Senate Votes to Ban Discrimination Against LGBT Workers

By Michael A. Memoli
Tribune Washington Bureau

(MCT)
WASHINGTON _ A bill to extend historic new protections to gays in the workplace won easy Senate approval Thursday, bolstered by rare bipartisan support that illustrated the dramatic shift in the politics around gay rights amid growing public acceptance for same-sex marriage.
Seventeen years after a similar proposal failed by a single vote in the Senate, 10 Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic bloc to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, known as ENDA, which would prohibit public and private employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for decisions about employment, promotion or compensation.
"This is a really tremendous milestone _ a day I will never forget in my service in the Senate," said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. "For folks like myself in the LGBT community, the opportunity to be judged in the workplace by your skills and qualifications, your loyalty, your work ethic is an important pronouncement for this nation."
Backers of the measure said the bipartisan vote puts additional pressure on Speaker John A. Boehner to bring it to a vote in the full House. President Barack Obama said in a statement that "one party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do.
"Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it," he said.
A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who sets the floor agenda, reiterated Thursday that a vote on the bill was "currently not scheduled in the House."
Democrats warned that Republicans would pay a price for inaction. "If the House of Representatives does insist on going down this road, they'll be sending their party straight to oblivion," Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters.
Such a statement would have been unthinkable only a decade ago, when most Americans opposed same-sex marriage and were skeptical about gay rights. President George W. Bush's campaign in 2004 galvanized its supporters with a string of state ballot measures banning same-sex marriage that helped draw Republican voters to the polls in key states.
Today, as polls show most Americans support same-sex marriage, many Republican lawmakers and candidates see the issue as a trap. Republicans who support gay rights run the risk of alienating conservative voters, particularly tea party supporters. Those who vote against such measures are portrayed by Democrats as extremists and out of touch.
Ari Fleischer, a former Bush spokesman, wrote in an opinion piece published Thursday by Politico that the House should allow the bill to come to the floor and act in a "more inclusive and welcoming manner." Gay rights, he said, "are gateways into whether young people see the GOP as a party worthy of support."
Last November saw the first successful referendums to allow same-sex marriage in four states. Just this week, Illinois lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that would make the state the 15th to allow such unions.
Although 34 Republicans voted against ENDA in the Senate, few spoke out against it during the floor debate. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., warned that the bill violates the "cherished value of freedom of expression and religion."
The bill includes an exemption for religious groups that was strengthened by a Republican amendment to ensure that the government could not retaliate against those organizations in awarding contracts and grants.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who said he still had concerns about the effect the bill could have on some employers, nonetheless voted for it and expressed hope that the House could make further changes.
Congress hasn't passed major gay rights legislation since 2010, when it voted to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred gays from openly serving in the military. In 2007 the House, then controlled by Democrats, passed a version of ENDA that did not include the provision for transgender individuals. Thirty-five Republicans voted for it at the time, though only 10 of those continue to serve in the House today.
One of them, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., would not commit to supporting the Senate-passed bill.
"Congressman Ryan does not believe someone should be fired because of their sexual orientation," said Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert. "That said, any legislation to address this concern should be narrowly crafted to guard against unintended consequences."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said this week that 95 percent of Democrats in the House are ready to vote for the Senate-passed bill. Just 10 percent of Republicans are needed to ensure passage.
The Republican senators who supported the current bill include longtime sponsors like Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine _ the only Republican senator seeking reelection next year in a state Obama carried in 2012.
Other GOP backers include three who will be running for reelection in 2016 in battleground states: Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, who voted against ENDA in 1996, supported it this time.
(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)
"I have always believed that workplace discrimination _ whether based on religion, gender, race, national origin or sexual orientation _ is inconsistent with the basic values that America holds dear," McCain said.
But Republicans facing competitive primary challenges from conservative or tea party candidates voted against the measure. With an eye toward 2014 re-election, many are looking to shore up their conservative credentials. Among them was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who on Thursday also introduced the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions about four weeks earlier than the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court under Roe vs. Wade. Thirty-two Republicans signed on as cosponsors.
Senate Democrats called Graham's bill a nonstarter, predicting that Republican positions on gay rights and abortion would cost them at the polls.
___
Advertisements

