Authorities at Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest have closed public access to an area where protesters have been blocking loggers from felling trees in an old growth forest reserve partially damaged by fire. Protesters have been trying to prevent a crew from going to work on the Fiddler timber sale in a remote area bordering the Kalmiopsis Wilderness since a federal court injunction was lifted March 7. Eleven people were arrested March 7 and 11 more last week.
While a big anti-Syria rally in Lebanon made the front page of the NY Times Feb. 15, a nationwide coordinated campaign of protests for restoration of democratic rule in Nepal—harshly put down with hundreds of arrests—rated only a small blurb in the "World Briefing" section at the bottom of page 6. Nepal has almost completely dropped from the news since the seizure of dictatorial emergency powers by the king Feb. 1, but repression is escalating. Student protest leaders are wanted for arrest and have gone into hiding; newspaper editors who report on the protests are themselves hauled before the police and held "for questioning"; the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders has called for a thorough investigation in the recent shooting of an editor in east Nepal, and for the immediate release of detained journalists.
Amidst ongoing pro- and anti-Syria protests in Lebanon, Damascus is beginning to call home some units stationed in the country—starting with the intelligence agents in Beirut and Bekaa Valley.
President Bush has tapped Defense Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to take over as head of the World Bank. Bush told a news conference March 15 that Wolfowitz, now Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's top deputy, is "a compassionate, decent man who will do a fine job at the World Bank. That's why I put him up." (AP, March 16)
The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), being held in Tanzania, has sentenced a former Rwandan civic leader to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to involvement in the 1994 genocide. Vincent Rutaganira, 60, is the fourth man to have pleaded guilty before the tribunal. Former Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda was the first to plead guilty, and is serving his life sentence in Mali.
Twenty-two imprisoned militants of the Abu Sayyaf group and at least 17 others are dead in the Philippines, 24 hours after they launched a rebellion at Camp Bagong Diwa maximum security prison at in Taguig City. The dead are said to include three top Abu Sayyaf leaders, Alhamser Limbong (alias Kumander Kosovo); Ghalib Andang (Kumander Robot); and Nadjmi Sabdula (Kumander Global). Authorities reporteldy gave the militants a non-extendable 15-minute deadline to lay down their weapons and surrender before launching the assualt.
Newsday reports March 15 that militant settlers gathered at the Hebron tomb of Baruch Goldstein to mark the 11th anniversary of his massacre of 29 Palestinians as they prayed at the Tomb of Patriarchs, where Abraham is believed to be buried. (The 39-year-old native Brooklynite was beaten to death by survivors.) A photo accompanying the story shows one settler reverentially kissing Goldstein's tomb. The gathering served as a rallying point for settlers pledging to resist any attempt to evacuate them from the Occupied Territories. Israeli security services are said to be bracing for a violent backlash from the armed settler right.