Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Break

I don't know who reads this blog other than a few commentators, for which I am always grateful. Sometimes, and that sometime is now, the weight of the news just overwhelms the capacity for empathy. That usually means that one should take a break from ranting. I am not sure ranting isn't just self serving. However, we can't do much else other than donate money (to the U.N. and related organizations) and work for political candidates that might, in some far distant future, get us out of this tragic mess.

See you soon.

Revelations 2:25-27

And there will be things stranger than fiction in the world....
N.Korean leader Kim takes secretary as wife: Yonhap
Sat Jul 22, 2006 10:39 PM ET

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has taken his former secretary as his new wife, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, citing sources familiar with the country.


She studied piano at the North's elite Pyongyang University of Music and Dance ......

"She is a cute woman rather than a beauty like the leader's previous wives or live-in women," another South Korean government source said.


(pic from TBogg)

Now its up to W....

Precision Bombing with American Bombs

Two injured Lebanese boys are seen at the crowded Nejm Hospital while waiting for treatment at the southern Lebanon city of Tyre, Sunday, July 23, 2006. Villagers from the village of Et Tiri were evacuating their village in a convoy toward Tyre when they came under attack by an Israeli warplane . Several were injured including women and children. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

The Slow Trickle of Truth

Juan Cole this morning:
Sunday, July 23, 2006
War on Lebanon Planned for at least a Year

Matthew Kalman reveals that Israel's wideranging assault on Lebanon has been planned in a general way for years, and a specific plan has been in the works for over a year. The "Three Week War" was shown to Washington think tanks and officials last year on powerpoint by a senior Israeli army officer


The Israelis tend to launch their wars of choice in the summer, in part because they know that European and American universities will be the primary nodes of popular opposition, and the universities are out in the summer. This war has nothing to do with captured Israeli soldiers. It is a long-planned war to increase Israel's ascendency over Hizbullah and its patrons.
On the other hand:
The SS took twelve prisoners out of Buchenwald and forced them to take poison, shot them after they had put on Polish uniforms. An SS Officer yelled in Polish into a radio that they had come to invade Germany, and then the SS fled.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler told the Nazi Reichstag that Poland had tried to invade Germany, and the Wehrmacht was returning fire since 5:45 AM. Actually, in a carefully planned and highly mobile attack codenamed Fall Weiss (Case White) planned by Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Brauchitsch, German land, sea, and air forces were moving rapidly into Poland

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Puzzlement

You know, it seems like nobody in the Cheney administration is surprised about the MidEast war. When you look at the magnitude of the reprisals against Lebanon for the capture of two soldiers, it becomes just absurd. Could it be that they knew about this all along? Could our client Israel be taking the heat off Afghanistan and Iraq? And, of course, the elections are coming.

No, No, No. I am not cynical.

The Demonic Cycle

One more instance of where we break the law: As usual, it is about money:
FRIDA BERRIGAN: Sure. Almost all of the weapons used by Israel are from the United States. There might be a couple French fighter planes that they’re using, but its F-16s made in Fort Worth, Texas; its Apache helicopters; its Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles; it’s all from the United States. So you have this real disconnect between an overemphasis on the supply by Iran and Syria of Hezbollah's weapons and no discussion of the fact that all of the Israeli arsenal is from the United States, and that that is in contravention to U.S. law. to the Arms Export Control Act, which says that U.S.-origin weapons are only to be used for self-defense and for internal security.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And your report indicates that Israel has always been the largest recipient of military aid from the United States, but that that’s actually increased since 2001?

FRIDA BERRIGAN: We’re looking at incredible increases in U.S. military aid and weapons sales to Israel. Military aid stands at about $3 billion a year. That’s about $500 for every Israeli citizen that the United States provides on an annual basis. And then, weapons sales, most recently, since the Bush administration came into power, we’re looking at $6.3 billion worth of weaponry sold to Israel.

