Thousands of Israelis Protest War in Gaza

Via my friend Helene (Israel Social TV):

A contrast to the misconception in the media that all Israeli leftists support the war on Gaza.


Egypt: The Guy NOT Saved by Twitter

Two arrested.  One American, one Egyptian.  One was released, the other is being held “somewhere” without the ability to communicate with the outside world (Mercury News, emphasis mine):

Back home in Berkeley last night he said he’s still worried about his interpreter and friend, Mohammed Salah Ahmed Maree, who was arrested with him and is still being held incommunicado by Egyptian authorities. Unlike Buck, he didn’t have the muscle of the U.S. Embassy and UC Berkeley.

Buck said that in the middle of the night, hours after his arrest, authorities told him he was free to go.

“I said, ‘No’ and I stayed for 12 more hours and we started a hunger strike at some point. But they grabbed him (Maree) and put him in a different holding area. Finally, they said they had transferred him to another prison,” Buck said.

What can we do?

Hossam El-Hamalawy, an Egyptian blogger who is now a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, said the most important thing is to publicize the situation so Egypt will furnish information about where Maree and others arrested are being kept. “Egypt has a huge population of prisoners because of these security crackdowns and any information will also help their families and lawyers, who are trying to find them,” he said.

Please sign the Petition to Free Mohammed Maree.

And think about this for a moment:

“Egypt has a huge population of prisoners because of these security crackdowns and any information will also help their families and lawyers, who are trying to find them,” he said.

A huge population of political prisoners whose families have no idea where they are being held.

Personifying the Torch, Diminishing the Protests

Jim Yardley of the New York Times has indulged in some markedly poor reporting on the upcoming running of the torch through San Francisco (emphasis mine):

The Olympic torch arrived at the airport here from Paris in the wee hours Tuesday morning, exited out a side door and was escorted by motorcade to a downtown hotel. There it took a well-deserved break in a room complete with cable TV, room service and views of the city’s popular Union Square shopping district.

So it starts.  The article puffs up the flame as a person:

The most exposed runner of all, of course, will be the naked flame at the end of the torch. Organizers would not divulge the flame’s exact location on Tuesday, but said it was being well taken care of at its hotel.

And how did the flame look, after all of its travails?

“Let’s just say,” said Mr. McCarron, the airport spokesman, who got to work at 3 a.m. to meet the flame and its jet-lagged Chinese Olympic delegates, “it looked better than we did.”

Which is really rather interesting in the context of attempts to put the flame out, isn’t it?

The tone of the article is fear.  Will the runners be attacked?

Ms. Couglin said she was not worried because the U.S. Olympic Committee had assigned a retired F.B.I. agent to run with her.

Will the city be able to handle the crazies?

Downtown buildings also stepped up security, and restaurants along the route pulled in — rather than pulled out — patio seating. Sources of anxiety were everywhere: protests atop tourist attractions, famous and not-so-famous Tibet supporters and, of course, the city’s lunatic fringe.

The message hidden in this is pretty clear.  That the people protesting China’s routine violation of even the most basic human rights are dangerous, not quite right in the head, and missing the point:

“It’s terrible,” said Lily Chang, 58, an American citizen who immigrated from Shanghai six years ago and now works at a gift shop in Chinatown. “This is not political. It’s sports.”

The Olympics is innately political, and has a rich history of athletes and their countrymen who stood up to the tyrants of the day.  Today the attention of the games is on China, who is making a play for more legitimacy and normalcy in their international standing.  However these efforts fail in the face of their human rights record, and all forecasts point to continued protests up through the games.  These are well deserved.  China ought to be condemned for its failures in the realm of human rights and ethical conduct.

China Behind Tibet Violence?

If this is true, it is a bombshell(emphasis mine):

London, March 20 – Britain’s GCHQ, the government communications agency that electronically monitors half the world from space, has confirmed the claim by the Dalai Lama that agents of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the PLA, posing as monks, triggered the riots that have left hundreds of Tibetans dead or injured.

GCHQ analysts believe the decision was deliberately calculated by the Beijing leadership to provide an excuse to stamp out the simmering unrest in the region, which is already attracting unwelcome world attention in the run-up to the Olympic Games this summer.

Violence mars the message of the most worthwhile protests.  There have been accounts of undercover police officers inciting violence in protests here in the states, so this wouldn’t be without precedent.

There’s still time to sign the petition for dialogue.

Anti-War Protests and Working in DC

This morning in my “General” folder in Outlook (that’s where all the company-wide email goes by default), I found this email from our “Office Manager” noting there will be protests, and concluding with:

Building management plans to operate the building on a normal business throughout the day on Wednesday, March 19, 2008. They will, however, be prepared to lock the building on a moment’s notice should events warrant. Please be advised that you will not receive notice immediately if they make a decision to lock the building based on activity outside the building. They will secure the building first and notify us after securing the property.

Of course nothing happened. But the attitude around the office prior to the protests was one of anxiety (“will they get in our way?”) to disdain (“what do they think they are accomplishing?”). The folks I work with tend to be a mix of liberal to conservative, with those who oppose the war strongly and those who support it.

During the protests there was a mix of interest “The police were there arresting protestors!” and disinterest, which by far ruled the day. In corporate America, the protests were a curiosity. Something to keep an eye on, but otherwise of no consequence. Later today at class (which was full of generally very well informed folks), only one fellow knew the protests even happened, and what they were for.

In my mind, a protest serves several purposes. It is a PR action, it can bolster morale within a movement (and be quite empowering), and it can effect direct action. With the media being the way it is, massive numbers and effective cleverness are necessary for a protest to make waves. It needs to be something new!

That said, I wonder what an anti-war rally with the express purpose of empowering people (to go back to their communities and take action, etc) might look like.

I wonder if anyone has the strength or sees the point of engaging in direct action. The folks at the IRS today were unable to block people from entering. Was it a symbolic victory to have people briefly block the front entrance, and have other protesters hauled off to prison?

What do you think?

China is Crushing Tibet, and The World is Standing By

I’ve watched the protests unfolding in Tibet over the past few days with increasing despondency. China is killing Tibetans. They are doing their best to censor news of the protests, even going so far as to censor youtube videos.

As the Chinese government brutally tramples the Tibetan people, pollutes their land and exploits their resources, the rest of the world simply sits and watches, waiting for the Olympics.

Tibet is its own country. You cannot charge in with soldiers, murder thousands upon thousands, and institute a totalitarian regime then claim it was yours all along. China has no credibility on this. It could regain some credibility by restoring Tibet’s independence, renouncing its claims to Taiwan, and working to mend wounds and forge close socio-economic ties with both countries. Of course they will not. Any country with such a severe disrespect for the rights of its own people cannot be expected to act responsibly in the world. Peace and Liberty start at home.

Free China, Free Tibet.

Fight Racism in Dulles VA

Are any readers near Dulles Virginia?  Want to take a stand against racism and white supremacy?  This weekend cowards and haters are holding their meeting in Dulles, near the airport (via Pam):

I guess the Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport Hotel is hard up for bucks if it’s decided that hosting a conference for white supremacists is a good business move.

The three-star Herndon, Virginia hotel will welcome the benign-sounding American Renaissance Conference (no, I’m not linking)  Feb. 22-Feb. 24. Subtitled “In the Name of Our People,” attendees can gather for an extraordinary weekend on “racial-realist thought” (I guess the whole supremacy thing has fallen out of favor). Read about it and see some of the speakers after the jump.

Resistance and Solidarity plans to fight back:

Resistance and Solidarity, a DC-based collective, plans to show up at the conference.
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