Jun 16
Her eye on the news

Ana Brnabic, a U.S.- and U.K.-educated technocrat who heads Serbia’s Public Administration Ministry, is expected to become the first openly gay women in Eastern Europe to be named prime minister after her nomination by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. A relative political neophyte, Brnabic had previously worked for U.S.-backed NGOs and in wind farm development.

According to analysts, Brnabic’s nomination signaled Vucic’s desire to push forward the country’s bid to join the European Union without inciting the wrath of near-neighbor Russia. Some critics have also alleged that Vuvic was planning to use Brnabic to shift power from the premiership to the presidency so that he could control the country from behind the scenes.

In comments made to the press on Thursday, Vucic acknowledged the debate over his choice for the premiership, telling reporters that Vucic had “all the qualities required for the job” and that she would “improve Serbia’s standing both in the West and East” while working to carry out “difficult reforms.”

“Some say I chose a puppet,” Vucic added. “I don’t care what they say. I care what the citizens of Serbia say.”

If Brnabic’s position is confirmed by parliament — a relative certainty due to the Progressive Party’s majority in the assembly — she would have to overhaul the country’s legal system, restructure an economy burdened by hundreds of unprofitable state-owned companies, and lead talks to normalize relations with Kosovo before the country could be considered for E.U. membership. Speaking after her nomination, Brnabic pledged to work “with dedication toward the goal of making Serbia a modern state.”

Complicating matters, however, will be Vuvic’s desire to maintain strong ties with Russia and his pledge to never acknowledge Kosovo’s independence. Nearby Balkan neighbors have also accused Serbia of supporting pro-Russian forces in an attempt to prevent them from joining the E.U.

Read the full story at Bloomberg.


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‘No more pain’

Twenty-year-old Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on Friday when a Massachusetts judge ruled that she had incited her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide through a series of persuasive text messages. On July 13, 2014, Roy had been found dead inside his pickup truck after he flooded it with carbon monoxide using a gas-powered water pump.

According to Roy’s family, the high schooler had suffered from depression and had previously attempted suicide before. According to court documents, Carter had initially tried to encourage Roy not to kill himself. Just weeks before Roy’s suicide, he had texted Carter to suggest that they could “be like Romeo and Juliet at the end.”

“F— No!” she wrote back. “WE ARE NOT DYING.”

Soon, however, Carter’s tone started to change.

“So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then, all that for nothing … I’m just confused like you were so ready and determined,” Carted texted Roy, a day before he was found dead.

“I am gonna eventually,” Roy responded. “I really don’t know what I’m waiting for … but I have everything lined up.”

“No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it but u never do. Its always gonna be that way if u don’t take action,” Carter replied. “You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it. If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it.”

“You’re finally going to be happy in heaven,” wrote Carter in another message. “No more pain. It’s ok to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.”

Roy and Carter first met in 2011, and later started a romantic relationship that her attorney said had mostly consisted of online conversations and text messages. Over the course of two years leading up to Roy’s death, the attorney said, the couple had only met a few times in person. Carter, who was tried in a juvenile court because she was 17 at the time of Roy’s death, could face up to 20 years in prison.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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Common sense

Nearly 80 percent of people in Northern Ireland want to see exceptions made to the country’s strict anti-abortion laws in cases of rape and incest, according to the latest Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey. Some 73 percent of respondents also said that abortion should be legal in cases of fetal abnormalities that would cause a baby to be born dead or to die shortly after birth.

“Abortion is a health care and human rights issue. It is high time the law was changed with the overwhelming wishes of the public,” said Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s campaign manager in Northern Ireland. “Then women would no longer have to travel to England for an abortion and they and their medical carers would no longer be treated as potential criminals.”

