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Pulitzer winner Junot Diaz accused of sexual misconduct by fellow writer

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Weeks after publishing his own story of sexual abuse in the New Yorker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz is facing accusations of sexual misconduct and misogyny directed at fellow writers.

Zinzi Clemmons, who penned coming-of-age novel “What We Lose,” tweeted early Friday morning that when she was a 26-year-old graduate student, Diaz cornered her and forcibly kissed her after she invited him to speak at a workshop several years ago. Clemmons said she believes she is far from the only woman he has “exploited” and told The Associated Press that she cannot bear to think of the others.

“Junot Diaz has made his behavior the burden of young women — particularly women of color — for far too long, enabled by his team and the institutions that employ him,” Clemmons wrote in a statement to the AP. “It is time for the burden of his bad behavior to be laid squarely at his feet, and for him to deal with the consequences of his actions.”

Since Clemmons’ tweets, other women have come forward with stories of alleged verbal abuse and misogyny by Diaz.

Image: Junot Diaz at the 5th annual Norman Mailer Center benefit gala
Junot Diaz at the 5th annual Norman Mailer Center benefit gala in New York on Oct. 17, 2013.Evan Agostini / Invision/AP file

Rebecca Fortes was in the University of Michigan’s masters of fine arts program when she volunteered to moderate a Q&A with Diaz in early-2017. As a Latina, she was excited to meet a man whose work she has studied closely.

When Diaz entered the room, he refused to sit or take off his jacket. He told Fortes her introduction was too long and would not let her read it.

Fortes explained he laughed and dismissed questions that she and fellow co-moderator’s asked during the session, instead calling on audience members.

“Every single woman who asked a question got laughed at,” Fortes said.

She was clear that she was not a victim of sexual violence, but she did feel that she had been a recipient of his “misogynistic behavior.”

Fortes is not alone.

Author Carmen Maria Machado, who is currently at the Sydney Writers’ Festival with Diaz, shared over Twitter how she was treated when she attended a Q&A with the famed Dominican-American writer.

“When I made the mistake of asking him a question about his protagonist’s unhealthy, pathological relationship with women, he went off for me for 20 minutes,” Machado tweeted.

In his fiction, Diaz often represents unhealthy romantic relationships tinged with abuse and infidelity.

In April, Diaz published an essay in the New Yorker about his own experience with rape when he was eight years old and how the trauma manifested later in his personal life.

“I think about the hurt I caused,” he wrote. “I think of all the years and all the life I lost to the hiding and to the fear and to the pain. The mask got more of me than I ever did.”

Diaz has not responded to requests for comment.

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Russia: Momentum for protest is growing over Putin’s ‘palace’ and Navalny’s imprisonment | World News

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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. An old maxim which may be giving some in Russia’s corridors of power pause for thought. 

That is what a botched poisoning attempt and a rush to incarcerate have done to the man President Putin refuses to call by name, Alexei Navalny.

The man who has courageously returned to Russia and into the hands of the authorities who he says tried to kill him – the Kremlin denies any association with his poisoning – because he cannot bear to stay silent in the face of their apparent lawlessness.

The momentum for protests is growing
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The momentum for protests is growing, writes Diana Magnay

The man who today brought more than a hundred thousand to the streets in town after city across Russia’s 11 time zones to demand his release from jail and for whom 2,500 people found themselves detained.

“Who needs him?” President Putin had said at his annual news conference just before Christmas, with a smirk.

Police responded to protests following Navalny's arrest
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Police responded to protests following Navalny’s arrest

He won’t have been laughing this Saturday as the chants and car horns blaring in Navalny’s support echoed down Moscow’s central avenue, Tverskaya, towards the Kremlin.

Or as the reports of protest from nearly 70 cities – from Sakhalin to Vladivostock, from Yakutsk to Novosibirsk to St Petersburg – flooded in.

