Karzai Tells Bush Institute Conference Afghan Women’s Rights Gains Will Be Maintained

April 3, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Praveen Sathianathan

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai told an audience of business leaders and entrepreneurs that Afghan women would keep the gains they have made as the country moves forward.

Karzai spoke via satellite Thursday as part of a two-day conference promoting human rights and women’s economic opportunities hosted by the Bush Institute, the policy arm of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and held at SMU’s James M. Collins Executive Education Center.

“Definitely, affirmatively, I can assure you that the gains will be maintained,” Karzai said. “They [Afghan women] want peace definitely, but they also want peace that keeps the gains they’ve made. They also want peace that respects the gains they have made.”

Under Taliban rule women were denied basic freedoms. They were not allowed to go school or work and had to live under house arrest. If they wanted to go outside they had to be accompanied by a close male relative and had to wear a burqa, a full-body covering.

Today, women have returned to the workforce. Karzai said 28 percent of Afghan teachers are women, 15 percent at the university level, 40 percent in media and 18 percent of college students are women.

“We will work towards a brighter future for Afghan women, who have indeed suffered because of the Taliban … They bore the brunt of the suffering in Afghanistan, and from peace they should have the maximum gain,” Karzai said.

George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, addressed the audience of about 250, prior to Karzai’s remarks.

“We believe every life has dignity and life is important, whether it be an American woman or a woman in Afghanistan,” the former president said. “To this end, we will be enablers, we will be mentors and we will encourage and support the women of Afghanistan.”

Laura, who serves as the honorary advisor to the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council and spearheads the Women’s Initiative at the Bush Institute, opened the conference with a photo slide show and radio address she gave in November 2001 describing the rights and the plight of women in Afghanistan.

After Karzai spoke, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group, also addressed the audience on the economic status of women in Afghanistan.

Two panels, moderated by journalist and Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren, followed. Students from the American University of Afghanistan and representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul participated via video during the panels.

The first panel, Fostering Entrepreneurs: Developing Small and Medium Enterprises, included Rahela Kaveer, director of the Afghan Women Empowerment Organization, Terry Neese, founder and CEO of Institute for Economic Empowerment Peace through Business and Mina Sherzoy, founder of Afghanistan World Wide Shopping Online Mall.

The women discussed the challenges of assisting women from all of Afghanistan not just those in the cities. Kaveer said there is a need for new markets in rural areas. Neese said Peace through Business has helped many women, but there are still more to be done.

The second panel, Corporate Investments: Creating Sustainability, included business leaders from Abbott Fund, Goldman Sachs Foundation and Kate Spade New York, as well as an Afghan mother and daughter team of entrepreneurs.

Dina Habib Powell, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and global head of corporate engagement, said the foundation’s 10,000 Women Project, an initiative to provide business education for 10,000 women entrepreneurs from communities around the world, has helped 120 women in Afghanistan.

Powell said 70 percent of the program’s participants have seen revenues of their businesses increase and 50 percent have created more jobs for the community.

“When you invest in a woman, they turn around and help others,” Powell said. “When a woman begins a business the whole family becomes involved. The husband becomes the sales person. Ninety percent of a woman’s earnings go back into the family.”

Powell told the audience that Fatema Akbari, one of the project’s graduates, told her that she would participate in it if her daughter got a place as well.

With the assistance of an interpreter, Fatema told the audience her furniture-making business in Kabul has 90 employees, 73 of whom are female. Her daughter Shahla’s shoe-making business in Kabul has 20 workers, 14 of whom are women.

Shahla said to start her business she had to borrow $2,000 from her mother and when she turned a profit a year later, the first thing she did was pay her back.

Both Fatema and her daughter said the program taught them many skills, including how to develop a business plan, market their goods and time management.

Johanna Saum, director of public relations for Kate Spade New York, and Sydney Price, senior vice president for the direct to consumer division, discussed the company’s relationship with women in Afghanistan.

Saum said in 2009 the company renewed a partnership with Women for Women to support artisans in Afghanistan. Kate spade will provide the creative direction and WFW will train the artisans.

“Afghanistan has some of the most beautiful natural resources,” Saum said.

She said the company is hoping to launch Afghan-made cashmere soon in its stores through the “hand in hand” line.

The company, whose partnership with WFW has already helped artisans in Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda, hope the investment in the country will help it rebuild itself.

“We are investing to revive a nation,” Price said.

The day-long event concluded the conference, which began Wednesday evening with a dinner featuring the conference’s participants, business leaders and philanthropists and featured keynote speeches by the Bushes.

Bush Blog: Bush’s Former Press Secretary Talks With Journalism Class

November 15, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Daily Mustang Staff

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, spoke with students and faculty in professor Carolyn Barta’s reporting class Monday morning. Fleischer is in town for Tuesday’s presidential library groundbreaking.

In the Q&A, Fleischer discussed media coverage of politics. He also mentioned protesters he saw on campus today and remarked on how he believes some members of the media take liberal protest movements more seriously than conservative protesters, such as the Tea Party.

