Friday, May 07, 2010

Rewards from a 'Cosmic Moral Supreme Court'?

A Kurdish journalist was kidnapped here in the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, tortured and then found dead with two bullets in the head on a highway, his family and members of the security forces said on Thursday.
The family and friends of the journalist, Zardasht Osman, 23, said he was killed because of his scathing articles about the region’s two governing parties and its leaders, including the dominant Barzani family. Mr. Osman was a university student who freelanced for a number of publications and often wrote on the Internet under a pseudonym.
"I am in love with Barzani's daughter," read a satirical and irreverent Web post by Mr. Osman in December, which appeared to violate a taboo in the region’s deeply conservative and clan-based culture by referring to a female family member of the region's president, Massoud Barzani. Mr. Osman mused about how he could rise from his poor surroundings by marrying one of Mr. Barzani's daughters.

The above is the opening to Sam Dagher's "Abducted Kurdish Journalist in Iraq Is Found Dead" (New York Times) on the murder of Sardasht Osman. Reporters Without Borders notes:

The city of Erbil, where Osman was kidnapped, is mostly controlled by the KDP, whose leader, Massoud Barzani, is Kurdistan’s President. His son, Masrur Barzani, heads the KDP’s security services.
Osman is the first journalist to be murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan since Soran Mama Hama, who was gunned down outside his home in Kirkuk on 21 July 2008. Aged 23 (like Osman), he wrote articles critical of local politicians and security officials for the magazine Leven. He had repeatedly been threatened and warned to stop his investigative reporting but his courage and professionalism pushed him to continue (,27900.html).

Iraq's big news this week is the merger of the two biggest Shi'ite blocs into a power-sharing coalition thereby bypassing the biggest vote getter (Iraqiya) in the March 7th elections. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports:

The proclamation of the sectarian merger has sidelined the secular Iraqiya bloc headed by Iyad Allawi which won 91 seats, the largest number, and should have been given the first chance to form a government.
Since Mr Maliki's bloc came in second with 89 seats, he has taken measures to deprive Mr Allawi of this right, including disqualifying and detaining candidates, engineering recounts, and getting a court ruling to give power to the first coalition formed rather than the bloc with most seats. Yet Mr Maliki has been cast aside because his bloc and INA could not agree on his premiership.

Despite calls for US involvement from Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, the US did nothing as Michael Young (Lebanon's Daily Star):

Instead, US officials took great pride in saying that they had not interfered in the election process. What, precisely, was the thinking here? That America would be rewarded by some cosmic moral supreme court? That Iran and Syria would gasp at American uprightness and refrain from exploiting Iraq for their own purposes? Does the administration imagine that international politics unfolds like a Frank Capra film, so that like Mr. Smith in Washington the world would dissolve into tears of affection for Mr. Obama in Iraq?
Once the Iraqi elections ended, it was plain what the US should have done, or tried to do. A coalition government between Maliki and the front-runner Ayad Allawi was the right way to go. It would have helped return the Sunnis to Iraqi political life, while profiting from the Shiite split, to Iran's disadvantage. The priority should have been to keep Maliki away from the Iranians, whom the prime minister was never very close to anyway. A shotgun wedding between Maliki and Allawi might have failed, their conflicting ambitions making this difficult. Yet both could have eventually seen an interest in following through, since they would have thus marginalized their communal rivals. Here was a moment when Barack Obama's personal involvement was essential. But what did the US do? Nothing.

Which pretty much says all that needs to be said on the matter.

TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Peter Baker (New York Times), Dan Balz (Washington Post), Elizabeth Shogren (NPR) and Pierre Thomas (ABC News). And Gwen's column this week is "The Politics of Panic." Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Cari Dominguez, Ilana Goldman, Irene Natividad and Sabrina Schaeffer on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's immigration reform. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

Homegrown Terror
Steve Kroft reports on American citizens - like the recent would-be Times Square bomber - who have traveled abroad for terrorist training in order to attack America or its allies.

The Secretary of State
Scott Pelley follows Hillary Rodham Clinton as she performs her duties as secretary of state and questions her on the latest developments in foreign policy and the recent terror scare in New York's Times Square.

Walking Away
It's estimated that one million Americans walked away from homes "underwater" or worth less than their mortgages even though they could afford the payments. Morley Safer reports on this trend, called strategic default, that threatens the economic recovery. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, May 9, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) by David Corn (Mother Jones), Laura Meckler (Wall St. Journal) and Byron York (Washington Examiner). For the second hour (international news roundup), Diane is joined by Michele Kelemen (NPR), James Kitfield (National Journal) and David Sanger (New York Times).

Lydia Sargent's "Searching for a Post-Sexist Society" (ZNet) is an essay tracing womanhood in the last half of the 20th century. We'll note and provide a link but I wouldn't begin to know where to start an excerpt. And we'll close with this from World Can't Wait's "Youth in LA to Recruiters: Get the hell away from me!:"

Report from We Are Not Your Soldiers organizers

Today Emma Kaplan, World Can't Wait Youth & Student Coordinator, and Matthis Chiroux, Iraq War resister, took the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour to a public high school in Los Angeles. Emma said it felt like a prison: one entrance, one exit, and lots of cops in uniform. "You feel like you’re viewed as a criminal just stepping through the doors," she said.

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