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Jan 19
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Anyone who values reproductive rights for women, take note: Donald Trump on Friday became the first sitting U.S. president to speak at the March for Life, an annual rally held by abortion opponents in the nation’s capital. Trump’s speech, delivered from the White House Rose Garden and shown to the thousands who turned out on the National Mall, comes just days before the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Roe v. Wade case, which legalized abortion.

Trump’s appearance wasn’t just meant to be symbolic — his rhetoric was strong. “Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life,” he vowed, while pointing out that his administration is making it easier for states to direct funds away from Planned Parenthood.

Trump, as he often does, played fast and loose with the facts, particularly with his remarks on late-term abortion, which he insisted “is wrong” and “has to change.” According to The Washington Post, Trump grossly overstated the amount of abortions that occur during the ninth month of pregnancy. “Ninth month” abortions, as Trump put it, are effectively banned already because most states bar abortions from being performed after certain points of pregnancy well before the ninth month.

While Trump’s words were tough, assessing how much meaning they actually carry or whether he’s just pandering to his base is another challenge unto itself. As The Washington Post notes, some conservatives are upset that Trump hasn’t done more to crack down on abortion in his first year in office. And it’s always worth considering an old interview in which the Trump of 1999 contradicted the Trump of 2018. During an appearance on Meet The Press, Tim Russert asked Trump about partial birth abortion and Trump replied, saying, “I’m very pro-choice.” He admitted that “I hate the concept of abortion,” but still returned to the idea that “I just believe in choice.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post

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‘Did not want this’

The creator of the Shitty Men in Media list, New York-based writer Moira Donegan, never wanted to be identified as the list’s creator, she told The New York Times’ Ainara Tiefenthäler during her first on-camera interview. Donegan revealed her identity a week ago after it appeared that journalist Katie Roiphe was planning to out her in an upcoming piece for Harper’s magazine. Roiphe has denied that she planned on revealing Donegan’s identity, but acknowledged that she had asked a fact-checker to message her and inquire about whether she wanted to claim responsibility for the list.

“I actively tried to avoid this. I’m a very private person. I did not want this kind of attention to be on me,” she said, adding that she now lives in fear of possible violent retaliation from men — on the list or otherwise — who feel anger toward her for having creating it.

Donegan explained to Tiefenthäler how the list arose as a form of whisper network that was meant to allow women to share the names of men “who had behaved badly toward them, whether through sexual assault or rape or harassment.” She shared it with friends and colleagues in her industry who she knew had their own stories, and “from there, they sent it to people they knew had stories — and they sent it to people they knew had stories.”

The spreadsheet grew larger and larger — eventually encompassing more than 70 names, 14 of whom were highlighted in red to indicate multiple claims of rape or sexual assault against them. Eventually, the list became public knowledge after someone shared it on social media — prompting investigations of some of the men on the list, as well as a nationwide discussion.

“So much of the conversation after the spreadsheet was made public was about the methodology of the spreadsheet, and sort of the tactics that anonymous women were using to try and keep each other safe,” said Donegan. “People were more worried about a hypothetical man whose reputation might be damaged than real women who were really raped.”

Asked whether she felt guilty that some men on the list lost their jobs, Donegan noted that they were only fired after “they were found to have committed wrongdoing … it’s their responsibility that they acted that way.”

Read the full story at The New York Times and watch the full interview above.

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‘Shoulder to shoulder’

During the Women’s March on Washington last year, which drew half a million people into the U.S. capital and sparked solidarity marches across the globe, curators from the Smithsonian Institute were quietly embarking on an important project — collecting signs from the protesters to preserve the movement’s place in history.

Lisa Kathleen Graddy, a curator for Division of Political History at the National Museum of American History, said that she and six colleagues went to the National Mall on the morning of the popular mass-protest in an attempt to collect material that would help inform current and future generations about what the march had been like, and what the protest was about. Asking people to donate their signs to history, she recalled, almost always generated an identical heartwarming response.

“First, they’re startled,” said Graddy. “They’re stunned that the Smithsonian might be interested in something they made or are carrying, and then most people are pleased. It’s a nice thing to have somebody come up and say ‘We’d like to save that thing you’re carrying for all time.’”

After sorting through the myriad materials they had gathered, the curators culled their collection to about 50 items — including roughly 35 posters featuring slogans such as: “Girls just want fundamental rights” and “Out of the minivan and into the streets.”

Asked about what her personal favorite sign was, Graddy told The Cut that making such a decision was “like choosing your favorite child.”

“There were so many that were amazing, but there was one […] it was covered in images of women suffragists, and used the slogan ‘Shoulder to Shoulder,’” she said.

On Saturday, thousands of women will celebrate the anniversary of the original protest by participating in the 2018 Women’s March.

Read the full story at The Cut.

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Preemptive denial

Even before actor and producer Michael Douglas was publicly accused of sexually harassing the woman who ran the New York office of his production company, and masturbating in front of her, Douglas was already issuing preemptive denials and attacks on his accuser’s character.

In a case that The Hollywood Reporter editorial director Matthew Belloni described as a prime example of “the media’s responsibility and challenge in the post-Weinstein era,” Douglas swifty went on the offensive after Belloni and THR deputy editorial director Alison Brower spoke with Douglas about disturbing allegations against him from well-known journalist and author Susan Braudy, who helped run Douglas’ production company, Stonebridge Productions, in the late ‘80s. Douglas spoke with Belloni off the record, issued a brief written statement of denial, and then gave Deadline a phone interview before Belloni could publish Braudy’s claims of harassment. Without giving Braudy’s name, Douglas dismissed her allegations as “a complete lie,” claimed that she was “disgruntled her career didn’t go the way she hoped and she is holding this grudge,” and even insinuated that THR was “exploiting” the #MeToo movement.

According to Braudy, Douglas constantly made crude sexual remarks to her and about her while she was working for him. His constant comments about her body, she said, prompted her to begin “wearing long, loose layers of black.” But the most shocking incident, she said, occured when Douglas abruptly slid out of his chair and onto the floor while they were having a script meeting about an E.T.-like character at his apartment.

“Michael unzipped his chinos and I registered something amiss,” Braudy recalled. “Still complimenting my additions to our E.T. imitation, his voice lowered at least half an octave. I peered at him and saw he’d inserted both hands into his unzipped pants. I realized to my horror that he was rubbing his private parts. Within seconds his voice cracked and it appeared to me he’d had an orgasm.” Shocked, Braudy said she fled Douglas’ apartment and jogged the 13 blocks home in tears. She said their working relationship was never the same after that. He pressured her to sign a confidentiality agreement for six months, she said, before ultimately firing her after it became clear she wouldn’t comply.

Braudy’s story was corroborated by detailed written notes and files she kept from her time working for Douglas and three people she told about her experience, including two well-known authors, who backed her up publicly. And Braudy, for one, told Bellini that Douglas’ response to her allegations came as no surprise — and even helped to explain why “it’s taken 30 years and a movement for me to gather my courage.”

Watch footage from Braudy’s first televised interview on NBC’s Today show below.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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Big news

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday that she was pregnant with her first child. When her due date arrives in June, Ardern will become the first national leader to give birth while in office since Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto did so in 1990, according to The New York Times. The prime minister made the announcement on Friday alongside her husband, Clarke Gayford, at a news conference.

Ardern became New Zealand’s third-ever female P.M. in October, capping a meteoric rise that began just six months ago when she became the leader of a struggling Labour party. A former DJ and lapsed Mormon, Ardern rapidly reinvigorated her party all while facing tough coverage from critics who made a repeated issue of her gender — as interviewers demanded to know whether she was a “show pony” chosen for her looks, or whether she would take parental leave if she ended up having a child while in office.

Questions about her looks aside, Ardern was initially open about her possible pregnancy plans, explaining that she considered her position no different from that of other working women who have to juggle multiple responsibilities. But after one particularly aggressive interview with radio host Mark Richardson, who insisted that she answer a question about whether she might take maternity leave, Ardern famously hit back, telling him that “it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace … It is the woman’s decision about when they choose to have children.”

Ardern, 37, said Friday that she would continue to work until the day she gives birth, and then take six weeks of parental leave. “I am not the first woman to multitask. I am not the first woman to work and have a baby,” Ardern told reporters. “We are going to make this work, and New Zealand is going to help us raise our first child.”

Upon returning to work, she will turn over the bulk of child caring responsibilities to Gayford, a TV host, who will take leave from his job to become a stay-at-home parent, an arrangement she mentioned in a tweet heralding the couple’s big news.

Deputy P.M. Winston Peters, Ardern said, would take on her duties while she was on leave, but that she would return to full duties immediately afterward — with Gayford and her child traveling with her whenever possible.

The country’s two prior women prime ministers, Helen Clark of the Labour Party and Jenny Shipley of the National Party, offered their congratulations to Ardern on Friday. Shipley said that she had no doubt that Ardern would prove both an excellent parent and P.M., while Clark added that every woman, leader of the country or otherwise, “should have the choice of combing family and career.”

Below, watch a clip from Ardern’s news conference.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Corruption

One of Canada’s most used morning sickness medications, prescribed to millions of pregnant women, is ineffective and the prior studies that supported its use were sponsored by the same company that produced the drug, according to a bombshell analysis of the drug’s original clinical trial that was published Wednesday in online journal PLOS ONE.

