,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Thursday, August 31, 2006


The President and His Attack Dogs


On the offensive in a last ditch effort to prevent a debacle in November or are they circling the wagons to save themselves ? One thing is clear. They are desperate. A day after Donald Rumsfeld spoke before the American Foreign Legion about critics of Iraq war as "extremists waging 'a new type of fascism'", President Bush begins the first of a series of talks over the next 20 days. The American public heard this before and were not convinced. Nothing has changed. Can they be persuaded to fall in line? "

President Bush and his surrogates are launching a new campaign intended to rebuild support for the war in Iraq by accusing the opposition of aiming to appease terrorists and cut off funding for troops on the battlefield, charges that many Democrats say distort their stated positions."

With an appearance before the American Legion in Salt Lake City today, Bush will begin a series of speeches over 20 days centered on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But he and his top lieutenants have foreshadowed in recent days the thrust of the effort to put Democrats on the defensive with rhetoric that has further inflamed an already emotional debate.

Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006


A Year After Katrina: The Poor Gets Poorer

The President went and did his thing. Photo opportunities galore. Platitudes aplenty. As details emerge of what has actually been accomplished for reconstruction of New Orleans the consensus is clear -- very little. FEMA is not a scapegoat. Its ineptitude to cope and mismanagement of funds are glaring. "Bush again accepted responsibility for the botched federal response to Katrina. "The hurricane . . . brought terrible scenes that we never thought we would see in America," Bush told a friendly audience gathered at Warren Easton Senior High School. "Citizens drowned in their attics, desperate mothers crying out on national TV for food and water, a breakdown of law and order, and a government at all levels that fell short of its responsibilities."

The White House carefully chose the scenes it wanted to highlight on this, the anniversary of one of Bush's biggest political embarrassments. Warren Easton is the city's oldest public high school and, like others, shut down after the city flooded. It has reformulated itself as a charter school, with greater leeway to set its own rules and have its own board.

In anticipation of the president's visit, school employees scrambled to complete work on plumbing and electricity, according to the principal, Alexina Medley, and the entire first floor remained gutted. Still, Warren Easton will reopen next week a year ahead of schedule, with about 800 students expected to attend, about a third fewer than before.

Jennifer Loven's report in the Post reveals the orchestrated events during the President's visit. "NEW ORLEANS -- President Bush comforted this city that lost so much in Hurricane Katrina and has regained so little in the year since. Amid the raw sorrow of Tuesday's anniversary, the president selected a few beacons of hope to give a lift to struggling Gulf communities and his own still-smarting presidency. He scarfed hot cakes with happy patrons at Betsy's Pancake House, a reopened hangout in a downtrodden, flood-stained New Orleans neighborhood. He chose as a speech backdrop a new charter school viewed as a sign of the city's commitment to a better post-Katrina educational system. He scarfed hot cakes with happy patrons at Betsy's Pancake House, a reopened hangout in a downtrodden, flood-stained New Orleans neighborhood. He chose as a speech backdrop a new charter school viewed as a sign of the city's commitment to a better post-Katrina educational system."

Recommended reading:

Disaster Capitalism: how to make money out of misery - Naomi Klein, The Guardian. "The privatisation of aid after Katrina offers a glimpse of a terrifying future in which only the wealthy are saved"

The first step was the government's abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter).


Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Between The President's Mouth and His Acts

A Wide Gap * Brits Bend Over Backward to Appease Muslims
* GOP Candidates Deserting The President's War

Who is Nursultan Nazarbayev ? President of Kazakhstan, an autocratic ruler who has a history of suppressing dissent. Reported to be involved in a bribery scandal, he is a friend of President Bush. Peter Baker writes in the Post: "President Bush launched an initiative this month to combat international kleptocracy, the sort of high-level corruption by foreign officials that he called "a grave and corrosive abuse of power" that "threatens our national interest and violates our values." The plan, he said, would be "a critical component of our freedom agenda." Three weeks later, the White House is making arrangements to host the leader of Kazakhstan, an autocrat who runs a nation that is anything but free and who has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of pocketing the bulk of $78 million in bribes from an American businessman. Not only will President Nursultan Nazarbayev visit the White House, people involved say, but he also will travel to the Bush family compound in Maine."

Nazarbayev's upcoming visit, according to analysts and officials, offers a case study in the competing priorities of the Bush administration at a time when the president has vowed to fight for democracy and against corruption around the globe. Nazarbayev has banned opposition parties, intimidated the press and profited from his post, according to the U.S. government. But he also sits atop massive oil reserves that have helped open doors in Washington.

Nazarbayev is hardly the only controversial figure received at the top levels of the Bush administration. In April, the president welcomed to the Oval Office the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who has been accused of rigging elections. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hosted Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial Guinea, who has been found to have millions of dollars stashed in overseas bank accounts.

Political Correctness or Fear of Terrorism ?

The Guardian reported that a Bangladeshi/British photographer has been the victim of censorship, apparently in an effort to stop offending Muslim audience. Syra Miah's exhibition included "image of a semi-naked woman"! Astounding.

The Guardian
Charlotte Higgins, Arts Correspondent

A Bangladeshi-British photographer is complaining that her work has been censored by the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. A documentary work made in Bangladesh by Syra Miah and shown as part of the museum's Art and Islam exhibitions was removed because it contained an image of a semi-naked woman.

The museum said it had been advised some days after the show opened to the public on July 8 that the image could offend a Muslim audience. However, Ms Miah, 29, rejected the suggestion. The image had not been mentioned by visitors in the museum's comments book, on its website, or indeed by her own family, "who are very conservative", she said.

Article continues
"I felt that the whole message behind my show had been undermined by this censorship," she said. "During the editing process the curators seemed to want images in the exhibition that portrayed Bangladesh as another colourful Asian country. Sadly, the removal of this image, the only image in the show that could be interpreted as gritty, confirmed my growing cynical view that the museum wanted to perpetuate a myth about Muslim societies: that nudity isn't tolerated. In Bangladeshi society - at least the one I witnessed - it clearly is.

"The partially dressed figure in the image was actually a mentally ill woman who had made a home of a bus shelter. She was looked after by locals who made sure she was out of danger and fed. I think this shows a compassionate view of Islamic society."

