International Solidarity Movement volunteer Pat O'Connor has been held for over two weeks in Israeli prison in awaiting deportation. O'Connor was denied entry in 2003, and since gained entry on another passport. Israel is expelling him because he is an exceptionally valuable resource for non-violent activists in Palestine, with his fluent Arabic, and years of work as a humantatian aid worker in Africa and Gaza. Here he notes that while Israel insists Palestinians stop the violence against Israel, it greets legitmate Palestinian non-violent protest with tear gas, bullets, and stun grenades. This is about Israel demanding nothing less than total submission from the Palestinian people. He writes the following Feb. 14 in Ha'aretz while still in Israel's Maasiyahu Prison in Ramle.
Indian Country Today, the national weekly published by the Oneida Nation in upstate New York, ran an editorial Feb. 10, "The Churchill Episode: Two Unfortunate Currents." The piece decries that the affair has been exploited by right-wing pundits and defends academic freedom, stating that Churchill must not be fired from the Univeristy of Colorado on the basis of his comments, however repugnant. However, the second current identified by ICT will not be so comforting to Churchill's supporters:
A newly declassified report from the 9-11 Commission--released five months late and heavily censored, with several passges blotted out by thick black ink lines--reviews Federal Aviation Administration daily intelligence briefings to airport administrators in the months leading up to the attacks.
The current White House drive for intervention against Iran may actually have more to do with strategic control of oil and gas resources than Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Pakistan's Daily Times reports Feb. 11 that at the Third Asia Gas Buyers' Summit about to commence in New Delhi, India hopes conclude a deal with Iran to build a new pipeline to import natural gas. Tehran and Delhi are said to be waiting for approval from Islamabad for the pipeline to cross Pakistan's territory. Significantly, the article also said that India's Petroleum Ministry is "looking at the feasibility of bringing a pipeline from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan."
At a massive Tehran rally marking Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution Feb. 10, President Mohammad Khatami pledged that no Iranian government would abandon the country's program to devlop peaceful nuclear technology. (AP, Feb. 10) He promised a "burning hell" for any aggressor, to chants of "Death to Ameirca!" and "Death to Israel!" (CNN, Feb. 10)
Now isn't this interesting? A front-page headline in the Feb. 11 NY Times reads: "North Koreans Say They Hold Nuclear Arms; Assert They'll Refuse to Rejoin Negotiations." The article states this stance could "bolster" those in the US administration who favor "destabilizing the government of President Kim Jong Il."
The crushing of a rally for the restoration of democracy in Nepal Feb. 10 rated a tiny blurb of wire copy on page 10 of the next day's NY Times. Meanwhile, the crisis in the Himalayan kingdom rapidly deepens. Security forces are hunting down the 150 inmates liberated from a prison in an attack by Maoist rebels, and pledge to break up road blockades the guerillas intend to launch throughout the country to resist the state of emergency. Concerned about reports of detention of political leaders, rights activists and journalists, Amnesty International is sending a special high-level team to Kathmandu, led by the group's secretary general Irene Khan. (Indo-Asian News Service, Feb. 11)
The BBC reported a glimmer of hope Jan. 27 from Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, where Taliban-inspired movements have won local political control over the semi-autonomous Tribal Areas. Two local kids, Tariq Hussain Bacha and Zeeshan Khan (respectively 12 and 11), have formed a musical duo and are defying the ruling mullahs' ban by performing in public. They initially played secret gigs in back rooms, but since their album Joora Guloona ("two flowers" in the Pashtun language) has become a success they have become bolder. Stocked at first by a few shops in Peshawar's famous Choor Bazar (Thieves Bazaar), copies started flying off the shelves and soon there were orders from the US, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan.