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Dec 26
Her eye on the news
Who run the galaxy?

In a world where women account for only 13 percent of all writers working on the top earning box-office films, the story group Lucasfilm comprised of four women and seven men (of which five are people of color) are true rebels. Hard at work five days a week in the home base of San Francisco, the Lucasfilm story group is the driving force behind every iteration of ‘Star Wars’ imaginable—including the latest installment in the franchise, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, which has already grossed almost $400 million in the United States alone.

The group was founded by George Lucas’s successor—and current president of Lucasfilm— Kathleen Kennedy in 2012. Kennedy’s first addition to the team was former film and TV writer Kiri Hart. Mrs. Hart’s first move was to make the unit entirely female, comprised of professionals across several disciplines who shared a common love of all things ‘Star Wars’ especially pop culture icon Princess Leia portrayed by the late Carrie Fischer.

In 1977 with the release of the original ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, women accounted for only 6.3% of the total dialogue. In contrast, female-driven dialogue jumped to 27.8% in 2015’s ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. According to research conducted by Dr. Shrikanth Narayanan and the University of Southern California’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, the preponderance of female dialogue has been steadily increasing in film across the board with ‘Star Wars’ right on trend. The more important aspect of the sci-fi saga Dr. Narayanan says, is the centrality of its female characters to the development of plots.

“As a writer I was very hungry to create female characters who felt real, and I was interested in telling stories from an outsider’s perspective,” Hart explained in an interview with The New York Times, “The characters that end up on screen are there because there is a groundswell of energy around this idea of creating a more honest reflection of the world around us.”

Of the new cast members introduced in “The Last Jedi,” several are women including Vice Admiral Holdo played by Laura Dern and Rose Tico portrayed by Kelly Marie Tran, the first Asian-American woman to star in the franchise. Since the release on December 15th, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ has taken in over $745.4 million dollars world-wide.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Wishful thinking

In what can only be described as a fit of wishful thinking this holiday season, the Divided States of Women has released a hilarious and strangely cathartic year-end video that mashes up dozens of clips of President Trump apologizing to women everywhere.

“Recently a lot of people have been apologizing and there’s one particular person I think we all need an apology from,” states journalist Liz Plank at the beginning of the video. “So, since he hasn’t done it we decided to say it for him.”

Only two minutes long, the video pulls from the best of Trump’s highlights, helping him admit that women are “smarter than me”, that he’s “not a good president and any woman would do a better job than me” and that despite his better judgement, “Feminism is for everybody.”

Watch the full video below and enjoy for yourself.

 

Read the full story at HuffPost.

#twinning

Singer and entertainer Taylor Muhl has what doctors first considered to be a unique birthmark—a distinct line of pigmentation that appears to divide her torso in half. As a child, Muhl suffered from bouts of strange illnesses, but it wasn’t until her mid-twenties that doctors arrived at the only logical conclusion: Muhl is technically her own twin.

Known as chimerism, Muhl’s condition is when fraternal twins fuse together while in utero. According to the California native, the condition is so rare that only around 100 cases have been recorded world-wide.  In an interview with the Daily Mail, Muhl explained that her health issues were the result of her two, genetically distinct immune systems “attacking” each other. To help stave off further issues, Muhl takes a combination of strong probiotics, vitamins, and maintains an active lifestyle. “Even with doing all of that, though, I still endure autoimmune problems and food sensitivities daily,” Muhl told Yahoo, “so emotionally it can get frustrating and wearing.”

Now an advocate for Human Chimera awareness and body positivity, Muhl uses her Instagram page to address questions about her condition and teach others that physical differences should never stand in the way of your goals. “I hope by showing my own imperfections I can inspire others who have physical abnormalities or who are different, to never let that stop them from pursuing their dreams.”

Read the full story at the New York Post.

High rank

Since it achieved ‘nation-state’ status almost a century ago, the Vatican has remained an infamous boys-club comprised of high ranking religious male officials occupying roles of great religious and historical significance. In January 2017, Barbara Jatta broke the mold to become the first woman ever appointed as the director of the Vatican Museums—a position that makes her the highest-ranking female administrator in the city, just a step behind the Vatican’s cardinals and bishops. Jatta’s purview as director includes almost 200,000 objects, several museums, sculpture yards, the papal apartments, and Michelangelo’s famous Sistine chapel. She was the only woman out of six candidates considered for the position and Pope Francis’s final choice.

A former archivist in the Vatican libraries, Jatta explains that her nomination for the directorship initially came as a shock, and that she did not fully understand the impact her gender would play in accepting the role: “Whenever I attended conferences or public events, so many women would come up to me, saying: ‘We are proud, and you are also, in some way, representing us.’”

“Within the male-dominated Vatican, to give such a prominent role to a woman was very good news,” explained Eike Schmidt, the German director of the famed Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy. Responsible for the preservation of centuries of art, history and architecture on a budget of roughly 60 million dollars, Jatta is all too aware of the challenges her museums and her conservation teams face going forward.

Total visitors for 2017 to the Sistine Chapel alone are expected to exceed the previous record of six million, and with more tourists comes an increased risk for damage to the art and the grounds. This poses a unique challenge for Jatta of balancing the religious significance of the Vatican with the logistical demands of one of the world’s largest museums. Having proposed the construction of a second entrance and the extension of opening hours at the smaller museums, Jatta hopes to alleviate tourist traffic in the Sistine Chapel and drive more interest in parts of the museums that have been historically overlooked.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Stolen

Nineteen-year-old Alexis Manigo, who was born Kamiyah Mobley, says that she’s adjusting to life following the arrest of Gloria Williams, the woman who kidnapped her as a baby and raised her as her own daughter. Manigo grew up in Walterboro, South Carolina, thinking that Gloria Williams was her mother, when in fact Williams had stolen her from her parents, Craig Aiken and Shanara Mobley, in 1998 out of a Florida hospital by posing as a nurse. According to The Post and Courier, Williams, already a mother of two, had suffered a miscarriage days before the kidnapping. When she got home to South Carolina, no one knew that she had lost one child and returned with another.

Following the discovery of Manigo’s true identity by authorities, Manigo stood by Williams even after she was arrested for kidnapping.

“I will never have malice for her,” she said at the time. “I will always love her. She loved me for 18 years … I was given the best life.”

With her mother in police custody, Manigo has been getting to know her birth parents — who had continued to save a slice of birthday cake for their missing daughter, year after year, unaware if she was alive or dead. Manigo says that she has loved getting to know Aiken, Mobley, and the rest of her biological family, but that she’s still unwilling to cut Williams out of her life. She now calls Mobley, “Mom,” but she also calls Williams, “Mama.”

Recently, she applied to get a Social Security number — only to find the process complicated by the fact that she needed two verifying documents with her name to apply. The only identification she had under the name Kamiyah Mobley, she discovered, was her birth certificate. At some point, she knows, she’ll have to decide what name she wants to keep officially.

“I might just keep it Kamiyah,” she said. “I want to keep everyone happy.”

“Maybe,” she added, laughing, “I’ll just name myself Dandelion.”

Read the full story at The Post and Courier.

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12.26.17