Project Veritas, the far-right activist group founded by James O’Keefe in 2010, is facing two lawsuits from a former employee alleging a “highly sexualized” work culture where “daytime drinking and drug use were common,” reported the New York Times on Monday.
The allegations are laid out in two separate legal filings against the group by former employee Antonietta Zappier.
“This suit is brought, in part, to remedy Plaintiff’s two and a half years of work in a sexually hostile work environment, which ended after she was sexually assaulted and sexually harassed by PV’s Field Director, Michael Spadone,” reads the legal filing, which adds, “and to remedy the fact that she was terminated by PV and Spadone because she rejected Spadone’s entreaties to spend the weekend with him at his home for a sexual liaison.”
Project Veritas “has for years sought to embarrass political opponents and members of media organizations by surreptitiously recording them and publicizing their private communications,” notes the Times.
The group has been accused of deceptively editing footage and entrapping the subjects of its clips. The group recently was forced to pay Stanford University’s $150,000 legal fees after a judge tossed the group’s defamation lawsuit against the university.
Project Veritas is under federal investigation for allegedly stealing a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, President Biden’s daughter. The group has any wrongdoing.
The Times notes that Zappier’s lawsuits allege “drinking and drug use were ‘rampant’ within Project Veritas and that supervisors were sexually involved with subordinates.” The filings document that workers regularly worked additional hours without pay and that the organization kept a corporate apartment that was used “used like a ‘frat house’ for drinking, sex, and parties.”
Zappier specifically details how Spadone regularly commented on her appearance and would greet her by saying, “Hey, gorgeous.” The suit alleges that on Dec. 17, 2021, “a sweaty and intoxicated Mr. Spadone grabbed Ms. Zappier while she was on a dance floor, wrapped her in a bear hug and began to kiss her,” according to a summary in the Times.
Additionally, the suit details Zappier’s time working closely with O’Keefe. Zappier alleges:
O’Keefe gave instructions to flag private messages on his social media account from attractive women so he could respond to them personally; that he wanted young, attractive female operatives he referred to as “pretty young things” or “PYTs” to be hired to go on undercover dates; and that he mandated that the group’s operatives review copies of the book and movie “Red Sparrow,” about a Russian intelligence agent trained in “sexpionage.”
Zappier’s lawsuits were filed some two months after Project Veritas filed its own suit against Zappier and her husband, Vincent Zappier, alleging she broke the terms of her separation agreement and Vincent was harassing the group’s employees.
Hamilton issued a cease-and-desist letter to a Texas church for illegally performing the hit Broadway musical with a homophobic twist.
The Door McAllen church in McAllen, Tex., put on its unlawful version of the show on Friday night, according to Hamilton writer Howard Sherman. It also had a show on Saturday.
“Last night, The Door McAllen Church in McAllen TX committed a blatant copyright violation by performing and live-streaming their own production of @HamiltonMusical, which is not licensed for any productions. They changed text and tacked on a sermon including anti-LGBTQ message,” posted Sherman in a Twitter thread.
“Jesus gives me the strength to pull through when I needed him most he was right on time” is not part of @HamiltonMusical but The Door McAllen put those words in Eliza [Hamilton]’s mouth last night and they plan to do it again tonight. Tacked on sermon talks about sin. This is illegal.”
“Jesus gives me the strength to pull through when I needed him most he was right on time” is not part of @HamiltonMusical but The Door McAllen put those words in Eliza’s mouth last night and they plan to do it again tonight. Tacked on sermon talks about sin. This is illegal. pic.twitter.com/G1MnXhRDvQ
The church’s rendition ends with a homophobic speech by the church’s pastor, Victor Lopez.
“[God] knows exactly what you’ve gone through,” Lopez said. “You’ve gone through maybe broken marriages. Maybe you struggle with alcohol, with drugs, with homosexuality. Maybe you struggle with other things in life, your finances, whatever, God can help you tonight.”
