Monday, July 31, 2006

France: Iran plays stabilizing role in Middle East

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy says Tehran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East – 'a great country, a great people and a great civilization'

Iran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East which is playing a stabilizing role, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Monday.

"It was clear that we could never accept a destabilization of Lebanon, which could lead to a destabilization of the region,"

Douste-Blazy said in Beirut. "In the region there is of course a country such as Iran – a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region," he told a news conference.

The United States blames Iran and Syria for destabilizing the region by backing Hizbollah in Lebanon which have been battling Israeli forces for nearly three weeks.


An Unfair War

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" - Mahatma Gandhi


Saturday, July 29, 2006

More Time To Bomb

Warning, this video contains images of death and destruction that you may find distressing.

To all the people in Lebanon caught up in this who never asked for it.

Hezbollah Politicians Back Peace Package

Hezbollah politicians, while expressing reservations, have joined their critics in the government in agreeing to a peace package that includes strengthening an international force in south Lebanon and disarming the guerrillas, the government said.

The agreement - reached after a heated six-hour Cabinet meeting - was the first time that Hezbollah has signed onto a proposal for ending the crisis that includes the deploying of international forces.

The package falls short of American and Israeli demands in that it calls for an immediate cease-fire before working out details of a force and includes other conditions.But European Union officials said Friday the proposals form a basis for an agreement, increasing the pressure on the United States to call for a cease-fire.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday they too want an international force dispatched quickly to the Mideast but said any plan to end the fighting - to have a lasting effect - must address long-running regional disputes.

"This is a moment of intense conflict in the Middle East," Bush said after his meeting with Blair in Washington. "Yet our aim is to turn it into a moment of opportunity and a chance for broader change in the region."

By signing onto the peace proposals, Hezbollah gave Western-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora a boost in future negotiations.

Going into Thursday night's Cabinet session, Hezbollah's two ministers expressed deep reservations about the force and its mandate, fearing it could turn against their guerrillas.

"Will the international force be a deterrent one and used against who?" officials who attended the Cabinet meeting said in summing up Hezbollah cabinet ministers concerns. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the debate.

But afterward, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi announced that the package had been agreed on by consensus in a rare show of unity by a divided administration.

While all sides seemed to be looking for a way to stop the fighting, details of plans taking shape on all sides were still fuzzy. And it was not at all certain Hezbollah would really follow through on the Lebanese government plan that would effectively abolish the militants' military wing. It may have signed on to the deal convinced that Israel would reject it.

But the agreement presents Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with a package she might find hard to ignore when she returns to the region.The plan approved by the Cabinet was an outline that Saniora presented at an international conference in Rome on Wednesday.

It starts out with an immediate cease-fire. Following that would come:

the release of Lebanese and Israeli prisoners;

Israeli withdrawal behind the border;

the return of Lebanese displaced by the fighting.

moves to resolve the status of Chebaa Farms, a small piece of land held by Israel and claimed by Lebanon.

The proposal calls for the U.N. Security Council to commit to putting the area under U.N. control until a final demarcation of the border.

the provision by Israel of maps of minefields laid during its 18-year occupation of the south.

"the spreading of Lebanese government authority over the entire country," meaning the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south, with the strengthening and increasing of the small, lightly armed U.N. peacekeeping force currently there.


The "hiding among civilians" myth

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

Read the full article Here

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hizbullah support tops 80 percent among Lebanese factions

According to a poll released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February.

More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.

Lebanese no longer blame Hizbullah for sparking the war by kidnapping the Israeli soldiers, but Israel and the US instead. The latest poll by the Beirut Center found that 8 percent of Lebanese feel the US supports Lebanon, down from 38 percent in January.


As predicted, the current crisis in Lebanon is having the opposite effect than the one desired. Has the world still failed to learn the lesson that bombing these militia groups just gives them more support and strength from the local communities regardless of the different religious elements within the country . Surely the fact that eighty percent of Christians in Lebanon support Hezbollah's fight with Israel should alone convince the sceptics that the plan is just not working.

Still quite some way to go in winning those hearts and minds it seems ...

British PM urged: Stand up to Bush and call for ceasefire

Tony Blair will face fresh pressure over the Middle East crisis today when he arrives in Washington to meet President George Bush. Senior Downing Street aides said the two leaders intended to show the world they were seeking an urgent end to the hostilities in Lebanon, despite the failure of the much vaunted Rome summit on Wednesday to deliver a unified call for a truce.

Israel's Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, added to the pressure yesterday, when he interpreted that indecision as a green light to continue the bloody assault on Lebanon.

"We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world... to continue the operation," he told reporters.

The Prime Minister's visit takes place as 42 leading figures in politics, diplomacy, academia and the media put their names to a declaration urging Mr Blair to tell the President that Britain "can no longer support the American position on the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle-East". Their declaration, printed on the front page of today's Independent, calls on the Prime Minister to "make urgent representations to Israel to end its disproportionate and counter-productive response to Hizbollah's aggression".


In Pictures - Today In Gaza Picture Album

- WARNING - graphic pictures

With the worlds focus on Lebanon. it seems the tragedy in Gaza is not being noticed.Here are the latest graphic images depicting the reality and horror of Israel's Invasion and destruction of Gaza.

Map Showing Israeli Bomb Strikes in Lebanon

Click the map to gain more detail...

Map provided by

Bolton Is Still Unfit to Serve

The president wants Congress to permanently appoint John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N., but a year on the job shows just how bad Bolton has been.

Bolton's nomination failed to gain Senate passage last year due largely to the opposition of Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), who poignantly asked: "[W]hat message are we sending to the world community when we…appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves? These are the very characteristics that we're trying to dispel in the world community."

Read the full aricle Here.

Belgian Jewish Leader: Israel Committing War Crimes

Jewish associations have begun to react against the Israeli offensive into Lebanon. Head of the Union of Belgian Jewish Progressives (UPJB) Dr. Jacques Ravedovitch stated that Israel is committing war crimes in Lebanon.

In an interview with Zaman in Brussels, Ravedovitch said that while former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon committed indirect war crimes, current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is unquestionably a war criminal.

Dr. Ravedovitch said it is a shame that Jews who were once exposed to the holocaust are doing the same evil things against another nation today. According to Ravedovitch, anti-Semitism is from time to time misused by Israeli statesman, and the recently intensified Israeli offensive into Lebanon has increased hatred for Israel.


Reflective truth

A history of terror: 60th anniversary of Zionist bombing the King David Hotel

91 people died, among them 28 British, 41 Arabs and 17 Jews. One IZL fighter was killed inside the hotel, after the explosives had been set.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Five Myths That Sanction Israel's War Crimes

By Jonathan Cook

Horowitz is keen to bang the square peg of the Lebanon story into the round hole of his claims that the “Jews” are facing an imminent genocide in the Middle East. And to help him, he and the massed ranks of US apologists for Israel ....

...Unless they are challenged at every turn, the danger is that they will win the ground war against common sense in the US

Read the full article Here.

