Friday, May 25, 2018

Funny: Stephen Colbert Recaps The Wild & Wacky Arizona GOP Primary

Taking a look at the upcoming mid-term elections, Stephen Colbert offers his recap of the wild and wooly Republican primary happening down Arizona way.

"It's a classic Arizona match between "Chemtrail lady," "Revenge porn guy" and "Sheriff Convict" in what I'm calling, "Showdown at the 'This is not OK' Corral."

Watch below.

(tip by TheOUTfront)

George Takei's Accuser Changes His Story Of Drugged Sexual Assault

George Takei (image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Months ago, as the #MeToo movement was heating up, many folks were surprised when a former model named Scott Brunton came forward to accuse Star Trek actor George Takei of sexual assault dating back to the early 1980s.

The impact on Takei was immediate as the story went viral. Suddenly, social media’s wise “gay uncle” had been tarred and feathered as a sexual predator.

Takei, wounded, issued a clear denial of the story:

Now, Brunton has spoken to the New York Observer’s Shane Snow in a lengthy interview where the former model now admits he doesn’t remember Takei groping him.

In fact, Brunton walks back several talking points about the night in question and his tone has softened regarding the allegations.

In the article, Brunton admits that, upon arriving in Los Angeles in his early 20s, he “became very wary of people—men—who may have wanted just to get into my pants.”

And yet, it was in 1981 that Brunton, having broken up with him boyfriend at the time, found himself out one evening for dinner and a play with the Star Trek actor which ended in Takei’s condo having cocktails.

Brunton’s says after two drinks he stood up and became dizzy. Takei led him to a bean bag chair where Brunton believes he passed out for a moment. When he came to, he says Takei was attempting to remove his pants.

Although Takei reasoned he was trying to make the younger man more comfortable, he got up and drove home.

Brunton would later tell The Oregonian that, “I know unequivocally he spiked my drink.”

But Snow spoke to two different medical toxicologists who ruled out the idea of a spiked drink.

“The most likely cause is not drug-related,” said Lewis Nelson, the director of medical toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “It sounds like postural hypotension, exacerbated by alcohol.” Postural hypotension is a sudden decrease in blood pressure that can occur when a person stands up quickly—and can make one dizzy enough to pass out even without alcohol. Brunton had made it clear to me, twice, that dizziness hit him only when he stood up.

“The alcohol alone, if drunk quickly, could account for [his browning out], particularly if there was a bit of postural hypotension,” said date-rape expert Michael Scott-Ham of Principal Forensic Toxicology & Drugs, a consulting firm in London, who has testified in criminal cases for 35 years. “To recover so speedily doesn’t sound like the actions of a drug.”

According to experts, victims of the date-rape drug Rohypnol (“roofies”) describe the next day as the worst hangover of their lives, and have little to no memory of what happened while drugged.

Nelson added that there were no drugs available in 1981 that could have done what Brunton claims.

When Snow shared that info with Brunton, the former model admitted he felt better about the incident in that “it makes him a little less sinister.”

Snow also notes that Brunton’s story about being groped or fondled changed over time. In an interview with CNN, Brunton didn’t mention touching at all.

Snow directly asked Brunton about the issue:

I asked him to clarify the issue. “Did he touch your genitals?”

“You know…probably…” Brunton replied after some hesitation. “He was clearly on his way to…to…to going somewhere.”

We shared a pause.

“So…you don’t remember him touching your genitals?”

Brunton confessed that he did not remember any touching.

“There’s nothing to prosecute here,” former Senior Deputy District Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez told Snow. He said that taking off someone’s pants is “making a move,” and making a move isn’t a crime if the instigator backs off when told “no.”

Brunton asserts he felt “betrayed” by his friend Takei for hitting on him and he still wants an apology from Takei.

“I just want him to apologize for taking advantage of our friendship,” Brunton said.

For Takei’s part, a personal friend told Snow, “This has been the worst thing to happen to George since the internment camps.”

In the end, Snow characterizes Brunton as “a sympathetic and well-intentioned man, would go on to walk back key details and let slip that, in his effort to be listened to, he’d fabricated some things.”

And while not dismissing the idea that Takei could have done something inappropriate almost 40 years ago, Snow’s take after surveying what he’d learned was, “We—both public and press—got the George Takei assault story wrong.”

