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Happening Today: Brett Kavanaugh, Korea, Elizabeth Smart, Virtual Reality Therapy, Julie Chen, Bert and Ernie

What to Know

  • Christine Blasey Ford wants the FBI to investigate her allegation she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee before she testifies
  • Virtual reality therapy can help people by exposing them gradually to their greatest terrors and phobias, experts say
  • Julie Chen revealed on the show via recorded message she is leaving 'The Talk,' after eight years following husband Les Moonves's CBS ouster

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Kavanaugh's Accuser Wants FBI Probe Before She Testifies

Christine Blasey Ford wants the FBI to investigate her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before she testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing next week, her lawyers said in a letter sent to the panel. The lawyers wrote that Ford, who is now a college professor in California, wants to cooperate with the committee. But in the days since she publicly accused Kavanaugh of the assault when they were teens at a party 35 years ago, the lawyers said, she has been the target of "vicious harassment and even death threats." Her family has relocated, they said. An FBI investigation "should be the first step in addressing the allegations," the lawyers wrote in the letter. The development comes after President Trump showered sympathy on his embattled nominee and as Senate Republicans and Democrats fought determinedly over who should testify at a high-stakes hearing on the allegation just six weeks before major congressional elections.

Kim Jong Un Agrees to Dismantle Main Nuke Site if US Takes Steps Too

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced a sweeping set of agreements after their second day of talks in Pyongyang that included a promise by Kim to permanently dismantle the North's main nuclear complex if the United States takes corresponding measures, the acceptance of international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032. Declaring they had made a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, the two leaders were side by side as they announced the joint statement to a group of North and South Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting. Kim and Moon earlier smiled and chatted as they walked down a hallway and into a meeting room to finalize the joint statement, which also said that the leaders would push for a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons and to "eliminate all the danger of war." They agreed that Kim would visit the South in the near future.

Woman Who Helped Kidnap Elizabeth Smart to Be Released

Elizabeth Smart said she's been assured the woman who helped kidnap her when she was 14 and stood by as she was sexually assaulted will be closely watched when she's released from prison. In an interview on "CBS This Morning," Smart said she believes Wanda Barzee remains a danger. Barzee is expected to be freed after 15 years in custody because Utah authorities had miscalculated the amount of time the 72-year-old woman should serve. Smart said she doesn't know all the conditions of Barzee's release but that she's been told a federal agent will keep a "close eye" on Barzee and that she would be returned to prison "as soon as she messes up." Barzee will be under federal supervision for five years. If she violates terms that include required mental health treatment and an order not to contact Smart's family, she would go back to prison.

Virtual Reality Therapy Offers More-Common Cure to Greatest Phobias

Virtual reality therapy can help people by exposing them gradually to their greatest terrors. The technology is just now reaching the mainstream after 20 years of research. Equipment is lighter and more affordable, with tech advances spilling over from the gaming industry to help people fight disabling fears of flying, heights, spiders or dogs. And the surge in products is bringing VR to more therapists' offices. Experts predict people with mild phobias will treat themselves successfully at home. Research shows VR therapy can lead to real-world gains for people with phobias, and works as well as traditional exposure therapy, which slowly subjects patients to what causes anxiety for them. With exposure therapy, a therapist can accompany a person who's afraid of heights to a tall building. With VR, a patient learns to feel safe on a virtual high-rise balcony, without leaving the therapist's office.

Julie Chen Leaving 'The Talk' After Husband Les Moonves' CBS Exit

Julie Chen revealed on the show via recorded message she is leaving "The Talk," after eight years to spend more time with her family following her husband Leslie Moonves's ouster from CBS in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Chen has not appeared on the daytime talk show since her husband's exit from the network was announced. Moonves' exit comes after a second round of sexual misconduct allegations brought to light by Rowan Farrow in stories in The New Yorker. While Chen hasn't sat alongside cohosts Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Eve and Sheryl Underwood on "The Talk," she did appear in her other regular CBS gig, hosting "Big Brother." For the first time, she signed off "Big Brother" using her married name, Julie Chen Moonves, in what seems to be a clear sign of support for her embattled husband. Moonves has denied the allegations.

Bert and Ernie Are a Gay Couple, Says Former 'Sesame Street' Writer

Ever since "Sesame Street" started in 1969, fans of all ages have grown to love two of the original characters, Bert and Ernie. And while there has long been speculation over the nature of their relationship, former "Sesame Street" writer Mark Saltzman confirmed in an interview with LGBTQ lifestyle website Queerty that the two are indeed a gay couple. Saltzman explained the duo is a reflection of his own same-sex relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman. He joked he was Ernie while Arnold was Bert. Yet despite Saltzman's declaration that the two are indeed a couple, the official Sesame Street Twitter account issued a statement contradicting their coupledom, saying they are "puppets" and "do not have a sexual orientation."

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