Oct 09
Her eye on the news
Thanks, Ma

No one knows better than a parent how to embarrass their child.

For Pieter Hanson, a 32-year-old Navy vet, that reality came into sharp focus when a social media post made by his mother made him the unwitting face of the #HimToo movement — a conservative response to #MeToo, popularized during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, that claims that believing women means that men have to live in fear due to the risk of false sexual abuse accusations.

“This is MY son,” wrote Hanson’s mom in a now viral Twitter post that included a picture of Hanson in his Navy uniform. “He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an axe to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.”

For Hanson, who adamantly says he is not afraid of “solo dates,” would “never” support #HimToo, and that he is in fact is a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, the situation was a nightmare that not even the military could have prepared him for.

“It doesn’t represent me at all,” said Hanson. “I love my mom to death, but boy … I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this.”

Hanson is still unsure as to why his mom, whom he admits has a tendency for bizarre “loose cannon” statements, decided to implicate him in her Twitter rant. As of Monday, he said he still was too upset with her to talk about it directly, but that he had asked his grandmother and younger brother to ask her to delete the tweet. His mother has since removed her account entirely, but countless mocking recreations of the Tweet — featuring everyone from TV chef Guy Fieri to Donald Trump Jr. — have continued to emerge.

On Tuesday, Hanson created a Twitter profile — the aptly named @Thatwasmymom — to help try to “turn a negative into a positive.”

“That was my Mom,” wrote Hanson. “Sometimes the people we love do things that hurt us without realizing it. Let’s turn this around. I respect and #BelieveWomen. I never have and never will support #HimToo. I’m a proud Navy vet, Cat Dad and Ally. Also, Twitter, your meme game is on point.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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Sarah Haeder, a nurse at North Dakota’s lone remaining abortion clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, is no stranger to the pro-life protests that occur regularly outside the clinic’s doors. In fact, she revealed in an interview with reporter Catie Beck for NBC’s Left Field, she used to be one of the protestors herself.

“I know what it’s like to come from this area and be told that the choice is wrong,” said Haeder, reflecting on her childhood. “My grandma and grandpa would travel the country and protest outside of all kinds of abortion clinics. The times that I came to Fargo, we just had the red tape over our mouth that said, ‘Life.’ We just had to stand there, small little children … We were taught that abortion is murder and that the nurses and doctors who perform them are murderers.”

“I knew that I loved my grandma,” Haeder added when asked how she felt as a child being forced to tag along on her grandparents’ abortion protest tours. “I knew that I respected her, so of course I thought I was doing the right thing. When we went to Wichita that was the last time that I protested. It was my sophomore year of high school, and that was where Dr. Tiller works. He was one of the late-term abortion doctors … he was actually murdered in 2009 in his church. So we were there protesting and I think it was at that point that I first started to question things. Because it was so crazy, why is this so crazy and they’re being so horrible to these women. But I still didn’t think it was wrong.”

Raised in a large religious family — Haeder has 80 cousins on her mother’s side alone — the now-pro-choice advocate said that it wasn’t until she had to help a friend through an abortion in college that she really began to re-evaluate her moral stance.

“That was the first time I really thought about what it meant to be a woman. About what it meant to have a choice,” she recalled. In her mid-20s, Haeger was taking birth control when she nonetheless became pregnant herself. So she drove to the Red River Women’s Clinic, where she obtained an abortion with “no regrets.” Afterwards, she knew that it was time for her to get involved in the abortion issue once more.

“I immediately wanted to know how I could work here,” she said. “I quit my full time job so I could work one day a week at the clinic … I remember sitting on panels at church camp, telling everyone: ‘You don’t deserve choice.’ Now here I am, helping them to make the decision.”

There are 1,200 state laws limiting abortion in North Dakota, including a “trigger law” that would ban abortion outright should Roe. v. Wade be overturned. Following the successful appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, conservatives now hold a decisive majority that many fear could overturn the landmark 1973 ruling. But while abortion rights face an uncertain future, Haeger says that women’s need for abortions remains constant — whether or not the procedure is legal.

“I feel like our movement is resilient,” Haeger said. “Women are still going to have abortions. We just have to decide whether America is going to continue to care and love and respect us by allowing abortion to be safe and accessible.”

Watch Haeger’s interview with NBC’s Left Field below.


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Take no prisoners

Rose McGowan, one of the galvanizing figures of #MeToo, did not hold back in an interview with The Sunday Times, during which she lambasted the Hollywood establishments as hypocrites and “faux liberals.”

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, which has ushered in a reckoning on the issues of sexual harassment and assault. McGowan was among the first women to accuse disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse, and she has since become an outspoken leader of the movement.

But McGowan had harsh words for those whom she says are insincere in their support of the movement.

“I just think they’re douchebags,” she said. “They’re not champions. I just think they’re losers. I don’t like them. How do I explain the fact that I got a GQ ‘Man of the Year’ award and no women’s magazines and no women’s organizations have supported me?”

McGowan noted that she has been excluded from many #MeToo events, but added, “And I don’t want to go, because it’s all bullshit. It’s a lie. It’s a Band-Aid lie to make them feel better. I know these people, I know they’re lily-livered, and as long as it looks good on the surface, to them, that’s enough.”

The actress called out Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton by name, casting doubt on their insistence that they did not know about Weinstein’s behavior. And McGowan has no qualms about expressing such contentious opinions.

“Tell me, who’s been more effective at getting us to this point?” she asked. “So playing nice for women hasn’t got us very far.”

Read the full story at The Cut.


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An Australian hotel has issued an apology over a print ad that showed a man and woman enjoying breakfast in bed after critics suggested that the layout of the breakfast spread and the couple’s reading choices reinforced sexist stereotypes. In an ad for the hotel Sofitel Brisbane, a woman is shown perusing a Chanel coffee table book, while her male partner reads the Financial Review.

“Your breakfast looks delicious … just wanted to let you know I’m a woman and I also read the Financial Review every day,” pointed out Elizabeth Redman, a reporter for The Australia, in a tweet addressed to Sofitel Brisbane.

“Of course, the fruit platter is on her side, she’d be loathed to touch the baked goods,” added another Twitter user.

In response, a number of social media users took issue with Redman’s criticism.

“If this is all you have to worry your mind about then you are very lucky person indeed, geez,” wrote one user.

As waves of responses came in, Redman endured abuse from a number of Twitter users, prompting the reporter to comment that she felt the need to “[mute] a lot of men on this website today,” and in one case hitting back with a small dig of her own after a male user asked, “what you expect to her read science journals? (sic).”

“I expect there are women who do read science journals *ducks*,” Redman deadpanned.

In response to Redman’s initial tweet and those of others who objected to the advertisement, the hotel issued an apology, writing that while “there was no intention of portraying a stereotype … we recognize it and apologise for any offense it has caused.” Officials for the hotel added that they had terminated hotel’s relationship with the creative team behind the offending advertisement.

Read the full story at Yahoo News.


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Shake it up

Taylor Swift has faced pressure in the past for keeping quiet about her political leanings, though some believe she made a very subtle endorsement ahead of the 2016 presidential election. So it came as a surprise when the pop superstar decided to shake it up and very publicly endorsed two Tennessee Democratic candidates this weekend, and her get-out-the vote effort has had an immediate impact. According to, almost 65,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 registered to vote in the 24-hour period following her endorsement, CNBC reported.

As The Associated Press reports, Swift took to Instagram Sunday night to announce that she will be voting for Phil Bredesen, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and Jim Cooper, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, in the November midterm elections.

“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” she wrote. “I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country … I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.”

View this post on Instagram

I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Swift goes on to say that though she tries to support women running for political office, she will not be voting for Marsha Blackburn, a Republican congresswoman who opposes gay rights and voted against the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

“Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me,” Swift wrote.

Though she had previously kept silent about her political affiliations, Swift has been credited as being one of the “silence breakers” who encouraged women to speak out about sexual harassment and assault. Last year, she testified in a lawsuit against a former radio host whom she says groped her before a concert. Swift won the lawsuit.

In her post, Swift encouraged her followers to make their voices heard by registering to vote this week.

“For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway,” she wrote. “So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right.” Not surprisingly, when President Trump was informed by news reporters of Swift’s endorsements, he had a very Trump-like response.

“I’m sure Taylor Swift doesn’t know anything about her [Marsha Blackburn],” the president declared, adding.  “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now.” Watch his remarks below.

Read the full story at The Associated Press and CNBC.


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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that she’s stepping down from the post. According to Axios, which first reported news of Haley’s departure, her abrupt resignation shocked senior members inside the White House. President Donald Trump said Haley would remain in her position until “the end of the year.” It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted Haley’s resignation, but she said, “It has been the honor of a lifetime” to be U.N. ambassador.

Bloomberg White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs reported Haley’s resignation “caught everyone off guard — from Chief of Staff John Kelly to Vice President Pence.” Haley, in an Oval Office appearance alongside Trump, quickly moved to tamp down speculation that she is eyeing a possible White House run in 2020. “No, I’m not running in 2020,” Haley told reporters.

Speaking to the White House press gaggle, Haley touted her record as U.N. ambassador and praised the Trump administration’s over all foreign policy agenda. “Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy,” Haley said. “Now, the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we’re going to do something, we follow it through,” she added, referring back to how the U.S. responded to Syria’s use of chemical weapons and it’s disruptive approach to the NATO alliance.

President Donald Trump alongside former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 28, 2017. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Trump said the White House expects to name Haley’s successor sometime in the next two or three weeks, but on Tuesday CNBC reported that White House officials have already reached out to a former member of the team to see if she’s interested in taking over after Haley finishes up at the end of the year. According to CNBC, three administration sources said the White House in recent days reached out to Dina Powell, the former deputy national security advisor to President Donald Trump, to gauge her interest in assuming the ambassador role.

Powell currently works as an executive at Goldman Sachs. She left her job at the White House in January, after less than a year in the role and returned to the investment bank where she was an executive prior to her joining the White House in 2017. Powell is one of the leading candidates to succeed Haley, the report said, but whether or not she’s interested in returning to the political arena is an open question. A source close to Powell, 45, told CNBC she is happy in her current job and is undecided about making another major career move.

Trump said Haley, 46, first brought up the idea of leaving the ambassador position after two years on the job during a discussion earlier this year. Haley said the decision to step down was not about seeking more time with her family. “My family has been very supportive,” Haley said in response to being asked about the decision. “I think it’s just very important for government officials to understand when it’s time step aside. And I have given everything I’ve got these last eight years, and I do think it’s sometimes good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it.” She added that there will be much speculation as to why she’s leaving at this point, but, “The truth is, I want to make sure this administration, the president, has the strongest person to fight. It was a blessing to go into the U.N. with body armor every day to defend America. I’ll always do that. I’ll never truly step aside.”

Once again referring to political aspirations some might think she’s harboring, Haley said, “I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.” Below, read Haley’s full resignation letter.

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Haley was the first woman to ever serve as the governor of South Carolina, a post in which she established herself as a rising star inside the Republican Party. In January 2016, Haley became the 17th Republican woman to deliver the opposing response to a State of the Union address, since Charlotte Reid, a congresswoman from Illinois, became the first to do so in 1968. During the contentious 2016 Republican primary, Haley was often critical of then-candidate Trump and endorsed U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for the presidential nomination. 

For more on the story and to see highlights of her discussing the decision to resign, watch the video below.

Read the full story at Axios and The Associated Press.


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‘Anger & anguish’

In the tumultuous wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a key GOP swing vote, has been facing tough scrutiny for her support of the embattled judge. During an interview with CNN, the Maine Republican explained why she voted to confirm Kavanaugh — even though she thought he “stepped over the line.”

Collins’ criticism focused particularly on Kavanaugh’s hostile responses during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in connection with sexual assault allegations that have been made against the judge. For instance, when Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh if he ever drank so much that he could not remember what happened the night before, the judge responded, “I don’t know, have you?”

Kavanaugh later apologized.

“I did believe that … in his questioning with certain senators, responding to their questions, particularly Amy Klobuchar, that he stepped over the line,” Collins told CNN. “He has apologized for that, both directly to her and in a column that he wrote.”

Kavanaugh was sworn in Saturday evening after the Senate voted to confirm him and was was sworn in again on Monday evening by Anthony Kennedy, the retired Supreme Court Justice he is replacing on the high court.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh is congratulated by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, as his wife Ashley and daughters Liza and Margaret, and President Donald Trump look on during his ceremonial public swearing-in at the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 8, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Collins also said that she put herself “in [Kavanaugh’s shoes] during the highly contentious confirmation process.

“He is coming forth and answering an allegation that includes that he was involved in gang-raping and doping girls,” Collins explained. “I mean, that is so devastating, and I think he reacted with anger and anguish as a father of two young girls, a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old.”

Collins was specifically referring to allegations made by Julie Swetnick, who did not testify during the hearing. Swetnick has said that she saw Kavanaugh attend more than 10 house parties between 1981 and 1983, and that at these parties, Kavanaugh grabbed and fondled girls without their consent. She also alleged that Kavanaugh spiked girls’ drinks, and lined up outside a bedroom along with other boys to “gang rape” intoxicated girls.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Swetnick claimed in a statement on Sunday that she and “multiple corroborating sources” were prepared to speak to the FBI, but Republican senators “purposely prevented any inquiry into my claims and those of other sexual assault victims in the interest of politics.” Watch Collins’ full interview on CNN, in two parts, below.

