Politically concerned movie Zootopia wins Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film

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Politically concerned movie Zootopia wins Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film
September 9th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On Sunday, Disney’s Zootopia won the Oscars award for the Best Animated Feature Film at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony held at Los Angeles. Pixar’s animated short Piper won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film and Disney’s The Jungle Book won for Visual Effects.

Others competing with Zootopia in the category were Kubo and the Two Strings, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, and Disney’s Moana. This was the first Oscar for directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore who were previously nominated for, respectively, Bolt and Wreck-It Ralph.

In the acceptance speech, director Byron Howard said, “About five years ago, almost six now, […] we got this crazy idea of talking about humanity with talking animals in the hopes that, when the film came out, it would make the world just a slightly better place.” The Disney movie addresses several social problems such as racism, sexism, prejudice, stereotyping, and fear. The New York Times said the parental guidance (PG) rated movie was “Funny, smart, thought-provoking — and musical, too.”

Before announcing the award, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal said, “As a Mexican, as a Latin-American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that wants to separate us.” The movie was released in March, during the 2016 US presidential race.

In an interview with Variety, the directors of Zootopia said movies about bias and discrimination haven’t been Disney’s main focus, but during its production, “Things were not great in the world. […] It was more like we had our finger on something important right now and we really need to do our best to portray this as honestly as we can. Then with the election and the campaign, the real move towards governing by fear […] I don’t think we could have predicted it any closer with this film.”

With this win, the Walt Disney Company has won nine out of ten Best Animated Feature Film Oscars in the last decade, with Pixar Animation Studio winning six out of them. Zootopia also won Best Animated Film at the Annie Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.

Fire reaches the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro

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Fire reaches the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro
September 9th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The building has about 20 million pieces

A fire reached, at the beginning of the night of Sunday (September 2), the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, in Quinta da Boa Vista, in São Cristóvão, in the northern area of the capital of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The historic building of two centuries was the residence of the Brazilian royal family and has one of the most important collections of the country – they are about 20 million pieces. The cause of the fire was unidentified and the numbers of victims were unknown at the time of this report.

The Rio Fire Department was activated at 7:30 p.m. The men from four barracks were working (use past tense for the article body) at the site, which was located within the Quinta da Boa Vista National Park. The building had three floors and was linked to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). The fire took account of a good part of the construction.

The museum was closed to visit at the time the fire started. For security, there were also men from the Military Police and health professionals in ambulances.

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Cast of Bratz appears in Canada to promote film release

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Cast of Bratz appears in Canada to promote film release
September 4th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The four stars of Bratz appeared Thursday in Toronto on the television series MuchOnDemand, to promote their new film.

While a great deal of computer animated, direct-to-DVD Bratz films have been made, as has a relatively successful television series, Bratz: The Movie is the first time the characters have appeared in live action.

The film centres around four “BFF”s, best friends forever, Yasmin (Nathalia Ramos), Jade (Janel Parrish), Sasha (Logan Browning) and Cloe (Skyler Shaye). Each has a distinct personality, talents, and fashion sense, which each friend supported. But entering high school, they suddenly face being lumped into social cliques, enforced by senior Meredith Baxter Dimly. Torn apart, they eventual decide to find peer pressure head-on, as “the Bratz”.

Director Sean McNamara commented in press materials, “The producers, writers and I hung out and talked about the fact that we had all lost friendships during high school, not because you want to but you start meeting new people and start hanging out with people that are into the same things as you.”

“This theme of cliques still happens even when you grow up, it’s in the business world — hey they are everywhere,” McNamara continued. “I think that’s what I’m trying to say with this movie is that you don’t have to be part of a clique exclusively. You can have friends all over the place and still be with kids that are into what you’re into… be with your jock friends, your science friends, whomever.”

Actress Logan Browning comments, “Friendships are so important because you can think that you can go to school and be by yourself and be the coolest girl but without true friends, you’re going to be stuck in your life.”

The movie is produced by Avi Arad, a producer of the Spider-Man and X-Men trilogies, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The Punisher, and Ghost Rider.

Arad feels that “If we can unite kids without taking away their individuality, that’s fantastic.”

MuchOnDemand is a long-running program MuchMusic, Canada’s primary music channel. The program airs every weekday at 5 pm ET, as an hour-long per broadcast viewer interactive television program.

View all of the Creative Commons-licensed photos by Robin Wong at Wikimedia Commons’ gallery.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Bruce Haines, Bramalea-Gore-Malton

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Bruce Haines, Bramalea-Gore-Malton
September 2nd, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bruce Haines is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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British TV presenter Rico Daniels tells Wikinews about being ‘The Salvager’

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British TV presenter Rico Daniels tells Wikinews about being ‘The Salvager’
September 2nd, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rico Daniels is a British TV presenter living in France who is known for his two television series — The Salvager — whilst he still lived in the UK and then Le Salvager after he moved to France. Rico has been in a variety of jobs but his passion is now his profession – he turns unwanted ‘junk’ into unusual pieces of furniture. Rico’s creations and the methods used to fabricate them are the subject of the Salvager shows.

Rico spoke to Wikinews in January about his inspiration and early life, future plans, other hobbies and more. Read on for the full exclusive interview, published for the first time:

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Ireland’s Occupy Dame Street, Occupy Waterford camps cleared

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Ireland’s Occupy Dame Street, Occupy Waterford camps cleared
September 2nd, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Occupy protests in two Irish cities have been cleared in the last two days. Dublin’s Occupy Dame Street was cleared by police while the local council cleared the abandoned Occupy Waterford site.

The early hours of Thursday saw the Dublin site raided and cleared by Gardai (police). Gardai cited health and safety concerns over the camp, with St Patrick’s Day festivities planned. Irish tourism minister Leo Varadkar previously called it “disappointing” the campers would not move while the celebrations were ongoing. “I understand they feel very strongly about their politics but I’m sure they don’t want to damage the festival,” Varadkar said.

“[Our] priority is to ensure that all of St Patrick’s Day events and celebrations pass off smoothly and that all participants and the large crowds of spectators at the parade can access and egress the parade route without a risk or threat to their health and safety,” said a Garda statement. They claimed to have asked for “assistance and co-operation, however this was not forthcoming,” and said it took hours to clear the site. The clearance began at 3:30 am local time.

A single arrest was made but the individual was released without charge. Around 100 officers cleared the site, which almost filled the plaza before the Central Bank. Cleaners later cleared all signs of the camp. It had been in place since October, but pallets and solid structures replaced the usual tents of Occupy protests earlier this year in response to local weather. Fifteen people who had been staying overnight were removed.

“We are not stopping any time soon, it’s all hands on deck now, we are going to carry on”, vowed protestor Saoirse Bennet, who was on-scene when police arrived.

Waterford City Council yesterday dismantled the empty camp in their city while Gardai looked on. The quayside protest was abandoned after internal disputes; only two youths and a homeless person were found in the 5:30 am raid, but at one stage the protest had 40 residents. Gardai took the youths “home to their parents,” said a spokesman. “The people we found there had nothing to do with Occupy Waterford.” Needles and drugs were found, but nobody was arrested.

Occupy Galway may be the next to go: After months of tolerance, Galway City Council have claimed “serious health and safety concerns” justify legal eviction proceedings if the camp does not pack up voluntarily. John Walsh of Occupy Galway said the camp was lawful and would remain.

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Glenn Beck loses domain name case over parody website

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Glenn Beck loses domain name case over parody website
August 30th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Saturday, November 7, 2009

American political commentator Glenn Beck has lost his case against a satirical website which parodies him, in a ruling from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The website argued Beck’s actions to shut it down were an attempt to silence free speech. On Friday, the website’s creator sent a letter to Beck saying he would voluntarily turn over the domain name to him.

Florida resident Isaac Eiland-Hall created the website in September, and it asserts Beck uses questionable tactics “to spread lies and misinformation”. The website was represented in the case Beck v. Eiland-Hall by free speech lawyer Marc Randazza. Wikinews interviewed Randazza for the article “US free speech lawyer Marc Randazza discusses Glenn Beck parody”, and previously reported on the case in articles, “US free speech lawyer defends satire of Glenn Beck” and “Satirical website criticizes Glenn Beck for ‘hypocritical’ attempts to silence free speech”.

Eiland-Hall registered the website at the domain “www.GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com”. Its premise was derived from a joke statement made by Gilbert Gottfried about fellow comedian Bob Saget. Users of the Internet discussion community Fark first applied the joke to Beck, and it then became popular on several social media sites. Eiland-Hall saw the discussion on Fark, and created a website about it. The website asserts it does not believe the rumors to be true, commenting, “[b]ut we think Glenn Beck definitely uses tactics like this to spread lies and misinformation.” The website was created on September 1, and just two days later attorneys for Beck’s company Mercury Radio Arts took action. Beck’s lawyers sent letters to the domain name registrar where they referred to the domain name itself as “defamatory”, but failed to get the site removed.

Beck filed a formal complaint with the Switzerland-based agency of the United Nations, WIPO, who operate under regulations laid out by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Beck asserted the website’s usage is libelous, bad faith, and could confuse potential consumers. Beck’s complaint was filed under the process called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. This policy allows trademark owners to begin an administrative action by complaining that a certain domain registration is in “bad faith”. Beck argued the site should be shut down because it is an infringement upon his trademark in his own name, “Glenn Beck”.

Eiland-Hall retained Randazza as his attorney after receiving threatening letters from legal representatives of Beck. On September 28, Randazza filed a response brief to WIPO, contending the site is “protected political speech”, due to it’s “satirical political humor”. Randazza stated, “even an imbecile would look at this Web site and know that it’s a parody.” Randazza’s brief commented on Beck’s style of reporting, and highlighted a controversial statement made by him when interviewing a Muslim US Congressman. Beck said to Representative Keith Ellison, “I like Muslims, I’ve been to mosques. … And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview because what I feel like saying is, sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” According to the Citizen Media Law Project, the website’s joke premise takes advantage of “a perceived similarity between Beck’s rhetorical style and the Gottfried routine”.

Randazza argued in the response filed on behalf of Eiland-Hall that Beck attempted to use the process of the WIPO court to infringe the free speech rights of his client; “Beck is attempting to use this transnational body to circumvent and subvert the Respondent’s [web site owner] constitutional rights [to freedom of speech],” he wrote. Randazza cited the U.S. Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, in arguing that Beck’s attorneys advised him against filing legal action in a U.S. court because the website would likely be seen as a form of parody and due to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, such legal action would not be successful.

On September 29, Randazza sent a request to Beck’s representatives, asking that their client agree to stipulate to the United States Constitution, and especially to the First Amendment, during the case before the WIPO. In the request, Randazza quoted a statement from Beck himself about the usage of international law by United States citizens, Beck said, “[o]nce we sign our rights over to international law, the Constitution is officially dead.” In an October 19 interview with Wikinews, Randazza stated that Beck had not replied to his request to stipulate to the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment in the WIPO case.

On October 20, Randazza filed a surreply – a response document to an October 13 supplementary filing made by Beck in the case. Attorneys for Beck asserted in the supplementary filing that the joke made by the website is difficult to comprehend, and therefore the domain name is confusing. In Beck’s supplementary filing, his lawyers argued, “While there is absolutely nothing humorous or amusing about the statement made by Respondent in his domain name that ‘Glenn Beck Raped and Murdered a Young Girl in 1990,’ the average Internet user finding the domain name GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlin1990.com (“Disputed Domain Name”) in a search would have no reason not to believe that they will be directed to a website providing factual information (as opposed to protected criticism or similar protected speech) about Mr. Beck.”

