5 minute read
Austin Ramzy

With quiet courage and nonnegotiable dignity, Rosa Parks was an activist and a freedom fighter who transformed a nation and confirmed a notion that ordinary people can have an extraordinary effect on the world. In her declining health, I would often visit Mrs. Parks, and once asked her the most basic question: Why did you do it? She said the inspiration for her Dignity Day in 1955 occurred three months prior, when African-American Emmett Till’s murdered and disfigured body was publicly displayed for the world to see. “When I thought about Emmett Till,” she told me, “I could not go to the back of the bus.” Her feet never ached.

Mrs. Parks’ defiance led immediately to a 381-day bus boycottdrum majored by a 26-year-old Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.and ultimately to a nine-year march culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forced red states to comply with the Brown v. Board of Education decision rendered a decade earlier. Her righteous indignation literally changed the world. Long before the Internet, the mother of the civil rights movement cast her global net from the long walk to freedom of Nelson Mandela and black South Africans to the temerity of Chinese students who, against tanks at Tiananmen Square, dared to challenge unjust government policies. Mrs. Parks, who died last week at age 92, was never driven by any political agenda, and she was never abrasive. She united us all with peace and perseverance. God bless her soul, and may the light of liberation forever shine.
By the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

CAPTURED. CHHOUK RIN, 51, former Khmer Rouge commander convicted in absentia in 2002 for his role in a deadly train raid; in Anlong Veng, Cambodia. In 1994 fighters led by Chhouk Rin attacked a train bound for the coastal city of Sihanoukville, killing 13 Cambodians and abducting Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet, Briton Mark Slater and Australian David Wilson. The three backpackers were executed after ransom negotiations collapsed weeks later. Sentenced to life in prison but free while his case was being appealed, Chhouk Rin fled after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and issued a warrant for his arrest in February. At the time of his capture, he was reportedly putting the finishing touches to a new wooden house, where he planned to live.

JAILED. MOHAMMED ABU DHESS, ASHRAF AL-DAGMA, ISMAIL SHALABI and DJAMEL MOUSTFA, for plotting to attack Jewish targets in Germany; in Dusselfdorf. Jordanians Abu Dhess, al-Dagma and Shalabi were sentenced to between six and eight years for planning attacks and forming a German cell of the radical Palestinian network al-Tawhid, headed by Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, who leads radical jihadis in Iraq. Algerian Moustfa was jailed for five years for plotting and supporting the group. Much of the prosecution’s case was built around the testimony of a former accomplice. All deny the charges.

CONVICTED. 43 of 47 defendants in France’s biggest corruption trial, including former ministers MICHEL ROUSSIN, 66, MICHEL GIRAUD, 76, and GUY DRUT, 54, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee; in Paris. Punishments ranged from fines to suspended jail sentences for involvement in a public-works scam that took kickbacks worth more than $80 million to renovate Parisian schools. Several of the defendants were allies of President Jacques Chirac, who was mayor of Paris at the time; he was protected from giving evidence by presidential immunity.

DIED. STELLA OBASANJO, 59, wife of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo; after cosmetic surgery at a Spanish clinic; in Marbella. The flamboyant first lady reportedly had an operation to reduce her body fat but died following complications that are now being investigated. Her death occurred just a few hours after a domestic plane crash claimed 117 victims, leading the President to declare a national day of mourning.

DIED. RONG YIREN, 89, the original “red capitalist” who helped open China’s economy to the world; in Beijing. Rong, who opted to stay on the mainland after the 1949 Communist takeover while other industrialists fled abroad, surrendered his business interests to the state in 1956 and took up a series of prominent government posts. Forced to sweep streets and haul coal during the Cultural Revolution, he was later rehabilitated by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping to help promote international commerce. In 1979 he founded the China International Trust & Investment Corporation (CITIC), a key player in attracting foreign capital to the mainland and investing Chinese funds overseas. Although never a member of the Communist Party, Rong served as China’s Vice President from 1993 to 1998; in 1999 and 2000 Forbes magazine named him the richest man in China.

The United States has never been thrilled about China’s taste for fake Viagra and knockoff fashion, but has resisted using trade mechanisms to force a crackdown on piracyuntil now. Last week, Washington invoked a seldom-used World Trade Organization rule to demand that Beijing explain what it’s doing to enforce intellectual property rights. The move could pave the way for a WTO case against China. “If China believes that it is doing enough to protect intellectual property,” U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said last week, “then it should view this process as a chance to prove its case.”

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