Rome’s First Female Mayor in 3,000 Years and Other Notes From the Week

Catch up on all the news you might have missed
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Catch up on all the news you might have missed
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We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Cleveland Cavaliers Win the NBA Finals

One Verily editor (read: this one) is ecstatic this week that the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA finals on Sunday, beating the Golden State Warriors in an extremely close game with a final score of 93-89. This win made the Cavaliers the first team in NBA history to come back after a 3-1 deficient in the finals, but it was historic for more reasons than that. 

As the recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Believeland” explains, over the past half-century, only one American city with three sports franchises has not won a championship, and that city is Cleveland. But that drought is over, and LeBron James, the Cleveland-area native player who returned to the Cavs two years ago, was the force who brought the team together to make that happen. “I set out a goal two years ago when I came back, to bring a championship to this city,” he told host Doris Burke after the game. “I don’t know why we want to take the hardest road. I don’t know why the man above gave me the hardest road, but...the man above don’t put you in situations that you can’t handle. I just kept that same positive attitude. Instead of saying why me, I said this is what He wants me to do.”

The city of Cleveland rallied around the team when they stepped off the plane on Monday, as well as at a parade and rally on Wednesday that brought 1.3 million fans to downtown Cleveland. It’s been a long time coming for the city. —Mary Rose Somarriba

Rome Gets First Female Mayor in Almost 3,000 Years

“A new era begins,” stated Virginia Raggi, as she accepted her victory as the mayor of Rome. Raggi, a 37-year-old lawyer, is not only the first woman to rule Rome in almost 3,000 years, she is also the youngest elected mayor in the city’s history. 

“I hope that a young woman can bring Rome back to its old splendor,” said one voter. Raggi, running on an anti-corruption platform, won big, at a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, showing that many people throughout the city believe in her promise of change. Raggi says she was inspired by the birth of her son to improve the city she calls home. We can’t wait to see how she will inspire others, especially women in politics. —Emily Mae Schmid

“Brexit” Is Really Happening

Yesterday British citizens cast their votes on whether to remain a part of the European Union or “leave,” and the leave vote won. This was a surprise for many, including the betting polls, which had the odds on staying in the EU at 8:1—the British do hate change, after all. It was a pretty close call, with 52 percent voting to leave and 48 percent voting to remain. We also woke up to the news that British Prime Minister David Cameron is stepping down over the issue, effective October this year.

The EU (not surprisingly) isn't happy; Britain has one of the strongest economies of the 28 countries that make up the Union, and with the current Syrian refugee crisis and the fact that a few member countries have had to be bailed out in recent years, it's really not a good time to lose one of its core members. Britain's exit could encourage other countries that have been on the fence recently to rethink their membership. Meanwhile, Google reported a “surge” in searches for Irish passport applications, mainly from within Northern Ireland, and Scotland's First Minister says that it's highly likely Scottish citizens will be seeking independence (again—but for real this time) soon. Looks like a break up for the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) could potentially be on the cards over this issue, too. —Sophie Caldecott

Vanderbilt Football Player’s Rape Case

While all eyes have been on Stanford for the past few weeks, other developments were made in a similar trial of a former Vanderbilt University student. Over the weekend, Brandon Vandenburg was found guilty of aggravated rape and other charges, including sexual assault and unlawful photography. Vandenburg, a former college football player, was tried last year in a joint trial with one of his teammates, Corey Batey. They were both found guilty until it was later revealed that one of the jurors was a rape victim, causing a mistrial. Batey was also found guilty in his retrial in April and now both former students are awaiting sentencing on July 15th, facing a minimum sentence of 15 years.

The last thing the victim says she recalls doing on the night in June, 2013, was drinking at a bar with Vandenburg, whom she’d been dating. She woke up in Vandenburg’s bed the next day having been sexually assaulted by three men—Batey and two other members of the team, Jaborian McKenzie and Brandon Banks, who are awaiting trial. Vandenburg claims not to have participated in the assault but has been charged because he encouraged it, passing out condoms and videotaping the attack to send to his friends.

In light of the sexual assault cases that have been plaguing college campuses lately, all we can say is that our thoughts are with all victims of sexual assault. We can only hope there comes a day when we’re not waiting for the next horrific case to hit the news. —Grace Cooper 

Potential Zika Vaccine Approved

The FDA approved a Zika vaccine for human testing, which will begin in the next few weeks. Developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science, who also worked on vaccines for Ebola and MERS, the vaccine will be tested on 40 healthy volunteers. If it succeeds and passes further testing, it will be tried on Zika patients. Found largely in South America, and in more than 50 countries total, the virus is spread by mosquito bites and connected to microcephaly, which causes newborns’ heads to be too small. Many athletes are announcing that they won’t attend the Olympics due to the risk of Zika, and according to the World Health Organization, Zika is a bona fide public health emergency. —Madeline Fry

Models With Visible Acne Take the Red Carpet

Fashion designer Moto Guo made history this week by sending his models down the runway with visible acne. It’s unclear yet if or how much makeup was used to enhance the models’ blemishes, but it was a bold step for the body positivity movement. Besides the occasional celebrity-endorsed skincare product, imperfect skin, particularly acne, is a taboo topic in our selfie-ridden world. Hopefully Guo’s statement goes a long way toward showing people that beneath all that makeup nobody’s perfect. —GC

Research Shows Body Image Affects General Health

According to Virginia Ramseyer Winter, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Missouri School of Social Work, the effects of a negative body image go beyond taking a psychological toll on young women.

