There’s a little-known fund that goes to victims of sexual harassment on the Hill. You pay for it. – Jane CoastonNov 21, 2017, 1:10pm EST

The fund that settles sexual harassment cases in the legislative branch is unlimited and funded by taxpayers.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) questions witnesses during a House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the oversight of the US refugee admissions program, on Capitol Hill, October 26, 2017, in Washington, DC.
Getty Images North America

On Monday night, BuzzFeed broke the story that Michigan Rep. John Conyers paid a former staffer thousands of dollars in a settlement in 2015 after sexually harassing her and other women in his office and then firing her for refusing his advances.

He likely isn’t the only member of Congress to settle a harassment case. Since 1997, Congress has paid at least $15 million to settle complaints about sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act under the umbrella of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) of 1995.

The payments made to Rep. Conyers’s alleged victim came out of his taxpayer-funded office budget. Generally, though, these payments aren’t made by members of Congress or their offices. They’re made by a special section of the Department of the Treasury established under Section 415 of the CAA — and ultimately by the American taxpayer.

The process by which victims of sexual harassment on the Hill seek justice is long and arduous — it takes up to three months before a formal complaint can be filed. If a settlement is reached, it’s kept secret. The source of the money in the fund is excluded from the standard appropriations budget made public by Congress each year. There’s no process by which voters — or potential employees — can find out who the harassers in office are, what they’ve been accused of, or if they’ve settled with victims before.

The fund used to settle violations of the CAA is perhaps just one of the several pockets of money throughout the government used to handle judgments made against government employees. As harassment accusations topple prominent men in media, comedy, and Hollywood, it’s come under more scrutiny.

Article continues:

The haves and have-nots: four cities in crisis – by Oliver Wainwright Tuesday 21 November 2017 02.30 EST

On the surface, Ulaanbaatar, San Francisco, Calais and Jerusalem could not be more different – but for the people squeezed out by political upheaval or prohibitive rents, the urban 21st century looks disturbingly uniform


More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, but many people are residing in a state of limbo, leading a precarious existence on the margins, excluded from the promises of urban life. The world’s population is on the move more than ever before, driven by conflict and persecution, by the threat of environmental catastrophe and the lure of a better life, but cities simply aren’t prepared to receive their new arrivals.

Over the last two decades, Guardian photographer David Levene has documented the ways that people are living and working in cities around the world, how they make do with the bare minimum of resources to carve out space for themselves and their families in the most precarious of circumstances, and how cities are being polarised into places of haves and have-nots, with the right to the city relentlessly eroded.

Play Video

On the publication of his new book of urban photographs, City, and an exhibition of his work at Foyles bookshop in London, we look at four very different cities that nonetheless share a common urban 21st experience of dislocation and resilience.

From the yurt encampments on the peripheries of Ulaanbaatar built by herders following the disastrous loss of livestock during extreme winters, to the self-built city of the Calais Jungle refugee camp, the growing homeless population of San Francisco forced on to the streets by the tech boom, and the dislocated town of Abu Dis, now cut off from Jerusalem by a huge concrete wall, Levene’s photographs reveal a shared experience: of human ingenuity against the odds.


Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia

Sitting pensively on the edges of their beds, surrounded by the colourful trappings of a nomadic herder’s life, Altansukh Purev and his family contemplate the reality of their new home. The other side of the yak-skin walls of their traditional Mongolian yurt, or ger, are not the vast, empty plains of the rolling steppe that you might expect, but a sprawling scene of shacks and yurts, packed tightly together on the hilly outskirts of Ulaanbaatar.

These are the homes of around 600,000 former herders who, like Altansukh, have moved to the Mongolian capital over the past three decades. It is an unprecedented wave of migration that has seen 20% of the country’s people move to Ulaanbaatar, doubling its population and surrounding the city with new unplanned ger districts, ad-hoc shantytowns spreading ever further outwards into the hills.

