So much to say!

If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.” Jane Eyre

Well, Qaddafi’s conscience seems to approve his actions, while the rest of us are left scratching our heads and wondering about his sanity. If you find a good English translation of the transcript of his speech tonight, Tuesday Feb 22, 2011, please let me know. I pity the translators the news agencies had attempt to translate his rambling tonight, but honestly, I’m still a little confused by most of his hour and a half long diatribe. And if you don’t know at all what I’m talking about, please look up here or here, (or really any news site) and put the Libyan people in your thoughts, as really I don’t think anyone can predict how far Qaddafi will go in his quest to stay in power. He is supposedly bombing his own capital city, Tripoli, and has ordered fighter jets and helicopters to shoot on peaceful demonstrators in the streets below. Fun facts about Muammar Qaddafi: he is the longest-serving of all current non-royal national leaders and one of the longest serving rulers in history. He is also the longest-serving ruler of Libya since Libya, then Tripoli, became an Ottoman province in 1551.

What else is there?! Check out protests in Bahrain and Yemen especially. Nicholas Kristof has good posts on happenings in Bahrain here.

In Palestinian news, the Obama administration on Friday exercised its first veto at the UN, vetoing a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. All other 14 members of the Security Council backed the resolution, which had been endorsed by the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). Most likely, the Obama administration was under intense pressure from Israel and Congress, with its strong pro-Israel lobby (check out AIPAC), to use its veto. And yet, this veto risks a LOT of anger in a region and time of mass street protests. In fact, there were demonstrations on Friday, after the vote, in multiple West Bank cities against the US veto; there were demonstrations on Sunday in Ramallah (though semi in conjunction with solidarity with the Libyan people and Bahrain? I was confused, and wasn’t actually present, being in a deep coma after my exhausting but wonderful vacation). And there is a “Day of Rage” (named after the now-infamous Day of Rage in Egypt just a few weeks ago) planned in Ramallah for this Friday, endorsed by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, against the US veto.

Some facts on settlements: There are nearly half a million Jews/Israelis who live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are held to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this (I’m not exactly sure how you can dispute this). You can check out credible sources of information: B’Teselem or the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get both sides of the argument, both from Israeli organizations. Or the Palestine Monitor. Or just google it.

Plus Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister, resigned last week, along with his entire cabinet. Most here assume it was to appease any potential protests against Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, similar to those that rocked Egypt and Tunisia and are currently rocking many Arab countries. Though, Fayyad actually resigned once already from Abbas’s government, back in 2009, after elusive power-sharing talks for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

So, like I said, a lot of news to catch up on. Considering I had such a wonderful 5-day break from reality, touring Prague and Budapest! Yes, we only made it to two cities, missing the bus to Vienna as we mistakenly assumed that, it not being tourist-season, we did not need to pre-book anything. But, the trip was amazing, and expect posts in the coming days about our adventures. For now, here are some pictures of the freezing, beautiful cities.

Castle in Budapest with an unpronounceable name!

Mass graveyard at the Great Synagogue in Budapest. And yes, it snowed our first night there.

Surreal, beautiful Budapest

More pictures tomorrow, as my internet is just too slow to upload anymore!

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