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Milo Yiannopoulos loses funding, forced to lay off staffers

cryptocurrency billionaire Matthew Mello’s unexpected death caused layoffs

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Milo Yiannopoulos, gay news, Washington Blade

Milo Yiannopoulos at University of California, Berkeley. Photo via Facebook.)

Milo Yiannopoulos has laid off staffers of his media company Milo Entertainment Inc. after unexpectedly losing funding, according to a report from Politico. 

A source told Politico “He fired everybody” from Milo Entertainment Inc., a subset of Milo Worldwide LLC. Yiannopoulos started the media venture after resigning as editor from Breitbart in 2017.

GOP donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer were the original financial backers of the venture but severed ties last year. Cryptocurrency billionaire Matthew Mello planned to fund the company but after dying of a drug overdose on April 16 funding became uncertain.

Politico reports the staff was let go and a source claims,“People are very, very furious.”

Journalist Chadwick Moore was reportedly let go but continued to spend time with Yiannopoulos unaware of the situation.

“I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. I’m just an editor. I got paid today and the work continues,” Moore wrote in an email to Politico.

CEO Alexander Macris, who was also laid off from the company, had to deliver the news to Moore. According to Politico, Yiannopoulos was meant to inform Moore.

Yiannopoulos told Politico that Moore and Macris were let go because the cost of their health care was too high but they remain compensated through other Yiannopulos ventures.

“The video component of my daily show was stopped recently as the cost wasn’t justifiable,” Yiannopoulos says. “Show is now audio only. There were two layoffs as a result. But nothing has changed elsewhere or at Dangerous.com.”

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Illinois

Chicago area LGBTQ+ friendly bakery closing after hate campaign

“Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment, and unrelenting negative misinformation”

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UpRising Bakery and Café in better times (UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook)

LAKE IN THE HILLS, Il – The owner of UpRising Bakery and Café announced this week on social media that she is permanently closing the doors to her bakery after months of anti-LGBTQ+ stochastic terrorism that had already resulted in a hate crime last July after hosting drag show events and has continued unabated.

Corinna Sac, who opened the bakery in 2021, told media outlets that her shop has drawn criticism from local Proud Boys and other anti-LGBTQ+ groups, has been vandalized and her staff and customers have been harassed.

Sac noted that in recent months after the July incident the online hate-filled harassment and bullying campaign has dramatically increased. In a statement released by her on the shop’s social media accounts, Sac wrote: “Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment, and unrelenting negative misinformation about our establishment in the last eight months. From an award-winning bakery that donates to local organizations and supports diversity and inclusion, we have been rebranded by misinformation as ‘gay only’ and ‘pedophiles.’”

Days after 24-year-old Joseph I. Collins, a local member of the Proud Boys was charged with a hate crime on July 24 for allegedly smashing the establishment’s windows and spray-painting hateful messages on the building, the village of Lake in the Hills issued a letter prohibiting UpRising from hosting drag events in the future.

An Illinois police officer told The Los Angeles Blade he suspects conservative officials in Lake in the Hills, frustrated by the controversy over UpRising’s drag brunch, decided to enforce an ordinance that had not been enforced in the past. Should they choose to do so selectively, allowing some businesses to host events but not others, he said the scepter of a lawsuit becomes likelier. 

Sac noted that the dramatic decrease in sales as a result of the continued harassment which also included protestors and demonstrations at the store as well as the online harassment campaign.

In an interview with local journalist Amie Schaenzer, Sac says that she and her family have been doxxed to include her tax documents posted online and others have slammed her regarding her children, who are 8 and 10 years old, receiving free lunches at school through a state program, which is based on income.

“This has all become increasingly worrisome for us,” Sac said. “My kids are not OK with it, they are extremely anxious, they are very scared at home, and it’s very stressful for my whole family.”

That combined with struggling to keep her business afloat and pay thousand in state taxes led to her announcement this past week to close she told Schaenzer adding that she originally set a March 31 closing date.

UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook

David Goldenberg, an attorney with the Anti-Defamation League, set-up a GoFundMe campaign to help keep the bakery open.

