The State Department on Tuesday released its 2012 International Religious Freedom Report. In particular, the report highlights “undue and inappropriate restrictions” on religious groups and abuse of adherents in China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and elsewhere. The law requires that such countries be designated “countries of particular concern,” which can subject them to sanctions and other penalties. But no country has been designated by the State Department since 2011—even as the report acknowledged that religious persecution worldwide has grown during that time.
Iran’s ruling clerical committee has barred two contenders from the ballot for next month's presidential election—guaranteeing that the next head of government will be loyal to the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The council approved eight names for the June 14 ballot but barred former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, an assistant to sitting president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Over 600 people registered to run for president.
Riots in Sweden spread overnight, as hundreds of youths set fire to cars and attacked police and rescue workers. Three days of unrest in Stockholm—considered Europe’s richest capital in a country renowned for tolerance and lavish social services—are uncovering Europe’s thoroughgoing struggle with high unemployment and unimpeded immigration, especially of Muslims. In story after story I looked at this morning, few reporters mention that the rioting suburbs house predominantly Somalian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern immigrants.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank makes a good case for why you should care about the government spying on James Rosen and other journalists.
Little has been reported on Stephen Kim, the State Department analyst alleged to have leaked classified information to Rosen, but his case stretches back to 2010, when he was indicted for disclosing to a reporter that North Korea might launch a nuclear weapon if it became the target of UN sanctions. At that time, Kim’s lawyer told The New York Times the charges were an attempt to criminalize “the type of government-media exchanges that happen hundreds of times a day in Washington” and would “destroy the career” of Kim, whom he called “a loyal civil servant and brilliant foreign policy analyst.”
Relevant question: Are similar muzzling tactics being applied right now to State Department employees and the media asking questions about Benghazi? Polls now show a majority of Americans believe the Obama administration is covering up facts there, too.