Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said she was deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, particularly the safety of women and girls, and called on Monday for world leaders to take urgent action. Yousafzai said Biden "has a lot to do" and must "take a bold step" to protect the Afghan people, adding she had been trying to reach out to several global leaders. "This is actually an urgent humanitarian crisis right now that we need to provide our help and support," Yousafzai told BBC Newsnight. Yousafzai, 23, survived being shot in the head by a Pakistani Taliban gunman in 2012, a...
Larry Wilmore talked about the mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston — and how even on this occasion, Fox News can manage to find a way to allege that it’s about anything other than racism. “I know you guys don’t want to admit that racial stuff is going on — but how can there be any doubt when it came out of the gunman’s mouth?”
Larry and the panel discussed racist violence in America.
And they also looked at President Obama’s comment on the problems of America’s gun culture. And there was a division of opinion here between agreement with Obama on gun access — but also concern that talk about guns can distract from the root issue of racism itself.
Jon Stewart skipped any normal comedy monologue, and simply got serious: “What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us — and us killing ourselves.” And he marveled that the state of South Carolina still flies the Confederate flag, and has public roads named after Confederate generals.
Jon also welcomed a fitting guest for this occasion, teenage international women’s advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who famously survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan because she was going to school and had been publicly advocating on behalf of other girls. The two discussed her new documentary, He Named Me Malala.
Jon and Malala also discussed her important work on an education fund for girls.
This morning, the Nobel committee announced that the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to children’s rights activists Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai.
When Yousafzai was up for the award one year ago, she appeared on The Daily Show – and left host Jon Stewart speechless. Click above to see her inspiring story, then share this video!
Video via Comedy Central.
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By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize is shared by Pakistani girls education activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel committee announced Friday. At 17, Yousafzai is the youngest winner in history.
The committee awarded them the prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
Both are prominent advocates for the rights of children. Satyarthi has been fighting child labor and slavery since the 1990s.
They were chosen from a record field of 278 nominations, covering the year to February 2014.
Yousafzai was shot in the face by the Taliban in 2012 after she defied their ban on girls’ education. Four months later she declared she was not afraid of being attacked again and set up a foundation promoting girls’ education.
“I wanted to speak up for my rights and also I didn’t want my future to be just sitting in a room and be imprisoned in my four walls and just cooking and giving birth to children. I didn’t want to see my life in that way,” she said in a BBC interview last year.
“I hope that a day will come (when) the people of Pakistan will be free, they will have their rights, there will be peace and every girl and every boy will be going to school,” she said in the interview.
Since its inception in 1895, the Nobel Peace Prize has rewarded individuals and organizations who promote peace. The prize has not been awarded 19 times, including during much of the first and second world wars.
The Nobel committee has drawn criticism in the past for the striking under-representation of women among the peace prize laureates and for some controversial awards, including Barack Obama early in his first term, Yasser Arafat and Henry Kissinger.
Among the other favored nominees were Pope Francis; U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden; who alerted the world to the agency’s mass electronic surveillance; and Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which has seen at least six of its journalists murdered in an atmosphere of increasing repression in Russia.
Other favorites included Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, who offers hope and treatment to survivors of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; and a Japanese pacifist organization, Japanese People Who Conserve Article 9, a group opposing government steps to reinterpret a constitutional ban on the country engaging in military aggression.
The least favored on the list may have been Russian President Vladimir Putin, who annexed Crimea earlier this year and is accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine. Putin has also cracked down on independent media and rights activists.
The prize is often awarded to organizations. Last year the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Some critics this year said no obvious candidate stood out, advocating that the committee award no prize at all. The year saw wars raging from Syria and Iraq to South Sudan, northern Nigeria and the Central African Republic, all of them notable for barbaric atrocities and killings.
AFP Photo/Peter Muhly
By Aoun Abbas Sahi and Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Military officials said Friday that they had apprehended 10 men who in 2012 attempted to assassinate Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education activist, and two other Pakistani schoolgirls.
A Pakistani military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, said a joint operation involving the army, police, and intelligence services had arrested the entire gang involved in the attack, which the suspects said was ordered by the leader of the Pakistani Taliban militant organization, Mullah Fazlullah.
“They also admitted that if they did not get caught, they were supposed to attack at least 21 more people,” Bajwa told a news conference.
