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August 31, 2018
Jason Bahr/Getty Images for Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Most Americans likely have no idea that over the last 10 days, the United States has hosted the 2018 Women's Baseball World Cup — much less that women play baseball at all. But the athletes of Team USA have an ally in Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, whose winery's Diamond Collection was one of a handful of sponsors at the event.

"I am convinced baseball would be a much more wonderful game if it were men and women playing together," Coppola, who was in attendance at a number of games, told The Week.

Coppola fell in love with baseball when he was a child, but was prevented from playing seriously due to a bout of polio that left him practically paralyzed for three years. "For Christmas one year, hearing that story, my wife gave me a Christmas present of a baseball field in the back of the winery," Coppola said. "And the tradition started to happen where whenever anyone got married, the two families would play a game — and I was always astounded with somebody's aunt or somebody's cousin or … sister who was the great star of the game."

Baseball-playing women in the U.S. face intense pressure after Little League to switch to softball, although Coppola dismissed it as an equivalent sport: "Women have been playing baseball for 150 years. Softball was invented by a lot of drunken college boys who apparently tied up a boxing glove." (Fact check: true).

Coppola played a pivotal role in encouraging the integration of the Sonoma Stompers, an independent league team, during the 2015 offseason: He promised to make his nearby winery a sponsor if it recruited female players. Two of Sonoma's stars, outfielder/pitcher Kelsie Whitmore and pitcher Stacy Piagno, played with Team USA in the exciting bronze-medal nail-biter earlier in the day. "For awhile there it was pure baseball," Coppola marveled. "I didn't know if it was boys, girls. Whoever they were, it was an exciting game of baseball." Jeva Lange

5:48 p.m. ET

Mark Judge, the other man mentioned in Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, wants no part in this situation.

In an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday, Ford described how Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party when they were both in high school in the 1980s. Judge, Kavanaugh's high school classmate, was in the room when it happened, Ford said, and Ford was able to escape when Judge jumped on top of her and Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied the incident. Judge defended the nominee in a statement from his lawyer Tuesday, saying that he had "no memory of the incident" and that he "never saw [Kavanaugh] act in the manner Ford described." He also said he would not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying he had "no more information to offer" and did not "wish to speak publicly" about the allegation any further.

Judge's first response to the situation came in Friday interview with conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, in which he said he didn't know about the alleged incident until a reporter called him for comment. Judge went on to deny the situation ever happened and that he "never saw Brett [Kavanaugh] act that way." Ford and Kavanaugh are both scheduled to testify publicly to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the allegation next week. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:35 p.m. ET

"You can see I'm a little upset by this, the unfairness of it," Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told reporters Tuesday in a massive understatement.

Hirono was part of a gaggle of Senate Democrats speaking to the media Tuesday regarding the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. California professor Christine Blasey Ford over the weekend publicly accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her at a party while they were both high schoolers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has steadfastly denied the claim — but while he was expected to pass through a Thursday vote by the committee and eventually on to full confirmation, Ford's allegation has upended the process.

Now, both Ford and Kavanaugh will testify before the Senate next week regarding the allegation. "I think we all know when something is unfair, when something smells," Hirono told reporters Tuesday. She explained that she resented the White House's "victimization" of Ford, who is "under absolutely no obligation to participate in a smearing of her and her family." When a reporter asked Hirono whether she felt her status as one of just four women on the Senate Judiciary Committee has affected the proceedings, Hirono lit up: "Of course it helps that there are women on that committee," she said. "But really: Guess who's perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It's the men in this country. And I just want to say to the men in this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing — for a change."

You can watch Hirono's fiery declaration — as well as her semi-sheepish acknowledgment that she was just "a little upset" — below. Kimberly Alters

5:15 p.m. ET
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Banks may now want to keep a watchful eye out for Amazon.

In a new survey of 6,000 U.S. customers by Bain & Company, 65 percent of Amazon Prime customers said they would try a free online bank account offered by Amazon that offered 2 percent cash back on Amazon purchases. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was toying with the idea of partnering with banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. to create a "checking account-like product" for customers.

Bain's new survey, conducted in collaboration with Research Now, shows where consumer loyalty lies by evaluating customers' ties to Amazon versus traditional banks. The survey measured how likely respondents were to recommend a company to a friend or relative and assigned a corresponding "loyalty score" to each contender. Amazon out-ranked regional and national banks with a score of 47, Bain found, as opposed to 31 and 18, respectively. The military-focused United Services Automobile Association was the top financial service, with a score of 79.

"The big banks have absolutely woken up to this threat," Gerard du Toit, a Bain partner and co-author of the report, told CNBC. "They're very focused on Amazon-proofing their business because they recognize that it's big tech, not the other banks or fin-tech startups, that's the real competition." By entering the banking world, Amazon would save on credit card processing fees merchants owe to card-issuing banks, as well as have access to records of what their customers purchase even outside of Amazon's virtual walls, per Bain — upping their cache of valuable consumer data.

