We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
President Donald Trump Is Impeached
On Wednesday, in a historic vote, President Trump became the third United States president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. This will lead to an eventual trial before the Senate, where it will be decided whether the president will be removed from power.
The House voted on two articles of impeachment—“abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress”—the first for asking the Ukrainian president to investigate circumstances relating to his political opponent Joe Biden, and the second for blocking the House’s attempt to secure testimony and related documents through subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry.
The House voted predictably on party lines, with some surprising hold-outs on the Democrats’ side, including presidential-hopeful, Tulsi Gabbard’s vote of “present.” Whether or not the president faces consequences from this impeachment vote remains to be seen as the Senate is majority Republican. —Gabriella Patti
Federal Employees to Receive Paid Family Leave
The U.S. Senate approved a historic new measure this week that will guarantee parents who work for the federal government 12 weeks of paid time off after the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. The bill now heads to the White House where President Trump has indicated he will sign it into law.
The new law is the first change to national family leave regulations since 1993, when the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was passed. Under FMLA, most staff members who have worked a certain number of hours over the course of a year at companies with more than 50 employees were guaranteed 12 weeks of time off to care for a newborn, a sick relative, or to handle a personal illness. However, such workers don’t necessarily receive pay during their time off; the federal law simply makes it harder to fire workers who exercise their family leave rights. And the many exceptions mean only about 60 percent of the workforce is protected by FMLA.
At least when it comes to time off for parenting, that will likely change soon for the more than two million Americans who are employed as civilian workers for the federal government.
Paid family leave has been a rare area of bipartisan agreement in gridlocked Washington: the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, has promoted the cause, and many Democrats would prefer to go even further in extending more benefits to the entire public.
Any family that has experienced a birth or adoption recently can agree with our leaders that it’s the worst time to have an interruption in cash flow while doing the very necessary and important work of bonding. Parents need support, and we're glad to see both sides of the aisle come together to get this done. —Margaret Brady
Pope Francis Lifts Secrecy Rules for Sex Abuse Cases and Changes Pornography Policy
In a move toward greater transparency, Pope Francis has lifted the Vatican’s secrecy rules for cases of sexual abuse within the Church, in a special kind of declaration called a rescript. This allows the Catholic Church to share case files and documents with civil authorities and allows victims to stay up-to-date on the status of their cases.
While some of this information was already being shared in some countries such as the United States, some others would invoke “pontifical secrecy” as an excuse not to share information with authorities or victims. Now, this can no longer be invoked in cases of sexual abuse; however, the privacy rules still apply to reporting sexual abuse and to the trials of the accused.
On the same day that Pope Francis announced this rescript, he also issued a second, which expanded the Church’s definition of child pornography by raising the upper age limit for those considered children from fourteen to eighteen. —GP
Check Out the New Trailer for Jane Austen’s “Emma”
The movie company Working Title Films has given an early Christmas present to Jane Austen fans! The trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Emma was released earlier this week.
Anya Taylor-Joy stars as the “handsome, clever, and rich” Miss Emma Woodhouse, who has a passion for matchmaking but lacks insight into the true nature of the people around her. Fans of The Crown will recognize Josh O'Connor, who plays Prince Charles in season three, here portraying the snobby, social-climbing clergyman Mr. Elton.
The preview features the famous moment when Emma’s protégée, Harriet Smith, gets a letter from humble farmer Robert Martin, who is asking to marry her. Viewers also get a sneak peek at how Emma’s relationship with the gentlemanly Mr. Knightley is portrayed. Austen wrote Emma as a comedy and the trailer literally ends with a well-timed snort.
As the earlier teaser trailer made clear, this is a very stylish, almost Wes Anderson-like take on a classic text. It’s the first major film adaptation since Gwyneth Paltrow’s version in 1996 (has it really been 24 years!?) and for that reason alone this movie earns a spot on my calendar for the U.S. premiere on February 21 (the Brits, as is only fair, get an earlier opening date on St. Valentine's Day). —MB
Archaeologists Discover Potential Mass Graves in Tulsa
A dark part of American history has resurfaced this week as research teams announced they may have found two mass graves containing the remains of hundreds of victims killed in the race massacre of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The violence in Tulsa reportedly began with a dispute between a black man and a white man who was part of a lynch mob. The white man wound up getting shot with his own gun, and thousands of white rioters stormed into Greenwood, a powerhouse African American neighborhood sometimes referred to as “Black Wall Street.” As many as 300 people were killed and hundreds more injured, with 35 city blocks burned amid the chaos.
