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Oct 11
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Global Girls Alliance

Former first lady Michelle Obama has announced the launch of a worldwide effort to help an estimated 98 million young girls not enrolled in schools. Obama said that she would support the Global Girls Alliance, an international collective of grassroots organizations that would support groups and community leaders working to improve and enable girls’ access to education by harnessing the Obama Foundation’s fundraising power to help promote the collective’s work.

“When you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country,” Obama said during an appearance on the Today show Thursday.

“We want to lift up the grassroots leaders in communities all over the world who are clearing away the hurdles that too many girls face,” she added in a statement. “Because the evidence is clear: educating girls isn’t just good for the girls, it’s good for all of us.”

The former first lady has kept a relatively low-profile since her departure from the White House, but jumped backed into the limelight in July to help lead an effort to encourage young people to register to vote. Last month, Obama also announced that she had finished her highly anticipated memoir. Her upcoming 10-city book tour, according to CNN, has already sold out whole arenas.

During her appearance on Today, Obama also addressed a remarkable moment from the late Senator John McCain’s funeral during which former President George W. Bush was seen surreptitiously passing her a cough drop.

“He’s a funny man. It was a simple gesture,” the former first lady recalled. “I will add that they were old cough drops … they were in this little White House box along with some altoids. I was like, ‘How long have you had these?’”

Watch video of Obama discussing the cough drop moment on Today below.

Read the full story at The Chicago Tribune.

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‘Honest opinions’

First lady Melania Trump referred to herself as “the most bullied person in the world” during an interview with ABC News that was broadcast in part Thursday on Good Morning America. The first lady appeared in a rare sit-down interview with reporter Tom Llamas during her recent solo-trip to Africa — without making any preconditions about questions could be asked. In a preview of the full interview, which is set to air on Friday, Llamas asked her about the #MeToo movement, Donald Trump’s alleged infidelity, and her infamous decision to wear a jacket that read, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” on a trip to visit immigrant children who had been separated from their parents and placed in detention facilities.

On Thursday, ABC revealed other juicy revelations from the interview — including Melania’s admission that the responses she’s received to her Twitter account since Donald Trump’s election had led her to stop checking the platform entirely.

“I could say I’m the most bullied person on the world,” she told Llamas.

“One of them, if you really see what people are saying about me,” she continued, after Llamas expressed surprise at the assertion. “That’s why my Be Best initiative focuses on social media and online behavior. We need to educate the children of social, emotional behavior, so when they grow up and they know how to deal with those issues.”

Melania Trump gives her first sit down interview as first lady to ABC News’ Tom Llamas. (ABC News)

She also addressed the difficult issue of trust within an administration that has become notorious for in-fighting — a problem that has only escalated in wake of an anonymous New York Times Op-Ed that described efforts by officials inside the administration to derail Trump’s policies. According to the Times, the Op-Ed was penned by a senior administration official. When asked directly whether there were people within the West Wing that she didn’t trust, Melania replied, “Yes.”

“Some people, they don’t work there anymore,” she said, acknowledging that there remained many within the administration that she considered untrustworthy. “It’s harder to govern. You always need to watch your back.”

But when asked about whether she could exert influence over her husband on matters of policy or personnel, she laughed at the notion.

“Oh, I wish,” she said. “I give him my honest advice and honest opinions, and then he does what he wants to do.”

Watch video excerpts of the interview below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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Governator

Actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted in an interview that he has acted inappropriately with women in the past. Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder-turned-action-movie star-turned politician, has been accused of groping women in the past.

In 2003, while he was campaigning to become governor of California, six women came forward with accusations of various forms of sexual misconduct against Schwarzenegger. One woman said Schwarzenegger groped her in an elevator and tried to remove her bathing suit, according to a 2003 report by The Los Angeles Times. Some of the alleged incidents dated back to the 1970s, but as CNN reports, Schwarzenegger at the time denied any wrongdoing.

Now in an interview with Men’s Health magazine, Schwarzenegger has confessed to having gone to far on several occasions. “Looking back, I stepped over the line several times, and I was the first one to say sorry. I feel bad about it, and I apologize. When I became governor, I wanted to make sure that no one, including me, ever makes this mistake,” he recently told Men’s Health. “That’s why we took sexual-harassment courses, to have a clear understanding, from a legal point of view and also from a regular behavior point of view, of what is accepted and what is not.”

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, served two terms as California’s governor. He at times referred to political rivals as “girly men,” something he now says he regrets. “I improvised it,” Schwarzenegger told Men’s Health. “But it was shortsighted.” The “Governator,” as he was known, left office in 2011, and within months found himself embroiled in a sex scandal that fueled the tabloids for weeks after it was revealed that he had cheated on his longtime wife Maria Shriver with a woman the couple had been employing as a housekeeper. He fathered a child with the woman, and his marriage with Shriver quickly dissolved.

In the interview with Men’s Health, Schwarzenegger addressed a range of topics including whether his attitudes about masculinity have changed over the years.

Read the full interview at Men’s Health.

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Tossed

The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday dropped one count of criminal sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein after bombshell evidence emerged that suggested one of the women accusing him of sexual assault considered her encounter with Weinstein to have been consensual.

The decision to drop the charge came at a hearing in a New York City courtroom after documents revealed that Lucinda Evans, who has accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her during a meeting at his office years ago when she was a 21-year-old college student once told a witness that she’d considered the sexual encounter consensual. Evans is one of Weinstein’s first public accusers, and she gave her account to the The New Yorker in its blockbuster story on women’s allegations against Weinstein last year.

