Staff Writer Jax Gay
A month after formally pleading guilty to possession of child pornography, Glee actor Mark Salling had died of an apparent suicide, TMZ is reporting.
Saling, who played Puck on the popular musical comedy, was arrested at his Los Angeles home on December 29, 2015, and charged with possessing more than 50,000 images of child pornography. He pleaded guilty in September 30, 2017, agreeing to register as a sex offender and undergo a treatment program, among other stipulations. Saling’s body was reportedly found in a riverbed near his home in Sunderland, though the exact cause of death hasn’t been released.
“I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning,” an attorney for the actor said in a statement. “Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment.”
The 35-year-old actor was due back in court to face sentencing, when he was expected to receive four to seven years in prison as part of a plea deal. TMZ reported the actor previously tried to take his life in August 2017 by cutting his wrists.
His tragic end is at least the second death from the Glee cast: Star Cory Manmoth, who played Finn Hudson, died of an accidental drug overdose in 2013 at age 31.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Man Charged in Murder of Gay California Teen Blaze Bernstein Trained With Extremist Neo-Nazi Hate Group
Staff Writer Jax Gay
The California man accused of killing a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student earlier this month is an avowed neo-Nazi and a member of one of the most notorious extremist groups in the country, according to three people with knowledge of the man’s recent activities.
The man, Samuel Woodward, has been charged in Orange County, California, with murdering Blaze Bernstein, who went missing in early January while visiting his family over winter break. Prosecutors allege that Woodward stabbed Bernstein more than 20 times before burying his body in an Orange County park where it was eventually discovered. The two men had attended high school together.
Woodward, 20, is set to be arraigned on Feb. 2 and has not yet entered a plea. Orange County prosecutors say they are examining the possibility that the killing was a hate crime — Bernstein was Jewish and openly gay — and some recent news reports have suggested that the alleged killer might hold far-right or even white supremacist political beliefs.
Now, three people with detailed knowledge of Woodward’s recent past have been able to shed more light on the young man’s extremist activities. They said Woodward was a member of the Atomwaffen Division, an armed Fascist group with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the U.S. government through the use of terrorism and guerrilla warfare.
The organization, which celebrates Hitler and Charles Manson, has been tied to four other murders and an elaborate bomb plot over the past eight months. Experts who study right-wing extremist movements believe Atomwaffen’s commitment to violence has made it one of the more dangerous groups to emerge from the new wave of white supremacists.
Two of the three people who described Woodward’s affiliations are friends of his; the other is a former member of Atomwaffen Division.
ProPublica’s revelations about Woodward’s background add a new element to a murder case that has attracted considerable local and national news coverage. But they also raise fresh concerns about groups like Atomwaffen Division, shadowy outfits of uncertain size that appear capable of genuine harm.
Woodward joined the organization in early 2016 and later traveled to Texas to attend Atomwaffen meetings and a three-day training camp, which involved instruction in firearms, hand-to-hand combat, camping and survival skills, the former member said. ProPublica has obtained photographs of Woodward at an outdoor Atomwaffen meeting in the scrubby Texas countryside. One of the photos depicts Woodward and other members making straight-armed Nazi salutes while wearing skull masks. In other pictures, Woodward is unmasked and easily identifiable.
The young man is proficient with both handguns and assault rifles, according to one person who participated in the Texas training and watched him shoot. That person also said that Woodward helped organize a number of Atomwaffen members in California.
Social media posts and chat logs shared by Woodward’s friends show that he openly described himself as a “National Socialist” or Nazi. He “was as anti-Semitic as you can get,” according to one acquaintance.
ProPublica contacted Orange County prosecutors regarding Woodward’s alleged neo-Nazi activities. Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, said she couldn’t comment directly on the case, but said the investigation is ongoing, with detectives exploring all possible leads.
Woodward told police Bernstein had tried to kiss him while they were in the park, according to a sealed affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register.
Woodward’s defense lawyer, Edward Munoz, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, Bernstein’s parents spoke to reporters about the loss of their son, but said they were not interested in talking about any information they had on the investigation of his death.
The Los Angeles Times quoted his mother, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, as saying she had worried during her son’s life that he might be a target -- because he was small, and Jewish, and gay.
“I was concerned sending him out into the big world,” she said. “But at some point you have to let go and they leave the nest and fly. I couldn’t protect him from everything.”
Atomwaffen started in 2015 and is estimated to have about 80 members scattered around the country in small cells; the former member said the group’s ranks have grown since the lethal and chaotic “Unite the Right” rally last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia.
While many of the new white extremist groups have consciously avoided using Nazi imagery, Atomwaffen has done the opposite. The name can mean “Atomic Weapons” in German, and the organization embraces Third Reich iconography, including swastikas, the Totenkopf, or death’s head insignia, and SS lightning bolts. The group frequently produces YouTube videos featuring masked Atomwaffen members hiking through the backcountry and firing weapons. They’ve also filmed themselves burning the U.S. Constitution and setting fire to the American flag at an Atomwaffen “Doomsday Hatecamp.
Atomwaffen’s biggest inspiration seems to be James Mason, a long-time fascist who belonged to the American Nazi Party and later, during the 1970s, joined a more militant offshoot. During the 1980s, Mason published a newsletter called SIEGE, in which he eschewed political activism in favor of creating a new fascist regime through murder, small “lone wolf” terror attacks, and all-out war against the government. Mason also struck up a friendship with the late Charles Manson, who has become another hero for Atomwaffen.
The organization first gained a measure of national attention in May of last year, when 18-year-old Devon Arthurs, one of Atomwaffen’s founding members, was charged in state court in Tampa, Florida, with murdering two of his roommates, Andrew Oneschuk, 18, and Jeremy Himmelman, 22. Both victims were Atomwaffen loyalists.
The murders allegedly occurred after Arthurs traded Nazism for radical Islam. When police took Arthurs into custody, according to news accounts based on police reports, he claimed he had shot his former comrades because they had taunted him about his Muslim faith and plotted violent attacks to further their fascist agenda. Arthurs told investigators he killed Onsechuk and Himmelman “because they want to build a Fourth Reich.”
While Arthurs initially confessed to the killings, he has pleaded not guilty and the case is ongoing. In early January, a judge ordered a psychiatrist to determine whether Arthurs is mentally competent to stand trial.
When law enforcement searched the apartment in Tampa, Florida, where Arthurs and the others lived, they found firearms, a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, rifles, ammunition, and a cooler full of a highly volatile explosive called HMTD. Investigators also discovered radioactive material in the home.
The bomb-making material belonged to a fourth roommate, Atomwaffen leader Brandon Russell, a Florida National Guardsman. Arthurs told authorities that Russell had been planning to blow up a nuclear power plant near Miami. Earlier this month Russell pleaded guilty in federal district court in Tampa to illegal possession of explosives and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Atomwaffen surfaced again in connection with a double homicide in Reston, Virginia, in December 2017. A 17-year-old neo-Nazi allegedly shot to death his girlfriend’s parents, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker and Scott Fricker, who had urged their daughter to break up with him. The accused, who shot himself as well but survived and remains hospitalized, was charged as a juvenile in state court in Virginia with two counts of homicide.
The 17-year-old was a big fan of Atomwaffen and James Mason, according to reporting by the Huffington Post, which examined his social media trail.
The former Atomwaffen member in contact with ProPublica said that the teen was more than a fan: He was in direct communication with the group.
“Their rhetoric is some of the most extreme we have seen,” said Joanna Mendelson, a senior researcher at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. The group, she said, views itself as the radical vanguard of the white supremacist movement, the frontline soldiers of an imminent race war.
Staff Writer cityXtra Magazine
You might not have seen the last of Elio and Oliver.
Earlier this month Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino teased how he would like to revisit the characters from the Oscar-nominated film, and now he has revealed details on what audiences can expect from Call Me By Your Name 2: Oliver’s Return—or whatever it will be called.
The book that the movie was based on follows the next two decades in the characters’ lives, but the director decided to leave that part of the story out of his film adaptation. But after the critical success of Call Me By Your Name, Guadagnino may want to explore things further.
