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Oct. 18 2017 12:16 AM

What Did Trump Mean When He Told the Widow of a Dead Soldier, "He Knew What He Signed Up For"?

This week, President Trump made some unsavory comments about how his presidential predecessors handled military deaths while in office. “If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said during a Rose Garden news conference Monday. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate.” The utterly unnecessary distortion of how President Obama and others comforted the families of fallen soldiers sparked an uproar; it also put increased emphasis on how Trump would handle the recent deaths of American Special Forces in Niger two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, Trump made a call to the widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who died during the operation, moments before her husband’s casket landed at Miami International Airport. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) told local Miami TV station WPLG that during the 5-minute call, the president said of the pregnant widow’s husband: “he knew what he signed up for... but when it happens it hurts anyway.”

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The “he knew what he signed up for” line sparked immediate outrage online as a callous shifting of blame from the commander-in-chief onto the dead soldier for his decision to serve. Given Trump’s penchant for utter rhetorical gracelessness in times of emotional gravity and compulsive blame-shifting for just about anything, it’s not hard to read his comments as a not my bad interjection. That’s certainly how Rep. Wilson, who apparently was present for the call, heard Trump’s words. "It's so insensitive,” Wilson told WPLG. “He should have not have said that. He shouldn't have said it."  Further supporting that line of interpretation is the fact that Trump may have been feeling defensive about these particular deaths as they are among the first on his watch as president and they came during an operation that drew criticism for its execution.

In fairness to Trump, however, the question seems to be one of tone and delivery. You could imagine a previous non-Trump president saying these words in a tone of respect for the bravery of signing up for a job knowing you could die doing it. You could imagine President Obama, for instance, hugging a grieving wife and saying: “He knew what he signed up for... but when it happens it hurts anyway.” It’s less eloquent and emotionally precise than we are accustomed to hearing from Obama, but Donald Trump is, among many things, less eloquent and emotionally precise than Obama. Could it simply be a botched attempt at performative emotionality and rhetorical empathy from a man who doesn’t appear to possess much of either?

Either way, give it a few hours and the president will be awake again.

Oct. 17 2017 10:19 PM

White House Memo Casually Claims, Without Evidence, NAFTA Led to Increased Abortions, Spousal Abuse

The U.S., per the totally coherent campaign promises of Donald Trump, is currently in the middle of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The fourth round of talks wrapped up Tuesday with the Trump administration taking a negotiating position so extreme it’s threatening to undo the 23-year-old agreement. It’s unclear what Trump thinks of the trade pact, other than it was a deal someone else made, so it must be bad. The deal was struck before everyone had the internet in their pocket, so you could imagine some changes could be appropriate. Even Congressional Republican leaders, along with industry groups, however, have warned that simply trampling the agreement has the potential to do significant harm to the U.S. economy and that of its neighbors, while throwing the global economy into disarray. So you really hope the Trump administration has its facts and figures right, much less its economic models.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported on a document (pictured above) that gives the world a peek at the hand the White House is holding. The internal two-page White House document laid out the “Socioeconomic Costs of A Weakened Manufacturing Base” in what appear to be talking points or data points bolstering the Trump administration's anti-NAFTA stance. The document, which was drafted and distributed by director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Peter Navarro, claims that, essentially, everything bad can be attributed to NAFTA and its impact on manufacturing in the U.S. Higher abortion rate? Check. Increases in crime, drugs, divorce, homelessness? Check. Check. Check. Check.

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If these all were true, ditching NAFTA would be no-brainer. But these broad claims sound like a made-up list of boogeyman answers to serious and complex issues that need to be addressed. The points laid out by Navarro, the Post notes, which were circulated at the staff and perhaps cabinet-level in the administration, are “presented without any data or information to back up the assertions” and “White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed” by its distribution. Perfect. Hopefully Wikipedia can save us.

Oct. 17 2017 8:49 PM

Today's Impeach-O-Meter: Trump Vows to Eventually Pass Zombie Zombie Zombie Zombie Zombie Health Care Bill

The Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said today that he and Democratic Washington Sen. Patty Murray have reached a bipartisan agreement to stabilize Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces. Donald Trump is attempting to take credit for this deal, which he had nothing to do with, but hasn't stopped there, also telling reporters that "we [Republicans] have the votes" in the Senate to pass the much broader Graham-Cassidy bill repealing the ACA in "March or April" of 2018.

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I enjoy this because it combines three great Trump tropes into one dense body, like a super-heavy collapsed star made of bullshit.

1. "We have the votes." They don't. POTUS keeps saying that Graham-Cassidy failed only because there was a Republican senator in the hospital when it was being voted on. The senator in question wasn't in the hospital, but the bill wouldn't have passed even if he had been because of other GOP opposition.