Midterm Elections

The heading for E.J. Dionne's column reads "Slowly Sidling to Iraq's Exit". One gets the feeling that the sidling could become a stampede. The fear is palpable. "By Election Day, how many Republican candidates will have come out against the Iraq war or distanced themselves from the administration's policies?" But don't expect the warrior in the White House and VP "Last Throes" Cheney to ever admit that things are not going well in Iraq.

August 2006 will be remembered as a watershed in the politics of Iraq. It is the month in which a majority of Americans told pollsters that the struggle for Iraq was not connected to the larger war on terrorism. They thus renounced a proposition the administration has pushed relentlessly since it began making the case four years ago to invade Iraq.

That poll finding, from a New York Times-CBS News survey, came to life on the campaign trail when Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), one of the most articulate supporters of the war, announced last Thursday that he favored a time frame for withdrawing troops.


Monday, August 28, 2006


Battleground South Dakota - HB1215

Women's Right to Choose

The abortion issue has taken center stage in South Dakota. The Post: "South Dakota is the unlikely home of this year's most intense duel over abortion, a Nov. 7 referendum to decide the future of HB 1215, a measure that would institute a broad ban on the procedure. No exceptions would be allowed for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest -- abortion would be permitted only when the mother's life is in jeopardy."

Partisans across the nation are delivering money and tactical advice on an issue that has divided residents of the state. South Dakota's fight could be a harbinger of political battles across the country should the Supreme Court strike down Roe v. Wade , the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

"This has become the focal point in the country for the choice debate," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which is channeling cash into the campaign. "The stakes are very high, especially for us to win in November and again say America is pro-choice, America doesn't think politicians should be involved in these private decisions, and enough is enough."

A fresh poll suggests voters are inclined to oppose the law as too severe. In a late-July sounding, opponents of the ban held an eight-point lead, with 14 percent undecided.

Back in February I commented on this subject after reading that Governor of South Dakota, Mike Rounds (R) said that he was inclined to sign the bill which would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the woman's life. The measure would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.

Thought that it would be appropriate to reproduce what I wrote then.

What a chaste group of people with high moral values! Are they, really? Are we to believe that they grew up without indulging in pre-marital sex? That they waited for holy matrimony before their first sexual experience? May be they didn't even masturbate. Just prayed or took a cold shower when they got the urge. Possible? Give them the benefit of the doubt...some might. The more likely explanation is that all of them indulged in youthful indiscretions--- the terminology made famous by G.W. Bush during his 2000 presidential campaign. That could cover a gamut of what the holy rollers consider sinful, immoral activities. Then one day they saw the light and decided not to allow anyone else to engage in them. Just say "No" to sex. Power is an aphrodisiac. The modern day Torquemadas in South Dakota are charged up. Praise the Lord and do it in the missionary position...any other is taboo.

The issue is bound to head for the Supreme Court on a fast track. It would be interesting to see how the justices, especially Roberts and Alito, who spoke about respect for "precedence" during their confirmation hearings, vote.

Here is an item to lighten up a little. After reading about the hypocrites in South Dakota one needs something that is more earthly.

(Before sex)
"Dennis: Look, even if you did get pregnant, I'd marry you.
Odette: Do you believe in centralized government or states' rights ?
Dennis: What?
Odette: I just want to know the kind of guy I'm marrying.
Dennis: I'm starting to get the distinct impression you don't want to do this anymore."
From Sarah Kernochan's 1998 film "Strike"(also released as "All I Wanna Do")

Plan B (Emergency Contraceptive)

After dragging its feet for more than two years to appease the conservative Christians, on August 24th the FDA approved sale of Plan B Emergency Contraceptive (also known as the Morning After Pill) without prescription to women 18 years of age and older. Younger women will require a prescription to buy the product.

See Washington Post Editorial Aug.25, 2006
Wolters Kluwer - Facts & Comparisons


Sunday, August 27, 2006


The Bush Presidency - Days left: 876

Same old, same old

Eleanor Clift wrote in Newsweek about the Fear Factor and President Bush. Nothing new; others have remarked about the subject, that the president and offcials in his administration thrive on ramping up threat of terrorism at every opportunity. There are times when opportunities are created and the threats exaggerated. Ever since 9/11 terrorists have become their life rope, and they show no sign of giving it up. They cannot survive without it.

With 876 days to go before this president leaves the White House we are stuck. We cannot stop him from continuing with his lies but we don't have to believe him. The failures -- from the war in Iraq to reconstruction of the area ravaged by Katrina -- of his administration can no longer be in hidden. More and more people are tuning him off. That is how it should be.

Elenaor Clift - Newsweek

Bush’s original sin was to politicize U.S. intervention in Iraq. He used the war to transform an aimless presidency into one of Churchillian dimensions, and now that it’s all turned sour, he has nothing to fall back on. Bush is as beleaguered now as Lyndon Johnson was during Vietnam—with one key difference. The worse the news is from Iraq, the more positive Bush is that he’s right. As Vietnam raged on, Johnson became less certain he was doing the right thing.

Victory no longer appears possible in Iraq, yet Bush’s rhetoric is more bullish than ever about the correctness of his course. U.S. forces are not leaving Iraq as long as he’s president. His model is Prime Minister Winston Churchill, defeated by an ungrateful British public after leading the country through war, a lonely figure vindicated by history. To achieve stability in Iraq, Thomas Ricks, Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post and author of “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” (Penguin 2006), says U.S. forces can expect to stay for 10 to 15 years, on top of the three they’ve already been there. “And that’s the optimistic scenario,” he says.

A Republican Bigot Speaks Out in Florida

Remember Kathleen Harris and her role in the 2000 presidential election ? At that time she was Florida's Secretary of State. She won a seat in Congress in 2002 and is currently the Republican contender for U.S. Senate. This is what the Post reported "ORLANDO, Aug. 25 -- Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics."

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.

Harris, a candidate in the Sept. 5 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, said her religious beliefs "animate" everything she does, including her votes in Congress.


Saturday, August 26, 2006


Hawks (Chickenhawks) and Deserters

And the Fallout from Katrina

During the Vietnam war President Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard but the records of his service are somewhat murky. Our hawkish Vice-president Cheney never served in the army; he took deferments during the Vietnam war. In 1989 he said to Joseph Wilson of the Washington Post "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service".

