Only 28 percent of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV have the infection under control, increasing the risk that they will spread the disease to others, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.
A big part of the problem is that one in five U.S. adult infected with HIV do not know it. Of those who are aware, only half receive ongoing medical care and treatment, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its latest report on HIV in America.
“It’s now very clear that we have the tools to stop HIV in an individual and to stop the spread of HIV in a community,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a telephone interview.
“We also know that taking treatment for HIV can prevent people from progressing to AIDS and from developing many of the serious complications of HIV, which unfortunately does remain an incurable infection,” Frieden said.
Recent studies have shown that suppressing the virus through treatment reduces the spread of HIV to partners by as much as 96 percent.
CDC’s report, released ahead of World AIDS day on December 1, focuses on increasing rates of HIV testing and treatment.
It follows new global AIDS priorities set by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton focused on HIV-fighting drugs as a way of preventing new infections that could bring the goal of “an AIDS-free generation” within reach.
The global plan also seeks to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and expand voluntary male circumcision.
“In this country, we already do a very good job with maternal-child transmission prevention,” Frieden told Reuters.
He said the major area of need in the United States is in “strengthening the cascade” of care by improving access and making sure people continue taking their medication to ensure the virus in their body is kept low enough to prevent the spread of the infection.
“The fact that nearly three quarters of Americans living with HIV still have the virus circulating in their bodies, damaging their brains and immune systems and putting their sexual partner at risk is something we think we can do a lot about,” he said.
To reach groups at the greatest risk, the CDC is launching a new campaign urging regular testing for young black gay and bisexual men, a population in which both HIV and syphilis infections continue to rise.
Frieden said studies have shown that black gay and bisexual do not engage in riskier behaviors than other gay men.
“It’s just that the infection has gotten into this community and therefore it’s particularly important that people in the community get tested and treated,” he said.
The campaign includes advertising in gay and black neighborhoods in six cities where infections in this population are highest: Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, New York City, Oakland, California and Washington, D.C.
While the number of Americans newly infected with HIV remained stable between 2006 and 2009, infections rose nearly 50 percent among young black gay and bisexual men, according to a CDC report released in August.
Men who have sex with men — which includes openly gay and bisexual men and those who do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual — remain most heavily affected.
While this group represents 2 percent of the overall U.S. population, they accounted for 61 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009.
Archive for November, 2011
Only 28 percent of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV have the infection under control, increasing the risk that they will spread the disease to others, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.
Glee is temporarily lifting its moratorium on stunt casting, and with good reason.
The Fox phenom is in negotiations with Ricky Martin to guest star early next year, sources confirm to TVLine exclusively.
The bon-bon shaker extraordinaire will play what a Glee insider is calling “the hottest Spanish teacher ever in the history of Ohio.”
And a musically inclined one at that.
I’m told Martin’s scalding instructor will headline two big musical numbers in the episode, which is slated to air in late January.
After wrapping Glee, Martin is off to New York to begin rehearsals for his role as Che in the Broadway revival of Evita (opening in April 2012).
The Glee stint marks Martin’s most high profile acting gig since his two-year run on General Hospital in the mid-90s.
from TV Line
Has Sara Gilbert found new love?
The actress and co-host of The Talk, who recently ended her relationship with her partner of 10 years, Allison Adler, was photographed holding hands with musician and producer Linda Perry as the pair left a grocery store in West Hollywood over the weekend.
Earlier this month, Gilbert, 36, and Perry, 46, were photographed together at the 40th Anniversary gala for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
It also appears the two may have spent the holiday together.
On the day before Thanksgiving, Perry Tweeted: “Grocery shopping with @THEsaragilbert. Her contribution: breaking the balsamic vinegar trying to figure out if she had spotted Bill Cosby.”
Perry, the former lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, is the songwriter and producer behind hits such as Pink’s “Get the Party Started” and Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.”
from People Magazine
It isn’t easy being Mrs. Hugh Jackman.
Australian actress Deborra-Lee Furnes has been married to the fellow Austraiian, 43, since 1996 – and she’s had to physically and mentally battle fans and mean-spirited critics!
“I’ve been almost pummeled as people try to get to him,” Furness, 56, tells Page Six Magazine. “Literally, they will push you out of the way.”
And then there’s Furness’ age – 13 years Jackman’s senior – and her curves. “The age thing! Truth be known, Hugh is much more mature than me, so we balance each other out,” she tells the magazine. “And heaven forbid I have a human experience and carry a little weight.”
Like many an A-list star, the X_Men hunk (currently performing his one-man show on Broadway in NYC) has also fielded rumors that he’s gay, and that their marriage is a sham.
“The line I heard was, ‘Wolverine? Who would have thought?’ Hugh and I don’t pay much heed, “Furness sniffs of the speculation. “It’s kind of tragic that these people have nothing better to do than gossip about people they don’t know.”
The Couple share kids Oscar, 11 and Ava, 6, whom they adopted after several heartbreaking miscarriages.
