Thursday, January 31, 2013

January End Roll OUT

Arkansas Abortion Bill Banning Most Procedures Passes State Senate
By ANDREW DeMILLO and MICHAEL STRATFORD
 

(Editors Note: Material sourced from the Huffington Post online edition.)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Arkansas Senate voted Thursday to prohibit most abortions if a heartbeat is detected, ignoring warnings from opponents that banning the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy would invite lawsuits.
If enacted, the ban would be the most stringent in the nation. The Ohio House passed a similar ban in 2011, but it was sidelined in the Senate last year over concerns that it might be found unconstitutional. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters Thursday that's the same concern that he's researching.

"I'm waiting on lawyers. I think that's the big concern right now – does it run afoul of the Supreme Court or constitutional restrictions?" Beebe said. "That's the first thing we're looking at."
The Senate approved the new ban the same day that a House committee advanced two other abortion restrictions, part of a package of legislation anti-abortion groups believe are poised to become law now that Republicans control the state General Assembly.

The Senate approved the proposed "Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act" by a 26-8 vote. The measure, which now heads to a House committee, requires a test to detect a fetal heartbeat before an abortion is performed. If one is detected, a woman could not have an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and if a mother's life is in danger.

Similar legislation is also being considered in North Dakota and Mississippi. All have faced complaints from abortion rights groups that it runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
"I'm asking you to stand up for life, and I believe when there is a heartbeat, based upon even the standard the Supreme Court has utilized, you cannot have a viable child without a heartbeat," Sen. Jason Rapert, the bill's sponsor, told lawmakers before they approved the legislation.

Five Democrats joined all 21 of the Senate's Republicans to vote for the restriction. Two Democratic lawmakers who spoke out against the bill said they believed it would be an invasion of women's rights to make decisions about their own health if the state enacted the ban.
"I don't want to go back to when women used kerosene and clothes hangers because they didn't have a choice," Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, told lawmakers.
A day earlier, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told a Senate panel that the group would sue the state if it enacted the new restriction. Opponents have also noted that the only way to detect a fetal heartbeat at six weeks is by using a vaginal probe.

"Can you imagine what kind of feeling that would cause when inserted into a woman?" Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, asked Rapert on the Senate floor. Flowers voted against the bill.
"No," Rapert, R-Conway, replied.

The bill could go before the House Public Health Committee as early as next week, but its fate is uncertain. Democrats control 11 of the 20 seats on the panel, and Republicans only hold a 51 seat majority in the 100-member House.
Though the Legislature has considered abortion restrictions in recent years, most proposals haven't made it to the governor's desk under Democrat majorities. Beebe, however, has backed some abortion restrictions. He signed into law a proposal two years ago placing new regulations on the clinics that offer the abortion pill and in 2009 he signed legislation that mirrors a federal law banning late-term abortions.

Abortion rights advocates criticized the Senate for passing the legislation.
"This bill not only jeopardizes the health of all women who become pregnant in Arkansas, it's also unconstitutional," said Murry Newbern, lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. "It creates an undue burden for a woman seeking safe abortion and contradicts Roe v. Wade. "
The two other abortion restrictions that passed the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee earlier Thursday including legislation that would ban most abortions starting at the twentieth week of a woman's pregnancy based on the disputed notion that a fetus is capable of feeling pain at that point. The measure provides for some exceptions involving the health of the mother but it does not exempt rape or incest.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, said that passing the legislation was a moral obligation. Mayberry's wife, Julie, testified about her experience carrying to term a child with a disability.

Lawmakers on the House committee also approved legislation, without any discussion, that would prohibit most abortion coverage offered by Arkansas insurers under part of the federal health care overhaul. That measure does include rape and incest exceptions. It was approved by a voice vote with some dissent.

Abortion opponents hailed the votes Thursday as their biggest gains in years in Arkansas.
"I think a lot of people are beginning to understand that the people of Arkansas by and large are pro-life and you're seeing that reflected in how people vote here," said Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council.

Oregon First to Cover Trans Youth Under Medicaid

The new policy will take effect October 1, 2014.

BY Sunnivie Brydum               

Beginning October 1, 2014, Oregon will become the first state in the nation to offer medically necessary transition-related care to transgender youth covered under Medicaid.
On January 11, Portland-based TransActive Education & Advocacy announced that the Oregon Health Plan and its Healthy Kids Program will cover transition-related care for young people experiencing gender dysphoria, reports PQ Monthly.
 
According to PQ, services covered by the new health care plan will include not only mental health counseling and pediatric evaluation, but also medication, procedures, and follow-up care related to the suppression of puberty, which advocates say can often help trans youth avoid traumatic pubescent experiences that arise from a body that develops in conflict to the youth's gender identity. (Pictured above: TransActive Executive Director Jenn Burleton)
 
"Pubertal suppression provides transgender adolescents the option of avoiding unwanted, irreversible, and deeply distressing changes that come with birth-sex pubertal development," said TransActive executive director Jenn Burleton in a statement. "Far too often trans adolescents experience increased suicidal ideation as a result of these changes and the indifference of others about the impact these changes have on trans youth."
 
Burleton noted that while such treatments are effective, they can also be prohibitively expensive. Out-of-pocket costs can reach $1,000 a month, putting the lifesaving treatment out of reach of many Oregon families, reports PQ.
 
The new policy requires a comprehensive mental health evaluation and recommends ongoing psychological care for the gender-variant youth.
 
Read more about this first-of-its kind policy here.
 

LGBT Travel Market Biggest Ever, New Report Says

LGBT travelers remain a growing and lucrative market despite tough economic times, a new report says.

