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August 8, 2016
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Add New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser to the list of conservatives who are quitting Donald Trump. "That's all folks! I'm out," she wrote in her Sunday column, saying that while "in my heart, I wanted the smack-talking, hair-challenged, self-absorbed New York City billionaire Republican to nail down this baby," after his recent antics, "I can no longer justify calling myself a Trumpkin." (Peyser had endorsed Trump in June 2015.) Trump is "a guy with the common touch, but the attention span of a flea," she wrote, and she thinks "Trump secretly doesn't want the prize."

That's all pretty mundane stuff, and Peyser is too colorful for mundane, so she threw in some details, based on her experience hanging out with Trump "many times over the years, professionally, socially, and in wacky combinations of the two." She described his sprawling, three-story penthouse as "like the palace of Louis XIV — if the French king mated with Liberace," for example, and dropped in this anecdote:

When I visited about two months after his lovely wife, Melania, now 46, gave birth to the couple's son, Barron, now 10, the infamous germophobe boasted that after fathering five children, he'd never changed a diaper. I enthused that Melania, who stood quietly nearby aboard 5-inch stilettos, had lost all her baby weight. Trump corrected me: "She's almost lost all the baby weight." I was embarrassed for the mother of his youngest kid, who ignored the dig. [New York Post]

So what? Fellow gossip and entertainment columnist Roger Friedman sees Peyser's un-endorsement of Trump as a sign that News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch is done with Trump, too. "Peyser can go over the top, and I disagree with her a lot, but she is the voice of the ring-wing Post," he writes at his Showbiz411 site. "She's also a woman. And a Murdoch soldier. If Murdoch didn't approve of this editorial, it wouldn't have been written." Peter Weber

11:04 p.m. ET
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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban apologized on Wednesday to women who were sexually harassed while working for the organization, following the release of a report that detailed numerous cases of improper conduct over the span of 20 years.

The independent investigation took seven months to complete, and found, among other things, that former team president Terdema Ussry made inappropriate comments and forcibly touched and kissed 15 female employees, while former ticket sales executive Chris Hyde made unwanted sexual advances, viewed and shared pornographic images, and made unsolicited comments of a sexual nature, The Dallas Morning News reports. The report found no wrongdoing by Cuban, who has owned the Mavericks for 18 years, but stated he made "significant errors of judgment."

"This is not something that just is an incident and then it's over," Cuban told ESPN. "It stays with people. It stays with families. And I'm just sorry I didn't see it. I'm just sorry I didn't recognize it." Cuban said he "wasn't as focused on the business as I should have been," and "never in my wildest dreams did I think that this was happening right underneath me." Cuban will make a $10 million donation to organizations that support domestic violence victims and women in the workplace, and said he has to "recognize I made a mistake, learn from it, and then try to fix it." Catherine Garcia

10:10 p.m. ET
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President Trump seems to have one go-to solution for any problem: Build a wall.

Josep Borrell, Spain's foreign minister, revealed this week that Trump told his government that in order to keep migrants from entering Spain, they needed to build a wall across the Sahara. Borrell said they told Trump the wall would have to stretch for 3,000 miles to cover the desert, but Trump was undaunted. "The Sahara border can't be bigger than our border with Mexico," he said. The U.S.-Mexico border is approximately 1,954 miles.

Spain does have two autonomous cities on the north coast of Africa, but the wall would have to be built almost entirely on foreign land. So far this year, more than 33,600 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea, three times as many as in 2017, and 1,723 have died on the journey. More migrants are coming to Spain than Italy and Greece, and while it is straining resources in some areas of southern Spain, Borrell said in July the government does not consider this a crisis. "We're talking about 20,000 migrants so far this year for a country of more than 40 million inhabitants," he said. "That's not mass migration. We're trivializing the word 'mass.'" Catherine Garcia

9:00 p.m. ET
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An Australian boy was arrested on Wednesday for putting sewing needles inside strawberries.