“hugh and I were always going to adopt,” she explains. “We were going to have one [child], adopt another. When we didn’t have one, we adopted two. I can’t bear to think of a child not being cared for. I tell my own children it was their destiny to come to us.”
from US Magazine
Bono is afraid of Alicia Keys.
While Keys talked about being pregnant and empathic when filming her documentary about AIDS in Africa, the U2 singer chimed in and said: “She’s scary, isn’t she? She’s scary.”
Bono went on to say that Keys has “lioness energy” and that her role as a new mother won’t allow her to “let other mothers suffer.”
He made the comments at the premiere of “Keep a Child Alive with Alicia Keys,” a documentary which followed a visit to South Africa during last year’s World Cup with a pregnant Keys and five Americans. It airs on Showtime on Dec. 1, which is World AIDS Day.
Bono said he met Keys when they recorded a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” – with dozens of other musicians – in 2001.
“I was terrified the moment I met her. I was shaking in my boots,” he said. “I was very moved by her singing of course, but what was interesting was the hard questions afterwards, and I think it’s those hard questions that she asks that lead her.”
Keys started her charity, Keep a Child Alive, in 2003. It assists those affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.
She says she hopes the film reaches out to those who want to help, but can’t make it to Africa.
“Even if you never have been able to travel there, or if you never can, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel with us and really see it for yourself,” she said.
Bono says Keys has what it takes to make a difference in Africa, and around the world.
“Everyone’s got heart, but actually you have to have the head for this,” he said. “You have to be tough and strategic, you have to be demanding, (and) the money has to be spent well.” If the money isn’t spent well, he said, people get annoyed, “and so all these things take a certain intellectual rigor.”
Keys has composed music for the Broadway play “Stick Fly,” which debuts next week. When Bono – who along with the Edge wrote the music for “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” – was asked what advice he could give Keys, he said: “You know, it’s an amazing American tradition, Broadway, and she can do anything she wants.”
from The Associated Press
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A gay softball organization has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to three players who were disqualified from its 2008 Gay Softball World Series because of their perceived heterosexuality.
And as part of the settlement announced Monday, their team will be awarded the second-place trophy it was denied at the time.
The men – Stephen Apilado, Laron Charles and John Russ – filed the federal lawsuit against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance last year, claiming they had been discriminated against because they were bisexual, not gay.
They had played for years on a San Francisco-based team called D2. Rumors had persisted that the team was stacked with straight ringers, and when they made it all the way to the finals of the 2008 tournament in the Seattle area, others filed a protest, accusing D2 of exceeding the limit of two heterosexual players per team.
Tournament officials convened a protest committee and brought in five D2 members for questioning. In a conference room filled with about 25 people, many of them strangers, the players were asked questions about their sexuality and private lives. The protest committee then voted on whether the men were gay.
Two were determined to be gay, but the committee found Apilado, Charles and Russ to be straight. The organization said that at the time, the men never identified themselves as bisexual, were evasive or refused to answer questions about their sexuality. Minutes of the hearing say that Charles claimed to be gay but acknowledged being married to a woman, and Apilado initially said he was both gay and straight but then acknowledged being more attracted to women.
The men said they weren’t given the option of stating outright that they were bisexual, even though the organization considered bisexual players to be gay for roster purposes. They and their team were disqualified. One observer at the hearing commented, “This is not a bisexual World Series. This is a gay World Series.”
NAGAA said the settlement came after the organization won a series of motions limiting what claims the players could present at trial.
The players initially asked the court to throw out the roster limit on straight players as discriminatory. But U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ruled that the organization had a constitutional right to limit the number of straight players as a means of promoting their message that openly gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals can thrive in competitive sports.
The judge said the case could proceed to trial because questions remained about the way the softball association applied its rule, including whether the questions asked at the hearing were unnecessarily intrusive. The trial was set for next month.
“We have been vindicated by the judge’s First Amendment rulings,” said Roy Melani, NAGAAA’s commissioner. “This lawsuit threatened not only the purpose of our organization, but also its future. We fought hard to protect ourselves and our core identity and I am relieved this issue is finally behind us.”
Since the lawsuit was filed, NAGAAA has added language to its rules clarifying that bisexual and transgender players are fully welcomed participants in its events. As part of the settlement, the organization said disqualifying D2 was not consistent with its goal of welcoming bisexual players.
“NAGAAA regrets the impacts the 2008 protest hearing had on plaintiffs and their team,” the settlement reads.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented the men, welcomed the changes but said they should go even further. The group still wants NAGAAA to delete its roster limits on straight players, on the grounds that it encompasses gay players who are in the closet or who choose not to put a label on their sexuality.
Charles said he’s looking forward to playing more softball.
“It means a lot to me that NAGAAA is going to recognize our second place finish in 2008,” Charles said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to play ball with my friends, teammates and community in NAGAAA’s tournaments.”
from The Associated Press
Tyler Perry has a few choice words for Jerry Sandusky.
The Hollywood Renaissance man — who boasts actor, director, writer and producer on his resume – penned an open letter to one of Sandusky’s of alleged sexual abuse victims. In the letter, published by Newsweek Magazine, Perry offers his words of encouragement to the boy as he recalls his own dark past, and refers to the former Penn State coach as a “coward and very sick individual.”
