×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
October 13, 2017
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced to applause Friday that she would stay in the Senate after having publicly flirted with a potential run for governor in her home state, BuzzFeed News reports.

Fellow Senate moderates had urged Collins, who has been a critical no vote in health-care debates, to stay in Washington, Politico reports. Democrats in particular had been following Collins' decision, because had she chosen to run for governor, a progressive candidate could have potentially won her vacated Senate seat.

"Given the contentious environment in Washington right now, my voice and vote matter a great deal," Collins said earlier this month. "On the other hand, if I were fortunate enough to be elected governor, I could work more directly on job creation."

On Friday, Collins announced: “The best way that I can contribute to these priorities is to remain a member of the United States Senate." Jeva Lange

3:51 a.m. ET

"Facebook has been in the news a lot recently over concerns about everything, from privacy to fake news to Russian trolls, but tonight we're actually going to go in a different direction," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight: Facebook's "behavior overseas." More than half of Facebook's revenue and 80 percent of its users now come from outside the U.S.

Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have aggressively pushed the "utopian" idea that connecting billions of people around the world is an unvarnished good, Oliver noted, but "it's important to remember that when it comes to the internet, a certain number of those people are then going to say 'Jews control sharks who did 9/11!' and you really have to think that through. Unfortunately, thinking things through has never really been Facebook's strong point." In fact, he said, Facebook "has made some hugely consequential mistakes overseas, and that's what tonight's story is about."

Oliver pointed to a few examples but focused mostly on Myanmar, where Facebook is ubiquitous on smartphones — and the company has been very slow in policing its posts for violence-inciting posts against the minority Muslim Rohingya community by military leaders, politicians, and especially a Buddhist monk so hateful he's been called the "Burmese bin Laden." One teacher in Myanmar compared Facebook to a toilet, but Oliver said that's unfair, because "there is a purity and integrity to toilets that Facebook seriously lacks."

Until Facebook fixes this, he said, "it is painfully obvious everyone should be treating everything on their site with extreme skepticism and see Facebook for what it actually is: A fetid swamp of mistruths and outright lies interspersed with the occasional reminder of a dead pet. That's it." While his audience gasped, Oliver played his own version of a Facebook commercial. There is NSFW language throughout, plus mildly disturbing verbal imagery about Care Bears and sex. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:50 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nominator wasn't very popular before Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he tried to rape her in high school in the early 1980s. Now, half of all voters oppose his confirmation while only 40 percent want him elevated to the highest court, according to a new Fox News poll. (In the previous Fox News poll, Aug. 19-21, voters were split, 46 percent opposing, 45 percent in favor.) The 50 percent opposition is the worst number for a Supreme Court nominee in Fox News polling dating back to 2005.

More voters believe Ford, 36 percent, than Kavanaugh, 30 percent, with 34 percent unsure who to believe, the poll found. There is a significant gender gap: Women believe Ford over Kavanaugh by 10 percentage points, and suburban women by 17 points, but men also believe Ford over Kavanaugh by a narrow 1 point. There's also a predictable partisan split, and a stark divide by education level: Voters with college educations believe Ford by a 14-point margin and those without a degree believe Kavanaugh by 17 points.

Support for Kavanaugh has dropped across the board, Fox News' pollsters found: 12 points among independents, 11 points among suburban women, 5 points among men, 4 points among Republicans, 10 points among voters under 45, and 11 points among voters in counties where the 2016 margin between President Trump and Hillary Clinton was 10 points or less.

Democratic polling firm Anderson Robbins Research and GOP pollsters Shaw & Company Research jointly conducted the Fox News poll Sept. 16-19, contacting 1,003 registered voters by phone. The poll has an overall margin of sampling error of ±3 points, and ±4 points for items related to Ford's allegations, polled Sept. 17-19. Peter Weber

2:00 a.m. ET
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Scrabble just got a little easier, with the addition of 300 new words to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Merriam-Webster is releasing the sixth edition of the dictionary on Monday, with emoji, facepalm, ew, OK, twerk, sheeple, sriracha, and yowza among the new words. Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large at Merriam-Webster, told The Guardian "OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time. Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game."

