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News in brief for Dec. 27

Media face challenges in rush to misconduct reckoning

NEW YORK (AP) — Talk-show host Tavis Smiley isn’t just upset with PBS for firing him on sexual misconduct charges. He’s upset about his depiction in the media.

Smiley believes that if he hadn’t talked publicly about romantic relationships with subordinates at his company, the behavior that led to his downfall, the public would make little distinction between him and those who have been accused of sexual assault or rape.

Conflation of different forms of misbehavior — the idea itself is controversial — is one of the issues facing media organizations covering the fast-moving story of sexual misconduct that went into overdrive with investigations into Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s behavior.

“The media is painting with too broad a brush,” Smiley said. “We have lost all sense of nuance and proportionality in how we cover these stories.”

Actor Matt Damon was torched for broaching the topic recently. He told ABC News that all accused men shouldn’t be lumped together because there’s a spectrum of behavior. There’s a difference between a pat on the rear and child molestation, he said.

Kremlin: Election boycott campaign may be illegal

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin hinted Tuesday at possible legal repercussions for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny over his calls for a boycott of the March presidential election.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, wouldn’t comment on the Election Commission’s decision to bar Navalny from running but said the “calls for boycott ought to be carefully studied to see if they are breaking the law.”

As expected, Russia’s top election body on Monday formally barred Navalny from a presidential run. Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Putin’s most prominent rival, promptly put out a video statement saying that the ban shows “Putin is terribly scared and is afraid of running against me.” He called on supporters to stay away from the vote in protest.

Meanwhile, Putin’s backers convened Tuesday afternoon to formally nominate him for presidency after he announced that he will run as an independent candidate.

California preps for pot-infused fare, from wine to tacos

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The sauvignon blanc boasts brassy, citrus notes, but with one whiff, it’s apparent this is no normal Sonoma County wine. It’s infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that provides the high.

Move over, pot brownies. The world’s largest legal recreational marijuana market kicks off Monday in California, and the trendsetting state is set to ignite the cannabis culinary scene.

Chefs and investors have been teaming up to offer an eye-boggling array of cannabis-infused food and beverages, weed-pairing supper clubs and other extravagant pot-to-plate events in preparation for legalization come Jan. 1.

Legal pot in states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado and California’s longstanding medical marijuana market already spurred a cannabis-foodie movement with everything from olive oil to heirloom tomato bisques infused with the drug.

Cannabis-laced dinners with celebrity chefs at private parties have flourished across Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in recent years, but a medical marijuana card was required to attend.

Crime victims’ rights campaign faces fresh local backlash

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — After his sister was slain and his mother ran into the accused killer, out on bail, in a grocery store a week later, California billionaire Henry Nicholas became a fierce advocate for the rights of crime victims.

He donated millions from his fortune as co-founder of tech giant Broadcom to create a so-called “crime victims’ bill of rights”— dubbed Marsy’s Law after his slain sister Marsalee — and add it to the state’s constitution in 2008.

Now Nicholas is taking his crusade nationwide, with teams of lobbyists, public relations firms and high-powered political strategists converging on other state capitols for a similar push. But while the idea of standing up for crime victims is an easy sell politically, complaints are mounting that the initiative is becoming a testament to the danger of unintended consequences.

Not just defense lawyers, but some local prosecutors, police and victims’ advocates are concerned that the law’s extensive victim-notification requirements could impose crippling costs and administrative burdens on smaller towns and counties with limited resources. Supporters maintain those complaints are exaggerated and that any increased workload is worth the benefit of helping crime victims.

Still, law enforcement and victims’ advocates in some places are calling for its defeat or reversal.

 

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