Goldberg wrote: “Sadly, UpRising Bakery is now at risk of closing at the end of March 2023 due to financial challenges brought on after weathering last year’s attacks from bigots. People will lose their jobs and those of us who believe in tolerance and love will lose a safe space. We cannot allow the haters to win.

Join me in supporting this incredible small business and team of employees – and ensure the UpRising Bakery stays open for years to come.” As of Saturday, March 25, the campaign has raised $43,056.

But Sac told Schaenzer she’s unsure if the funds will be enough for her to stay in business.

“We were very resolute in our decision to close,” said Sac, adding that she’s now in discussions with her team whether to try and stay open. “It means a lot to us that the community did stand up for us and for the fundraiser. Especially considering everything that’s been happening here, so, that has been amazing. But we just don’t know if we can make it work.”

She said she plans to decide in coming days if she will accept the GoFundMe funds in order to keep UpRising Bakery and Café open.

“We don’t know what we are going to do, yet we are discussing that as a team over the next two days together, and we will make a collective decision,” she said Thursday.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

Holocaustmuseum

Go behind the scenes at the moving new exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Return Your Vote by Mail Ballot Early

You don’t need to wait until Election Day (April 4) to make your voice heard in the City of Los Angeles Council District 6 Special Primary Election.

Once you’ve completed your ballot, sign and date the Return Envelope and use one of these easy return options:

  • Return by mail: No postage is required.
  • Ballot Drop Box: There are 14 convenient Ballot Drop Box locations in your community.

Track your Ballot

Tracking your ballot – when it is mailed, received, and counted – has never been easier. Sign up to Where’s My Ballot? to receive automatic notifications on the status of your ballot.

At Your Service

Upcoming Webinars for Landlords & Tenants

lacda

DCBA will host a series of webinars that will explain which protections from the COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution expire after March 31st, 2023, and the impacts of that expiration on landlords and tenants.

Webinars for Landlords

On Thursday, March 23 at 10 a.m., DCBA will host the first in a series of webinars for landlords. We can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. 

An additional webinar is currently scheduled for Thursday, April 13. Visit our website at dcba.lacounty.gov/webinarsforlandlords to learn more and register for upcoming webinars.

Webinars for Tenants

On Thursday, March 30 at 10 a.m., DCBA will host an online workshop for tenants to discuss changes to tenant protections, the Rent Stabilization Ordinance in Unincorporated Los Angeles County, and other available resources for tenants.

Economic Opportunity Grants

LA County’s Economic Opportunity Grant program will award more than $54 million in grants to small & micro businesses, and non-profits impacted by the pandemic.

Grants ranging between $20,000 or $25,000 per grant will be available for non-profits starting in February. Interested businesses can visit grants.lacounty.gov to learn more or access multi-lingual support.

Out and About

Parks After Dark

It’s Park Time, L.A. County! Parks After Dark (PAD) returns this March with fun, free and safe recreational experiences that brings, teens, families, and communities together at 34 LA County Parks for two evenings during Spring Break.  Parks After Dark is an award-winning program designed to bring communities together by activating park spaces with hands-on activities and entertainment that transforms local parks into safe havens.

The Spring edition of Parks after Dark kicks-off March 23 and runs through April 15 on Thursday and Saturday nights from 6 to 9 pm for two evenings of fun.  Come experience an array of workshops and activities such as music, canvas painting, culinary art, family dances, arts, and crafts, and so much more. The Department of Parks and Recreation is dedicated to bringing the “World to You” through cultural performances sponsored by the Los Angeles Music Center.  Enjoy snacks, refreshments, and entertainment in our community zone.

For more information on an LA County Parks After Dark location near you, visit Parks After Dark Spring 2023 – Parks & Recreation (lacounty.gov)

Free Yoga Classes

LA County Beaches and Harbor is offering FREE yoga classes on Fridays at the Dockweiler Youth Center.

Fridays | 6:30-7:30PM
Dockweiler Youth Center
12505 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293

Note: Students must bring their own mats.

Visit beaches.lacounty.gov for more information.

Photo Finish

Photo: Los Angeles County / Mayra Beltran Vasquez

LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative.

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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New Mexico

New Mexico Human Rights Act; LGBTQ+ protections added

“Trans and nonbinary individuals deserve the support and care necessary to survive and thrive” – NM State Rep. Kristina Ortez

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New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signing HB7 legislation (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of New Mexico)

SANTA FE – New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 207 into law on Friday that expands protections for LGBTQ+ New Mexicans under the state’s Human Rights Act. For trans residents, Grisham also signed House Bill 31, a measure that removes the requirement that name changes be published in a newspaper.

The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported that House Bill 31 also lets people 14 and older petition a district court for a name change and prohibits the court from requiring notice to the applicants’ parents if it finds notice would jeopardize the applicant’s safety.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signs HB 207 & 31
(Photo Credit: Equality New Mexico)

“While hundreds of bills have been introduced across the country to restrict the rights of queer and trans people, New Mexico is committed to making our state a safer place for everyone by closing a loophole to ensure our taxpayer dollars cannot be used to discriminate against our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors,” state Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, said in a statement.

Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, the sponsor of House Bill 31 noted that the measure will benefit transgender New Mexicans seeking to change their names as well as ensure safety for victims of domestic violence who may change their names to be more secure. “Removing this antiquated publishing requirement protects New Mexicans’ privacy and allows them to safely move on with their lives,” Chandler said.

These measures are the latest in legislation passed this session to protect LGBTQ+ New Mexicans as well as women’s rights. On March 16, Grisham signed into law House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act, which prohibits public bodies, including local municipalities, from denying, restricting, or discriminating against an individual’s right to use or refuse reproductive health care or health care related to gender.

“New Mexicans in every corner of our state deserve protections for their bodily autonomy and right to health care,” said Gov. Grisham as she signed HB7. “I’m grateful for the hard work of the Legislature and community partners in getting this critical legislation across the finish line.”

“Trans and nonbinary individuals deserve the support and care necessary to survive and thrive,” said HB7 co-sponsor Rep. Kristina Ortez. “Protecting gender-affirming health care is a critical part of making sure trans and non-binary New Mexicans can succeed in school, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, and live authentically as themselves.”

“In New Mexico we value the freedom and dignity of making your own personal decision about reproductive and gender-affirming health care,” said Ellie Rushforth, ACLU-NM managing reproductive rights and gender equity attorney. “Now more than ever it is critical that New Mexicans and our neighbors have access to the full spectrum of health care in every corner of our state. We thank the Governor for supporting and signing HB 7 into law. This is lifesaving legislation.”

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California

Legislators, Capitol community to celebrate Trans visibility week

Trans Visibility Week and the International Transgender Day of Visibility, acknowledge and uplift the societal contributions of trans+ people

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Trans flag flies over the Capitol Building in Sacramento (Blade file photo)


SACRAMENTO — On Monday, March 27, California legislators, Capitol staff, and community advocates will join trans+ community members to celebrate Transgender Week of Visibility, a series of celebrations leading up to International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31. 

Legislators will wear buttons declaring “trans people belong” and spread their message of solidarity and inclusion for trans+ Californians across social media channels. The message will be echoed by leaders in the executive branch, labor, and advocacy organizations who are working to create a more just world for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. 

“Across the country and even right here in California, trans people’s lives are being used for political purposes. These attacks bring real harm to our trans+ friends, colleagues, and loved ones, particularly our children,” said LGBTQ Caucus Chair Susan Talamantes Eggman. “It’s up to all of us to stand together with trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people to create communities that are safe for trans+ people to thrive.”

Trans Visibility Week and the International Transgender Day of Visibility, acknowledge and uplift the societal contributions of trans+ people. The week also raises awareness of widespread discrimination and violence that the community faces in the United States, around the world, and sadly, right here in California. 

Trans visibility is more important than ever, as 429 bills attacking LGBTQ+ rights have been introduced in state legislatures across the nation, a record number, many particularly targeting transgender youth. Some of these proposals would force teachers to out trans students, deny trans youth the right to participate in sports and other activities, and deny affirming health care.

“Trans people shouldn’t have to fight just to exist or live safely in our communities,” said Evan Minton (he/they), a former Capitol staffer and national transgender advocate. “Trans visibility is an opportunity to celebrate the joy of being who we are.”