Jamaat ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, quickly issued a statement calling the army’s account of the attack on the schoolgirls a “white lie.” The statement said three assailants were involved, with one of them now dead and the other two still alive. It provided no further details about those two alleged assailants.
Military officials offered few details of the operation except to say that the assailants were captured in the Malakand area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the militant-infested province where Malala — an outspoken advocate for girls’ education — was shot in the head as she was riding in a van to school in October 2012.
She was flown to Britain and underwent surgeries to reconstruct her skull and repair hearing loss.
Now 17, she has penned a bestselling memoir, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” won a host of international human rights awards, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and been feted in cities across the world.
Pakistani security officials said the taking of one attack suspect, Israrul Rehman, led to the arrests and confessions of the others. All the suspects were expected to be tried on terrorism charges.
Officials hailed the arrests as a breakthrough in Swat, the scenic valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhkwa where the army launched a major offensive against militants in 2009.
But residents of Swat were unconvinced, saying security has deteriorated in recent years amid a rash of targeted killings of local leaders by suspected Pakistani Taliban members.
“People in Swat would see it as a success when the culprits are brought to justice,” said Sardar Yusufzai, a leading lawyer and human rights activist in the valley who is not related to Malala. “In the past, dozens accused of target killings have been released from the courts on the basis of inadequate proof.”
Sahi is a Los Angeles Times special correspondent. Times staff writer Bengali reported from Mumbai, India. Special correspondent Zulfiqar Ali in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.
AFP Photo/Peter Muhly
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By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
JOHANNESBURG — Malala Yousafzai, the teenage campaigner for girls education in Pakistan, told journalists on Monday that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan assured her he would free 219 abducted schoolgirls being held by Islamist militants.
Malala, who survived a 2012 attack by Pakistani militants opposed to the education of girls, marked July 14 as Malala Day by visiting the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and pressing Jonathan to do more to free the schoolgirls.
But her visit came as a chilling new video surfaced in which Abubakar Shekau, leader of the militant group Boko Haram, said he would not set free his captives unless the government released his fighters from prison.
“Nigerians are saying ‘bring back our girls,’ and we are telling Jonathan to bring back our arrested warriors, our army,” Shekau said in the video, handed to Agence France-Presse news service.
The video was released Sunday, the same day Malala met with parents of the missing schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from a boarding school in Chibok village in northeastern Nigeria on April 14. She also met with five girls who managed to escape from captivity.
During her meeting Monday with Jonathan, the Nigerian president agreed to a meeting with the parents of the abducted schoolgirls for the first time, Malala later told reporters. He also promised scholarships to all the girls once they were released.
Malala told journalists after the meeting that the president assured her the girls would be safely recovered. She said that he seemed pained about their fates and referred to them as his “daughters.”
“The president has expressed his solidarity with those girls and his sadness,” she told reporters. “He has assured that these girls will come back home safely. He has several options but that he will choose the best to ensure the girls are released safely.”
In the Boko Haram video, Shekau claimed responsibility for simultaneous bomb attacks last month in Abuja and Lagos, the nation’s commercial hub. He also sent greetings to al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of Islamic State, an al-Qaida offshoot; and prominent terrorist leaders in Afghanistan, Yemen, Algeria and Pakistan.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin,” is fighting an insurgency to create an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, a country of more than 170 million people divided between Christians and Muslims. The group sees democracy, banking, secular education and Western culture as sacrilegious.
Malala, who turned 17 on Saturday, visited Nigeria in support of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, designed to pressure Nigerian authorities to do more to release the Chibok girls.
“My birthday wish this year is ‘bring back our girls’ now and alive,” she said at Sunday’s meeting in Abuja with Chibok parents and several girls who escaped from Boko Haram.
Malala survived the assassination attempted by the Pakistan Taliban after writing a blog on girls’ education, and she nominated July 14 as a day to stand up for girls’ education. She promised to continue speaking out for the kidnapped girls until they were released, referring to them as her “sisters.”
Nigerian officials have hinted at progress on rescuing the girls in recent weeks, but Jonathan has publicly ruled out negotiating with Boko Haram. The military has said it won’t attempt a rescue operation because many people would be killed. There are reports of behind-the-scenes negotiations to secure the girls’ release.
However, there are hundreds of other women, girls and boys being held by Boko Haram, abducted over the past 18 months in smaller groups.
