Friday, June 24, 2016

Rep. Wasserman Schultz letter to the FDA

Wasserman Schultz said she's been talking with Califf about changes to the program. (Rob Kunzig/Morning Consult)

House Democrats are encouraging the Food and Drug Administration to reverse course on a rule that bars many gay men from donating blood and shift toward more rigorous testing for all potential donors.
Lawmakers  sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf urging him to further roll back the agency’s policy on gay and bisexual men donating blood. Last year, the agency rolled back a lifetime ban to allow men who have sex with men to donate if they have been celibate for a year, which the lawmakers say is discriminatory and scientifically unnecessary.
“We are concerned that the 12-month deferral policy, which suggests that the sexual relationships of MSM men and transgender women inherently pose a risk of HIV transmission, furthers a stigma that we have persistently fought to eliminate,” they write. “The FDA questionnaire should reflect risk-based behaviors as opposed to sexual orientation.”
Over 125 members , Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)  Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Dianne DeGette (D-Colo.) and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) — have signed the letter, with many more signing  , .
The lawmakers’ push comes after a shooting in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend at a gay nightclub killed at least 49 people, but Quigley noted he’d been working to roll back the ban since 2009. Quigley, who organized the letter and serves as the vice chairman of the House LGBT Caucus, said he could introduce legislation, but that the FDA could act more quickly to change the rule.
“I think the best way for me to go forward with this is to continue on this track, but to also focus on the process as a whole,” he said. “I remain optimistic, because every time someone told me ‘This is it,’ we moved it a little bit farther the next year or two.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she spoke with Califf over the weekend about how to expedite the FDA’s steps to creating an evidence-based questionnaire as a baseline for whether someone can donate blood.
“I asked how can we help get this process of making sure that there’s a risk-based questionnaire in place as quickly as possible, and could resources help,” she said. “And apparently they could.”
She noted that many of the members at the press conference were on the Appropriations Committee, so they could play a role in helping to speed things along, though she thinks the FDA could act on changing the policy and creating a risk-based screening for all blood donors without additional resources.
Early signs from the administration, however, indicate a lengthy battle could be ahead for the lawmakers. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is not currently planning on any policy changes. The policy change made last year to reverse the lifetime ban was “consistent with the advice of our best scientists and public health professionals,” Earnest said at a White House briefing.
“The president believes that when it comes to these types of questions that we’re going to rely on scientific advice,” Earnest said. “If there are additional changes that are made, it’s going to be rooted in the advice rooted in the scientists at the FDA.”
Asked about Earnest’s statement, Polis called the year-long wait before gay men can donate blood a “completely arbitrary period.”
“The right kind of screening should apply to gay and straight people equally,” Polis said. “That’s something that I know the president and the administration believe, that gay and straight people are equal, and we simply want their words and this policy to match the concept and the moral principal that people should be treated equally.”


Download Letter HERE 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Little Marco Wants To Keep His Job And Still Do Nothing








Ending weeks of political speculation, Marco Rubio announced Wednesday he has changed his mind and will run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, reversing his pledge to return to private life after his presidential campaign collapsed three months ago.
Rubio cited a sense of duty to try to remain in office under either President Donald Trump or President Hillary Clinton — two candidates he considers subpar.

“No matter who’s elected president, there’s reason to worry. If it’s Hillary Clinton, you know we’re going to have four more years of the same failed economic policies, four more years of the same failed foreign policy,” he told the Miami Herald.
“The prospect of a Trump presidency is also worriesome to me in many ways. It’s no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald.”
National Republicans fearful of losing Senate control to Democrats mounted a campaign to keep Rubio on the ballot for Florida’s swing seat. He consented just two days before Friday’s state candidate-qualifying deadline.
“I think that the point that really drove me to change my mind is that as we enter this kind of new chapter in our history here is, there’s another role the Senate plays that I think can be really important in the years to come,” Rubio said. “And that’s the power given to it in the Constitution to act as a check and balance on the excess of the president. It’s even more important given the fact that control of the Senate could very well come down to what happens in the Florida race.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Enough is Enough: Join Tonight's Digital Protest Against Gun Violence


President Barack Obama walks away from the lectern with Vice President Joe Biden after making a statement about the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., June 16, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Friends,
Nothing has been more frustrating to President Obama than Congress's unwillingness to act on common-sense steps to reduce gun violence. In the wake of recent, tragic events, we are reaching out to you today. The White House, individuals, and advocacy groups are looking to empower Americans to stage a digital protest against gun violence in the United States starting tonight and continuing intotomorrow and the days that follow.