These densely packed slums have no running water, mains electricity or sewage infrastructure. Without central heating, residents burn cheap coal to heat their homes throughout the freezing winters. And if they can’t afford coal, they are forced to burn rubbish and old tyres instead, leading to pollution levels five times worse than Beijing.

Article continues:

Hundreds Of Victims Of Las Vegas Shooting File Lawsuits – Laurel Wamsley November 21, 20172:58 PM ET

Multiple lawsuits have been filed by victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas. The company that owns the Mandalay Bay, MGM Resorts International, is among the parties being sued.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of victims of the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas filed five lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.

The largest of the suits names 450 plaintiffs. Among those being sued are MGM Resorts International, owner of the Mandalay Bay resort; Live Nation, organizer of the country music festival at which 58 people were killed; and the estate of Stephen Paddock, the shooter.

The victims claim negligence by both MGM and Live Nation. They accuse MGM of not having adequate security policies, not properly training staff, not properly surveilling the premises, and failing to respond quickly when security guard Jesus Campos was shot. The suit alleges that Paddock’s VIP status as a high-stakes gambler gave him access to a service elevator at the Mandalay Bay, which he used to stockpile weapons and ammunition in the days before the shooting.

In Live Nation’s case, the plaintiffs say the company failed to provide enough exits or properly train employees “in case of a foreseeable event, such as a terrorist attack or other emergency.”

The shooter’s estate is being sued for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The attorney heading the lawsuits, Muhammad Aziz, told Reuters that the cases were filed in California because most of the plaintiffs are from that state and received treatment there. He also noted that Live Nation is based in the state.

Last week, a different law firm filed 14 suits in Nevada court. In addition to MGM, Live Nation, and Paddock’s estate, these suits also name the manufacturers of the bump stock devices found in Paddock’s hotel suite. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that the shooting could have been stopped, and that the lawsuits are intended to prompt policy changes so it can’t happen again.

Article continues:

POTUS Defends Roy Moore Amid Sexual Assault Allegations: ‘He Totally Denies It’ Jessica TaylorNovember 21, 20174:12 PM ET

President Trump is defending Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assaulting them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s.

“I can tell you one thing for sure, we don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat,” the president told reporters shortly before departing the White House to head to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for Thanksgiving.

“I’ve looked at his record — it’s terrible on crime, it’s terrible on the border, it’s terrible on the military,” Trump said of Moore’s Democratic opponent, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones.

When asked about the allegations that Moore pursued multiple teenage girls while he was in his 30s and an assistant district attorney in Alabama, Trump responded that Moore “totally denies it” and pointed out that the allegations are from roughly 40 years ago.

Trump also said he will announce next week whether he will campaign for Moore, who has been abandoned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee in the wake of the accusations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other national Republicans have called on Moore to step aside, but the former state Supreme Court chief justice has refused.

Trump, McConnell and the NRSC backed Moore’s primary opponent, appointed Sen. Luther Strange, in the GOP primary earlier this year to fill the seat of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump was accused of sexual assault by multiple women during the 2016 campaign, and has continued to deny those allegations. But he has waded into other sexual assault allegations that have come to light recently against Democratic politicians, tweeting criticism of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., last week.

Asked by reporters Tuesday whether or not Franken should resign, Trump equivocated but did try to talk about a broader cultural moment of women feeling emboldened to come forward with accusations of various types of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault — even as he declined to say he believes the women who have made allegations against Moore.

“Women are very special,” Trump said. “I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very very good for women and I’m very happy” these things are coming out.

Mugabe Resigns as Zimbabwe’s Leader After 37 Years, Parliament Speaker Says – Bernard Mpofu Updated Nov. 21, 2017 2:34 p.m. ET

Announcement comes as lawmakers debated a motion to impeach the world’s oldest head of state

Protesters had been calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s resignation across the road from parliament in Harare on Tuesday.