Shekau posed for the latest video in front of two armored personnel carriers and two pickup trucks surrounded by his men, all armed. At the end of the video, he fired an AK-47 rifle into the air.
Shekau said he had sent a female suicide bomber last month to explode a bomb in Apapa, a district in Lagos where there are many fuel depots. The woman detonated a car bomb next to a oil tanker.
Had the blast ignited the tanker and spread to the nearby fuel depot, it would have been devastating, analysts say, potentially killing many people and disrupting the country’s fuel supply. At the time, authorities misled the public about the incident, according to analysts, when they blamed it on an accidental gas cylinder blast.
“We were the ones that detonated bomb in Abuja, that filthy city. We were responsible for the bomb in Kano, in Plateau,” Shekau said in the video, referring to other recent bomb attacks. “We were the ones that sent a female bomber to the refinery in Lagos.”
Shekau thanked several leaders of terror groups, although it wasn’t clear whether he was thanking them for concrete assistance, inspiration or for something else.
“To you my dear brethren, Muslims, those who are true believers and not those that practice democracy, not those who believe in constitutions, not those who believe in Western education … I thank you all,” he said.
AFP Photo/Peter Muhly
There was a method to this madness.
Meaning that night more than three weeks ago, when a caravan of trucks and buses descended on a boarding school in rural Nigeria and more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted from their beds. As is often the case with acts of terror, this mass kidnapping was accomplished with a theatricality and audacity designed to inspire awe.
But the act of terror was also an act of fear. What the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan suggested, the mid-April taking of these Christian and Muslim children makes abundantly clear: Extremist Islam is scared of little girls. These big, bad men who claim the imprimatur of God himself for their actions, quake in their sandals at the intelligence and potential of girls — and the women they might grow up to be.
As well they should. A nation where women have access to education is a nation where Islamist extremists lose much of their power to cow and bully them. A little learning, as they say, is a dangerous thing.
The kidnappers concede as much in their very name: Boko Haram. It translates as, “Western education is a sin.” The group issued a video this week. “I abducted your girls,” says a man identified as group leader Abubakar Shekau. “I will sell them in the market, by Allah.” The video is said to ramble for an hour, filled with condemnations of Western education. “Girls, you should go and get married,” says Shekau.
The international response to all this can be characterized in a word: outrage. Protests and calls for action have risen from Dakar, Senegal to Los Angeles, CA, to Washington, D.C., to London, England. A cross-section of luminaries — Secretary of State John Kerry, singer Mary J. Blige, Senator Ben Cardin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and musician Questlove — has demanded the girls’ return.
I wrote this column to add my voice to theirs.
But I wrote it also because I felt a need to do more about this atrocity than talk about it. Which is how I happened to find Albert Hannans online.
He is a retired educator in suburban Washington, D.C., but in the late 1960s, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria. Though his service ended nearly 50 years ago, Hannans says that, like others who volunteered there, he feels a connection with the country that has endured the balance of his life. “The people are incredible in Nigeria,” he says. “The culture is just so rich. … They’re very fun-loving people; they are very open and friendly.”
So in 2003, he and a few colleagues formed a nonprofit organization, the Peace Corps Nigeria Alumni Foundation. It offers scholarships for Nigerian girls, initially through a partnership with the Forum For African Women Educationalists, which works to provide education for women and girls in 33 African nations. Now it works with the Inclusive Community Education and Development Association, an NGO specifically targeting northern Nigeria. “There is a real disparity in girls’ education up in the northern region,” explains Hannans. “There’s only like 4 percent of females that complete secondary school, so that tells you a lot about what’s going on up there with this recent event.”
PCNAF is a small group and it has made a small impact; by Hannans’ count, they’ve assisted maybe 25 girls since ’03. “Our scholarships are for $500 a year for each one of our scholars. But $500 is a lot of money, particularly up in the northern region.”
I agree. That’s why I just sent PCNAF a small check c/o P.O. Box 65530, Washington, D.C. 20035.
No, it isn’t a terribly significant gesture. Abubakar Shekau will never even feel the thumb in his eye it’s meant to represent. Makes me feel better, though. Maybe you think that’s crazy, and maybe you’re right. But I tend to believe in the power of ripples in ponds.
There is method to this madness, too.
(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at email@example.com.)
AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei
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