WW4 Report

First Amendment battle in Chicago

Chicago anti-war activists are waging a First Amendment battle in two courtrooms, the Chicago Tribune reported Feb. 3. In federal District Court, activists are seeking class-action status for a suit brought after police shut down a protest on Lake Shore Drive on March 20, 2003, the day the war on Iraq was launched. The case contends protesters were herded into an area cordoned off by riot police, and that hundreds were arrested without justification, sometimes with excessive force. Meanwhile, in a city courtroom yesterday, the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism appealed the denial of a permit to march again on this coming March 19 to mark the anniversary of the invasion. Coalition spokesman Andy Thayer said it is "essentially unconstitutional" to prohibit the right to protest on "hot-button issues." The city Transportation Department, in turn, denies that content is at issue, and says that the proposed march route would snarl traffic.

Afghan Jews: down to one

Ishaq Levin, one of the last two Jews in Kabul (and presumably in all of Afghanistan), was buried at Jerusalem's honored Mount of Olives Feb. 2. When Taliban rule ended three years ago, Levin and Zebulon Simentov were found living at opposite ends of Kabul's synagogue, divided by a bitter feud and refusing to talk to each other. Levin's relatives in Israel learned of his death through relatives of Simentov, and made arrangements with the Red Cross to have his remains flown out. Two weeks later, the body was delivered to the Israeli embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and flown to Israel for burial. Levin was believed to have been around 80, and hadn't seen his family since a brief trip to Israel 26 years ago. Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi Shlomo Amar led prayers at the funeral.

Nepal: King declares state of emergency

Nepal's King Gyanendra dismissed the country's government Feb. 1, and declared a state of emergency, closing off his Himalayan kingdom from the outside world as telephone and Internet lines were cut, flights grounded and civil liberties suspended. This is the second time in three years the king has taken control of the constitutional monarchy, a throwback to the era of absolute monarchy before King Birendra, Gyanendra's brother, introduced representative government following a popular pro-democracy movement in 1990.

Iran news agency: Holocaust was Zionist plot

The right-wing Jerusalem Post was handed a propaganda coup Feb. 1 by one of Iran's official press agencies, which marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (commemorated by media and political leaders worldwide) in its own typically heartwarming fashion: by calling the Holocaust a Zionist plot.

Deadly shoot-out in Kuwait

Bahrain's Gulf Daily News provides a more detailed report on the deadly Jan. 31 firefight in Kuwait than was deemed worthwhile by most US media. The battle raged for nine hours in al-Qurain, just south of Kuwait City, leaving five dead. It was apparently sparked when security forces raided a supposed terrorist safehouse. The house was connected to a mosque, and owned by an imam. "Security forces ...

Burma attacks Naga rebels

Following an agreement with Indian authorities, Burma has turned its guns on the Naga separatist rebels it had previously sheltered--bringing the war to its own soil. Fighting is said to be raging in the jungle along the border with India as Burmese troops attack bases of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), a guerilla group which has been seeking an independent Naga state since 1980. NSCN leader Kuhalo Mulatonu pledges his fighters will resist to the end. At least 15 are already reported dead.

Iran: Halliburton out, Air Force in?

In a little-noted but potentially ominous move, Halliburton has announced that is pulling out of Iran, where it has long maintained oil industry maintenance services, exploiting loopholes in the sanctions. The company's CEO Dave Lesar said "the business environment currently in Iran is not conducive to our overall strategy and objectives." (AFP, Jan. 29)

"Climate of fear" for Iraq elections

Bahrain's Gulf Daily News reports that Iraq's elections are taking place under a "climate of fear," with at least 30 killed Jan 27 alone in roadside ambushes, twin suicide attacks in Samarra and fighting on Baghdad's Haifa Street, which seems to be an insurgent stronghold. Two US troops were among the dead--just one day after a helicopter crash killed 31 Marines, making the 26th the bloodiest day of the war so far for Iraqi forces.