Nov 14
Her eye on the news
‘Creep list’

Oppressive power dynamics and a burdensome reporting system are among the factors contributing to an allegedly rampant culture of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, according to lawyers, lobbyists, former aides, and congresswomen who work there.

Of more than 50 women working on Capitol Hill who spoke anonymously to CNN, nearly all said they had personally experienced sexual harassment or knew colleagues who had. One former House staffer said that many men were “using their power without any self-control … going out and behaving very badly with younger staffers.” A number of women also revealed that there was an unofficial, unwritten “creep list” of male lawmakers who were known for their inappropriate or predatory behavior. One congresswomen said that she had endured sexual harassment from a number of her colleagues, but that she and others were “cautious about saying anything” because of possible retaliation and a slim likelihood of any actual consequences emerging from an allegation.

In more than 50 interviews given to The New York Times, female lawmakers detailed a reporting system for sexual harassment that some said was designed to prevent women from speaking out. In order to make a sexual harassment claim to the Office of Compliance, victims must engage in 30 days of counseling, followed by up to 30 days of mediation with the congressional office they are lodging the complaint against, and then wait another 30 days before they can officially file their complaint and get a hearing with either the OOC or the Federal District Court. Victims are required to officially file a claim within 180 days of the alleged harassment — which includes the 90 days of counseling, mediation, and arbitrary waiting required by the OOC.

“The system is so stacked,” explained Washington lawyer Debra Katz. “They don’t want people to come forward.”

Another former aide who filed a complaint with the OOC described the organization to CNN as “the place where complaints go to die.” Asked to respond to the claim, OOC executive director said that the office was not meant to be “an advocate” for either victims or their accusers.

On the positive side, pressure to do something about sexual harassment in congress is mounting. Last Thursday, the Senate passed a resolution to make sexual harassment training mandatory for senators, staff and interns, and on Tuesday a House committee held a hearing about their current sexual harassment policies.

Speaking separately to The New York Times and CNN, a number of women also detailed disturbing stories of harassment that they had personally suffered. As Katherine Cichy, put it, “Bottom line, my boss told me I was hot, and I had to sit in a room every day and work with him. And they didn’t do anything about it. Nothing.” Cichy worked as an aide former Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota, who is now retired. In 2013, Cichy said her boss in Johnson’s office repeatedly said she was “hot” in front of colleagues. She said she told the office’s chief of staff about the treatment, and was met with a dismissive response: “It is what it is,” Cichy recalled. Within months, she found another job and her boss remained in his job.

Read the full story at The New York Times and CNN.


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Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart addressed the repeated acts of sexual misconduct confessed to by Louis C.K. last week. Stewart, a longtime friend of Louis C.K., was asked about the scandal during an appearance on the Today show Tuesday. Stewart said he had no idea about the behavior that the comic had been engaging in for years.

“You give your friends the benefit of the doubt. I tried to think about it in terms of, I’ve had friends who have had compulsions and have done things: gambling or drinking or drugs. And we’ve lost some of them. Some of them have died,” Stewart said. “You always find yourself back to a moment of, ‘Did I miss something? Could I have done more?’ And in this situation, I think we all could have. So you feel anger at what you did to people.”

Stewart said he was “stunned” by the report by The New York Times in which five women came forward telling stories about Louis C.K. masturbating in front of them without their consent. He also referenced an interview he gave last year in which an audience member questioned him about Louis C.K.’s behavior, which, at the time, were allegations and rumors. “Whoa! What?!” Stewart replied to the audience member who had posed the question, citing a Gawker article and a series of allegations made on Twitter. “I didn’t see the tweets,” Stewart added. “Honestly, I’m not that connected to that world. I don’t know what you’re talking about … All I can tell you is I’ve worked with Louis for 30 years, he’s a wonderful person, and I’ve never heard anything about this,” Stewart concluded at the time.

Turning back to the aftermath of the Louis C.K. revelations, Stewart said, “So you feel anger at what he did to people. But comedy, on its best day, is not a great environment for women. I think it’s gotten better over the years, but certainly, when we started 30 years ago, it was really difficult,” and added, “Look, I don’t want to make it like, ‘Louis was the only one in the business!’ (He’s) not, it’s endemic.”

Stewart said he hasn’t spoken with Louis C.K. since he confirmed the women’s accusations last week. Watch Stewart’s full remarks below.


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Explosive allegations

Actor Tom Sizemore allegedly molested an 11-year-old actress while on the set of a movie in 2003, a dozen people involved in the production of the film have told The Hollywood Reporter. Sizemore was reportedly sent home from the film after the young girl told her mother that the actor had “put his finger inside her” while she sat in his lap for pictures taken to promote the film.

Robyn Adamson, who played the role of Sizemore’s wife in the production, recalled that she had been watching the photoshoot, in which the girl had been made to wear a flannel nightgown.

“At one point her eyes got just huge, like she could’ve vomited. I was watching her. She soon reintegrated and kept going, although she had trouble taking direction. Later, when I was told about what happened, I knew exactly what it was,” said Adamson.

The movie’s casting director, Catrine McGregor, said that the girl’s mother “noticed that her daughter was unusually quiet” in wake of the photoshoot and promised to take her swimming, which was “the little girl’s favorite thing.”

“When the girl put on her bathing suit, she told her mother that it reminded her of the day before, in an upsetting way — that the bathing suit’s contact against her felt like what happened when the man had put his finger inside her,” McGregor recalled.

Around the time of the alleged incident, Sizemore was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Heidi Fleiss. In court, Fleiss gave emotional testimony in which she said Sizemore had beat her on numerous occasions. Earlier this year, Sizemore pleaded no contest to domestic violence charges stemming from a 2016 incident in which he assaulted his girlfriend, The Los Angeles Times reported. He avoided jail time through the plea deal.

Sizemore, who through a representative replied to The Hollywood Reporter that he has “no comment” on the allegations, was sent home from the set but returned for reshoots months later after the girl’s family chose not to press charges. When confronted with the allegations at one point, he reportedly denied any wrongdoing. The now 26-year-old former actress said that she recently hired a lawyer to pursue possible legal action against both Sizemore and her parents.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.


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Repeat offender?

Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama who has been accused of sexually molesting five teenage girls several decades ago, was something of a notorious figure in his hometown of Gadsden, according to a report in The New Yorker.

A roster of sources — “five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees” — told the publication that Moore, now 70, had been banned from the mall because he “repeatedly badgered teen-age girls.” Though not all were certain that a formal ban had been implemented, they recalled hearing stories about Moore when he was in his thirties.

“Us kids would congregate outside on the sidewalk near the theater after the mall closed on Friday and Saturday nights,” one local said, for instance. “Anyway, when asked why they had to keep an eye outside, they said that some older guy had been trying to pick up younger girls. They didn’t go beyond that but one of the concession workers whispered to us later that it was Roy Moore he was talking about.”

Two unnamed police officers also confirmed that they had heard rumors about Moore’s unsavory behavior. “The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one officer said. Locals in Gadsden painted a similar portrait of Moore in report by to “It’s not a big secret in this town about Roy Moore,” Blake Usry said. “That’s why it’s sort of frustrating to watch” he said of those who are questioning the accounts of Moore’s accusers.

Moore has not yet responded to the reports, but he has denied the other allegations made against him, labeling them “completely false and a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and The Washington Post,” which was first to break the news of Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct.

Read the full story at The New Yorker.


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Ibtihaj Muhammad, the fencer who made history as the first Muslim-American woman to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab, now has a custom Barbie doll made in her honor.

As Yahoo! reports, Mattel released the doll as part of its “Sheroes” collection, which features a line of Barbies modeled after a diverse range of accomplished women. Gabby Douglas, Ava DuVernay, Ashley Graham, and Misty Copeland are among the famous figures who have been given the Barbie treatment.