Current and former officials of the Bush Administration who never served:
Prominent Republicans who never served:
Source: Political Intelligence by Alan Simpson
(updated by the writer)

What brought this up? An article by Gary Younge in The Guardian. In "We shall not be moved", he wrote about soldiers who deserted from the war in Iraq and their feelings about it. "Some joined the US military as a patriotic duty, some to better themselves, but the horrors of serving in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib, changed everything. Deserters tell Gary Younge why they had to quit." Excerpts:

For Camilo Mejia there was no epiphany. In fact, his refusal to rejoin his regiment in Iraq barely represented a decision at all. It was more a weary submission to months of anxiety that had gnawed at his sense of duty until there was nothing left but his conscience. "I didn't wake up thinking I wouldn't go," he says. "I just went to bed and didn't get up in time to catch the plane. But I kept thinking maybe I would go back sometime."

Mejia, 30, never did go back. He went on the run for five months, staying with friends and relatives, using only cash, travelling by bus and not calling his mother or daughter, before he turned himself in as a conscientious objector. A military tribunal sentenced him to one year in prison.

Like Mejia, 24-year-old Darrell Anderson went on the run just a few days before he was due to redeploy. "I was supposed to leave for Iraq on January 8th. On the 3rd I started to talk to people about the war. By the 6th I woke up and had hit a brick wall. I just knew I wasn't going to be able to live a normal life if I went back."

He told his mother, Anita, who said she "had been hoping for that". "I packed up the car and took him to Canada. It was the first time I slept through the night in two years," she says. Anderson is now essentially a fugitive seeking asylum in Canada.

And then there was Joshua Casteel, an interrogator at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. His turning point came when a 22-year-old Saudi who came to Iraq for jihad was brought before him for questioning. "He admitted it," says Casteel, 26, a deeply religious Catholic convert from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I asked him why he had come to Iraq to kill. Then he asked me why I had come to Iraq to kill. He said I wasn't following the teachings of Jesus, which was pretty ironic. But I thought he sounded just like me. He was not a maniacal kind of killer. He had never fired a weapon in his life ... I know what it's like to proselytise. At one time I had been a pretty nationalistic kid. I understood where he was coming from but in order to do my job I couldn't look at him as a human being. I had to look at him as an object of exploitation."

Two days later Casteel went to Qatar on leave. When he came back he told his commander that he would be applying for conscientious objector status. "I said I wouldn't turn in my weapon while I was there or talk to the media but would carry on doing my job and when I got back home I would ask to leave the military." He filed his application on February 16 and was granted an honourable discharge on May 31.

Whether you call them deserters, conscientious objectors or resisters, every story of American soldiers who left the army prematurely because of the Iraq war shares the same emotional trajectory. They begin with doubt and end with determination. And somewhere along the way comes that ill-defined but crucial moment when the psychological struggle and moral angst overwhelm their military commitment.

The number applying for conscientious objector status has quadrupled since 2000 but remains small, though many more simply go awol. In 2004, 110 soldiers filed, of whom around half were successful. The rest went back to war, refused to serve, were jailed or are still in hiding. Yet there has been a huge increase in enquiries, according to JE McNeil, director of the Centre on Conscience and War. Before 9/11, she says, its GI hotline received roughly one phone call a month from those seeking information about how to get out of the military. In the year after, it went up to one or two a week. Currently it stands at more than one a day.

As of August 25th, U.S. military fatalities total 2,621 including 43 who died this month. Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties
It is not only the mess that he created in Iraq but also the ghost of Katrina that President Bush is unable to shake off. Jonathan Weisman and Michael Abramowitz in the Post: "From the demise of his Social Security overhaul to the war in Iraq, many factors have contributed to Bush's slide in popularity in the past year. But the winds of Katrina may have been the force that finally wrenched the Bush presidency off its moorings, these observers said."

Friday, August 25, 2006


Summer of Discontent in Israel

Ehud Olmert On Shaky Grounds

Less than two weeks after the cease fire agreement, a movement calling for resignation of Prime Minister Olmert and Defence Minister Amir Peretz for mishandling the war is gaining strength. In a report filed from Jerusalem, Rory McCarthy of The Guardian wrote: "A poll in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper showed 63% want Mr Olmert to go. The defence minister, Amir Peretz, appears even more vulnerable with 74% calling for his resignation, while 54% want the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, to resign as well." And in the mess that is Iraq Shias and Sunnis continue to kill each other in a frenzy. Ellen Knickmeyer in the Post: "These cases do not need to go back to the religious courts," said the commander, who sat elbow to elbow with a fellow fighter in a short-sleeved, striped shirt. Neither displayed weapons. "Our constitution, the Koran, dictates killing for those who kill."

The Guardian

The poll reflects growing disillusionment within Israeli society about the 34-day conflict with Hizbullah and the fact that the country emerged without any clear victory over the Lebanese militia. The two Israeli soldiers whose capture triggered the conflict are still not free. The war claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people in Lebanon, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Hundreds of protesters, many of them waving Israeli flags, gathered at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem to call for Mr Olmert's resignation. Among them were military reservists who have led criticism of the war as well as Moshe and Riva Moskal, whose son Rafael, a 21-year-old staff sergeant, was killed in the fighting.

"We think this country deserves better leadership," said Mrs Moskal. "The north was bombed and they didn't do anything. They failed there, they failed here," she said. "We feel lost. We feel there is no leadership and we feel as parents that we lost the most precious thing we had.

"We believe it was our duty to raise a voice of protest. This beautiful Israeli nation is strong but has values which seem to have been lost in the last few years."

Washington Post

His comments offered a rare acknowledgment of the role of the Mahdi Army in the sectarian bloodletting that has killed more than 10,400 Iraqis in recent months. The Mahdi Army is the militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, now one of the most powerful figures in the country.


Thursday, August 24, 2006


The Failed Policy - No Wonder They Hate Us

Death of the Neocons' Scenario * Albert Camus and G.W. Bush

They being the people of the predominantly Muslim regions -- Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia. Then there are countries where the presence of Muslims is strong (Britain, India). Some among them participate in acts of terrorism. President Bush described them as "Islamo-Fascists".

Think about what we have done to generate hate against the American government and its policies.

The WMD story used by the neocons to take the nation to war against Iraq is now a dead horse. Operation Iraqi Freedom is a joke but Bush and the Republicans continue to exploit Iraq as the center of al-Qaeda activities. More than 40,000 Iraqi civilians have died, not counting the victims of sectarian violence now raging between the Sunnis and Shias. The much vaunted elections in Iraq resulted in Shiites gaining power. The neocons' scenario for postwar Iraq went up in flames. Yes, majority of Iraqis hate the army of occupation.