“I don’t know your name, but I know your face. I don’t know your journey, but I know where you are. I am your brother!” the letter begins. “I must tell you, what you have done is so courageous. The strength that it must have taken for your 11-year-old voice to speak out about such a horrible act is something that I didn’t have the strength or courage to do at that age.”
Perry then details his experiences growing up in New Orleans, as he became the victim of molestation. He also chides the adults, alluding to ousted Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who knew of the incidents and neglected to speak up.
“Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down? All of the ones who didn’t go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods,” he says. “All of the ones who didn’t want to get involved. Or even the ones who tried to convince your mother not to fight. You are stronger than them all! I wonder what they would have done if it were their own child.”
Sandusky, who has been charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse against children, recently spoke with Bob Costas to proclaim his innocence. “I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact,” he said.
In the likely event that the case goes to trial, Perry assures the unidentified boy that there are “millions of young boys and grown men standing with you.”
“Now fight on, my young friend, fight on!” he says.
from The Hollywood Reporter
I don’t know your name, but I know your face. I don’t know your journey, but I know where you are. I am your brother!
I must tell you, what you have done is so courageous. The strength that it must have taken for your 11-year-old voice to speak out about such a horrible act is something that I didn’t have the strength or courage to do at that age.
I was a very poor young black boy in New Orleans, just a face without a name, swimming in a sea of poverty trying to survive. Forget about living, I was just trying to exist. I was enduring a lot of the same things that you’ve come forward and said happened to you, and it was awful. I felt so powerless. I knew what was happening to me, but unlike you, I couldn’t speak about it because no one saw me. I was invisible and my voice was inaudible.
So to think that you, when you were only 11 years old, spoke up—you are my hero! I’m so proud of you. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I want you to know you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. Please know that you were chosen by a monster. You didn’t choose him. You didn’t ask for it and, most of all, you didn’t deserve it. What a huge lesson that was for me to learn. Your 11-year-old self was no match for wicked, evil tactics of this kind. You were hunted like prey. A pedophile looks for the young boys he thinks he can manipulate. The ones who have daddy or mommy issues, the ones who are broken, and the ones who are in need. But this wasn’t you.
Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down? All of the ones who didn’t go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods. All of the ones who didn’t want to get involved. Or even the ones who tried to convince your mother not to fight. You are stronger than them all! I wonder what they would have done if it were their own child.
I had a few of those adults in my life, too. They knew and did nothing. One of them even said to me that it was my fault, because I allowed myself to spend time with the molesters. And yes, this was someone who was in power and could have called the police, but instead this person allowed this criminal to go on molesting other young boys for many years. When I did tell a family member, I wasn’t believed. I suffered in silence. But not you, my young strong hero, you have done what many of us wish we could have done. You used your voice!
You know, now that you’re older you need to be aware that the aftermath of abuse may affect you for a very long time. But that’s OK; just know that the strength it took for you to talk about it then will help you get through it now. I often tell myself that if I made it through that experience as a child, then surely as a man I should be able to get past it. It still may take you a while, but that’s OK too. I have known people who have gone through the same things that we have, but unfortunately they were never able to admit it, and it destroyed them. They never went for help, and they let the abuse defeat them. Some of them went to prison for crimes, some are addicted to drugs, and some have even committed suicide. I know that none of these things will happen to you. You are too strong for that!
No matter what happens next, just know that the hardest part is over. I wish the coward and very sick individual who hurt you would have the courage to admit his wrong and not put you through a trial. But he will most likely profess his innocence until the bitter end. And probably, all the while, yelling at the top of his lungs about all he has done to help troubled young boys.
You may have to go through with that trial, and you may feel all alone when you’re on that witness stand, but just know that there are millions of young boys and grown men who are standing with you—including me. If every man who has ever been molested would speak up, you would see that we’re all around you. You may not know all of our faces and names, but my prayer is that you feel our strength holding you up. You will get through this; you’ve already endured the worst part at age 11. Now fight on, my young friend, fight on! We are all with you.
Syracuse Basketball Coach Fired Amid Sex Abuse Investigation
‘I Shouldn’t Have Showered With Those Kids’
LAGOS, NIGERIA – Nigeria’s Senate voted Tuesday to criminalize gay marriage, instituting prison terms of more than a decade for violations in a nation where gays and lesbians already face discrimination and abuse.
The bill heads to Nigeria’s House of Representatives, who have to approve the bill and send it to President Goodluck Jonathan for his signature before it becomes a law. However, public opinion – and lawmakers’ calls for even harsher penalties for being gay – shows wide support for the measure in the deeply religious nation.
“Such elements in society should be killed,” Sen. Baba Dati said during the debate.
Under the measure, couples who marry could face up to 14 years in jail, and witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That’s an increase over the bill’s initial penalties.
Homosexuality is already technically illegal in Nigeria, a country evenly divided between Christians and Muslims that is nearly universally opposed to homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.