Norway 'Nazi cartoon' irks Israel

Israel's ambassador to Norway has complained to press regulators about a cartoon showing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert as a Nazi concentration camp commander. Miryam Shomrat told the BBC the caricature in Oslo's Dagbladet newspaper went beyond free speech.

Ms Shomrat said it would be open to prosecution in some European countries. Dagbladet's editor said the caricature was "within the bounds of freedom of expression," according to Norway's NRK state broadcaster. Ms Shomrat made the official complaint to the Norwegian Press Trade Committee following the publication of the cartoon on 10 July.

In an interview with the BBC's Europe Today, she said however that her protest could not be compared to the outcry in the Muslim world over the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Lars Helle, Dagbladet's acting editor-in-chief, said the newspaper was taking the complaint seriously. "But I do not fear that Dagbladet will be found guilty," Mr Helle told the NRK.

The cartoon shows Mr Olmert standing on a balcony in a prison camp. He is holding a sniper's rifle and a dead man is seen lying on the ground.

The drawing clearly alluded to the Hollywood film Schindler's List, in which a sadistic Nazi commander shoots Jewish prisoners for fun, according to Dagbladet.


Refugees Have Only Their Anger

Among hundreds of thousands of refugees scattered across city parks, schools and abandoned buildings in Beirut, new and chilling words have been doing the rounds.

A senior Israeli Air Force official announced on Israeli Army Radio that "Army chief of staff Dan Halutz has given the order to the air force to destroy 10 multi-storey buildings in the Dahaya district (of Beirut) in response to every rocket fired on Haifa."

Hezbollah rockets continue to be fired into northern Israel. The rocket fire has led to 17 deaths in Israel so far.

But the Israeli officer's announcement came like warning of more collective punishment of civilians for the Hezbollah attacks. The Geneva Conventions seem forgotten. And the attacks seem set to continue. Brigadier General Alon Friedman of the Israeli Army announced on Israeli Army Radio that "the scope continues to grow in recent days...we are advancing." Friedman said Israeli military operations will continue at least another 10 days.

The announcements sounded new alarms of more death and destruction to come - and more refugees. Reports of new fighting were coming in Tuesday, and more violence was bound to add to the swell of refugees. The Israeli military pushed deeper into Lebanon towards the town of Bint Jbail.

Hezbollah has been hitting back. Two Israeli soldiers were killed and at least 17 were injured in fighting there, according to local reports. Hezbollah claims it shot down a U.S.-built Israeli Apache helicopter inside Israel. Thus far, at least 20 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the worsening conflict. Hezbollah claims it also destroyed five Israeli tanks in the area.

Fierce fighting was reported again in southern Lebanon, with nearly constant gunfire and explosions. And as the Israeli advance continued, Beirut was preparing for yet more refugees. It is estimated that at least 900,000 Lebanese have been displaced already from their homes by the Israeli onslaught.

"The Israelis bombed all around our house, so we left 12 days ago," 50-year-old Supinesh Attar from the southern city Nabatiye told IPS at a refugee camp inside a city park in downtown Beirut. "We had no water or electricity since the beginning of the attack, so we fled for our lives." Attar, sitting on a bench holding a piece of bread he had just been handed by a volunteer, said he was always hungry and did not know where he would go from here. "My family of 12 is scattered all around Beirut. I am the only one in this park."

Sarjoun Namdi, a relief worker at the camp, told IPS that the camp in the park had dealt with between 3,000 and 4,000 refugees. "Each day we have between 600-700 coming, and we try to move them to a safer place," he said as Israeli jets roared above. "This place has bad hygiene, and not enough food and diapers."

Nearby, a relief worker pleaded with a large family to relocate to a school in the area so they could have shelter. The family refused to leave the park for fear they would have no food and water at the new location. Relief agencies continue to struggle to operate effectively in war-torn Lebanon. International relief groups continue their appeal for safe access to southern Lebanon, as tens of thousands of refugees remain stranded there, and countless wounded, with little assistance.

International relief agencies are warning of a humanitarian disaster unless their supplies are allowed through. Aside from being impeded by the violence, they are being held back by the ongoing Israeli air and sea blockage. The widespread destruction of infrastructure by Israeli air strikes is also limiting access. The Lebanese Red Crescent is still continuing to work round the clock to reach the wounded, and to distribute food, water, blankets and mattresses.

The International Committee for the Red Cross has provided some assistance, but remains mostly limited by lack of safe passage to the south. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office is primarily distributing potable water, and other supplies when possible.

Given the limitations of the refugee agencies, the bulk of relief to the displaced and wounded is being provided on a grassroots level. The various refugee camps in schools and city parks that IPS visited were being managed by Hezbollah, local non-government organisation groups, mosques, churches, and just ordinary people.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Indiscriminate bombs for indiscriminate bombing

From Human Rights Watch:
(Beirut, July 24, 2006) – Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today. Researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.

“Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “They should never be used in populated areas.”

According to eyewitnesses and survivors of the attack interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Israel fired several artillery-fired cluster munitions at Blida around 3 p.m. on July 19. The witnesses described how the artillery shells dropped hundreds of cluster submunitions on the village. They clearly described the submunitions as smaller projectiles that emerged from their larger shells.

The cluster attack killed 60-year-old Maryam Ibrahim inside her home. At least two submunitions from the attack entered the basement that the Ali family was using as a shelter, wounding 12 persons, including seven children. Ahmed Ali, a 45-year-old taxi driver and head of the family, lost both legs from injuries caused by the cluster munitions. Five of his children were wounded: Mira, 16; Fatima, 12; ‘Ali, 10; Aya, 3; and `Ola, 1. His wife Akram Ibrahim, 35, and his mother-in-law `Ola Musa, 80, were also wounded. Four relatives, all German-Lebanese dual nationals sheltering with the family, were wounded as well: Mohammed Ibrahim, 45; his wife Fatima, 40; and their children ‘Ali, 16, and Rula, 13.

Human Rights Watch researchers photographed artillery-delivered cluster munitions among the arsenal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) artillery teams stationed on the Israeli-Lebanese border during a research visit on July 23. The photographs show M483A1 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, which are U.S.-produced and -supplied, artillery-delivered cluster munitions. The photographs contain the distinctive marks of such cluster munitions, including a diamond-shaped stamp, and a shape that is longer than ordinary artillery, according to a retired IDF commander who asked not to be identified.

Israeli bomb kills UN observers

Four United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in an Israeli air strike on an observation post in south Lebanon.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was "shocked" at the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the post. Israel has expressed "deep regret".

More than 380 Lebanese and 42 Israelis have died in nearly two weeks of conflict in Lebanon, which began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on 12 July.

The UN in Lebanon says the Israeli air force destroyed the observer post, in which four military observers were sheltering.

It said the four, from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, had taken shelter in a bunker under the post after it was earlier shelled 14 times by Israeli artillery.

A rescue team was also shelled as it tried to clear the rubble. "I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon," Mr Annan said in a statement from Rome.

Unifil has been operational in the border area since 1978 and is currently 2,000 strong.


Shocking (HT to Dining for the Heads up)

U.S. plan for Lebanon likely to fail, Arab analysts

A vision of a new Middle East emerging from the conflict in Lebanon as outlined by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice drew ridicule on Monday from mainstream Arab analysts and former Arab diplomats.

Several of them said the United States and Israel had little if any chance of achieving their stated goals of disarming the guerrilla group Hizbollah and deploying the Lebanese army or an international buffer force along the Israeli-Lebanese frontier.

"I think it's preposterous. From the beginning this is a plan that cannot be achieved," former Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher told Reuters. In the meantime, by giving the green light to an Israeli offensive which has killed more than 300 civilians and done damage worth billions of dollars, the United States has helped stir up hatred and extremism in a troubled region, they say.

Rice said that on her trip to the Middle East, which began on Monday, she would not try to restore the status quo which existed before a Hizbollah raid into Israel this month. "What we're seeing here, in a sense, is ... the birth pangs of a new Middle East and, whatever we do, we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one," she added.

Maher, who was also ambassador to Washington for many years, said: "In fact what the United States wants to have is a tame Middle East. That's what they call a new Middle East." Mohamed el-Sayed Said, a political analyst who worked in Washington and takes part in "civil society" meetings with visiting U.S. officials, said he was shocked by the latest twist in U.S. policy towards the region.

"What kind of Middle East will be born from this destruction? The only new thing we can get is new determination on the part of Hizbollah or the people of Lebanon to resist Israel and cause it as much pain as possible," he said. The Arab analysts drew parallels with the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the U.S. refusal to back an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon, which they said amounted to endorsement of Israel's bombing campaign.

Both policies are associated with the neoconservative school of thought in Washington, which holds that Israel is a natural ally of the United States and that preemptive force must be used to defeat threats in the early stages. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, an expert on Iraq and Shi'a Islam, said the administration wanted to use the Israeli offensive against Hizbollah "as a wedge to convince Syria to give up rejectionism and detach itself from Iran".

But he added: "Syria is not going to give up its stance toward Israel unless it at the very least gets back the occupied Golan Heights." Hesham Youssef, a close aide to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, said U.S. policy on the Lebanese violence was incoherent because it could not serve U.S. interests. "I don't see where the benefit is for the United States, or even to Israel, because Israel has succeeded in creating a whole generation, if not more, of people who would continue to hate Israel much more than they can imagine," he told Reuters.

Said, who is also deputy director of the Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies, said it was out of the question that Hizbollah would go along with the U.S. proposals.

"Why should they accept such a silly thing? They don't have internal pressure inside Lebanon to accept this ... They still have an enormous fighting capability," he said.

Emad Gad, an analyst who specialises in the Arab-Israeli conflict at the Al-Ahram Center, said he took the new Middle East to be a retreat from the democratic Middle East Washington said it wanted to a reliance on traditional allied Arab governments.

"That's because the (old plan) brought Hamas in Palestine, brought a large percentage for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The peoples in the Arab world now are more radical and more hostile to U.S. policies than the regimes," he said.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Didn't you get the memo?

Dershowitz and Grades of Human Beings

Alan "Torture is OK" Dershowitz is annoyed that the Israelis have been accused of killing innocent civilians. He is now arguing that there are degrees of "civilianity." He wonders how many innocent civilians killed by Israel in Lebanon would still be innocent if we could make finer distinctions.

(He should read the Lebanese newspapers and he would get the answer. One third of those killed by the Israelis are children. I'd guess they are all civilian all the time. And then there are the families, like the Canadian women, children and men blown up at Aitaroun. I suppose they are really civilians. Etc. )

Continue reading Here

A great article that states the obvious with a healthy dose of satire (a must read)

The west's moral erosion has undermined the war on terror

It is essential for the US and its allies to abide by the same rules they seek to impose on others. This principle is being flouted

Morality in foreign policy is often subjective. The US administration is confident that it represents the forces of democracy and freedom, and thus feels free to do whatever it judges best to promote these fine things. Israel perceives Palestinians and Arabs as committed to its destruction, justifying any action taken against them. Some in the Muslim world see no prospect of frustrating western cultural, economic and military dominance on western terms of engagement, and so choose other methods - such as suicide-bombing - that better suit their weakness.


Lebanese Doctor Says 'Phosphorus Weapons' Cause Suffering

CNN video correspondent, Karl Penhaul, follows a family that had been mistakenly caught in an Israeli air strike. The doctor treating the family says that there is phosphorus in the weapons that cause extremely painful burns on it's victims


100 More Lives End Violently in Iraq

Outside their Sadr City home, relatives wept as their slender bodies were placed into makeshift wooden coffins and strapped side by side atop a minibus for the perilous trip through Sunni Arab country to the Valley of Peace cemetery in Najaf, where Shiites bury many of their dead.

Their father beat his chest and wailed in misery, his white dishdasha robe covered in his sons' blood.

Read the full tragic details Here

Pakistan 'building reactor for 50 nukes'

Pakistan is reported to be building a nuclear reactor that could produce enough plutonium for up to 50 nuclear weapons a year.

Satellite photographs show what appears to be the construction site for a larger nuclear reactor next to Pakistan's only plutonium production reactor, according to an analysis by experts at the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

The new reactor would be a major expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and could intensify the arms race in South Asia, according to the assessment, initially reported by The Washington Post and posted on the instituter's website.

Analysts conclude that the diameter of the structure's metal shell suggests a very large reactor "operating in excess of 1,000 megawatts thermal," according to the report.

"Such a reactor could produce over 200kg of weapons-grade plutonium per year, assuming it operates at full power a modest 220 days per year," the technical assessment said.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Tyre still under heavy bombardment (video)

Israel has kept up its air attacks on southern Lebanon, with the city of Tyre heavily targeted. Fergal Keane spoke to some residents still in the city, and some who have been injured. Some viewers may find images in this report disturbing.

A must watch BBC Video (windows media required)

Other BBC videos on the conflict.

UN appalled by Beirut devastation

Two die in rocket attacks on Haifa

Anti-war Tel Aviv rally draws Jewish, Israeli Arab crowd

More than 2,500 people on Saturday attended a demonstration against the war in Lebanon, marching from Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to a rally at the Cinemateque plaza.

The rally was the first of its kind protesting against the IDF's offensive in Lebanon. Unlike previous anti-war protests in israel, major Arab organizations in Israel - among them Hadash and Balad -participated in the event in large numbers.

They were joined by the left flank of the Zionist Left -former Meretz leader Shulamit Aloni and Prof. Galia Golan, alongside the radical left of Gush Shalom, the refusal to serve movement Yesh Gvul, Anarchists Against the Wall, Coalition of Women for Peace, Taayush and others.

These Jewish and Arab groups ordinarily shy away from joint activity. They couldn't come up with a unifying slogan this time either, except for the call to stop the war and start talking. However, protest veterans noted that in the Lebanon War of 1982 it took more than 10 days of warfare to bring out this many protesters, marking the first crack in the consensus.

