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Posts Tagged ‘iraq

Lara Logan Assault: For Female Reporters, the Added Peril of Turbulent Places

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Lara Logan appeared fearless and intrepid when she reported from war zones — exactly what you want in a foreign correspondent.

The reporter “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating” while covering the celebration in Tahrir Square on Feb. 11, according to CBS News, Logan’s employer. Egyptian women and soldiers rescued her from a hostile mob that had separated her from her film crew, and she is now in an American hospital recovering.

Logan’s assault is a reminder that reporting is a dangerous business. According to Reporters Without Borders, five reporters have already been killed in 2011, and 152 are imprisoned. Since 1992, 850 reporters have been killed around the world.

But for women journalists, sexual assault and harassment add a dark undercurrent to the perils of the news business.

A 2007 article in the Columbia Journalism Review exploring the threats to female foreign correspondents singles out Egypt: “The Committee to Protect Journalists, for example, cites rape threats against female reporters in Egypt who were seen as government critics.”

The CJR article states, “Female reporters are targets in lawless places where guns are common and punishment rare.” They face more sexual harassment and rape than their male counterparts. They are subjected to unwanted advances and “lewd come-ons . . . especially in places where Western women are viewed as promiscuous.”

Such risk is nothing new to Logan. A South African native, she entered Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, by begging a Russian Embassy clerk in London to give her an expedited visa for travel there. She followed up that stint with one as an embedded journalist in Iraq.

Earlier this month, Logan and her crew were detained overnight by the Egyptian army and interrogated. She told Esquire’s “The Politics Blog” that during the ordeal her captors blindfolded her and kept her upright. She vomited frequently. They finally gave her intravenous fluids and released her and her crew.

Logan’s desire to venture into danger zones mirrors the brave actions of female war reporters who came before her. During World War II, many female correspondents had to write under male pseudonyms. They were banned from press briefings and had to submit stories after their male counterparts.

Dickey Chapelle was a World War II photojournalist, posted with the Marines during the Battle of Iwo Jima. She cultivated a signature look of fatigues, an Australian bush hat, dramatic Harlequin glasses and pearl earrings, but loved the grittiness of war. In 1956, the petite photographer covered the Hungarian Revolution, where she was captured and jailed for seven weeks.

In her forties, Chapelle covered the Vietnam War. In 1965, she was the first American female war correspondent killed in action. Famed war photographer Henri Huet photographed Chapelle receiving last rites. She was given a full Marine burial with six Marine honor guards.

Not much has changed in the way of training for such work. In the early days of war reporting, women wrote their own rules for covering conflict — and for surviving. Surprisingly, even in the 21st century, many women travel to war zones with little training. The BBC is the only major news organization that offers special safety instruction for female journalists that is taught by women, according to CJR.

But training or precautions noted in the Handbook for Journalists may not have prepared Logan for the situation she faced on Friday. A mob of 200 abruptly surrounded her crew, from which she quickly became separated. Such tragedies are common during chaotic events.

In the hours after news broke of Logan’s assault, many of her colleagues sent well wishes and prayers. The Committee to Protect Journalists chairman, Paul Steiger, said in a statement, “We have seen Lara’s compassion at work while helping journalists who have faced brutal aggression while doing their jobs. She is a brilliant, courageous, and committed reporter.” (Logan is a CPJ board member.)

But stupidity also flew on the Internet regarding the attack on Logan. Freelance journalist Nir Rosen, who has also covered the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, called her a “war monger” via Twitter and said she would become a martyr. He then attempted an apology but added, “I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.” He later issued a more sincere apology. (All for naught, as it turns out. On Wednesday he resigned his position as a teaching fellow at New York University. An official at the school called his comments “insensitive and completely unacceptable.”)

Good old-fashioned sexism and jealousy still rule, and it’s especially true in the still mostly man’s world of war reporting.

Lately, it’s become much too common for comedians and pundits to criticize and taunt reporters. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter joked last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington that more reporters needed to be jailed. Sarah Palin often chides reporters and calls them “lame-stream media.”

Perhaps those who engage in such sneering should walk a mile or two in Logan’s combat boots.

Sarah Palin to Obama: Be Honest in Address To Nation

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Sarah Palin had some suggestions for President Barack Obama before he spoke to the nation Tuesday night about Iraq.

In a Facebook post late Tuesday afternoon titled “Humility and Honesty About Iraq Can Inspire Trust,” Palin said she wanted Obama to show “grace, humility and some honesty before the American people tonight. Please don’t declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ and then saunter away with an assumption that your opposition to the Iraq strategy was key to our troops’ success.”

Palin also wanted Obama to say he was wrong about the surge in 2007, when Obama wasn’t 100 percent behind sending more troops to Iraq.

“Admit that the strategy long advocated by Republicans, proposed by President Bush, led by Generals Petraeus and Odierno, and executed by thousands of America’s finest – our brave men and women in uniform – brought violence under control and made responsible withdrawals possible,” she wrote.