Israel's relationship with the United States is unique in a number of ways. And one of those ways is that essentially the United States provides 20% of the Israeli military budget on an annual basis, and then about 70% of that money that is given from the United States, from U.S. taxpayers, to Israel is then spent on weapons from Lockheed Martin and Boeing and Raytheon. Most other countries don't have that sort of cash relationship, where they go straight to U.S. corporations with U.S. money to buy weapons that are then used in the Occupied Territories and against Lebanon. (emphasis added)


Reprisals, Israel, Children and Mass Graves

It is now certain that Israel has bombed villages in the south of Lebanon in reprisal raids. They have admitted to it (video) and have "justified" these reprisals saying that villages may house Hezbollah rockets. Reprisal against defenseless civilians, particularly children, no matter what the underlying situation, is clearly a war crime. It is the basis of terrorism.

Remember, Israel signed the Geneva Conventions of 1949 with only a single reservation, that the Red Shield be substituted for the Red Cross:
Mr KAHANY, Delegate of Israel to the European Office of the United Nations and to the International Committee of the Red Cross, made the following declaration:

"In accordance with instructions received from my Government, I shall sign the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War without any reservation. But in the case of each of the other three Conventions, our signature will be given with reservations the purport of which is as follows:

(3) Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
"Subject to the reservation that, while respecting the inviolability of the distinctive signs and emblems provided for in Article 38 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949, Israel will use the Red Shield of David as the emblem and distinctive sign provided for in this Convention." (the other two reservations were the same except referring to armed forces)(emphasis added)
Why do I think that Israel will never be brought to justice for these crimes? Why do I think that America will never have to answer for the billions of dollars (my tax dollars) that have gone to buy these very bombs? Why do I find these photos of Israeli children inscribing these bombs as repugnant as a Nazi propoganda poster in its exploitation of children (for an analysis, see BagNotes, July 20, 2006)?

In some sense, I find this as disquieting as:

Eric Blair (George Orwell) would be astonished.

And, in Tyre, it was necessary to bury 80 bodies in a mass grave because there is no refrigeration to prevent corruption. Are mass graves compatible with civilization?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday Crab Blogging and more


Zoe's Octopus

Selective Bombing

A toy is seen in Beirut suburbs, after it was targeted by Israeli air strikes in southern Beirut July 21, 2006. REUTERS/Sharif Karim (LEBANON)

Sometimes its too sad for words.


Remini held Suri Cruise during L.A. visit Thu Jul 20, 10:27 PM ET

NEW YORK - We have a Suri Sighting. Although Suri Cruise has not been seen in public since her April 18 birth, Leah Remini, a friend of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, and a fellow Scientologist, says she has seen the infant.
Yes, this is on the same planet.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Some things never change

Grieving Soldiers

Why are these soldiers grieving? It is not because of this murdered child.

Why can't this man keep his hands to himself?

At some time one has to question his mental health.

August, 1914

And no one really knew what the war would be like. There had not been a general European war for ninety-nine years; there had not been any wars between European powers for almost half a century. Professional soldiers were well aware that weaponry had been revolutionized in that time, and that armies had vastly increased their firepower, but they weren’t sure what effect this would have on the battlefield or what tactics they should adopt. They would find out the hard way.

What White Powder?

Coulter Jokes to Reporter About Mailing White Powder to 'NY Times'

Massive Diplomacy

To the Editor:

The situation in the Middle East has become horrific. Why are we sitting quietly by? We should immediately use our influence as the most powerful nation on earth to stop the fighting. Every day numerous civilians, including children, die in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and even Israel. Every one of these deaths is a tragedy. The killing of innocent children is incomprehensible and unacceptable.

Sixty-one years ago the United States spearheaded the formation of the United Nations. The purpose of this organization was exactly the task that faces us today, restoring peace between warring peoples. Sadly, as the years have passed, our support of the UN has dimmed. This has been accompanied by our dependence on massive firepower to solve international problems. Three years after the incursion into Iraq we are bogged down and the country is in civil war. This should teach us, once again, that massive firepower in such situations, including nuclear weapons, is almost useless

The only hope for a viable resolution in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza is to reinvigorate the UN and deploy massive diplomacy. This should include negotiations with Syria and Iran. Many, many children’s lives are dependent on it.