The protest drew some new faces, like Tehiya Regev of Carmiel, whose two neighbors were killed in a Katyusha attack on the city. "This war is not headed in the right direction," she told Haaretz; "the captured soldiers have long since been forgotten, so I came to call for an immediate stop to this foolish and cruel war."

The rally, which received wide international press coverage, had a theme unfamiliar from previous demonstrations here. Beside the usual calls for the prime minister and defense minister to resign, this was a distinctly anti-American protest. Alongside chants of "We will not kill, we will not die in the name of Zionism"

there were chants of "We will not die and will not kill in the service of the United States," and slogans condemning President George W. Bush.


Also worth reading Orthodox Jews Demand End to Zionist Atrocities in the Middle East

U.S.: Soldiers Tell of Detainee Abuse in Iraq

Torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal, according to new accounts from soldiers in a Human Rights Watch report released today. The new report, containing first-hand accounts by U.S. military personnel interviewed by Human Rights Watch, details detainee abuses at an off-limits facility at Baghdad airport and at other detention centers throughout Iraq. In the 53-page report, "No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers' Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq," soldiers describe how detainees were routinely subjected to severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures. The accounts come from interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, supplemented by memoranda and sworn statements contained in declassified documents.

"Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk," said John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch. "These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional ? on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used."

Read the full article Here

Report: Hizbullah willing to talk

Hizbullah agreed to allow the Lebanese government to begin negotiations regarding kidnapped IDF soldiers, speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri revealed on Sunday.

Berri stressed that prior to any talks on a prisoner swap, a cease-fire must be in place. Earlier, Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh told a French news agency that the soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were in "good physical condition."

This was the first time the Lebanese government released any statements about the two soldiers, who were captured by the Hizbullah 12 days ago. He also called on the UN - or any other third party - to mediate a prisoner exchange between the Hizbullah and Israel.

No word had been heard from Goldwasser, 31, and fellow reservist Regev, 26, since they were captured July 12 by Hizbullah guerrillas who attacked their patrol on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border.

Goldwasser's father, Shlomo, 59, said last week that he was desperate for word on his son's condition. "I'm not a politician. I can speak only as a father," he said. "I'm hoping the kidnappers will make demands to prove that my son is OK." The family has previously asked for the guerrillas to let international humanitarian organizations visit Ehud Goldwasser so they can find out their condition.

Israeli officials appealed last Wednesday to a gathering of about 100 diplomats to ask their respective governments to help get information on the captives, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

"It would be very valuable and very welcome to the families. It would be valuable humanitarian information," he said.

"Everything has a price. I don't think there will be some sort of move to free Gilad without a price. That's not the way it works in the Middle East," said Noam Shalit. "There is no reason not to consider this after this incident in order to free someone who was sent by the state to the front lines," he said.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tsunami death toll rises to 650

A tragic story that has been missed by so many who are focusing on the crisis in the middle east is the tragic deaths of over 650 innocents after the tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Java on Monday.

The tsunami, triggered by an undersea earthquake, struck a 200km (125-mile) stretch of Java's southern coast. Towns hardest hit are showing signs of a return to normal, but many people are still too scared to return home.

Read more on the tragedy Here

America's domestic policy vs America's foreign policy

This week, George Bush used his presidential veto to block a bill on stem cell research, saying he couldn't support the 'taking of innocent human life'. In Iraq, six civilians are killed by a US air strike, while casualties in Lebanon and Israel mount. George Bush (and Tony Blair) oppose UN calls for an immediate ceasefire

An interesting read Here

From Israel to Lebanon

Take a look for yourself

U.S. Rushes Bombs to Israel

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

Continue reading at the Source

Click here to view the results of Americas bombs (warning ) shocking images

My source ICH and of course a HT to Stefan for sending me the original New york times link

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stocks and Bombs

From :

"Meanwhile, the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya, called again for an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli corporal, Gilad Shalit, whose capture by Palestinian militants on June 25 touched off the crisis in Gaza. Mr. Haniya said the call for a prisoner swap was “a national Palestinian demand.”"

- It seems even the New York Times believes that the capture of Gilad Shalit was the cause of, and not merely excuse for, the current conflagration. Of course, as the proud U.S. example has shown, justifications for war are entirely mutable and Israel now speaks little of Mr. Shalit, shifting its speeches instead to the need to defend against a "regional threat".

One suggestion for the demanded prisoner exchange: perhaps Mr. Shalit could be exchanged for 15 or so Palestinian prisoners, that being approximately the current value of one Israeli life compared to one non-Israeli life.

1.0 to 0.06

If you're trading in lives and you happen to be a son of's a very good market.

Handwritten letter from President Saddam Hussein to the American people.

By Saddam Hussein

To the American people:

Peace upon those who believe in peace and desire it, and the mercy of God and His blessings.

I address you in this letter from the place of my confinement, as my attempt on the basis of my moral, human, and constitutional responsibility so that no one among you might say that no one came to us with a message of peace after the war began, refuting the arguments for it and desiring peace for you and for our upright, loyal, heroic people. And as I say this, I do no know whether my brothers and comrades who are leading the Resistance outside the prison have come to you with a letter before or not. That is because the “democracy” of your leaders has prevented me since my arrest and until now from getting newspapers and magazines or hearing radio and television and has isolated me from the world and has isolated the world from me so that I might not hear or see anything from outside my place of confinement.

Read the full letter Here : Translated from the original Here (pdf)

Collective Punishment Isn't Self-Defense

Neither the United States nor Israel is equivalent to Nazi Germany, yet both countries have adopted a Nazi-like obsession with collective punishment. Israeli Defense Forces, which subject centers of Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank to curfews and encirclement by barbed-wire fences, taught their techniques to U.S. occupation troops in Iraq.

After Islamist suicide pilots killed 3,000 Americans in the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government justified the killing of 200,000 Afghans and Iraqis as an act of "self-defense."

Read the full article Here

"Swearing to Success"

Another clasic animation from Mark Fiore.


U.S. Is A Terrorist State

Interview with Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky explains the reality of Israel's actions to Canadian interviewer Evan Solomon.

The show is Hot Type on CBC

Part 1

Part 2

Chomsky: ... Let's take a look at the Middle East, let's take a look at facts. The facts are, for 35 years, there has been a harsh, brutal, military operation. There has not been a political settlement. The reason that there has not been a political settlement is because the United States, unilaterally, has blocked it for 25 years. Just recently, Saudi Arabia produced a highly praised plan for political settlement. The majority of the American population supports it. The majority of the population also thinks the United States ought to be more active in the Middle East. They don't know that that's a contradiction in terms. The reason that's a contradiction in terms is the following: In the Saudi Arabia plan is a repetition of a series of proposals, which go back to 1976 when the UN Security Council debated a resolution calling for a settlement, in accord with the Saudi plan, to state settlement on the internationally recognized borders. With arrangements to guarantee the rights of every state in the nation to exist in peace and security within secure and recognized borders.

