Nov 30
Her eye on the news
Royal blood

Prince Harry’s soon-to-be bride, actress Meghan Markle, has been discovered to be distantly related to England’s royal family, according to one of America’s top genealogical institutions. According to genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts, who is affiliated with the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Markle is a direct descendent of England’s King Edward III, meaning that she and Harry are, in fact, 17th cousins.

There has been a large focus on Markle’s heritage since the announcement of her engagement to Prince Harry — mostly because while the popular actress’s father is white, her mother is black. In great Britain, where 87.1 percent of the population is white and just three percent is black, newspapers and social media alike have speculated furiously on the implications of the country having its first “black princess.” But in an essay written by Markle in 2015 for ELLE Magazine, the Suits star noted that she has long rejected being labeled as either black or white. She also reflected on her great-great-great grandfather on her mother’s side, who had to choose a surname for himself after slavery was abolished in 1865.

“He chose the last name Wisdom,” wrote Markle. “He drew his own box.”

Read the full story at Harper’s Bazaar.


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‘Exposing Myself’

A disturbing sexual assault allegation made against former talk show host Geraldo Rivera in 1991 has resurfaced after the Fox News contributor wrote on Twitter that women should be required to follow certain guidelines before making accusations of assault. Rivera had made the controversial recommendations while reacting to the news that Matt Lauer harassed a female intern and assaulted a female colleague after locking her in his office using a special button fixed underneath his desk.

But Rivera’s seeming concern over Lauer’s fate, and his recommendations that victims be barred from speaking out about sexual harassment after five years, might also be interpreted as a way of pre-emptively defending himself. In 1991, after Rivera published his memoir, Exposing Myself, he detailed what he vaguely described as an encounter with singer and actress Bette Midler — an encounter he claimed later led to a “torrid sexual affair.”

“We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts,” wrote Rivera, according to The Washington Post.

On Thursday, however, Midler tweeted out an excerpt of her 1991 interview with Barbara Walters, in which she denied engaging in sexual relations with Rivera. “I’m going to get in trouble,” Midler warned Walters, when she was asked about what happened during her first introduction to Rivera. But after Walters insisted, Midler shared what she described as a patently non-consensual encounter.

“Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the ‘70s, in the early ‘70s,” said Midler. “This was when he was very hot. He and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they pushed two poppers under my nose, and proceeded to grope me … I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was unseemly.”

And if such behavior is Rivera’s idea of being “flirty,” perhaps that would explain why he appears so eager to discourage women from speaking out about sexual harassment and assault.

Watch video of the interview, which was shared by Midler herself, below.

On Thursday, amid a fierce backlash to his remarks, Rivera turned to Twitter once again — this time to “humbly apologize.”

Read the full story at Jezebel.


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‘I remember’

An Army veteran has come forward to accuse U.S. Senator Al Franken of fondling her breast during a photo op while she was stationed in Kuwait. She is the fifth woman to allege having been groped by the embattled senator. Stephanie Kremplin, 41, said that she was a longtime fan of Saturday Night Live when then-comedian Franken came to visit the troops with the USO in 2003, so she had eagerly lined up for the chance to take a photo with him.

“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Kemplin told CNN. “I’ve never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast. So he was holding my breast on the side.”

“I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed,” she added. “And I remember thinking — is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand … You’re immediately put on the spot. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Your mind goes a mile a minute. Who was I going to tell?”

In the end, Kemplin said, she didn’t share what had happened with her peers, but instead confided in her family and ex-boyfriend. Making matters worse, she noted, was that she was still traumatized after an alleged sexual assault by a specialist with whom she shared a room just months before. Sean Chambers, Kemplin’s platoon sergeant in Kuwait, said that an investigation into the incident was deemed “totally inappropriate behavior” but not “indecent assault” by Army investigators, who justified their decision by arguing that Kemplin was “responsible” for allowing the male specialist to be near her.

“I was really pissed off. It was not right,” Chambers said. “My reaction was: When is it ever the victim’s fault?”

Kemplin, who was honorably discharged and returned home from Iraq in 2008, now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the ways she copes, she explained, is to “shut down” and block out negative memories. But hearing about radio host Leeann Tweeden’s allegations of groping against Franken — also while he was on a different USO tour — brought the memories rushing back. She said she reached out to Tweeden, and the two women began having conversations on the phone — which eventually led to Tweeden asking her if she wanted to come forward.

Read the full story at CNN.


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‘I’m not a liar’

A staffer who worked for U.S. Representative John Conyers for 11 years has gone public with her allegations against the civil rights icon, telling the Today show on Thursday that she reached a settlement with him after enduring near-constant sexual harassment and abuse. Also on Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the iconic congressman should resign amid the mounting accusations.

Speaking with reporters, Pelosi was questioned about why hadn’t called on Conyers to resign. Pelosi replied, “The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible. It’s very sad. The brave women who came forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family, and wish them well. However … Congressman Conyers should resign.” Watch her remarks below.

The staffer who spoke out on the Today show, Marion Brown, explained that she was taking a risk by speaking out since she had signed a nondisclosure agreement, but that she could no longer stand having to listen to Conyers repeatedly deny and obfuscate the nature of the settlement while she was being forced to sit silent.

“I am taking a risk, and the reason I’m taking the risk, I want to be a voice,” Brown told Savannah Guthrie. “I want (my granddaughter) to not have to endure sexism and gender inequality. I felt it was worth the risk to stand up for all the women in the workforce that are voiceless … I’m here to say I’m not a liar.”

“It was sexual harassment, violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and propositioning for sex,” she added. “He just violated my body, he’s touched me in different ways. It was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional.”

Brown also shared with Today one of the more disturbing incidents she had with Conyers in 2005, after he had asked her to do work out of his Chicago hotel room.

“He has undressed down to his underwear,” she recalled. “He asked me to satisfy him sexually. He pointed to genital areas of his body and asked me to touch him,” she said. “I was frozen, shocked. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to lose my job, I didn’t want to upset him. Also, he asked me to find other people that would satisfy him. I just tried to escape.” Brown then told Today she told him she did not feel comfortable and was not going to do that.

News of Brown’s allegations against Conyers were first published anonymously by BuzzFeed, after the media company obtained four signed affidavits from Brown’s wrongful dismissal complaint. Brown accused Conyers of firing her for turning down his sexual advances, an assertion that was backed up by the testimony of other staffers who also said they either faced or witnessed similar advances from the congressman. In recent days, former Conyers employee Melanie Sloan also came forward to say that Conyers had called her into his office while in his underwear, and another staffer, Deanna Maher, said that Conyers had tried to solicit sex from her on multiple occasions while she worked for him between 1997 and 2005.

A current aide to Conyers has said that the 88-year-old was recently hospitalized due to stress, much of which, the aide claimed, “is directly attributable to this media assault.”

Watch Brown’s interview with Today below.


Read the full story at Today.


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Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team is continuing to impress after the teenagers’ appearence at the FIRST Global Challenge in the U.S., a robotics competition for young adults, by winning the top award at the Robotex festival in Estonia, the biggest festival of its kind in Europe.

In early July, it was reported that the girls, who were brought together by Afghanistan’s first female tech CEO, Roya Mahboob, had been denied one-week entry visas into the U.S. on two separate occasions — presumably because they had fallen afoul of Trump’s travel ban. In the midst of public outrage, Trump intervened and the U.S. allowed the girl’s entry into the country. Despite having had four months less to work on their robots than any other competitors at the Global Challenge, the girls won a silver medal for courage amidst fiercely competitive teams from more than 150 countries around the globe. Tragically, the father of 14-year-old Fatemah Qaderyan, the team’s captain, was murdered in a suicide bombing claimed by ISIS just 10 days after the competition.

Despite the challenges thrown at them, at home and abroad, the teenagers rallied to a remarkable victory at the Robotex festival in Tallinn, Estonia, winning the competition’s Entrepreneur Award. After their performance in the U.S., the girls were given a hero’s welcome on their return to Afghanistan, where two-thirds of girls ages 12 to 15 are already out of school.

“Their success shows that Afghan girls, despite the challenges, can be good inspirations in the field of knowledge and technology,” President Ashraf Ghani said at the time. Needless to say, these girls have earned their accolades.

Read the full story at Jezebel.


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