Saturday, April 18, 2009

We've all been there

Can we not all recall that desire to be friends with the most glamorous person in the school or on the block? You know, the one everybody wants to talk to for whatever reason? And can we not also recall the humilation of said glamorous person rebuffing our efforts to build bridges, change relationship, whatever?

The trouble is that most of us grow out of that. Certainly, by the time a person is big enough to become President of the United States, he ought to be able to distinguish between wannabe friendships and real ones.

From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has wanted to be friends with the Iranian government, clearly the most glamorous boys on the block. Sadly, he keeps being rebuffed, most recently by the arrest and now sentence of the American-Iranian journalist, Roxana Saberi.

Ms Saberi was born and brought up in the United States but maintains that she has dual citizenship. That cannot be right, since Iran does not acknowledge such a state of affairs.

She has lived in Iran since 2003, periodically reporting from that country and planning to write a book about it.
Her press credentials were revoked in 2006 by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which accredits reporters working for foreign news organizations, CPJ reported.

"According to NPR, Saberi continued to file short news items with government permission," CPJ said.

Saberi was first detained in January, CPJ said, although no formal charges were disclosed.

"She told her family that she was initially held for buying a bottle of wine," CPJ said on its Web site. "A spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry said later that Saberi was being detained at Tehran's Evin Prison for reporting without proper accreditation."

Political prisoners are often jailed at the prison, CPJ said.

Word that Saberi was charged with espionage emerged on April 8, CPJ said. Hassan Haddad, deputy public prosecutor, told the Iranian Students News Agency that "without press credentials and under the name of being a reporter, she was carrying out espionage activities."

She appeared before a Revolutionary Court on Monday for a one-day trial that was closed to the public, CPJ said, quoting an Iranian judiciary official.

Her father, Reza Saberi, told NPR on Saturday he believes his daughter was coerced into making damaging statements. He said the verdict was issued Wednesday.

The court, which didn't meet Thursday and Friday, reconvened Saturday. Reza Saberi said his daughter was brought to the court, but he wasn't allowed to enter.

A lawyer later told him she was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage.
CPJ is the Committee to Protect Journalists, an admirably inclined institution but not, one has to admit, a particularly successful one.

The US Administration is protesting and Secretary of State Clinton has been making all kinds of statements. We shall see what the result of it all will be. I very much fear that the new boy on the block will once again be rebuffed.

At least, Hugo Chavez seems to like him (Sister Toldjah and Fausta sum up). It makes me feel safer to know that the leader of the free world is trying to be chummy with all our enemies (for they are our enemies as well as America's) and shakes hands, whenever he can, with every oppressive dictator.

Meanwhile President Sarkozy has attacked three of France's supposed allies who have been described as world leaders. As one of them is Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, I wouldn't go as far as that myself but the whole story is embarrassing and absurd in about equal measures:
During the repast at the Elysee Palace, Sarkozy intimated U.S. President Barack Obama was inexperienced, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Louis Rodriguez Zapatero wasn't too smart and German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn't share his view about tackling the world financial crisis, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
Sounds like he was merely stating facts.

What can one say? The Western alliance is in the very best of hands.

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