We wanted, and encouraged, elections in Palestine. To our consternation the Palestinians voted Hamas into power. We shunned Hamas and allowed Israel to continue military actions against civilian population in Gaza. No wonder that we are detested by the Palestinians.

The recent war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah had our fingerprints all over the map. No American boots on the ground but we were a party "by proxy". An uneasy peace prevails in Lebanon but only after its infrastructure was destroyed and large number of civilians died. Can we expect the Lebanese to love us ?

Now we are taking a leading role in the drumbeat for war against Iran. We don't want them to possess nuclear technology beyond what we consider to be "safe". We describe them as a rogue nation and we want their oil. We rule over a nuclear club with restricted membership. We don't even mention that Israel has nuclear weapons. It does not take much imagination to visualize what is going to happen if we decide to liberate Iran. You can bet that Iranians will not be greeting us with flowers and chocolates.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim's article 'The New Middleast' Bush Is Resisting in the Post goes to the heart of the matter. "President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may be quite right about a new Middle East being born. In fact, their policies in support of the actions of their closest regional ally, Israel, have helped midwife the newborn. But it will not be exactly the baby they have longed for. For one thing, it will be neither secular nor friendly to the United States. For another, it is going to be a rough birth."

  • What is happening in the broader Middle East and North Africa can be seen as a boomerang effect that has been playing out slowly since the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the immediate aftermath of those attacks, there was worldwide sympathy for the United States and support for its declared "war on terrorism," including the invasion of Afghanistan. Then the cynical exploitation of this universal goodwill by so-called neoconservatives to advance hegemonic designs was confirmed by the war in Iraq. The Bush administration's dishonest statements about "weapons of mass destruction" diminished whatever credibility the United States might have had as liberator, while disastrous mismanagement of Iraqi affairs after the invasion led to the squandering of a conventional military victory. The country slid into bloody sectarian violence, while official Washington stonewalled and refused to admit mistakes. No wonder the world has progressively turned against America.
What the President is "reading" this summer

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker writes about the president's summer reading list. It includes The Stranger by Albert Camus. Wow, the president has hidden depths of which we are unaware. Seriously though, I don't believe he read Camus or can understand Camus. The summer reading list is just another prop used by the White House.

  • And all this brings us no further than book one on the President’s stack, with Oppenheimer and Lincoln still to be chewed on. Bush may have emerged from his syllabus as little altered as most undergraduates emerge from theirs. Still, it is encouraging to think that he has spent the summer reflecting on the inscrutable origins of human violence and on the unimaginable destructive powers now available through American science, while contemplating the achievements of a great man who hated wars, made a necessary one, and wandered the halls of the White House agonized by the consequences. It sounds almost like the beginnings of wisdom, or, at least, a compulsory fall reading list for us all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Gaza, and Our Warrior President

"The Lies Behind the Truth......"

©Don Asmussen, sfchronicle.com 8/20/06

It was a long press conference. The suprise was in his admission that Iraq had nothing to do with the attack on the World Trade Center but he maintained that the decision to go to war was right! From the transcript:

:Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case.

THE PRESIDENT: Frustrated? Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I'm happy. This is -- but war is not a time of joy. These aren't joyous times. These are challenging times, and they're difficult times, and they're straining the psyche of our country. I understand that. You know, nobody likes to see innocent people die. Nobody wants to turn on their TV on a daily basis and see havoc wrought by terrorists. And our question is, do we have the capacity and the desire to spread peace by confronting these terrorists, and supporting those who want to live in liberty? That's the question. And my answer to that question is, we must. We owe it to future generations to do so.

Eugene Robinson's column in the Post "President on Another Planet" describes the disconnect that exists between the president's view and the real world.

Watching Lebanon, Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker:

Even those who continue to support Israel’s war against Hezbollah agree that it is failing to achieve one of its main goals—to rally the Lebanese against Hezbollah. “Strategic bombing has been a failed military concept for ninety years, and yet air forces all over the world keep on doing it,” John Arquilla, a defense analyst at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me. Arquilla has been campaigning for more than a decade, with growing success, to change the way America fights terrorism. “The warfare of today is not mass on mass,” he said. “You have to hunt like a network to defeat a network. Israel focussed on bombing against Hezbollah, and, when that did not work, it became more aggressive on the ground. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.”


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


The Presidential Coattail

Going, Going, Gone

Good news. A large number of Republican voters have had it with President Bush and their anger is affecting the incumbents running for reelection. Jim Vanderhei in the Post: "PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. -- When it comes to President Bush and the Republican Congress, Rep. Jim Gerlach says voters in his suburban Philadelphia district are in a "sour mood."

That's why when it comes to his reelection, the two-term incumbent says "the name of the game" is to convince those same voters that he can be independent of his own party. He has turned his standard line about Bush -- "When I think he's wrong, I let him know" -- into a virtual campaign slogan, repeated in interviews and TV ads.

"It is a combination of things, from the war in Iraq to gas prices to what they are experiencing in their local areas," Gerlach said of the surly electorate whose decision he will know on Nov. 7.

The Iraq war and Bush's low approval ratings have created trouble for Republicans in all regions. But nowhere is the GOP brand more scuffed than in the Northeast, where this year's circumstances are combining with long-term trends to endanger numerous incumbents.

Robbing the Poor

The report by Larry Margasak of Associated Press is not a surprise to most of us -- that our elected representatives are by and large unethical is a generally accepted fact. Nevertheless, the details about their blatant waste of taxpayers' money are sickening. Scandal after scandal and yet they shamelessly carry on feeding their egos. The term "corrupt politician" has become an oxymoron.

WASHINGTON -- The federal program that provides legal help to poor Americans turns away half of its applicants for lack of resources. But that hasn't stopped its executives from lavishing expensive meals, chauffeur-driven cars and foreign trips on themselves.

Agency documents obtained by The Associated Press detail the luxuries that executives of the Legal Services Corp. have given themselves with federal money -- from $14 "Death by Chocolate" desserts to $400 chauffeured rides to locations within taxi distance of their offices.

The government-funded corporation also has a spacious headquarters in Washington's tony Georgetown district -- with views of the Potomac River and a rent significantly higher than other tenants in the same building.

And board members wrote themselves a policy that doubled the amount they could claim for meals compared with their staff.


Monday, August 14, 2006


From the Same People Who Gave Us the War in Iraq


After Israel launched a full scale military offensive on July 12,2006, it became apparent that the United States did not want a quick stop to the war. Secretary of State Rice (who,in her appearances before the media,looked like the cat who had swallowed the canary) and President Bush issued statements about "a lasting peace" and "an enduring peace" while expediting supply of weapons and technology to assist the Israelis. It was part of a strategy to hit back at Syria and Iran through the Hezbollah.....the human toll be damned. It was part of an agenda. Now Seymour Hersh has exposed the damning facts. There are doubts about the effectiveness of the UN peace agreement as there are doubts about gains made by the United States and Israel from this episode and consequent deaths and destruction. Molly Moore and Edward Cody in the Washington Post: "JERUSALEM, Aug. 14 -- The Israeli military halted its combat operations against Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon and Hezbollah rockets stopped raining on Israel early Monday morning as a tenuous U.N.-imposed cease-fire took effect after more than a month of fighting that devastated parts of Lebanon and sent hundreds of thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters."

Bush 'helped Israeli attack on Lebanon'

The Guardian

  • The US government was closely involved in planning the Israeli campaign in Lebanon, even before Hizbullah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross border raids in July. American and Israeli officials met in the spring, discussing plans on how to tackle Hizbullah, according to a report published yesterday.
  • The veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh writes in the current issue of the New Yorker magazine that Israeli government officials travelled to the US in May to share plans for attacking Hizbullah.
  • Quoting a US government consultant, Hersh said: "Earlier this summer ... several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, 'to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear'."
  • The Israeli action, current and former government officials told Hersh, chimed with the Bush administration's desire to reduce the threat of possible Hizbullah retaliation against Israel should the US launch a military strike against Iran.
  • "A successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign ... could ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American pre-emptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations," sources told Hersh.
  • Yesterday Mr Hersh told CNN: "July was a pretext for a major offensive that had been in the works for a long time. Israel's attack was going to be a model for the attack they really want to do. They really want to go after Iran."
  • An unnamed Pentagon consultant told Hersh: "It was our intention to have Hizbullah diminished and now we have someone else doing it."
  • Officials from the state department and the Pentagon denied the report. A spokesman for the National Security Council told Hersh that "The Israeli government gave no official in Washington any reason to believe that Israel was planning to attack."
  • Hersh has a track record in breaking major stories. He was the first to write about the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and has written extensively about the build-up to the war in Iraq. He made his name when he uncovered the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam war. Most recently he has written about US plans for Iran, alleging that US special forces had already been active inside the country.


Sunday, August 13, 2006


Israel, Lebanon and the Peace Agreement

Is a victor going to emerge from the dust ? Did the United States get what it wanted ? For the beleagured civilians it is a long and anxious day. The UN peace agreement takes effect tomorrow. Until then the war continues, with both sides claiming victory. Victory, as they see it. Indications are that at best it is an uneasy truce, far from the objective of the parties that took part in the war and the negotiations. Robin Wright in the Post: "It was a very close call. U.N. diplomats assembled at 3 p.m. in the cavernous Security Council hall to get the U.S.-French proposal to end an excruciating month of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. The United States had Lebanon's approval but still had not received word from Israel. U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton did a "diplomatic tap dance" to stall, U.S. officials said. Then at 3:53 Friday, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the third time during a tense day of diplomacy. Despite its decision just hours earlier to launch a ground invasion, Israel agreed to the terms of the resolution. It was a deal. "

  • But the future of the Middle East may be markedly different as a result of the bloody drama that erupted July 12 after the seizure of two Israeli soldiers by Lebanon's Shiite militia. So, too, the image of the United States. What many now consider to be the sixth modern Middle East war has some distinct winners and losers, interviews with a range of former U.S. officials and Middle East analysts reveal.
  • Although the outcome will be long debated, big losers at this stage appear to be Israel's government, the Lebanese people, and the Bush administration's struggle against terrorism and its campaign for democracy, these observers said.
  • In waging the longest Arab war against Israel, the big winner may be Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah -- for now. One surprise has been the strong leadership of neophyte Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
  • Yet every party has lost something.

Olmert In A Shaky Position

How quickly the tides turn. The Guardian:

  • The future of Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was last night hanging on how successfully he could sell his citizens the idea that the country had been 'victorious' in the 'war in the north' as criticism of his shaky performance began to escalate amid the first calls for his resignation.
  • While Olmert's allies and government officials lined up to express satisfaction about the outcome of the UN ceasefire resolution passed while the fighting continued, attempts to present a 'victory' to the Israeli public could not disguise the deep sense of disquiet over the operation's failures and fears that Hizbollah might manage to emerge 'victorious' in the coming days.


Saturday, August 12, 2006


The Fall of Humpty Dumpty

Smoke & Mirrors * Flag Waving * Fluff Factor Enters French Politics

No matter what he does the president seems unable to garner support for his actions. The swagger of the war president no longer cuts it. Smoke and mirrors fail to hide the ugly truth. The voters in their wisdom have seen through the facade. Results of the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll are revealing.

  • "An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted this week found the president's approval rating has dropped to 33 percent, matching his low in May. His handling of nearly every issue, from the Iraq war to foreign policy, contributed to the president's decline around the nation, even in the Republican-friendly South.
  • More sobering for the GOP are the number of voters who backed Bush in 2004 who are ready to vote Democratic in the fall's congressional elections — 19 percent. These one-time Bush voters are more likely to be female, self-described moderates, low- to middle-income and from the Northeast and Midwest.
Ah, thought of the consternation among the president's handlers is cause for rejoicing.

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses,
And all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again."
-- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

They Are Still Playing the Patriot Card

The total number of American soldiers who died in Iraq is now 2599 including 21 in August. Against the war in Iraq ? Then you are unpatriotic. Same old refrain. Nothing else seems to be working for the Republicans, so they wrap themselves in the Flag. It is the same gang that came up with Freedom Fries.

