Thursday, April 28, 2016

50 HIV+ Arkansas Inmates Jailed Under Clinton's Exposure Laws

I blogged on Monday, April 25, about the current number of HIV poz prisoners in Arkansas' jails convicted of exposure violations stemming from transmission laws signed by Gov Bill Clinton in 1989. That list of names is above.

More data from the Arkansas Department of Correction released after I filed a FOIA request, this time for info on formerly incarcerated folks guilty of these violations, was released this week.

It shows a total of 29 former prisoners. Top race was white at 17, followed by blacks at 11, and 1 Hispanic, with 25 males and four females (1 black and 3 white).

The number of current inmates in this category is 13 blacks, 17 whites, 1 Native American and 1 female.

Add them to previous figures and the overall number of previous inmates and the number come to 24 whites, 23 blacks, 1 Native American, 1 Hispanic and 5 females.

Combine the 29 ex inmates to the currently incarcerated 21 and the total of all persons, as far as I can determine, is 50 who were prosecuted, convicted and jailed for breaking the Arkansas transmission laws.

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton needs to address why she apparently said and did nothing to prevent these laws from being signed, nor called for their reform until last month and what she'll do during campaign to address repealing HIV exposure laws and releasing folks convicted of violations.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bay Guardian-Backed Wiener: Jail for Robbers Not Killer Cops

In their last edition before expiring as a weekly print newspaper, the progressives supposedly with a mighty clue on how San Francisco politics works at the Bay Guardian endorsed conservative Supervisor Scott Wiener in his 2014 reelection bid. That was the year I was on the ballot challenging Wiener and knew, after years of criticizing Bay Guardian editors and writers, I wouldn't get their endorsement.

But what the eff about them backing Wiener? Nail in the paper's coffin.

Wiener on Monday, April 24, was quoted thus in the New York Times about an epidemic of smashed cars and robberies:

He says some people need a half-year in jail to think about their bad behavior if it's for burglaries and damaging private property, but Wiener is not pushing the corrupt district attorney George Gascon to indict and prosecute, never mind demand prison sentences, for the San Francisco cops who've killed civilians.

It's time for the former Bay Guardian editors, including clueless Tim Redmond who ran the paper into the ground before he was forced out which was before the 2014 endorsement of Wiener was published, to publicly apologize for saying he deserved votes and second supervisorial term.

This ambitious politician hasn't come around to any sort of progressive agenda since the Bay Guardian threw its weight behind him, and here's what Redmond said at his blog on April 18 regarding Wiener's latest effort at the Board of Supervisors to undermine law enforcement reform:

"The supes were considering a resolution endorsing a bill by Sup. Mark Leno that would mandate more police accountability. [...] the supe who tried to derail the resolution was Scott Wiener, who has been a close Leno ally and whom Leno has endorsed to replace him in the state Senate. I was surprised when I was first reporting on this that Wiener wasn’t among the supes who had signed onto the endorsement resolution. [...] But Wiener couldn’t bring himself to support the bill."

Clueless Redmond was surprised at Wiener opposing a mild cop accountability resolution? Such progressive thinking is a big reason why the Mission and San Francisco as we knew it has been lost forever.

How about that apology, former Bay Guardianistas? It's not too late to absolve yourselves of the sin of backing Wiener.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mayor Lee Questioned About Cops Killing Civilians

After using public comment at today's Ethics Commission meeting to demand they move on my outstanding complaint against Mayor Ed Lee, regarding SF Chronicle columnist Willie Brown failing to disclose his affiliation as required by law on a disclosure form after meeting in the mayor's office, I ran into the mayor exiting City Hall.

I grabbed my video camera and asked Lee about the San Francisco Police Department officers killing civilians and when he was going to hold a public meeting about cop accountability.

No surprise to report the mayor ignored my questions, just as he's paid no attention to reforming the cops or holding them to account and calling for police who kill to be charged by the corrupt district attorney, George Gascon.

Watch this video:

Hillary Clinton & the 21 HIV Poz Prisoners in Arkansas' Jails

My interest in currently incarcerated HIV positive persons in Arkansas' prisons convicted of violating the transmission criminalization statutes, signed into law by Gov. Bill Clinton in November 1989, grew after the Washington Blade published my column about Hillary Clinton's terrible HIV record as First Lady of Arkansas.

In response to a public records request to the Arkansas Department of Correction, I received a list containing twenty-one names of people presently serving sentences for HIV exposure crimes.

The overwhelming majority of such prisoners are black, with 13 African-American men among the 21 total, 7 are listed as white and 1 is Indian/Native American, while 20 are men and there is a single female.

Most of these prisoners were convicted solely of HIV transmission violations while others also broke rape and drug laws, and all of them deserve a second look at their HIV convictions.

On her presidential campaign web site's AIDS page, Hillary says the following:

"Reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws. Discrimination should never be enshrined in our laws. Hillary will work with advocates, HIV and AIDS organizations, Congress, and other stakeholders to review and reform outdated and stigmatizing federal HIV criminalization laws—and will call on states to do the same."

This is a good start but I am deeply concerned that she has not addressed her silence in the 1980s when Arkansas's HIV transmission laws were put on the books. What does she have to say about taking no actions while serving as the state's First Lady and dozens of poz folks were charged, convicted and incarcerated because of the laws?

Here's a July 2014 news account via law enforcement officials, of one of the prisoners behind his legal troubles. Based on the five counts against him, seems clear the cops over-charged and there's a pattern of entrapment by the police at the area where the suspect was arrested:

Alvinito Colina Bluebird, 35, pictured, was arrested at Fort Smith Park, 5301 Riverfront Drive, on suspicion of loitering, criminal trespass, resisting arrest and third-degree attempted escape after Fort Smith police conducted an undercover operation at the park, according to a police report. 

About noon Wednesday, Bluebird allegedly met with an undercover detective in a wooded area of the park and agreed to engage in a sex act. [. . . ] Bluebird had been banned from all Fort Smith parks for previous convictions in similar arrests at the walking trail, the report states. A Fort Smith Police Department news release issued Thursday stated that Bluebird also will face an additional offense of attempting to knowingly expose a person to HIV.

Based on this very limited information, it appears the suspect didn't have actual sex and no transmission took place, yet he's in jail.

I have several outstanding FOIA requests with the Arkansas Department of Correction and the state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for more information regarding present and past prisoners sentenced under Bill Clinton-approved HIV legislation. Once that information is provided to me, I'll share it.

Meanwhile, I would like Hillary Clinton address what she did as First Lady of Arkansas regarding AIDS and how she'll bring attention to examining these 21 HIV positive prisoners, and work to overturn transmission criminalization laws.

It's the least she can do to show her seriousness about HIV transmission statutes on the books of too many states.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekend Woof #103: Beefy Boys

This edition of Weekend Woof consists entirely of spliced-together footage of various handsome dudes seen around San Francisco in public spaces. The recent warm weather sure got a lotta males wearing less clothing, at cafes and on BART trains. Many thanks to the fellas for gracing the lens of my video camera.


SFIFF59: Japan's 5-Hour Film Best So Far

After the first full day of programming for the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival in the Mission District on Friday, April 22, I sense a gentle footprint establishing itself and adding vibrancy to the neighborhood thanks to use of the Alama Drafthouse, the Victoria and Roxie theaters and the film lounge situated at Valencia and 21st Street.

I've walked out on two films so far. The first, from France and Belgium, "The White Knights", about a hard-charging NGO executive director mucking up an orphan rescue in an unnamed African country and hostilities between local villagers and outsiders predictably flare up.

Terrific acting and desert scenery couldn't hold my attention to a bland plot and tiresome implausibilities stacking up every five minutes, and I left the press screening forty minutes into the film.

The second early exit was at Marco Bellochio's new Italian film "Blood of My Blood". An anemic disappointment from Bellocchio, whose 2009 work "Vincere" was a stirring melodrama about Il Duce Mussolini's first wife who went mad, full of passion and an engaging story.

His new movie is a dull costume drama told in two tales with the initial part set in the 17th century, at a cloister where a young woman is on trial for Satanism. A nobleman and priest falls in love with her, and a bloodless production lumbers on as they plan an escape. Sumptuous costumes were too clean and wrinkle-free for the period, but of more interest than the narrative.

My third choice was the excellent five-hour and thirty-minute Japanese "Happy Hour" saga following four 30-something female friends over a year of changes, good and bad, for all concerned.

A compulsive narrative, sleek production design and a surface coolness to the images that calmly illustrates the passions and emotions of the women and their mates. Contemporary life, artistic and personal fulfillment, romantic failures and employment challenges, and supporting each other through it all, these fully developed female characters are complex creatures.

The only dull patch was an extended author's reading in the fourth hour. Engaging acting from each actress made us care what happened to their characters.

Proud to report an audience of fifty caught it at the Roxie on Friday evening, with many of us agreeing afterward it was well worth our time.

More info on all the programs, films and guests, and to purchase ticket, are found here. What are you seeing at the festival?

(All photos courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Living With HIV Poz Face & Had Fat Injections?

This week, I had my first consultation at UCSF's plastic surgery clinic for information about dealing with the creases in my cheeks known as HIV poz face.

My facial appearance hasn't bothered me until recently, when thanks to bariatric surgery I lost about 80 pounds including losing fat from my around my nose, and the poz face symptoms became more pronounced.

I was assigned to a nice 44-year-old Jewish doctor originally from the Bronx named Jason Pomerantz and we developed a good rapport from the get-go. He sure seemed pleased seeing me with pen and pad taking notes.

The UCSF folks checked with my public insurance carriers and called me to schedule an appointment in June for fat injections.

What Pomerantz would do is take fat from my belly near my navel then inject it into my cheeks. I would be asleep during the procedure. He says this method is preferable and permanent versus silicon and artificial facial fillers.

Well, I'm not quite ready to get the fat injections. I'm first trying to speak with another longterm AIDS survivor or two who've had the procedure and solicit their reactions and advice.

If you're living with HIV and went the fat injection route to deal with your poz face, please get in touch with me soon. Many thanks!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

59th SF Int'l Film Festival: A Few Suggestions

The highlight of my cinematic year begins tonight with the opening night of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theater and runs to May 5th. For what's playing, when and where and how to purchase tickets, click here.

As always, the San Francisco Film Society programmers have over-stuffed the calendar with a wide-ranging and eclectic selection of films and discussions and awards, just how I like it.

This is the first year the festival is not at the Sundance Kabuki. The main venues are the Castro Theater for big-ticket and bold-face name events, the Alamo Drafthouse is the location of most movies on one of their five screens, while the Roxie and Victoria Theaters host showings on their single screens and across the Bay, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is where to catch SFIFF programs.

I'm offering a few suggestions to SFIFF executives, venue hosts and audience members to hopefully enhance the festival experience for all. Let's get started:

1. At the Alamo, consider placing seating options in areas other than the bar with it's loud sounds and darkness, such as on the perch overlooking the entrance and grand staircase or the mezzanine level above the bar where DVD bins are located.

Offer mature cineastes attending the festival a chance to chat and rest before, between and after catching a doc or narrative feature.

One terrific element of the Sundance Kabuki multiplex was the option of hanging out on the second level in a common sofa area and the wine bar, or grabbing a nibble to eat, some conversation and a libation on the third level's eatery with bar stools.

Let's talk about the films!

2. Turn up the temperature in the Alamo's auditoriums. All of the times I've seen a film here, I've had to request the air-conditioning be lowered because I was so chilly even with a jacket or sweater on.

Just one screening, of Jacques Rivette's cult classic "Out1" and all thirteen-hours of it, maintained a comfortable temperature throughout that didn't merit turning down.

3. Post signs at the Alamo entrance informing bike-riding patrons that indoor parking is available on the mezzanine level. I expect bicycle parking to be a premium anywhere near this venue or the other theaters, so everything that can be done for bicycle security would be appreciated by this biker.

4. At all venues, patrons should express thanks to the many volunteers who maintain the lines, accommodate the disabled needing special seating, clean the theaters and answer various questions. Volunteers are key to this and all film festival. Let them know we love them!

That's enough for now. Every edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival is special and memorable, but this year will be especially unique with the festival establishing a welcome footprint in the Mission.

I'll see you at the films!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

SF Symphony & Tilson Thomas' Amazing Mahler Concert

Never question that the combination of the San Francisco Symphony musicians, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the works of Gustav Mahler will deliver the orchestral goods to an audience, for a memorable evening.

We were among the enthralled listeners on April 9th at Davies Hall for the performance of Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and our ears and emotions were treated to an amazing night of classical music.

From the subtle and quieter moments, inducing contemplation, to the grand and robust sounds of the more exuberant passages stirring our souls, we reveled in Mahler's majestic song cycle.

Tenor Simon O'Neill and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke delivered superb and colorful singing perfectly matched with the musicians grand playing that left us charged with joy.

Pulling it all together - Mahler, the singing and musical styling - as only he can with modesty and eloquence, was Thomas from the podium. The maestro was in fine form and only wished to have had a chance to see his face as he conducted.

Needless to say, the audience could barely contain its appreciation for the many artists on the stage as the concert concluded and we stood to offer a wild ovation.

We'll remember the rapturous sounds and standout playing, singing and conducting of that night for a long time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Southern Poverty's 2 Off-Shore Accounts & the Panama Papers

Back in 2010, I blogged about the Southern Poverty Law Center have an off-shore bank account in the Cayman Islands. Thought it was odd a poverty-fighting nonprofit had so much money they need to bank it off-shore.

After the Panama Papers became news recently, I checked the latest IRS 990 filing for SPLC and saw that they not only have an account in the Cayman Islands but also in Bermuda. Is there any other poverty organization so awash in cash they need two off-shore accounts?

Several emails to their spokeswoman Penny Weaver didn't generate a response.

SPLC last year took in $54.2 million in revenue and had $315,353,000 in net assets. Poverty sure is profitable for them!

For four questions related to transfer of property to a foreign corporation or partnership with a foreign firm, SPLC marked the Yes boxes.

The Tiger Global Private Investment Partners based in the Cayman Islands is listed as one of SPLC's foreign partners last fiscal year.

SPLC transferred $960,000 to Tiger Global and I'm not sure what good that did to alleviate poverty in the South or anywhere in America.

As in every previous IRS 990 filing, the robust six-figure salaries for the top executives reveal who's getting rich fighting poverty.

If Penny Weaver or anyone at the SPLC answers my questions about their two off-shore accounts, I'll amend this post.

Follow the money!