Bad Ideas
October 20, 2020

A Miami police officer will face disciplinary action after he wore, while in uniform, a "Trump 2020" mask to an early voting site.

Steve Simeonidis, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democrats, tweeted a photo of the masked officer on Tuesday. Simeonidis called this an "egregious form of voter intimidation" and "a crime."

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the officer was at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami to cast his ballot, and he violated departmental policy by wearing political signage in uniform, NBC News reports. "It's inappropriate, it's against departmental orders," Suarez said. "Police officers are supposed to be impartial, so irrespective of who the person was, whatever sign it would have been, it would have been problematic."

Suarez said an investigation has been launched into the officer's visit to the polling place, and it's unclear if he was on duty. Officers are allowed to vote in uniform and while carrying their department-issued firearms. "One important fact is that the officer was voting," Suarez said. "Had he not been voting it would have been a much more serious situation." Catherine Garcia

March 30, 2020

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is pushing back at critics questioning his decision to travel on Sunday to Badiraguato, the hometown of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

While in Badiraguato, López Obrador met El Chapo's 92-year-old mother, María Consuelo Loera Pérez. Video shows López Obrador shaking hands with her while she sits in a car, and saying, "Don't get out," The Guardian reports.

His trip to Sinaloa state came one day after Mexico's deputy health minister asked citizens to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, and Lopéz Obrador's decision to visit with El Chapo's mom while traveling was a double whammy for people like journalist Pascal Beltrán del Río, who tweeted, "It is very hard to understand what the president did today in Badiraguato." Lopéz Obrador, he added, "failed to keep a healthy distance — in more than one sense."

Badiraguato is in a poor region, and López Obrador has promised to lift people there out of poverty. On Monday, he tweeted he was in Sinaloa to "connect with marginalized communities and villages," and later accused conservatives of turning this non-issue into a scandal. "Sometimes, because it's my job, I have to give my hand to white-collar criminals," he said. "So how could I not give it to an old lady?" Catherine Garcia

March 4, 2020

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro outraged women's rights advocates and opposition leaders when he announced during a televised event that women must "give birth" for "the good of the country."

Venezuela is experiencing high inflation and shortages of food, medicine, and other necessities, but that didn't stop Maduro from declaring on Tuesday night, "Every woman is to have six children! Every one!" He made his remarks while discussing the government's new women's health care plan, but Maduro has not released any concrete details about it, and a Venezuelan health expert told The Guardian the plan might not even exist.

UNICEF estimates that 13 percent of children in Venezuela are suffering from malnutrition, and the latest government data, released in 2017, revealed a 30 percent increase in infant mortality. Nearly five million Venezuelans have fled the country, looking for opportunities elsewhere.

Manuela Bolivar, an opposition politician, tweeted in response to Maduro that Venezuela's "hospitals are not functioning, vaccines are scarce, women cannot breastfeed because they are malnourished or buy baby formula because it is unaffordable, and the country faces forced migration due to the humanitarian emergency." Catherine Garcia

January 29, 2020

Retired Chief Special Operator Edward Gallagher, the Navy SEAL who was accused and acquitted of several war crimes, has posted a video on Facebook and Instagram attacking his former platoon members who testified against him during his court-martial.

In the video, posted Monday, Gallagher called the men "cowards" and highlighted their "names, photos, and — for those still on active duty — their duty status and current units," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. While covering Gallagher's case, the Union-Tribune reported the names of some of his platoon mates, but did not publish their photos.

Gallagher was acquitted on several charges, including murdering a captured 17-year-old Islamic State suspect, but was found guilty on one charge related to posing for photos with the militant's corpse, resulting in his demotion. President Trump intervened in the case multiple times, saying Gallagher was being treated "very unfairly," and in November he overruled the SEAL commander and Navy Secretary and ordered Gallagher's rank restored. Gallagher now routinely appears on conservative programs and has appeared alongside Trump at political fundraisers.

SEALs have been the targets of terrorist groups, and publicizing their names and photos endangers them and the Navy's mission, former SEALs told the Union-Tribune. David Shaw, a former petty officer 1st class, defended the men. "Each and every one of the guys who came forward were performers of the highest caliber and people of the highest reputations within the platoon," he said. "[One] was selected to serve at the most premier institution at Naval Special Warfare, and that tells you everything you need to know about his performance and speaks volumes about his character." Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2019

Cynthia Erivo stars in Harriet, a based-on-a-true-story drama about the life of the legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman — but 25 years ago, at least one Hollywood executive had a different star for a Tubman biopic in mind.

Per Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter and producer Gregory Allen Howard says that back in 1994, when he was pitching a Tubman-focused movie, one Hollywood executive proposed an unconventional choice for the lead role: Julia Roberts.

When someone in that meeting raised, well, the most obvious objection to Julia Roberts playing Harriet Tubman, the executive replied, "It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference" — a thesis that would surely have been put to the test by literally anyone who saw the movie. Read more at Entertainment Weekly. Scott Meslow

July 17, 2019

It sounds like the premise of a horror movie or a Floridian fever dream — meth-addicted alligators cause chaos after crawling out of the sewers — but a police department in Tennessee warns that if people keep flushing their drugs down the toilet, this could happen.

The Loretto Police Department says that while serving a search warrant, a suspect recently attempted to flush 24 fluid ounces of liquid meth and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia down the toilet. He wasn't successful, which was good news for the city's sewer workers, who "are not really prepared for meth," the police department said. "Ducks, geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do."

Loretto Police Chief Bobby Joe Killen told ABC News that while the department is serious about not flushing drugs down the toilet, the idea of "methed-up gators" is just a joke. "When you work eight, 10-hour shifts in our line of work, there are times when we like to laugh a little bit," he said. For those who want to make sure the wild animals of Loretto stay sober, Killen said the police department is happy to help people with proper disposal. Catherine Garcia

February 19, 2019

After a model called Burberry out for showing a sweatshirt with a noose around the neckline during London Fashion Week, the luxury brand announced on Tuesday that the item has been removed from its latest collection.

The sweatshirt was part of Burberry's "Tempest" line, for autumn/winter 2019. Model Liz Kennedy saw the sweatshirt while getting ready to walk in Sunday's runway show, and was disturbed. "Suicide is not fashion," she wrote in an Instagram post. "It is not glamorous nor edgy. Let's not forget about the horrifying history of lynching either. There are hundreds of ways to tie a rope and they chose to tie it like a noose completely ignoring the fact that it was hanging around a neck."

Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti and Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci both apologized, and Gobbetti released a statement saying the company is "deeply sorry" for the "distress" caused by the sweatshirt. "Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake," he said. Catherine Garcia

April 4, 2017

The United States will no longer provide money to the U.N. Population Fund, which provides contraception, family planning, and reproductive health services to women around the world.

Last year, the U.S. gave $69 million to the U.N. Population Fund, making it the organization's fourth-biggest donor. The International Women's Health Coalition said Tuesday that those funds "prevented an estimated 320,000 pregnancies and averted 100,000 unsafe abortions, while ensuring 800,000 people had access to contraception."

Republican presidents have previously stopped funding the agency, while Democrats have kept it funded, NBC News reports. Seema Jalan, executive director of the Universal Access Project at the U.N. Foundation, told reporters the U.S. pulling its money will "directly impact the poorest girls and women on the planet. They have no recourse." Jalan argued that women's health care should not be a partisan issue, and both sides should support the U.N. Population Fund's clinics, including the only one in Iraq that takes care of women and girls harmed by ISIS. "I can't think of a better use of U.S. taxpayer dollars than ensuring that a woman fleeing violence can have a safe birth and that her child can survive delivery or that a woman who has been raped by an [ISIS] terrorist can actually have some care and support, and that's what this funding provides," Jalan said. Catherine Garcia

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