E.J. Dionne in the Post:

  • Oh my goodness, as Don Rumsfeld might say. Support for the Iraq war hits a record low, and all the president's hit men decide that it's time to smear their opponents as defeatists who give aid and comfort to the enemy.
  • Of course they didn't mention the poll on Iraq released by CNN on Wednesday. As a basis for their guilt-by-association campaign, they used the fact that Democratic voters in Tuesday's Connecticut primary favored antiwar businessman Ned Lamont over Sen. Joe Lieberman.
  • The gentlemen who have gotten us into a mess in Iraq prefer not to explain how they'll fix things. They would rather use national security for partisan purposes, and they were all out there on Wednesday, spewing incendiary talking points. Hey, they may not have sent enough troops to win a war, but they sure know how to win midterm elections.
Segolene Royal

The French political scene rocked by controvery over presidential candidate Segolene Royal's photographs (taken by paparazzi without her consent) in a turquoise bikini. It is not that the French are prudes. The moral values brigade from America has not yet infiltrated French politicians. It is what they consider "trivilization" of politics in popular media that has rattled them. The French ought to accept the inevitable. The French public has shown a voracious appetite for the so called "tell all" magazines about the rich and famous. So, the publishers will do their best to cater to them. Segolene Royal is 54 and attractive. She reportedly went through a makeover before entering the presidential race. The pictures cannot do her any harm. In America it would have been a different kettle of fish.

Friday, August 11, 2006


The Lebanon War - Human Rights Abuse

Suffering Inflicted on Both Sides of the Border

From the BBC:

The UN Human Rights Council has voted to launch an inquiry into alleged abuses committed by Israel during its month-long offensive in Lebanon.

Human rights commissioner Louise Arbour backed the probe, but earlier called for Hezbollah to also face an inquiry.

She condemned both Israel and Hezbollah for the suffering inflicted on civilians in Lebanon and north Israel.

Ms Arbour said there was evidence to strongly suggest that indiscriminate force was being used by both sides.

War crimes could be committed even by those who believed their cause was worthy, she warned.

She was speaking at an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council.

"If terrorism doesn't scare you, maybe Bush will"

Jimmy Greenfield in The Chicago Tribune:

Published August 11, 2006

Scared yet? Well, you may be soon.

What we almost certainly will see in aftermath of the alleged plot to blow up several planes en route to the U.S. is a thunderous response from President Bush and other Republican leaders.

With the midterm elections less than three months away, they will attempt to scare Americans into re-electing Republicans or risk facing instant annihilation at the hands of an evil and murderous enemy.

Choose us and live. Choose them and die. Your call.

Nice way to end the summer, isn't it?

Believe it or not, Thursday was actually a good day. Everybody in his or her right mind knows there are always terrorists plotting to attack the U.S., so it didn't bother me that some people were discovered to be doing just that.

What made it a good day was that at least one government, even if it was the British government, knew how to foil a massive terrorist plot.



The President In His Element

Terrorism - Hatred Among the Ruins

President Bush eagerly jumped at the opportunity to talk about terrorism -- the topic has done him well -- and put in a plug for the endangered domestic surveillance program. His pet war is floundering to say the least. The non-existent WMD and mission accomplished a distant memory. In the din about the new threat of terrorist plans to destroy passenger aircraft unearthed in London, negotiations for a cease fire agreement in Lebanon temporarily ceded the headlines. The Post: "This country is safer than it was prior to 9/11," Bush said with Air Force One behind him. "We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we're still not completely safe, because there are people that still plot and people who want to harm us for what we believe in." The timing was right. The prospects look dim for Republicans facing re-election. It might, just might gain the president a few points in a poll and give Republican candidates a chance to say that they are stronger when it comes to national security.

  • In what was an apparent reference to this year's controversies over the administration's surveillance programs, Bush told reporters: "It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America. And that is why we have given our officials the tools they need to protect our people."

The Other War

Stalemate in the negotiations for cease fire in the other war that the Bush Administration is fighting through Israel. No boots on the ground but steady supply of weapons of war and technology to assist Israel. The civilians continue to take the brunt of the attacks. Good for the Hezbollah; they are assured of new recruits. A large anti-war demonstration is planned for tomorrow (Aug.12) in Washington, DC. The organizers plan to surround the White House. Petula Dvorak in the Post: "The nation's capital is becoming a stage where passions on both sides of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict are being played out with a series of protests, vigils and rallies in Washington in recent weeks, with more to come."
  • The largest demonstration -- billed as a protest of the "U.S.-Israeli war" -- is expected to draw "tens of thousands" of people who plan to surround the White House tomorrow, said Tony Kutayli, communications coordinator for the Washington-based American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, one of the groups helping coordinate participants arriving from across the country.
Hatred Among the Ruins

On July 22nd, the Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid wrote in the Washington Post about reaction among muslims to the attacks against Lebanon.

  • Mounting Muslim Anger Endangers Security
  • Lahore, Pakistan - The Israeli attack on Lebanon is fuelling unprecedented anger amongst ordinary Muslims, despite the support that many moderate Muslim regimes are demonstrating for the action.
  • Muslim anger on the street is being directed at Israel, America and Britain and also at their own leaders who are doing nothing to help bring about a cessation of hostilities or a ceasefire. The U.S. -- by publicizing its success in isolating Syria and Iran for their support for Hezbollah -- falls further in public opinion in the Muslim world, endangering its own security, making it more of a target for terrorist attacks and undermining any future role the U.S. may have in brokering a peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Israel's air and land invasion is unlikely to wipe out Hezbollah. Instead the group will go further underground and become more dependent on terrorist tactics to continue the fight. Also there will now be a much greater justification for Sunni terrorist groups such as al' Qaeda to link up with Shia extremist groups such as Hezbollah to work and plan together. This would encourage and strengthen terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and the Middle East. The world is certainly becoming a more unsafe place.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


A Sane Voice in the Babel

Rabbi David J. Goldberg * The Proxy War Rages On* Shame of the 502nd Infantry Regiment

No surprise that the U.S. is unwilling to accept changes in the draft UN peace agreement submitted by France. At this point the U.S. and Israel believe that they are winning against the Hezbollah (think Syria and Iran) and do not wish to stop. "UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 8 -- The United States and France have split over key provisions in a compromise resolution to end hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel, triggering intense diplomatic scrambling, according to European and U.S. officials. "

France wants to incorporate ideas from Lebanon's new proposals, particularly on two issues: deploying Lebanese troops alongside a more robust version of the U.N. force now in Lebanon as a means to expedite an Israeli withdrawal, and settling the status of Shebaa Farms, the officials said.

