Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Meg Whitman raises $1 billion, the NFL gives us something—finally—to cheer about, and we take a closer look at the Saudi Arabia-Canada battle related to women’s rights. Have a great Wednesday.
• A rift over women’s rights. The feud between Saudi Arabia and Canada continues to escalate. The kingdom said today that it’s transferring all Saudi patients from Canadian hospitals to medical facilities outside the country. This after it suspended direct flights to Canada by its state airline and ordered the withdrawal of 12,000 Saudi students who are in Canada on state-sponsored scholarships. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the kingdom.
All these measures are retaliation for what started with a tweet by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland that expressed alarm over Saudi’s arrest of Canadian citizen Samar Badawi, an acclaimed human rights activist.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry called Canada’s criticism of the arrest “blatant interference in the kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols,” and an “unacceptable affront” to its “laws and judicial process.”
Saudi Arabia’s quick and severe response is worth noting. It is, experts say, the latest example of muscle flexing by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
An earlier instance of his power wielding—the jailing of other women’s rights activists—proceeded the lifting of Saudi’s longstanding ban on female drivers in June. Activists who’d pushed for that freedom were detained so the reform would look like the sole decision of the prince—not a victory for women’s rights campaigners.
Badawi, too, had called for the end of the driving ban. In fact, the United States honored her work by awarding her the International Women of Courage Award in 2012.
Also worth noting is Canada’s sure-footedness on the issue, at least to this point: There is potentially a giant cost to the heightening tensions; Canada’s exports to Saudi Arabia surpassed 1.4 billion Canadian dollars last year. Nevertheless, when Freeland was asked about Saudi Arabia’s reaction to her comments, she said Canada stands by its stance “with great assuredness.”
The conflict is growing into a serious test of the values of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s feminist administration. But so far, it’s standing firm.
“We will always speak up for human rights,” Freeland said earlier this week. “We will always speak up for women’s rights around the world.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Power grab. Come November, Democrats will face a high-stakes test to see if they can reclaim power in Michigan, a state President Donald Trump won two years ago. Their fate there is partially in the hands of two women: incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow, and gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, who won the party’s nomination last night.
New York Times
• Something to cheer about. New to the NFL field this season: Male cheerleaders. Three guys—Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron of the Rams, and Jesse Hernandez of the Saints—will join their teams’ female squads. The decision is a rare sign of progress for the league, which recently has faced national anthem protests, scrutiny of players’ brain injuries, and discrimination lawsuits by its female cheerleaders.
• Rocked by the rally. The first African American female mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, Nikuyah Walker, was elected shortly after the Unite the Right rally there last year. Twelve months on from the deadly incident, she says it helped open residents’ eyes to the city’s racial disparities. “This whole notion that we’re a post-racial society; that everyone can thrive in Charlottesville; they had to stop and ask themselves, ‘Why Charlottesville? Why us?'”
• Meg’s in the money. We’re learning more and more about ex-HP CEO Meg Whitman’s next venture, NewTV, which yesterday announced $1 billion in investment from big names like Disney and Warner Bros. The new mobile streaming service is being developed within Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo holding company.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
•All right at AllBright? The AllBright, a London-based women’s networking club, has left its supporters dumbfounded by its decision to appoint a man, Allan Leighton, as its chair. One of its founders, Debbie Wosskow, has defended the move as an effort to appeal to the men who control startup capital. Plus, she says, she and co-founder Anna Jones appointed Leighton to the role and that’s what really matters.
• Teachable moment. A new study has found that female heart attack patients treated by female doctors were two to three times more likely to survive than those with male doctors. The results add to a growing body of work exploring how a doctor’s identity shapes the health of her patients. The theory that female doctors are better at treating female patients points to female doctors better understanding the symptoms of female patients, and the smooth lines of communication that can exist between people of the same gender. Luckily for all of us, some of those traits aren’t just inherent—they can be taught.
• A big, fat fail. After media reports last week accused Tokyo Medical University of manipulating test scores to keep female students out, the institution is now apologizing for its “systemic” practice, with top officials saying that discrimination against women should never be allowed.