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#MeToo: Thousands Share Stories of Sexual Abuse

In the wake of sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, tens of thousands of women are identifying themselves as victims of sexual harassment or assault.

Women and some men shared their stories on social media under the hashtag #MeToo after actress Alyssa Milano posted a message Sunday on Twitter that said, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘Me too’ as a reply to this tweet, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

By mid-day Monday, the hashtag had been retweeted more than a million times, a Twitter spokesman told Hollywood Reporter. Among those who weighed in were Lady Gaga, Monica Lewinsky, Rosario Dawson and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“Being raped once made it easier to be raped again. I instinctually shut down. My body remembered, so it protected me. I disappeared. #metoo,” actress Evan Rachel Wood wrote as part of a series of tweets on her experience.

Hamilton star Javier Munoz tweeted, “Me too. I don’t know if it means anything coming from a gay man but it’s happened. Multiple times.”

Milano’s former co-star on TV’s Charmed, Rose McGowan, tweeted in support of the campaign. McGowan had her Twitter account suspended after she accused Weinstein of raping her.

McGowan’s account was reinstated after the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter began trending.

A similar social media campaign is playing out on Instagram among models who are sharing stories of abuse and harassment in the fashion industry.

Model Cameron Russell put out a post four days ago offering help to models and has been deluged with responses.

That effort has launched the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse.

Early last week, Weinstein was fired by the board of his production company, the Weinstein Co., following an explosive New York Times report just days earlier, in which 13 women accused him of sexually harassing or assaulting them.

In another report in The New Yorker, three women accused Weinstein of raping them.

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Science & Health
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Urban Farms Provide Fresh Produce for City Residents

New York City is known for its tall buildings, financial markets and centers for the arts, but America’s most populated city is becoming known for something you might not expect — farms.

New York City’s government announced last month that it is providing $500,000 to create two urban farms. Both will use space in New York public housing developments. The new farms will join four other farms already operating with city government help.

The idea is to get more fresh fruits and vegetables to communities in the city. City officials see it as a public health issue.

“These new urban farms will not only provide access to healthy produce, but also provide jobs to young residents,” said New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres.

The new farms will be in the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and the Bronx.

These farms are supported by the local government but there are also privately run farms in the city.

In the New City neighborhood of Tribeca, Robert Laing has opened up a privately-run indoor farm called Farm.One, where he grows many kinds of herbs. His customers include well-known restaurants in New York City.

The restaurants can pick up fresh herbs hours for that night’s dinner because his Laing’s indoor farm can be reached by bicycle from much of the city. Laing’s website tells customers that they can buy fresh herbs, even in a snowstorm.

Farm.One is very different than farms in less populated communities. The major difference is size. It is only 112-meters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the average farm in America is 176 Hectares.

Farm.One’s crops are grown on vertical shelves so more can be grown in less space.

“The nice thing about farming vertically indoors is that you don’t need a lot of space,” Laing said. “I can see some bodega [a small grocery story] setting one up on the roof.”

Urban farms are growing in other cities besides New York City.

The website Inhabitat.com recently released a list of the top four U.S. cities for urban farms. They are Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future released a report on urban farms in 2016. It said there are important benefits to turning unused land into sources of healthy food.

But it said that urban farming still has a long way to go to produce the environmental and health benefits claimed by supporters.

“In some cases, the enthusiasm is ahead of the evidence,” the Johns Hopkins research said.

For example, the report said that supporters of growing food close to the people who eat it claim that it reduces pollution compared to transporting food long distances.

But the researchers found that smaller farms do not do as a good a job as larger farms in reducing use of water and other natural resources.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research based in Washington D.C. wants more urban farms. It said the benefits are almost unlimited.

The group announced last month that it will give $2 million to help pay for a new farm in Newark, New Jersey, just outside of New York City.

Aero Farms will work with scientists from Cornell University in New York State and Rutgers University in New Jersey. The goal is to grow salad greens with improved taste and color.

