May 16
Her eye on the news
Another reboot

It’s not just Roseanne that’s back from the ’90s. CBS announced new details Wednesday about Murphy Brown returning to TV. The politically-charged sitcom that was carried by Candice Bergen for 10 seasons and once drew the ire of Vice President Dan Quayle is set to return in the fall. This time around, with the Emmy-winning Bergen, now 71, reprising her iconic role, the show is taking aim at cable news.

According to the network, Bergen’s character, who during the show’s initial run hosted a fictional prime-time newsmagazine called FYI, will now host a cable news morning show titled Murphy in the Morning. But in a twist, Murphy Brown will be going up against her son, who hosts a show during the same time-slot on a rival network.

CBS entertainment president Kelly Kahl said that the comparison to the Fox & Friends and Morning Joe — or Fox News versus MSNBC — dynamic is an apt one. She also noted that the network is hoping to replicate the success ABC has had by resurrecting Roseanne from the 1990s culture bin. “We fully expect a lot of people are going to come to [Murphy Brown],” Kahl said. “We felt … this could be a great piece to make this block the strongest on TV.” She added, “We’d love to get Roseanne numbers. I’m not sure we’re going to get Rosanne numbers.”

Murphy Brown was no stranger to politically-driven plot lines or controversy during its first run on TV. Bergen portrayed the title character, an acid-tongued single woman who returned to her hard-hitting TV news job after a stint in the Betty Ford Clinic. She was a no-holds-barred feminist hero who retains her credibility to this day.

The show famously irked then-Vice President Dan Quayle in 1992 as he and George H.W. Bush were stumping for a second term in the White House. Quayle took issue with the fourth season finale in which Murphy Brown, who was not married, gave birth to a baby boy. Quayle objected what he saw as a disintegration of family values, and mentioned the show in a speech on “moral values” that he delivered to the Commonwealth Club of California.

“It doesn’t help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown — a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid, professional woman — mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another ‘lifestyle choice,'” Quayle said at the time. The issue was so divisive and such a pivotal battle in the culture wars that it ended up at the top of Page One of The New York Times, an occasion the paper revisited earlier this year when news of the Murphy Brown resurrection initially broke.

The show even took on Quayle directly the following season. “These are difficult times for our country,” Bergen, in character as Murphy Brown on an episode of FYI, said directly into the camera. “And in searching for the causes of our social ills, we could choose to blame the media, or the Congress, or an administration that’s been in power for 12 years. Or,” Bergen deadpanned, “we could blame me.” The line drew an eruption of laughter from the live studio audience.

Later that year, Quayle and Bush were defeated in the general election by Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and Murphy Brown continued on television for another six years. It will return this fall on Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m.

Below, watch to see a clip of Quayle remarks and how the show responded.

Read the full story at Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter


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‘Women on wheels’

Women took to the streets on pink motorcycles in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday as part of a growing movement that seeks to empower women in the conservative country to enter the workforce by giving them the ability to transport themselves. The Pink Motorcycle Rally came as the Punjab government continues a “Women on Wheels” initiative that has provided motorcycles and lessons in how to drive them to thousands of women across the region over the past two years.

“The aim is to basically empower women for their mobility because economic independence and economic empowerment depends on mobility,” Salman Sufi, director general of the Punjab strategic reforms unit, said. “So we are giving 3,000 bikes, we have trained over 3,500 girls in all of Punjab and this is going to go on until we reach a target of around 10,000 plus.”

At Sunday’s rally, women said that it was normal to see women on motorcycles, but not actually driving them. Being beholden to men for transportation, they added, was a literal roadblock to improving the status of women in the country.

“We’re becoming … independent,” said biker Nageena Waseem. “Otherwise we were dependent on another person.”

According to recent studies, an estimated 75 percent of Pakistani women do not work — in large part because they lack any form of transportation.

Watch AFP’s coverage of the Pink Motorcycle Rally below.

Read the full story at Gulf News.


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An 8-month-old girl was the youngest victim of the at least 63 reportedly killed on Monday in fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters, the child’s family has said. The death is said to have occurred as live ammunition and tear gas was used to break up protests on the Gaza-Israel border. But doctors in Gaza have not confirmed the baby’s death was actually caused by exposure to tear gas, The Associated Press reported. At least 110 Palestinians have died in the fighting since protests began in late March, and more than 2,500 have been injured over that time

The family of the infant, Leila al-Ghandour, said that the girl’s 12-year-old uncle had mistakenly brought the baby, which some reports indicated was 9 months old, near the border during the confusion as thousands were shot in the legs by Israeli snipers trying to stop an estimated 40,000 protesters from advancing on the border or from throwing stones. According to the family, the baby was suffocated by tear gas dropped by an Israeli drone.

The baby’s mother, 17-year-old Mariam al-Ghandour, made no public statement but could be seen crying as her family discussed the child’s death with reporters. Her husband, Anwar, said that his daughter should be honored as a “martyr.”

“She is not the first martyr for Palestine and she won’t be the last,” he said. “Her sacrifice is for Jerusalem and for the homeland.”

But health officials in Gaza are cautioning that the baby’s death was likely caused by pre-existing medical conditions. One doctor, speaking anonymously with The Associated Press, said he believed the tear gas did not kill al-Ghandour, and that she died from underlying health conditions. He spoke anonymously because he’s not authorized to disclose medical information to the media. Al Mezan, a humans rights group said it is investigating. Meanwhile, news of the child’s death is fueling outrage on social media.

