Here's a round-up of some additional Sochi-related items. More to come.
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And keep up on all our news on the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and the controversy over Russia's anti-gay laws by clicking HERE.
FOX News commentator Todd Starnes reacts to Obama's press conference statement on the Sochi Games: "Obama said he is looking forward to 'maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there.' It sounds like the president is suggesting a litmus test for membership on the U.S. Olympic team. The president also suggested that Olympic teams without gay or lesbian athletes are somehow weaker than heterosexual athletic teams. 'If Russia doesn’t have any gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker,' the president said during the nationally televised press conference. Why can’t President Obama support all of our Olympic athletes — regardless of who they choose to love, regardless of their sexual orientation?"
Buzzfeed looks at 76 countries where anti-gay laws are as bad as or worse than Russia's.
Seattle-based filmmaker Wes Hurley talks about growing up gay in Russia:
It's hard to pinpoint an exact day when I felt a shift in my consciousness - the realization that I did not want to spend the rest of my life in that country, in that culture. The closest to such event was a history lesson on the Holocaust. When my teacher brought up Nazi camps, students started to heckle her, saying things like, 'Hitler should have finished the job.' Before I knew it, the entire class was chanting, 'Kill kikes!' and pounding their fists on their desks. I stared at them, terrified. Adidas track suits, leather jackets, and gold crosses had replaced the Communist uniforms, but they still had the same glassy look in their eyes, the same frenzied anger, and the same impulse to be a monolithic, unquestioning lynch mob.
The teacher was kind of speechless and sort of amused. She was actually smiling. An innocent, coy kind of smile, as if someone had farted. 'You shouldn't be so harsh, just because they're all smart and have lots of money,' was her attempt at calming their anti-Semitism.
That day I came home and told my mom what happened. 'We have to get out of here,' she said, upset but not surprised.
CNN's LZ Granderson on the haunting lesson of the Nazi Olympics:
These new anti-gay laws are disturbingly similar to the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws Hitler passed before the 1936 Olympics. And with the Pew Institute finding 84% of Russians believe society should reject gay people, perhaps some saying they object to gays for fear of arrest, the world should question how far Russia intends to go.
We should question how far Russia, our lukewarm ally, intends to go and what our participation in the 2014 Olympic Games will look like generations from now.
An AP profile on Yelena Mizulina, Putin's morality crusader:
Yelena Mizulina, a member of parliament, has used her position as the head of the Committee on Family, Women and Children to author increasingly conservative laws, including a ban on homosexual "propaganda" that went into force last month.
Her pearls, bland blazers and matronly mien belie a fierce fighter who is ready to take her loudest critics to court. In turn, they have labeled her the "Inquisitor" and ridiculed her online. One recent blog posting shows her gritting her teeth with the speech bubble: "You will behave yourself while on My Internet."
The mayor also said she will be on an official visit to Russia this coming September.
Mrs Docherty stated:
Our cities have been twinned for 27 years. That includes a period of the Cold War. ... The way to influence policy is to remain within our partnership. It is not practical for cities, countries or states to dissolve long-standing and beneficial relationships because one party does not agree with another's stance on a particular issue. I have written to the Mayor of Rostov-on-Don and made my position clear on the country's anti-gay legislation. What message would breaking up our partnership give gay people in Russia? We would effectively be abandoning them. As Lord Provost and First Citizen of Glasgow my job is to promote Glasgow at home and abroad and, on occasion, raise human rights issues. It is not a grown up position to simply opt out of these arrangements. Exerting influence from within is the way forward. That is the right thing to do.
the backdrop of increasing pressure from angry LGBT and human rights
activists around the world to move or boycott the Winter Olympics in
Sochi, Russia, over that country’s harsh “gay propaganda” law, the two
newly elected gay members of the Los Angeles City Council introduced a
resolution Friday calling on the federal government to aggressively
expand America’s asylum programs to help persecuted LGBT people in
This resolution supplants the previous resolution offered last February by then-Councilmember Bill Rosendahl to sever or suspend L.A.’s 'sister city' ties with homophobic St. Petersburg, where the anti-gay law originated.
Gay Activists to March on McDonald's Headquarters, Demand it Dump Sponsorship of Sochi Winter Olympics
A Chicago-area activist group is planning to march on the McDonald's corporation headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois on August 17 at 11 am:
The group is calling on McDonald's to cease their support of the Games to take a stand against Russia's harsh new anti-LGBT laws. In a deal that lasts through 2020, McDonald's pays about $100 million to be sole retail food sponsor for each pair of Olympics in a four-year period.
The protest will "tell McDonald's Corp. to stop sponsoring the homophobic Sochi Winter Olympics. Russia has implemented laws to arrest and deport anyone who is or they suspect is gay," according to StonewallAgain's Facebook page.
The organization's founder, Mike Lackovich, said that he had become dismayed with the situation in Russia and tried in vain to get contact with McDonald's, which has so far remained silent on the matter.
This week McDonald's was targeted with a parody ad which featured a gay teen being brutalized by a gang of Russian thugs. The clip has been removed from YouTube.
The Producers is Mel Brooks' musical comedy in which two Broadway con-men stage a deliberately offensive and awful musical called Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden. The comedy is rife with jokes about Nazis, gay characters and a sexpot secretary whose unwitting hotness drives the titular producers wild.
According to Scott, Calvary Community Church pastor Dr. Carl Godwin fired him because he "felt [Scott's] participation (in the musical) would have a negative reflection" on both the church and the school.
Scott told The Journal Star:
“I never imagined that my passion for acting and participating in community theater would lead to me losing my job. I truly believe that I did nothing wrong and my involvement in theater should in no way interfere with the career I love.”
Previous to his firing, Scott had been an educator for over 22 years with several years as a middle and high school principal.
Michelangelo Signorile reports that Olympic sponsors and the IOC could have stopped Russia's anti-gay law - and didn't:
Rights Watch (HRW) notes that before Sochi was chosen for the 2014
games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other stakeholders,
including American multinational sponsors of the Winter Olympics, as
well as NBC Universal, which has the broadcast contract, carefully
tracked the path of the legislation, which is a clear violation of the
"This piece of legislation worked its way up through the legislative system," Minky Worden, HRW's Director of Global Initiatives, told me in an interview (listen to the full interview below). "The International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, the so-called top corporate sponsors -- Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble -- these companies all, as [HRW] did, tracked the progress of this law."
"And because it is so clearly in complete violation of the Olympic Charter," she continued, "it's also clear to us at Human Rights Watch that if any of the major Olympic stakeholders who have a hotline to the Kremlin -- because the Olympics are very important to Putin personally, he has a deputy prime minister, [Dmitry] Kozak, who is tasked with making them come off perfectly -- that if any of the Olympic stakeholders, the sponsors who are literally paying for the Games, or the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Committee or the other Olympic committees, if they weighed in on this, I don't think this law would have been signed by Putin or passed by the Duma. If they had leaned on [Russia] before the law was signed, it would not have been signed. That is absolutely true."
Listen to Signorile's interview with Worden, AFTER THE JUMP...
NBC is trying to reassure its gay employees about Olympic coverage and their safety, the AP reports:
network said in a memo that it finds Russia's law and the prejudices it
represents to be "deeply troubling and diametrically opposed to
everything that the Olympics symbolize.'' The note by Craig Robinson,
NBC Universal's executive vice president and chief diversity officer,
was sent Thursday to all company employees who have identified
themselves as gay or lesbian.
...Robinson wrote in his memo that "your security is paramount and we will do everything possible to protect the rights, safety and well-being of our employees.''
..."The spirit of the Olympic Games is about unifying people and countries through the celebration of sport and it is our very strong hope that spirit prevails,'' Robinson wrote. "Until then, we have and will continue to cover these human rights violations on our broadcast and cable news networks as the story continues to evolve.''
Meanwhile, Media Matters reports that NBC News has been virtually ignoring the controversy:
NBC News Has Made Almost No Mention Of Controversy Over Russia's Anti-Gay Law. According to a Media Matters analysis of NBC News' coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics, NBC News mentioned the controversy surrounding Russia's anti-gay law only once between June 10 - when the law passed - and August 5, despite devoting several segments to the upcoming event:
Matters searched news transcripts provided by Nexis and our internal
archives for the words "Russia," "gay," "Sochi," and "Olympic!" between
June 10 and August 5. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were
excluded. NBC News programs include Today, NBC Nightly News, and Meet
the Press with David Gregory.
Segments were considered Olympic coverage if they focused on some aspect of the Olympic Games, including former and future Winter Olympians.