Guatemala’s Ixil Maya Seek International Help in Rios Montt Case

By Benjamin Reeves
McClatchy Foreign Staff

(MCT)
GUATEMALA CITY _ Representatives of Guatemala's indigenous Ixil Maya have filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights in Washington accusing the Guatemalan government of failing in its legal obligation to investigate and prosecute genocide.
The petition, which was filed Wednesday, was in response to an order by one of Guatemala's highest courts requiring a lower court to consider amnesty for former President Efraim Rios Montt, whose forces conducted a bloody campaign against Guatemalan indigenous groups in the early 1980s.
"We presented a petition ... because we want Guatemala to be held accountable for the crimes committed against the Ixil people," said Marcia Aguiluz of the Center for Justice and International Law. "We want the Inter-American system to give a judgment that Guatemala must investigate and judge these people."
Prosecuting Rios Montt for what took place during his rule has been a challenge from the beginning. The lead Guatemalan prosecutor on the case, Edgar Perez, has received multiple death threats. Since August 2010 he has traveled with nearly constant protection provided by the human rights group Peace Brigades International, which said it has thwarted a number of attempts on his life, including an attempt to tamper with the brakes on his car.
Rios Montt, 87, was convicted in May of genocide against the Ixil people. Over a two-year period in the early 1980s, as many as 95 percent of Ixil villages were razed and several thousand people, roughly 5.5 percent of the Ixil population, were killed.
But Guatemala's Constitutional Court overturned the conviction 10 days later and ordered a retrial, which was expected in early 2014. In October, the Constitutional Court ordered the lower court to reconsider whether Rios Montt was eligible for a 1986 amnesty, even though a subsequent Guatemalan law and international law says such amnesties did not apply to crimes against humanity.
A final blow came Tuesday, when the Constitutional Court informed plaintiffs in the genocide case that there could be no retrial until early 2015 because the court's calendar is full for 2014.
Advocates of trying Rios Montt expressed concern that he might die before further legal action takes place.
"There are, of course, concerns about unjustified delays," said Roxanna Altholz, associate director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. "Rios Montt is an older man, and these crimes occurred over 30 years ago."

High School Violinist Plays on the College Level

Written By: Reagan P.

James River High School sophomore violinist, Brighton Payne, has been selected to play with the Richmond University Symphony.

Payne, who has been playing violin continuously for the past ten years, her parents first signed her up for Suzuki violin at the Swift Creek Academy of Performing Arts (SCAPA) at the age of six.

“She had the cutest tiny violin,” said her mother, Michelle Payne.

Throughout her schooling, Payne has continued to play the violin at SCAPA. Her Teacher there, James Allen, recommended her to audition for the University of Richmond Symphony.

Payne wasn’t able to arrive at the audition due to being out of town, and later was invited to play with the symphony in rehearsal, and then play for conductor, Alexander Kordzaia, one on one.

“After that he pretty much told me I was in,” Payne said.

Payne however isn’t the only student in high school playing with symphony. The University of Richmond Symphony is a mixture of high school students, college students, and other adults.

Payne has been playing violin for the past nine years, and is entering her tenth year playing violin. She’s played in countless different pieces at ‘festival’ where she performed a solo in front of judges and received ratings of superior (highest rating possible).

In middle school, her orchestra teacher, Jill Foster, selected Payne to play in All County Orchestra. A yearly event that is available to select students who audition in front of their teachers.

All three years of attendance Payne’s seventh grade performance seems most memorable.

“One time at All County somehow they didn’t get my name. So they just gave me a chair,” Payne said.

Payne’s chair was the last chair, when she had auditioned she had earned first chair. By the end of the rehearsal that day Payne was moved to first chair of the seventh grade All County Orchestra.

“They usually don’t change chair in All County,” Payne said.

Payne, who didn’t look at being last chair as a set back, looked at the situation as the chance to prove them wrong. That she had earned the first chair and wanted it back.

The following year she attended Central Regional Orchestra (CRO), where the conductor of the Richmond University Symphony conducted the students. Payne recalls that the music was a lot more difficult than she had thought it would be.

“One of the pieces we lost the music to, so we had to read off the people in front of us,” Payne said, remembering another one of the challenges she faced at CRO.

Currently Payne is a sophomore but has expressed getting a minor in music, but aspires to become a teacher. Payne also said that she would apply to scholarships for music, only if the scholarship doesn’t limit her major to music.

As for going to University of Richmond for college she claims “It’s a little too close to home,” but it has a beautiful campus.

Payne’s first two concerts with orchestra happened on the 27th of September, and the 9th of October. The Symphony’s next concert is scheduled for December 4th.

Written By: Reagan P.

True Italian Pizza; Stuzzi Pizza

Written By: Reagan P.

DSCF1471

(above) Stuzzi’s Gourmet Pepperoni Pizza. Stuzzi pizza’s are all of a personal size and served on their own plates.

