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.
…. with Safak Pavey, the first disabled woman elected to the Turkish Parliament
Read about the 2012 Women of Courage here and here
InsideHigherEd: … Roughly two-thirds of public and private college presidents say they plan to vote for President Obama in November, and only 1 in 10 believe the Republican candidates for the presidency have laid out a helpful vision for higher education.
…. 65.1 percent said that they planned to vote for the president this fall. Among sectors, support was stronger in public higher education (75 percent at public doctoral and master’s institutions, 85 percent at public baccalaureate institutions and 66 percent at community colleges). The lowest level of support was in for-profit higher education, where only 29 percent of presidents said they plan to vote for Obama this fall.
…. Only 10 percent of all college presidents believed that the Republican candidates have offered a higher education vision, but that figure is inflated by a high proportion of yes answers from for-profit higher education (44 percent). The figures are much lower for the rest of higher education – 4 percent among public doctoral institutions, 3 percent among public master’s institutions, and not a single private doctoral university president agreeing.
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, though there have been occasional setbacks. Today’s report appears to be one of them.
Though still low by recent standards, filings went up over the last week, a little more than expected: “Jobless claims in the U.S. rose to the highest level in five weeks, climbing by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000…”
….. when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly. Though today’s report is disappointing, we’ve now been below 370,000 for five consecutive weeks, and six of the last eight weeks.
Charles Pierce: I have tried to avoid the mighty efforts of the heirs of Andrew Breitbart to make his name more of a synonym for “jackass” in death than it was when he was alive. So, instead, let’s just play a little Harvard bingo, shall we?
Barack Obama once went to the Harvard Law School. Derrick Bell once taught at the Harvard Law School.
…. In 1992, Derrick Bell thought that “none” was an insufficient number of minority faculty members at the HLS. He decided to make a little noise about it. At a rally, Barack Obama introduced him and, after doing so, hugged him….
…. This, of course, proves that Barack Obama is a lifelong coddler of, and sympathizer with, black radical revolutionaries.
Res ipse loquitur! QED! Scoreboard, bitches!
I expect a job offer from Big Something in the morning.
President Obama meets President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana in the Oval Office, March 8
TPM: President Obama enjoys massive leads in Maine, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling (D) …. Obama leads both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by the same margin in the Pine Tree State, 58 – 35. Maine has voted for a Democrat for president in the last five elections, but that doesn’t mean Dems dominate the state – Republicans currently hold the governorship, both houses of the state legislature and the two US Senate seats (Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)).
ThinkProgress: Questions about women and womens’ health have dominated the political debate over the past weeks, and at least one female Republican lawmaker is unhappy with her party’s record. New York Assemblyman Teresa Sayward (R), who is retiring after serving a decade in Albany, told the New York political program Capital Tonight that she does not support any of her party’s presidential candidates, because of their stances on women.
She also took an apparent shot at Republicans’ opposition to President Obama’s birth control mandate, saying, “It’s disheartening for me to see our party move away from what it was always about and that is to stay out of people’s lives, let them live their lives, don’t impose their religion on anybody else.”
Asked which Republican candidate she supports, Sayward replied: “I do not have a favorite in the presidential race, if I had to vote today, I’d vote for Obama.”
Jamelle Bouie (Prospect): …. If political courage is defined by the willingness to suffer politically for the sake of good public policy, then Affordable Care Act stands as a testament to the president’s political courage.
Which is why I also have no idea what National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar is talking about when he writes the following: “One of President Obama’s political weaknesses in his first term has been that he’s all-too-willing to avoid making tough decisions…..” …. Even if you don’t include the Affordable Care Act – and I don’t see why you wouldn’t – this is demonstrably false….
…. One of the strangest things about the current political moment is the extent to which mainstream pundits routinely act as if crucial moments in the Obama presidency never happened … Chris Matthews demands more ambition from Obama, despite the fact that he ran hard to pass a piece of social legislation that rivals the Great Society programs in size and scope.
It’s one thing for pundits to err in their judgment – it happens to the best of us – it’s something else entirely for them to ignore reality and blame the president for his failure to conform to their magical world.
John Avlon (Daily Beast): Mitt Romney’s Campaign Is Becoming a Sinking Ship – New polls show that Newt Gingrich’s surge is hurting Mitt Romney where it counts. The game isn’t over, but time is running out for Mitt to turn it around.
The horses are getting spooked in the Romney camp. His poll numbers are plummeting in state after state, while Newt Gingrich is soaring across the board.
One reflection of the rising tension was an awkward interview with Bret Baier, in which the normally unflappable Mitt Romney got rattled by fair questions. It revealed the irritability of a man accustomed to being in control who’s watching his plans fall apart in public.
Mitt’s aura of inevitability is fading because his strategy is failing.
Joe Klein (Time): …. Romney’s press office has just put out this statement about the President and Israel: (see post) …. The other inaccuracy is the notion that Obama wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders. He doesn’t. He wants the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, to be the basis for peace negotiations. Somehow, Romney neglects to mention the land swaps.
The fact is, Obama’s policy toward Israel has been in line with that of every US President since Nixon …. The fact is that US-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation, especially when it comes to sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program, has never been greater.
…. It is very much unprecedented for a candidate for President to side with a foreign leader against the American President. But given their warped disrespect for this particular President, it has become disgracefully common among Republicans this year. One would hope that Romney, as one of the few plausible Republican candidates, would eschew such cheesy behavior … would not misrepresent Obama’s positions on foreign policy so gleefully. But, if this race continues to slip away from him, I suspect that’s exactly what we’ll continue to see.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses. We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.
I think it’s important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events: a 20-year-old college student who ran into the line of fire to rescue his boss; a wounded woman who helped secure the ammunition that might have caused even more damage; the citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of what I think that speaks to is the best of America, even in the face of such mindless violence.
And so, in the coming days we’re going to have a lot of time to reflect. Right now, the main thing we’re doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who’ve been impacted, making sure that we’re joining together and pulling together as a country. And as President of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them.