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    In the News: 01.24.2018

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan–

    San Francisco School Funds and Lands May Be Used to Help Homeless Students
    Board of Education Commissioners Matt Haney and Shamann Walton and City College Board Trustee and former San Francisco Bay Times columnist Rafael Mandelman have sponsored legislation in their respective boards that would create programs for housing, feeding, and providing enhanced services to San Francisco students and their families experiencing homelessness. The initiatives, announced this week, would use school lands, funds, staff and programs to care for over 3,000 students and their families who are currently experiencing homelessness. If enacted, the programs would be the first of their kind and would require educational institutions that do not have homeless services implicitly outlined in their mission statements to act as partners with the Department of Homelessness in addressing San Francisco’s homeless crisis.

    Queers Came Together at SF Women’s March
    Queers, Transfolk, Bisexuals, Leather, Lesbians, Gays, activists and allies gathered in front of Wicked Grounds on 8th near Folsom Street to walk together in the Women’s March in San Francisco. Hosted by Queer Nation SF, the group of demonstrators brought rainbow flags, leather flags, all manners of queer-related flags, placards, and bullhorns. They were nonviolent but not compromising. They marched to show that queers will continue to fight for LGBTQ rights, for women’s rights and for civil rights for all. The group started gathering at 11 am and walked together to the Civic Center at 11:30. Their motto was: “Hear Our Vote—First We Marched; Now We Run.” Among the clever signs carried: “Grab ’em by the midterms!” “This is what democracy looks like,” and “I’m with her” with a picture of the Statue of Liberty.

    Homeless Senior Drives Van into Rossi’s Deli
    On January 20 at approximately 3:12 pm, dispatchers at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management received multiple 911 calls regarding a subject driving recklessly—including on the sidewalk—on the 400 block of Castro Street. SFPD officers responded and found the vehicle, a purple Dodge van, driving westbound on 18th Street toward Sanchez Street. Officers effected a stop and detained the suspect, identified as Kenneth Rotter, a 70-year-old man who lived in the car with his dog. According to SFPD, the suspect was driving under the influence of drugs and hit multiple parking meters and sidewalk trees. He backed into the front of Rossi’s Deli, and then drove forward off the sidewalk onto the roadway and down 18th Street, going through intersections without stopping and often on the wrong side of the road. Rotter told SFPD that he was having trouble with his brakes. The Mission Station Investigation Team has been assigned to the case. Rotter’s dog was taken to San Animal Care and Control.

    Once-A-Week HIV Treatment Pill Could Be Coming Soon
    A study published in Nature Communications by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) showed promise for a capsule that can release HIV drugs to a patient for a whole week. The capsule could improve the health of people living with HIV and prevent transmission because people often forget to take medication daily. The development is based on a design used for malaria medication. MIT researchers developed a capsule that could release the malaria drug ivermectin for two weeks. That capsule was made up of a star-shaped polymer with six arms that were loaded with medication and then folded in. The whole thing was encased in a smooth coating. When swallowed, the arms open and attach to the stomach. Each arm slowly releases medication, and the pill disintegrates and passes through the digestive tract when finished. The capsule has been tested in pigs, and it successfully lodged itself in the pigs’ stomachs and appropriately released medication throughout the week. The researchers also believe that the capsule could be used for PrEP, the practice of taking HIV medication to prevent infection.

    Danica Roem Sworn In
    Danica Roem was publicly sworn in to the Virginia House of Delegates on Saturday, January 20. In her brief time in office, she has drafted legislation to cap fees for FOIA requests, provided additional mental health resources to public schools, and is already working on bipartisan transportation and utility bills. As Roem put it, “I’m not putting in bills to make statements. I’m putting in bills to turn into laws.” The contrast between her leadership and Trump’s vision of “American Carnage” from one year ago could not be more glaring. In the past 365 days, the Trump Administration has tried to ban trans people from the military, summarily fired the council on HIV/AIDS, moved to protect healthcare providers that turn away LGBTQ patients, and much more. LGBTQ Victory Fund spokesperson Sean stated, “At this rate, the gentlewoman from Manassas is well on her way to making lasting change for all Virginians. Meanwhile, anti-equality politicians are sending every signal that they view us and other communities as disposable.”