Walking into Stuzzi Pizza in Carytown Richmond you are immediately greeted with the smell of their freshly made Italian Pizza. Placed in the back of the restaurant is a dome shaped oven where they cook they cook each pizza.

 

Stuzzi’s pizza journey began in Naples Italy, when queen Margareiht requested cheese on her pizza. Pizza, which at the time was only made from dough sauce, and occasionally vegetables. Queen Margareiht requested cheese on her pizza to represent the Italian flag; Basil to represent the green, cheese to represent the white, and original tomato sauce to represent the red.

 

The First Stuzzi restaurant opened in 1850, in Naples, Italy. The Caserta family (Owners of Stuzzi) was the first to make pizza for queen Margaret and thus invented the Margarita (Cheese) Pizza.

 

Last April I traveled to Naples Italy, where I got to experience true Italian Pizza. Going to Italy and tasting their food will make you into a food snob (guaranteed). Biting into Stuzzi’s Gourmet Pepporni Pizza I felt like I was back in Naples.

The flour and tomatoes used in the pizza have been imported from Italy, and Stuzzi uses the finest milk, “fior di latte”, to make their original Stuzzi cheese.


The Gourmet Pepperoni which I ordered only took 5-10 minutes to cook and was delivered to my table still hot from their wood fire oven.

The pizza dough is cute thick, and is eaten the true Italian way; either with a fork and knife or by folding a slice in half. The cheese, made by the Stuzzi restaurant themselves, is thick and tastes define with the Italian Tomatoes.

In conclusion Stuzzi pizza has earned an A plus in my book for pizza, and if you’re looking for true Italian Pizza, Stuzzi should be your top choice.

 

written by: Reagan P.

Halloween Haunt Hostess

Written By; Kaitlyn P.

Twenty-one year old, Sarah Sams, takes on a job requiring blood, makeup, and mysterious clothing. Every year, towards the end of the year she prepares to howl up a few terrorizing screeches at Kings Dominion’s own haunt.

For the past three Septembers, woken up only to get dressed in a tattered costume dress, pale face and dark eyes and dark lips. All the way up until the final week of October, she continues to purposely terrorize people along trails and buildings for both parties’ amusement.

Sams takes the role of Malice, the evil version of “Alice in Wonderland” at “Feary Tales” and works along side more than four hundred fifty co-workers spread along the park and admits to it being surprisingly easy to get the role.

The audition process is simple. Beginning in July of this year  you fill a form out on the website. Then later on, they call five people or so back into a room where the audition begins.

“Basically they take like 5 people back to a room, ask them things like ‘what’s your favorite part of halloween/ favorite halloween character’, give us a couple monsters to pretend to be, and then have us make a scary sound. This year my audition creatures were Evil Clown and Evil Scientist,“ Sams said.

The job, she says, “it’s always fun, and always interesting,” despite being asked odd questions.

“People tend to ask if Alice is a boy or girl, I’ve never really been sure why they think a person in a dress with a high pitched voice is a guy. I had one person ask ‘when alice goes to the bathroom and takes off her clothes, does she go to the little boys room, or the little girls room?’. I sort of just walked away because they didn’t deserve my acknowledgement.”

Though she was hoping for a separate position over in “Club Blood”, she has enjoyed her place in “Feary Tales” and hopes she can return next season.

And On Defense Is Lauren Intravia.

get-2

 (Above) Lauren Intravia playing in a soccer game. Lauren’s jeresy number is 19 for her team.

Witten By: Kaitlyn P.

Soccer has played a major part in Lauren Introvia’s life over the years she has played. Kids are always getting more and more involved with athletics, but she has made this more than an average hobby- more so a commitment in some ways or others and makes her her own person. Playing since she was three, it’s no secret she was more to kick for a purpose.

    She said she had been playing for all positions, but primarily in midfield as well as defence. With a drive like this to tackle on all sorts of responsibilities to the temn, UFC – the United Football Club- it’s no wonder they have been able to travel across the state and play in important games.

    “To me, soccer is my life. Honestly, if I’m not doing school work I am on the feild or just touching a soccer ball.” Intravia said, sharing how roughly eight years of playing has impacted her life. “The most memorable moment would be making the travel soccer team. I was one of the only two girls that made it. The rest were guys but I still learned a lot. It made me tougher in a way and helped me improve.”

    When asked if she had planned her future around the field she denied it. She explained that it had come to her mind she could continue and go on to pro-soccer but she may just pursue it in college, with a main goal of working in the medical field in the long run.

