×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
March 21, 2014
Thinkstock

Russia's primary response to the first round of Western sanctions against politicians and business leaders tied to Moscow's occupation of Crimea: laughter, mixed with razzing President Obama over Twitter.

When Obama and European leaders upped the ante on Thursday, freezing the assets and travel opportunities of more than a dozen billionaires and officials close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, plus one bank, Moscow banned nine members of U.S. Congress and Obama aides from entering Russia. It was America's turn to chuckle.

Russia isn't laughing. On Thursday, "Russia's most powerful businessmen waited for over an hour" in Moscow to meet with Putin, whose decision to annex Crimea "has cost their companies hundreds of millions of dollars in market value," says The Associated Press' Nataliya Vasilyeva. And "when Putin finally showed up, he spoke to them for five minutes — and gave them no reassurances that they or their companies will get any respite from the uncertainty created by the takeover of a piece of land of little value to them beyond national pride."

Russia's stock market has fallen 10 percent this month, its economy's modest growth forecast has been cut to zero, the ruble has weakened, and two of the big three credit rating agencies — Standard & Poor's and Fitch — just switched Russia's credit outlook from stable to negative, citing the slowing economy and threat of sanctions. Peter Weber

7:17 p.m. ET
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Actress and singer Della Reese, star of the television series Touched by an Angel, has died. She was 86.

Reese's husband, Franklin Lett, said in a statement Reese died at her home in California "surrounded by love." Born in Detroit, Reese started singing in church when she was six years old, and at 12, gospel legend Mahalia Jackson asked her to go on tour with her. Reese had several hits, including "Don't You Know," and one year, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, NPR reports.

Reese also became the first black woman to fill in for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, and the first black woman to host her own syndicated variety series, Della, which ran from 1969 to 1970. In addition to being an actor and singer, Reese was an ordained minister, who founded the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church. The church grew over time, but she started out holding services in her living room for just eight members. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m. ET
Neilson Branard/Getty Images

Veteran journalist Charlie Rose was suspended by CBS News Monday evening after eight women accused him of sexual harassment.

Rose is a co-host of CBS This Morning and a 60 Minutes contributor, and PBS also immediately stopped production of his interview program, Charlie Rose. Speaking to The Washington Post, the women accused Rose, 75, of groping them, walking around nude in front of them, and making inappropriate comments, telling one woman he wanted to watch her swim naked in a pool while he watched from afar. The women said the harassment took place from the late 1990s to 2011, when they were either working at the Charlie Rose show or trying to gain employment there. In a statement to the Post, Rose apologized and said he was "deeply embarrassed." Catherine Garcia

5:37 p.m. ET
Facebook/Fox News

A former employee for Fox News says the network rebuffed her requests to investigate ties between President Trump and Russia — even when she offered to pay her own travel expenses to Moscow, Bloomberg reported Monday. "You can't do in-depth reporting if you're not [in Russia]," said Jessica Golloher, a former Fox Radio correspondent who is suing the company for gender discrimination. "Fox is just buying what the White House is selling."

Golloher made the claim during her testimony to the British Parliament, as the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority considers whether "Fox has a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards." The CMA review of Fox's broadcasting standards stemmed from a bid by Fox's parent company, Twenty-First Century Fox, to buy the U.K telecommunications company Sky. The review was additionally triggered in part over allegations that the White House and a prominent Trump donor pushed Fox News to publish an article that used fabricated quotes to call into question Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Although Fox News did not send a representative to the hearing, the network referred Bloomberg to an earlier statement from May which said Golloher's claims "are without merit. Her allegations of discrimination and retaliation are baseless. We will vigorously defend the matter."

Fox News' various TV personalities have been loudly skeptical of ties between Trump and Russia and have in some cases claimed that Hillary Clinton is really the one who conspired with Moscow. In late October, CNN reported that several Fox News employees were appalled by their network's coverage of the Russia investigation. One TV personality even texted CNN, "I'm watching now kicking and screaming. I want to quit." Kelly O'Meara Morales

5:26 p.m. ET
CC BY: Ed Brown

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to block AT&T from its controversial $85.4 billion grab at Time Warner, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. President Trump has long been critical of the deal, saying he believes it would focus too much of the power in the media industry in one company. The Justice Department's move could be complicated, though, because it will require convincing the courts "that the deal would threaten competition," Bloomberg Politics wrote earlier this year. "That could be tough because AT&T isn't buying a direct competitor."

The merger would have paired AT&T's wireless phone service with Time Warner's visual media, including networks like CNN, TNT, and HBO as well as the Warner Bros. film and television studio. Earlier this month, the Justice Department demanded CNN's parent company, Turner Broadcasting, be sold before the deal could go forward, raising questions about Trump's involvement in the decision.

"Vigorous antitrust enforcement by the Justice Department would ordinarily be a cause for celebration, given that antitrust law is the last line of defense for consumers when federal agencies go on the sort of deregulatory jihad that President Trump has directed," wrote the Los Angeles Times. "But in this case, it's impossible to tell whether the DOJ is being principled or a puppet. In fact, its motives are completely suspect."

Before the suit was officially filed, AT&T's general counsel said the move would be a "radical and inexplicable departure from antitrust precedent." Read more about the AT&T-Time Warner deal, and how Trump might have played a role, at The Week. Jeva Lange

4:07 p.m. ET
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Rates have dropped significantly at all but one of President Trump's 13 hotels since he took office, The Telegraph reported Monday. The average price for a weekend at a Trump hotel dropped by 36 percent in the last year, with the most dramatic decrease occurring at the Trump Las Vegas, where rates fell 63 percent.

The Macleod House and Lodge in Scotland fared the best comparatively, as its prices only dropped 10 percent. The lone Trump hotel to increase its price was the Trump Doonbeg in Ireland, whose rates inched up 7 percent.

But while prices have dropped at the president's properties, that does not necessarily mean that they are not making money. Prices at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for example, dropped by a whopping 52 percent per The Telegraph's report. But in August, The Washington Post reported that the same hotel had already made nearly $2 million in the first four months of 2017 — despite the Trump Organization's prediction that it would lose more than $2 million in the first quarter.

The profitability of Trump's D.C. hotel could be an anomaly, given that foreign governments and their dignitaries may see an incentive in staying at the president's properties when doing business with or lobbying his administration. And even if prices are lower this year at Trump hotels, the president still has his beloved Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, which has doubled its membership prices this year. Kelly O'Meara Morales

2:46 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Janet Yellen, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, will step down from the central bank's Board of Governors when her successor assumes the chairmanship in February. President Trump announced he would nominate Fed governor Jerome Powell to succeed Yellen as chair when her term comes to an end early next year.

Yellen's term as governor would run until 2024, but she announced Monday that she would step down from the board as well when Powell takes over. "As I prepare to leave the board, I am gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago," Yellen wrote in a letter informing Trump of her decision. "I am also gratified by the substantial improvement in the economy since the crisis."

Yellen's departure will leave Trump with four vacancies on the Fed's governing board. He has nominated just one replacement, Randal Quarles, who has been confirmed by the Senate. The remaining open governorships have yet to see any replacement nominees. Kimberly Alters

2:39 p.m. ET

Nothing quite says it's the most wonderful time of the year like a Make America Great Again hat decorated with embroidered Christmas lights. The festive item is now on sale in President Trump's campaign store and runs $45, up from the $25 it costs to purchase the regular red MAGA hat acceptable for the other 364 days of the year.

The seasonal hat is additionally emblazoned with "Merry Christmas" on the back, lest a well-meaning cashier begin to wish "happy holidays" at your retreating back:

The official uniform of the war on Christmas can be picked up along with a collectable ornament — now just $45, down from $149in the gift section of Trump's store. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads