April 11, 2012

The suggestion that black Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot dead in February by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman because Martin's hooded sweatshirt made him look like a criminal inspired a swift, angry backlash. Hundreds of thousands gathered in support of Martin at the Million Hoodie March, while Rep. Bobby Bush (D-Ill.) wore one while addressing Congress. The protest continues with this "Not a Threat!" hoodie ($48.35). The Week Staff

6:03 a.m. ET

If you last tuned in to Howard Stern during his '90s "shock jock" days, the Stern who sat down with Jimmy Kimmel in Brooklyn on Wednesday might come as a surprise. "The most boring broadcasters are the ones that don't evolve, they don't change ... they don't grow up," he said. Back in his 20s and 30s, on AM/FM radio, "sex, and sex talk, and outrageousness was the thing, because you were breaking all the boundaries — it was taboo." Once he moved to satellite radio, "where you can do anything," Stern said, doing that kind of a show "would actually be, I think, a bit of a bore."

Stern showcased his quasi-maturity when he brought up disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. "This guy, it's an unbelievable story, and I said all these guys who do sexual harassment — I mean, they're freaks," he said. "This big fat guy, what does he think? He says to a woman — here's his standard move, according to all these women who've accused him — he goes, 'Listen, I'm going to get in the shower, I want you to watch me nude.' Now, I'm a man — if you saw me naked, you'd throw up. There's no girl on the planet that wants to see Harvey Weinstein naked and is gonna get aroused."

"Same with this Bill O'Reilly," the former Fox News host, Stern said. "What is it with these guys and the shower? Men don't look good in the shower." And convicted sexter Anthony Weiner, too. "The one thing women don't want to see is a guy's penis," Stern said. "They want to see you've got a job, they want to see you treat them nice." There is some mildly NSFW language, at least by the standards of '90s terrestrial radio. Watch below. Peter Weber

5:16 a.m. ET
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On Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office said it will convene a special cabinet meeting over the weekend to trigger Article 155 of the constitution, kicking off a process of reigning in Catalonia's regional autonomy. Rajoy had given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont until 10 a.m. Thursday (local time) to clarify if the region had declared independence or not after an Oct. 1 referendum — Puigdemont had signed a declaration of independence then suspended it, asking for talks with Madrid. Puigdemont's response Thursday morning was that the regional parliament would likely approve a formal declaration of independence if Rajoy continued to "impede dialogue and continues its repression."

It isn't clear exactly what steps Rajoy's government will submit to the Senate to take partial control of Catalonia. Article 155 of the 1978 constitution has never been used before. But analysts say Madrid can't fully suspend Catalonia's autonomy but can take steps like taking control of the regional police, taking over Catalonia's finances, and calling a snap election. Peter Weber

4:25 a.m. ET
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Last week, Maryland police arrested Ronald Williams II on charges of child pornography possession and distribution, The Washington Post reported, and a senior administration officials said that Williams, 37, had been a researcher on President Trump's Commission on Election Integrity until he was abruptly fired last week. The commission's two Democratic members said Tuesday they had no idea the commission had any staff at all, other than executive director Andrew Kossack.

The two Democrats — Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and Alabama probate court Judge Alan King — told ProPublica on Tuesday they had never heard of Williams until they read of his arrest, and were concerned to learn that Williams had worked alongside fellow commissioner J. Christian Adams at the Justice Department in 2006, when Williams was an intern helping Adams prosecute a pioneering Voting Rights Act case to protect white voters. Dunlap sent the commission a letter on Tuesday expressing his frustration and requesting all communication involving commissioners dating back to February.

On Wednesday, 18 Democratic senators also sent the commission a letter demanding more information on its activities, and separately, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent a letter asking for a staff list and vetting criteria, noting, "If the commission's own members do not know who is working under its direction, how can the commission ensure accountability and transparency?" When the senators emailed their letters to the commission's public email address, ProPublica notes:

An automatic response email stated that the account no longer accepts public comments. Instead, commenters were directed to an "eRulmaking [sic] portal" or to submit written comments to "Mr. Ron Williams, Policy Advisor, Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity." [ProPublica]

Adams told ProPublica that Williams' "alleged behavior is appalling and incomprehensible," and "it would be hyper-partisan overreach to say that any grotesque behavior in his personal life is in any way a reflection of the vitally important work the commission is doing for the American people." Peter Weber

3:01 a.m. ET

North Korea is perhaps the most isolated nation on Earth, with few people allowed to leave and everything controlled by a dynastic ruling family apparently more focused on building nuclear weapons than assuring food security for the nation's population. BBC News spoke with four people who escaped North Korea to find out what life there was like, what they miss (friends and food, mostly), and what parts of the world they were able to view before breaking free.