Toronto doctor and researcher Nav Persaud, who has previously authored papers exposing misleading results in studies advocating morning sickness drug Diclectin’s effectiveness, said he had been fighting to gain access to the results of the drug’s 2009 clinical trial for years. Health Canada ultimately agreed to release the results to him after making him and his co-authors sign a confidentiality agreement stipulating that they would not publicize the trial’s 9,174 pages of hidden data because the information was confidential and belonged to the drug company Duchesnay — which also just so happens to manufacture Diclectin. A prescription for Diclectin is filled for half of all live births in Canada, according to The Toronto Star.

“It’s disturbing that the company that sponsored the study has hidden the information. It’s also disturbing that the federal government that’s charged with protecting the health of Canadians has decided to hide this information,” said Persaud.

According to Persaud, the trial’s records showed a near insignificant difference between the reduction of symptoms of women who took the drug over placebo, and that even then the study appeared to have cherry-picked data in order to exaggerate the drug’s effectiveness. By the study’s own criteria, a 13-point scale, only a three-point difference should have been considered clinically important. The recorded difference between women who took the drug and those who took the placebo turned out to be only 0.7 points — a difference that Persaud said would not even be noticed by women who took the drug.

A 2015 investigation by The Star had also uncovered that Duchesnay had financial relationships with Dr. Gideon Koren, the co-author of the medical journal in which the results of the clinical trial were published, as well as the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. Koren, who now works in Israel, left his job at Sick Kids hospital in 2015 after it was discovered that his Motherisk program, which also has financial ties to Duchesnay, had sold faulty drug and alcohol tests that were used on at least 25,000 people across Canada — including in thousands of child protection cases.

Despite Persaud’s findings, which he’s been sounding the alarm on for years, Canada Health, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, continue to insist that the drug is both safe and effective.

Below, watch a video report by Canada’s CTV News in which Persaud speaks out and expresses his concerns about the drug being completely ineffective.

Read the full story at The Toronto Star.

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'Tables have turned'

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman appeared in Ingram County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan, on Thursday to confront Larry Nassar, the disgraced doctor and serial sexual abuser who has been hearing from his many victims all week. A statement from Raisman was expected to be read in court, similar to how one from McKayla Maroney was read on Thursday, but the Olympic legend surprised onlookers when she strode into the courtroom and took a seat a few feet away from Nassar, ABC News reported.

Raisman spoke for 13 minutes, saying at the beginning of her remarks that she was scared and nervous and unsure that she’d be able to show up to face him. But, she added, she took strength from hearing his other victims bravely confront him.

“The tables have turned, Larry,” Raisman said. “We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it’s your turn to listen to me. There is no map that shows you the pathway to healing. Realizing that you are a survivor of sexual abuse is really hard to put into words. I cannot adequately capture the level of disgust I feel when I think about how this happened. Larry, you abused the power and trust I and so many others placed in you, and I am not sure I will ever come to terms with how horribly you manipulated and violated me.”

Raisman went on to chastise Nassar for abusing the tremendous trust placed in him by the gymnastics community and spoke about the far-reaching effects his actions have had on her and the other victims. And then, in a powerful turn, she spoke about her ability to overcome what his crimes had done to her.

Former gymnast Jordyn Wieber speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, (foreground) a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid – RC1EB5767120

“I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I’ve regained my strength, that I’m no longer a victim. I’m a survivor. I am no longer that little girl you met in Australia, where you first began grooming and manipulating. As for your letter yesterday,” Raisman added, referring to Nassar’s note to the judge saying he couldn’t take listening to any more victim impact statements, “you are pathetic to think that anyone would have any sympathy for you.”

She concluded by taking aim at the culture and the people who allowed Nassar to remain in his position for so long. “Let this sentence strike fear in anyone who thinks it is OK to hurt another person. Abusers, your time is up. The survivors are here, standing tall, and we are not going anywhere. And please, your honor, stress the need to investigate how this happened so that we can hold accountable those who empowered and enabled Larry Nassar. So we can repair and once again believe in this wonderful sport,” she said.

“My dream is that one day everyone will know what the words, ‘me, too,’ signify, but they will be educated and able to protect themselves from predators like Larry so that they will never, ever, ever have to say the words, “me, too.”

Raisman’s statement was not the only surprise in court on Friday. Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber revealed publicly for the first time that she was sexually abused Nassar as well. “I thought that training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing that I would ever have to do,” Wieber told the court. “But in fact, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is process that I’m a victim of Larry Nassar.”

Watch Raisman’s statement below.

Read the full story at NBC Sports.

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01.19.18

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