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The U.S. government signaled support for creating a U.N. commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, reported UPI Aug. 18. U.S. officials also said that the Obama administration may enhance financial sanctions against the Myanmar military regime in an attempt to free political prisoners, according to the article. The country’s military junta, led by Gen. Than Shwe, is suspected of murdering and raping political foes.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that registered same-sex partners should receive the same inheritance rights as married couples, Ms. Magazine reported Aug. 18. The threshold for tax-free inheritance was smaller for same-sex partners than married couples, according to Deutsche Welle. Same-sex partners also had to pay between 17 and 50 percent taxes on the taxable inheritance, while married spouses pay between 7 and 30 percent. The court ruled that there was not significant enough a difference between same-sex and married couples to deny the former equal inheritance rights, the article reported.
  • Indonesia introduced the option of two women-only carriages on a commuter train that runs from the capital to outlying suburbs in response to increased reports of sexual harassment on public trains, reported The Associated Press Aug. 20. Segregation between genders in this Muslim nation is very rare with the exception of mosques and religious schools, according to the article. Government officials were quick to point out that it is not obligatory for women to use the carriages and that they’re free to ride in mixed cars.
  • After 900 years of a male-only policy, Venice has appointed its first female gondolier, the Online Mail reported Aug. 16.
  • A New York state law will now allow anyone convicted of prostitution to clear their records when they can show they were forced into sex trafficking, the Associated Press reported Aug. 16. The legislation, signed by Gov. David Paterson, authorizes judges to vacate state convictions for prostitution or related loitering when the defendant was coerced into the crimes and has either quit sex work or sought help from services for trafficking victims. The law, effective immediately, authorizes filing a motion in criminal court where the defendant was found guilty.
  • The Food and Drug Administration approved ella, a new drug that is supposed to block pregnancy up to five days after sex, two days longer than the currently available emergency contraceptive Plan B, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug 14. The new medication, a tablet to be available by prescription, will be sold in the United States by Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., starting in the fourth quarter of this year. The drug was developed by HRA Pharma, a closely held company in Paris, which started selling it in Europe last year under the name ellaOne. The FDA’s review of the product reignited a long-running debate over the effects of such emergency contraceptives. Some anti-abortion groups argue products such as ella can act to end pregnancies, rather than simply prevent them, the article reported.
  • England will have its first Asian women’s health awareness conference in Manchester on Oct. 1, Manchester Evening News reported Aug. 18. The conference will be staged at Wythenshawe Hospital and will focus on breast cancer in the South Asian communities. Dr Anil Jain, consultant radiologist, was quoted as saying: "We strongly believe that Asian women across the U.K. need to be more aware of ways to take control of their bodies…I’m sure we will be uncovering important facts that, in time, will prevent the onset of breast cancer and help save more lives."
  • Gov. David A. Paterson signed into law a package of bills on divorce on Aug. 15, including one making New York one of the last states to allow couples to dissolve marriages by mutual consent, the New York Times reported. The no-fault divorce bill allows a couple to dissolve the marriage by mutual consent and without requiring one spouse to accuse the other of adultery, cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment. It also allows one spouse to divorce the other unilaterally. "Finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the 21st century," Mr. Paterson said in a statement. "These bills fix a broken process that produced extended and contentious litigation, poisoned feelings between the parties and harmed the interests of those persons — too often women — who did not have sufficient financial wherewithal to protect their legal rights. I commend the sponsors on providing a real and effective legislative solution to a problem that has for too long bedeviled ordinary New Yorkers."




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A study indicates that female managers in Britain earn 10,000 pounds ($15,600) a year less than their male counterparts, and at current rates will wait 57 years to achieve parity, reported the Associated Press Aug 19. The research, released by the Chartered Management Institute, is the latest to highlight the continuing gender gap, despite 40-year-old legislation making it illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work. The gap is partly attributable to men having seniority or getting bigger bonuses, but even at junior management level, the study found women earn at least 1,000 pounds a year less than men.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • A dispute over condoms and Catholic values has left New York City’s Greenwich Village without an urgent care clinic six months after St. Vincent’s Hospital closed its doors in bankruptcy, reported the New York Daily News Aug. 20. The North Shore/Long Island Jewish Medical Center received a $9 million dollar grant from the state to open a clinic in the West Village, but sources familiar with the negotiations say that St. Vincent’s leaders demanded that the new hospital abide by Catholic directives and not counsel about birth control, according to the article. Although Terry Lynam, a spokesperson for The North Shore/Long Island Jewish Medical Center, would not confirm that birth control was the holdup, he said in the article, "The terms presented to us pose some significant problems."


  • Imane Boudlal, a Muslim woman who works at a Disneyland restaurant, alleged that she was not allowed to be seen by customers while wearing her head scarf, the Associated Press reported Aug. 18. When she wore the hijab to work on Aug. 15, in observance of Ramadan, she was told by her supervisors that she had the option to either work away from the public or to go home, since they felt the headscarf did not fit with the Disney uniform. She had since filed a report with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Although she had been fitted for a Disney-approved head scarf, she had not been given a date on which she could expect to receive it and could not wear her own in the interim.
  • Craigslist, in the midst of its legal difficulties concerning allegations of sex trafficking, pointed the finger at eBay on Aug. 16, reported TechCrunch Aug. 17. Craigslist has put significant efforts into moderating inappropriate listings on their site, says CEO Jim Buckmaster, but eBay continues to accept the worst kind of ads, depicting "young Asian females engaged in unprotected sex" on its Spanish subsidiary Loquo, according to the article. In response, eBay has blocked American I.P. addresses from accessing Loquo.
  • The makeup company MAC announced on Facebook Aug. 17 that the company is canceling a controversial collection inspired by a road trip Kate and Laura Mulleavy, founders of the Rodarte clothing line, took through Texas and Mexico, Styleite reported. The Mac cosmetics line stirred debate because it featured products called "Juarez" and "Factory," words that for many conjure up images of the hundreds of women who have been murdered in Juarez. Last month, after MAC and Rodarte discovered that their Mexican-inspired and makeup collaboration was offending potential customers, the companies announced an intention to donate all of the proceeds from the collection to families of young women in dangerous areas like Juarez, the article reported. MAC now says that despite canceling the entire line, the company will still be donating money to local and international groups that work to improve the lives of the women and girls of Juarez. MAC’s public relations department could not be reached regarding the exact amount to be donated.
  • A study released Aug. 18 said the phenomenon of the "cougar" is a myth, confined to the world of celebrities, reported Reuters. The study of online dating, by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, found men and women are still traditional when it comes to searching for their ideal partner. Women generally seek an older, and therefore potentially wealthier, man. Men, meanwhile, desire a young and attractive female, and often prefer a much younger partner as they themselves age. The findings, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, disputes the "cougar" phenomenon popularized in TV shows and movies like "Cougar Town" and "Sex and the City" of women aged over 40 attracting younger men.
  • EMILY’s List, a supporter of Democratic pro-choice and one of the nation’s largest Political Action Committees, ignited on Aug. 17 a debate about Sarah Palin. The organization began a Web-based campaign that challenges Palin’s policies, reported The Washington Times. The PAC claims Palin is endorsing extremist candidates who would push back women’s rights. To carry this message further, the PAC launched a "Sarah Doesn’t Speak for Me" interactive Web site on which visitors can "share personal stories . . . learn the truth about Palin’s endorsed candidates . . . and support progressive candidates." In response, the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List asserted that "EMILY’s List is busy perpetuating what it purports to abhor–using women candidates with whom they disagree as punching bags."
  • A growing number of women in China–mostly in their 20s and about to get married–are opting for a surgical procedure called "hymen restoration," which returns the hymen to its condition before it was ruptured, which typically occurs during first sexual contact but can also happen while playing sports or doing other strenuous activities, reported The Washington Post Aug. 17. Many men in the country say they want to marry a virgin and increasingly liberated Chinese women have found a way to oblige them, the article reported.


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