The funding announcement said that because the farm is indoors the farmers can control the environment, including temperature, to improve their crops.

Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture, said that more than half the world’s population lives in cities and that it is important to provide healthy food to this population. Whenever possible, Rockey said, food should be “grown locally.”

Brian Massey writes and farms. He recently wrote about managing an urban farm in a Washington D.C. neighborhood near Howard University.

He said that a lot of people liked the fresh fruit and vegetables his farm produced. But he said others worried the farm was there to help the newly arrived, wealthier residents, not the poor.

There was a concern that the farm would add to Washington’s continuing shortage of low-income housing, Massey wrote.

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Science & Health
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Scientists Witness Huge Cosmic Crash, Find Origins of Gold

It was a faint signal, but it told of one of the most violent acts in the universe, and it would soon reveal secrets of the cosmos, including how gold was created.

Astronomers around the world reacted to the signal quickly, focusing telescopes located on every continent and even in orbit to a distant spot in the sky.

 

What they witnessed in mid-August and revealed Monday was the long-ago collision of two neutron stars – a phenomenon California Institute of Technology’s David H. Reitze called “the most spectacular fireworks in the universe.”

 

“When these things collide, all hell breaks loose,” he said.

 

Measurements of the light and other energy emanating from the crash have helped scientists explain how planet-killing gamma ray bursts are born, how fast the universe is expanding, and where heavy elements like platinum and gold come from.

 

“This is getting everything you wish for,” said Syracuse University physics professor Duncan Brown, one of more than 4,000 scientists involved in the blitz of science that the crash kicked off. “This is our fantasy observation.”

 

It started in a galaxy called NGC 4993, seen from Earth in the Hydra constellation. Two neutron stars, collapsed cores of stars so dense that a teaspoon of their matter would weigh 1 billion tons, danced ever faster and closer together until they collided, said Carnegie Institution astronomer Maria Drout.

 

The crash, called a kilonova, generated a fierce burst of gamma rays and a gravitational wave, a faint ripple in the fabric of space and time, first theorized by Albert Einstein.

 

The signal arrived on Earth on Aug. 17 after traveling 130 million light-years. A light-year is 5.88 trillion miles.

 

NASA’s Fermi telescope, which detects gamma rays, sent out the first alarm. Then, 1.7 seconds later, gravity wave detectors in Louisiana and Washington state that are a part of the LIGO Laboratory , whose founders won a Nobel Prize earlier this month, detected the crash. It issued a worldwide alert to focus telescopes on what became the most well-observed astronomical event in history.

 

Before August, the only other gravity waves detected by LIGO were generated by colliding black holes. But black holes let no light escape, so astronomers could see nothing.

 

This time there was plenty to see, measure and analyze: matter, light, and other radiation. The Hubble Space Telescope even got a snapshot of the afterglow.

 

“The completeness of this picture from the beginning to the end is unprecedented,” said Columbia University physics professor Szabolcs Marka. “There are many, many extraordinary discoveries within the discovery.”

 

The colliding stars spewed bright blue, super-hot debris that was dense and unstable. Some of it coalesced into heavy elements, like gold, platinum and uranium. Scientists had suspected neutron star collisions had enough power to create heavier elements, but weren’t certain until they witnessed it.

 

“We see the gold being formed,” said Syracuse’s Brown.

 

Calculations from a telescope measuring ultraviolet light showed that the combined mass of the heavy elements from this explosion is 1,300 times the mass of Earth. And all that stuff – including lighter elements – was thrown out in all different directions and is now speeding across the universe.

 

Perhaps one day the material will clump together into planets the way ours was formed, Reitze said – maybe ones with rich veins of precious metals.

 

“We already knew that iron came from a stellar explosion, the calcium in your bones came from stars and now we know the gold in your wedding ring came from merging neutron stars,” said University of California Santa Cruz’s Ryan Foley.

