Kareem Khan poses with images of his deceased brother Asif Iqbal (L) and son Zaenullah during an interview in Islamabad November 30, 2010.(Reuters)
The UK-based human right group Reprieve is reporting that drone strike victim Kareem Khan has been released after enduring nearly 10 days of interrogation and torture related to his anti-drone activism.
Khan went missing February 5, when he was abducted from his home in the Pothohar region of Pakistan by men in police uniforms.
At the time of his disappearance, Khan was preparing to travel to Europe to testify before parliament about the CIA drone strike that killed his son and brother in 2009.
Furthermore, Khan’s lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, was helping him pursue legal action against the Pakistani police for their refusal to investigate the strike.
He told Al Jazeera that he was “blindfolded and handcuffed for eight days in a basement ‘torture chamber’, where he was beaten and physically abused.” Read more
In the fourth episode of our podcast (we’re working on a name, I swear), Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Chloe Gleichman from the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) about three Michigan activists who face up to two years behind bars for participating in nonviolent direct action to prevent the construction of an Enbridge Inc. tar sands pipeline.
Last summer, three members of MI CATS—Vicci Hamlin, Barb Carter and Lisa Leggio—locked themselves to excavators at an Enbridge construction site to block the the expansion of a pipeline that ruptured in 2010, flooding the Kalamazoo River with 800,000 gallons of crude oil. On January 31, the three were found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and resisting and obstructing police, a felony that carries with it a maximum two year prison sentence. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for March. Until then, they are stuck in prison because the judge denied them bond.
It’s a crime how little attention this story has received. These nonviolent activists are on the front lines of preventing the transport of Canadian tar sands oil, which threatens the health and safety of the entire planet. Their communities are directly impacted by the havoc these pipeline companies and their dirty product wreak. Meanwhile, the system that’s supposed to be protecting them is instead colluding with oil companies to muzzle and imprison their victims. These brave activists need and deserve our support.
I’m not sure when but very soon you will be able to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, where you can download it automatically. But before that can happen, we need to come up with a name. In the spirit of listener-powered media and community engagement, we’d love to hear your ideas for possible names and of course we will credit you and give you many shout outs if we your suggestion is the winner. You can leave your recommendations in the comments section or tweet us at @kgosztola and @raniakhalek. We look forward to hearing from you! Read more
For the third episode of our new yet-to-be named podcast, FDL’s Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Project at the ACLU of Massachusetts, about how US authorities at all levels of government have used post-9/11 hysteria to go after activists and militarize the hell out of local police departments. Kade walks us through history, explaining the origins of US government agencies spying on, infiltrating, torturing and killing political dissidents, much of which continues to take place today under the guise of fighting terrorism.
Kade regularly blogs about this stuff at Privacy SOS, which you should definitely check out. You can follow her on twitter at @onekade.
After having our minds blown by Kade’s brilliant and terrifying analysis, Kevin and I go on to discuss recent news items, including Scarlett Johansson’s new gig as global brand ambassador for occupation-profiteer Sodastream, the New York State Senate passing an unconstitutional bill to punish academic organizations that endorse boycotting Israel, a disturbing series of lawsuits against police body cavity searches that amount to sexual assault, and more absurdity from the NATO 3 trial. You can listen here:
Three people have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department alleging that officers subjected them to publicly invasive strip searches last year. The suit calls the behavior of the officers “extreme and outrageous, exceeding all bounds of human decency.” Read more
Jordan Baker, a 26-year-old Houston Community College student and father, “took his last breath in a trash-strewn alley behind a Northwest Houston strip center” on Thursday, January 16, all because he was a black man wearing a hoodie.
Houston police officer J Castro, an 11-year veteran who was moonlighting as a security guard for the strip mall that night, was on the lookout for hoodie-wearing armed robbery suspects. Castro says Baker, who was unarmed, matched the description and he shot and killed him as a result.
In the second episode of our new podcast, Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), about the NSA surveillance as it relates to and impacts Muslim communities. This part really stood out and should leave you outraged:
The saddest thing I’ve ever heard as a CAIR staff attorney, and I hear lots of sad things, was when a young guy told me that when he goes to the mosque to pray, his mom warns him to be careful. And the mom warns him to be careful because there’s an understanding based on experience that the mosque is likely filled with informants and infiltrators that are not there to make us any safer but there to extract information from innocent Americans by any means necessary.
That’s right, for once a conversation about NSA spying that focuses, not on white dude bros, but its impact on marginalized communities. Gadeir also breaks down the roots of NSA spying, which was cultivated and justified through the vilification of Muslims.
Next, Kevin and I discuss several news items, including the brain-dead Texas woman kept on life support despite her and her families wishes because she’s pregnant, a series of unfortunate StandYourGround cases in Florida and the NATO 3 trial being largely ignored by the mainstream media. We also ponder the likelihood of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offering to send the NYPD to attack Iran for Israel given his over-the-top masturbutory speech to AIPAC last week. Read more
For our new weekly podcast, Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola and I interviewed a resident of West Virginia about the chemical spill that left 300,000 people without usable water for days after 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal leaked into the Elk River earlier this month.
West Va. officials insist that the water is now safe to drink but residents are highly skeptical especially since it’s unclear just how harmful the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) is. On top of that, emergency rooms in Charleston filled up with residents reporting exposure-related symptoms after the drinking advisory was lifted and many say they can still smell the chemical in the air while others report that their water is running brown.
Kevin and I spoke with West Virginia resident Paula Swearingen, a single mother who’s joined up with others in her community to get water to people affected by the spill. Paula, who comes from a family of coal miners, details the terror of not knowing whether the water is safe to bathe in, let alone drink and describes the helplessness that comes with living in a state dominated by the coal industry. Read more