Wilson Cruz confirms he’ll be back for Star Trek: Discovery Season 2

Wilson Cruz confirms he'll be back for Star Trek: Discovery Season 2

Britney brings Vegas to the beach, b*tch: Brighton and Hove Pride is back Cruz in the show | Photo: IMDB/CBS It’s San Diego Comic-Con, one of the biggest entertainment and fan conventions in the world, and that means juicy info on all our favorite projects. This time it’s Star Trek: Discovery’s turn.

The following article contains spoilers for the first season of the CBS series.

At the start of the first season, it received praise for placing a gay relationship front and center. They even gave us our first ever gay kiss in the Star Trek franchise.

Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz play Lieutenant Paul Stamets, the ship’s top scientist, and Dr Hugh Culber, Discovery’s medical officer, respectively.

When Hugh died in the first season, however, fans were not happy .

At the time, showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, confirmed this wasn’t the end of their story.

At today’s Comic-Con panel for the show, Cruz confirmed he’s back for the second season. Wilson Cruz confirms he’s back for S2 of #Discovery despite his apparent death last season: "I’m not here just to say hello. We knew it was the first chapter in a long love story. This was just a bump in the road…in my neck." #SDCC2018 — Ethan Alter (@ethanalter) July 20, 2018 ‘I’m not here just to say hello,’ he said of his Season 2 role. ‘We knew it was the first chapter in a long love story. This was just a bump in the road… in my neck.’

The panel also revealed that the upcoming second season will introduce Spock .

The cast and crew are currently filming Season 2, which is expected to debut in 2019.

How did Cher react to the very first gay men she ever met?

How did Cher react to the very first gay men she ever met?

Britney brings Vegas to the beach, b*tch: Brighton and Hove Pride is back Classic Cher | Photo: Facebook/GLAAD In a recent interview with GLAAD, Cher spoke about the first gay men she ever met in her life.

The story came up when the interviewer brought up the LGBTQ attachment to ABBA and Mamma Mia! as a production.

‘Alright you might not like this,’ she begins with a laugh. ‘The first gay man I met I was 12 years old.’

Here’s how the story goes:

‘I came home from school and there were these two guys in our living room. They were talking to my Mom and her best friend and they were so happy and excited about everything they were talking about. So animated. I thought these guys are much more fun than the regular men that come over to visit. I didn’t know they were gay but I just thought these guys are great. It just started from them.’

The exchange starts around the 1:55 mark.

As Cher finishes her story, the interviewer calls the men her ‘dancing queens’, to which she laughs and agrees. ‘Swept away in the excitement’

Next, the interviewer asks Cher about her new film, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. It’s the sequel movie, currently out in theaters, to the 2008 adaptation of the Broadway musical.

‘I was nervous to be here because everyone had been together before, had been such friends,’ she said, referring to the first film.

‘But then, the movie is just so much fun and it sweeps up the audience. I don’t know, I do this, when watching a movie. I want a movie to be great. But if it’s not, I start picking it apart. I can’t help myself and then, of course, it gets ruined. With this, I think you’re swept away in the excitement. It’s pure joy and just fabulous.’

So fabulous that she announced she’s doing an album of ABBA covers . More from Gay Star News

Cher and Meryl Streep kiss at the Mamma Mia! premiere – here’s the photo evidence

Roundup of anti-LGBT events and activities 7/20/2018

Roundup of anti-LGBT events and activities 7/20/2018

The following is a list of activities and events of anti-LGBT organizations. Organizations listed as anti-LGBT hate groups are designated with an asterisk.

Alliance Defending Freedom*

The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected a petition from a bed and breakfast that sought review of a lower court’s ruling that the business had violated the state’s anti-discrimination statute when it refused a room to a lesbian couple.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represents Aloha Bed & Breakfast, whose owner says that same-sex relationships “defile our land.”

ADF also appealed a June 7 ruling in Arizona in which a Christian business sued in an attempt to ensure a right to discriminate against LGBT customers before any complaints alleging discrimination are lodged against it.

ADF International’s Kelsey Zorzi began serving June 28 as president of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief (CFRB) which was founded in 1991 to “promote and defend international agreements protecting freedom of religion or belief from within the United Nations headquarters in New York City,” according to the CFRB website .

The committee consists of civil society leaders and “advances freedom of religion or belief” by coordinating NGO (non-governmental organization) activities in New York City and communicating with the Office of the UN High Commissioner and other UN offices and member states, as well as working with NGOs in Geneva. Zorzi also serves as UN counsel with ADF International.

