Notes from the desk of peace activist Polly Mann (b. Nov. 19, 1919)

Julian Assange, a journalist in danger

Remember him? He’s the Australian founder of the website “WikiLeaks” who ended up in a London jail on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse. He could spend the rest of his life in the U.S. prison in Florence, Colo. He was in the news again when the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei staged a silent protest over his treatment, claiming authorities have a responsibility to protect press freedom and that Assange is a journalist entitled to protection. Assange could, no doubt, benefit from expressions of similar concern from journalists worldwide.

THE SAME MAN: George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) and Evelyn A. Waugh

Both were from what Orwell called “the British lower-upper middle class” and their era was that of the Spanish Civil War and they are both important historical figures. They each left accounts of their survival in the English private school system, called “public schools” there. It’s a harsh portrait of the helpless and continual sadism and snobbery of which they were victims. Blair at a later age confronted the bully who was attacking him. As for Waugh, he was always brash and ready to fight.
The world they lived in after the war was changing. Orwell became a zealot for justice and Waugh came to know how objectification, sensuality and aimlessness distort one’s humanity. The Catholic peace advocate Dorothy Day once had a four-hour meal with Evelyn Waugh during which they debated whether the poor or the rich had the best of it in the world.
There are nine chapters in the book, alternating from Orwell to Waugh and back again. Dorothy Day recognized these two writers first and foremost as workers, laboring with their hands, putting many hours into their craft. For her, anything of goodness, beauty and truth were the fruits of God-given vocations. Although the two men died over 50 years ago, their place in history is assured.

COVID vaccinations

Israel leads the world in per capita COVID vaccinations, with more than a million and a half Israelis having been vaccinated. Authorities estimate officials can administer the vaccine to some two million Israelis before the end of March, if not earlier, and hopes to have the bulk of the population vaccinated by the end of March, but not the Palestinians living there. Israeli officials contend that Palestinians living in the area don’t fall under their jurisdiction under the terms of the Oslo accords and that it is the job of the Palestinian Authority to procure and distribute vaccines in the occupied territories. Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein explained: “I don’t think there is anyone in this country, whatever his or her views might be, who can imagine that I would be taking vaccines from the Israeli citizen and with all the good will, give it to our neighbors.” Evidently Mr. Edelstein considers Palestinians “neighbors” but not worthy of vaccines.

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