Monday, January 10, 2011

Targeting of Iraqi Christians, upcoming sumit and more

Today Pope Benedict XVI delivered his State of the World speech (posted in full at Vatican Radio) which included:

Looking to the East, the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq, even to the point of inducing them to leave the land where their families have lived for centuries, has troubled us deeply. To the authorities of that country and to the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security, continuing to contribute to the society in which they are fully members. In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities. Need we repeat it? In the Middle East, Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties toward their country. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media" (Message to the People of God of the Special Asembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 10). I appreciate the concern for the rights of the most vulnerable and the political farsightedness which some countries in Europe have demonstrated in recent days by their call for a concerted response on the part of the European Union for the defence of Christians in the Middle East. Finally, I would like to state once again that the right to religious freedom is not fully respected when only freedom of worship is guaranteed, and that with restrictions. Furthermore, I encourage the accompaniment of the full safeguarding of religious freedom and other humans rights by programmes which, beginning in primary school and within the context of religious instruction, will educate everyone to respect their brothers and sisters in humanity. Regarding the states of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, I hope that the Catholic Church will be able to establish suitable pastoral structures.

Waves of violence targeting Iraqi Christians have gone on throughout the Iraq War. The latest wave was kicked off October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in which approximately 70 people were killed and approximately 70 were wounded. (70? E-mails keep coming in on that. The Church prayed for all the dead -- the Christians and the attackers. The Church didn't draw a line between this dead and that dead.) In the weeks that have followed Iraqi Christians in Mosul and Baghdad have been repeatedly targeted. Many have fled -- some to the Kurdistan Regional Government, some to other countries. Nicole Winfield (AP) terms the Pope's speech "one of his most pointed appeals yet for religious freedom." Middle East Online reports, "Dozens of academics, writers and rights activists from conservative Gulf states strongly condemned on Monday a wave of bombings targeting Christians in Arab countries, notably Egypt and Iraq."

Today Hillary Clinton decried extremism. Matthew Lee (AP) notes that here. As always Lachlan Carmichael (AFP) has one of the more insightful pieces filed on her remarks. But whether it's the solid work done by Lee or Carmichael or a write up by someone else there's something repeatedly happening in the press. And, for those who don't know, the ones traveling with Secretary of State Clinton didn't just get assigned this beat. They've been on it for some time, they attend the State Dept daily briefings when they're not traveling. And when I was going to include the section on Hillary it was because a friend's outlet couldn't make the point that Hillary's calling for cooperation between the various countries but also calling for sanctions against Iran which can seem to be in opposition. And I've noted that. But after I got off the phone and pulled up Hillary's actual remarks, something else stands out. Especially after quickly reading through a dozen or so write ups of her remarks. In her opening remarks (not lengthy ones, by the way), she includes this before taking questions:

So in countries that I’m visiting I will be obviously meeting with leaders to continue the security dialogues that we are engaged in to talk through some of the challenges we face, but also reaching out very publicly to civil society and a lot of the activists and the NGOs that have been on the front lines working for change and a particular emphasis – it will not surprise you – on women and girls. So we’ll be working in every one of the countries on that kind of dual track.

Now I am all for reporters asking whatever they want. I don't believe that if an official is taking questions that a reporter is required to stick to whatever topic the official has spoken of before taking questions.

But Hillary repeatedly makes these remarks and repeatedly the press refuses to ask about them. Repeatedly, Hillary uses her platform to note the status of women and girls and, repeatedly, this has gone on for two years now, the press isn't interested in that topic. It doesn't matter if she takes a few questions or if she takes 30 minutes or more worth of questions, the press never gives a damn.

Now it's quite different when she's speaking to the non-press. In this country or in other countries, someone (usually a young woman) will use her time to drop back to a remark Hillary's made (like the one above) and ask her to expand on it or ask specifically about a certain related issue.

But the press repeatedly has other things to ask about and other things to cover. That needs to be noted and outlets need to address it because for two years now, the US has had a strong advocate for girls and women and except for the occasional feature article, that's gone without notice because the press hasn't made time for the status of girls and women. It says a great deal about what we value and what we give weight to.

And leaving the issue of the Big Media to address the Beggars of Panhandle Media, they've ignored it as well. They're happy to attack women (and so frequently do) and more than happy to attack Hillary (as they so frequently do) but for two years they haven't seen Hillary's constant highlighting of the rights of girls and women as anything worth covering. For two years now. I'm thinking of a series of women -- self-presenting as Democrat since they were attempting to influence a Democratic Party primary -- who showed up in 2008 insisting (lying) that Hillary Clinton never did a damn thing for women and girls but give one United Nations' speech and I'm thinking about how they've continued to manage to get their jabs and attacks in on Hillary, they've refused to acknowledge, let alone address, what she's been raising and highlighting for two years now.

Salar Jaffe and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report on efforts for Baghad to host an Arab Summit in two months and hail Amr Moussa's Baghdad visit as "a boost" to the country and to the summit. Sara Shurafa (Gulf News) reports that Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister met with Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, and "stressed that Iraq who is hosting the summit this year refuses to hold it in any other place and also insisted that Arab countries must begin to lessen their hestitation over Iraq following the formation of the new government." Yang Lina (Xinhua) adds, "Moussa's talks will include a review to developments on the ground in Iraq as part of his following up to the preparations for the Arab summit due to be held in Baghdad in March".

Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports that tomorrow Parliament is expected to meet and address the issue of vice presidents with the number increasing from two to three. DPA reports a Hit roadside bombing attack on the chief of police Mohamed Faisal which claimed his life and left three other people involved as well. Alsumaria TV notes that four people were wounded. Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing today has injured two people and, dropping back to yesterday, a Tuz Khurmato sticky bombing injured three people.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "What Passes For Progress" went up last night. Today Law and Disorder Radio begins airing on WBAI at 9:00 am EST (around the country throughout the week) and Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith address the issue of the hunger strike in the Ohio Super Max prison and they address the targeting of peace activists with activist Marueen Murphy and attorney Michael Deutsch.

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