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Dec 28
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Friendly skies?

In an interview with CNN, four women recounted stories of sexual harassment and assault they experienced during commercial flights. The interviewees — whose experiences are not limited to one particular airline —  expressed their surprise that during the time of the assaults, the airline and their employees seemed less than concerned with what was happening; many, the women said, seemed confused as to the correct protocol to handle such a situation.

“I felt like no one, no one that was supposed to be in charge could handle the situation,” recalled Katie Campos, a passenger on a United Airlines flight last week who said was subjected to harassment and groping by an intoxicated male passenger. Almost immediately upon seating, Campos said,  the passenger began to harass both herself and her fellow seatmate — also a woman. She said he forcibly touched them and asked to kiss them despite their pleas for him to stop. “He grabbed my upper thigh, like in the crotch area, and he grabbed it pretty forcefully,” Campos explained to CNN. Only when she refused to take her seat again did she feel the flight attendants took her seriously.

According to FBI investigations, sexual assaults taking place in midair have increased by 66 percent from fiscal year 2014 to 2017. According to the bureau, 63 investigations dealing with sexual assault on an aircraft have been opened in this fiscal year alone. In a survey conducted last year of over 2,000 flight attendants registered with The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, one in five said they had personally received a report of passenger on passenger assault during a flight.

“In my 22 years as a flight attendant,” United Airlines flight attendant Sarah Nelson told CNN, “I have never taken part in a conversation — in training or otherwise — about how to handle sexual harassment or sexual assault.” While policies do exist, Nelson went on to explain that she feels they are sorely lacking in training in terms of implementation and many flight attendants are ill-equipped to address inappropriate and often criminal behavior.

According to Alison McAfee, a spokesperson for Airlines for America, the industry trade group that represents commercial airlines, with regard to these types of incidences, member airlines “take these matters seriously and do not tolerate harassment in any form.”

For Campos, her in-flight experience has forever changed her faith in the security of flying and the ability of flight attendants to ensure passenger safety. “It felt very much like the only reason this came to an end at all is that the flight landed. And we were at a gate, and the lights came on.”

Below, watch the full interview with Campos and other women.

Read the full story at CNN.

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‘Good dialogue’

Actress Jenna Fischer, made famous by her role as Pam on the popular sitcom ‘The Office,’ apologized on Twitter Wednesday for a tweet she wrote over the holidays addressing the widely unpopular GOP tax bill.

In Fischer’s now deleted original tweet, the actress lamented the fact that under the bill teachers would no longer be able to deduct the cost of classroom supplies that they purchased themselves. Fellow users were quick to point out however, that her information was outdated and while an earlier version of the bill would have eliminated the $250 deduction, the Senate’s version of the bill allowed the deduction to remain.

“I made a mistake and I want to correct it,” Fischer tweeted. “I feel genuinely bad about getting my facts wrong and I’m sorry. I did not mean to spread misinformation. I was well-intentioned, but I was behind on my research.”

Fischer posted a long statement of apology on Wednesday. While she says she originally debated leaving the original tweet up, Fischer felt it was important to correct her mistake because “accuracy is important.”

Read the full story at HuffPost.

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Oops, sorry!

We imagine the photo you see above is exactly the side-eye Hillary Clinton would’ve liked to shoot at Vanity Fair after she saw a controversial video that the magazine posted on Twitter two days before Christmas. The video, which was posted while many people were not paying attention on social, started drawing a backlash after the holiday and has made for a rocky start to the Radhika Jones (the first woman to edit the iconic mag since, ahem, Tina Brown) era at Vanity Fair.

The basic gist of the video is that a handful of Vanity Fair editors dole out New Year’s resolution suggestions that Clinton should consider, all while holding a glass of champagne. It was posted on Twitter with a headline that read, “Maybe it’s time for Hillary Clinton to take up a new hobby in 2018.” Some of the ideas the editors offered were “knitting” and “teaching a class about alternate-nostril breathing,” a topic she once discussed during an appearance on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show.

As the video gradually made its way through social media, the criticism of it quickly piled up. Patricia Arquette slammed the magazine, advising its editors to “get over your mommy issues,” after issuing an expletive-laden demand.

