Joël van Houdt, via Sahar Speaks

We’d like to call your attention to today’s New York Times story on the new leader of the Taliban, and not necessarily because it’s a well reported story, which it is.

The Taliban have announced that Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, a conservative cleric, is taking over as leader of the group’s war against the Afghan government.

That’s a good story. Here’s a better one: For the first time ever, an Afghan woman’s byline has appeared in the foreign press.

Zahra Nader is one of three reporters who worked on the story.

If you’re looking for signs of progress in Afghanistan, a country infamous for its trampling of women, this is as good as any.

It’s the work of Sahar Speaks, an organization that provides training and mentoring of female reporters in Afghanistan.

On its website, the organization notes that a free press is one of the few success stories in Afghanistan, where there are about 9,000 reporters, 2,000 of whom are women. But not a single one worked for a foreign press outlet. Part of the reason, the group says, is in Afghanistan, women often are not allowed to speak to men.

The organization was founded by Amie Ferris-Rotman, a long-time British foreign journalist.

Want to see what courage looks like?

This is what courage looks like. It’s Morgan Hubbard of West Des Moines, Iowa, sharing her story of her journey with depression. She graduates from high school today.

Having survived a suicide attempt, she wants to be a nurse.

“I just keep telling myself I’ll be in the ER one day, working for them and I’ll see someone who has the same problem as me, and I’ll actually be able to connect with them and help them,” she tells the Des Moines Register.

Morgan started noticing a change in herself in seventh grade. She was withdrawn and sad. She didn’t want to hang out with friends or go to school or keep up with dance and soccer.

Her mom thought she was just going through puberty. This will pass, she told her daughter.

But they knew Morgan needed help when she wouldn’t leave her bed for days at a time. She stayed in her room and cried through the pain.

She began to see a therapist, but Morgan didn’t connect with the woman.

As a freshman, she began cutting her wrists and later tried to overdose on pain medication.

The bullying and name calling on top of her declining mental health were just too much. “It really tore me down,” she said.

A school counselor suggested Morgan try Walnut Creek Campus. The counselor thought she could benefit from the alternative program’s smaller class sizes and one-on-one instruction.

She credits a horse — several horses, actually — for her recovery. At an alternative school she was introduced to animal therapy.

“They can tell when you’re scared of them. They can tell when you’re happy. They can tell when you’re sad. And they react to that same thing,” she said. “It helps that I learned a lot about them. I like the way they look, the way they move.”

The way they help a kid graduate.

Related: Stop. Listen. Talk. West Fargo family hopes to help others avoid suicide tragedy (Fargo Forum)

Life can be awfully good when you’re a cute kid.

Obadiah Gamble, of St. Paul, is a cute kid. So his video asking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to come to his birthday party on Sunday can put a tremendous amount of pressure on a professional athlete.

People started a #heyTeddy hashtag campaign on Twitter to get the quarterback’s attention. Bridgewater is generally pretty good at handling pressure. So he stopped in to see the kid yesterday.

“We played some catch and talked about stuff. We came inside and had some cake and he brought out the cake,” Obadiah told Fox9.

NPR again pushed back today against an Associated Press story last week that strongly suggested a pro-peace, anti-nuke group in favor of the Iran nuclear treaty gained influence in NPR reporting through a grant to the news organization.

The Ploughshares Fund gave NPR $100,000 last year to fund its coverage of the treaty negotiations and subsequent deal. Read more