Meanwhile former Breitbart boss and current Trump advisor Steve Bannon has been cozying up to traditionalist Catholic officials who are opposed to the pope. According to the New York Times, Bannon has allied himself with Cardinal Raymond Burke, a longtime opponent of Pope Francis. Burke was appointed cardinal by the ultraconservative Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and occupied a series of powerful positions in the Vatican bureaucracy. He then ran afoul of Pope Francis, at one point even threatening to “formally correct”' the new pope's teaching on families. Francis fired Burke from his most important posts and sent him to be papal delegate to the Knights of Malta, the modern remnant of an old crusading order. Even in that innocuous post, Burke annoyed the pope, who replaced him with a mere archbishop on February 2.
According to the Times, Bannon's relationship with Burke goes back to the cardinal's glory days in 2014, shortly before he lost his Vatican posts. Bannon visited the Vatican in April 2014 to recruit Edward Pentin, a leading Catholic traditionalist reporter, to write for Breitbart. Pentin is the author of The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? - a book charging that Pope Francis and his liberal associates steamrolled the Vatican's Synod on the Family. While in Rome, Bannon also met Benjamin Harnwell, a confidant of Cardinal Burke and 'the smartest guy in Rome,' according to Bannon. Harnwell arranged for Bannon to meet Burke. The two hit it off right away, the Times says, because both felt a need to counter what they saw as a 'cultural Marxism' that had seeped into the church and resulted in Francis's election. Bannon found the meeting “incredibly powerful.” (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)
Trump not ready to issue anti-Gay “Religious Freedom” order
Washington, D.C. – On February 9, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied President Trump would sign a “religious freedom” order enabling sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination — at least for the time being — by asserting a directive along those lines won’t be signed “right now.” Spicer made the remarks under questioning from CBS News’ Major Garrett on a draft executive order circulating among federal advocacy groups that would green light discrimination on the basis of the religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and transgender status.
“There is right now no executive orders that are official or able to read out,” Spicer said. “We maintain that. There’s nothing new on that front. There are a lot of ideas that are being floated out. I mentioned this the last couple days, but that doesn’t mean — part of it as the president does all the time, he asks for input, he asks for ideas, and on a variety of subjects, there are staffing procedures where people have a thought, or an idea, and it goes through the process, but until the president makes up his mind and gives feedback and decides that that’s final, there’s nothing to announce.”
The draft order was first reported by The Nation and a copy obtained by the Washington Blade. Spicer downplayed the possibility Trump would sign the executive order after responding to another question from the Christian Broadcasting Network. Acknowledging “a line” between the two areas, Spicer said “we have freedom of religion in this country,” which allows people to “practice their religion, express their religion and express areas of their faith without reprisal.” “And I think that pendulum sometimes swings the other way in the name of political correctness. . .” Spicer said, “I think it’s a pendulum, and where the president is he wants to make sure you don’t penalize someone for wanting to express their faith and to the extent that we can keep that line a little less blurred and allow people who don’t believe in a faith or have an opposing faith, making sure that they are equally comfortable in the workplace.” “But we shouldn’t penalize people or make them abide by certain policies or regulations, which are in direct contradiction to their faith,” Spicer concluded. (The Washington Blade – Chris Johnson at http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/02/02/white-house-no-anti-lgbt-order-right-now-on-religious-freedom/)
Men charged with having sex on store display bed
Clifton, NJ – NorthJersey.com reports that two men were arrested and charged with
engaging in lewd behavior on a display bed at Bed Bath & Beyond during regular business hours. According to the website, police officers responded to the store in Clifton on Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. after a report from a witness that two men were engaged in a sex act, records show. The incident was reported by an employee who witnessed the act, reports show. The men were not store employees.
Police arrested two 28-year-old men, one from Nutley, New Jersey and the other from North Carolina. Both were charged with lewdness, criminal mischief and possession of marijuana, according to police records. The Nutley suspect was also charged with having an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
One or both of the men apprehended by police were found to be infected with scabies, a contagious skin infestation caused by a microscopic parasite that burrows beneath skin. The arresting officers were exposed to the mites, according to police reports. Because the two men were found to be suffering from a health condition their identities are protected by HIPPA, officials said. However, police said they were not Jessica Joyce, senior manager of Bed Bath & Beyond's public relations and social media, emailed a statement reading the company "takes the safety of our customers and associates very seriously" and find this incident "extremely upsetting. . .Out of an abundance of caution, the incident-related merchandise and
display was immediately pulled from the floor and discarded." (NorthJersey.com – Tony Gicas at http://northjersy.news/2k6ajnj)
California teacher arrested for Lesbian affair with student
Riverside, CA – As reported by The Dailymail.com and The Heavy.com, a teacher at a performing arts high school has been arrested after allegedly having a months-long inappropriate relationship with a female student. Camryn Zelinger, 32, was taken into custody at work at the Encore High School for the Arts in Riverside, California on February 6. Zelinger has been charged with suspicion of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor and annoying or molesting a child under 18.
The mother of the girl, aged 14 or 15, contacted police over the weekend and reported the relationship, which the teen said had taken place over the past few months. The investigation began when the victim’s mother told authorities she found explicit text messages from the teacher on her daughter’s cell phone, KTLA-TV reports. “I’m a nosy mother. And I grabbed her phone. And I looked at texts from this teacher, sexting my baby over the phone, over the texts – just all this stuff,” the mother, who is not being identified to protect the girl’s identity, told the news station.
Authorities said Encore High School for the Arts has fully cooperated with the investigation.
Zelinger is no longer employed at the school, which serves students grades 7-12. The lewd or lascivious acts charge is a felony that carries a maximum of eight years in prison. The other charge is a misdemeanor.
(The Dailymail.com – Emily Crane & Heavy.com – Tom Cleary at
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4203746/Teacher-Camryn-Zelinger-arrested-student-relationship.html and http://heavy.com/news/2017/02/camryn-zelinger-arrested-riverside-sex-female-student-teacher-facebook-photos-sexting-messages-husband-married/)
Musician sentenced for agreeing to meet cop posing as minor
Philadelphia, PA - Charles L. Cohen, a prominent Center City musician who attempted to have oral sex with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old boy on Craigslist, has been sentenced to six-23 months in county jail. During a Feb. 3 hearing, Cohen requested probation rather than jail time. He said his conduct was an "aberration" that won't happen again. But Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Gail A. Weilheimer said jail time is necessary — not because Cohen wanted to engage in gay sex, but because he wanted to engage in sex with a minor. Weilheimer said she draws the line at sexual contact with minors.
At the time of the incident, Cohen was on a medication known as Mirapex to treat his Parkinson's Disease, which he said contributes to sexual compulsivity. "It was an aberration, a complete aberration," Cohen told the judge. "I've never had any interest in children." Cohen said he no longer takes Mirapex. "I know nothing like this will happen again," Cohen added. Tyler Weaver, a close friend of Cohen, told the judge that Cohen isn't a threat to society. "I have only positive things to say about him," said Weaver, 34. "He's the most non-threatening person I've met in my entire life. That's why I gravitated to him."
In September 2015, Cohen was nabbed by police at an Upper Providence shopping center, where they said he sought to meet a boy and have oral sex. Last summer, Cohen pleaded no contest to multiple sex crimes and faced up to 43 years in state prison. At the Feb. 3 hearing, prosecutor Sophia G. Polites asked that Cohen serve between four-five years in state prison. She said Cohen sent detailed, sexually explicit emails to an undercover officer, demonstrating that he intended to engage in sex with a minor. As a convicted sex offender, Cohen must register with the Pennsylvania State Police every three months for the rest of his life, Polites added. (Philadelphia Gay News - Tim Cwiek at epgn.com)
Paris tries outdoor urinals with gardens to produce compost
Paris, France -Two new environmentally-friendly compost urinals equipped with miniature gardens on top have opened in Paris near the Gare de Lyon station. The hope is they will encourage men to relieve themselves more hygienically near the station, which is a notorious black spot for urinating in public. If the scheme is successful, it will be expanded to other stations in France.
Men will relieve themselves in the open air into the front part of the urinal, and help plants grow.
The bright red urinals are fitted on top of bins containing straw and sawdust so that compost can be made.
"We're re-using two waste products... to make something that really will make plants grow," Uritrottoir co-designer Laurent Lebot, told the Reuters news agency. Mr. Lebot said that bigger versions of his device could absorb the urine of 600 people before they needed to be emptied.
Parts of Paris have long had a reputation for smelling strongly of urine, dating back to its emergence centuries ago from swamps adjoining the river Seine. Supporters of the scheme quoted by The Local say that the urinals provide a more convivial environment, especially when compared to the numerous grey and overflowing street urinals that can be found all over the center of Paris. They say it should help to discourage men from urinating elsewhere in public. "People urinating on the streets of France is a serious problem," co-designer Victor Massip told The Local. “We knew there was a big demand for a solution, so we've come up with one. People are laughing; many of them are amazed, but most agree that it's a good idea to test out." (BBC.com, Reuters & The Local at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38829171)
Transgender minister continues her spiritual journey
Dallas, TX - Allyson Robinson is your ordinary West Point graduate transgender Baptist minister who began her transition at Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor. Robinson wasn’t brought up in the church but occasionally attended Bible school and Sunday worship with her grandparents. It was while she was at West Point, she said that “I took responsibility for my young faith.”
Robinson said she almost didn’t make it through West Point’s grueling hazing program. The last activity after six weeks of hazing was a long march carrying a backpack filled with rocks. The march ended with a climb up a hill. Make it or not, she was determined to quit. As she was nearing the top, pulling herself up by her hands, she heard a voice. It was the West Point chaplain. At that point, she said, “I made a deal with God, if God would get me through this thing.” That deal included graduating from West Point and serving in the Army. Her career extended into the Gulf War where she served as an air defense artillery officer, operating Patriot missiles to shoot down Iraqi Scuds. “I was in the middle of my military career,” she said, “when God wanted me to go into Christian ministry.”
“In divinity school, I reached the point when I couldn’t pretend it was going to go away,” she said. “I was on the verge of taking my own life.” Robinson said she was sure coming out would cost her her ministry, career and family. But, “turned out I was wrong about that.” Robinson said she always loves coming back to Texas. “I came out in Central Texas where I found support and community,” she said. “My faith has changed so much,” Robinson said. “My theology’s changed so much that I’m not quite sure where my institutional home is right now. I’m in spiritual exile.” She now does diversity consulting work. (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)
BDSM folk sometimes struggle for acceptance
Charlotte, NC - In the age of sexual liberation, LGBTQ people still fight for acceptance. But even within the community, there is a repressed subculture: queer kinksters. Practitioners of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) seek to remove the stigma and affirm that their sexuality, though alternative, is no more bizarre than “vanilla” or non-kinky sex. Slate’s Jillian Keenan believes that kink is a sexual orientation as valid as any LGBTQ identity. Keenan argues that beyond the pop-culture stereotypes lies a community of people who are true to themselves and get very real rewards from their practice of BDSM.
“Kink mixes language, ritual, trust, power, pleasure, pain and identity in a way that can’t be captured by a stereotype,” Keenan wrote. She went on to describe the many parallels of LGBTQ people and BDSM practitioners, and doesn’t fail to mention that many LGBTQ people are kinky. “Kink can be such an orienting force that, for many of us, it even overpowers gender,” Keenan wrote. Many LGBTQ people have found their places in BDSM practice. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s survey found that 35 percent of kinksters identify as bisexual compared to the 1.8 to 2.8 percent rate in the overall population.
For some BDSM practitioners it isn’t all about sex. Zannah Breunig points out that not all kinksters even want to have sex in the traditional sense. For these practitioners, BDSM is a vehicle for intimacy and building relationships that don’t center around what they call “the P and V.” “It also allows you to explore erotic potential that isn’t necessarily genitally focused,” Breunig explained. She said that relationships formed through kink are the greatest rewards of BDSM practice. They describe the way BDSM helped them communicate better about their needs. It seems clear that many LGBTQ people find BDSM one more avenue to explore their identities. (Q-Notes Online – Maria Dominguez at goqnotes.com)