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Times Square Poll: Shootings weighed on Americans in 2015

Mass shootings and attacks weighed heavily on the minds of Americans in 2015, according to a new poll that found most believe this year was worse for the world than last year.

A look at the key findings of The Associated Press-Times Square Alliance poll:

FOCUSED ON MASS SHOOTINGS

Americans say the most important events of 2015 were a string of mass shootings, including the attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Paris, plus Islamic State group atrocities.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled say this year was worse than the last year for the world as a whole, up from the 38 percent asked that question a year ago. Only 10 percent believe 2015 was a better year than 2014, while 32 percent think there wasn’t much difference.

Americans also are much less likely than they were a year ago to believe that the current year was better for the United States — only 17 percent compared with 30 percent a year ago. Thirty-seven percent think this year was worse for the country than last year, while 44 percent don’t think there was much difference.

On a personal level, fewer than a third (29 percent) believe 2015 was better for them than 2014, while 21 percent feel it was worse, compared with 15 percent in 2014.

Interviewed separately from the poll, Jason Pruitt, a 43-year-old corporate pilot from the Detroit area, said security concerns were a factor in deciding whether to take his wife and daughter along on a Christmas trip to New York.

“We were thinking about not coming this year, because of everything that’s going on,” Pruitt said. But they went ahead “because when you change your life, the terrorists win.”

THREE EVENTS SHARE THE TOP SPOT

Of those polled, 68 percent listed mass shootings in the U.S. as very or extremely important news events this year, including the one in San Bernardino that heightened fears of domestic terrorism, plus shootings in Charleston, South Carolina; Roseburg, Oregon; and Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Close behind, at 64 percent, were the Paris attacks that ushered in 2015, targeting Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish market, then the Bataclan concert hall and other city sites in November. 

And third, at 63 percent, came the Islamic State group’s various far-flung atrocities.

Commenting on the completed poll was 32-year-old J.P. Fury, working in a food truck in Times Square.

“At this point, I’m numb to all of it,” he said. “This is nothing new. Every week there’s a new shooting somewhere in America, and there’s a new terrorist attack somewhere around the world.”

Mass shootings and attacks weighed heavily on the minds of Americans in 2015, according to a new poll that found most believe this year was worse for the world than last year.

Domestically, 44 percent of those polled rate as extremely or very important the deaths of blacks in encounters with police that sparked “Black Lives Matter” protests in Baltimore and Chicago. 

Another 44 percent rate the deal reached to curtail Iran’s nuclear program as important, and nearly as many (42 percent) Europe’s migrant crisis.

Only 40 percent said the presidential race was important to them, with the Paris climate change conference right behind (at 38 percent), followed by the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage (36 percent) and the Cuban-U.S. thaw (30 percent).

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR

Most Americans plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve either at home (48 percent) or at the home of a friend or family member (20 percent). Nine percent plan to be at a bar, restaurant or organized event, while just under a quarter (22 percent) don’t plan to celebrate at all.

A majority of Americans (56 percent) will watch the New Year’s Eve events in Times Square, and 95 percent of those will see it on TV.

Those findings were similar to those of the past two years.

THE YEAR IN POP CULTURE

No single pop culture event of 2015 stands out, with fewer than four in 10 Americans rating any as memorable. 

The eagerly awaited “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was memorable only to 37 percent of those polled, and forgettable to 34 percent.

Bill Cosby’s legal woes were memorable to 36 percent; forgettable to 33 percent.

Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner, with a highly orchestrated publicity campaign, was forgettable to 52 percent, and Taylor Swift’s world tour to 55 percent.

Justice Sotomayor to lead Times Square’s New Year’s Eve countdown as she considers stay in Utah marriage case

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will lead the final 60-second New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square by pushing the ceremonial button to signal the descent of the event’s famous ball. The giant New Year’s Eve ball is covered in more than 2,600 crystal triangles and lit from within by more than 32,000 lights.

Sotomayor, a Bronx native, was appointed to the court in 2009.

Sotomayor also is in the news in connection with a federal judge’s ruling that Utah’s law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Sotomayor, who has jurisdiction over Utah, may be the justice to consider an emergency injunction halting the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses in the state until an appeals court can consider the case.

As of early Dec. 30, the state had not filed its request for a stay with the Supreme Court. If and when the requst is filed, Sotomayor could decide the issue herself or refer the request to the full court.

