#Metoo advocate Cristina Garcia accused of groping a man

The California Legislature's widening sexual misconduct scandal now includes allegations against a Democratic lawmaker known for her fierce advocacy on women's issues, including an anti-sexual harassment movement that began sweeping the Capitol last fall.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said Thursday she'll fully cooperate with an investigation into an allegation she groped a 25-year-old man who worked for another lawmaker in 2014.

Daniel Fierro alleges that she stroked his back, squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch in the dugout after a legislative softball game.

Garcia said she doesn't recall the incident.

Fierro didn't report it at the time but in January told his former boss, Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, who reported it to Assembly leaders.

Speaker Anthony Rendon confirmed an investigation is underway on Thursday, after Politico first reported it.

"I trust that while the investigation proceeds Assemblymember Garcia will respond appropriately and in a way that fortifies the Legislature's effort to create a new climate," he said in a statement.

Garcia is the latest lawmaker, and the first woman, in the California Legislature to face accusations following the #MeToo movement, which began last fall as a social media campaign used by millions to tell personal experiences with sexual harassment.

About two dozen sexual harassment allegations were made against Assembly lawmakers, staff and lobbyists in 2017 - the most within a single year since 2006 - and at least eight allegations are pending, according to documents released last week.

Garcia's spokeswoman Teala Schaff said the assemblywoman learned January 23 a complaint was filed but was given no details and only learned the specifics of the allegations from Politico.

"Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place," the Los Angeles-area lawmaker said in a statement.

"I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behaviour and such behaviour is inconsistent with my values."

Fierro said he decided to tell Calderon about the incident because of Garcia's outspokenness in the #MeToo movement, which has led to investigations in statehouses nationwide.

"If the person leading the charge on it isn't credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories," Fierro told the AP.

Garcia's photo was featured in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue on being one of the "Silence Breakers" on sexual harassment.

She quickly condemned male colleagues who were accused of sexual misconduct last fall, allegations that prompted two to resign.

This Monday, she spoke at a rally outside the Capitol in favour of legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown giving legislative staff members whistleblower protections for reporting sexual misconduct or other misbehaviour.

Cristina Garcia
Garcia is the first woman in the California Legislature to face accusations following the #MeToo movement. Source: Associated Press


Watch: Man narrowly escapes death as bank he's walking along collapses into raging Argentina floodwaters

A man had a narrow escape from death when part of a river bank he was walking along in Argentina collapsed into raging floodwaters below only a second after he walked over the spot.

Video of the incident shows a group of people walking along the banks of the River Pilcomayo in northern Argentina as the water reportedly rose to seven metres.

One man walks past the spot that's about to slip, but onlookers, apparently seeing what was about to happen, start shouting as another man steps over.  The ground disappears just a second later.

The video carried by Australia's Nine News is taken from a cliff above the river bank.

Heavy rain for days has affected more than 60,000 people in the region, Argentinian authorities have said.

Severe flooding has hit several parts of South America, including Bolivia where it has reportedly killed at least six people and left at least 50,000 homeless.


Fully compostable takeaway coffee cup created by UK company

A company in the UK has come up with a solution to the serious damage caused by plastic - a fully compostable takeaway coffee cup.

BBC reports that Biome Bioplastics has made a cup using natural materials including potato starch, and cellulose - which makes up plant cell walls. 

The cup is fully biodegradable and also completely disposable meaning it can be recycled or discarded as food waste. They are not yet on the market.

At present only nine per cent of what we think we are recycling is actually being recycled, coffee cups being a large part of this.

According to BBC's report, consumers believe coffee cups are already recyclable but the lids tend to be made from a plastic, which makes the cup water proof an therefore not be recyclable.

Science Magazine reports that currently over five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans and some which will take up to 1000 years to degrade fully. 

Coffee cup (file picture).
Coffee cup (file picture). Source: istock.com