That was January 1976. OK, that was actually in accord with official U.S. policy. Except for one thing. It called for a Palestinian State in the territories; Israel wouldn't leave the occupied territories. That was vetoed by the US. It was supported by the Arab states, it was supported by the PLO, supported by Europe.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Israeli press on the mess

From Ha'aretz with help from Jez:
Every neighborhood has one, a loudmouth bully who shouldn't be provoked into anger. He's insulted? He'll pull out a knife. Spat in the face? He'll draw a gun. Hit? He'll pull out a machine gun. Not that the bully's not right - someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction! It's not that he's not feared, but nobody really appreciates him. The real appreciation is for the strong who don't immediately use their strength. Regrettably, the Israel Defense Forces once again looks like the neighborhood bully. A soldier was abducted in Gaza? All of Gaza will pay. Eight soldiers are killed and two abducted to Lebanon? All of Lebanon will pay. One and only one language is spoken by Israel, the language of force.

The war that the IDF has now declared on Lebanon and before it on Gaza, will never be considered another "war of no choice." Let's save that debate from the historians. This is unequivocally a war of choice. The IDF absorbed two painful blows, which were particularly humiliating, and in their wake went into a war that is all about restoring its lost dignity, which on our side is called "restoring deterrent capabilities." Neither in Lebanon nor certainly in Gaza, can anyone formulate the real goals of the war, so nobody knows for sure what will be considered victory or an achievement. Are we at war in Lebanon? With Hezbollah? Nobody knows for sure. If the goal is to remove Hezbollah from the border, did we try hard enough over the last two years through diplomatic channels? And what's the connection between destroying half of Lebanon and that goal? Everyone agrees that "something must be done." Everyone agrees that a sovereign state cannot remain silent when it is attacked within its own borders, though in Israel's eyes Lebanese sovereignty was always subject to trampling, but why should that non-silence be expressed solely by an immediate and all-out blow?

In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years with or without a trial - but only we're allowed to do that. And only we're allowed to bomb civilian population centers.

Lebanon's 9/11 or Why Do They Hate Us?

What exactly do our politicians mean when the say we support Israel in its action against Lebanon? What is it that they support? Surely not this carnage?

Warning . Graphic images depicting the reality and horror of Israel's Invasion and destruction of Lebanon.

These images are very distressing and I strongly advice you not to click on the following link unless you are prepared to see Images of death and destruction and you are confident that you will not be adversely affected by these shocking images. If you are not sure you are able to view such a sickening scene then please do NOT click on the link

If you have accepted the warning and decide to proceed then the link to the pictures are Here

Civil war spreads across Iraq

Civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims is spreading rapidly through central Iraq, with each community seeking revenge for the latest massacre. Yesterday a suicide bomber driving a van packed with explosives blew himself up outside the golden-domed mosque in Kufa, killing at least 59 and injuring more than 130 Shia.

In the past 10 days, while the world has been absorbed by the war in Lebanon, sectarian massacres have started to take place on an almost daily basis, leading observers to fear a level of killing approaching that of Rwanda immediately before the genocide of 1994. On a single spot on the west bank of the Tigris river in north Baghdad, between 10 and 12 bodies have been drifting ashore every day.

In Kufa, a city on the Euphrates 90 miles south of Baghdad, the suicide bomber drove his vehicle into a dusty square 100 yards from a Shia shrine at 7.30am. He knew that poor day-labourers gathered there looking for work. He reportedly said: "I need labourers" and they climbed into his van, which exploded a few moments later, killing them and other workers near by. "Four of my cousins were killed," said Nasir Feisal, who survived the blast. "They were standing beside the van. Their bodies were scattered far apart by the blast."

The severe escalation in sectarian killings started nine days ago when black-clad Shia militiamen sealed off the largely Sunni al-Jihad district in west Baghdad and slaughtered every Sunni they identified, killing more than 40 of them after glancing at their identity cards. Since then there has been a tit-for-tat massacre almost every day.

On Monday, gunmen - almost certainly Sunni - first attacked Shia mourners at a funeral near Mahmoudiya, a market town 20 miles south of Baghdad. They then shot another 50 people in the local market.

The failure of the newly formed government of Nouri al-Maliki to stop the mass killings has rapidly discredited it. The Shia and Sunni militias - in the latter case the insurgents fighting the Americans - are becoming stronger as people look to them for protection. After the explosion in Kufa angry crowds hurled stones at the police demanding that the militiamen of the Mehdi Army, followers of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, take over security in the city. Others chanted at the police - who began to fire in the air to disperse them - "you are traitors!" and accused them of being "American agents".

In much of Baghdad the militias have taken over and are killing or driving out the minority community. It has become very easy to be killed anywhere in central Iraq - where a third of the 27 million population lives - through belonging to the wrong sect. Many people carry two sets of identity papers, one forged at a cost of about $60 (£30), so they can claim to be a Sunni at Sunni checkpoints and Shia at Shia checkpoints.

Even this may not be enough to ensure survival. Aware of the number of forged identity papers being used, Mehdi Army checkpoints in the largely Shia Shu'ala district in west Baghdad have started to ask drivers questions about Shia theology which a Sunni would be unable to answer. One man, a Shia, passed the test but was still executed - because he was driving a car with number plates from Anbar, a wholly Sunni province.

While the White House and Downing Street still refuse to use the phrase "civil war", Iraqis in the centre of the country have no doubt what is happening. Baghdad's mortuary alone received 1,595 bodies in June, and it has got worse since then.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Teaching hate

A very sad image from the Sydney Morning Herald [with help from dining]:

Israeli girls write messages in Hebrew [and English - ed] on shells ready to be fired toward Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon.
Photo: AFP

Help for posting comments: 1) read the posting policy, violations will not be tolerated, so spend your time and energy wisely; 2) learn what a tu quoque ad hominem is, then recognise it is a fallacy and thus an invalid argument.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lebanon civilian deaths morally not same as 'terror victims' -- Bolton

US Ambassador John Bolton said there was no moral equivalence between the civilian casualties from the Israeli raids in Lebanon and those killed in Israel from "malicious terrorist acts".

Asked to comment on the deaths in an Israeli air strike of eight Canadian citizens in southern Lebanon Sunday, he said: "it is a matter of great concern to us ...that these civilian deaths are occurring. It's a tragedy."

"I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts," he added, while defending as "self-defense" Israel's military action, which has had "the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths".


Somewhere contained in the above post is a key to the reasoning behind the upsurge in anti US sentiment around the world. I am quite sure Mr Bolton would not spot it but I have no doubts that the family of the eight Canadian citizens would.

We would be hard pushed to find any kind of moral equivalence for Mr Bolton.

In full: Bush and Blair's unguarded chat (video)

A full transcript of the off-the-cuff conversation between US President George W Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair during a break at the G8 conference in Russia.

