Once again, Trump displays ‘a psychopath’s inability to accept that social norms apply to him’

The New York Times reports: Last fall, Donald J. Trump inadvertently touched off a national conversation about sexual harassment when a recording of him boasting about groping women was made public at the same time a succession of women came forward to assert that groping was something he did more than talk about.

A year later, after a wave of harassment claims against powerful men in entertainment, politics, the arts and the news media, the discussion has come full circle with President Trump criticizing the latest politician exposed for sexual misconduct even as he continues to deny any of the accusations against him.

In this case, Mr. Trump focused his Twitter-fueled mockery on a Democratic senator while largely avoiding a similar condemnation of a Republican Senate candidate facing far more allegations. The turn in the political dialogue threatened to transform a moment of cleansing debate about sexual harassment into another weapon in the war between the political parties, led by the president himself.

Indeed, Republicans on Friday were more than happy to talk about Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who apologized this week after a radio newscaster said he forcibly kissed her and posed for a photograph a decade ago appearing to fondle her breasts while she was sleeping. Democrats, for their part, sought to keep the focus on Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate in Alabama who has been accused of unwanted sexual conduct by multiple women going back even further, including one who was 14 at the time.

But the notion that Mr. Trump himself would weigh in given his own history of crude talk about women and the multiple allegations against him surprised many in Washington who thought he could not surprise them anymore. A typical politician with Mr. Trump’s history would stay far away from discussing someone else’s behavior lest it dredge his own back into the spotlight. But as Mr. Trump has shown repeatedly during his 10-month presidency, he is rarely deterred by conventional political wisdom even as he leaves it to his staff to fend off the cries of hypocrisy.

“Like everything else Trump touches, he hijacks it with his chronic dishonesty and childishness,” said Mark Salter, a longtime adviser to Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “The intense, angry and largely ignorant tribalism afflicting our politics predates Trump’s arrival on the scene. But he has infused it with a psychopath’s inability to accept that social norms apply to him.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

17 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. It’s time to revisit those stories

Elisabeth Ponsot and Sarah Slobin write: After a fifth woman accused Roy Moore of sexual misbehavior or assault, US senate majority leader and fellow Republican Mitch McConnell urged the Alabama senate nominee to withdraw, saying, “I believe the women.”

His visible and vocal stance regarding Moore sharply contrasts with how supporters of Donald Trump have responded to at least 17 women who have accused him of various degrees of sexual harassment, voyeurism, and assault. Their claims against the US president span three decades. During his campaign, Trump vociferously denied each accusation, adding in one instance that the woman in question “would not have been my first choice.”

Republican leaders spoke out against Trump in October 2016, when an Access Hollywood tape emerged in which Trump can be heard bragging that he could “grab [women] by the pussy.” But they did not defend the women who came forward with assault allegations against Trump, nor did they suggest their claims were credible.

As the calendar ticked forward to the presidential vote, GOP figures who had briefly distanced themselves from Trump got behind him again. His accusers’ stories faded to the background. The media moved on to other things. Trump was elected.

Now that he has sided with Moore’s accusers, McConnell was asked on Nov. 15 if he believes the women who similarly accused Trump. He would not answer. “Look, we’re talking about the situation in Alabama,” he told reporters. “And I’d be happy to address that if there are any further questions.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

As we rethink old harassers, let’s talk about Clarence Thomas

Joy-Ann Reid writes: Long suppressed talk about the sexual predation of men, in Hollywood, politics, business, the news industry, professional sports and life in general has swept across the country, exposing decades of dirty laundry and putting an entire nation of men on notice and on edge.

“The discussion” in which the nation is engaged almost daily at this point, has exposed the rank hypocrisy of a right-wing “Christianity” that would sooner see a child molester stalking the well of the United States Senate than free its captive base to support a Democrat, and which still stands foursquare behind braggadocious predator-in-chief Donald Trump.

It has put on display the Republican Party’s radical lack of moral conviction as its leaders rush to condemn the gross, decade-old antics of now Sen. Al Franken, who has at least apologized for his past misbehavior, while they smirk from behind the cameras at Fox News where they are surrounded by anchor women in the required uniform of tight sweaters, mini-skirts, and four-inch heels. Among the Republicans ripping Franken for kissing a woman without her consent and snapping a juvenile “groping” picture in 2006: the great hypocrite Trump himself, of the “I just kiss beautiful women and grab ’em by the pussy” un-humble brag of 2005.