2. Random, spontaneous claims about scheduling. You may recall that during the campaign Trump promised to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office. That ... didn't happen. During the transition, in January 2017, he said he wanted repeal to take place within "weeks" after inauguration. That also didn't happen. Now it's going to be done by April of 2018. Maybe that will happen! (Recall also that Trump keeps saying he's going to get his vaunted border wall done "ahead of schedule" even though it hasn't yet been so much as designed or budgeted for.)

3. An extremely unpopular idea being revived over and over and over and over and over again because the president's only real guiding principle is that he wants to undo everything his predecessor did. A spring 2018 revisiting of Graham-Cassidy would be, by my count, the sixth distinct Affordable Care Act repeal effort. (There was the first House bill, the House bill that passed, the first Senate bill, the "skinny repeal" bill, and the first Graham-Cassidy bill.) None of these bills have polled well, and they've sucked up all the oxygen in Washington, D.C. so that nothing else has gotten done. But: Obama bad!

The point is, this doesn't seem like a plausible or politically savvy plan. We'll nonetheless keep the meter steady; at this point, Trump doing self-defeating things related to Obamacare is just the status quo.

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Oct. 17 2017 8:12 PM

Today in Conservative Media: What Does Tax Reform Mean, Anyway?

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

Conservatives took a look at the prospects of the Republican tax reform effort on Tuesday. At National Review, David Bahnsen distinguished genuine reform from simple tax cuts:

Tax cuts scream for people who pay too much in taxes wanting to pay less (fair enough). Tax reform implies something is structurally unfair, and therefore needing reformation. We do not need to reform that which is already good and right. Sure, we may turn a knob here and there on levels, but reform is more comprehensive, and more reactive. The catalyst to reforming something is admitting something needs to be reformed.
The catalyst for 2017/18 tax reform is a broken tax code, and that brokenness is most evident in two places: A brutally non-competitive business tax code that hasn’t come close to dealing with the global realities of the last 30 years; and a glut of tax brackets and deductions that are too confusing, too easy to manipulate, and too divorced from simplicity and fairness. Yes, the rates are too high, both individually and corporately, but beyond that, the system is not right. The efforts of the Trump administration, led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and the GOP leadership of the House and Senate, seek to use a new tax-reform bill to attack the fundamentals of what is broken in the tax code (a non-competitive corporate code) and clean up around the edges as well (alternative minimum tax (AMT), pass-through entities, etc.).
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A post at the Federalist called Trump’s tax framework “a win for all Americans.” “It offers direct benefits to the middle-class, encourages economic activity, and reduces the time citizens will spend paying taxes,” Nicole Ault argued. “It looks for long-run solutions and recognizes that the economy is a dynamic market in which tax cuts have ripple effects.” LifeZette’s Brendan Kirby examined Democratic opposition to ditching the state and local tax deduction:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted last week: "50% of households that claim State & Local Tax deduction make under $100K — & now @SpeakerRyan wants to throw it away." (She did not mention that 90 percent of the benefits flows to houses with incomes over that threshold.)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) provided a clue for the opposition on the Left, complaining Monday on CNN that it would be “particularly impactful on my state of Connecticut, the Northeast, and many other states.”
Indeed, Democratic politicians tend to oppose eliminating the deduction because it disproportionately benefits voters in Democratic strongholds — urban areas where property and local taxes are high.

The Daily Signal’s Rachel Greszler assessed the ways tax reform could go awry, including an overemphasis on how much in cuts the wealthy could stand to receive. “If an estimated 45 percent of Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes, it’s hard to provide them with a bigger tax cut than those who face five-, six-, or even seven-figure tax bills,” she wrote. “Regardless of whether you think the wealthy should benefit from tax reform, the fact is that wealthy individuals and small businesses don’t just hoard money all to themselves. They put it back into the economy and ultimately into workers’ paychecks, creating more jobs and higher wages across all income groups.”

On Rush Limbaugh’s show, he voiced skepticism about a report—promoted by the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan—claiming that corporate tax reform would raise American families’ wages by $4,000 annually, on average:

I can’t read something like that and simply go, “Right on, man! Right on, let’s do it! Let’s do tax reform and get everybody, on average, a $4,000-a-year raise.” It’s based on the fact that American corporations are gonna have a whole bunch of money in America to use that they can’t use now, because they can’t bring it back, because the tax rate’s too high. So they’re gonna lower the corporate tax rate plus make a one-time offer of very low taxes on the repatriated amount.
That’s gonna equal more money being held by American businesses domestically, and that means that everybody gets a $4,000 raise? Is there something in the bill that mandates businesses pay higher wages with the money? Now, he’s gotta mean something. Because of my analysis of this … I mean, anybody, not just me, is gonna look at this with giant question marks. They’ve put this out the way they’ve put it out. They have to be able to back it up with something. I just can’t figure out what it is.

