They are courageous. Intelligent. Driven. And caring. And they are Glamour's Women of the Year. This award honors the top ten celebrities, politicians, local leaders, and athletes from across the globe who helped empower and inspire women in 2012, some of whom have been shining their light for decades.
1) Selena Gomez: The Independent Spirit
By: Kyle Buchanan
Here are a few of our favorite moments from our interview with Selena Gomez. To read the full story, pick up the December issue of Glamour.
On looking back at how her mom raised her and if she feels grateful…
“[Nods] Uh-huh! I definitely didn’t appreciate it when I was little. I was frustrated that my parents weren’t together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me. I’m terrified of what I would have become if I’d stayed there. I’m sure I’d have two children by now. But I love the people, and I’m glad I grew up there. It’s because of [my mom] that I can do things on my own. I like being professional. I like showing up on time. I like being good to people, and I know that I’m reflecting her at the end of the day.”
On her most eye-opening moments as UNICEF’s youngest-ever U.S. ambassador…
“When I went to Ghana with my mom and my stepdad for UNICEF. That entire trip was life changing. There were kids playing with plastic bottles—they got a bunch of rubber bands and put the bottles together and made a soccer ball—and that was their entertainment; they were so happy! If you think how we live our lives here, we need so much to keep us entertained, and we expect so much. And these kids want an education so badly. I mean, I hated homework, and they want it; it’s amazing. I also participated in the Global Poverty Project’s Live Below the Line campaign, where I lived on $1.50 a day for a week—such a cool experience.”
On not letting negativity affect her…
“If I had let all of the negative stuff affect me, I don’t think I would be satisfied with the person I am now. That’s what I tell my fans: If you’re miserable with everything going on in school, that is so not going to matter the moment you leave. My mom always told me, “Just turn the other cheek and keep moving forward.” That’s something I’ve always done, and now I look back and I have no regrets.”
2) Ethel & Rory Kennedy: The Generations Award
By: Marshall Heyman
Rory Kennedy, 44, knows how to tackle a difficult subject. In her career as a documentarian, she has made films about AIDS, nuclear radioactivity, and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. But perhaps her most challenging subject yet? Ethel Kennedy, who also happens to be her mother.
For decades—through public triumphs and tragedies—Mrs. Kennedy, 84, has been the family’s hidden hero. “Ethel was kind of a silent Kennedy, but she was more than a bystander to history,” says Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films and an executive producer of Ethel, Rory’s acclaimed new movie about her notoriously private mother. In fact, Ethel made her own mark on history. When her husband, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1968 (with the world still reeling from the murder of his brother President John F. Kennedy just five years earlier), she decided to give her 11 children—and America—a huge dose of perspective. Rather than shrinking inward, she reached out, founding the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights and raising a family of astonishingly dedicated humanitarians. “There are a whole bunch of people out there who needed help,” says Mrs. Kennedy of her charitable work. “Public service is an effective way to make change.” She even broke some rules and had some fun along the way. (Once, at a party with JFK’s cabinet, she had everybody thrown into a pool.) She is, as Nevins puts it, more than a glass-half-full person: She’s a “glass-three-quarters-full person.”
Rory’s film is a love letter to her mother, who “has a perspective that hasn’t been shared in any substantive way before,” Rory says. “My family gets to spend time with my mother, but I felt I should share her with the world.”
3) Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg: The Supreme Force
By: Dahlia Lithwick
You could call it a bit of a rocky start: After being one of just nine women in her freshman class of hundreds at Harvard Law (and then graduating from Columbia Law), Ruth Bader Ginsburg was refused a job with a prominent male judge just because she was female; then, as a law professor, she had to hide her second pregnancy in order to avoid workplace discrimination--and fight to get paid as much as a man. Lucky for us, our world looks nothing like that anymore, and that, in fact, is thanks largely to Ginsburg. “When I graduated from law school in 1959,” she says, “there were no antidiscrimination laws. Employers were up-front that they did not want a woman.”Ginsburg saw the legal web holding women back, and she took it upon herself to tear it down.
