Monday, May 22, 2017

Michael Flynn To Invoke Fifth Amendment, Refuse To Release Documents Related To Trump/Russia Debacle


Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and defy a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena for documents related to the Trump-Russia probe.

From CNN:

President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn won't provide records to the Senate Intelligence Committee and will invoke his 5th Amendment rights in response to a subpoena from the committee, according to a source close to Flynn.

Flynn's refusal to cooperate comes as he faces scrutiny in several inquiries, including on Capitol Hill and a federal grand jury that has issued subpoenas to associates of the ex-national security adviser.

This move will also intensify scrutiny over Trump's decision to hire him initially for the job and his decision to keep him on staff for 18 days after he was warned by former acting attorney general Sally Yates that Flynn may have been compromised by the Russians.

The Senate Intelligence Committee had asked him to produce all records over his communications with Russian officials by this Wednesday. But Flynn is expected to send a letter later today invoking his 5th Amendment Rights.

The source close to Flynn said it would be "highly imprudent for him not to exercise his 5th Amendment rights" given that several members of Congress have called for his prosecution.

Billy Bush Gives First Interview Since Infamous "Grab'em By The Pussy" Trump Tape

Billy Bush (L) with Donald Trump (R)

The Hollywood Reporter has the first in-depth interview with former Today Show host Billy Bush since his departure from the show thanks to the now-infamous "Grab'em by the pussy" video with Donald Trump came to light.

Just an excerpt:

Take us back to your days at Access Hollywood when this happened. How important was Trump to the show?


It was 2005, the second season of The Apprentice. The first season ended with 44 million viewers watching. It was a bona fide television phenomenon. So he was the biggest star, not just on the network with which Access Hollywood is affiliated but on TV, period. And so I spent a lot of time with Trump. He was my main assignment. He was the core of my job for a period of time there, because if we could get him three times a week in exclusive-type situations, he was always going to say something that was headline-worthy. And Access Hollywood was certainly interested in that. So that was my job, and I did it well. I got access to Trump. And in my job, there's a lot of downtime, and there are off-camera moments where you have a short period of time to, in a chameleonlike way, connect with people. If it's Martha Stewart, I would tell her about the new organic garden that I just started growing in my backyard.

And with Trump?


With Donald, there wasn't much interaction. He sort of talks and performs, and everybody reacts. And the topics were usually golf, gossip or women. And boy, do I wish this was a golf day. But I always had a nervous energy through these situations because he also decided a lot of times from day to day, moment to moment, who he liked, who was in and who was out, and my job was to remain in. I needed to be in, or maybe I'd be out. So that was the Trump environment. Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. I wish I had said: "Does anyone want water?" or "It looks like it's gonna rain." He liked TV and competition. I could've said, "Can you believe the ratings on whatever?" I didn't have the strength of character to do it.

Texas House Moves Anti-Transgender "Bathroom Bill" Closer To Passage


The Dallas Morning News reports on Texas' anti-transgender "bathroom bill," which took another step towards passage last night.

The Texas House voted late Sunday on a bill that will keep transgender public school children from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

The measure, a Republican deal on the “bathroom bill,” passed the GOP-dominated chamber by a vote of 91-50. It needs one more vote to officially pass the House. If the Senate agrees to the measure, and Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t veto it, Texas will become the second state in the nation to pass such legislation.

Debate was emotional and divisive, with Democrats likening it to a Jim Crow-era attack on defenseless kids and Republicans insisting the measure did not single out or target anyone.

“America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all,” said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat who has served in the House since 1972. “What’s wrong with treating kids with equality and not making them feel like they are second-class citizens?”

"Transgender students are God's business, and you know what, He loves them, too."

The measure would keep transgender kids from using multi-occupancy school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, unless no one else is present. If other children are around, they’d have to use a different, single-use restroom elsewhere in the school.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Podcast: Chechnya, Chelsea Manning & Out Short Film "Wonderkid"


In this week’s episode of The Randy Report :

• Gay men in Chechnya are still being rounded up, tortured and killed, and guess what the United States is doing about it?

• Transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning is free after 7 years in prison.

• A Mississippi man is sentenced to 49 years in prison for the murder of his transgender girlfriend.

• Nevada bans so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

• A new study shows facial hair plays a big part in perceived masculinity, sexual attractiveness and even the length of relationships.

• Short film "Wonderkid" tackles homophobia in competitive sports. Watch the full film for free at www.wonderkidfilm.co.uk/watch

I appreciate everyone who follows my podcast.

I'm going to ask a favor here: as podcasts are becoming more and more popular, I'd appreciate it if you would recommend The Randy Report podcast to you friends. It's intended as an easy and listener-friendly way to catch up on the week's LGBTQ headlines.

If you like, please consider sharing the link to my podcast on your social media, or just tell your friends.

In just a few months, I'm proud to say The Randy Report is one of the top LGBT podcasts on iTunes.

Listen below.

Notre Dame Grads Walk Out On Vice President Pence's Commencement Speech


At today's graduation ceremony for Notre Dame's class of 2017, dozens of students stood up and left as Vice President Pence began his commencement speech.

From USA Today:

This was not a surprise, but rather a staged protest some students had been planning for weeks. When Notre Dame announced that the vice president and former governor of Indiana would be the university’s 2017 graduation speaker in March, the student organization WeStaNDFor began brainstorming ways to take a stand.

Bryan Ricketts, who served as Notre Dame’s student body president from 2015-16 and graduated Sunday with a dual-degree in political science and chemical engineering, was one of the leaders. Ricketts told IndyStar that many of his peers were “upset and hurt” by the school’s decision to invite Pence because his “policies have impacted the humanity of certain graduates.”

WeStaNDFor explained in a release that they are primarily protesting Pence’s opposition to gay rights, his attempts as governor to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in Indiana, his support of President Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban, and his opposition to sanctuary cities that do not enforce federal immigration laws.

The walkout was planned well in advance with leaders of the action, including consulting with the local police to find the most peaceful manner to make their statement.

The group posted instructions for how to walkout on their website:

The group even posted instructions on how to leave: “Walk away from Pence quietly, in confidence, with your head up high, taking your time. Embrace the moment, maybe even hold hands/lock arms with those joining you.”

Watch part of the walkout below.

Ivanka Trump To Accept $100 Million From Saudi Arabia & UAE For Women Entrepreneurs


Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will pledge $100 million to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund for women entrepreneurs, an idea proposed by Ivanka Trump.

From The Hill:

The first daughter spoke with Saudi women who are civil leaders, businesswomen and elected government officials during the president’s first foreign trip.

The State Department has noted problems with human rights in Saudi Arabia, including that “citizens’ lack of the ability and legal means to choose their government; restrictions on universal rights, such as freedom of expression, including on the Internet, and the freedoms of assembly, association, movement, and religion; and pervasive gender discrimination and lack of equal rights that affected most aspects of women’s lives,” the Washington Post reported.

In the conservative Islamic country, women are not allowed to drive and require permission from a male guardian to travel in public. Women are also required to cover themselves in public.

In 2016, then-Republican candidate Trump criticized Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from Saudi Arabia.

Please take a trip on the way-back machine to one of last year's debates when then-candidate Trump railed against Hillary Clinton's Clinton Foundation for accepting money from Saudi Arabia to help 11.5 million with HIV/AIDS.



More reactions from the Twitterverse:



SNL Cold Open: Trump & Company Sing "Hallelujah"


Seated at a piano, a lone Alec Baldwin as "Donald Trump" begins singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

He's quickly joined by the SNL cast members who have brought the Trump administration to life over the past several months: Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon), Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), Eric Trump (Alex Moffat), Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant), Melania Trump (Cecily Strong) and Ivanka Trump (Scarlett Johansson).

Watch Baldwin's "Trump" on the line, "I didn't come to fool ya."

