Theatre of the absurd
But the show must go on...
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It’s been a long week
I’m not going to delve deep into the news we’ve been bombarded with all week. It’s been mentally exhausting to be repeatedly reminded, how fragile our world is.
We’ve had a historic second impeachment of Trump, speculation about his future, and the uncertain future of the Republican party itself. There’s the unravelling reality of the Brexit deal, the implosion of the Dutch government and an Italian government teetering on the brink, once again. Then there is the sobering number of 2 million dead worldwide from Covid, lockdown confusion in England, logistical failures of vaccine distribution. Top that off with the Trump social media bans, the reckoning that’s coming for Big Tech and our social fabric. (Stories by multiple outlets)
This theatre of the absurd gets more so with stories of Javanka’s security detail and their “pee-pee” troubles, Melania Trump’s bizarre rug photo shoot during the riots, and her subsequent (not surprising) refusal to welcome the new first lady. (Stories by multiple outlets)
In this moment of gloom, I want to take a minute to acknowledge Liz Cheney. Dick Cheney’s daughter is the 3rd most powerful Republican in the U.S. Congress. Despite supporting Trump over the years, the insurrection was one step too far for her. She risked the wrath of her GOP colleagues, put her ambitions for leadership on the line, and worked with 9 other Republicans to allow a historic bi-partisan impeachment. She may yet pay the price for her stance. (Story by WSJ)
The Big Tech Effect
In the EU, Trump’s social media bans have once again flagged the continent’s wariness about the power of Big Tech. The EU’s Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act will take a while to kick in. Time, European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová says the EU doesn’t have, if democracy is to be preserved. She says, Big Tech’s decision to curtail freedom of speech, by silencing a head of state based on unclear rules means, the EU needs to act now to regulate them. And she is no Trump fan! (Story by Politico)
Let’s not forget the Virus
The WHO is finally in China. It’s taken long enough and they’ve already caveated expectations from the trip (considering China isn’t playing ball). Don’t expect anything mind-blowing! But the investigative team does have two stellar women scientists (who potentially aren’t the ones barred from entering China, though we don’t know). (Stories by TIME & The Telegraph)
Meet Marion Koopmans: She’s a Dutch virologist heading up the Erasmus Medical Centre’s Department of Viroscience in Rotterdam. She’s the one who was tracing the Covid outbreak amongst Netherland’s minks.
Meet Thea Kølsen Fischer: She is a professor in viral epidemics and infections at the University of Copenhagen and head of research at Nordsjællands Hospital in Denmark. Her focus? New pathogens and vaccination strategies.
In the name of stimulus
Christine Lagarde is still optimistic (despite the new Covid variant) the EU economy will bounce back in 2021. But EU banks aren’t feeling as confident (they ARE key in a banking economy). To hedge her bets, Lagarde is warning governments and central banks to not shut off the stimulus tap, just yet. (Stories by Bloomberg & FT)
The real art of the deal
If you’ve been investing your money in the equity markets (and got in on time) you know Amazon and Tesla have been great long-term stocks. Ask Nancy Zevenbergen how to find the next ones. (Story by Barron’s)
She is Columbia’s biggest export and her entire catalogue (145 songs including ‘Hips don’t lie’ and ‘Whenever, Wherever’) was just bought by U.K. listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund. Music rights sales are the new hot trend in the business. And for good reason. It gives artists profits from their music upfront (15-25 years’ worth). (Story by Music Business Worldwide)
Naomi Osaka’s got a solid reputation on the ATP circuit. The 23-year-old tennis star has become the face of the Tokyo Olympics (whether it is to be or not to be). Her deal savvy just hit a new high. She’s signed on as the new ambassador for French fashion house Louis Vuitton. (Story by GQ)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stable hands are going to let go of Germany and Europe in September this year. Meet her successor Armin Laschet (Not a woman but sings from the same hymn sheet as Merkel). (Story by BBC)
Unprecedented violence before a controversial election. Internet shutdowns during the poll count. An election being called for Uganda’s incumbent President Yoweri Museveni. International observers aren’t shocked by any of it. Neither is his main opposition, pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine. But the Ugandan presidential elections also had a solitary woman candidate. Nancy Kalembe knew she didn’t stand a chance, but wanted the idea of a woman President to stay alive. (Story by Voice of America)
Somalia has raised the bar for including women in Parliament, and just in time for next month’s elections. The women representation quota has been set for 30% of lawmakers, up from the current 24%. Tokenism or real policy? You decide. (Story by Middle East Monitor)
Have you met?
