Category Archives: Activists

A Teen With Down Syndrome Just Landed A Modelling Contract

Madeline Stuart, the courageous and inspiring teen model with Down syndrome whose story we first told here, has just landed her first major modeling contract. Manifesta, a U.S.-based women’s athletic-wear brand that targets women of all shapes, sizes and types, has taken on Stuart as one of their representatives.

The match seems like one made in heaven – after all, Madeline decided to become a model after she lost 44lbs (20kg) in a big to improve her health and slim down. Manifesta, on the other hand, is an athletic apparel brand whose goal is to make and advertise clothing for women of all body types.

“With all that Madeline is doing, we’re so excited to have her represent Manifesta,” the company writes on their blog. “Just as Madeline is committed to expanding people’s ideas of what a model can be, Manifesta is determined to show that the clothing and fashion industry doesn’t have to be exclusionary, that one brand can work for women of various sizes.”

More info: madelinestuart.comFacebook | Instagram | Twitter

Madeline Stuart’s dream was to become a professional model

She also happens to have Down syndrome

After she lost 44lbs (20kg) to keep healthy, she decided to start modeling

She’s been working hard to achieve her dream, with a bit of help from her supportive mother

“She really wants to change the way people discriminate against disability,” said Maddy’s mother

She just became the newest face of Manifesta, a U.S. women’s athletic apparel brand

It is this budding model’s first big professional contract

“People with Down syndrome can do anything, they just do it at their own pace”

“Give them a chance and you will be rewarded beyond your greatest expectations”

“I think it is time people realized that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful”

“I want people to stop saying ‘I’m sorry’ when I tell them my daughter has Down syndrome, because it’s a very naive statement”

“If the average person could see the beauty Maddy has inside, how loving and caring she is and if that is what people measured beauty on, then most of the models in the world would have Down syndrome”

These are all the countries where same-sex marriage is legal (MAP)

It was just eleven years ago that Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. A groundswell of public support for gay marriage followed, as did a strong conservative backlash that led 31 states to pass some form of constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. Most had been struck down by the time the Supreme Court announced its decision today. Thirteen remained in place as of this morning.

The United States joins 20 countries around the world where same-sex marriage is now simply known as “marriage.”

Countries where same-sex marriage is legal, as of June 26, 2015.
Emilie Munson/GlobalPost

The countries include: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England/Wales, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United States, Uruguay.

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Neckerchiefs and khakis for everyone! Slope scout group open to gays, gals

via Brooklyn Daily:

A Windsor Terrace dad has earned a merit badge for embracing diversity.

Todd Schweikert made it his scout’s honor to find a troop where his eager 7-year-old son can serve alongside campers and mentors both straight and gay, unlike the Boy Scouts of America, which bars homosexuals.

When Schweikert failed to dig up any scouting groups that passed his test for tolerance, the Eagle Scout father of two started his own troop that’s open to boys, girls, and woodsy adults of all kinds.


“There should be no qualification of what makes a scout,” said Schweikert, whose new troop was first reported “Boy, girl, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, you name it — discrimination on any level is never okay. It’s not something I want to teach my children and I couldn’t have them in a program that supports that.”

The new troop, dubbed the 5th Brooklyn Scouts, is affiliated with the nascent worldwide Baden-Powell Service Association, which offers traditional nature-based scouting to all takers, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or faith.

The new scouts put on their khaki and neckerchiefs for the first time last Wednesday in an open house that drew about 40 interested kids and parents.

Schweikert hopes his troop will help Brooklynites gain new perspective on scouting, which has taken heat because its biggest organization — the Boy Scouts of America — continues a don’t ask, don’t tell policy by excluding “open or avowed homosexuals.”

“I was so happy with scouting and had such a wonderful experience, so it breaks my heart that it is instantly met with a bad taste in people’s mouths,” he said.

Eagle Scout and Park Slope dad Alistair Wandesforde is “ecstatic” about the all-inclusive troop, because he wants his kids to experience scouting without any affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.

