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Will Hillary Clinton's Women's Agenda Survive? | Allyson Schwartz PA Governor's Race Heats Up | Caroline Kennedy to Japan

‘Tendance Brute’ starring Agnes Nabuurs by Maria Burns. Interview writes:

Tendance Brute, the new digital short by Swiss-born, New York-based filmmaker Maria Burns, begins in the dark. Hands creep into the frame and a model appears, Agnes Nabuurs. She is beautiful, certainly, but also fierce and feral looking, as if a cat had metamorphosed into human form and is exploring its newfound long limbs. As the film progresses, Nabuurs’ outfits become more developed and á la mode, but she does not lose her wildness. Instead, the extremity of her look—the horned shoulders, her spike-soled boots, artfully unkempt hair, kohl-rimmed eyes, and, later, her elaborate headpiece—make her seem even more alien. An exploration of fashion’s constant search for an abnormal beauty.  

French Roast News

Anne is reading …

Writing for The Daily Beast, Kathleen Parker asks: Will Clinton’s Agenda Survive?

“Let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

These critical words uttered by then First Lady Hillary Clinton brought international women’s rights into the public dialogue. 

Now that Hillary Clinton has left the State Department, many worry around the world — what will the US policy be on women? 

“It’s a totally open question,” says Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton and the author of Why Women Should Rule the World. “Under Hillary, everyone knew that the global women’s issue was a strategic priority, an organizing principle. She was completely committed. How do you re-create that?”

New Secretary of State John Kerry has no strong history on women’s issues. In fact, before Hillary, DC’s state department was rather clueless about the importance of empowering women worldwide as a primary deterrent to terrorism and global insecurities. It was former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who backed Hillary on this issue. 

The good news is President Obama’s decision to make permanent the Office of Global Women’s Issues and the women’s-ambassador-at-large position, which Hillary created. The sad news is that Melanne Verveer, the first ambassador left her position to run the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. 

The newly appointed ambassador, Cathy Russell, is Jill Biden’s former chief of staff, “an unexpected choice to some veterans in the field.” In March 2012, Hillary issued a directive advising American embassies and posts of the “strategic imperative” of advancing women’s equality: “The department is focusing across all of our work to reduce disparities and proactively promote gender equality.”

The question is: will Kerry care? And will President Obama — or Michelle — stand tough if he doesn’t.

Allyson Schwartz for PA Gov

Anne’s friend Liz Forrest was candid in her lead-in to today’s Philadelphia Inquirer story Allyson Schwarta’s political baggage worries some Democrats. 

“People always ask, ‘Will she play outside Philadelphia? Is she too liberal?’ ” Forrest said Thursday night during the monthly dinner meeting of the Pike County Democratic Committee. “Who cares? Philadelphia and Pittsburgh produce enough votes to win it.”

Forrest cites Schwartz’s “money and political chops” to send Republican governor, close-your-eyes ultrasound Jim Corbett packing.

Her great liability? The five-term congresswoman in not only prochoice, but she founded a Philadelphia women’s health cllinc — the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center in 1975. It provided prenatal, care, a birthing center and other health services including abortion. It’s alleged in some circles that Schwartz hasn’t sufficiently promoted other women candidates in PA politics. Why support her in return, say the women?

She’s an established fiscal moderate, lessening her appeal to some progressive Democrats. Keystone Politics writes today Is Allyson Schwartz Too Conservative To Be the Nominee for Governor? 

That’s not our issue at AOC, where we are already on record committed to electing Alysson Schwartz as the first woman governor of the state. PA ranks about 46th in the country in electing women to political office. 

Most polls show Schwartz ahead of the pack in a state that went for Obama with a 16-point gender gap with women. The state was very energized in 2012, electing Kathleen Kane as the first woman attorney general. Kane wasn’t supported by the state Democratic party boys either, but the Clinton machine stepped in to help her. 

For Emily’s List, Schwartz, an established political figure with a strong record as a fund-raiser, represents a prime opportunity to pick up a governorship in big state.

MSNBC writes that former Pennsylvania Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, who represented parts of Schwartz’s district in the 1990′s, is eager to see a woman fill one of the Pennsylvania’s top jobs. “Kathleen Kane and Catherine Baker Knoll proved that women can run just as well as men in Pennsylvania,” Margolies said.  “I want more women at the table.”

Lynn Yeakel, the founder and co-chair of Vision 2020, a national initiative for women’s social and economic equality, based at Drexel University, was the last female statewide nominee in Pennsylvania to run at the national level, and only the second woman in Pennsylvania’s history to become the nominee for the U.S. Senate.  In 1992 she came up short in her challenge to incumbent U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. “If anyone can do this, Allyson can,” Yeakel said.  “She’s a very tough campaigner.”

