First Lady Michelle Obama recognizes singer Ruslana Lyzhychko, a leader of Ukraine‘s Maidan movement for democratic reform, as she was awarded with the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award 2014 during a ceremony at the State Department in Washington DC, March 4
During the terrorist occupation of northern Mali, Fatimata Touré channeled her 22 years of experience advocating for women’s health rights to fight resolutely against countless acts of gender-based violence. When extremists attacked the hospital in Gao, she assisted victims in relocating and finding much needed safety and care. As the conflict ensued, Mme. Touré provided counseling and shelter for victims of rape and forced-marriage and publicly denounced perpetrators of gender-based violence. Her actions drew threats from the extremists and, even as her own home was under assault, Mme. Touré hid beneath her bed and used her mobile phone to continue documenting acts of violence against women. Her limitless courage ensured that victims received medical care and that the abuse they suffered was not forgotten during the conflict. As the current head of the Regional Forum on Reconciliation and Peace in Gao, she continues advocating for justice and women’s rights.
Laxmi was 16 when an acquaintance threw acid on her face while she waited at a bus stop, disfiguring her permanently. Her attacker, a friend’s 32-year old brother, planned to use the acid to destroy Laxmi’s face after she refused to respond to his romantic advances. Many acid attack victims never return to normal life: they often go to great lengths to hide their disfigurement, many forgo education or employment rather than appear in public, and suicide is not uncommon. But Laxmi did not hide.
She became the standard-bearer in India for the movement to end acid attacks. She made repeated appearances on national television, gathered 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales, and took her cause to the Indian Supreme Court. Laxmi’s petition led the Supreme Court to order the Indian central and state governments to regulate immediately the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue. Much is left to be done, and Laxmi continues to advocate on behalf of acid attack victims throughout India for increased compensation, effective prosecution and prevention of acid attacks, and rehabilitation of survivors.
Peter Nyong’o embraces sister Lupita Nyong’o after she wins the award for best actress in a supporting role for “12 Years a Slave”
Lupita Nyong’o, best supporting actress winner for her role in “12 years a Slave,” hugs the movie’s director Steve McQueen as actress Angelina Jolie and co-star and producer Brad Pitt look on at the 86th Academy Awards
President Obama joins in singing “Sweet Home Chicago” during the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern):
10:0: President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama
11:15: Attends the Democratic Governors Association Meeting, State Dining Room
If Republicans can keep discussion around the Affordable Care Act vague, they’ll win in the midterms. The party of health care should collect stories of success and confront the party of no.
The big electoral question hanging over Democrats, of course, is what to do about Obamacare this fall. The pundits say: It’s death! The Democrats are gonna get killed. The Democratic consultants advise their candidates to be as mealy-mouthed as they can possibly get away with being and change the topic as quickly as possible.
The pundits might end up being right after all the votes are counted. But I say the quickest way for Democrats to guarantee that the pundits end up being right is to take their consultants’ advice and pussy-foot around the issue. Democrats who do that will be hoping they sound “reasonable,” but what they’ll really be sounding, and everyone will hear it, is timorous, callow, and totally without conviction. If Democrats are going to say they support the ACA at all—and most of them are going to have to—they might as well do it in a full-throttle and in-your-face way. And they can. The material is there if they just have the onions to use it.
Steve Benen: A closer look at latest ACA ‘horror story’
It’s hard to miss the pattern: the right identifies an “Obamacare victim,” who receives a fair amount of attention and finds themselves featured in a misleading attack ad. Soon after, reality sets in – the ACA “horror story” draws closer scrutiny and the story turns out to be quite different than the one first presented to the public.
I tried to keep up with all of them for a while, but I’ve literally lost count of how many times this has happened.
The new one is an attack ad in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race, sponsored by the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, featuring a woman named Julia Boonstra….
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones asks the obvious question about yet another overinflated or inaccurate Obamacare sob story from Republicans, in this case, from an advertisement produced by Americans for Prosperity:
So here’s my question: if this is the best AFP can do, does that mean that no one is truly being harmed by Obamacare? … If this is happening to a lot of people, finding a dozen or so of them shouldn’t be hard. But apparently it is. So maybe it’s not actually happening to very many people at all?
…. It’s not as if the occasional Obamacare horror story turns out to be exaggerated; every single one propagated by Republicans has fallen apart under scrutiny.
…. The lesson for the press? If you want a nice, easy, debunking story, focus on Republican claims about Obamacare.
Last spring, President Obama signaled to congressional Republicans that he was serious about a long-term debt-reduction deal. GOP leaders made it explicitly clear: if the White House really wants a deal, Obama will have to accept a change to how Social Security benefits are calculated – a policy called “chained CPI,” in reference to the Consumer Price Index.
To the severe disappointment of his progressive allies and Democratic base, the president agreed, including chained CPI in his budget as a demonstration of his commitment…
In theory, this was poised to be a breakthrough moment for a bipartisan debt-reduction agreement. But in practice, the president’s effort was for naught …. A year later, the president has decided there’s no point in offering Republicans what they want if they’re not prepared to take “yes” for an answer – Obama’s new budget plan drops chained CPI.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama cheer during their daughter Sasha Obama’s basketball game, Feb. 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama smile as they walk through the crowd at the Governors Ball in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “The President and First Lady were dancing along to the music of the Harry Connick, Jr., Big Band at the Governors Ball. Mrs. Obama turned towards me and, for one split second, looked right at me. Usually I strive to capture moments when the subjects are unaware of the camera. But this an exception where I actually liked that she was looking at me.” Feb. 21, 2010
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama applaud the performance of Harry Connick Jr. and the Big Band during the Governors Ball in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama gestures during a meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 21, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama reads a document in the Oval Office, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and VP Biden following remarks on the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, Feb 21 2012
Mick Jagger performs “I Can’t Turn You Loose” during the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
MoooOOOooorning everyone, I ran out of news-gathering time again, will catch up later. Happy Friday!
Barack Obama, the first African American elected President of the Harvard Law Review, 1990
(I can’t work out if he was elected on February 5 or 6 in 1990, different places give different dates – maybe the election was one day, and the results the next? So, we’ll make it a two day anniversary celebration!).