That meant going all the way to the Supreme Court, first as a trial lawyer, arguing against laws that treated women differently when it came to military housing, Social Security death benefits, drinking age, and jury service. She won many of the earliest battles on behalf of women’s equality. (Even so, one Supreme Court justice reportedly graded her grumpily in his private notes as: “C+…very precise female.”) Finally she was tapped by President Bill Clinton for the U.S. Supreme Court, making the now 79-year-old its second female justice ever. “I am really proud of Justice Ginsburg’s service on the Supreme Court,” President Clinton tells Glamour. “During her tenure she has decided cases wisely and defended big decisions well. She has been a steadfast defender of the constitutional rights of the American people. And she has made a real effort to work with the other members of an often deeply divided court to fashion opinions capable of generating broad public support.”
Justice Ginsburg’s closest friendship on the court, with Justice Antonin Scalia, speaks volumes about her: He’s larger than life; she’s tiny and reserved. He hollers; she nudges. But he agrees that she can be incredibly persuasive. “She does it quietly,” Justice Scalia says, “but she’s very effective.” And determined: Justice Ginsburg had two children with her beloved husband of 56 years, and when he died in 2010, she was right back at work the next morning, just as she was through her own two bouts of cancer.
4) Erin Merryn: The Guardian Angel
By: Erin Zammett Ruddy
"I’m really scared,” reads a passage from Erin Merryn’s diary, written when she was just 11 years old. “Something happened last night, but I don’t know who to tell.” The untellable secret: She’d been molested by an older cousin. Time and again he preyed on her at family gatherings—locking her in closets, bathrooms, basements. Shockingly, it wasn’t the first time Merryn had endured such horrors; from the ages of six to eight, she’d been molested and raped by a friend’s uncle. But when her younger sister revealed that she, too, had been a victim of their cousin’s abuse, Merryn decided it was time to tell their parents. Then, after years of graphic flashbacks and even a suicide attempt, “it just hit me that I did nothing wrong,” she says. “I didn’t need to be ashamed.”
And Merryn decided no other
child should go through what she had. “We teach kids bus drills, fire drills, tornado drills, but nothing about this,” she says. So as a high school senior in Illinois, she published her first book, Stolen Innocence
, and began speaking at leadership conferences and children’s advocacy centers around the country. In 2010 she helped draft Erin’s Law, which encourages schools to educate children about sexual abuse prevention. (The gut-wrenching statistics: More than 300,000 reports of such abuse are filed in the United States each year.) “Think of how many kids could have been saved from monsters like Jerry Sandusky if they’d had the tools to speak up,” she says. “I want that second-grader to tell her mom what happened at the sleepover, not wait until she’s 30 to break her silence.” One nine-year-old survivor did exactly that—and wants to be “just like Erin” when she grows up. “If I had learned about sexual abuse when I was younger,” the girl says, “I would have definitely told someone sooner.”
Today Merryn is 27 and thriving—she has a brand-new niece, a great boyfriend, and a stash of bridal magazines (wink, wink). She’s undaunted in her mission to pass Erin’s Law in all 50 states and has already checked four off her list: Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Maine. “Because of Erin,” says Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, the first to sign the law, “our schools are making sure students are educated about sexual abuse. Because of Erin, further cases of child sexual abuse are being prevented.”
Merryn’s ultimate goal? To protect them all. She says: “I want to put sex offenders out of business.”
5) Annie Leibovitz: The Visionary
By: Melissa Whitworth
A very pregnant Demi Moore. Yoko Ono and John Lennon, hours before his assassination. Eight U.S. presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, practically every Olympian and Oscar winner you can name—Annie Leibovitz, 63, has photographed them all. With images that are epic and intimate at the same time, she’s taken our culture’s love of celebrity and turned it into high art.
The first woman ever to have her work exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., Leibovitz is “a perfectionist,” says Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. “And she’s the greatest portrait photographer in the world.” Whether Leibovitz is shooting a world leader’s official headshot or a sumptuous portfolio or lush cover for Vogue, the result is always instantly recognizable as “an Annie.”
“I’ve learned to create a palette, a vocabulary of ways to take pictures,” Leibovitz explains. “What has stayed true all the way through my work is my composition, I hope, and my sense of color.” We’ll add to that very modest assessment: Her portraits bring out at once the nobility and the vulnerability of her subjects. They’re magic.
