Archive | Current Events

My First Google Plus Hangout

Hello, all.

I’ve got something a bit different in store for you today.

Yesterday, I participated in a new feature on The Washington Post’s She The People blog: our weekly Google Plus Hangout, where a subset of the women who blog for STP get together and chew over the stories of the week.

Confession: I hadn’t joined Google Plus until yesterday, and am now secretly obsessed with the concept of circles…)

Be that as it may, I think the whole thing came off very well.

Here we are, talking about Sarah Palin, the Veepstakes in the U.S. Presidential race and – natch – the London 2012 Olympics.

(Secret tip: stay tuned until the end where you’ll hear Patricia Murphy‘s surprising pic for top female athlete of the Olympics…)

Enjoy!

 

Image: Olympic 2012 by id513128 via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

Huma Abedin At Home

Was Michele Bachmann worried that Sarah Palin was stealing the GOP convention side-show? Bachmann wandered way off the reservation when she improbably accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of trying to infiltrate the American government on behalf of the Muslim brotherhood.

Sen. John McCain and – oh, about half the country – have now leapt to Abedin’s defense.

But a tiny sliver of this publicity is Abedin’s own doing. ln a much-anticipated article that hits newsstands Friday, Abedin and her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, invited People Magazine into their home to do a profile of their family life.

You remember Rep. Weiner. He’s the guy who sent money shots of himself in his tightie-whities to a selection of ladies who were not his wife, prematurely ending his congressional career last summer.

The article isn’t out yet but from the many leaked tidbits I’ve read so far, the one that really has me shaking my head is Abedin’s assertion that “We’re just a normal family.”

Huma, with all due respect, I beg to differ. You and your husband are many things but I’m afraid that  “normal” ain’t one of them.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Image: wednesday-metro by azipaybarah via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Tymoshenko Case May Disrupt Euro Cup

I’ve long admired former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for her fiery rhetoric and steely nerve. But even as she languishes in prison, Tymoshenko might be about to engineer her most significant political coup yet: a boycott of the upcoming Euro 2012 soccer tournament by European governments.

With the signature blond braid that sits – crown-like – above her head and her glamorous, almost regal bearing, one could easily mistake Tymoshenko for pure political window dressing. But that would seriously underestimate this woman’s power and influence. Tymoshenko played a major role – alongside her onetime ally Viktor Yushchenko – in spearheading Ukraine’s 2004 pro-Western Orange Revolution. Subsequently, she served as prime minister of the country from 2007 to 2010, when she narrowly lost an election to current president Viktor Yanukovich.

Tymoshenko’s fortunes changed last year when she was jailed for seven years over a controversial natural gas deal with Russia during her tenure as prime minister. Many – including Tymoshenko herself – viewed her arrest and imprisonment as a crackdown on political opposition in the Ukraine as well as retribution by Yanukovich against his main political rival.

Since April of this year, however, her situation has deteriorated significantly. She is now on a hunger strike following what she claims was a brutal beating April 20 by prison guards, who she maintains punched her and twisted her arms and legs while forcibly taking her to a hospital to be treated for chronic back pain. She has refused any medical treatment beyond pain killers to date, insisting that she must have her medical treatment abroad. German doctors who have examined her say that she is in “urgent need of specialized care” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has publicly requested that the Ukrainian authorities send her to Germany for “proper treatment” of her ailments.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

Image: Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by European Parliament via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Sex, Maids and Videotape: L’Affaire DSK

Sex scandals rarely die and disappear. They’re usually far too salacious, improbable and/or disturbing for that. Which is perhaps why I find myself secretly delighted to see the sexual escapades of former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn back in the news.

Remember Strauss-Kahn? He was that very distinguished international statesman whose career came to a screeching halt last May when he was accused of raping a maid  – Nafissatou Diallo – at an upscale hotel in New York City. While the criminal case against DSK (as he’s known in his native France) was dismissed last summer due to questions about Ms. Diallo’s veracity, she subsequently brought a civil suit against Mr. Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault.

DSK tried to prevent this civil suit from going forward – pleading diplomatic immunity . But on Tuesday a Bronx Judge ruled against this “Hail Mary” pass on DSK’s part, and will allow the suit to proceed. Among other things, an entirely new set of legal proceedings will require the Frenchman to return to New York for a series of depositions on the initial alleged crime.

In short: Game on.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Image: IMG_6810-Edit by Christian, un marito via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

War On Women 2.0: Jobs

Slate political columnist Dave Weigel boldly declared last week that “the War on Women is over.”

He was referring to the political firestorm that erupted when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen suggested that Ann Romney couldn’t possibly speak for women in this country because she’d “never worked a day in her life.” Weigel’s point was that the WoW talking point – which had served the Democrats so well through the personhood and contraception and slutgate wars  – was now dead in the water, as everyone (and their mothers), left, right and center, jumped in to defend the noble work that stay-at-home moms do.

But in the war over women voters, there wasn’t even a brief lull.

In a series of appearances on the Sunday talk shows, Geithner repeatedly refuted the claims made by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s camp that women have been the biggest losers under President Obama in terms of jobs. Specifically, Romney had argued earlier in the week that 92.3 percent of job losses since Obama took office were suffered by women, something one of his advisers characterized as “setting us back 20 years.”

Geithner called the GOP claim “ridiculous and very misleading,” arguing that Republicans were selectively reporting job losses for part of the recession in order to attack the president. Specifically, he noted that when the recession began back in 2008 under President Bush, it was men in industries such as construction and manufacturing who took the biggest hit. Subsequently, after Obama entered office and the government was forced to cut spending, women in fields such as teaching were also squeezed.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Women on Assembly Line Stamping Hams by Wisconsin Historical Images via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Sex And The Secret Service

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only person caught partying in Colombia. On Saturday, 11 Secret Service agents were placed on administrative leave amid allegations that the men brought prostitutes  into their rooms while on detail for the president’s summit in Cartagena.

The idea of American law enforcement officials paying for sex with prostitutes is hardly new. Just ask former New York governor Elliot Spitzer, who resigned from office in 2008 when he was caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a highly paid prostitute. (Spitzer was recently awarded with an anchor slot on Current TV. Hey, we’re a forgiving country…)

But with Spitzer – self-righteous as he was when he was fighting prostitution rings as State Attorney General – we always knew that he was a person underneath – fiery and passionate, if not a tad hypocritical. With the Secret Service, in contrast, these men are trained – indeed, required – to be almost invisible. There’s something almost asexual about the tight-lipped, black-suited guardians who pledge to give their life, if need be, to protect the president.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Image: Bad-Ass Secret Service by djwhelan via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Marrying Your Rapist: A New Low For Women’s Rights In Morocco

The timing couldn’t have been more tragically ironic. As women the world over gathered last week to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, women in Morocco gathered to protest the deathof a 16 year-old girl who took her life after being forced to marry her rapist.

The women’s rights activists were there on behalf of Amina al-Filali, a teenager from the small town of Larache, near Tangiers, who died the previous Saturday after drinking a lethal amount of rat poison. Amina committed suicide following what her father described as a series of brutal beatings by her husband, whom local authorities had pressured her to marry after he allegedly raped her. Witnesses say her husband became so outraged when she drank the poison he dragged her down the street by her hair. She died shortly afterwards.

The Moroccan penal code was updated in 2004 to give women greater rights. But in the case of rape, the burden of proof is often on the victim to prove that she was attacked or risk prosecution for debauchery. While rape is punishable by five to 10 years in prison under Moroccan law, it rises to between 10 and 20 years if the victim is a minor. But a rapist can marry an underage victim in order to preserve the honor of the woman’s family.

