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November 10, 2017

Actress Ellen Page published a powerful personal statement on Friday concerning the "long-awaited reckoning" of Hollywood abusers, beginning with an accusation of her own:

"You should f--k her to make her realize she's gay." He said this about me during a cast and crew "meet and greet" before we began filming, X Men: The Last Stand. I was 18 years old. He looked at a woman standing next to me, 10 years my senior, pointed to me and said: "You should f--k her to make her realize she's gay." He was the film's director, Brett Ratner. [Ellen Page via Facebook]

Page is not the first woman to speak out against Ratner — a number of others have also shared stories of harassment — but she clarified that "the behavior I'm describing is ubiquitous. They (abusers), want you to feel small, to make you insecure, to make you feel like you are indebted to them, or that your actions are to blame for their unwelcome advances."

Page went on to call out directors including Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, citing the movie she did with the latter as the "biggest regret of my career."

"I want to see these men have to face what they have done," she wrote. "I want them to not have power anymore. I want them to sit and think about who they are without their lawyers, their millions, their fancy cars, houses upon houses, their 'playboy' status and swagger. What I want the most is for this to result in the healing for the victims. For Hollywood to wake up and start taking some responsibility for how we all have played a role in this." Read her entire post here. Jeva Lange

November 10, 2017
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National Review issued a damning ruling against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore on Friday, calling allegations of his sexual impropriety with teenagers "credible" and demanding he "drop out." The Washington Post reported Thursday that Moore allegedly pursued relationships with women between the ages of 16 and 18 and initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was in his early 30s.

"The statute of limitations on Moore's alleged sexual misconduct long ago expired, but there is no such thing as a statute of limitations on standards," National Review writes. "Roy Moore is not a worthy standard-bearer for the Republican Party, and his vulnerabilities are now endangering what should be a completely safe Senate seat."

The allegations against Stephen Bannon-backed Moore have divided conservatives, with the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for the former state judge to drop out of the race if the claims are true. Breitbart News, on the other hand, has called the Post article a political hit job and the Alabama state auditor quoted the Bible to defend Moore in the face of the misconduct reports.

Prior to the reports, Moore had been expected to beat his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, in the special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in December. Polls showed Moore ahead of Jones by an average of 48 percent to 42 percent. Still, as Ryan Cooper writes at The Week, the allegations might be the final nail in Moore's political coffin, and National Review's condemnation of the candidate may fuel that possibility. Read the publication's full note here. Jeva Lange

November 2, 2017
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A jaw-dropping new study published in The Lancet on Thursday is turning everything cardiologists thought they knew about heart stents upside down. Stents — tiny mesh wires used to prop open blocked arteries — are used to prevent heart attacks, or to relieve chest pain that patients experience due to a lack of blood to the heart muscle. According to the study, stents actually do very little — and possibly nothing at all — to prevent that heart pain.

In the study, 200 patients were either given stents or a placebo surgery as if they were receiving a stent, only to not have the mesh actually inserted. All the patients were also put on drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack and to open blood vessels. "When the researchers tested the patients six weeks later, both groups said they had less chest pain, and they did better than before on treadmill tests," The New York Times writes. "But there was no real difference between the patients, the researchers found. Those who got the sham procedure did just as well as those who got stents."

One reason for the baffling results could be that stenting only the largest blockages in the heart does not make a significant difference in a disease that affects the whole muscle. While one artery might be reopened with stents, blockages could obstruct other vessels later.

"All cardiology guidelines should be revised," wrote Dr. David L. Brown of the Washington University School of Medicine and Dr. Rita F. Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco, in a review of the study. Redberg added that based on her assessment, stents should only be given to people who are actually having heart attacks, especially since the surgery carries risks for patients.

More than 500,000 people around the world are given stents each year to relieve chest pain. Read the report at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

November 1, 2017

After nearly the entire defense team for the USS Cole bombing suspect resigned under the suspicion that the U.S. government was spying on their conversations with their client at Guantanamo Bay, the judge in the case on Wednesday sentenced chief defense counsel Brig. Gen. John Baker to 21 days in confinement in his quarters and a $1,000 fine for contempt, the Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg reports.

The issue boiled down to the mid-October departure of three defense lawyers from the bombing suspect's case. Baker had released the attorneys, citing secret information. The judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, ruled Baker acted out of turn:

Spath ruled that only a judge, not Baker, had the authority to excuse lawyers of record — and ordered the general to swear an oath and answer questions about the episode.

Baker stood three rows behind the defendant and refused, invoking a privilege.

The judge then ordered the general to rescind his decision to excuse the three lawyers. "I'm definitely not doing that," the Marine general replied. Baker maintains that under the war court rule book he has the unchecked authority to release defense attorneys for "good cause." [Miami Herald]

In addition to finding Baker guilty of contempt, Spath voided Baker's order releasing the three defense attorneys.

