Orlando Survivors medical bills waived

Hospitals in the US city of Orlando say they will not charge for treatment provided to survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre in which 49 people were killed by a gunman in June.

They say they will write off about $5.5m (£4.2m) in medical care expenses.

After the attack by Omar Mateen on 12 June, 53 people needed immediate medical attention.

The so-called Islamic State group has said it was behind the attack, but the extent of its involvement is not clear.

Mateen, 29, was shot dead by police after what was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Of the 53 people injured, 44 were treated at the Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), managed by Orlando Health. None will be charged for their medical expenses, the company said.

 

 

Likewise, the families of nine Pulse nightclub patients who died shortly after arriving at ORMC will also not be charged.

“The Pulse shooting was a horrendous tragedy for the victims, their families and our entire community,” Orlando Health President and CEO David Strong was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying.

“During this very trying time, many organisations, individuals and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support. This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward.”

Orlando Health officials say that some bills will be sent to health insurers for patients who had cover, but whatever injuries that are uncovered by those policies will be absorbed by the hospital chain.

However, officials at Florida Hospital, where other injured club-goers were treated, say that they will not even bill the victims’ insurance companies for the treatment.

One uninsured victim who was hit by a bullet in the attack told the Orlando Sentinel that it was a huge relief not to have to worry about a potential $20,000 (£15,000) bill.

Nazi sympathiser found guilty of plot to attack LGBT pride event

A white supremacist has been convicted of planning to carry out a terrorist attack on a pride event.

Ethan Stables, 20, showed no reaction as he was found guilty at Leeds crown court.

He remains in custody before sentencing Monday afternoon.

Stables gathered a machete, knives, an axe, an air rifle and a ball bearing gun with the intent of attacking the New Empire pub in Cumbria.

His plan was foiled after he told fellow members of a Nazi-themed Facebook group that he was going to murder people at the event in June last year.

 

During the case he claimed his threats on social media to attack people at the pride event with a machete were to impress his friends.

He also claimed to be bisexual.

This led a woman in Staffordshire to phone the police and post a warning on Twitter.

Stables was arrested near the pub at 10pm on the night of the Pride event, on June 23 last year.

The jury of seven men and five women has heard that the defendant was on a final reconnaissance trip, and planned to return later that night to carry out his plot.

In one chilling online post he wrote: “I’m going to war tonight.”

He was also gathering the means to make an improvised explosive device, the court was told.

The defendant claimed in court that he had forgotten he owned a machete when writing on Facebook that he was going to kill gay people with one.

The Barrow resident said he wrote the posts to impress his friends, claiming: “Actually I am bisexual.”

When he was asked whether he had had a same-sex experience, he responded: “Yes”.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford described the idea that Stables was trying to impress his far-right friends as “nonsense”.

The prosecutor has previously described Stables as a “white supremacist and Nazi – a supporter of Adolf Hitler, if you will.”

He told the court: “Between 2016 and his arrest in 2017, he was planning and preparing to commit acts of terrorism directed towards members of these groups but, primarily, directed towards people who were lesbian or gay.”

Stables became enraged when he heard about the pub’s Pride event, the prosecutor added.

100 years on recognising lesbian and bi suffragists

Today is the day that women have come out in force to celebrate the landmark achievements of the Suffragists in securing women the right to vote.

100 years has passed since women over 30 were legally permitted to vote in general elections after the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) fought for fifteen years for womens’ democratic rights.

Yet the tides of the Suffrage movement are still surrounded in misinformation and confusion, with several leading members and activists in the movement identifying as lesbian, bi, or simply as women who were attracted to other women.

Even now, we use the term ‘Suffragette’ to talk about the movement as a whole – when in fact, the term was a demeaning epithet coined that was used to discredit the movement by The Daily Mail.

Leader of the movement Emmenline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel are said to have had relationships and attractions to other women cataologued during the movement, as well as the likes of Chief Organisers Annie Kenney, Grace Roe and Olive Bartels; and leading militants Emily Wilding Davison, Mary Leigh and Lilian Lenton.

A lot of this information was found in activist Mary Blathwayt’s diary, who also detailed the trysts of Annie Kenney, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Ethel Smyth. But why is it it important?

According to Labour MP Cat Smith, we have been presented with a “sanitised history” of the movement over the years, which has exaggerated the more amenable traits of the activists. If an activist wasn’t heterosexual, white, or middle class, they have tended to be erased from the annals of the Suffragists’ history.

“When it comes to looking back at the history of the Suffragette and Suffragist movement it’s obvious it’s a sanitised history that is known by the majority of the public. But this wasn’t just a history of purple and green sashes and of middle class women. In fact acts of direct action and civil disobedience played a key role in winning the vote. Women were sexually assaulted by police and force fed in prisons, a practice we now acknowledge as torture,” said Cat Smith MP.

“We see working class women, women of colour and queer women pushed out of the history books in favour of the heterosexual, white and middle class women. I hope we see the centenary of property owning women over the age of 30 winning the vote as an opportunity to acknowledge that the movement included queer women as well as working class women and women of colour,” she added.