We will do this by utilizing a Facebook feature, specifically encouraging people to create and share a "Life Event" update. However, unlike a typical Life Event update (announcing a marriage or a new baby, for example), this will be an update allowing people to declare their desire to reduce gun violence by stating that “enough is enough.”

Here’s how it works: 
  • You, your friends, and your family are encouraged to create a custom Life Event on your Facebook page that reads: “Decided that enough is enough.”
  • Then, you can add a "Story" or "Photo" of your own making, explaining why this is such an important issue to you. For example, how have you seen gun violence affect your friends, your community, or your worldview? 

The final update will then appear in other people's Facebook feeds as: "Today, [YOUR NAME] decided that enough is enough," along with your personal story, in a powerful, collective display of protest against gun violence. 

In an effort to get this moving quickly-- at a time when a desire to really move forward on this issue is at an all-time high -- we’d like to kick off these poststonight, starting at 6 PM, and continuing into tomorrow and the days that follow, as well. 
Together, I know we can do this. I know we can make our voices heard.

Again, here's how:

INSTRUCTIONS (MOBILE): 
  1. Open Facebook.
  2. View your profile by tapping the “More” icon on the right-hand side of the bottom navigation bar.
  3. Click "View Profile."
  4. Scroll down to where you see a prompt to update your Facebook status.
  5. Beneath that, tap “Life Event.” 
  6. Type into the Search bar at the top of the screen: “Decided that enough is enough.” 
  7. On the next screen, you’ll select an icon to represent the event. We recommend the circle with a backslash through it. 
  8. Under “Story,” type in “It’s time to end gun violence now because _________________.” You can then add a line or two about why this issue matters to you, on a personal level.
  9. Hit post.
  10. You’ve made your voice heard!
INSTRUCTIONS (DESKTOP): 
  1. Open Facebook
  2. Click “Edit Profile” from the navigation bar on the left.
  3. Click “Life Events.”
  4. Click “Add a Life Event.” 
  5. Select any category and then select “Create Your Own.”
  6. Make “Decided that enough is enough” the Title of the event.
  7. Under “Story,” type in “It’s time to end gun violence now, because _______________.” You can then add a line or two about why this issue matters to you, on a personal level. Hit “Save.”
  8. You’ve made your voice heard!

Thank you in advance for being part of this powerful protest demanding that enough is enough.
Bess Evans
Associate Director
The White House | Office of Public Engagement 

Enough is Enough: Join Tonight's Digital Protest Against Gun Violence


President Barack Obama walks away from the lectern with Vice President Joe Biden after making a statement about the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., June 16, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Friends,

Nothing has been more frustrating to President Obama than Congress's unwillingness to act on common-sense steps to reduce gun violence. In the wake of recent, tragic events, we are reaching out to you today. The White House, individuals, and advocacy groups are looking to empower Americans to stage a digital protest against gun violence in the United States starting tonight and continuing intotomorrow and the days that follow.

We will do this by utilizing a Facebook feature, specifically encouraging people to create and share a "Life Event" update. However, unlike a typical Life Event update (announcing a marriage or a new baby, for example), this will be an update allowing people to declare their desire to reduce gun violence by stating that “enough is enough.”

Here’s how it works: 

  • You, your friends, and your family are encouraged to create a custom Life Event on your Facebook page that reads: “Decided that enough is enough.”
  • Then, you can add a "Story" or "Photo" of your own making, explaining why this is such an important issue to you. For example, how have you seen gun violence affect your friends, your community, or your worldview? 

The final update will then appear in other people's Facebook feeds as: "Today, [YOUR NAME] decided that enough is enough," along with your personal story, in a powerful, collective display of protest against gun violence. 


In an effort to get this moving quickly-- at a time when a desire to really move forward on this issue is at an all-time high -- we’d like to kick off these poststonight, starting at 6 PM, and continuing into tomorrow and the days that follow, as well. 
Together, I know we can do this. I know we can make our voices heard.

Again, here's how:

INSTRUCTIONS (MOBILE): 
  1. Open Facebook.
  2. View your profile by tapping the “More” icon on the right-hand side of the bottom navigation bar.
  3. Click "View Profile."
  4. Scroll down to where you see a prompt to update your Facebook status.
  5. Beneath that, tap “Life Event.” 
  6. Type into the Search bar at the top of the screen: “Decided that enough is enough.” 
  7. On the next screen, you’ll select an icon to represent the event. We recommend the circle with a backslash through it. 
  8. Under “Story,” type in “It’s time to end gun violence now because _________________.” You can then add a line or two about why this issue matters to you, on a personal level.
  9. Hit post.
  10. You’ve made your voice heard!
INSTRUCTIONS (DESKTOP): 
  1. Open Facebook
  2. Click “Edit Profile” from the navigation bar on the left.
  3. Click “Life Events.”
  4. Click “Add a Life Event.” 
  5. Select any category and then select “Create Your Own.”
  6. Make “Decided that enough is enough” the Title of the event.
  7. Under “Story,” type in “It’s time to end gun violence now, because _______________.” You can then add a line or two about why this issue matters to you, on a personal level. Hit “Save.”
  8. You’ve made your voice heard!


Thank you in advance for being part of this powerful protest demanding that enough is enough.
Bess Evans
Associate Director
The White House | Office of Public Engagement 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TURN YOUR UNWANTED GUN INTO CASH



 Gun Buyback
Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Pompano Beach Substation, 1820 Hammondville Road, Pompano Beach

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is committed to keeping neighborhoods safe, and one way he’s doing that is by making it easy for residents to turn in unwanted firearms. 
On Saturday, guns of all kinds can be swapped for gift cards worth up to $200 during the gun buyback event at the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s Pompano Beach substation. There will be no questions asked of residents as they turn over their unwanted pieces. 
Those turning in guns should bring them unloaded. The firearm’s cylinder or action should be open and the weapon should be secured in a bag or container.  
This weekend’s buyback is sponsored by Zach Finn of Finn Real Estate  and kicks off BSO’s new summer gun safety series.  
The gun safety classes will be held in 11 BSO districts starting June 28. Families are encouraged to attend these interactive classes. Gun safety locks will be given away and refreshments will be served at each class. A list of classes will be released later this week.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

When the Orlando Gunman Threatened Her Son, This 49-Year-Old Mom Did the Unthinkable

When the Orlando Gunman Threatened Her Son, This 49-Year-Old Mom Did the Unthinkable



Mom Brenda Marquez McCool was out with her 21-year-old son Isaiah at the gay nightclub in Orlando, FL on the night of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The 49-year-old mom of 11 was enjoying a Latin night of dancing with her son when the shots began to ring out.

According to her sister-in-law Ada Pressley, Brenda instantly spotted the gunman. And her mama bear instincts kicked in immediately.

Ada said, "Brenda saw him point the gun. She said, ‘Get down,’ to Isaiah and she got in front of him."



New York native Brenda, who was a two-time cancer survivor and had moved to Orlando to be closer to her younger children, ended up literally jumping in front of a bullet for Isaiah. After she was shot, panic ensued and the two were separated in the venue. Once the gunman was killed, Isaiah was brought to safety.

But Brenda did not survive.

A grieving Isaiah later wrote on Facebook, "Just laying here thinking that I was just with my mom 24 hours ago, this is so surreal. I love you mom."

Ada said that if it wasn't for Brenda's sacrifice for her beloved boy, Isaiah would have been the one who died instead.

"She was shot dead," Ada said. "That’s how much she loved her kids."

All of the Orlando shooting victims and their families and friends, including Brenda and Isaiah, are in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

State Attorney Michael SATZ addresses Fort Lauderdale civic Associations crime meeting

Speaks on human trafficking ; drugs and murders cases




Commissioners Approve "Ban the Box" Ordinance

Image result for "Ban the Box"

People applying for a job in Broward County government will no longer be initially asked if they've been arrested or have a criminal background.

Commissioners unanimously voted to "ban the box," a phrase that refers to the check box on employment applications that asks about a person's past criminal wrong doing.

"I think we are leading the way here by setting an example that we ought to ensure everyone has an opportunity to provide for themselves. We're talking about people who have paid their dues, are back in society and want to provide for themselves and their families," said Broward Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, who first brought the ordinance to the Board for approval. Mayor Marty Kiar and Commissioner Mark Bogen also sponsored the ordinance.

The new law means that a person wouldn't be asked about a prior criminal record or authorization for a background check until they're among a pool of potential finalists for a particular job.

"What we want to do is ensure that opportunities are open for all," said Commissioner Mark Bogen.

"The fair thing to do is to give anybody who is looking for a job, the opportunity to apply for a job. There has to be a fair and consistent process," said Commissioner Chip LaMarca.