Interest isn't limited to Amazon customers, either. Thirty-seven percent of respondents who don’t currently use Amazon services were willing to give Amazon banking a try, per the study. See more results at Bain & Company. Taylor Watson

3:53 p.m. ET

President Trump is coming to Brett Kavanaugh's defense.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Trump said that Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee who California professor Christine Blasey Ford claims attempted to rape her at a high school party in the 1980s, is an "incredible individual," per CBS News. Trump also said that he feels "so badly for [Kavanaugh] that he's going through this," adding that "this is not a man that deserves this." Kavanaugh has denied the allegations against him and reportedly told Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that he wasn't at the party in question.

Trump additionally criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), who in July received a letter Ford wrote detailing her allegation; the president asked why Feinstein did not bring the matter up earlier, in her meetings with Kavanaugh. Ford has said she requested anonymity from Feinstein and only decided to come forward with her story this weekend after the media began to report on her confidential letter.

Prior to Tuesday's news conference, Trump had been uncharacteristically quiet about the Kavanaugh allegation, having yet to send a single tweet about it. He did, however, say earlier Tuesday that while he hasn't spoken to Kavanaugh, "I'm totally supportive, I'm very supportive," per CNBC. On Monday, he said that Kavanaugh was "one of the finest people that I've ever known," while saying that "we want to go through a process" regarding the allegation. Watch Trump's Tuesday comments below. Brendan Morrow

3:43 p.m. ET
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Once again, Netflix has given the people a much-desired revival. This time, the streaming service is working on a live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Netflix announced Tuesday it will adapt Avatar alongside its original creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino. The series is set to go into production in 2019 and will be produced in partnership with Nickelodeon, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Avatar: The Last Airbender first premiered on Nickelodeon in 2005 and subsequently went on to win both Emmy and Peabody Awards. The animated series follows a young boy named Aang as he tries to master control of the four elements — earth, air, fire, and water — and bring together four nations of warriors to take on an oppressive villain, all with the help of his friends.

In a press release, the creators revealed that they're thrilled to bring the world of Avatar back to life. "We can't wait to realize Aang's world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone's great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building," Konietzko and DiMartino said.

In 2010, M. Night Shyamalan directed a live-action Avatar film that was promptly panned. But Netflix says it's committed to honoring the creators' vision, so hopefully the new adaptation will, as General Iroh once told Aang, "come to a better place." Read more at The Hollywood Reporter. Amari Pollard

3:38 p.m. ET
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As Spock once said, "In critical moments, men sometimes see exactly what they wish to see." But a new scientific discovery may be more than just wishful interpretation.

Researchers have discovered a planet that matches the description of Planet Vulcan, Spock's home planet, that Star Trek's original creator Gene Roddenberry gave almost 20 years ago. Of course, it's not the exact same planet from the fictional franchise, but it is a real-life rock with very Vulcan-like properties.

In collaboration with astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Roddenberry declared back in 1991 that if Vulcan really existed, it would likely orbit the real-life star 40 Eridani A, Science reported. Because 40 Eridani A is a few billion years old, Roddenberry theorized that a planet orbiting that star would have had enough time to develop a civilization as advanced as the Vulcans. 40 Eridani A is an orange dwarf about 16 light years away from Earth, and it is sometimes visible in the night sky.

Now, the Dharma Planet Survey, which is a widespread effort to catalogue planets in star systems near to our own, has found a planet orbiting 40 Eridani A — right where Vulcan would be. The planet, officially dubbed HD 26965b, is about twice the size of Earth and has a year that lasts only 42 days, Space explained.

The Dharma Planet Survey's findings are due to be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in October. Read more about our new "Planet Vulcan" at Space. Shivani Ishwar

3:12 p.m. ET
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Facebook may offer users unlimited gender options, but choosing anything other than "male" may have cost them a job.

That's what three female Facebook users found when looking for work on the social network, a new complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday alleges. The complaint is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Communication Workers of America and could be the first step toward a lawsuit against Facebook.

Screenshots attached to the EEOC complaint show how Facebook lets advertisers target their messages to "single dads," "soccer moms," and a variety of other gender-based interests. The female complainants also attached screenshots showing, when they clicked "Why am I seeing this?" on an ad, that the employers "wanted to reach men ages 21 to 50" or another specific demographic. The complaint specifically cites 10 employers found to have tailored their ads to a certain age and gender. Meanwhile, gender-based ads were outlawed in newspapers decades ago, the ACLU noted in a blog post.

Past investigations found advertisers could tailor ads to people of a specific race or sexual orientation, and Facebook subsequently shut down those targeting options. Still, gender- and age-based targeting persists, the ACLU maintains. And if this EEOC complaint doesn't convince Facebook to clean up its gender-biased act, USA Today suggests the company could face a lawsuit. Kathryn Krawczyk

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