Coldplay dropped an ethereal new track for the upcoming Hunger Games film Catching Fire today.
Check out the lyric video, AFTER THE JUMP...
You may recall last month's backlash facing middle Tennessee's Rutherford County Board of Education and its decision to remove all of GLSEN's 'Safe Space' posters from classrooms on the grounds that the poster's content was too 'political' and 'sexual' because it contained the words 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.'
With both the state and national American Civil Liberties Union having spoken out against the homophobic policy, the school board held a meeting Wednesday night to gage public opinion on the issue and discuss a potential review of the policy. The Daily News Journal reports board members told the standing-room-only crowd at the meeting that they will study the district's anti-bullying policy but took no further action.
"We have a desire to protect the interests of all students in our school system," said Don Odom (pictured), director of Rutherford County Schools. "Our staff attorney, Jeff Reed, will look at the policy to see if there are changes to be made in order to make (the policies) more inclusive."
The teacher from whose classroom the poster was removed, Allen Nichols, spoke at the meeting and said that the issue here is more than just anti-bullying resources for students. At stake are the free speech rights of students, a notion that senior Bethany Howard appreciated was being kept in mind.
"It means so much to me that Mr. Nichols has taken a stand for student speech," Howard said. "This is a very charged issue, and it's not often that someone takes a stand like he has. And I've never heard him talk about his personal beliefs on politics, religion or any social issues."
Others at the meeting, however, spoke out against Nichols and the poster. Penny Johnson, director for Parents for Truth in Education, said she thought the posters unfairly privileged one group of students over others.
"We have to treat all children from all aspects equally and fairly," said Johnson. "By putting a special poster up for specific group in that area, you're giving them special treatment regarding bullying."
Considering LGBT teens are disproportionately targeted for bullying in schools, I wouldn't exactly consider the poster "special treatment." 88% of LGBT students in Tennessee have been verbally harassed and 43% have been physically harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN's "2011 Tennessee State Snapshot"
President Obama met with Igor Kochetkov (above, being detained for 'gay propaganda' in April 2012), Director of the Russian LGBT Network and Olga Lenkova (below), a spokesperson for the St. Petersburg LGBT organization Coming Out for a little more than an hour Friday evening at the Crown Plaza near the St. Petersburg airport with UN ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul, and seven other Russian civil society activists, according to a pool report.
Said Obama to the activists: "I got my start as a community organizer, somebody who was working in what would be called an NGO in the international community. I got elected president by engaging people at a grass roots level."
Obama also said, referring to the activists: "I'm very proud of their work... Part of good government is making sure we're creating a space for civil society."
No further details on the content of the meeting have been provided.
Other activists who met with Obama were Pavel Chikov Chairperson of the Agora Association (Kazan); Yana Yakovleva, Founder, Business Solidarity; Yelena Milashina, Investigative journalist, Novaya Gazeta; Yevgenia Chirikova, Director, Movement to Defend Khimki Forest; Ivan Pavlov, Head, Institute for the Freedom of Information; Boris Pustyntsev, Head, Citizens Watch; and Dmitry Makarov, Member of the Coordinating Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement
UPDATE: Obama's remarks at the roundtable, as provided by the White House.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I just want to say thank you to all the participants in this roundtable. This is an incredible and very diverse group of civil society leaders. And this is something that I really enjoy doing at every country that I visit because it is my firm belief that a country's strength ultimately comes from its people and that as important as government is -- and laws -- what makes a country democratic and effective in delivering prosperity and security and hope to people is when they've got an active, thriving civil society. And all of these leaders, ranging from business leaders to youth leaders to environmental leaders, those who are advocating on behalf of a free press, the rule of law, all of them contribute in one way or another to continuing to strengthen Russian society and helping to make progress on behalf of all people.
And the same is true in the United States. I'm now in government, but I got my start as a community organizer, somebody who was working in what would be called an NGO in the international community. And the work I was doing was helping poor communities have a voice in what was happening in their lives. And I got elected as President by engaging people at a grassroots level.
So the kinds of activities that are represented here are critically important to Russia's development, and I'm very proud of their work. And I think it is important for us to remember that in every country -- here in Russia, in the United States, around the globe -- that part of good government is making sure that we're creating a space for civil society to function effectively: freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, making sure that people can join together and make common cause around the issues that they care deeply about.
So I appreciate you taking the time. I'm not going to do all the talking here. I want to spend most of my time listening. But I want to thank you again and I hope all of you continue the good work.
It's New York Fashion Week, and Racked goes inside a casting for swimsuit designers Parke + Ronen.
Can you walk effortlessly in the bikini briefs this model is wearing? "You're good."
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said yesterday that the organization has no power of Russia when it comes to the anti-gay laws, the WaPo reports:
“We have received some oral and written assurances about the fact the Russian Federation will respect the Olympic charter and no negative effect will occur for people attending in or participating in the Games,” Rogge said. “But one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state, and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”
Pressed on whether the IOC did not have “moral authority” to adopt a stronger stance, Rogge insisted the IOC could not, and should not, intervene.
“We have clearly on various occasions expressed our view on situations in countries,” Rogge said. “But we are restricted in our power and our action by the fact that we are the guest of a sovereign country where we hold the Games.”
Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Isinbayeva spoke in defense of Russia's law against gay "propaganda" after winning the title at last month's world championships in Moscow.
Isinbayeva condemned homosexuality, saying Russians have "normal" heterosexual relations, and criticized two Swedish athletes who painted their fingernails in rainbow colors in support of gay rights. The next day, Isinbayeva said her comments in English may have been misunderstood and that she is against any discrimination.
Her initial comments appeared to go against the IOC ideals and the promotional role she has held since 2010 as an ambassador for the Youth Olympics. Isinbayeva is also the "mayor" of one of two Olympic villages in Sochi, an honorary but symbolic and visible role.
Said Rogge: "This is something we will consider in due time."