An anti-drone activist and journalist has gone missing in Pakistan just days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with Parliament members about the impact of the U.S. drone wars. The legal charity Reprieve says Karim Khan was seized in the early hours of February 5 by up to 20 men, some wearing police uniforms. He has not been seen since. Khan’s brother and son were both killed in a drone strike. He criticized the U.S. drone wars in an interview with filmmaker Madiha Tahir for the film, “Wounds of Waziristan.”
Karim Khan: “You asked me a question about terrorism. Can I ask you one? What is the definition of terrorism or terrorist?”
Madiha Tahir: “I don’t know. What do you think it is?”
Karim Khan: “I think there is no bigger terrorist than Obama or Bush, those who have weaponry like drones, who drop bombs on us while we are in our homes. There are no greater terrorists than them.”
Khan was also engaged in legal proceedings against the Pakistani government for their failure to investigate the killings of his son and brother. The executive director of Reprieve, Clare Algar, said in a statement, “We are very worried about Mr. Khan’s safety. He is a crucial witness to the dangers of the CIA’s covert drone program, and has simply sought justice for the death of his son and brother through peaceful, legal routes.”
A three-year-old girl in Kabul has been diagnosed with polio, marking the first case of the disease in the Afghan capital since 2001 when the U.S. invaded. The BBC reports the girl has been paralyzed by the disease. There were 14 polio cases reported in all of Afghanistan last year. The Afghan Health Ministry has launched a vaccination campaign in Kabul.
In Afghanistan, a suicide car-bomb attack on a convoy killed two NATO contractors in Kabul Monday. The blast wounded seven Afghan civilians.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing its largest anti-government protests in nearly two decades. The protests have spread across the country, shutting down the capital Sarajevo on Monday after erupting in the northern city of Tuzla last week. A Tuzla University professor described the protests’ launch.
Damir Arsenijevic: “What happened here is that the people of Tuzla, of the Tuzla region, finally said that they had had enough of the nepotist, the corrupt and the unprofessional government, a government that for the past 20 years hasn’t listened to the people and their anger and wrath, a government which does not see that the people are hungry and unemployed, that they have no chance for a future. And what happened is that the people took matters into their own hands and stepped up to take part in creating their own future. That’s what happened.”
Bosnia’s unemployment rate is estimated to be between 27 and 40 percent. The political frustration stems at least in part from U.S.-brokered peace accords in the 1990s that established an unwieldy political system in Bosnia.
State regulators in North Carolina are facing claims they intentionally blocked lawsuits against Duke Energy, the company behind one of the worst coal-ash spills in U.S. history, in order to shield Duke, where Republican Gov. Pat McCrory worked for 28 years. Earlier this month, a Duke coal-ash pit spilled enough toxic sludge to fill more than 70 Olympic swimming pools. Now, the Associated Press reports that over the last year, following the election of McCrory, North Carolina’s environmental agency blocked lawsuits over Duke’s coal-ash pits three times, eventually shielding all 31 pits from potential lawsuits. The agency proposed settlements for a fraction of Duke’s worth that did not require Duke to clean up the pits. Beyond his work for Duke, McCrory’s campaign and affiliated groups have received more than a million dollars in recent years from Duke and related groups and individuals. The state agency has also admitted it wrongly declared arsenic levels in the Dan River safe after the spill; arsenic in one sample was actually four times higher than maximum levels for prolonged contact.
In West Virginia, Freedom Industries, the company responsible for last month’s chemical spill that left 300,000 people without drinking water, decided to skip a congressional hearing on the fallout Monday. During the hearing, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito questioned the president of the water utility, West Virginia American Water.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito: “Is the water safe to drink?”
Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water: “As a water company, we don’t set the safe standards, but we are in compliance with all the standards set by the health-based agencies, like the CDC, the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health, and we have been since the 13th of January. Yet I recognize the customers’ fear associated with the smell of something in their water.”
The hearing in West Virginia failed to definitively establish whether the water is actually safe to drink. The state’s highest health official, Letitia Tierney, said she believes the water is “usable,” but added, “everybody has a different definition of safe.” There are reports the water still smells like licorice — a sign of contamination by the chemical MCHM.
The Obama administration is delaying new requirements for employers to provide health insurance to workers under the new healthcare law. The new rule had already been delayed until January 2015. Now, medium-size employers will have until 2016 to comply, while larger employers will only need to cover 70 percent of full-time workers by next year.
A former government contractor whose case ignited a firestorm over the Obama administration’s targeting of journalists has pleaded guilty to leaking documents on North Korea to Fox News. Stephen Kim faces a likely sentence of 13 months in prison under the plea deal. Kim was charged under the Espionage Act, the nearly century-old law which was also used to classify Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in the case. Outcry over the government’s seizure of phone records from both Rosen and the Associated Press –- in an unrelated case –- prompted a change in Justice Department guidelines last year.
Newly released video shows U.S. forces abducting a terrorism suspect from outside his home in Libya last year. Abu Anas al-Libi was snatched from the streets of Tripoli and interrogated for a week aboard a U.S. warship following his capture in October. He is accused of helping plan the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and is currently awaiting trial in New York. Video from a closed-circuit camera, obtained by The Washington Post, shows men with guns jumping out of a van after trailing al-Libi, while another car blocks al-Libi’s path. The video also shows the panicked reaction of those in al-Libi’s home, who rush into the street after his capture.
In New York City, the trial is underway for an Occupy Wall Street activist whose March 2012 arrest ignited allegations of police brutality. Cecily McMillan reportedly suffered a seizure when she was arrested during an attempt by protesters to re-occupy Zuccotti Park six months after the start of Occupy Wall Street. When she appeared on Democracy Now! days later, she was limping and suffering from bruised ribs and what appeared to be a hand-shaped bruise over her right breast.
Cecily McMillan: “I ended a 40-something-hour stay in jail and ended up with all these bruises. I mean, that’s — I have an open case, so I can’t talk more about it, and I’m sure you can tell that it would be difficult for me to remember some things. But I have these.”
McMillan now faces up to seven years in prison on charges of second-degree assault. Police say she elbowed an officer in the head, but her attorney, Martin Stolar, says she was reacting to someone grabbing her right breast from behind, not realizing it was a police officer. The attorney said, “The main issue here is the heavy-handed, over-policing by the NYPD during the Occupy Wall Street protests.”
In New Jersey, state lawmakers investigating the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge by an ally of Gov. Chris Christie are issuing 18 new subpoenas in the case, including to Christie’s office, members of his inner circle and the state police unit overseeing Christie’s helicopter travel. Christie fired a top aide last month after it emerged she ordered the lane closures in an apparent act of political retaliation. Christie’s former ally at the Port Authority, David Wildstein, has since claimed Christie knew about the lane closures at the time, a claim Christie has denied. Christie, who is head of the Republican Governors Association, is in Illinois today to raise money for his Republican colleagues. Amid the bridge scandal, none of Illinois’ Republican candidates for governor are expected to attend Christie’s events.
Barclays bank is planning to cut up to 12,000 jobs while raising bonuses for its investment bankers. Barclays says up to 9 percent of its workers may lose their jobs, even as the bank raised bonuses at its investment bank by 13 percent, paying out nearly $4 billion last year.
The cultural theorist Stuart Hall has died at the age of 82. Dubbed the “godfather of multiculturalism,” Hall was a Jamaican-born sociologist who lived and taught in Britain for decades. He was a founding editor of the journal New Left Review and a key figure in the development of cultural studies. He discussed cultural studies in a 2012 interview with Sut Jhally of the Media Education Foundation.
Stuart Hall: “I’ve always thought that cultural studies had to have a political dimension. By that I don’t mean that it had to be recruited to a particular party line or particular political position, but that if your task was critical thinking, you were bound to question the boundaries, the hierarchies, the orthodoxies, the established views, and that was itself a political project, a challenge to existing forms of knowledge.”