Across the African continent, many countries have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences. Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it has not been passed into law two years later. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered.
The proposed law also has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria’s sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government also recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.
International opinion also didn’t seem to trouble lawmakers. During the debate, televised live from National Assembly in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, Senate President David Mark said Nigeria would not bow to international pressure on any legislation.
“Anybody can write to us, but our values are our values,” Mark said. “No country has a right to interfere in the way we make our laws.”
from The Associated Press
To contain the AIDS epidemic, it will take far more than simply finding and treating every patient who is infected with HIV. To truly halt the virus’ march, you will also need to shield healthy people from being infected in the first place.
That was the idea behind Voice (for Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic), a trial of two anti-HIV pills and a microbicide gel to protect women from infection with HIV during sex. But on Friday, scientists stopped the gel portion of the trial, which involved about 2,000 high-risk women, because there was no difference in infection rates between women getting the anti-HIV vaginal gel and those getting a placebo.
The gel was designed to kill HIV in the vagina, before it had an opportunity to infect cells. It’s not clear why the gel failed in the current trial, particularly given that it appeared effective in a preliminary study reported last year. In that study of 889 women in South Africa, the gel, which contains 1% of the anti-HIV drug tenofovir in an antimicrobial solution, reduced infection by 39% over 2½ years compared with a placebo; in women who used the gel most faithfully before and after intercourse, it cut HIV infection risk by 54%.
“We don’t know precisely why it didn’t work,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which funded the current trial study. “But my strong suspicion is that women who had to put the gel in every day probably got tired of it.”
Compliance is an important factor when it comes to a strategy for preventing HIV in healthy people, says Fauci, since no preventive method can work if it’s not used. That’s why the most powerful ways to halt any disease, including AIDS, involve one-time treatments that have lasting effects, such as vaccines. But developing an immunization against the wily AIDS virus is proving more challenging than researchers had anticipated. So researchers have been testing other preventive measures, such intensive counseling about safe sex practices, including reducing the number of partners and using condoms, but so far none have shown much promise in stemming the tide of new HIV infections.
The microbicidal gel had looked promising, since it was designed to attack HIV almost as soon as it entered the body, rather than merely creating a barrier between the virus and healthy cells like some previous failed gels. Evidence suggests that the sooner HIV is dispatched, either by the immune system or by powerful anti-HIV drugs, the less likely the virus is to cause infection and lead to full-fledged AIDS.
The vaginal gel had the added advantage of putting the power of prevention in the hands of women, who are disproportionately affected by HIV in much of the developing world, and are in desperate need of a way to protect themselves — often secretly — during sexual encounters. But the gel has to be applied every day, and compliance with any daily activity can be challenging.
The results are the second blow to the Voice trial. The two other arms of the trial involve women taking tenofovir in pill form or another anti-HIV pill called Truvada (a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine); in both arms, the drugs were compared to placebos. In September, the study leaders stopped the tenofovir portion of the study, since there was no significant difference in rates of HIV infection between women taking the drug and those taking placebo. The researchers will continue to test the effectiveness of Truvada in protecting healthy women from HIV infection. Those results, along with a more thorough analysis of the vaginal gel and tenofovir arms, are expected by 2013.
from Time Magazine
Love him or hate him — and there are few who fall anywhere in between — Rep. Barney Frank has spent the past three decades crafting one of Congress’s most pugnacious political personalities, which he has deployed frequently as a weapon in the ideological wars of the age.
On the left, the Massachusetts Democrat has been a hero for his effort to rein in the nation’s largest banks and for his role in promoting gay rights, having been the most prominent openly gay member of Congress. On the right, Frank became a stand-in, alongside Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), for attack lines designed to gin up conservative activists.
Behind the scenes, however, Frank — who was first elected in 1980 — became one of the most important lawmakers of his generation, a successful backroom negotiator who knew how to broker critical deals. With his announcement Monday that he will not seek reelection next year, he will leave a legacy that goes beyond simple politics.
Few lawmakers can claim, as Frank can, to have won the trust of both the George W. Bush Treasury Department and the gay rights movement.
“This country has never had a Congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him,” President Obama said in a statement.
Frank’s influence, unusual in this day for a lawmaker who never aspired to party leadership or the presidency, has been on display throughout the 2012 GOP presidential campaign. His longtime nemesis, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), has risen steadily in public polling ever since he suggested in a mid-October debate that Frank should be “thrown in jail” for his influence in pushing the Clinton and Bush administrations to promote homeownership and then in his oversight of the housing industry.
Never one to hold his fire, Frank, 71, hit back over the past few weeks, calling Gingrich a “liar,” citing his seven-figure salary as a consultant for Freddie Mac. “I did not think I lived a good enough life to see Newt Gingrich as the Republican nominee,” Frank said Monday at a news conference in Newton, Mass. “He would be the best thing to happen to Democrats since Barry Goldwater.”
In his Monday announcement, Frank said that, after serving more than 30 years, he does not have the energy to run for reelection in a newly drawn congressional district. Although the district still favors Democrats, half the voters would be new to Frank, requiring a vigorous campaign.