 

The crash also helped explain the origins of one of the most dangerous forces of the cosmos – short gamma ray bursts, focused beams of radiation that could erase life on any planet that happened to get in the way. These bursts shoot out in two different directions perpendicular to where the two neutron stars first crash, Reitze said.

 

Luckily for us, the beams of gamma rays were not focused on Earth and were generated too far away to be a threat, he said.

 

Scientists knew that the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. By using LIGO to measure gravitational waves while watching this event unfold, researchers came up with a new estimate for how fast that is happening, the so-called Hubble Constant. Before this, scientists came up with two slightly different answers using different techniques. The rough figure that came out of this event is between the original two, Reitze said.

 

The first optical images showed a bright blue dot that was very hot, which was likely the start of the heavy element creation process amid the neutron star debris, Drout said. After a day or two that blue faded, becoming much fainter and redder. And after three weeks it was completely gone, she said.

 

Scientists involved with the search for gravitational waves said this was the event they had prepared for over more than 20 years.

 

The findings are “of spectacular importance,” said Penn State physicist Abhay Ashtekar, who wasn’t part of the research. “This is really brand new.”

 

 

 

 

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Economy & business
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In Harvey-hit County, Some in GOP Newly Confront the Climate

The church was empty, except for the piano too heavy for one man to move. It had been 21 days since the greatest storm Wayne Christopher had ever seen dumped a year’s worth of rain on his town, drowning this church where he was baptized, met his high school sweetheart and later married her.

 

He had piled the ruined pews out on the curb, next to water-logged hymnals and molding Sunday school lesson plans and chunks of drywall that used to be a mural of Noah’s Ark. Now he tilted his head up to take in the mountain of rubble, and Christopher, an evangelical Christian and a conservative Republican, considered what caused this destruction: that the violent act of nature had been made worse by acts of man.

 

“I think the Lord put us over the care of his creation, and when we pollute like we do, destroy the land, there’s consequences to that,” he said. “It might not catch up with us just right now, but it’s gonna catch up. Like a wound that needs to be healed.”

 

Jefferson County, Texas, is among the low-lying coastal areas of America that could lose the most as the ice caps melt and the seas warm and rise. At the same time, it is more economically dependent on the petroleum industry and its emissions-spewing refineries than any other place in the U.S. Residents seemed to choose between the two last November, abandoning a four-decade-old pattern of voting Democratic in presidential elections to support Donald Trump.

 

Then came Hurricane Harvey. Now some conservatives here are newly confronting some of the most polarizing questions in American political discourse: What role do humans play in global warming and the worsening of storms like Harvey? And what should they expect their leaders — including the climate-skeptic president they helped elect — to do about the problem now?

Answers are hard to come by in a place where refineries stand like cityscapes. Nearly 5,000 people work in the petroleum industry. Some have described the chemical stink in the air as “the smell of money” — it means paychecks, paid mortgages and meals.

 

Christopher, like most people in Jefferson County, believed that global warming was real before the storm hit. Post-Harvey, surrounded by debris stretching for block after block, he thinks the president’s outright rejection of the scientific consensus is no longer good enough.

 

But how do you help the climate without hurting those who depend on climate-polluting industries?

 

“It’s a Catch-22 kind of thing,” he said. “Do you want to build your economy, or do you want to save the world?”

 


 

“Steroids for storms” is how Andrew Dessler explains the role global warming plays in extreme weather. Climate change didn’t create Hurricane Harvey or Irma or Maria. But Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, and most scientists agree that warming and rising seas likely amplify storms that form naturally, feeding more water and more intensity as they plow toward land.

 

“It will be 60 inches of rain this time, maybe 80 inches next time,” Dessler said of Harvey’s record-setting rainfall for any single storm in U.S. history.

As a private citizen and candidate, Trump often referred to climate change as a hoax, and since taking office he and his administration have worked aggressively to undo policies designed to mitigate the damage. He announced his intention to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, a global accord of 195 nations to reduce carbon emissions, and his administration has dismantled environmental regulations and erased climate change data from government websites. This month, his Environmental Protection Agency administrator promised to kill an effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired plants.

 

Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University researcher, traces the politicization of the climate to 1997, when then-Democratic Vice President Al Gore brokered a commitment on the world stage to reduce greenhouse gases. The political parties have cleaved further apart ever since, and climate change denial reached a fever pitch as the Tea Party remade the GOP during President Barack Obama’s first term.

 

Americans tend to view the issue through their already established red-versus-blue lens, Leiserowitz said. But while there are fractions on each extreme, the majority still fall somewhere along a scale in the middle.

 

A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds that 63 percent of Americans think climate change is happening and that the government should address it, and that two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling the issue. Most Americans also think weather disasters are getting more severe, and believe global warming is a factor.

 

As the downpour from Hurricane Harvey stretched into its second day, with no end in sight, Joe Evans watched from the window of his home in the Jefferson County seat of Beaumont, and an unexpected sense of guilt overcame him: “What have we been doing to the planet for all of these years?”

Evans, a Republican, once ran unsuccessfully for local office. He ignored climate change, as he thought Republicans were supposed to do, but Harvey’s deluge left him wondering why. When he was young, discussions of the ozone layer were uncontroversial; now they’re likely to end in pitched political debate.

 

“I think it’s one of those games that politicians play with us,” he said, “to once again make us choose a side.”

 

Evans voted for Trump, but he’s frustrated with what he describes as the “conservative echo chamber” that dismisses climate change instead of trying to find a way to apply conservative principles to simultaneously saving the Earth and the economy. Even today, some Republicans in the county complain about Gore and the hypocrisy they see in elite liberals who jet around the world, carbon emissions trailing behind them, to push climate policies on blue-collar workers trying to keep refinery jobs so they can feed their families.

 

Evans isn’t sure if the disastrous run of weather will cause climate change to become a bigger priority for residents here, or if as memories fade talk of this issue will, too.

 

“I haven’t put so much thought into it that I want to go mobilize a bunch of people and march on Washington,” he said. “But it made me think enough about it that I won’t actively take part in denying it. We can’t do that anymore.”

 


 

Most in Texas didn’t believe climate change existed when Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, began evangelizing about the issue years ago. Now studies estimate that 69 percent of Texans believe that the climate is changing, and 52 percent believe that has been caused by human activity. Most resistance she hears now is not with the science itself but over proposed solutions that mean government intrusion and regulation.

Jefferson County’s refineries produce 10 percent of the gasoline in the United States, 20 percent of diesel and half of the fuel used to fly commercial planes, said County Judge Jeff Branick, a Democrat who voted for Trump and then switched his party affiliation to Republican, in part because of his disagreement with the Democratic Party’s climate policies.

 

Branick doesn’t deny that climate change exists, but he calls himself a cheerleader for the petroleum industry and believes environmental policies are “job killers.”

 

John Sterman, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, said addressing climate change will invariably lead to gradual job losses in the fossil fuels industry. But communities have lost a dominant industry before, and those able to diversify can prosper. Jefferson County could look to the renewable energy industry, with jobs that require many of the skills refinery workers have, he said. Texas already produces more wind power than any other state.

 

Angela Lopez’s husband works in a refinery, so she understands the worry of the economic cost of addressing global warming. But her county is nicknamed “cancer alley” for its high levels of disease that residents have long attributed to living in the shadow of one of the largest concentrations of refineries in the world.

 

“It’s our livelihood, but it’s killing us,” Lopez said, standing in what used to be her dining room. Now her house in Beaumont is down to the studs. As Harvey’s floodwaters rose, she tried to save what she could. She piled the dresser drawers on the bed and perched the leather couch up on the coffee table. It did no good. The water didn’t stop until it reached the eaves, and the Lopezes lost everything they own.

 

Just about all of her relatives are conservatives, and indeed the political divides in the county run deep: Even as most of the communities along the Gulf Coast turned red years ago, Jefferson County clung to its Democratic roots. The county is ethnically diverse — 41 percent white, 34 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic — with a historically strong union workforce. Trump won Jefferson by just 419 votes.

 

“To come up with real solutions, you have to be honest with yourself about what causes something to happen,” Lopez said. “It’s not just because some storm came, it was bad and unprecedented. It was unprecedented for a reason, so we have to acknowledge that and start working toward being better. And part of that conversation should be climate change.”

On a porch outside another ruined house nearby, two neighbors who both lost everything to Harvey started having that conversation.

 

Gene Jones, a truck driver who didn’t vote, asked Wilton Johnson, a Trump supporter, if he thought climate change intensified the storm.

 

“I don’t think so, no,” Johnson said.

 

“You don’t? You don’t think about the chemical plants and the hot weather? You don’t think that has anything to do with it?”

 

“I can understand people believing that,” Johnson replied. But he blames natural weather cycles for upending their lives so completely.

 

Jones now lives in a camper in his driveway; Johnson’s father has been sleeping in a recliner in his yard to ward off looters.

 

Johnson feels like he’s gone through the stages of grief. At first, as he fled his home, he denied how devastating the storm might be. Then he got angry, when he realized nothing could be saved — not the family photos or the 100-year-old Bible that fell apart in his hands. He grew depressed and now, finally, he thinks he’s come to accept this new reality as something that just happened because nature is not always kind, and never has been.

 

And he remains unshaken in his support for Trump’s environmental agenda.

 

“We need to be responsible human beings to the Earth, but at the same time we shouldn’t sacrifice the financial freedoms,” he said. “What good is a great environment if we’re poor and living like cavemen? And vice versa, I understand the other side of that: What’s great about living in luxury when you can’t go outside?

 

“I just don’t think we should look at two storms and say, ‘We’re ruining the Earth! Shut the plants down!'”

 


 

When Wayne Christopher was a boy in Jefferson County, it got so hot he remembers frying eggs on the sidewalk. It has always been hot here, and there have always been hurricanes.

 

But it seems to him that something is different now. There is a palpable intensity in the air, in the haze that hangs over the interstate. The region has warmed about two degrees in his lifetime, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and annual rainfall has increased by about 7 inches on average. Christopher counts the number of times a beach road he’s driven on all his life has had to be rebuilt because the ocean overtook it.

 

“The sea keeps moving in — water rising, land disappearing or eroding or whatever you want to call it — it’s happening,” said Christopher, who is 66 now and retired after toiling more than 40 years for the railroad. “I think Mother Nature can come back, but there’s a point to where, if we just keep on and keep on, I don’t know if she can come back.”

 

He thinks the president he helped put in office should do something: take the threat seriously, research before he talks or tweets, not dismiss established science as a hoax because acknowledging it’s real would mean acknowledging that something must be done.

 

But like many others here, Christopher is not pushing to stick with the Paris climate agreement or other global coalitions because he’s not sure it’s fair that the United States should invest in clean energy when other countries that pollute might not. He worries that could cause more job losses to overseas factories, put a squeeze on the middle class and forfeit a slice of American sovereignty.

 

His wife, who also supported Trump, cocked her head as she thought about that sentiment.

 

“I can see the pros, I can see the cons,” Polly Christopher said. “But if you were to simplify it to your children, and they say, ‘Well, everybody else is doing it, if I do it what difference is it going to make?’ you would just get on them and say, ‘You’ve got to do the right thing. Right is right, and wrong’s wrong.'”

 

For weeks, the couple have been gutting Memorial Baptist Church, a place they consider their home. The congregation dwindled over time to about 45, mostly older people, and it was so hard to make ends meet the church canceled a $19,000-a-year flood insurance policy just two months before Harvey hit. Now it could cost some $1 million to rebuild, meaning the church may never be rebuilt at all.

 

So when Christopher’s granddaughter came by to help, found the piano in the otherwise empty sanctuary, sat down and started to play, he was overcome with a sense of grief.