“The trans community deserves to live their authentic lives without the fear of harassment or violence. We are proud to join community advocate Evan Minton, state legislators, staffers, and the Capitol community to send a strong message that trans people belong and will never be erased,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Now more than ever taking a unified stance against LGBTQ+ hate is imperative. Equality California remains committed to achieve full, lived LGBTQ+ equality for all.” 

Monday’s Capitol events come after several historic actions this week in support of the trans+ community.  Earlier this week, the Sacramento City Unified School District board held its first annual trans pride flag raising, sending a powerful message of inclusion to trans students, teachers, and the entire school community. Last week, the District also passed a strong resolution affirming the rights of trans students and encouraging classroom discussion on the importance of trans visibility. On Tuesday, the Sacramento City Council adopted a resolution declaring an annual Transgender Week of Visibility in the city. Sacramento County is considering a similar resolution on March 28.

For more information, follow @eqca, #transpeoplebelong #TransgenderDayofVisibility 

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Politics

Rep. Frost talks gun control on anniversary of March for Our Lives

“10 years ago I became an Organizer because of Sandyhook. 3 years later, I’d become a survivor myself. That same year, Pulse”

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The first Gen Z member of Congress, Rep. Maxwell Frost(D-FL) speaking with the Blade (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: The full interview with Congressman Frost will be published next week.  

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), after a week of making headlines for his gun violence prevention advocacy, sat down with the Washington Blade for an exclusive interview on Friday, which marks the five-year anniversary of the founding of March for Our Lives.

The 26-year-old freshman Congressman, who before his election was national organizing director for the student-led gun control group, had just introduced his first piece of legislation Tuesday with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn. that would establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice.

The proposal’s aim, in part, is to better facilitate the implementation of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act by establishing a singular office to coordinate that work.

And on Thursday, Frost captured and tweeted a video of a confrontation between U.S. Capitol Police and Patricia and Manuel Oliver, gun control advocates who lost their son Joaquin in the 2018 Parkland, Florida high school shooting.

The couple had been removed by police from the House Oversight and House Judiciary Committees’ gun rights hearing at the request of GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Pat Fallon (Texas).

Frost, who was in attendance, told the Blade the conflict started when Patricia Oliver “just stood up and she said, ‘you took my son’ and she sat down,” but “instead of moving on, the Chair [Fallon] escalated things.”

The Congressman said hearing itself was “a sham” convened for the purpose of attacking the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the entity within the U.S. Justice Department that investigates violations of laws governing the manufacture, possession, and use of guns.

“The real story here,” said the Congressman, “is the fact that there were two parents who lost their son who was in high school, because he was shot to death and died in a pool of his own blood, and now they’re going to spend the rest of their lives fighting for a world where it doesn’t happen to anybody else.”  

Frost noted the Olivers were joined at the hearing by other families, activists, and organizers – all of whom were gathered in Washington, D.C. to advance the mission established by the group of teenaged Parkland survivors who founded March for Our Lives five years ago.

Among these student activists were Cameron Kasky, who identifies as queer, and X González, who is bisexual and uses they/them pronouns.

Frost has repeatedly said he ran for Congress because of his involvement in the gun violence prevention advocacy movement, which began with his volunteering on behalf of the Newtown Action Alliance, a group formed in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  

The Congressman told NPR the 2016 shooting at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando “where 49 angels were murdered right here because they’re queer” marked one of the most significant moments of his life.

That same year and in that same city, Frost himself survived a gun violence incident.

During his congressional campaign, on the heels of last year’s elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Frost tweeted: “10 years ago I became an Organizer because of Sandyhook. 3 years later, I’d become a survivor myself. That same year, Pulse. Now I’m running for Congress and 15 lives were taken at another Elementary school. I will not stop until the endless shootings do.”

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California

Newsom eases drought restrictions

Since Governor Newsom announced the 15% voluntary conservation goal, Californians conserved 600,000 acre-feet of water

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Governor Gavin Newsom lifts emergency water restrictions (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

YOLO COUNTY – Governor Gavin Newsom today rolled back some drought emergency provisions that are no longer needed due to current water conditions, while maintaining other measures that support regions and communities still facing water supply challenges, and that continue building up long-term water resilience.

