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March 8, 2014
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If there was still any question as to whether Russia is in total control of Crimea, Andrew Higgins reports for The New York Times that planes headed for Kiev no longer even depart from the domestic terminal.

Higgins' article also serves as an excellent history lesson on Crimea in general and conflicted city Sevastopol in particular. He found residents divided over whether to return to their Russian roots through a March 16 referendum, or remain loyal to Ukraine:

Victoria Krupko: "We're returning home. We've waited a long time for this."

Viktor Negarov: "In reality, Sevastopol is a city of losers. People here don't like to hear this, but that is the reality of our history … I don't know how to fix this. Nearly everyone has been brainwashed." [The New York Times]

Read Higgins' entire story here. Sarah Eberspacher

2:47 a.m. ET
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Last August, former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros filed suit against her erstwhile employer, memorably alleging that despite Fox News' promotion of traditional family values on air, "behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny." That suit is in arbitration, but on Monday, Tantaros reached into popular culture again to allege in a new federal lawsuit that after she accused since-ousted Fox News chief Roger Ailes of sexually harassing her in 2015, the network hacked her personal laptop and cyberstalked her using "sock-puppet" social media accounts, like on an episode of Homeland.

Fox News sent operatives to install surveillance software on her computer, monitored her phone conversations, and then used the private information it gleaned about her to "intimidate, terrorize, and crush her career through an endless stream of lewd, offensive, and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries, and commentary," according to Tarantos' lawsuit. Her lawyer, Judd Burstein, said it amounted to "cyberstalking on steroids," with the network having "harassed her through sock-puppet social media accounts which conveyed the illegal fruits of their electronic surveillance of her. It was in essence two crimes committed at the same time."

Fox News, thorough its lawyers, said the network and its executives "flatly deny that they conducted any electronic surveillance of Ms. Tantaros" and "have no knowledge of the anonymous or pseudonymous tweets described in her complaint." Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Ailes, said the new suit has no merit and called it another "obvious attempt to get publicity." Burstein noted that News International, a news organization that, like Fox News, is owned by the Murdoch family, faced a damaging phone-hacking scandal in Britain in 2011. Alies and Fox News star Bill O'Reilly were both fired, with generous severance packages, following multiple sexual harassment allegations. Peter Weber

1:36 a.m. ET
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On Monday, President Trump told reporters from Breitbart News and other conservative outlets that his administration is slapping punitive tariffs of up to 24 percent on softwood lumber imports from Canada, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed the news, saying the Commerce Department has determined that such countervailing duties are necessary because Canada subsidizes its softwood lumber industry. The tariffs, ranging from 3 percent to 24.1 percent, will be retroactive for 90 days. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr jointly denounced what it called the "baseless and unfounded" subsidy accusations, and said Canada will take legal action against the "unfair and punitive duty."

Canada and the U.S. have been sparring over lumber imports since the 1800s, and the current dispute dates back to the early 1980s. The current Commerce Department review was started under the Obama administration, after a truce negotiated under the George W. Bush administration expired. The Trump administration has been hampered in its negotiations for a new deal with Canada by its lack of a chief trade negotiator. Ross said his department had decided to levy tariffs on the merits, but also because of Trump's new interest in Canadian trade disputes, specifically citing Trump being moved by complaints from Wisconsin dairy farmers he met last week. "What we are doing is dealing with another bad act on the part of the Canadians," Ross told The Washington Post.

The preliminary tariffs are subject to approval from the independent U.S. International Trade Commission, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection can start collecting the subsidies immediately. Softwood lumber is Canada's fourth-largest export to the U.S., accounting for $5.8 billion in sales last year, and among those opposed to the punitive duties is the U.S. homebuilding industry. Last year, the National Association of Home Builders said that a 15 percent tariff would raise the price of U.S. homes by 4.2 percent, costing 4,666 full-time jobs. The U.S. lumber industry says Canadian timber harvest prices cost U.S. jobs, too. Peter Weber

1:35 a.m. ET
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Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News host who left cable for network television and a gig at NBC, will be back on the air this June with a Sunday night program.

Kelly made the switch to NBC in January, but long exit negotiations with Fox News prevented her from debuting her show earlier. The program does not have a title yet, but it is being touted as a newsmagazine; it will air the same night as CBS's powerhouse 60 Minutes. Kelly will also have a morning show that is expected to replace an hour of Today, slated to launch this fall, The New York Times reports. Catherine Garcia

12:43 a.m. ET
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With their union contract scheduled to expire on May 1, Writers Guild of America members voted on Monday to authorize a strike.

The guild said that 67.5 percent of eligible members voted, and 96.3 percent were in favor of the measure. On Tuesday, the union is expected to pick up negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major Hollywood studios and broadcast networks. The writers are asking for pay increases, larger residuals for shows on streaming services like Netflix, and bigger employer contributions to the health plan.

The guild says that over the last two years, the average salary for a television writer-producer is down 23 percent, the Los Angeles Times reports. If negotiations fail and a strike is called, it will have a major impact on the television and film industry, cutting seasons short and affecting the fall season and possibly beyond; during the last strike in 2007, which lasted 100 days, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers says writers lost more than $287 million in compensation and the walkout "hurt everyone." Catherine Garcia

12:24 a.m. ET

"President Trump has been scrambling for literally any kind of positive achievement as he nears the end of his first 100 days in office," Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Show. The 100-day mark, of course, "is traditionally when presidents get their first big report card on their performance so far, and this will shock you, most people think he's not doing great," Meyer said. None of Trump's promised actions by Day 100 are done. "If this were a movie, it would be called 100 Dayz and Confused," he said. And yet, "like every terrible student, Trump is trying to turn an F into an A."

Trump is kind of right that "the 100 Day report card is an arbitrary, meaningless political milestone that most people don't actually care about," Meyers said, but Trump obviously does, having pitched a laundry list of things he would accomplish by Day 100. He's accomplished none of them, leaving him to brag about TV ratings and his electoral victory. "How could things get any worse?" Meyers asked. A government shutdown, of course. But Meyers was concerned if the government does shut down, nobody would even notice: "Under Trump our federal government is staffed as well as a Duane Reade on a Sunday morning."

Still, whether or not the government is open come Saturday rests on whether Trump will veto a spending bill without funding for his border wall. Wasn't Mexico going to pay for that wall? On Twitter, Trump said it still will, somehow, at some point in the future. "Trump's tweets are starting to sound like the fine print on a contest to win a free cruise," Meyers said. And how much will the wall cost? "Even the biggest sucker at the used car lot" would walk away, given Trump's delightfully obtuse answer to The Associated Press.

Meyers actually gets a lot of mileage out of Trump's freewheeling AP interview, but his parting shot came from Trump's glowing platitudes about his first 100 days delivered on camera last week. "That's the president of the United States saying 'government is coming along really well,'" Meyer said. "That's like going home to your wife and saying, 'Hello, wife, our marriage is coming along really well.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

12:06 a.m. ET
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On Monday, Arkansas put to death two prisoners, Marcel Williams and Jack Jones, the first time a state has carried out a double execution in 17 years.

Jones, convicted of raping and murdering Mary Phillips in 1995, was put to death shortly after 7 p.m., and Williams' attorneys then asked for a stay, saying that Williams' obesity would make it too difficult for an IV to be placed and questioning if Jones' execution went according to plan. A judge temporarily blocked Williams' execution, but lifted the stay an hour later.

Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m., 17 minutes after the procedure began. He was convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of Stacy Errickson, a 22-year-old woman he kidnapped from a gas station. Arkansas is ramping up its executions, scheduling eight over 11 days, because its supply of one lethal injection drug will expire at the end of the month. At least three of the eight executions have been stayed by court order. Catherine Garcia

April 24, 2017
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Just a few hours after Arkansas executed death row inmate Jack Jones, a federal judge issued and then lifted a court order that temporarily kept the state from putting to death a second prisoner, Marcel Williams.

Jones, convicted of the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips, was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m., 14 minutes after the procedure began. Attorneys for Williams said it took 45 minutes to get an IV into Jones and he was moving his lips and "gulping for air" after the first drug was administered. They argued that because Williams is obese, it would be difficult to place an IV and he would experience a "torturous death." The state attorney general's office called this description of the execution "inaccurate."

Earlier in the night, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an execution stay for Williams. It is unclear if his attorneys will continue to try to delay the execution; Williams' death warrant is set to expire at midnight. The last time a state executed two prisoners in the same night was in 2000. Arkansas has been moving to execute more prisoners before one of its lethal injection drugs expire at the end of the month. Catherine Garcia

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