“They said, ‘We will protect you,’” he recalled. “I said, ‘We don’t trust you.’”
An article from the Times, Landowners Still in Exile From Unstable Pakistan Area. Pakistan again. As if in answer to the question, why they’re not returning, this article,
From the BBC News, Pakistani policeman decapitated, “The headless body of a police constable has been found in Mingora, the main town in Pakistan’s troubled Swat Valley.”
On the inability of the Pakistani military to rid the Valley of Taliban presence, if not control, I take this from the Prairie Pundit: “It’s an insane dream to expect anything different from the Pakistani government,” said Ali Wazir, a South Waziristan native and a politician with the secular Awami National Party. “The Taliban are the brainchildren of the Pakistan army for the last 30 years. They are their own people. Could you kill your own brother?”
There’s a lot going on in the world (always has been) and the newspapers, struggling on paper, are thriving online, and online are bringing us the news. Reporters and now a myriad others, who write about what’s happening, do not lack. And prominent among them are those who continue to venture into the unsafe areas of the Globe and come back, most of them, with their stories.
Other than the foreign correspondents and reporters, who keep us abreast of what’s happening, who are the ones who make things happen? Who are the real movers and shakers in today’s world? According to Bret Stephens in today’s WSJ these are, and still are, the dissidents. And the question Stephens raises in his op ed piece is how much we, meaning in particular President Obama, should support them.
The most dangerous countries this year for journalists were not the three countries, Cuba, China, and Iran, where over one half of the 177 journalists now imprisoned are being held (is it safe in prison?) but the three countries, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia where one half of the 27 journalists murdered so far this year have died. Still, there are hundreds, thousands of reporters out there reporting back to us.
But Stephens is not talking about the contribution to a better life for us all made by the journalists, but the even greater contribution made by the dissidents. On a list of the most inspiring figures of the last 50 years, says Stephens, the political dissidents will weigh heavily at the top of it: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, to name just a few of the most well known.
Now Russian and Iranian dissidents are active, and being imprisoned and murdered, as just last week Natalya Estemirova was found dead by a roadside with gunshot wounds to her head and chest, and for the most part we don’t even know their names, let alone do we question their governments as to their condition and whereabouts.
Yet if the past is to be listened to the future, our future belongs to these dissidents much more than to their executioners. Should Obama be more outspoken in their behalf? Stephens is asking the question and answering it in the affirmative.
We are sorely troubled by a decapitation in the Swat Valley, by a murder in Chechnya. But, as if to bring us back from the brink, we read in the same publications about “Suds,” scheduled to take place at the White House at 6 pm on Thursday. That’s Happy Hour, and one can only hope that Suds will be a happy time for Barrack, James, and Skip.
One wants to join them with a beer on Thursday evening, and I will, and I’ll try to imagine what they will be saying to one another. They’ve already said in advance that there will be no apologies, but the beer might change all that.
And then, as if to strengthen that movement away from the brink, we read on these same web pages that the good people of the town of Greenville, Michigan, are now at risk of losing their town’s statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid,” a symbol of their proud Danish heritage.
Why? Well the copyright on the sculptor’s (that’s Edvard Eriksen, who died in 1959) work is still in force, for a full 70 years from the time of his death. And the good people of Greenville omitted to request permission from sculptor’s family to have their own little mermaid statue and bolt it to a pile of rocks on the muddy banks of the Flat River.
Does anybody want to take the measure of the distance between Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid story and the surviving members of the sculptor’s family who want to be paid? OK, not at all the distance separating the land owners of the Swat Valley and the Taliban. But what I’ll take away with me from the article is this:
“Annette Andersen, a resident of Kimballton, Iowa, headed a community group that raised the $12,000 needed to restore that town’s mermaid statue a few years ago. “Oh boy, I hope they don’t find us (referring to the ‘art police’),” says Ms. Andersen, when told about the controversy in Michigan.”
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