"I'm fine with banning the box, but it may be delaying the inevitable. As long as we narrow the list down to a pool of qualified applicants first and then do a background check, I'm good with this," said Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief.

"If you do the background check and substantiation of all of the information on an application then you are making it fair on numerous levels. You have a pool of people, everybody gets a background check and then you go from there," said Commissioner Beam Furr.

If an applicant is among those considered a potential finalist for a position and a background check reveals a criminal history, the person would be given a copy of the findings (as allowed by law) and an opportunity to respond and offer mitigating circumstances.

The "Ban the Box" ordinance does not apply if in conflict with federal or state law. Some jobs are exempt from the new ordinance including positions at the airport, seaport or those that involve working with children and other vulnerable populations.


FDLE AND DCF PROVIDING FUNDS TO HELP WITH ORLANDO TERROR ATTACK

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that FDLE has set aside more than $520,000 in residual Justice Assistance Grant funds for the City of Orlando and Orange County to be used for overtime pay for law enforcement and equipment associated with the terror attack. FDLE also requested $2 million in emergency Justice Assistance Grant funds from the Department of Justice to help with similar costs. The Florida Department of Children and Families is also directing $500,000 in funding to local providers for crisis counseling services which include grief counseling, trauma support, and emotional support for victims and their families and loved ones.

Governor Scott said, “We will continue to do all we can to help Orlando heal and our state agencies are doing everything possible to provide assistance to those impacted by this horrific tragedy. FDLE has been working with their local partners around the clock, but additional funding from the federal Department of Justice is needed to help support the ongoing investigation. DCF is also working to coordinate with counselors on the frontline to offer essential services to victims’ families and provide a supportive place for individuals to grieve loved ones. I appreciate the dedication of our state agencies and local organizations as we continue to work together to support the Orlando community.”

FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “FDLE members statewide are working hard to support local law enforcement following the Pulse nightclub shooting. FDLE agents continue to work with our partners painstakingly investigating the shooting and FDLE members also identified more than $520,000 to be shared with Orlando PD and Orange County SO to help them with expenses associated with the shooting.”

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, "As we rally to support and console survivors, victims' families, and residents impacted by the shootings, we not only can offer resources to help them find the strength and resilience to overcome, we can, as an organization and as individuals, show how this event can serve to renew our faith in humanity. We will remain steadfast in working with our partners to provide grief and crisis counseling to all those in need."

Watch Anderson Cooper Confront Florida AG Pam Bondi Over Her Hostility To LGBT Rights