“Joining the [Boy Scouts of America] at this point is tantamount to joining a country club that excluded African Americans — it is not in the direction of progress,” said Wandesforde, who registered his enthusiastic 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son in Schweikert’s troop.

The band already boasts 20 scouts including Schweikert’s son, Jonathan, and kids as young as five can take part. Members move up the ranks from “Otters” to “Rovers” based on age, and can earn “proficiency” badges in skills such as canoeing and first-aid.

Scouts will comes to know Prospect Park like the back of their hands, but they will also do some real camping in the Catskills, Schweikert hopes.


India Makes First Big Concession To Rape Protesters

via Business Insider: 

The Indian government is to publish the names, photographs and addresses of thousands of convicted sex offenders in a bid to tackle a wave of sexual violence against women, and head off growing anger at what has been seen as an inadequate and tardy response by elderly political leaders out of touch with a rapidly changing society.

india protest

The controversial measure, announced by the minister of state for home affairs, RPN Singh, is to start in the capital, where angry protests sparked by the gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student 10 days ago are continuing. The victim of the hour-long attack, who suffered serious internal injuries, has now been moved to a specialist hospital in Singapore. Her condition remains critical. Police chiefs and officials are to meet activists and experts on Friday to discuss implementation of the scheme.

“We are planning to start the process [of identification] in Delhi. Photographs, names and addresses of the rapists will be uploaded on the Delhi police website also,” Singh told reporters.

There are fears that identifying convicted rapists will lead to vigilante attacks. Others point out that with a conviction rate averaging 25% nationwide for rape cases, many charges taking several years to reach court and enormous numbers of incidents going unreported, the measure can only have a limited effect. Women’s rights campaigners have however backed the idea.

“It is true that there is a risk of such attacks but at the moment it is the victim who has to suffer the shame and social ostracism,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of Delhi’s Centre for Social Research. “She can’t get married, for example. This will make sure the rapist is shamed. He won’t get a job, or somewhere to live and will be cut off from society. This is a powerful deterrent,” Kumari, who is also a member of the national commission for empowerment of women, told The Guardian.

Authorities, already under fire for their failure to prevent the original attack, which took place on a Sunday evening in a bus moving on busy public roads, are now under pressure for their mishandling of the protests around India. Images of riot police beating back demonstrators carrying placards with slogans against violence who have attempted to reach parliament, the president’s official residence and the official homes of top officials in the centre of Delhi, have reinforced the impression of an uncaring, out-of-touch government.

Earlier this week, Abhijit Mukherjee, the president’s son and an MP with the ruling Congress party, was forced to apologise after calling protestors “painted women” who “have little connection with ground reality” and “have nothing better to do”. The incident has revealed deep fissures within Indian society. Described as “eve teasing”, sexual harassment is endemic and rape systematically blamed on irresponsible women behaving in ways that are “un-Indian”.

Police routinely ignore complaints of sexual violence; senior officers have even suggested women fight rape by hurling chilli powder at their attackers. Bollywood films typically feature an initially distant girl who finally gives in to her determined, and often physically aggressive, suitor.

“India is currently in a Twilight Zone, when the traditional social norms have lost their resonance while modern values based on individual liberty have not yet gained acceptance,” said the financial newspaper Mint, in an editorial.

The six men responsible for the incident in Delhi included a driver of an unlicensed private bus, a vegetable seller and an assistant in a gym. Most had grown up in deeply conservative parts of rural India before moving to the capital. One consequence of the focus on sexual violence against women in the media in recent days has been coverage of incidents that normally would either be relegated to local editions of newspapers or not be covered at all.

A second alleged gang rape, this time of a 42-year-old woman, in a moving vehicle in Delhi made headlines. All major TV channels on Thursday reported the suicide of an 18-year-old woman near Patiala, a town in the north-western Punjab province two weeks after a serious sexual assault.

When she told local police she had been raped by three men from her village, their response was to jeer, relatives said. Officials have admitted a case was only registered – the first step in a criminal investigation in India – after her suicide last month. And in Bhopal, a 21-year-old has told police she was raped in the office of a senior politician six weeks ago.

Among demands by protesters are more severe punishments for rapists, including the death penalty. However laws protecting women are already on Indian statute books, the problem is haphazard implementation.

Kumari, one of those who suggested the public sex offenders’ register, said she was pleased by the government’s move but disappointed that finances devoted to women’s schemes had been cut at a meeting earlier this week.

“How are they going to make all these ideas to protect women work if they are not going to fund them? There is a fundamental lack of priority and political intent,” she said.

This article originally appeared on

Anonymous Declares War On ‘Revenge Porn’ Founder Hunter Moore

via Business Insider: 

The entrepreneur who has made a living hijacking people’s personal lives has fallen prey to an Internet attack on his own privacy.

hunter moore revenge porn

Hunter Moore has launched two sites that let users post naked pictures of their exes or enemies.

Now computer hacker group Anonymous is fighting back with Operation Hunt Hunter, which aimed to “take down Hunter Moore,” the group said in a statement.

The hijack, which was first reported Thursday by BetaBeat, attacked Moore’s servers and his merchandise chain, and it defaced Moore’s site.

Anonymous claims to have evidence Moore that doesn’t verify he isn’t posting pictures of minors, as well as proof that Moore uses drugs and drinks and drives.

Judge Gives Bradley Manning Permission to Plead Guilty for WikiLeaks Dumps

via Wired: 

A military judge in Maryland has accepted the terms under which alleged WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning has proposed to plead guilty.

The terms would allow Manning to plead guilty to 7 of the 22 charges he’s currently facing for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to the secret-spilling site in 2009 and 2010.

The 7 offenses together carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years in prison, presiding officer Col. Denise Lind said during a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Manning hasn’t formally submitted a plea yet; he was simply seeking approval from the court that the terms under which he contemplated entering a plea were acceptable.

Earlier this month Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, explained the move by saying that his client was willing to accept responsibility for some of the lesser included offenses against him, but not the charges as they stand in whole.

The move is known as “pleading by exceptions and substitutions.”

Defense attorney Coombs wrote on his blog that Manning “is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged” by prosecutors, but rather “is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses.”

The plea would not dispose of the remaining charges, but it would let Manning’s attorney focus his defense on fewer points of contention at trial next year.

Manning’s attorney may be hoping that the government will drop the more serious charges once Manning pleads guilty to the lesser ones.

Government officials have not said whether they would continue prosecuting him for the other 15 counts he would face, including an aiding the enemy charge, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Under the plea proposal, Manning would admit to giving WikiLeaks a battlefield video file, which WikiLeaks published under the title “Collateral Murder,” as well as some classified memos, more than 20 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, and other classified materials, according to AP. He would also plead guilty to wrongfully storing classified information.

The hearing on Thursday was held to hear arguments on motions that Manning’s attorney have filed to have all of the charges dismissed, on grounds that he was treated unconstitutionally during nine months of his confinement at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia.

Manning’s trial is currently scheduled for February. He has told the court that he has elected to have a trial by military judge, instead of a trial by jury.

This Photo Shows Just How Upset Egypt Is With Its President

via Business Insider: 


More than 200,000 people entered Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Tuesday night to protest a constitutional decree issued last week by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that gives him near total power over Egyptian affairs and protects the Islamist-dominated assembly writing the country’s new constitution.

Morsi’s move, which simultaneously angered and mobilized both secularists and liberals, led to country-wide attacks on the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party.

Sherine Tadros of Al Jazeera notes from Tahrir: “We don’t usually see these kind of numbers in demonstrations where the Muslim Brotherhood aren’t participating, and the Muslim Brotherhood certainly isn’t participating tonight.” (Here’s the Reuters live stream.)

