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August 15, 2016

The preview for Hidden Figures, the movie about the black female mathematicians who sent astronauts to space, aired for the first time last night during the Rio Olympics, and it looks fantastic:

This is the story of "human computers" before androids, back when "computers" were women. Starring Empire’s Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Octavia Spencer, it's the period piece we've been waiting for.

Henson plays Katherine Johnson, the assertive mathematician who calculated Alan Shepard's trajectory when he became the first American in space — and the person John Glenn asked to personally double-check the new-fangled "electronic computer's" calculations before his flight on the Friendship 7. (NASA has a great profile on Johnson and you can see a terrific interview with her here.)

Hidden Figures also follows the careers of Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) was a gifted mathematician who eventually became the head of the NACA (NASA’s predecessor) West Area Computing Unit, an all-black, all-female group of mathematicians that's crying out for its own TV series. Employees worked inhuman hours (24-hour shifts were common), and thanks to Jim Crow laws, they "were originally required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities," The Human Computer Project reports. "Over time, both individually and as a group, the West Computers distinguished themselves with contributions to virtually every area of research at Langley."

Monae plays Mary Jackson, a brilliant engineer who started off at NACA analyzing data from wind tunnels and aircraft trajectories. She was the first woman to become an engineer at NACA, then the first woman to become an aerospace engineer, and then — once she'd maxed out on professional advancement — the first woman to take a demotion and pay cut in order to become an administrator in charge of helping women and minorities advance in a system that seemed stacked against them.

Also starring Kevin Costner and Glen Powell, Hidden Figures premieres Jan. 13, 2017. Lili Loofbourow

2:00 a.m. ET
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Scrabble just got a little easier, with the addition of 300 new words to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Merriam-Webster is releasing the sixth edition of the dictionary on Monday, with emoji, facepalm, ew, OK, twerk, sheeple, sriracha, and yowza among the new words. Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large at Merriam-Webster, told The Guardian "OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time. Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game."

Another game-changer is qapik, a unit of currency in Azerbaijan. "Every time there's a word with q and no u, it's a big deal," Sokolowski said. "Most of these are obscure." Merriam-Webster updates the official dictionary every four to eight years, and this time, the lexiconographers checked with the North American Scrabble Players Association on the words they thought should be included. Catherine Garcia

1:56 a.m. ET
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Cody Wilson, whose controversial company sells blueprints for 3D-printed firearms, was booked into Harris County Jail in Houston on Sunday and is being held on $150,000 bond on charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl in Austin, the U.S. Marshals Service says. Police in Austin say Wilson, 30, fled to Taiwan after being tipped off by a friend of the girl that police were investigating the incident. He was arrested in Taiwan on Friday. "We are glad that Cody is back in Texas again where we can work with him on his case," Wilson's lawyer Samy Khalil said Sunday night. "That’s our focus right now."

Police say Wilson paid the underage girl $500 for sex after meeting her on the website SugarDaddyMeet. If convicted of sexual assault, Wilson would, among other things, be barred from possessing firearms. Peter Weber

1:04 a.m. ET
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They don't call Bob Williams of Long Grove, Iowa, the "Candy Man" for nothing.

Every day, the 94-year-old retired high school teacher and World War II veteran passes out Hershey's chocolate bars to people he meets around town. He got the idea 15 years ago, after reading in the newspaper about random acts of kindness and paying it forward. He has always eaten half a chocolate bar every day, and started buying a few extra to hand out to people he comes across during the day. Over the last 15 years, Williams has given out more than 6,000 candy bars. "You'd think I'd given them keys to a new car," he told the Des Moines Register. "Honest to God, these people were thunderstruck."

Williams keeps his refrigerator stocked with the candy bars and also buys two cases a week. His wife of 69 years, Mary Elizabeth, died six years ago, and he visits her memorial bench every day, where he always hands out a chocolate. Over the years, just three people have declined his gift, he told the Register. "One was a little girl in the store with her dad," he said. "On the way out, I complimented her father for training her right — to suspect old men." Catherine Garcia

1:00 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Sunday evening, just as The New Yorker published an article by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer with a second allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Democratic lawyer Michael Avenatti said on Twitter he represents a third "woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge," Kavanaugh's high school friend and alleged witness to what Christine Blasey Ford says was an attempted rape in the early 1980s. Avenatti dropped some clues about the ugly and salacious nature of the allegations on Twitter and said he has "specific evidence" that Kavanaugh and Judge "would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs" for sex in high school. He did not provide any proof.

Avenatti told Politico he represents a group of individuals who can corroborate allegations involving Kavanaugh and Judge, but he would describe just one of his clients as a victim. "I represent multiple clients, they are witnesses" to events "not out of character from what Dr. Ford said," Avenatti told Politico. "They went to schools in the same general areas. These house parties were widely attended." Kavanaugh and Judge have denied or said they have no recollection of specific allegations and general sexual misconduct.

Does Avenatti really have the goods? For what it's worth, he kicked things off with a pre-emptive warning: "I do not bluff. I deliver." Which, whatever you think of Avenatti, he mostly has in the showdown between his client Stormy Daniels and President Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Peter Weber

September 23, 2018
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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's high school friend, Mark Judge, has said he "can't recall" boys ever "rough-housing" with girls when they were teenagers, but a former college girlfriend of Judge's tells The New Yorker that's not what he told her.

Kavanaugh and Judge attended Georgetown Prep in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the 1980s. Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers, and that Judge was in the room, encouraging Kavanaugh but also telling him to "stop." Kavanaugh has denied the allegations and Judge, a conservative writer, told The New Yorker he has "no recollection" of this. He was more abrasive when interviewed by The Weekly Standard, calling the accusation "just absolutely nuts." When asked, he said he remembered "rough-housing with guys. I don't remember any of that stuff going on with girls."

Elizabeth Rasor, who was in a relationship with Judge for three years at Catholic University, told The New Yorker he'd shared "a very different story" about the culture at Georgetown Prep. "I can't stand by and watch him lie," she said, adding that he once ashamedly described how he and several other boys took turns having sex with a woman who was drunk. He appeared to think this was a consensual experience, Rasor said, but did not tell her who else was involved and she does not know if Kavanaugh was there. Judge's attorney said he "categorically denies" the incident took place.

Another woman who attended high school in the 1980s in Montgomery County told Ford's lawyers and The New Yorker that she would see boys, including Georgetown Prep students, engaging in sexual misconduct at area house parties. The woman, who requested anonymity, told The New Yorker that the boys would get girls "blind drunk" off a grain alcohol–Hawaiian Punch concoction, then try to take advantage of them. "It was disgusting," she said. "They treated women like meat." Catherine Garcia

September 23, 2018
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In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent Sunday night, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked for an "immediate postponement of any further proceedings" regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

On Sunday, The New Yorker published an article where Deborah Ramirez, a classmate from Yale University, said while they were at a party freshman year, Kavanaugh exposed himself and thrust his penis in her face. Earlier this month, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in California, accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault while they were both teenagers. Ford is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

In her letter, Feinstein, the committee's ranking Democrat, also asked that "the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation, and that you join our request for the White House to direct the FBI to investigate the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford as well as these new claims." Should the White House not ask the FBI to launch an investigation, then the Senate Judiciary Committee "must subpoena all relevant witnesses," Feinstein added. "It is time to set politics aside. We must ensure that a thorough and fair investigation is conducted before moving forward." Catherine Garcia

September 23, 2018
AP Photo/John Amis

Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday, giving the golfer his 80th career PGA Tour victory and his first since 2013.

Woods won by two shots over Billy Horschel, and with this win, he's now second in the FedEx Cup standings, behind Justin Rose. He will receive $3 million for his second place finish, and on Monday, will enter the top 15 in the world rankings.

"I had a hard time not crying on the last hole," Woods told reporters. "I just can't believe I pulled this off. It's been tough. Not so easy the last couple years. I've worked my way back, and I couldn't have done it without the help of everyone around me." In April 2017, Woods had spinal fusion surgery, and he was arrested for DUI a month later. Catherine Garcia

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