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President Obama issued his fifth State of the Union and focused heavily on his successes as a President, but also about both social and economic inequality that is defining America. “Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled,” he told the crowd. He continued by issuing a new plan to strengthen the middle class with or without the help of Congress, a theme he held throughout. A more determined and unapologetic Obama also criticized government gridlock, and said he’d continue to work with mayors, governors, and local government officials about issues that range from homelessness to marriage equality. Obama said that job growth will only come through investing in state-of-the-art technology, conservation, and increasing energy independence.
“Debate is settled, climate change is a fact,” Obama said demanding better and stricter CO2 emissions laws. The President remained positive on education by hoping to help cap student loans, increasing early childhood education, and connecting schools with high-speed Internet.
Keep reading after the jump about what he had to say about women and sexual orientation…
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Openly gay singer Clay Aiken has his sights set on once again trying to win America’s votes, but this time not for another singing competition, but for a seat in Congress, according to sources. The American Idol runner-up seems to be seriously vying for a seat in D.C. to represent North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district. The 35-year-old father of one, who is originally from Raleigh, has already spoken to political operatives in D.C. According to the Washington Blade: “One Democratic source said Aiken made phone calls to gauge support, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has met with figures in Raleigh, N.C., about a potential bid. Although it’s unclear when Aiken might formally announce a decision, the source said Aiken is ‘actively considering’ it and ‘sounding and acting like a candidate.’”
All right Claymates, get ready to vote!
Categories: Entertainment, north carolina, Politics American idol, Clay Aiken, congress, election 2014, gay, Gay Congressman, gay North Carolina, gay singer, singer
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Dick Cheney’s daughters have taken center stage in the national debate on gay marriage as a heated disagreement surfaced this week regarding Liz Cheney’s support for “traditional” marriage. That’s news to her sister, Mary, who is openly gay and tied the knot with her wife in Washington D.C. in 2012 with Liz in attendance. Liz is pursuing a Senate seat in Wyoming and first voiced her stance on the issue in August.
She has been defending it ever since, both publicly and privately. The nation got a glimpse into that private sphere after Liz appeared on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend and said she supports “traditional marriage.” Mary and her wife, Heather, responsed on Facebook saying that Liz was “dead wrong” and “offensive” in her comments. While Liz tried to brush the conflict aside as “just an issue on which we disagree,” Mary was insistent that Liz’s views have been hurtful and harmful to their relationship. Mary told the New York Times that she hasn’t spoken to Liz since last summer.
Meanwhile Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, are trying to figure out how to sort through a fundamental family disagreement that has now gone so public. The parents issued a statement clarifying that Liz has always been against gay marriage, perhaps in a last-ditch effort to salvage her campaign. Liz has been criticized for changing her views to appeal to constituents. Dick, the former Vice President who first voiced support for gay marriage in 2009 (legalized by states and not at the federal level), is scheduled to appear alongside Liz on Wednesday in Denver for a campaign fundraiser according to the New York Times.
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“Pure Life” has a sinister meaning to those in Pakistan, whose aquifers are threatened by demand for the bottled water brand of the same name. An alert issued by Sum of Us spells out a classic case of environmental injustice as a major corporation–Nestlé, which owns Pure Life–pads their profits by exploiting the natural resources of a vulnerable population. The alert points to the Pakistani village of Bhati Dilwan, which faces a water table that has sunk by “hundreds of feet” because of Nestlé’s activities. It also mentions problems with water contamination caused by the prospecting and Pakistanis stricken with illness from a spoiled water supply.
Nestlé owns more than 70 percent of bottled water brands in the world according to Bottled Life, a documentary about the company’s bottled water business. The label “Pure Life” is Nestlé’s term for mineral-infused purified groundwater mined in developing countries. When Nestlé sells bottled water from Europe or the United States, it typically markets that fact right on the bottle because these sources are considered more desirable to consumers. But when it takes groundwater from a developing country, it simply uses the “Pure Life” label to obscure the water’s origins. And it works–Pure Life is the best-selling brand of bottled water in the world.
Sum of Us is spearheading a petition to Nestlé demanding that they cease harmful operations in Pakistan. The petition is rapidly approaching its goal of 400,000 signatures.
Categories: Business, businesses, Gay Travel, petition, Politics, protest bottled water, environmental justice, Nestle, Pakistan, petition, scarcity, water
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On the leadership front, Europe is setting the prime example for equality as Xavier Bettel, the openly gay mayor of Luxembourg City, seems set to become the continent’s second openly LGBT prime minster, following the lead of Belgium’s Elio Di Rupo, who became the first in December of 2011.
If Bettel is successful in forming a coalition government in Luxembourg by next month, he’ll be firmly positioned to assume the country’s highest political office and his partner Destenay Gauthier will join him in the Prime Minister’s official residence.
While the fact that Di Rupo and Bettel’s political achievements are an inspiring symbol of progress and equality for the LGBT community in Europe and across the globe, what may be even more inspiring is the how little discussions of their sexuality have permeated the spheres of media and politics in Europe.“Society is changing and what would be considered as not normal is fully normal nowadays. You can live your life as yourself and be considered as you are,” Bettel said in an interview with Buzzfeed. “I never hid [my sexuality]. It’s a fact. I am like I am and I want to be honest with myself and honest in politics.”
Bettel also told Buzzfeed that he has plans to legalize same-sex marriage within the next year, continuing Europe’s progressive track record.
Categories: Europe, Gay Travel, Politics Elio Di Rupo, Europe, european union, gay leaders, gay Prime Minister, LGBT politics, Luxembourg, world politics, Xavier Bettel
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Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced at a news conference on Thursday that the state of Missouri will now accept joint tax returns from gay couples married in other states, according to a Columbia Tribune report.
Missouri state law requires couples that file joint federal tax returns to do the same when filing state returns. In his executive order, Nixon clarifies that the term “couple” now refers to all legally wed pairs as a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling.
While Nixon stated that the executive order does not affect the legality of same-sex marriages in Missouri, he did note that his own views on same-sex marriage have evolved and hopes that the state will have an opportunity to revisit the issue.
“Many Missourians, including myself, are thinking about these issues of equality in new ways and reflecting on what constitutes discrimination,” Nixon said, according to the Tribune report. “For me, that process has led to the belief that we shouldn’t treat folks differently because of who they are.”
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Maine Congressman Mike Michaud who is challenging Maine’s Governor Paul LePage announced that he is gay. Despite running in over a dozen elections, the representative said that his sexuality has never been questioned. “I ran for office 17 times and it’s never been an issue. However, someone or some group definitely tried to make it an issue in this campaign, and I decided to put it right out there on the table,” he told the AP. The 58-year-old has kept such a tight lip on his private life that not even his mother was aware of his orientation. Hoping to silence what he called “whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls,” Michaud came out publicly in an op-ed piece. “It was a difficult decision to tell my sister and my mother,” Michaud said. His announcement may be ultimately help his campaign by attracting more liberal voters concerned about both his “blue dog” image and his votes on abortion, according to the AP. This announcement may also see the influx of donations from gay rights groups. The coming out now brings the total of gay and lesbian congressmen to seven and only one senator, while there are currently no openly gay governors.
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The government shutdown is certainly putting a damper on travel plans. Not only has the shutdown forced the temporary closure of several National Park Service-run landmarks and national museums, but it has rendered air travel unsafe, as nearly one-third of the Federal Aviation Administration employees have been furloughed as a result of the political standoff. This mass furlough includes nearly 3,000 aviation safety inspectors responsible for ensuring that airlines maintain safely functioning planes and adhere to federal regulations. “There is no one doing this job now,” Kori Blalock Keller, a spokesperson for Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, told Forbes. “A lot of times, our inspectors catch little things and correct them before that plane takes off again,” he added. In the meantime, airlines will be policing their own operations.
While FAA officials note that there should be little notable change in Transportation Security Administration and air traffic control operations, many of these employees are working without pay and several air traffic control trainers and other vital support staff specialists have been furloughed. “This is akin to a surgeon performing an operation without any staff to prep the room, clean the equipment or provide support during the surgery,” Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement.
“Safety is our top priority,” the FAA announced in a recent statement, “If the furlough extends longer than a few days, we will incrementally begin to recall specific employees back to work to meet continuing safety needs.” That awaits to be seen. In the meantime, airline passengers lives are at risk.
Categories: Airlines, airplanes, Government, Politics air traffic controllers, airline Maintenance, airline safety, airlines, Aviation, boehner, faa, flight safety, Government Shutdown, House republicans, travel, travel safety, tsa
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Are the Republicans holding America hostage until they can get their way? This is un-American, and harmful to the country. They must be held accountable for their actions. They need to fund the government now. Until they do, they should not be allowed to leave the Capitol building. And until the 800,000 furloughed workers get paid, Congress should not be paid!
Enough is enough, America will not be held hostage by these thugs in Washington who call themselves Congressmen.
Tell them what you think. Here is a link to their phone numbers. Call them today and tell them to “Stop Holding America hostage!”
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Another day, another government shutdown.
Congress is struggling to pass a federal budget before October 1st, the date on which the government would effectively shut down unless measures are taken to enable its continued operations sans budget.
A new fiscal budget year starts on the first of October. Lacking an approved budget, Congress usually steps in with a temporary spending plan to allow the government to continue its work. This has not yet happened.
If it doesn’t happen in the next few days, a third of government workers will be on mandatory furlough as of October 1st. This means headaches and delays of all sorts, but “the closure of national parks, all 19 Smithsonian museums in Washington, and US consulates around the world” will have the most direct impacts on frequent travelers as reported by Travel Mole.