New South Wales police said the boy admitted he had put the needles inside the strawberries as a prank, ABC News reports, but they do not believe he's behind other recent cases of food contamination and they are looking for additional suspects. Since Sept. 12, three brands of strawberries have had to be recalled in Australia, due to several reports of consumers finding needles inside the berries. Authorities said it's possible other brands could be targeted as well, and to be safe people should cut strawberries before eating them.

Needles have been found in strawberries in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia. Police have also heard reports of needles in bananas and apples, but those are considered isolated incidents. Anyone found guilty of purposely contaminating food could be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years. "Whether it's done with the intention of prank, whether it's done with the intention of serious harm to another individual, it's no difference," Stuart Smith, acting assistant commissioner of the New South Wales Police Force, said. "They are going to be charged with that offense and they are going to find themselves in front of a court." Catherine Garcia

7:56 p.m. ET
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Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer released a statement Wednesday night reiterating her client's request for an FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before she testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has scheduled a hearing Monday, giving Ford and Kavanaugh the opportunity to speak about the allegation. Grassley also said he'll send staffers to California to interview Ford privately there if she prefers.

On Tuesday, Ford, through her lawyers, asked for an FBI investigation, and on Wednesday, lawyer Lisa Banks criticized the committee for only inviting Ford and Kavanaugh to testify. "The committee's stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding," Banks said. "The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the committee discovering the truth." Grassley asked Ford's lawyers to let the committee know by Friday if she will attend Monday's hearing; Banks did not mention in the statement if Ford will be there. Catherine Garcia

6:54 p.m. ET
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On Wednesday, Jack Ma, founder and chairman of the Chinese retailer Alibaba, walked back a promise he made to President Trump in January 2017.

During their meeting, Ma told Trump he planned on creating 1 million jobs in the United States over five years, getting American businesses and farmers onto Alibaba's online platform to sell their wares in China. There's no way this could happen now, Ma told the Chinese news outlet Xinhua on Wednesday. "The promise was made on the premise of friendly U.S.-China partnership and rational trade relations," he said. "That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled."

On Monday, in the latest round of tariffs the U.S. imposed levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by slapping tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports. During an Alibaba investor conference on Tuesday, Ma called the trade tensions "a mess," but told Xinhua he will not "stop working hard to contribute to the healthy development of China-U.S. trade." Catherine Garcia

5:20 p.m. ET
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"Sunday Morning" has made it to Super Bowl Sunday.

The halftime show at Super Bowl LIII will be headlined by dad-friendly rock band Maroon 5, sources told Variety on Wednesday.

The pop group recently collaborated with rappers Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar, leading to predictions that they will join Maroon 5 on stage when they perform in Atlanta in February 2019. Besides "Sunday Morning," Maroon 5 could perform more recent hits like "Sugar," "Moves like Jagger," and "Animals."

The NFL has not confirmed that Maroon 5 was selected for the 53rd Super Bowl, but if the group performs, they would join the ranks of Prince, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Paul McCartney, all of whom have performed Super Bowl halftime shows. Read more at Variety. Summer Meza

4:31 p.m. ET
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After spending 27 years in prison on a murky murder charge, Valentino Dixon has been declared innocent thanks to his colored pencils and a golf magazine.

Dixon was sentenced to 39 years to life in prison for the 1991 murder of Torriano Jackson, and served most of the sentence in the Attica Correctional Facility. He passed the time sketching detailed landscapes of golf courses, and eventually caught the eye of Golf Digest. In 2012, Dixon shared his story with the magazine: his shaky conviction, his maintained innocence, and how he longed to set foot on the courses he drew.

Despite a wave of media attention following the profile, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo still puttered past a pardon for Dixon, Golf Digest details. But then, two attorneys stepped in and built a pro bono case around the original magazine article — though "it's embarrassing for the legal system that for a long time the best presentation of the investigation was from a golf magazine," one of the defenders told Golf Digest.

That defense, eventually corroborated with a wrongful convictions report, resulted in Dixon becoming a free man. The man who admitted responsibility for Jackson's killing on the day he was shot — and nearly every day since — pleaded guilty. And Dixon, with his "family and support team" in tow, went to the park.

Read more about Dixon's swing to freedom at Golf Digest. Kathryn Krawczyk

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