The effect is quite different from last November when Kate McKinnon used the same song to staggering effect as "Hillary Clinton" after the election.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Out Music: Leon Else "What I Won't Do"

(photo credit: Nikko Lamere))
Out UK artist Leon Else drops his synth-pop, disco-funk single, “What I Won’t Do.”

Another lonely night with someone in my bed
You think it's cool but what I won't do for love
And I just push away the ones who get too close

Talking to OUT, Else seemed pensive reflecting on how time can shift his perspective - even on his own writing. “I wrote this song over a year ago when I was in a different place than where I am now,” Else said. “It’s about wanting a love that I didn’t think I could have, was allowed to have, or deserved to have. It’s about finding acceptance in yourself."

Speaking of acceptance, Else shares that he will make his personal and professional Pride debut in LA this year.

“I’ve never been to a Pride ever,” he said. “I wasn’t really comfortable with myself.”

I'm sure Else is sure to experience yet another shift in perspective after performing for thousands in the park in Los Angeles.

I've previously featured Else's music on The Randy Report here and here.

Take a listen to “What I Won’t Do” below.

#bouncebouncebounce

Who Wore It Better?

Debra Messing Explains How The WILL & GRACE Reboot Happened


On Late Night with Seth Meyers, Debra Messing explained exactly how the reboot of Will & Grace came about 11 years after the groundbreaking sitcom left the air.

Referencing the election scene back in September 2016 that brought the fab four back together, Messing says it was hard for NBC to ignore.

“Because that little skit got 7 million views – NBC, they were like, ‘wait a second.'”

Liberal Redneck: "Where's the Smoke, Comey's Fired"


Liberal redneck Trae Crowder is all fired up over President Trump firing FBI Director James Comey.

"Are yall seein this shit man?!"


Bill Maher: I'll Bet 100 Rubles Trump Is Out By Christmas


Last night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Boris Epshteyn, former Special Assistant to President Trump, joined Bill to discuss President Trump's political future.

I'll say this about Donald Trump-ally Epshteyn: he can at least sit calmly with a civil smile on his face and lie about Donald Trump without being a petulant child like Kellyanne Conway.

A lot of people have a trigger that enables interviewers to knock Trumpets off their talking points. But Boris, to his credit, stays cool here.

He's only repeating talking points, but he does stay cool.

Epshteyn has a new gig at the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group, which he promises with produce content that will be "right down the middle" of the political spectrum.

Right. Just like Fox News.

During the segment, Bill asked Epshteyn how long Trump would be in the White House. “I think he can be president for eight years,” Epshteyn said. “Sorry to disappoint you folks.”

“Why don’t we have a gentlemen’s bet, a 100 rubles?” Maher proposed. “Gentlemen’s bet: He is out by Christmas.”

Friday, May 19, 2017

News Round-Up: May 19, 2017


Some news items you may have missed:

• Fitness trainer/model Joss Mooney (above) sees summer just around the corner.

• White House lawyers are currently researching impeachment procedures. You know, just in case...

• In related news, conservatives have started whispering: "President Pence"

You really have to read this terrific profile of Cher for Billboard Magazine. Really captures the personality and flavor of the iconic singer/actress.

• And speaking of profiles, the New York Times writes beautifully about the twilight of legendary AIDS activist/playwright Larry Kramer. In case you don't know it, Kramer saved countless lives with his fiery activism.

• As President Trump leaves on his first foreign trip abroad, the world prepares to make the homebody happy.

• Check out the first look at the upcoming reboot of 80s TV drama, Dynasty. You know the drill: cat fights, fashion and high drama all wrapped up in some sexy eye-candy. Airing Wednesdays this fall on the CW.

James Comey Agrees To Testify In Open Session Before Senate Intelligence Committee


Fasten your seatbelts, kids.

Former FBI Director James Comey (Trump nickname "Crazy nutjob") has agreed to testify in open session before the Senate Intelligence Committee.



27 Years Ago Today Madonna's "Vogue" Hits #1

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