Others called out the stunt for being sexist, and wondered why something similar wasn’t done for presidential also-ran Joe Biden.

Much of the outrage came from the Clinton camp. One irate former adviser posted a photo on Twitter of himself burning a copy of Vanity Fair, while another slammed the video as a “repulsive cheap shot” and tried to get a hashtag, #CancelVanityFair, trending.

Vanity Fair tried to stop the uproar with an apology for the video. “It was an attempt at humor and we regret that it missed the mark,” the magazine said in a statement. Weirdly, the editors didn’t seem to read this story, which suggested Clinton may be interested in pursuing a longtime dream of hers that’s gone unfulfilled. If true, she may already have a “hobby” for the coming year. Below, watch the full video.

Read the full story at Deadline.

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‘God is woman’

Three members of the Ukrainian activist group Femen caused significant disruption during Christmas worship services at the Vatican on Monday when they staged a protest against what they believe to be the systematic oppression of women by the Roman Catholic Patriarchy. Founded in 2008, Femen is well-known for using topless protests as a means of dissent and to garner media attention for their messages.

According to Reuters, the Vatican police apprehended Alisa Vinogradova during an attempt to steal the statue of the baby Jesus from the Nativity in St. Peter’s Square. With the words “God is Woman” painted on her bare torso in English, it took several officers to subdue the Ukrainian “sextremist” before Pope Francis began his Christmas mass. Two additional Femen activists with the phrases “#MeToo” and “Assaulted by church” written on their bodies had previously been detained while attempting to break into the Nativity scene on Christmas Eve.

Inna Shevchenko, the Ukrainian activist who leads Femen, applauded the women’s efforts to bring a greater consciousness to the practice of sexual assault perpetrated against women by the patriarchy. “As feminists, FEMEN considers organized religions with their institutions and leadership to be one of the historical oppressors of women,” Shevchenko wrote in an email to the Huffington Post, describing the activists as modern ‘Virgin Marys’; a nod to one of the central figures to the institution of Catholicism.

“Despite her significant role,” she continued, “Mary represents chastity, maternity and passiveness-all that is expected from women in patriarchal society. The passiveness and silence of Mary is still often expected from women across the world as they get assaulted and attacked. As the #MeToo campaign has shown, many women kept silence about their horrible experiences for years often under pressure, out of fear and insecurity.”

In addition to expressing their solidarity for the #MeToo movement, Shevchenko explained that Femen aims to criticize the patriarchal traditions of all organized religions. “We oppose religious scripture which often [portrays] women as inferior and weak creatures, their bodies as dirty and shameful, their souls as guilty.” For Shevchenko, the “Marys” that participated in the protest this year exist in stark contrast to the patriarchy as the pinnacle of female sexuality: unashamed and in control of their bodies.

Read the full story at HuffPost.

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‘Unacceptable’

On Wednesday, Japanese Foreign minister Taro Kono addressed the South Korean government’s recent statements regarding the “comfort women” deal the two countries reached two years ago, warning that any attempts to amend the agreement could complicate diplomatic relations between the two nations. The controversial 2015 settlement, which required Japan to pay more than $8.8 million dollars in compensation to so-called “comfort women” — thousands of Korean women and girls who were forced to work in wartime brothels — has recently come under scrutiny as a South Korean investigation concluded that the Japanese had failed to meet victim’s demands for compensation.

“If (South Korea) tries to revise the agreement that is already being implemented, that would make Japan’s ties with South Korea unmanageable and it would be unacceptable,” Kono said in an official response. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha apologized Wednesday for the deal, describing it as something that gave “wounds of the heart to the victims, their families, civil society that support them and all other people because the agreement failed to sufficiently reflect a victim-oriented approach, which is the universal standard in resolving human rights issues.”

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

The issue has been a longstanding point of contention between Japan and its neighbors, including China and North Korea. In 2014, the U.N. Human Rights Committee officially requested that Tokyo refrain from using the “comfort women” euphemism, calling for those who ended up as a part of practice to be officially acknowledged as “forced sex slaves.” The South Korean government revealed its plan to review the investigation and consult victim groups before translating it into policy.

Read the full story at Reuters.

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12.28.17

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