In other news:

Conservatives continued their commentary on the Weinstein scandal and subsequent conversations about sexual harassment and assault that have ensued. At National Review, Ben Shapiro took aim at Hollywood’s culture of exploitation:

Where does “mutually beneficial” Hollywood quasi-consent stop and sexual assault and harassment begin? After all, we’re hearing from actresses such as Ellen Barkin that Weinstein’s evils had been an open secret for years, and yet rich, famous actors and actresses said nothing. Nor will they about others: The power imbalance between producers and talent is simply too great. If you’re a young, aspiring star, and you’re invited to dinner by a rapacious producer with the ability to toss you a juicy role, what do you do? Do you turn down the dinner and risk being badmouthed around town? Do you go to dinner and demurely protest when he tries to go to bed with you? Or do you sleep with him in hopes of receiving that part, which could end up being worth millions in future earnings?
Unfortunately, the logic extends even to those big stars who no longer need rapacious producers. The only people who could stop the chain of brutality would be those who have already made it — but those people still need the producers who exploited them to continue getting parts. It’s far easier for an actor to drop out of circulation than a producer.

At the Daily Wire, Matt Walsh argued that constructively affirming male identity could help prevent assault. “If you want to raise a boy who will not only avoid becoming a rapist, but may even succeed in doing something actively positive with his life, then he must be taught — he must be shown — how to harness his masculinity to a constructive end,” he wrote. “He must have examples of real men in his life so that he can see not only what men don't do, but what they do and why they do it. I don’t think my parents ever sat me down and said, ‘Matt, you mustn't rape,’ or ‘Matt, son, don’t assault random strangers,’ or ‘Matt, listen here: don’t become a serial killer.’ Those lessons were embedded in the larger one.”

Oct. 17 2017 6:39 PM

A Complete List of Sexual Assault and Harassment Allegations Against Harvey Weinstein

An egregious pattern of sexual allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has emerged through a series of bombshell investigations published by the New York Times and the New Yorker, as well as a variety of other outlets. Compiled below is a timeline of all the specific sexual assault and harassment accusations against Weinstein that have surfaced so far, currently totaling more than 40 accusations of varying degrees of harassment (including at least 13 allegations he exposed himself) and 11 accusations of sexual assault. Reporting by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, and Rachel Abrams in the New York Times and by Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker suggests there have been other incidents for which the reporters could not disclose details.

Weinstein’s office has issued blanket denials about potential crimes committed by Weinstein, saying, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life.”

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Weinstein himself has acknowledged inappropriate conduct without offering any details, saying to Page Six’s Emily Smith, “I admit to a whole way of behavior that is not good. I can’t talk specifics, but I put myself in positions that were stupid.”

We will continue updating this list as new information becomes available.

1980: While working on his first movie, The Burning, Weinstein allegedly discarded his clothes and asked intern Paula Wachowiak for a massage when she dropped by his hotel room to deliver checks. Later, he said to Wachowiak, “So, was seeing me naked the highlight of your internship?”

1984: Weinstein invited college junior Tomi-Ann Roberts to his hotel in New York for a meeting ostensibly about a role in an upcoming film, and allegedly he summoned her to the bathtub, where he was nude, and pressured her to take off her clothes.

1984: Weinstein allegedly kissed a female crew member of Playing for Keeps. She resisted, but he forced her onto a bed and tried to perform oral sex on her. She told lead producer Alan Brewer what had happened but declined to file a police report, saying she didn’t want to lose her job.

Late 1980s: After allegedly grabbing actress Lysette Anthony at his rented home in Chelsea, Weinstein later appeared at Anthony’s home and raped her, the actress says. Afterward, she felt obligated by her career to continue meeting with the producer. Anthony reported the crime to the London Metropolitan Police on Oct. 11, 2017.

1990: Weinstein allegedly pushed actress Sophie Dix onto a bed at the Savoy Hotel and pulled at her clothes. Dix then locked herself in the bathroom, and when she opened the door, she found Weinstein facing her and masturbating. Dix spoke to colleagues about the “damaging” incident, and months later, Weinstein called her to demand she “stop talking.”

1990: Weinstein allegedly behaved inappropriately toward and then reached a settlement with an unnamed assistant in New York.

Around 1990: Weinstein summoned actress Kate Beckinsale, then 17, to his room at the Savoy Hotel, allegedly meeting with her while wearing only a bathrobe and offering her alcohol. Uncomfortable, she gave an excuse for leaving. “A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting. I realized he couldn't remember if he had assaulted me or not,” she recalled this week. Beckinsale says her subsequent rejections of his advances over the years “undoubtably harmed my career.”

1991: Weinstein allegedly badgered former employee Laura Madden for massages at various hotels in Dublin and London.

1990s: After artist and director Tara Subkoff was informally offered a role in a Weinstein movie, the producer allegedly pulled her onto his lap at a premiere party. Noticing his erection, Subkoff moved away, and Weinstein propositioned her. Subkoff immediately left the gathering and found herself blacklisted by rumors and removed from the new role.

Early 1990s: Weinstein allegedly asked actress Rosanna Arquette for a massage and tried to put her hand on his penis. When she rejected him, he said, “You’re making a big mistake.” Subsequently, Arquette faced career struggles; Weinstein “made things very difficult to me for years,” she told the New Yorker.

Early 1990s: Following an interaction with Weinstein, a young woman unexpectedly left the company, later getting a settlement.

Late 1980s-early 1990s: Weinstein showed up naked to a female Miramax executive’s bedroom in London. The woman told a producer, Elizabeth Karlsen, about the encounter and later reached an out-of-court settlement and departed from the company.

1992: Weinstein allegedly assaulted a woman in London, according to a report received by the London Metropolitan Police.

1993: Weinstein allegedly exposed himself and chased Swingers actress Katherine Kendall around a room in his apartment. Kendall says the traumatic encounter diminished the allure of working in the entertainment industry.

Mid-1990s: Weinstein allegedly propositioned actress Claire Forlani repeatedly at dinners and asked her to massage him during meetings at the Peninsula Hotel. “All I remember was I ducked, dived and ultimately got out of there without getting slobbered over, well just a bit,” she recalled this week.

Mid-to-late 1990s: After Weinstein helped British writer Liza Campbell get a job as a freelance script reader, he met with her in his London hotel room and allegedly asked her to bathe with him.

Around 1994: Weinstein allegedly made a sexual advance toward Gwyneth Paltrow, then in her 20s, in his hotel suite. After Brad Pitt, Paltrow’s boyfriend at the time, confronted Weinstein, the producer allegedly warned her to stay silent about the encounter.

1995: At the Toronto International Film Festival, Weinstein allegedly harassed actress Mira Sorvino. Later, Weinstein allegedly arrived at her apartment late one night for a marketing meeting he’d suggested, only to leave once she lied that her new boyfriend was heading over.

Around 1996: Weinstein allegedly propositioned actress Ashley Judd in his hotel suite, and she rejected him. She has since appeared in Miramax movies but only years after the incident.

1996: Weinstein allegedly harassed French actress Judith Godrèche while in Cannes. When she called the female executive who’d been present at an earlier meeting, the woman told her not to speak out, as it might hurt the success of a soon-to-be-released film in which she'd starred.

1997: Weinstein reached a $100,000 settlement with actress Rose McGowan after she alleged an incident in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival. While she wasn’t quoted in the New Yorker and New York Times exposés, in a tweet Thursday aimed at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, McGowan wrote, “I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it.”

1997: After a Cannes party, Weinstein and his entourage brought model Zoë Brock to the Hotel Du Cap. When Weinstein’s hotel room emptied, he allegedly removed his clothes and asked for a massage and then chased Brock when she fled for the bathroom. After Brock demanded to go home, Weinstein’s assistant told her, “Of all the girls he does this to you are the one I really felt bad about [sic].”

1997: Italian actress Asia Argento says Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her after she arrived at Weinstein’s hotel thinking she was attending a Miramax party. Argento later had a relationship with Weinstein, during which she agreed to have sex with him because she felt "obliged," but says she was always haunted by the initial rape.

1998: Weinstein allegedly harassed actress Angelina Jolie in a hotel room.

1998: At a meeting with filmmaker Sarah Polley, her publicist, and one of Weinstein’s employees, the Guinevere actress, then 19, says Weinstein encouraged her to form a “close relationship” with him to further her career.

1998: Weinstein settled with London assistant Zelda Perkins after she threatened to pursue legal recourse or publicly share Weinstein’s inappropriate interactions with her and other female colleagues.

2000: During the filming of Get Over It, Weinstein allegedly blocked the door of his hotel room and refused to let actress Melissa Sagemiller, then 24, leave until she’d kissed him. Later, she says, he “kidnapped” her bags from her airport flight so she’d be forced to join him and others on his private plane. While Sagemiller talked with the cast, Weinstein’s producing partner told her, “Don’t say anything … it will definitely hurt your career. This is Harvey.”

Early 2000s: Weinstein offered Heather Graham her choice of a movie role, then talked about an open-relationship agreement he had with his wife, implying, Graham thought, that he would give her work in exchange for sex. Later Weinstein lied to try to get Graham into a one-on-one meeting that she cancelled.

Early 2000s: Weinstein allegedly groped Australian actress Natalie Mendoza during the filming of The Great Raid, and she threatened to punch him.

2000s: While on a yacht at Cannes, model Angie Everhart awoke from a nap to see Weinstein allegedly masturbating and blocking a door. He warned her to stay quiet about it, but when Everhart told friends, they replied, “Oh that’s just Harvey.”