Amid climate-driven weather whiplash, the state has taken action to boost water supplies through groundwater recharge, stormwater capture, reservoir storage, and more. 

Today’s action comes as the state announced increased water deliveries to 29 public water agencies that serve 27 million Californians, now expecting to deliver 75% of requested water supplies – up from 35% announced in February, and the highest since 2017. 

While recent storms have helped ease drought impacts, regions and communities across the state continue to experience water supply shortages, especially communities that rely on groundwater supplies that have been severely depleted in recent years. Today’s order is responsive to current conditions while preserving smart water measures: 

  • Ends the voluntary 15% water conservation target, while continuing to encourage that Californians make conservation a way of life;
  • Ends the requirement that local water agencies implement level 2 of their drought contingency plans;
  • Maintains the ban on wasteful water uses, such as watering ornamental grass on commercial properties;
  • Preserves all current emergency orders focused on groundwater supply, where the effects of the multi-year drought continue to be devastating;
  • Maintains orders focused on specific watersheds that have not benefited as much from recent rains, including the Klamath River and Colorado River basins, which both remain in drought;
  • Retains a state of emergency for all 58 counties to allow for drought response and recovery efforts to continue.

 A copy of today’s executive order can be found (here).

“We’re all in this together, and this state has taken extraordinary actions to get us to this point. The weather whiplash we’ve experienced in the past few months makes it crystal clear that Californians and our water system have to adapt to increasingly extreme swings between drought and flood. As we welcome this relief from the drought, we must remain focused on continuing our all-of-the-above approach to future-proofing California’s water supply,” the governor said.

Since Governor Newsom announced the 15% voluntary conservation goal, Californians conserved 600,000 acre-feet of water – representing 1.2 million households’ yearly usage. 

The Governor today visited the Dunnigan Groundwater Recharge Project in Yolo County, where he highlighted the state’s work to accelerate and increase groundwater recharge to make the most of winter storms. California is working to expand groundwater recharge by at least 500,000 acre-feet in potential capacity as part of our water supply strategy.

Governor Newsom tours the Dunnigan Groundwater Recharge Project in Yolo County (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

Leveraging the state’s long-term water supply strategy and more than $8.6 billion committed by Governor Newsom and the Legislature in the last two budget cycles to build water resilience, California is taking aggressive action to prepare for hotter and drier conditions driven by climate change that could reduce the state’s water supply by up to 10% by 2040. In the 2023-24 state budget, Governor Newsom is proposing an additional $202 million for flood protection and $125 million for drought-related actions.

Here are other actions that Governor Newsom and the Legislature have taken to boost water supply, expand storage, and improve infrastructure: 

  • EXPANDING SUPPLY & STORAGE BY 1.1 MILLION ACRE-FEET: California has bolstered supply and storage through groundwater recharge and other projects, including a combined 1.1 million acre-feet of water – enough for 2.2 million households’ yearly usage. 
  • EXECUTIVE ORDERS TO CAPTURE & STORE MORE WATER: During recent storms, Governor Newsom signed executive orders to accelerate stormwater capture to boost groundwater recharge and other conservation measures.
  • FAST-TRACKING GROUNDWATER RECHARGE: The state is expanding groundwater recharge by at least 500,000 acre-feet in potential capacity – streamlining permits and $1 billion for groundwater recharge projects for 88,000 more acre-feet per year.
  • MAXIMIZING STORMWATER CAPTURE: $176 million for 67 stormwater projects and streamlining permitting to take advantage of major storm events.
  • EXPANDING STORAGE ABOVE & BELOW GROUND: California is supporting seven locally-driven water storage projects that would expand the state’s capacity by 2.77 million acre-feet – about three times as much water as Folsom Lake can hold. And, California is working to expand San Luis Reservoir by 135,000 acre-feet to store more storm runoff.
  • ADVANCING CLEAR, AMBITIOUS TARGETS: 142 actions to improve water resilience and bolster water supplies, and a roadmap for expanding urban stormwater capture capacity by 250,000 acre-feet and adding 4 million acre-feet of water storage capacity.
  • MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE: California is working to modernize aging water conveyance systems across the state to safeguard long-term water reliability and help carry winter storm runoff into storage.

Climate change has made California’s dry and wet spells more extreme and unpredictable – after the three driest years on record, recent rain and snowfall have dramatically changed conditions in many parts of the state. The state has also advanced actions to boost storage and supply. Today’s action eases drought emergency provisions that are no longer needed while maintaining others to support impacted communities statewide.
 
Harnessing water captured and stored from recent storms, the state also announced a major increase in expected State Water Project deliveries to local agencies – now an anticipated 75% allocation.

FACT SHEET
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Los Angeles County

LA County Sheriff seeks public’s help in death of Uber driver

The victim and the two passengers were involved in a physical altercation- one suspect produced an unknown firearm and shot the victim

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38-year-old Marines veteran Aaron Orozco (Courtesy of Orozco family GoFundMe)

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Investigators are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of a 38-year-old Marine veteran, Aaron Orozco, who was shot and killed in Lynwood while working as an Uber rideshare driver.

On Friday, March 24, 2023, at approximately 1:33 a.m., Century Sheriff’s station deputies responded to the 2800 block of Imperial Highway, in the city of Lynwood, regarding a gunshot victim call. Upon arriving, they located a male Hispanic adult in his late 30’s suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the upper torso.
 
During the initial investigation, deputies learned the victim was working as a rideshare driver and had picked up two male Black adults. During the duration of the rideshare, the victim stopped his vehicle in the parking lot of the indicated location.
 
The victim and the two passengers were then involved in a physical altercation, at which time, one suspect produced an unknown firearm and shot the victim.
 
The suspects then fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle. The abandoned vehicle was located a short distance from the location by Century Station deputies.
 
Orozco, resident of Lynwood, was pronounced deceased at the location.  The investigation is ongoing and currently, there is no additional information.

KTLA journalists Cameron KiszlaEllina Abovian spoke to Orozco’s wife who indicated that his 9-year-old son is autistic and that he was an extremely devoted father to both of his children.

“I’m still in shock. I can’t believe this happened to our family. I just don’t know how to react right now, really. It’s just so hard,” Orozco’s wife, Sandra Medina told KTLA.

The two attackers remain at large and anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

A GoFundMe has been set up for Orozco’s family. To donate, click here.

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Kentucky

Kentucky Gov. vetoes sweeping anti-transgender youth bill

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities have enough power to override Beshear’s veto. The ACLU has said it will sue if that happens

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Governor Andy Beshear (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

FRANKFORT – The Democratic governor of Kentucky vetoed a sweeping bill that would severely restrict the lives of trans youth in the state calling it, “too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”

Governor Andy Beshear also stressed that the bill conflicted with his faith and noted the bill’s repercussions would include an increase in LGBTQ+ youth suicides: “My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky.”

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities have enough power to override Beshear’s veto. The ACLU of Kentucky has said it will sue in Federal court to try to block the measure from becoming law.

The bill would:

  • Ban gender-affirming medical care, including treatments that delay puberty, other forms of hormone therapy and surgery, for trans and nonbinary people under 18 years old. 
  • Require revoking the licenses of doctors who provide such services.
  • Tell public schools to block trans students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
  • Allow public school teachers to misgender trans students.
  • Prevent public schools from allowing educational presentations that study gender identity or sexual orientation.

Rebuking the Governor’s veto, state Republican Party spokesperson Sean Southard issued a statement saying: “Andy Beshear thinks it’s okay for children to have access to life-altering sex change surgery and drugs before they turn 18. Today, he revealed how radical he truly is.”

