We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Stocks Plummet As Coronavirus Spreads
Global financial markets dipped lower each day this week, with the Dow plummeting a record number of points in a single day, as businesses fear the spreading Coronavirus. The virus that causes the disease COVID-19, which has now spread to countries beyond China to South Korea, Italy, and Iran in great numbers, has the world preparing for what has yet to be called a pandemic. (You can follow the latest on the virus’ spread here.)
On Wednesday, the CDC announced that, “to date, our containment strategies have been largely successful. As a result, we have very few cases in the United States and no spread in the community. But as more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder. Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.” The CDC recommends individuals start thinking about what they might do if the virus comes to their community, and how it may affect their work and kids in school.
President Trump delivered an address to the nation on Thursday, announcing that he is putting Mike Pence in charge of addressing the potential outbreak, and that he remains optimistic with regard to the United States’ preparedness.
In the spirit of preparedness, here are some tips on how you can get ready should there come a time to hunker down. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Harvey Weinstein Trial Ends With Two Convictions
Harvey Weinstein’s trial in New York came to an end on Tuesday, when he was found guilty of a first-degree criminal sex act and of third-degree rape. Because of the high-profile nature of the case and the elevated social and economic status of the defendant, many #MeToo supporters are viewing this conviction acts as a significant change in the climate of believing victims. District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. stated, “It is a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed.”
The prosecution found Vance’s statement “frightening”, saying, "[If] this notion is to just start believing people just because they make claims, I think that challenges the criminal justice system as we know it and I think for anybody charged in these types of crimes, that's a scary proposition." Weinstein’s attorneys doubted the possibility of Weinstein getting a fair trial.
Hours after being taken into custody and en route to Rikers Island, Weinstein experienced chest pains and was instead hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital. Weinstein faces five to 25 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11th. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff
L’Arche Founder Jean Vanier Was Sexually Abusive, Investigation Finds
L’Arche International, the renowned charity that provides accompaniment for people with intellectual disabilities, announced this week that its founder had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. The shocking statement came nine months after Vanier’s death. At the time of his passing, Vanier was acclaimed for his decades of charity work. In some Catholic circles, he was considered a potential candidate for future sainthood, although L’Arche is not a specifically Catholic charity.
L’Arche says it commissioned an independent investigation which determined that Vanier engaged in a pattern of manipulative, coercive, and non-consensual sexual abuse with six adult women. The abuse spanned between 1970 and 2005 and included nuns and others who assisted him in his work. None of the victims whom the investigation was able to identify were intellectually disabled.
Vanier considered his spiritual father to be Fr. Thomas Phillippe, a Dominican priest who the Vatican banned from priestly ministry in 1956. Phillipe’s theology combined sexual abuse with pastoral counseling, attempting to frame the encounters as a spiritual, mystical experience for his victims. It appears that Vanier followed in his mentor’s depraved footsteps.
“I just want to be very clear that we stand on the side of these women who have been harmed," the National Catholic Reporter quotes Tina Bovermann, Executive Director of L'Arche USA. "We want to validate these people who have been harmed.” —Margaret Brady
Katherine Johnson of “Hidden Figures” Fame Dies at 101
Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician who helped put a man on the moon in 1969, died on Monday. Johnson was played by Taraji P Henson in Hidden Figures, the Oscar-nominated film about African American women whose essential behind-the-scenes contributions to space flight were largely overlooked until a 2016 book by the same name put the spotlight on their accomplishments. Two others, mathematician Dorothy Vaughan and engineer Mary Jackson, had passed away a few years before in relative obscurity. Johnson was able to make an appearance at the 2017 Oscars ceremony.
Besides her involvement in the moon shot, Johnson also played a role in America’s first manned orbital space flight. John Glenn, who wasn’t keen to put his life in the balance with glitchy computer calculations, asked NASA engineers to have Johnson run the equations by hand. With her approval, he was willing to take flight.
Johnson retired from NASA in 1986 after more than three decades of service. The current administrator, Jim Bridenstine, called her an American hero and tweeted: “The @NASA family will never forget Katherine Johnson's courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her. Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world.” May she rest in peace. —MB
Vanessa Bryant Opens Up About Kobe’s Romantic Side
Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, has shared that her late husband gifted her the blue dress that Rachel McAdams wore in The Notebook movie, as well as the titular notebook itself.
In a heartbreaking speech at a public memorial service for Kobe and Gianna Bryant this week, Vanessa told the more than 20,000 mourners that Kobe’s gift came after a particularly hard time in their marriage. Their relationship had survived his 2003 rape allegations, but in 2011, Vanessa filed for divorce. The couple reconciled in early 2013, and that St. Valentine’s Day, Kobe went all out, presenting his wife with the dress, shoes, and prop notebook from the iconic 2004 romance movie.
Rachel McAdams’ character wore the blue dress in the climactic scene when she and her long-lost love reconcile and reunite, overcoming huge odds to spend the rest of their lives in a long and happy marriage. Sadly, Vanessa and Kobe did not have the opportunity to do the same.
Simultaneously, Vanessa’s representatives filed a wrongful death lawsuit, targeting the company that operated the helicopter that crashed in California and killed Kobe, Gianna, and seven others aboard. Allegedly, the pilot chose to take off even though cloudy weather conditions made flying a dangerous endeavor. —MB
Plácido Domingo Finally Apologizes After Inquiry Confirms Inappropriate Behavior
Opera legend Plácido Domingo apologized this week after an investigation confirmed widespread accusations of his sexual misbehavior.
When claims were raised by the Associated Press back in August and September, the singer was indignant and defiant. He said victims’ stories were “riddled with inconsistencies,” and insisted that his actions were consensual.
A report, prepared for the American Guild of Musical Artists union, has not been made public, but details have leaked to the AP. Reportedly, lawyers running the investigation found 27 people who either experienced sexual harassment from Domingo or witnessed it happen to others.
In response, Domingo released a statement that was very different in tone from his previous comments. It said, “I have taken time over the last several months to reflect on the allegations that various colleagues of mine have made against me. I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I have grown from this experience.”
Fallout from the report was immediate, with Reuters reporting that Spain’s culture ministry has cancelled Domingo’s scheduled appearance in a publically-funded May operetta. The shows will go on, just without Domingo. —MB
The FCC Received More Than 1300 Complaints Re: Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show
On February 2nd, an average of 102 million viewers tuned in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs emerge victorious in their battle against the San Francisco 49ers. During the break, Popstars Jennifer Lopez and Shakira brought classic beats like “Waka Waka” and “Jenny From the Block” to the Pepsi stage, but some elements of J-Lo’s performance were not quite so well received. The Federal Communications Commission received complaints from 1,312 angry viewers referring to the act as little more than an “X-rated strip club performance.”
The revealing costumes, “sexual nature” of dance moves, and suggestive gestures prompted many families to express frustration, anger, and disappointment at Pepsi, the Super Bowl, and even the NFL for promoting sexually charged content. Many of these complaints indicated intentions to boycott Pepsi products and next year’s Super Bowl; some individuals feel that Fox and the NFL should be held accountable for the show.
Several dissenters invoked the #MeToo movement as well, sharing comments like, “Selling sex seems to be the job nowadays, despite human trafficking and the Me Too movement,” and, “J. Lo grabbed her crotch, danced on a stripper pole...With everything going on now with the Me Too movement this is not something that should have been on TV prime time.” —MSB
Good News of the Week
New PBS Julia Child series brings The French Chef back into homes
Fans of The Great British Baking Show, prepare yourselves for another sweet treat. Dishing with Julia Child, a six-part series premiering today on PBS, is a tribute to the famous chef and her PBS series that aired over fifty years ago, The French Chef.
Each episode of Dishing will focus on one episode of The French Chef and will feature commentary from famous chefs of today such as Martha Stewart, Jacques Pepin, Sara Moulton, and others.
Featured French Chef episodes are “The Whole Fish Story,” “The Good Loaf,” “Your Own French Onion Soup,” “Boeuf Bourguignon,” “The Potato Show,” and “To Roast a Chicken.” Dishing episodes will air on PBS on April 3, 10, and 17, and are available to stream starting today on PBS Living, Prime Video, Apple TV, and PBS Passport. —MSB
Watch of the Week
Charlotte Awbery, a British singer who became a viral sensation when stopped one day on the London Tube, sang a gorgeous cover of Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” on The Ellen Show this week. Enjoy.
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