Archive

October 17th, 2016

'Just a little touching': My own pastor excused my sexual assault

    When I hear Donald Trump talk about grabbing a woman by the p***, I can feel his hand on my vagina. I can feel the weight of his body against my breasts. I can see his sickly smile, the "thank you" he throws my way when he's finished. I can imagine it - quite vividly - because it happened to me at the hands of a co-worker.

    Every day it happens to countless women. It's been happening to me for 20 years.

    The first time, I was a naïve 9-year-old girl. It was my first year riding the school bus and my first week in a new public school. With the residue of South Carolina summer still warming the air, I got off my bus and started walking the sticky, humid half-mile home.

    With my house in sight, I heard a truck barreling up behind me. Then the yelling started. I was already just over 5 feet tall, and I looked to be at least 13 years old. For these men, that was old enough. Their first pass was a blur of crude shouts I could barely hear above the blood pulsing in my ears. I felt my face flame with shame.

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I'm one of the Central Park Five. Donald Trump won't leave me alone.

    For 27 years, I've been in Donald Trump's crosshairs.

    I'm a member of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers imprisoned for a brutal sexual assault in Central Park in 1989. When we were arrested, the police deprived us of food, drink or sleep for more than 24 hours. Under duress, four of us falsely confessed. Though we were innocent, we spent our formative years in prison, branded as rapists.

    During our trial, it seemed as if every New Yorker had an opinion. But no one took it further than Trump. He called for blood in the most public way possible. Trump used his money to take out full-page ads in all of the city's major newspapers, calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York.

    During that time, our families tried to shield us from what was going on in the media, but we still found out about Trump's ad. My initial thought was, "Who is this guy?" I was terrified that I might be executed for a crime I didn't commit.

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How young Republican women react to Trump

    The New York Young Republican Club gathered to watch Sunday night's presidential debate at Madison Square Tavern, near Penn Station. The club opted for a different location than the first debate watch, held next to a gentlemen's cabaret called Lace. A little advance work can go a long way.

    People began arriving at the bar's basement party room around seven o'clock, two hours before the debate. Not all were club members. Crystal and Lindsay, independents visiting from California, admitted sotto voce they were supporting Hillary Clinton.

    "Don't tell anyone," said Crystal, "but we couldn't get into the Regal Theater in Union Square," where the debate would be playing on a big screen. What about the Young Democrats' party? "We didn't even bother to try."

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Don't worry about sex robots. They won't ruin sex.

    The HBO series "Westworld," which debuted last week to huge numbers, tells the story of a country-western theme park populated by androids. Because this is HBO, there's plenty of sex -- the machines are programmed to acquiesce to all of the guests' needs, which are usually violent and/or sexual, and the park hosts a bordello staffed by a robot madam and robot prostitutes. And because it's a science-fiction narrative about robots and sex, the show has stirred long-standing concerns about what havoc technology could bring to bear on our sex lives.

    From Alicia Vikander's pillow-lipped android Ava in "Ex Machina" to Scarlett Johansson's sultry iOS assistant in "Her," pop culture has long been fascinated by the idea of humans copulating with robots. While the sexbots in question are occasionally male (remember Jude Law's dreamy gigolo in "A.I."?), these fantasies are largely female-centric, depicting a future in which multi-orgasmic female robots will submit to men's sexual whims at a push of the button.

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October 16th

Trump says he'll put Clinton in jail. It's a threat that should terrify us.

    In the first half of the second presidential debate in St. Louis, Donald Trump said that if he won the election, he was "going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into [Hillary Clinton's] situation," thereby providing millions of viewers with an almost dictionary definition of an un-American moment.

    When Thomas Jefferson was elected to the presidency in 1801, it was the first time a political party had transferred power to an opposing party through the political process. He characterized that moment in a letter to a friend as one in which "the order and good sense displayed in this recovery from delusion, and in the momentous crisis which lately arose, really bespeak a strength of character in our nation which augurs well for the duration of our Republic" and took the time to say in his inaugural address that "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists."

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Donald Trump releases his inner ape

    British politician Nigel Farage is a big fan of Donald Trump, although he chose an odd way to express it while chatting with reporters backstage after Sunday's presidential debate.

    A leader in Britain's "Brexit" movement to leave the European Union, Farage praised Trump's performance against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to "a silverback gorilla," according to The Guardian.

    "He looked like a big gorilla prowling the set," Farage said, "and he is that big alpha male -- that's what he is, that's what he is."

    He said that. I, as a non-fan of Trump, am more inclined to view Farage's remark as an insult to gorillas.

    Since the New York real estate developer and reality-TV star has a grasp of important issues that is about as deep as a birdbath, he tried to make up for it with bizarre body language and other antics to look tough.

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Don't be sure big tech breakthroughs are behind us

    Vox tech writer Timothy B. Lee used to be one of the most ardent techno-optimists. But he's had a bit of a conversion, of late, and is now on the side of those who think tech progress is slowing. Maybe it was the economist Robert Gordon who , or maybe years of observing the tech world changed his mind. In any case, Lee now broadly suggests that the inventions of tomorrow won't be as world-changing as those of yesteryear. The idea that tech will remake our lives, he writes:

    "has fallen flat in recent years, and I think it's going to continue failing in the years to come. There are a number of industries - with health care and education being the most important - where there's an inherent limit on how much value information technology can add. Because in these industries, the main thing you're buying is relationships to other human beings, and those can't be automated."

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Comparing the content of Trump's caught-on-tape-comments with hip-hop is not just illogical

    A range of arguments have been raised in defense of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by a small but clearly devoted band.

    One questions whether Trump's caught-on-tape comments matter. Trump, these backers say, is not running to become a moral role model. Another attempts to acknowledge the lewd nature of Trump's comments, but minimizes their meaning. This would include those, who, like Trump, regard his claims that, as a star, he can kiss and grab women by their genitals at will, "locker-room talk," not a man bragging about sexual assault.

    But more recently, a third argument appears to have gained traction. That would be the hip-hop-artists-and-Beyoncé-say-this-stuff-all-the-time claim. And as such, this argument says, Trump's comments are neither uncommon nor unforgivable.

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Campaigns End On Election Day — Revolutions Don’t

    Bernie Sanders’ truly revolutionary campaign for president ended in August after the last Democratic primary election. Corporatists, cynics, and most of the media assumed that the grassroots populist revolution he inspired was over as well.

    They couldn’t imagine that the diverse mix of young people, working-class voters, independents, progressive mavericks, and millions of others whom Bernie energized as an independent political group could stay together, much less mount any serious challenge to the business-as-usual elites.

    But far beyond the little negative bubble where those scoffing prognosticators dwell, something called “Our Revolution” is rising across America’s political horizon.

    That’s the name of the new organizational structure Bernie’s forged to continue his electoral storm. As civil rights leader Ben Jealous said when he joined the board, “Bernie’s transformative campaign was just the beginning.”

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And Now, the Good News Is ...

    We’ve already learned so much this election year. Besides the importance of not bragging about girl-grabbing when there’s a microphone pinned to your lapel.

    For instance, boring people have never looked better. This is a seldom-defended subset of the American population, but after a year or so of the exciting Donald Trump, we have a new appreciation. Right now, many voters may be looking at their local congressman — a person they would change lines at the grocery store in order to avoid having to engage in conversation — and thinking, “Wow, Fred may be a snooze, but when you think about it, there are so many worse possibilities.”

    Can you imagine how deliriously happy the Republican Party would be if Trump woke up one morning feeling boring? But no, he’s still bounding from one rally to the next, attacking members of his own party and demanding that Hillary Clinton go to jail. The new WikiLeaks from her campaign, he thundered on Wednesday, “make more clear than ever ... how unattractive and dishonest our country has become.”

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