Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Nouri under pressure, NYT under wraps

Yesterday morning we were noting how the New York Times couldn't be bothered mentioning the assault on Iraqi journalists. A day later, they still can't find the story. This despite the fact that by yesterday evening, The Committee to Protect Journalists had called out the assaults, as had Simone Vecchiator (International Press Institute) and Reporters Without Borders released their open letter to KRG President Massoud Barzani while Nouri al-Maliki had apologized to one reporter, Wissam Ojji (Turkman Eli TV), publicly. Al Rafidayn reports Ojji accepted Nouri's apology. No report on that in the New York Times today. Alsumaria TV reports the White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Visor issued a statement which included: "We were also deeply troubled by reports that Iraqi Security Forces detained and beat Iraqi journalists and civil society leaders during Friday's demonstrations." Those reports Visor refers to never ran in the New York Times. Even the Guardian manages a brief item today, "Over the weekend, a number of reporters were detained during and after their coverage of the mass demonstrations that took place in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square." But the New York Times, which was determined to sell Friday as a day of violence -- but to hang the blame for that on the protesters -- never managed to report on what was going on.

Meanwhile with Ayad Allawi, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr weighing in on the protests Saturday, New Sabah reports that Jalal Talabani has now issued a statement in support of the Iraqi people -- what a brave move. Why is it that the President of Iraq is always the last to make a statement or take a position? Al Mada notes that Talabani declared that democracy is the aspiration which drives people.

Nouri's press conference yesterday was to again proclaim "reform." New Sabah reveals that among the issues he floated was reducing retirement age from 63-years-old to 61-years-old. Dar Addustour reports he declared the proposed change was necessary to provide young people with opportunities. He also pledged more construction projects. (Day laborers and construction workers were among the first to join the recent wave of protests in Iraq.)

Meanwhile, though the New York Times misses it, the Iraqi press is all over Moqtada al-Sadr's remarks. New Sabah reports that al-Sadr has declared Nouri is the one responsible for the conditions in Iraq nothing that Nouri "tops the pyramid" of power. Dar Addustour also leads with al-Sadr saying Nouri had full responsibility for the conditions in Iraq and that he's compared it to what has taken place in Egypt and calls for Nouri to address the issues. If Nouri seems a little on the ropes, that may explain why, when asked about a rumored cabinet post for Ahmed Chalabi at yesterday's press conference, he begged off.

Raman Brosk (Zawya) reports that al-Sadr announced yesterday the seven-day referendum he's calling "People's Voice Week." The referendum is a rather silly idea. But it does keep Moqtada's name before the public and does give the appearance that he is doing something which may be the whole point. Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports that Iraqiya is accusing State Of Law of blocking the appointment of heads for the security ministries -- Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of National Security. The posts have never been filled. Nouri appointed himself the minister of all three 'temporarily' but that's gone on for months now. New Sabah notes that Iraqiya reminded Nouri is the head of State Of Law.

Check out Kelly McEvers' report for Morning Edition today. We'll note it in the snapshot.

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