A Canadian tech company Netsweeper is coming under fire for allegedly providing filtering software that censors LGBT content to anti-LGBT governments.
Both All Out and R3D have joined forces to bring this issue to light. The two organizations are asking the Canadian company to stop providing the filters to homophobic governments. The broader issue is they want the company to ensure clients are not using the technology to violate human rights.
Activists have started an online petition to end all censorship against LGBT individuals. They have also reached out to the Canadian government which is now reviewing their recommendations.
‘Helping countries like the UAE censor LGBTI content online, including life-saving information on HIV prevention, is a gross violation of international human rights guidelines,’ Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out Yuri Guaiana told Gay Star News.
‘We are glad the Canadian government agreed to review our recommendation that any additional financial support to Netsweeper will be made conditional on their commitment to human rights.’
Guaiana furthermore said that more than 27,000 people have signed the petition so far. They are asking Netsweeper to stop providing these filters censoring content identified as ‘Alternative Lifestyles’.
‘We’ll keep demanding that,’ Guaiana also added.
This is not the first time that Netsweeper has faced criticism.
Just last year Citizen Lab and security and human rights research group released a report on the use of Netsweeper in at least 10 countries, most cited for systematic human right problems. The group analyzed the countries of Afghanistan, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen.
‘Netsweeper’s services can easily be abused to help facilitate draconian controls on the public sphere by stifling access to information and freedom of expression,’ said Ronald Deibert, who runs Citizen Lab.
The detailed reports how the software works, in effect the software blocks Google searches for the LGBT-related keywords and non-pornographic websites by mischaracterizing them as sexually explicit.
Squirrel News has reached out to Netsweeper for comment but has not received a response.
Scientists are speaking out against a directive by the Trump administration that has shut down research into a cure for HIV.
A scientist who was supposed to supply mice that have been modified with human fetal tissue for an HIV study emailed researchers that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue.”
“This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV,” he wrote.
A “pause” on research that uses aborted fetal tissue, something Christian conservatives strongly oppose, was announced by the Trump administration this past September. The move will affect numerous biomedical research programs.
Congressional Republicans have tried to ban all fetal tissue research for years to appease the religious right. 85 Republican House members wrote a letter to the head of the FDA asking for a ban on fetal tissue research shortly before the “pause” was announced.
The ban has long been a goal of the anti-abortion industry and has been part of the most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood. The group was falsely accused of selling aborted fetuses earlier this year.
In a statement, the NIH said that there is only a “pause in place” on the research, which is “an action NIH thought was prudent given the examination of these procurements.”
“We were all poised to go and then the bombshell was dropped,” said Warner Greene, director of the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research. Greene was about to collaborate with the Montana lab on HIV research when the project came to a halt.
“The decision completely knocked our collaboration off the rails. We were devastated.”
The study would have relied on fetal tissue donated by women who have had legal abortions in order to produce “humanized mice,” mice that have human-like immune systems, according to Science. The mice have been used for years for research in infectious diseases, including HIV.
Mice are one of the few non-human animals that can be infected with HIV, which makes them key to testing HIV medication.
Researchers at the lab were going to test a promising antibody they developed to prevent HIV from developing reservoirs, which are cells infected with HIV but are not producing the virus. These cells aren’t affected by currently available HIV medication.
“You spend your life trying to do good experiments and organize your science carefully, and suddenly, at the whim of some politicians in Washington, D.C., they remove a critical piece of your scientific armamentarium,” Greene said.
On September 28, researcher Kim Hasenkrug, who was supposed to provide humanized mice for Greene’s study on the HIV antibody, sent an email to Greene explaining that HHS told them to stop using fetal tissue.
[HHS] has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue from ABR, the only source for us. I think that they are the only provider of fetal tissue for scientists in the nation who don’t have direct access to aborted fetal tissue. This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV.
“The mice were ready,” Greene said. “Just as we’d shipped antibody [to Montana], we were ready to go, and boom, the rug was pulled out from underneath us.”
It is unclear whether non-NIH labs that receive NIH funding will also be banned from using fetal tissue. If so, even more research will be affected.