Randazza’s surreply asserted, “An average Internet user might not ‘get the joke’. In fact, the average Internet user does not understand any internet memes. That’s the fun of a meme – it is an esoteric inside joke that will leave most people scratching their heads.” In Randazza’s conclusion to the Eiland-Hall surreply, he called Beck “the butt” of a joke he apparently does not understand. Randazza wrote that Beck “should be deeply ashamed” for devaluing the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

…Respondent can be said to be making a political statement. This constitutes a legitimate non-commercial use of Complainant’s mark under the Policy.

For Beck to have prevailed in the case, the WIPO arbitrator would have needed to rule in his favor on three points: the domain name was confusing with the mark “Glenn Beck”, the registrant Eiland-Hall did not have rights to the domain name, and that the domain name was registered as an act of “bad faith”. Frederick M. Abbott, the WIPO arbitrator, did rule that the domain name was confusing, but also ruled that Eiland-Hall had legitimate interest in the domain name of the website he created. “Respondent appears to the Panel to be engaged in a parody of the style or methodology that Respondent appears genuinely to believe is employed by Complainant in the provision of political commentary, and for that reason Respondent can be said to be making a political statement. This constitutes a legitimate non-commercial use of Complainant’s mark under the Policy,” said the WIPO ruling.

The WIPO decision also commented on the matter of third-party websites which may have derived profit through links from Eiland-Hall’s website, “While there is some evidence that at some stage third-party vendors of goods and services critical of [Beck] may have earned some income on sales of t-shirts and bumper stickers embodying political slogans based on click-throughs from [Eiland-Hall’s] Web site, the panel does not believe this is sufficient ‘commercial activity’ to change the balance of interests already addressed,” said the ruling.

In this context of this WIPO case, you denigrated the letter of First Amendment law.

After the WIPO ruling, Eiland-Hall decided to voluntarily relinquish ownership of the domain name and hand it over to Glenn Beck. On Friday, Eiland-Hall sent a letter to Beck, and pointed out that Beck’s actions only served to further increase publicity to the meme described on the website. “It bears observing that by bringing the WIPO complaint, you took what was merely one small critique meme, in a sea of internet memes, and turned it into a super-meme. Then, in pressing forward (by not withdrawing the complaint and instead filing additional briefs), you turned the super-meme into an object lesson in First Amendment principles,” wrote Eiland-Hall in the letter to Beck.

It’s good to see that this WIPO arbitrator had no interest in allowing Beck to circumvent the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.

Eiland-Hall criticized Beck’s actions with regard to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, writing, “It also bears noting, in this matter and for the future, that you are entirely in control of whether or not you are the subject of this particular kind of criticism. I chose to criticize you using the well-tested method of satire because of its effectiveness. But, humor aside, your rhetorical style is no laughing matter. In this context of this WIPO case, you denigrated the letter of First Amendment law. In the context of your television show and your notoriety, you routinely and shamelessly denigrate the spirit of the First Amendment”. He stated that he persevered in the case in order to uphold the value of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “I want to demonstrate to you that I had my lawyer fight this battle only to help preserve the First Amendment. Now that it is safe, at least from you (for the time being), I have no more use for the actual scrap of digital real estate you sought…” A representative of Beck declined to provide a comment about the WIPO ruling, after a request from PC Magazine.

Commentators likened the legal conflict between Beck and the site to the Streisand effect, a phenomenon where an individual’s attempt to censor material on the Internet in turn proves to make the material itself more public. Wendy Davis of Online Media Daily commented on the impact of the case, “The decision appears to mark a significant win for digital rights advocates because a ruling in Beck’s favor could have encouraged other subjects of online parodies to take their complaints directly to the WIPO rather than U.S. courts, which are bound by the First Amendment.” Citizen Media Law Project’s assistant director, Sam Bayard, wrote that the ruling was appropriate, “It’s good to see that this WIPO arbitrator had no interest in allowing Beck to circumvent the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.”

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Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, on animal rights and the film about her life

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Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, on animal rights and the film about her life
August 29th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last night HBO premiered I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA. Since its inception, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made headlines and raised eyebrows. They are almost single-handedly responsible for the movement against animal testing and their efforts have raised the suffering animals experience in a broad spectrum of consumer goods production and food processing into a cause célèbre.