More than 3,000 people were reportedly detained amid the rallies on Saturday, prompting the US and UK to condemn “the Russian authorities’ use of violence against peaceful protesters and journalists” as Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated.

Police link batons in Moscow
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Police link batons in Moscow as protesters took to the streets

“Putin is a thief” has been a rallying cry at Russian demonstrations for years, ever since the so-called Bolotnaya protests in 2012, the first major set of rallies against President Putin’s regime.

Navalny emerged from those frozen weeks of protest as an opposition figure of note but the years of harassment and persecution he has suffered without falter have given him a moral force which more and more of his countrymen are coming to recognise.

“One for all and all for one” was the script on one of the placards held up in Moscow on Saturday, with a photograph of Navalny on it. “He is not afraid and we aren’t either,” said another.

The rally in Moscow
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Hundreds of people were detained at the rally in Moscow. Pic: AP

Navalny’s investigation into the palatial residence he says belongs to President Putin on Russia’s Black Sea Coast has had 70 million views already.

It was only released on Tuesday. Pro-Navalny, protest-related content on the social media group TikTok was viewed 300 million times. But it was not only the younger, internet-savvy generation who came out this Saturday; all age groups, all demographics did.

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Navalny hits out at Putin again in video

The Kremlin has long insisted that Alexei Navalny is a marginal figure. Through a combination of their egregious missteps and his own extraordinary courage, his political currency is growing even as he sits in his prison cell, planning his next step.

This protest movement may have no short-term impact, and in all likelihood it will not secure Navalny’s release, but there is a momentum, a budding protest season in the making. Who knows where that could end up.

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Dutch police arrest alleged Asian drug syndicate kingpin | World News

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The alleged leader of an Asian drug syndicate and one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives has been arrested by Dutch police.

Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian national, was arrested at the request of Australian police, who led an investigation that found his organisation dominates the $70bn-a-year Asia-Pacific drug trade.

Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling said Tse was detained without incident at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Friday “based on intelligence we received”.

He is expected to be extradited to Australia after an initial court appearance.

Tse, 57, has lived in Canada, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years, according to authorities.

According to Australian newspaper The Age, his arrest will also be welcomed by authorities in the US, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and across Europe, places which have all served as markets or supply hubs for his organisation.

The syndicate he allegedly helps control is an amalgam of once-competing Chinese Triad groups that have variously worked with Australian bikies, South American cartels and European crime bosses, the newspaper added.

Australian Federal Police say he is the senior leader of the syndicate – called The Company – and is referred to as “Sam Gor” (Brother Number Three in Cantonese).

In 2019, Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told Reuters that Tse is “in the league of (fellow drug kingpins) El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar”.

The AFP did not name Tse in its statement but said the man arrested “is of significant interest to the AFP and other law enforcement agencies”.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime,” the agency said.

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‘Unacceptable’ vaccine delays cause frustration across European Union | World News

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European countries are growing increasingly frustrated with delays in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca told European Union officials that production problems will result in a 60% cut in deliveries of its Oxford vaccine to the bloc during the first quarter of this year.

This means EU member states will receive only 31 million doses during that period.

The Republic of Ireland said it may have to slow its vaccine rollout as a result of the shortage.

Micheal Martin, the Irish prime minister, told Irish broadcaster RTE that the delays would “put us in a problem”.

He added: “AstraZeneca was going to be the catalyst to be allowed to move from low level to mass vaccination.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency, although it is expected to get regulatory approval next week.

European countries were already facing delays in shipments of the Pfizer vaccine while the pharmaceutical firm increases manufacturing capacity.

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‘No other nation has adopted’ 12-week approach

Also on Saturday, Italian prime minster Giuseppe Conte called the delays to the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine “unacceptable”.

Mr Conte wrote on Facebook that the delays “constitute serious contractual violations, which cause enormous damage to Italy and other European countries, with direct repercussions on the life and health of citizens”.

He also vowed to launch legal action against the pharmaceutical giant to ensure contractual commitments are met.

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