As a result of Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion policies, thousands of women and girls travel to private clinics in Britain in order to obtain the procedure. On Wednesday, the U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled that a 20-year-old woman who traveled from Northern Ireland with her mother did not have the right to obtain a free abortion in English NHS hospitals. A number of women are also being prosecuted for using pro-choice charities to obtain abortion pills over the internet — including a mother who obtained abortion pills for her then underage daughter. Just last year, a 21-year-old was issued a suspended prison sentence for buying abortion pills after she was reported by her roommates.

Previous attempts to bring about abortion reform in Northern Ireland have been thwarted in part because of the fiercely anti-abortion Democratic Unionist party, the same party that British Prime Minister Theresa May is now courting in an effort to form a majority coalition government.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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After rumors of sexual misconduct prompted Warner Bros. to shut down production on the newest season of the ABC reality series Bachelor in Paradise last week in Sayulita, Mexico, the studio has announced that filming will be suspended while the allegations are investigated. Incomplete reports provided by witnesses on the show’s production team surfaced across several media outlets in the past few days detailing a non-consensual sexual encounter that took place between contestants Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. In response to the accusations, both Olympios and Jackson have released statements.

“I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4,” Olympios told The New York Post, “As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality.” Olympios, who says she has no memory of the event, is now undergoing therapy to deal with what she describes as the “physical and emotional trauma stemming from that evening.” In her statement Olympios also announced that she has hired an attorney but has not yet filed any suit against either Warner Bros. or Jackson.

Hours after Olympios spoke to the press, Jackson released a statement of his own asserting his innocence and denouncing the claims that anything illegal or non-consensual had occurred. “It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations,” Jackson told E! News, “I will be taking swift and appropriate legal action until my name is cleared.” Jackson also said he’s been fired from his job as a recruiting consultant amid the allegations, according to CNN.

Read the full story from both parties at The Cut.


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‘I feel horrible’

The widow of James Hodgkinson, the man who shot Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others on Wednesday, spoke with reporters at her home in Belleville, Illinois, on Thursday afternoon.

“I feel horrible,” Suzanne Hodgkinson told reporters. “I had no idea this was going to happen, and I don’t know what to say about it. I can’t wrap my head around it.”

Hodgkinson, who only agreed to speak on the condition that the press vacate her property afterward, explained that she and her husband of 30 years were not on the best terms and had been living separately since he sold almost all of his possessions and left their home in Belleville earlier this year. He had told her, she said, that he had been planning a trip to Washington D.C. to “work on taxes” and “change the tax brackets.”

“I can’t believe he did this. I just want you all to go away and leave my neighbors in peace,” she said, referring to the press crowding the street outside her house. “They don’t deserve this, I don’t deserve this, my daughters don’t deserve this.” Reporters who were on the scene described Hodgkinson as “visibly emotional” as she spoke with the media.

Hodgkinson had only heard about the shooting, she added, after a reporter called her on the phone while she was at work.

“I don’t even know who was shot,” she admitted. “I’m sorry that he did this but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

After speaking with reporters for around seven minutes, she told a police deputy that she’d “had enough” and was taken back to her house in a police vehicle.

Read the full story at The Belleville News-Democrat.


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In a move that San Francisco supervisor Katy Tang has hailed for creating what she considers to be the strongest lactation policy in the nation, on Tuesday supervisors for the city approved a bill that would require employers to provide new mothers with a clean lactation area with space for a chair and a pump. The measure would build upon federal and state laws that already require employers to make an effort to provide employees with lactation breaks.

“We’re talking about something that is so basic, it’s almost sad we have to legislate it,” said Julia Parish of Legal Aid at Work, which worked with Tang on the measure. “This is about working moms providing food for their babies.”

While some have complained that the bill could burden small business owners, Dee Dee Workman, vice president of public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber had worked hard with Tang to ensure that employers need not necessarily give up retail space for new mothers. In the absence of a private space, Workman said, employers could screen off an area of their office instead.

“Especially for small businesses that struggle to hire in San Francisco, they’re looking for good, stable, happy employees,” Workman explained. “And if somebody needs the accommodation, they do their best to accommodate them.”

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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