According to the victim’s mother, who claims that she found her daughter lying in the forest following the initial sexual assault at knifepoint: “”I had to marry her to him, because I couldn’t allow my daughter to have no future and stay unmarried.” Apparently, the local court concurred, and pressured the victim’s father to consent to the marriage despite his own misgivings.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Image: Clear legal basis needed to combat violence against women by European Parliament via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Diet Books Dumped in U.K. Protest at Parliament

“There’s not a single part of my body that I’d want to change, even if I could,” a woman commented to me the other night at dinner.

“Liar,” I wanted to say back.

It wasn’t that I didn’t agree with the tenor of her remark. We were discussing the ongoing breast implant scandal in the United Kingdom, which has the government and private medical clinics here squabbling over who should pay to replace faulty silicone breast implants: the companies that put them in, or the government that certified their safety.

My dinner partner correctly observed that the real culprit in the scandal was body image: the idea sold to all of us that we’re meant to look a certain way. And the horrific lengths to which we go — vomiting, starving ourselves, paying inordinate amounts of money to plastic surgeons to add or subtract a curve — to comply with that ideal.

But I don’t really think there’s a single one of us — certainly not female — who hasn’t fallen prey to the lures of an Atkins Diet, a Slim Fast regime or a Weight Watchers program at some point. I have one friend who couldn’t contain her delight when she discovered that her anti-depressant doubled as a dieting pill. “A twofer!” she exclaimed to me giddily over the phone.

Read the rest of this article at The Washington Post’s She The People Blog

 

Image: scale by vividBreeze via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

What UK’s Breast Implant Scandal Tells Us About Health Care Reform

These days, product recalls are nothing out of the ordinary. From children’s toys to Tylenol, you locate the offending item, send in your receipt, and with any luck, get a refund. But when the recall in question concerns a breast implant – as it does right now in a scandal here in the U.K. – then the process is a quite bit more complicated.

In case you haven’t heard, silicone breast implants made with P.I.P. – an industrial grade silicone – by a French company have now been declared faulty, exposing women to ruptures, leaks and possible risks of cancer. Over the past 12 years, some 300,000 of these implants were sold to women around the globe in more than 65 countries, predominantly in Europe and South America. (The United States banned this product and declared it unsafe.)

The French government has recently recalled all P.I.P. implants and agreed to pay for their removal, but only for women who’d had the original surgery done in France. The British government maintains that the link between P.I.P. implants and cancer is far lower than suggested by French data. It has agreed to pay for any removal on implants performed by the National Health Service (NHS) over the past decade (primarily those linked to breast cancer reconstructive surgery). But this accounts for only about 5% of the 40,000 women who’ve had implants in this country during that time.

As for the remaining 38,000 or so cases, the government is urging private clinics to perform the recalls for free on moral grounds. (As a last resort, the government will step in to pay for removal of implants put in in a private clinic that has closed or is unwilling to provide the service.

And this is where things get interesting.

Read the rest of this story at The Washington Post’s She The People Blog

 

Image: breast implant 5 by matthewlucas via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Cristina Kirchner In The Hospital: Argentina Panics

Can a woman have too much power?

I’m thinking in this case of the immensely popular Cristina Kirchner, who was re-elected President of Argentina in October of last year in a landslide victory, capturing 54% of the popular vote.

Kirchner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last week and underwent surgery on Wednesday. And while the initial prognosis is excellent, “Cristina” – as she is popularly known here – will need to be on leave from her duties for three weeks, during which time her vice-president will be in charge.

What’s interesting about this situation is not the popular outpouring of sympathy for Cristina it has inspired. She is a deeply appealing political figure. She’s dynamic. She’s compelling. When Kirchner’s cancer was first announced, #fuerzacristina emerged as a trending hashtag on Twitter. At 1 a.m. on the morning of her operation, supporters assembled in various plazas and squares around the country, and remained there until it was finished.

Read the rest of this article on The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Image: CFK Bunker, Presidential Primary by CateIncPA via Flickr under a Creative Commons License