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October 28, 2012

Scratch a chore off the fall to-do list without the normal fuss. Simply "set the iRobot Looj 330 ($300) at one end of a gutter and watch it brush away debris at 500 RPM." Made by the same company that gave the world the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, this gadget needs just five minutes to clear a 30-foot stretch of dirt and leaf clutter. The waterproof machine can even operate in damp gutters and be cleaned up with a quick spray from the hose. The detachable handle doubles as a remote control. Source: Better Homes and Gardens The Week Staff

1:03 p.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

Russian ads reportedly reached an estimated 126 million Facebook users during the presidential campaign, likely leaving some people wondering if they are among those who might have fallen for Kremlin propaganda. On Wednesday, the social media giant announced that it will be creating a page to help users identify which accounts they liked or followed that were discovered to be linked back to a Russian "troll farm," Axios reports. Facebook says to expect the tool to be available in its Help Center by the end of the year, The Hill reports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) had demanded that Facebook "individually notify any and all users who received or interacted with [Russian] advertisements and associated content," issuing similar orders to Twitter and Google. Facebook, though, will not tell users "whether they were exposed to content from the [Russian troll farm's] pages in their Newsfeed, even if they didn't follow them," Axios notes.

Facebook admitted in September that it unknowingly sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian troll farm during the election. Check out one particularly humorous example of a Russian ad here. Jeva Lange

1:02 p.m. ET

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told CNN on Wednesday that he once convinced White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to pretend he had bad cell service to get off the phone with President Trump. Trump apparently called Cohn during the middle of a meeting and talked for 15 minutes before Carper gave Cohn some advice, saying: "Gary, why don't you do this, take the phone … and just say 'Mr. President, you're brilliant but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye.'"

CNN's John Berman held back laughter as he asked if Carper actually convinced Cohn to fake a bad connection. The senator replied, "I don't want to throw [Cohn] under the bus, but yes." Berman's co-host Poppy Harlow then quipped, "I think you just did."

Although Trump may not hear about this incident, as he claims to watch CNN only when forced, Carper's story would likely reignite the president's displeasure with Cohn. In September, The New York Times reported Trump was refusing to make eye contact with Cohn after the Goldman Sachs alum publicly disagreed with Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

The White House has denied Carper's recollection of the phone call. Kelly O'Meara Morales

12:23 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

Your inner goddess will undoubtedly say "Yeah, right" when she hears all the supposed benefits of using a Vortix Eye Massager ($485). The battery-operated plastic mask aims foremost to soothe the fine muscles and nerves of the eyes and temples using vibration, air massage, and heat. Fine: Every goddess with a desk job or smartphone has once said, "Mine eyes, they are strained and sore." Vortix promises more than relief, though, claiming that eye massage tames stress, insomnia, migraines, and dark circles. Oh, and one more thing: Because it stimulates neglected nerves, it can, ostensibly, restore a user's vision.
The Week Staff

11:39 a.m. ET

Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar admitted Wednesday to molesting seven girls, including three under the age of 13, NBC News reports. In total, Nassar, 54, is accused of having abused more than 130 of his patients during medical exams between 1998 and 2015.

Among Nassar's accusers are gold medalists Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman. In an Instagram post Tuesday, Douglas, 21, said she didn't tell anyone about the abuse because "for years we were conditioned to stay silent, and honestly, some things were extremely painful." Maroney accused Nassar of repeated abuse, including drugging her: "He'd given me a sleeping pill for the flight and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a 'treatment,'" she wrote. "I thought I was going to die that night."

While entering his guilty plea, Nassar said Wednesday: "I am so horribly sorry that this was like a match that turned into a forest fire out of control." He agreed to a sentence between 25 and 40 years. Jeva Lange

11:31 a.m. ET

A former intern for Charlie Rose said Wednesday that the former talk show host made her watch a sexually explicit scene from a movie for 20 minutes under the guise of work obligations. Rose, a veteran journalist who was fired from PBS and CBS News after allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct were reported by The Washington Post, apparently additionally asked the intern, Sarah Gordon, if the scene made her feel aroused.

Gordon told NBC News that she was delivering mail to Rose's house when the incident occurred. "I proceeded to go into the living room, and he said I want to show you this scene from this movie," Gordon said. "And he said have a seat, you know, relax, and he proceeded to turn on the film Secretary, which is a sexually involved film involving S&M, unfortunately."

Although Gordon said Rose did not touch her during the incident, NBC News noted that the film in question "portrays a young woman becoming sexually involved with her boss." Gordon said that eventually, she was able to change the subject of conversation and leave the apartment.

Rose has been accused of sexually harassing young women who worked for him. On Monday, he issued a statement calling himself "an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked" and apologized for his "inappropriate behavior," including reported inappropriate touching, sexually suggestive remarks, and exposing himself.

Gordon was rather forgiving of her former boss, telling NBC News, "I think he's probably troubled, and I have empathy for people that are troubled." Still, she added, his firings were justified: "I don't think someone like that deserves to have a position like that if they're going to abuse their power," she said. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:37 a.m. ET

President Trump got a head start on the holiday weekend Wednesday when he arrived at Trump International Golf Club in sunny West Palm Beach to play 18 holes. But don't let his 77th visit to a golf club since becoming president fool you — it is absolutely not a "low-key day," his staff insists.

The White House made the specification that Trump, who is golfing, is not having a "low-key day" after Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson sent this pool report at 7:56 a.m. ET:

[White House Deputy Press Secretary] Lindsay Walters briefly addressed the pool and said that the president has been briefed on the Navy aircraft crash. She also said that the president plans to make a number of calls this week, especially related to tax reform, and that the White House will provide readouts of those calls. Otherwise, she expects a low-key day. [Public Pool]

The report was followed not 10 minutes later by a correction:

A third pool report eventually followed: "At 9:26 a.m. the motorcade arrived at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach." Jeva Lange

10:19 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

After months of reticence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday officially referred to the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as "ethnic cleansing." In a press statement, Tillerson reiterated his support for a democratic transition in the country, but added that the crisis in the northern state of Rakhine counts as "ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya."

In August, Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts in Rakhine, prompting a brutal retaliation from Myanmar's military which reportedly razed villages and indiscriminately attacked civilians. The violence led to the mass exodus of Rohingya people east to Bangladesh. Myanmar's government has claimed that the Rohingya decided to burn their own villages and then willingly self-deported to Bangladesh en masse — more than 600,000 have fled in the last three months — but that claim has been widely disputed and debunked by reporters on the ground.

The State Department had previously expressed concern over Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya Muslims, but had stopped short of calling the situation ethnic cleansing. Rohingya Muslims in the majority Buddhist country of Myanmar have been denied citizenship since 1982 and are not officially counted as one of the country's official 135 ethnic groups.

The Hill speculates that Tillerson's decision to refer to the situation in Rakhine as ethnic cleansing will prompt the Trump administration to enforce new sanctions on Myanmar's government. But ultimately, ethnic cleansing holds no legal ramifications under international law. The U.N. recognizes genocide as a crime, but it is notoriously hard to prosecute and the international body is still deliberating whether the term is applicable for Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya. Kelly O'Meara Morales

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