Around 2001: Weinstein wore only a bathrobe for a meeting at the Savoy Hotel in London with actress Romola Garai about a role in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. While she went on to appear in the film, the episode left the actress feeling “violated.”

2003: Weinstein allegedly offered aspiring actress Dawn Dunning roles in upcoming films in exchange for a threesome. She says that when she refused, he told her, “You’ll never make it in this business.”

2003: After making sexual comments over dinner about model Samantha Panagrosso on a yacht at Cannes, Weinstein allegedly went to her room, pushed her onto the bed, and groped her. When Panagrosso told friends in the industry, they wrote off the producer’s behavior as typical.

Summer 2004: Aspiring actress Lucia Stoller (now Lucia Evans), then a rising senior at Middlebury College, was allegedly made to perform oral sex on Weinstein during a daytime meeting at Miramax’s Tribeca office. After the incident, Weinstein continued to call her late at night.

2005: After meeting Lena Headey at the Cannes Film Festival, Weinstein allegedly propositioned the English actress. She refused him and has not appeared in another Miramax film since. Years later, the Game of Thrones actress says the producer invited her to his hotel room in L.A. When she made clear to him in the elevator that the meeting was to be strictly professional, Weinstein became enraged and warned her to tell no one.

Mid-2000s: Weinstein allegedly grabbed Canadian actress Erika Rosenbaum by the back of her neck in a Toronto hotel room and masturbated behind her. She said he’d made aggressive advances toward her with her in earlier meetings.

2007: When New York journalist Lauren Sivan dodged an unwanted kiss, Weinstein allegedly masturbated in front of her at the Cafe Socialista restaurant.

2008: During at pitch meeting in his hotel room at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Weinstein allegedly exposed himself to screenwriter and actress Louisette Geiss and entreated her to watch him masturbate in the nearby hot tub.

2008: Weinstein interviewed a potential babysitter, actress and writer Sarah Ann Masse, while in his boxers and undershirt at his Connecticut home. He allegedly ended the meeting—during which he made his children leave the room—with an uncomfortably long hug and told Masse, “I love you.” She ultimately didn't get the job.

Around 2010: After Vietnamese actress and model Vu Thu Phuong’s scenes were cut from one of his films, Weinstein, wearing only a towel, allegedly offered to teach actress how to perform sex scenes, as his upcoming movies required them. Phuong turned him down, and the episode discouraged her from further pursuing acting.

2010: Weinstein allegedly revealed himself and demanded sex from French actress Emma de Caunes after a lunch meeting. Later that day, he called repeatedly and offered her gifts.

2010: At a dinner in the Peninsula Hotel with director Lina Esco, Weinstein allegedly pressured Esco for a kiss; she refused repeatedly. Later, he helped her secure an editor for her film Free the Nipple.

Around 2010: Weinstein allegedly propositioned actress Eva Green in his hotel room, and she had to push him off. Green’s mother says he then intimidated her daughter with talk of retaliation.

2010, 2011, and 2015: Weinstein allegedly assaulted a woman in London, according to a report she filed to London police on Oct. 14, 2017.

2010s: After meeting actress Léa Seydoux, Weinstein insisted they get drinks. That night, sitting on a couch in his hotel room, he allegedly climbed onto her to force a kiss, prompting Seydoux to push him off. During subsequent encounters, Weinstein made comments about her that Seydoux describes as “misogynistic,” and he bragged openly about his sexual conquests.

January 2011: Weinstein allegedly pressured actress Jessica Barth to give him a naked massage at the Peninsula Hotel. She rejected his advances. As Barth left, he gave her the contact information of a female executive to appease her.

Early-to-mid-2010s: After a meeting with a director about a potential upcoming role, Weinstein allegedly asked actress Cara Delevingne, who is bisexual, to kiss a woman in his hotel room and, as Delevingne left, attempted to kiss the actress himself. Delevingne ultimately got the part.

2013: Weinstein allegedly propositioned actress Amber Anderson and tried to move her hand to touch him inappropriately. He also warned her that telling others of the private meeting would affect her “opportunities.”

2013: After a tea with Weinstein at the Peninsula Hotel, actress and comic Chelsea Skidmore alleges Weinstein requested a massage and, when she turned him down, masturbated in front of her. At three meetings over the next three years, Weinstein exposed himself or pushed Skidmore to “get physical,” in the words of a Washington Post article, with other women.

December 2014: Weinstein allegedly propositioned temporary front-desk assistant Emily Nestor repeatedly in a breakfast meeting her second day of work. A friend alerted human resources, but Nestor didn’t push the complaint further and ultimately decided not to go into the entertainment industry.

2015: At the same hotel, Weinstein allegedly pressured a different assistant into giving him a naked massage.