This is how The Door McAllen church concluded its illegal production of Hamilton: with a sermon demonizing homosexuality. pic.twitter.com/FXpw8ycvbb
“Hamilton does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not grant one to The Door Church,” Hamilton spokesperson Shane Marshall BrowntoldThe Washington Post. “We issued a cease-and-desist letter for the unauthorized use of Hamilton’s intellectual property, demanding the immediate removal of all videos and images from previous productions from the internet, including YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, their own website, and elsewhere.”
The award-winning Hamilton debuted in 2015 and is inspired by historian Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton. It’s now available on Disney+.
President Joe Biden visited flood-ravaged areas of Kentucky on Monday, where he gave an address to residents telling them that the federal government will do all that it can to bring relief to this “American problem.”
At least, 37 people have died since last month’s intense flooding in Kentucky, which saw massive amounts of rain within 48 hours. Hundreds of rescue efforts took place by boat and air, with first responders searching for missing residents in the wreckage.
As Biden addressed some of the residents of the impacted community, he reflected on his opportunity to meet some of the families.
“You see what has happened to their properties, their trailer, everything that they had,” the President said as he motioned to the wreckage behind him.
Biden continued, “Now they have come together. No complaining. Just getting up.”
The President then noted a conversation he had with a man whose home was destroyed by the flood. “He said, ‘well you know, we Kentuckians don’t want to ask for too much.’”
Biden said that the man didn’t realize that the federal government had the capability to aid in a natural disaster of this nature, to which he replied, “you’re kidding me.”
“They’re not just Kentuckians, they’re Americans,” added Biden, “This happened in America,” and it is an “American problem,” he insisted.
The President argued that the ability to aid those impacted by the devastating floods is within reach:
And we’re all Americans, everyone has an obligation to help. We have the capacity to do this. It’s not like it is beyond our control. The weather may be beyond our control for now. But it’s not beyond our control. And I promise you we’re staying, the federal government along with the state, county, and the city. We’re staying until everybody is back to where they were. Not a joke.
“We’re going to come back better than before,” said Biden, “I really mean it. That’s the objective I have. Not come back to what we were before.”
Biden added that “we have the wherewithal to do it, with the legislation that’s been bipartisanly passed.”
The President concluded with some inspirational words, “We never bow. We never bend. We just go forward, and that’s what we’re going to do here,” joking,“the bad news for you is I’m coming back because I want to see it.”
Conservative commentator Charlie Sykes admonished Republicans for adopting “extreme” anti-abortion positions ahead of November’s midterm elections.
On Monday’s Hallie Jackson Reports on MSNBC, guest host Katy Tur host cited new polling that shows 49% of Americans say they would be more likely to vote for candidates who support legal access to abortion. Meanwhile, 27% say they’d support candidates who seek to restrict access. Twenty-two percent say the issue would have no impact.
The survey dropped less than a week after voters in Kansas roundly rejected a measure that would have stripped language from the state constitution that grants a right to abortion.
Sykes, who is pro-life, accused Republicans of pushing “extreme” bills designed to restrict abortion access, including in Indiana, which recently passed a near-total ban on abortion:
As you drill down into what people say about abortion, there are a lot of ambiguities about when they believe abortion should be legal. But there is a consensus that there ought to be at least some legal abortion in a first trimester.
And so what you’re seeing in Kansas is not only is this mobilizing Democrats and dividing Republicans, it also revealed that there are swing voters. There are people who are looking at these extreme pieces of legislation being passed in places like Oklahoma and Texas and now Indiana, and saying, “You know, I really don’t want that world. I am willing to take a position – even if I am pro-life – that doesn’t open the door to these kinds of things.”
He went on to state that one of the key political questions on the abortion issue would be which party will be able to paint the other as staking out extreme positions.
“One of the big questions I had is, which party would be able to define the other party as extreme on this issue?” he continued. “And the Republicans around the country are basically saying, ‘Hold my beer. Look at the bills that we are willing to pass.’”
Sykes speculated that if ever given the opportunity, voters in Indiana would produce results similar to the Kansas referendum:
You saw this in Kansas where that was not even close. And my guess is that if you had a similar referendum in the state of Indiana, you would get roughly similar results – even though that is a red state – because this is very much out of step.
Now, I think that one of the things you’re seeing is the pro-life movement has been pushing this issue for 50 years and it is intellectually consistent to say that if you think it’s murdering a baby, that you can’t have it to conception, but that is wildly out of step with the mainstream electorate. And there are these swing voters, particularly in the suburban areas, who I think are going to be very, very turned off by this.
“Republican primary voters are demanding the purest possible position on abortion,” he concluded, predicting this will hobble some GOP nominees in the general election.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) told MSNBC’s José Díaz-Balart that he had no fear making the recent trip to Taiwan with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), despite the condemnation from Chinese officials and increased military drills in the area.
Balart noted the plane Pelosi and the others traveled on took a longer route to Taiwan, avoiding a direct route over the South China Sea where there is a sizable military presence.
“Were you and your colleagues ever worried about your safety? Boy, China was saying all kinds of things,” Balart asked Krishnamoorthi, one of multiple lawmakers to accompany Pelosi on her headline-making visit.
The congressman noted the massive amount of threats made through Chinese social media, including some saying they would shoot the Pelosi’s plane down, but insisted he was “not concerned” for his safety.
“We were in the safe hands of the Air Force, as well as Navy,” he said, applauding the service members for creating unspecified “counter measures” against the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “dissuade” the U.S. officials from visiting.
Balart noted a potential piece of legislation that would “bolster” Taiwan’s defense capabilities against Chinese militarism, legislation that is reportedly not finding much support in the White House, which fears it could have a negative impact on U.S. relations with China.
“I respectfully disagree with the White House,” Krishnamoorthi said. “I think right now we have to help. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, we have an obligation to support the self-defense of Taiwan, and we cannot cower in the face of intimidation or bullying by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The U.S., the congressman added, will need to step in and help Taiwan now, or he predicts another Ukraine-skyle invasion.
“To avoid what happened in Ukraine happening with Taiwan, we’re going to have to achieve peace through strength,” he said.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney put the Republican nominee for Senate in Ohio, J.D. Vance, under pressure by asking whether former President Donald Trump’s endorsement is causing him to trail Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) in recent polls.
Vance won his primary in Ohio in May, after being endorsed by Trump, who decided to back the candidate even though he had not been a loyal Trump supporter from the get-go. Trump acknowledged that the HillBilly Elegy author had criticized him in the past, but chose to support Vance over other Trump loyalist candidates.
After Vance’s victory, many were quick to credit Trump’s endorsement. Recently, however, Vance has lost steam with polls reporting that he is trailing Ryan.
Varney asked Vance whether he is “behind in this race perhaps because you’ve got the endorsement of Donald Trump?”
“No, not at all,” replied Vance.
Vance then argued that the polling showing him trailing his opponent is biased to give Democrats an advantage:
I mean look, the polls, two things on this. The polls in Ohio have always missed. They said that Joe Biden would win Ohio. In 2020, Donald Trump won by eight points. But more importantly, the only independent polls in the race actually show me up. The Democrats biased polls certainly show me trailing, but we know the reason those polls are out there is to help the Democrats fundraise.
Vance then switched the focus of the discussion to the Senate’s recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which he claimed “is going to fall hard on Ohio families.”
After 16 hours of voting, the Senate passed the bill on Sunday, with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. The Inflation Reduction Act claims to address a number of core priorities for the Biden administration, including reducing the federal deficit, lowering healthcare costs, and fighting climate change.
“I’m not worried at all about where this political race is,” continued Vance, “I do worry about this economy and whether Ohio families can afford to survive another couple of years of the Joe Biden, Tim Ryan regime.”
