While WorldPride Rolls, 2 LGBTQ Events Are Cancelled Due To Safety Concerns

Lil Miss Hot Mess reads to children during a Drag Queen Story Hour in Brooklyn, NY. The event is held in libraries across the country, including, in the past, at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Mary Altaffer/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Mary Altaffer/AP

As thousands gathered in New York City for the world’s largest LGBTQ celebration, some other events across the country were unable to proceed due to threats and safety concerns.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Jacksonville Public Library in Florida both cancelled events that celebrate LGBTQ pride scheduled for this weekend.

In the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library saw a threat posted on Reddit and decided to cancel its Drag Queen Story Hour, an event the library has hosted a number of times in the past with no problem.

The Jacksonville Public Library planned to host a “Storybook Pride Prom” last Friday and provide a safe space for LGBTQ teenagers. The sold-out event was cancelled following protests and threats, according to the library.

Both libraries apologized for the cancellations and ensured they would create programs in the future that promote diversity.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, Drag Queen Story Hour will not be presented this Saturday,” reads a statement from the Carnegie Library’s website. “CLP is proud to join other libraries around the country to offer programming to families that explores diversity and encourages empathy, kindness and understanding. We look forward to resuming story hour next season.”

Both events were protested by religious groups in the days leading up to the last weekend of Pride Month.

The Jacksonville library received criticism both for hosting the event and for cancelling it.

Residents angry that the prom was cancelled protested outside a branch of Jacksonville library and called for its director’s resignation, according to News4Jax.

Responding to criticism, the library followed up its initial statement with a second, assuring patrons that it was not bowing to political pressure, instead making a tough choice to protect the safety of the 14-18-year-old teenagers who were planning to attend.

“To be clear: Our cancellation of the Pride Prom does not mean that we agree with — or are bowing to pressure from — those who protested the event. We are not a political, religious or activist organization. We are, however, an organization dedicated to diversity, inclusivity and the safety of all who use our space,” the statement said.

Return to Order, an anti-LGBT organization, amassed over 20,000 signatures on an online petition to cancel Carnegie’s Drag Queen Story Hour. The petition reads, “These events are confusing to children, encouraging them to contradict reality and to accept cross-dressing and “gender fluidity” as normal.”

Similarly to the Jacksonville Public Library, a representative of the Carnegie Library said that political pressure was not a factor in cancelling the Drag Queen Story Hour, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Maintaining safety and security at events intended for members of the LGBTQ community remains a challenge across the country.

NPR’s Neda Ulaby, reporting from WorldPride, told Weekend Edition about the safety precautions the massive NYC event has in place.

“They’re putting thousands of officers, both uniformed and plainclothes, on the street,” Ulaby said. “There are bomb-sniffing dogs. There are heavy weapons teams. There’s surveillance for unauthorized drones.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

What Fans Can Expect When ‘One Day At A Time’ Returns In 2020

Justina Machado (left) and Gloria Calderón Kellett of One Day at a Time attend the show’s season three premiere. Pop TV announced it picked up the show for a fourth season after it was cancelled by Netflix.

JC Olivera/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

JC Olivera/Getty Images

When Netflix canceled the sitcom One Day at a Time in March, there was an outcry from the show’s legions of fans on social media.

The fans, along with TV critics, rallied in an effort to save the show, but were told by Netflix that the show didn’t have the level of popularity needed to continuing producing it after three seasons.

Those same fans are now celebrating after Pop TV announced Thursday that it is picking up the show and a fourth season will air come 2020.

Based on the Norman Lear classic, this reimagining is built around a Cuban American family. The cast features Justina Machado and Rita Moreno, and the show deals in an honest and funny way with real issues like immigration, sexuality and mental health.

When the show returns in 2020, it will be in a more traditional TV consumption format — one episode per week — meaning fans won’t be able to stay up all night and binge it.

But this is exciting for both co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett and Lear since production of the entire season won’t have to be complete six to seven months before air time, allowing the show’s writers to react more quickly to current events.

In this case, that’s likely to be the heat of the 2020 presidential race, to which Calderon Kellett says, “this family will have things to say about that for sure.”

Calderon Kellett spoke with NPR’s All Things Considered and described the cancellation and subsequent new lease on life as “an emotional roller coaster.”

She says that everyone involved in the show felt fortunate when the news of its return came out.