    Mark Leno Joins Environmental Groups Urging SF to Divest from Fossil Fuels
    Openly gay, former California State Senator and mayoral candidate Mark Leno joined, Fossil Free SF, San Francisco Defund DAPL Coalition, SEIU 1021, SF Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations calling on the San Francisco Employee Retirement System to divest from fossil fuels. “Let us be clear: climate change is not an ‘issue’ that you can choose to support or deny—it is the harsh reality that our entire planet is facing,” Leno said. “Fossil fuels are the driving force behind climate change, and San Francisco should no longer invest in companies that are part of the problem.” He pointed out that by divesting pension funds from fossil fuels, the City can take a crucial step towards a clean, green future while still ensuring a secure retirement for our teachers, police officers, firefighters, and city workers. “Today, San Francisco can be a global leader by moving our $20 billion in pension assets from dirty fossil fuels to clean investments that will protect future generations. I am proud to stand with and other environmental groups to send a strong message to the corporations profiting off of our planet—the end of the fossil fuel era is here.” Leno urged the San Francisco Retirement Board to follow in the steps of New York City’s recent move to divest from fossil fuels.

    Harvey Milk Plaza Design Meetings Scheduled
    Castro Merchants has been working with Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FHMP) to re-imagine and create a major destination in the Castro. “We hope that you share FHMP’s mission, to see that Harvey is properly honored at the Plaza which bears his name and which includes the Castro Muni Metro Station at Castro-Market Streets,” says Castro Merchants President Daniel Bergerac. FHMP is beginning the next phase of its design process with four Community Meetings, beginning this week. They will enable the public and key stakeholders from the community to talk directly with FHMP and representatives from Perkins Eastman-San Francisco, the firm that won the competition to re-imagine Harvey Milk Plaza late last year. The meetings are an opportunity to speak directly with FHMP leaders and the design team, proving community feedback that will propel the design process forward. The meetings will be held at Most Holy Redeemer Parish Hall, 100 Diamond Street, in the Castro, Saturdays 3–4:30 pm: January 27, March 3, April 7, and meeting #4 TBA.

    HRC Releases Annual State Equality Index
    The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute released their annual State Equality Index (SEI), a comprehensive state-by-state report detailing statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ people and their families and placing states in one of four categories based on their pro- and anti-LGBTQ state laws. This year’s SEI details the onslaught of more than 125 anti-LGBTQ laws introduced across 30 states during the 2017 state legislative season, including legislative proposals to grant sweeping licenses to discriminate, undercut marriage equality, and target the transgender community—including transgender children. The report comes as more than 40 state legislatures will reconvene at the end of January. A new 2018 legislative preview report from HRC also found that state legislators, under relentless pressure from opponents of equality, are expected to wage attacks on transgender people—particularly in the critical areas of health care and access to appropriate restrooms.

    Mathilde Krim Honored for Trailblazing Contribution to the Fight Against HIV/AIDS
    In light of the passing of Mathilde Krim, Founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), at 91 years old, Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), and many other LGBT community leaders honored her trailblazing contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS. John said, “Dr. Krim was a close friend and mentor, and I am deeply saddened by this news. She dedicated her life to understanding the science behind the epidemic, and was a force to mobilize research around the globe that helped to save millions of lives and reduce the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS.” The legacy of Dr. Krim’s deep commitment to ending HIV/AIDS will live on in the advocacy, action and compassion of those that follow her lead. John concluded, “We would not be where we are today without her, and we must continue to work tirelessly to further understand and prevent the disease. My thoughts are with her family at this time, she was a true hero.”

    Tenants’ Rights Counselor Training Offered
    Tenants Together, California’s Statewide Organization for Renters’ Rights (based in San Francisco), are looking for new volunteers to become tenants’ rights counselors. Now more than ever, they say they need volunteers to support the fight against federal and state policies that put LGBTQIA, black and brown, undocumented, and disabled communities at risk of displacement. In many counties across California, the Tenants Together Hotline is the only service that offers information and support to renters. Volunteers are asked to come work on the hotline and support the fight for housing as a human right. Volunteers are expected to commit to at least three hours per week at the Tenants Together office located at 474 Valencia Street. The Hotline operates Monday through Friday, 10 am–5 pm and Thursdays 6–8 pm. The next scheduled two-day training, 5:30–8:30 pm, is Wednesday, February 7 and Thursday, February 8.

    Chelsea Manning Files for U.S. Senate Run in Maryland
    Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who spent several years in prison for leaking classified information, has filed to run as a Democratic candidate for Senate in Maryland. Manning is one of four Democratic candidates who have filed to run for Senate in Maryland. Incumbent Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, 74, has not yet announced he would seek a third term in the Senate. His campaign committee has nearly $2 million in cash on hand, according to the FEC. Manning was convicted in 2013 of stealing 750,000 pages of sensitive government documents and videos and leaking them to WikiLeaks and received a sentence of 35 years in prison on 20 counts, including violating the Espionage Act. After the sentencing, Manning, who was then known as Bradley, identified as transgender and changed her first name to Chelsea. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in January 2017 and Manning was released from prison in May 2017.