Acclaimed actress and singer Olivia Newton-John died on Monday morning at the age of 73, her husband announced on her Facebook page.
John Easterling, who married the star in 2008, wrote:
Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.
Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org).
Olivia is survived by her husband John Easterling; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; nieces and nephews Tottie, Fiona and Brett Goldsmith; Emerson, Charlie, Zac, Jeremy, Randall, and Pierz Newton-John; Jude Newton-Stock, Layla Lee; Kira and Tasha Edelstein; and Brin and Valerie Hall.
Newton-John was born in the U.K. in 1948 was raised in Australia, where she became renowned for her vocals and style in the early 1970s. She found international fame for her role as Sandy Olsson in the 1978 musical Grease, in which she starred alongside John Travolta.
Travolta posted a tribute to Newton-John on Instagram shortly after news of her death broke.
Newton-John was a four-time Grammy winner, and also received a Daytime Emmy, a Country Music Association award, nine Billboard awards, and 10 American Music awards.
In 1992, she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer returned and spread in 2017.
“Life is a gift and I’ve had an amazing life and I intend to keep going with it and I want to help other people with cancer of course,” she toldPeople magazine that year. “I have my wellness center in Melbourne and I want to see it in my lifetime so other people don’t have to suffer.”
Newton-John’s cause of death has not been reported.
This article has been updated with additional information.
A panelist on Russian state TV said on Monday that Russia should launch nuclear strikes on Washington and London if a Russian-controlled nuclear power plant is damaged.
Appearing on state-controlled Russia-1, Yuri Kot said:
We all understand very well that they’re generating a fictional reality, yeah? And then there’s the real reality, yeah, which we’re dealing with think it would make sense to address directly Ukraine and the countries supporting it, for example Britain and America first and foremost, and say to them, ‘If, G-d forbid, the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is damaged and a disaster happens, two missiles will instantly land in your decision-making centers, one in Washington and the other in London. Nuclear ones! And that’s it!
However, it is Russia that has threatened to blow up the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.
“As you know, we have mined all the important facilities of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. And we’re not hiding it from the enemy. We warned them. The enemy knows that the station will be either Russian or no one’s,” said Russian Maj. Gen. Valerii Vasyliev. “We are prepared for the consequences of this step. And you, the liberating soldiers, must understand that we have no other choice. And if the toughest order comes, we must fulfil it with honor!”
Russia has been in charge of the power plant since March.
Gabby Petito’s parents have launched a lawsuit against police officers with the Moab Police Department, seeking $50 million dollars for her wrongful death.
Petito was reported missing on September 11th, 2021 after she failed to return home from a road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie.
During their trip, the couple stopped in Moab, Utah. On August 12th, they got into a public domestic altercation where a witness reportedly accused Laundrie of hitting Petito. Moab police were called to handle the situation.
Moab police advised the couple to spend the night apart and sent them on their way. Just over a month later, on September 19th, Petito would be found strangled to death near the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.
Laundrie would evade police and later kill himself before police would have the opportunity to interview him about Petito’s death. He left behind a cryptic notebook that alleges he “ended her life” after Petito had a serious fall along a hiking route.
The notebook, found next to Laundrie’s body in a nature reserve in Sarasota, Florida, read, “I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock.”
Now, almost a year after her disappearance, her parents, Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt along with their respective spouses, are still searching for answers. On Monday, they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Moab police alleging that they failed to intervene correctly during the couple’s domestic violence incident.
The suit says that Petito’s death was caused by the police’s “negligent failure to understand and enforce the law of the State of Utah, to investigate Brian’s self-evidently false claims during their interviews with him, to properly train the officers to investigate domestic violence situations, and to properly assess the circumstances, including to identity Brian as the true primary aggressor.”
The suit names over 10 officers involved in the incident and says her death was “caused by their wrongful acts or neglect.”