PETA first made headlines in the Silver Spring monkeys case, when Alex Pacheco, then a student at George Washington University, volunteered at a lab run by Edward Taub, who was testing neuroplasticity on live monkeys. Taub had cut sensory ganglia that supplied nerves to the monkeys’ fingers, hands, arms, legs; with some of the monkeys, he had severed the entire spinal column. He then tried to force the monkeys to use their limbs by exposing them to persistent electric shock, prolonged physical restraint of an intact arm or leg, and by withholding food. With footage obtained by Pacheco, Taub was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty—largely as a result of the monkeys’ reported living conditions—making them “the most famous lab animals in history,” according to psychiatrist Norman Doidge. Taub’s conviction was later overturned on appeal and the monkeys were eventually euthanized.

PETA was born.

In the subsequent decades they ran the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty against Europe’s largest animal-testing facility (footage showed staff punching beagle puppies in the face, shouting at them, and simulating sex acts while taking blood samples); against Covance, the United State’s largest importer of primates for laboratory research (evidence was found that they were dissecting monkeys at its Vienna, Virginia laboratory while the animals were still alive); against General Motors for using live animals in crash tests; against L’Oreal for testing cosmetics on animals; against the use of fur for fashion and fur farms; against Smithfield Foods for torturing Butterball turkeys; and against fast food chains, most recently against KFC through the launch of their website kentuckyfriedcruelty.com.

They have launched campaigns and engaged in stunts that are designed for media attention. In 1996, PETA activists famously threw a dead raccoon onto the table of Anna Wintour, the fur supporting editor-in-chief of Vogue, while she was dining at the Four Seasons in New York, and left bloody paw prints and the words “Fur Hag” on the steps of her home. They ran a campaign entitled Holocaust on your Plate that consisted of eight 60-square-foot panels, each juxtaposing images of the Holocaust with images of factory farming. Photographs of concentration camp inmates in wooden bunks were shown next to photographs of caged chickens, and piled bodies of Holocaust victims next to a pile of pig carcasses. In 2003 in Jerusalem, after a donkey was loaded with explosives and blown up in a terrorist attack, Newkirk sent a letter to then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat to keep animals out of the conflict. As the film shows, they also took over Jean-Paul Gaultier‘s Paris boutique and smeared blood on the windows to protest his use of fur in his clothing.

The group’s tactics have been criticized. Co-founder Pacheco, who is no longer with PETA, called them “stupid human tricks.” Some feminists criticize their campaigns featuring the Lettuce Ladies and “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” ads as objectifying women. Of their Holocaust on a Plate campaign, Anti-Defamation League Chairman Abraham Foxman said “The effort by PETA to compare the deliberate systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent.” (Newkirk later issued an apology for any hurt it caused). Perhaps most controversial amongst politicians, the public and even other animal rights organizations is PETA’s refusal to condemn the actions of the Animal Liberation Front, which in January 2005 was named as a terrorist threat by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

David Shankbone attended the pre-release screening of I Am An Animal at HBO’s offices in New York City on November 12, and the following day he sat down with Ingrid Newkirk to discuss her perspectives on PETA, animal rights, her responses to criticism lodged against her and to discuss her on-going life’s work to raise human awareness of animal suffering. Below is her interview.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Contents

  • 1 The HBO film about her life
  • 2 PETA, animal rights groups and the Animal Liberation Front
  • 3 Newkirk on humans and other animals
  • 4 Religion and animals
  • 5 Fashion and animals
  • 6 Newkirk on the worst corporate animal abusers
  • 7 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
  • 8 Ingrid Newkirk on Ingrid Newkirk
  • 9 External links
  • 10 Sources
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Interview with gay marriage movement founder Evan Wolfson

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Interview with gay marriage movement founder Evan Wolfson
August 26th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Evan Wolfson, the founder of the modern gay marriage movement, tells the waiter he would like an iced decaf and “the usual.” Wolfson, one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People in the World, is a man who unflinchingly knows what he wants and stays his course, whether it be in his choice of restaurant or in his choice of battle. And others always know when they see Evan coming what it is that he wants.