BY Trudy Ring



LGBT consumers continue to make travel a priority.
LGBT travelers are a more valuable market than ever, says a new report from marketing firm Out Now Global.

The report, released Wednesday at the World Travel Market, an industry event in London, puts the potential value of the LGBT leisure travel market at a record $181 billion for 2013, up from $165 billion this year.

The United States is the biggest single-country market, at $52.3 billion, but the total value of the eight biggest markets in Europe surpasses the U.S. at $58.3 billion.
Out Now Global CEO Ian Johnson said LGBT people make travel a priority despite the economic crunch many face. “Many LGBT people have grown up experiencing things a bit tougher than most, so a difficult economy, and working to keep things moving in tough times, including our travel plans, is part of the modus operandi for many of us,” he said.

“Like many people, LGBT consumers are finding the cost of living tough and some are working two or more jobs to keep things together, but with dramatically fewer households with children, travel remains a viable option for more LGBT travelers and one that is still within their household budget.”
For more findings from the “Out Now Business Class Global LGBT Travel Report,” click here.

 
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Expanding the Rainbow, Part 2

COP 24/7  Special
Race, Gender and Identity in the 21st Century

This is our part two of delving into the issues around the topics of race and gender. Last Sunday, CNN journalist and anchor Soledad O'Brien "Who's Black in America" series continued to peel back the veil of race and its overwhelming impact on those who are forced to "identify" in the words of some participants, "just what are you?"  I have found the series to be eye opening and often searing as it "takes you their" to think about your lived experiences and their aftermath.

Race has always intersected at numerous points throughout my personal journey, ultimately demanding me to assert my own definition of "who I am" and "what I am not." In this posting, we continue to look at this dilemma through a interesting  and robust discussion from the Facing Race 2012 conference produced by the Applied Research Center.

Although this piece is lengthy at 70 minutes, its worth the watch and learn moment needed to give you better insight as to how race, gender and identity needs a closer look. I hope that you enjoy it and thanks to the Colorlines archives on YouTube for allowing COP 24/7 to share it with you. If you've got comments, opinions or observations, feel free to hit us up!





 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Expanding the Rainbow, Part One

COP 24/7 Special
Gender, Race and Identity in the21st Century

The issues of gender, race and identity are vital challenges that COP 24/7 has been overtly concerned about and determining to explore. It is our goal to stimulate conversations and discussion on the impact that these elements have across the LGBTQ spectrum ranging from the coming out process to the lack of information in Arkansas concerning transgendered women of color. This post features content from one of favorite sources, COLORLINES, which prides itself as a social justice website which stays topical and on point. I am proud to repost an item spotlighting Jane Mock, a transgendered women of color who has burst on the scene to share her story and advocate to human rights of transgendered people.

Janet Mock on the Freedom of Telling Her Own Story
by J.Hing

Before she came out in the pages of Marie Claire last year, Janet Mock knew a thing or two about media and storytelling for mass consumption. The 29-year-old transgender woman and daughter of a Native-Hawaiian and African-American parents had been an editor for celebrity powerhouse People.com for years. But even she was taken aback by the warm embrace she received after telling her story, and the cross-sections of the Internet who came out to call her one of their own.
It hasn’t all been a warm-and-fuzzy journey though. Mock, who’s at work on a memoir due out next fall, has had some time now to experience the LGBT movement up close. She’ll be discussing gender and media at a plenary session during Facing Race 2012 in November, but we got a head start when I checked in with her this month.

How did that Marie Claire piece come about? How do you see that piece fitting into the larger cultural conversation on trans folks?

It’s funny because trans stories have been told since, what, Christine Jorgensen stepped off the plane from Europe and had her sex reassignment surgery. Trans issues have been a fascination forever. My thing was to add some color to it. [Laughs.] Because I feel that now, under the transgender umbrella the most famous trans person of color is RuPaul, and he identifies as a gay man who performs the art of drag. And so I feel like for me, what was important was to a) tell my story honestly and then to b) to have a woman of color in Marie Claire magazine in a positive light.
Before this all I saw and continue to see is that transwomen of color are being killed, which is an urgent issue. But at the same time I also feel that if we only talk about death, then all young women growing up are going to feel the only thing they have to look up to is to die. That’s a guarantee for us all, but it’s an urgent matter that chips away at our soul as a community, that all of our women are dying in their 20s. No one makes it past 35. As a 29-year-old I thought, well I have six years left. And so I never had someone I could look up to before coming out. As a transwoman I never had that. That wasn’t necessarily my goal but I knew how important having an image of someone who looked like me and went through the same kinds of struggles and journeys as me would have been, it would have meant so much more to my growing up. I can imagine if I could have seen a woman working, living her life.

There was something urgent about that fall of 2010, the political landscape of kids killing themselves. I think kids have been killing themselves for a long time. But there was some media at the time, where it was like, “Ooh let’s start paying attention to this.” Tyler Clementi jumping off the George Washington Bridge was something we could not ignore. He made the cover of People magazine and I just thought all of the kids, all the transwomen of color who are getting killed, who will never make it to the cover of People. So many things were going on. I felt so much for Tyler’s family, and for young LGBT kids. And I thought of young transwomen, and the women I grew up with and the things they had to do in order to transition, and that’s when I said, “Okay Kierna, let’s do this.” Because I worked for another magazine, I couldn’t write it but Kierna [Mayo] did. That was kind of a loophole. It’s no coincidence that it was a woman of color who ghostwrote the piece—Kierna created Honey magazine.

