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BABYLON & BEYOND : From Our Blogs : Mixed bag for Mideast women

November 15, 2009|Meris Lutz; David Ng; Mary MacVean; Richard Verrier

The subject of women's rights in the Middle East is contentious. Sensational media coverage of honor killings and child brides equates religious conservatism with gender inequality, incensing Western feminists on the one hand and provoking regional backlashes on the other.

The reality is far more nuanced, according to the 2009 Global Gender Gap Report released in late October by the World Economic Forum, which ranks countries based on women's economic participation, educational attainment, health and political empowerment.

In Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar -- socially conservative Persian Gulf countries that all rely on some form of Sharia Islamic law -- more women than men enroll in higher education, although they have yet to be fully incorporated into the workforce.

Syria, on the other hand, which is ruled by a nominally secular regime, has slid in the rankings for the last three years.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt still hover near the bottom of the list, but have improved steadily since 2006.

Yemen remained the lowest-ranked country in the world for the fourth year in a row.

-- Meris Lutz

From Babylon & Beyond: Observations from the Middle East

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Da Vinci works coming to L.A.

It's not often that artwork by Leonardo da Vinci makes the journey to Los Angeles. But in December, three drawings by the Renaissance master will go on display at L.A.'s Italian Cultural Institute along with a video installation by Bill Viola.

Leonardo's "The Angel in the Flesh" dates from around 1515 and was produced by the artist in Amboise, France. It depicts a smiling, androgynous figure in the process of lifting its right arm in salutation. This marks the first time that "Angel" will be shown in the U.S., according to Francesca Valente, who is organizing the exhibition.

Also part of the show are two sketches from Leonardo's "The Theatre Sheet," which is believed to have been created around 1506 to 1508.

The two fragments are figure studies for a stage set of Angelo Poliziano's "Orpheus." The drawings come from "The Mind of Leonardo," a recent exhibition at the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia in Rome.

Video artist Viola will present his 2002 work "The Last Angel" as part of the show.

The exhibition will run Dec. 2-12.

-- David Ng

From Culture Monster: All the arts, all the time

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'EAT: Los Angeles 2010'

Finding not just good food but the right food for the moment in this sprawling multicultural city can be enough work to make me stay home and eat oatmeal for dinner. Or go to the same spot over and over. So I, for one, am happy that "EAT: Los Angeles 2010" is scheduled to hit stores Dec. 1.

The second edition of the guide has more than 1,200 listings, from food trucks to fancy restaurants, all over the city, with 250 new listings. "I really was surprised that we had more new places than had closed," says editor Colleen Dunn Bates.

The 2010 guide also has a new section of a dozen tours of top food-loving neighborhoods such as Little India, Abbott Kinney Boulevard and Boyle Heights. The book was written by a group of food writers, including Linda Burum, an expert on international foods who writes for The Times; Amelia Saltsman, author of the "Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook"; and Pat Saperstein of Eating L.A.

-- Mary MacVean

From Daily Dish: The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

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Facebook movie starts filming

Woodland Hills is about to network with Hollywood's version of Facebook.

"The Social Network," a Sony Pictures film about the people who created the social networking giant, has pulled a permit to begin shooting in Woodland Hills. Launched in 2004, Facebook has emerged as the world's leading social networking site, with more than 300 million users.

The movie, directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, tells the story of the people who built Facebook into a global empire. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard student who founded the social networking site; and Justin Timberlake, who plays Facebook President Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster. Andrew Garfield assumes the role of Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg's former partner.

Scheduled for release next year, the movie has been approved for nearly $5 million in state tax credits under California's new film incentive program.

Since its launch this summer, the state program has allocated $100 million in tax credits to nearly 50 TV and film projects, including two other movies from Sony: "The Priest" and "Burlesque," both from the Screen Gems label. Those movies have been approved for more than $15 million in tax credits, according to the California Film Commission.

-- Richard Verrier

From Company Town: The business behind the show

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