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Cover of June Vogue Arabia

Women in Saudi Arabia will be legally allowed to drive on June 24, and Vogue Arabia is marking the sea change with its June cover featuring Saudi princess Hayfa Bint Abdullah Al Saud behind the wheel.

Yes, but: The glowing cover contrasts with the Saudi administration's continued crackdown on women's rights activism. Human Rights Watch reports that at least 11 activists have been arrested in Saudi Arabia since mid-May.

What they're saying: Critics blasted the cover as tone-deaf to the actual forces for change in Saudi Arabia, while the magazine says it is a celebration of progressive changes in the country.

The criticism
  • Husain Abdulla, the executive director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, tells NPR.
"It obscures the monarchy's long-standing violations of women's rights and freedoms in Saudi Arabia, and steals credit from the trailblazing women who have campaigned ceaselessly since the 1990s for equal rights — and who the government just locked up."
  • Middle East reporter Osha Mahmoud tweets:
  • Says Fatima Saied, president of the Muslim Women's Organization of Central Florida, to NPR: "To ignore the plight of the women activists being detained at this moment, and to ignore all of the rights that are still being infringed upon by the Saudi regime, paints an inaccurate picture."
Vogue Arabia's explanation

Editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut says in an emailed statement to the New York Times:

"Overall, I firmly believe we fulfilled our mission: Saudi Arabia, its women, and its issues are being widely debated by the world. It is an incredible moment for the region — of drastic changes and adjustments — and I’m proud that Vogue Arabia is an active voice in this debate."

And on the publication's website:

"Vogue Arabia celebrates the exciting and progressive changes transforming the Kingdom and, by ripple effect, our region."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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