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Gus Kenworthy is single!

And Meghan McCain reportedly considers leaving ‘The View’

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Gus Kenworthy has broken up with beau Matt Wilkas. (Photo via Bigstock)

“My driver asked me if I went to the Pride parade yesterday. Why would I go? I knew I would see everyone there here tonight.” — Barbra Streisand shares an anecdote during her recent concert in Hyde Park the day after London Pride.

Having watched nearly every episode of “LA Law” and countless hours of “Judge Judy,” I consider myself somewhat of a legal expert. So, it is my unaccredited opinion that there is no precedent for retroactively applying the Fifth Amendment. And yet, that is what Kevin Spacey’s accuser, Will Little, did last week. After cockily answering questions on the stand, Little was reminded that, should any of his statements prove to be false, he could face several charges, including a felony for tampering with evidence.  Suddenly a recess was called. I don’t remember exactly how long it lasted, but I was able to find out that psycho Thomas killed Emma on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” When we returned to the Nantucket courtroom, not only did Mr. Little refuse to answer any more questions – citing the Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself – he also asked that everything he had said earlier be stricken from the record. The judge then told the prosecutor that given that they suddenly had no evidence (i.e., the cell phone) and no witness (i.e., Mr. Little), they may want to reconsider proceeding with criminal charges lest he make the decision for them. The next hearing is scheduled for July 31, but I believe a decision will be forthcoming much sooner.

And now, time for a sad story, which I predict will make many of you happy. Gus Kenworthy and his beau Matt Wilkas have broken up. See? Aren’t you conflicted?  You’re like, “Aww…they made such a cute couple and they seemed so happy.”  On the other hand, you’re thinking, “Hmm…two really hot gay guys are suddenly single.” I wish I had some dirt for you – or even rumors of a third party. For now, we rely on the official statement: “Gus and Matt are taking time apart. They love and support each other and remain close friends.” Someone in the know says it happened at the end of June. That’s Pride month for you – some relationships make it, some don’t.

Several media outlets are reporting that Meghan McCain is considering breaking her contract and not returning to “The View” next season. The most shocking part of this story is the revelation that Meg only makes $1 million a year. That may sound like a lot of money, but it’s peanuts by TV standards. ABC dismissed the rumor, saying, “The co-hosts and ‘The View’ have had an incredible season, and we expect them all back for an epic year ahead.” It stands to reason that the panel will not play musical chairs during an election year. There has even been some speculation that Barbara Walters will be back for the election.

A pair of interesting priest stories came across my desk. First we heard about Father Pierre Valkering, who is a Catholic priest in Amsterdam. The controversy began when he published a memoir in which he talked about his past as a sexually active gay man. Obviously not an Earth-shattering revelation when it comes to Catholic priests. He spoke openly about going to gay sex clubs – in particular, “dark rooms.” Then during his priest days, he became addicted to gay porn. Despite all of this being in the past, the Amsterdam Peace Church dumped him. Father Pierre wasn’t surprised. “It is clear that with this book I am going on particularly slippery ice, or even a minefield.”

Should Pierre be considering a change of profession, he may want to consider becoming a gay porn actor. Scoff if you must, but he wouldn’t be the first ex-priest to make this transition. Norm Self has appeared in four gay porn films since his retirement in 2017. Oh, did I neglect to mention that he’s 85 years old? I think he’s outlived a cougar and could possibly be considered a tyrannosaurus rex! He went public about his vocation in the documentary, “On The Game: The Sex Business.” He came to the decision pretty matter-of-factly. “We are going to have sex anyway, so why not make it a liberating and bonding experience instead of hiding it away in the shadows?”

Our “Ask Billy” question concerns a summer replacement. Jed in San Francisco writes, “The star of ‘Blood & Treasure’ is really hot. Where did he come from? Do you have any photos of him naked?”

That would be Matt Barr, who I think of as a good-looking Bradley Cooper.  If that interests you, read on Macduff. The young Mr. Barr was born a day after moi (well, a day and a couple of decades). And like me, he’s blond-ish. He’s scruffier and buffer and certainly not opposed to showing off his impressive physique. Perhaps you’ve seen him in “Hellcats” or “Harper’s Island” – which don’t ring any bells with me. Well, they say a photo is worth a thousand words. Since we’re well over that limit, we’ll simply post some photos of Matt Bare…eh, Barr. Well, both. You see, he showed quite a bit in the film “Ten Inch Hero” – let’s just say the title pretty much says it all.  If that whets your appetite, check out BillyMasters.com.

