Afghan girls robotics team denied—again

By Kristen Bellstrom
July 11, 2017

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Ivanka Trump’s G20 seat prompts a Twitter war, the investigation of Jane Sanders ramps up, and the girls robotics team from Afghanistan is denied—again. Have a good Tuesday.


EVERYONE'S TALKING

• Major malfunction. Remember the group of Afghan girls who were denied visas to come to the U.S. to participate in an international robotics competition? Their plight made headlines late last month when it was revealed that the State Department had denied their request.

Now comes news that the girls applied again—and were again denied. The State Department has refused to discuss the situation, saying it cannot comment on individual cases. Its rationale is difficult to grok; Afghanistan is not included in President Trump’s travel ban, yet Syria, Iran, and Sudan are—and their teams were granted visas. One theory floated by the Washington Post suggests that U.S. officials may suspect that the girls will “vanish into immigrant communities instead of returning home.”

While that’s not an unfounded concern, the girls appear to have done what they could to prove their intent to return home. “Each of us gave them written guarantees from two government employees vouching for our return,” 16-year-old Rodaba Noori told the Post. “This is our country. We have our life and family here.”

With the latest denial, it looks like the team will have to watch their ball-sorting robot do its thing via Skype. At a time when the U.S. is making a lot of noise about supporting women’s economic development abroad—see President Trump’s recent announcement that the U.S. will donate $50 million to the new women’s entrepreneurship fund championed by his daughter—the government’s decision is more than disappointing; it’s hypocritical.


ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

• Clinton vs. Trump—again. The controversy over Ivanka Trump taking a turn in her father’s chair during a G20 meeting spilled into the presidential Twitter account yesterday, with President Trump tweeting that the move was “very standard.” He also invoked his former opponent, saying that, if Hillary Clinton were president and asked Chelsea to sit in for her, the media would be supportive. Chelsea—who has not been shy on Twitter in recent months—responded, tweeting that, “It would never have occurred to my mother or my father to ask me.” Fortune

• Who is Natalia Veselnitskaya? This fascinating story digs into the shadowy background of Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner last year to discuss what she referred to as “helpful” information related to Hillary Clinton. Financial Times

• Looking into a loan. Federal prosecutors’ are ramping up an investigation into a land deal led by Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The investigation centers on the 2010 land purchase that relocated Burlington College, then run by Sanders, to a new campus. According to former trustees and state officials, Sanders provided incorrect information about donation commitments, which she said could be used to repay a $6.7 million loan. Sanders denies any wrongdoing. Washington Post

• Going dark. Darktrace, a new cybersecurity startup led by CEO and cofounder Nicole Eagan, was privately valued at $825 million after raising a new round of funding worth $75 million. The company uses artificial intelligence to identify and block digital attacks.  Fortune

 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Paramount Pictures has named Mireille Soria president of Paramount Animation. Lifetime has promoted Brie Miranda Bryant, formerly senior vp of unscripted development and programming, to head of reality.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

• A suit gathers steam. Yesterday, we linked to a story about legendary feminist lawyer Gloria Allred. The attorney is back in the news again, this time representing the family of an unnamed gymnast, who is suing the U.S. Olympic Committee over alleged sexual abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar is scheduled to plead guilty to federal child pornography charges, but has denied sexual assault charges. NBC News

• Famous on Facebook. Laura Clery is one of a new breed of online video stars: Rather than put her work on YouTube, the traditional platform of such web personalities, she found a home—plus fame and fortune—on Facebook.  New York Times

• Chan in charge. This profile of Priscilla Chan goes back to her initial meet-cute with now-husband Mark Zuckerberg—and up to her most recent role: head of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic investment company she and the Facebook CEO launched in 2015.  Recode

• Wrap star. This new series from Brit + Co. highlights creative immigrant women. First up, Paola Mathé, a Haitian immigrant and founder of headwrap brand Fanm Djanm. Brit + Co.

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ON MY RADAR

Runner Gabriele Grunewald got cancer. She fought it. Repeat, again and again  Sports Illustrated

Theresa May orders Tory MP to be suspended for using N-word  The Guardian

For women in blue, a grim measure of their growing role and risks  New York Times

Chinese activist says he was detailed because of factory’s ties to Ivanka Trump brand  The Guardian


QUOTE

You spelt ‘four-time Olympic champion’ wrong.
Broadcast journalist Libby Dawes, correcting 'The London Times' reference to cyclist Laura Kenny as her husband's 'pregnant wife'

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