Former Director Of National Intelligence Calls Out Trump's Lies

James Clapper
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has had enough of Donald Trump's lies about the United States' intelligence community:

“He deliberately spun it, distorted it. I mean this is George Orwell — up is down, black is white, peace is war. That’s exactly what I didn’t say. I took aversion to the word spy, it was the most benign version of information gathering. The important thing is the whole reason the FBI was doing this was concern over what the Russians were doing to infiltrate the campaign, not spying on the campaign.” 

Clapper was angry that Trump had twisted what he'd said regarding the FBI investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

NBC Announces Next Live Musical Presentation - HAIR Live!

Treat Williams in HAIR (screen capture)
Talk about changing gears - NBC has announced that instead of the twice-delayed staging of the 1950s musical Bye, Bye, Birdie, it’s next live action musical planned for Spring 2019 will be the free-love, hippie-inspired HAIR .

According to The Hollywood Reporter, HAIR Live! will be executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the same team who brought TV audiences The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, Hairspray and the recent (fantastic!) Jesus Christ Superstar.

The logline for HAIR Live! reads:

The story of a group of politically active hippies living a bohemian life in New York while fighting against and resisting the Vietnam War. Claude, his good friends Berger and Sheila, and their “tribe” are coming of age in the world of the sexual revolution while struggling with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society. Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or succumb to the pressures of conservative America to serve in Vietnam, compromising his principles and beliefs.

Included in that tribe of friends is the openly gay character of “Woof” (how prophetic) who openly pines for Mick Jagger and sings the song, “Sodomy.”

Since its original groundbreaking Broadway run in 1968, HAIR has been revived several times including a recent a star-studded staging at the Hollywood Bowl and the 2009 Broadway revival which won the Tony Award for “Best Revival of a Musical.”

The musical received an acclaimed film adaptation by Milos Forman in 1979 starring John Savage, Beverly D’Angelo and an oh-so-woofy Treat Willams as "Berger."

The musical addressed issues important to young people at the time - Vietnam War, drugs, race, gender and sexual identity - in a way no one had seen before. And a brief nude scene was considered “revolutionary” in the show’s early incarnations.

For years, the notorious nude scene at the end of the first act has drawn much attention. It’s highly doubtful TV audiences will see much of that in the NBC presentation. And it won’t be the first time the scene will be edited.

Producer Joe Papp cut the nude scene for the original Public Theater production. When the creators took a renewed look at the show in preparation for the move to Broadway, they wanted to put the nudity back in. However, there was a law on the books in New York City that said nudity was permitted on stage as long as the actors weren’t moving. And so, back in the 60’s and 70’s, the entire cast stood on stage together in a row, nude and perfectly still. That’s how the staging of the scene was born.

The show’s political hot-button issues weren’t the only attention grabbers at the time.

The music became a force of nature on the Billboard charts.

The original Broadway cast album (which won the Grammy Award for “Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album”) charted at #1 and spent three months in the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart in 1969 and spun-off 4 hit singles.

The Fifth Dimension’s medley of “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” spent 6 weeks as the No. 1 pop hit in 1969 and was the No. 2 single for the entire year (barely losing out the top honors to the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar.”) Also reaching the Top 5 were Three Dog Night’s “Easy to Be Hard,” The Cowsills’ “Hair,” and Oliver’s “Good Morning Starshire.”

The recent live TV musical presentations have a somewhat hit-or-miss record in terms of success. While The Sound of Music was considered a success all-around, subsequent presentations like Peter Pan and The Wiz seemed to fall flat for this writer.

That trend was reversed with the recent Jesus Christ Superstar which seemed to find the gold with striking staging by five-time Tony Award nominee, British theater director David Leveaux, exceptional choreography by Camille A. Brown and a cast that included Sara Bareilles, Brandon Victor Dixon, John Legend and Alice Cooper.

No air date has been announced as yet for HAIR Live!

GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher: It's Ok To Refuse To Sell Homes To "Immoral" Gays

California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
(image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

While engaged in one of the most competitive primaries of his political career, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California has informed a key National Realtor group that homeowners should be able to refuse to sell their property to LGBTs.

Rohrabacher told an Orange County Association of Realtors meeting on May 16 in Washington, D.C., “Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone (if) they don’t agree with their lifestyle.”

The congressman doubled down on that sentiment telling reporters on Thursday that homeowners should have the right to “choose who they do business with.”

“We’ve drawn a line on racism, but I don’t think we should extend that line,” Rohrabacher said. “A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”

Rohrabacher’s comments came during a mid-year lobbying conference in Washington with the real estate professionals who asked him to support H.R. 1447, among other issues.