"From a very early age we were brainwashed to believe Americans are Yankee wolves," one woman said. "I used to think all Americans were dangerous, yellow-eyed, and devilish." "I would imagine American and South Korean men would have this thick chest hair wrapping all around them," another women said, laughing. Less funny was the belief instilled in citizens that they would die and the country would collapse when the godlike leaders died, or the weekly "Regular Critique," where you were forced to reflect on your wrongs and report those of people you knew. You can watch and learn more below. Peter Weber

1:53 a.m. ET
Logan Bowles/Getty Images

The owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shad Khan, is pretty sure he's figured out why President Trump can't stop talking about the NFL, and it has to do with a deal he wasn't able to close.

Khan argues that Trump, who on Wednesday said the NFL shows "total disrespect" for the country by not forcing players to stand during the national anthem, hasn't gotten over the fact that he tried and failed to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014. "This is a very personal issue with him," Khan told USA Today on Wednesday. "He's been elected president, where maybe a great goal he had in life to own an NFL team is not very likely. So to make it tougher, or to hurt the league, it's very calculated." Khan, who purchased the Jaguars in 2011 for $760 million, said Trump's vitriol is "about money or messing with — trying to soil a league or a brand that he's jealous of."

Trump has been very vocal about players kneeling during the anthem as a peaceful way to protest police brutality, claiming it disrespects veterans and the military, while at the same time being accused of inadvertently insulting the family of a Green Beret who died in Niger earlier this month. "It's so bad," Khan said of Trump's alleged words. "It's below the lowest of the lowest expectations. It doesn't sound rational. It's bizarre." Khan, who has made his fortune manufacturing auto parts, donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund, and he told USA Today he was interested in Trump's proposed economic policies. He said he doesn't regret giving him the money, but "this ugly, toxic side sours the whole experience." Catherine Garcia

1:47 a.m. ET
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When President Trump said repeatedly last month that a Republican senator was in the hospital, Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) office had to repeatedly point out that he was at home recuperating from a urological issue, not in the hospital. In good news for Republicans, Cochran is back in Washington to vote for a budget resolution that will pave the way for a GOP-only tax reform bill. The bad news, as Politico recounts, is that Cochran, who turns 80 in December, "appeared frail and at times disoriented during a brief hallway interview on Wednesday."

Cochran told reporters that he did not plan to retire from the Senate, where he has served since 1979, but "when queried about whether he would stay on as Appropriations chairman, Cochran seemed confused and just repeated the question," Politico said. When another reporter asked if GOP leaders had pressured him to return to Washington for the vote, he smiled and said, "It's a beautiful day outside." After being guided through a security checkpoint, Cochran started to walk into the wrong room, until a staffer led him up to the Senate chamber on the second floor. And inside the chamber, he voted yes for an amendment, despite his staff telling him to vote no, eventually changing his vote.

Cochran is one of the longest-serving Republican lawmakers ever, but he isn't all that old by Senate standards — Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) served until he was 100, for example. And he doesn't face re-election until 2020, Politico notes, though "Republicans are desperate for him to stay in office and avoid a special election," presumably elevating a less-establishment-oriented Republican to his seat. Peter Weber

12:49 a.m. ET

While volunteering at a children's hospital, Blake Rockwell and the kids would talk about sports and watch games together, an experience that inspired Rockwell to start Special Spectators, a nonprofit that gets seriously ill children out of the hospital and onto the field.

Rockwell launched the nonprofit in 2002, and since then, more than 10,000 kids and their families have received VIP treatment at college athletic games. Special Spectators works with children's hospitals and universities to set up the visits, with each one unique, but the kids typically meet the coaches and players, get to try on gear, attend a tailgate, sit in the best seats in the house, and go on the field, where they are greeted with cheers. "A lot of these kids, they're in it for the long haul," Rockwell told CNN. "Their treatment protocol might be three years. And their tanks start to run low. Days like this restore the spirit in these kids to continue to fight."

This is a matter close to Rockwell's heart; his older brother, Chuckie, was born with a congenital heart defect, and he wasn't able to play sports, but the kids in their neighborhood made sure he was involved, making him the referee during every game. Chuckie died at 10 years old, right before Blake was born, but he said he always remembered the kindness the other kids showed his brother, and that's why he decided to start volunteering at the children's hospital that treated Chuckie. Catherine Garcia

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