American Family Association*

The American Family Association (AFA)* announced its refusal to support President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in June. Trump announced his pick the evening of July 9. According to an AFA press release quoted at the blog joemygod.com , AFA had the following to say regarding the president’s announcement of his pick: Judge Kavanaugh is simply the wrong nominee—even a bad nominee. Based on his written opinions, Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a deficiency in a constitutional judicial philosophy of a limited judiciary. …Judge Kavanaugh’s reasoning on religious liberty, Obamacare and issues concerning life have proven to be of major concern. For these reasons and more, urge your senators to firmly oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a Justice on the United States Supreme Court. AFA was the lone right-wing evangelical Christian voice speaking out against Kavanaugh’s nomination, and apparently received backlash for the statement and its proposed campaign to “#StopKavanaugh.” Within five hours , the group reversed course, issued an endorsement of the judge and removed its earlier materials (including an anti-Kavanaugh petition) from its website.

According to a statement posted July 10, AFA has opposed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court for some very valid reasons. We are deeply concerned about how he might ultimately rule on issues related to abortion and religious liberty. For these reasons, we consider this nomination to represent a four-star appointment when it could have been five-star. However, after hearing the concerns of some of our supporters, and after hearing the passionate defense of Judge Kavanaugh by many we consider to be friends in the pro-life movement, we are willing to let this process play out. C-Fam (Center for Family and Human Rights)*

On June 9, Austin Ruse, president of C-Fam, tweeted “Nice business you have there…it would be too bad if anything happened to it,” in response to a Tweet by the LGBT organization Human Rights Campaign (HRC) regarding an initiative for businesses that support LGBT people. The HRC initiative encourages businesses to hang signs in their windows that say they’re “open to all” and to share social media posts. Ruse’s statement is a play on alleged mafia intimidation techniques.

HRC may have taken the statement by Ruse to be a threat against businesses that hang signs in support of LGBT people because, according to an article posted July 3 by hard-right news outlet LifeSite, HRC filed a civil rights complaint with the FBI. According to the article, an FBI agent contacted Ruse, apparently about the Tweet and the statement he made in it.

Ruse told LifeSite, “I told [the FBI contact] it was a reference to the mafia shaking down businesses for protection.” Ruse claimed that “of course he knew that” and that “he chuckled. You could tell he was rather embarrassed at having to ask. He could not have been nicer.”

Ruse went on to say that the American Family Association* designated HRC a “hate group…for their attacks on Christians who stand up for traditional sexual morality,” a reference to a long-gone so-called “bigotry map” that AFA attempted to launch in 2015 in response to SPLC’s hate map. Ruse referenced the map earlier this year , as well, even though the map no longer exists because AFA quietly removed it from its website in early 2016.

In an op-ed Ruse did at stream.org about the incident, Ruse attempts to clarify the point of his tweet, which appears to have been made as an accusation against HRC—that is, HRC will “shake down businesses” that don’t hang its signs, claiming that the HRC initiative for “open to all” signs in business windows was akin to “soviet tactics.” Referencing these tactics with regard to Soviet-era Czechoslovakia, Ruse wrote, Businesses were asked to put up pro-Soviet posters in the windows of their shops. Most of them knew the punishment that would come if they didn’t. So most of them put up the posters simply to avoid trouble. That’s what this anti-Christian hate group is doing. Intimidating businesses into accepting their propaganda and employing federal agents to harass their critics. As is often said these days, this will not end well. This isn’t the first time a comment Ruse has made with potentially violent undertones has garnered attention. In 2014 on AFA radio, he called for left-wing professors to be “taken out and shot.” Though he apologized for the statement following an outcry, AFA severed ties with him and one of C-Fam’s board members resigned after Faithful America petitioned him to do so.

James Dobson Family Institute

The James Dobson Family Institute (JFDI), which launched in 2017 as an extension of Dobson’s Family Talk ministry, has opened a new public policy center, which it announced July 6 on the JFDI website.

According to a November 2017 JFDI newsletter , the center will “inform, educate, and lead families to address the impact that local, state, and federal legislation or policies will have on couples and families.” The center will do this through articles, seminars and larger ministry events, according to the newsletter.

JFDI also announced July 6 that Jenna Ellis, a constitutional law attorney, will be the policy center’s director. Ellis is listed as an assistant professor of legal studies and the forensics coach at Colorado Christian University (CCU). Her biography at CCU states that “she has served as a deputy district attorney, private counsel, and counsel for the U.S. Department of State and Department of the Navy.”

According to JFDI, Ellis has also published opinion and legal analysis pieces in such venues as the Washington Examiner , The Daily Wire and National Review . In addition, JFDI notes, Ellis “recently secured an exclusive interview with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions” for JFDI.

Ellis also contributes to CCU’s Centennial Institute as a fellow, according to a bio posted at Colorado Springs-based Summit Ministries. The Centennial Institute sponsors the hard-right Western Conservative Summit, which was held in Denver in June. Speakers included the anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy ’s* president Frank Gaffney ; Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk (TPUSA members have been linked to the white nationalist alt-right); Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has a history of racist and inflammatory statements and who retweeted a Nazi sympathizer in June.

Ellis has also made reference to an “LGBT agenda,” as in 2016 when she claimed at the blog stridentconservative, “I’m disappointed conservatives are acquiescing to the LGBT agenda” in the aftermath of the mass shooting and subsequent deaths of 49 people at Pulse, an Orlando LGBT bar. “The response to this tragedy,” Ellis continues, “should not be embracing and advocating for gay rights” and that just because we are all heartbroken (and indeed we are) that 50 [sic; the shooter was the 50 th death] Americans lost their lives does not mean that America, conservatives, or Christians should become activists for homosexuality or any other immorality. …We cannot conflate the issue here. The deaths were an absolute tragedy, but LGBT activism is NOT the appropriate response. …If something is wrong, it is wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. Mass murder is wrong. But two wrongs do not made a constitutional gay right.” Family Research Council*

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins hosts a daily radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from June 28 through July 16 included Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO); Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS); Chris Wilson (CEO, WPA Intelligence); Horace Cooper (senior fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research); Mona Oshana (“Mona K Show”); Carrie Severino (chief counsel, Judicial Crisis Network); Terry Jeffrey (CNS Editor-in-Chief); Richard Mast ( Liberty Counsel *); Steve Cortes (CNN and President Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council); David Ward (director, National Association of Former Border Patrol); Rena Lindevaldsen (prof. of law, Liberty University); Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX); Amb. Sam Brownback; Gordon Chang (author); Adam Andrzejewski (CEO, Open the Books); Tina Marie Griffin (“Counter Culture Mom” and former actress); Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA); Carroll Conley (exec. dir., Christian Civil League of Maine); Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ); Sen. James Lankford (R-OK); Brent Bozell (pres., Media Research Center); William Koenig (World Watch Daily); Pastor Konnor McKay (Waldron Pentecostal Church of God, AR); Mike Berry (First Liberty); Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) Kristina Arriaga (vice chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Eben Fowler (director of broadcast operations, Bott Radio Network); Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK); Todd McNutt (author)

Judicial, Legislative, federal

Texas GOP platform includes anti-LGBT planks

Last month, the Texas GOP passed a platform that includes several anti-LGBT planks, including support for an anti-trans “bathroom bill,” support for harmful ex-gay therapy and language that says: We affirm God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman, which has proven to be the foundation for all great nations in Western Civilization. We oppose homosexual marriage, regardless of state of origin. We urge the Texas legislature to pass religious liberty protections for individuals, businesses, and government officials who believe marriage is between one man and one woman. We oppose the granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. Other planks call for the cessation of teaching sex-ed in public schools; the prohibition of reproductive healthcare services for students in schools; for students to pledge allegiance to both the U.S. and the Texas flags to “instill […]

Michigan law doesn’t prohibit LGBT bias, Schuette rules

Michigan law doesn’t prohibit LGBT bias, Schuette rules

(Photo: Anthony Lanzilote / Special to Detroit News) Lansing — In a legal opinion sure to reverberate through his campaign for governor, Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette on Friday deemed “invalid” a new agency interpretation that had extended anti-discrimination protections to gay and transgender Michigan residents.

The formal opinion was derided by a Democratic state lawmaker as an attempt to "trample" on the gay community but praised by a conservative attorney who had considered legal action on behalf of GOP legislators.

Schuette said the Michigan Civil Rights Commission overstepped its authority in May when it determined that an existing ban on “sex” discrimination also prohibits bias on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The interpretation had been hailed as a major victory for gay rights and prompted the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to begin investigating suspected discrimination.

But the panel’s interpretation is “invalid because it conflicts with the original intent of the Legislature as expressed in the plain language" of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976, Schuette said.

State agencies can interpret laws, but the interpretation “cannot be used to change the statute or to enforce the statute in a way that conflicts with the law’s plain meaning,” he wrote in the 19-page opinion.

While a Schuette spokeswoman said the opinion is "binding on state government," some gay rights advocates disagreed. Civil Rights Director Augstin Arbulu said his department will "continue taking and processing complaints, but we will not begin investigating those complaints until after the commission provides us with direction."

The Civil Rights Commission was already set to meet Monday.

If investigations end, "then once again LGBT Michiganders are going to be the only people in our state who don’t have access to civil rights laws," said Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan. "And that, of course, will be a tragedy."

The advocacy group disagreed with the opinion "and so do the top legal minds in the state who had looked at this," White said. She accused Schuette "of using his office for partisan, personal gain, which has been the attorney general’s habit since he took office."

Schuette is one of four Republicans competing in the Aug. 7 gubernatorial primary. Democratic rival Gretchen Whitmer calls his opinion "disgusting."

But David Kallman, an attorney with the conservative Great Lakes Justice Center, praised Schuette for an opinion he said "upheld the rule of law and upheld the separation of powers between executive and legislative branches.

"I understand people are upset and up in arms over this issue, but that’s not what’s driving the opinion," Kallman said. "It’s a good government, constitutional issue."

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission adopted the interpretive statement May 21, holding that an existing prohibition on sex discrimination should also apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. Equality Michigan had requested it.

