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The World’s Most Powerful Women: March 27

Hong Kong made history yesterday by electing Carrie Lam as the city’s first-ever female chief executive. She received 777 votes from the 1,194-person electoral college made up of lawmakers, businesspeople, and professionals.

The mood in the city, however, was not entirely celebratory. News of Lam’s victory was greeted with some cheers, but also with boos and laughter.

Some citizens are displeased with the outcome due to Beijing’s not-so-secret sway in the election. The Chinese government reportedly lobbied on Lam’s behalf in the lead-up to the vote because they saw Lam, the No. 2 in the previous administration, as someone who would loyally enact their will. In her previous role, Lam met with the so-called Umbrella Movement, whose members took to the streets in 2014 to protest the elitist nature of the city’s electoral system. She dismissed their grievances, telling them that their proposed alternative wasn’t feasible. “Hong Kong is not an independent entity…and cannot decide on its own its political development,” she said. Two weeks later, she told those in the streets they’d be arrested if they did not leave.

The chuckles on Sunday came as Lam’s vote tally was read aloud: 777. In Cantonese, “seven” sounds like an expletive sometimes used to refer to an impotent person. Lam’s opponents are already using the number as a nickname for the newly-minted leader—an attempt to undermine her authority and the process that catapulted her into office.

Moments after claiming victory, Lam was asked about her vote total. She said she didn’t know whether the “777” moniker would stick. “Nicknames are what other people come up with,” she said. “I’m very honored and very happy to get these votes.”




Fractured kingdomU.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on Monday, just two days before May will trigger Article 50. It will be the first meeting of the two leaders since Sturgeon announced her intention to hold a second independence referendum; May is expected to reaffirm her view that “now is not the time” for such a vote. Scotland is May’s first stop on a pre-Brexit tour of all four U.K. nations. The Guardian


Enraged over encryption
U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said yesterday that the end-to-end encryption capabilities of messaging tools like WhatsApp are “completely unacceptable,” and that tech companies have a duty to give governments access to user data to help combat terrorism. Her comments followed the revelation that the culprit in Wednesday’s terror attack in Westminster had used WhatsApp moments before mowing down pedestrians. “There should be no place for terrorists to hide,” she said. Her comments add fuel to the ongoing battle between tech companies and world governments over user privacy.

A visit from Vestager
Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust czar, will visit the U.S. this week for the first time since President Donald Trump took office. It could turn out to be a rather awkward trip since Trump has questioned the U.S.’s commitment to NATO, predicted other countries will follow the U.K. out of the EU, and referred to Brussels—Europe’s de facto capital—as a hellhole. Plus, Trump has so far failed to appoint the top-level competition officials with whom Vestager would normally meet.


Conspiracy or coincidence?
In the aftermath of the health care debacle that saw Republicans pull their Obamacare replacement on Friday, Trump has publicly defended the legislation’s architect House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) But a strange series of events seemed to undermine that public vote of confidence on Saturday. In the afternoon, Trump tweeted that his followers should “watch @JudgeJeanine,” referring to a Fox New show, that evening. A few hours later, host Jeanine Pirro called for Ryan to step down, raising questions of whether she was delivering the president’s message for him. The White House called the incident a “coincidence.” 
Washington Post

See you in court
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will stand trial on charges of financial mismanagement, according to a judge’s ruling. Fernandez, who governed from 2007 to 2015, is accused of ordering the central bank to sell dollars on the futures market at artificially low prices ahead of a widely expected devaluation of the Argentine peso, which allegedly resulted in the nation losing hundreds of millions of dollars. Fernandez, 64, says she’s been the target of “political persecution” since her successor, conservative Mauricio Macri, took over. In the 2015 campaign, Fernandez backed his opponent.

A grand gesture
Kristine Tompkins, the former CEO of the Patagonia apparel company, has donated 100 million acres she owns in the Patagonia region of Chile to the nation’s government to help establish a national parks system there. She and her late husband Doug Tompkins, who—ironically—founded Patagonia rival brand North Face, bought the land after he discovered it on a trip with Patagonia owner Yvon Chouinard. While all the connections are a bit confusing, Tompkins’ message is clear: “[W]e have a moral imperative to work actively and, I would say, urgently to protect landscapes that are in peril. And we hope that this model can serve as some sort of beacon or encouragement that other individuals at any scale, wherever you are—I hope that people step up and go for it.”


Wanting a warrant
Prosecutors in South Korea want an arrest warrant for former president Park Geun-hye for her alleged role in a sprawling influence-peddling scandal involving her shadowy advisor Choi Soon-sil that led to her impeachment earlier this month. Prosecutors, who questioned Park for 14 hours last week, say the ex-president abused her status and power to extort money from companies. “It is unfair not to seek her arrest warrant as her accomplices who followed her orders…have all been arrested,” they said in a statement. 
Financial Times

Locked up, but speaking out
Last month, authorities charged Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s loudest critics, with taking payoffs from drug traffickers. The accusations landed de Lima in prison, but they haven’t stopped her opposition efforts. From her cell, she’s writing letters against the Duterte regime. “I cannot show myself to be afraid,” she says. “I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of seeing me defeated.”
New York Times

Sexism in Seoul
An outing by Uber employees in Seoul in 2014 is fueling allegations that the company suffers from systemic sexism. According to The Information, Uber employees—including CEO Travis Kalanick—visited a karaoke-escort bar in the South Korean city where several male employees picked escorts to sit with. A female marketing manager who was there left early because the situation made her uncomfortable. She later complained to Uber’s HR department: “[I]t made me feel horrible as a girl (seeing those girls with number tags and being called out is really degrading),” she said. It’s not clear how the issue was resolved, but it became public after a senior VP at Uber reached out to former employees to try to keep the incident quiet. 
The Verge



A glamorous young Russian nationalist is leading her country’s love affair with Trump and Le Pen

These photos show the first female fighters in a decades-old conflict
Washington Post

Kristalina Georgieva’s playlist: What the World Bank CEO listens to
Financial Times

Susana Diaz wants to be the first woman to lead Spain’s Socialists
Associated Press

Egyptian airline’s first all-female flight crews take to the skies

How three American women translated one of the world’s most popular Qurans
Daily Beast



“[W]omen are not only capable now, but they were capable then.”
--Marian Sousa, 91, an honoree at the first-ever Rosie the Riveter Day last week that celebrated the women who entered the workforce during World War II.