NEW YORK — Kevin Spacey’s trial lawyer came down with COVID-19 on Thursday as a Manhattan judge ruled the case would continue without her. The “American Beauty” star is on trial in Manhattan Federal Court facing allegations in a $40 million civil lawsuit that he preyed upon actor Anthony Rapp in 1986 when Rapp was 14 and he was 26. Jennifer Keller’s diagnosis comes after she spent about five hours cross-examining Rapp on the witness stand over two days — a few feet away from the jury box without wearing a mask. Judge Lewis Kaplan said that “certainly, a number of jurors, No. 6, No. 5″ came int...
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has moved to retaliate against an Orlando-based performing arts venue in his state that recently hosted a drag show back in December of last year.
According to HuffPost, the Republican governor's move came after a 27-page complaint was filed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The complaint accused the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation of violating Florida state law by “knowingly” welcoming attendees under the age of 18 to watch a show called “A Drag Queen Christmas.”
As a result of the complaint, DeSantis is moving to have the venue stripped of its liquor license.
Per the news outlet: "The Dec. 28 event was billed as the 8th annual holiday drag show. Photos from the venue show at least two children apparently being led into the audience. The complaint also contained still images of the stage; one featured a screen with a finger pointing into a holiday wreath. Others showed shirtless men and a costumed drag queen wearing antlers."
The complaint pointed out a total of six counts of civil violations according to Florida statutes' laws regarding lewd content being displayed where in the presence of minors.
"Songs performed included 'Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer,' which, according to the complaint, featured the following lyrics: 'Then one soggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, ‘Screwdolph with your nipples so bright won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’” HuffPost reports.
It also highlighted a number of songs played during the show that it deemed controversial.
The move comes as DeSantis continues his attack on the LGBTQ community while accusing them of child abuse; one that appears to be lauded by his far-right supporters as speculation brews about his possible 2024 presidential run.
"The Chinese side clearly requested that the U.S. appropriately deal with this in a calm, professional, and restrained manner," the ministry said, again dismissing the Pentagon's claim that the high-altitude balloon was part of a surveillance operation aimed at monitoring sensitive military sites.
"For the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention," the ministry continued, invoking force majeure, which under international law refers to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond a state's control. China has claimed the balloon was a civilian weather research aircraft that was blown way off course by unexpected winds.
"China will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise involved, and retains the right to respond further," the ministry concluded.
War hawks in the Republican Party, including former President Donald Trump, predictably reacted with hysteria to the Pentagon's Thursday announcement that it detected the balloon over the state of Montana.
"President Biden should stop coddling and appeasing the Chinese communists. Bring the balloon down now and exploit its tech package, which could be an intelligence bonanza," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of the most vocal warmongers in Congress. "And President Biden and Secretary Austin need to answer if this was detected over Alaskan airspace. If so, why didn't we bring it down there? If not, why not? As usual, the Chinese Communists' provocations have been met with weakness and hand-wringing."
An unnamed Pentagon official said Saturday that this latest incident is one of several times a Chinese balloon has been detected in U.S. airspace in recent years. The other balloons were not shot down.
"[People's Republic of China] government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time," the official said in a briefing with reporters.
Tensions between the U.S. and China have risen sharply in recent months, largely over Taiwan. The Biden administration recently announced that it is expanding the U.S. military's footprint in the Philippines, a move widely characterized as a message to China.
As The New York Times reported Thursday, "A greater U.S. military presence in the Philippines would... make rapid American troop movement to the Taiwan Strait much easier. The archipelago of the Philippines lies in an arc south of Taiwan, and the bases there would be critical launch and resupply points in a war with China. The Philippines' northernmost island of Itbayat is less than 100 miles from Taiwan."
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said late last month that the odds of a U.S. war with China within the next two years are "very high," echoing the assessment of the head of the Air Mobility Command.
Far from promoting diplomatic talks with China, Republicans in Congress appear bent on ratcheting up tensions further—and some Democrats are joining them. Last month, with overwhelming bipartisan support, House Republicans established the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.
Upon her appointment to the panel on Thursday, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) called the Chinese Communist Party "a threat to our democracy and way of life" and said the select committee represents the "best opportunity to accomplish real results for Americans and respond to China's aggression."
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the chair of the select committee, has said the panel's goal is to help the U.S. "win this new Cold War" with China.
Nearly two dozen House progressives issued a statement last month opposing the formation of the committee, saying the U.S. "can and must work towards our economic and strategic competitiveness goals without 'a new Cold War' and without the repression, discrimination, hate, fear, degeneration of our political institutions, and violations of civil rights that such a 'Cold War' may entail."
An anti-abortion group in Spokane has been ordered to pay about $960,000 to Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho after its protests were found to have interfered with patient care, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported.
The Church at Planned Parenthood was ordered to pay $110,000 in civil damages to Planned Parenthood last month after a Spokane County judge ruled that the group interfered with patient care, violating state law, the Spokesman-Review reported.
The anti-abortion group also will be required to pay attorneys’ fees totaling $850,000, it reported, citing Legal Voice, a legal advocacy organization in the state of Washington. That number was reached as part of a settlement between Planned Parenthood and the church’s insurance company.
“This is a critical victory for Planned Parenthood at a time of historical attacks on abortion access,” said Planned Parenthood's Paul Dillon.
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