Sep 20
Her eye on the news
‘Bring your A game’

Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow has grown her lifestyle brand “Goop” from a small newsletter with health, spiritual and other advice in 2008 to a business with 110 employees, including a popular online store, a quarterly magazine, a collection of branded vitamins and a live conference. The company’s revenue was between $15 and $20 million last year — a number that’s expected to triple by the end of this year. Goop has not been without its detractors, however. Some critics have said it promotes sham science and makes false health claims. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Paltrow hit back at her critics however, saying that because of her celebrity she has become a “target” in a way most other entrepreneurs aren’t. “I’m interested in criticism based on fact, not on projections,” she told the magazine. In other words, “If you want to fuck with me, bring your A game.”

Paltrow admitted that her celebrity opens a lot of doors too, though, saying, “I don’t know many young entrepreneurs who can call [Disney CEO] Bob Iger, [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg or [Airbnb founder] Brian Chesky, and they are kind enough to waste a little bit of their day to help me. So in that respect, my celebrity has been a huge asset.” Later in the interview, Paltrow discussed her plans for the future, which will include less acting — but might include a new TV show that she is currently trying to formalize, with the tentative title The Radical Wellness Show. “I would be going into the field and talking to any number of doctors, scientists, civilians, people in crisis in Flint, Michigan, where there is something to uncover and confront about wellness,” she explained.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.


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‘Insulting Islam’

Ensaf Haidar, the wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, spoke before the U.N. Human Rights Council where she condemned Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the international body. Noting that her husband, the creator of website Free Saudi Liberals, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2013 for allegedly “insulting Islam,” Haidar said that she had agreed to speak to the council on behalf of NGO UN Watch because it was the “first time I have ever been able to speak directly to a Saudi representative.”

According to Haidar, Badawi, 33, suffers from high blood pressure and nearly died after receiving the first 50 of his lashes. Saudi Arabia has postponed the rest of Badawi’s lashes due to his ailing health, but the blogger has now spent “five years in prison for an opinion.”

“Ironically,” Haidar told the Human Rights Council, “some of [the reforms Badawi] was demanding are already being implemented in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, Saudi Arabia spoke of these reforms when it was elected as a member of this council. And yet, Raif is still in prison.”

“My husband did not commit any crime,” she added. “He simply aspired for a better future for his country … He created a liberal forum, wrote a blog, and for that he was imprisoned.”

In her remarks, Haidar said that Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the recently instated Crown Prince of the Middle-Eastern country, would have to pardon Badawi if Saudi Arabia really felt the country “deserved” its seat on the council.

Read the full story at The Daily Mail.


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Hard justice

Authorities in Iran ignited controversy on Wednesday by holding a public execution in the town square of Parsabad, a small municipality in the northwestern province of Ardebil, for a man convicted of raping and killing a 7-year-old girl. The man was hanged in public “to restore citizens’ sense of security and relieve their troubled minds,” Naser Atabati, a prosecutor in Ardebil, reportedly said.

Police said Esmail Jafarzadeh, 42 confessed to the brutal rape and murder of Atena Aslani, who disappeared in June. Her body was found in Jafarzadeh’s garage, authorities said. Iran’s Supreme Court handed down the death sentence on September 11 after it took prosecutors a week to secure a conviction at his trial in August. The case drew national attention inside Iran and a comment from the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who reportedly described the crime as “horrendous” and had called for Jafarzadeh to be dealt swift justice.

According to Agence-France Presse, the hanging took place in front of a large crowd that cheered loudly when Jafarzadeh’s neck was put in the noose. One report indicated that thousands turned out for the public execution, with many capturing video of it on their mobile phones. An amateur photo of Jafarzadeh’s hanging was shown on the website of the state-run news agency.

But many on social media found the spectacle disturbing and expressed their outrage over the public execution on social media, according to Newsweek. Some took issue with the fact the government does now allow women inside stadiums to watch sporting events, but does allow them to gather and witness public executions. Authorities said Jafarzadeh had also confessed to the murder of another woman. What do you think. The crime was horrific, but do you think the punishment fits in this case? Vote in our poll below.

Read the full story at NDTV and Newsweek.


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Jeffrey Mezger, the CEO of leading homebuilding company KB Home and a neighbor of Kathy Griffin, is facing a barrage of criticism after audio emerged of him calling Griffin a “bald dyke” and a “c**t.” The altercation, which reportedly arose after Griffin and her boyfriend filed a noise complaint with police against the Mezger residence, was captured by security cameras. In audio from the tapes, Mezger can be heard accusing Griffin’s longtime boyfriend, Randy Bick, of calling police on a party that included his three young grandchildren, their mother, and his wife.

