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2012 Olympics: Who Are The LGBT Athletes? Day Seventeen- Natalie Cook

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This is the seventeenth in a series of articles profiling known out and proud Olympic athletes who are openly LGBT. The New Civil Rights Movement will publish one article each day as we move into the London 2012 Olympics.

London 2012 Olympian Natalie Cook of Australia first started playing beach volleyball in 1993 and turned professional just one year later.

Cook (with playing partner Kerri Ann Pottharst) won a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games — the first time that beach volleyball had been an Olympic sport. In the same year, the pair won a silver medal at the world championships, and came first in the World Tour Event in Japan.

Cook and Pottharst played together again in 2000. They finished third in the World Tour Events and then went on to win the gold medal in the Sydney Olympics. After their Olympic win, the pair were awarded the Order of Australia, Australia’s highest honor and were included in the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball’s Team of the Decade.

Natalie Cook teamed up with Nicole Sanderson in a quest for more gold in Athens. After a 2003  World Championship Bronze medal, Natalie suffered a serious shoulder injury. “Expecting to win an Olympic Gold medal with only one arm was my biggest mistake. I really did still believe we could do it.” After damaging her shoulder further she continued to play, losing narrowly to the USA in the match for the Bronze resulting in a fourth place finish.

For the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, Cook partnered with Tamsin Hinchley Barnett, finishing fifth overall. And now she has partnered again with Barnett for the London 2012 Olympic games and is about to make history by becoming the first woman to make five Australian Olympic teams.

“As an eight-year old kid I wanted to go to the Olympics, as a swimmer. I never thought I would make it,” Natalie said. “When the Sydney Olympics [2000]were announced I thought I’d be going to two. Never did I imagine that I could be going to five.”

Cook has been in a relationship with her partner, Canadian beach volleyball player Sarah Maxwell, for eleven years. They were “unofficially married” in an intimate New Zealand ceremony three years ago. The couple decided on a Celtic hand-fastening ritual for the ceremony; they exchanged necklaces handed down by their mothers instead of rings. Australia does not recognize same-sex marriage, but Canada does.

“I’m already married. I’m living as a married person,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “But if gay marriage is legalized, it would be great for this country.” Cook and Maxwell were happy last year when Queensland MPs voted in favor of legalizing same-sex civil unions. But she believes it is time for the nation to go one step further and legalize same-sex marriage.

“I’m committed to Sarah and I say we’re married,” Cook stated. “That’s not allowed to be said because it’s not legal. Part of the reason the fight for gay marriage is so strong is because if Sarah is involved in a car accident, legally I’m not allowed in as her partner. They are the human rights issues the [gay rights’] movements fight for.” Cook says her motto is “NO LIMITS and always believe in the power of your dreams!” She’ll be going after her dream of the gold in London.

The women’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament will be played July 28-August 12 in a specially created stadium near Buckingham Palace.

But Cook also made news yesterday. “Cook is planning to retire from beach volleyball after the London Olympics,” Gay Star News just reported:

As reported by Wide World of Sports, the 37-year-old’s Olympic career which stretches nearly two decades ended on Wednesday (1 August) with her fifth and final games.

‘The mind, and the body, needs a rest. Not a rest that I’m coming back from, but a rest forever,’ Cook said yesterday (2 August).

Cook and her partner Tamsin Hinchley played three matches in London, and exited without a win, with Cook blaming the unpredictable British weather.

Natalie Cook can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and on her webpage.

Follow our series: “2012 Olympics: Who Are The LGBT Athletes?” as we profile all the out LGBT athletes playing in the London 2012 Olympic games.

 Image, top, via Facebook

Stuart Wilber. Photo by Mathew Ryan Williams

 

Stuart Wilber believes that living life openly as a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Allied person is the most powerful kind of activism. Shortly after meeting his partner in Chicago in 1977, he opened a gallery named In a Plain Brown Wrapper, where he exhibited cutting edge work by leading artists; art that dealt with sexuality and gender identification. In the late 1980’s when they moved to San Clemente, CA in Orange County, life as an openly gay couple became a political act. They moved to Seattle 16 years ago and married in Canada a few weeks after British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage. Although legally married in some countries, they are only considered domestic partners in Washington State. Equality continues to elude him.

