Tuesday, December 07, 2021

August 8, 2021  ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dug in for the fight of his political life despite the threat of potential criminal investigations and widespread calls for his impeachment over findings that he sexually harassed 11 women, including close aides.

Scores of Democrats, including President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some past Cuomo loyalists, have urged him to leave the office or face an impeachment battle he probably cannot win.

About two-thirds of state Assembly members have already said they favor an impeachment trial if he refuses to resign. Nearly all 63 members of the state Senate have called for Cuomo to step down or be removed.

“My sense is from what I’m hearing is he’s still looking for ways to fight this and get his side of the story out,” state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said in an interview with The Associated Press. But Jacobs added: “I just think that he’s going to, at some point, see that the political support is just not anywhere near enough to even make an attempt worthwhile.”

The governor’s lawyers have promised what will likely be a drawn-out fight to stay in office.

“I am not aware of the governor having plans to resign,” Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin told CNN on Saturday.

Cuomo — who for months said the public would be “shocked” once he shared his side of the story — has not spoken publicly since the release of a 168-page report written by two independent attorneys who were selected by the state attorney general to investigate.

A female executive assistant who accused Cuomo of groping her said Sunday that what the governor did to her was a crime. She was the first woman to file a criminal complaint against Cuomo.

In her first public interview in which she identified herself, Brittany Commisso told “CBS This Morning” and the Albany Times-Union that the governor “needs to be held accountable.”

Commisso has said Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her when they were alone in a room at the Executive Mansion last year and on another occasion rubbed her rear end while they posed for a photo.

“He broke the law,” she said in an excerpt of an interview scheduled to be aired in full on Monday.

Cuomo’s attorneys have centered his defense on attacking the credibility and motives of his accusers. Glavin has also blasted the investigation overseen by Attorney General Letitia James for not providing its findings and transcripts to Cuomo lawyers ahead of time, and for not including more material favorable to Cuomo in the report.

“It was shoddy. It was biased. It omits evidence, and it was an ambush,” Glavin said.

Dozens of state lawmakers who were once hesitant to call for Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment told the AP in recent interviews that they were swayed by the heft of the report.

“I think the majority of us feel that the governor is not in a position to lead the state any longer, and that’s not a temporary position,” said Assemblymember John McDonald, a Democrat whose district includes Albany.

Cuomo has flat-out denied that he ever touched anyone inappropriately, but he acknowledged hugging and kissing aides and other individuals.

Glavin said it’s clear to Cuomo that people who “worked for him felt that he was invading their space and that it was unwanted.”

“He doesn’t believe it was inappropriate,” Glavin said. “He has seen what these women have said, and he does feel badly about this.”

Meanwhile, the state Assembly’s judiciary committee planned to meet Monday to discuss when to conclude its months-long investigation into whether there are grounds to impeach Cuomo.

The investigation has focused on sexual harassment and misconduct, the administration’s past refusal to release how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19, the use of state resources for Cuomo’s $5 million book deal and efforts to prioritize COVID-19 tests for the governor’s inner circle in spring 2020, when testing was scarce.

Some lawmakers want an impeachment vote in days, but committee members say the probe could wrap up in a month. State law requires at least 30 days between an Assembly impeachment vote and Senate impeachment trial.

Assemblymember Amanda Septimo called for urgency.

“What we need to do the soonest is to get Cuomo out of power because of the way he uses it, like a weapon,” the Bronx Democrat said.

Democrats are increasingly worried about how Cuomo will affect political races in New York and potentially nationally, Septimo said.

“I’m willing to put money on how soon we see Cuomo’s face on an attack mailer somewhere in Ohio,” she said. “I feel like everyone’s calculus is bigger than themselves at this point, besides the governor.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would take over for Cuomo if a majority of the 150-member Assembly votes to impeach him.

Cuomo championed a sweeping law he signed in 2019 that mandated anti-harassment training, extended the statute of limitations and declared that accusers do not have to prove they were treated differently than other workers. It also lowered New York’s standard for sexual harassment to include unwanted conduct that rises above the level of “petty slights and trivial inconveniences.”

Many lawmakers have criticized the governor for failing to acknowledge that his unwelcome remarks and touching violated his administration’s own definition of sexual harassment, which is based on how a person feels despite the perpetrator’s intent.

Cuomo also faces scrutiny from federal prosecutors over his administration’s handling of COVID-19 nursing home data. And the state ethics commission is looking into the same issues that the Assembly is investigating.

In addition, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said Saturday that Cuomo could face misdemeanor charges if investigators substantiate Commisso’s complaint. At least five district attorneys have asked for materials from the attorney general’s inquiry to see if any of the allegations could result in criminal charges.

The investigation concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed a state trooper with unwanted touching and suggestive remarks, a previously unknown account. Investigators found that the governor wanted to assign the trooper to his security detail after briefly meeting her, even though she lacked qualifications for the job.

Cuomo plans to address the allegation “very, very soon,” Glavin said.

She defended the governor’s interest as an effort to increase diversity after he found the trooper “impressive” for maintaining eye contact with him in a conversation.

SXM Radio Online

Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

“Representation Is the Bare Minimum”: Modeling’s Biggest Stars Speak Out