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Winter Olympics, Rob Porter, Nancy Pelosi: Broadsheet Feb. 9

February 9, 2018, 12:29 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Olympics Opening Ceremony airs tonight, we still have plenty of questions about Rob Porter, and Nancy Pelosi sets a record—in 4-inch heels. Have a wonderful weekend.


Ladies of PyeongChang. The 2018 Winter Olympics will kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea tonight with a massive opening ceremony that will feature musical performances and a parade of roughly 2,500 athletes from around the world. Here are some of the women to watch throughout the Games:

First African bobsledding team

In this New York Times Magazine feature from January, Nigerian track star Seun Adigun explains how and why she became captain of her country's three-person women’s bobsledding team. She told the publication: "After we qualified, there was this uproar within Nigeria, the Nigerian diaspora, non-Nigerian people. People were really excited that there was a winter effort and something positive happening for Nigeria. We are this Cinderella story, and we didn’t really mean it to be this. It comes with a lot more pressure, but I’m not thinking about it that way. I put a plan down, and I am ready to execute that plan."

Korean women's hockey team

Olympics officials, rather than athletes or coaches, decided to establish a joint—North and South—Korean team. As might be expected, that didn't sit well with fans. Fortune's Rachel King explains: "Protests had been breaking out all the way up to last Sunday’s friendly match against Sweden. The Korean team lost, but only by a score of 3-1, which commentators argued wasn’t a bad showing given that the new team only had a few days to train together. (There’s also a language barrier that has been largely overlooked.) And despite the protests, fans showed up in droves."

North Korea's "army of beauties"

Since first hearing about North Korea's "army of beauties," I can't stop watching videos about the 230-person cheerleading squad. They will perform in full force at the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies today (the country is sending about two dozen athletes). The New Yorker's Jia Tolentino describes membership in this "army" as "a doll-house version of military service: girls in their late teens and early twenties are plucked from the country’s most prestigious universities and charged with making North Korea look good. The cheerleaders are chosen on the basis of appearance and ideology—they undergo background checks, to insure that there are no defectors or enemy sympathizers in their families, and they must be pretty (and at least five feet three). "

American women going for gold

Finally, this series of New York Times interactive videos also features three American athletes who are favored to win gold: snowboarders Chloe Kim and Anna Gasser, and slalom and alpine ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin. If you aren't yet excited about the Winter Games, seeing the feats these women can accomplish might help do the trick.

Here's how to watch the Games.


 Nancy sets a record. Nancy Pelosi's eight hour and 17-minute filibuster, in which she spoke at length about the children of undocumented immigrants, a.k.a Dreamers—appears to have set the record for the longest continuous speech in the House of Congress, according to the House historian. The speech came as Republicans were scrambling to pass legislation to keep the government open (it was shut down at midnight but reopened less than six hours later).  New York Times

Who let Porter stay? White House aide Rob Porter has resigned after his two ex-wives accused him of physical and emotional abuse, but reporters are still wondering why the former Trump aide was allowed to stay on after the allegations were unearthed during the background check process. The Atlantic's David Frum suggests that the answer may be related to the fact that many of the president's inner circle have faced accusations of violence against women, including former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and Trump himself. The Atlantic

Eight weighty essays. In The New Republic's March cover story, "Capital Offenses", eight prominent female journalists—including NYT former executive editor Jill Abramson and Wonkette founding editor Ana Marie Cox—examine how sexual discrimination and harassment works in Washington.  New Republic

Using AI to teach empathy. Nancy Lublin, founder of Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit that offers emotional support through text messaging, is creating a startup called Loris.ai to help companies teach employees how to communicate. Using machine learning and other data analysis methods, the software will offer training to companies on "such situations as a salesperson dealing with an angry customer, a boss giving sensitive feedback to an underling, or an employee needing guidance on how to interact with LGBTQ colleagues." Wired

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Mastercard has named JoAnn Stonier as the company’s first chief data officer.


What Roiphe really thinks. Writer Katie Roiphe—best known as the author of the controversial Harper's article “The Other Whisper Network: How Twitter Feminism Is Bad for Women”—talks to Slate about what she sees as a duality in the current conversation around #MeToo. "I noticed that the things people were saying to me secretly, or the things they were saying to me in private, were very different than what they were willing to say out loud publicly. It was that atmosphere, that kind of feeling, that I began to write this piece from, and it’s kind of a defense of ambivalence or ambiguity or nuance." Slate

Changing their minds. Last week, Gallup released Trump’s average approval rating in all 50 states in 2017. Among white women without a college degree—a group that was central to Trump’s victory, especially in the Rustbelt states—his approval rating has pretty much halved, with numbers in the 19% range (compared to the 40% rating he enjoyed with that group through much of 2016). The Atlantic

Spice up your life. The Spice Girls—yes, those Spice Girls—are reportedly reuniting for a world tour that will kick off this summer. See you all there? TMZ

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I have no fear.
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