Since his time at Harvard Law School when he wrote a paper on the topic, what Wolfson wants is the right for gay people to marry. The issue gained national prominence in 1993 when the Hawaii Supreme Court held in Baehr v. Lewin that the government had to show a reason for the denial of the freedom to marry, not just deny marriage licenses to the plaintiff gay couples. Wolfson was co-counsel in the historic 1996 Hawaii trial in which he argued that the government does not have a sufficient reason for excluding same-sex couples from marriage. In 1999, Wolfson contributed to Baker v. Vermont, the case that led to the creation of civil unions; advised the lead attorneys in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the case that led to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts; and since 2003, when he founded the primary umbrella organization coordinating the efforts to win marriage for gay people, Freedom to Marry, Wolfson has played a role in every marriage equality case in the United States. He is the movement’s founder and leader, and his focus remains square on winning that right. “For years,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, “many of us were saying to him, ‘We’re not ready. The country’s not ready. And, by the way, you’re crazy.'”

When I make a statement to him about his devoting his life to gay marriage, he corrects me: “I’ve played a part in cases that span the entire spectrum of eliminating gay people’s exclusions and limitations on who gay people are, and I’ve also written on immigration and economic justice, and I have worked on cases involving race discrimination in jury selection and women’s inequality. I don’t think one has to pick one of these things; they work together.”

Indeed, he has. Wolfson was lead counsel before the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the case arguing against the expulsion of gay scoutmasters. As an intrepid young assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, Wolfson worked on People v. Liberta to end the exemption that allowed women to be raped by their husbands legally, a right in New York State as early as 1984. And he helped end the practice of choosing jurors based upon their race.

Wolfson’s entire career has been at the center of the most explosive legal and cultural issues of the last 30 years in the United States, and his influence has been profound. David Shankbone sat down with him to discuss some of the recent decisions affecting gay marriage, gender in marriage and reactions in the gay community to his fight for their rights.

Contents

  • 1 Wolfson and gay marriage
  • 2 The gay community and marriage
  • 3 The Iowa and Maryland decisions
  • 4 Freedom to Marry’s role
  • 5 Domestic partnerships and civil unions
  • 6 Transgender people and marriage
  • 7 Sources
  • 8 External links
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Congressman Cunningham admits taking bribes

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Congressman Cunningham admits taking bribes
August 26th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Monday, November 28, 2005

U.S. Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham (RCA) pled guilty today to conspiring to take bribes in exchange for using his influence as a member of the House Appropriations Committee to help a defense contractor get business. In total he pled guilty to one count of income tax evasion and four counts of conspiracy, namely mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery of public official and accepting bribes. U.S. District judge Larry A. Burns scheduled Cunnigham to be sentenced on February 27. He is facing up to 10 years in prison and nearly $500,000 in fines, as well as forfeiture of unspecified amounts of cash and property.

In the court hearing, Cunningham admitted to accepting “bribes in exchange for performance of official duties” between “the year 2000 and June of 2005”, taking “both cash payments and payments in kind” and following up by “trying to influence the Defense Department”.

The federal investigation against Cunningham was triggered by his sale of his California residence to defense contractor Mitchell Wade in late 2003. However, Wade never moved in and sold the house at a $700,000 loss three quarters of a year later. At the same time Wade’s company MZM won tens of millions of dollars in defense contracts. Subsequent investigations discovered more questionable business transactions, including interactions with the defense contractor ADCS. In his plea agreement he testified that, among other charges, he “demanded, sought and received at least $2.4 million in illicit payments and benefits from his co-conspirators in various forms, including cash, checks, meals, travel, lodging, furnishings, antiques, rugs, yacht club fees, boat repairs and improvements, moving expenses, cars and boats.”

Cunningham announced his resignation after the hearing. In a written statement released by his law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP he declared “The truth is — I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my high office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, and most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.”

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