By the time you read this, I’ll be off on my regularly scheduled summer sojourn to parts unknown. Unlike Anthony Bourdain, I fully intend to come back alive. In the meantime, keep checking www.BillyMasters.com – the site that’s all the rage in the rectory. If you have a question, send it to [email protected] and I promise to get back to you before I plead the Fifth.  Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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Travel

July 4 travel woes in flight cancellations, record number Americans driving

A record number of Americans are expected to travel by car this upcoming July 4th holiday weekend, per the Triple A auto club

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – As the 4th of July weekend approaches, Americans getting underway to travel are facing heavy delays and cancellations amid staffing strains, weather, among other issues with U.S. air carriers.

On Friday according to tracking website FlightAware.com as of 7PM Pacific there were 27,544 total delays, domestic flight cancellations were 2,975 and international flight cancellations within, into, or out of the United States were 571.

(See the MiseryMap for a live visualization of flight delays.)

CNBC reported that consumer complaints are piling up. In April, the latest available data, the Transportation Department received 3,105 from travelers about U.S. airlines, up nearly 300% from April 2021, and at nearly double the rate during the same period last year.

The unprecedented number of airline cancelations and delays is causing travelers to choose to drive and fly. Delta, American Airlines and United are all trimming their schedules even further to accommodate staffing shortages, despite passenger levels hitting post-pandemic highs.

Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration have sparred over who’s to blame. Airlines chalk up the disruptions to bad weather, their staffing shortages and staffing problems at the government’s air traffic control.

Yesterday, the FAA’s acting Administrator Billy Nolen and other top agency officials held a call with airline executives to discuss weekend planning, including the agency’s use of overtime to staff its facilities, traffic and routing plans, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The call was in addition to regular planning meetings with airlines.

U. S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks with reporters on Zoom call about flight cancellations and expected delays this July 4th holiday weekend.

U. S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg: “It is time for the airline industry to deliver.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters Friday that, “passengers have high expectations from an industry that we have supported with tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer funding through the pandemic to keep it up and running so that it can serve passengers. Now we need them to deliver.”

Concerned about flight cancellation trends, Buttigieg said he has spoken directly with airlines.

“Something I’ve asked them to do so that if you’re selling a ticket, you know you can back that up, that you have the staffing to do it,” he added.

A record number of Americans are expected to travel by car this upcoming July 4th holiday weekend, per a new report from the Triple A auto club.

Screenshot/NBC News

Just in time for that Fourth of July travel, gas prices are continuing to drop from their record high points of two weeks ago as the Energy Information Administration reports that gasoline stockpiles across the country have increased, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch.

Since Monday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has decreased by four cents to $4.85.

Despite the highest 4th of July gas prices on record, 42 million Americans are driving this holiday.

Travelers Driving This 4th of July Weekend To Avoid Airport Chaos:

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Sports

Welsh Olympic distance swimmer Dan Jervis comes Out

Jervis, who placed 5th in distance swimming at the Olympics in Tokyo said he was inspired by Blackpool FC soccer player Jake Daniels

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Dan Jervis (Screenshot via British Swimming Livestream-archive)

NEATH, Talbot County Borough, Wales – In a recent interview with BBC Radio Cornwall, 26-year-old British Olympian distance swimmer Dan Jervis revealed that he had given considerable thought before announcing to the world that he is gay.

Jervis told the BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast; “I was adjusting to everything else, just trying to fit in — until I thought, Just be you.”

Jervis, who placed 5th in distance swimming for the British team at the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan, told the BBC he was inspired by 17-year-old Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels, the professional soccer player who made history as only the second person in the past 30 years to acknowledge their sexual orientation publicly in that sport in the United Kingdom.

The swimmer also told the BBC it was important to be seen as a role model as he readies to compete in the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Jervis has previously competed winning a 1500m freestyle silver and bronze at the 2014 and 2018 Games in Glasgow, Scotland and Australia’s Gold Coast respectively.

“It took me 24 years to be who I am,” he said and added, “You know, we’re just before the Commonwealth Games and there are going to be kids and adults watching who will know that I’m like them, and that I’m proud of who I am.”

The Olympian reflected on his decision to announce he was gay: “For so long, I hated who I was – and you see it all the time, people who are dying over this. They hate themselves so much that they’re ending their lives.

“So if I can just be that someone people can look at and say, ‘yeah, they’re like me,’ then that’s good.”

Jervis then said he revealed his sexuality to a close friend when he was 24: “At that point, I’d never said the words out loud to myself.”

“I said to her: ‘I think I’m gay.’ I couldn’t even say: ‘I’m gay.’ I was basically punching the words out.

“She was quite shocked but great, and it was exactly the reaction I wanted. I’ve had all good reactions, and the way I’ve described it is I’m not going to change as a person.

“Everyone’s journey is different, but I think I’ve always known.

“It was something in the back of my mind, bugging me. I thought I was bisexual and had girlfriends that I loved – but it came to about three years ago where I knew I had to deal with this.

“It wasn’t affecting my swimming, but me as a human being. It sounds quite drastic, but I wasn’t enjoying my life. Yeah, I was smiling, but there was something missing to make me properly happy.

“I’m still the Dan you’ve always known. You just know something else about me now.”

The Commonwealth Games open in Birmingham, UK on July 28.

Listen: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0chqfhn

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Online Culture

FCC asks Apple & Google to remove TikTok app from their stores

Its pattern of surreptitious data practices that are documented show TikTok is non-compliant with app store policies and practises

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Graphic by Molly Butler for Media Matters

WASHINGTON – In a series of tweets Tuesday, Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr disclosed a letter sent to both Apple and Google’s parent company Alphabet asking the two tech giants to remove TikTok from their app stores over his concerns that user data from the wildly popular social media platform is disclosed and used by bad actors in China.

In his letter dated June 24 to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Carr noted that because of its pattern of surreptitious data practices documented in reports and other sources, TikTok is non-compliant with the two companies’ app store policies and practises.

“TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or meme. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” he said in the letter. “At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.”

Carr stated that if the companiest do not remove TikTok from their app stores, they should provide statements to him by July 8.

The statements should explain “the basis for your company’s conclusion that the surreptitious access of private and sensitive U.S. user data by persons located in Beijing, coupled with TikTok’s pattern of misleading representations and conduct, does not run afoul of any of your app store policies,” he said.

Carr was appointed by former President Trump in 2018 to a five-year term with the FCC.

In March of this year, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a nationwide investigation into TikTok for promoting its social media platform to children and young adults while its use is associated with physical and mental health harms to youth.

The investigation will look into the harms using TikTok can cause to young users and what TikTok knew about those harms. The investigation focuses, among other things, on the techniques utilized by TikTok to boost young user engagement, including strategies or efforts to increase the duration of time spent on the platform and frequency of engagement with the platform.

TikTok’s computer algorithms pushing video content to users can promote eating disorders and even self-harm and suicide to young viewers. Texas opened an investigation into TikTok’s alleged violations of children’s privacy and facilitation of human trafficking last month.

TikTok has said it focuses on age-appropriate experiences, noting that some features, such as direct messaging, are not available to younger users. The company says it has tools in place, such as screen-time management, to help young people and parents moderate how long children spend on the app and what they see, the Associated Press reported.

“We care deeply about building an experience that helps to protect and support the well-being of our community, and appreciate that the state attorneys general are focusing on the safety of younger users,” the company said. “We look forward to providing information on the many safety and privacy protections we have for teens.”

TikTok has also had a problematic relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. Recently The Washington Post confirmed that the ‘Libs of TikTok,’ an influential anti-LGBTQ account regularly targets LGBTQ individuals and their allies for harassment from its more than 640,000 Twitter followers while serving as a veritable wire service for Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media to push anti-LGBTQ smears.

Libs of TikTok regularly targets individual teachers and their workplaces – releasing their personal information that includes school and individual names as well as social media accounts, and leading its audience to harass the schools on social media.

A year ago, an investigation by Media Matters found that TikTok’s “For You” page recommendation algorithm circulated videos promoting hate and violence targeting the LGBTQ community during Pride Month, while the company celebrated the month with its #ForYourPride campaign. 

Numerous LGBTQ+ content creators have shared stories with the Blade about TikTok’s seemingly arbitrary algorithms that target otherwise benign content that is not listed outside of the platform’s polices and removed the content. In many cases restoring the posts after appeals or in the worst case scenarios banning the users.

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