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Malala tells Pakistani media she will return for good ‘after education’

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Malala Yousafzai plans to return to Pakistan permanently once her studies are completed, she told Pakistani media in Islamabad Friday, the second day of her emotional trip back more than five years after being shot by Taliban gunmen.

Security has forced the Nobel laureate, whose arrival in the country dominated headlines and social media, to keep her itinerary tightly under wraps.

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But in a televised interview with Pakistan’s largest private broadcaster Geo TV Friday the 20-year-old said that the country, which has long battled extremism, is “becoming better”.

“Definitely, there is a difference” between the Pakistan of today and in 2012, when she was airlifted to a British hospital after being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen angered over her stance as an advocate for girls’ education.

“Things are becoming better, people are uniting and a campaign for better Pakistan is ongoing, people are active which is very good.”

The Oxford student, who has said that she wants to run for prime minister one day, added: “It is my plan to return to Pakistan after completion of my education, because it is my country and I have equal rights on it like any other Pakistani.”

Her comments came after she broke down in tears as she delivered an emotional televised speech Thursday saying it was a “dream” to be back in the country after so many years.

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Malala is widely respected internationally as a global icon for girls’ education, but opinion is divided in Pakistan, where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.

“Pakistan has not done well by its heroes,” an editorial in the English-language Dawn newspaper on Malala’s homecoming said Friday, noting that the country’s other Nobel laureate — physicist Abdus Salaam — had been widely shunned for being a member of the persecuted Ahmadi minority.

With intense criticism among the many messages of welcome, even the people she is meeting have been kept in the dark about her presence.

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Women’s rights activist Nighat Dad said that she and a group of other feminists from across Pakistan who were gathered on Thursday were not told they would be seeing Malala until the last moment.

The organiser, Oscar-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, only told them “It’ll be the highlight of your year,” Dad said — adding that she had been right.

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– Changing lives –

Malala became a global symbol for human rights after a gunman boarded her school van on October 9, 2012, asked “Who is Malala?” and shot her.

The Pakistani Taliban accused her of “anti-Islamic” activities and of “smearing” the militant group in statements released after the attack.

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She was treated for her injuries in the British city of Birmingham, where she also completed her schooling.

The youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she has continued to be a vocal advocate for girls’ education while studying at Oxford University.

Swat, Malala’s former home in Pakistan’s rugged northwest, was overrun by the Taliban in 2007, where they imposed a brutal regime including banning girls from school.

They were pushed out in a military operation in 2009, but security has remained fragile, as the attack on Malala three years later demonstrated.

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However in recent weeks authorities have lifted prohibitions against tourists visiting the mountainous region, famed for its beauty, as security improves.

Residents say Malala’s story has changed the lives of other girls in the area.

“Parents are sending their girls to school so Malala has been successful in her aim,” Swat resident Shahista Hakeem told AFP.

Many of those who live in the area were happy to hear of Malala’s return to Pakistan, Hakeem said, adding: “We want that she should come to Swat also.

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Bank calls cops on black man for trying to cash check he was awarded in a racial discrimination lawsuit

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After suing his employer for racial discrimination, Sauntore Thomas settled out of court. But when he tried to cash his settlement check at a bank in Livonia, Michigan, bank employees called the cops -- who then initiated a fraud investigation. Now Thomas is suing the bank, according to the Detroit Free Press.

According to Thomas, TCF Bank in Livonia "mistreated and humiliated" when they called the police on him. According to police, the bank's system flagged the check as fraudulent -- a claim that Thomas disputes, saying that the check cleared 12 hours later after he brought it to another bank that same day.

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2020 Election

Trump has handed wavering GOP senators an excuse to flip and vote for witnesses: columnist

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In a column for the Daily Beast, longtime White House observer Margaret Carlson claimed she doesn't think the Democrats need witnesses to make the case for the ouster of Donald Trump, but they might just get their wish if embattled Republicans facing re-election woes take advantage of the president's professed desire to see witnesses take the stand.

"To fight back against White House lawyers’ main objection to the House’s articles of impeachment—that the officials in the room where the impeachable acts happened did not testify—Democrats have to plead for those witnesses to testify now. And that gives Donald Trump’s political defense a favorite talking point: If Democrats have such a strong case (which in fact they do), then why are they spending the first two days of the trial begging for more evidence?" she writes, before answering her own question with, "Easy. While Republicans insist that there’s no case without witnesses and that it’s too late to call them, they neglect to mention that it’s Republicans who demanded and got witnesses in Clinton’s impeachment, including the president himself. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s ripping into Democrats now for supposedly creating a 'complete circus' by demanding witnesses, was a House impeachment manager then."

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Trump accused of ‘ripping off’ taxpayers after his golf resort jacks up room rates before his visit

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President Donald Trump will be making a visit to his own Trump National Doral golf resort this week -- and it looks like it will cost taxpayers even more than usual.

Huffington Post reports that Trump will be visiting the Trump National Doral to address the Republican National Committee's winter meeting on Thursday.

Just ahead of the president's visit, however, Trump National Doral "raised the nightly rate for its least expensive rooms from $254 to $539," which is "just under the maximum per-night rate federal government rules permit for a hotel in South Florida, and is triple the normal 'per diem' rate employees are supposed to follow."

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