Apr 19
Her eye on the news
‘The good Nixon’

Former Sex and the City star and current New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon fired shots at incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo during an appearance on Wednesday’s Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Speaking to Colbert, Nixon said that as “a lifelong New Yorker” she felt her state could “do so much better” than Cuomo.

“We’re a blue state. We’re a proudly Democratic state. But we’ve got a governor in there who governs like a Republican,” Nixon declared.

At the behest of the late night comedian, the longtime LGBT activist also addressed the uncomfortable optics of running for politics in New York as a Nixon.

“My mother used to say, she grew up during World War II with a father named Adolf and she lived through the 1970s with a husband named Nixon,” she recalled. “So I am aware of the dubious nature of my last name. But I have to say if given a choice, I would rather be the good Nixon than the bad Cuomo.”

In recent weeks, Cuomo has garnered criticism for dismissively referring to the longtime LGBT activist’s candidacy as “silly” — and by insensitively, and inaccurately, referring to himself as an “undocumented” immigrant. Nixon has also attacked the governor for “mansplaining” sexual harassment by telling a woman reporter that she was “doing a disservice to women” by asking him about the alleged sexual harassment perpetrated by one of his top aides — and by failing to include any women in closed-door talks about new sexual harassment proposals in the state budget. Nixon is nonetheless facing an uphill battle, as Cuomo has both the backing of the Democratic establishment and a 31-percentage-point lead over Nixon in the polls.

Below, watch Nixon’s complete appearance on the Late Show.

Read the full story at The Cut.


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Speaking out

Director Fausto Brizzi, who became known as the “Italian Weinstein” after 10 woman accused him of sexual harassment or assault, is facing charges from three women who have accused the popular filmmaker of rape. All three women who brought charges against Brizzi alleged that he lured them to his apartment by claiming he planned to audition them before proceeding to force himself on them instead. But since two of the complaints took place more than six months ago — which is beyond the statute of limitations according to Italy’s archaic rape laws — it is considered unlikely that Brizzi will face conviction. Rape wasn’t even a crime in Italy until 1996, as Asia Argento pointed out last week in an Op-Ed for Women in the World.

In November, Mediaset TV show Le Lene ran a segment on sexual harassment during which 10 of the 30 women interviewed admitted to facing harassment or assault from Brizzi. The filmmaker, who has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex, has so far managed to avoid serious repercussion from the accusations. He released a new movie with Warner Bros. in December, although the media company said that it would be suspending further work with him.

Actress and director Asia Argento, who also appeared at the 2018 Women in the World Summit about the stigma she faced in her native Italy after she spoke out about her alleged rape at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, was among those who responded to the news by calling for a change to the country’s rape laws.

“Predators and harassers will go unpunished,” she wrote on Twitter. “We need to change this law that was created before the unification of Italy!”

As Argento and other panelists noted during their panel at the 2018 Women in the World Summit, the Italian media has been quick to defend men in power, and condemn women who share their #MeToo stories as prostitutes or worse. Producer Luca Barbareschi, with whom Brizzi has a three-year contract, has been among the many to claim that the women accusing the director are “loonies” who should not be taken seriously.

Watch the complete panel from the 2018 Women in the World Summit below.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.


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Courtroom drama

Model Karen McDougal will be allowed to speak publicly about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump after reaching a deal with tabloid news company American Media Inc., which had silenced her by buying the rights to her story during Trump’s presidential campaign.

Earlier this month, it had appeared that A.M.I, whose chairman, David J. Pecker, is a friend of Trump’s, would fight McDougal after she sued the media company to get out of the deal, alleging that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen had secretly been communicating with A.M.I. and McDougal’s lawyer during the negotiation of the deal to sell her story to the tabloid for $150,000. But after a raid on Cohen’s office by federal investigators reportedly revealed evidence supporting McDougal’s argument — including the fact that McDougal’s then-attorney, Keith M. Davidson, had emailed Cohen immediately after the deal was completed — A.M.I. abruptly agreed to release the model from the agreement. Perhaps not coincidentally, Davidson also represented Stormy Daniels when she agreed to a non-disclosure agreement about her alleged affair with Trump. Another of Cohen’s three clients, RNC deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy, also obtained a non-disclosure agreement from a woman represented by Davidson.

As part of the settlement, McDougal will keep the money from the settlement but A.M.I will have the right to $75,000 of any future profits from her story about the alleged affair. McDougal will also be featured in an upcoming magazine cover and feature article, and be syndicated as a fitness columnist in some of the companies publications. McDougal has said she currently has no plans to sell her story to a new buyer, and that for now she plans “to relax and get my life back.” In a separate investigation, A.M.I. is facing a complaint from the Federal Election Commission that buying McDougal’s story — and subsequently burying it — constituted an illegal campaign expenditure.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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‘Crying evangelist’

Jennifer Palmieri, the former communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the White House during President Barack Obama’s administration has an important takeaway from her years working with the nation’s most powerful politicians — don’t be afraid to cry. Palmieri is the author of a new book — Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World. Speaking about the book with Mic, she recalled how she and other women in positions of leadership were conditioned to always respond to bad news with a simple nod, rather than tears.