The president was caught on tape using an expletive as he described the actions of Hezbollah in attacking Israel. watch the video here (windows media plaer)

The two men start by discussing an exchange of gifts:

Bush: And thanks for the sweaters - I know you picked em out yourself...

Blair: Oh yes absolutely - in fact I knitted it!!!


Bush: What about Kofi Annan - he seems alright. I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.... But I think...

Blair: Yeah the only thing I think is really difficult is that we can't stop this without getting international presence agreed. I think what you guys have talked about which is the criticism of the [inaudible word). I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.

Bush: Yeah I think Condi's [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) gonna go soon.

Blair: Well that's all that matters but if you... You see at least it gets it going.

Bush: I agree it's a process...I told her your offer too.

Blair: Well it's only if she needs the ground prepared as it were. If she goes out she HAS to succeed whereas I can just go and...

Bush: You see the irony is what they need to is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's all over...

Blair: Dunno... Syria....

Bush: Why?

Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing...

Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah

Blair: Look - what does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine. Iraq goes in the right way

Bush: Yeah - he's [indistinct]

Blair: Yeah.... He's had it. That's what all this is about - it's the same with Iran

Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.

Blair: Yeah

BUSH: [indistinct] blaming Israel and [indistinct] blaming the Lebanese government....


BBC Travels into Southern Lebanon as Attacks Increase

Early this morning, a BBC crew ventured into Southern Lebanon where Israel's military is focusing the latest round of attacks. Often the sky is darkened by burning buildings. They pass one paper tissue factory that still has a few walls standing.

Israel had dropped leaflets warning civilians to get out of southern Lebanon and many were leaving. Everyone they talk to supports Hezbollah while anger at Israel has reached a boiling point

Sunday, July 16, 2006

continued israeli bloodshed ...

Kind of made me think a little bit; I don't necessarily agree with the last two phrases in the video, or at least how they are worded.

Wildly disproportionate attack on Lebanon seems like pretext to confront Iran

As Israeli firepower rained down on Lebanon last week, pundits here in the West wasted no time pinning the blame on — Iran.

"Iran and its radical allies are pushing toward war," wrote Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.

Washington defence commentator Edward Luttwak weighed in: "Iran's leaders have apparently decided to reject the Western offer to peacefully settle the dispute over its weapons-grade uranium-enrichment program."

In fact, Iran's leaders haven't rejected the "Western offer;" they've said publicly they will respond to it by Aug. 22. This isn't fast enough however to satisfy Washington, which considers the "offer" more of an ultimatum.

Is it really Iran that is pushing for war? Think about it. Why would Iran want to provoke a war with Israel and the U.S. — both heavily armed nuclear powers — when it has no nuclear weapons itself?

The U.S. and Israel, on the other hand, are very keen to attack Iran. In a recent series of articles in New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has detailed Washington's plans to attack Iran. Israel has called Iran a "major threat" that "must be stopped" from developing nuclear weapons.

But the U.S. and Israel don't want to look like aggressors. They insist their intentions are purely defensive. Recall that Washington also claimed its invasion of Iraq was purely defensive — to protect itself from Iraq's arsenal of deadly weapons, which, it turned out, didn't exist.

So when Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon seized two Israeli soldiers last week, a perfect opportunity arose. Since Hezbollah has links to Iran, presto, here was a prima facie case that Iran was gunning for confrontation.

Did the Western pundits who quickly embraced this theory ever consider that the Hezbollah militants, as well as the Palestinian militants in Gaza who captured a single Israeli soldier last month, might have had their own motives for striking Israel?

Certainly the Palestinians have endless grievances against Israel. In addition to four decades of Israeli military occupation of their land, Israel has attempted to destroy the Hamas government, which was democratically elected by Palestinians last January.

Hezbollah's seizure of the two Israeli soldiers was probably an act of support for the Palestinians in Gaza, who have been under Israeli military siege since the capture of the first soldier. Hezbollah also said it seized the soldiers because it wanted to trade them for Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails. A similar Israeli-Hezbollah prisoner exchange took place in 2004.

Abandoning Canada's traditional role as an honest broker in the Middle East, Prime Minister Stephen Harper unabashedly supported Israel last week, calling its devastating attacks on Gaza and Lebanon "measured."

If Israel is simply trying to "defend" itself, its actions are wildly disproportionate.

On the other hand, if Israel and the U.S. are looking for an excuse to attack Iran, the capture of the Israeli soldiers is as good as any.

Source Comment rules

Saturday, July 15, 2006


The situation in the middle east seems set to spiral out of control with reports coming in that the Israeli Air Force Will Likely Make a Pre-emptive Strike Against Syria. It appears that the slaughter and chaos raining down on Gaza and Lebanon is not enough.

To realise the death and destruction that is already being created by the Israeli air force, we need do no more than turn to Robert Fisk, whose article From my home, I saw what the 'war on terror' meant , certainly brings the reality back down to earth, regardless of the altitude that bombs in question were dropped from.

Israeli planes dropped a bomb on to the home of a Shia Muslim cleric. He was killed. So was his wife. So were eight of his children. One was decapitated. All they could find of a baby was its head and torso which a young villager brandished in fury in front of the cameras. Then the planes visited another home in Dweir and disposed of a family of seven.

I again find myself wondering about the differential in the value of human life . Of course every decent human being on planet earth understands the desire of Israel to protect its soldiers . Its need to have safe and secure borders and the right for its citizens to live in peace inside the 1967 internationally agreed boundaries. But the deaths of at least 63 Lebanese civilians seems to have less value to the worlds media than the fate of the missing soldiers. Violence breeds violence and Israel is already mourning the deaths of more of its soldiers than the operation was designed to save after an Hezbollah attack on an Israeli Navel vessel.

The escalation intensified when Israel Bombed the Beirut office of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, He wasn't there and very quickly made that point clear by broadcasting and address where he called for 'open war' against Israel.

Of course as we have already seen, when politicians overreact it is always the innocent civilians that receive the pain . It has not just been the Lebanese that are suffering due to this unnecessary tragedy. At least two Israelis , a woman and her 5-year-old grandson were killed, and four others were injured, when a Katyusha rocket fired by Hezbollah slammed into a home in Moshav Meron on Friday evening. It seems that the middle east is spinning into a roller coaster of destruction that will lead to nothing but more misery and hell in the Holy Land.

If you wish to comment on this article please take note of our Comment rules before posting.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bolton vs. Ha'aretz and the Observer

From his bully pulpit, U.S. ambassoador to the UN, John Bolton, had this to say yesterday regarding the recent events involving Israel:
"The United States worked hard with other delegations to achieve a more balanced text. One which acknowledged that Israeli military actions were in direct response to repeated rocket attacks into southern Israel from Gaza and the June 25th abduction of Israeli defense force corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas. Regrettably we were not able to reach agreement."

There we have it: the "they started it" arguement. Did they start it? Let's turn to the Israeli media on the matter. Let's see what Ha'aretz had to say on that very topic:
"We left Gaza and they are firing Qassams" - there is no more precise a formulation of the prevailing view about the current round of the conflict. "They started," will be the routine response to anyone who tries to argue [Israeli actions]...


So, who really did start? And have we "left Gaza?"

Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like "partition" and "an end to the occupation," did result in the dismantling of settlements and the Israel Defense Forces' departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip. Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be transported, sometimes not. Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year after the disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.

What could otherwise have been expected? That Israel would unilaterally withdraw, brutally and outrageously ignoring the Palestinians and their needs, and that they would silently bear their bitter fate and would not continue to fight for their liberty, livelihood and dignity? We promised a safe passage to the West Bank and didn't keep the promise. We promised to free prisoners and didn't keep the promise. We supported democratic elections and then boycotted the legally elected leadership, confiscating funds that belong to it, and declaring war on it. We could have withdrawn from Gaza through negotiations and coordination, while strengthening the existing Palestinian leadership, but we refused to do so. And now, we complain about "a lack of leadership?" We did everything we could to undermine their society and leadership, making sure as much as possible that the disengagement would not be a new chapter in our relationship with the neighboring nation, and now we are amazed by the violence and hatred that we sowed with our own hands.

What would have happened if the Palestinians had not fired Qassams? Would Israel have lifted the economic siege that it imposed on Gaza? Would it open the border to Palestinian laborers? Free prisoners? Meet with the elected leadership and conduct negotiations? Encourage investment in Gaza? Nonsense. If the Gazans were sitting quietly, as Israel expects them to do, their case would disappear from the agenda - here and around the world. Israel would continue with the convergence, which is solely meant to serve its goals, ignoring their needs. Nobody would have given any thought to the fate of the people of Gaza if they did not behave violently. That is a very bitter truth, but the first 20 years of the occupation passed quietly and we did not lift a finger to end it.

Instead, under cover of the quiet, we built the enormous, criminal settlement enterprise. With our own hands, we are now once again pushing the Palestinians into using the petty arms they have; and in response, we employ nearly the entire enormous arsenal at our disposal, and continue to complain that "they started."

We started. We started with the occupation, and we are duty-bound to end it, a real and complete ending. We started with the violence. There is no violence worse than the violence of the occupier, using force on an entire nation, so the question about who fired first is therefore an evasion meant to distort the picture. After Oslo, too, there were those who claimed that "we left the territories," in a similar mixture of blindness and lies.

Gaza is in serious trouble, ruled by death, horror and daily difficulties, far from the eyes and hearts of Israelis. We are only shown the Qassams. We only see the Qassams. The West Bank is still under the boot of occupation, the settlements are flourishing, and every limply extended hand for an agreement, including that of Ismail Haniyeh, is immediately rejected. And after all this, if someone still has second thoughts, the winning answer is promptly delivered: "They started." They started and justice is on our side, while the fact is that they did not start and justice is not with us. [Source]

Alright, that's all well and good, but what about the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25th? June 25th. Why did I type that twice? Let's turn to the Observer and find out why:
Few readers of a British newspaper would have noticed the story. In the Observer of 25 June, it merited a mere paragraph hidden in the “World in brief” section, revealing that the previous day a team of Israeli commandos had entered the Gaza Strip to “detain” two Palestinians Israel claims are members of Hamas.

The significance of the mission was alluded to in a final phrase describing this as “the first arrest raid in the territory since Israel pulled out of the area a year ago”. More precisely, it was the first time the Israeli army had re-entered the Gaza Strip, directly violating Palestinian control of the territory, since it supposedly left in August last year.

As the Observer landed on doorsteps around the UK, however, another daring mission was being launched in Gaza that would attract far more attention from the British media – and prompt far more concern. [Source]

We hear plenty about the June 25th abduction, but barely a peep about the June 24th abduction. Why is that?

A reminder: to avoid typing into the void read the comment policy.

Bush defends Israel, EU, Russia condemn attacks

RUSSIA and the European Union condemned Israel's strikes in Lebanon as a dangerous escalation of the Middle East conflict but the United States said Israel had the right to self defence.

US President George W. Bush spoke up for Israel's attack on Beirut airport, but warned the Israelis they should be careful not to weaken the fragile Lebanese Government.

"Israel has the right to defend herself," Mr Bush said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. His comments contrasted with comments from Russia and the European Union, which said there could be no justification for Israel's air and sea blockade on Lebanon.

"Actions, which are contrary to international humanitarian law, can only aggravate the vicious circle of violence and retribution," the EU presidency said in a statement. The comments came as a three-strong United Nations team headed to the Middle East to seek to defuse the crisis.

Mr Bush and Ms Merkel made clear at a joint news conference they felt Israel's actions in seeking kidnapped soldiers and responding to Hezbollah rocket attacks were justified.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced both Israel's attack on Lebanon and its operations against the Palestinian territories.

"This is a disproportionate response to what has happened and if both sides are going to drive each other into a tight corner then I think that all this will develop in a very dramatic and tragic way," he said.

Israel struck three airports including Beirut's and began enforcing a naval blockade of Lebanon, intensifying reprisals after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight in cross-border attacks yesterday. The Israeli attacks have killed 52 Lebanese civilians.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy called Israel's bombardment of Beirut airport "a disproportionate act of war", saying there was a real risk of a regional war.

Mr Douste-Blazy also condemned Hezbollah's firing of rockets into northern Israel and the seizure of the soldiers, telling Europe 1 radio these were "irresponsible acts".

"The only solution is a return to reason by both sides," he said. "We are calling for a lowering of tensions."

Hezbollah fired barrages of rockets into towns across northern Israel, killing one civilian and wounding 29 others in their heaviest bombardment in a decade. The violence is the worst between Israel and Lebanon since 1996 when Israeli troops still occupied part of the south.

Mr Bush said there was concern that any activities by Israel to protect herself would weaken the Lebanese Government.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

U.S. Arrests known terrorist - for fraud

Emmanuel Constant, former Haitian death squad leader, has been arrested in New York for mortgage fraud. Constant was convicted in absentia by a Haitian court for his crimes during the Raboteau Massacre of 1994. Constant had fled to America and ironically at the time the U.S. was demanding the extradition of Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks despite a lack of evidence against him, the U.S. was ignoring Haitian requests for the extradition of Constant, who was already convicted for his terrorist acts. The Haitians, of course, did not bomb the United States in response.

For more, please go to Democracy Now!

Israeli use of poisonous material alleged

The Palestinian health ministry accused Israel of using a new type of banned explosives containing poisonous material.

A ministry report released Monday said testimonies from surgeons in Palestinian hospitals indicated that "all 249 casualties inflicted by the Israeli war machine during the operation on Gaza which started on June 27 resulted from shrapnel of new and developed shells and explosives which cause amputation of limbs and burning of all the injured parts."

The ministry called on the international community and human rights organization "to send medical committees to examine the wounded and verify the existence of poisonous material in their bodies caused by Israeli weapons."

It also urged international organization to put pressure on Israel to stop using internationally banned arms against inoffensive and unarmed civilians.