But the United States, which has accepted Israel's concerns on both issues, thinks that a strong international force still needs to be in place before an Israeli withdrawal to ensure that the Shiite militia is not able to resume control of southern Lebanon or shoot at Israeli forces as they pull out, U.S. and European officials say.

The Guardian

Whether Hizbullah is indeed the fanatical spearhead of a Shia arc of extremism bent on the liquidation of Israel followed by world domination, or whether the prospect of Muslim unity among its opposed factions is a chimera, is something for strategic analysts to argue over. What is certain is that governments must respond to events in the present, even while getting their foreign-policy thinktanks to anticipate the shape of future alliances. In replying as forcefully and misguidedly as it has done to provocation from Lebanon, Israel might not even achieve a rocket-free zone in the north.

But given that the Palestinian problem is no nearer solution and that by creating a wilderness in Lebanon and calling it peace Israel has recruited thousands of new martyrs to the Hizbullah cause, military and diplomatic planners are going to have to ask themselves how long the respite will last. Was Israel's disproportionate response worth the cost of strengthening Arab hatred, alienating world opinion yet again and, last but not least, inviting criticism from a growing number of diaspora Jews who wish for Israel to live in security but find it increasingly difficult to condone what is being done by the Jewish state in their name? As the late Richard Crossman said, a policy of pragmatism is never justified - especially if it is unsuccessful.

· Rabbi Dr David J Goldberg is emeritus rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London, and author of The Divided Self: Israel and the Jewish Psyche Today.

The 502nd Infantry Regiment and Abeer Hamza

It was stress that made them rape and kill! Andy Mosher in the Post: BAGHDAD, Aug. 8 -- The constant fear of death and the trauma of several devastating incidents took a heavy toll on morale in the U.S. Army unit whose members included five soldiers accused of involvement in the rape and killing of an Iraqi teenager, witnesses testified Tuesday in a military court.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


The Guns of August 2006

Blather, blather * Incumbents Beware * AOL

Hopes for a solution to the Lebanon crisis appear to be bogged down as the parties debate about the terms of settlement. What is worse is that the UN resolution could fail to bring a lasting peace that we keep hearing about.

The Guardian

The UN security council will almost certainly adopt a ceasefire resolution this week, in spite of objections from Lebanon and others in the Arab world. But diplomats and analysts were united in despair yesterday, expressing doubts that the resolution could stop the fighting.

"It does not look good," one European diplomat said. "There is nobody interested in stopping now. Hizbullah has no reason to stop. The discrepancy between what is being discussed at the diplomatic table and what is happening on the ground is terrible."

Washington Post

The foreign ministers from member states of the Arab League gathered in Beirut despite the hostilities for a day-long show of solidarity. They decided to send representatives to the United Nations to press the case for an immediate cease-fire and other changes in a proposed Security Council resolution. Their deliberations were overshadowed, however, by knowledge that a cease-fire decision resided not with Arab governments, but with Israel, Hezbollah and the big powers on the Security Council.
Good news in the Post about voters' dissatisfaction with their elected representatives. If the polls are right then we can expect quite a few of them to lose their seats in the mid-term election. They deserve it.

Most Americans describe themselves as being in an anti-incumbent mood heading into this fall's midterm congressional elections, and the percentage of people who approve of their own representative's performance is at the lowest level since 1994, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As attention turns to Connecticut for Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's Democratic primary showdown today, the poll found some of the same political currents that have buffeted his campaign flowing through the national electorate. The public has soured on politicians backing the Iraq war, which Democrats consider the most important issue of the election.

AOL - Was it a "Screw Up"

Ellen Nakashima in the Post:
AOL issued an apology yesterday for posting on a public Web site 20 million keyword searches conducted by hundreds of thousands of its subscribers from March to May. But the company's admission that it made a mistake did little to quell a barrage of criticism from bloggers and privacy advocates who questioned the company's security practices and said the data breach raised the risk of identity theft.

"This was a screw-up and we're angry and upset about it," the company said in a statement. "Although there was no personally-identifiable data linked to these accounts, we're absolutely not defending this. It was a mistake, and we apologize."


Monday, August 07, 2006


Bush and Israel Extracting More than their Pound of Flesh

Slaughter of Civilians Continues

It is clear that before the UN plan (now being hammered out) is implemented the relentless attacks by Israelis will continue as will retaliation by the Hezbollah. The civilians on both sides of the border are like sacrificial goats in this "proxy war". President Bush, vacationing in Crawford, and his Secretary of State are engaged in taking advantage of the crisis to gain ground against Syria and Iran. In their world, the mounting casualties mean nothing. Michael Fletcher in the Post: CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 6 -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed Sunday for approval of a draft U.N. resolution calling for a "cessation of hostilities" between Israel and Hezbollah, saying it is a crucial "first step" toward resolving the conflict.
Are the Lebanese being pressured to accept unjust terms? Such tactics are likely to fail in achieving the long-term objective of the major powers. A report in the Guardian states:
In the meantime, air attacks have killed more civilians in Lebanon. The Washington Post: BEIRUT, Aug. 7 -- A tearful Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told visiting foreign ministers that 40* people were killed in Israeli airstrikes early Monday, one day after intensified attacks on both sides left more than two dozen soldiers and civilians dead."

State Terrorism ?
*Note: The number of dead was subsequently reported to be incorrect, and reduced.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


For The Warmongers, A Poem by Yehuda Amichai

They talk about peace....a lasting peace, but only at their terms. Do they think of the victims? "KFAR GILADI, Israel, Aug. 6 -- Ten people, most of whom appeared to be Israeli reserve soldiers, were killed Sunday afternoon when a barrage of Katusha rockets fired by Hezbollah militants landed in a parking lot where the troops were gathered near this kibbutz on Israel's northernmost tip, according to witnesses at the scene."

"The Bush administration's policy of refusing to engage with nations and groups linked to terrorism, including Syria, Iran and Palestinian factions, has sharply limited U.S. maneuvering room during the war between Israel and Hezbollah, according to former administration officials and outside experts."


You who are lengthening your lives
with the best doctors and best medicines
remember those who are shortening their lives
with the war
that you in your long lives are not

You who are again screwing
the younger generations
and winking at each other
the winking of your eyelids
is like chill of the swinging shutters
in an empty house.

---Yehuda Amichai (translated from Hebrew by Leon Wieseltier)


Listening to Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantata No.131 ""Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir,"

Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe
Performer: Peter Kooy, Barbara Schlick, et al.
Orchestra: Collegium Vocale Ghent (Orchestre)
Label: EMI Records [All429]

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Our World On A Saturday Morning

No Cuckoos in Lebanon

"Sumer is ycomen in,
Loude sing cuckou!
Groweth seed and bloweth meed,
And springth the wode now.
Sing cuckou!"
---Anonymous (13th Century English Poem)

The headlines paint a bleak picture of what is happening in our world on this sunny morning in July. For us in the San Francisco Bay area the weather is balmy. Mild temperature and blue sky. One cannot,however, escape what is happening in Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq. If there are cuckoos, they are not singing. People in Israel too have not escaped suffering but I am with those whose sympathies are with the civilians who have received the brunt of Israel's brute force.

Emma Brockes writes in The Guardian, "Oh God, Redux": "At this stage, the shelf starts to buckle. Embedded in these stories was speculation about Iran's nuclear threat, a reminder that Gaza is still under siege, analysis of Tony Blair's fallout with his cabinet and footage of his joint press conference with George Bush, which when it was shown the first time round - Blair frowning powerfully, Bush sinisterly jocular - was a tipping point into despair for lots of people. The final item on the news that evening couldn't have been more symbolic if it had shown the ravens leaving the Tower of London. Fidel Castro, the one constant in all our lives, was on the blink. That's when I reached for the phone and -

"We're fucked."

  • "Whoa! I can sure feel the glory bumps after reading this thread!" replies another contributor and another points out that there are exactly 40 days between the date on which the first Israeli soldier was kidnapped and that day's date, which, he writes, "I find to be a HUGE coincidence."

I must confess that the thought of a world without the holy rollers -- assuming that they would soon ascend to heaven -- makes me happy. I shall take my chances of being left behind.

And there is news about agreement being reached between the U.S. and France on a mid-east truce. It was time. Let us hope that peace, a lasting peace prevails in Lebanon.

Abeer Hamza

The case against soldiers accused of rape and murder of a 14-year old Iraqi girl in Mahmudiya is making progress. The NY Times reported: "On March 13, a group of American soldiers sitting at a checkpoint south of Baghdad were asked to look into a horrible crime: a 14-year-old Iraqi girl had been raped, then killed along with her family in their house nearby in Mahmudiya."

  • Those soldiers, along with others from their checkpoint, walked over and took detailed forensic photographs of the charred and bullet-riddled bodies, as if it were a routine investigation of an insurgent attack, according to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
  • Now, those photographs are likely to serve as evidence in the military’s prosecution of the case, which opens a new chapter tomorrow when an Article 32 hearing, the rough equivalent of a grand jury proceeding, begins in Baghdad for five soldiers accused in the crime.

Dog Days For Bush and Blair

Tony Blair postponed his vacation in Bermuda, and President Bush has decided to shorten his annual vacation in Crawford. Doubt if he took any books to read. In the meantime, GOP candidates worried about their prospects in mid-term election are keeping their distance from El Jefe. Michael Abramowitz in the Post: "On Capitol Hill, Rep. Mark Kennedy (Minn.) and Sen. James M. Talent (Mo.) are known as loyal Republican soldiers, reliable votes for President Bush on tax cuts and the Iraq war. In elections past, they have aired advertisements featuring the president and have stumped with him at public rallies."

Friday, August 04, 2006


Children In The War Zone * War Crimes * Conservatives' Last Gasp?

Think of them. Are they going to forget their experience? Will they grow up forgiving those responsible for the deaths and devastation ? Are they going to love those who were responsible?

When we consider what is happening in Lebanon we must not forget the role of the United States and Britain in not only supporting the Israeli actions but also supplying them with the means to continue the massacre of civilians. Some of the images of the casualties depict the horrendous effects of weapons used. Now there is talk of financial aid to rebuild Lebanon and the Lebanese army! The neocons have the gift of erasing their memory; they don't remember Iraq. After destroying their country and killing hundreds of (perhaps thousands before the shooting stops) they expect the Lebanese to roll over and follow their bidding because they offer financial aid.

Traumatised and afraid - 300,000 children who want to go home
By Anne Penketh and Kim Sengupta
The Independent,UK
Published: 04 August 2006

  • "I don't want to die. I want to go to school," says Jamal, a four-year-old Lebanese boy scarred by the Israeli bombing of his country. Home for Jamal is now a "displacement centre" in the southern town of Jezzine, where his family fled in fear for their lives.
  • "We've had our picnic, and we want to go home now," says another child,staying in a makeshift refugee camp in the Sanayeh public gardens in Beirut. "We are bored and afraid and we want to go home," says another.
  • These are the voices of the dispossessed of Lebanon, the hundreds of thousands of children whose world was changed forever in the seconds that followed the explosion of a bomb. "Mummy, what is a massacre?" another child asks.
  • About 300,000 Lebanese children have been displaced by Israel's three-week war against Hizbollah - a third of the number of people who have abandoned their homes. In many cases they were ordered out by Israeli army leaflets. They are living in open-air camps, like the one in the Beirut park, or in schools, where many sought refuge. Many children have been housed with host families - in the port of Sidon, 48km (30 miles) south of the capital, 40 per cent of the 22,700 children in temporary accommodation are doing so. The rest are in displacement centres.

  • On August 3rd, Reuters reported: "BEIRUT - Israel's military appears to have deliberately bombed civilians in Lebanon and some of its strikes constitute war crimes, U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.
  • HRW said Israel's contention that Hizbollah fighters were hiding among Lebanese civilians did not justify its "systematic failure" to distinguish between civilians and combatants."

Democrats Smelling Blood In The Water

Yes, there are signs that the conservatives have problems. Their past is catching up with them. Hubris vanquished is always cause to rejoice. E.J. Dionne writes in the Post: "Is conservatism finished?"

  • What might have seemed an absurd question less than two years ago is now one of the most important issues in American politics. The question is being asked -- mostly quietly but occasionally publicly -- by conservatives themselves as they survey the wreckage of their hopes, and as their champions in the Republican Party use any means necessary to survive this fall's elections.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Blogroll Me!