisors from handing out water to people in line if they wanted. “I just think it should be a function of the government,” he said.

So, people not affiliated with any campaign  – folks who just want to encourage people to stay in line and vote, Democrat or Republican – can’t hand someone a bottle of water? #srsly

News Round-Up: March 25, 2021

Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers
Joe Jonas (image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

Socialite Life: Joe Jonas (above), of the Jonas Brothers, has NOT been a gym slug during the pandemic. All props to him and his many abs on display in this selfie from Instagram.

Edge Media: Police officers in the virulently anti-LGBTQ country of Chechnya arrested 20 relatives of two gay brothers who had fled persecution in the Russian province.

Laughing Squid: The Melodica Bros created this truly beguiling and compelling cover version of the traditionally upbeat anthem “Y.M.C.A” by the Village People. This version features a change from major to minor, a slower tempo, and a quiet performance that included an acoustic guitar and a double bass. I love reinvention when well-done.

The Advocate: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law today that will bar transgender student athletes from competing under their gender identity. In a statement, Hutchinson said that female athletes “should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition.”

CNN: The Republican-controlled Georgia legislature quickly passed a sweeping elections law that substantially reduces voter access. The Georgia bill would limit drop boxes, make giving food or drinks to a voter a crime, & grant state officials broad rights, including the ability to replace local election officials.

Variety: Late-night host and comedian Jay Leno has issued an apology for decades of jokes told over his career targeting Asian communities.

Texas Republicans Lose Again Trying To Block Drive-Thru Voting

Drive-through voting in Harris County, TX (screen capture)

And stay out!

First, the Texas state Supreme Court said ‘no.’ Then, a federal District Court judge said ‘no.’

Now, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has said ‘no’ to a bid by Texas Republicans to block Election Day drive-through voting in Harris County.

From NPR:

In a terse order, the three-judge panel wrote: “It is ordered that appellants’ motion for injunctive relief to issue a preliminary injunction banning drive-thru voting on Election Day, November 3, 2020, is denied.” No explanation was given.

The move is yet another loss for Texas Republicans who had sought to challenge the legality of some 127,000 votes cast at drive-through voting sites in the Houston area.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen threw out that suit, ruling the plaintiffs don’t have legal standing to sue. The Texas Supreme Court dismissed a similar challenge on Sunday.

Harris County, Texas’ most populous county and majority Democratic, erected 10 drive-through sites, mostly tents, to expedite the early voting process as a way of allowing people to cast ballots safely during the coronavirus pandemic. They were also in place this summer before the state’s primary.

Noting that point, Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, asked plaintiffs, “Why am I just getting this case?” He later said that the suit was not timely and that “this has been going on all summer.”

Harris County Clerk Christopher Hollins decided to shut down 9 of the ten Election Day drive-thru voting sites out of concern that the votes could later be thrown out via ongoing legal challenges filed by Republicans.

Las Vegas: Trump Campaign Sues To Stop Counting Mail-In Ballots

The Trump campaign and the Nevada GOP are attempting to stop the count of mail-in ballots in my home city of Las Vegas (Democratic stronghold Clark County) by suing the Nevada secretary of state and Clark County registrar on Friday.

From The Hill:

The lawsuit, filed less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 elections, says observers cannot get close enough to workers and machines as they tally votes in Nevada’s largest and most Democratic county, which includes the city of Las Vegas.

Republicans are arguing that observers cannot confirm that votes get second- and third-step validation, warning that the situation runs the risk of permitting fraudulent votes from being tabulated.

Judge James Wilson in Carson City later decided to not issue an immediate order to stop the count but did schedule a hearing on the issue set to take place next Wednesday.

The Nevada Democratic Party dismissed the lawsuit as an effort by Republicans to suppress the vote, casting it as a “desperate play.”

“This lawsuit from Trump and Republicans is nothing more than an obvious attempt to impede record-breaking momentum in Clark County, the most diverse county in the state,” said Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy. “The demands articulated in the GOP’s lawsuit amount to voter suppression, plain and simple.”

Currently, 516,000+ ballots have been cast in Nevada in the 2020 general election. As you can see via the Secretary of State’s website, Democrats are voting by mail at more than twice the rate of Republicans.

• 304,448 mail-in ballots – 160,125 received from registered Democrats; 74,384 from registered Republicans; 69,939 Other

• 211,930 in-person votes have been cast – 70,504 by registered Democrats; 99,808 by registered Republicans; 41,618 Other

News Round-Up: June 22, 2020

Chippendales’ Jeffrey Garrovillo and co-star (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Book a ‘Chippendales at Home’ party (above) and you never know – you might get two woofy Chipps for the price of one.

Instinct: Why are some gay Republicans unhappy about the recent Supreme Court victory for LGBTQ protections in the workplace?

Politico: A coalition of advocacy groups sued the Trump administration on Monday over its rollback of LGBTQ patient protections, arguing that last week’s Supreme Court decision extending workplace legal protections to gay and transgender employees invalidates the new rules.