Another game-changer is qapik, a unit of currency in Azerbaijan. "Every time there's a word with q and no u, it's a big deal," Sokolowski said. "Most of these are obscure." Merriam-Webster updates the official dictionary every four to eight years, and this time, the lexiconographers checked with the North American Scrabble Players Association on the words they thought should be included. Catherine Garcia

1:56 a.m. ET
Kelly West/AFP/Getty Images

Cody Wilson, whose controversial company sells blueprints for 3D-printed firearms, was booked into Harris County Jail in Houston on Sunday and is being held on $150,000 bond on charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl in Austin, the U.S. Marshals Service says. Police in Austin say Wilson, 30, fled to Taiwan after being tipped off by a friend of the girl that police were investigating the incident. He was arrested in Taiwan on Friday. "We are glad that Cody is back in Texas again where we can work with him on his case," Wilson's lawyer Samy Khalil said Sunday night. "That’s our focus right now."

Police say Wilson paid the underage girl $500 for sex after meeting her on the website SugarDaddyMeet. If convicted of sexual assault, Wilson would, among other things, be barred from possessing firearms. Peter Weber

1:04 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

They don't call Bob Williams of Long Grove, Iowa, the "Candy Man" for nothing.

Every day, the 94-year-old retired high school teacher and World War II veteran passes out Hershey's chocolate bars to people he meets around town. He got the idea 15 years ago, after reading in the newspaper about random acts of kindness and paying it forward. He has always eaten half a chocolate bar every day, and started buying a few extra to hand out to people he comes across during the day. Over the last 15 years, Williams has given out more than 6,000 candy bars. "You'd think I'd given them keys to a new car," he told the Des Moines Register. "Honest to God, these people were thunderstruck."

Williams keeps his refrigerator stocked with the candy bars and also buys two cases a week. His wife of 69 years, Mary Elizabeth, died six years ago, and he visits her memorial bench every day, where he always hands out a chocolate. Over the years, just three people have declined his gift, he told the Register. "One was a little girl in the store with her dad," he said. "On the way out, I complimented her father for training her right — to suspect old men." Catherine Garcia

1:00 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Sunday evening, just as The New Yorker published an article by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer with a second allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Democratic lawyer Michael Avenatti said on Twitter he represents a third "woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge," Kavanaugh's high school friend and alleged witness to what Christine Blasey Ford says was an attempted rape in the early 1980s. Avenatti dropped some clues about the ugly and salacious nature of the allegations on Twitter and said he has "specific evidence" that Kavanaugh and Judge "would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs" for sex in high school. He did not provide any proof.

Avenatti told Politico he represents a group of individuals who can corroborate allegations involving Kavanaugh and Judge, but he would describe just one of his clients as a victim. "I represent multiple clients, they are witnesses" to events "not out of character from what Dr. Ford said," Avenatti told Politico. "They went to schools in the same general areas. These house parties were widely attended." Kavanaugh and Judge have denied or said they have no recollection of specific allegations and general sexual misconduct.

Does Avenatti really have the goods? For what it's worth, he kicked things off with a pre-emptive warning: "I do not bluff. I deliver." Which, whatever you think of Avenatti, he mostly has in the showdown between his client Stormy Daniels and President Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Peter Weber

September 23, 2018
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's high school friend, Mark Judge, has said he "can't recall" boys ever "rough-housing" with girls when they were teenagers, but a former college girlfriend of Judge's tells The New Yorker that's not what he told her.

Kavanaugh and Judge attended Georgetown Prep in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the 1980s. Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers, and that Judge was in the room, encouraging Kavanaugh but also telling him to "stop." Kavanaugh has denied the allegations and Judge, a conservative writer, told The New Yorker he has "no recollection" of this. He was more abrasive when interviewed by The Weekly Standard, calling the accusation "just absolutely nuts." When asked, he said he remembered "rough-housing with guys. I don't remember any of that stuff going on with girls."

Elizabeth Rasor, who was in a relationship with Judge for three years at Catholic University, told The New Yorker he'd shared "a very different story" about the culture at Georgetown Prep. "I can't stand by and watch him lie," she said, adding that he once ashamedly described how he and several other boys took turns having sex with a woman who was drunk. He appeared to think this was a consensual experience, Rasor said, but did not tell her who else was involved and she does not know if Kavanaugh was there. Judge's attorney said he "categorically denies" the incident took place.

Another woman who attended high school in the 1980s in Montgomery County told Ford's lawyers and The New Yorker that she would see boys, including Georgetown Prep students, engaging in sexual misconduct at area house parties. The woman, who requested anonymity, told The New Yorker that the boys would get girls "blind drunk" off a grain alcohol–Hawaiian Punch concoction, then try to take advantage of them. "It was disgusting," she said. "They treated women like meat." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads