Credibility is the key issue in Carroll case

In the sexual assault and defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll against Donald Trump that is currently underway in a New York courtroom (the grim details of which can be read here), Carroll has faced the toughest part and that is the cross-examination from Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina.

In a case like this that took place over 30 years ago and for which there is no physical evidence or witnesses to the event, it all hinges on how jurors judge the credibility of the person making the allegations. In this case, Carroll did not scream or report the rape to the police and waited a long time to come forward with the allegations, all which Tacopina focused on to cast doubt on her testimony. However, she did tell two friends of hers at that time about what happened and they will be called to testify. The infamous Access Hollywood tape where Trump was caught boasting of his habit of grabbing women by their genitals will also be played. There may also be testimony from two other women who have publicly claimed that Trump sexually assaulted them as well.
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The wellness craze

Desi Lydic was last week’s the rotating host for The Daily Show and she had some thoughts about the wellness craze and how some influencers are promoting dangerous practices.

What strikes me is that the people who fall for these practices seem to act as if they are at war with their bodies, that their bodies are trying to kill them and they must be constantly vigilant to fight them, and are willing to do the most bizarre things that random people suggest.

This does not mean much

Apparently the viewership for the Fox News time slot hosted by Tucker Carlson tanked after his departure. He was replaced this week by Brian Kilmeade, the doofus who used to be on the Fox and Friends morning show where his purpose seemed to be to make his two co-hosts look smart in comparison.

Every night viewers have given an unforgiving verdict on Kilmeade’s efforts: by turning off in their droves.

It’s a shame for Kilmeade, but a clue as to how he might be received had already come early on Monday.

“Join me tonight at 8 pm!” he tweeted an hour before his show started a now Tucker-free Fox News line-up. It turned out that not only did people not want to join Kilmeade, they were furious that he was going to be on air in place of their fallen hero.

“Not a chance in hell ya sellout,” was one of the more polite online responses, while someone else noted: “I’d rather watch grass grow.”

On Monday the audience for Kilmeade, a less angry, less charismatic, apparently less race-obsessed host, was 47% of the number Carlson had attracted a week earlier, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It isn’t just that Carlson’s departure has turned off viewers. The hastily renamed Fox News Tonight show appears to have actively driven people to Fox News’ competitors, with Newsmax in particular, seeing record ratings.

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Disney decides to play hardball with DeSantis

The Disney corporation and Florida governor Ron DeSantis have been in a tit-for-tat escalation ever since Disney criticized Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws which DeSantis has been using as his signature issue to highlight his ‘anti-woke’ credentials that he clearly hoped would propel him to the Republican nomination for president, even though he has not formally declared himself as a candidate yet.

The Disney corporation has now escalated it even further by suing DeSantis.

Disney sued Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida and presumed challenger for the Republican presidential nomination, on Wednesday, saying he had subjected it to “a targeted campaign of government retaliation”.

The entertainment giant wants a court to overturn state efforts to exert control over Walt Disney World in Orlando. The lawsuit was filed within minutes of a DeSantis-appointed oversight board voting to override agreements made in February that allowed the company to expand the theme park and maintain control over neighboring land.

Disney called the state government’s action “patently retaliatory, patently anti-business and patently unconstitutional”.

It added: “At the governor’s bidding, the state’s oversight board has purported to ‘void’ publicly noticed and duly agreed development contracts, which laid the foundation for billions of Disney’s investment dollars and thousands of jobs.

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They really, really hate transgender people

Recently there was a ridiculous fuss raised by the usual suspects whenever transgender issues come up. This was when the beer company Anheuser-Busch featured a trans woman influencer in an online promotion. On his show Last Week Tonight John Oliver describes the absurdity that ensued. (For some reason the full clip was not available anywhere but it can be found split into two parts.)

The sexual assault case against Trump began yesterday

The first day saw opening statements by lawyers for E. Jean Carroll, a writer who was an advice columnist for Elle Magazine, and Donald Trump.

Carroll accuses Trump of assaulting her in a dressing room of the New York department store Bergdorf Goodman in 1996 after they ran into each other at the entrance and he asked for help in choosing a present for a friend.

Carroll sat stony faced at the front of the courtroom as her lawyer, Shawn Crowley, told the jury that Trump manoeuvred her client into a dressing room and then attacked her. The lawyer said Trump banged Carroll’s head against the wall, pinned her arms back with one hand, pulled her tights down with the other and then rammed his fingers into her vagina.

Crowley said that Carroll kicked Trump and tried to knee him off but he was too strong for her.
“He removed his hand and forced his penis inside her,” the lawyer told the jury.

But Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, told the jury of three women and six men that Carroll filed the lawsuit for political ends, to sell a book and for public attention.

Tacopina said that the rape accusation was invented by Carroll and two other women who are expected to testify that she told them about the assault shortly afterwards.

“They schemed to hurt Donald Trump politically,” he said.

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Harry Belafonte (1927-2023)

The singer, actor, and activist has died at the age of 96. All his life, he was an untiring fighter for civil rights and social justice and an opponent of US imperialism, as you can see from this brief biography.

As well as performing global hits such as Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), winning a Tony award for acting and appearing in numerous feature films, Belafonte spent his life fighting for a variety of causes. He bankrolled numerous 1960s initiatives to bring civil rights to Black Americans; campaigned against poverty, apartheid and Aids in Africa; and supported leftwing political figures such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
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What to expect after Carlson’s departure

The circumstances that led to the firing of Tucker Carlson by Fox News are still murky. Neither he nor Fox have made any statement as to the precise reasons but speculation is that the abrupt nature of the firing in the absence of any obvious factors suggests that something serious had emerged to cause the rupture between them. We will have to see what that is. The one thing you can be sure of is that this was not a split caused by a clash of high-minded principles because neither party has any. It will be because of some grubby and tawdry issues. What I would like to see is a bare-knuckle brawl where they air each other’s dirty laundry.

As to what happens next, media analyst Jack Shafer says that nothing will really change after the departure of Carlson because what Fox does is not create shows around individuals but around certain types of people and it is easy replace a type. In fact, Fox has a deep bench of people who can step into Carlson’s shoes and pick up where he left off in targeting white nationalists and in incendiary rabble-rousing around culture war issues as well as race and gender.
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Fox News splits with Tucker Carlson

Fox News announced this morning that the network had severed ties with Tucker Carlson who attracted the biggest audience for the network during his nightly 8:00pm show. The network said that starting today, his time slot will be hosted by a rotating panel until a permanent host is found. A clue that the parting was not amicable can be seen in the fact that Fox said that his last show was the one he gave last Friday, which means that he will not be given the opportunity to say farewell to the many racist, bigoted, and white supremacist fans that tuned in to watch his daily message of hate. His ended his show on Friday saying “We’ll be back on Monday”. Famous last words.

I am as surprised by the development as anyone. While the lawsuit brought by Dominion had devastating internal messages by him that undoubtedly contributed to Fox settling for a massive $787.5 million instead of going to trial, he was by no means the only one fingered as systematically lying. Since the network was not required by the settlement to give an on-air apology, I thought that they would simply go back to lying as before, except leaving Dominion out of it and being more careful not to name entities that were powerful enough to sue it. In other words, just basically stick to their business model of pandering to racists and bigots by attacking marginalized groups.
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Sex and seances

The 1920s were a high point in people believing that they could communicate with the dead. This may well have been due to two major events: the First World War of 1914-1918 and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Both of them resulted in many millions of deaths, many of them sudden and of young people, causing deep grief among the survivors. One can well understand the yearning of people to somehow connect with the ones they had lost.

Naturally this created a market for those who could claim to channel the spirits of the dead and as a result there was a cottage industry of people conducting seances, where you go to talk with a loved one through an intermediary. Belief in this was widespread and indeed this form of ‘spiritism’, the belief in the existence of an afterlife where the deceased lived and could be communicated with, was viewed as a kind of religion that was independent of other religions and devoid of beliefs in any particular god. Belief in communicable spirits was supported by many eminent people of that time, including scientists such as Sir Oliver Lodge, whose son had died. Another notable believer was Arthur Conan Doyle whose son Kingsley had died during the war and Doyle believed that through a medium, he had been able to talk with him. His wife Jean also claimed to have the ability to communicate with the dead using the mode of spirit writing, where her hand would be guided over paper by the spirit.
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