Feb 20
Her eye on the news
‘Anyone listening?’

President Donald Trump took to Twitter again on Tuesday, this time to denounce Rachel Crooks, whom he claims has falsely accused him of sexual misconduct. He also took a broadside at other women who have accused him of various forms of misconduct for “taking money to make up stories about me.”

During Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, Crooks, 35, had accused him of kissing her without her consent in 2006, when she was 22 and working as a receptionist in Trump Tower. Crooks is now running for State Representative in Ohio’s House District 88, where she hopes to challenge Republican incumbent Bill Reineke. Trump’s attack on Crooks appeared to be made in response to Washington Post feature that detailed Crooks’ efforts to raise awareness about the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct laid against the president. The story, under the headline “Is anyone listening?” was front and center on Tuesday’s edition of the newspaper. Trump dismissed the Post as “Fake News” and Crooks’ claim as “Another False Accusation.”

Trump’s reference to a woman having “her home mortgage paid off” appeared to be a reference to a story about California lawyer Lisa Bloom, who allegedly sold victims’ stories to TV outlets and arranged for a donor to pay off a Trump accuser’s mortgage. Bloom represented four women considering making accusations against Trump last year — only two of whom ultimately came forward. According to The Atlantic, at least 19 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

On Wednesday morning, Crooks responded to Trump’s tweets about her, saying she’s not surprised by him pushing back against her claim. Watch her remarks below.

Read the full story at USA Today.


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‘Right to live’

Emma Gonzalez, a 19-year-old survivor of the Florida high school shooting that left 17 people dead last week, is calling out politicians for their continued failure to pass even the simplest of gun control measures. In a now-viral speech she gave at an anti-gun rally on Saturday, Gonzalez gave a blunt assessment of the argument against gun control, paraphrasing something she’d read earlier in the day: “When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun,” she said, “all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student’s right to live.” In her remarks, Gonzalez observed that buying a gun in Florida is almost unbelievably easy. According to Florida law, people can buy as many guns as they want in one visit to a gun store without the need for a permit or even a gun license.

Gonzalez also took President Donald Trump to task in her speech for accepting $30 million in support from the N.R.A. during his 2016 election campaign, as well as for his repeal of an Obama-era regulation that helped block people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns.

“If all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” Gonzalez declared.

Speaking to CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Monday, Gonzalez questioned why her state’s Republican senator, Marco Rubio, doesn’t believe that gun laws can prevent mass-shootings — pointing out that he couldn’t possibly know that since he had never tried to pass one. She further condemned Trump for his bizarre claim that the FBI’s Russia investigation had distracted the agency from preventing the tragedy, and encouraged politicians to reject donations from the N.R.A.

“We keep telling them that if they accept this blood money, they are against the children,” said Gonzalez. “You’re either funding the killers, or you’re standing with the children. The children who have no money. We don’t have jobs, so we can’t pay for your campaign. We would hope that you have the decent morality to support us at this point.”

In other news, Slide Fire, the manufacturer of the bump stock, celebrated President’s Day by offering a sale on their product, which was used during the Las Vegas mass-shooting to turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic ones capable of firing between 400 and 800 bullets a minute. The discount code, it just so happened, was MAGA: Make America Great Again, the Trump campaign slogan.

Watch Gonzalez’s speech at the Fort Lauderdale gun control rally below.

Read the full story at Forbes and CNN.


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President Donald Trump has targeted Oprah Winfrey in his latest Twitter tirade, deriding the popular talk show host as “insecure” and “biased.” Trump’s outburst came after Winfrey appeared on 60 Minutes, where she asked a panel of voters on their feelings about the president.

While hosting the panel, Winfrey had asked Trump supporters and detractors how they felt about his leadership, the sexual misconduct allegations made against him, and his recent racially-charged claim that immigrants from Haiti and Africa should be barred from entering the U.S. because they come from “shithole countries.” Trump, it appears, felt attacked by this recitation of facts. Trump’s characterization of Winfrey as “biased” and “insecure,” many users on social media pointed out, could be perceived as more than somewhat hypocritical.

Speaking with Ann Silvio, Winfrey also reiterated that she has no plans on running for Trump’s job. “I am actually humbled by the fact that people think that I could be a leader of the free world, but it’s just not in my spirit. It’s not in my DNA,” she said. However, Winfrey’s best friend, Gayle King, has pointed out that one of Winfrey’s mantras in life has been, you “always have the right to change your mind.” Trump better hope she doesn’t change her mind after his taunts, because early polling on what would happen in a matchup between the two shows Oprah winning in a decisive outcome.

Watch video coverage of the story below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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‘Craziest ideas’

The Nigerian women’s bobsled team became the first from an African nation to ever compete in the Olympics when they finished their first run in 52.21 seconds on Tuesday in Pyeongchang. Speaking with Rehema Ellis of NBC News, the team’s pilot and founding member, Seun Adigun, said she had felt equal parts “crazy” and determined in trying to get a bobsled team together.