“I don’t have to pretend to be nice to people I don’t like,” he told reporters in his vintage half-joking style.
In 2007, Frank became chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and for the next four years, oversaw Wall Street, housing and the multitude of financial firms that packaged questionable mortgages into complicated trading mechanisms. This placed him at the epicenter of the most critical debates of this era, beginning with housing legislation in 2007 and 2008 that tried to forestall the industry’s collapse. In the fall of 2008, Frank was the lead House Democratic negotiator for what became the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, alongside then-Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.).
Frank — an openly gay, Jewish liberal representing a district south of Boston — developed a deep bond with then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson — a Christian Eagle Scout raised in Illinois who went on to run Goldman Sachs.
“Two elements made it possible for Hank Paulson and me to work together despite partisan anger about our cooperation,” Frank wrote in the foreword to the paperback edition of Paulson’s book, “On the Brink.” “First, we trusted each other, admired each other’s integrity and commitment to the public good, and shared a similar and natural understanding of the crisis that faced us, and we were helped by the fact that we were both in power.”
By late 2009, Frank and Dodd began deep, protracted negotiations on legislation that came to bear their names: a rewrite of Wall Street oversight. The Dodd-Frank legislation tried to create a more transparent financial services industry, requiring more disclosure of exotic derivative trades and creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Wall Street firms, feeling abandoned by Frank and other Democrats who they thought were their allies, have fought some pieces of Dodd-Frank. Senate Republicans have vowed to block any appointment by Obama to the consumer protection bureau.
Frank’s departure will set off a scramble for the top Democratic slot on the Financial Services Committee. Next in line is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), but she is under investigation by the ethics committee over her office’s role in helping a bank receive bailout money while her husband was a major investor in the company.
Other Democrats who could get the top slot include Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), Luis V. Guitierrez (Ill.) and Nydia M. Velazquez (N.Y.).
Despite his partisan profile, Frank often has worked out imperfect compromises that slowly but surely have advanced his cause, whether they were over Wall Street regulation or gay rights.
In 1990, Frank was reprimanded during an investigation of allegations involving his relationship with a male prostitute who worked out of the lawmaker’s Capitol Hill townhouse. The panel found that Frank had no knowledge of the illegal activities, but it disciplined him for using his office to help take care of traffic tickets for his partner.
The lawmaker’s wit has made him one of the legendary sparring contenders for House floor debates and a sought-after personality in the age of cable television. However, in what in retrospect was a preview of his retirement announcement, Frank wrote earlier this year that he had grown exasperated with the increasing gridlock in this era of hyper-partisanship.
“Partisanship is a legitimate concept,” he wrote in Paulson’s book, “that has been discredited by the excesses of too many of its practitioners.”
from The Washington Post
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Syracuse University has fired Bernie Fine as an assistant men’s basketball coach, the school announced Sunday night, hours after new reports arose regarding his alleged sexual abuse of boys.
“At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately,” university Senior Vice President Kevin Quinn said in a statement, referring to Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor.
Fine was placed on administrative leave earlier this month, after former Syracuse ball boy Bobby Davis and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, accused him of molesting them. The university in announcing Fine’s leave earlier this month noted it had conducted its own investigation in 2005 and was “unable to find any corroboration of the allegations.”
“The events of the past week have shaken us all,” Cantor said in a statement Sunday. “No other witnesses came forward during the university investigation (in 2005), and those who felt they knew Bernie best could not imagine what has unfolded.”
Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim said in a statement Sunday night that he believed “the university took the appropriate step” in firing Fine, his assistant coach the past 35 years.
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged,” said Boeheim, who days earlier said Fine had his “full support.” “I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”
The news of Fine’s firing came the same day that the Syracuse-based Post-Standard newspaper and ESPN both reported the existence of a recording of a 2002 phone conversation that they said Davis had recorded between him and the coach’s wife.
What did Fine’s wife know?
Davis provided the recording to the Post-Standard soon after it was recorded, but the newspaper then declined to report on it because it couldn’t find “witnesses, enough corroborating evidence or a second accuser.”
The wife, Laurie Fine, at the time suggested to the Post-Standard that Davis had taped her on multiple occasions and edited the recordings to make them appear more inflammatory.
In the tape, a woman — which ESPN, citing experts, claims was Laurie Fine — said she knew “everything that went on” with her husband, adding that “he thinks he’s above the law.”
“Bernie has issues … and you trusted somebody you shouldn’t,” the woman said, speaking to Davis.
The woman appears to acknowledge an inappropriate sexual relationship between Davis and Bernie Fine, saying, “It’s just wrong and you were a kid.” She also said that her husband should “find (himself) a gay boy, get your rocks off.”
According to a transcript of the conversation on the Post-Standard’s website, the two talked about how Bernie Fine was angry at Davis for not repaying him $4,000. Davis said that the coach forced him to “grab him” after offering the loan, including at one point saying, “If you want this money, you’ll stay right here.”
Laurie Fine appears to side with Davis, and against her husband, saying: “Money isn’t the issue here. He lured you with the money. See, he knew full well what he was doing.”
