Connect with us

Politics

California Democrat, and #MeToo activist, allegedly urged staffers to play ‘spin the bottle’: report

Published

on

A California Democrat who was featured in Time magazine’s Person of the Year issue for her role in the anti-sexual harassment “#MeToo” movement allegedly urged staffers to play the grade-school classic, “spin the bottle,” after a night of heavy drinking at a fundraiser, Politico reported Sunday.

David John Kernick, 38, who worked in Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s office for five months in 2014, filed a formal complaint with the state, claiming that he was dismissed from his job for questioning the game.

Kernick told Politico that they played the game after an evening of heavy drinking. Garcia sat on a floor in a hotel room with about six people that included staff, he told the magazine.

“It was definitely uncomfortable,’’ Kernick said. “But I realized it’s different for a man than for a woman. … You know it’s inappropriate, but at the same time you may wonder, ‘How many women do you work for that act like that?’ You think … ’Maybe she’s just really cool.’’’

Last week, Garcia was hit with fresh allegations of misconduct in her office, including frequent discussions about sex and alcohol consumption at the Capitol.

San Diego lawyer Dan Gilleon filed a formal complaint with the Legislature detailing the allegations on behalf of four anonymous former employees in Garcia’s office.

He said they will cooperate with an investigation but do not want their names to be public at this time for fear of retribution.

The complainants allege that Garcia regularly talked about her sexual activity, including with other members, in front of staff. They also allege Garcia drank alcohol while doing official Assembly business and pressured staff to join her in drinking at the office or at bars.

The allegations came as Garcia is on a leave of absence following news she is being investigated in the groping of a former male legislative staff member in 2014.

None of the new complaints involve sexual misconduct, but Gilleon said the former employees considered Garcia’s frequent talk about sex a form sexual harassment.

“My clients will vigorously defend what they have said, but I will insist that the Assembly takes serious steps to ensure their protection against reprisal,” Gilleon said in a letter he delivered to the Assembly Rules Committee after a press conference on the Capitol steps.

Garcia, in a Facebook post, said she will address each of the issues individually once an investigation has been completed. But she said the claims don’t square with the atmosphere she worked to create. Her current and former chiefs of staff denied the behaviors described in the letter.

“I am confident I have consistently treated my staff fairly and respectfully. In a fast-paced legislative office, not everyone is the right fit for every position, and I do understand how a normal employment decision could be misinterpreted by the individual involved in that decision,” Garcia wrote.

Garcia took a leave of absence Friday after news broke that Daniel Fierro, a former staffer in another office, alleged she rubbed his back, grabbed his buttocks and tried to grab his groin at a legislative softball game in 2014. She denies the claims.

The allegations against Garcia mark a stunning twist to the California Legislature’s widening sexual harassment scandal that first broke open last fall and prompted two male assemblymen to resign. Garcia, a Democrat who represents southeast Los Angeles, chaired the Legislative Women’s Caucus until Wednesday, when her colleagues installed Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Eggman of Stockton, as the interim chair.

Garcia has been one of the most vocal critics against her colleagues and a staunch advocate of the #MeToo movement. She has authored numerous bills about sexual assault, activity and consent.

Tim Reardon, Garcia’s former chief of staff, said he never heard or was told that Garcia was discussing her sexual activities in the office. He said alcohol is occasionally present at the Capitol but drinking is never excessive.

“There are times in a lot of offices where someone will have wine or that nature,” he said. “But there has never been excessive drinking like it’s some kind of drinking party.”

The letter also alleges Garcia asked her staff to perform personal duties, such as taking care of her dogs, as well as campaign activities for her and other lawmakers. It alleges Garcia was “vindictive” toward staff and frequently disparaged other lawmakers.

Ashley Labar, her current chief of staff, denied the allegations.

“I’ve never seen the member engage in the behavior listed in the letter by Mr. Gilleon,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Source link

Politics

'Momentum forward positive' Raab hints at further travel relaxation after US-EU reopening

Published

on

DOMINIC Raab hinted a further relaxation to foreign travel will be announced next week following the decision to reopen the borders to double-jabbed US and EU tourists.

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Tory MP says scrapping English Votes for English Laws is about ‘strengthening the Union’

Published

on

A TORY MP in Wales has said English Votes for English Laws was used to “reinforce a message with voters that the Union is divided”.

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Civilian deaths, Taliban attacks rising as full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan looms, report says

Published

on

WASHINGTON — Civilian casualties and Taliban attacks in Afghanistan are mounting as the U.S. withdrawal nears completion and the Afghan military continues its collapse, according to a new quarterly report from a U.S. government watchdog that describes a country ravaged by Covid-19 and violence.

The report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, found a “dramatic increase in enemy-initiated attacks” from January through March of this year compared to the same time in previous years. There were 10,431 attacks this year, up from 7,620 last year and 6,358 in 2019.

Attacks have been increasing since the U.S.-Taliban agreement on Feb. 29, 2020, with more attacks in each three-month period since the agreement than in the same quarters in the previous year.

The number of attacks against the Afghan military and civilians has increased significantly this year, the report says, with many attacks coming during the Taliban offensive now sweeping across the country.

The Taliban launched an offensive in May after U.S. and coalition military forces began withdrawing. The offensive accelerated in June and July.

However, the report notes that Afghan forces have stopped reporting attacks as their situation deteriorates, and it says the U.S. stopped collecting attack data effective May 31 with the end of the U.S. training and advisory mission.

Civilian deaths were rising until the end of that reporting period. Resolute Support, the NATO mission in Afghanistan, reported 2,035 civilian casualties in April and May — 705 deaths and 1,330 injuries. That is nearly as many civilian casualties as in the first three months of this year combined, 2,149, and higher than in April and May of last year. According to Resolute Support, the top two causes of civilian casualties were improvised explosive devices and direct fire, and 93 percent of civilian casualties in April and May were from insurgents, largely the Taliban.

The Taliban have overrun Afghan military checkpoints and bases, district centers and a series of key border crossings, according to the SIGAR report. In some cases, the Afghan military forces, known as ANDSF, have fled.

“In some districts ANDSF forces put up some level of resistance and conducted a tactical (fighting) retreat, while in others they surrendered or fled in disorder,” the report says, citing news reports that 1,600 ANDSF fled into Tajikistan this month to avoid Taliban advances in Badakhshan province.

At a briefing last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, said the Taliban control about half of the 419 district centers in Afghanistan and are pressuring 17 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals.

“Particularly concerning was the speed and ease with which the Taliban seemingly wrested control of districts in Afghanistan’s northern provinces, once a bastion of anti-Taliban sentiment,” the SIGAR report says. At a news conference June 29, the former commander of the NATO Resolute Support Mission, Army Gen. Scott Miller, told reporters: “We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has to be concerning.”

The SIGAR also found that most Afghan military forces “refuse to execute missions.” Instead, the more highly trained and proficient Afghan special operators are used for basic tasks like route clearance, checkpoint security and quick reaction forces.

The Afghan air force is overtaxed now that U.S. air support has largely ended, according to the report. All Afghan air force aircraft are flying at least 25 percent over their recommended scheduled maintenance, the report found, and the readiness of most of the aircraft has plummeted since most U.S. support has withdrawn. The UH-60 Blackhawk fleet was at 77 percent readiness in May and dropped to 39 percent in June.

The U.S. military has carried out a handful of airstrikes against the Taliban this month, according to defense officials, but the aircraft fly in from neighboring countries now that nearly all U.S. military forces and equipment have left Afghanistan. Once the U.S. military mission officially ends on Aug. 31, the U.S. will still carry out strikes against Al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists, but it will no longer carry out strikes against the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the report says, the Afghan public is coping with a 2,400 percent increase in Covid cases, the majority from the delta variant. According to the U.N., half of the population requires humanitarian assistance.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending