KILLER BARRY O IS HAVING HIS SOAPDISH MOMENT. LIKE SALLY FIELD'S CHARACTER IN THAT MOVIE, FROM TIME TO TIME, BARRY O NEEDS AN EGO PUMPING.
IN THE FILM, A PLUS-SIZE WHOOPI GOLDBERG PRETENDS TO BE A STRANGER IN THE MALL WHO EXCLAIMS AND SHOUTS WHEN SHE SUDDENLY 'SEES' SALLY FIELD.
IN REAL LIFE, A PLUS-SIZE SHE-HULK EXCLAIMS AND WHOOPS ON TV THAT HER CRUSTY-LIPPED, 51-YEAR-OLD HUSBAND WITH THE COTTON FUZZ HAIR IS A "SEX SYMBOL."
NO, HE'S A MIDDLE-AGED WAR CRIMINAL WITH AN EATING DISORDER AND MORE WRINKLES THAN A CALIFORNIA RAISIN.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
When multiple newspapers are attacked in one city, it's usually considered news. And journalistic organizations are usually up in arms. Unless it's Iraq apparently. At which point Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists forget to speak up.
This morning, Alsumaria, citing a police source, reported an attack on the headquarters of a Baghdad newspaper where four employees were stabbed with knives. [The number is now five.] The assailants demanded and recorded the names of all the paper's employees. In a later article, the outlet reveals that four daily papers were attacked by "paramilitary" members yesterday. Journalists are decrying the silence and indifference from the government over the attacks. The Associated Press' Diaa Hadid Tweets:
AFP lists the four newspapers as: "Al-Dustour (The Constitution), Al-Parliament, Al-Mustaqbal (The Future) and Al-Nas (The People)" and quotes the editor-in-chief of Al-Mustaqbal, Ali Darraji, stating, "About 30 men in civilian clothes entered our offices after forcibly removing the door. They set fire to my car, and they entered the office, broke all the computers and everything around. All of this happened in about 20 minutes -- when guards outside opened fire to scare them away, they escaped, but they escaped after doing what they wanted to do."
"Al-Dustour" is the paper we note here as Dar Addustour. On their front page -- go to cached copy if the first link doesn't work -- they note that their attackers claimed to be affiliated with Sarkhi Hassani and that they smashed furniture and attacked the staff. They note the attack took place in broad daylight and that a number of employees were wounded -- some left with serious fractures. Dar Addustour has many strong journalists and, in addition to reports, we often note their columnist As Sheik (such as January 25th: "Dar Addustour columnist As Sheik notes that the protesters and their demands have been repeatedly ignored and that it appears any pretext for aggravation has been seized upon by the security forces but that there must be no more Iraqi blood spilled at the hands of the military.") They do long form and contextual journalism and they pride themselves on being independent and not playing favorites. They are a strong example of what the press in any country should aim for. Another strongly independent paper is Al Mada. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Joe Sterling (CNN) report, "Employees of a fifth Baghdad daily newspaper, al-Mada, received threats on Tuesday, the paper's director general told CNN. Mada means 'range' in Arabic."
Many papers and channels have been shut down in the 'free' Iraq. Al Mada was repeatedly targeted last year by the government. At one point, the editor and publisher's home was encircled by military tanks on Nouri's orders. Out of 179 countries in the world, the World Press Freedom Index 2013 ranks Iraq at 150. Meaning there are 29 countries in which the press is in even more danger. And that there are 149 countries in which the press is safer. The report notes of Iraq, "The security situation for journalists continues to be very worrying with three killed in connection with their work in 2012 and seven killed in 2011. Journalists are constantly obstructed." Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) note, "Now Iraqis have a choice of 200 print outlets, 60 radio stations and 30 TV channels in Arabic and also in the Turkman, Syriac and Kurdish languages. But while press freedom has improved, many media outlets remain dominated by religious or political party patrons who use them for their own ends. The government has also occasionally threatened to close media outlets it regards as offensive." They also note 5 journalists killed in 2012.
This assault on the press takes place exactly one month before the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) kicks off World Press Freedom Day and the Safe to Speak campaign:
It is in this spirit that UNESCO has chosen to celebrate the event with the global theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”. The main event will be jointly organized by UNESCO, the Government of Costa Rica and the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in the city of San José, Costa Rica from 2 to 4 May 2013.
The 2013 celebrations are within the context of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which is co-led by UNESCO. The goal of the Plan is to join the work of various UN agencies and external partners on creating a safer environment for journalists to have a stronger impact on violence against journalists.
The media landscape has evolved over the past two decades, creating new opportunities for exchange and dialogue, and for sharing knowledge and information through new platforms. However, it has yet to be translated into stronger respect for fundamental freedoms – particularly as regards the safety of those doing journalism. While progress has been made over the last 20 years, many old challenges remain strong, and new threats to freedom of expression are emerging in the digital news environment.
The Iraq Times notes that Iraqiya MP Wissal Salim today declared it is the security forces duty to protect the press and that attacks send a negative message with the intent of killing off democracy. She noted in a press conference today that Iraq can enjoy a democratic era with a free press and freedoms for Iraqis but not if barbaric attacks are to take place on the instruments of democracy which can lead the country forward.
Reuters notes the assailants in Baghdad carried "pistols, knives and steel pipes" and that they were "beating employees and smashing computers." The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued the following statement:
Baghdad, 2 April 2013 -- The United Nations strongly condemns the attacks that targeted journalists and media facilities in Baghdad on 1 April. “Assaults against media organizations or journalists are unacceptable under any circumstances," the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Mr. Kobler said, urging the government of Iraq to ensure that media professionals are protected against all forms of intimidation and violence because of their opinions or thoughts.
UNESCO Director in Iraq, Ms. Louise Haxthausen, expressed her deep concern about the dangerous impact of such incidents on press freedom and freedom of expression, and called for bringing to justice and prosecuting those involved in these attacks. "Freedom of expression is a crucial element for establishing true democracy and building sustainable peace in Iraq," Ms. Haxthausen stated.
Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory condemned the attacks in a statement today. They note that along with attacking the employees, the thugs also broke desks and burned cars. The attacks may or may not be linked to cleric Mahmud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi whose people had lodged complaints about press coverage shortly before the attacks began. As Khalid Waleed (IWPR) reported last year, al-Sarkhi's followers have violently clashed with those of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistanin in the past.
This morning, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) could report on the story (and AP was the only Western outlet reporting this morning) and Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf could Tweet on it:
But somehow, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists never found the story. They could and did decry the treatment of a "satirist" in Egypt. But attacks on daily newspapers? Not one damn word. I'm sorry, help me out, it's now Satirists Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Satire? I didn't realize the two organizations had changed their names and their mission statements. My bad.
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