Leibovitz started out at Rolling Stone in 1970 amid a boys’ club of male editors, writers, and rock stars. “There were some advantages to being a woman photographer,” she admits. “I think women have more empathy with the subject.” Along the way she toured with the Rolling Stones, traveled to war zones in Rwanda and Sarajevo, and became famous for persuading stars to go to incredible lengths for the sake of the picture: a shirtless Arnold Schwarzenegger astride a white horse; Whoopi Goldberg in a bathtub full of milk; Cameron Diaz being shot out of a cannon.
“Pilgrimage,” her latest collection of photographs (touring the country now to rave reviews), shows a side of Leibovitz we’ve never seen before. There are no people in these images; instead we see still lifes, stops along a journey: Virginia Woolf’s desk, Georgia O’Keeffe’s tattered bedsheets, Emily Dickinson’s lace dress. After the grief of losing her partner, Susan Sontag, and her father within weeks of each other eight years ago, “Pilgrimage” is Leibovitz’s quiet but stunning comeback; its beauty “informs the way she’s moving forward,” according to The New York Times. “I fight to take a good photograph every single time,” Leibovitz says. “I will do this until I drop!”
6) Our Gold-Medal Olympians: The Unstoppables
By: Shaun Dreisbach
It was impossible to watch the 2012 Olympic Games without noticing: This was the Year of the Woman. For the first time ever, women competed in the same 36 sports as men. Another first? More women than men made the U.S. team—and they brought back a bigger medal haul too. “There’s a mind shift that’s happening,” says Janice Forsyth, Ph.D., director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies. “Women’s bodies too delicate to box? Come on!”
These five athletes exemplify all those groundbreaking firsts: There’s 17-year-old swimming phenom Missy Franklin, a high schooler from Aurora, Colorado, who broke two world records and nabbed five medals (four of them gold); Kayla Harrison, 22, already a role model for having had the guts to take her former coach to court for sexual abuse at age 17, who went on to become the first American—male or female—to win the gold in judo; Allyson Felix, 27, who won the 200-meter sprint to become the most decorated athlete in the history of the event; soccer player Carli Lloyd, 30, who scored both goals in the gold-medal-winning match watched by a record number of people; and, of course, Gabby Douglas, the 17-year-old gymnast who was virtually unknown before the Olympics but who won gold in both the team final and the individual all-around—becoming the first African American gymnast in history to stand atop the podium. “I knew I had it in me,” Douglas tells Glamour. “I kept hearing ‘You just have to grab it. It’s right there.’ And I grabbed it.”
The girl power at this year’s Games was contagious. “It felt awesome to be a part of Team USA,” says Harrison, “but it was even more amazing to be part of such a big female movement.” That movement will only grow: “Soon people won’t see anything unusual about half the athletes being female,” says David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians. “We’ll take it for granted: Of course they are. To me, that will be the real achievement.”
7) Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: The Lifesaver By: Sarah J. Robbins
"It takes one second to ruin a woman’s life,” says activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, 34. “You may need a license to buy a gun, but in many places a man can buy acid from the corner store, throw it on a woman’s face, and from then on she is the living dead.” And that, shockingly, is exactly what happens every year to more than 1,200 women worldwide—victims of horrible, disfiguring acid attacks, most often at the hands of male neighbors, cousins, even husbands seeking retaliation or revenge. While such acts are outlawed in Obaid-Chinoy’s native Pakistan, they often go unpunished. In fact, reports of the incidents have almost tripled since 2010. So the revolutionary filmmaker made it her mission to give women the most crucial form of self-defense available: a voice. Two years ago she and codirector Daniel Junge began persuading dozens of acid-violence survivors to tell their stories. In an amazing triumph, their resulting film, Saving Face
, won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Anam Shehzadi, 17 (above, far left), is one of Pakistan’s hundreds of victims. Last year a neighborhood boy threw acid on her; afterward, she says, “I used to cover my face and not want to meet anyone.” Her shame was so great that her family removed all the mirrors from their house. To Shehzadi and many others, Saving Face
’s Oscar win—Pakistan’s first—was a joyous validation. Plus, it’s creating huge change in the country’s legal system: Thanks in large part to the film, perpetrators in Pakistan’s largest province are now subject to much harsher punishment, and acid violence is classified as what it is: a form of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Obaid-Chinoy is working with Project SAAVE (Stand Against Acid Violence)
, which partners with organizations to provide survivors with the surgeries and support they need to start over. Says Melanne Verveer, United States ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues: “She will save countless lives.”