LGBTQ Families: Family Source Consultants, Fertility Centers of Illinois and International Fertility League Group are hosting an expert-led discussion on family building for the LGBTQ+ community on June 25th at 5pm CDT via ZOOM. The informational event is focused on couples and individuals who are interested in building their family through third party reproduction.

Newsweek: Kentucky has slashed the number of polling locations for Tuesday’s primary elections to just 170 in-person polling stations across the Commonwealth — a major drop from the standard 3,700 sites usually made available for voters. The decrease comes as state officials heavily encourage residents to vote by mail amid the coronavirus health crisis. Many of the state’s most populous areas, like Jefferson County, home to half of the state’s Black residents, will have ONE polling location.

NY Post: A defiant shopper fought his way into an Orlando Walmart after he was denied entry for refusing to wear a face mask, a viral video shows. The incident occurred on the same day masks became mandatory in the county. In the viral video, an employee tries to block the man from entering. “You gotta wear a mask, bro!” the man behind the camera says. The older man then shoves the Walmart worker, even falling to the ground at one point.

News Round-Up: April 15, 2020

Daniel Newman (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Walking Dead star Daniel Newman (above) asks that you please forgive his “messy room.”

NPR: Despite pleas from cities across the state, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has held out on issuing a statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But an outbreak of COVID-19 at Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, S.D., has infected nearly 450 workers and caused the number of cases in the city to grow so quickly that the mayor, Paul TenHaken, calls it an explosion.

KIT212: Kenneth’s ‘Wrestle Wednesdays’ (below) certainly help brighten Hump Day. Find all of his WW posts here.

(via kenneth-in-the-212)

Axios: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Wednesday he will be issuing an executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings in public situations in which social distancing is not possible.

Vox: Kentucky’s heavily Republican legislature voted Tuesday to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID, overriding Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto in the process. Meanwhile, all of the state’s offices that issue such IDs are….wait for it…closed.

NewNowNext: In the new film, Sublet, Michael (played John Benjamin Hickey), a New York Times travel writer, journeys to Tel Aviv after suffering a tragedy. The energy of the city, and his relationship with a younger man (played by Niv Nissim) who becomes his tour guide, brings him back to life.

Director Eytan Fox shares a scene from the movie where Michael and Tomer meet on the beach in Tel Aviv after spending a few days together. “This sensual setting sparks real intimacy between them for the first time,” says Fox. “As these two men sit there, they open up to each other about matters of the heart—and soul.”

The film was to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this year which, clearly, was canceled. No word on when the movie will be officially released but the scene below certainly sparks my interest.

Biden, Karofsky Win As Wisconsin (Finally) Counts Primary Vote

A week after Wisconsin voters were forced to choose between staying safe from the COVID-19 threat and voting in their state’s election, the results are finally being tabulated.

First, former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the Democratic primary there. With 63 percent of the vote counted, he currently has 64 percent of the vote versus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 31 percent.

Republican lawmakers in the state forced the elections last week and refused to extend any mail-in vote deadlines primarily because a state Supreme Court seat was being decided and the GOPers know lower turnout favors their side.

But not in this instance.

Even though polling sites in Milwaukee (a Democratic stronghold) were cut from 180 to only 5, the voters did turn out, they stood in line, and they chose the liberal in the race, Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky.

Her victory marks the first time in a dozen years a Supreme Court challenger beat an incumbent.

Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Long lines for voters in Wisconsin today after GOP lawmakers were able to stop a proposed postponement of the state primary due to COVID-19.

Wisconsin is the first state to proceed with in-person voting since most states enacted stay-at-home orders.

Wisconsin Democrats wanted to extend absentee voting and even postpone the election altogether, but state Republicans fought to block both in legal wrangling. Democratic turnout is expected to be low due to the virus and today’s deadline for mail-in ballots.

From the Washington Post:

Hundreds of voters stood in lines that stretched for blocks in several Wisconsin cities Tuesday morning to cast their ballots amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus, a chaotic start to elections in the state that went forward only after a last-minute legal battle.

Morning scenes at the polls across Milwaukee — which was able to open only five polling locations, down from 180 — underscored the near-unprecedented challenge facing election administrators one day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers sought to suspend in-person voting in light of the covid-19 pandemic, an order that was quickly reversed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The decision was a victory for the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, which had declined to postpone the election and filed a legal challenge to Evers’s order, arguing it exceeded the governor’s constitutional authority.

No results will be released until Monday as so many mail-in ballots (which have to be postmarked by today) are in play.

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, there were 1,273,374 absentee ballots mailed out and 864,750 were returned which already exceeds the record 830,763 absentee ballots received in the 2016 general election.

The New York Times reports there are voters waiting in line for up to two hours in Milwaukee where there are only five polling stations open instead of the usual 180 polling sites.