“Those who have worse body image are less likely to be screened for cancer, less likely to seek preventative care,” said Winter. “They may avoid the doctor to avoid being weighed, or engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors.” 

This research indicates that the effects of reinforcing the unrealistic standards society places on women can have far-reaching effects on them. The best approach is to empower women so they’ll be confident enough to address their health concerns. —Hannah Allen

Which is Why Campaigns Like These Are So Great

Here I Am” is a new campaign by JCPenney to advocate for healthy body image, especially for plus-size women. The campaign’s new promotional video features five plus-size women you may recognize, including Project Runway winner Ashley Nell Tipton, and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Mary Lambert. All these women share their most vulnerable moments but show that any past shame they’ve felt in their own bodies is nothing compared to the confidence they’ve come to know. The “Here I Am” campaign shows that women of any size can be happy, successful, and absolutely beautiful. —GC

ModCloth Endorses Bill to Regulate Photoshopping

Besides its amazing clothes, ModCloth is well known for its anti-Photoshopping efforts. ModCloth portrays real women in their clothing ads, often using customers or employees as models. Since being one of the first to sign the Truth in Advertising pledge in 2014, ModCloth has stuck to their promise never to alter their photos and now has a new fight in the world of ethical advertising—The Truth in Advertising Act. 

Co-Founder of ModCloth, Susan Gregg Kroger, made a recent visit to Capitol Hill to raise awareness for legislation that would begin regulating the amount of Photoshopping in advertising. ModCloth, like us here at Verily, hopes to raise awareness of extreme Photoshopping and show that women are beautiful by just being themselves. —GC

Women, Comedy, and the Emmys

This year’s Emmy nominees for best comedic actress include powerhouses like Amy Schumer, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidts Ellie Kemper, and Jane the Virgins Gina Rodriguez. Joining them are two women breaking the mold in Hollywood’s representation of minorities—and moms. Constance Wu and Tracee Ellis Ross.

Wu is the mother of three sons in Fresh off the Boat, which is the first sitcom in 20 years about an Asian-American family. She has been outspoken about the underrepresentation of Asian-Americans in lead roles in Hollywood but says she doesn’t want to represent “the” Asian-American woman, as if they are all the same. She told Mashable she hopes to inspire young Asian girls to go into acting and represent themselves with a unique voice.

Tracee Ellis Ross, the matron of the sitcom Black-ish, has said that although the show is about a black family preserving their identity, Ross says we shouldn’t think of shows as “black” or “not black.” 

Whether or not these women win awards come September, we hope they continue to be outspoken about what it means for them to be professional women, and moms, in modern America. —MF

“I’d Date that Catcaller” – said #NoWomanEver

Women fed up with street harassment and men’s boorish attempts to get our attention now have an outlet in the form of the trending hashtag #NoWomanEver. The hashtag highlights the ridiculousness of men’s attempts at flattery with sarcastic tweets like, “I knew he was husband material when he tenderly rolled down his window and made a loud barking noise. #NoWomanEver.” By imagining responses no woman would ever use to situations we face every day, maybe these tweets will alert men that there are better ways to win us over. —MF

Ayesha Curry FTW

Ayesha Curry sparked discussion on Twitter this week after commenting on her husband being pulled out of a game during the NBA finals. In her tweet she accused the NBA of rigging the game for money or ratings, prompting responses from many, including ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith. Smith, instead of choosing to argue against her claim, chose to attack Ayesha’s character by comparing her to another NBA wife, Savannah James. Smith praised Savannah’s beauty and, above all, the fact that she doesn’t instigate conflicts as Ayesha does.

But Ayesha responded by redirecting the argument and asking the question: “Why are you putting two women against each other like that?” As Anna Quinlan wrote for Verily this week, “Ayesha’s response is a win for all women tired of girl-on-girl mudslinging.” So, if any other critics dare to say that women should be seen and not heard, we know Ayesha will have the perfect response. —GC

World Refugee Day

Monday was World Refugee Day, the United Nations’ effort to encourage expressions of support for refugees and their pursuit of education and sanctuary. Since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, refugees—particularly those from the Middle East—have been painted as terrorists plotting to infiltrate our countries. But what we see in the news often differs from the refugee experience. Jillian Kay Melchior shared with Verily the stories she heard firsthand from Middle Eastern refugees. Whether dealing with the loss of homes or family members or both, most refugees are truly fleeing from a terrible situation with nowhere to go. Is simply saying no the only answer? —MF

Good News of the Week

As Finding Dory hit the box office last week, the Internet met a family who lives their lives to the tune of that little blue fish: “Just keep swimming.” Francis William Azzize was born 17 weeks premature in January of last year. At 1 pound, 9 ounces, Francis William was given a 15 percent chance of survival. Trying to lift spirits and brighten the room, a member of the family drew some Finding Nemo characters on the whiteboard in Francis’ room. Then the family saw a Ted Talk done by Andrew Stanton, creator and writer of Finding Nemo, who was also born premature with little chance of survival. 

About a month later the Azzizes received a call from the same family member saying he’d met Stanton on a plane ride and they’d started talking about Francis William. Before leaving the plane, Stanton gave him a note for Francis: “To Francis William, Just Keep Swimming!”

Now, over a year old, Francis William is better than ever. His parents made a video of their son’s journey featuring Stanton’s powerful words. Although she’s a fish that suffers from short-term memory loss, Dory always remembered the one thing that gave this family hope: When times are tough, “just keep swimming.” —GC