    Freshman year, Intravia has devoted her life to a sport that helps her increase motivation and desire. “I’ve been doing soccer pretty much my whole life and I couldn’t see myself without it. It makes me feel complete.”

Hunter Chic: No Hiding Fashion World’s Love of Camouflage

Image

(MCT)
MILWAUKEE _ Camouflage clothing is in vogue _ and not just among those who are trying to remain invisible to white-tailed deer and other critters.
"It's a trend that is most popular now in the U.S. and Europe, but has seen its time in nearly every part of the world," said Jordan Dechambre, a Milwaukee-based style expert.
In addition to guys in tree stands and duck blinds across Wisconsin, celebrities including Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani and Sarah Jessica Parker have been spotted wearing camo gear.
"Camo has been an important trend over the past couple seasons and shows no sign of slowing down," Sofia Wacksman, vice president of trend for Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Kohl's Department Stores, said in an email. "While re-colored and abstract iterations make it look new, the classic camo can also feel modern when mixed with softer colors like ballet pinks and creamy neutrals."
The fashion appeal of camo comes as no surprise to Al Lobner.
"I always thought that," said Lobner, president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters' Association. "The rest of the world is starting to figure it out."
Lobner, 60, said he has been wearing camo for at least 30 years. He has a closetful of the stuff. So do a lot of other people these days.
"The fact that camouflage is more easily accessible than ever _ whether it's from local boutiques or national retailers _ makes it much more convenient to rock the trend," Dechambre said. "'Standing out' in camouflage is no longer an oxymoron."
(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)
Fall is prime time for camouflage in Wisconsin. The state is a global deer hunting destination, with more than 633,000 hunters from every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries having purchased gun deer-hunting licenses in 2012, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Of those licenses, nearly 586,000 were purchased by residents. That's more than 10 percent of the state's population.
(END OPTIONAL TRIM)
"Obviously you wear (blaze) orange when it comes to rifle season but other than that," camo is the order of the day, said Lobner, who lives in Milladore in central Wisconsin. "It's just the way it is up here."
Archery hunters especially rely on camouflage to try to be invisible to deer. The DNR says more than 250,000 bow hunters harvested more than 93,000 deer in 2012. Hunters also rely on camouflage when they are pursuing ducks, geese, turkeys, bear and other animals.
"Around here, it's not a fashion statement. It's just what they're wearing," said Mike Brust of Wausau, who is president of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association.
"From a hunter's standpoint, it's nice to be out in front of the trend."
Camo reflects a lifestyle as much as it reflects fashion, said Jill Soltau, a Wisconsin native who is president and chief merchandising officer for Green Bay-based Shopko stores.
With stores based primarily in small cities and rural towns in the Midwest, Mountain, North Central and Pacific Northwest regions of the U.S., the chain has made camouflage a big part of its merchandise offerings, Soltau said.
There are basically two pieces to the camouflage trend, Soltau said. One is military camo. Those are the types of patterns that are showing up on pouty, wafer-thin runway models as well as in boutiques and fashion retailers.
The other is outdoor camo, which makes up much of the hunting and casual camouflage clothing seen in outdoor stores and discount retailers such as Shopko.
"The growth of outdoor camo has really been influenced by pop culture and reality TV," Soltau said. "Cable shows like 'Duck Dynasty' have celebrated this outdoor lifestyle. They've made it chic. Outdoor camouflage has become very cool."
"It's cool to be country today."
And it's not just guys who are in on the trend.
"Our core customer _ and this is no different than most of retail _ is female," Soltau said. "The mom or the female head of the household does most of the shopping."
That has led to all sorts of colorful camo patterned clothing, including pinks and purples hitting the market.
"Many, many women are out there hunting," Soltau said. "They love the lifestyle. They really relate to the product. They'll buy the pink for just hangin' out and saying 'hey, you know, I really love this lifestyle and I'm proud of what I do.'"
The state's natural resources department says it sold nearly 30,000 first-time hunter licenses for last year's deer season and nearly 10,000 of those licenses were sold to women.
"Our women's camo is our biggest growing sub-department in our whole camo department," said Casey Zeigler, clothing manager at the Cabela's outdoor store in Richfield. "Women's and children's (camo) is just blowing up on us."
The hullabaloo surrounding camouflage doesn't come as a shock to Jody Clowes, exhibitions manager at the James Watrous Gallery, part of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in Madison.
Clowes was curator for an exhibit in 2010 that included an exploration of landscape through fabric and embroidery. Camouflage was a part of that.
"It's just surprisingly long-lived," Clowes said. "It's got legs."