On AMANPOUR. today, we focus on human rights and freedom of speech in China. Christiane speaks, in a global exclusive, with leading Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei, who designed the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has continued to highlight injustice through both his art and through social media like Twitter, despite surveillance, threats and physical attack. We ask Ai Weiwei about his art, the role of the social web and digital activism in China and beyond, as well as about the challenging role he plays on the world scene as an artist and social activist in China. That’s not the only story we are focusing on today. Here are some perspectives.
Sr. Writer, AMANPOUR.
MIDDLE EAST – Is the diplomatic dispute between U.S. and Israel worsening?
– U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell postpones trip to Middle East amid heightened tensions over Israel’s decision to build 1,600 new homes on disputed territory
– Dozens of masked Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli police and burn tires in east Jerusalem
– U.S. demanding that Israel abandon construction project, a demand that Israel calls “unreasonable”
QUESTION: Will growing tensions between U.S. and Israel be accompanied by new violence by Palestinian protesters furious at Israel?
ZIMBABWE – How close is the country’s beleaguered national unity government to collapse?
– South African President Jacob Zuma travels to Zimbabwe today to try to prevent collapse of Zimbabwean government
– Members of opposition MDC are supposed to share power in Zimbabwe, but the party says at least four ministers have been stripped of their powers
– Ruling ZANU-PF party and MDC also fighting over appointments of attorney general and reserve bank governor, powerful positions that have gone to President Mugabe’s supporters
QUESTION: Does President Zuma have the political clout to end the crisis in Zimbabwe?
U.S. SPYING – Did Pentagon money fund a rogue U.S. spying operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
– U.S. Department of Defense investigating $24m information gathering contract that may have been used instead to run an ad hoc spy ring in Afghanistan and Pakistan
– Contract to three private companies was meant only to gather what’s called “open source” information from unclassified sources, such as local media and public events
– Concerns some of the contractors may instead have hired local agents to collect intelligence on movements and locations of certain individuals, and passed information to military
QUESTION: Is the U.S. intelligence community relying too much on private contractors to provide it with information on war zones?