Afterward, the victims were buried while their families were detained. “The authorities never told them where these individuals were buried, and there were never any funerals,” CNN quoted University of Michigan historian Scott Ellsworth, who has worked for decades on solving the mystery of the mass graves. The incident was shrouded in silence and rarely acknowledged by the wider community until the 1990s.
A recent archaeological survey of multiple sites in the Tulsa area used technology like radar to study magnetic readings and moisture in the soil. Two locations, at Oaklawn Cemetery and a patch of land called The Canes, showed evidence of large-scale human digging and unmarked graves. Although researchers can not yet say for sure, the areas are possible locations for the long-sought burial sites.
The new findings were publicly presented on Monday by Tulsa’s 1921 Mass Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee. The investigators’ work will continue, but we hope it won’t be much longer before the victims will be found and given the burial they deserve. —MB
Runner Who Slapped Reporter’s Behind on Live TV Is Arrested
The man who slapped a female reporter’s backside while she covered a community race in Georgia has been arrested on charges of sexual battery. The assault occurred as reporter Alex Bozarjian was reporting live on camera in front of the race. Runners can be seen racing past, waving at the camera, and then, Thomas Callaway is caught on camera moving through the crowd toward Bozarjian, culminating with his slapping her rear. Bozarjian is seen halting her report, clearly shocked and horrified, and then continuing on. Callaway turned himself in to the police two days after the incident and was released on bond.
Soon after the incident, Bozarjian tweeted: “To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better.”
Callaway has since expressed remorse, claiming he did not mean to do it. He faces up to twelve months in prison and a fine of $5,000. —GP
Harvey Weinstein Participates in Mind-Boggling Interview Following Court Appearance
In a bizarre and self-serving interview with the New York Post’s gossip publication, Page Six, Harvey Weinstein claims that he is a “forgotten man,” and all of his work in Hollywood has been eclipsed by the dozens of sexual assault accusations against him and his upcoming 2020 trial.
“I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago, I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue,” Weinstein said from New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center while recovering from spinal surgery. “I did it first, I pioneered it.”
This interview came only days after Weinstein and Weinstein Studios came to a tentative multi-million dollar settlement agreement with dozens of his accusers, that would not require Weinstein to admit guilt or pay out of pocket.
In response to Weinstein’s interview, 23 women who have accused Weinstein released a statement saying that he was trying to “gaslight society again.” Weinstein “says in a new interview he doesn’t want to be forgotten,” the statement added. “Well, he won’t be. He will be remembered as an unrepentant abuser who took everything and deserves nothing.” —GP
Ex “Survivor” Contestant Apologizes After Being Ejected from Show
The new awareness sparked by the #MeToo movement showed up on American television screens this week, as a contestant on Survivor apologized after he was booted from the competition following repeated inappropriate touching incidents.
On Tuesday, Dan Spilo released a statement to People magazine, saying, “I truly regret that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable by my behavior . . . I can only hope that my actions in the future can help me to make amends . . .” He was specifically addressing allegations by a fellow contestant, Kellee Kim, who pointedly responded to his apology on Twitter. “It’s curious that Dan has decided to publicly apologize to me—and just me—on the eve of the #Survivor39 finale for a series of inappropriate incidents that occurred months ago and impacted a number of women on set,” she tweeted.
Viewers only found out about Spilo’s removal during last week’s episode, when host Jeff Probst announced to the other castaways that he’d been booted from the reality TV show. The incidents reportedly occurred off-camera.
In the wake of this, CBS, the network on which Survivor appears, says it has implemented numerous changes. These include an onsite human resources representative, sensitivity training, and a new rule explicitly stating that sexual harassment is not allowed in the competition. —MB
Good News of the Week
On December 22, the oldest living couple will celebrate eighty years of marriage. John and Charlotte Henderson met in college, during a zoology class in 1934. John and Charlotte, who are 106 and 105, respectively, married in 1939 in a small ceremony. Despite being the world’s oldest living couple, they are not technically the longest-married couple in the world, an honor that goes to Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher who were married for 86 years.
The Henderson’s have been retirees since 1972 and have since filled their time with travel around the world. They say that marriage becomes more peaceful in the golden years and that they don’t argue. Their secret to longevity? Live in moderation and take care of your health. Congratulations to the love birds! —GP
Watch of the Week
In a moment of pure joy, Miss Nigeria celebrates Miss Jamaica’s Miss World win. The video has since been celebrated globally as the ultimate show of girlfriend support and an inspiration for everyone to “Be Her Miss Nigeria.” Watch below!
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