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What's Going On Around The World Today?

A BuzzFeed News analysis finds that women are shut out of directing television’s most popular shows. Chinese hackers are suspected of compromising personal information of millions of former and current U.S. government employees. And trans women are making their own versions of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover.

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U.S. government officials say Chinese hackers could be responsible for one of the largest-ever breaches of federal data.

The records of about 4 million current and former government employees may have been compromised. The computer system of the Office of Personnel Management, which is responsible for handling government security clearance as well as personal data for all federal employees, was breached. Hackers gained access to information such as Social Security numbers, job assignments, performance ratings, and training information, officials told the Washington Post.

The hackers breached the system in December, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The breach was first discovered in April and was confirmed last month.

“OPM says it will notify people affected between June 8 and June 19,” NPR’s Sam Sanders writes. However, as part of a larger cybersecurity effort announced in January, “President Obama proposed that companies should tell people if their data has been hacked within 30 days; the timeline announced today is outside of that window.”

And a little extra.

“The breach is the third known foreign hack of a government computer system in the past year, and the second to be attributed to Chinese hackers,” BuzzFeed News’ Sheera Frenkel writes. Cybersecurity experts say it’s “too early to tell whether the hack into the OPM was done by cybercriminals or as part of a wider espionage campaign by China.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei called the accusations irresponsible, Reuters reports. He added that hacking attacks happen across borders and are difficult to track.

Women are mostly shut out of directing television’s most popular shows.

A BuzzFeed News analysis found that women directed 12% of 1,816 episodes of the highest-rated scripted shows, even as advocates say women and men are graduating from film school at the same rate. The analysis underscores the American Civil Liberties Union’s call last month for government investigations into the film and television industry’s hiring practices, BuzzFeed News’ Mary Ann Georgantopoulos writes.

And a little extra.

Additionally, a new report from the Women’s Media Center shows that American news media is still dominated by white men. The report looks at the representation of women and people of color in media across print, television, radio, digital, film, and now social media and video games, and found that men produced 62% of the news across all forms of media in 2014, about .05% down from last year.


An FDA panel has recommended the approval of the “female Viagra.”

The panel voted to approve the drug by a vote of 18-6, a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News. The drug, flibanserin, which is manufactured by Sprout Pharmaceuticals Inc., is aimed at premenopausal women who struggle with a low sex drive. The drug was rejected by the FDA twice before due to concerns that its side effects, including sedation, dizziness, and nausea, did not outweigh its benefits.

What’s next?

Their “yes” vote was contingent on the drug maker implementing “certain risk management options beyond labeling.” The FDA will consider the drug in August and has no obligation to listen to the panel’s recommendations, but has usually followed what the panel decides. If flibanserin is approved, it would be the first drug on the market to treat low libido for women.



Here’s what you need to know about the huge protests against gender violence in Argentina.

After the death of Chiara Paez, a 14-year-old pregnant girl who was buried alive by her boyfriend, thousands of people began protesting across Argentina demanding an end to gender-based violence. The slogan of the movement started as “They are killing us” and soon became #NiUnaMenos (#NotOneLess). “The feminist movement dates back 30 years in Argentina. This is the first massive movement that has brought varying groups together,” BuzzFeed News’ Mariana Marcaletti writes.

Food companies and politicians are battling over whether genetically modified foods should have labels.

“In the capitol and statehouses across the country, lawmakers are fighting about whether grocery shoppers need to be warned that their cereals and salad dressings contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs),” BuzzFeed News’ Cat Ferguson writes.

There are two bills making their way through the U.S. Congress — one that would make labeling mandatory, and another to make it voluntary. A coalition of food companies that are promoting the wholesomeness of their products, including Chipotle and Ben & Jerry’s, are on the side of mandatory labeling, along with some groups that are also part of the anti-vaccine movement. Meanwhile, academic scientists and the agriculture industry want labels to be voluntary.

“Weirdly, this political fight is largely avoiding the question of whether GMOs are dangerous,” Ferguson writes. Advocates for mandatory labels are backing away from the argument that GMOs are bad for you, “a point that’s tough to argue when 88% of scientists think eating GMO food is perfectly safe.”


Quick things to know:

  • Chinese officials are reluctant to embrace transparency following the capsized ship disaster in the Yangtze River. (New York Times)

  • An alleged sex abuse victim of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been named by his family. (ABC News)

  • This is how 23 countries around the world feel about abortion, according to the results of a BuzzFeed News/Ipsos poll. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Missouri is mysteriously building a massive stockpile of execution drugs. (BuzzFeed News) For more, check out this story in Time on why the era of capital punishment is ending.

  • In LGBT news today: A federal judge struck down a same-sex marriage ban in Guam, (BuzzFeed News), the Air Force has taken a big step toward allowing transgender service (BuzzFeed News) and Barnard College is the latest women’s college to accept transgender women. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Hillary Clinton calls for universal, automatic voter registration when Americans turn 18. (BuzzFeed News)

  • As the editorial staff of Gawker Media unionize, the labor movement adapts to a post-union world. (BuzzFeed News)

And in the tech world: Facebook Messenger now lets you send friends a map with your location. (The Verge) “Laughing and crying my way through the new Google Photos” (The Verge) and can Silicon Valley fix women’s fashion? (BuzzFeed News)

Do you know what happened in the news this week? Take the BuzzFeed News quiz!


Our special guest today is BuzzFeed News’ investigations and projects editor Mark Schoofs, sharing a few stories he especially enjoyed this week.

Ruby Cramer’s vivid, rich portrait of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook is simultaneously a great piece of campaign reporting and an unforgettable profile.

My former colleagues over at ProPublica had a banner week, publishing terrific investigations into how the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars for Haiti and built six houses (produced in partnership with NPR); how the Obama administration has expanded the NSA’s warrantless surveillance (reported together with the New York Times); how famed track coach Alberto Salazar has been accused of breaking doping rules; and a new installment in its sweeping examination of the California drought (published in conjunction with Matter.)

Meanwhile, the New York Times launched a moving, infuriating investigation into “three-quarter homes,” meant to help homeless New Yorkers who suffer from addiction get substance abuse treatment, In fact, these homes are often squalid, vermin-infested drug dens run by unscrupulous businessmen who fleece the government while profiting off the least among us. The story has already spurred action.

I was appalled at the small screen’s big problem with women directors — only 12% of the most popular TV shows are directed by women, as BuzzFeed News reporter Mary Ann Georgantopoulos reported.

And I loved Loryn Brantz’ simple, gorgeous post on Disney princesses. Without preaching, it gently but unforgettably makes you think about how we perceive beauty.

Happy Friday

“Laverne Cox recently began a dialogue on her Tumblr concerning the beauty standards surrounding trans women in light of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover,” BuzzFeed News’ Sarah Karlan writes. Now, trans women are creating their own versions of the cover using the hashtag #MyVanityFairCover. “Not all of us can or even want to adhere to western cisnormative beauty standards,” writes Nadia. “This doesn’t make us any less beautiful, or any less valid as women.”


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