Rick Perry claims fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault - Axios
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Rick Perry claims fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault

Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks with Jim VandeHei and Chuck Todd at an Axios/NBC energy policy event Thursday morning in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chuck Kennedy / Axios

At an Axios and NBC discussion about the administration's energy policy priorities Thursday morning, Energy Secretary Rick Perry indicated he thinks using fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault. The quote, in full:

"I just got back from Africa, I'm going to finish up with this, because I think I heard a lady say there are people dying. Let me tell you where people are dying, is in Africa, because of the lack of energy they have there. And it's going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl told me to my face, 'one of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I'm not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people.' But also from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts. So from the standpoint of how you really affect people's lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that. I happen to think it's going to play a positive role."

Bottom line: Perry didn't connect enough dots to effectively make an argument that access to energy (fossil fuels or otherwise) could prevent sexual assault. A University College London study found — after studying 63 cities over 14 years — that darker streets are not necessarily less safe. In places with reduced lighting, there was no increase in sexual assaults.

Big picture: The comment is part of a wider effort by Perry to challenge the environmental narrative that fossil fuels are harmful due to their contribution to climate change. Perry has cited the benefits of fossil fuels to developing countries and also called U.S. resources an important strategic asset.

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In early trial, new drug silences Huntington’s disease gene

An experimental drug could slow the spread of Huntington's disease, giving hopes to patients suffering from uncontrolled movements and mental confusion associated with the disease, reports The Guardian. An early-stage trial of the drug was conducted with 46 patients in the UK, Germany and Canada.

Why it matters: Huntington's disease is an inherited condition resulting from a genetic mutation. Current treatments can only help minimize the symptoms, instead of slowing it down.

Professor Sarah Tabriz at UK's University College of London said in a statement on Monday that the drug has lowered the level of the “toxic disease-causing protein in the nervous system, and the drug was safe and well-tolerated. The key now is to move quickly to a larger trial to test whether the drug slows disease progression.”

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Judge warns Manafort to stop discussing his case with media

Paul Manafor leaves the federal courthouse in November. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

District Judge Amy Berman Jackson chided Paul Manafort on Monday for ghost-writing an op-ed for a Ukranian newspaper, told him not discuss his case with the media, and warned that any similar behavior moving forward will be considered a violation of his gag order, per Reuters.

What didn't happen: Despite Mueller's team arguing that the op-ed is grounds to deny Manafort's request to post $11.65 million in exchange for taking him off house arrest, Jackson said she will determine whether to ease those restrictions at a later date.

Behind Jackson's warning: Jackson argued that even though the op-ed was not published in the U.S., it still could have tainted a local jury given the accessibility of global media.

“All that has to happen is for that favorable article, which is going to ... look on its face to be entirely independent, but is actually in part a message crafted and shaped by you ... is to have somebody you know post it on Facebook, Twitter or a blog, and you have accomplished your goal, given the power of retweeting,” she said.

Go deeper: Mueller weaponizes Microsoft Word; How the Russia probe closed in on Manafort.

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Chef Mario Batali takes leave after sexual harassment allegations

Chef and restaurateur Mario Batali has been accused of sexual harassment by four women. Photo: Andy Kropa / Invision via AP

Celebrity chef Mario Batali is stepping away from his show "The Chew" and his restaurant empire after four women anonymously accused him of sexual misconduct. The allegations, which span at least two decades, were detailed in a report published by food website Eater on Monday.

Batali did not deny the allegations, and apologized for his behavior in a statement to Eater: "... [M]uch of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

The allegations: Four women, three of whom had reportedly worked for Batali in some capacity, said the chef touched them inappropriately:

  • One woman who never worked for Batali said the chef rubbed her breasts "with his bare hands" after someone spilled wine down her chest.
  • Another accuser told Eater that Batali touched her inappropriately on several occassions while working for him in the 1990s. She detailed one instance when she says he approached her from behind at the restaurant and "put his hand on half of my butt and he squeezed it.”
  • Another former employee said Batali repeatedly grabbed her from behind and pressed her body against his.
  • A fourth accuser alleged that Batali grabbed her breasts at an industry party.

Backlash:

  • The Food Network said in a statement Monday that it is putting plans to relaunch Batali's “Molto Mario” show on hold.
  • An ABC spokesperson also said the network has asked Batali to step away from “The Chew” while reviewing allegations.
  • B&B Hospitality Group, which represents 24 Batali-owned restaurants, said it took the allegations “very seriously” and agreed with Batali that "he will step away from the company's operations."
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Treasury admits tax plan won't pay for itself

U.S. Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury Department today released a one-page analysis of the GOP's proposed tax reform plan.