March 2015: Weinstein allegedly groped Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez at what was supposed to be a business meeting at his office. Battilana Gutierrez reported the assault to the New York Police Department and extracted a taped admission of Weinstein’s behavior, but the Manhattan district attorney’s office ultimately decided not to file charges. Weinstein later reached a settlement with the model.

2015: Lauren O’Connor, then 28, wrote a memo to company executives about Weinstein’s actions creating a “toxic environment for women” and her experience of feeling “sexualized and diminished.” Weinstein made a settlement with her before the board could hire a lawyer to investigate.

Date unknown: In an incident the New Yorker describes as an alleged rape, an unnamed woman who worked with Weinstein says he summoned her to his hotel room and, while wearing only a bathrobe, forced himself onto her. She declined to be identified because she feared retaliation from Weinstein through his vast influence.

Oct. 17 2017 5:37 PM

Trump’s Travel Ban Gets Blocked, Again (Again)

A federal court judge in Hawaii on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction blocking much of Trump’s third try at a travel ban just hours before it was scheduled to go into effect nationwide. Federal District Judge Derrick Watson, who had weighed in last March on an earlier version of the President’s executive order, based his decision not on broad constitutional claims about the anti-Muslim animus that infected the ban, but rather on the same analysis used by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when it set aside the earlier version of the law: a statutory argument that the President has exceeded his authority under federal immigration law.

Trump’s first two attempts at travel bans—issued in late January and then reissued in March—had been struck down by two appeals courts, and then partially revived in June by the Supreme Court, which allowed portions of the Executive Order to go forward but provided that refugees with bona fide connections to Americans could not be barred from entry. Part of that latter order had expired, and the remaining issues were to be heard this past week at the high court. But that appeal was dismissed after President Trump signed his third travel ban September. This iteration would have been indefinite and would have gone into effect at midnight Wednesday. It barred certain travelers from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. The third ban was substantially similar to the one before it, but Trump had removed Sudan from the list and added Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.

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The plaintiffs seeking an injunction this time, as they were last spring, are the state of Hawaii, a Muslim Imam and several John Does with families that will be unable to travel to the U.S. under the ban. (A similar challenge to the travel ban is currently being heard in a Maryland court.) Watson’s 40-page order will have the effect of pausing the ban with respect to all of the specified countries, except North Korea and Venezuela. (Plaintiffs didn’t ask for an injunction for those two countries.) Having reviewed the third order, Watson concluded that it "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor." He noted that the new version still "lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be 'detrimental to the interests of the United States,'" and that it "plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the Ninth Circuit has found antithetical to both Section 1152(a) and the founding principles of this Nation.”

Although rooting his analysis in the president’s statutory authority and the lack of individual findings with respect to the countries singled out, Watson also notes in his opinion that the plaintiffs challenged the ban in part because the original ban was an attempt to create a Muslim ban, and that Trump “has never renounced or repudiated his calls for a ban on Muslim immigration.” He cites Trump’s tweets to support the proposition that the president never wanted anything less than the original ban as promulgated. Judge Watson then directs acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson not to implement the ban.

Also noteworthy in the judicial smack talk department is Watson’s opening paragraph, striking in its subversive reference to the current standoff over the patriotism of NFL players: “Professional athletes mirror the federal government in this respect,” Watson writes. “[T]hey operate within a set of rules, and when one among them forsakes those rules in favor of his own, problems ensue. And so it goes with EO-3.”

One can safely assume that this decision will be appealed as soon as possible to the Ninth Circuit. But for now, score this as another temporary setback to the Trump agenda from a judge whose state Attorney General Jeff Sessions once wrote off as an “island in the Pacific.”

Oct. 17 2017 3:27 PM

The Fun, Brief Story of the Escaped Brooklyn Bull

The Brooklyn Bull, Tuesday's internet hero simply incapable of Milkshake Duck-ing its way out of our hearts, stood its ground for hours in a face-off with police in Prospect Park.

According to CBS New York, the animal had escaped a slaughterhouse in Sunset Park. It had been spotted running around streets and sidewalks not too long before noon, when it entered the park. According to NPR, police at one point picked up soccer goals to try to corral it into a corner.

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The internet rooted for it, and in real life, the bull drew “massive crowds.”

But eventually the bull was cornered on a soccer field, tranquilized, and captured. An animal rescuer told reporters—and you can bet there were a bunch of reporters on the scene—the bull was headed for an animal sanctuary in New Jersey, and the Associated Press reported it was headed toward rescuers on Long Island.

Again, we have to face the fact that this bull is not remarkable for New York, although maybe it is something that it, at least, wasn’t in Queens. Earlier this year, in February, a bull escaped from a Queens slaughterhouse, and its nearly three-hour-long chase ended with the animal’s demise, possibly from stress or tranquilizers. In April 2016, another bull that escaped in Queens got a happy ending when the comedian Jon Stewart sent it to a shelter in upstate New York. The month before that bull, yet another cow in Queens escaped and it, too, was sent to a sanctuary. Queens also saw cows on the loose in 2011 and 2009.