The defense's client, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri of Saudi Arabia, stands accused of organizing the 2000 al Qaeda suicide bombing on the USS Cole off of Yemen, which killed 17 Americans. After the departure of the attorneys in October, Nashiri was only represented by the legal team's most junior member, who has no death penalty experience. Legally, the case cannot move forward without an experienced capital punishment lawyer, although Spath ruled Wednesday for the case to proceed because no alternatives were available. Read more about the case at the Miami Herald. Jeva Lange

October 30, 2017
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Pitchers for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros are complaining about the feel of the 2017 World Series baseballs. "The World Series ball is slicker," pitcher Justin Verlander, whose Astros are up 3-2 in the series and who starts on the mound for Game 6 on Tuesday, told Sports Illustrated. "No doubt ... You know when you sign a receipt at Starbucks, and if you don't hold the paper down with your hand, the pen just slides across the paper and the ink doesn't stick to it? That's what it's like sometimes trying to sign these balls. That's how slick the leather is."

The slicker balls are having a noticeable effect on the game, pitchers claim. The Dodgers' Yu Darvish "threw 14 sliders and did not get a single swing and miss on the pitch" in Game 3, Sports Illustrated writes. "It was the first time in 34 starts this year that Darvish did not get a swing and miss on his slider." In Darvish's own words: "I had trouble with the ball throwing a slider. It was slicker."

While ball-juicing conspiracies are a perennial complaint in baseball, the 2017 World Series has seen an astronomical rise in home runs. Game 5 on Sunday had seven dingers, adding to a record World Series total of 22 home runs — already. The 2002 World Series previously had the most home runs for the championship series, with 21 homers in seven games between the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants.

MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations, Peter Woodfork, said the league has done nothing to change the balls. "The only difference is the gold stamping on the baseballs," he said of the ink, which in the regular season is blue. But Sports Illustrated obtained World Series baseballs and agrees — something's fishy. Read the full investigation here, and why more home runs might not a good thing in baseball at The Week. Jeva Lange

October 23, 2017

President Trump called for the deportation of Guo Wengui, a fugitive Chinese businessman living in New York City, but was talked out of the plot by aides who, amongst other things, noted that Guo is a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, The Wall Street Journal reports. "Some U.S. national security officials view Mr. Guo, who claims to have potentially valuable information on top Chinese officials and business magnates and on North Korea, as a useful bargaining chip to use with Beijing," The Wall Street Journal adds.

Guo has been a thorn in the side of Chinese authorities, publicly alleging the corruption of high-up officials. Because the U.S. and China do not have an extradition agreement, Beijing has gone so far as to send agents on fraudulent visas to put pressure on Guo at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, where he lives.

The Chinese government has tried to reach Guo in other ways, too — by sending Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn to personally deliver a letter denouncing Guo to Trump:

"Where's the letter that Steve brought?' Mr. Trump called to his secretary [in an Oval Office meeting in June]. "We need to get this criminal out of the country," Mr. Trump said, according to the people. Aides assumed the letter, which was brought into the Oval Office, might reference a Chinese national in trouble with U.S. law enforcement, the people said.

The letter, in fact, was from the Chinese government, urging the U.S. to return Mr. Guo to China.

The document had been presented to Mr. Trump at a recent private dinner at the White House, the people said. It was hand-delivered to the president by Mr. Wynn, the Republican National Committee finance chairman, whose Macau casino empire cannot operate without a license from the Chinese territory. [The Wall Street Journal]

Read the full report at The Wall Street Journal. Jeva Lange

October 18, 2017

Gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, 21, joined the #MeToo movement on Wednesday to allege that she had been molested by the team doctor for the U.S. Women's National Gymnastics Team and Olympic Team beginning when she was 13 years old. "It didn't end until I left the sport," she wrote in a letter about the "unnecessary" and "disgusting" abuse she allegedly endured.

Dr. Larry Nassar, named by Maroney in her letter, pleaded guilty to child pornography charges earlier this year, The Washington Post reports. He has been accused of assaulting more than 100 women and girls during his time with the U.S. gymnastics team.

From Maroney's letter:

It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was "treated." It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and it happened before I won my silver. For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old. I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo. He'd given me a sleeping pill for the flight and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a "treatment." I thought I was going to die that night. [McKayla Maroney via Twitter]

Maroney emphasized that while the #MeToo movement grew out of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, "people should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood."

"Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it's time to take our power back," Maroney wrote. "And remember, it's never too late to speak up." Read her full letter below. Jeva Lange

October 12, 2017

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, issued a scathing statement against President Trump on Thursday and begged for international aid for the U.S. territory. "I ask every American ... to stand with Puerto Rico and let this president know WE WILL NOT BE LEFT TO DIE," Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz wrote. "I ask the United Nations and UNICEF and the world to stand with the people of Puerto Rico and stop the genocide that will result from the lack of appropriate action of a president that just does not get it because he has been incapable of looking in our eyes and seeing the pride that burns fiercely in our hearts and souls."

Earlier Thursday, Trump appeared to tell Puerto Rico that its federal relief effort has a pending expiration date. "Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes," Trump tweeted. "Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the military, [and] the first responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

Thirty-five percent of Puerto Rico residents still don't have drinking water, and just 10 percent have electricity. "Your tweets and comments just show desperation and underscore the inadequacy of your government's response to this humanitarian crisis," Cruz wrote. "It is not that you do not get it, it is that you are incapable of empathy and frankly simply cannot get the job done."

She added: "Condemn us to a slow death of non-drinkable water, lack of food, lack of medicine while you keep others eager to help from reaching us since they face the impediment of the Jones Act … Simply put: HELP US. WITHOUT ROBUST and CONSISTENT HELP, WE WILL DIE." Read the full letter below. Jeva Lange

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