Just In

1) PA Democratic Senator Bob Casey today publicly announced his support for same-sex marriage. Previously, the devout Catholic Casey — who voted against America’s women in supporting the Blunt Amendment slamming President Obama’s contraception mandate —was one of nine Democratic senators not in support of same-same marriage.

The second-term Democrat had previously backed civil unions and LGBTrights legislation, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He also co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but he had not voiced support for full marriage rights.

“After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy and civil rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed,” Casey said in the release. “If two people of the same sex fall in love and want to marry, why would our government stand in their way?”

2) Connecticut legislators announced today a bipartisan agreement on gun control, initiatives they called “the most far-reaching gun-legislation in the country.”

Writes the New York Times: “It would require new state-issued eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition; mandate that offenders convicted of any of more than 40 weapons offenses register with the state; require universal background checks for the sale of all firearms; and substantially expand the state’s existing ban on assault weapons.”

The legislation bans the future sale of high-capacity magazines of more than 10 bullets. All assault weapons — past and future — must be registered. 

Although negotiations became protracted in a Democratic-controlled state, it’s hoped now that the bipartisan agreement could become a model for other states. 

3) The Washington Post writes that Caroline Kennedy is set to be ambassador to Japan. Kennedy was a key early supporter of President Obama. 

4) Catholic women are hoping for stronger roles for women in the Francis papacy, writes NPR

A group of American women pilgrims visited the many inscriptions and images on tombstones, frescoes and mosaics showing images of early Catholic women in roles of leadership, holding roles identical to men as prophets, priests and deacons. 

“Certainly in the first two centuries, we see women — at least parts of the early communities — holding co-equal roles with men,” says Sister Chris Shenk, executive director of the Catholic group FutureChurch, which organized the pilgrimage.

Related: The Death of Jesus and the Rise of the Christian Persecution Myth The Daily Beast


Mostly Men Write Our Serious Reading | Neuro-politics Is A Hot Topic | US Seeks A Liberal Pope

1. Journalism seems to be a man’s world. According to a new VIDA study, women continue to write a minority of articles in prestigious publications, consistent with results from other years.  

The study found that the London Review of Books published 34 pieces that carried female bylines, compared to 161 pieces with male byelines. Harper’s published 17 articles written by women, compared to 76 articles written by men. The New Yorker published 160 articles with female bylines, compared to 445 articles with male bylines. The New York Review of Books published 36 stories by women and 121 stories written by men. via Huff Po

2. Neuro-politics is a hot topic, as increasing evidence indicates that genes and brain chemistry significantly influence one’s political perspective. The Democratic amygdala can be distinguished from a Republican’s in a recent brain scan study. The Republican brain is more driven by fear and reward, with Democrats having a more generous-spirited, emotional connectivity — a conclusion affirmed by linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff who says the “Republicans’ attachment to a rigid concept of paternalistic discipline and enforced obedience to an idealized authority” is no accident. 

Writing for Salon, Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg trace neuro-politics back to Thomas Jefferson.

3. ‘Queen-bee syndrome’ alive and well, writes the Wall Street Journal.  A 2011 survey of working women by the American Management Association found that 95 percent of them believed they had been undermined by another woman at some point in their careers. 

The syndrome is a live and well with the rise of the alpha women, writes psychologist Peggy Drexler. With all the talk about the need for women to mentor other women, something may be rotten in Denmark when the focus is the professional sisterhood.

Madeleine Albright said famous: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” If so, is it possible there may not be enough room for all the alpha ladies. 

4. As the College of Cardinals prepares to select a new pope, US Catholics are united in a strong preference for a younger man with hew ideas. 66% of Catholics polled by CBS seek a pope with more liberal teachings on issues like birth control, ordaining women and permitting priests to marry. 

Time for a reality check, however. The Vatican, Iran and other religious states are resisting efforts at the UN to demand tougher global standards to prevent violence against women and children.

The Vatican seeks to eliminate language stating that religious custom can’t be used as an excuse for being violent towards women and girls. 

5. American researchers have found a potential benefit of a molecule in green tea: preventing the misfolding of specific proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Simultaneously, British researchers believe that natural chemicals found in green tea and red wine prevent clumps of protein to latch on to brain cells, causing them to die.  

After identifying the process which allows harmful protein clumps to start brain degeneration, the researchers were able to interrupt this pathway, using the purified extracts of EGCG from green tea and resveratrol from red wine.  The discovery will help the development of new drugs to treat the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. via Science Daily


Will Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Run for Political Office? | Girls' Brains & Language Development

1. Republicans in the US House of Representatives have redrafted the Senate’s bill to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), stripping protections of LGBT Americans and a clause involving Native Americans who victims of sexual assault or abuse. Read more on Republican opposition in an earlier RedTracker.