8) Zaha Hadid: The Architect-in-Chief
By: Aaron Betsky
She’s called “The Z” and “The Lady Gaga of Architecture.” But more accurately she’s Dame Zaha Hadid, 62, the very first female winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize (the Nobel of her field) and one of the most accomplished architects on earth.
“I always wanted to be an architect,” says Hadid. She grew up in Baghdad, a city filled back then with modern buildings. “My house was like Auntie Mame’s, with my mother redecorating every season,” Hadid recalls. After studying math in Beirut, she enrolled in London’s Architectural Association school. Her final portfolio, with paintings of geometric forms careening out of the Thames River, got her noticed by critics worldwide. But for years her work remained more copied than constructed.
Part of the problem? She was a woman in a man’s job—Hadid still thinks that’s a reason she lost out on early commissions. But she kept her studio alive with teaching, interiors projects, and furniture design. In 1993 she got her break: She was commissioned to build a fire station in Germany. Then an art center in Cincinnati. And finally more and more buildings in capital cities all over the world, including this year’s aquatic center for the London Olympics, lauded for its epic, sweeping design and deemed by one critic to be the 2012 Games’ “most majestic space.”
9) Jenna Lyons: The Fashion Original
By: Amy Wicks
With her dark-rimmed glasses, signature center part, and talent for mixing color, texture, and pattern (a striped T-shirt with sequined pants? yes!), Jenna Lyons has inspired legions of women to wake up a little earlier in the morning to try to look even half as cool as she does. As president and executive creative director of J.Crew—the booming $1.9 billion brand that Michelle Obama, Katie Holmes, and Oprah can’t get enough of—she’s not only the brains behind the clothes but also their most recognizable model.
“I enjoy the process of putting crazy outfits together,” says Lyons, 44, who started making her own clothes in seventh grade when her six-foot height made shopping a challenge. She earned a degree from Parsons in New York City and then ascended through the J.Crew ranks, from assistant in 1990 to creative director in 2007. Add the introduction of kids and bridal lines to the mix—not to mention 170 percent growth over nine quick years—and it’s clear Lyons is on fire. “Amazing things happen when you’re having fun doing something you love,” she says.
Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic Robin Givhan isn’t surprised by Lyons’ success: “She transformed J.Crew from an inexpensive preppy brand into a brand that really gets at the heart of how American women want to dress…. Her greatest skill is that she can dress both mothers and daughters with equal style. And she proves that it can be done at a fair price.”
This year Lyons continued to push the company to exciting new places: celebrity endorsements, a new presence in Asia, and, next year, world domination—literally—with its first brick-and-mortar store overseas. “She influences, she creates,” says J.Crew’s chairman and CEO, Mickey Drexler. “But what’s less known about Jenna is that she’s a really smart businessperson.” She’s also mom to a six-year-old son and a judge for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. “I’m constantly looking for ways to do more,” Lyons says. “My day is never over!” Such is the life of a superwoman. “I’m partial,” says Drexler, “but I think she’s a Woman of the Year every year.”
10) Lena Dunham: The Voice of a Generation By: Emma Rosenblum
Lena Dunham, the immensely likable 26-year-old force behind the year’s most-talked-about television debut, HBO’s Girls
, just wants to double-check that she is, in fact, a Glamour
Woman of the Year. “I was in People
’s ‘Most Beautiful of the Year’ issue,” she says, laughing, “but there was just an interview with me on another page—I was not a ‘Most Beautiful Person.’ They duped me!” But there’s no duping here: Dunham, who came to the entertainment world’s attention with her 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture
(made at age 23!), has become one of the most powerful women in Hollywood since the April premiere of her show, which she—deep breath—created, stars in, and also directs.
The Emmy-nominated comedy follows the lives of four twenty-something women making their way in New York City, unsexy stumbles and all. “TV and movies never fully captured the day-to-day sensation of being me,” Dunham says, “and I figured I couldn’t be the only person who felt that way.” Women saw themselves on-screen—and with dialogue like “I have been dating someone who treats my heart like it’s monkey meat,” they heard
Dunham grew up in New York City, the daughter of photographer Laurie Simmons and painter Carroll Dunham. She’s got a Twitter following of more than 370,000, and die-hard fans. Says Emma Watson: “I’m obsessed.… She’s, like, my favorite person in the world.” Dunham also signed a book deal for a reported $3.5 million. We say she’s worth it. For real.