In an earlier Twitter post, Palin wrote, “Obama speech tonite may make u dig out ur old Orwell books so rewritten history can be deciphered, depending on who gets credit 4 Iraq surge.”
In her Facebook posts, she argued that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on “The Today Show” Tuesday that Obama as a presidential candidate supported the additional troops. In her post, Palin goes to great lengths to argue that Obama did not support more troops.

Without such a surge as Bush ordered, Palin said, the United States would have suffered a “crushing defeat.”
Palin criticized Obama for “willful blindness” against his assessment that the 2007 surge did not work. She said her “hope is that tonight he stays consistent and looks backwards, and in this case acknowledges that credit should be given where credit is due.”

Her post immediately generated comments from her followers. “Thank you Sarah, you give me such encouragement in this dark time,” one wrote. “God bless you Madame President.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Defending Obama’s Christianity, Attacking Bush on Iraq

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When the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. preaches, the sermon is still fiery and peppered with politics.

Wright, who once served as President Barack Obama’s minister at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, spoke Sunday in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the New Millennium Church, a small Baptist church that has spent the month studying faith and community. Wendell Griffen, a former state Court of Appeals judge, is its pastor.

Wright used the biblical story of Elisha and the Aramean attack (2 Kings 6:8-17) as a jumping off point to discuss God, slavery and George W. Bush and what Wright called his “illegal” war.

He mentioned Obama once.

Wright compared Griffen’s political opponents to those who think Obama is Muslim. Griffen, who was elected in May to serve on a circuit court in Pulaski County, has faced controversy with a state judicial panel over the rights of judges to speak out on political issues. He has also criticized Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas for not appointing more blacks to fill vacancies on the state Supreme Court.

Obama has said repeatedly that he is a Christian. Wright said that if people go after the “military mindset,” enemies will follow.

“He will surround you with sycophants who will criticize you and ostracize you and put you beyond the pale of hope and say ‘You ain’t really a Baptist’ and say: ‘The president ain’t really a Christian, he’s a Muslim. There ain’t no American Christian with a name like Barack Hussein.'” Wright said.

During the 2008 president elections, Obama distanced himself from Wright and left Wright’s church in Chicago after Wright was criticized for things he had said in sermons.

On the Sunday following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Wright said they were proof that “America’s chickens were coming home to roost” because of the country’s endeavors in terrorism throughout the world.

In another speech, Wright said, “Not God Bless America. God damn America,” decrying America’s treatment of black people.

In response to the Wright controversy, Obama responded in Philadelphia with a speech on race relations called “A More Perfect Union.”

On Sunday, controversy erupted only hours after Wright’s sermon when The Associated Press initially confused the word “sycophants” with “psychopaths.”

Griffen sent out a press release that said: “That report was false, as have been all other news reports that have repeated it. Rev. Wright actually described enemies of truth as ‘sycophants,’ a word used to describe a false accuser or slanderer. ‘Sycopant’ also refers to someone who is a flatterer of princes and great men.”

Griffen added that the mistake “wrongly casts Rev. Wright, his sermon and our congregation in a bad light.”

In Sunday’s sermon, Wright focused more on former President George W. Bush than Obama. He used the story about the prophet Elisha thwarting an attack by the Aramean army as a connector to the Iraq War.

Wright would talk about the King of Israel but say “the president” instead, generating laughs at his supposed slip of the tongue. He asked the congregation why the king went after Elisha.

“Why did he go after Saddam, I mean Elisha,” Wright said.

After he told the biblical story to the congregation, Wright said: “I’m not making this up. Iraq didn’t have no army. Elisha didn’t have no army.”

He said the biblical war of ancient times was a “classic example of homeland stupidity, I mean homeland security.”

Wright offered three lessons for the congregation. He said, “What you can’t see, you are not alone.” Then he instructed everyone to say it to their neighbor on the pew. Wright’s two other lessons: God is working on your behalf. You have nothing to be afraid of.

He said black leaders who have died, like Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, were riding in chariots of fire watching out for the congregation.

“What I learned about preaching in 53 years is to look at people’s eyes,” he said Sunday. “Sometimes the shades will slam shut. … Shades came down when we talked about Iraq.”

Wright now travels the world lecturing and preaching.

In early July, Wright led a tour to Egypt. Later in the month, he traveled to Africa, according to his blog, and visited Ghana, Togo and Benin as part of an annual study tour that exposes “African-Americans to the cultures, the histories and the stories of African people on the continent of Africa and African people who live in diaspora.” He is scheduled to lead another tour in December to South Africa.

His bio on his website does not mention Obama, but he still addresses political issues. In a blog post on July 13, he wrote about receiving an honorary doctorate by the Starr King School of Ministry in Berkeley, California, last year. He received it along with author and journalist Chris Hedges.

“I found him to be a man you can trust and I find all of his writings to be works that challenge you, make you think and cause you to ‘hear the voice of God’ in a new and exciting way,” Wright wrote about Hedges in July.

Wright followed with a post by Hedges titled “Obama’s Health Care Bill Is Enough to Make You Sick” from truthdig.com.

In Little Rock, Wright closed with a prayer: “When He needs me, I will follow. He will lead you in some places you don’t feel comfortable. … You are not alone.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm