Connect with us

National

Madeleine Albright passes away at 84

Trailblazing secretary of state extended benefits to domestic partners

Published

on

Madeleine Albright speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as a U.S. secretary of state, has died at 84 after battling cancer.

Albright was nominated on Dec. 5, 1996, by then-President Clinton to become the 64th secretary of state after serving as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 22, 1997, and sworn in the next day. Albright served as secretary of state for four years, ending her service on Jan. 20, 2001, upon the inauguration of former President George W. Bush.

Albright had a long and distinguished career as a U.S. envoy.

As secretary of state, she was the first State Department head to allow domestic partners, including same-sex partners, to accompany overseas staff, and require that foreign governments officially accredit them. In 1999, the secretary advocated that Clinton go ahead with his decision to appoint the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, James Hormel, as a recess appointment, as the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.

In her role as secretary of state, Albright was a trailblazer that set an example that would be followed by two other prominent American women, former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Speaking with CNN during a 2005 interview, Albright acknowledged her role as a trailblazer and often spoke of the challenges of being the first woman to lead the State Department.

“I think that there were real questions as to … whether a woman could be secretary of state. And not just in terms of dealing with the issues, but in terms of dealing with the people, especially in hierarchical societies … I found, actually, that I could do that,” she told CNN. “And people, I think, now can understand that is perfectly possible for a woman to be secretary of state, and I am delighted that there is second one,” a reference to Rice.

CNN also noted Albright’s trademark personal accessories for which she was famous. Throughout her career, Albright was known for wearing brooches or decorative pins to convey her foreign policy messages.

When she found out that the Russians had bugged the State Department, she wore a large bug pin when she next met with them. When Saddam Hussein referred to Albright as a snake, she took to wearing a gold snake pin; when she was called a witch, she proudly brandished a miniature broom.

When she slammed as “completely un-American” then-acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli’s suggestion that only immigrants who can “stand on their own two feet” are welcome in the U.S., Albright wore a Statue of Liberty pin.

After her tenure as secretary of state, she went on to publish seven New York Times bestsellers including her 2003 autobiography “Madam Secretary”. Albright received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from then-President Obama on May 29, 2012.

She also was chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, she founded in 2009, part of Dentons Global Advisors, and served as a professor in the practice of diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Albright was born Marie Jean “Madlenka” Korbel on May 15, 1937, in Prague. Her father, Josef, was a member of the Czechoslovak Foreign Service and served as press attaché in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and later became ambassador to Yugoslavia.

After the Communist coup in 1948, the family immigrated to Denver. Albright Americanized her name to Madeleine, became a U.S. citizen in 1957, and earned a B.A. in political science with honors from Wellesley College in 1959. She earned the Ph.D. in Public Law and Government at Columbia University in 1976.

Albright served as chief legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) from 1976-1978. From 1978-1981, she served as a staff member in the White House under President Carter and on the National Security Council under then-National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

In 1982 she was appointed Research Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and director of its Women in Foreign Service Program. In 1993 she was appointed ambassador to the U.N. by Clinton and served in the position until her appointment as secretary of state in 1996.

One writer, based in D.C., described Albright’s life as “Along the way, the Czech girl — whose parents brought her to the U.S. as a refugee from Communist rule, and who only much later discovered that members of her family died in the Holocaust — became a role model and a pathbreaker for professional women and for women in top government positions.”

President Biden traveling aboard Air Force One en route to Brussels for an emergency NATO meeting over the crisis in Ukraine on Wednesday issued a statement remembering Albright:

“Madeleine Albright was a force.
 
Hers were the hands that turned the tide of history.
 
As a young girl, she found a home in the United States—after her family fled their home country of Czechoslovakia during World War II, and the Iron Curtain came down across Central and Eastern Europe. Her father, a diplomat, was marked for death by the Soviet regime. She spent the rest of her days defending freedom around the world and lifting up those who suffered under repression.
 
She was an immigrant fleeing persecution. A refugee in need of safe haven. And like so many before her—and after—she was proudly American.
 
To make this country that she loved even better—she defied convention and broke barriers again and again.  As the devoted mother of three beloved daughters, she worked tirelessly raising them while earned her doctorate degree and started her career.  She took her talents first to the Senate as a staffer for Sen. Edmund Muskie, followed by the National Security Council under President Carter. And then to the United Nations where she served as U.S. Ambassador, and ultimately, made history as our first woman Secretary of State, appointed by President Clinton.
 
A scholar, teacher, bestselling author and later accomplished businesswoman, Secretary Albright continued to advise presidents and members of Congress with matchless skill and diplomatic acumen. In every role, she used her fierce intellect and sharp wit—and often her unmatched collection of pins—to advance America’s national security and promote peace around the world. America had no more committed champion of democracy and human rights than Secretary Albright, who knew personally and wrote powerfully of the perils of autocracy.
 
Working with Secretary Albright during the 1990s was among the highlights of my career in the United States Senate during my tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee. As the world redefined itself in the wake of the Cold War, we were partners and friends working to welcome newly liberated democracies into NATO and confront the horrors of genocide in the Balkans.
 
When I think of Madeleine, I will always remember her fervent faith that America is the indispensable nation.
 
In the years after she left government, Albright never stepped away from that belief. As the chairman of the National Democratic Institute for over two decades, and through other organizations she advised, she continued to champion democratic principles as vitally important to America’s interests in freedom, prosperity and security.
 
She continued to mentor and nurture new generations of foreign policy experts at Georgetown University, the Korbel Center for International Studies at the University of Denver, named after her father, and beyond. As always, she shared her insight and wisdom widely, but she was especially dedicated to supporting the next generation of women leaders, including through the establishment of the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College.
 
Madeleine was always a force for goodness, grace and decency—and for freedom.
 
Jill and I will miss her dearly and send our love and prayers to her daughters, Alice, Anne and Katie, her sister Kathy, her brother John, her six grandchildren and her nephews and grandniece.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

The White House

White House: Fla. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law is ‘discrimination, plain and simple’

Statute took effect on Friday

Published

on

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement Friday as Florida’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law took effect, saying “[…] state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.”

President Joe Biden also tweeted about the law prior to leaving for Camp David to spend the July 4 holiday weekend, calling the law “the latest attempt by Republicans in state houses to target LGBTQI+ students, teachers and families.”

In her statement, Jean-Pierre said:

“Today, some of Florida’s most vulnerable students and families are more fearful and less free. As the state’s shameful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect, state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.

“Already, there have been reports that ‘Safe Space’ stickers are being taken down from classrooms. Teachers are being instructed not to wear rainbow clothing. LGBTQI+ teachers are being told to take down family photos of their husbands and wives — cherished family photos like the ones on my own desk.

“This is not an issue of ‘parents’ rights.’ This is discrimination, plain and simple. It’s part of a disturbing and dangerous nationwide trend of right-wing politicians cynically targeting LGBTQI+ students, educators, and individuals to score political points.

“It encourages bullying and threatens students’ mental health, physical safety, and well-being. It censors dedicated teachers and educators who want to do the right thing and support their students. And it must stop.

“President Biden has been very clear that every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom.

“The Department of Education will be monitoring this law, and any student or parent who believes they are experiencing discrimination is encouraged to file a complaint with the department’s Office for Civil Rights.

“Our administration will continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family — in Florida and around the country.”

Continue Reading

The White House

Megan Rapinoe among 17 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

White House ceremony to take place July 7

Published

on

Megan Rapinoe (Screen capture via U.S. Soccer YouTube)

The White House on Friday released President Joe Biden’s selection of recipients for bestowing the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7.

Included among the seventeen honorees are Megan Rapinoe, the out Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQ rights.

Also selected by the president for a posthumous recognition was Richard Trumka, the powerful labor leader and longtime Democratic ally of the LGBTQ community who passed away last August. Trumka had led the AFL-CIO since 2009 and who throughout his career, was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ Americans, social and economic justice.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the U.S., world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.

Presidential Medal of Freedom (The White House)

The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Simone Biles
Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. Biles is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system and victims of sexual assault.

Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell is a member of the Sisters of Social Service and former Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization. She is also a prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform and healthcare policy.

Julieta García
Dr. Julieta García is the former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville, where she was named one of Time magazine’s best college presidents. Dr. García was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president and dedicated her career to serving students from the Southwest Border region.

Gabrielle Giffords
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona state Senate, serving first in the Arizona legislature and later in Congress. A survivor of gun violence, she co-founded Giffords, a nonprofit organization dedicated to gun violence prevention.

Fred Gray
Fred Gray was one of the first black members of the Alabama State legislature since Reconstruction. As an attorney, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP and Martin Luther King, who called him “the chief counsel for the protest movement.”

Steve Jobs (posthumous)
Steve Jobs (d. 2011) was the co-founder, chief executive and chair of Apple, Inc., CEO of Pixar and held a leading role at the Walt Disney Company. His vision, imagination and creativity led to inventions that have, and continue to, change the way the world communicates, as well as transforming the computer, music, film and wireless industries.

Father Alexander Karloutsos
Father Alexander Karloutsos is the former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. After over 50 years as a priest, providing counsel to several U.S. presidents, he was named by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as a protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Khizr Khan
Khizr Khan is a Gold Star father and founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center. He is a prominent advocate for the rule of law and religious freedom and served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom under President Biden.

Sandra Lindsay
Sandra Lindsay is a New York critical care nurse who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials and is a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for health care workers.

John McCain (posthumous)
John McCain (d. 2018) was a public servant who was awarded a Purple Heart with one gold star for his service in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He also served the people of Arizona for decades in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and was the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

Diane Nash
Diane Nash is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who organized some of the most important civil rights campaigns of the 20th century. Nash worked closely with Martin Luther King, who described her as the “driving spirit in the nonviolent assault on segregation at lunch counters.”

Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is an Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights.

Alan Simpson
Alan Simpson served as a U.S. senator from Wyoming for 18 years. During his public service, he has been a prominent advocate on issues including campaign finance reform, responsible governance and marriage equality.

Richard Trumka (posthumous)
Richard Trumka (d. 2021) was president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade, president of the United Mine Workers, and secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Throughout his career, he was an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice.

Wilma Vaught
Brigadier General Wilma Vaught is one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military, repeatedly breaking gender barriers as she rose through the ranks. When she retired in 1985, she was one of only seven women generals in the Armed Forces.

Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.

Raúl Yzaguirre
Raúl Yzaguirre is a civil rights advocate who served as CEO and president of National Council of La Raza for thirty years. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Barack Obama.

Continue Reading

The White House

U.S. orders 2.5 million more monkeypox vaccine doses

CDC has reported roughly 350 cases

Published

on

(Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that it has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s JYNNEOS, an FDA-licensed vaccine indicated for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox, for use in responding to current or future monkeypox outbreaks and as part of U.S. smallpox preparedness.

Deliveries from this latest order of the Bavarian Nordic‘s Jynneos vaccine will begin arriving at the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) later this year and will continue through early 2023 HHS said in a statement.

“We are working around-the-clock with public health officials in states and large metro areas to provide them with vaccines and treatments to respond to the current monkeypox outbreak,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This order of additional JYNNEOS vaccine will help us push out more vaccine quickly, knowing that we have more doses on the way in the coming months — and is only possible because of our longstanding investment in smallpox and monkeypox preparedness.”

The order announced today is in addition to the 500,000 doses of government-owned vaccine the company is producing in 2022 for use in the current response to monkeypox in the U.S and brings the total vaccine doses to be delivered in 2022 and 2023 to more than 4 million.

The company will produce these doses in liquid frozen form using vaccine already manufactured in bulk under an existing 10-year contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; that contract was part of ongoing national preparedness efforts against smallpox.

“The medical countermeasures available to help respond to the current outbreak are the result of years of investment and planning made possible through the ongoing work between HHS and private industry,” said Gary Disbrow, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. “We are pleased that we have been able to work with our partners at Bavarian Nordic to accelerate delivery of vaccines that can help keep people safe and stem the spread of the virus.”

BARDA supported the development of JYNNEOS, which is approved by the FDA to prevent smallpox and monkeypox. The U.S. government owns enough smallpox vaccine — JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 — to vaccinate millions of Americans, if needed.

As of June 24, ASPR’s SNS held approximately 65,000 doses of JYNNEOS in immediate inventory with delivery of an additional 300,000 doses in the coming days. On June 28, HHS announced that it would immediately make available 56,000 doses and soon after would make available 240,000 additional doses. The SNS also has more than 100 million doses of ACAM2000 which was developed with SNS support and is approved by FDA for use in preventing smallpox. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently has an expanded access Investigational New Drug protocol which allows use of ACAM2000 for monkeypox.

In addition, the SNS has over 1.7 million treatment courses of the smallpox antiviral drug TPOXX, which was developed with BARDA support and can be used to treat individuals with monkeypox under an appropriate regulatory mechanism. CDC currently has an expanded access Investigational New Drug protocol which allows its use for monkeypox.

As of June 29, the CDC has received reports of approximately 350 cases of monkeypox in the U.S., primarily among men who have sex with men.

To learn more about monkeypox, visit cdc.gov/monkeypox.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]