As Weinstein looked on, The Associated Press reported, his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, also argued that an NYPD detective learned last year that a witness came forward and said Evans described the encounter with Weinstein as consensual, but the detective never notified the D.A.’s office about the discovery of possible exculpatory evidence. “The integrity of these proceedings has been compromised,” Brafman said, accusing Evans of lying to a grand jury and adding that she should be charged with perjury.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said that the dismissal of this one charge is not impacting the overall case against Weinstein. “In short, your honor, we are moving full steam ahead,” she told the judge.

Meanwhile, Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer for Evans, accused the D.A.’s office of abandoning her client. “Let me be clear: The decision to throw away my client’s sexual assault charges says nothing about Weinstein’s guilt or innocence. Nor does it reflect on Lucia’s consistent allegation that she was sexually assaulted with force by Harvey Weinstein,” Goldberg told reporters outside the courthouse. “It only speaks volumes about the Manhattan D.A.’s office and its mishandling of my client’s case.”

The Daily Beast reports that the D.A.’s office interviewed the witness after Weinstein was indicted in May. According to the witness, Evans said she ended up back at Weinstein’s office after meeting him in a bar and agreed to trade oral sex for a role in a movie. When the D.A.’s office followed up with Evans, she reportedly denied the witness’ account.

Weinstein is now facing five sex crime charges In New York. He’s denied all accusations of non-consensual sex and pleaded not guilty earlier this year. He’s been free and under house arrest after posting $1 million bail and faces decades in prison if convicted. The judge said he would hear additional arguments from Weinstein’s lawyers to dismiss more charges on December 20.

Below, watch video of Brafman and Goldberg speaking outside the courthouse after the charge was dropped.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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Speed sister

A Palestinian woman is breaking boundaries by pursuing a life as a racecar driver, a pastime that she says help her to “feel free” even as the place she identifies as home, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, remain under Israeli occupation. Noor Daoud, a Texas-born polyglot who attended a French school in Jerusalem, was the only woman competing at a recent “drift” racing competition at Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Daoud, 27, regularly takes part in international competitions that feature drift — a technique that involves deliberately oversteering to allow the car to slide seamlessly through sharp 180 degree turns — and says she hopes to see other Arab women follow in her footsteps. To that end, she and four other Palestinian women racers were featured in a documentary released three years ago called Speed Sisters.

“At first, in Palestine, people would say to me: ‘But what are you doing? The sport is for the guys!’” said Daoud, recalling when she first started learning how to drift in Palestine. “I went for what I want I didn’t listen to anyone … When I got successful people started to respect me (and say) ‘wow, she did it! … Let Arab girls show the world that we also follow our dreams.” She documents her racing adventures, which include riding motorcycles as well, on her Instagram page. “Act like a lady, drift like a boss!” is the tagline that adorns the top of the page.

Daoud, who now lives in Dubai, has long defied the conservative cultural norms that restrict many Arab women. Ever since she was a young girl, she says, she’d always been comfortable “meeting up with the guys to play football or tennis.” But her pursuit of racing, she adds, is also symbolic of her feelings about Palestine, the place she considers her true home.

“I want to show the world that just because we are under occupation, it doesn’t mean we will stay holed up in our homes,” she said. “We are under occupation so this helps us, it helps me to drive to feel free.”

Watch video of Daoud in action below.

Read the full story at Yahoo News.

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‘Raise up’

Rahima Akter, a 19-year-old Rohingya woman who was born and raised in the Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh, is working on applications to universities in a bid to become one of the only Rohingya women to ever achieve a college education. Already, she told The Associated Press, she is one of just a handful of female students to have completed the Bangladeshi equivalent of high school. Doing so required her to overcome a number of hurdles — not least of all her own father’s objections. In Rohingya culture, girls are expected to marry by the age of 16 — Akter had to beg her father to allow her to put off marriage in order to study, and was only successful after her mother, Minara Begum, convinced her husband to relent and defended her daughter from Rohingya elders who told the family that her daughter’s desire to seek an education was a sin.

“I told them ‘let Allah punish me then,’” Begum recalled. “What about our lives as refugees that have gone in vain because of our illiteracy? If I can help my children get a better future by education, then that is what I am going to do.”

After being granted permission by her parents, Akter still had to go to elaborate measures in order to pursue her dream. Temporary schools set up in the camp only cover up to a fifth-grade level, so Akter and other refugees seeking higher schooling were forced to sneak out of the camp, bribe Bangladeshi public school officials to enroll her, and speak and dress as a Bengali to hide their identities as Rohingya. For Akter, the trouble was more than worth it. Earning an education, she says, is the only real way for her to get herself and her family out of the camp.

“If we take education then we will be able to lead our life as a life,” she said.

In the 1990s, Akter’s parents and 250,000 other Rohingya fled Myanmar to escape forced labor, religious persecution, and violence from Buddhist mobs. In 2017, history repeated itself on a larger and tragic scale, as more than 700,000 Rohingya escaped into neighboring Bangladesh to flee systemic rape and executions by Myanmar’s military that claimed the lives of at least 10,000 Rohingya, according to the United Nations. In the wake of the new influx of refugees, Akter’s education proved a valuable asset. Working as a translator for aid groups and journalists who visit to cover the human rights crisis, she now makes more money than the rest of her family combined.

As Akter puts together her applications for university, where she hopes to study human rights, the resilient teenager is already conducting her own research by interviewing families that fled the recent violence.

“Why do people have to lead their lives in such a situation?” she asked. “One day maybe I’ll be able to raise up my voice about human rights for the Rohingya.”

Watch video of The Associated Press’s interviews with Akter below.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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10.11.18

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