Muhammad’s doll, which will be available for purchase in 2018, was unveiled at Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year Summit. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have many options of dolls that looked like me,” Muhammed said during the event, adding that she used to sew hijabs onto her Barbies. Others have also take the initiative to do the same by adding a headscarf to the iconic doll.

“Now Mattel is doing it for us,” she said.

In a post social media, Muhammed wrote that she is “proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true.”

Read the full story at Yahoo!


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Women who go into cardiac arrest in public are less likely than men to receive CPR from a bystander, according to a study presented at a recent American Heart Association conference in Anaheim.

As The Associated Press reports, the study examined nearly 20,000 cases and found that only 39 percent of women who suffer cardiac arrests in public were given CPR, compared to 45 percent of men. Men were also 23 percent more likely to survive such events — perhaps unsurprisingly, considering that CPR can help double or triple survival odds for people who experience cardiac arrest, an often-fatal condition that occurs when the heart stops pumping blood.

Researchers did not have access to information about bystanders and rescuers, so it is not entirely clear why this disparity exists. Intriguingly, however, no gender difference was observed among people who go into cardiac arrest at home, where they are likely to know the person performing CPR. As a result, researchers have suggested that people may feel reluctant to touch women’s chests or remove their clothing for better access while performing CPR.

“It can be kind of daunting thinking about pushing hard and fast on the center of a woman’s chest,” said Audrey Blewer, a University of Pennsylvania researcher and lead author of the study, according to the AP.

When done properly, however, CPR involves placing one’s hands on the sternum, not on the breasts. And at any rate, as study author Dr. Benjamin Abella told ABC News, observing someone go into cardiac arrest “is not a time to be squeamish because it’s a life and death situation.”

Read the full story at ABC News.  


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‘Shames us all’

Irish musician Bob Geldof has returned his Freedom of the City of Dublin award because the same honor was given to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been widely condemned for her lack of response to the ongoing Rohingya crisis.

Speaking to state broadcaster RTE, Geldof referred to Suu Kyi as a “handmaiden to genocide,” Reuters reports. “I don’t want to be on a very select roll of wonderful people with a killer,” he added.

Suu Kyi was once widely regarded as a champion for peace and democracy. She spent 15 years under house arrest due to her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, which had long been ruled by military government. Suu Kyi won the Freedom of the City of Dublin award back in 1999, when she was still under house arrest.

But Suu Kyi has recently been criticized for failing to speak out against the persecution of minority Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which has prompted 600,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. Malala Yousafzai, Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel laureate, criticized her earlier this year for her inaction on the crisis. The Rohingya have been marginalized for decades in the majority-Buddhist country, but tensions have ramped up in recent months. Residents and activists say that the military has imposed a ruthless crackdown on unarmed civilians. Senior U.N. officials have said that the violence in Myanmar is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Bono and the members of U2 have spoken out criticizing Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s handling of the Rohingya crisis. (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

In a statement, Geldof opined that Suu Kyi’s “association with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by default. We honored her, now she appalls and shames us.”

U2 singer Bono, along with other members of the band, have also spoken out against Suu Kyi. Though they helped campaign for Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest some two decades ago, the band members published a statement over the weekend condemning the politician.

“[W]hat has happened this year, and in particular these past months — this, we never imagined,” the statement reads. “On behalf of our audience who campaigned so hard for her, we reached out several times to speak to Aung San Suu Kyi directly about the crisis in her country and the inhumanity being directed at the Rohingya people. We expected to speak to her this week, but it appears this call will now not happen.

So we say to you now what we would have said to her: the violence and terror being visited on the Rohingya people are appalling atrocities and must stop. Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence is starting to look a lot like assent.” On Tuesday, Suu Kyi faced even more pressure from U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres who in a meeting with the beleaguered leader said the displaced Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh should be allowed to return to their homes in Myanmar, Agence-France Presse reported. “The Secretary-General highlighted that strengthened efforts to ensure humanitarian access, safe, dignified, voluntary and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities, would be essential,” the U.N said in a statement that summarized Guterres’ comments to Suu Kyi.


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