Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Feb 24th, 2011

Summary: The Iraqi capital of Baghdad is virtually locked down, with soldiers deployed across the city searching protesters trying to enter Liberation Square and closing off the plaza and side streets with razor wire. The heavy security presence reflects the concern of Iraqi officials that anti-government demonstrations in Iraq could gain traction as they did in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 24, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that more than eight years after the Taliban was toppled from power, the number of U.S. military fatalities in the Afghanistan war was nearing 1,000, a grim milestone in a resurgent conflict claiming the lives of an increasing number of troops who had survived previous tours of duty in Iraq.

Summary: About 2,000 demonstrators attacked government offices in the southern Iraqi province of
Wasit, ripping up pavement stones to hurl at a regional council headquarters in a protest over shoddy public services, leaving dozens of people injured. In the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, hundreds of demonstrators also thronged the streets demanding better services. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 16, 2010, Aubrey Immelman provided his weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Feb 14th, 2011

Summary: Protesters have taken to the streets in different corners of the Middle East: Iran’s beleaguered opposition stormed back to central Tehran and came under a tear gas attack by police, while demonstrators faced rubber bullets and birdshot to demand more freedoms in the relative wealth of Bahrain and protesters pressed for the ouster of the ruler in poverty-drained Yemen. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 14, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Vice President Joe Biden belittled Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s commitment to fighting terrorism as either “misinformed” or “misinforming,” saying the Iraq war wasn’t worth it because of “the horrible price” paid.

Feb 3rd, 2011

Summary: More than 20,000 Yemenis filled the streets of Sanaa for a “day of rage” rally, demanding a change in government and saying President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s offer to step down in 2013 was not enough. The protest movement in the Middle East and North Africa also appears to be gaining momentum in Jordan, Syria, and Algeria. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 3, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, at a political forum in Rochester, Minn., made the wild claim that President Obama’s health reform proposals, beyond being “the crown jewel of socialism,” could lead to “gangster government” and “absolute abject corruption,” with people terrified to speak out against the government for fear of being blacklisted for denial of health care.