In a case being compared to that of Chico Mendes, the Amazon defender killed in 1988, US missionary Sister Dorothy Stang was shot dead by unknown assailants at a remote jungle settlement near Anapu in the Brazilian state of Para Feb. 12. Stang, 74, of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, had been a campaigner for human rights and forest protection in the Amazon for three decades, and had reported receiving numerous death threats from land speculators and cattle barons.
Pakistan's restive province of Baluchistan was hit with devastating floods when torrential rains burst the Shadikor Dam near Pasni, sweeping people, homes and livestock into the Arabian Sea. A smaller dam also burst elsewhere in the province, while landslides also claimed casualties in the Himalayan region of Kashmir. The confirmed death toll has reached 360, with 1,500 more missing. (The Scotsman, Feb. 14)
Ecologists protested at the US embassy in London Feb. 12 over President Bush's refusal to join the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gases and tackle climate change. The long-stalled treaty goes into effect this week, committing 136 countries to reduce gas emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels in the next decade. Prime Minister Tony Blair has declared climate change "the biggest, long-term challenge the global community faces". But the US, the biggest producer of greenhouse gases by far, is the only major industrial country not to have signed.
The UK Independent reports Feb. 14 that over 5,000 neo-Nazis swarmed the official 60th anniversary commemoration of the Allied bombardment of Dresden, effectively "hijacking" the event in the east German city. Bused in from all over Germany, they overwhelmed the proceedings outside the rebuilt Semper Opera House, which had been destroyed in the bombing. They violated German law by singing the Nazi-era national anthem. It was the largest Nazi rally in Germany since the fall of the Third Reich.
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."