People were satisfied this one distraction from our regular lives ended up with about as happy an ending as they could have hoped for. It was good, dumb fun.

Oct. 17 2017 2:16 PM

The NBA Season Begins Tonight! Please, Nobody Tell the President.

Opening day in baseball is celebrated with pomp, circumstance, and bunting, while the first NFL game of the year is the culmination of months of sports-industrial hype. Most years, though, the NBA season eases into gear gradually. While pro basketball begins in late October, it often doesn’t register on the national sports radar until the league showcases its best teams in Christmas Day matchups, after baseball is finished and the NFL regular season is almost over.

This is not most years. In this, the first year of the Donald Trump presidency, our nation’s chief executive has used his reverse Midas touch to turn professional football—already fraught as a spectation option by concussion concerns, high-profile domestic violence incidents, and bloated broadcasts that involve as many commercials and review stoppages as they do actual plays—into an absolute rat poison dumpster of culture-war bad feeling.

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You know what I’m talking about. This stuff:

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Screen shot/Deadspin

And this stuff:

(To be clear, I am not in any way suggesting that unobtrusive, silent pregame protests themselves make the NFL unwatchable. I will also footnote the comments above with the caveats that NFL players’ Colin Kaepernick–inspired anthem demonstrations are protests against police brutality, not the flag or the concept of patriotism, and that Kaepernick began kneeling instead of sitting specifically to demonstrate respect for service members after meeting with a former Green Beret who had criticized him.)

Making things worse is that the NFL, already suffering from a dearth of household-name stars, has been hit with season-ending injuries to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. What we are left with, with some nice exceptions, are relatively anonymous players toiling through overlong games in the heavy shadow of toxic legal and political disputes. It’s a grim fan experience.

The NBA will end our national malaise. LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers open the season Tuesday night with a game against the revamped Boston Celtics, who are led by former Cavalier Kyrie Irving. That game will be followed by a matchup of the champion Golden State Warriors and an already formidable Houston Rockets squad that has added Chris Paul, the best point guard of his generation. The league has been blessed with a generation of players and coaches who cultivate fast-paced, aeshetically pleasing basketball action on the court and engage in funny and relatable antics off of it—trends that have been encouraged via offense-minded rules tweaks and player-friendly attitude that is positively chill and mellow when compared to the NFL’s heavy-handed paternalism. The opportunity to watch the teams in action tonight—as well as the newly superstar-heavy Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves, fronted respectively by long-limbed, omni-skilled super-prospects Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns—will feel like clean, cold autumn air breaking the spell of a damp, hot summer that has stayed too long.

And folks, NBA games will include fewer timeouts this year.

People are excited.

There are a few dark clouds on the horizon. For one, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has issued a not-chill warning about protests, asserting that he “expects” players to stand during the national anthem. There is also the ominous possibility that Trump will find out via Fox News that some of the NBA’s most prominent figures—particularly five-time champion Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and James, a three-time champ himself—have been calling him on his petty, dishonest B.S. Popovich, a veteran, responded angrily on Monday when Trump claimed incorrectly that previous presidents haven’t spoken to the bereaved families of service members killed in action; James called Trump a “bum” when the latter lashed out at Stephen Curry of the Warriors for hesitating to make the traditional post-championship White House visit this summer.

Since his outburst at Curry, though, the POTUS has been silent on matters of basketball, perhaps because it would be difficult for him to belittle such inarguably accomplished and self-assured individuals as Popovich and James. Here’s hoping it stays that way and that they and our other hoops heroes perform unmolested during a glorious season of national redemption.

Oct. 17 2017 1:09 PM

Trump Isn’t Actually Doing Much to Curb Iran

In his speech last week laying out a new Iran strategy, President Trump focused less on the 2015 nuclear deal that he was decertifying (but not actually canceling), than on what he called the Iranian regime’s “long campaign of bloodshed” in the Middle East. Trump vowed to “counter the regime’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region.” But so far, he’s not doing much on that front.

Iran’s proxies have been pretty busy in Iraq over the past few days. The Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Tehran-backed Shiite militias supporting the Iraqi government, moved in to reoccupy areas around the town of Sinjar, which had been under the control of U.S.-supported Kurdish forces. Over the weekend, the armed forces of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated, Iranian-allied government retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which the Kurdish Peshmerga had taken control of during the fight against ISIS. The American-backed Kurdish forces mostly backed away without putting up a fight.

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This has, not surprisingly, set off some alarm bells among Iran hawks in Washington. Sen. John McCain said he was “especially concerned by media reports that Iranian and Iranian-backed forces are part of the assault” on Kurdish-held areas. But a relatively blasé Trump said on Monday, “We don’t like the fact that they are clashing, but we’re not taking sides.” The U.S. embassy in Baghdad more or less endorsed Baghdad’s move on Kirkuk, saying “We support the peaceful reassertion of federal authority, consistent with the Iraqi constitution, in all disputed areas.”

Even if the U.S. has been frustrated with the Kurds lately, it’s striking to see the U.S. sit on its hands as Iranian proxies and allies seize oil fields and cities from one of America’s staunchest regional allies. Despite the apocalyptic terms in which Trump framed the threat of Iran’s regional influence last week, Iraq’s territorial integrity and stability is seen as a larger priority, especially while ISIS still maintains a few pockets of resistance.

The story is much the same in Syria. The Syrian conflict is entering a new (and hopefully final) phase as ISIS’s last urban strongholds fall. With the ISIS situation more or less under control, the Trump administration seems content to let Iranian-allied Russia take the lead in negotiating a final settlement for the wider conflict. This means that Iranian-backed leader Bashar al-Assad will almost certainly remain in power, and the U.S. seems okay with that. As the New York Times put it last month,  “in areas nominally under Mr. Assad’s control, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and local militias empowered by the war often exercise greater control than the Syrian state.” (Not surprisingly, Israel has been critical of the ceasefire deals backed by the U.S. and Russia, worried that they will expand Hezbollah’s influence in Syria.)

Others have noticed the contradiction between Trump’s Iran focus and his administration’s Syria policy. Jake Sullivan, a former top advisor in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, told the House Foreign Affairs committee last week that "The administration's current ISIS-only strategy has created open running room for Iran, its client [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, and its proxy Hezbollah to assert greater control over Syria, including areas adjacent to the border with Israel.” (This was a little ironic coming from Sullivan, given that ignoring the wider Iranian threat and focusing solely on the nuclear issue was exactly what Republicans spent years attacking the Obama for doing.)

One thing Trump did do is call for new sanctions on Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support of terrorist groups. But he stopped short of designating the group as a terrorist organization, a move that was widely expected and supported by Iran hawks in Washington. Asked to explain, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that such a designation would "put in place certain requirements where we run into one another in the battlefield, and it would trigger actions that are not necessarily in the best interests of our military actions.” Translated from diplo-speak, this means that the IGRC and the U.S. military are fighting common enemies on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. Officially calling them terrorists would make that even more awkward and dangerous than it already is.

The sort of aggressive anti-Iran strategy that a President McCain or Lindsey Graham might put in place would probably seek to counter Iranian influence by stepping up support for the Iraqi Kurds and encouraging them to fight back against the militias, as well as backing anti-Assad rebels in Syria. This, to be clear, would not be a wise strategy, as Trump’s military advisors—not exactly Iran doves—no doubt realize. It would also run counter to Trump’s own impulses dating back to his campaign: focus above all else on the fight against ISIS and avoid backing rebel groups.

So what actually was the new strategy Trump announced last week? We’re left with a nuclear deal still intact, perhaps some new sanctions that aren’t as tough as they could be, an appeal to Congress that may or may not actually go anywhere, and the continuation of a counterterrorism strategy that virtually ensures that Iran’s regional influence will grow.

With a few days perspective, Trump’s decertification announcement looks less like a legitimate threat to Iran than a symbolic sop to the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran hawks in Washington, who’ve been alarmed by Iran’s expanding power. From Trump’s point of view, the main point was probably to allow him to make good on his campaign rhetoric. The primary target was not Iran, but Barack Obama.

Oct. 17 2017 12:57 PM

Trump Nominee to Fight Opioid Crisis Withdraws Because He Helped Create Opioid Crisis

President Trump’s nominee to lead the nation’s drug control efforts has withdrawn from consideration after an investigation by the Washington Post and 60 Minutes found he had spearheaded an effort to pass a law that effectively killed the Drug Enforcement Agency’s ability to shut down suspicious drug shipments.

Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, whom he nominated in September, had withdrawn from consideration as the country’s next drug czar. On Monday, during the wave of outrage following the investigation, Trump had said he would “look into” Marino’s role in passing the law, which crippled the agency’s most powerful tool for stemming the flow of opioids into the black market.

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Democrats immediately called on Trump to rescind Marino’s nomination after the report was released, and some called for a repeal of the law. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who called Marino’s withdrawal “the right decision” in a press release, said Monday she would introduce legislation to repeal it.

Marino, who had been nominated to be the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was one of several members of Congress who participated in the campaign, funded by the pharmaceutical companies.The ability to freeze suspicious drug shipments was key to blocking some companies from delivering to corrupt pharmacists and doctors, who can flood the streets with a dangerous flood of narcotics. The opioid epidemic has led to the death of more than 200,000 people so far.

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