Schuette weighed in at the request of Republican state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof of West Olive and House Speaker Tom Leonard of DeWitt. They asked Schuette for his legal opinion on May 29, calling the Civil Rights Commission’s vote an attempt to “usurp the Legislature’s authority by attempting to amend state law under the guise of an interpretive statement.”

The attorney general agreed, noting the Legislature has repeatedly failed to act on bills to expand the civil rights law to include protections for gay and transgender residents.

Federal court rulings that expanded the meaning of the word "sex" are "not consistent with Michigan’s principles of statutory interpretation," Schuette wrote. "In Michigan, the mechanism for evolution in statutory law is through legislation."

State Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, called the opinion an attempt to "drag our state into the darkness of the past."

“While Bill Schuette attempts to trample on the LGBTQ community in an effort to appeal to an extreme fringe in an election year, I’m confident that progress will continue to march forward without him," Moss said in a statement. "… It’s not a matter of ‘if’ we expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but ‘when.’ Bill Schuette will be remembered in this moment as an antagonist on the wrong side of history.”

Jay Kaplan, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s LGBT Project, said Schuette appeared to "cherry pick" cases to support his argument but ignore important federal decisions, including rulings from the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which covers Michigan.

"He wanted to reach the conclusion he reached," Kaplan said, arguing Schuette also "mischaracterized" statutes and administrative rules giving the Civil Rights Commission the authority to render its interpretive statement.

Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said his opinion was based on a reading of the state Constitution.

"This is about an unelected commission making law when the Constitution expressly gives that ability only to the Legislature," she said.

Kaplan said it’s "questionable" whether Schuette’s opinion is binding on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Kallman disagreed, saying formal opinions are binding on state agencies but not individuals.

Any enforcement actions resulting from ongoing investigations into alleged sexual orientation or gender identity complaints will not hold up in court as a result of Schuette’s opinion, Kallman argued.

"I would love to take that to court," he said. "That’s winner on our side."


Pink Dot: Singapore’s rare gem for LGBT community shines brighter than ever

Pink Dot: Singapore’s rare gem for LGBT community shines brighter than ever

Two women cheer at a Pink Dot rally in support of gay rights in Singapore. Photo: AP In protest-averse , where civil society activists rejoice when their events draw more than 500 people, the annual Pink Dot gay pride rally has become a stand-out affair for its ever-swelling crowds.

Now in its 10th edition, this year’s rally to be held on Saturday afternoon is expected to once again pull in a crowd of more than 20,000 people comprising the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community as well as many of their straight allies.

As in previous years, the event will be held in Speakers’ Corner, the country’s sole free speech park and the only place where authorities say Pink Dot can be held.

Organisers and members of the LGBTI community say there is much to cheer about, given rising concerns that gay rights advocacy in the country, where consensual sex between men remains illegal, might be plateauing.

Also being celebrated is the proliferation of Pink Dot events overseas – Hong Kong is among a handful of places that hosts similar rallies. Event participants form a giant pink dot at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore. Photo: EPA The steady rise in stature of Singapore’s Pink Dot was dealt a blow last year after government imposed new restrictions to keep out foreign participation.

Not only did this exclude foreigners from the rally, but it also barred prominent foreign companies like Facebook, JP Morgan and Google from sponsoring the event as they had done in previous years.

Alongside the new rules, police mandated tougher security checks, forcing organisers to set up barricades and security checkpoints at the event, known for its party-like atmosphere filled with many people wearing pink-coloured clothing and accessories.

In 2014, the event was forced to contend with a countermovement by Christian and Muslim conservatives called “WearWhite”, as it had become apparent that Pink Dot’s benign message – organisers say their only objective is to promote “the freedom to love” – had become an effective tool for gay rights advocacy.

Authorities stepped in, urging both sides to practice restraint. A Hong Kong Pink Dot event at West Kowloon Nursery Park. Photo: Dickson Lee “It is definitely a milestone, because we were uncertain if we could even reach 10 years … we have had so many things thrown our way,” said Paerin Choa, a spokesman for Pink Dot who has been volunteering with the movement since its inception in 2009.

LGBTI activist Jean Chong was equally effusive about the milestone. “10 years is an amazing feat for a country that still criminalises consenting sex between men,” Chong said, referring to Section 377A of the penal code, which makes the act illegal.

The law, which dates back to British colonial rule, makes no mention of lesbian sex.

While Pink Dot has tilted popular opinion slightly in favour of LGBTI rights, Chong and others in the community say the 10 years since the event’s inception has seen little social change because of the government’s apathy about their rights.

Some 53 per cent of Singaporeans “accept gay lifestyles”, but 55 per cent reject gay marriage, according to a survey conducted in 2013. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo: Xinhua Premier Lee Hsien Loong had previously said he was prepared to live with the “uneasy compromise” of living with Section 377A “until social attitudes change”.