The protests came in response to the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, a reversal of decades of American policy that has been hailed by Israeli and American religious conservatives. Meanwhile, Palestine decried the move as evidence that the U.S. will not act impartially in determining the region’s future. Israeli military officials have denied responsibility for the baby’s death, claiming that they “have several accounts that question the validity” of the family’s claim but declined to give any further details. U.S. officials have similarly absolved the Israeli military of any blame for the violence at large, saying that the responsibility was on Hamas for inciting the protests in the first place. According to The Associated Press, Hamas has said most of those who have died in the fighting this week were members of the militant group. Israel has sent

Read the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Associated Press.


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Michigan State University announced Wednesday that it has agreed to pay a total of $500 million to the more than 300 women and girls who have accused the disgraced doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault over the years. Nassar, who was employed by the university and also worked for USA Gymnastics, was slapped with two prison sentences that could each exceed 100 years in length, effectively ensuring he will spend the rest of his life behind bars over his conviction and guilty plea to decades of sexual abuse of the athletes who sought his care.

“We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories,” Brian Breslin, chairman of Michigan State’s governing board, said, according to The Associated Press. “We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention.” Indeed, last month, William Strampel, the former dean of College of Osteopathic Medicine at MSU, was arrested on accusations that he used his office to “to harass, discriminate, demean, sexually proposition and sexually assault female students in violation of his statutory duty as a public office.” Strampel, 70, was Nassar’s boss.

It’s not clear how much money each individual victim — there are 332 total — will be paid, but $75 million of the total settlement will be held in a trust fund for any future claims that may surface. Also, victims who collect payments will not be compelled to sign a confidentiality agreement with the university. The compensation will only be paid to patients that saw Nassar through MSU.

John Manly, the victims’ lead attorney, said, “This historic settlement came about through the bravery of more than 300 women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced.” Lawsuits involving USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee are still pending.

For more on the story, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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About time

Pennsylvania’s all-male delegation in the U.S. Congress is set to undergo a dramatic transformation next year after eight women candidates, mostly Democrats, claimed decisive victories during Tuesday’s primaries.

In Pennsylvania’s Fifth District, a woman is all but certain to win a seat in Congress after Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat and member of a local school board, won her primary, setting her up to face off against Republican Pearl Kim, a lawyer, in the November midterm election.

In the Fourth District, Madeleine Dean, a Democrat and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, is widely expected to win a race against Republican Dan David. Susan Wild, an attorney, is slightly favored to win the race for the Seventh District after she bested fellow Democrat John Morganelli, and Democrat Chrissy Houlahan will battle Republican Greg McCauley in the Sixth District in a battle that experts say could go either way. Dean, Wild, and Houlahan were all supported by EMILY’’s List, a Democratic organization that has actively worked to recruit and support pro-choice women candidates.

The women’s victories were made all the more remarkable by the Keystone State’s longstanding reluctance to elect women into office.

“You have had women candidates who really haven’t been able to break through in general elections,” explained Rutgers scholar Kelly Dittmar, pointing out that seven women ran for Congress in 2016 only for a group of all men to be elected instead. “So Pennsylvania will be a good test of (how women candidates will do in 2018) because it is not a state that women have done well historically.”

Watch video coverage of the story below.

Read the full story at CNN.


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‘An adjustment’

Miri Gellert is one of more than 3.4 million young adults in the U.K. who still live at home — and she, for one, says that she has come to value the experience despite its inconveniences.

“I’ve been here for about nine years so I’ve gone through a whole different range of emotions dealing with the fact that I’m an adult living at home with my parents,” Gellert, 30, told the BBC. “The hardest thing is that adjustment period when you graduate university and you come back home and have to readjust to the fact that you felt like you were an adult going out whenever you want, and now you come home … They’re letting you live with them and therefore you can’t come and go as you please because it’s not a hotel and there has to be that level of respect.”

Gellert has been working full time as a singing teacher in north London and doesn’t pay rent, but her low pay means that she still cannot afford to live on her own. Her situation is not uncommon. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 25 percent of adults between the ages 20 and 34 in the U.K. are living with their parents. Gellert says she’s fortunate in that she gets along quite well with her parents, whom she described as open, kind, and fun to be around. Speaking to BBC News, Gellert recalled how her mother reacted when she asked if her parents could make themselves scarce when she wanted to bring a boyfriend home.

“I ended up having this conversation with my mum: ‘Would it be OK if I have brought him back so he would be in the house but you wouldn’t meet him?’” said Gellert, laughing. “She said, ‘Yes, I’ll just check with your father.’” Over time, Gellert added, these kinds of conversations became easier.

“We kind of got to the stage where I’d say: ‘I’m going out. Full stop.’ And mum would say, ‘Okay, you’ll be back?’ Sometimes I’d say, ‘Yes,’ and sometimes I’d say, ‘No,’ and she’d be like: ‘Okay!’” said Gellert.

Her parents’ hospitality didn’t just extend to her. Gellert said that one of her boyfriends ended up living with them for for months, and that her sister and the man who is now her sister’s husband also shared the house with them for two years.

“It’s generally just a very welcoming household,” she explained. “I feel that we’ve got a lovely situation that’s arisen from a really difficult financial climate. I think I’ll look back on this time as some of the happiest years of my life. One never knows how long one’s going to have one’s parents around, and I really think that we’ve had such a beautiful relationship that’s come from that.”

Watch Gellert’s interview with BBC News below.


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