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Michelangelo Signorile: Burger King's 'Proud Burger' Is A Tax Evasion Cover-Up

Proud

Writing on The Huffington Post, Michelangelo Signorile argues that companies, political donors and other entities are courting LGBT people in order to cover up criticism of unethical and questionable actions.

Signorile points out that corporate support for LGBT rights is easier for companies than it has been in the past and that many of these organizations need the support of LGBT people.

Arguing that Burger King’s recent actions hurt the economy and workers, he says that the Proud Whopper is an attempt to allow the company to remove attention from the fact that it is “fleeing to Canada, buying up Tim Hortons, following other American companies engaged in so-called tax inversions, all to avoid paying U.S. taxes."

SignorileSignorile continues that although Republican megadonor Paul Singer has given money to LGBT groups and GOP politicians who already support LGBT rights, the hedge fund billionaire is also giving millions to anti-gay candidates via right-wing groups and super PACs.

He goes on to points out that Democrats are as much to blame as Republicans, noting that although Governor Andrew Cuomo supported marriage equality in New York, his recent actions, including budget cuts, have diminished the rights of all workers, be they gay or straight.

Getting straight to the point, Signorile concludes:

“The fact that Burger King so publicly supports LGBT rights shouldn't matter. We should be past the point of being giddy over a nice wrapper. Corporations that dodge paying U.S. taxes while making billions from American consumers are wreaking havoc. We should all be sending a message to the fast-food giant that it is hurting America -- gay America, straight America, all of America.”


NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Seeks to End New York's AIDS Epidemic

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an ambitious plan to eradicate HIV in New York State by 2020 yesterday in a press release. Cuomo’s “Bending The Curve” initiative seeks to see a fall in new HIV infections to the point where the overall number of HIV infected individuals living in New York State is reduced for the first time. The Governor’s office is defining the end of the HIV epidemic as that point when “the total number of new HIV infections has fallen below the number of HIV-related deaths,” according to the press release.

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"Thirty years ago, New York was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis -- today I am proud to announce that we are in a position to be the first state in the nation committed to ending this epidemic,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York State has reached an important milestone in controlling the AIDS epidemic.”

“Bending The Curve” focuses on three points of action in order to reach its goal: Identifying undiagnosed HIV infected persons, ensuring access to antiretroviral treatment, and providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for high-risk, HIV negative populations.

Cuomo’s plan would also streamline the process through which HIV tests can be requested during medical checkups and allow data gathered by the health department to be shared with healthcare providers minimizing the number of patients that go without care.

In addition to providing the necessary medical support to curtail the epidemic, Bending The Curve also seeks to provide critical quality of life support, an often overlooked aspect of HIV treatment. With “[a] 30% cap of the proportion of an HIV patient’s income that can be spent on rent,” the plan aims at eliminating situations in which people are forced to choose between health care and having a place to live.

“The goal is ambitious, but grounded in reality,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of the Treatment Action Group, an AIDS research and policy think tank. “[New York State has seen] an almost 40 percent decrease in new HIV diagnoses in the last decade, with fewer new infections each year, while nationally there has been no decline in the annual number of new HIV infections.

The plan also represents a major financial investment for the State itself. In addition to a projected prevention of 3,400 new infections, New York would also stand to save some $317 million in health care costs.


New York Removes Surgical Requirement for Changing Gender on Birth Certificates

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office announced today that no longer would transgender people have to prove reassignment surgery to make a gender change on their birth certificate, Reuters reports:

CuomoUnder the policy, a transgender person will still need to provide a notarized affidavit from the doctor treating them for what the American Psychiatric Association calls gender dysphoria, previously known as gender identity disorder, in order to get their birth certificate modified.

But under the policy the doctor will no longer need to affirm that their patient has had surgery, only that they are receiving "appropriate treatment."

The Empire State Pride Agenda applauded the move:

“This is tremendous news for New York and especially for the transgender community, and a great step forward to ensuring many transgender New Yorkers no longer need to undergo a process they not wish to in order to receive an identity document that truly reflects who they are,“ said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer. “This is an issue we’ve been advocating for the past several years and are grateful for Governor Cuomo’s leadership and the Department of Health for moving us closer to equality and justice for all New Yorkers.”

“Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York is reclaiming its rightful place as the progressive capital of the nation and made significant progress to advance the rights of all New Yorkers, including members of the transgender community. Much work remains and this administration is committed to promoting laws and policies that are fair and just for all,” said Alphonso David, Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights for New York State.