The national moment of self-reflection on the culture that produces such entitled men has compelled the left to indulge in its favorite ritual: curling into the fetal position as it self-flagellates over the eternal sins of the Clintons. It’s as if they’ve forgotten that the former president who left office 17 years ago indeed paid a price, including years of forensic investigation culminating in impeachment for his illicit affair with a 24-year-old White House intern.

Well if we are getting about the business of re-examining the past indecency of powerful men, we’d be remiss not to include the moment in 1991 when a woman was not believed and her alleged abuser was elevated to the highest court in the land, where he remains 26 years later. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Low-wage workers have been fighting sexual harassment for years

HuffPost reports: Cecilia was working as a minibar attendant at a Chicago hotel when she knocked on the guest’s door and announced herself. The man’s response was quick and unequivocal: “You can come in.”

When she opened the door, “He was at the computer, masturbating,” Cecilia recalled. She was overcome with shock and embarrassment. Judging from the satisfied look on the man’s face, that was the whole idea.

“I felt nasty,” recalled Cecilia, who asked that her last name and the hotel not be identified. “You’d expect that to happen to people in a jail but not in regular work. I felt like crying.”

It wasn’t the only time Cecilia had dealt with extreme forms of sexual harassment in her three decades working in downtown hotels. A male guest once answered her knock by opening the door naked. Just a month and a half ago, a younger colleague confided to Cecilia that a male guest had tried to embrace her while she was in his room. Cecilia escorted the shaken housekeeper to the hotel’s security team to report the incident.

Since the allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein were first revealed last month, more and more women have stepped forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault at work. Their bravery in speaking out has toppled powerful men’s careers in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington. But much less attention has been paid to the rampant harassment in blue-collar workplaces, particularly the hotel industry. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Al Franken should be investigated, and he should be held accountable

Ezra Klein writes: The allegation that Sen. Al Franken kissed and groped a woman with whom he was performing a comedy skit is serious, and should be taken seriously. It has also kicked off an energetic round of but-your-side-does-it-too on Twitter, where conservatives exhausted by the Roy Moore debacle of recent weeks are demanding that Democrats disavow Franken.

There are a couple of things to say about all this, but I want to start with this tweet by FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten:


1) The Democratic Party is full of men who have sexually abused women. The Republican Party is full of men who have sexually abused women. The mass of Americans who belong to neither party is full of men who have sexually abused women. Peer into socialist circles, libertarian circles, tech circles, media circles, the construction trades — you will find men who have sexually abused women. America has allowed a culture of sexual abuse and harassment to flourish, and all of our industries and political parties exist within that culture. This is a systemic rot, not merely a few bad apples. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Trump’s sexual assault accusers demand justice in the #MeToo era: ‘We were forgotten’

People magazine reports: The recent accusations of sexual misconduct against a long list of powerful men in Hollywood and other industries have been widely believed — and led to resignations, loss of careers and other fallout.

Meanwhile, some of the women who accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment or assault during the presidential campaign wonder when the president might finally pay a price for what he allegedly did to them.

“Things just seem to fall off of Trump, I’m extremely disappointed,” says Jessica Leeds, 75, who alleges Trump tried to kiss her, fondle her breasts and put his hand up her skirt while on a flight to New York in the early 1980s. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Burma: Widespread rape of Rohingya women, girls

Human Rights Watch reports: Burmese security forces have committed widespread rape against women and girls as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 37-page report, “‘All of My Body Was Pain’: Sexual Violence Against Rohingya Women and Girls in Burma,” documents the Burmese military’s gang rape of Rohingya women and girls and further acts of violence, cruelty, and humiliation. Many women described witnessing the murders of their young children, spouses, and parents. Rape survivors reported days of agony walking with swollen and torn genitals while fleeing to Bangladesh.

“Rape has been a prominent and devastating feature of the Burmese military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” said Skye Wheeler, women’s rights emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The Burmese military’s barbaric acts of violence have left countless women and girls brutally harmed and traumatized.”

Since August 25, 2017, the Burmese military has committed killings, rapes, arbitrary arrests, and mass arson of homes in hundreds of predominantly Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine State, forcing more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Human Rights Watch has found that these abuses amount to crimes against humanity under international law. The military operations were sparked by attacks by the armed group the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 30 security force outposts and an army base that killed 11 Burmese security personnel. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Trump lauds ‘great relationship’ with Duterte in Manila

The New York Times reports: President Trump said on Monday that he had a “great relationship” with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, making little mention of human rights at his first face-to-face meeting with an authoritarian leader accused of carrying out a campaign of extrajudicial killings in his nation’s war on drugs.