Read the full story at CNN.


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Toeing the line

Addressing reporters during her tour of Africa, Melania Trump fielded a number of questions about comments made by her husband — most recently his claim that the sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh suggest it is “a very scary time for young men in America.”

The first lady gave an evasive response, saying that she was “glad” both Christine Blasey Ford, one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, and Kavanaugh got a chance to speak at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, according to The New York Times.

Trump would not, however, answer a direct question about whether she believes Ford.

“I will move on that,” she said. “We need to help all of the victims.”

Trump recently wrapped up a six-day trip in Africa, during which she visited Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt. When she spoke to reporters in front of the Great Sphinx, she was confronted with yet another uncomfortable question about reports that the president had used derogatory language to describe African countries. “I never heard him saying those comments,” she said, also noting that none of her hosts in Africa had brought the matter up.

In a lighter moment, the first lady was asked about President Trump’s propensity to lash out on Twitter via his mobile phone and whether she makes it a point to counterbalance some of his rougher edges. “Well, I don’t always agree [with] what he tweets, and I tell him that. I give him my honest opinion and honest advice. Sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn’t,” she said. “I have my own voice and opinions and it’s very important for me that I express what I feel.”

“Do you ever tell him to put the phone down?” a reporter asked.

“Yes,” the first lady responded, eliciting a round of laughter from the gaggle of reporters.

And finally, Trump was asked about the white pith helmet that she wore during a Kenyan safari last week — and which swiftly drew comparisons to European colonial garb.

“I wish people would focus on what I do,” she said firmly, “not what I wear.” Watch the full interview below.


Read the full story at The New York Times.


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Press freedom

A journalist who worked to expose government corruption was brutally raped and killed over the weekend in the city of Ruse, Bulgaria, a shocking crime that government officials are insisting was unconnected to her work. Viktoria Marinova, 30, was the host of a new talk show called Detector, which featured reports by investigative journalists on the endemic corruption in the country. The first episode of the program, which aired on September 30, highlighted an investigation into allegedly fraudulent appropriation of European Union funds by prominent politicians and businessmen in Bulgaria. Bulgarian officials condemned the killing, but have repeatedly refuted any suggestion that her death was anything other than a random targeting. On Wednesday officials said they had taken a suspect into custody, whom they say left DNA evidence at the crime scene and on Marinova’s body and clothes, according to USA Today.

Police arrested a man named Severin Krasimirov, 21, who had fled to Germany, where he was apprehended. Authorities say he has a record of committing petty crimes. A Romanian man who had been arrested in Bulgaria in connection with the brutal crime, has been released.

“It is about rape and murder,” said Interior Minister Mladen Marinov.

“The best criminologists were sent to Ruse, let’s not press them,” added Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, echoing Marinov’s opinion. Prosecutor general Sotir Tsatsarov went still further, suggesting that “the hypothesis about linking the murder to her work and the topics she covered in her program is not a leading one.”

Not everyone was convinced by the government’s insistence that Marinova’s work had nothing to do with her death. Ruse, a city of 150,000, saw only five murders total all of last year. And corruption is so endemic in the country that one in five Bulgarian adults are believed to have either given or taken a bribe, according to the Bulgaria-based Center for the Study of Democracy. Despite the apparent prevalence of corruption, reporting on the issue has been on the decline — a trend that a May report from The Union of Publishers in Bulgaria attributed to “growing collusion between publishers, oligarchs and political parties during the past decade [that] has resulted in a major decline in the press freedom.”

“We need to find out quickly whether the murder is connected with Marinova’s research into the misuse of E.U. funds,” said European Parliament member Sven Giegold of Germany. “Freedom of the press is in acute danger in Europe if research into corruption ends in death.” Meanwhile, mourners have been paying tribute to Marinova with candlelight vigils.

Over the past year, at least two other reporters involved in investigating corruption in the Eurozone have been murdered in retaliation. In February, Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were killed by gunfire in a murder that police say was connected to his work exposing the connections of top government officials to organized crime. Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who linked her country’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, in a corruption scheme she uncovered in documents leaked by the Panama Papers, was killed in a car bombing in October of last year.

Watch video coverage of the story below.

Read the full story at The New York Times and USA Today.


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