“Everything I am doing involves humanized mice. It would shut my lab down if we were not able to use fetal tissues,” said Jerome Zack, who has used humanized mice for 25 years to study HIV at UCLA.
But Greene said that the NIH’s actions have already slowed down progress on a cure.
“If we were given the green light right now, it would probably take us a year to get back in the position we were in when the ban was put in place,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that would handle complaints from health care providers who did not want to take part in an abortion or treat transgender people.
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 10 December, 2018. LGBTQNation.com
Scott Chen president of Grindr, one of the world’s largest gay dating and hook-up app recently wrote on Facebook.
Chen in his post wrote: “Some people think the marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman. And I think so too. But that’s your own business. Some people think the purpose of the marriage is to have a child carries your DNA. But again, that’s your own business.”
He continued, “Marriage is personal. Why can’t you use your money to help the people suffer from poverty, hunger, war or disasters? Why would you want to spend your money on preventing people who love each other from getting married? There is nothing else more important in your life?”
“Yes. I won’t purchase any HTC product in my life,” he concluded, “and I won’t donate to any Christian organization based in Taiwan.”
Chen later elaborated on his views, reassuring everyone that he does support marriage equality:
The reason I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience. I am a straight man married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage. This is how I feel about my marriage. Different people have their different feelings about their marriages. You can’t deny my feelings about my marriage.
I took down this post because there were some heated discussions and my aunt was involved there. She was a really nice Taiwanese lady in her 60s and she is a very convinced Christian like my Dad. I love my aunt. I no longer want her to see the discussion this post so I changed the settings to Friend of Friends and excluded her.
I am a huge advocate for LGBTQ+ rights since I was young. I support gay marriage and I am proud that I can work for Grindr.
At the start of 2018, Grindr was acquired by the China-based tech firm Kunlun Group. Chen originally began as the company’s CTO before becoming president.
The New York Times reports Chen previously posted social media messages promoting LGBTQ rights in China and Taiwan.
This past Tuesday a postal worker in Columbus, Ohio called two gay men “faggots” and then threatened to stop delivering their mail. Michael Coward when to check on his mail as the USPS worker was delivering it. The encounter was partly recorded on one of the victims’ cell phone.
It appears his waiting annoyed the worker, who would have preferred she finished placing the mail in the boxes.
This is part of the exchange:
“I started arguing with her and she called me a faggot,” he said.
The argument escalated from there.
“And then she just kept going on and on and on about me and my fiance being white faggots,” Coward said.
“Yeah, not just faggots,” his fiance Michael Vaughn said. “White faggots.”
Coward took out his phone to record the encounter. While the postal worker doesn’t use the word “faggot” in the clip, she confirms that she said it multiple times.
“You’ve called me a faggot at least 10 times,” he told her in the video.
She replied, “I called you what you are.”
Coward and Vaughn said that she then took their names off their mailbox and said that they wouldn’t get mail again.
“You’re telling us that you’re not going to deliver our mail because we’re… ‘White faggots,'” Vaughn said. “I don’t think that’s how that works.”
On Tuesday evening, the USPS said in a statement that they were taking the incident seriously.
“The allegations made against a Postal Service employee are very concerning,” the statement said. “These actions – if true – are not consistent with and don’t represent the values of the Postal Service organization and will not be tolerated. You can be assured that this alleged incident is being fully investigated and that the Postal Service will take whatever action is appropriate.”
This Past Tuesday the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that all 20 member countries in Central and South America must legalize same-sex marriage (at best confer the legal rights associated with it).
The Court was established in 1979 by the Organization of American States, which are a comprised of several countries in Central and South America. It is the judicial enforcer as outlined in the American Convention on Human Rights, a document that outlines provisions for “personal liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.”. Currently the there are 20 countries which include: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
The court reached it decision when Costa Rica asked the court for its opinion on if property rights extended to same-sex couples. Seven Judges from the court said that member nations “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.” The ruling is legally binding to all member countries, in-affect legalizing same-sax marriage (or rights associated with it).
There was no language on how each country needed to go about legalizing marriage equality - and there doesn't appear to be a deadline for doing so - the court rebuffed evangelical and conservative political forces opposing LGBT rights in Central and South America.
The Court also ruled that Costa Rica must allow transgender people to change legally change their name and gender marker on government-issued identification documents. While this is clearly a monumental win for LGBT rights, several of the countries listed above have policies forbidding members of the LGBT community to donate blood, adopting children, joining the military or having access to housing, employment and public accommodations.
Recently HRC suspends Walmart's CEI score. The conclusion was that while Walmart might have a LGBT policy, it isn't enforced. Reports show that Walmart did little to nothing to protect LGBT employee's from discrimination. For awhile it was unclear why Walmart received such a high score on the CEI index. One theory is that Walmart like many companies only seek to attract LGBT dollar's and really don't care one way or the other about issues in the LGBT community.
It appears that HRC's reticence to modify its application or enforcement of polices says volumes about the power corporations have over the LGBT movement Recently HRC was asked to sign a letter demanding Nissan to take a neutral position on recent union elections at Nissan. HRC refused to sign the letter.
The Human Rights Campaign finally acknowledged the retail giant is not treating its employees — including LGBT employees — humanely. Jerame Davis says HRC should have made this point much sooner.
An article written by Jerame Davis and Michele Kessler they highlighted issues not only with HRC's CEI scoring but how corporation have a hold over HRC and other community leader. Just because they sponsor pride events, create floats doesn't mean that companies are treating or actively combating LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
Maybe until HRC can actually do something for the LGBTQ community instead of pandering to corporations we should suspend our donations.
Image purchased at istock.com and used for commercial use only.
On July 2017, I wrote and posted an article regarding Southern Decadence, Inc. "N.O. Southern Decadence, In., 501(c)(3) status: Is It a Fraud". The article focused on Southern Decadence, Inc. claim that they are a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Since then I have received several comments regarding the story. At first, I would not have responded to comments that either didn’t make sense or were just personal attacks on me, but attacks on my family and blog require me to respond to those who have a lot to say but never to my face.
I refuse to post any of the comments. I will not give someone a platform to vent their narrow-minded points-of-view, or opinion. While I value opinions from everyone, even when they differ from my own. I believe that it’s important to understand and listen to others as they express themselves, but I draw a line when those comments cross a line and become defamatory, question my honesty or integrity. Since 2015 when I wrote my first article I have tried to maintain professional standards and fairness in everything I write and post.
With that being said; I want to make it clear that I stand by my article. What do you tell someone who gets a letter from the I.R.S. explaining that the sponsorship donations they made in 2015 for $1,500 and 2016 for $1,500 are not allowed to be claimed as a donation on their tax returns because the organization is not a tax exempt 501(c)(3)? That they now must amend their taxes for two years, pay penalties/fines, and the expense to use a tax accountant? Their recourse was to submit the paperwork that they retained so that the I.R.S. could determine if any tax codes were violated, and let Southern Decadence, Inc. explain. So, who pays the tax bill, not to mention the $3,000 they gave in good faith?
Not only has Southern Decadence, Inc. left themselves open to possible civil and/or criminal claims, but they have eroded the trust in the LGBT community (then again maybe not). Any possible legal issues that Southern Decadence Inc. faces is of their own making..
It’s interesting that some people in the LGBT community deem or use the term fake news or just drama. While many might think the subject is not important, to some it is important. When did it become acceptable to lie, cheat or deceive a community to collect money? What was written is based in fact, and everything was sourced or confirmed. Contrary to what has been said, we did reach out to get a confirmation or give Southern Decadence, Inc. an opportunity to explain, or deny the article. Not one person has called, texted or stood in front of me and contradicted any portion of the article.
I welcome anyone to talk to me about the topic and convince me it was a mistake. As the owner/editor of an online blog, I’m 100% responsible for all the content published. I don’t make excuses for mistakes that I've made, nor will I ever redirect that responsibility. Regardless of the medium used (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube) it reflects Squirrel News.
I will not apologize, explain or defend the article. I believe it speaks for itself!
Southern Decadence is one of the largest LGBT events in New Orleans. Every Labor Day weekend thousands of visitors descend on the city to party and have a good time. The annual Southern Decadence parade is a much-anticipated event; which features the official Grand Marshals.
New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. is the entity that raises money for the parade and various charities in New Orleans. Locals in the LGBT community and businesses give thousands of dollars to support Southern Decadence, not to mention each Grand Marshal host several events to help raise money.
New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc., state that they are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization on their sponsorship application Which means they can raise money as a tax-exempt organization defined by the Internal Revenue Service tax codes. Having a 501(c)(3) tax-exemption allows money collected, to possibility be tax-deductible on personal and business federal tax returns. To decide if New Orleans Southern Decadence is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization research was conducted by looking under the Exempt Organizations Select Tool of the I.R.S. and no listing was found, therefore, I called the Internal Revenue Service and spoke with a Mr. Reece (100057****), a complete search was conducted using the name(s), addresses, cities, and zip code(s) as listed in the database of the Louisiana Secretary of State, at the time this article was posted the I.R.S. could not verify New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. had or currently is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, nor was an application submitted. As a matter of fact, according to Ambush Magazine in their Nov. 22 – Dec. 5, 2016 edition, New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. paid $15.00 to the Louisiana Secretary of State to file their annual report; however according to the state’s database they are not in good standing for failure to file an annual report. So, what did they file?
I find it strange that New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc., does not list anywhere on their website the EIN number that would have been given when their application was approved. When you give cash you never receive a receipt, which all 501(c)(3) organizations are required to give when requested. New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. has never posted or made available their annual reports. Unless you count the information they post in Ambush; which cannot be confirmed.
This raises concerns about the people overseeing the company. Do they know that they are cheating the public out of money? By stating a falsehood. According to a source at the United States Justice Department, “it’s considered fraud to state that you are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization if you do not have proper documentation of the fact”. The Justice Dept. takes all accusations of fraud seriously, and there is a possibility that state statutes might have been violated. All 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations must abide by certain rules; such as, when holding a fundraising event where money is raised, funds should go directly to the charity. New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. may deduct certain expenses directly related to the event, but nothing outside the described event. So, where does that leave the parade? Can money be raised under a 501(c)(3) and spent on a parade (including insurance, permits, police details, costumes, and sanitation/cleanup, etc.)? Does the parade directly benefit any charity?
So, what happens to Southern Decadence? An event founded on the principle of having fun and being decadent. Is Southern Decadence as we know it coming to an end? It is a shame in my opinion when a company deceives the public and local businesses by asking for money under a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status when in fact they are not and never were! I remember a saying that someone once told me, "never fool around with the I.R.S., sooner or later they will come knocking and wanting answers" when that day comes Southern Decadence might return to its original purpose. Until then we wait!
UPDATE: It appears that New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. has filed their annual report with the State of Louisiana. However, that doesn't mean they are compliant with the Federal tax codes regarding 501(c)(3). At the time of this posting (8/3/2017 3:15 AM CST) New Orleans Southern Decadence Inc. sponsorship form still, states their a 501(c)(3) corporation.
Ambush Magazine. 45th Southern Decadence Sets New Records: Over 216,000 Participants, Over $259 Million Economic Impact, Over $27,000 for Charity. Vol. 34. 22 November - 5 December, 2016. Article. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Department of the Treasury. Internal Revenue Service. Charitable Contributions - Substantiation & Disclosure Requirements. Publication 1771. Catalog No. 20054Q. Rev. March 2016. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Department of the Treasury. Internal Revenue Service. Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization. Publication 557. Catalog No. 46573C. Rev. January 2017. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Department of the Treasury. Internal Revenue Service. Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits. EO Select Check. Database. 28 July, 2017. Online
Louisiana Secretary of State. Commercial Division. Charter Number 4121365N. New Orleans Southern Decadence Inc. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Image: istockphoto.com Purchased for commercial use. 28 July, 2017.