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Mormon church leaders cut microphone after young girl announces she's gay

SALT LAKE CITY -- A video of a young Mormon girl revealing to her congregation that she is lesbian and still loved by God -- before her microphone is turned off by local church leaders -- is sparking a new round of discussions about how the religion handles LGBT issues.

Savannah, 13, spoke on May 7 in Eagle Mountain, Utah, about her belief that she is the child of heavenly parents who didn't make any mistakes when she was created. Her comments came during a once-a-month portion of Mormon Sunday services where members are encouraged to share feelings and beliefs.

"They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay," she said, wearing a white shirt and red tie. "God loves me just this way."


Brave Girl.

DeVos Appoints CEO Of A Student Loan Company To Head Federal Aid Agency

DeVos appoints current student loan company CEO to head student loan agency

Wayne A. Johnson will be the new head of Office of Federal Student Aid after James Runcie abruptly resigned last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced this week. FSA is the agency responsible for administering $1.4 trillion in outstanding student loans from 42 million borrowers, plus other aid programs for millions of college students.

As not mentioned in the department's press release, and first reported by BuzzFeed, Johnson is currently the CEO of Reunion Financial Services Corporation, a private student loan company.

Liz Hill, press secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, provided NPR with a statement that read in part: "Dr. Johnson has 30 years of experience in the private sector and is going to be a tremendous asset to the Department and to FSA's customers [...] Wayne knows this industry inside and out and has seen first-hand the benefits of serving students and helping them meet their financial and educational goals. This is just another reason why we are so excited to have him on the team as we work to put students' needs first."

The head of FSA is an appointment that doesn't require Senate confirmation. It's unclear why Johnson did not resign before his appointment was announced. Hill said in the statement, "This goes without saying, but he will separate from the company should he join FSA."


Istanbul Gay Pride Parade: Police Fire Rubber Bullets at Banned March

Turkish police fired rubber bullets in an attempt to break up a gay pride parade in Istanbul on Sunday, AFP reported.

The march had been banned by Istanbul's governor, who cited security concerns after threats from an ultra-nationalist group.

It was the second year running that Istanbul's LGBT march, described in the past as the biggest in the Muslim world, was blocked by city authorities.

The ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths group threatened last week to prevent the march if authorities did not act, and the governor's office said on Saturday that it took its decision out of concern for the security of marchers, tourists and residents.


Koch brothers plan stepped-up spending: More optimistic now about what we can accomplish

The Koch brothers' political network plans to pick up the pace of spending in the run-up to 2018, despite major policy disagreements with the Trump administration that includes skepticism of the health care bill now being debated in the Senate.

The Koch network of organizations –- funded by some 100,000 donors, with billionaires Charles and David Koch front and center -– had previously announced plans to spend between $300 million and $400 million in the 2017-18 cycle.

"We think it's going to be on the high end of that range," Tim Phillips, president of the Kochs’ political wing Americans for Prosperity, told reporters Saturday as the Koch network's twice-a-year conference started.

Charles Koch told donors that the network he and his brother control is growing and getting stronger. In his opening remarks to the gathering, at a posh resort in Colorado Springs, he made no mention of President Trump, who has had a tense relationship with the Kochs.


A cancer on the US

Sunday Toons

Health Care







The word women literally never appears in the US Senates 142-page health-care bill

Women have babies. If they didn’t, first the economy would collapse, and then the species would die out.

But because they do, from their late teens to their early forties, women have higher health-care costs than men of the same age. Carrying and birthing a child is a sometimes difficult, dangerous, complicated business, and one that, in America, can be incredibly expensive.

Despite the incontrovertible fact that men are biologically just as responsible as women for a pregnancy happening, before the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, women in the US paid more for health care and insurance because they are the ones who can get pregnant. Specifically, American women of child-bearing age paid somewhere between 52% and 69% more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs then men.

The Trump administration’s health-care reform bill now in the Senate, and the version that passed the House this May, will force some women to pay more again. Specifically, it strips out hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, the insurance for the poor, which now covers over 50% of all births in many US states, and allows states to opt out of covering “essential” healthcare that includes maternity and newborn care.

The Senate bill was crafted behind closed doors, by 13 men and no women. A search of the language used in the 142-page draft document (pdf) shows that womanhood and motherhood are, quite literally, also omitted from most of the bill itself.



Weekend Toon Roundup

The Issue

Health deform


AHCA will lead to a cheaper Border Wall!

Toon - The NRA's response


Under pressure, Western tech firms bow to Russian demands to share cyber secrets

By Joel Schectman, Dustin Volz and Jack Stubbs | WASHINGTON/MOSCOW
Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found.

Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting the products to be imported and sold in the country. The requests, which have increased since 2014, are ostensibly done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden any "backdoors" that would allow them to burrow into Russian systems.

But those inspections also provide the Russians an opportunity to find vulnerabilities in the products' source code - instructions that control the basic operations of computer equipment - current and former U.S. officials and security experts said.


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