×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
June 21, 2018

Koko, the western lowland gorilla who was taught sign language by Dr. Francine Patterson in the early 1970s, died this week in her sleep at the age of 46, the Gorilla Foundation said Thursday.

Koko famously appeared on the 1978 cover of National Geographic in a photo she took of herself in a mirror. Koko "revealed the depth and strength of a gorilla's emotional life," NPR writes, mourning her adopted kitten, Ball, when it was hit by a car in 1984. "Cat, cry, have-sorry, Koko-love," Koko had signed to Patterson in response to the question "What happened to Ball?" She reportedly knew some 1,000 signs, and 2,000 words of spoken English, the New York Post reports.

The Gorilla Foundation wrote that Koko's "impact has been profound and what she has taught us about the emotional capacity of gorillas and their cognitive abilities will continue to shape the world." Learn more about Koko in the documentary below. Jeva Lange

4:26 p.m. ET
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Ryan Coogler, who earlier this year directed the wildly successful superhero film Black Panther, has just lined up a highly unexpected next project.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Coogler is now set to produce Space Jam 2, the sequel to Warner Bros.' beloved 1996 movie in which Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters unite to play a basketball game against evil aliens. This time, LeBron James will star in the lead role, having been attached to the project since 2016. Previously, Star Trek Beyond's Justin Lin was going to direct, but now, Random Acts of Flyness creator Terrence Nance will fill that role.

James told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday that he "loved [Coogler's] vision" for Black Panther, adding that he wants to inspire people with the Space Jam sequel the way Coogler did with that film. The Space Jam sequel does not yet have a release date or an official title, but it's set to begin production in 2019. James' production company, SpringHill Entertainment, teased the project on Instagram with a photo of a locker room populated by James and Bugs Bunny, and ComicBook.com writer Brandon Davis speculates the numbers seen in the picture, 1-23-20-21, might suggest the release date is Jan. 23, 2021. Read more about the Space Jam sequel at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow

3:55 p.m. ET
ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images

A recent essay in the New York Review of Books was so controversial that it has resulted in the editor's departure before even hitting newsstands.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Ian Buruma has left as editor of the Review of Books. This comes days after the erudite magazine published a piece by former radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who has been accused of sexual assault by over 20 women. He was acquitted of five charges in 2016, per The Guardian. In a piece titled "Reflections from a Hashtag," Ghomeshi talks about the #MeToo movement and the experience of living as an outcast after facing sexual misconduct allegations.

The essay is to appear in the magazine's Oct. 11 edition, but it was published online on Sept. 14. A backlash swiftly followed, with critics arguing that Ghomeshi should not have been given a platform to paint himself as a victim and that the magazine allowed him to mischaracterize the allegations against him. Buruma defended the decision to publish the article in an interview with Slate last week, arguing that it wasn't "a defense of what he may have done" but was an "angle on an issue that is clearly very important." While noting that Ghomeshi was acquitted, Buruma also argued, "The exact nature of his behavior — how much consent was involved — I have no idea, nor is it really my concern."

It's not clear at this time whether Buruma was fired or resigned. Read more at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

3:17 p.m. ET
iStock/eyewave

In clinical trials for the majority of FDA-approved cancer drugs, fewer than 5 percent of the patients were black, Stat News and ProPublica reported Wednesday.

Out of the 31 cancer drugs approved since 2015, 24 of them have had single-digit proportions of black patients during trials, the analysis found. In one trial for a multiple myeloma treatment, just 1.8 percent of participants were black, even though black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to be diagnosed with the blood cancer and there may be "meaningful differences" in how the condition affects the two races.

The Food and Drug Administration has not established any rules that would require drug makers to test treatments on minority patients, and many manufacturers don't diversify their trials voluntarily, reports Stat News.

Drug companies often say it is challenging to enroll minorities, reports ProPublica. The clinical trials with the highest black participation, up to 12 percent, were from Johnson & Johnson, a company that uses an internal group to improve trial diversity. Advocates have called on the FDA to implement similar standards across the industry, but the agency has demurred.

Minorities are also often not properly incentivized or are not able to participate: Financial barriers, logistical challenges, and distrust of the medical community are all factors that sometimes discourage minorities from joining trials, even though they could be "life-extending opportunities," said Dr. Kashif Ali, research head at Maryland Oncology Hematology. Read more at Stat News. Summer Meza

2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has a true appreciation for the power of nature. Especially when it washes a boat onto someone's yard.