The report indicated that "most casualties who were submitted to surgeries were caused by strong explosions that led to the amputation and carbonization of limbs while shrapnel caused small openings in the body through which internal parts, including intestines and spleen, are burned."

In a related development, the foreign ministry warned Monday that Israel's military operations and threats to expand its incursion in Gaza will not contribute to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis of the Israeli soldier abducted by three Palestinian factions, including Hamas which leads the Palestinian government.

The ministry said in a statement that "international idleness and silence over Israel's crimes do not contribute to boosting the rule of the law but encourages the law of the jungle and Israel's ignoring of all international norms."

Israel launched operation "Summer Rains" in Gaza two weeks ago in an attempt to free Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was abducted in an attack on the crossing of Keer Shalom between Gaza and Israel by militants from Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Islamic Army.


Further reading on the latest events in Israel/Palestine and lebanon....

Israel kills 23 in Gaza:
Nine Palestinians, including seven children, killed in Israeli airstrike :
UN impotence laid bare as Gaza suffers:
Report: Abbas threatens to resign:
End this punishment of the Palestinians :
The Influence of Israel and its American Lobby over US Middle East Policy:
Hezbollah Captures 2 Israeli Soldiers:
8 soldiers killed, 2 snatched in Hezbollah border attacks :
Israel hits Beirut targets :
U.S. blames Syria, Iran for kidnappings: (war pimp alert)
Brian Whitaker: Borderline beneficiaries:
Yesha rabbis call for 'extermination of the enemy': (Hmmm)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

US detainees to get Geneva rights

All US military detainees, including those at Guantanamo Bay, are to be treated in line with the minimum standards of the Geneva Conventions. The White House announced the shift in policy almost two weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled that the conventions applied to detainees.

President Bush had long fought the idea that US detainees were prisoners of war entitled to Geneva Convention rights. The Pentagon outlined the new standards to the military in a 7 July memo.

The directive says all military detainees are entitled to humane treatment and to certain basic legal standards when they come to trial, as required by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

The Bush administration has come under intense and sustained international criticism for its treatment of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The military has been using the site to house hundreds of detainees, many believed to have been picked up off battlefields in Afghanistan.

At the end of June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the Bush administration did not by itself have the authority to order that the detainees be tried by military commission. It said its decision was based on both US military law and the Geneva Conventions - asserting for the first time in US law that the detainees were entitled to Geneva protections.


India : 140 dead in rush hour terrorist attack on surburban trains

At least 140 people were killed and 257 injured in a string of seven terror blasts that tore through first class compartments of suburban trains around 6 p.m during the evening peak hour traffic here today.

As the blasts ripped apart train compartments, mangled bodies of passengers fell on the tracks and survivors, many of them bleeding profusely, jostled to come out leading to chaotic scenes.

The blasts occured between 6 p.m and 6.30 p.m at Mahim, Bandra, Matunga, Borivili, Mira Road, Jogeshwari and Khar when people from offices were returning home. Maharashtra Chief Secretary, D K Shankaran, put the number of death at 138 and the injured 257.

Hospital authorities in the city have confirmed arrival of over 100 bodies by 8:30 pm. A large number of injured, including commuters of the blasts-hit trains, were admitted to various government and private hospitals in various parts of the city.

Mumbai Police Chief, A N Roy, said "we are busy with rescue operations. Our first priority is to rescue the injured,'' he said. However, heavy monsoon downpours were hampering the effort.

AP Reports: Police were also reportedly carrying out raids across the country following the explosions, presumably in search of suspects. A television report said a suspect was in custody.

A senior Mumbai police official, P S Pasricha, said the explosions were part of a well-coordinated attack. The country's Home Minister said over television that authorities had information that an attack was coming, but did not know the time or place.

Witnesses reported seeing body parts strewn about stations, and television news channels broadcast footage of bystanders carrying victims to ambulances and searching through the wreckage for survivors and bodies. Some of the injured were seen frantically dialing their cell phones.

Continue reading Here

War Is Not A Game

This video is rapidly becoming a "defining" song for the peace movement. War Is Not A Game is written by combat veteran, emergency room physician, and congressional candidate Dr. Bill Durston.

Runtime 4 Minutes

Monday, July 10, 2006

Iraq to ask UN to end U.S. immunity after rape case

Iraq will ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops, the human rights minister said on Monday, as the military named five soldiers charged in a rape-murder case that has outraged Iraqis.

In an interview a week after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded a review of foreign troops' immunity, Wigdan Michael said work on it was now under way and a request could be ready by next month to go to the U.N. Security Council, under whose mandate U.S.-led forces are in control of Iraq.

"We're very serious about this," she said, blaming a lack of enforcement of U.S. military law in the past for encouraging soldiers to commit crimes against Iraqi civilians, such as the alleged rape and murder of a teenager and killing of her family. "We formed a committee last week to prepare reports and put it before the cabinet in three weeks. After that, Maliki will present it to the Security Council. We will ask them to lift the immunity," Michael said. "If we don't get that, then we'll ask for an effective role in the investigations that are going on. "The Iraqi government must have a role."

Analysts say it is improbable the United States would ever make its troops answerable to Iraq's chaotic judicial system. The day before handing formal sovereignty back to Iraqis in June 2004, the U.S. occupation authority issued a decree giving its troops immunity from Iraqi law. That remains in force and is confirmed in an annexe to Resolution 1546, the Security Council document that established the U.S.-led force's mandate in Iraq.

Many Iraqis have complained for the past three years about hundreds of civilians killed by U.S. troops and abuses such as those highlighted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal of 2004. But a handful of new U.S. investigations into incidents including the killing of 24 people at Haditha and the quadruple murder and rape at Mahmudiya have caused an outcry that prompted the newly formed national unity government to speak out.

Some government supporters have also added their voices to calls for U.S.-led forces to start withdrawing from Iraq soon. Michael said a failure by U.S. commanders to hold soldiers to account had fostered a climate of impunity among troops: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."

U.S. commanders insist troops are not immune from justice and must answer to U.S. military law. But officials concede that a flurry of cases reflect a crackdown aimed at restoring their credibility with Iraqis. Sixteen troops were charged with murder in Iraq in recent weeks, as many as in the previous three years.

Four soldiers were charged on Saturday with rape and murder in the Mahmudiya case, dating from March. A military official named them on Monday as Privates First Class Jesse Spielman and Bryan Howard, Sergeant James Barker and Specialist Paul Cortez. All are accused of conspiring with Steven Green, then a private in the 502nd Infantry Regiment, who was charged as a civilian with rape and murder in a U.S. court last week.

Civilian prosecutors say four soldiers went to the home after drinking, intending to rape 14-year-old Abeer al-Janabi and left a fifth manning their nearby checkpoint. They say Green shot Janabi's parents and 6-year-old sister, before he and one other raped the teenager and Green also then shot her dead. Sergeant Anthony Yribe was charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report what he knew of the case.


Further reading...

U.S. officials had said the girl was aged over 20. However, documents obtained by Reuters on Sunday showed she was 14.