But, I am not holding my breath.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yes, Mr. Bush, I AM Offended

The Federal definition of sexual harassment is a little more stringent than others:

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

*The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.

*The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

*The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

*Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.

*The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
Maybe I should bring a suit. Maybe I could bring an impeachment. There is precedent.


Decimation was a form of extreme military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth."

A cohort selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group cast lots, and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. The remaining soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside of the Roman encampment.
Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in the selected cohort were eligible for execution, regardless of rank or distinction.

A decimated Lebanese child.

Over 200 people have died in Lebanon, all but 13 of them civilians.

and: The violence in Lebanon has killed more than 200 people in Lebanon and at least 25 Israelis, most of them civilians. A family of eight Canadians visiting Lebanon was killed on Sunday.

Oh and this:
The Bush administration also has refused to yield to international calls to press Israel for a prompt end to its campaign against Hezbollah.

From here:
...warring parties are required to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects and to refrain from attacks that would disproportionately harm the civilian population or fail to discriminate between combatants and civilians. (emphasis added)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Who gets to define Moral?

This crude, unwholesome barbarian wouldn't know what was moral if his life depended on it.
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - 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" (emphasis added).
What is he, the Pope? Where does he get off telling me what is moral or not.

In my opinion, killing a child is immoral and never justified.

Crabs without comment

Stop Killing Little Children

Saja El-Akhras, 8, who was one of six Canadians from the same family that were killed in Lebanon Sunday, July 16, 2006 during Israeli bomb attacks. (AP PHOTO/CP, El-Akhras family)

Ahmad El-Akhras, 4

We have no control whatsoever over Hezbollah. However, we give Israel $3 BILLION a year, most of which goes to buy military hardware. Military hardware killed these children.

It is incumbent on America to stop the bloodshed in Lebanon, in Gaza and in Iraq.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A worthy reference

Gorilla's Guides gives us a reference that places the current conflict in the midEast, by far the most dangerous development there in many years, in context:

Questions and Answers on Hostilities Between Israel and Hezbollah

This document, from Human Rights Watch, does answer many of the questions you might have as to the legality of what Israel and Hezbollah are doing. I was a little bit perplexed in that it indicated that a blockade of Lebanon itself, including sea lanes, might be legitimate if it stopped the transfer of war materials to Hezbollah:
Is Israel’s blockade of Lebanon legitimate?
Israel has targeted the country's only international airport, imposed a naval blockade, attacked ports, and bombed road links out of the country. Blockades as a tool of war are legitimate under international humanitarian law; however, their imposition is still subject to the principle of military necessity and proportionality.

First, the blockade must not have as its primary purpose to intimidate, harass or starve the civilian population. Such actions are proscribed by international humanitarian law, which prohibits armed forces from deliberately causing the civilian population to suffer hunger, particularly by depriving it of its sources of food or supplies.

Second, insofar as Israel attempts to justify the blockade on the grounds of restricting the re-supply of the Hezbollah military, that legitimate purpose must be weighed against the costs to the civilian population. Those costs can also shift over time, as shortages of necessities intensify. Even if a blockade were assumed lawful at the outset, it could become unlawful if mounting civilian costs became too high and outweighed the direct military advantage. In those circumstances – for example, if food or medical supplies ran low – Israel would be obliged to permit free passage of material that is essential for civilians and to protect humanitarian personnel delivering those supplies.
I am sure that there is an Israeli lawyer that will argue persuasively that the blockade will not cause the type of harm to civilian population just described. But all one has to do is see the effect of the recent Israeli bombing and blockade of Gaza to realize that Israel views actions against the entire population as justified, even if it is only one or two soldiers who are in jeopardy. (the differentiation of these soldiers as captives vs. hostages is also open to interpretation).

Finally, we have a very short memory. In World War II some of the most horrific reprisals were taken against civilian populations when guerilla action was directed against occupying Nazis:
WWII Nazi murder suspect on trial

Niznansky denies killing 164 people in World War II
A former Nazi commander accused of ordering mass killings in occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II has gone on trial in Munich.
Ladislav Niznansky, 86, is charged with the murder of civilians in the final months of World War II.