Republicans argue vehemently that the Native American protections are unconstitutional. The House bill allows the states greater discretion in deciding which populations are being under-served and are therefore more deserving of funding than others. 

Huff Po provides a link to the House version of their 288-page bill. 

2. The New York Times writes: In Paid Femily Leave, U.S. Trails most of the Globe. America joins Papua New Guinea, Suriname and Liberia as countries having no paid maternity leave at all. 

Individual corporations like Google have stepped in where the federal government has not. And some states have laws that mandate paid maternity leave. 

Perhaps America can learn from France, a country that supports new mothers with a generous paid parental leave policy and childcare services. As a result France now has a birth rate of 2.0 — putting it with Ireland in top birth rates — and also the lowest rate of unemployment among women among European Union Member States. 

3. BBC reports that the Vatican accuses media of trying to profit from a time of disorientation and confusion in the Catholic Church, promoting ‘gossip’ and ‘slander’, writing:

An unconfirmed report in one of Italy’s biggest newspapers, La Repubblica, suggested that the Pope had resigned shortly after being presented with a dossier detailing a network of Vatican priests, “united by sexual orientation” who were being blackmailed.

We reported in July 2010 that Panorama, a publication owned by Silvio Berlusconi caught three Catholic priests inside a gay nightclub and having sex outside a church building. The expose titled ‘Gay Piests’ Nights on the Town’ followed priests with secret cameras for a month. (cont)

(Vatican cont) Italy’s prominent paper La Repubblica, Thursday published a report of similar scandal around the Vatican. USA Today also covers the story. 

Britain’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien has gone on record saying that the next pope should review the marriage ban on priests. Lest we think Cardinal O’Brien is a progressive, his moderate views are confined to this particular topic. 

In Germany, Catholic bishops have announced that “Catholic hospitals can provide emergency contraceptives to rape victims, as long as the pills prevent the fertilization of an egg and do not stop the implantation of a fertilized egg”, writes The Catholic Reporter. 

4. The public weighs in on sequester cuts, with four in 10 Americans saying let the sequester happen. With barely a week to go, even one in three Democrats, says let the cuts happen, writes Pew Research.

Both parties say that the president and Congress should focus on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the budget deficit. Only 10% of Americans agree with Republican leaders that tax increases should be off the table. Only 42% of Republicans surveyed said that deficit reduction should come from spending cuts alone. 76% believe in a combination of both spending and revenue increases, with 54% supporting “mostly spending cuts” and 30% saying equally balanced.

Take Note

Girls and Language Development

Girls may be naturally more gifted in language skills because their brains contain considerably more of the gene called FOXP2, considered essential for the production of speech. Since it was first discovered in 2001, studies have confirmed that girls learn language faster and earlier than boys, as well as maintaining a larger vocabulary.

Scientists caution that the nature vs nurture argument remains critical to the discussion. And there are other genes critical in the production of speech.

An examination of levels of FOXP2 in male and female rat brains confirmed higher levels of FOXP2 in the male brain regions linked to emotion, vocalization and cognition. Mother rats responded to male babies who called nearly twice as frequently in the less vociferous girl babies. The mother rats also carried the boy rats back to the nest first. 

Researchers reduced the FOXP2 in the male pups’ brains and increased it in the females’ with the opposite result. 

And in a study of 10 recently-deceased human children, girls exhibited 30% more FOXP2 in their brains than boys.  Researchers concluded that among both rats and humans, the gender with the most FOXP2 in its brain was the most communicative.

Are We About to Map the Entire Human Brain? Psychology Today


Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg

Writes ‘Lean In’

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

This week Kevin Roose of New York Magazine predicted the Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will leave the company within the year AND run for political office. Roose’s comments come in response to Jodi Kantor’s New York Times article about Sandberg’s new book ‘Lean In’. Talking about her book-slash-manifesto on women in the worplace, Sandberg said that she reread Betty Friedan’s classic ‘The Feminine Mystique’, now 50 years old.

When her book is published on March 11, Sandberg hopes to orchestrate her own version of feminist consciousness-raising groups. Sandberg has developed a curriculum of how to create career success including videos on how successful women speak and even sit at work.

Ms. Sandberg will grant her first book interview to the CBS program ‘60 Minutes’. “I always thought I would run a social movement,” Ms Sandberg, 43, reflected in an interview for ‘Makers’, a new documentary on feminist history. Take a listen.