Bad Ideas
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

April 27, 2016

Richard Black, a Virginia state senator with no official role in U.S. foreign policy, has traveled to Syria, where he told government officials he will push for a stronger relationship between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the United States.

Syria's official news agency, which erroneously referred to Black as a U.S. senator, says he promised he "will be Syria's voice," and the Republican, who is also the co-chairman of Ted Cruz's campaign in Virginia, is expected to meet with Assad sometime during his trip. In 2014, he sent a praise-filled letter to Assad, which was posted on the Syrian leader's Facebook page, The Associated Press reports. He's also tweeted positive messages, saying Assad has protected Christians and must stay in power, otherwise "ISIS will secure Syria and march on Europe."

Virginia Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) told AP that Black's trip "doesn't surprise me one bit," adding that if a Democrat were meddling in Syria, Republicans "would be raising holy hell." At least 250,000 people have died in the country's bloody civil war, and Cruz has previously warned of what might happen if Assad's government is toppled. "Putting ISIS or Al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of yet another state in the Middle East is not benefiting our national security," he said. Catherine Garcia

January 16, 2015

As one commenter on so cleverly put it, the U.S. Speaker of the House just "put the bae in Boehner."

A new post on Boehner's website attempts to explain the Republican criticisms of President Obama's new proposal to provide two years of free community college for Americans — using Taylor Swift GIFs.

While the idea of free college makes young people Swift-dancing-level excited, Boehner wants to remind the U.S. that the initiative would cost "60 billion dollars over 10 years." And "not even all the Taylor Swift album sales in the world would cover that bill," the listicle notes. Oof. --Meghan DeMaria

December 22, 2014

The Hotel Reykjavik Marina, owned by Icelandair, found itself in a social media scandal when Twitter users noticed an "Apartheid" cocktail on the hotel menu.

When the image was first spotted on Twitter, Icelandair responded, "Simply scrumptious, enjoy! Happy holidays," unaware of the situation.

Icelandair later issued a full apology, saying a staff member was "unaware" that apartheid signified South Africa's system of racial segregation in the 20th century. Evidently, the employee "thought the word just meant 'separation' and did not understand the connotation and historical signficance."

The drink has been taken off the menu — but if you're wondering just what Apartheid tastes like, the cocktail apparently included vodka, stout liqueur, cream, and roasted hazelnuts. Meghan DeMaria

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