Millions rally as Iraqis demand US troops pull out – BBC News
edited by O Society Jan 28, 2020
The “Million Man March” convened by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr exceeded expectations.
According to estimates of the Iraqi police commander Jaafar Al-Batat, over 1 million people Thursday demanded the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq with a march in Baghdad, which was convened by cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr three weeks after the murder of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani.
At the country’s capital, streets were filled with an endless column of people who paraded to express their repudiation of the U.S. military presence.
Banners showed slogans such as “No, No to the U.S. and Yes to Iraqi sovereignty,” “The willingness of free nations is stronger than the U.S. aggression,” and “Global terrorism is made in the U.S.”
While some protesters burned images of Donald Trump, others marched raising photos of the U.S. president’s face crossed out with a red “X.”
“We have not obtained anything from the U.S. except problems, wars, and sieges,” Ziyad Qasim Abdullah, a 39-year-old chauffeur, said.
The U.S. has “created sectarian conflicts in Iraq and divided people to plunder the wealth of our country,” he added and explained that he wants to “expel the occupation forces” from his country.
Initially, the U.S. government justified the presence of its troops in Iraq by arguing the fight against the Islamic State, which managed to control large areas of Iraqi territory in 2014.
Since the defeat of this radical group in 2017, however, those troops have not been removed from this country.
As a result of the events unleashed by Jan. 3 bombings, in which Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani was killed, the Iraqi parliament approved a procedure for the departure of foreign troops.
“If the U.S. meets these demands, then it is not an aggressor country,” Al-Sadr said and added that if the U.S. will become a “hostile country” if it violates the conditions specified for its departure.
The highest Shiite religious authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, also reaffirmed today “the need to respect the sovereignty of Iraq, the independence of its political decision, and its territorial unity.”
For his part, Iraq’s President Barham Salih posted a photo of Friday’s march on social media and wrote that Iraqis deserved a “fully sovereign state that serves its people.”
Can diamonds be a guy’s best friend? Just days after being charged with sexually assaulting a hotel employee in Colorado, Kobe Bryant gave a purple diamond ring worth a reported $4 million to his wife, Vanessa.
The Laker star commissioned the 8-carat ring from Rafinity, a Santa Monica jeweler on the Third Street Promenade who caters to a celebrity clientele.
The couple picked up the ring earlier this week.
The bauble, which one jeweler said is as large as a Lifesaver candy, might be a marital peace offering. Although Bryant, 24, denies assaulting his 19-year-old accuser, he has said he had consensual sex with her at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera on June 30.
“I’ve sold stones for $4 million, but I don’t sell a lot of them,” marveled one Los Angeles jeweler. “But he’s got a lot of money and he’s in a lot of trouble.
The Washington Post suspended reporter Felicia Sonmez following her social-media activity over the death of NBA great Kobe Bryant. Here’s the explanation from Managing Editor Tracy Grant:
“National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy. The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”
What did Sonmez do to deserve this brushback? She tweeted out a very good story from the Daily Beast.News of Bryant’s death on Sunday prompted an immediate and overwhelming expression of grief on Twitter, with fans and followers praising an NBA icon. The perennial all-star perished in a helicopter crash along with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Sonmez wished to remind everyone of a incident in Bryant’s life.
An immediate and overwhelming expression of anger piled on Sonmez from Twitter users. Sonmez directed her followers to this April 2016 story in the Daily Beast by Marlow Stern. Written at the time of Bryant’s farewell tour through NBA cities, the story takes a deep look at the sexual-assault allegation against Bryant stemming from his 2003 visit to Colorado’s Lodge & Spa at Cordillera.
The case never made it to trial because the 19-year-old accuser — “who was dragged through the mud for months by the media and Bryant’s defense team,” wrote Stern — declined to testify. She did, however, file a separate civil complaint, which Bryant settled.
Bryant issued an extensive apology to the accuser and others in securing dismissal of the criminal case:
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.”
Many of the messages express similar thoughts in ways that disqualify themselves from repetition on a family-friendly newspaper’s website. Monitoring her mentions on Twitter, Sonmez spotted a great deal of abuse and animus, as she later noted on Twitter itself: “To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story — which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me,” Sonmez replied, as chronicled by Matthew Keys.
Fearing for her safety at home, Sonmez checked into a hotel on Sunday night. In a phone call with Grant, she learned she was placed on administrative leave effective immediately. The Post’s concern with her social media statement, Grant indicates in an email to Sonmez, is it didn’t “pertain” to the reporter’s “coverage area” and “your behavior on social media is making it harder for others to do their work as Washington Post journalists.”
A couple of thoughts about those objections:
One, if journalists at The Post are prone to suspension for tweeting stories off their beats, the entire newsroom should be on administrative leave.
Two, the contention sharing a link to a news article complicates the work of others requires supporting evidence.
“I argue not ignoring a matter of public record is the way to go and making survivors feel seen and heard helps Washington Post journalists rather than making our jobs harder. We are more able to do our jobs because we’ve demonstrated to those survivors we’re worthy of their trust, I’m a little confused. If The Post is arguing letting those survivors feel seen makes other colleagues jobs harder, I’d appreciate an explanation.” says Sonmez.
In 2018, Sonmez came forward with allegations Jonathan Kaiman, a former Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, sexually assaulted her after a drunken night in Beijing in September 2017. Sonmez’s account followed similar allegations from another woman.
After an investigation by the Times, Kaiman resigned. He issued a statement saying the acts were “mutually consensual” and the allegations “have irrevocably destroyed my reputation, my professional network, my nine year career in journalism, and any hope for a rewarding career in the future; they have branded me with a scarlet letter for life, and driven me to the brink of suicide.”
The Erik Wemple Blog asked Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti which social-media guidelines Sonmez may have violated. Coratti replied the company wasn’t saying anything outside of its statement. On the one hand, the statement says that the newspaper will be reviewing whether the tweets violated policies. On the other hand, it also indicated that the tweets “displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”
The guidelines themselves cover a number of common-sense rules when tweeting.
“Social-media accounts maintained by Washington Post journalists — whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere — reflect upon the reputation and credibility of The Washington Post’s newsroom,” reads part of the entry under the heading “Maintain Credibility.”
“Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways to forge better connections with our readers, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence.” As for linking to other news stories, the guidelines urge Post journalists to:
- “Be informative. Social media encourages sharing of the human experience, but we should balance personal information with useful information.”
- “Fact-check. Information on social networks needs to be verified like any other information. Work to verify the authenticity of people and organizations before attributing facts or quotes to them.”
- “Take ownership. If you mistakenly retweet or forward erroneous information, correct your mistake in a subsequent tweet/update and make an effort to provide a more accurate link.”
By those standards, Sonmez’s tweet would appear to invite a pat on the back from management. Another document on Post policies and standards includes this imperative: “Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways to forge better connections with our readers, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence. Every comment or link we share should be considered public information, regardless of privacy settings,” it reads.
In his write-up of the events, Keys reports that Post management was mostly concerned that Sonmez had disclosed names of people who’d sent her emails. “That’s the first that I had heard of that explanation,” says Sonmez, who notes that Grant hadn’t mentioned that consideration.
The backlash that alighted upon Sonmez stems from the ancient wisdom that urges folks not to speak ill of the dead. It’s a fine rule for everyone except for historians and journalists, upon whom the public relies to provide warts-and-all look-backs on the lives of influential people. Bryant clearly qualifies, as does the particular incident that Sonmez was flagging in her tweet: Though precisely what happened in that hotel room may never be known, as Stern concedes, there’s a lot that is known. In a profile of Bryant published in November 2018, The Post included a substantive recounting of the incident. Obituaries also included mention of the case.
At the top of The Post’s policies and standards document are the famous Eugene Meyer principles, named after a former owner of the newspaper. One of them states, “The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world.”