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The Broadsheet: July 21st

Happy Monday and welcome to the start of a new week, Broadsheet readers.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

• Reynolds slammed with $23.6 billion in damages. A Florida court ruled that R.J. Reynolds, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Reynolds American, owed a longtime smoker’s widow billions after her husband died of lung cancer in 1996. The decision comes right after Reynolds American CEO Susan Cameron acquired competitor Lorillard for $25 billion, in the largest merger ever helmed by a female CEO. WSJ

• Janet Yellen’s focus on wages may need fine tuning. The Federal Reserve chairman noted “significant slack in the job marker last week,” but she may be missing out on a seismic shift that could keep average earnings down for years. As Baby Boomers move into retirement or part-time jobs, an even larger group of Millennials is just entering the job market with entry-level salaries. The result is a shrinking share of the workforce in its prime-earning years.  Bloomberg 

IN THE HEADLINES

• Cinnabon chief: Question success a lot more than failure. Kat Cole, the 36-year-old president of Cinnabon who started out as a Hooters waitress, challenged the notion that companies should focus on change only after mistakes are made. “I ask more questions when things seem to be moving smoothly, because I’m thinking: “There’s got to be something I don’t know. There’s always something,” she told The NY Times.  NYTimes

• Blake Lively, Internet entrepreneur.  The Gossip Girl actress has spent the last two years building a website call Preserve, which is part digital monthly magazine, part e-commerce venture and part video blog. It’s still pretty unclear what Lively’s focus actually is, but it already counts big name women in business like Ivanka Trump among its biggest fans. “If I hadn’t ever been an actor, this is what I would’ve done anyway,” Lively told Vogue.  Vogue  

BROADVIEW

Samantha Power’s real power

On Friday, America’s youngest-ever United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power showed more strength talking about the downed flight MH17 than did President Obama.  During an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, Power put politics aside and said in a remarkably frank way the U.S. cannot rule out the possibility that Russians played a role in the tragedy. 

“Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel,” she said. “This appalling attack occurred in the context of a crisis that has been fueled by Russian support for separatists—through arms, weapons and training… This war can be ended. Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war.”

Obama himself was much more restrained in his prepared remarks. Critics are saying that the President may have been forced to mute his response in order to keep communicating with Russian President Vladamir Putin. Whatever the reason for Obama’s caution, Power’s decision to say what her boss would not shows a level of autonomy that arguably is unrivaled by her peers in Obama’s inner circle.

Since assuming the role in 2013, the lifelong humanitarian advocate has spoken out several times about her desire to do more to prevent global tragedies than perhaps the White House will allow her to do. In April at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women event in New York City, Power said “there is no way I can say with any satisfaction that my effort is enough” in fighting against the use of torture in Syria. It is in comments like these that Power proves she is not in the White House to play politics, but rather to move the discussion forward about how the Administration can use its power more effectively to fight global acts of injustice. 

Her Twitter feed is further proof that she is willing to speak out in times of political tension. Since flight MH17 was shot down, Power has tweeted nearly ten times about the tragedy with messages like “#Russia has power to prevent tragedies like the unspeakable one that happened yesterday. It can end this war. It must end this war.” 

On a lighter note, Power’s commitment to resolving the conflict over Ukraine is something even her five-year-old Declan and two-year-old Rían know about. At the same Fortune event in April, the Irish-born ambassador joked that her sons say things like, “all you talk about is Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine!” As Power works to confirm why that plane fell out of the sky, no doubt her sons will feel similarly about the persistent theme in their mom’s discussions. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Women dominated NYT’s front page on Friday. We talk a lot about the dearth of women in top journalism roles, but you would have no idea about the problem if you looked at the front page of Friday’s New York Times. Female journalists heavily outnumbered male writers on A1. What’s more is that all the female journalists above the fold were reporting from war zones, a task that print publications historically would assign predominantly to men.   HuffPo

 Angela Merkel shows the men how to lead. With a 71% approval rating, the German chancellor came into a predominantly male political culture and turned the country into a “more inclusive, tolerant, rational society capable of leading by example.”   Bloomberg View 

WHAT I’M READING

Harvard educated a majority of the world’s most powerful women  Times Higher Education

Should Mary Barra be protecting GM’s top lawyer?  Forbes

Why NastyGal, Birchbox and others are going brick-and-mortar  LATimes

Texas considers changing health plans for women   NYTimes 

Quote

I'm not some teeny-tiny little actress who spent the whole day getting her face exfoliated. I see some of these chicks doing these action roles and I'm like, what is she doing? She looked ridiculous even running on a treadmill!

First female Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Ronda Rousey talks about her upcoming acting roles in <em>The Expendables 3</em> and <em>Entourage</em>.