In an emailed statement Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman wrote:

“We are so grateful Governor Andy Beshear chose to stand with Kentucky kids and their families today by vetoing Senate Bill 150. He has once again solidified his legacy as Kentucky’s most pro-equality governor. Labeled the “worst anti-trans bill in the nation,” SB150 allows the government to overrule parental rights at every turn. It denies parents the right to provide medically-supported healthcare for their kids. It allows teachers and school administrators to disrespect students by ignoring their names and pronouns, despite a parent’s wishes. It bans the discussion of LGBTQ topics in the classroom and forces transgender kids into unsafe restrooms at school. SB150 will only lead to disaster and despair for transgender Kentucky kids and their families. That’s why thousands of Kentuckians sent messages opposing SB150 and countless Kentucky doctors showed up in Frankfort to testify against it. We urge state lawmakers to read the governor’s veto message, listen to medical professionals, and sustain Governor Beshear’s veto.”

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Congress

House Republicans pass anti-LGBTQ Parents Bill of Rights Act

The White House issued a statement Monday: “[…] the bill does not actually help parents support their children at school”

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U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Republicans on Friday passed the Parents Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 5), a proposal that would require public schools to share educational materials with parents and also contains provisions that would trigger the outing of LGBTQ students without their consent.

Critics say the legislation’s professed purpose, to equip parents with the information necessary for them to better engage with their children’s educators, is a pretext for its ultimate goals: for schools to censor out content addressing race, or materials containing LGBTQI+ characters or themes, while also discouraging LGBTQ students from being out at school.

The U.S. House Equality Caucus noted the likelihood of that outcome in a statement Friday denouncing the bill, which the group’s chair, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), called “dangerous” — pointing to its requirement for “schools to forcibly out transgender students, even if it puts those youth in harm’s way.”

“All children deserve access to a safe and affirming school environment,” Takano said in the statement. “Transgender youth have enough challenges already due to harassment, bullying, and anti-transgender state laws,” he said, adding, “My colleagues who voted for this bill should be ashamed.”

House members voted 213-208 for passage of the Parents Bill of Rights Act, with Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Mike Lawler (N.Y.), and Matt Rosendale (Mont.) voting against the legislation with every Democratic member. The bill was first introduced by GOP Rep. Julia Letlow (La.)

With Democrats’ control of the U.S. Senate, movement on the bill will almost certainly be stopped once it reaches the upper chamber, but it may nevertheless still have a harmful impact on the country’s LGBTQ youth.

For example, the National Institutes of Health published a peer reviewed study last year that found a link between anti-trans legislation and “suicide and depression-related Internet searches” using a dataset comprising 40 bills that were introduced and reached committee, of which three were passed and signed into law.

The Caucus’s statement noted H.R. 5 contains “two provisions that would require schools that take steps to respect a student’s gender identity to forcibly out those transgender youth to their parents” along with another that would allow parents to access their children’s answers to survey questions, answers that might include information about a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The risk that their parents will be able to see their answers will incentivize many students to lie about these and other questions, which the Caucus said will undermine the federal government’s ability to collect important demographic, statistical, and survey data on America’s LGBTQ youth.

Exacerbating that problem is another provision in the legislation, which requires parents to “opt-in” if their children would be asked to share their sexual orientation or gender identity.

America’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, also issued a statement Friday condemning H.R. 5.

“The bill — which picks and chooses which families have rights and which don’t — has occupied the chamber’s time while extremist House leaders continue neglecting the very real and urgent problems facing our schools, such as gun violence, teacher shortages and educational inequality,” the group said in its statement.

HRC also noted the legislation’s potential to trigger forcible outing of LGBTQ youth “would endanger students instead of fulfilling school officials’ obligation to make judgments on a case-by-case basis in the best interests of the students under their supervision.”

The organization said it expects House Republicans to move “in coming weeks” on H.R. 734, “a bill to ban participation by transgender youth in school sports,” and drew parallels between the Parents Bill of Rights Act and the “curriculum censorship seen in harmful, unnecessary bills passed in state legislatures recently.”

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stanbury (D-N.M.), a member of the Equality Caucus, echoed that message in her statement Friday, writing that H.R. 5 was “Modeled after bills passed at the state level, which have censored the teaching of American history, allowed book bans, and violated the safety and privacy of transgender and LGBTQ+ students.”

The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on Monday addressing the bill, writing “The Administration does not support H.R. 5 in its current form because the bill does not actually help parents support their children at school” and “Moreover, instead of making LGBTQI+ students feel included in their school community, it puts them at higher risk.”