“I come up with the craziest ideas. But they’re crazier than me,” laughed Adigun as she pointed to her teammates, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga. “They agreed to come on board.”

All three women were born in the U.S., and came together in Texas where they started practicing for a possible Olympic run using a wooden sled on wheels that they built out of Adigun’s garage.

“You’ve just got to get really creative and resourceful,” said Omeoga, recalling practices on the indoor track at a local Texas gym. The bumps she took when she and her teammates began hitting speeds above 80 mph in an actual bobsled, she added, often left her and her co-riders feeling “beat up.”

Adigun, a self described “nerd” who became a three-time national champion sprinting for the University of Houston, says she hopes her efforts inspire other young women and Africans to pursue their goals — no matter how crazy they might seem.

“When people count you out because you’re an African country that’s when you got to show them that all it takes is a little will and there’s going to be a way,” said Adigun.

“Becoming role models for young girls, letting people know that they can do whatever they put their mind to, that’s a win to me,” added Onwumere.

The Nigerian women’s historic bobsled run came a week after Simidele Adeagbo became the first African woman to compete at the Olympics in a skeleton sled. Like her fellow Nigerians, Adeagbo has said that she’s competing not only for herself, but to “shatter ceilings, open doors, and pave the way for future generations.”

Watch NBC News’ interview with the Nigerian bobsled team below.


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Warning signs

A clearer portrait of Nikolas Cruz, who stands accused of killing 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, is emerging after multiple students have spoken out about the erratic behavior and warning signs they witnessed in recent years. One of the Cruz’s former friends told Good Morning America that she and her friends reported Cruz’s alarming behavior to school administrators several times. And other harassed students told BuzzFeed News they received numerous threatening messages from Cruz and were and verbal assaults after Cruz broke up with his girlfriend. Several students also told the publication that they had reported Cruz’s alarming behavior to school administrators.

Dana Craig, 16, said that Cruz dated her friend, who attended a different school. When the friend reported that the relationship had become abusive, Craig encouraged her to break it off. In 2016, began receiving threatening messages from the friend’s Instagram account — but Craig said Cruz had the password to the account and she believed he was the one sending the messages.

“‘I’m going to get you and I’m going to kill you because you took this person away from me. I’m going to kill your family,’ Craig remembered the messages saying,” Buzzfeed reports. Craig said she told Kevin Greenleaf, who at the time was a security specialist at Stoneman, about the messages.

Cruz’s rage also reportedly fell on Enea Sabadini, 17, who began dating Cruz’s ex after they broke up. Sabadini said that in September of 2016, he got into two fights with Cruz, the first after Cruz demanded that Sabadini stop talking to his former girlfriend. “He was also trying to stab me with pencils,” Sabadini recalled.

Nikolas Cruz appears in court with attorney Melissa McNeil (L) for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on February 19, 2018 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Cruz is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Mike Stocker-Pool/Getty Images)

The second fight, which has been reported in the media, reportedly took place after Cruz threw a water bottle at Enea. Both students were suspended.

Craig and her boyfriend Matthew Rosario, 16, witnessed the second fight and told Buzzfeed news that they reported it to school administrators. “I said, ‘I know that he’s brought weapons to school. You need to take his bag. You need to check it,’” Craig recalled.

Cruz was expelled in 2017 for reasons that are not clear. But in the summer of 2017—when he had broken up with Cruz’s ex girlfriend — Sabadini began to receive menacing messages from the Instagram account @nikolasjacobcruz, which he believes belonged to Cruz.

“I am going to fucking kill you,” one of the messages reads. “I am going to watch you bleed.”

The sender also posted an image of multiple guns arrayed on a bed.

“I will kill you!!!!!” another message reads. “I am going to shoot you dead.”

Sabadini told Buzzfeed that at the time, he wasn’t particularly concerned about Cruz because he had already been expelled from the school. “I was like, I don’t have anything to worry about,” he said.

Ariana Lopez, who was once friends with Cruz, talked about the behavior from Cruz, including many disturbing posts on social media and in-person interactions, that eventually drove them apart and caused her and her friends to go to school authorities.

“He talked about killing our parents, our friends, boyfriends and girlfriends,” Lopez said. She also talked about what sparked a fight that erupted on school grounds and was caught on camera, saying that was over a girl Cruz had briefly dated. “He would hit her, he would threaten her, he would threaten her family and her friends, for talking to other guys.”

“I knew it. We all did. Everybody who knew him knew it,” Lopez said. “Even before they announced that he was the shooter, we all knew it was Nik.” Watch her full interview below.

Read the full story at BuzzFeed News and ABC News.


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So notorious

In a lengthy interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Rosen, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shared her thoughts on everything from childcare, to gender discrimination, to maintaining a healthy marriage (“It helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”) She also spoke in detail about the intersection of the law and the #MeToo movement — a movement that she believes “will have staying power” — and the thorny topic of due process that has emerged as a flashpoint as society tries to navigate the #MeToo era.

Ginsburg noted that Title VII, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, sex, religion, and other identifying traits, has been in place long before the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace burst to the forefront of national discussion last year. But, Ginsburg said, “it takes people to step forward and use [the laws.]”

“Rights have to start with people who want them, and then the court is a reactive institution,” she said later on in the conversation. “There was a fine federal judge on the Fifth Circuit, Judge Goldberg, who once said, ‘The courts don’t make the conflagrations but they do their best to put them out.’”

Ginsburg, who will celebrate her 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court this year, said she believes the tide is turning when it comes to sexual harassment cases. As an example, she cited “confidentiality pledges,” which in the past have barred women from speaking publicly about workplace misconduct. “Women who complained and brought suit were offered settlements in which they would agree that they would never disclose what they had complained about,” Ginsburg said. “I suspect we will not see those agreements anymore.”

The Supreme Court Justice also weighed in on some of the more contentious elements of the #MeToo movement, including how society should contend with varying degrees of misconduct — a question that became particularly pointed after misconduct allegations were leveled against Aziz Ansari — and the controversies surrounding the way sexual assault allegations have been handled on college campuses in recent years. In September, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced new federal guidance on campus sexual assault, replacing the Obama administration’s system of campus sexual assault enforcement with one that emphasizes the rights of the accused.

“There are degrees of conduct, yes,” Ginsburg said. “But any time a woman is put in a position where she is inferior, subordinate … she should complain, she should not be afraid.”

When asked about due process, a hot topic in the campus sexual assault debate, particularly given DeVos’ new guidelines, and now in society at large amid the #MeToo phenomenon, the justice replied, “Well, that must not be ignored and it goes beyond sexual harassment. The person who is accused has a right to defend herself or himself, and we certainly should not lose sight of that. Recognizing that these are complaints that should be heard. There’s been criticism of some college codes of conduct for not giving the accused person a fair opportunity to be heard, and that’s one of the basic tenets of our system, as you know, everyone deserves a fair hearing.”

Ginsburg addressed a number of other topics with Rosen, including revealing some of the Supreme Court ruling she would like to see overturned.

Read the full interview at The Atlantic.


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Swift justice

In the span of just four days, a Pakistan anti-terrorism court meted out a death sentence to a man who brutally raped and murdered a 7-year-old girl last month, and has been linked to the murders of seven more children.

As Outlook India reports, Imran Ali was found guilty on four counts of murdering a child, kidnapping a child, rape of a minor, and committing an unnatural act with a minor. He was also sentenced to seven years in jail for desecrating the body of a minor.

In January, the body of Zainab Ansari was discovered in a garbage dump. Surveillance footage showed her walking with a man police say is Ali, who reportedly knew the family. Upon his arrest, Ali, 24, confessed to several other killings, police said.

A slide showing a picture of Imran Ali suspected of being a serial killer responsible for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old Zainab Ansari is shown at a press conference in Lahore, Pakistan January 23, 2018. (REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)

Zainab’s murder sparked violent clashes between police and protestors in Lahore. Over the past year, according to The Guardian, 12 children have been murdered in the Kasur district near Lahore, where Zainab’s body was found. DNA evidence has now linked Ali to eight of the killings, but protestors are outraged over what they perceive as long period of inaction by police.

Zainab’s case has brought the subjects of child and sexual abuse, long taboo in Pakistan, to the forefront of national conversation. Maheen Khan, an iconic fashion designer, likened the movement to #MeToo. “We are now saying enough is enough,” she told the Associated Press. “We should have woken up long ago, I am ashamed to say it has taken this one little girl’s death.”

On Tuesday, the website Dawn reported, Ali filed a formal appeal with Lahore’s High Court in an effort to overturn the swift ruling. “The trial was conducted in haste and legal requirements were not fulfilled during the trial,” Ali said in his appeal, adding that he is “not guilty.” Meanwhile, Zainab’s mother is calling for a public hanging.


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Female students and teachers at a boarding school in Nigeria were reportedly able to thwart an attack by the jihadist group Boko Haram, which notoriously kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok in 2014.

According to the BBC, militants arrived in the town of Dapchi on Monday evening and began shooting and setting off explosives. When they heard the noise, students at a local school were alerted to the danger and fled. Residents and civilian militia say they believe that Boko Haram had intended to kidnap the schoolgirls.

Nigeria’s security forces later fought off the attack.

During the eight years that it has been waging a war of terror in Nigeria, Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of women. The alarming attack in Chibok sparked an international movement calling for the return of the schoolgirls. Last May, the group released 82 girls as part of a prisoner exchange, and dozens more have escaped. But more than 100 continue to be held by Boko Haram.

Read the full story at the BBC.


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