Repeated calls by CNN to Laurie Fine were unanswered Sunday, and no one answered repeated knocks on the door of her house.
Cantor, the Syracuse chancellor, said the school did not know of the recording during its 2005 investigation.
Bernie Fine’s attorneys, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, released a statement Sunday — hours before their client’s firing was announced — declining to comment on the reports.
“Any comment from (Fine) would only invite and perpetuate ancient and suspect claims,” the lawyers said. “Mr. Fine remains hopeful of a credible and expeditious review of the relevant issues by law enforcement authorities.”
The embattled coach appeared to be getting some support as evidenced by a sign outside his home that read: “We believe in your innocence Bernie. We love you!”
On Friday, the Secret Service joined local law enforcement to search Fine’s home, according to John Duncan, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York’s northern district.
File cabinets were among the items taken from the home after the search warrant was issued, though Duncan declined to discuss what authorities were looking for.
Duncan noted that the Secret Service’s duties include “investigations into crimes involving electronic transactions.” The Secret Service did not comment Sunday on the probe.
Davis, a former Syracuse ball boy who is now 39, told ESPN earlier this month that Fine molested him “hundreds of times” over the course of 16 years, starting from when he was in the fifth or sixth grade.
He told university officials six years ago that he informed Syracuse police that he had been “subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men’s basketball coach” during the 1980s and 1990s, according to an earlier statement from Quinn, the school spokesman.
Police had told Davis years ago that they would not pursue the case because the statute of limitations had expired, Quinn said in a statement.
On Sunday, another man — Zachary Tomaselli, now 23 — told CNN that he also was abused by Fine while in a hotel room in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he’d gone to watch a Syracuse game.
The incident happened about a decade ago, when he traveled by himself a few months after he’d met Fine, Tomaselli said.
He claimed that the coach “put his hand down my shorts” as he was watching TV, adding Fine allegedly did so “four or five times.”
Tomaselli himself is facing gross sexual assault charges related to a 2009 incident, according to information from the Maine State Bureau of Investigation.
The accuser’s father, Fred Tomaselli, claimed that while he and his son had sat in “nose-bleed” seats during Syracuse games, they’d never met Fine. Moreover, he said the boy never stayed overnight in a hotel room with Fine, nor had he ever been brought to Pittsburgh or gone to a game there.
The father said that Zachary Tomaselli’s allegation is completely “100% false,” suggesting that his son needed help and calling him a “master manipulator.” The father and son are estranged.
Davis’ stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, has also accused Fine of sexual abuse. Lang told ESPN earlier this month that Fine molested him “15 to 20 times,” and confirmed the abuse to CNN in a phone interview Sunday.
While he said that he often found himself “pushing (Fine’s) hand away,” Lang said that his stepbrother suffered much more than he did.
He described Bernie Fine as “like a father figure” to both he and Bobby Davis, noting the two then-teenagers attended Bernie’s wedding to Laurie 26 years ago.
Lang said his “hands started shaking” when he heard the apparent voice of Laurie Fine — as broadcast this weekend on ESPN — talking to his stepbrother about the alleged abuse.
Thirty minutes after the story broke earlier this fall about former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of sexually abusing boys over a span of 14 years, Bobby Davis texted his stepbrother. Lang said the text read: “‘This is what happened to me.’”
Lang’s accusation, made after the Sandusky scandal broke, kick-started the reopened police investigation November 17.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has harshly criticized Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler and Deputy Chief Sean Broton over the handling of a 2002 probe of Fine that began with Davis’ allegation.
Fitzpatrick filed subpoenas for records in the 2002 and current investigations that he said he should readily have access to.
A 1967 graduate of Syracuse, where he’d been a student manager for the basketball team, Fine rejoined the program nine years later as an assistant coach under Boeheim.
Prior to his dismissal, he’d been with the Orange ever since — the longest such streak for an assistant coach in Division I basketball, the school said.
According to his official biography, which was taken down from Syracuse’s website on Sunday night, Fine “has been a tremendous advocate for SU alumni who want to play professional basketball” and “an active member of the Syracuse community.”
Besides his wife, Laurie, he has a son and two daughters, the profile stated.
‘I Shouldn’t Have Showered With Those Kids’
‘Being Wendy’ is a delightful children’s book all about a little girl named Wendy who doesn’t fit in with everyone else in her hometown. It’s written by Fran Drescher, who said she based the fable on her childhood growing up in Flushing, Queens.
The sitcom star also has a new show on TV Land called ‘Happily Divorced’ that’s also based on Drescher’s personal life. In it she plays a florist named (what else?) Fran, who juggles the dating scene after finding out that her husband of 18 years is gay.
The show is co-produced by Peter Marc Jacobson, Drescher’s ex-husband of 21 years, who is also gay.
FOX411: So why write a children’s book?
Fran Drescher: ‘The Nanny,’ the T.V. series I starred in, seems to be more popular than it’s ever been and it has a huge audience of children that weren’t even alive when I was shooting it. So I wanted to leverage that leadership that I have with that generation by offering them a children’s book that I felt would have an empowering message. Something that I think informs a little bit about the way I grew up and the encouragement I got from my parents. Growing up in a provincial town, but ultimately rising above that and carving my own path and finding myself with all of my diverse interests, and so that’s kind of what ‘Being Wendy’ is all about.
FOX411: Did you really feel very different growing up?
Drescher: Absolutely. I wanted to be a writer, a hairdresser, an actress, a mediator, a journalist. I wanted to do everything and what tends to happen very often in provincial places is that becomes threatening to people and they put you down a little bit like, ‘Oh right you’re going to be a famous actress,’ that sort of thing. I just never felt like I could plant my roots in the place I grew up, although it was a great place to come from, and I outgrew it very quickly.
FOX411: But you grew up in Queens; that’s very close to New York City.
Drescher: Did you ever see ‘Saturday Night Fever?’ They lived just across from the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a world away from the sophistication and diversity of Manhattan. Particularly when I was growing up in the 60s, Queens was very much like that as well. It might as well have been in the middle of Nebraska, it was that far removed from being a place that offered diverse people or thinking or culture.
FOX411: Your new show is based on your life. You say you had no idea that your ex-husband was gay. You had a happy marriage and fulfilling love life.
Drescher: We were best friends in high school. We had a happy marriage and we had a very active sex life. Because of my lack of experience with other men I thought he was metrosexual and didn’t look beyond that. Maybe also I didn’t want to look beyond that because at the end of the day I was afraid to be alone and afraid to admit that I’d made a mistake.
At the time I think that kept me in the relationship longer, but quite honestly ‘The Nanny’ was a huge distraction for Peter and me. By then I was already saying to him, ‘If we can’t fix what’s wrong in our relationship I’m going to want a divorce,’ and even though I never did that because he would always convince me that things would change or things happened in our lives that distracted us. Ultimately I did divorce him and it was not because he was gay, because he hadn’t come out, it was because he was way too controlling.
I had a very clichéd midlife crisis and I didn’t know who I was and I had never even bought a chair without saying, ‘What do you think honey?’ so I really felt like although I had great success from T.V. and I had reached a level of wealth that someone from my humble beginnings had never, ever imagined, I was not really happy. So I knew I had to break away from this very suffocating relationship. I had to find my own voice and become centered with who I was outside of the relationship.
He begged me not to leave and he was extremely angry for doing so. For me, who had never put myself over anyone else’s needs especially when it meant hurting someone, it was like walking through fire. He didn’t talk to me, and when the show ended, he moved to New York.
A year after the show ended our manager called and told him, ‘Fran has cancer,’ and he immediately burst into tears and in that moment his anger melted away and all that was left was the love. That was one of the silver linings of the cancer because from that point forward we began to rebuild all we had.
One and a half years after that my book, ‘Cancer Schmancer’ was coming out and I was going on a book tour. At that point he told me that he had been dating men and he didn’t want me to be shocked if for some reason it came out in the press because he was now living as a gay man.
FOX411: Were you shocked?
Drescher: About two thirds of the way through our marriage he started therapy and he realized that he was bisexual but choosing to live his life with me, so I had already known that he had feelings but had never acted upon them, and really didn’t want to lose me. I was still at that place where I didn’t really absorb how that made me feel, only that he must really love me if he’s not only being honest with me but choosing to live his life with me and so we stayed the course.
So when he finally came out it was a huge relief for me because I had harbored so much guilt for having hurt him by abandoning him and divorcing him. I just felt like it took a load off my shoulders. That the divorce he so adamantly didn’t want at the time gave him the opportunity to explore his authentic self. I was a little ahead of him in realizing something was wrong.
FOX411: Are you dating now?
Drescher: I date a few men now. There’s one person I love very much who loves me but we are on a different page in the book of life and he is finding himself. So he can only take our intimacy so far. I understand that because I’ve been there so I say to him, ‘I love you, you love me. Let’s enjoy what we can together and understand I need to be free to continue to be open to meeting other people, maybe as connected as we are but also on the same page in the book of life.’ He respects that and that keeps me from feeling trapped. I have the best of all possible worlds. In the past I have been drawn to very complex men that have a kind of dark side like a moth to a flame. Now through therapy I’m actually not drawn to it but repelled by it, and much more open to men who are more joyful or light hearted. That’s the trajectory I’m on now. To find that person and no longer find that kind of person boring.
from Fox News
Let’s just say they went gaga.
Students cheered and clapped when a personal video from Lady Gaga was shown at an anti-bullying assembly at Etobicoke School of the Arts on Friday. Up until then, students had no idea she had recorded a message and thank you to them.
Student council president Jacques St. Pierre had to keep a poker face since October, after receiving an email from Lady Gaga’s staff with a link to the video. He decided to keep it a surprise until the assembly.
“I’ve seen it over 300 times,” gushed St. Pierre, a huge fan of the mega pop star, in an interview before the Friday event.