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Africa

Kenyan MPs approve resolution to ban public discussions of LGBTQ+ issues

Some lawmakers argue motion threatens freedom of expression

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Kenyan flag (Photo by rarrarorro/Bigstock)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s parliament has overwhelmingly passed a motion for the government to enforce an immediate ban on “public discussion, reporting and distribution” of LGBTQ+ content in the country. 

It passed on Wednesday, despite some legislators raising concerns that it is a threat to the freedom of expression, information and the media protected under the Kenyan Constitution. 

Owen Baya, an MP from the ruling United Democratic Alliance party who also serves as National Assembly’s deputy majority leader, termed the motion “controversial” and questioned why it was allowed for debate in the House, even though it violates the law.  

“The republic of Kenya is governed by the Constitution. How can we prohibit freedom of speech? Freedom of speech, reporting and distribution of information are constitutional rights even if same-sex relations are illegal in Kenya,” Baya said. 

The Article 33 of the Constitution under the freedom of expression requires every person to respect the rights and reputation of others. 

Section 2 of the same Article 33, however, curtails freedom of speech when it amounts to war propaganda, incitement to violence, hate speech and advocacy to hatred such as ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm.  

Article 32, which Baya also cited, provides the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion in addition to Article 34 which guarantees the freedom and independence of electronic, print, and all other types of media. 

The sponsor of the anti-gay motion, Mohamed Ali, an MP from the ruling party and a celebrated investigative journalist, in response argued that publicizing homosexuality, which is outlawed in the country, violates the constitution that only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman. 

“The constitution gives us the freedom of expression, but not about gay and lesbianism which are unlawful practices in Kenya,” Ali said. 

The legislator stated that his motion banning LGBTQ+ publicity is motivated by an increase in homosexuality in the country because of LGBTQ+-specific content in books and in print and broadcast media.

The government is already cracking down on foreign teenage books with LGBTQ+ content. 

The Education Ministry and the church have also formed a Chaplains Committee chaired by Kenya’s Anglican Bishop Jackson Ole Sapit to counter what he describes as the infiltration of homosexuality in schools. The committee’s mandate include counseling students who identify as LGBTQ+. 

“We recognize that publishing and distributing homosexual content through the press has serious consequences to the family values and opposite-sex relations that should be protected since the increase in same-sex relations threatens the extinction of human beings in the country,” the motion reads.  

The move to curtail homosexuality is also in response to last month’s Supreme Court ruling that granted the LGBTQ+ community the right to register as non-governmental organization. 

The judges’ decision sparked anger and criticism from religious leaders and politicians, including President William Ruto, who has instructed the attorney general to have it overturned through an appeal.  

The motion that lawmakers approved on Wednesday calls for the police and judiciary to enforce it through the Section 162 of the Penal Code that criminalizes consensual same-sex relations with a 14-year jail term and sets the pace for the introduction of an anticipated anti-homosexuality bill that is being drafted.

Opposition MP Peter Kaluma, who sponsored the bill that seeks to further criminalize and punish homosexuality and the promotion of LGBTQ+ activities in Kenya, last month notified the National Assembly Speaker about its introduction in the House.    

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman came under fire during the debate on the motion because of her recent remarks in defense of the LGBTQ+ and intersex community that she made after she met with a group of activists.

“She should respect our religious beliefs, African and Kenyan culture, and our constitution the way we respect the U.S. Constitution. We won’t allow the American culture of gay and lesbianism to rule in Kenya and I ask Whitman to practice the American in the U.S. and the Kenyan culture be left to Kenyans,” Ali said. 

The lawmakers also criticized the West, particularly the U.S., for championing LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in what they termed as engaging in serious reengineering of the world order to destroy other people’s cultures and humanity. 

The parliament’s move to curtail consensual same-sex rights in Kenya comes at a time when Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is being pressured by the U.N., the U.S. and other Western nations not to sign into law a bill that bans people from identifying as LGBTQ+ or intersex. Kenyan lawmakers have applauded their Ugandan counterparts for passing the measure, while urging Museveni to assent to it without bowing to any pressure from the Western nations since his firm opposition to homosexuality has made him East Africa’s role model.

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