He was a member of a Nazi unit that hunted down Slovak resistance fighters and Jews.

Mr Niznansky, a Czechoslovak who took German citizenship, denies having participated in the killings.

He is accused of having headed the Slovak section of a Nazi unit codenamed Edelweiss, after the Germans crushed an uprising against Slovakia's Nazi puppet government in 1944.

Mr Niznansky is accused of ordering the executions of the entire populations of two villages - Ostry Grun and Klak - that had been helping the partisans. Most victims were women and children.

Another Nazi massacre, Marzabotto:

Killing Children

I am going to hammer on this until it is resolved. There is absolutely no justification for killing children. None. We were wrong to do so in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were wrong to do so in Vietnam and more recently in Iraq, the insurgency is wrong to do so in Iraq, Hizbollah is wrong to do so in Northern Israel, and the Israeli are wrong to do so in Southern Lebanon. But the latter is the worse for the following reasons:
According to witnesses and photographs from the scene of the worst incident, an Israeli missile incinerated a car and a small truck full of families leaving their Lebanese border village of Marwaheen near Tyre after the Israeli army used loudhailers to tell residents they had just hours to go. Pictures showed charred bodies of children strewn across the road.

UN peacekeepers recovered the bodies. Half the passengers were children or teenagers, according to medical sources. It was the deadliest single strike since Israel started an air campaign against Lebanon after two of its soldiers were captured by Hizbollah on Wednesday.

Relatives gathered at a hospital to identify the dead said they came from two families - Abdallah and Ghanem.

Around 100 residents sought shelter at a nearby UN base, but left after officials were unable to confirm the warning by Israel, a UN spokesman said.

Other residents had tried later to leave and were killed in the missile strike, the spokesman said, adding that the Lebanese authorities had asked the UN to help evacuate about 160 people remaining in Marwaheen. They would be relocated in the morning. Relatives blamed the UN for the deaths, pelting peacekeepers with stones when they arrived with the bodies after the strike. (emphasis added)
This is not the action of a civilized government. It should not be tolerated. Where is the apology from Israel? (and don't throw 'where is the apology from Hizbollah at me' because it does not signify.)

This Man is Crazy

Just to think, ten years ago he was leading a Republican Revolution in Congress and was almost as powerful as Bill Clinton (who had the wisdom to snub him, making him leave by the tourist door on Air Force One).
Gingrich inflicted a severe blow to his public image by suggesting that the Republican hard-line stance over the budget was in part due to his feeling "snubbed" by the President the day before, after being forced to leave Air Force One via the back door during his return from Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel.
Now, this idiot is demanding that Bush declare that we are in World War III:
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so (link from Raw Story).
Gingrich said in an interview Saturday that Bush should call a joint session of Congress the first week of September and talk about global military conflicts in much starker terms than have been heard from the president.
Meantime, children are dying in the MidEast. If you are reading this far, and you continue to read my blog, please prepare yourself for a deluge of shrillness about this tragedy.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

And What Newspapers are you Reading, Dr. Rice?

From here:
"For the last 60 years, American administrations of both stripes — Democrat, Republican — traded what they thought was security and stability and turned a blind eye to the absence of democratic forces, to the absence of pluralism in the region. And out of that set of policies we got a situation that produced or helped produce al Qaeda and other extremist elements," she said. "That policy has changed."

Rice said that the United States' Middle Eastern policy now focuses on supporting democratic change in the region.
And she passed a PhD oral exam?

Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Election of 2006 in, what all agree, was a democratic election. (This did not suit Israel or the Bush administration and they immediately made efforts to subvert the results, such as cutting off aid and support to the people, including women and children.)

And in Lebanon itself:
Both participants and observers of the Cedar Revolution demonstrations have asked if the movement was influenced by recent local and regional events supporting democracy. Recent elections in Afghanistan, Iraq, and by the Palestinian Authority, a recent announcement that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will allow multiparty elections, and recent limited municipal elections in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, may have provided examples of movement toward democratic governance. (emphasis added)
We see what support Dr. Rice is giving to the Cedar Revolution. She won't even think about leaving her paramour in St. Petersberg to try and stop the killing in Lebanon.

PR at its best

The Forgotten War

Least this become the forgotten war:
At Least 31 Seized at Iraq Olympic Meeting
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen kidnapped the chairman of Iraq's Olympic committee and at least 30 others Saturday in a brazen daylight raid on a sports conference in the heart of Baghdad. Armed clashes erupted elsewhere across the capital.

Parliament extended the national state of emergency as at least 27 people _ including two American soldiers _ were killed in sectarian or insurgency-related violence.
Let's see, two Israeli soldiers "kidnapped" (actually, they were in a HumVee that was not covered by supporting fire and they were captured by Hezbollah) and it could ignite World War III. At the same time 27 are killed in Iraq and 30 kidnapped, with the chance that they will be brutally murdered in an execution style as has become common.

Somehow, the world has gone crazy. Did not the world go crazy in 1914? About this time too (see Tuchman's "The Guns of August.")

A Question of Justice

Hezbollah rocket barrage kills 8 in Haifa

All decent people will condemn the loss of innocent life and I do so here. Furthermore, there can be no justice in the kind of war that is happening now in the mid East (in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq).

Israel's prime minister on Sunday threatened "far-reaching consequences" for a Hezbollah rocket attack on the Israeli city of Haifa that left at least eight people dead and more than 20 others wounded. The attack raised the death toll in Israel to more than 20, while more than 100 people have died in Lebanon in Israeli strikes. (emphasis added)
The wholesale destruction of civilian targets in Beirut is an escalation that has been implicitly condoned by President Bush in that he, in a strange twist of logic, "backs Israel's right to defend itself." Since when has "defending yourself" given you the right to wholesale destruction of innocent civilians?

"The international community must address the root causes" of the violence taking place in the Mideast, Bush said.

"This started because Hezbollah decided to capture two Israeli soldiers and fire hundreds of rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon," Bush said. "That's the cause of the crisis." (emphasis added)
The root causes of the violence? How damn stupid can you get? This shows his C-minus mentality. He shows absolutely no grasp of the situation and its history. Why, why did the American people elect this man?

Let me be very clear about this. I am not condemning Israel because it is a Jewish State. I am condemning Israel because it has received the power to kill vast numbers of people, mostly from the United States (my tax dollars, by the way), and they have not shown wisdom or justice in deploying this power. There can be few good consequences following on the path they are pursuing.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

What's the difference?

New York, 2001

Beirut, 2006

Meanwhile, back in Baghdad

From here:
A local journalist told me bitterly this week that Iraqis find it ironic that Saddam Hussein is on trial for killing 148 people 24 years ago, while militias loyal to political parties now in government kill that many people every few days. But it is not an irony that anyone here has time to laugh about. They are too busy packing their bags and wondering how they can get out alive.

Through the looking glass

12 Israeli civilians killed in convoy attack

Tel Aviv, Israel - At least 12 Israeli villagers, including women and children, were killed Saturday in what appeared to be an Lebanon airstrike on a convoy of vehicles fleeing a village near the border with Lebanon in northern Israel, a witness said.

The convoy was leaving the border village of Safad, when it was attacked. An Associated Press photgrapher said he counted 12 bodies in two cars that were destroyed by the attack shortly after midday.

Several hours earlier, Lebanese forces across the border told villagers by loudspeaker to leave the area or else the village would be destroyed. They did not give a reason for the ultimatum.

The convoy of several vehicles was hit near the border fence less than half a mile from the village.

The residents said they had first gone to a U.N. peacekeepers position manned by Ghanian forces to take refuge but they were turned down. There was no immediate confirmation from U.N. peacekeepers, who have a force in northern Israel.
You see, they had to destroy the village to save it. And in an associated story:
Bush blames Israel for Mideast violence

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - President Bush on Saturday blamed the Israeli administration of Prime Minister Olmert and the Israeli army (the IDF) for the escalating violence in the Middle East, taking a sharper stance than Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bush held Lebanon blameless while Putin was critical of Lebanon's military response.
In the meantime, the Lebanese Army celebrated their victory at Safad with hero medals for all.

Friday, July 14, 2006