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Trump-Aligned Christian Nationalist Group ‘Taps Into Unholy Well’ That Threatens Democracy

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A well-funded and powerfully connected extremist group is raising alarms about its activities ahead of the 2024 election.

ReAwaken America, a project organized by Oklahoma businessman Clay Clark and funded by Donald Trump ally Patrick Byrne, has blended conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the 2020 election to promote a Christian nationalist political message at rallies and other events, reported The Guardian.

“Christian nationalism has deep roots in American history and has gained traction at different points,” said Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “The ReAwaken America Tour taps into the unholy well of Christian nationalism to sow doubt about the U.S. election system and the safety of COVID-19 vaccines while equating allegiance to Trumpism with allegiance to God.”

“Clay Clark and others who run this tour are using the name of Jesus, Holy Scripture, and worship music to promote a partisan political agenda and personal business interests,” she added.

READ MORE: Bill Barr’s ‘hollow and self-serving’ image rehabilitation tour shredded in scathing NYT editorial

Michael Flynn, the Trump-pardoned former national security adviser, and convicted Capitol rioter Dr. Simone Gold have each made multiple appearances at ReAwaken America events, and a recent gathering hosted at the Tennessee church of right-wing pastor Greg Locke drew My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, Eric Trump, Roger Stone and Kash Patel.

“The religious nature of these events is a pretext for a rally by people who are united by feeling victimized and outraged,” said Samuel Perry, a sociologist at the University of Oklahoma. “This is incredibly corrosive for democracy because you have a group of political leaders and their followers who not only feel victimized by the culture, but they feel like the very political system is against them. That’s how you get populist coup attempts.”

Trump National Doral will host a ReAwaken America gathering in May, which could give the impression that Trump still has strong support from evangelical voters, but mainstream religious leaders are concerned about the convergence of conspiracy theories about Trump’s election loss and COVID-19 could have a corrosive effect on democracy.

“White evangelicals are among the least educated of Americans,” said David Hollinger, a history professor emeritus at Berkeley. “The Republican Party’s increasing reliance upon them marks an unprecedented stage in American history: for the first time, one of the major political parties displays contempt for learning. Not even the Democratic party of Andrew Jackson was so dependent for its success on anti-intellectual postures.”

 

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News

‘Low Energy Donald’: Trump Buried for ‘Monotonous’ Kick-Off Speeches in Critical Battleground States

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Donald Trump’s first two speeches touting his 2024 Republican Party presidential bid before smaller crowds in New Hampshire and South Carolina ended up being a rehash of old complaints and with a few lines that garnered applause but his demeanor was lacking the usual fire once seen at his raucous rallies.

On the morning after the speeches, MSNBC host Katie Phang shared clips of the president speaking and noted the lack of enthusiam from the former president when one considers how important the first foray into public in 2023 was to his third presidential bid with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and a bevy of GOP lawmakers nipping at his heels.

As the MSNBC host pointed out, the president’s uncharacteristically short speeches were nothing less than monotonous.

“Do you guys remember low-energy Jeb?” Phang began, referencing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, “That was the moniker Donald Trump branded on the former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush while they compete with others for the Republican nomination in 2016.”

“Well, now it seems like we have a low-energy Donald,” she continued. “Here was Donald Trump yesterday when he tried to kick his third white house run into high gear.”

RELATED: ‘All washed up’: Republican insider says Trump needs to ‘move on’ because ‘he’s bleeding support’

After showing a clip of the subdued former president telling the crowd, “So, we’re here. We start, we begin. I want to thank New Hampshire for the warm welcome outside. We are so far ahead in the polls, both in New Hampshire — one came out this morning, very nice poll — we are way ahead. We had a tremendous period of time. We had a tremendous thing happening just two and a half years ago,” Phang noted Trump’s demeanor.

“King of the monotone,” she pointed out, “Despite trump saying he is leading in the polls the reality is so far he is the only Republican who has even announced a run for president.”

“Trump’s first lethargic campaign stops of the 24 race come as sources are telling NBC News that [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is angling to be his vice president,” she added. “The MAGA conspiracy theorist slash insurrectionist, slash election denier, reportedly sees herself as someone who can bridge the divide between the party’s far-right hard-liners and its, quote, establishment wing.”

Watch below or at the link:

 

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COMMENTARY

McCarthy Sat for an Interview With Trump Jr. – One Bragged About an ‘Illegal’ Act, One Wished His Dad Would ‘Show Some’ Love

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), sat down for a freewheeling hour-long interview with Donald Trump Jr., the son of the one-term twice-impeached ex-president currently under multiple criminal investigations including for absconding with hundreds of classified intelligence documents.

McCarthy, who had to battle his own Republican caucus 15 times before finally being granted the Speaker’s gavel, is now tied even more to Donald Trump. Trump reportedly was “working the phones,” making calls to House Republicans for days – and even hours before the final vote – strong-arming them to support the weakened McCarthy.

In one segment of the interview, McCarthy tells Trump Jr., “you know what? I’ve been around you guys privately. It is a real family that has real love for one another. And really, it stems of what [Donald Trump] did as a father.”

READ MORE: Watch: Nancy Pelosi Says ‘I Have Absolutely No Intention of Seeing the Deadly Assault on My Husband’s Life’

Don Jr., a bit choked up, comes out and says point-blank he wishes his father would “show some of that” love.

“I appreciate that, ya know, I want him to show some of that.”

Just before those remarks, McCarthy, again praising Donald Trump, says he’s a great father and grandfather, claims none of the ex-president’s children are “into drugs,” “have problems,” or “laptops” – presumably a dig at Hunter Biden and his father, President Joe Biden.

“I’ve watched him too, the pride he has [in] his children – and this is what I’ll say to you: Look, raising a family is not easy. You know – you’re a great father. But they don’t see him as a grandfather – I see your kids walk up.”

READ MORE: ‘Deliberately Deceived the Nation’: Legal Experts Stunned by ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Report on How Barr and Durham Protected Trump

“But you know what? You think of your life, okay? He was successful,” McCarthy continued, praising the disgraced ex-president. “He comes from a successful life. I’ve watched all you kids, as brothers and sisters love one another. You’re not into drugs. You don’t have problems. You don’t have laptops. You don’t have these other things,” McCarthy claimed.

Trump Jr. interjected, saying, “According to the press I’m really into drugs.”

Also in that interview, McCarthy admitted to “flipping cars” (buying for one price, quickly selling at a higher price) when he was in college, only to say it was illegal.

“I didn’t have the athletics to get a scholarship. I went to junior college, which was a great school,” McCarthy says. “But while I’m going there, I meet this guy that owns a liquor store but has a car dealer license – I’ll let you figure out how I met him,”

“But one day I say, ‘I’ll give you 100 bucks if you take me to L.A.,’ because L.A. has these car auctions – you got to be a dealer to get in there.”

READ MORE: ‘X-Rated’: Christian Nationalist Mastriano Promises Bill to Ban Public Drag Shows After High School’s ‘Queer Prom’

“So I started going down there, I start flipping cars, to pay my way through college. I find out later it’s illegal but I don’t know why I do it, I’ve been an entrepreneur, right?”

Don Jr. again interjects, telling the camera, “By the way, just just so you understand. We may have to cut this. Nancy Pelosi is gonna try to figure out how to impeach you for doing something like that.”

Trump Jr. also criticized most members of Congress who he said don’t have the same “hustle” as he does. He claimed his father made him work minimum wage jobs and he worked “for tips,” which both agreed was important.

“Like, no one’s ever had to make payroll. No one’s gonna sign the front of a check as opposed to the back,” Trump Jr. complains.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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