The legislation would expand the 1968 Fair Housing Act to include anti-discrimination protections based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. The existing law already bans home sellers, landlords and lenders from discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Jeff Berger, a Florida Realtor and founder of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals wrote to the president of the National Association of Realtors asking Rohrbacher’s support be rescinded.

“When a supposed champion of the Realtor Party outright states that housing discrimination should be lawful, I hope you agree there should be cause for concern,” wrote Berger. “Ignoring the congressman’s comments belies the decades of serious work and progress NAR has made in the area of fair housing.”

Although Rohrabacher had previously been designated as a “Realtor Champion” by the NAR, the trade group has now withdrawn its recommendation that members support Rohrabacher based on his recent statements.

Equality California's Executive Director Rick Zbur agrees: “Californians decided years ago that we don’t support housing discrimination — not based on race, not based on religion and not based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“And while Dana Rohrabacher may think it’s okay to discriminate against people because of who they are or whom they love, Orange County families don’t." added Zbur.

Harley Rouda, a Democrat who was recently endorsed by Equality California in the race and is the son of a former Realtor association president, called Rohrabacher’s statements “outlandish and unacceptable,” saying everyone should have the same rights to buy and sell a home.”

Rohrabacher's race is currently rated as a "Toss-Up" by the Cook Report.

(h/t Orange County Register)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Racist Rant On LIRR Gets Loud-Mouthed Passenger Hate Crime Charges

Edward Ruggerio (via screen capture)

The New York Daily News reports that a passenger on the Long Island Railroad who was caught on video spewing a racist, profanity-laden rant has been charged with a hate crime and could end up behind bars for the angry tirade.

Queens DA Richard Brown charged Edward Ruggerio, 58, with menacing as a hate crime for his verbal attack on a fellow passenger whome he threatened physical assault. Ruggerio will also face a count of second-degree aggravated harassment — crimes punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine.

Ruggerio claims he was upset that Orelian was talking too loudly with friends. “Shut the f–k up, you f—ing loud-mouthed monkey motherf—er,” he screamed at her. “I can’t listen to your f—ing black ass no more … You f—ing loudmouthed bitch … At least I got a f—ing mother. Do you know who your mother is? You don’t know who your mother or your father is because you’re a f—ing monkey, that’s why.”

Watch the report from the New York City ABC affiliate below.

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Gallup: 67% Of Americans Support Marriage Equality

(image via Gallup/click to enlarge)

This year's Values & Morals poll from Gallup shows 67% of Americans support same-sex marriage today.

That's the highest level of support Gallup has recorded since the polling firm began asking Americans about their views on the issue in 1996. 

Back then, a mere 27% of those polled supported gay marriage.

It will come as no surprise that politically speaking there's a wide chasm between Democrats and Republicans on the subject.

The recent data shows that 83% of those who identify as Democrats said they support legally recognized same-sex marriage; only 44% of Republican respondents say they support marriage equality.

And those all-important Independent voters? A healthy 71% of independents said they were in favor of legally recognised same-sex marriage.

One reason for the increase in support could be from visibility: according to Gallup, one in 10 LGBTQ+ adults were married to a same-sex partner in 2017.

“This means that Americans are more likely to know someone who has married a same-sex partner, and the visibility of these marriages may be playing a role in overturning some folks’ previously held opposition to their legal status,” Gallup said.

Same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states in the U.S. in June of 2015 following the historic Obergefell ruling by the Supreme Court.

Harvey Weinstein To Surrender To Authorities On Friday Regarding Sexual Misconduct Allegations

(image via Flickr/Thomas Hawk)

The New York Daily News is reporting that disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is expected to surrender to authorities sometime on Friday to face charges related to alleged sexual misconduct in connection to a probe by the Manhattan District Attorney's office and NYPD.

The Academy Award winning producer is facing charges regarding at least one accuser, Lucia Evans, who told authorities that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004, sources said.

Weinstein is expected to be charged with felony sexual assault.

The Daily News reports that due to the nature of the allegations, the statute of limitations does not apply.

In October 2017, following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, Weinstein was fired from his company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

By the end of October, well over 80 women had made allegations against Weinstein. The allegations were the impetus for the "#MeToo" social media campaign.

Since then the launch of the #MeToo campaign, gay men have stepped forward alongside women to share their stories of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Weinstein has maintained that he is innocent of all alleged wrongdoing.