Image for the news result


ANDERSON COOPER: I want to ask you, I saw you the other day saying that anyone who attacks the LGBT community, our LGBT community, you said, will be gone after with the full extent of the law.
PAM BONDI: That's exactly right.
COOPER: I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here yesterday who are not fans of yours and who said that they thought you were being a hypocrite, that you for years have fought -- you basically gone after gay people, said that in court that gay people simply by fighting for marriage equality were trying to do harm to the people of Florida. To induce public harm, I believe was the term you used in court. Do you really think you're a champion of the gay community?
BONDI: Let me tell you. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on the Bible and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida. That's not a law. That was voted in to our state constitution by the voters of Florida. That's what I was defending. Had nothing to do -- I've never said I don't like gay people, that’s ridiculous.
COOPER: But do you worry about using language accusing gay people of trying to do harm to the people of Florida when doesn't that send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in mind?
BONDI: Anderson, I don't believe gay people could do harm to the state of Florida. We’re human beings.
COOPER: But you argued that in court.
BONDI: My lawyer argued a case defending what the Supreme Court allowed the voters to put in our state constitution.
COOPER: Right, but you were arguing that gay marriage, if there was gay marriage, if there was same-sex marriage, that would do harm to the people of Florida, to Florida society.
BONDI: That it was constitutional to put that in the constitution.
COOPER: Are you saying you did not believe it would do harm to Florida?
BONDI: Of course not, of course not. Gay people -- no, I've never said that. Those words have never came out of my mouth.
COOPER: But that is specifically what you were arguing in court.
BONDI: No. No. What we argued was it was in the constitution of the state of Florida. Let me give you an example. Medical marijuana. A 12-year-old could get it if it passed. We took that to the Supreme Court because of that language, hold on. But if that passed, I would defend that, as well, because it's my job to defend what's in the constitution of the state of Florida. That's what it was about.
COOPER: The hotline that you've been talking about on television which allows family members and spouses of the dead to get information, which is incredibly important, and I appreciate you talking about it on the air, had there been no gay marriage, had there been no same-sex marriage, you do realize that spouses, there would be no spouses, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able probably even to visit in the hospital here. Isn't there a sick irony in that?
BONDI: Let me take it a step farther. People aren't right now who are partners and aren't married officially aren't able to get information, so we're trying to assist them in getting information. Because early on we only have 24 people --
COOPER: Isn't there a sick irony that you for years were fighting that very idea?
BONDI: I was defending the constitution of what over 69 percent of the voters put in the constitution.
COOPER: But the courts, the federal courts said that's not the constitution and you continued to fight it.
BONDI: No. That's why we rushed it to get it to the U.S. Supreme court because we needed finality.
COOPER: Well, before the Supreme Court, there was a federal judge and you continued to fight it after the federal judge ruled, and in fact you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money fighting it.
BONDI: Well Anderson, we rushed to get it to the Supreme Court. You know what today is about? Human beings. Today's about victims.
COOPER: It is about gay and lesbian victims.
BONDI: It sure is. LGBT victims. It’s about Florida --
COOPER: I’m just wondering is it hypocritical to portray yourself as a champion of the gay community when -- I'm just reflecting what a lot of gay people have told me, they don't see you as that.
BONDI: Anderson, I’m not portraying myself as anything other than trying to help human beings who have lost their lives, who are right behind us right now in hospital beds, who have family members who aren't getting the services they need. This morning, you know what I've been doing? Trying to fight with a funeral home for overcharging family members.
COOPER: That’s sickening.
BONDI: To bury their loved ones. I'm not championing anything other than Floridians. That’s what this is about. We’re about human beings.
COOPER: Right.
BONDI: And this is about victims who need help. This is about family members who need services. That’s what this is about.
COOPER: It's just that -- I will say I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now. I read your Twitter history for the last year, and I saw you tweeting about, you know, national dog month and national shelter dog appreciation day or adopt a shelter dog month. It is gay pride month. You’ve never even tweeted about gay pride month.
BONDI: Well actually if you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together, all different colored rainbow hands, people.
COOPER: So you just put that up now.
BONDI: Yeah I did, after this horrible tragedy, absolutely. The only thing I'm championing are human beings whose lives were lost to terror.
COOPER: So that’s your message to gay and lesbian people here. Because again, I'm telling you what people have been telling me to ask you, moving forward, do you see yourself as being a vocal champion for gay and lesbian citizens in this state?
BONDI: They are citizens just like anyone else. Of course. My goodness, Anderson, we’ve had 49 people murdered. Simply because they were in a bar at the wrong time.
COOPER: Right.
BONDI: That's horrible. I'm a career prosecutor. These family members are devastated. These surviving victims are devastated. That's what this is about.
COOPER: I know a lot of gay and lesbian people in the state want to feel that the people that represent them, represent everybody in the state.
BONDI: We're human beings and that's what this is about.



Source Medaimatters.org

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fort Lauderdale memorial service for victims of Orlando shooting: Friday

The City of Fort Lauderdale will host a memorial service Friday to remember the victims of the Orlando shooting. “United with Orlando: Standing for Equality” will take place at 1 p.m. Friday at the Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St. All are welcomed to attend. At the memorial, guests will be welcomed to sign a special scroll and share their feelings. The scroll will be sent to the City of Orlando in remembrance of the tragedy.




CLICK PICTURE ABOVE TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD 

Lady Gaga & Stuart Milk mourn Orlando victims


Supported by a friend, a man weeps for victims of the mass shooting just a block from the scene in Orlando.


Lady Gaga speaks at a Los Angeles vigil as members of the LGBT community mourn the victims of Sunday's Orlando nightclub massacre. Stuart Milk, nephew of assassinated civil rights leader Harvey Milk, talks about the way forward from such tragedy. 

Pulse Night Club Shooting Victims All Their Names





Monday, June 13, 2016

Gunman visited Pulse nightclub a dozen times before shooting, witness says


Omar Mateen -- MySpace


At least four regular customers at the gay Orlando nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people Sunday morning said Monday that they believe they had seen the killer, Omar Mateen, there before. "Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get…

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Timeline of Orlando Nightclub Attack

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Orlando Nightclub Shooting


A gunman killed 50 people and wounded 53 more in an attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday.
VideoIconWatch »

Candlelight vigil tonight at 5 PM at the Equality Park - Pride Center



There will be a candlelight vigil tonight at 5 PM at the Equality Park - Pride Center located in Wilton Manors. The address for the Pride Center is 2040 North Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors.