Friday, September 22, 2017

News Round-Up: September 22, 2017

Stuart Reardon

Some news items you might have missed:

• Sometimes I just want to say, "Hey Stuart Reardon, you don't have to check - every pic is a great pic."

• The Human Rights Campaign is calling for the Trump administration to withdraw the nomination of Jeff Mateer for a district judge appointment in Texas. Among other things, Mateer has said transgender people are proof "Satan's plan is working," and that same-sex marriage leads to bestiality.

• Kansas high school students stage a sit-in to stand up for transgender people.

• A new CNN poll shows 54% of Americans believe it's likely that Russian-backed content on social media did affect the outcome of the 2016 election.

• As of May 2017, 23% of Americans still think that same-sex relationships should be illegal.

• Did you know before she was cast as "Karen Walker" on Will & Grace Megan Mullally auditioned for the role of "Grace?" Watch Megan talk about her evolution on the iconic show (returning September 28th!) below.

Parody: "The Lonely Dotard"


As we all giggle at North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un's "dotard" insult hurled at Donald Trump, a bit of levity from my friend, Kevin Chamberlin:

"The Lonely Dotard"
-sung to the tune of "The Lonely Goatherd" from Sound of Music. (With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein)
High on a hill was a lonely dotard
Lady-o Melania was with him too
Loud was the voice of the lonely dotard
Build a wall and never let 'em through
Folks in a land that was quite remote heard
Kim Jung Un we will destroy you
Lusty and clear from the dotard's throat heard
Grab 'em by the pussy's what you do!
O ho Time to impeach him
O ho Better do it quick
O ho How can we reach him
This guy's a royal prick

Sen. John McCain Is A "No" On Latest GOP Healthcare Bill

Sen. John McCain
Sen. John McCain has just announced he cannot "in good conscience" vote for the GOP's latest attempt to "repeal and replace" Obamacare.

Via CNN:

"I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal," the Arizona Republican said in a statement. "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will (affect) insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions."

McCain has said for weeks that he would not support health care legislation that had not gone through "regular order," meaning Senate hearings, an amendment process and a rigorous floor debate.

McCain voted "no" on the last health care proposal in July for the same reason. McCain's dramatic floor vote, which happened just weeks after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, came in the early morning and was captured as one of his most "maverick" moments in the Senate.

With Sen. Rand Paul already a "no" vote, this brings the Republican Senate majority down to only 50 "yes" votes.

Additionally, it's looking more and more likely that Sen. Susan Collins of Maine will be the vote that kills the bill.

"I'm leaning against the bill," Collins said Friday according to the Portland Press Herald.

Click to enlarge

BBC: New Antibody Attacks 99% Of HIV Virus


The BBC is reporting that scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi have developed an antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains and can prevent infection in primates.

There are plans to begin human trials in 2018 to see if it can prevent or treat infections.

As we've known for years, a big challenge in defeating HIV has been the virus' ability to mutate and change its appearance.

But for a small number of patients, years of infection can lead to the development of "broadly neutralizing antibodies" that have the ability to kill large swaths of HIV strains.

Researchers have utilized 3 broadly neutralizing antibodies into one "tri-specific antibody" as an approach to treating HIV or perhaps preventing infection in the first place.

Dr Gary Nabel, the chief scientific officer at Sanofi and one of the report authors, told the BBC News website: "They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that's been discovered."

The best naturally occurring antibodies will target 90% of HIV strains.

"We're getting 99% coverage, and getting coverage at very low concentrations of the antibody," said Dr Nabel.

Experiments on 24 monkeys showed none of those given the tri-specific antibody developed an infection when they were later injected with the virus.

Dr Nabel said: "It was quite an impressive degree of protection."

(tipped by TRR reader Chad)

Outserve-SLDN On Trump Trans Ban: "What The President Has Begun With A Tweet We Will End In Court"


Peter Perkowski, legal director for OutServe-SLDN, pens a thoughtful, fact-based op-ed for The Advocate explaining the reasons why Donald Trump's proposed ban on transgender military servicemembers has no rational basis.

As you may know, back in July Trump tweeted, “Please be advised that United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

Perkowski knocks down Trump's justifications with sane and deliberate consideration.

Here's an excerpt:

The president now wishes to discard a workable, nondiscriminatory policy in favor of a factually and legally indefensible one that violates basic civil rights.

The president’s justifications? Baseless. One of them, readiness and unit cohesion, is contradicted by the Pentagon’s own studies. In fact, Adm. Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that excluding trans people undermines readiness — the opposite of what the president claims.

Another justification was “tremendous medical costs,” but we know this too is untrue. The Pentagon considered the cost associated with providing medical care to trans service members. Including gender-affirming surgery (if desired), such costs ranged between $2.4 and $8.4 million per year. At the high end of these estimates, the cost is still less than one one-thousandth of one percent of the proposed defense budget for fiscal year 2018. By contrast, the military spends $84 million — or 10 times as much — on medication for erectile dysfunction, something hardly essential to the national defense.

Medical care offered to transgender service members is also qualitatively indistinguishable from the care provided to cisgender troops. The surgeon general of the Navy, C. Forrest Faison III, told the Navy Times in December that most of the medical care for trans service members is offered to cisgender men with low testosterone or cisgender women needing hormone replacement due to menopause.

Jim Parsons Shares What It's like For Gay Men To Fall In Love And Marry


Jim Parsons stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to chat on the upcoming seasons of The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. But before chatting into "sitcom land," Colbert asked about Parsons' recent marriage to longtime bf, Todd, and why - other than legal reasons - they waited so long to marry.

Parsons was quite thoughtful in his reply.

“I didn’t really think we cared about the act of it that much, to be honest with you. And that sounds cold in a way, but I finally thought…well, let’s have a party then for the celebration of, and we’ll go ahead and legalize this thing. And I really thought it would kind of end at that, a party feel but it was so much more meaningful in the moment to me than I predicted. And it’s been resonantly more meaningful to me afterward than I ever saw coming. I’d been an adult gay person for so long at a time when that wasn’t possible that life was ‘fine,’ you know what I mean?”
I can honestly say I had very similar feelings about getting married before hot hubby Michael and I tied the knot.

When I was actually saying marriage vows to Michael was a moment the depth and gravity of our relationship took yet another step forward that was deeply emotional - in every good way possible.

Watch Parsons talk on marriage (and sitcoms) below.

Kim Jong-Un Calls Donald Trump "Mentally Deranged"


After Donald Trump's address to the United Nations on Tuesday where he referred to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as "Rocketman" and promised to "totally destroy" North Korea, Kim issued a statement saying Trump is "deranged" and would "pay dearly" for his comments.

These are two infantile school children fighting on a grown up playground.

From the New York Times:

Responding directly for the first time to President Trump’s threat at the United Nations to destroy nuclear-armed North Korea, its leader called Mr. Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” on Friday and vowed the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

The rejoinder by the leader, Kim Jong-un, who is about half as old as Mr. Trump, 71, added to the lexicon of Mr. Kim’s choice of insults in the escalating bombast between the two.

“A frightened dog barks louder,” Mr. Kim said in a statement, referring to Mr. Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in which he vowed to annihilate North Korea if the United States were forced to defend itself or its allies against it.

“He is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician,” Mr. Kim said.

“Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say,” he added. “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire.”



Trump, who never let an attack go without a reply, shared this on Twitter:

Happy Friday!

Joe Manganiello

Friday be like...
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