Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, Two Escaped Boko Haram Abductees, Graduate From High School in VA, Head to Southeastern University

(photo via instagram.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

Two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 are telling their story. Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, are among the 57 girls who were able to escape from the terrorist group. The duo gave People Magazine a detailed account of horrors they faced when the gunmen invaded their school in Chibok, Nigeria, and the events that followed.

The girls were sleeping when the invasion occurred. They woke to the sounds of gunshots and bombs. Pogu told People that men in uniforms stormed into their dorm and told them they were officers who were there to protect them. But the girls said they knew they weren’t real officers based on the way they described themselves.

“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said. “They asked us to follow them, we should go with them. When we tried going with them, some of us start running … then they went and put us all back together and said, ‘OK, you all have to cooperate or else we are going to just shoot any girl who just followed a different direction that we didn’t point.”

She said they gave the girls an ultimatum: run away and die or get on a truck and leave with them. Once the truck drove away with the girls on it, it created clouds of dust, making it difficult to see behind the truck. Girls began jumping from the truck and running away in different directions. Bishara and two other girls found each other in the bush and were able to stop a motorcyclist, who brought them back to Chibok.

Bishara and Pogu were able to return back to their families. In August of the same year, the duo and several other girls who escaped moved to the United States to complete school. With the help of a Christian nonprofit and a Nigerian activist group, they were able to attend boarding school in Virginia. Bishara and Pogu transferred their senior year and recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy. Both gave speeches at the ceremony. They will be attending Southeastern University in Florida in the fall and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.

In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted as many as 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. The girls were subjected to rape, torture, starvation and forced marriages. They were also forced to join the group’s army. This sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign online and caught the attention of notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama.

To read more, go to: 2 Escaped Boko Haram Victims Graduate From High School | HuffPost

Michelle Obama Speaks Out on Trump Admin Rollbacks on Healthy Eating Initiatives: ‘Think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap’

At a summit on May 12, Michelle Obama vigorously defended the healthy eating initiative that was her biggest legacy as First Lady and asked why healthy school lunches have become a partisan issue. (Reuters)

by Caitlin Dewey via washingtonpost.com

A fiery Michelle Obama vigorously defended the healthy eating initiative that was her biggest legacy as First Lady on Friday, telling a public health summit in Washington D.C. that something was “wrong” with an administration that did not want to give consumers nutrition information or teach children to eat healthily.

“We gotta make sure we don’t let anybody take us back,” Obama said. “This is where you really have to look at motives, you know. You have to stop and think, why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you? And why is that a partisan issue? Why would that be political? What is going on?”

In a 43-minute conversation, peppered with sarcastic remarks and veiled references to the Trump administration, Michele Obama discussed topics from life since her husband left the presidency to her Let’s Move! initiative.“Take me out of the equation — like me or don’t like me,” Obama added. “But think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap. Why would you celebrate that? Why would you sit idly and be okay with that? Because here’s the secret: If someone is doing that, they don’t care about your kid.”

The comments were Obama’s first public remarks on the Trump administration’s assault on nutrition policy, which has already seen the delay of rules meant to reduce sodium and refined grains in school lunches and provide calorie counts on restaurant menus. The former First Lady championed many of those programs.

The First Lady was speaking at the annual summit of the Partnership for a Healthier America, an organization she helped found to extend her nutrition policies to the private sector. Her remarks were made during a conversation with Sam Kass, a longtime friend and the first executive director of her Let’s Move! program. Kass and Obama discussed a range of topics, including the Obamas’ move to a new D.C. residence and the sorts of meals Obama ate as a child. (Of life since her husband’s presidency, Mrs. Obama said: “Being former is alright.”) But by far her most pointed comments were about the recent delays to the menu-labeling rules and the changes to the school lunch program.

The former First Lady appeared to take issue with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue‘s defense of the school lunch rollbacks, which he justified in part, in his May 1 announcement, by saying many kids didn’t like the foods.“That to me is one of the most ridiculous things that we talk about in this movement — ‘the kids aren’t happy,’” Obama said. “Well you know what? Kids don’t like math either. What are we gonna do, stop teaching math?”

