Today, I have tragic news of a terrorist attack that resulted in the death of 12 people. There is also an update on Bill Cosby (spoiler alert: more of the same). And a terminally ill girl in Connecticut whose story mirrors the Brittany Maynard case that made headlines this summer.
Do you think Cassandra C. has the right to refuse cancer treatment? Are you excited about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s talk show? Are you a Californian who is going to raise your fork to the overturning of the foie gras ban? Talk about it or any news item in the comments or tweet me directly @AmandaLauren.
Je Suis Charlie
If you’ve seen the Twitter hashtag #JeSuisCharlie and thought “Charlie who?,” let me explain. Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical newspaper, which runs cartoons that offend just about everyone, including Muslims and Catholics, and has long been a target for violence. For example, in October 2011, Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed and its website hacked after publishing an issue which was “guest-edited” by Muhammad, with a cartoon on the cover and a caption that translated to “100 lashes if you don't die laughing.”
On Wednesday morning, terrorists forced their way into the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, killing eight journalists. They also killed a receptionist, a guest editor, and two police officers. Eleven others were wounded, four of whom are in serious condition. Witnesses say the men shouted “Allahu Akbar” when they started shooting and claimed they were “avenging the Prophet.”
Police identified two of the suspects, brothers Said Kouachi, 34, and Cherif Kouachi, 32 of Paris. They escaped and are still at large. (ETA: As of this morning, police believe they have cornered the suspects, who have apparently killed additional people and taken hostages during the continuing standoff.)
A third suspect, Hamyd Mourad, 18, turned himself into police. However, it’s been reported that Mourad didn’t actually participate in the act himself. All the men are reportedly affiliated with al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.
French President François Hollande called the events, “an act of indescribable barbarity.” He also tweeted,
No barbaric act will never extinguish the freedom of the press. We are a united country.
The Latest Cosby Update
This week, famed attorney Gloria Allred announced she is now representing three more women who say they were assaulted by him. At a press conference, Linda Kirkpatrick, Lynn Neal, and “Kacey” told their stories. The bottom line is that they all allege they were drugged and assaulted by Cosby.
The women are all planning on suing Cosby despite the passed the statute of limitations. Allred said,
I have been in contact with Mr. Cosby’s representatives in regard to the two challenges or invitations that I have offered to him. One was that he invite all the women to sue and he agree that he would not assert his statute of limitations.
This week former costar Phylicia Rashad also spoke out, defending her former costar to Showbiz411 at an event for the movie Selma:
Forget these women. What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.
On Wednesday evening, Rashad went on World News Tonight With David Muir and told Linsey Davis,
He’s a genius. He is generous. He’s kind. He’s inclusive.
But Rashad also said she was misquoted when she said, “Forget these women”:
That was a misquote. That is not what I said. What I said is, “This is not about the women.” This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.
However, when she was asked why Cosby would commit the acts he’s been accused of, Rashad said, “That’s my question, too.”
Another former costar, Keshia Knight Pulliam, also came to Cosby’s defense this week despite their not exactly close relationship.
Pulliam was fired from Celebrity Apprentice, which was filmed over a year ago, for not contacting Cosby to help with a challenge on the show. She told Trump she didn’t ask him for help because she hasn’t spoken to him in years. Of course that raised eyebrows, but Pulliam made her feelings clear on the Today show:
Honestly, that's not the man I know. All I can speak to is the man I know, and I love the fact that he has been such an example. You can't take away from the great that he has done, the millions and millions of dollars he has given back to colleges and education, and just what he did with The Cosby Show and how groundbreaking that was.
She also told Wendy Williams on her show,
The Cosbys, we were the first family that no matter what race, religion, you saw yourself in.... At the end of the day they are allegations.... I don't have that story to tell. [There are] two sides to the story…. I feel that once the dust settles people will realize how much he's given our society. You can't take that away.
Court Forces Minor to Undergo Cancer Treatment
On Thursday, a court ruled that a 17-year-old girl with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, “Cassandra C,” must receive chemotherapy against her wishes. She also published an op-ed through the AP, where she described how she is essentially being held hostage in a hospital by the state of Connecticut.
I have been locked in this hospital for a month, missing time from work, not being able to pay my bills. I couldn't celebrate Christmas and New Year's with my friends and family. I miss my cat and I miss fresh air. Having visitors is complicated, seeing my mom is limited, and I've not been able to see all of the people I'd like to.
After being diagnosed, Cassandra underwent an operation to remove part of her lymph node. But Cassandra never went to her follow-up appointments and sought a second opinion.
My mom and I wanted to make sure my diagnosis was correct, so we agreed to seek a second opinion. We wanted to be 100 percent sure I had cancer. Apparently, going for the second opinion and questioning doctors was considered "wasting time" and "not necessary." My mom was reported to the Department of Children and Families for medical neglect because we weren't meeting the doctors' time standard.
After the DFC came to her house, Cassandra went to two chemo treatments, but then ran away for a week to avoid the rest. When she returned, the DFC then forced her into the hospital for treatment.
Cassandra and her mother went to court to have her rights as a mature minor acknowledged so she could legally refuse treatment, but the judge said no. The mature minor doctrine allows 16- and 17-year-old minors to have control over their medical treatment, if the court declares they are competent.
Cassandra cannot understand why she isn’t considered competent to make her own medical decisions and is extremely frustrated with her situation:
This experience has been a continuous nightmare. I want the right to make my medical decisions. It's disgusting that I'm fighting for a right that I and anyone in my situation should already have. This is my life and my body, not DCF's and not the state's. I am a human — I should be able to decide if I do or don't want chemotherapy. Whether I live 17 years or 100 years should not be anyone's choice but mine.
How long is a person actually supposed to live, and why? Who determines that? I care about the quality of my life, not just the quantity.
· Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice is just days into her jail sentence and already set for an early release. She was originally sentenced to 15 months in prison, but prison records show her new release date is February 5, 2016.
· Famed astrophysicist, television personality, and podcaster Neil deGrasse Tyson is getting his own late-night talk show on National Geographic called StarTalk. The show will be similar to his podcast and will be filmed live in front of a studio audience at American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. The weekly show is set to debut in April.
· Foodies were outraged in California when the government banned foie gras (#firstworldproblems), but this week a judge overturned that decision. So what exactly is this treat? Foie gras is made when animals are force fed to the point where their livers swell. Judge Stephen V. Wilson overturned the ruling because banning foie gras interferes with the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. In the ruling, Wilson wrote, “California cannot regulate foie gras products' ingredients by creatively phrasing its law in terms of the manner in which those ingredients were produced.”