NY To Refund Estate Taxes Paid By Same-Sex Couples Prior To DOMA Ruling

Andrew CuomoThose familiar to the case that gutted DOMA, Windsor v. United States, know that the suit was prompted by the over $300,000 in extra estate taxes that Edie Windsor was forced to pay as the result of her deceased spouse being a member of the same sex. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in Windsor's favor, the state of New York is offering refunds to anyone else who might have found themselves in her situation. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the refunds Tuesday, citing the Supreme Court decision to render DOMA unconstitutional. Said refunds apply to any same sex couple considered legally married in the state of New York who were forced to pay any extra estate taxes as the result of DOMA. At present, the state has not made any estimates of exactly how much tax money will need to be repaid. 

Upon the announcement, Cuomo expressed his personal support of the refunds:

"This financial compensation is one more step toward justice for Edie Windsor, and all of the men and women who confronted similar indifference at a time of deep personal loss."

According to the Daily Journal (via AP)...

"A refund must be claimed within three years of the tax return or two years after the tax was overpaid. More information is available through the state's Taxpayer Information Center at 518-457-5387."


NY Senate Passes Landmark Gun Control Bill as Obama Prepares to Take Action Federally: VIDEO

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The New York Senate has passed a landmark gun control bill that would ban assault weapons, the NYT reports:

The state Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, approved the legislative package just after 11 p.m. by a lopsided vote of 43 to 18. The Assembly, where Democrats who have been strongly supportive of gun control have an overwhelming majority, planned to vote on the measure Tuesday...

..The expanded ban on assault weapons would broaden the definition of such weapons, banning semiautomatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines and one military-style feature, as well as semiautomatic shotguns with one military-style feature. New Yorkers who already own such guns could keep them but would be required to register them with the state.

Also:

The legislative package, which Mr. Cuomo said he believed would be “the most comprehensive package in the nation,” would ban any gun magazine that can hold over 7 rounds of ammunition — the current limit is 10 rounds. It would also require background checks of ammunition buyers and automated alerts to law enforcement of high-volume purchases.

The legislation would increase penalties for multiple crimes committed with guns, would require background checks for most private gun sales, and create a statewide gun-registration database.

President Obama is expected to announce 19 separate executive actions he could take without the approval of Congress to limit access to guns and curtail gun violence, the NYT also reports, in a separate story:

Actions the president could take on his own are likely to include imposing new limits on guns imported from overseas, compelling federal agencies to improve sharing of mental health records and directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence, according to those briefed on the effort.

White House aides believe Mr. Obama can also ratchet up enforcement of existing laws, including tougher prosecution of people who lie on their background checks.

Watch Obama talk about possible executive orders on guns at his press conference yesterday, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NY Senate Passes Landmark Gun Control Bill as Obama Prepares to Take Action Federally: VIDEO" »


Former and Current NY Governors Blast Conservative Rabbi for Blaming Hurricane Sandy on Gay Marriage: AUDIO

Leter

Last week, Right Wing Watch reported on Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, who blamed Hurricane Sandy on gay marriage in an October 30 radio interview:

Leiter asserted that the “the Great Flood in the time of Noah was triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages,” adding that there are similar “messages in this particular storm for us.” “The Lord will not bring another flood to destroy the entire world but He could punish particular areas with a flood, and if we look at the same-gender marriage recognition movement that’s occurring, that certainly is a message for us to learn,” he said. “We have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do and if we don’t shape up He will deliver divine justice.” Leiter also suggested that God flooded Lower Manhattan because it is “one of the national centers of homosexuality.”

Former NY Governor George Pataki blasted the rabbi's remarks over the weekend:

Pataki called on fellow Republican Neil DiCarlo — who is running on the Conservative Party line for a state Senate seat from the Hudson Valley — to denounce the remarks of Rabbi Noson Leiter. DiCarlo opposes gay marriage, and the orthodox rabbi made the statements in support of his third-party candidacy.

“It’s simply incomprehensible that anyone could attribute the devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Sandy to divine retribution against the New York State legislature,” Pataki railed.

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo piled on:

"The comments made by Rabbi Noson Leiter that sought to link the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to our state's embrace of marriage equality are as offensive as they are ignorant. This catastrophic storm claimed the lives of more than forty New Yorkers. This kind of hateful rhetoric has no place in our public discourse, and is particularly distasteful in times of tragedy. Our state is proud to offer equal rights to all our citizens, and we will never tolerate the use of a tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to promote a divisive and bigoted agenda."

Listen to Leiter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Former and Current NY Governors Blast Conservative Rabbi for Blaming Hurricane Sandy on Gay Marriage: AUDIO" »


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