Jette Nygaard-Andersen: Currently on the board of Entain (which owns the UK listed gambling giant Ladbrokes), the Dane is in advanced talks to become Entain’s CEO. If appointed, she’ll be the first woman to helm a listed gambling company in the UK. It’s also probably time for Entain to call in the cavalry (and by that, I mean a female CEO). The company is currently fending off a £8 billion takeover attempt by U.S. casino giant MGM Resorts. (Story by Sky News)
Fleur Hassan-Nahoum: Deputy mayor of Jerusalem, a mother of four who grew up in Gibraltar and moved to Israel in 2001. Fleur is building bridges between Israel and the Muslim world, through their women and tourism. (Story by The Jerusalem Post)
Lots of women on the move this week
United Kingdom: Lavanya Chandrashekar is taking over as CFO of Diageo from July. She’s been with the company since 2018 as CFO of its North American division. (Story by Diageo)
United Kingdom: Margareth Ovrum is joining the board of Premier Oil as non-executive director. She brings 40 years of experience in the energy industry to the company. (Story by Energy Voice)
France: Virginie Courtin-Clarins (granddaughter of Clarins founder - Jacques Courtin-Clarins) has been appointed Groupe Clarins deputy CEO and head of sustainability. She will focus on the cosmetic group’s goal of becoming a certified B corporation. (Story by WWD)
United States: The former CEO of Chanel, Maureen Chiquet has become the 5th woman to join Credo’s Board. That takes the clean beauty brand’s board composition to 70 percent female. (Story by Global Cosmetic News)
Ireland: Gillian O’Sullivan has been appointed as BearingPoint’s new country leader for Ireland. She joined the consulting firm in 2004 (Story by Tech Central)
Singapore: ING’s sustainable finance trendsetter Herry Cho is moving to the Singapore Exchange (SGX). She joins the SGX as managing director, head of sustainability and finance on February 8. (Story by Business Times)
Brazil: IBM Brazil has a new boss. Katia Vaskys is the first woman to lead IBM in the country. (Story by ZDNet)
Chile: Alicia Gallardo Lagno is the new and first woman undersecretary of fisheries and aquaculture, at the Chilean regulatory agency better known as ‘Sernapesca’. It’s a prominent job, with Chile being heavily dependent on fishing as an export. The country globally places 3rd in fish landings, after China and Peru.(Story by Seafood Source)
Jobs you can/cannot have (it seems)
Menstruation makes a woman unfit to register weddings. That’s what a Bangladesh High Court told Ayesha Siddiqua, who has been fighting legal battles since 2012 to get the job. (Story by The Daily Star)
As a woman you can now officially administer communion or serve at the alter according to Pope Francis, but you still can’t be an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church. That is still a man’s job. (Story by BBC)
In China? Think you have a cheating partner? Call Dick! Well actually, you’ll probably call Zhang Yufen - China’s ‘mistress killer’ (or more realistically the PI who can get you the proof you need). Seems the PI gig in China can be lucrative! (Story by ABC)
Caught my eye
The Seoul government’s getting some serious heat for the baby delivery advise it has been handing out. The government was citing the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (you’d think the bro-culture wouldn’t have permeated there of all places!) Some handy tips in the official advice: Focus on the husband, prepare his meals to cover the hospital stay, leave him and any children some clean shirts and socks and look pretty after the delivery. Oh yes - don’t forget to clean the house to keep pregnancy weight under control - don’t forget to hang-up smaller sized clothing to inspire post-pregnancy weight loss. (Story by The Korea Herald)
Stalking, and the threat of sexual attack in an ad for a make-up remover? Yes, you read right. Let’s all just assume a bunch of bros thought up that idea for manufacturer PurCotton! China’s women weren’t having any of it. The ad’s been pulled. (Story by The Straits Times)
This one is worth a Sunday read! The forgotten story of America’s first female code breaker. She cracked unbreakable Nazi codes, helped the Allies win the second world war and watched as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover took full credit. Her inspiring story will probably remind you of the forgotten women at a certain space agency. (Story by TIME)
Wondering what’s left to watch on Netflix? Well, there’s Lisa Kudrow! She’s totally nailed the shifting sands, and alternate reality dominating politics in Washington D.C. If you haven’t watched Netflix’s ‘Death to 2020’ and need a good laugh right about now, here’s a clip that says it all!
Tip of the week
In the middle of a global pandemic, it is easy to give in to negativity. But if we want to live a long and healthy life, we need to understand ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’. Dr. Lisa Yanek at Johns Hopkins has researched the impact of positive thinking on patients with a family history of heart disease. Her research offers 3 tips to help us beat the inflammatory damage of stress.
Simply smile more (even if it is fake)
Practice reframing (appreciate what you have, rather than focus on what you don’t)
Build resiliency (Adapt, maintain your relationships, accept change, take action)
I hope to write a more cheery note next week. It’s going to be a celebration of diversity at the Biden-Harris inauguration with Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and others set to perform. The cherry on top for me will be to watch Kamala Harris sworn in (with Joe of course) as the first female Vice President of the United States. Whatever the politics, my personal bias may show (forgive me in advance), she does share half my Tamil heritage and maybe we could even be related (I should ask my mother)! (Story by Reuters)