Monday, November 7, 2011

  • Israel Intercepts Gaza-Bound Flotilla; Dozens Detained Including Democracy Now! Correspondent

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    Israeli forces intercepted two Gaza-bound boats in international waters on Friday to prevent the boats from breaking the naval blockade of Gaza. The Canadian and Irish boats made up the "Freedom Waves to Gaza" flotilla. Israel detained the 27 activists on board, as well as all of the journalists — including Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz. According to flotilla organizers, 21 people remain in Israeli custody, including Hafiz. The flotilla marked the latest failed attempt by international activists to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. We speak to journalist Lina Attalah, who was on the Canadian boat named "Tahrir" in the flotilla and was deported to Egypt yesterday. She is the managing editor of Al-Masry Al-Youm, English edition, an independent news website. The Israeli navy "cornered our boats from all sides... We were all equally put at gunpoint. Even before they boarded our boat, everyone was put at gunpoint from Israeli ships," Attalah says. "Although we were clearly showing that we are journalists, Jihan Hafiz, for example, who is a Democracy Now! journalist, had her press card out and clear, but she was one of the first people asked to kneel on her knees and to raise her hands." Attalah said some passengers were tasered. [includes rush transcript]

  • U.S. Drone Kills 16-Year-Old Pakistani Boy Days After He Attends Anti-Drone Organizing Meeting

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    A group of Pakistanis met in Islamabad late last month to discuss the impact of U.S. drone strikes in their communities. One of the attendees was a 16-year-old boy named Tariq Aziz, who had volunteered to learn photography to begin documenting drone strikes near his home. Within 72 hours of the meeting, Aziz was killed in a U.S. drone strike. His 12-year-old cousin was also killed in the Oct. 31 attack. "People were aware of the threat to them. Yet they volunteered—Tariq, in particular, because he, at his age in that remote community, was familiar with computers, was excited about the idea of being able to document the civilian casualties," says reporter Pratap Chatterjee, who met Aziz days before he was killed. As part of a larger investigation on the CIA-led U.S. covert drone war, Chatterjee and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that drone strikes in Pakistan have killed at least 392 civilians, including 175 children. "I question as to whether the CIA is really attempting to identify people before they kill them," he says. "It would have been so easy for the CIA, the ISI, to come question these kids, to have taken them aside, even put them in jail or interrogated them... But instead they chose to kill them." [includes rush transcript]

  • Egypt’s Military Widens Crackdown as Prominent Blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah Remains Imprisoned

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    The mother of prominent Egyptian political activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah began a hunger strike yesterday protesting her son’s detention by the country’s military council. Fattah was arrested last week after being accused of instigating clashes between military forces and Coptic Christians nearly a month ago at the state television building, Maspero. At least 28 people were killed in the incident. As calls among activists grow for limiting U.S. military assistance to Egypt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the United States is not in favor of imposing any conditions on American aid. Democracy Now! correspondent Anjali Kamat is in Cairo and filed this report. Special thanks to Jacquie Soohen of Big Noise Films and Mosireen and Sarah Carr for footage. [includes rush transcript]

  • 10,000 Surround White House to Protest Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

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    More than 10,000 protesters surrounded the White House on Sunday calling on President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The protest came exactly a year before the 2012 election, and the pipeline is shaping up to be a major political issue. Last week, President Obama said for the first time he will make the final decision on whether to approve the controversial 1,700-mile pipeline proposed by TransCanada, which would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands fields to refineries in Texas. Up until now, Obama said the final decision rested with the State Department. "[Sunday’s protest] really underlined that this has become not only the biggest environmental flash point in many, many years, but maybe the issue in recent times in the Obama administration when he’s been most directly confronted by people in the street," said leading environmentalist Bill McKibben, a key organizer in the protest. [includes rush transcript]