“You’re not even the fucking owner, you’re stuck with a fucking bald dyke who Donald Trump kind of put the heat on,” Mezger told Bick. “Now you’re calling the cops? Fuck you and fuck Kathy.”

“Wars happening,” Metzger added. “Don’t wait until we’re gonna bring some things on you.”

Metzger’s profanity-ridden tirade, audio of which was provided to The Huffington Post by Bick, included references to the backlash Griffin faced after posing for pictures with a prop resembling Donald Trump’s severed head, as well as the fact that Griffin had shaved her head in support of her sister Joyce, who died of cancer last Thursday.

Former CNBC host Suze Orman also shared audio of the incident on Twitter, condemning Mezger for his “beyond disgusting” treatment of Griffin and questioning why anyone would “want to buy a home from this man.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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A day after President Donald Trump unleashed an explosive and, in terms of tradition for U.S. presidents, wholly unorthodox speech in his first address before the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Secretary of State Nikki Haley hit the morning TV shows to defend the president’s bellicose rhetoric. Haley, who at the Women in the World New York Summit in April said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren that “We don’t do soft power” and that the U.S. wouldn’t rule out a strike on North Korea, was peppered with questions by Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday. According to Haley’s answers, her position on the U.S. and soft power certainly hasn’t changed since April, and perhaps has escalated.

On Trump’s threat to “totally destroy North Korea” if the rogue nation attacks the U.S. or one of its allies, Haley told Stephanopoulos that Trump “was being honest” and that his direct approach is “very much appreciated” by other world leaders.

At one point during the speech, as he did earlier in a post on Twitter, the president mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling him “Rocket Man” in reference to the spate of missile tests his military has been conducting lately. Stephanopoulos pressed Haley on the appropriateness of such a flippant approach.

“This is a way of like getting people to talk about [Kim’,” Haley said. “It worked,” Haley added, laughing. “Every other international community is now referring to him as ‘Rocket Man.'”

Despite Trump’s unorthodox approach, Haley insisted that the U.S. was going to continue being responsibly in dealing with North Korea. “While he [Kim] is being irresponsible, we’re going to be responsible,” Haley said. “The international community actually very much appreciated the blunt, honest approach that the president took on North Korea.” Stephanopoulos also questioned Haley on Trump’s harsh rhetoric toward Iran. Watch the full interview below.

Over on CBS This Morning, Haley echoed some of those talking points, but also delicately pivoted away from Trump’s most extreme threat made during the speech. “No one wants war, the president doesn’t want war, we tried to do this through dialogue, we tried to do this through sanctions we’ve tried every diplomatic matter we can, and we’re not giving up on that,” Haley said.

Read the full story at ABC News.


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New mother and all-time tennis great Serena Williams shared a heartfelt letter she wrote to her mother on Reddit, in which she thanked her for teaching her the strength to persevere in the face of opposition — both on and off the court.

In the letter, Williams noted that her newborn daughter “has my exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body.” Since she was “a 15 year old and even to this day,” Williams wrote, she had endured taunts from those who disapproved of her powerful physique. But how would she handle it, Williams asked herself, if her daughter were to be subjected to the same treatment? The answer, she found, was in the lessons she had learned from her own mother.

“I’ve been called a man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs,” wrote Williams. “Mom, I’m not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman. I am proud we were able to show them … we don’t all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small … and all the same: we are women and proud!”

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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At just 15 years old, Zuriel Oduwole has met no fewer than 24 presidents and prime ministers as she carries out her mission to advocate for girls’ education in Africa. When talking to African leaders, the Los Angeles teenager stresses the need for “making policies so that girls are able to go to school until at least the age of 18 so they don’t get married when they are 12 or 13,” she explained to Agence-France Presse. Zuriel, born in the U.S. to parents of Nigerian and Mauritian origin, visited Paris last week where she was able to address thousands of young people at a solidarity concert, speaking about how poverty affects girls all across Africa.

Ironically, Zuriel, who describes herself as “unstoppable,” has never attended school and instead has been home-schooled by her parents since the age of 3. At the tender age of 9 years old, Zuriel was able to interview former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings for a documentary, which ignited her career as a campaigner. “I saw a lot of children, especially girls, out on the streets selling things, and I see that a lot whenever I visit other African countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania.” Just last month, she was named one of Africa’s 100 most influential women by Forbes magazine, and next year she is planning on attending a prestigious university like Harvard or UCLA. But her ambitions reach way further than higher education. Inspired by Africa’s first woman president, the Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Zuriel says she has her sights set on becoming president of the United States. Despite all this, Zuriel claims she can still find the time to be a normal teenager. “I play sports, I play football and basketball, I have friends I hang out with. I just happen to do all of these projects on the side.” See her in action and hear her talk in the video below.

Read the full story at Yahoo.


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