Protesters had been calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s resignation across the road from parliament in Harare on Tuesday. Photo: mike hutchings/Reuters

HARARE, Zimbabwe—President Robert Mugabe stepped down Tuesday after ruling this Southern African country for 37 years, during which he went from toppling white-minority rule to overseeing a series of punishing economic crises and escalating political repression..

The world’s oldest head of state, Mr. Mugabe had clung to power after tanks deployed onto Harare’s streets and the military took control of government, and even after he and his family were confined to house arrest and his own party ejected him as its leader.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe: From Freedom Fighter to International Pariah

Robert Mugabe has resigned as president of Zimbabwe — a position he held for 37 years. We chart his rise and fall as the country went from optimism to a failing economy, sanctions and elections marred by violence. Photo: Getty Images. Video: Dipti Kapadia.

It took parliament debating a motion to impeach him, which accused him of failing to uphold the constitution and being too physically and mentally frail to perform his functions, for the 93-year-old to step aside.

“I hereby formally tender my resignation as President with immediate effect,” Mr. Mugabe wrote in a letter, read aloud by Parliamentary Speaker Jacob Mudenda. “My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire to ensure a smooth peaceful and non-violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability.”

Lawmakers, who seconds earlier were debating the impeachment motion, rose from their seats and cheered.

As word of the resignation filtered out of the hotel where lawmakers were holding their debate, thousands took to the streets of Harare, jubilating and waving the flag. Across the country, people popped bottles of beers and champagne, honked the horns of their cars or broke down in tears, many struggling to believe that Mr. Mugabe’s rule had really come to an end.

“This is the best, this is the best,” said Emmanuel Tembo, a 51-year-old security guard at a Harare hotel. “We are tired of him! Thirty-seven years!”

On social media, pictures were circulating of Mr. Mugabe’s portrait, which has hung on the walls of public buildings throughout Zimbabwe for close to four decades, being taken down.

Article continues:

Naomi Campbell warns that there’s ‘a big problem’ with abuse in the fashion industry – 11.17.17

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, British supermodel Naomi Campbell has spoken out about “a big problem” of abuse in the fashion industry. In October, U.S. model Cameron Russell began an Instagram campaign to raise awareness about the sexual exploitation of models in the fashion industry, prompting dozens of young women, and men, to speak out about alleged abuse by their photographers.

“I think before it gets better it’s going to get worse,” Campbell told BBC News. “We’re going to have to hear about it, a lot’s going to have to come out. I think it’s just the beginning really.”

“Whatever I can do, if can use my voice to support models in the industry, I will,” she added. “It’s never happened to me, but I never want it to happen to anyone.”

In recent months, Campbell has also been outspoken about the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. In August, she shared an Instagram photo of British Vogue’s editorial staff under former editor Alexandra Shulman. All 55 people in the photo, one can’t help but notice, are white.

“Looking forward to an inclusive and diverse staff now that @edward_enninful is the editor,” wrote Campbell. Enninful is both the first man, and the first black person, to edit British Vogue. Just last week, Campbell again slammed Shulman after she controversially claimed that “black cover models don’t sell.”

Watch video of Campbell’s interview with BBC News below.

Zimbabwe’s Resistance Leader Says Mugabe Is “History” (HBO) – VICE News Published on Nov 20, 2017

A little over a year ago, Mawarire’s #thisflag protest videos went viral on YouTube and social media. Those videos also got him arrested, and exiled. But Mawarire wasn’t alone in his dissatisfaction with Zimbabwe’s ruling regime. The military took power from the government last week. Mugabe has since been under house arrest, and his own party has turned against him, demanding he step down from power. The political transitions of last week have been surprisingly free, and surprisingly peaceful — having folks like Mawarire feeling like political change was in reach. But Mugabe has made no indication that he plans to step down, though it’s obvious the majority of the country expects him to. It has left everyone wondering — what’s next?
%d bloggers like this: