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Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison

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  • Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday for third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act. 
  • Weinstein was convicted of the crimes last month but was acquitted of more serious charges that carried a potential life sentence. 
  • This isn’t the end of Weinstein’s legal battles as he still faces charges in Los Angeles for other sex crimes he allegedly committed. 

What Was Weinstein Convicted Of? 

Disgraced Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in a New York state prison on Wednesday for his felony sex crimes conviction. 

On Feb 25, a Manhattan jury made up of seven men and five women found the 67-year-old guilty of a first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. The charges were based on testimony from Miriam Haley, a production assistant who said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Lower Manhattan apartment in 2006, and Jessica Mann, a then-aspiring actress who said Weinstein raped her at a Midtown hotel in 2013.

The jury made their decision after a seven-week trial and five days of deliberation, however, they did choose to acquit Weinsten of the most serious charges he faced: two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried the possibility of a life sentence.

Those charged required the jury to find that he had raped actress Annabella Sciorra’s in the early 1990s at her Gramercy Park apartment, but some jurors ultimately doubted her account and decided against that conviction. 

The jury also determined that Weinstein was not guilty of first-degree rape in the 2013 attack against Mann. That charge required the state to prove the use of force or a threat during the incident, so instead, the jury chose to convict him of third-degree rape, which only required prosecutors to prove a lack of consent.

In total, Weinstein faced a 29-year sentence; between five to 25 years for the criminal sex act charge and up to four years in prison for third-degree rape. Prosecutors asked for the maximum or near-maximum sentences, with an order for them to be served concurrently. Meanwhile, defense attorneys asked for him to get the minimum.

Weinstein’s Sentencing 

Haley and Mann read emotional impact statements ahead of his sentencing with Haley saying, “He violated my trust and my body and my personal right to deny sexual advances.”

“I could only hope whatever sentence, [it’s] long enough for him to acknowledge [what] he has done to me and others.”

For her part, Mann said Weinstein was “completely disconnected from the gravity of the crimes” he had committed against her and other women.

Weinstein also spoke during the hearing, talking in length about his charitable deeds. He at one point also compared the #MeToo movement to people being blacklisted for being communists during the Red Scare and according to Variety, said, “I think men are confused about all of this…this feeling of thousands of men and women who are losing due process, I’m worried about this country.”

He also suggested that he thought his relationships with the women were consensual and that he was “totally confused” by what they described. “We may have different truths, but I have remorse for all of you and for all the men going through this crisis,” he said to his accusers.

“I really feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deeply in my heart. I’m really trying, I’m really trying to be a better person,” he added. 

Judge James Burke ultimately handed down a 20-year sentence for the criminal sex act charge and a 3-year sentence for third-degree rape, which are to be served consecutively. He also said Weinstein will be formally registered as a sex offender. 

“I will say that although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” Burke said when announcing his decision, adding that there is evidence of incidents of sexual assault against other women.

All six of the women who had given graphic accounts on the witness stand during the trial sat in the front row of the gallery in solidarity. They walked out of the courtroom together after the sentencing, some smiling and some in tears. 

Recently Unsealed Court Documents 

The sentencing is a major victory for the #MeToo movement, which gained momentum after several women came forward with accusations against Weinstein starting in late 2017. At least 80 women have made accusations against him for varying levels of harassment and assault. 

Recently unsealed court documents even showed that weeks after the first accusations were published by The New Yorker and The New York Times, Weinstein desperately reached out to wealthy friends for support,  including Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, and Mike Bloomberg. 

“I don’t need you to make any public statements — just a private one to my gmail address, saying that you support me getting therapy and the help I need before the board fires me. I’m in a tough spot. Many of the allegations are false, but I need your help with this private letter of support,” he wrote in a letter to the heads of Apple. 

“I need your friendship now,” he wrote to Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, asking him to provide a private letter to the Weinstein Company’s board.

The documents also showed how Weinstein dealt with all of the emerging claims against him. According to Variety, Weinstein was contacted in October 2017 by a reporter from the National Enquirer who said they were planning to publish a story reporting that Jennifer Aniston was sexually assaulted by him. Weinstein responded by email: “Jen Aniston should be killed.” 

Aniston’s representative has since told Variety that the Enquirer’s claims were false, saying,  “Jennifer has not been harassed or assaulted by Harvey.” 