“These characters are so fantastic, and I want to know what happens to them,” Guadagnino said in an interview with The Guardian. “The last 40 pages of the book tell you about 20 years in the life of Oliver and Elio.”
The director wants Call Me By your Name to go the Before Sunrise route and have the characters cross paths every few years in the future.
“I think Elio [Timothee Chalamet] will be a cinephile, and I’d like him to be in a movie theater watching Paul Vecchiali’s Once More,” a 1988 film that dealt with gay love and AIDS,” Guadagnino recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “That could be the first scene [in the sequel]… [HIV] is going to be a very relevant part of the story.”
“In my opinion, Call Me can be the first chapter of the chronicles of the life of these people that we met in this movie, and if the first one is a story of coming of age and becoming a young man, maybe the next chapter will be, what is the position of the young man in the world, what does he want — and what is left a few years later of such an emotional punch that made him who he is?”
No word yet on when fans can expect a sequel, but if Call Me By Your Name takes home some awards on Oscar night a second installment will be fast-tracked.
As long as Sufjan Stevens is free to add some more gorgeous original music.
Staff Writer cityXtra Magazine
Sir Elton John is to perform his last ever tour after five decades in music according to reports.
The 70-year-old legend will call time on his musical career in an announcement expected later today, the Daily Mirror reports.
The five-time Grammy winner wrote online earlier: “A wrinkle in time. Past meets present… You’ll finally see where the future lies…”
The announcement comes weeks after his beloved mother passed away age 93.
The I’m Still Standing singer, who has two sons with husband David Furnish, nearly died last year after contracting a bacterial infection while touring in South America.
The infection was described by experts as “rare” and “potentially deadly”, and months of tour dates were cancelled as he recovered from the condition.
Sir Elton’s friends reportedly pleaded with him to slow down after the health scare.
A source told The Sun: “Elton has a real close-knit circle of friends who are genuinely worried about him.
“Nobody wants him to burn himself out and they hope this recent scare will encourage him to take stock.
“But he’s not even considering retirement at present.”
Last year he admitted that a change in his work was inevitable as he marked his 70th birthday.
“Obviously I work – but the work will get less and less and I’ll spend more time with my children growing up.
“And that’s what I want to do, I’ll gradually phase things out in a few years.
“It’s not forever but I want to see my kids grow up. I go all over the world. I just don’t want to tour so much.”
His late mother, Sheila Farebrother died age 92 in December, just months after the mother and son ended their longstanding feud.
In a post to instagram, he described the funeral as “perfect”.
Writing after her funeral he said: “Dear Mum, today’s funeral was perfect.
“Having the service in the family chapel and attended by your brother and sister brought us all comfort.
“Having the service where Nan lived out her final days brought you and your Mother back together again.
“Tomorrow your friends will gather separately to say their good byes. I’ve chosen all the music so everything will be just right.”
He added: “Thank-you for bringing me into the world and for all that you have done for me. Love, Elton #RIP.”
Staff Writer Jax Gay
The owner of a gay bar in Georgia is facing criticism after a series of racist Facebook posts were made public.
Starting in 2015, Palmer Marsh, owner of Burkhart’s Pub in Atlanta, made numerous racist remarks, including referring to then-President Barack Obama a “stupid n*gger” and suggested America would be better off if the Confederacy won the Civil War. (Several posts are still live on Marsh’s feed.)
Burkhart’s opened more than 20 years ago on Piedmont Avenue and is a popular destination for drag shows. Marsh has not commented about the controversy, but Burkhart’s general manager, Don Hunnewell, told the Georgia Voice he contemplated quitting after reading Marsh’s remarks.
“Yesterday it took everything I had to soldier on and not terminate my employment agreement,” said Hunnewell. “As general manager, my first obligation is to maintain and care for the hard-working staff who have dedicated many years to serving a huge loyal customer base… these 50 plus souls often live tip jar to tip jar.”
He added that the Marshes are retired “and have had no active participation in the operations” of the bar.
The racial attitudes of gay bar owners have come under fire in recent years, as some have instituted dress codes that single out people of color. In 2016, a video surfaced showing Darryl DePiano, owner of iCandy in Philadelphia, complaining about black patrons and using the n-word.