Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A July Snap in a Circle

As heatwave 2012 takes a breather until it huffs and puffs next time, COP 24/7 wipes it brow and keeps on coming with it. It's none stop news, updates, links and opinions which has fueled this platform as we kick it through our sixth year of being the premiere news portal for the LGBTQ community and beyond. If you were thinking about it, then this forum didn't mind talking about it and more. We've never been shy about bringing any topics to the table or taking a controversial stand on matters of concern. Its COP 24/7, doing what we do best, bringing you our special brand of what's hot, who's not and otherwise. Now let's work shall we...

Decision 2012: The Vote in ON

I certainly hope that many of you have at least listened to some of the back and forth about this year's election barn burner coming this November. The noise level is only going to increase and if you're not ready, then get ready because it's on now. Presidential incumbent Obama is preparing to go to the mat with GOP choice Mitt Romney as the two have had dueling ground assaults in Midwest battle ground states. It appears to me that Romney simply has very little substance to his arguments as to the state of the economy. We've heard it all it before and it doesn't wash and actually never has. All of this "trickle down" bullshit is a faulty premise that those supposedly "job creators" need to continue to have those Bush era tax breaks to keep developing jobs for Americans. I find that extremely skeptical especially after Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated today that "Mitt Romney shouldn't be criticized for using off-shore tax havens because "it's really American to avoid paying taxes, legally."  Wow, what a concept. And obviously all of this off shore money changing must be right since we continue to discover that Mr. Romney and so many more like him are doing anything and everything to pay only the bare minimum on what you think I may actually claim to have. And just think I did everything I could to use those tax deductions for energy efficient storm doors or squeeze out any of that mortgage interest. What can we say, most of us don't have a battery of attorney's or accountants to hammer out every possible of our monstrous tax code. Alright Mitt, you win, you were the smart guy who leveraged your family wealth and parlayed it into more cash to set up those nifty trust funds for your kids while out posting the rest in Swiss miss bank accounts and blind trust that you claim you don't know anything about. Hey, why should Mr. & Miss Main Street be mad about it, isn't it the American way? Only one question, who's America are we talking about? If you're not registered to vote, may I suggest that you do. Then, vote like your life depends on it, because it just might!

International AIDS Conference: The MIA List

With just about two weeks or so to the International AIDS Conference being held in Washington D.C. after a 20 year absence from U.S. soil, I'm not surprised at the level of verbiage and talking heads that have called fouls on numerous levels. Despite all the dissent, Arkansas will have a contingent of representatives attending and I hope to get first hand info from them either while their or upon their return. There has been some talk that The Living Affected will consider being a local media hub for online streaming or replays of important speeches. As that info is developed, as usual it will be announced here or on their own site at www.livingaffected.blogspot.com  With all that said, it was back a few months when The Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex With Men and HIV (MSMGF)  brought to light a phenomenon that was already common knowledge: the high rejection rate of abstracts on issues and programmes aimed at gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) for the International AIDS Conference.

Subsequently the MSMGF released a statement that “As in previous years, a considerable number of high quality abstracts on MSM and transgender people have been rejected by the conference. Of the few authors whose work has been accepted, a far lower number have received grants to be able to present them […] In recent years there has been great progress in programs and research into these populations and a negligible part of this work will be included in the conference programme.” In other words, some segments believe that their concerns are being omitted due to shifts on weigh in with those pesky scientific diffusion of evidence thingies that although certainly important but not always really what works. To answer that issue the Forum on MSM and HIV has consequently decided to bring together these abstracts in one publication which will be submitted prior to the Washington conference. This forum has not seen that compilation as yet, but when we track it down we will post links to give your further insights on this "inclusion/ omission" issue.

Just as that was simmering in this hot pot of advocacy, then comes advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and other groups expressing surprise and dismay that the White House has given no indication whatsoever if President Obama will address the conference, which is being attended by over 25,000 leading AIDS scientists, researchers, medical providers, patients and advocates from around the world. By historic precedent, heads of state and leaders of host countries formally address conference attendees during the opening night ceremony of the conference, which takes place this year at the Walter E. Washington
 Convention Center in Washington, DC. “It is telling, unfortunately, that at this late a date, President Obama, as head of state for the U.S., has not committed to appear and is found nowhere among the speakers listed for any event at the upcoming International AIDS Conference in Washington, which takes place at the Convention Center, barely a mile from his home at the White House,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides free HIV/AIDS medical care to over 166,000 people in the U.S. and 25 other countries abroad.

 All of this comes as budget cuts of  the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the lack of  funds to immediately end waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP), the network of programs that provide AIDS drugs to low-income Americans living with HIV/AIDS have been used as alleged evidence according to Weinstein's criticism that  "confirms what people with HIV/AIDS and their advocates have long suspected—that the President is not seriously committed to fighting AIDS."

Wow, President Obama just can't catch a break anywhere from almost no one despite he is first American President of offer any formalize strategy on the issue of HIV and AIDS, not to mention that he issued an executive screed that the full weigh of the U.S. government be utilized in addressing this health crisis. I guess it's never enough, no matter how much you do. There's always something that just doesn't get enough attention. Maybe some of this can be attacked in a second term. One more time, vote like you life depends on it. It seems that it really might after all. For more info about the event check out www.AIDS2012.org or more about local efforts at www.LAcorponline.org  

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