In August, the Grade 12 student wrote to several celebrities — including talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, singer Katy Perry and Tim Gunn from Project Runway — hoping a message from one of them would have a big impact on students as the school launched an anti-bullying campaign.
“Sometimes schools talk about bullying but never make changes,” he said. “I thought if I could get someone as influential as Lady Gaga to speak to students, that would make a change.”
Lady Gaga has been an outspoken anti-bullying crusader in the U.S., outraged over the recent suicide of a gay Buffalo teen who had been targeted. She has been lobbying U.S. politicians — including President Barack Obama — to have bullying made illegal.
Etobicoke School of the Arts students are trying to combat homophobia, racism, sexism and body image issues through performance and plan to take their message to other schools in the Toronto District School Board, said St. Pierre.
On Friday, students took a pledge to “make it better” — an extension of the “it gets better” campaign.
St. Pierre, 17, was bullied in elementary school by students who called him a fag for being interested in theatre and drama.
However, he said his high school has been “amazing and accepting.”
But there’s still work to be done; comments like “don’t be a fag” or “that’s so gay” are still common among teens. And, earlier this year, a private webpage was set up where fellow students posted anonymous comments about one another.
In his letter to Lady Gaga, St. Pierre told her who he is and about the school’s campaign.
“And then I talked about why it would be amazing to hear from her.”
In the video, Lady Gaga says hello to St. Pierre, the school and “talks about how proud she is” of their efforts.
She also implores students to “treat each other with kindness, love, and to accept everyone . . . and that she’s doing her best to make bullying a hate crime.”
She then sends her love and tells them to have a “wonderful day at school and to love each other.”
The video, which runs about one minute, 15 seconds, was the edge of glory for St. Pierre.
“When I showed it to the student council, they all cheered and screamed and freaked out . . . she’s talking directly to (students).”
from The Star
Prior to the premiere of OWN’s one-hour special Being Chaz, viewers can get a sneak peek as Chaz Bono brings his relationship with Jennifer Elia to the next level.
Standing atop the Seattle space needle, the former Dancing With the Stars contestant offers Elia an engagement ring as a birthday present. “Wow, it’s gorgeous. Thank you so much,” Elia replies.
“Heavy shit man,” she adds with a laugh.
Being Chaz — the follow-up to Emmy-nominated documentary Becoming Chaz — will air on OWN Sunday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. Following the broadcast, the network will air the documentary special I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition, which follows an 11-year-old transgendered girl named Jazz.
Becoming Chaz was the first selection in the OWN Documentary Club. Its May premiere attracted an average of 705,000 viewers, ranked fifth in its time period for ad-supported cable channels, and gave the network a 162% increase in key demos versus the year before when it was known as Discovery Health.
from The Hollywood Reporter
T.I. on being skeptical of Bin Laden’s death
The conversation shifts from Muammar Gaddafi’s death—which occurred five days prior—to Osama Bin Laden’s assassination to both Eastern giant’s once empowered relationship with the U.S. government. “It’s like everybody that the U.S. was besties with, years later they’re the worst person in the world,” says Tip. “My question is what character traits do they possess now that they didn’t possess when y’all were besties? What made it go astray, and who’s to say they were on the dishonest end of that?”The politic’n doesn’t stop there. Before an article can be selected from the “Osama Bin Laden killed” search, T.I. twists his lips in sarcastic fashion and shoots, “If that really happened.”
VIBE: So you’re skeptical about the legitimacy of Osama’s death?
T.I.: Man, I’m a conspiracy theorist by nature. You can’t experience the federal penal system and not be somewhat skeptical.
T.I. on all Americans having equal rights
Man, I will say this, the funniest joke I ever heard Tracy say during a stand-up was, ‘C’mon man, I think gay people are too sensitive. If you can take a dick, you can take a joke.’ [Cracks up laughing.] That shit was funny to me. And it’s kind of true.’ While T.I. makes clear that he supports anyone’s sexual preference, he then connects, in his opinion, a current oversensitivity among gay people with a consequential and ironic offense of the First Amendment. “They’re like,‘If you have an opinion against us, we’re gonna shut you down.’ … That’s not American. If you’re gay you should have the right to be gay in peace, and if you’re against it you should have the right to be against it in peace.’
T.I. on people criticizing Tiny for not taking the drug charge
“I’ma tell you, 50 Cent and anybody else, we not gonn’a have no discussion about what my ole lady should’a, would’a, couda done for anything as it pertains to me,” begins his rant. “We ain’t gonn’a do that. I’m the only one in my family that’s gonna take a lick when it pertains to the legal system. Since me, none of my other family members have seen a jail cell. Nobody. I’m the last one. The buck stops here. I feel that a person that stands behind [his woman for a criminal charge] is a coward anyway.”
VIBE: I doubt she would have gotten any time.
T.I.: She wasn’t gonna catch it period, ’cause I’m there. That wasn’t even a consideration. Even if she asked me to I would’ve been like, “Nah, you trippin’. “
So you didn’t feel you were more valuable to your family, employees and business partners on the street?
That’s a discussion between me and another man. Not with the mother of my children. Not with the nurturer of my household.