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Dec 29
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In the last few years, the NBA has seen a significant rise in the number of women fighting for their own courtside seats among the league’s leadership. Where once it was only a boys’ club, women can now be found in a variety of key positions, pulling the strings behind some of the biggest decisions in professional basketball.

While the NBA has one of the best reputations in the sports world for its conscious commitment to increasing gender diversity, the majority of positions held by women still tend to fall within the realms of marketing or public relations rather than administration. But Becky Bonner, director of player development and quality control for the Orlando Magic, has her eye on the general manager prize and, according to Magic President Jeff Weltman, she’s got “unlimited potential.”

Bonner — who’s elder brother Matt played 12 seasons in the NBA — was a former Division I player and already a six-year front office veteran of the league.  “I speak player,” Bonner explained in an interview with Bleacher Report. “When I’m on the court, I’m very comfortable,” Bonner explained, citing that simply by association as “Matt’s sister,” she was able to get an early look into the inner workings of the NBA.

As director of player development, Bonner handles everything from the redesign of the team lounge, to organizing team dinners, to renewing player passports. “I’m not too cool to do anything,” Bonner says. “If you need me to rebound for you in my skirt, I will. If you need me to look at the players lounge and redesign it, I’ll do that — even though I may lack that talent.”

“As anyone who has daughters, you’re always hoping that, as we all progress, we get to the point where none of this matters, whether it’s hiring practices or compensation,” Magic president Jeff Weltman explains speaking to Becky’s credentials, “And we look for the best people, the people that can most dramatically impact our chance to win … Becky was that person for us.”

While nothing is set in stone, Bonner remains focused on her end goal, but whether or not she makes it to G.M. first, for the NBA, a female GM is no longer just a possibility — it’s an eventuality.

Read the full story at Bleacher Report.

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‘Hasn’t been easy’

Solange Knowles on Wednesday canceled her New Year’s Eve performance at the AfroPunk Festival in South Africa. In an Instagram post, Knowles revealed she has been battling a chronic illness and would be unable to perform.

“The past five months I have been quietly treating, and working through an Autonomic Disorder,” Knowles wrote. “It’s been a journey that hasn’t been easy on me.” Knowles, who is the younger sister of mega-star Béyonce, was the headliner at the festival, which is set to run from December 30 to January 1.

“Sometimes I feel cool, and other times not so cool at all,” Knowles wrote. “However it’s so important to me for the people in South Africa, a place that has tremendous meaning to me and that has given me SO SO MUCH, to know why I won’t be performing at AfroPunk this NYE.”

In a Facebook statement addressing the last minute cancellation, Festival organizers said that they were unaware of Knowles’s battle with chronic illness but, “value her as an artist and above all as a human being and understand that her health is paramount.”

The singer expressed her continued gratitude to her fans and vowed to perform again in Johannesburg in 2018. According to the Mayo Clinic, autonomic disorders can affect the autonomic nervous system function. Complications can be “wide-ranging and can include problems with the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, perspiration, and bowel and bladder functions.” Other symptoms of the disorder include fatigue, lightheadedness, feeling faint, passing out, weakness, and cognitive impairment.

Read the full story at CNN.

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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Dress code

Authorities in Iran’s capital city Tehran announced this week that women who walk around in public without the proper head coverings will no longer be arrested. Compulsory hijab has been the law of the land in Iran since the 1979 revolution. Women have been compelled to wear a strictly-enforced conservative dress code consisting off a headscarf to cover their hair and long loose fitting clothing ever since.

“Those who do not observe the Islamic dress code will no longer be taken to detention centers, nor will judicial cases be filed against them,” Tehran police chief General Hossein Rahimi said, according to local media reports. Instead of being placed under arrest by morality police or issued fines for “bad hijabs,” as has often happened in the past, women seen in public not wearing a hijab will be forced to attend Islam educational classes.

Masih Alinejad, an Iranian expat and the founder of the popular My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page, which has been campaigning against compulsory hijab in Iran for years, saw the policy shift as a moderate success, but was skeptical of Rahimi’s carefully-worded announcement.

“In his statement, the police chief said if the scarf falls off ‘accidentally,’ the women will not be arrested but sent to educational classes,” Alinejad told Women in the World in an email. In today’s Iran,” she added, “no one takes off their headscarves accidentally.”

Alinejad, who has appeared onstage at Women in the World events several times, pointed out that on the same day the relaxed response to dress code violations was announced, a young woman taking part in the #WhiteWednesdays campaign against compulsory hijab was arrested. “This is the challenge for the authorities — the Iranian women are pushing for greater rights, far beyond token gestures by police chiefs,” Alinejad said. “As for the brave protester, thousands of Iranian of women are demanding her release. The police are in a bind.”

 

In Iran, some women have long protested being forced to wear a headscarf to cover their hair while in public. The backlash to the requirement began in 1979, just after the revolution. On March 8, International Women’s Day, that year, more than 100,000 Iranian women took to the streets to demonstrate against the new mandate.

Thousands of women seen protesting in the streets of Tehran in 1979 after a mandatory hijab rule was implemented following the revolution. (© Hengameh Golestan)

Two years ago, pioneering Iranian photojournalist Hengameh Golestan, who captured iconic photos of the mass protest, spoke with Women in the World about the feeling in the streets of Tehran that day. “The atmosphere was very joyful,” Golestan, who now lives in London, recalled. “Women went on strike that day, because the night before they had announced in the papers that women should wear scarves when they went to work. So nobody went to work, they all went on strike, came to the streets and from early morning they began to march from the Tehran University.”

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12.29.17

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