 

“In my head I was thinking the whole time, this could be the last time that piano is played inside the auditorium,” he said. Then she started to sing: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound …”

 

“It did something to me,” he said.

 

Both he and his wife believe President Trump has a responsibility to look at the destruction Harvey left them with and act accordingly.

 

“He’s got a business mind. Whatever it takes to make money, that’s what he’s going to do to make America great again,” Christopher said, and that’s why he voted for Trump. “But it does make me wonder if he looks at global warming as a real harm. Because you can make all the money in the world here. But if you don’t have a world, what good is it going to do you?”

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Silicon Valley & Technology
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US Top Court to Intervene in Government’s Email Dispute With Microsoft

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear an appeal from the Justice Department on whether U.S. investigators can obtain emails stored overseas if they have a search warrant.

Since 2013, Microsoft has defied U.S. authorities in turning over emails that were stored on a data center in Ireland. While the investigators had a search warrant to obtain private records – in this case, emails – regarding a drug-trafficking case, Microsoft argued the warrant was valid under U. S. law but did not apply to other countries.

Microsoft’s lawyers maintained that the Stored Communications Act of 1986, the federal law that regulates electronic records, does not extend beyond the United States. Under the same logic, the tech company argued foreign governments could cause Microsoft to turn over data stored on U.S. servers.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court in New York overruled the Justice Department in favor of Microsoft. The Microsoft-Ireland decision, as it has come to be known, set a precedent for tech companies on U.S. soil. Essentially, tech companies can withhold digital evidence of crimes in the United States if the data is on a foreign server.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of investigations of crimes – ranging from terrorism to child pornography to fraud – are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence,” Jeffrey Wall, Deputy Attorney General, said in the appeal, which was made in June. “The decision protects only criminals whose communications are placed out of reach of law enforcement officials because of the business decisions of private providers.”

The Supreme Court will hear the case early next year. Unlike most cases regarding privacy, the case does not hinge on Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, but the Stored Communications Act of 1986 on electronic records and privacy.

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Arts & Entertainment
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Weinstein Co., Mired in Sex Scandal, May Be Up for Sale

The Weinstein Co., mired in a sex scandal, may be putting itself up for sale.

The company said Monday that it is getting an immediate cash infusion from Colony Capital and is in negotiations for the potential sale of all or a significant portion of the movie studio responsible for films like “Shakespeare in Love,” and “Gangs of New York.”

Co-founder Harvey Weinstein was fired by the company last week following allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The allegations span decades.

The fallout has been swift, with Weinstein issuing a lengthy and seemingly tone-deaf apology while losing various honors. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has revoked his membership.

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Arts & Entertainment
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UK Singer Ed Sheeran Tells Fans of Bike Accident, Arm Injury

British singer Ed Sheeran has told fans via Instagram that he’s had a bicycle injury and may have to change some concert dates.

The popular singer said Monday he’s had “a bit of a bicycle accident” and is “currently waiting on some medical advice, which may affect some of my upcoming shows.”

 

Sheeran is scheduled to perform a series of shows in Asia starting on Oct. 22.

 

He asks fans to “stay tuned” for further news.

 

The Instagram post showed a photograph of his tattooed arm in a cast.

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Arts & Entertainment
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Women ID as Assault, Harassment Victims With ‘Me Too’ Tweets

Thousands of women are responding to actress Alyssa Milano’s call to tweet “me too” to raise awareness of sexual harassment and assault following the recent revelation of decades of allegations of sexual misconduct by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Milano suggested women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted post the message on Twitter on Sunday. The call to action quickly trended, with notable names like Lady Gaga, Monica Lewinsky and Rosario Dawson identifying themselves as victims. Others shared personal stories.

 

Also tweeting in support was Milano’s former co-star on TV’s “Charmed,” Rose McGowan, who has accused Weinstein of raping her.

 

Milano called the Weinstein allegations “disturbing” in an essay last week, but added that the issue was complicated for her because she is friends with Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman.

 

 

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