Other documents showed that Weinstein compiled a “red flag list” of industry figures who he suspected might be talking about his sexual behavior to the media. That list was sent to his private investigators and included about 70 names like Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, and several others. 

This New York decision does not mark the end of Weinstein’s legal battles by any means. Los Angeles prosecutors filed criminal charges of their own against him earlier this year alleging two incidents of sexual assault over a two-night period in 2013. 

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Fox News) (AP News)

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Joe Rogan Faces Backlash For Promoting Antisemitic Stereotypes

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His comments come as antisemitic hate incidents have increased both online and in the real world.


Rogan’s Antisemitic Comments

Joe Rogan is facing backlash over a Saturday episode of his podcast where he claimed that “the idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous.”

While the “Joe Rogan Experience” episode was posted to Spotify on Feb. 3, the controversial podcaster’s comments did not receive criticism until clips started circulating around social media on Tuesday. Rogan was speaking with “Breaking Points” hosts Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti when the subject of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee came up.

Omar was ousted over a 2019 tweet where she said that American support of Isreal was “all about the Benjamins,” referring to a slang term for money. After she was condemned for promoting antisemitic tropes, she apologized. Some Democrats have accused Republicans of hypocrisy for removing Omar over the remark. 

“She’s apologizing for talking about ‘It’s all about the Benjamins,’ which is just about money,” Rogan said of the incident. “She’s talking about money.”

“She shouldn’t have apologized,” Ball responded. 

“That’s not an antisemitic statement, I don’t think that it is,” Rogan continued. “Benjamins are money. The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza. It’s fucking stupid.”

Condemned for “Vicious Lies”

His comments were condemned after several Twitter users shared clips of the podcast on the platform. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was “disturbing” that Rogan chose to spread antisemitic stereotypes “at a time of rising anti-Jewish violence, when growing numbers of Americans believe in antisemitic conspiracy theories.”

“For centuries, people have used these longstanding tropes to spread vicious lies about the Jewish people,” Greenblatt wrote.

“The thing is, Joe Rogan, Italians were never slaughtered because of the pizza stereotype,” writer and essayist Howard Lovy tweeted. “But because idiots like you believe Jews are into money,’ we have been marginalized, brutalized, and murdered for thousands of years.”

“The ‘Jews are into money’ thing is a generation-spanning smear used as the basis to discriminate against Jews the world over,” attorney Bradley P. Moss added. “Everyone is into money. But we have been accused of secretly hoarding $ to control everything.”

Writer David Baddiel noted how alarming it was that Rogan was able to “breezily” spew “a racist myth.”

“One of the biggest podcasts in the world and no one gives a fuck,” he wrote. 

Rogan’s comments come as antisemitism has been increasingly present in media and everyday life for Jewish people. 

Upon billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform saw an increase in racial slurs and hate speech, including language targeted at Jewish people. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found in December that antisemitic hate crimes rose between 2021 and 2022 in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. 

Kanye West also made headlines late last year for going on several antisemitic rants, including one where he praised Hitler. While he was dropped by major brands like Adidas over his comments, his words have amplified dangerous conspiracy theories far and wide. He even inspired several neo-Nazis to hang “Kanye is Right” banners in Los Angeles, among other antisemitic actions.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (Variety) (The Independent)

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“Seinfeld” AI Parody Suspended From Twitch After AI Wrote Transphobic Jokes

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The parody’s version of Jerry asked if he should make jokes about “how being transgender is actually a mental illness.”


“Nothing, Forever” Suspended

What’s the deal with AI?

While that has been a big question in the media world for the last few weeks, it is being raised yet again after AI software wrote transphobic jokes for an AI parody of the hit sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Titled “Nothing, Forever,” the heavily pixelated program runs 24/7 on Twitch, using Open AI to create endless “Seinfeld” parody content. In this AI version, Jerry is called Larry Feinberg. Larry’s friends, Yvonne, Fred, and Zoltare — who are stands-ins for Elaine, George, and Kramer — often sit around Larry’s apartment, just like in the NBC series. 

Also mirroring “Seinfeld,” Larry is a stand-up comedian who does a cold-open set of jokes in front of a brick wall. On Monday morning, he asked if anyone had suggestions for jokes before going on a transphobic rant. 

“I’m thinking about doing a bit about how being transgender is actually a mental illness,” Larry said. “Or how all liberals are secretly gay and want to impose their will on everyone. Or something about how transgender people are ruining the fabric of society. But no one is laughing, so I’m going to stop.”

“Thanks for coming out tonight. See you next time,” he continued. “Where’d everybody go?”

Plans to Return

The bit could almost come across as self-aware commentary about how pervasive transphobia is in stand-up comedy, but it’s unclear what the AI’s intent was or if it deserves that much credit. 

Soon after the jokes aired, the “Nothing, Forever” Twitch page was closed, showing only a message announcing the channel “is temporarily unavailable due to a violation of Twitch’s Community Guidelines.” It did not specify what rule was broken, but Twitch does have a Hateful Conduct policy that bars attacks against someone’s gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other protected identities. 

Skyler Hartle, one of the co-creators of “Nothing, Forever,” told The Washington Post that the team was “super embarrassed” by the transphobic rant, which “in no way reflects the values or opinions of our staff.”

Hartle said they hope to resume airing the AI parody with new safeguards in place soon. According to The Post, the suspension will last for 14 days. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NBC News) (The Verge)

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Grammy Awards Face Backlash For Snubbing Beyoncé of Top Prize

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This marks the fourth time the “Renaissance” singer has lost Album of the Year.


Beyoncé Loses Top Awards

Beyoncé may have broken the record for the most Grammy wins on Sunday night, but her snub for the top prize of Album of the Year has left music fans outraged.

Beyoncé nabbed Best Dance Recording, Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song on Sunday night, all related to her latest album, “Renaissance.” While that crossed her Grammy total to a record-breaking 32 trophies, she was shut out of all the major categories she was nominated in: Record, Song, and Album of the Year. 

This was the fourth time Beyoncé was nominated for and lost Album of the Year, largely considered the show’s most coveted prize. This year, Harry Styles took home the Grammy for “Harry’s House.”

In his speech, Styles said, he has been “so inspired by every artist in this category” and claimed there is no “best” in music. People in the crowd were heard shouting “Beyonce!” while he spoke, outraged the singer had lost the award yet again.

The moment was reminiscent of the 2017 Grammy Awards when Adele’s “25” beat out Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” for the same category. While accepting the prize, Adele suggested that the “Lemonade” should have gotten the gold. 

“The ‘Lemonade’ album was just so monumental, Beyoncé, it was so monumental,” Adele said on stage. 

Beyoncé’s History of Grammy Losses

This is part of a long trend in Beyoncé’s Grammy history, as she is almost always shut out of the major categories. Of her 32 Grammys, only one belongs to one of the top slots: her Song of the Year win in 2010 for “Single Ladies.” She has yet to ever win Record or Album of the Year, and most of her wins come from genre categories like R&B.

Many fans think that is an abysmal record for an artist who is considered one of the primary musical talents of her generation. Compare those stats to the similarly-adored Taylor Swift, who has three Album of the Year wins out of 12 Grammy trophies, and it’s not hard to see their point.

“Beyoncé represents every Black woman that is constantly applauded for their work but when it comes to promotion time their white colleague gets it instead,” culture reporter Ada Enechi tweeted in response to Sunday night’s snub.

The Grammy Awards have long been accused of having a racial bias, especially when it comes to Black women. In Beyoncé’s case, every time she has lost Album of the Year, she lost to a white artist. 

Even some of the progress made during Sunday night’s telecast only proved how frequently Black women are excluded from major awards. For example, Lizzo won Record of the Year for “About Damn Time,” marking the first time a Black woman has won that award since Whitney Houston in 1994. That’s a nearly 30-year gap.

Backlash From Music Fans

Beyoncé’s repeated snubs have consistently been used as a prime example of the strides yet to be made in the music industry. 

“Renaissance not winning AOTY is another example how of a Black woman can consistently deliver excellence, reinvent the wheel + shake the culture, AND still not be recognised to the extent that she deserves,” another person said on Twitter.

“Absolutely wild that the person with the most Grammys ever is still the underdog who was robbed,” BuzzFeed News reporter David Mack pointed out.

Podcaster Sam Sanders called her loss “criminal.”

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (People) (The Washington Post)

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