And what it did in terms of telling these stories, in terms of going away from the “born a man” narrative to born a boy. (Well, I was raised a boy.) No one is born a man; you’re born a baby. So it got the media out of that whole lazy narrative of “She was once a man!” “Born a boy” softened it and was closer to my truth.

You wrote a really thoughtful blog post recently about these sorts of turns of phrases and lines that become so embedded in the narrative around transgender issues. Can you say more about the limitations of those phrases, and the way they shape the conversation?

At the time when I told my story it was very personal and I’m always very clear that it’s my story. I have the microphone and most people don’t have the microphone so what I say will be taken as fact for all trans people, when it shouldn’t be taken that way at all. What seems normal to me in my life, even though I was raised a boy, whereas some transwomen reject that, and for them, the born a boy thing was offensive. So I always say: “I was born a boy.”

The piece you’re referring to was “trapped in the wrong body,” and these one-liners that are used so often, I even adopted to it. Hearing it so much, [English model] Tula Cassey was “a woman trapped in a man’s body” and it’s like, “Oh okay, I guess that’s how I’d describe my identity and struggles.” And then after a while, I’d notice that they’d always use that. What if someone doesn’t feel trapped but there are parts of their body they’re not okay with and they want to change? I think it was Hoda Kotb on “20/20” talking to a 6-year-old. [Kotb] asked, “Did you feel trapped in your body?” I thought it was so bizarre, instead of letting this child who probably understands her gender identity more than any adult, [Kotb]’s telling this to this child and she would probably say, “Yeah, I did feel trapped in the wrong body.”

Something felt weird to me, and that’s why I wanted to write it, because I felt like it came from a place of cisnormativity, where, well, you must have felt trapped in your body if you’re changing your body. Whereas I think that a lot of trans people—and that’s where it goes to the fairy tale of the bottom surgery of sex reassignment as the end goal of everything, and that’s what my piece was too because for me, that was the biggest part of my transition, was having bottom surgery—that’s not their issue. Just simply transitioning, period, is enough for them. And I don’t think the media gives enough nuance to that.

Can you say more about narratives that seek to humanize trans folks but end up flattening the story or raising problems of their own? What’s the solution here?
I think it’s diversity in the newsroom. I think it’s people who understand and know trans people and their stories and having trans people within [the newsroom]. This generation, when I speak to colleges and young people, they understand trans issues. All these queer kids who go to queer resource centers. But also LGBT people who I work with at red carpet events, younger people understand it more.

When I told my story I was coming at it as a media insider, so I understood how to communicate it so my story was told in the way that reflected me. But at the same time it still went to old tropes, it still got caught up in that because [the magazine] … had done trans stories before and that was how it was for the last one so that’s how it must be for you as well. So it’s also about having the inner confidence as a media subject to say: No, that’s not how you should tell it.

The first thing would be to further diversify newsrooms for people who have the pen. But I think it helps that there are all these transmen and transwomen creating their own blogs, and those continue to get picked up by people in the media. So it’s less of we’re going to throw this narrative onto you and more of, we’ll let you write your own narrative.

What kind of response to your Marie Claire piece were you bracing yourself for?

You know what’s so funny? I don’t think I calculated it as much but the response that was bigger to me was the women of color, period, who were so shocked to see someone like me in a mainstream magazine. I always that that it’d be this huge LGBT story, but that it would still be very niche. But it hit the Marie Claire audience. There are women of color who read this because it’s one of the few magazines that has international and women’s issues folded into it beyond the beauty and fashion. That shocked me, the way women of color clung to it.

My story was debated on Clutch magazine online, that then challenged what they thought of as womanhood. I thought it’d be kids who were bullied or a different reason people came to it. But I heard a lot of: She’s our sister too. And I felt this love and acceptance that, even me growing up the way that I did I always heard the trope of you’re never going to be the real thing, a real girl. That’s not who you are. So there’s a little bit of insecurity even though I’m nearly 30 now, but I felt that sense of validation and affirmation in the wider community of women and women of color embracing me.

Are there ways in which your political consciousness has expanded since your big public splash?

I think I learned more about what inclusion and diversity mean. When I saw the LGBT community from the outside I thought they were this big movement going together. I realized as I looked deeper and became embedded within the politics of it all, that it’s not so much of a community as it is a set of coalitions trying to work together. I think the bigger movement of it is still focused on the big talking points of marriage equality, and they added on bullying and helping LGBT youth. But there are so many other issues, like what LGBT youth of color and queer women of color deal with, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, murders, that are not being addressed at a wider scale by the movement. Even a story like Cece McDonald’s [a young black transwoman serving a 41-month prison sentence in a male prison after she accepted a plea bargain when she was charged with killing a white man who attacked her and her friends], didn’t go mainstream at all. Despite all of the anger and frustration within the community to fight for her and how to place her in all of these things. The wider movement didn’t really talk about it at all.
Whereas there’s someone like Jenna Talackova, [a Miss Universe Canada contestant who was booted from the contest after officials found out that she is transgender] who meets the beauty standards of America. She’s a beauty queen, and there’s a sex element to it, and she went on 20/20. She had a sit-down with Barbara Walters, which no one usually gets to do, and had a full on interview where she basically only talked about her body. Barbara Walters asked her: How does she have sex? When did she have her surgery? So it went straight to the old tropes instead of all the other things that are going on.
The biggest thing we’ve had in a long time was Chaz Bono or Jenna Talackova in the last two or three years. Anything involving transwomen of color gets pushed aside. But we’ll see next year with the release of my book!