“As a woman, I have to prove no matter how tough or bad the news is that I can handle it,” Palmieri explained. “We either mute ourselves or hold ourselves back from behaving as we are inclined to because we think that’s not acceptable at work.”

But personally, she said, she found that standard impossible — and unproductive — to try to live up to.

“I have cried in the Oval Office, in the West Wing of the White House, in presidential motorcades, in holding rooms at the Kremlin, out of exhaustion and frustration. I have cried in front of Hillary Clinton, I have cried in front of Barack Obama, I am a crying evangelist,” said Palmieri.

Have you ever cried at work? If so, tell us about it and use the hashtag #IveCriedAtWork

And for those serving publicly, she said, crying be an important way of showing the public how one really feels.

“I certainly saw President Obama cry on many occasions … The first time was after Newtown, which he still says is the most devastating day of his presidency,” she said, recalling when President Obama famously teared up during a press conference about the need for gun control after 20 children were killed in a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

The rise of the #MeToo movement and other women’s rights initiatives across the United States, Palmieri noted, was allowing women to finally change the discourse on what’s considered acceptable in the workplace — in more ways than one.

“I think that is what this time is for women now,” she said. “We get to decide what we think is professional in the workplace, what works for us, and what makes an environment a place where we can succeed. Do not mute your passions and do not mute your emotions. If you are moved to cry because you are angry and frustrated or because something is that important to you — do it.”

Watch Palmieri’s interview with Mic below.


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Permanent home

The “Fearless Girl” statue that was installed in March 2017 and has become a symbol of female empowerment will be moved, the firm behind it said — but it will be relocated to a new home not far away at the New York Stock Exchange.

State Street Global Advisors, the group that initially erected the statue last year as means of highlighting the need for more women on corporate boards, said on Thursday that it will be moved by the end of the year. “Our goal is to promote the power of having women in leadership, and placing her right next to the New York Stock Exchange is really the perfect metaphor,” Cyrus Taraporevala, president and CEO of State Street Global Advisors, told The New York Daily News. The stock exchange is located about three blocks from the ‘Charging Bull.”

Since the statue went up, it’s become a huge tourist attraction, with scores of people stopping to snap photos with the sculpture that depicts a young girl standing bravely as her pony tail blows in the wind. ‘Fearless Girl’ became an instant hit with tourists and city dwellers alike, and its popularity — not to mention a petition that garnered tens of thousands of signatures — prompted New York City mayor Bill de Blasio to extend the statue’s permit to be placed in that spot for another year.

The ‘Fearless Girl’ statue stands facing the ‘Charging Bull’ as tourists take pictures in New York. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

However, the statue hasn’t been completely without controversy. It’s been the target of several instances of ugly vandalism and some feminists have criticized the statue for being a version of “corporate feminism.”

Other factors that went into finding a new permanent home for the “Fearless Girl” included public safety, as the throngs of tourists reportedly often end up standing in the street when they come top pay her a visit. Nevertheless, New York Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said, the statue’s symbolism wouldn’t be lost after the move. “What could be more important than the sort of epicenter of corporate power?” Glen said. “And clearly, the ‘Fearless Girl’ was built to talk about that.”

Read the full story at The New York Daily News.


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'True American hero'

Southwest flight 1380 had just reached a cruising altitude of 32,500 feet for Tuesday’s flight from New York City to Dallas when one of its engines exploded. Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy — and one of the first women to ever fly fighter jets for the Navy — was captaining the 737 and her grace under extreme pressure is being credited for saving the lives of the 144 passengers and five crew members onboard that nearly doomed flight.

After the explosion, chaos ensued in the cabin. A piece of engine debris smashed into one of the windows, breaking it, and causing the passenger seated next to it to nearly be sucked out. Other passengers worked to keep Jennifer Riordan, a Wells Fargo executive and mother of two from Albuquerque, from being pulled out of the plane, but the blunt force trauma injuries she suffered, a medical examiner said, caused her death later. Through it all, Shults never lost her cool. Recordings of her communications with air traffic control show she was calm and in command as she delivered the devastating news that the damaged aircraft had a full tank of fuel and more than 140 passengers aboard.

“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” Shults told an air traffic controller, as she redirected the plane to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” Shults asked for emergency medical staff to meet the plane on the runway, adding, “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?” an air traffic controller is heard responding on the tape.

“No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, before relaying the grim report she’d received from the cabin. “They said there’s a hole, and, uh, someone went out.”

