Kazakh website hosts vote for beautiful women in uniform

China's People's Daily may have taken some heat this week for publishing what the Shanghaiist described as a "leering" slide show of a "beautiful" journalist, but some news outlets in Kazakhstan have been one-upping the Communist Party daily when it comes to misogyny. This week, in honor of International Women's Day on March 8, the Kazakh website Vox Populi is hosting a Miss Military Kazakhstan contest -- encouraging readers to vote not for models but for "beauties" from various military and law-enforcement units who "wear shoulder straps" and guard the country. 

On Wednesday, Kazakhstan's Tengri News reported on the competition as if it were a horse race:

Judging by the current results of voting the National Guard of Kazakhstan has the most beautiful officers. Three girls from the National Guard of Kazakhstan have taken the leading positions in the rating: Sergeant of the National Guard Bibigul Sauytova from Astana is in the first place, Junior Sergeant of the National Guard Saltant Bayzhumanova from Astana is in the second place and Sergeant of the National Guard Natalya Fokina is in the third place.

It's not clear how many times this particular contest has been held, but Tengri News reports that authorities in the country do host an annual Lady of Kazakhstan Police contest, with the winner appearing on the cover of a police magazine.

Which brings us back to International Women's Day. According to the website for the century-old celebration, the "tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts." In keeping with that tradition, Vox Populi will award Miss Military Kazakhstan with a digital camera. And in a separate development, Tengri News is reporting that police in the country will give female drivers flowers and forgive them traffic violations in honor of the holiday. So, there's that.



Why Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy voted against Brennan

The Senate voted 63-34 to confirm John Brennan as CIA director Thursday, a vote that united the chamber's Democrats with the exception of two lawmakers: Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

What made Leahy stick his neck out, break party lines, and join Republicans? The Vermont senator is demanding access to the White House Office of Legal Counsel's full legal justification for drone strikes against American citizens, memos which were released to the Senate Intelligence Committee but not to the Judiciary Committee.

"I have worked with John Brennan, and I respect his record, his experience, and his dedication to public service. But the administration has stonewalled me and the Judiciary Committee for too long on a reasonable request to review the legal justification for the use of drones in the targeted killing of American citizens," Leahy said. "The administration made the relevant OLC memorandum available to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in order to advance this nomination. I expect the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the Office of Legal Counsel, to be afforded the same access. For that reason, I reluctantly opposed Mr. Brennan's nomination."

While Leahy's frustrations deserve to be taken at face value, it's also undoubtedly the case that Democratic lawmakers faced increased pressure following the surprise 13-hour talking filibuster attempt by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday. The optics of Republicans appearing to care more about civil liberties than Democrats caused a surge of criticisms from left-leaning journalists such as The Nation's Jeremy Scahill and The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald. (Attempts to reach the Sen, Leahy were not immediately successful.)


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