More than 1,000 same-sex couples have already married since Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision that the state’s anti-gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Shelby refused to stay his decision pending an appeal, as did the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Shelby’s decision not to halt the marriages, he cited right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia’s scathing dissent in United States v.Windsor, the case that found part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Scalia wrote, “As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion . . .  is that DOMA is motivated by ‘bare . . . desire to harm’ couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.”

Shelby wrote that he agreed with Scalia’s assessment of the ruling.

Spirit Day advocates stand against bullying, back LGBT youth

Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association & Women’s National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Wrestling Entertainment are joining millions of people in “going purple” for Spirit Day on Oct. 17.

“Going purple” involves wearing purple, as well as turning logos and other social media badges purple to support of LGBT youth and in a stand against bullying.

Spirit Day is promoted by GLAAD, which recruits hundreds of celebrities, entertainment organizations, brands, landmarks, sports leagues, faith groups, school districts, colleges and universities for the campaign.

Spirit Day ambassadors include transgender athlete Kye Allums, out basketball players Jason Collins and Brittney Griner and out WWE superstar Darren Young.

Also, Athlete Ally and the You Can Play Project will participate as part of their work to end homophobia and transphobia in sports.

“By coming together to support LGBT youth, American sports leagues are sending a clear message to fans everywhere: homophobia has no place in the game,” said GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz. “Whether on the field, in the locker room, or cheering from the stands it’s clear that LGBT people are essential to the sports community.”

Wade Davis of the You Can Play Project said, “The You Can Play Project proudly recognizes Spirit Day as a time for everyone to stand in solidarity with LGBT youth to fight against bullying and other forms of discrimination and to celebrate their courage and strength.

Spanish-language talk show host Cristina Saralegui also will serve as aSpirit Day ambassador and viewers of “Access Hollywood,” “CNBC,” “Extra, Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “MSNBC,” “Telemundo,” “The Talk,” “The View,” “Watch What Happens Live,” the “Wendy Williams Show” and more will notice a lot of purple in the hosts’ clothing.

Others committed to Spirit Day include Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White, Tatyana Ali, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Kristen Bell, Nate Berkus, Sarah Brightman, Nick Cannon, Laverne Cox, Aviva Drescher, Dr. Drew, Melissa Etheridge, Nicola Foti, Steve Grand, Shenae Grimes & Josh Beech, Dot Marie Jones, Mary Lambert, Demi Lovato, Loni Love, Holly Madison, Lori Michaels, Isaac Mizrahi, Stephanie Nogueras, Suze Orman, Eric Petersen, Mary Povich, Sara Rue, Doreen Taylor, Jordan Todosey, Davey Wavey, Nick Wechsler, Betty Who and Zendaya.

Landmarks that will be colored purple include Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience, the LAX pylon lights, the New York Stock Exchange and Times Square, as well as billboards at American Eagle Outfitters, MTV, NASDAQ, and the Thomson Reuters building.

To celebrate the day, out country music star Steve Grand will play a free concert at Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience.

Participating brands include ABC Family, Atelier lb, American Airlines, American Apparel, American Eagle Outfitters, AT&T, BNP Paribas, Brown-Forman, B|W|R| Public Relations, Caesars, CBS, Chambord, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast / NBCUniversal, Cresa, Delta Air Lines, Depository Trust & Clearing Company, Disney, Facebook, Hyatt, Iden Consultoria, Infiniti Graphics, Johnson & Johnson, Kaplan Thaler, Ketel One, Leo Burnett, Los Angeles International Airport, MSLGroup, MTV, PepsiCo, Publicis Groupe, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, PwC, Razorfish, Rock On Rentals, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, SoCal Social Club, Starcom, Stokes Counseling Services, Telemundo, Thomson-Reuters Corporation, Tumblr, Toyota Financial Services, United Airlines, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Westfield Group, ZenithOptimedia, ZipCar will also participate in Spirit Day.

The Wisconsin Gazette also supports Spirit Day.

On the Web…

http://www.glaad.org/spiritday 

Download the Go Purple for #SpiritDay App from Mac’s App Store or for the Android from Google Play.

Show off your spirit on Spirit Day using the hashtag #SpiritDay and @glaad and @wigazette on Twitter.

Activist asks Romney, Obama to wear purple for LGBT youth Spirit Day

The activist who led the national campaign to change the rating for a film about bullying is now focusing on getting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to wear purple for Spirit Day, an annual observance celebrating LGBT youth and equality.

Spirit Day is Oct. 19.

To show spirit, institutions such as Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange will turn their lights purple. Celebrities, athletes, activists and ordinary citizens will wear purple. And businesses and organizations will color websites and social media pages purple for the campaign coordinated by GLAAD.

On Oct. 10, activist Katy Butler asked Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to wear purple for Spirit Day. Butler is GLAAD’s Spirit Day ambassador. She’s also the activist who rallied major support to change the rating for “Bully” so that young people actually could see a documentary featuring young people and aimed at teaching young people lessons about tolerance and harassment.

Butler made the call to Obama and Romney in a Change.org petition – the same tool she used for the “Bully” drive.

The growing list of Spirit Day participants includes:

George Takei, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, star of ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” Shay Mitchell, daytime talk show host Wendy Williams, Nickelodeon’s Avan Jogia, the Los Angeles Unified School District, AMC Entertainment, AT&T, atelier-lb, Caesars Foundation, Carat, Citi, Delta Air Lines, Draftfcb, Digitas, Facebook, WNBA, NBA, MLS, Hewlett-Packard Company, Johnnye’s East Texas Soul, LBNY, Leo Burnett Business, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Marquee Las Vegas, MediaVest, Omnicom Group, Publicis Kaplan Thaler, Publicis Groupe, Saatchi & Saatchi, Southern California Edison, Toyota Financial Services, Warner Bros., Yahoo! and Zenith Optimedia.

Other landmarks to turn purple on Spirit Day include the LAX Pylon Lights and the JFK traffic tower.

Participating groups include the BULLY Project; Campus Pride; CenterLink; Equality Texas; Fair Wisconsin; FriendFactor; Forum for Equality; the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; GSA Network; Human Rights Campaign; the League of United Latin American Citizens; the National Bullying Prevention Center by PACER; the National Council of La Raza; the National Hispanic Media Coalition; Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Reaching Out MBA; Straight But Not Narrow; The Trevor Project; and Youth Empowered to Act.

For more, go to glaad.org/spiritday.

Times Square, Stock Exchange to turn purple for LGBT Spirit Day

The lights of Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange will turn purple on Oct. 19 for Spirit Day, the annual observance celebrating LGBT youth and equality.

The Thomson Reuters screen also will be in purple lights and certain Facebook pages, as well as sites for the NBA, WNBA and Major League Soccer will be purple, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

GLAAD is organizing participation in Spirit Day through glaad.org/spiritday and on a Go Purple app produced in partnership with Toyota Financial Services.

The nonprofit says hundreds of celebrities, corporations, news outlets and schools are participating in an event that involves millions of people in the United States.

Toyota’s Ann Bybee said, “Going purple for the day is a small but powerful way we can all show our support for those who have been bullied or who fear being bullied. It is so important to raise awareness that bullying isn’t acceptable.”

Each day leading up to Spirit Day, GLAAD is asking people to take “one simple action they can take daily to combat bullying.”

The list of Spirit Day participants includes:

George Takei, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, star of ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” Shay Mitchell, daytime talk show host Wendy Williams, Nickelodeon’s Avan Jogia, the Los Angeles Unified School District, AMC Entertainment, AT&T, atelier-lb, Caesars Foundation, Carat, Citi, Delta Air Lines, Draftfcb, Digitas, Facebook, WNBA, NBA, MLS, Hewlett-Packard Company, Johnnye’s East Texas Soul, LBNY, Leo Burnett Business, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Marquee Las Vegas, MediaVest, Omnicom Group, Publicis Kaplan Thaler, Publicis Groupe, Saatchi & Saatchi, Southern California Edison, Toyota Financial Services, Warner Bros., Yahoo! and Zenith Optimedia.

Other landmarks to turn purple on Spirit Day include the LAX Pylon Lights and the JFK traffic tower.

Participating groups include the BULLY Project; Campus Pride; CenterLink; Equality Texas; Fair Wisconsin; FriendFactor; Forum for Equality; the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; GSA Network; Human Rights Campaign; the League of United Latin American Citizens; the National Bullying Prevention Center by PACER; the National Council of La Raza; the National Hispanic Media Coalition; Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Reaching Out MBA; Straight But Not Narrow; The Trevor Project; and Youth Empowered to Act.

For more, go to glaad.org/spiritday.

glaad.orgspiritday

Another one bites the dust

New York City police said the Rev. Zachery Tims of Orlando was found dead on the floor of his room at the W Hotel in Times Square. Police found a glassine envelope with a white powdery substance inside the right pocket of his shorts. The substance is being tested to see “whether it played a role in Mr. Tims’ death,” officers told The Wall Street Journal.

Tims was the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla., one of the largest congregations in the region. He also hosted and appeared on Christian television and radio programs.