Shults eventually landed the plane safely, touching down in Philly at 190 mph, according to TRhe Washington Post, with the only death being that of Riordan due to her injuries. The pilot shook the hand of all the passengers as they left the crippled jetliner, and passengers sang her praises for helping them all elude death.

“She has nerves of steel,” Alfred Tumlinson, a 55-year-old passenger on board 1380 said. He credited Shults’s calm demeanor with keeping passengers from complete panic, even as instructed everyone onboard to brace themselves. Tumlinson’s wife, Diana McBride Self, was more succinct, saying Shults is “a true American hero.”

Indeed, social media users compared her feat to that of Chesley Sullenberger, the U.S. Airways pilot who famously landed his crippled jet on the Hudson River in 2009 following a bird strike moments after takeoff.

There’s no doubt Shults is a hero — and she is a humble one. According to Southwest, she won’t be giving any interviews to the press. She released a joint statement on social media with her co-pilot, Darren Ellisor, that downplayed their heroics.

We all feel we were simply doing our jobs,” Shults and Ellisor said in the statement. “Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss.

In 2012, Shultz authored a memoir about her career titled Military Fly Moms, in which she addressed being one of only a few women flying fighter jets in the Navy. “I set to work trying to breaking into that club,” she wrote, according to ABC News. When she met another woman aviator at the time, she wrote, “My heart jumped,” that she wasn’t alone in the male-dominated segment of the military.

For more on Shults and her remarkable career, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post


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New rules

Last week, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois became the first sitting senator in American history to give birth while in office. This week, Duckworth became the first sitting senator to inspire the staid legislative body to make a rare change to its rules and allow for babies to be brought on the chamber floor. And on Thursday, Duckworth and her newborn daughter, Maile Pearl, made history when the lawmaker brought the tot onto the Senate floor. News photos captured as they made their way into the Capitol showed Maile wearing a pink hat.

Below, watch the historic moment as Duckworth brings Maile out onto the Senate floor as she registers her vote.

Late Wednesday night, the Senate voted unanimously to change its rules and allow senators to bring children younger than 1 year old onto the floor while the legislative body is in session. Duckworth, who proposed the rule change, had said, “I can’t be away from a newborn infant in the first three months for that long,” and noted that breastfeeding was a concern. Duckworth has for months been working to change Senate rules to make them more friendly for working mothers, and she took to Twitter to laud the outcome of the vote.

“By ensuring that no Senator will be prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities simply because they have a young child, the Senate is leading by example and sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” she wrote in a post on Twitter. She added that the decision to allow babies on the Senate floor is not “just a women’s issue,” but a “common-sense economic issue,” and thanked colleagues for the bi-partisan support for “helping bring the Senate into the 21st Century.”

Duckworth, a U.S. veteran and war hero who lost both of her legs in combat, on April 10 gave birth to Maile Pearl, her second child with husband Bryan Bowlsbey. The senator gave birth to her first daughter, Abigail, in 2014, while serving in the House of Representatives. She is taking maternity leave, but plans to be in attendance for important votes, which can often take hours to complete. Earlier on Thursday, Duckworth said in a post on Twitter that she might actually have to go in and vote, and shared a photo showing that she and baby Maile Pearl are “prepped” (awwww) should they need make an appearance on the Senate floor.

In a show of just how rare this move was, the Senate hadn’t voted to allow additional floor privileges to its members since 1977, when the legislative body agreed to allow service dogs on the floor.

Read the full story at CNN.


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Fighting back

Schoolgirls in New Delhi, India, are taking self-defense classes as part of a police initiative to help protect and build the confidence of girls as the country struggles to deal with a persistent problem of sexual violence. Police Constable Renu, who like many Indians goes by one name, has been teaching a free 10-day self defense course to girls in Delhi’s public schools and universities — starting by teaching them to scream for help at maximum volume. Many girls, Renu explained, were too shy to even make enough noise to alert others to their predicament.

“To be able to make such a sound is empowering in itself,” she said.

During a recent class, Renu led approximately 180 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 through exercises in which they defended themselves from men grabbing them from behind with swift forceful strikes to vital areas. One student, Mona Shamsher, told The New York Times that her elder sister had been assaulted while on a walk in their neighborhood last year.

“At this time, girls aren’t safe. Men treat us like we aren’t human,” the 16-year-old said, adding that the self-defense classes had helped to restore her sense of confidence — and safety.

Nearly six years on from the fatal gang rape of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh on a bus in 2012, the country faces more than 100 instances of sexual assault every day, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. In a particularly heinous recent case, an 8-year-old girl was kidnapped, gang raped and murdered. But things don’t always end that way. In a recent incident, a teenager in Bengal who is proficient in martial arts reportedly fought off three men who were trying to sexually assault her in an alleyway.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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