The chants being heard echo those heard in the square during the Arab Spring revolts that brought down former leader Hosni Mubarak: “The people want to bring down the regime,” and “erhal, erhal” — Arabic for “leave, leave.”


Lawrence Guyot, civil rights leader, dies after decades of activism

via CS Monitor: 

Lawrence Guyot, at age 23, removed his shirt in Jackson, Miss., to show newsmen where he says Greenwood and Winona police beat him with leather slapsticks, in June of 1963. His daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone said he died late Thursday or early Friday outside Washington, D.C. at the age of 73.


Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights leader who survived jailhouse beatings in the Deep South in the 1960s and went on to encourage generations to get involved, has died. He was 73.

Lawrence Guyot, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee member in Mississippi during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s recalls his work in Hattiesburg and the women who assisted in the struggles, in October 2010.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP/FileGuyot had a history of heart problems and suffered from diabetes, and died at home in Mount Rainier, Md., his daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone said late Saturday. She said he died sometime Thursday night; other media reported he passed away Friday.

A Mississippi native, Guyot (pronounced GHEE-ott) worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as director of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project, which brought thousands of young people to the state to register blacks to vote despite a history of violence and intimidation by authorities. He also chaired the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which sought to have blacks included among the state’s delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. The bid was rejected, but another civil rights activist,Fannie Lou Hamer, addressed the convention during a nationally televised appearance.

Guyot was severely beaten several times, including at the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary known as Parchman Farm. He continued to speak on voting rights until his death, including encouraging people to cast ballots for President Barack Obama.

“He was a civil rights field worker right up to the end,” Guyot-Diangone said.

Guyot participated in the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Summer Project to make sure a new generation could learn about the civil rights movement.

“There is nothing like having risked your life with people over something immensely important to you,” he told The Clarion-Ledger in 2004. “As Churchill said, there’s nothing more exhilarating than to have been shot at — and missed.”

His daughter said she recently saw him on a bus encouraging people to register to vote and asking about their political views. She said he was an early backer of gay marriage, noting that when he married a white woman, interracial marriage was illegal in some states. He met his wife Monica while they both worked for racial equality.

“He followed justice,” his daughter said. “He followed what was consistent with his values, not what was fashionable. He just pushed people along with him.”

Susan Glisson, executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at theUniversity of Mississippi, called Guyot “a towering figure, a real warrior for freedom and justice.”

“He loved to mentor young people. That’s how I met him,” she said.

When she attended Ole Miss, students reached out to civil rights activists and Guyot responded.

“He was very opinionated,” she said. “But always — he always backed up his opinions with detailed facts. He always pushed you to think more deeply and to be more strategic. It could be long days of debate about the way forward. But once the path was set, there was nobody more committed to the path.”

Glisson said Guyot’s efforts helped lay the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Mississippi has more black elected officials than any other state in the country, and that’s a direct tribute to his work,” she said.

Guyot was born in Pass Christian, Miss., on July 17, 1939. He became active in civil rights while attendingTougaloo College in Mississippi, and graduated in 1963. Guyotreceived a law degree in 1971 fromRutgers University, and then moved to Washington, where he worked to elect fellow Mississippian and civil rights activist Marion Barry as mayor in 1978.

“When he came to Washington, he continued his revolutionary zeal,” Barry told The Washington Post on Friday. “He was always busy working for the people.”

Guyot worked for the District of Columbia government in various capacities and as a neighborhood advisory commissioner.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told The Post in 2007 that she first met Guyot within days of his beating at a jail in Winona, Miss. “Because of Larry Guyot, I understood what it meant to live with terror and to walk straight into it,” she told the newspaper. On Friday, she called Guyot “an unsung hero” of the civil rights movement.

“Very few Mississippians were willing to risk their lives at that time,” she said. “But Guyot did.”

In recent months, his daughter said he was concerned about what he said were Republican efforts to limit access to the polls. As his health was failing, he voted early because he wanted to make sure his vote was counted, he told the AFRO newspaper.

Funeral services are pending.