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.
A short commentary piece in Israel's largest circulation daily Yediot Aharonot claimed March 10 that armed youth are hitch hiking to Gush Katif, the illegal Jewish settlement bloc in the occupied southern Gaza Strip, where they are being hosted by the local community, sometimes sleeping out, and preparing for confrontation with the army to come. They say they will stop the disengagment with their bodies. No one's stopping them from entering the Gush bloc. (Of course if they were left activists the area would be declared a "closed military zone" and they wouldn't be allowed in- WW4). They were wearing batik shirts, sported rasta-locks, and brought thier sleeping bags. They're hippies, yet they have M16s, Yediot commentator Zeev Tsachor noted with some irony.
In Nam Khem, a poor coastal village in Thailand, when displaced survivors returned to the ruins to search for the remains of their loved ones and rebuild their homes, they found the area had been sealed off my armed men. The thugs told them the land now belonged to the "Big Boss," a nameless real estate speculator who had been battling for control of the land in the courts for years, hoping to cash in on the local boom in tourist resorts.
Two US soldiers have now been charged in the deaths of two Afghan prisoners who died in US custody in December 2002, after they were apparently chained to the ceiling before being savagely beaten at the Bagram Control Point, just north of Kabul. (NYT, March 12)
As previously noted here, a CIA contract agent charged in a similar case plans to cite Bush in his defense.
The planned March 18 woman-led traditional Friday prayers—hailed as an historic first for Islam—have been moved from a Soho art gallery to an undisclosed location where they will be open to an invitation-only list following a slate of death threats. One anonymous message to the gallery threatened to "blow you up." The prayers are to be led by Amina Wadud, author of Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective, who remains defiant: "If there really exists a threat to my life, if my intentions and my heart remain focused on Allah, then I couldn't die in a better state. Life and death are not mine to determine."
Linden Corrica, an immigrant father and husband from Guyana living in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood, pleaded guilty to selling ten dollars worth of marijuana in exchange for a 20-day sentence in September 2003. But after serving his time at NYC's Rikers Island prison, he was transfered to an out-of-state federal detention facility to await deportation. Having exhausted all his appeals, he is now about to be deported—despite a psychiatric evaluation of the emotional problems his seven-year-old daughter has suffered since his detention.
An apparent lone nut, Bart Ross, left a suicide note claiming responsibility for the murder of two family members of Chicago federal Judge Joan Lefkow before blowing his own brains out, throwing suspicion off the white supremacist World Church of the Creator (see our last blog post on the case).
The administration of California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has followed the Bush White House in producing "video press releases" neatly disguised as actual news items for distribution to TV news stations—Bush to promote the Iraq war, Arnold to promote his anti-union policies. Critics call the tactic "covert propaganda" and compare it to the methods of totalitarian regimes. (UK Independent, March 14)