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture declined to comment on Mrs. Obama’s remarks, and said that “Sec. Perdue has nothing but the utmost respect for Michelle Obama.”Obama also objected to the proposed delay of new nutrition labels that were scheduled to go into effect in 2018. The new labels would feature information about calories and added sugars more prominently, but the packaged food industry has requested the compliance deadline be pushed back until at least 2020.

“Keep families ignorant. That’s all I’m hearing,” Obama said. “You don’t need to know what’s in your food. You can’t handle that, mom. Just buy this, be quiet, spend your money — don’t ask us about what’s in your food.” The sharpness of Obama’s remarks are unusual for a former First Lady: There is an unwritten rule that they do not criticize their successors, said Kati Marton, the author of a best-selling book on presidential marriages. It’s also a shift for Obama, who tended to tread cautiously during her husband’s tenure. But Marton said the rules, such as they are, were made for different times.

“It’s impossible to compare her to any prior first ladies, because it’s impossible to compare the Trump administration to any prior one,” she said. “I think it would be a mistake for the Obamas to play by rules that Trump doesn’t play by, himself.” The past four months have seen the food industry seize onto President Trump’s anti-regulatory agenda, arguing for the delay or suspension of rules that Mrs. Obama encouraged. In recent weeks, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Grocers Association and the American Bakers Association have all cited the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback as reason to delay the menu-labelling rules and new nutrition labels.

To read full article and see video, go to: Michelle Obama on Trump rollback: ‘Think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap’ – The Washington Post

Obamas Pledge $2 Million for Summer Jobs, Apprenticeships for Chicago Youth

Michelle and Barack Obama (photo via chicagotribune.com)

by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz via chicagotribune.com

Barack and Michelle Obama are donating $2 million toward two Chicago programs that provide summer jobs and apprenticeships, setting the stage for the coming Obama Presidential Center‘s mission to help employ and train South Side youth.

One Summer Chicago, which is the city’s summer jobs program, and the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, a collaboration of foundations and corporate funders focused on employment equity, each will receive $1 million from the Obamas. The former president made the donation announcement Wednesday when unveiling early design plans for the Obama Presidential Center, a complex with a museum, library and public park to be built over the next four years in South Shore’s Jackson Park.

While the center itself aims to boost employment in the community — through jobs, during construction, and once open, through youth-focused employment programming — “we can’t afford to wait four years to start working together,” Barack Obama told the audience at the South Shore Cultural Center.

He cited the city’s violence and the need to “reach young people who might be at risk if they don’t have something to do during the summers.””We want to make sure that some of those young people can get trained so people don’t say, ‘Why didn’t you hire anybody from the neighborhood?’ And the contractor says, ‘We didn’t have anybody who was trained.’ Well … let’s start the pipeline now, so that we can start getting some of those folks trained,” Obama said, according to excerpts of his remarks provided by his office.

To read more, go to: Obamas pledge $2 million for summer jobs, apprenticeships for Chicago youth – Chicago Tribune

Michelle Obama Celebrates International Women’s Day With Surprise School Visit to Female Students, Talks Education

Former First Lady Michelle Obama, participates in roundtable discussion with students at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, DC March 8, 2017. (Photo: Chuck Kennedy)

article by Tierney Mcafee via people.com

Michelle Obama is still devoted to “letting girls learn.”The former first lady marked International Women’s Day with a surprise visit to 12 female students at a combined middle and high school in Washington, D.C.

Obama had a roundtable talk with the girls at Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus, several of whom are from the school’s international program for recent immigrants, including some girls from Africa and Latin America. She announced the visit on Snapchat Wednesday morning, saying: “We’re celebrating International Women’s Day with a group of amazing young women. We’re going to talk about education — the importance of it in their lives and in mine.”

Another snap showed the moment Obama walked into a classroom and surprised the stunned young women, who responded with a chorus of “Oh my Gods!”“Did you know?” the former first lady said with a smile. “You didn’t know.”“This school is amazing,” she added as she greeted the girls.After a round of hugs, Obama and the young students sat down to talk about education and their goals for the future.

The former first lady later took to her Instagram to share a photo and reflect on her visit.

“Celebrating the beauty and diversity of our country on this #InternationalWomensDay with some of the many fierce and promising girls here at DC’s Cardozo Education Campus,” she wrote. “I loved visiting this school because it tells the American story in so many ways. Three years ago, Cardozo established its International Academy with only 150 students, but today it boasts nearly 400 who are thriving in and out of the classroom. By embracing young immigrants and their diverse cultures and contributions, Cardozo is a model for our entire country. The girls I met with today are ready to take on the world. We’ve just got to make sure that the world is ready for them.”

To read and see more, go to: Michelle Obama Celebrates International Women’s Day with Surprise School Visit

Michelle Obama Surprises High School Students in D.C., Talks Struggles and Life Goals for Two Hours

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaking with D.C. students (photo via washingtonpost.com)

article by Perry Stein via washingtonpost.com

When former first lady Michelle Obama walked into a D.C. high school classroom, the stunned students erupted in tears. One student even darted out of the classroom to regain her composure before she could sit next to her. Obama, who still lives in Washington, made a surprise visit Tuesday to Ballou STAY High School to speak with 14 students for two hours.

Upon arriving, she hugged each of them before taking her seat in the circle. “Once she came in, it was an inspirational feeling,” said Alliyah Williams, 18. “She was so sweet and warm. She was like a mom.”

[Watch Michelle Obama crash these D.C. classrooms and surprise students.]

After visiting the public alternative high school in Southeast Washington, she tweeted “Always love visiting DC schools. Thank you for hosting me today @BallouSTAY. Stories of students #reachinghigher continue to inspire me.” The tweet referenced the White House initiative “Reach Higher” she launched to encourage students to continue their education.

To read more, go to: Michelle Obama surprises D.C. students, talks struggles and life goals for two hours – The Washington Post

Obamas Make Eight-Figure Book Deal With Penguin Random House

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in Washington last year. They plan to donate a portion of the advances for their books to charity. (Credit: Drew Angerer for The New York Times)

article by Alexandra Alter via nytimes.com

Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures.

Robert B. Barnett and Deneen C. Howell of Williams & Connolly represented the Obamas. Penguin Random House acquired world rights to the books, and worldwide sales could be substantial. No decision has been made yet as to which of the company’s major imprints — which include Random House, Doubleday, Alfred A. Knopf and Crown — will publish the books.

Mr. Obama’s previous books were published by Crown, which also published Mrs. Obama’s book “American Green,” about the White House garden. A spokeswoman for Penguin Random House would not say whether the books would be memoirs and referred questions to representatives of the Obamas. Speculation about the Obamas’ books and how much they would sell for have been circulating in the industry in recent weeks, as executives at the top publishing houses met separately with the former president and first lady.

Some publishing executives who followed the bidding process said that the opening offers for Mr. Obama’s book alone were in the $18 million to $20 million range. The publisher plans to donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a nonprofit organization that provides books to disadvantaged children, and Open eBooks, the Washington-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative. The Obamas also plan to donate part of their advances to charity, including the Obama Foundation.

To read more, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/business/media/obama-book-deal-penguin-random-house.html?_r=0

Chance the Rapper Honors Obama Family With #ThankUObama Fashion Line

Chance The Rapper in Malia Obama T (photo via theroot.com)

article by Yesha Callahan via thegrapevine.theroot.com

Chance the Rapper and his black-boy joy just doesn’t quit. And this time he’s using his notoriety and fan base to pay tribute to the Obama family with a new clothing line. Chance announced the project Thursday on Twitter with a link to ThankUObama.us.

“With this project i wanted to timestamp a period in my life where i felt like i can do whatever i wanted to do and be whatever i wanted to be,” Chance wrote on his site. “The night Obama won his first term gave me so much hope, especially & most importantly as a black man. I decided to make a collection saying ‘thank you’ and give me something to smile at every now and then when I look in the closet.”

The line includes a T-shirt with Malia Obama’s name, as well as one with a Notorious B.I.G.-esque photo of Barack Obama, as well as a shirt with “Barack N Michelle” written in black-and-pink graffiti with their anniversary date.

To read original article: Chance the Rapper Honors Obama Family With #ThanksObama Fashion Line