Bottom line: The report acknowledges that the tax plan will not pay for itself via increased economic growth, despite Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin having regularly made such a claim. Instead, getting into the black would require both the tax plan and "a combination of regulatory reform, infrastructure development, and welfare reform."

Moreover, the analysis uses the White House's previous economic growth estimates (made before the tax plan was written) and works its way backwards into the math, rather than analyzing how the actual tax plan would affect economic growth.

The back story: Mnuchin spent months talking about a detailed Treasury analysis of the GOP tax plans, but the NY Times reported in late November that no such analysis actually existed.

Today's release is an apparent remedy, although a single page feels pretty skimpy for an analysis that is supposed to help justify the most significant tax code changes since 1986.

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Trump accusers call on Congress to investigate sexual allegations

President Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Three of 16 women who have publicly accused President Trump of sexual misconduct spoke out together during a joint press conference hosted in New York City on Monday, calling for action amid the growing #MeToo movement.

Robert Greenwald, the president of Brave New Films, a non-profit that hosted the event, said that the accusers share similar stories about Trump, and their allegations deserve action. "We know better, we know a lot better, predators and harassers must be held accountable," said Greenwald, adding that "elected officials, no matter what party affiliation, should act."

The accusers:

  • Rachel Crooks said Congress must "put aside party affiliations and investigate Trump's history of sexual misconduct." She described Trump's behavior as "serial misconduct and perversion."
  • Jessica Leeds said she hopes the #MeToo movement will put enough "pressure on Congress" to address not only their own members' misconduct, but also the presdient's.
  • Samantha Holvey emphasized that the #MeToo movement isn't a partisan issue. "They've investigated other Congress members so I think it only stands fair he be investigated as well."

The response: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said their claims are false.

Go deeper: The women also spoke spoke with Megyn Kelly in an interview on NBC Monday.

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RNC official quits over Roy Moore support

The RNC's seal, pictured in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

Joyce Simmons, a Republican National Committeewoman from Nebraska, resigned from the organization Monday over their financial support of embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama, Politico reports.

In an email to colleagues, Simmons wrote, "I strongly disagree with the recent RNC financial support directed to the Alabama Republican Party for use in the Roy Moore race. There is much I could say about this situation, but I will defer to this weekend's comments by Senator Shelby."

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How Amazon took over the apparel market with no-name clothes

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Photo: Ted S. Warren / AP

Amazon has quietly become the second-largest seller of apparel in the United States, investing heavily in its own private-label offerings, which customers have flocked to for their value. As designer Jackie Wilson tells Bloomberg:

They are not concerned at all about how many units they sell, and they’re not focused on margins. They’re concerned about customer satisfaction. They want five-star reviews.

Why it matters: Younger shoppers have become much less loyal to name brands, and retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Kohls have capitalized by recruting designers and Asian manufacturers to create their own lines of apparel. Amazon's clothes are so popular that 40% of all e-commerce clothing sales go through the platform.

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Megyn Kelly defends women who voted for Trump

Megyn Kelly Photo: screenshot

During her interview with three women who have accused President Trump of sexual harassment, Megyn Kelly defended women who voted for Trump after Jessica Leeds said "they just didn't want to vote for a woman. "

Key quote from Megyn Kelly, "There were plenty of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Plenty. There was a long list of there. But again, the impossibility of the choice, if you're a voter who cares about sexism, the impossibility of the choice in 2016 was readily apparent."

"There were plenty of reasons"

Jessica Leeds: "For the women who voted for Trump, I really think that they just didn't want to vote for a woman." Megyn Kelly: "I don't know if that's true. There were plenty of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Plenty."

Posted by Axios on Monday, December 11, 2017
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NYC Mayor: Subway explosion was an "attempted terrorist attack"

Police block a street by Port Authority Bus Terminal near New York’s Times Square following an explosion on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Photo: Andres Kudacki / AP

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference Monday that the explosion at a subway station near Times Square was “an attempted terrorist attack."

New York City police commissioner James P. O'Neill also identified the suspect as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. O'Neill said Ullah "intentionally" set off a "low-tech" pipe bomb, which caused minor injuries to 3 others and serious injuries to himself. Ullah is in custody and has been transported to Bellevue Hospital where he is being treated for his injuries.