And I’m guessing that’s what you’ve been up to this year?
The book will be out this time next year for a fall 2013 release. I’ve been working on it for about three years. I’m so happy that I told my story first, got to go back and learn more about the issues, be out and be active in the community before sending my story out into the world because I have a better idea of how issues in my own personal life are read in a political light. It’s a memoir, so all of it’s about me. It’s deeply personal. But I look at those experiences with a completely different lens today than if I wrote it two years ago. It’s been helpful for me to value my experience too. As a woman, period, as a woman of color and as a transwoman of color, all these layers of who I am, I didn’t value what my experience on these issues was.

My boyfriend always says, “You don’t have to do this, you get to do this.” And it’s true. I get to do this. I get to have the microphone and set the record straight on what my life has been so far.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Monday Swirl and Then some

Its the last week of the first month in the first quarter of 2013. Yeah that's right, we off and running and so is COP 24/7.  We are the blog that just won't be stopped with our take no prisoners approach as well as our keeping it funky fresh in the house. Therefore, if its happening, going on or busting loose, we're somewhere checking it out. It's all about bringing you more of what you should be looking for in 2013!  Come and get it!


Pride in the City 2013

If you recall, earlier this month there was "shout out" to locals about producing Gay Pride activities in Little Rock. The item appeared on Facebook and garnered much attention with folks weighing with there full throated support. Since that initial blip on the radar, this forum has been hit up with questions about the next steps which should have been a meeting announcement or at least some type of timeline. We'll have to assume that things are brewing in the hopper.

Of course in other cities, the planning process usually begins right after the close of the current year, however, since there has been no "active planning entity" then its a square one endeavor to get anything started to determine what "pride" will look like in 2013. As I have stated quite staunchly, that proper planning will keep from any piss poor performance. Basically because putting together any event, no matter the size can be a down right bitch.

Especially when trying to work from a committee angle with folks of an actual unknown commitment level. I've had enough experience over the years working with "big talking queens with lots of promises, whom later bring no results." Trust me, its just a fact that I learned then and still see it all over the place right now. Therefore the sage advice is to "start early, get a good core of players, forge a plan and then work the plan." In the meantime, we'll keep an eye out for how matters shake out. Got ideas? What would you like to see developed for Pride 2013, we welcome your comments, suggestions or observations.   


Arkansas PFLAG Conference 2013
 
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays will host its statewide conference, February 23, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at First Presbyterian Church of Little Rock 800 Scott Street in Little Rock.
The group hopes to bring together a diverse mix from the LGBTQ and ally communities for a day of learning, networking, and making new friends. At post time, the schedule was being finalized and will be available prior to the conference.
Registration Information can be found online at Eventbrite (http://pflaglittlerock.eventbrite.com ) or via paper form.
Purchase tickets in advance for $20 Regular/$10 Student. Tickets will be available at the door the day of the event for $25 Regular/$15 Student.


Miss Lady Tabloid Celebrates 2nd Issue

Even as the world seems to be going digital, there are still signs of life in the "old media" model. Case in point is the emergence of  Miss Lady Magazine which will celebrate its "Volume 2 and beyond release party" at the new Vault Lounge 6:30-9 p.m., 1407 John Barrow Road in Little Rock.

In a forwarded e-mail, President and Chief Editor, Jas Chy'rel, cites the magazines growth and forwarding looking mission to locally empowering women of color. Various articles inside the new issue highlight area organizations such as Pinky Promise and Black Women Helping Black Women which offer education and efficacy opportunities. Chy'rel shares the magazines philosophy of women taking the time to "Step In, Step Out, Step Around and Step Up Into Womanhood!”  COP 24/7 congratulates Miss Lady Magazine on its staying power in the media game. For more info check out their website at: www.missladymagazine.com  

 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Weekend OUT Post

Wow! January is moving and groovin its way forward, as the first month of 2013 bounces onto looking for the word from the ground hog come February. What a month its been and as COP 24/7 checks out the schedule, its just getting started. With that said, its time to fasten that seat beat snugly and prepare to kick it into high gear. Let's go get em....

The Drag Races Takes Off

In case you haven't seen it, RuPaul Drag race is not only over the top programming, its one of those shows that I never thought had a chance of having more than one season. However I was seriously wrong as the show moves into none other than season 5 on Logo TV. Not to mention that there will be a watch evening planned for next Monday nights send up at MK's downtown at 307 west 7th street, 7p.m.. ( check you local schedules for times and channels)  RuPaul, the most famous drag queen in the world, according to himself, serves as host, mentor and inspiration of the ultimate drag queen competition.(pictured: Rupaul Charles and his alter ego creation "RuPaul.")

Playing a dual role, RuPaul reigns supreme in all judging and eliminations, while RuPaul, the man, helps guide the contestants as they prepare for each challenge. Contestants include the nation's most outrageous, cutting-edge, talented and stunningly gorgeous drag queens all fighting for the title (and tiara) as top drag queen of the land. Charles has stated that "working with our contestants are top models, designers and American idols all rolled up into one." Each week, through the trials and tribulations of glam, glitter and show-stopping performances, one drag queen is eliminated until reaching the next superstar drag queen of America. If you dare and I dare ya, you've got to get a taste of this drag tour-de-force for yourselves. If you get a chance to check it out, then by all means share you thoughts here first!


Arkansas HIV Planning Group launches FACEBOOK page

In an effort to continue to fulfill it mission of outreach and open source communication, the Arkansas HIV Planning Group formerly known as the "Arkansas Community Planning Group," has moved forward with its media strategy.
Using its marketing committee, the group sought to engage growing trends in new media while still utilizing various elements of old media such as standard mail.

The group's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ArkansasHPG ) was launched two week ago in conjunction with the creation of a new signature logo as well as updating information on ADH''s web portal to refresh the groups position in the community. Co-chaired by COP 24/7's Executive Producer C. Mabin and ADH representative, C. Hampton, the group's overall mission is to decrease HIV infections in the state through collaborations with the Arkansas Department of Health on its jurisdictional plan which details prevention programming throughout the state.

For meeting information go to the page and add your "like" to those who have given a thumbs up on the project. Watch this platform for more news and press releases from AHPG.


Prize Closet Opens!

Earlier this week we proposed to offer a prize for a fast fact about our item on "HIV Infections Decline for African American Women."  The question: "what is the base line goal for decreasing new HIV infections by 2015?"  The first correct answer will get some swag from our prize closet. You just never know what will fall out of the closet!  To make things interesting and to celebrate the launch of AHPG's FB page, please post you answer to www.facebook.com/ArkansasHPG  We will check in to determine who hits up first in order to claim the prize. If no one wins or shout's out, then we will increase the prize package next week. Go now and post that answer!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day Tripping Thursday

Regional Conference Comes to Hot Springs

Jefferson Comprehensive Care System, Inc. (JCCSI) will be hosting their 5th Regional HIV/AIDS Conference in Arkansas, March 7-8, 2013. The conference will discuss the unique epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the South amongst youth, gay Black men and communities of color. The conference will feature Paul K. Halverson, Director and State Health Officier of the Arkansas Department of Health and Patricia Nalls, Founder and Director of the Women's Collective of Washington, D.C. The two day event will also feature a planned schedule of topics ranging from substance abuse to HIV policy issues.

CorneliusOnPoint, Executive Producer Cornelius Mabin has been secured for a plenary session on "Reaching Gay Men through Social Media." The session will explore the burgeoning use of the Internet of gay men and the various platforms utilized to develop community connections as well as personal relationships.

 JCCSI was awarded a grant from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the Part D program in August 1999. Part D is unique from other HRSA funded programs because our focus is on women, infants, children, and youth (WICY) and their families who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. As part of our commitment to fulfill the goals of Part D, we have begun planning for this monumental occasion to take place on March 7-8, 2013. The theme for the conference is entitled, “Uniting In The Fight To End HIV/AIDS.”
 
This event will be held at the Hot Springs Convention Center/Embassy Suites Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas. For more information contact:www.jccsi.org or 870.534.3448
 
 
Disaster Preparedness and ResponseA panel discussion
The Clinton School and Arkansas chapter of the American Red Cross will present a panel discussion on disaster preparedness and response. Moderated by Roger Elliot, state disaster officer for the Red Cross, the panel will include:

Hugh McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, Inc.
Leo Perreault, executive director of network, Verizon Wireless South Central RegionDavid Maxwell, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management
When: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. -- Panel discussion
Where: Clinton School of Public Service
Sturgis Hall
*Reserve your seats by emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu, or calling 501-683-5239.
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Freefalling Wednesday

COP 24/7 Special
PrEP: A Game Change
by J. Hobbs ( source: instinct magazine 8312)

Editors note: COP 24/7 will continue to its pledge to cover all aspects of ongoing issues and break throughs in the HIV & AIDS arena. One such subject that has been met with some controversy admist praise is the use of PrEP therapy in the transmission fight. This forums takes the "keepin it real" position that all methods or approaches need to be in the "prevention tool" box.  Although Individuals, activist, advocates, public health officials and all those in the fight to end AIDS may have had differences of opinion on its use, its vitally important that additional research on health outcomes be compiled before the final judgement is pronounced. COP 24/7 has included this article to update our readers with attempts to spark discussion and conversation. If you have comments, observations or are using PrEP, we highly encourage you to share your thoughts.

Lisa Sterman has been writing prescriptions for Truvada—a little blue pill that packs the punch of two anti-HIV medications, emtricitabine and tenofovir—to her patients, 80 percent of whom are gay men, for years.
But not all of her patients getting pre- scriptions for the antiretrovirals are, in fact, HIV positive. Nearly a dozen are high-risk HIV-negative individuals taking the drug for its preventive qualities.
Sterman, a physician, researcher and board member of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, is one of a growing number in the medical field using Truvada as a way to prevent high-risk patients from contracting HIV.
From serodiscordant couples—couples where one partner is HIV negative and the other HIV positive—to at-risk gay men, Sterman advocates prescribing the drug for preventive uses.

“Given the fact that we can’t complete- ly prevent HIV with traditional efforts like abstinence, condoms and testing, we need a more radical step for patients who are at high risk,” she says. Every year, there are approximately
50,000 new HIV infections in the U.S., more than 50 percent of which are men who have sex with men, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Sterman contends it’s time to think outside the box to defeat the epidemic.
The practice, called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP for short, has been the subject of several clinical trials involving heterosexual men and women, serodiscordant couples and high-risk gay men and is currently being considered for FDA approval. (At press time, the FDA’s Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee recommended approval, with the FDA expected to issue its decision in August.)
During the trials, research subjects took Truvada every day—no other retroviral drugs have been tested to date—to maintain a certain amount in their bloodstream. They were also given condoms, risk-reduction counseling and regular HIV testing as part of an overall prevention program.

In one 2010 study called iPrEx, nearly 2,500 high-risk men who have sex with men from across six countries—including the U.S., Thailand, Brazil and South Africa—decreased their chances of contracting HIV by an average of 44 percent and up to 73 percent for those who reported compliance 90 percent of the time.

Researchers admit PrEP is not the silver-bullet cure for HIV/AIDS, stressing the continued importance of regular testing, condom use and, above all else, compliance. As far as compliance goes, there are serious concerns about the development of drug resistance as a result of patients not taking the drug regularly, though none of the noncompliant subjects in the trials developed such a condition.

The theoretical problem goes something like this: If someone is using Truvada as a PrEP but only sporadically—like using it as protection during a drunken, debaucherous weekend instead of condoms—and he was unknowingly exposed to HIV, he could actually develop a resistance to anti-HIV medications.
Not only would this make an entire class of drugs unavailable to that individual, the patient could then pass the drug-resistant strain on to others, effectively erasing the medical advances made over the past two decades. “I think we need more data on that,”says Sterman, “The bottom line is if you don’t get infected, then you can’t become resistant.”

Sterman explains there’s no way to test this hypothetical situation in a clinical setting because of ethical concerns; you’d basically have to instruct a group of PrEP users to have sex with HIV-positive individuals. But if a client did develop drug resistance to one class of anti-HIV medications, she insists it’s not the big deal it would’ve been years ago.
“That is not the end of the world anymore,” she says, explaining that there are many other anti-HIV drugs. “If you do a cost–benefit analysis of the number of infections we may prevent with this drug versus the number of drug-resistant cases we might see, I think we win in terms of prevention.”
For some, though, the idea of using Truvada to prevent HIV infections is a bitter pill to swallow.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the United States, has serious doubts about the real-world applicability of the Truvada trials, the results of which he says weren’t even that great.

“The studies were done under ideal circumstances, meaning people were paid to be in the study, they were tested monthly, they were counseled intensively, and still only 18 percent of the people in the study took it every day,” he says, predicting that the 44 percent decreased infection rate will only come down in the real world.

Weinstein’s not alone. The British HIV Association, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, and French doctor Alain Lafeuillade, the chairman of the International Symposium on HIV and Emerging Infectious Diseases, have all come out against the use of Truvada as a PrEP.
Weinstein says he doubts that a healthy person would choose to take a daily drug and still use condoms, adding, “You’d really have to be paranoid about your pants falling down to wear both a belt and suspenders.

“I just cannot understand why you’d take a heavy-duty drug like this if you were wearing condoms,” he says, worrying that the safe-sex culture developed in the ’90s could be impacted by the widespread use of Truvada.

Sterman agrees. “If we say, ‘Just use Truvada,’ are we kind of condoning unsafe sex? I think that’s risky. We need to recognize the importance of making adult decisions and making those decisions in a clearheaded manner, in terms of not being on drugs and alcohol when you make them.”
Sterman also insists PrEP should not be seen as the first line of defense against the global pandemic. It’s only one weapon in an arsenal, all of which are needed to create a generation free of HIV/AIDS.
Weinstein says the two conventional methods of fighting the epidemic—condoms, which have a 95 percent rate of effectiveness when used properly, and treating HIV-positive individuals with anti-HIV drugs, which has a 96 percent rate of effectiveness—are the best ways to fight the epidemic. He worries PrEP could cause infection rates to go up, drug resistance to increase and the health of otherwise healthy men to be impacted negatively.

“If the first standard is to do no harm, [PrEP] could do a great deal of harm,” Weinstein says. “There are serious side effects, which are necessary if the person is HIV positive. But if you’re talking about giving this to healthy young men, it can cause kidney damage and bone loss, etc.”
The Truvada website lists diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, kidney decline and failure and inflammation of the pancreas as potential side effects of taking the daily drug.
Sterman says she hasn’t seen many side effects firsthand. “My patients really don’t complain about much,” she says. “This drug is pretty clean in terms of side effects.”

She did say, though, that if she had a patient with pre-existing kidney problems, she’d take extra steps to regularly test kidney function, given the potential damage the drugs can cause.
Another issue raised by PrEP opponents is the fact that there are thousands of HIV-positive individuals currently on waiting lists for Truvada in cash-strapped states. Opening the drug up to a whole new customer base—those who don’t even “need” it—would spread resources even thinner.
“That’s immoral,” Weinstein says. “We’re going to spend millions to give HIV-negative men medications while there are waiting lists of people who are already HIV positive who are not receiving medication.”

A major obstacle to many HIV-positive patients currently is that a prescription for Truvada can cost up to $1,000 per month.

“The AIDS assistance programs in [some] other states are really scary,” says Sterman. “That’s up to each state’s budget to determine how their HIV assistance programs work. But I know that Gilead is committed to making this drug available to the people who need it.”
Sterman says that if FDA approved, Truvada’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, will most likely provide patient assistance in the form of a patient co-pay card and that the rest would most likely be funded by insurance companies and state-funded AIDS programs. Weinstein, however, suggests Gilead’s motives had much more to do with the company’s bottom line: “The patent for tenofovir, the leading drug in this combina- tion, expires in five years.”

He also says the FDA doesn’t work independently from the pharmaceutical industry.
Ultimately, Weinstein thinks the amount of damage caused by the FDA’s approval of PrEP would depend on whether the government agency requires an initial HIV-negative test—and subsequent monthly tests—for someone to get a prescription for Truvada.
“If it’s allowed to be used the way Viagra is used, where you go online and find a doctor for hire who sells it, I think it’ll just become another party drug. That could have disastrous consequences.”
Even beyond its “party drug” uses in connection with unnecessarily risky encounters, Weinstein suggests the situation brings up a much larger issue regarding who is calling the shots in the gay community.

“At one time, the gay male community had a lot of influence on how we were treated. The drug companies and the government were not in charge,” he says. “Through our advocacy, we determined what was best for us. Unfortunately, that’s been drastically eroded.”
But Weinstein is not ready to back down. “Advocacy does work, and I’m na├»ve enough to believe that right prevails in the end.” For more in contact: www.healthy.arkansas.gov under the infectious disease drop down box.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reflections in Pomp and Circumstances

Just when we thought the air of "pomp and circumstances" was o-v-a, we learn that there's what! More! The TV-CABLE Talking heads just won't let it go and Tuesday's news cycle was a instant replay of what we spent most Monday already witnessing. Anyway, as the Presidential Big Top wines down and we move on to the weeks next maddening items, COP 24/7 is rocking and rolling along with it all. Let's dive in shall we...

Which Way did they Go Inaugural???

Despite damn near all channels had converted to Inaugural overload, I and my LTC found our way into local venues to see if any of the locals were as "jazzed" about the Presidential "gay brothers and sister" shout out as some were. Holy Lavender, what we discovered were folks who seemed oblivious to not only the days proceedings but totally clueless that there had been any historic rainbow moment.

I was totally flabbergasted that seat mates were more interested in the "whining" about their lackluster lives, needy self-esteems and what I've come to understand, "just hating living because no one seems to give a damn about them attitude." I wonder why. Nevertheless, as the evening droned on, its come to my mind that I think I'm just about over the "self-centered- what about me" types who have come to think that "some one owes them something." What that something is or should be is far from me deciding but what I do think is that they should basically "get a life."  Unfortunately there's no "Silver Lining Playbook" for being gay. Speaking for myself, "it is whatever the hell you make it." You want a drama filled, hypochondriac, shortsighted, half-glass empty type of life, then by all means drown yourself in it.

I'm much more interested in heeding the "call to action" from President Obama and being of service in the effort to be the "change"that I want to see. His historic mention has been Topic A since he stood before the masses and acknowledge that "we citizens" need to engage our policy and law makers on what this country will eventually represent. Meanwhile I have to assume that we'll have to live with those whom allow the parade to pass them by and go gently into the night. But as for me and mine, its big props Mr. O.  Brother, we heard you loud and clear that our journey is not complete until we are all treated like anyone else under the law. Thanks for the shout out!!

NABWMT Alerts about Convention

The 2013 NABWMT Convention will be held at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel-Capital Square, 75 East State Street in Columbus, Ohio 9-13 July 2013. Telephone: 614-365-4100.

Take advantage of our special February (Buddy Special) when you submit two registrations at a time. Pay only $222.00. Hurry! This special offer expires February 28! Register here
A special convention room rate of $150.81 inclusive of all local taxes is available. Free wi-fi is available in every room.

Registration and hospitality will be in the Presidential Suite on the 21st floor, a wonderful space and multi-use room. There is plenty of space for meeting and greeting as you arrive and register for the convention.
See historic Columbus landmarks and enjoy the progressive Short North arts and entertainment districts. Enjoy unique shopping and a wide range of dining selections. See our sidebar links for direct access to more information. Anyone going from Little Rock? Hit us up at nealix101@gmail.com. if you are interested in learning more about possible local activities or regional meetings.



HIV infections decline for African-
 
American women



When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on HIV incidence in the United States from 2007 to 2010, they revealed that new HIV infections among African American women had declined 21 percent. While that's good news, African American women continue to be one of the groups most impacted by HIV/AIDS in the United States. While new infections in African American women have gone down, the data showed that incidences among gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13 and 24 years had risen by 22 percent. Alarmingly, 54 percent of new HIV infections were among African-American and 20 percent were among Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual youth. For more on the latest numbers, click here.

(***Information from the above item will be featured in the Swag Prize give-a-away question coming this Friday. Check out COP 24/7 for links to the question and you might be a winner! You just never know what our prize closet will share. Stay tuned!!!)

 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inaugural Monday

Faith in America’s Future

Faith in America’s Future” commemorates the United States’ perseverance and unity and marks the sesquicentennial year of the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the new Capitol Dome in 1863. When the Civil War threatened to bring construction of the Dome to a halt, workers pressed onward, even without pay, until Congress approved additional funding to complete the Dome that would become a symbol of unity and democracy to the entire world. The official Inaugural Program, Luncheon, and other activities will reflect the theme.
 
On March 4, 1861, when Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office, the half-built dome epitomized a nation being torn in two.  Slowly and steadily, work continued on the massive dome during the tumultuous years of the Civil War. Skilled and unskilled workers, including African Americans who began the project enslaved and continued as free labor following the D.C. Emancipation Act of 1862, performed arduous tasks such as operating machinery at dangerous heights to hoist the heavy cast iron pieces into place.

The year 1863 was one of the most fateful in our nation’s history.  It began with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, and ended with a celebration of the new Capitol Dome crowned by the Statue of Freedom in December.  It also was the year of the first homestead claim, the start of the first transcontinental railroad, the opening of the first land grant college, and President Lincoln’s historic and visionary Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln himself saw the importance of pushing ahead with the Dome despite staggering obstacles. “If people see the Capitol going on,” he proclaimed, “it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on.” COP 24/7 urges all citizens to take a moment to reflect on this day of peaceful transition of power and our personal responsibility in making our democracy work.


A Day of Service 2013: What have you done lately to be Proud?

COP 24/7 celebrates the King holiday with sights on asking our readership to participate in giving back in their respective communities and within commuity based organizations as volunteers, board members and supporters. The LGBTQ community is in serious need to fill an emerging leadership and participant base. It is vitally important that individuals heed the "call to service" while understanding that each of us have to be the "change" that we want. 

Taking a stand as well as "believing in something before falling for everything else" should be a mindset that moves you to take action in your own unique way. Let me close with this thought from Emma Lazarus a famous American poet and essayist, famous for the poem she wrote that is associated with the Statue of Liberty: The New Colossus. It is her quote," until we are all free, we are none of us free," that resonates with me personally and hopefully offers you a moment of insight.  Think about it....(video sourced: corporation for national and community service)


 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Spin Out into a MLK Weekend

Freedom Sisters Speak at MLK Museum

COP Celebrates the King Holiday Weekend by updating this site with items highlighting our efforts to remember, as well as, recognize the enormity of the civil rights era.  
The broad base of allies, supporters, advocates and most notably the women whom contributed to the movement of African Americans becoming apart of the American democratic process.

From that range of fears, tears and tenacity, that momentous course of time ultimately culminated in triumphant access to equal rights and eventually  the election of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. Meanwhile it is vitally important that we spotlight  Freedom’s Sisters  a dynamic, interactive multimedia exhibition that celebrates 20 African American women, including historic 19th-century figures and contemporary leaders, who have fought for equality for people of color. 


The exhibition is designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds, and is organized around the themes of Dare to Dream, Inspire Lives, Serve the Public and Look to the Future.

Freedom’s Sisters is made possible by a grant by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. For more info check out: www.civilrightsmuseum.org 

  
Points of Lights: All for Good

All for Good is a service of Points of Light. Points of Light inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. We connect people to their power to make a meaningful difference. We are organized to innovate, incubate and activate new ideas that help 21st century volunteers use all of their assets - their time, talent, voice and money - to meet the critical needs of our time. 

Points of Light Institute operates multiple divisions including: HandsOn Network, the largest volunteer network in the world with 250 local affiliates; generationOn, the global youth service division that ignites the power of kids to make their mark on the world; and AmeriCorps Alums, a network of more than 120,000 experienced volunteer leaders. The organization's vision statement pronounces "one day, every person will discover their power to make a difference, creating healthy communities in vibrant, participatory societies."
 
For more information, visit www.PointsofLight.org. COP 34/7 urges our readers to consider what you can do to give back to your communities through being of service or sharing your expertise, resources, money or volunteer time. Its worth it...try it today with your local community based organization or cause.


Contributors Sought for COP 24/7

COP 24/7 was designed as an interactive blog site that considered it existence as a "town square" to share insights, observations, opinion and observations. To this day,this still stands as we move into our 7th year of production. Based on our  mission pillars of "empowerment, education and  infotainment," we have encouraged our readers to share with us their stories or lived experiences. 

In 2013, it is our goal to continue to seek contributors to showcase there items on this site. All solicitations will be considered including erotica. If you have prose, commentary, opinion pieces or original content, hit us up at nealix101@gmail.com  Let's hear from you today!

 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Oh, Oh,Oh My Post

Oh Lance!

So finally Lance Armstrong has decided to stop the suing and charging at folks who knew all along that he was lying about his doping during his Tour De France days. And now, Mr. Armstrong wants to do a mea culpa at the alter of  the "Confessor in Chief" Oprah Winfrey. Whew just what the doctor order for the struggling OWN network and it gets a "I'm over it" from COP 24/7. 

Again how the mighty have fallen only to slink into our good graces with attempts to make all us "understand" their behavior, poor choices and their own personal accountability for the world they build around them. So what have we learned? According to those who handle these matters, they had shit load of evidence that this joker had been long involved with using illegal performance enhancing drugs EPO and others.

As the fallout continues, we've further learned that a tipping point came for Armstrong when he had to decide to tell his son Jake "not to defend him," as well as 75 Million dollars in endorsements that evaporated in the twinkling of an eye. Its all so sad, yet so familiar as we get another glimpse of human wreckage on full display for all to glibly watch in dis-taste.  I'm of the opinion that not only public outlook will whip Armstrong, it will be the weight of his personal torment that will punish him the greatest. He's not the first and most likely will not be the last man with clay feet or the emperor without no clothes.

Oh!! The Debt

Did you hear it? Actually it dropped in December 2012 but with all that Christmas noise we didn't get a firm tone of the sound of the debt hitting 13 Trillion. Yes that's TRILLON with a capital "T." I never thought in my life time that such a word would ever be a realization. For that matter, I was skeptical with that "B" word as in "Billion," that came out of nowhere. 

However, Billion is now an afterthought considering the national debt has hit somewhere around the 16 Trillion dollar mark and counting since that December landing. In preparing this piece I wanted to check the debt clock to see just where we all stand and it appears that  each of us, that supposedly you and me, owe  $52,311.73
This is a WTF moment when you think that many of us are just a paycheck away from the poverty line. So take a gulp and hope that we can find some cuts steeped in a reality check. Stay in touch with the debt at: www.brillig.com 

 OH My! Mr. Nagin

Federal prosecutors have announced a 21-count indictment against former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, accused of enriching himself as the city struggled to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Nagin is accused of using the office of mayor to steer city projects to business associates who, in turn, allegedly paid kickbacks and bribes and flew him on lavish free trips to Hawaii, Jamaica, and Las Vegas. Nagin was charged with bribery, honest service wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
 
“The defendant C. Ray Nagin, knowingly devised a scheme and artifice to defraud the City of New Orleans and its citizens of his honest services through bribery and a kickback scheme, whereby Mayor Nagin used his public office and his official capacity to provide favorable treatment that benefitted the business and financial interests of individuals providing him with bribery/kickback payoffs in the form of checks, cash, granite inventory, wire transfers personal trips to luxury locales such as the Caribbean and Hawaii. All one can say is "WOW."  This busta talked a whole lot of "corruption big talk" all the while holding those pockets open looking for every handout and backroom deal possible. Ugh....