“I mean, shows are canceled every day, and no one cares,” she says. “And it really speaks to our fan base. And they really extended that love. They were relentless, and we’re so grateful.”

Calderon Kellett, herself a Cuban American, says she wanted to make the show for her 14-year-old self, because when she was growing up, she didn’t see people who looked like her on TV.

“Growing up, I did not see my family on television, and I had to see myself through the lens of other characters, which is what many people do, especially people of color in this country,” she says.

Calderon Kellett says she wanted to “provide a conversation with the Latinos in the country” and the show has allowed that.

“I think there has been a real starvation of representation in many communities of color, not just Latinx,” Calderon Kellett says. “And it’s important to not feel that you’re erased from the American narrative. It’s important for people to see themselves in some capacity represented.”

In addition to having more Latinx representation in the media, Calderon Kellett says the stories and issues the show covers resonated with the audience.

“I think what people responded to in our show was that ultimately, it’s about love and acceptance,” she says. “We have an LGBTQIA-plus character who is embraced by her family after some trials and tribulations that everyone goes through in an honest way. But that conversation — a lot of people saw themselves, a lot of people — not just like Latinx people — saw themselves represented in that show.”

The sitcom also shows the immigrant experience in Lydia, played by Moreno, who on the show is an immigrant from Cuba who becomes a U.S. citizen.

“A lot of people from various backgrounds really saw their grandparents or their parents reflected in that character,” Calderon Kellett says. “I think that representation is important when you’re feeling like there’s a country that’s not speaking to you completely, that your complete erasure makes you feel unseen.”

It’s shows like One Day at a Time that make people feel seen, she says, and the show’s return is also a part of that.

“Certainly, the return of the show makes the Internet feel like their tweets and their voice was heard,” she says. “I think that’s really empowering for a community to say, oh, my gosh. We — they hear us. Maybe they’ll see us, too.”

This story was produced for the radio by Meera Venkat and adapted for the web by Wynne Davis.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz Restores Mission Control in Houston

Gene Kranz stands behind the console at Mission Control in Houston where he worked during the Gemini and Apollo missions.

Michael Wyke/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Michael Wyke/AP

Gene Kranz may be the most famous flight director in NASA’s history. He directed the actual landing portion of the first mission to put men on the moon, Apollo 11, and led Mission Control in saving the crew of Apollo 13 after an oxygen tank exploded on the way to the lunar surface.

Now Kranz, 85, has completed another undertaking: the reopening of Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The room where Kranz directed some of NASA’s most historic missions, heralding U.S. exploration of space, was decommissioned in 1992. Since then, it had become a stop on guided tours of the space center, but fallen into disrepair. Kranz has led a $5 million dollar, multi-year effort to restore Mission Control in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20.

“I walked into that room last Monday for the first time when it was fully operational, and it was dynamite. I literally wept,” Kranz said in an interview with NPR. “The emotional surge at that moment was incredible. I walked down on the floor, and when we did the ribbon cutting the last two days, believe it or not, I could hear the people talking in that room from 50 years ago. I could hear the controllers talking.”

The room also brought back memories for Kranz of a shared sense of purpose.

“That group of people united in pursuit of a cause, and basically the result was greater than the sum of the parts. There was a chemistry that was formed,” Kranz said.

Sandra Tetley, Johnson Space Center’s historic preservation officer, worked with contractors to meticulously recreate the room, interviewing former flight controllers and collecting old photos. They scoured websites like eBay to find items from the Apollo era — such as cups, ashtrays and a coffee pot to fill the room.

“We even identified which was original paint, and which was not original paint, so we could make sure the original paint was left,” Tetley said. “We hand-stamped all of the ceiling tiles so that the whole patterns would match.”

Kranz, who was played by the actor Ed Harris in the 1995 movie Apollo 13, said the room’s significance extends beyond historical items and artifacts. “[The room] also has a meaning related to the American psyche, that what America will dare, America will do,” he said.

Kranz said he wants his early space missions to challenge America’s youth to study science, engineering and technology, and for the restored room to provide inspiration for teachers and students.

“There’s an awful lot of future out there, and what you got to do, is you go to out and grab it, wrestle it to the ground, accept the challenges, and then decide,” Kranz said. “You’ve got the skills. You’ve got the knowledge. You’ve got the love, and you’re capable of moving forward and making a great life for yourself.”

Those were life lessons Kranz says he learned in Mission Control.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Trump And Kim Meeting: The Start Of A Deal Or ‘Just Some Nice Pics And Pageantry?’

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea.

Susan Walsh/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Susan Walsh/AP

It is too soon to tell whether the much-hyped meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on Sunday will be remembered as a televised spectacle, or the start of a breakthrough in talks with the nuclear-armed country.

But Trump did become the first sitting American president to venture into North Korea.

“I was proud to step over the line,” Trump told Kim about crossing the demarcation line at the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas. “It is a great day for the world.”

The celebratory mood seemed a long way from the insults and bellicose rhetoric the two leaders have previously engaged in, a hostile dynamic that has cooled down over the course of what President Trump has described as a burgeoning friendship between he and Kim.

Whether the symbolism of stepping into North Korea carries with it the promise of change, or little more than dramatic optics remains the subject of debate among Korea experts and other observers.

“This is about looking good,” said Wendy Sherman, who was the policy coordinator for North Korea during the Clinton administration, in an interview with NPR.

Sherman said the real question is what happened during the 50-minutes Trump and Kim had a closed-door chat.

“Is there a real negotiating track that has begun?” she asked. “Did the president give anything up in those 50 minutes? Is there any there there?”

To Sue Mi Terry, senior fellow for Korea at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, one detail of the meeting jumped out to her: Trump hinted that U.S. economic sanctions on North Korea could perhaps be lifted during negotiations, rather than at the conclusion of a deal to denuclearize, which was the administration’s previous position. It signaled a possible a departure from the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the country.

“President Trump is looking for a deal, and potentially, now that working-level negotiations are to resume, there is a deal to be had,” Terry said.

In announcing that the U.S. will resume talks with the North, President Trump told reporters, “We’re not looking for speed. We’re looking to get it right.”

Trump said economic sanctions on the country would remain in place, but hinted that the administration could ease the pressure, saying that “during the negotiation things can happen.”

Other experts said Trump is misguided in believing that a supposedly impromptu face-to-face with Kim would result in an arms control agreement, something decades of careful and calculated negotiations with senior U.S. policy leaders has not been able to achieve.

“It’s only ‘historic’ if it leads to denuke negotiations, a verifiable agreement and a peace treaty,” said Victor Cha, Georgetown University professor and senior adviser of the National Committee on North Korea. “Otherwise it’s just some nice pics and pageantry.”

Cha said he worried the meet-and-greet at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, the president’s third face-to-face meeting with Kim, legitimizes a regime that has been criticized for human rights violations against women, political dissenters and other at-risk groups.

While Trump’s first two meetings with Kim failed to produce an agreement to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, Pyongyang has paused nuclear testing and returned the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War. That said, just last month, North Korea had been testing short-range ballistic missiles.

Trump has viewed a truce with North Korea resulting in the surrendering of nuclear weapons as a key foreign policy goal, and his insistence on in-person gatherings with the authoritarian leader has been unorthodox. The president’s Singapore meeting with Kim in June 2018 marked the first time a sitting American president met with the country’s head of state since a cease-fire was signed in 1953 ending the Korean War.

Critics of Trump say his past career as a television star is fueling his prioritizing of high-profile meetings with world leaders, but with North Korea, they say, the tactic has not yielded much more than handshakes and wide grins.

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes said a meeting was never sought with Kim during the eight years of the Obama administration. “Foreign policy isn’t reality television,” he said. “It’s reality.”

Rhodes went on: “Photo ops don’t get rid of nuclear weapons, carefully negotiated agreements do.”

Sherman said she supports the summits with Kim, seeing them as an unconventional path that could prove fruitful, though she said there appears to be some important missing pieces.

“You try something novel and different when you have a plan, a strategy, a team to follow through, you know what your next five moves are going to be,” Sherman said.

For North Korea, Trump’s meetings are providing a public relations boost to a country that has traditionally been isolated from the global stage, she said.

“They are a country that is a true dictatorship, cut off from most of the rest of the world,” Sherman said. “They don’t have enough arable land to feed their own people, so they go through times of real famine and malnutrition of their people. There are no human rights.”

Terry said one beneficiary of the Sunday get-together between Trump and Kim is President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

“The economy is not doing well in South Korea, and President Moon has staked his entire legitimacy, his legacy, on a deal with North Korea,” Terry said. “South Koreans in general want engagement with North Korea.”