By: Taylor Caputo – FOCUS Mish at Ball State, Indiana
Time, what a precious resource, but how can we use it best? I would say moment by moment. Something like the way it was in our childhood. All we had was the present moment, and we took in reality as it came. I think we sometimes have glimpses back into this youthful outlook. You know, the times in your life when you stop for a brief moment of reflection to say, “such and such was only last week?” I would term it best as fullness. A fullness of living, where every moment is soaked in and received by living outside yourself, or for an Other – that was the Camino.
But, let me back up to the start of my trip. It quickly became apparent that my time on the Camino would be most beneficial if I were to receive things as they came upon me. Not a bad idea considering I actually had control of very little. And so I did, the food was scrumptious, the scenery picturesque, our group enjoyable, the time for reflection treasured, and most of the bumps along the way were taken in stride. This receiving really opened me up to the goodness of the pilgrimage. But, I think the important question still remains, why a pilgrimage?
Of others we met, one answered to feel manly, another went for the woman he was pursuing, and another said she was using the trip to decide what comes next in her time of transition. All good reasons, because pilgrims search. But does this not mean that pilgrim is our very being since we journey through life searching? Do we have an answer when people ask us what we are searching for in the pilgrimage of life? What if our answers remain the same? For example, the man who went on the Camino to feel manly, where will he find his manliness when the Camino is over? He could jump to another physically challenging event, but really, what about when his body fails? Is he no longer a man, or is there something else that is the true indicator of manliness? I pose the questions, because the idealities they plague our culture and our college students, so I deal with them quite frequently.
Time, there is not much in a lifespan, and there was even less on my pilgrimage. I came back missing my time in Spain and saddened because I wanted more. But truly, my pilgrimage is not over, my journey on the Camino was only a piece of my journey through life. When I ask myself, should my short life yield the same results, a time of enjoyment followed by sadness, or do I need to hold fast to a hope of there being something more, I choose option two! But, the only answer to option two is the Other I mentioned in the first paragraph. I think you understand fully now the Being of reference is God, we are always the pilgrims who must choose to receive Him, and then if we do, when the journey is complete, we will receive everything in the fullness of heaven. This is what the Catholic Church stands by, this is what FOCUS does; I point students to the solution of hope in option two! I show them life itself is a pilgrimage; the Camino was simply a microcosm.
And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb’edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. –Mark 1:20
By: Lillian Kwon - The Christian post
A seven-month pregnant mother in China was recently beaten and forced to abort her unborn daughter, according to human rights groups. A graphic image of the aborted baby lying next to the mother has been posted on the Web. "The baby was lifeless, and she was all purple and blue," said Feng Jianmei. It was her second child.
"Feng Jianmei's story demonstrates how the One-Child Policy continues to sanction violence against women every day," said Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed. "We learned that family planning officials in Jianmei's region are launching a campaign of forced abortions this month. They received a lower grade from the government because of 'over-quota' births, and Jianmei's story shows us how they plan to respond. Unfortunately her family was the first to receive the 'opening of the knife.'"
Watchdog Chinese Skynet Center for Human Rights first broke the story and it was picked up this week by Women's Rights Without Frontiers.
According to reports, Jianmei was beaten and dragged into vehicle on 2 June by family planning officials while her husband, Deng Jiyuan, was at work. Jiyuan told Ling of All Girls Allowed that five men had abducted his wife and taken her to a hospital where they held her down.
"They covered her head with a pillowcase. She couldn't do anything because they were restraining her," the husband stated.
The officials asked her to pay fines worth more than $6,000 but when the money wasn't given, they forced Jianmei to sign an abortion "consent" form. They inked her thumb and pressed it forcibly against the form.
Toxins were then injected into the brain of her unborn daughter.
"I could feel the baby jumping around inside me all the time, but then she went still," the mother recounted to Ling.
The forced abortion took place on 3 June. After enduring painful contractions, she gave birth on June 4 to her deceased child.
Jiyuan said his wife pulled a knife against herself while thinking about her child. Feeling helpless, he said, "What can I do? I'm just an average worker. I have no power."
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers called on the US government and other leaders of the free world to "strongly condemn" forced abortion in China.
"This is an outrage. No legitimate government would commit or tolerate such an act," Littlejohn stated.
China's one-child policy applies to couples living in urban areas. A maximum of two children are allowed for couples living in rural areas if the first child is a girl.
The United States expressed strong opposition to forced abortion and sterilisation this week. Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the State Department, said Monday that they "always raise these issues with the Chinese government".
But Nuland's comment was in reference to another mother in China who is five months pregnant with her second child. Cao Ruyi had recently been threatened with a forced abortion but global outcry prompted Chinese officials from the family planning office to release her this past weekend.
Ruyi still remains under pressure, however, to pay $25,000 to continue her pregnancy. If she is unable to pay the heavy fine, some are concerned family planning officials will force an abortion.
Littlejohn noted that the recent incidents expose China's enforcement of its one child policy through late-term forced abortions. The fines, she further noted, are also impossible to pay for many couples as they can reach ten times a person's annual salary.
Women's Rights Without Frontiers has launched a petition to stop forced abortion in China.
Chinese health officials reported in 2009 that more than 13 million abortions are performed each year in China, or about 24 abortions for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44.http://www.christiantoday.com/article/chinese.officials.forced.woman.to.abort.baby.at.7.months/30060.htm
By: Susan Berg - Demand Media
Although travel to and around Europe is not cheap, there are many things that you can do to help lessen the load on your wallet. Traveling in the off-season, staying in hostels and procuring food from local grocery stores are just a few of the ways that you can tour Europe on a budget.Step 1
Travel in the off-season. Travel during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn often offers excellent opportunities for less-expensive airfares and cheaper hotel stays.Step 2
Check out guidebooks from the library, or purchase a copy. There are a number of guidebook series that cater specifically to those on a budget. The Let's Go and Lonely Planet series are two often-recommended options.Step 3
Shop around for airfare. Use a consolidated travel search site, such as Kayak.com
, to search multiple airfares at once. Consider flying into one city and out from another. Doing so typically does not cost much more and might cost less than flying into and out of the same city. Plus, you won't have to retrace your steps during your travels.Step 4
Visit and stay in smaller cities rather than major cities such as London and Paris if at all possible during your travels. Visiting smaller cities and towns will provide the most bang for your buck.Step 5
Get an international student identification card if you are a student. This card will provide you with discounts to many sites and museums throughout Europe. If you do not have an ISIC card, show your school identification when paying admission fees. Some tourist sites will accept the ID cards and allow you to pay student admission price.Step 6
Stay in hostels to save the most money on lodging. You might want to look into becoming a member of Hostelling International or a similar organization, as doing so will provide you with discounted lodging at many hostels throughout Europe. If the young crowd that hostels cater to isn't your cup of tea, less-expensive hotels are your next best bet. Use your guidebooks (the more recent the publication date, the better) to find a suitable hotel.Step 7
Buy a Eurail pass that suits your needs and offers a cheaper way to travel. Those 25 and under can purchase a Youth pass, which provides discounted transportation in second-class cars. Those traveling with one or more companions should look into a Saver pass, which also provides discounted fares. To save money, you might want to take overnight trains to get from one place to another, especially when a long distance is involved.Step 8
Shop at grocery stores for your meals rather than eating at restaurants. If you do eat at cafes or restaurants, take your meal to go or eat at the counter. It is typically more expensive to eat at a table, especially at an outdoor cafe.
------Tips & Warnings
Remember to enjoy yourself. Be conscious of your budget, but don't let it put a damper on your fun. Plan to set aside some of your money for a special meal, an activity, a tour, or entrance fees to a monument or other site that you'd like to see.
For additional information, visit: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/tour-europe-budget-12769.html
Photo courtesy of USA TODAY
By: Thibault Camus - Associated Press
ORLEANS, France (AP) – The normally tranquil city of Orleans is buzzing with festivities over the next two weeks to mark the 600th birthday of one of France's best cultural exports: Joan of Arc. Last Tuesday, like in a Hollywood epic, the Loire River swarmed with wooden boats filled with locals dressed in medieval garb — re-enacting Joan of Arc's legendary entry into the city in 1429.
It's an event that liberated Orleans from English invaders, and sealed her place in the history books. It has inspired, over the centuries, myriad novels, poems, rock songs, operas, plays — and even a blockbuster feature film with Milla Jovovich.
"It's marvelous to see the children dressing up and learning about this great French heroine who's known all over the world," said Jacques Dubarre, dressed in a velvet mantel. "Of course we're also having fun."
In a testament to her international appeal, some 600 contemporary artists — from as far as the U.S., Japan and Russia — have made portraits of Joan of Arc through the ages that were projected on the City Hall last Friday.
Later in the week, a medieval market will be the scene of period cuisine and music, while a sound and light show will be projected on the city's Gothic cathedral to celebrate her life.
Despite the enduring fame, it's been a rocky ride for the teenage legend.
At just 17 years old Joan led the French army to victory, only to be burnt at the stake as a heretic two years later.
She was heralded as a political symbol of the French far left during world war two, only to be snatched up as the mascot of the far right thirty years later.
It seems like the only thing that anyone can agree on is that she is the ultimate French icon.
"The two most famous figures from France are Napoleon and Joan of Arc, no others quite come close," said Russian journalist Vladimir Dobrovolsky, one of the estimated 40,000 festival goers.
Though in France she is seen as a sort of symbol of the nation ("nation" being a feminine word in French), the myths around her began relatively late.
It was in World War I that an effigy of Joan of Arc in armor, which appeared on pictures and postcards, first came to symbolize war and nationhood — in this case, the French fight against Germany.
"Yes, she is the symbol of the nation at war, but the biggest myth is that she actually led the French in battle. She was a prophet who morally guided the army to victory. She was no commander or fighter," said Olivier Bouzy, historian and adviser on Luc Besson's 1999 movie, "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc."
Questions about her exact identity have left subsequent eras room to fill in the gaps and allowed diverse groups to claim her as inspiration. French far right leader Marine Le Penstaged her anti-immigrant National Front's annual May 1 rally Tuesday in front of a huge Joan of Arc banner.
Bouzy predicts Joan's identity may shift yet again: "Since the '80s she has been an extreme right political figure, but after the Luc Besson film, she's back in the realm of culture, softer."
There indeed seems to be renewed interest in the "softer" cultural face of Joan of Arc. She is currently the subject of a play by the well-known Japanese drama company "Theatre No," which will play in Orleans from Saturday.
"Everyone wants to appropriate her, and have their piece," said Orleans deputy mayor, Jean-Pierre Gabelle, "but this festival will put her back where she belongs."To find out more, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-05-01/france-joan-of-arc/54671706/1?csp=34news
By: Spencer Platt, Getty Images
By: Tracy Wilkinson
- Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Mexico City— Fourteen years after Pope John Paul II made his landmark visit to Cuba
, his successor, Benedict XVI, arrives Monday in a changed country where the Roman Catholic Church occupies its most influential role since the communist revolution half a century ago.
The once-marginalized church's new position owes to the careful diplomacy of charismatic Cardinal Jaime Ortega
, the most senior Cuban prelate; the political ascension of Raul Castro
, more pragmatic and accommodating than his brother Fidel, the longtime ruler; and the declining fortunes of the revolution itself.
"Benedict XVI arrives in a country that is in a process of transformation," said Orlando Marquez, spokesman for the archdiocese of Havana. "The relationship between the church and the Cuban government is qualitatively superior to that of 14 years ago," when John Paul II visited the country.
With the economy in tatters and the gains of the revolution flagging, Raul Castro has embarked on a series of reforms aimed at "modernizing" Cuba's
socialism. Reforms include allowing small businesses to operate and citizens to buy and sell homes and cars, along with paring down the bloated and inefficient state bureaucracy.
"Raul needs support from the general population, and reaching out to the Catholic Church is part of that," said Margaret E. Crahan, a church expert and scholar at Columbia University's Institute of Latin American Studies. "The relationship between Ortega and Raul is deepening, to their mutual advantage."
After traveling to Leon, Mexico
, for the first leg of his third trip to the Americas, Benedict on Monday arrives in Santiago, Cuba, before heading to Havana. In both officially secular countries, the Catholic Church has been gaining ground: in Mexico with the help of a pro-Catholic conservative government, in Cuba despite the presence of an atheist communist one.
Cuba's once-hostile official view of the church and religion in general has evolved. In the first decades after the 1959 revolution, priests were sent off to labor camps, church property was confiscated and people who professed religious beliefs were barred from many jobs.
Inspired in part by leftist liberation theology movements spreading through Latin America, the Castros eased up in the 1990s and tendered limited overtures to various faiths, declaring Cuba a lay state instead of an atheist one.
John Paul's 1998 visit further opened maneuvering room for the Catholic hierarchy on the island. It was a controversial visit; many in the ruling Communist Party
objected to his presence, and the broadcasting of John Paul's homilies and open-air Masses was successfully negotiated only at the last minute.
None of that kind of opposition is apparent this time around. In the last few years, tension has eased considerably as Raul, who took over from an ailing Fidel in 2008, seeks greater legitimacy and the church under Ortega seeks greater freedom.
Although he has faced criticism from some exiles that he is too accommodating, Ortega, 75, has managed to tread a fine line of pushing for social, economic and church-affair changes without antagonizing the regime. Under Ortega, who was elevated to cardinal in 1994, the church has made unprecedented inroads in Cuban society.
Once virtually silent, Catholic media have emerged robustly in print and on the Internet and are often critical of government policies, such as travel restrictions; even state television has transmitted holiday Masses and recent processions honoring Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba.
The government allowed the Catholic Church to open educational and training centers for adults (still not for children, however) and to build a large seminary, the first since the revolution.
Ortega and other senior clerics have made important speeches advocating lifting restrictions on Cubans' travel outside the country and have conducted seminars on ways to transform the economy.
This month, state-run television broadcast nationwide a speech by Ortega welcoming Benedict. The pope wishes "to revive a somewhat dormant faith, a faith perhaps somewhat faded, but one that is present in the hearts of the Cuban people," Ortega said. "He comes to confirm our faith and reaffirm those Christian values."
Ortega's greatest breakthrough came in 2010, when he negotiated the release of more than 100 political prisoners, many of them arrested in a 2003 crackdown on dissidents. In December, Raul Castro freed 2,900 prisoners, citing the upcoming papal visit.
As a young priest, Ortega served time in a labor camp and was released in 1967. He vowed never to leave Cuba, as so many others did after the Castros' rise to power. Yet he is often attacked today by that exile community and other dissidents, who accuse him of acting too timidly and of essentially selling his soul to the regime by agreeing to negotiate with it.
Several hundred Cuban Catholics, including prominent activist Guillermo Fariñas, survivor of a protest hunger strike, wrote a letter to the pope this month urging him to reconsider the trip. They warned that his presence might "send a message to the oppressors" that they can pursue their policies, with church approval.
Other critics in the Cuban exile community have been even more strident, saying Ortega is guilty of "compromising with dictators." Ortega came under more criticism in the run-up to the pope's arrival when he chose to use police to evict a group of dissidents who had occupied a Havana church. Numerous dissidents have been briefly arrested and otherwise harassed ahead of the pope's visit, human rights groups say.
Ortega has agonized over the path he has chosen to take, say those who know him.
"Ortega is a great spiritual leader who has shepherded the Cuban church during very difficult circumstances," said Mario Paredes, the American Bible Society's liaison to Roman Catholic ministries, who has worked with Ortega for many years.
"He has chosen to dialogue with certitude … and firmness," Paredes said. "He favors a more open society. He is very clear. He is not naive."
New opportunities for the church come at a time Cubans are losing faith in the revolution and are seeking alternative places to turn for services, nurturing and hope.
This is not to say that Cubans are fervently Catholic. In fact, the majority adhere to other faiths, including Santeria and similar practices based on indigenous and African traditions. Although recent surveys show that the vast majority of Cubans believe in "the divine," there is little institutional loyalty to established churches. Less than 5% of the population attends Catholic churches, possibly the lowest figure in Latin America.
But the Catholic Church enjoys a favored position in the eyes of the Castros, experts say, in part because it is a vertical, hierarchical organization with national reach and enormous clout in worldwide politics.
"The Castros are not spring chickens. After 50 years of revolution, they realize they have made many mistakes and they are correcting them," Paredes said.
"Raul is very pragmatic, and the Communist Party has finally realized the Catholic Church is not there to overthrow the regime. It has a very different mission, neither to overthrow, nor confirm [the regime], nor speak for the opposition, but rather a mission of faith, spirituality and values."
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