Along with the retention of Section 377A, which the government says it retains on the books for “symbolic” purposes but will not enforce, LGBTI people in Singapore say they are disadvantaged by certain policies aimed at incentivising heterosexual marriage and childbearing. In housing, for example, only heterosexual wedded couples can apply for subsidised public housing flats. Single people can only apply for such units after they turn 35.

“There’s no reason to get into a self-congratulatory mood just yet … 10 years of Pink Dot feels good, but little has changed policy-wise, and I don’t sense any urgency from within the government for change,” said a gay civil servant who has attended the Pink Dot rally every year.

Chong, co-founder of LGBTI rights group Sayoni, said: “The lack of a right to self actualisation for a LGBT Singaporean is a signal on how [the] government treats its vulnerable minorities.” Hong Kong’s largest Pink Dot event at West Kowloon Nursery Park. Photo: Dickson Lee In Hong Kong, where the LGBTI community is celebrating a landmark court decision on dependent visas for same-sex couples in civil unions, the activist who “imported” Pink Dot urged her Singaporeans counterparts to keep plugging away.

“The situation in Hong Kong and Singapore is different because we have certain freedoms … we have our pride parade and so on to push for advocacy in a way that they [in Singapore] can’t … still Pink Dot’s achievements in Singapore is very impressive,” said Lee, a Singaporean who has lived in Hong Kong for about two decades and is among a handful of activists who have been hosting Pink Dot Hong Kong since 2014.

Smaller-scale Pink Dot events have been held in Taiwan, the United States, Malaysia, Canada and Japan.

This year’s Pink Dot Hong Kong is slated for October 21 in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Said Lee: “Ultimately, its Pink Dot’s simple but powerful message that makes it effective in Hong Kong, Singapore or anywhere: ‘love is love and we should have the freedom to love who we want’.” ■

Mortgage misery: The homeowners facing repossession

Mortgage misery: The homeowners facing repossession

He used to be a London cabbie, while she ran a shop.

But ten years after they took out a mortgage, Peter and Lisa King are now in debt by £500,000, and are due to have their home in Essex repossessed.

They fell behind with their repayments after chronic illness struck the household.

At one stage the stress drove Mr King to attempt suicide.

"The worst bit is not knowing your future; not knowing from one day to the next where you’re going to live; how you’re going to survive; how you’re going to care for your family," says Mrs King.

"It’s hard to not know, one day to the next, am I still going to have a home? Or are we going to be evicted?"

In five years of campaigning to stay in their home, Mrs King even tried addressing the Lloyds annual general meeting, to tell the company’s shareholders about their woe.

But so far there has been no resolution, and the day when they have to pack their suitcases is getting closer. ‘Mis-sold’

Like hundreds of thousands of other homeowners, the Kings appear to be a victim of the excessive lending that took place in the years before the financial crisis.

It was a time when rising house prices seemed to be part of the brickwork, and banks thought lending was relatively low risk.

As a result many people took out interest-only mortgages, knowing they were cheap, and believing that their rapidly growing housing equity would eventually help pay off the loan.

Furthermore, for self-employed people like the Kings, there was a product called a "self-certified" mortgage.

Affordability checks in such cases were minimal, which is why they were banned in 2011. Borrowers ignoring mortgage timebomb

FCA seeks help for mortgage prisoners

Nevertheless in 2008 Mr and Mrs King took out an interest-only, self-certified mortgage of £337,500, sold to them by an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA).

At the time they already had debts of £58,000. And they were apparently unaware they needed to save up to pay off the capital when the loan matured.

"We weren’t told we had to have a repayment vehicle, but at the time I was desperate. So we were mis-sold the mortgage," says Mr King. Instead of paying off the debt, the couple planned to downsize. According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), there are 1.67 million homeowners in the UK on some form of interest-only mortgage. That accounts for over 17% of all borrowers.

The FCA says many of those borrowers are at risk of not having enough money to pay off their loans when they mature. Many might be forced to downsize. Some could face repossession.

But as if their mortgage itself wasn’t burden enough, the Kings were also hit by ill health. ‘Locked in’

In January 2013 Mr King was diagnosed with ME – otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a disabling illness that forced both him and his wife Lisa to give up work.

The disease also brought on depression.

Under FCA rules , banks are obliged to consider a range of alternatives in such cases, including changing the type of mortgage the borrower has.

Mr King phoned the Halifax – part of the Lloyds Banking Group – to tell them he could no longer afford to make repayments. He was given two choices – to extend the term of the mortgage, or take a short "payment holiday."

He chose the latter.

But Mr King believes the bank should also have offered him a switch to a lower interest rate.

"They conducted themselves in such a way as to restrict my options to one option, knowing full well that I was a vulnerable customer," says Mr King. As a result, the Kings had to pay the Halifax’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR) of 3.99% for most of the remaining five years of their mortgage. By contrast, fixed mortgage rates, which the Halifax also offers, have since fallen to as low as 1.35% – see the chart above.

Paul Carlier, of the financial consultancy Jupiter 87, which has been helping the Kings, says moving to a fixed rate mortgage would have saved the Kings a fortune.

"They should have been able to switch mortgage product, and save £500 per month, and they wouldn’t have been in the position they’re currently in," he told the BBC. Support

However Lloyds says it was under no obligation to offer Mr King a cheaper mortgage product.

But had he restarted payments after his mortgage holiday, he could have applied for a product transfer then.

It also points out that the Halifax was nothing to do with the sale of the mortgage, and says Mr King was treated sympathetically throughout. Lloyds says Mr King was treated as a vulnerable customer "We have a specialist team dedicated to supporting vulnerable customers, and ensuring we understand their individual circumstances," it said.

"The team has provided support to Mr King at appropriate times since he fell into financial difficulty."

The King’s case has twice been rejected by the independent adjudicator, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

In its final decision, in July 2016, the FOS confirmed that Lloyds was not obliged to offer a cheaper mortgage, and said it could not see what else the bank could have done to help the Kings.

Lloyds has not yet repossessed the King’s home, although it obtained the legal right to do so a year ago.

It says it is still willing to consider any reasonable proposal. ‘Mortgage misery’

In its advice to borrowers, the FCA recommends people with interest-only loans to switch to a repayment mortgage where possible, or extend the mortgage term.

Citizens Advice says anyone with either an interest-only or a self-certified mortgage could also try and change provider, or sell their home and move to somewhere smaller.

But given that the value of their home barely exceeds the size of their debts, that is not a realistic option for the Kings.

They are now living on benefits, with poor health, and in nothing short of mortgage misery.

Sooty at 70: Magic, water pistols and enduring popularity

Sooty at 70: Magic, water pistols and enduring popularity

Sooty has appeared in numerous shows for both the BBC and ITV When Harry Corbett bought a bear glove puppet on Blackpool’s North Pier in 1948 to entertain his children, he could surely not have realised he was teaming up with a future TV icon.

Sooty, who turned 70 on Thursday, cost the then-engineer 7s 6d (about £11.50 in today’s money) but proved a bargain as he grew from those humble beginnings into a star of stage and screen, delighting generations of children on both the BBC and ITV.

Although he whispers into his co-stars’ ears, the rest of us have never heard him speak a word, as he prefers to let his wand and water pistol do the talking. And yet the "magical" bear has still managed to have a catchphrase – "Izzy wizzy, let’s get busy" – which his human companions have uttered to accompany his tricks. Before TV, Sooty did not have black ears – they were added so he could be seen on screen Sooty with Harry Corbett and his sons David, nine (left) and Peter, six (centre), in 1955. Peter would go on to be better known as Matthew Corbett The pairing of Sooty and Harry Corbett was an instant hit, winning a public vote to take a BBC talent show title. And they knew a good place to buy musical instruments… Richard Cadell, who has been keeping Sooty in check since 1998, said it was "an amazing achievement that Sooty is so popular after 70 years".

But for him, the "secret is absolutely the simplicity of it all – everybody knows The Sooty Show". In 1965 Harry and Sooty appeared on Desert Island Discs. Their luxury item was a trumpet, while songs included My Favourite Things by Julie Andrews Bears go to school and wear glasses too, you know Will there be a cake to rival this one for Sooty’s 70th birthday? Sooty shot to fame four years after he and Corbett teamed up in the Lancashire resort, winning the BBC’s Talent Night programme in 1952 and bagging themselves a series shortly after.

TV also gave Sooty his black ears and nose, as Corbett decided to cover them with soot so they would show up on black and white transmissions – the colouring also gave the bear his name. Sooty was handed from father to son in 1976, when Harry retired and Matthew took up the reins The bear’s madcap antics saw Matthew Corbett end most shows with a good soaking Since then, Sooty has barely been off the screen, appearing in shows that have seen him show off his magic and comedy skills, run a hotel, work as a shop assistant and entertain several generations of children.

And he’s taken all his antics on to the stage too, appearing in pantomimes and Christmas shows for decades. Basil Brush turns 50 – Boom Boom

Famous TV puppets go on show in Wolverhampton

How do you create a hit kids’ TV show?

The controversy of Soo

Couples were getting together in front of the TV cameras long before Love Island Speaking on Wogan in the 1980s, Harry Corbett said when he first introduced the idea of Soo as Sooty’s girlfriend, he was told by a producer that she could not be included as "it’s sex creeping into the programme"

The story was covered in the national press, with one headline reading "No sex for Sooty"

BBC bosses relented, but Harry was told that while Sooty could have a girlfriend, they "must not touch"

There have been other Sooty controversies too – in 2001 the government was accused of using the popular bear to promote the census without seeking permission from his owners

Corbett retired in 1976, shortly after moving to ITV, and Sooty was passed to his son, Matthew, who found equal success and an even wider cast of friends.

Most passing fans will know Sweep, a dog, and Soo, a panda, but they are far from the only pals to have appeared on screen with the bear.

There has also been air-time for Sooty’s cousin Scampi, Butch the dog, Sweep’s parents, two cats called Kipper and Miki, Soo’s Australian cousin Soola and a snake called Ramsbottom. Sooty has had a myriad of co-stars, but the best known is the cheeky dog Sweep. Here they are in their smartest winter attire Such has been Sooty’s fame that he and his friends have also been immortalised in animation Since Matthew Corbett’s retirement in 1998, it has been down to his Sooty Show co-star Richard Cadell to try and keep on top of the little bear’s antics.

He has taken Sooty back to Blackpool to celebrate his birthday with the unveiling of a plaque and a special day of celebration. Sooty has returned before to the spot where he met his mentor Richard Cadell joined the Sooty Show in the 80s and took charge in 1998 For him, Sooty’s enduring appeal is in his familiarity.

"Parents trust it and they know what they’re going to get," he said.

"It’s good simple slapstick family friendly laughs from one of the most adorable characters in television history."

UK Heatwave 2018: The winners and losers

UK Heatwave 2018: The winners and losers

This summer is set to be one of the hottest – and driest – on record. With no substantial rain since May and temperatures tipping past 30C (86F), a hosepipe ban looms as the heatwave continues to stretch ahead of us in an untypically British manner.

There are, as with most things in life, pros and cons to the hot weather.

Watering can salespeople enjoy a boom in trade, their counterparts in the electric blanket department see a slump. Butterflies bask in the long hot days, unaware of the jeopardy faced by the next generation of caterpillars.

Here are some of the winners and losers of the season. On the rails

Overcrowded rail services are rarely improved by hot weather, with both practical and personal hurdles to overcome. Heat can buckle tracks and cause delays , while your fellow-traveller’s underarm aroma could be escalated by the oven-like atmosphere of the quiet carriage.

On the other hand, business is booming at heritage railways . Chuffing along with the wind (and soot) in your hair while hoping to spot Jenny Agutter waving her red petticoat is something that can be enjoyed in soaring temperatures.

For example, the Severn Valley Railway is expecting bumper numbers this weekend, and has added new dates for its Wizard Express, while Telford Steam Railway is preparing for 500 people to turn up on Sunday.

Shouting "Oh, my daddy! My daddy!" is optional. Keeping animals cool in the heatwave

What are the effects of a heatwave?

The hottest quiz of the year?

Purveyors of outdoor living

Try getting a garden parasol for a reasonable price and you’ll be up against it – the cheapest ranges at Ikea, Homebase and B&Q are all low on stock.

Sales of barbecues and paddling pools also soared with the temperatures – so once again there is limited availability.

People in Birmingham who want to get their hot little mitts on an Argos paddling pool will have to travel to Warwick to get one, while those in Bradford would have to go to Clitheroe to get theirs.

Humans aren’t the only creatures who should slip-slop-slap .

Cats , especially white ones, should have sun cream put on their ears, and horses’ noses are also at risk. Prevent premature pork crackling by applying sunscreen to pet pigs.

Dogs , always eager to go for walks, lollop about and get overexcited, should be exercised in the early morning or late evening when it’s a bit cooler for them.

The RSPCA suggests letting them splash about in a paddling pool. The Warwick and Clitheroe branches of Argos should therefore stand by to repel hordes of hot hounds. Happy holidaymakers

People already booked in for a summer break in the UK have done well – they have the high temperatures of "abroad" without the need to transfer their shampoos and sun creams into 100ml bottles wedged into a freezer bag.

According to the Association of British Travel Agents, two thirds of us have planned a British break for this year.

Patricia Yates, the director of Visit Britain, said the hot weather acts as a "timely reminder" to people who are "making a late call on where to go on holiday".

Many campsites are fully booked but determined searchers will be able to find late-availability pitches.

Those who eschewed Margate for Malaga will not only have to limit their luggage but might find their homebody neighbours have a better tan than them when they return.

Losers. The very hungry caterpillars

Butterflies may be flitting about having fun in the sun but caterpillars are having a terrible time. The plants they need are wilting, and a lack of food might mean they are unable to pupate and survive over the winter.

A comparison can be made with the long hot summer of 1976 – research by the University of York suggests that summer was the worst extreme event to affect butterflies and moths since detailed records began.

The heat, coupled with a sustained drought, caused numbers to plummet across at least 50 different species which never fully recovered. There’s happy paddling for ducks in Aylesbury Other losers from the hot weather include badgers and hedgehogs , which find it harder to dig up worms as the ground hardens and worms burrow deeper for an easier passage and to find moisture.

And spare a thought for ducks – police from Aylesbury did . They filled two paddling pools for the happy quackers. #Savetheducks. The Grinch begins early

Christmas trees are unlikely to be on many minds at the moment, but farmers say there could be a price hike this yuletide season.

The heatwave is causing the festive firs to wither and go brown – and some are even dying in the hot weather.

It’s the smaller – and therefore cheaper – trees that are the most affected, as older and bigger ones have deeper roots with which to reach water.

People with a pea-ssimistic outlook also warn that Christmas dinner may be affected.

Pea crops are suffering as the plants overexert themselves searching for water and the hot weather kills them before they reach maturity. Marrowfat and split green varieties are the most widely affected, according to the British Edible Pulses Association.

It’s swings and roundabouts though – as the weather is proving good for lentil crops. Traditionally grown in India and North Africa, the heatwave has created good growing conditions in the UK this year. Wildlife winners

Hot weather makes ants more active – bad news for those of us fed up of being nipped by the likes of the already rampant horsefly .

But it’s good news for creatures like the green woodpecker , which enjoys an ant or ten on its summer menu.

It’s also good weather for lavender farmers, as it is a Mediterranean plant and requires a similar climate to thrive.

The Provence region of France is where most lavender is commercially grown, but this summer the Cotswolds and Kent may be giving it a run for its money.

And lavender sachets at the ready – known for its soporific qualities, it may help you drop off to sleep on these sultry (sweaty) summer nights.

Massachusetts budget awards more that $250,000 to help LGBT homeless youth

Massachusetts budget awards more that $250,000 to help LGBT homeless youth

Gov. Charlie Baker, Secretary Jay Ash and Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay testify on a housing a bill on Jan. 30, 2018. The state budget has included money for LGBTQ homeless youth. ( BOSTON — The state budget approved by the Legislature includes more than $2.3 million in funding for the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance Inc., $250,000 of which will be used to help homeless young adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning.

The money is part of the $41.88 billion budget approved by the Massachusetts Senate and House. It awaits approval from Gov. Charlie Baker.

The budget appropriation supports the Housing and Shelter Alliance’s Home and Healthy for Good program. According to the alliance’s website, the program "is at the forefront of a significant paradigm shift in how Massachusetts addresses the costly phenomenon of homelessness, particularly for chronically homeless individuals and individuals who represent the highest usage of emergency public services."

"HHG continues to demonstrate that providing housing and supportive services to chronically homeless individuals through a low-threshold, Housing First model is less costly and more effective than managing their homelessness and health problems on the street or in shelter," the website states.

"The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, Inc. shall be solely responsible for the administration of this program," according to the budget.

The state has charged the Housing and Shelter Alliance with filing a report with state officials "on the number of people served, the average cost per participant, the demographics of those served, whether participants have previously received government services and any projected cost-savings in other state-funded programs."

Man arrested for blindfolding straight men and tricking them into making gay porn

Man arrested for blindfolding straight men and tricking them into making gay porn

All you need to know about Pride Amsterdam’s suggestive Canal Parade A man has been arrested for allegedly blindfolding men and tricking them into making gay porn.

Bryan Deneumostier, 33, was arrested this week. He faces five charges in relation to the porn site StraightBoyz.

The videos are an ‘amateur’ version of a popular gay porn theme of ‘baiting’ straight guys into gay sex.

One of the most popular sites with this theme is Bait Bus.

In these videos, the ‘straight guy’ is lured into a van. He is told he is about to have sex with a woman on camera. Once he is blindfolded, a man appears and begins to give him a blowjob. The ‘straight guy’ then takes off the blindfold. He is then promised money if he has sex with the man.

Many of the ‘straight guys’ are actually gay or bisexual. The videos are scripted.

However, on StraightBoyz, Deneumostier is accused of ‘duping’ men for real.

Police claim he posed as a bored housewife on Craigslist in Homestead, Florida.

When the men arrived at the home, they agreed to be blindfolded or wear blacked-out goggles. They were then tied to a chair and wore headphones.

There is no ‘narrative’ to the porn. The videos are often just the men, already blindfolded, as they receive the blowjob.

It is believed many of the victims were workers at the nearby Homestead Reserve Air Base, the Miami Heald reports.

‘When the men ask for assurances that there are no cameras, he assured them that “she’s” married to someone in the army and she would never photograph or video them,’ documents pertaining to the case detail.

‘Deneumostier is video and audio taping the entire sexual encounter.’

He is believed to have made over 600 videos. The site, StraightBoyz, is no longer available. Man faces five charges for tricking straight men into gay porn

The US Homeland Security investigations team is leading the case.

Deneumositer was charged with two counts of illegal interception of oral communication along with three counts record-keeping violations.

Just earlier this month, however, Deneumostier was charged with having unlawful sex with a minor.

Police found him with a teenager at a hotel near his home. The boy had been reported missing and Denemostier admitted to drinking, drugging and having sex with the teen.

‘There were leather handcuffs, sexual lubricant and a leather whip in plain view in the room,’ the police report said. Read more