Trump visited North Carolina on Wednesday to survey damage in the few areas where Hurricane Florence's floodwaters have subsided. One homeowner was particularly concerned that his insurance company wouldn't pay for the flooding damage, but Trump was more excited that the man "got a nice boat out of the deal," The New York Times' Mark Landler reports.

After meeting a man who'd named his dog after the president, Trump noticed a yacht had trucked through another man's deck. "I think it's incredible what we're seeing," Trump said after confirming the boat was not the homeowner's. "The boat just came here." And while Trump promised to "find out the name of the insurance company" that snubbed the man, he also suggested the free boat could make up for it. "What's the law?" the president asked. "Maybe it just becomes theirs."

Besides being awestruck by a mystery boat, Trump also made sure to confirm North Carolina's Lake Norman was doing okay, Landler reports. Trump "love(s) that area," he told a state official, but he "can't tell you why." Survey says it's because there's a Trump National Golf Club on the shore. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:26 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Two new polls suggest that support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is plummeting, and it probably hasn't hit rock bottom yet.

On Wednesday, Reuters published the results of a poll conducted from Sept. 11 to Sept. 17, largely before sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh came to dominate the news. The New Yorker only reported on Sept. 14, three days into the survey, that an anonymous woman was accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The woman came forward publicly on Sept. 16, the day before the poll wrapped up, to allege Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Yet even still, 36 percent of those surveyed by Reuters said they do not want Kavanaugh to be confirmed, with just 31 percent supporting his confirmation. These numbers are even lower than they have been in most polls over the past few weeks, with Reuters reporting that the percent who disapprove has climbed six points since last month. Additionally, only 64 percent of Republicans said they support Kavanaugh's confirmation. In a poll released by CNN last week, 74 percent of Republicans wanted the judge to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, YouGov also released a new poll on Wednesday with a similar result: Thirty-two percent of respondents said they approve of Kavanaugh's confirmation. But in that same poll, only 26 percent of those surveyed said the Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations are credible, while a plurality said they haven't heard enough to say for sure.

The YouGov poll was conducted from Sep. 17 - 18 and reached 1,000 Americans online. The margin of error is ± 3.9 percentage points. Reuters' poll was similarly conducted online, but it reached about 2,000 adults and the credibility interval is ± 2 percentage points.

Read the full results at HuffPost and Reuters. Brendan Morrow

1:33 p.m. ET
KELLY WEST/AFP/Getty Images

Cody Wilson, owner of the controversial 3D-printed gun company Defense Distributed, has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor.

Wilson, 30, allegedly met the girl, who is under 17, on the website SugarDaddyMeet.com, The New York Times reports. They each sent at least one explicit photo to each other via text, and met in person in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 15. Wilson then drove the girl to a hotel where the assault occurred, and paid her $500, an affidavit details.

Investigators were able to match Wilson's driver's license to profiles used on the website. Hotel records and security footage also back up the story, per affidavit details reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

Wilson posted blueprints online for his 3D-printed plastic gun in 2013, and sued when the U.S. State Department ordered him to take the plans down. The case was settled earlier this year, but 19 states quickly sued Wilson again. A restraining order has since blocked Wilson from posting the plans online. Wilson has taken to mailing customers the blueprints on flash drives.

Wilson could face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine under the felony sexual assault charge, per the American-Statesman. He and his lawyer have not returned the Times' request for comment. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:43 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has always known how to get on President Trump's good side.

From the moment Trump took office, and even before then, Putin has used his intelligence training to stroke Trump's ego, the forthcoming book The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy by The Washington Post's Greg Miller reveals. Putin urged Trump to create Russia-friendly policies, had him scrambling to plan a summit between the two leaders, and reportedly even convinced him the "deep state" was "fighting against our friendship," Miller writes.

The president's "friendship" with Putin pushed him away from American intelligence officials and other world leaders, an excerpt from The Apprentice published in the Post says. The book also alleges that Trump's problems with the CIA stemmed mostly from the agency's evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump's Russian deference was on fully display after the ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned in England. British Prime Minister Theresa May told Trump the U.K. was "95 percent sure" the Kremlin was behind the nerve agent attack. "Maybe we should get to 98 percent," Trump replied, per The Apprentice. He later came close to backing out of a plan to throw 60 suspected Russian spies out of the U.S. in partnership with European leaders. Chief of Staff John Kelly persuaded Trump to follow through on the commitment, but the decision still drew "a lot of curse words" from the president, an official later said.

Read more from The Apprentice at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads