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Ethel Gabriel, a Rare Woman in the Record World, Dies at 99

Ethel Gabriel, who in more than 40 years at RCA Victor is thought to have produced thousands of records, many at a time when almost no women were doing that work at major labels, died on March 23 in Rochester, N.Y. She was 99.

Her nephew, Ed Mauro, her closest living relative, confirmed her death.

Ms. Gabriel began working at RCA’s plant in Camden, N.J., in 1940 while a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. One of her early jobs was as a record tester — she would pull one in every 500 records and listen to it for manufacturing imperfections.

“If it was a hit,” she told The Pocono Record of Pennsylvania in 2007, “I got to know every note because I had to play it over and over and over.”

She also had a music background — she played trombone and had her own dance band in the 1930s and early ’40s — and her skill set earned her more and more responsibility, as well as the occasional role in shaping music history. She said she was on hand at the 1955 meeting in which the RCA executive Stephen Sholes signed Elvis Presley, who had been with Sun Records. She had a hand in “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” the 1955 instrumental hit by Pérez Prado that helped ignite a mambo craze in the United States.

Caroline Losneck and Christoph Gelfand, documentary filmmakers, were at work on “Living Sound,” a film about her.

Ms. Losneck, in a phone interview, said they had been hoping to complete the documentary by Ms. Gabriel’s 100th birthday this November.

Ms. Losneck said Ms. Gabriel had survived in a tough business through productivity and competence.

“She knew who to call when she needed an organist,” she said. “She knew how to manage the budget. All that gave her a measure of control.”

Many of the records Ms. Gabriel made fit into a category often marginalized as elevator music.

“It’s easy to look back on that music now and say it was kind of cheesy,” Ms. Losneck said, “but back then it was part of the cultural landscape.”

Toward the end of her career, as more women began entering the field, Ms. Gabriel was both an example and a mentor. Nancy Jeffries, who went to work in RCA’s artists-and-repertoire department in 1974 and had earlier sung with the band the Insect Trust, was one of those who learned from her.

who persuaded her to turn over to him her retirement package — more than $250,000 — so that he could invest it in the hope that the proceeds would finance future music ventures. The money disappeared, and Mr. Anderson, who died in 1989, was later convicted of tax evasion.

Ms. Gabriel lived in the Poconos for a number of years before moving to a care center in Rochester to be near Mr. Mauro and his family. As she died at a hospital there, Mr. Mauro said, the staff had Sinatra songs playing in her room.

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Blood Clots Linked to AZ Vaccine Stem From Rare Antibody Reaction

Two reports published on Friday in a leading medical journal help to explain how AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine can, in rare cases, cause serious and sometimes fatal blood clots.

Scientific teams from Germany and Norway found that people who developed the clots after vaccination had produced antibodies that activated their platelets, a blood component involved in clotting. The new reports add extensive details to what the researchers have already stated publicly about the blood disorder.

Why the rare reaction occurred is not known. Younger people appear more susceptible than older ones, but researchers say no pre-existing health conditions are known to predispose people to the problem, so there is no way to tell if an individual is at high risk.

Reports of the clots have already led a number of countries to limit AstraZeneca’s vaccine to older people, or to stop using it entirely. The cases have dealt a crushing blow to global efforts to halt the pandemic, because the AstraZeneca shot — easy to store and relatively cheap — has been a mainstay of vaccination programs in more than 100 countries.

statement on its website, AstraZeneca said it was “actively collaborating with the regulators to implement these changes to the product information and is already working to understand the individual cases, epidemiology and possible mechanisms that could explain these extremely rare events.”

The two new reports were published by The New England Journal of Medicine. One from Germany describes 11 patients, including nine women ages 22 to 49. Five to 16 days after vaccination, they were found to have one or more clots. Nine had cerebral venous thrombosis, a clot blocking a vein that drains blood from the brain. Some had clots in their lungs, abdomen or other areas. Six of the 11 died, one from a brain hemorrhage.

One patient had pre-existing conditions that affected clotting, but during a news briefing on Friday, Dr. Andreas Greinacher, an author of the report, said those conditions most likely played only a minor role in the disorder that occurred after vaccination.

second report, from Norway, described five patients, one male and four female health care workers ages 32 to 54, who had clots and bleeding from seven to 10 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Four had severe clots in the brain, and three died. Severe headaches were among their early symptoms. Like the German patients, all had high levels of antibodies that could activate platelets.

The team from Norway also recommended treatment with intravenous immune globulin. The researchers said the disorder was rare, but “a new phenomenon with devastating effects for otherwise healthy young adults,” and they suggested that it may be more common than previous studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine had indicated.

On Friday, European regulators also said they were reviewing reports of a few blood clot cases that occurred in people who had received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In the United States, federal agencies are investigating reports of a different type of unusual blood disorder involving a precipitous drop in platelets that emerged in a few people who had received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

Benjamin Mueller and Melissa Eddy contributed.

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Kim Kardashian’s Skims Is Now Worth $1.6 Billion

Not long after Kim Kardashian West launched her shapewear brand Skims in 2019, pandemic lockdowns consigned its body-fitting product line to the back of consumers’ closets.

But Skims survived. Moreover, it has become a billion-dollar business.

The company has raised $154 million in new funding, which Ms. Kardashian West said had lifted its valuation to $1.6 billion. It is a heady amount for a not-quite two-year-old clothing brand, even one led by someone with her star power.

It also cements Ms. Kardashian West’s status as a billionaire in her own right. In announcing her entry into that club this week, Forbes estimated Skims’ value at much less than that. She will remain Skims’ biggest shareholder after the deal, and she and her business partner, Jens Grede, will control a majority stake.

her cosmetics line to the makeup giant Coty, valuing it at $1 billion. Her sister Kylie Jenner sold a majority stake in her own cosmetics line, also to Coty, in a deal that valued it at $1.2 billion.

Skims also isn’t Ms. Kardashian West’s first foray into clothing. She and her sisters Khloé and Kourtney had a line with Sears that essentially served as a licensing deal over which she had little control.

now-estranged husband, was “super involved” in the beginning, giving frank criticism of early designs for Skims packaging, she said.)

the shapewear business, which has for decades been dominated primarily by one company, Spanx. Before 2020, when sales of shapewear dropped 30 percent, the category consistently generated just over $500 million in sales a year, or 3 percent of total apparel sales, according to NPD. Like other shapewear start-ups, Skims was aiming for the younger end of the market.

Skims defined itself with an emphasis on inclusivity, offering nine sizes, up to 5X, in as many skin-tone shades. Within its first nine weeks, it had racked up two million names on its wait lists, Mr. Grede said. To date, Skims has sold more than four million units, with a customer retention rate of over 30 percent. Skims products are also sold at the high-end department stores Nordstrom and Britain’s Selfridges and several online retailers.

Skims faced challenges even before the pandemic. One was of Ms. Kardashian West’s own making: The company was initially called Kimono, until accusations of cultural appropriation prompted her to change the moniker. (“Even when it seemed innocent to me,” she said, “people didn’t see it that way.”)

Then, in addition to declining shapewear sales during the pandemic, the company suffered delays in sourcing raw material for its fabrics, which hampered its ability to develop, produce and ultimately sell new products.

“We had to figure out different factories and had to get creative,” Ms. Kardashian West said. Even so, Skims reported $145 million in sales last year, and expects to roughly double sales to $300 million this year.

Joshua Kushner, and his wife, the model Karlie Kloss.)

The round also includes funding from two existing investors, Imaginary Ventures and Alliance Consumer Growth.

“We have been continuously impressed by Skims’ ability to connect with consumers on a personal level and keep them coming back for more,” Nabil Mallick, a partner at Thrive, said in a statement.

were dresses, suggest that shoppers may be planning to resume dressing more formally.

Kristen Classi-Zummo, an analyst at NPD, offered a more cautious take, reckoning that the category would rebound, though customers who have grown used to comfort will insist on easy-fitting apparel even as they re-embrace some aspects of shapewear.

“I do think we’ll get dressed up again,” Ms. Classi-Zummo said, “but I do think it will look and feel different.”

Ms. Kardashian West said she hoped to build Skims into a “multigenerational brand that will be around for a very long time.”

But she did not rule out eventually selling the business — so long as she retained a role in its operations. “I think I’m open to the conversation, for sure,” she said. But “I would never want to give up my process. I would hope that whoever we partner with in a sale one day would believe in that, too.”

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For a U.K. Satirist and His Online Fans, Comedy Is Catharsis

LONDON — He is the hyperbolic news anchor with an agenda, the disgruntled Meghan Markle skeptic vying for Piers Morgan’s job, the British aristocrat insisting he is simply middle class — and those are just a few of the characters in Munya Chawawa’s arsenal.

But during a Zoom interview last month, Mr. Chawawa, 28, speaking from his London apartment in a neon hoodie, was exploring his own persona.

“I make content because I need to express how I’m feeling about the world,” he said of his comedy. “You have to have some form of catharsis when the world throws stuff at you, otherwise you’ll just go crazy.”

Mr. Chawawa’s dry sketches about racism, classism and everyday life in Britain had already found an audience before the pandemic. But in lockdown, his potent combination of singing, comedy acting and rapping has helped establish him as a sardonic voice of progressive young people in an increasingly diverse nation who are unimpressed by elitism and skeptical of the establishment.

appears in promotions for Netflix U.K.

In such a year, “humor has been a much-needed tonic,” Mr. Chawawa said. And the string of successes has fueled an ambitious goal: “I’m working toward being one of the country’s most respected satirists.”

Satire, to Mr. Chawawa — whose comedy heroes are John Oliver, Andy Zaltzman and Sacha Baron Cohen, among others — feels “like a superpower.” That’s not only because of the challenge of execution but also because of satire’s ability to extract humor from situations that are not supposed to be funny at all, he said.

“Anything you laugh at can’t haunt or hurt you as much as it used to do,” he said.

Given the state of the world today, there is plenty of material for him to work with.

When critics called food packages for poor children too meager, Mr. Chawawa was ready with a sketch about a wealthy lawmaker scrambling to respond: “We can’t feed them but we could put them in a film — ‘The Hungrier Games.’” He has parodied British journalists brainstorming headlines about the Duchess of Sussex using the game Cards Against Humanity (“Meghan Kidnapped Peppa Pig,”) and a security guard letting rioters into the U.S. Capitol upon hearing they are white: “You’re already wearing your pass! It’s called white privilege.”

debate over U.K. drill — a subgenre of hip-hop music that British authorities have tried to censor, blaming it for a rise in knife crimes in London.

For many young Black men and women, drill was an important form of self-expression, Mr. Chawawa said, giving voice to the frustrations and realities of life in a period of austerity. Mr. Chawawa said he was disturbed by the appropriation of the genre, with “posh white kids singing the lyrics” as it filtered into private schools.

Born in Derby, England, Mr. Chawawa spent his childhood in Zimbabwe, his father’s birthplace, before his family moved to a small village near Norwich, England. His first exposure to comedy was through his grandfather, whose jokes over the dinner table made him the center of attention.

In England, where his was one of the few families of color in the area, Mr. Chawawa stifled his natural extroversion, which had been encouraged in Zimbabwe. “Slowly, I stopped putting my hand up,” he said.

In college, he studied psychology but found himself spending all his time in the student radio hub. He also worked as a waiter at a high-end restaurant in Norwich, where customers sometimes complimented his English. There, he picked up useful insights into the ways of the ultrawealthy. It struck him when he moved to London that this world could be a mine of comedy gold.

is real,” he said, grinning. He said he would welcome the opportunity for the character to “get some real cultural insights.”

For now, Mr. Chawawa is enjoying the chance to lean into that natural extroversion. “My dad always used to say to me, ‘When you were in Zimbabwe you were so bold.’” Being a satirist now, he added, is “a resurgence of the guy I used to be.”

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As U.S. Prospects Brighten, Fed’s Powell Sees Risk in Global Vaccination Pace

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, stressed on Thursday that even as economic prospects look brighter in the United States, getting the world vaccinated and controlling the coronavirus pandemic remain critical to the global outlook.

“Viruses are no respecters of borders,” Mr. Powell said while speaking on an International Monetary Fund panel. “Until the world, really, is vaccinated, we’re all going to be at risk of new mutations and we won’t be able to really resume activity with confidence all around the world.”

While some advanced economies, including the United States, are moving quickly toward widespread vaccination, many emerging market countries lag far behind: Some have administered as little as one dose per 1,000 residents.

Mr. Powell joined a chorus of global policy officials in emphasizing how important it is that all nations — not just the richest ones — are able to widely protect against the coronavirus. Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said policymakers needed to remain focused on public health as the key policy priority.

fresh data showed that state jobless claims climbed last week. Mr. Powell pointed out that the burden is falling heavily on those least able to bear it: Lower-income service workers, who are heavily minorities and women, have been hit hard by the job losses.

raising corporate taxes.

“For quite some time, we have been in favor of more investment in infrastructure. It helps to boost productivity here in the United States,” Ms. Georgieva said, calling climate-focused and “social infrastructure” provisions positive. She said they had not had a chance to fully assess the plan, but “broadly speaking, yes, we do support it.”

But the White House’s plan has already run into resistance from Republicans and some moderate Democrats, who are wary of raising taxes or engaging in another big spending package after several large stimulus bills.

Some commentators have warned that besides expanding the nation’s debt load, the government’s virus spending — particularly the recent $1.9 trillion stimulus package — could cause the economy to overheat. Fed officials have been less worried.

“There’s a difference between essentially a one-time increase in prices and persistent inflation,” Mr. Powell said on Thursday. “The nature of a bottleneck is that it will be resolved.”

If price gains and inflation expectations moved up “materially,” he said, the Fed would react.

“We don’t think that’s the most likely outcome,” he said.

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Outcry in Pakistan After Imran Khan Links Rape to How Women Dress

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An outcry has erupted in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed a rise in rape cases on how women dressed, remarks that activists denounced as perpetuating a culture of victim blaming.

Mr. Khan made the comments on a live television show earlier this week when he was asked what the government was doing to curb an increase in sexual violence against women and children. Mr. Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and pointed to the country’s strict laws against rape.

But, he said, women had to do their part.

“What is the concept of purdah?” he said, using a term that refers to the practice of seclusion, veiling or concealing dress for women in some South Asian communities. “It is to stop temptation. Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences.”

The uproar was swift.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it called “unacceptable behavior on the part of a public leader.”

chemical castration.

There are few reliable statistics on rape in Pakistan, but rights activists say it is a severely underreported crime, in part because victims are often treated as criminals or blamed for the assaults. Thousands of protesters took to the streets last year after a top police official in the eastern city of Lahore said that a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly to blame for the attack.

not how women dress!” she wrote in one post. In another, she said that she hoped that Mr. Khan had been misquoted because the man she knew had different opinions.

entered politics, and has been accused of being overly sympathetic to the Taliban in recent years.

To women’s rights activists, Mr. Khan’s comments this week were only the latest example of the challenge they face in finding support for their causes in the deeply conservative society. Organizers of women’s rights marches on International Women’s Day last month have said they have been accused of “vulgarity” for seeking equal rights.

“It’s already tremendously challenging for women of all ages in public spaces in Pakistan, whether on the streets or at work or in the digital space, even in their own homes,” said Ms. Sukhera, the author in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents women from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and must be addressed.”

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South Korean Man Gets 34 Years for Running Sexual Exploitation Chat Room

SEOUL — A South Korean man was sentenced to 34 years in prison on Thursday as part of the country’s crackdown on an infamous network of online chat rooms that lured young women, including minors, with promises of high-paying jobs before forcing them into pornography.

The man, Moon Hyeong-wook, opened one of the first such sites in 2015, prosecutors said. Mr. Moon, 25, operated a clandestine members-only chat room under the nickname “GodGod” on the Telegram messenger app, offering more than 3,700 clips of illicit pornography, they said.

Mr. Moon, an architecture major who was expelled from his college after his arrest last year, was one of the most notorious of the hundreds of people the police have arrested in the course of their investigation. Another chat room operator, a man named Cho Joo-bin, was sentenced to 40 years in prison last November.

“The accused inflicted irreparable damage on his victims through his anti-society crime that undermined human dignity,” the presiding judge, Cho Soon-pyo,​ said of Mr. Moon in his ruling on Thursday.​ The trial took place in a district court in the city of Andong in central South Korea​.

Mr. Moon was indicted in June on charges​ of forcing 21 young women, including minors, into ​making ​sexually explicit videos between 2017 and early last year.​

He ​approached young women looking for high-paying jobs through social media platforms​, then lured them into making sexually explicit videos, promising big payouts​, prosecutors said​.​ He also hacked into the online accounts of women who uploaded sexually explicit content, pretending to be a police officer investigating pornography.

​Once he got hold of the images and personal data, he used them to blackmail the women, threatening to send the clips to their parents unless the victims supplied more footage, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors demanded a life sentence for Mr. Moon.

Last December, the police said​ they had investigated 3,500 suspects, most of them men in their 20s or teenagers, as part of their investigation of the online chat rooms that served as avenues for sexual exploitation and pornographic distribution​. They arrested 245 of them.

The police also identified 1,100 victims.

The ​scandal, known in South Korea as “the Nth Room Case,” caused outrage over the cruel exploitation of the young women​. Women’s rights groups picketed courthouses where chat room operators were on trial, accusing judges of condoning sex crimes by handing down what they considered light punishments.

On Thursday, outside the Andong courthouse, advocates held a rally demanding the maximum punishment for Mr. Moon.

In recent years, the South Korean police began cracking down on sexually explicit file-sharing websites as part of international efforts to fight child pornography. As smartphones proliferated, ​they soon realized that much of the illegal trade was migrating to online chat rooms on messaging services like Telegram.

The police said they had trouble tracking down customers of the online chat rooms because they often used cryptocurrency payments to avoid being caught.

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Amid Sexual Harassment Scandals, Australia Plots a ‘Road Map for Respect’

SYDNEY, Australia — After two months of sexual assault scandals, including an alleged rape inside Parliament House, Australia’s conservative government agreed on Thursday to accept a series of recommendations that aim to prevent gender-based abuse and increase accountability for misbehavior in the workplace.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called his response to the report from the country’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner “a road map for respect” that would improve workplace culture in the public and private sectors. It includes more education in schools and the promise of new legislation to end exemptions for judges and members of Parliament from the country’s Sex Discrimination Law, and allows victims to file complaints for up to two years.

Mr. Morrison’s announcement was his most comprehensive effort so far to tackle a problem that has been festering for years in Australian politics, with women mistreated, demeaned or sexually harassed, usually without recourse.

A federal review focusing on Parliament’s workplace culture has also just begun, led by the same official, Kate Jenkins, and it may produce additional calls for reform as the demand for demonstrable change has continued to intensify.

the initial report was published in March 2020, with much of its findings overlooked by Mr. Morrison’s government until now, many women demanded more details and a clear timeline.

“It’s going to take more than just words from this government to correct the impression that they don’t care about these issues,” said Louise Chappell, a political science professor at the University of New South Wales. “This is not going to go away.”

Emma Husar, a former member of Parliament with the opposition Labor Party, said the government was still delivering only “the bare minimum.”

marches for justice that drew tens of thousands of women to the streets of Australian cities.

Mr. Morrison appeared on Thursday to leave some wiggle room for himself and his Liberal Party. He said his government accepted all 55 suggestions laid out in the report “in whole, in part or in principle,” leading his critics to question which measures would be put in place at the federal level, or passed on to states or given little more than lip service.

Many of the recommendations — from the creation of a national sexual harassment research agenda to “respectful relationship” training in schools — could take years to develop. And some of the changes announced on Thursday would simply bring Australia in line with other developed democracies — such as Britain, Canada and the United States — that have also passed legislation in the past few years tightening workplace standards for lawmakers.

Professor Chappell said the exemption for members of Parliament, for example — a carve-out in the sex-discrimination law also given to religious organizations — seemed especially outdated. Like many others, she welcomed the prime minister’s promise to ensure that lawmakers and the legal profession would no longer get special treatment.

“With all the cases we’ve seen so far, they have been able to act with impunity because they are not accountable in the same way that people outside Parliament are,” she said. “There’s been pressure to change that for many years.”

But the complaint process is still not clear. When Mr. Morrison was asked what the consequences would be for a sexual harassment complaint against a lawmaker, he said that was not yet decided.

“There are many issues that we’re still going to work through as we draft this legislation,” he said.

Professor Chappell said Mr. Morrison still seemed to be struggling with how far to go with policy and how to talk about the issue. In his news conference on Thursday, he emphasized that to change the culture of disrespect in the workplace, all Australians needed to take responsibility, but not “in a way that sets Australians against each other.”

“What does he mean here?” Professor Chappell asked. “That women are being too strident? Is it possible to address sexual harassment without some level of confrontation? I don’t think so.”

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Powerful Men Fall, One After Another, in France’s Delayed #MeToo

The executive, Eric Brion, did not deny making such comments. But because the two did not work together, Mr. Brion argued the comments did not amount to sexual harassment and sued Ms. Muller for defamation. A ruling in 2019 that ordered Ms. Muller to pay 15,000 euros in damages, around $17,650, was overturned last week.

In 2019, the court said that Ms. Muller had “surpassed the acceptable limits of freedom of expression, as her comments descended into a personal attack.” This time, the judges found that Ms. Muller had acted in good faith, adding that the “#balancetonporc and #MeToo movements had drawn a lot of attention, had been hailed by diverse officials and personalities and had positively contributed to letting women speak freely.”

Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, a leading feminist philosopher, said that it was significant that the men now under investigation were leaders in a diversity of fields. Revelations surrounding them have undermined the myths of Frenchmen as great seducers and of a refined romantic culture where “we, French, in our interplay of seduction, know how to interpret nonverbal signs and we have this art of seduction, a gentle commerce between the sexes,” she said.

“These are men who all embody, in some ways, the old patriarchal order of things — of men of power and men who have used and abused their power to sexually exploit the bodies of others, whether they be women or young men,” Ms. Froidevaux-Metterie said, adding, “Perhaps we are experiencing the first real shock to that system.”

Some conservative intellectuals regard the ever-growing list of accused prominent men as evidence of the contamination of French society by American ideas on gender, race, religion and postcolonialism.

Pierre-André Taguieff, a historian and a leading critic of the American influence, said in an email that “neo-feminist and neo-antiracist ideologues denounce universalism, especially French republican universalism, as a fraud, a deceitful mask of imperialism, sexism and racism.”

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