Check back for a full recap of Fleischer’s class visit.

Ari Fleischer, Bush’s Former Press Secretary, Talks With Journalism Class from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

VIDEO: Former President George Bush Signs “Decision Points” at Borders Book Store

November 9, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

By Aida Ahmed

Bush Book Signing at Borders from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

George W. Bush signed his new book, “Decision Points,” Tuesday morning at the Borders Book Store across from Preston Royal Village, marking the beginning of his book tour.

Hundreds of people waited in line for hours and even camped out the night before to see the former president and get a chance to have him sign their book.

There was rumored to be over 2,400 books to be signed and many were afraid they wouldn’t get in the book store.

Also in attendance was a small group of protestors with signs against water boarding. People in line and driving in their cars shouted for the protestors to go home.

The groundbreaking of the George W. Bush Presidential Library will take place on the SMU campus next Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Check back with the Daily Mustang for more coverage next week.

Photos, video and editing by Aida Ahmed

VIDEO: George W. Bush Presidential Library

November 9, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

SMU-TV: George W. Bush Presidential Library from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

SMU-TV’s Stephanie Brown gives the details on the ground-break of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

SHIFT Magazine: Where’s ‘Dubya’?

October 5, 2010 by · Comments Off 


George W. Bush's unofficial table at Twisted Root Burger is complete with a sparkling chandelier. (PHOTO BY RACHEL DUKE / SHIFT MAGAZINE)

By Rachel Duke

It is common knowledge to locals and non-locals alike that former President George W. Bush, or “Dubya” some fondly call him, resides in Dallas, Texas in the Preston Hollow neighborhood. Since settling in Dallas, he and Laura have appeared several times on Southern Methodist University’s campus and at a number of high-end Dallas restaurants, including the Mercury Grill.

There are lots of other local joints that seem a little less, well, presidential, but that doesn’t stop them from hoping that Dubya might stop by. Several Dallas restaurants have permanently reserved a table for the former president, should he happen to grace those establishments with his presence. This has become something of a trend since the Bushes moved to Dallas. Among the establishments that have a table permanently reserved for Dubya are the Twisted Root Burger (the branch located off SMU Blvd.), the Lemon Bar, and Primo’s.

These are no ordinary tables. No, that would not do. They are bespeckled, bejeweled, ostentatious and creatively funny affairs meant to entice the former president to patronize the establishment, on the one hand, and to honor him (in a unique sort of way) if and when he ever does, on the other.

Twisted Root Burger, which opened its doors on the first floor of the Shelby apartments near SMU earlier this summer, has a line of wooden booths along the back wall, each with an overhead light fixture just above the table. But the presidential table is special. Hanging above it is an unexpected, random, yet elegant small crystal-glass chandelier, a touch of formality and propriety amidst the lavish neon Budweiser signs and the many big-screened TV’s that otherwise dominate the scene. Embedded in Dubyah’s table top are beer bottle caps formed in the shape of the SMU mustang. And, just in case customers miss the significance of all those aesthetic details, there written on the wall in big, bold, black letters are the words: IF GEORGE W. COMES IN THIS IS HIS TABLE.

“He hasn’t come here yet, but he lives just up the road,” said Robbi Lewis, the restaurant’s manager. “I can’t wait until the day he walks in here and we get to remove the customers sitting at his table to make room for him.”

The Lemon Bar, a restaurant and bar in Uptown, has had a George W. Bush table since it opened last September. The reserved table is oval-shaped with a red, white, and blue patriotic color scheme. The plaque at the table states that it is reserved for George W. Bush if he comes in.

No, he has not sat there. Not yet, anyway. The owners of the Lemon Bar feel it’s pretty likely the former president will drop by. Hope for a “Dubya” appearance springs eternal.

“Nick Galanos, Chris Meaker’s business partner, he’s actually the one who thought of and created the George W. table,” said Joseph Nielsen, general manager of Lemon Bar. “It was something he thought was kind of funny and fit the random theme of the Lemon Bar.”

What began as a joke, though, has grown into a fixed expectation as owners and staff alike continue to wait for that fateful day when Dubya will come and sit at “his” table.
The reserved table for Bush at Primo’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Uptown, is definitely understated compared to those at Twisted Root and the Lemon Bar. There is no artwork, no special chandelier, no words painted on the wall, no inscribed metal plaque bearing his name. Placed above the table on the wall is simply an article set in a red, white, and blue matted frame.

“We have an article (a certificate of sorts) that says if George W. Bush was to walk in we would ask you to move tables and the Secret Service will pick up your tab,” Billy Roberts, the assistant general manager of Primo’s, said. “It was written that way to make it kind of funny, but obviously Primo’s would do that.”

According to Roberts, Primo’s jumped on the bandwagon with other restaurants and bars reserving “themed” tables for the former president when he moved back to Dallas.

“We’re hoping he’ll stop in one night, since we have a table for him, but I don’t know, this can be a wild spot sometimes,” said Roberts, laughing.

So, the anxious question being asked in local area Dallas restaurants is, “Where is Dubya?!” Like little children leaving cookies and milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, these restaurants have prepared a place of honor for him, awaiting the day when he will come. If he does, there will likely be a good deal of light-hearted laughter, except by the hapless couple or family who, mid-bite, are forcibly ejected from Dubya’s table.

The Daily Update: Thursday, April 22

April 22, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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The Daily Update: Wednesday, April 21

April 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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Opinion Blog: Bush Institute Should Start Acting Like a Good Neighbor

April 13, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Brooks Powell

The George W. Bush Presidential Center won’t be complete until 2012. But already SMU students feel like they’re getting the shaft.

All accounts leading up to the announcement that the library and institute would be built at SMU said it would be open and available to everyone. Now, officials with the Institute are backtracking on that claim, specifically for conferences and events. SMU students wishing to attend are out of luck unless they’re willing to chip in a few grand to secure a spot on the invitation list.

James K. Glassman, the 63 year-old executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, told SMU’s Student Senate in March about his vision for the think-tank and how it will relate to the greater SMU community. He enticed those present with details of upcoming conferences held on the SMU campus and around Dallas, many including national and international figures addressing a range of topics.

At the meeting, Glassman introduced Oscar Morales, a Colombian journalist and Bush Institute Fellow. Morales will lead a conference on April 19 on “cyber-dissidents” and political change, highlighting the role of online tools and social media in promoting democracy around the world.

What students listening to Glassman’s rhetoric didn’t know was that he was setting them up for a cruel “gotcha.”

With some prodding, Glassman admitted Bush Institute conferences will be largely invitation-only, adding that “some” SMU students will be allowed to attend. The majority of attendees will be dignitaries, donors and special guests of the Institute.

In other words, unless a student’s bank ledger has a hefty entry labeled “George W. Bush Institute,” he or she shouldn’t count on a spot at one of these conferences. Note that Glassman is also in charge of raising money for the Institute.

Brushing off SMU students is unacceptable given the sacrifices the community has made to welcome the Bush Presidential Library and Institute to campus.

Students and faculty moved out of convenient on-campus housing, which was bulldozed to clear a site for the Bush Center. The University also paid untold sums to holdouts in the University Gardens development to clear more land. With tuition increasing by at least 5 percent each year, all that settlement money could have been used to keep tuition costs down if SMU hadn’t engaged in the quest for the Bush Library in the first place.

But hindsight is 20/20 and the Bush Center will indeed be a fixture at SMU.

Glassman joked to the Student Senate about the Bushes having a 300 year lease on the library building that will be built at the southeastern end of campus.

In the interest of getting this long-term relationship off on the right foot, an about-face is needed, and quickly. With two years until the Bush complex is scheduled to open, there is plenty of time for Glassman and his colleagues to work out how to accommodate more SMU students at the Institute’s conferences and events.

For years, SMU has been a celebrated destination in the southwestern United States for some of the greatest minds from around the world. Clearly, SMU recognizes the value imparted to inquisitive minds by listening to experts, and opportunities for such exposure abound. Just not at the Bush Institute, or at least not yet.

Speaking in his capacity as fundraiser-in-chief, Glassman said donations are on-track for the Bush Center. If that’s so, what harm will opening up a few seats do to the campaign’s momentum? Donors conversing with some exceptionally bright students might get them to donate more money.

If space is a concern, Glassman needn’t look far for a suitably-sized location to host more than just his exclusive audience. SMU has a number of large venues that were designed specifically to hold audiences for presentations and lectures, including several that are brand new.

There truly aren’t any excuses that Glassman and his ilk can defend. Money and space are the only limiting factors, and those are easily resolved. It’s time to open the doors and let students in.

This is a crucial period for the future relationship between SMU and the Bush Center. Hopefully, leaders in the Bush entourage will see the value of including students in the life of the library and institute. Otherwise, one begins to wonder why they chose to affiliate with a university in the first place.

Bush Partners with Maguire Energy Institute to Host “Natural Gas Nation”

March 25, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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Campus News Blog: Bush continues tradition of dry humor

November 12, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Chris Dell

Here’s a sampling of some witty George W. Bush humor, on display Thursday in his speech at McFarlin Auditorium.

Bush strolled onto stage with his wife, Laura, and opened his speech with a dry joke:

“It’s great to be up here sharing the stage with Laura. She has been an awesome partner for me for the last 32 years… and seven days.”

He continued the family jokes in his opening monologue: “I think (Laura’s) the best former first lady in the nation’s history. But I better be careful, there’s competition in the family.”

“As you may have heard, (Bush’s daughter Jenna) is also a correspondent for the Today Show, which continues the Bush family’s history of warm relations with the press.”

Lastly, he poked fun at those who criticized his lack of scholastic achievement at Yale University, where he completed his undergraduate work:

“It is pretty cool to be back on a college campus as a 63-year-old. I enjoy popping in on class from time to time. Come to think of it, that was my strategy as a student.”

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