In a stark break from past practice by American presidents, who have pressed foreign leaders publicly and privately about allegations of human rights abuses, Mr. Trump instead pursued his own transactional style of diplomacy, dwelling mostly on areas of common ground during his meeting with Mr. Duterte. On the sideline of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit meeting, Mr. Trump focused on combating the Islamic State and illegal drugs as well as on trade issues, the White House said.

“Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

But Mr. Duterte’s spokesman denied that the subject of rights was ever broached, even as the Philippine president spoke about the “drug menace” in his country.

Mr. Trump “appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter and was merely nodding his head, indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we faced on drugs,” said Harry Roque, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman. “The issue of human rights did not arise; it was not brought up.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

700,000 women farmworkers say ‘you’re not alone’ as they stand with Hollywood actors against sexual assault

BuzzFeed reports: The vast majority of women harassed and assaulted in the workplace do not have famous bosses, social media platforms, celebrity, money, or power — like those in the entertainment industry. Hundreds of thousands of them are agricultural workers, who grow, pick, and pack food across America.

On Saturday an organization of farmworker women shared an open letter of solidarity with workers across industries who have been harassed and assaulted, in advance of a march in Los Angeles.

“For the past several weeks we have watched and listened with sadness as we have learned of the actors, models and other individuals who have come forward to speak out about the gender based violence they’ve experienced,” the farmworkers wrote.

“We wish that we could say we’re shocked to learn that this is such a pervasive problem in your industry. Sadly… it’s a reality we know far too well.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Brave enough to be angry

Lindy West writes: Not only are women expected to weather sexual violence, intimate partner violence, workplace discrimination, institutional subordination, the expectation of free domestic labor, the blame for our own victimization, and all the subtler, invisible cuts that undermine us daily, we are not even allowed to be angry about it. Close your eyes and think of America.

We are expected to keep quiet about the men who prey upon us, as though their predation was our choice, not theirs. We are expected to sit quietly as men debate whether or not the state should be allowed to forcibly use our bodies as incubators. We are expected to not complain as we are diminished, degraded and discredited.

We are expected to agree (and we comply!) with the paternal admonition that it is irresponsible and hyperemotional to request one female president after 241 years of male ones — because that would be tokenism, anti-democratic and dangerous — as though generations of white male politicians haven’t proven themselves utterly disinterested in caring for the needs of communities to which they do not belong. As though white men’s monopolistic death-grip on power in America doesn’t belie precisely the kind of “identity politics” they claim to abhor. As though competent, qualified women are so thin on the ground that even a concerted, sincere, large-scale search for one would be a long shot, and any resulting candidate a compromise.

Meanwhile, as a reminder of the bar for male competence, Donald Trump is the president. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Female lawmakers allege harassment by colleagues in House

The Associated Press reports: For years, Republican Rep. Mary Bono endured increasingly suggestive comments from a fellow lawmaker in the House of Representatives. But when the congressman approached her on the House floor and told her he’d been thinking about her in the shower, she’d had enough.

She confronted the man, who she said still serves in Congress, telling him his comments were demeaning and wrong. And he backed off.

Bono, who served 15 years before being defeated in 2012, is not alone.

As reports pile up of harassment or worse by men in entertainment, business and the media, one current and three former female lawmakers tell The Associated Press that they, too, have been harassed or subjected to hostile sexual comments — by fellow members of Congress. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

How the politics of the Left lost its way

File 20171031 18683 1sh3w36.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Wrong end of the stick.
shutterstock.com

Geoffrey M Hodgson, University of Hertfordshire

One hundred years ago, the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia and set up the first long-lasting Marxist government. The Russian Revolution’s impact was wide-ranging. One important – and overlooked – effect was how it changed the idea of the term “Left” in political terminology. Following the Bolshevik takeover, the term Left became more strongly associated with collectivism and public ownership.

But originally the term Left meant something quite different. Indeed, collectivism or public ownership are not exclusive to the Left. The word fascism derives from the fasces symbol of Ancient Rome, a bundle of rods containing an axe, which signify collective strength.

Another effect of 1917 was to undermine further the democratic credentials of the Left. These had already been undermined by early socialists such as Robert Owen, who had been opposed to democracy. After Soviet Russia and Mao’s China, part of the Left was linked to totalitarian regimes with human rights abuses, execution without trial, little freedom of expression and arbitrary confiscation of property.

[Read more…]

Facebooktwittermail

Why does Uzbekistan export so many terrorists?

Julia Ioffe writes: The most striking thing about Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek man who allegedly drove a pickup truck into a crowd in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people, was his big, black, bushy beard: He wouldn’t have been able to grow one in his native Uzbekistan.

A beard would be considered a sign of religious extremism in Uzbekistan, which has a long and notorious record of restricting the religious practices of its majority Muslim population. All clerics are government vetted; all madrassas are government controlled and infiltrated by undercover informants. Pilgrims to Mecca have to go through a rigorous government vetting process and are then accompanied on the journey by government minders. The communal marking of the end of each day of fasting during the month of Ramadan is banned, as is the celebration of Eid al Fitr, the feast marking the end of Ramadan. Until recently, children under 18 were banned from attending mosques. The authoritarian regime of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s post-Soviet ruler who died last year, outlawed Islamist political parties and imprisoned and tortured dozens of religious activists. The government keeps a “black list” of people it has decided are religious extremists. According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, “Those on the list are barred from obtaining various jobs and travel, and must report regularly for police interrogations.” Until the new president shortened the list in August, it contained some 18,000 names.

The ostensible point of all these restrictions was to fight the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU, a jihadist movement that emerged just after the collapse of the Soviet Union—Uzbekistan was, until 1991, a Soviet republic. The IMU wanted to impose Islamic law in Uzbekistan, and was quickly banned by the new Karimov government. IMU fighters scattered throughout the region—to Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and, after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, to the tribal areas of Pakistan—from where they have launched multiple raids into Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In 2014, the IMU pledged its allegiance to ISIS.

And yet the draconian measures implemented by the Karimov regime have not solved the problem of Islamist extremism in Uzbekistan. They have only pushed problem underground and, ultimately, abroad. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

EU nationals in UK face threats from government

The Obsever reports: The Home Office is warning EU nationals held in detention centres that they should leave the UK to “avoid becoming destitute”, in the latest instance of a hardened tone towards citizens from European countries.

A government letter, written on behalf of home secretary Amber Rudd and seen by the Observer, also advises EU nationals that they should consider leaving because they have the “right to travel freely across the EU and can visit, live, study and in most cases work in any other EU member state” – an observation that appears to preempt the UK’s departure from the union.

The letter, dated 18 October and written by officials from the Home Office’s immigration section, tells a Romanian national in an immigration detention centre that his request for emergency accommodation has been rejected and he should consider another country. It states: “You could avoid becoming destitute by returning to Romania or another EU member state where you could enjoy access to all your ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights] without interference.”

The ECHR protects the human rights and freedoms of individuals in 47 countries belonging to the Council of Europe and prohibits a range of unfair and harmful practices.

Detentions and enforced removals of EU citizens from the UK have risen sharply since the Brexit vote, prompting critics to claim that the Home Office is deliberately targeting EU nationals as part of the “hostile environment” Theresa May pledged for those she believes should not be in the country. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Refusing Weinstein’s hush money, Rose McGowan calls out Hollywood

The New York Times reports: In late September, just as multiple women were days away from going on the record with reports of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, one of his alleged assault victims, Rose McGowan, considered an offer that suggested just how desperate the Hollywood producer had become.

Ms. McGowan, who was working on a memoir called “Brave,” had spoken privately over the years about a 1997 hotel room encounter with Mr. Weinstein and hinted at it publicly. Through her lawyer, she said, someone close to Mr. Weinstein offered her hush money: $1 million, in exchange for signing a nondisclosure agreement.

In 1997, Ms. McGowan had reached a $100,000 settlement with Mr. Weinstein, but that agreement, she learned this summer, had never included a confidentiality clause. Ms. McGowan, who was most widely known for her role as a witch on the WB show “Charmed,” had recently developed a massive following as a fiery feminist on Twitter, but she was now, at 44, a multimedia artist, no longer acting, her funds depleted by health care costs for her father, who died eight years ago.

“I had all these people I’m paying telling me to take it so that I could fund my art,” Ms. McGowan said in an interview. She responded by asking for $6 million, part counteroffer, part slow torture of her former tormentor, she said. “I figured I could probably have gotten him up to three,” she said. “But I was like — ew, gross, you’re disgusting, I don’t want your money, that would make me feel disgusting.” [Continue reading…]

Ronan Farrow reports: In March, Annabella Sciorra, who received an Emmy nomination for her role in “The Sopranos,” agreed to talk with me for a story I was reporting about Harvey Weinstein. Speaking by phone, I explained that two sources had told me that she had a serious allegation regarding the producer. Sciorra, however, told me that Weinstein had never done anything inappropriate. Perhaps she just wasn’t his type, she said, with an air of what seemed to be studied nonchalance. But, two weeks ago, after The New Yorker published the story, in which thirteen women accused Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment, Sciorra called me. The truth, she said, was that she had been struggling to speak about Weinstein for more than twenty years. She was still living in fear of him, and slept with a baseball bat by her bed. Weinstein, she told me, had violently raped her in the early nineteen-nineties, and, over the next several years, sexually harassed her repeatedly.

“I was so scared. I was looking out the window of my living room, and I faced the water of the East River,” she said, recalling our initial conversation. “I really wanted to tell you. I was like, ‘This is the moment you’ve been waiting for your whole life. . . .’ ” she said. “I really, really panicked,” she added. “I was shaking. And I just wanted to get off the phone.”

All told, more than fifty women have now levelled accusations against Weinstein, in accounts published by the New York Times, The New Yorker, and other outlets. But many other victims have continued to be reluctant to talk to me about their experiences, declining interview requests or initially agreeing to talk and then wavering. As more women have come forward, the costs of doing so have certainly shifted. But many still say that they face overwhelming pressures to stay silent, ranging from the spectre of career damage to fears about the life-altering consequences of being marked as sexual-assault victims. “Now when I go to a restaurant or to an event, people are going to know that this happened to me,” Sciorra said. “They’re gonna look at me and they’re gonna know. I’m an intensely private person, and this is the most unprivate thing you can do.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Senior military officials sanctioned for more than 500 cases of serious misconduct

USA Today reports: Since 2013, military investigators have documented at least 500 cases of serious misconduct among its generals, admirals and senior civilians, almost half of those instances involving personal or ethical lapses, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

Many cases involve sex scandals, including a promiscuous Army general who led a swinging lifestyle, another who lived rent-free in the home of a defense contractor after his affair fell apart and another who is under investigation for sending steamy Facebook messages to the wife of an enlisted soldier on his post.

Yet despite the widespread abuses, the Pentagon does no trend analysis to determine whether the problem is worsening, nor does it regularly announce punishments for generals and admirals — all public figures, USA TODAY has found. Senior officers found to have been involved in adulterous relationships, a violation of the military’s code of justice, have been reassigned with no public notice and allowed to retire quietly, in some cases with full honors.

Industries ranging from tech to finance to Hollywood have been roiled by sexual harassment and assault scandals that have led to the ouster of top executives and calls for reform. The accusations this month against film producer Harvey Weinstein by dozens of women have reportedly prompted criminal investigations in the United States and United Kingdom, along with his removal from the company he founded.

In the military, as with the Weinstein case, sexual harassment by top brass in many cases is considered an open secret, documents show. Yet many stay quiet, and efforts on Capitol Hill to reform the system and call senior officers to account have often failed.

Instead, the military has often closed ranks. The Pentagon doesn’t publicly discuss most cases, though USA TODAY has identified several, including five since 2016 that have involved senior officers in the Army, Air Force and Navy. Nor does the military seem interested in getting to the root of the problem. In 2014, then-Defense secretary Chuck Hagel created an office to investigate ethical problems among senior leaders. It was shuttered two years later without determining the depth of the problem, a task Hagel gave it when he opened the office. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

With midnight raids and chat-room traps, Egypt launches sweeping crackdown on gay community

The Washington Post reports: A crackdown on gay people in Egypt intensified in recent days as security forces raided cafes in downtown Cairo and courts delivered harsh prison sentences, further driving the nation’s LGBT community underground.

More than 60 people have been arrested, human rights activists said, since a concert last month by a rock group where some members of the audience waved a rainbow flag — photos of which went viral on social media and caused public outrage.

Security forces have also detained people at their homes in the middle of the night, and have used apps and online chat rooms to entrap those believed to be gay. Some cafes frequented by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have been shut down.

Some of those arrested have endured beatings and other abuse in their prison cells, while others have been subjected to forced anal examinations, human rights activists said. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail