Sep 08
Her eye on the news
‘Don’t know anything’

A new Woody Allen film is set to hit theaters soon, an occasion that once again puts his stars in the uncomfortable position of trying to explain why they chose to work with a director who was accused decades ago of molesting his then-7-year-old adoptive daughter. The latest Hollywood A-lister to find herself in this position is Kate Winslet, who stars in Allen’s forthcoming film Wonder Wheel.

“I didn’t know Woody and I don’t know anything about that family,” Winslet told The New York Times when asked about how she reconciled the director’s checkered past. “As the actor in the film, you just have to step away and say, I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false. Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person.”

In 1992, Allen was accused by Mia Farrow, his partner at the time, of molesting Dylan Farrow, the daughter the couple adopted. Five years later, Allen, then 62, married Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, who was 27. The two are still married and Allen, though a prosecutor in the 1990s said he had probable cause, has never been charged with a crime and has maintained his innocence. But three years ago, Dylan Farrow published an explosive column in The New York Times detailing Allen’s alleged sexual abuse and the fallout she suffered in the intervening years.

She even went on to praise Roman Polanski,  The New York Post noted, saying he’s an “incredible director” and that her time working with him, on the 2011 film Carnage, and Allen was “extraordinary.” Polanski was convicted in 1977 of raping a 13-year-old girl. He subsequently fled the U.S. and has been living as a fugitive ever since.

Winslet’s “I don’t know anything” explanation of how she’s able to compartmentalize and work with someone who has such disturbing allegations standing against him drew criticisms that she “awkwardly” and “clumsily” handled a question about an all-too-common problem in the Hollywood scene: Men getting away with alleged sexual misconduct and their careers suffering no consequences whatsoever.

But, as The Washington Post points out, Winslet is hardly the first actress to defend having worked with Allen. And some have gone way further, even heaping praise upon the controversial director.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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Seven-year-old Matilda Jones is being hailed as the unofficial queen of Great Britain after discovering a sword in the same lake where, according to legend, King Arthur placed the magical blade Excalibur. According to The Sheffield Star, Matilda spotted the four-foot long blade while swimming in Dozmary Pool in Bodmin Coor, Cornwall. Matilda’s father, Paul Jones, said that he initially didn’t believe his daughter — especially since he had only recently told her the legend of King Arthur and his magical sword.

“She was only waist deep when she said she could see a sword,” Jones told the Star. “I told her not to be silly and it was probably a bit of fencing, but when I looked down I realized it was a sword. It was just there laying flat on the bottom of the lake.”

Legends claim that King Arthur had recieved Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake in the same area where Matilda had been swimming. Arthur had returned the blade, which could only be possessed by England’s rightful ruler, to the Lady of the Lake before his death.

Unfortunately, Matilda’s father noted that the sword found by his daughter appears to be only 20 to 30 years old, making it unlikely to be the same as the one described in the legend.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced on Thursday that she will be replacing the Obama administration’s “failed” system of campus sexual assault enforcement with one that would better emphasize the rights of the accused.

“Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” said Devos. “These are non-negotiable principles.”

Responding to the concerns of victims and advocates who said that universities preferred to silence victims of sexual assault instead of launching investigations because of the risk of generating bad publicity, the Obama administration had issued guidelines to require schools to assume the lowest possible burden of proof in sexual assault cases. Concerns that universities had begun overreaching by issuing life-altering interim measures against those accused of assault had been raised by a number of legal scholars, even as activists noted that such measures were effective means of protecting victims from their alleged attackers while investigations were underway. An analysis released this week by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil-liberties group, found that nearly 75 percent of schools don’t guarantee students that they will be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Trump administration’s seemingly cavalier attitude toward the plight of victims has done little to reassure those who fear that Devos cares little about protecting victims of sexual assault. Candice Jackson, a leading civil rights lawyer for the Education Department who had included her disdain for Hillary Clinton as a “top qualification” on her application to the Trump administration, shocked many when she claimed that “90 percent” of sexual assault claims were fraudulent. And on Thursday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, one of the leading advocates for campus sexual assault victims, led a demonstration outside the Department of Education as Devos made her announcement. Gillibrand appeared with survivors of sexual assault and, as she noted in a post on Twitter, called on Devos to protect Title IX guidance.

In a statement, Gillibrand said, “With so many sexual assaults still happening on college campuses all over the country, we should be doing everything we can to make our Title IX enforcement policies stronger — not weakening or jeopardizing them,” The Daily Beast reported. “I don’t want to see an innocent person punished any more than I want to see a guilty person let off the hook, but Secretary DeVos has shown that she does not take the rights of survivors seriously.”

Concerns have been compounding after facts on sexual assault were quietly removed from the White House website, and Donald Trump’s own trouble history with sexual assault has led many to question whether he takes the issue seriously. Devos herself only met with sexual assault victims groups once before deciding to scrap the Obama administration’s guidelines, and no survivors of sexual assault were even invited to Thursday’s announcement. Instead, they could be heard protesting outside.

In an article for the The Atlantic, Emily Yoffe profiles a case of alleged sexual assault that took place a few years ago on the campus of the University of Massachusetts. Yoffe’s piece explores a particularly extreme case in which a suspect had been cleared by local police of any wrongdoing but still ended up being forced to leave the school under a cloud of suspicion.

Read the full story at The Washington Post and The Atlantic.


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‘False narrative’

Whoopi Goldberg had a tough question for White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday during her appearance on The View: “Where was President Obama born and is he an American citizen?”

The tense showdown between Goldberg and Sanders began after co-host Joy Behar questioned Sanders’ claim that the media have been treating Donald Trump unfairly.

“Is the media not supposed to report on the fact that 95 percent of what he says is a lie?” Behar asked, citing a Politifact report that found only five percent of Trump’s public statements were strictly “true.”

Sanders countered by responding that Behar was “pushing a false narrative” and “creating false perceptions about the president.”

At that point, however, it appeared that Sanders struck a nerve with Goldberg, who swiftly pointed out that Trump had made a name for himself politically by promoting a “false narrative” about President Obama’s birthplace on TV programs and on Twitter over the course of eight years.

Sanders avoided answering Goldberg’s question about Obama’s birthplace directly, dismissing the issue as “pretty well addressed.”

Goldberg, however, wasn’t willing to let the issue rest so easily.

“This narrative, this is what I’m talking about,” she explained. “That’s a [false] narrative that went on forever and [Trump] didn’t clear it up until after he was in office.”

Watch video of the confrontation below.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


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Iranian women protested outside Azadi stadium in Tehran this week after being barred from a World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Syria, as female Iranian MP’s publicly questioned why Iranians were forced outside even as female Syrian fans were allowed in. While Iran’s ban on allowing Iranian women to watch men’s matches is longstanding, women were nonetheless allowed to buy tickets for Tuesday night’s game due to what the Iran government later explained as a “technical glitch.”

“We were hopeful that they would let us in. We queued up for two hours. They said they needed to check if they could let us in, and at times we thought they were going to do so, and we saw Syrian female fans passing through without a problem, and then they said, ‘No, you can’t enter,’” said Shiva Nazar-Ahari, a women’s rights campaigner, said in a phone call with The Guardian.

News of the protests and discussion of the ban dominated national headlines in Iran, marking what is believed to be the first time that national papers had given the issue such prominent coverage. On the front page of the Bahar newspaper, images of Syrian women supporting their country inside the stadium were contrasted with photos of Iranian women protesting outside as the headline questioned why “the host was left outside behind the doors, while the guest went inside.”

On Twitter, Iranian MP Fatemeh Hosseini promised to question the sports minister on ending the “discrimination” against female fans, while MP Nahid Tajedin noted that “discrimination based on your nationality is being added to the gender discrimination already in place.”

At other Iranian soccer games, some women have risked arrest to get around the ban by dressing up as men.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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