The World Today for May 12, 2016

May 12, 2016


Iraq: Who's in Control?

In Iraq, there are many people with many grievances: Protestors in the protected Green Zone are demonstrating against a lack of services, poor governance and corruption, while Sunni tribal leaders are grumbling over Shiites’ control in Baghdad and their excesses on the battle field.

To that long and growing list, now add those from doctors: They say they are being targeted by everyone – tribal leaders, militias and aggrieved families – and assaulted at clinics and hospitals, with security forces doing little to intervene.

And like many Iraqis, they are voting with their feet.

About 330 doctors fled the country in the last two months of 2015, the Iraq’s ministry of health said, according to the Wall Street Journal. Many are wondering: How do we fill this void? Especially now.

Still, the violence in the country's emergency rooms – some doctors reported numerous violent incidents daily – and the blasé response from security guards has raised a more fundamental question about Iraq: Who is in control?

It isn't the government, which is broke and paralyzed by corruption and mismanagement. And while the Islamic State may be on the retreat in some areas, that doesn't mean Baghdad has reasserted its presence in these regions, either.

Many believe Baghdad doesn't have itself under control: Violence and suicide bombings remain a near-daily occurrence despite high security levels.

On Wednesday, a car bomb tore through a busy outdoor market in the Shiite district of the capital known as Sadr City. Two others exploded at checkpoints in other areas of the capital, killing at least 90 – including brides-to-be preparing for their weddings at a beauty salon. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the market attack.

It's been a deadly year so far for areas directly outside the capital as well.

Meanwhile, the Green Zone – the famed, heavily-fortified complex of embassies and government buildings in the heart of Baghdad – saw its defenses overcome earlier this month after thousands of protestors stormed the parliament and called for the overthrow of the government.

Led by the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose popularity transcends sectarian borders, according to the BBC, the proximate cause of that uprising has been the contentious reshuffling of cabinet posts in the government – which are split among Iraq's various ethnicities and sects.

But the underlying reasons of that spectacular demonstration run much deeper – protests have been taking place in cities across Iraq for months over corruption and the provision of basic public services like water.

Despite the billions of dollars spent on rebuilding Iraq since 2003, protestors say their living conditions haven't improved, with officials choosing to line their own pockets rather than undertake real improvements.

It's anyone's guess as to when they'll be back, even as calls for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's resignation are growing. Still, these are unlikely to result in a change in leadership, analysts say.

The reason is simple, most analysts believe: There's no viable alternative. Abadi might not have things under control in Iraq, but neither does anyone else.


France’s Sexual Politics

Sexism has long reigned in French politics.

Now women are speaking out.

“These dirty guys are deforming human relations,” said Genevieve Couraud, a former politician who told the Associated Press she was accosted when in office but was too afraid to speak out at the time. She now heads Assembly of Women, a rights group.

A few high-profile incidents and a new book – “L’Elysee Off” by Stephanie Marteau and Aziz Zemouri – have turned the spotlight on lurid behaviors that until lately had been covered up in the once-smoke-filled rooms of Paris.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin is accused of touching a journalist’s underwear during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last year. He has since apologized. Prosecutors are investigating allegations that Green Party politician Denis Baupin manhandled women. He recently resigned as vice president of the lower house of parliament, though he denies any wrongdoing. Territories Minister Jean-Michel Baylet reportedly settled with a female aide after he slapped her across the face.

French voters have long ignored politicians’ personal lives, say observers, with many arguing that this is an admirable thing. But they’re learning that not everything should be overlooked.

Uganda's Thorn

Yoweri Museveni was sworn in for his fifth term as Uganda’s president on Thursday, putting the 71-year-old on track to ruling the country for 35 years.

But Kizza Besigye got in his way.

Besigye is the leader of Uganda’s opposition, the Forum for Democratic Change. He earned 35 percent of the vote in an election late last year to Museveni’s 60 percent.

But Besigye insists that Museveni won by rigging the vote.

After he and his party staged demonstrations in Kampala in violation of a court order banning him from anti-government activities, police placed Besigye under house arrest, Reuters reported.

He is demanding that Museveni let international auditors conduct a recount, to no avail. EU election monitors cited numerous irregularities during the election.

In a bizarre turn of events on Wednesday, Besigye was arrested in Kampala while apparently being sworn in as president in an unofficial ceremony. The Daily Nation ran a quote from the police stating that Besigye was being taken to a police station 12 miles outside of the city. The publication reported that any charges to be laid against Besigye were unknown.

Museveni has stabilized Uganda’s formerly abysmal economy. But critics say he’s become power hungry. He recently banned live media coverage of opposition events, for example. The opposition has refused to follow that rule.

Some say other Ugandan politicians will follow Besigye's path.

Brazilian Drama

Brazil’s Senate voted this morning to impeach President Dilma Rousseff’s by 55 Senators to 22. 

Rousseff's vice president, Michael Temer is expected to succeeed her while she undergoes a trial for breaking public spending rules. Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the accounting standards in place had also been used by her predecessors. 

“Brazil is much better than this gang of wrongdoers, ” said Senator Ataides Oliveira, a pro-impeachment lawmaker. “Brazil today starts to turn this sad page in our history. “

The trial itself could last for months, during which time Rousseff is suspended. The move is embarrassing for the country as Rousseff was slated to have had a central role in the opening of this year Summer Olympics, which are set to open on 5 August in Rio de Janeiro. 


'Make Dating Great Again'

Want to escape a Trump presidency and find romance, too? A new Canadian dating website can help. is offering to pair Trump-hating Americans with Canadian singles, promising love and a simple escape plan to “make dating great again,” parodying the Republican presidential frontrunner’s slogan.

“It’s easy to say, ‘This is just about Americans trying to find a way to get residency in Canada,” CEO Joe Goldman told the Toronto Star. “I think … many Americans may be frustrated by the community that they’re in or the dating pool they’ve had access to. Why not seek something different? Why not seek something Canadian?”

The Texas-based Goldman acknowledges that Americans have cried “We’re moving to Canada” before, but he says Trump’s divisive policy proposals – like building a wall along the Mexican border and creating a national database of Muslims – make the call of the north all the more real.

“We thought it might really be a good idea to start this before another wall gets built,” Goldman told the paper.

And for those progressives leaning toward Bernie Sanders, there's another partisan site to meet your match: the Bernie Singles

Thu, 05/12/2016 – 06:05

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