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August 4th, 2009
01:44 PM ET

Domestic Violence: A disturbing symptom of the Iraqi refugee crisis

Three-year-old Saba Fahed, an Iraqi refugee, plays with Legos on the floor of her family's apartment.

Three-year-old Saba Fahed, an Iraqi refugee, plays with Legos on the floor of her family's apartment.
Neba Fahed, 4, laughs when company comes to visit her family in Jordan.

Neba Fahed, 4, laughs when company comes to visit her family in Jordan.

Charity Tooze
AC360° Contributor

Mohammad Fahed is an Iraqi refugee living in Jordan. He and his family fled Iraq in 2004 after their house was bombed. His mother was paralyzed during the attack.

Fahed is a tall, thin man with piercing blue eyes and an angular face. He speaks quietly, with measure, and stares across the room with intense frustration. He sits upright in his chair and his striped button-down short-sleeve shirt is tucked neatly into his navy-blue trousers. His two youngest daughters Saba, 3 and Neba, 4, stand next to him as he talks about his life in Jordan.

Fahed first arrived in Jordan in 2002, before the war, to find work. He said the economic situation in Iraq made it impossible for him to earn a living and provide for his family. He found work in Jordan in commercial trade, doing odd jobs as a blacksmith and plumber.

Immediately following the outbreak of the war in 2003, he returned to Iraq to gather his family. “Since the war everything has changed,” Fahed said. Like most of Iraq’s neighbors, Jordan is not a signatory of the 1951 Convention on refugees and therefore they do not recognize Iraqis as refugees. Arafat Jamal, deputy representative of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), said, “despite the fact that it’s not a signatory on the main international instrument on refugees its [Jordan’s] practice has been very generous.” Jordan classifies Iraqis as “guests.” Iraqis can apply for residency and work permits but, still, many reside in Jordan illegally. Only those with “specialized skills,” that Jordan’s labor market lacks - such as physicans - receive work permits. Hundreds of thousands are not allowed to work.

FULL POST

August 4th, 2009
12:47 PM ET
August 4th, 2009
12:39 PM ET

Video: Lisa Ling trying to help sister

Editor's Note: In early June Anderson spoke to the families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, American journalists detained in North Korea. A couple of days later, Ling and Lee were sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of entering North Korea illegally. Former President Bill Clinton is in North Korea, unannounced, to negotiate their release.


Filed under: 360° Interview • Anderson Cooper • Lisa Ling • North Korea
August 4th, 2009
12:34 PM ET

Video: Detained journalists

Editor's note: In early June Anderson spoke to the families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, American journalists detained in North Korea. A couple of days later, Ling and Lee were sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of entering North Korea illegally. Former President Bill Clinton is in North Korea to negotiate their release.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • North Korea
August 4th, 2009
12:32 PM ET

Stop the shouting on health care

Committee chairman Sen. Edward Kennedy in a statement praised the bill. He voted by proxy.

Committee chairman Sen. Edward Kennedy in a statement praised the bill. He voted by proxy.

Gloria Borger
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Ah, the summer.

Time for all those members of Congress to go home, meet with their constituents, get their input on health care reform and take back what they have learned from the voters.

Not exactly.

In some town hall meetings around the country, anger and fear are trumping any constructive argument - at least so far.

Recently, for instance, Sen. Arlen Specter held a town hall meeting with Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary. In attempting to answer questions, they were shouted down by folks more interested in venting than discussing.

On the conservative FreedomWorks Web site, the display was headlined "Specter Gets Schooled." Above the video of the event, the site says "... this is a must watch and a must emulate at town halls across the country over the next month."

Really?

What about those folks who are actually interested in debating and discussing a very complex issue they're trying to digest? There are some who may actually want to figure out the best way to solve the health care problem.

Read more...


Filed under: Gloria Borger • Health Care
August 4th, 2009
11:22 AM ET

Does kissing and telling mean a death sentence?

Editor's Note: On Wednesday, a Saudi court  sentenced Mazen Abdul Jawad to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes for bragging about his his sex life on television, according to Ministry of Information officials. Read Octavia Nasr's blog about the incident – and the uproar it caused – below.

Octavia Nasr | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Editor, Mideast Affairs

This is one for the Middle East’s record books; a story that falls under the ‘unbelievable but true’ category.

In August, a 32-year-old Saudi man appeared on an Arabic satellite channel and discussed – without reservation and in great detail – his sexual likes and dislikes, his favorite sex toys and how he lost his virginity to a neighbor at the age of 14. Mazen Abdul Jawad described how he picked up women in the ultra-conservative Muslim Kingdom, brought them to his bedroom and had sex with them.

But in a region where sex is considered taboo, Jawad’s public admission of his sexual exploits outraged religious conservatives in the Muslim state. He was arrested more than a week ago and now faces charges under the strict Islamic sharia law code.

As soon as the Jawad appeared on A Thick Red Line, a popular social taboos show on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), people all over the Middle East were quick to condemn his comments and the station that gave him a platform to commit the “sin” of “bragging about his wrongdoing.” The LBC has refrained from commenting on the situation.

The story, not surprisingly, made headlines around the region. Jawad subsequently denied it, claiming the station had fabricated the story and taken his words out of context. Saudi authorities then arrested Jawad and launched a full-fledged investigation into his real crime and tried to determine how to manage the major image crisis he had created for the kingdom.

FULL POST

August 4th, 2009
11:15 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Bill Clinton in North Korea

In a North Korean official photo, President Clinton receives flowers on his arrival Tuesday in Pyongyang.

In a North Korean official photo, President Clinton receives flowers on his arrival Tuesday in Pyongyang.

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton landed in North Korea on a mission to negotiate the release of two American journalists – Laura Ling and Euna Lee – who have been imprisoned in the country since March. Both Lee and Ling are reporters for the Current TV, a media organization launched by Al Gore. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in June. Clinton is in Pyongyang trying to negotiate their release. We’ll dig into what his visit means for the fate Ling and Lee, and how they’re families are working for their release back at home.

We’re also taking a look at a disturbing trend in Pakistan. The Pakistani government says young boys are being trained by the Taliban to become suicide bombers. CNN’s Stan Grant talks to 12 boys who were kidnapped by the Taliban in order to become walking suicide bombs. They boys told Stan that they were stolen from their families, abused, beaten and brainwashed by the Taliban. The Pakistan army says they rescued the youngsters during heavy fighting with the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. More about their experiences tonight.

FULL POST


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
August 4th, 2009
10:55 AM ET

Townhall or Townbrawl?

President Obama takes on critics of health care legislation in remarks last week at the White House.

President Obama takes on critics of health care legislation in remarks last week at the White House.

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

Being home is no picnic for the Democrats in charge, as one blogger makes abundantly clear in a home video taken during a recent townhall meeting on health care. In a packed gymnasium, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were booed so loudly that you can barely hear their answers to some basic questions. The comments that were audible only managed to cause more outrage.

One audience member asked how Americans can be confident in Congress to reform the health care system when members won't even read the legislation. Sebelius's response? "I'm not a member of Congress," which apparently absolves her from understanding the $1 trillion plan her Department will be tasked with implementing. That answer is still better than Sen. Specter's explanation, which was, "...[W]e have to make judgments very fast, and every bill is... understood by me before I vote." Sebelius tried to interrupt the hissing crowd but her defense of Senate Democrats was almost impossible to hear amid the jeering.

Of course, the mainstream press would have us believe through carefully choreographed broadcasts that Americans are perplexed but receptive to the White House plan.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Health Care
August 4th, 2009
10:50 AM ET

Afghan war needs more troops

Afghan soldiers are shown marching in a ceremony in Herat province in early July.

Afghan soldiers are shown marching in a ceremony in Herat province in early July.

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann
Special to CNN

CNN's Barbara Starr reported last week that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is expected to ask the Obama administration for additional troops and equipment for conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as more military resources to deal with roadside bombs and explosives.

This impending request appears to conflict with a report earlier in July by The Washington Post's Bob Woodward who wrote that on a trip to Afghanistan, James L. Jones, national security adviser, personally told U.S. military commanders in the country that the Obama administration wants to hold troop levels flat for now.

But given the relatively small size of the Afghan army and police - numbering some 170,000 men - and with the total number of U.S./NATO troops numbering around 100,000, McChrystal's impending request makes a great deal of military sense. While the combined forces total 270,000, classic counterinsurgency doctrine indicates that Afghanistan needs as many as 600,000 soldiers and cops to protect its population of some 30 million.

An additional reason why more boots on the ground makes military sense is the large geographic scope of the Taliban insurgency. Estimates of the number of full-time fighters generally do not go above 20,000 men.

Read more...


Filed under: Afghanistan
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