Terry cautioned, however, that a victory should not be claimed just yet.

“Of course, we are still a very, very long way from a complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” she said.

In Washington on Sunday, praise and skepticism from lawmakers fell along partisan lines.

“President Trump just made history,” wrote House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said even those who dislike Trump “are going to have to give him credit for resetting the stage and bringing North Korea to the table.”

Meanwhile, several Democratic presidential candidates condemned the Trump-Kim gathering, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Biden’s campaign put out a statement accusing Trump of “coddling” dictators “at the expense of American national security.” Warren tweeted that Trump “shouldn’t be squandering American influence on photo ops and exchanging love letters with a ruthless dictator,” saying the president should instead be dealing with North Korea through “principled diplomacy.”

Speaking on ABC News, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was more muted, saying he has “no problem” with Trump’s meeting with Kim, but said “we need to move forward diplomatically and not just have photo opportunities.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

‘Every Guy Wants To Be James Bond.’ But Would They Pay $545 For His Onesie?

Actor Sean Connery poses as James Bond next to his Aston Martin DB5 in a scene from the United Artists release ‘Goldfinger’ in 1964.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

He saunters up behind a sunbathing woman, exuding coolness and charm. He wears a baby-blue terry-cloth swimsuit, cut-off mid-thigh, adorned with a golden belt buckle.

He goes to introduce himself, but viewers already know the name.

“Bond. James Bond.”

Many consider Goldfinger, 1964, to be the best Bond film ever made. And it wouldn’t be the iconic installment it is today without Sean Connery’s confident introduction to Shirley Eaton’s Bond girl, Jill Masterson, enrobed in his sleek blue onesie.

Apparently, fans of the film envision themselves emitting the same confidence if only they had the dress to match, because a British clothing brand’s recreation of the onesie sold out almost immediately online.

Orlebar Brown, a British company that produces a collection of 007 clothing, released the onesie on its website for $545 on May 15.

This @OrlebarBrown collection was inspired by iconic looks from 50 years of #007 films. Can you name which films? Shop the collection at 007STORE. https://t.co/yIDkOR6Opm pic.twitter.com/zXE5aIMRCO

— James Bond (@007) May 17, 2019

“It’s a curiosity piece,” says Christopher Laverty, author of Fashion in Film and editor of the website Clothes On Film, in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. “Every guy, I don’t care who you are, every guy wants to be James Bond.”

The brand also sells a version of Roger Moore’s safari jacket from The Man With The Golden Gun and Connery’s robe from Dr. No. Daniel Craig donned Orlebar Brown’s blue setter shorts in Skyfall’s Shanghai pool scene.

For customers who want to step inside the clothes of one of cinema’s most iconic characters, there is now an online waitlist for the onesie and the site’s description predicts the item will be back in stock in July.

“At the bottom of the page, was this glorious terry cloth onesie,” says James Wester, a Bond fan who discovered the product online. “I couldn’t believe that it actually existed in reality because it’s that one piece of clothing … that everybody who’s a James Bond fan I think knows about.”

Just an FYI, this authentic reproduction Goldfinger James Bond onesie is available in August. My birthday is in August. If anyone wants to buy me this authentic reproduction Goldfinger James Bond onesie, that would be cool by me. I’m a medium. pic.twitter.com/XnA0BwB2z2

— James Wester (@jameswester) June 26, 2019

Laverty, for his part, associates the product with goofiness not glory.

“A lot of people see this as perhaps one of Bond’s only real infamous fashion disasters … I can’t really understand how it sold out, but wow,” Laverty says.

“It’s a little odd, even Sean Connery can’t really pull it off. It’s amazing to me that guys now are trying it.”

Still, he acknowledges the costume’s importance to the film’s legacy.

“What’s amazing in the movie is that he manages to outsmart Goldfinger, get the girl, all in basically 10 minutes while wearing this item of ridiculous clothing,” Laverty says, pointing out that the item actually more closely resembles a playsuit than a onesie, a brand name for a baby’s jumpsuit.

Laverty surmises that Orlebar Brown is targeting rich older men with the novelty product.

For the average Bond fan, without hundreds of dollars to spend on terrycloth play suits, the product might remain a fantasy wish list item for now.

Says Wester: “$545 is probably a little too much, but if this does take off and people continue to want these, I could imagine maybe buying the Target version.”

This story was produced and edited for radio by Dana Cronin and Melissa Gray.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Under Siege And Largely Secret: Businesses That Serve Immigration Detention

The U.S. Immigration and Enforcement processing center in Adelanto, Calif., is one of the detention facilities operated by GEO Group Inc.

Richard Vogel/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Richard Vogel/AP

The Trump administration’s immigration policies have drawn condemnation, but increasingly the criticism has also turned to a web of companies that are part of the multi-billion-dollar industry that runs detention facilities housing tens of thousands of migrants around the country.

Businesses that supply goods and services to support those detention centers face increasing public and political scrutiny from investors, employees and activists.

Last week, employees at Wayfair protested after one worker discovered the Boston-based firm was supplying bedroom furniture to a facility housing migrant children seeking asylum.

And Bank of America said it would stop financing private prison and immigration detention companies, following similar declarations by JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Such lending is vital to the construction and expansion of detention facilities, though the industry still has plenty of other options; SunTrust, Barclays, BNP Paribas and other smaller regional banks have not cut ties with the industry.

After American Airlines discovered that migrant children separated from their families were transported on its flights last year, the airline and other carriers asked the government to stop using their planes for that purpose.

The issue has also attracted the attention of Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, who have pledged to dismantle an industry they say has created financial incentives to lock up more prisoners and migrants.

Activists say they welcome the spotlight on this industry.

“It’s never really drawn anywhere near this level of critical scrutiny, so I think there’s something about the involvement in immigration detention that has really tarnished [their] brand in a really significant way,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project.

But at the same time, there’s very little public information about which companies make money providing goods and services to detention centers, largely because government contracts are sprawling, Byzantine and require little public disclosure.

The migrant detention system itself is complex. Different federal agencies administer different programs. For example, people caught attempting to cross the border are held short term in facilities operated by Customs and Border Protection. CBP relies largely on municipal and county jail systems that, in turn, use their own contractors to operate the facilities.

Migrant children are detained under a separate system overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS contracts with Caliburn International, which has come under fire for squalid conditions at one of its centers in Homestead, Fla.

The largest share of migrant detainees are held in longer-term centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Currently, about 52,000 migrants are held in ICE custody. A majority of them — 71%, according to the National Immigrant Justice Center — are housed in facilities operated by private prison companies.

Two of them — GEO Group and CoreCivic — have contracts to run the lion’s share of ICE’s detention facilities. But others, including Utah-based Management and Training Corp., and about a dozen other smaller firms do similar work. Those companies, in turn, subcontract with many other firms across a wide variety of industries, from food to medical services. Neither GEO nor CoreCivic publicly report a list of subcontractors.

GEO Group did not respond to requests for comment. CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist said the company relies on different vendors at each facility, but she did not respond to requests for data about those vendors. “For obvious competitive reasons, we do not as a general practice elaborate on details about our company’s contractors,” she said.

Immigrant activists say such secrecy has enabled the detention industry to grow with little oversight.

“If there’s one throughline between every single component part of the ICE detention system, it is opacity; it’s like intentional lack of transparency,” said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

CoreCivic and GEO Group’s revenues totaled a combined $4.1 billion last year, and detention contracts made up about a quarter of that. Both companies are contending with increased competition and declines in their prison businesses, but that’s been offset by growth in the detention business.

Many activists say the pursuit of revenue in the industry has helped drive today’s immigration policies.

“Why we are in the predicament that we are is in part because of those that are invested in it,” said Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, an organization opposing privatization of prisons and detention centers.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political contributions, CoreCivic and GEO Group spent$1.6 million and $2.8 million, respectively, on political contributions and lobbying in 2018, overwhelmingly to Republican candidates.

The ACLU’s Fathi said the expansion of migrant detention in recent years has been driven by private business, not by the federal government.

“The availability of private, for-profit detention has enabled the administration to dramatically increase ICE detention,” he said. “And I think it’s safe to say that that increase could not have been accommodated without the services … of the private prison industry.”

For its part, CoreCivic said it does not play a role in policy or enforcement. “CoreCivic has partnered with the federal government to operate detention facilities for more than 30 years, and we’ve worked with both Democrat and Republican administrations,” company spokeswoman Gilchrist said in a statement.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)