Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bush Administration Sought to Cut Funds to Protect US from Liquid Bombs

BuzzFlash daily news analyses never minces words and today's is no exception. It speaks about the Bush Administration's use of fear to achieve political ends and consolidate power. While American's rights are further eroded, the Administration does nothing concrete about 'terror'. BuzzFlash cites an Associated Press story: "While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology." The money was diverted to cover a budget shortfall in the Federal Protective Service, which provides security around government buildings. Nothing like the government fat cats protecting themselves to the hilt while the taxpayers who pay for for it get shafted, again!!

"The Bush Administration is basically treasonous. They thrive off of terror." --BuzzFlash

Today's news analysis is reprinted here with the kind permission of BuzzFlash.

August 12, 2006


As we've said before, when it comes to using fear to achieve political ends and consolidate power, the Bush Administration makes us feel like it's Groundhog Day everyday when they need some tyrannical law passed or election season is approaching.

So, in today's BuzzFlash stories, we have a number of examples of their latest efforts that are really from the same page of the same playbook that they have been using since 9/11: make the population fearful, make them think that only the Busheviks can save them, and then grab as much UnConstitutional power as Cheney and Bush can and use fear to preserve a one-party state (you know, Soviet-style.)

In Saturday's headline line-up alone, you will see that the Bush Administration wants to use the latest alleged terror threat to:

-- achieve their UnConstitutional goals for Kafkaesque Gitmo trials that the Supreme ruled against the law.

-- make their illegal NSA spying and data mining on American citizens legal (shades of the East German Stasi secret police).

-- protect themselves retroactively for being tried for war crimes.

And what's more, they are even boasting about how they are going to use the alleged terrorist threat to achieve their goals.

There was an Agence France Press article earlier in the week describing White House aides as gleeful with the opportunities that the alleged British terrorist cell offers them to make political gains -- in dismantling the Constitution and keeping the Democrats from taking over either House of Congress.

The Bush Administration is basically treasonous. They thrive off of terror.

They couldn't govern or own any branch of government without the threat of terrorism. This is how demagogues and tyrants achieve full power, as Fujimori did in Peru and the mythical "Chancellor" does in the film "V."

Bin-Laden released a videotape a few days before the 2004 election to help Bush get elected. They need each other to build their power bases. We are the pawns in their game of achieving their personal political goals.

As we said -- and have said repeatedly -- since 9/11, everyone in the United States is against terrorism because they value their lives. So, the mere existence of terrorists doesn't in anyway justify the Bush Administration in power.

In fact, the Bush Administration has been singularly feckless in doing anything but putting up a "show" of trying to stop terrorism. They use terrorism to achieve their political goals, not their political power to try and stop terrorism.

You need look no further than the Associated Press story that "While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology." The ineptness in battling REAL terrorism -- and the betrayal of America by the Bush Administration -- is mind boggling.

The battle for control of Congress is literally a matter of life and death. The continued unchallenged rule of the Busheviks, who only see terrorism as political opportunity while they strategically are completely criminally neglectful in dealing with it, presents a threat to all our lives.

As we noted the other day, the Democrats should brand a quotation of Richard Nixon -- of all people -- on their forehead. It is from his run for the presidency against the Johnson Administration (Hubert Humphrey) and the Vietnam War:

"Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively, and if after all of this time, and all of this sacrifice, and all of this support, there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership not tied to the mistakes and policies of the past."

Nixon's Madison Avenue consultants knew how to push back the Johnson Domino Theory and the fear it evoked in the midst of the Cold War.

The Democrats would be wise to take a lesson from Tricky Dick. On this quote (and his "secret plan to end the Vietnam War") he won the presidency.

The Democrats can't cower in fear and expect that people will consider them leaders. They have to lead Americans out of the land of the demagogues and into the land of truth and safety.


God, the Bushies are so transparent in their naked abuse of terror attempts: "White House officials said Friday that the fallout from the discovery of the British bombing plot could help the administration advance its agenda in Congress. The officials cited in particular battles over supervising the program of eavesdropping without warrants and how to try detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba." And Don't Forget That They Want to be Retroactively Protected Against War Crime Trials and Convictions.

Four Alarm Bushevik Betrayal of America in Light of Latest Terrorist Reign of Fear: "While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology." The Lives of Americans are at Heightened Risk as Long as the Bush Administration Remains in Power.

Peace Activists Bear Witness to War in Beirut

The peace movement's foremost group United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and its member groups took up a collection and placed an ad in an Iraqi newspaper, asking PM al-Maliki to meet with them. When the ad resulted in an invitation from five Iraqi Parliamentarians, a delegation of peace-activists went to the Middle East in an historic meeting in Jordan. Some of the group's members then continued on to Lebanon. UFPJ National Co-Chair Judith LeBlanc sent her report from Beirut:

UFPJ National Co-Chair Judith LeBlanc sent her report from Beirut:

Dear friends,

Recently, we reached out to you for help in placing an ad in an Iraqi newspaper, asking Prime Minister al-Maliki to meet with a delegation from the US peace movement. Thanks to your generous support, that ad ran in Assabah Al-Jadid on July 25, and resulted in an invitation from five Iraqi Parliamentarians for a meeting in Jordan.

Again with your critical support, our delegation was able to travel to Jordan for this historic meeting, and some of its members -- UFPJ National Co-Chair Judith LeBlanc, Medea Benjamin and Gael Murphy of UFPJ member group CODEPINK, and peace activist and author Diane Wilson -- have now continued on to Lebanon.

We will post a full report on the Jordan meeting next week, but right now we wanted to share with you this first-hand report that Judith LeBlanc just emailed to us from Beirut:

"On day 29 of the war, Beirut is a blend of many realities. The facts are that 1,000 have died, and over 3,000 have been injured in Lebanon. Most are children. Whole villages and sections of cities have been evacuated, and life continues. Every night there are new bombings of apartment buildings in Beirut and homes in southern Lebanon. Tyre has been blockaded and every major highway has been bombed. The United Nations says their humanitarian aid programs are paralyzed now. The spiral of continued war and failed diplomatic initiatives leaves the Lebanese government unable to make a full accounting of the extent of the damage to the infrastructure or the impact on the economy.

Some Lebanese feel that the world has abandoned them. Many believe that Lebanon will survive as it has in the wars of the past. Time is not standing still. With every day the situation becomes more dire. Families are trying to survive together and, when possible, they have sent their relatives to Syria or other countries even further away. One man who waited in line behind me to use the pay phone told me he sent his wife and children to another country. He stayed behind because his 90-year-old mother refused to leave her apartment. There are families crowded into apartments waiting for the war to end. The families in the south of Lebanon sit for another day in the parks under tarps, while others sit in public schools....

Not too far offshore oil tankers are waiting behind the Israeli Naval blockade, while the hospitals report that they only have two days of fuel left. The tankers won't move without written permission from the Israelis....

In the Hamra neighborhood where Muslim, Christian and Druze live together, small shops stay open while periodic power outages compel the use of small generators. It is less than 2 miles away from the southern neighborhoods bombed in the last few days. Haret Hraik, a neighborhood in southern Beirut, has been bombed for three nights in a row. Almost all the small shops are closed except for an occasional tire repair shop. We went to photograph the damage. When we got out of the car, there were many press photographers who asked where we were from. We went on to another block where a group of men were watching the bulldozing of buildings bombed two nights ago. They asked where we were from, of course, and then they offered us chocolates!

We talked of the war and its impact. At one point, a man came up and asked what media we represented. He was from Hezbollah. They have set up guards and street patrols. He told us where to go to register to get an inside tour. The second time we were stopped, a man on a scooter pulled the car over. He told us not to photograph at all and gave us the address to register for permission.

Amidst the rubble of a bombed-out building, I spoke with a man named Idriss. We were watching the bulldozing of a building that had been bombed two nights before. He had lived in New York City before September 11, 2001. When he was deported from the U.S., the immigration officials told him they were sorry, but because he is Arab and Muslim he would have to leave. We chatted about New York City and he asked where I lived. When I told him that I can see Yankee Stadium from my bathroom window, he wanted me to go see his good friend Sami at his corner store at 161 Street in the Bronx. He spoke of the senselessness of the bombing, but also reminded me that the bombs were sold to Israel by the US. I took his picture and promised to go to see his friend.

Over the past three days, many have said that Hezbollah is not the issue now. It's the war. Some have said that Bush and the Israelis began this war to split the people along religious lines. More than one person said they believed this war was planned long ago. Some also believed the bombing was to force the people to decide to be for or against Hezbollah.

At noon time, as we photographed the clean-up of one bombed out neighborhood, we were told by the press that another Israeli air raid had happened.

We thought we saw leaflets falling outside our window. Now they are reporting on CNN that leaflets are being dropped in central Beirut. That has been the practice before a bombing. CNN is reporting that the Israeli government has decided to bomb closer to the center of the city.

There are many realities that are going on here. There is hope and there is fear. There is also a struggle to bring people together and lay the basis for a better future even while the end of this war is not in sight."

As this report makes clear, it is more important than ever that the antiwar movement stands up and speaks out. The Iraq war hasn't brought peace or security to the people of Iraq or the U.S. Bombing civilian populations has not and will not bring greater peace or security to the people of Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel. We must demand an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and a just peace for the Middle East. Click here for more information and action ideas.

Yours, for peace and justice,

UFPJ National Staff

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bush Seeks Political Gains from Foiled Plot

While the war in the Middle East rages on unabated, taking its deadly toll on innocent lives and ravaging Lebanon, President Bush went to his Crawford ranch for his yearly vacation. He cycled, rode, kicked back, enjoyed his summer r and r, and perhaps reflected upon his plummeting popularity in the polls and loss of some supporters in his own party.

Then along came the news about the foiled alleged British bomb plot and Bush, revitalized, seized this as an opportunity to pound away at his critics. He reminded Americans about 9/11 and spoke about America's war with the "Islamic fascists". You know, they are those Arab fundamentalists who hate the U.S. because of their love of freedom and democracy.

By the way, the newly-coined term "Islamic fascist" or "Islamofascist" is an oxymoron. You can be either "Islamist" (Islamic) or "fascist" but you cannot be both at the same time. One belies the other.

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances."

US President George W. Bush seized on a foiled London airline bomb plot to hammer unnamed critics he accused of having all but forgotten the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush and his aides have tried to shift the national political debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism ahead of November 7 congressional elections.

The London conspiracy is "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," the president said on a day trip to Wisconsin.

...Read rest of article... (Common Dreams News Center).

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Six Nations August 11th update

This is Six Nations spokeswoman Hazel Hill's update following Judge Marshall's controversial (idiotic?) ruling a few days ago:


Good Morning from Grand River.

It's been a few days since Justice Marshall made his ruling that the contempt of court orders must be upheld, and that negotiations were to stop until the people and the barricades have been removed from the site. Obviously that created quite a stir within the Six Nations as well as within the town of caledonia. Tuesday night became a night of venting when residents of Caledonia came down and gathered within about 40' of the main entrance of the reclamation site. the people had gathered at the fire earlier in the evening and concensus had been reached that until such time as the Crowns representatives had officially stated that the talks were off, that we were going to continue toward the August 23rd date that had previously been set aside for talks to continue.

....(Read more)...

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Tomgram: Mark LeVine, Chaos Theory and the Middle East

[Note for Tomdispatch readers: For the rest of the month, this site will be on a somewhat more relaxed posting schedule. The next Tomgram will probably not be posted until August 16th or 17th.]

Yesterday, the Israeli security cabinet authorized an expansion of the ground war in Lebanon (while its military suffered 15 dead and 25 wounded, the highest battlefield casualty rate thus far); Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to "transform our land in the south [of Lebanon] to a graveyard for Zionist invaders" and called on Haifa's Arab residents to evacuate that city; Israeli planes bombed bridges and dropped leaflets warning that "any vehicle on the roads south of the Litani River" might be destroyed, while Hezbollah rained 100 or more Katyusha rockets on northern Israel.

In Iraq, the Baghdad morgue released a staggering death toll for the month of July -- 1,815 bodies received (as many as 90% having died violently). As "a new high," this was an ominous sign of the spiraling civil war in the Iraqi capital, while in al-Anbar Province, heart of the Sunni insurgency, three more U.S. soldiers died and two Black Hawk helicopter crewmen were missing and possibly dead.

In Afghanistan, the capital, Kabul, is now experiencing an energy crisis which has left its electricity levels at lows equal to that of occupied, embattled Baghdad; while, to the south, the country is experiencing an ever more intense guerrilla war, replete with Iraqi-style suicide bombers and roadside IEDs, led by a resurgent Taliban.

These are but signs (along with rising energy prices) of the spreading chaos at the heart of what was once to be a Bush-administration-led American imperium in the Middle East (and energy-rich Central Asia). But this administration's top officials remain remarkably cloistered and undaunted. Only yesterday, according to the New York Times, Vice President Cheney "went so far as to suggest that the ouster of" Senator Joseph Lieberman by Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary in Connecticut, "might encourage ‘al Qaeda types.'"

Recently, Craig Crawford wrote in a Congressional Quarterly column:

"The rest of the world might see the Middle East crisis as a cataclysmic event of potentially biblical proportions, but in his July 29 radio address the president echoed a persistent White House vision of hope rising from destruction. While taking care to note that the killing is ‘painful and tragic,' Bush sought to portray the tragedy as an opportunity for ‘broader change' that will lead to ‘peace,' ‘liberty,' ‘democracy' and a ‘more secure' America.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

AI: Lebanon/Israel: Urgent need for ceasefire and investigation of war crimes

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International
Lebanon/Israel: Urgent need for ceasefire and investigation of war crimes

Amnesty International reiterates its call for an immediate, full and effective ceasefire after civilian death highs. On Friday 5 August, at least 23 Syrian agricultural workers were killed by Israeli forces on a farm in the village of al-Qaa on the Lebanese-Syrian border according to various reports. This was the highest number of fatalities recorded so far in a single incident together with the attack on a building in Qana on 30 July. Over the past four days, rockets fired by Hizbullah from southern Lebanon at Israel are also said to have killed at least 14 civilians. These kinds of attacks by both sides have become part of an increasingly entrenched pattern which includes war crimes.

Such attacks also make it urgent and imperative that Israel and Lebanon consent to an investigation -- of the pattern of attacks by both Israel and Hizbullah -- by an independent and impartial body like the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC). The Israeli investigation into the killings of civilians in Qana, where at least 28 people sheltering in a building were killed in an Israeli strike, lacked any credibility.

According to an eye-witness who was interviewed by Amnesty International delegates in Lebanon, the Israeli forces launched two air strikes against a farm in al-Qaa on Friday. The workers, most of them Syrian Kurds and who included at least five women, packed and processed fruits for export on the farm. The witness said he saw the first explosion from the roof of his church compound. As he prepared to go and help, another explosion followed five to seven minutes later. He said he saw 22 bodies being pulled out.

An Israeli army spokesperson said the attack was directed at the suspected transfer of weapons by Hizbullah from Syria. The information gathered from Amnesty International delegates from eye witnesses and footage of the scene show no evidence supporting the Israeli army allegations. The attack appears to have been indiscriminate or disproportionate and as such a war crime.

Since Friday, Israeli forces have again pounded civilian infrastructure in Lebanon, cutting off one of the last remaining vital routes for international humanitarian aid. At least 45 civilians are reported to have died in the attacks, including those killed in al-Qaa raid. Israel warned residents in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon to evacuate the city ahead of planned air strikes on Hizbullah targets by the Israeli army. The Israeli army dropped leaflets around the city warning all residents to leave.

Repeated Israeli strikes against the civilian infrastructure have forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, and are threatening to displace other tens of thousands in Sidon who have been forcibly displaced from villages in the region. This new call for evacuation cannot mean that Sidon should be regarded by Israeli forces as a "free-fire" zone or a military objective. Along with the pattern of warnings to civilians in the south Israeli forces are making it difficult for such civilians to leave by destroying roads and bridges and targeting convoys. Such actions result in the spreading of panic and terror rather than increasing the protection of civilians.

Hizbullah officials have described the group's rocket attacks against Israel as reprisals for Israeli attacks on civilians. Amnesty International considers these attacks unlawful, and constituting direct attacks on civilians and as such war crimes.

Amnesty International urges the United Nations Security Council which is currently debating a draft resolution on the crisis to call for an immediate, full and effective ceasefire to protect civilians in Lebanon and Israel. The Council must also demand that the parties to the conflict immediately take all measures necessary to allow delivery of humanitarian aid to persons affected by the hostilities. As it deliberates on its next steps, the Council should address the failure of the parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international law and how to establish accountability for that failure.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Love the Other as Yourself

What do Mel Gibson's drunken, venomous anti-Semitic remarks and loving others as ourselves have in common? Read this wonderful article by free-lance writer and Vermont columnist Joyce Marcel.

Instilling and flaming a fear of "The Other" has been the time-honoured way for rulers, politicians, religious leaders and others seeking power to control their followers. This still holds true today. Fear of "The Other" is drummed into our ears as soon as we are able to hear, and we are being taught to hate a long list of people and groups. By demonizing "The Other", we also dehumanize them; so it's okay to kill them, they are different, they are not like us.

The Arabs. The Jews. The homosexuals. The Mexican immigrants. If you can lump together any group of people - a religion, a nationality, a color, a tribe - and hang on them one epithet, then you can dismiss, dehumanize and possibly start to eliminate them. It's how genocide starts. Just ask a Hutu or a Tutsi.

The Other is a concept as old as mankind.

Read full article here. (Common Dreams)

Peace Vigil in Brampton

This is the Press Release and a photo of the candle-light PEACE VIGIL we held in Brampton on Monday evening, August 7th. I was one of the main organisers of this event.

For Immediate Release

August 9, 2006


Gage Park, Brampton Ontario

When: Monday August 7, 2006 at dusk (8:30)

What: Vigil to call for an end to the senseless violence caused by the conflict between Israel and Lebanon

Who: Amnesty International members, supporters, friends and partner organizations and the Brampton Peace Coalition.

On the evening of Monday August 7, 2006 at dusk approximately 30 supporters gathered at the bandstand in Gage Park to hold a vigil for peace. This event was part of a world- wide vigil for peace sponsored by Amnesty International.

In past weeks we have seen the catastrophic events of the conflict between Israel and Lebanon unfold and magnify into a devastating series of violent atrocities and war crimes. We hear of the hundreds of lives lost, the homes destroyed, the many thousands made homeless, families torn apart and livelihoods crushed. We call for an end to this senseless violence. We stand together with a simple message: For all our sakes, ceasefire.

For more information: Annamarie ......
Jagtar Shergill ..... (contact info blanked out in this post)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

CONCLUSION I - For Jewish Readers (and for those who want to understand)

I came across this appeal by Jews for Justice in the Middle East, a group of American Jewish people who oppose the politics of Israel and its oppression and killing of Palestinian and Lebanese people. The writers are urging Jews of conscience -- in the U.S. and elsewhere -- to join and support all Jewish Peace groups who are calling for just, equitable solutions to the root causes of the present conflict in the Middle East. I have shown CONCLUSION I below.

A link to CONCLUSION II follows at the end of the article, and it is also available for reading here.

Their very interesting, informative booklet: "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict" is available to read online here. You can download parts of it it in PDF format if you wish, FREE OF CHARGE. A link is also availabe at the foot of the article posted here.

In order to better understand the ongoing conflict -- and the present catastrophe -- I urge everyone to read this booklet in its entirety. You will find all the links below.

(Before any misguided readers label me as anti-semitic, be assured that I am not anti anyone. I am simply a pro human being, who seeks the truth. Only by seeking the truth -- however unpalatable it sometimes may be -- can we find resolutions to conflicts and bring about lasting peace. And Peace is the right of every human being...)

For Jewish Readers

As we have seen, the root cause of the Palestine-Israel conflict is clear. During the 1948 war, 750,000 Palestinians fled in terror or were actively expelled from their ancestral homeland and turned into refugees. The state of Israel then refused to allow them to return and either destroyed their villages entirely or expropriated their land, orchards, houses, businesses and personal possessions for the use of the Jewish population. This was the birth of the state of Israel.

We know it is hard to accept emotionally, but in this case the Jewish people are in the wrong.We took most of Palestine by force from the Arabs and blamed the victims for resisting their dispossession. If you run into someone's car, for whatever reason, simple justice demands that you repair it. Our moral obligation to the Palestinian people is no less clear. It is time for all Jewish people of good conscience to make whatever amends are possible to the Palestinians in order to live up to the best part of the Jewish tradition - its ethical and moral basis.

Any criticism of Israel is traditionally seen by American Jews as harmful to the Jewish people, even if the criticism is true. But "my people, right or wrong, my people" is no different than "my country, right or wrong, my country". Once we start down the slippery slope where the ends justify the means we have left behind any claim to morality. Along with millions of other American Jews unaffiliated with the major U.S. Jewish organizations, we are outraged at the Israeli government's ongoing oppression of the Palestinians and feel that it has been the ruination of the high moral standing of the Jewish people.

The Israeli government could solve the Palestine/Israel crisis tomorrow. It actually would be in the best interests of its citizens to do so because random acts of terrorism against Israelis would cease if Palestinian demands for a viable, independent state were accepted and compensation for Arab losses made.

Here in America, we Jews are thoroughly assimilated into the mainstream of society and hold positions of power and influence in every field of endeavor. We do not need to be in a defensive mood anymore. We can afford to change out attitude from "is it good the the Jews?" to "Is it good?" At the very least, American Jews need to categorically state that we cannot condone Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and the intentional murder and crippling of Palestinian protestors armed only with rocks, as documented in reports by the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Israeli groups like B'Tselem, etc.

According to a survey commissioned by the five largest American Jewish organizations, but suppressed by them afterwards, 20% of American Jews support Palestinian demands and 35% say that Jerusalem should be shared. This, in the face of a near-total blackout of the Palestinian position in our press, is very impressive. Join this growing segment of American Jews by contacting Not In My Name, at, a group that is spearheading a coalition of Jewish groups to protest the Israeli occupation.

Israel's long-term interests can best be served by supporting Israeli peace groups, like Gush Shalom (, not the Israeli government and its brutal repression, which just leads to endless violence. Israeli peace groups rightfully criticize their government and we should too, since they claim to act in our name. American groups like the Jewish Peace Lobby, Jewish Voice For Peace and the Middle East Children's Alliance also deserve your support. Don't compromise yout ethics in blind support of bad politics--work for a just soultion instead.

Please write for more free copies of this booklet to the address on the back page and ask your Jewish friends to consider the information presented here. For everyone's sake. Peace.

Important Note: at the end of the next section, ConclusionII, there is a list of Jewish organizations in America and Israel, and links to their websites, which are informative and interesting. We encourage to explore them with an open mind.

Click on the next section you wish to read.

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail, The Damage in Lebanon -- and Beyond

The idea that you can solve social and political problems militarily from the air is, on the face of it, ludicrous. The historical record is filled with the dead dreams of air power solutions to ground-based problems. But that stops no one.

Just yesterday, for instance, as part of the new American operation to -- somehow -- seize control of the situation in civil-war wracked Baghdad, American forces launched an attack on Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi militia in the capital's heavily populated Shiite slum, Sadr City. As a Bloomberg News Service piece put headlined its piece: "Iraq, U.S. Forces Raid Sadr City to Calm Baghdad." Aha. "Calm," it seems, was to be imposed not just by ground troops but from the air by helicopter assault (though even the best accounts of the operation offer few details on just what those helicopters did). We do know that this calming raid managed to kill three people, including a woman and a child, wound others, and destroy three homes. It also left the Iraqi Prime Minister a good deal less than calm. Simply firing into urban areas this way should be considered inconceivable rather than, as now, a problem-solving approach to the disaster that is Baghdad.

In Lebanon, here's what "precision" bombing seems to mean. "On Saturday, an Israeli offense consisting of more than 250 air attacks dropped 4,000 bombs within seven hours… The total death toll from the attacks is approaching 1,000. One third of those deaths are from children under 12." I don't know who is counting all this or whether such figures are accurate, but there can be no question that parts of Lebanon are being turned into little more than rubble; that with main highways and bridges destroyed, unmanned aerial drones and F-16s overhead, airports shut down, and the coastline blockaded, supplies are not arriving; that hospitals are at the edge of closing, and that a staggering percentage of the country of only 3.8 million are now refugees -- abroad, in Syria, or simply on the move and homeless in their own country. Christian areas of Lebanon are now being bombed -- for this, see a vivid, and horrifying post by Juan Cole -- and the bombing campaign is widening with, for instance, ever more central areas of Beirut being hit. It seems that even some Israeli pilots are having qualms about the targets being offered. The message is, I suppose, precise enough, even if the bombs and missiles aren't: Nowhere is safe; there will be no refuge. In Baghdad as in Lebanon, this, it seems, is where the Bush "crusade" has indeed left us all. It's a place without pity or, evidently, a shred of mercy. It is no place for diplomacy, nor even for words (so much more precise and yet frustrating than bombs). Hezbollah's "words" are, of course, its rockets which land indiscriminately across northern Israel.

And our President? He's evidently unfazed by the spreading chaos in the Middle East (and perhaps sooner or later in our wider world). Recently, Steve Holland, a Reuters correspondent, took a more than vigorous bike ride with Bush around his Crawford vacation home. ("'Riding helps clear my head, helps me deal with the stresses of the job,' a sweat-soaked Bush said after an hour-and-20-minute ride that shot his heart rate up to 177 beats per minute at the top of one climb.") Holland reports that the occasion for the ride was the President's sense that "a U.N. resolution on southern Lebanon was essentially complete." George Bush, it turns out, does not bike in silence. Here's an example of his bike-riding exclamations. Think of it as well as a presidential Rorschach test: "'Air assault!' he yelled as he started one of two major climbs, up Calichi Hill, which he named for the white limestone rock from which it is formed."

Dahr Jamail, who has in the past covered the American war in Iraq for Tomdispatch, gives us a sense of what the view from Damascus (and Lebanon) looks like at the moment – of what it actually means to shout "Air assault!" in the Middle Eastern equivalent of a crowded room. Tom

Destruction, Death, and Drastic Measures

By Dahr Jamail

Damascus, Syria -- "I care about my people, my country, and defending them from the Zionist aggression," said a Hezbollah fighter after I'd asked him why he joined the group. I found myself in downtown Beirut sitting in the backseat of his car in the liquid heat of a Lebanese summer. Sweat rolled down my nose and dripped on my notepad as I jotted furiously.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Iraq Dispatches: Hezbollah Rides a New Popularity

In this latest dispatch from Lebanon, independent journalist Dahr Jamail writes about the growing popularity of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Arab world. Israel's aim of widespread bombing of Lebanese infrastructure - and the rising civilian deaths - in order to create resentment against Hezbollah seems to have backfired, creating the opposite.

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by **

Hezbollah Rides a New Popularity

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail

*BEIRUT, Aug 7 (IPS) - As the war in Lebanon approaches the one-month mark, and amid the destruction of much of Lebanon, Hezbollah appears to be gaining strength within the country and around the Arab world.*

The Israeli aim of widespread bombing of the Lebanese infrastructure in order to create resentment against Hezbollah seems to have played into the strengths of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, known in many western countries as a "terrorist organisation", is widely seen in Lebanon as a legitimate political and social power.

One reason for this, according to an official representative of Hezbollah and member of the Lebanese Parliament, is that Hezbollah has never aimed to turn Lebanon into an Islamic state.

"Hezbollah is a democratic party whose principles are based on the Lebanese constitution," Tarad Hamade told IPS. "This means we have to respect the cultural and religious diversity in the country. We have never intended to establish an Islamic state."

Hamade, who is also labour minister, said: "Israel wants to terrorise the country and inflict as much damage as possible. They call us terrorists, at the same time as they are exercising state terrorism. Are they not terrorists?"

More and more Lebanese are beginning to hold this view.

Lebanese see the destruction by Israelis all around them. The damage to the civilian infrastructure will cost billions of dollars to fix.

All three of Lebanon's airports and all four of its ports have been bombed. Damage done to houses and businesses is estimated at above a billion dollars. At least 22 fuel and gas stations have been bombed. Scores of factories have been damaged or destroyed.

Red Cross ambulances, government emergency centres, UN peacekeeping forces and observers, media outlets and mobile phone towers have been bombed -- all in violation of international law.

Mosques and churches have been bombed, and illegal weapons such as cluster bombs and white phosphorous used. More than 90 percent of those killed, close to 1,000 according to official estimates, are civilians.

The result is that rather than pressuring Hezbollah by destroying Lebanon, Israel has increased popular support for the group, and brought the wishes of most Lebanese more in line with the stated goals of Hezbollah to keep Israel at bay.

With Hezbollah engaged in at least 60 percent of the relief efforts in Lebanon, the kind of work that gave it power in the first place is now only increasing its popularity.

Israel could also have fallen for the military strategy of Hezbollah. Hezbollah would like nothing more than to engage the Israeli military in a guerrilla war in southern Lebanon - and this has begun already now that Israeli troops are in the south, and suffering casualties.

Hamade says Hezbollah's stated demands for a ceasefire are simple and have remained unchanged since the beginning of the conflict.

"There can only be ceasefire if Israel stops firing as soon as possible, accepts an exchange of prisoners and leaves Lebanon." But more than 10,000 Israeli troops now occupy parts of southern Lebanon, widespread air strikes continue, and Israel refuses a prisoner exchange.

IPS recently interviewed a Hezbollah fighter who asked to be called "Ahmed". The Israeli aggression has only made him a more determined fighter.

"I care about my people, my country, and I'm defending them from the aggression," he said. "My home now in Dahaya (southern Beirut) is in ruins. Everything in my life is destroyed now, so I will fight them."

Like most followers of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Ahmed said: "We are all with him. He has given us belief and hope that we can push the Zionists out of Lebanon, and keep them out forever. He has given me purpose."

He added: "We are like the French resistance against the Nazis."

Mohamed Slaibi, a 21-year-old business student at the American University of Beirut (AUB), said that he has never supported Hezbollah, but he now feels it is their right to defend Lebanon.

"And now I feel betrayed by America," Slaibi said. "The U.S. supports Israel 100 percent in everything they do. Even though my dream was to go to the U.S., and I study at AUB, now I hate the Americans for supporting Israel."

This is just the kind of sentiment that Israel did not want to provoke. And it has been caused by the extent of the Israeli aggression. In the past Israeli attacks were aimed primarily at Hezbollah, but now all Lebanese people are suffering.

It is well known that Hezbollah enjoys strong political support from Syria and Iran, and likely receives arms and munitions from those countries, but more than ever it is enjoying the support of the Lebanese people.

And it certainly seems to have resources. "Some of it is donations from the Lebanese people," Hamade said. "Some of it is revenues from companies established by Hezbollah. In addition, Muslims pay 'Zaqaat' (a voluntary donation for the cause of religion). The arms we can buy on the market. There is an endless supply of arms."

Hezbollah can of course not match Israel in weaponry. "We might not be as powerful as the Israeli army but we will fight until we die," Hamade said.

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the DahrJamailIraq website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

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Sky News Clip: Galloway on the Invasion of Lebanon

If you haven't already seen this clip - please take the time to watch it!

Click here to watch.

Lebanon Update by Dahr Jamail on Mother Jones Radio

Listen to Dahr Jamail give his Lebanon update on Mother Jones Radio.

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who is now writing for Mother Jones' website, Inter Press Service, the Asia Times and many other outlets. His reports have also been published with The Nation, the Sunday Herald, Islam Online, the Guardian, and the Independent to name just a few. Jamail's dispatches and hard news stories have been translated into French, Polish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish. On radio as well as television, Dahr reports for "Democracy Now!," the BBC, and numerous other stations around the globe. Jamail is also special correspondent for "Flashpoints." He has spent a total of 8 months in occupied Iraq as one of only a few independent U.S. journalists in the country. In the mideast, Dahr has also has reported from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.

Bio provided by Dahr Jamail

Israel's Not-So-Smart Bombing Campaign

Killing innocent civilians, spurring more Islamic militancy, destroying a promising democracy...

Watch this cartoon commentary by editorial cartoonist Mark Fiore here..(Mother Jones)

Anti-war activists board US plane

British police have arrested seven anti-war activists after three of them boarded a US military transport plane at an airport in Scotland to check if it was carrying weapons to Israel, a peace group says. Anti-nuclear campaign group Trident Ploughshares said its activists had cut through a perimeter fence at Prestwick Airport, near Glasgow, on Monday and boarded a US plane to search for evidence of arms shipments to Israel.
Full Story

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Siniora in emotional plea for truce

Fouad Siniora has renewed demands for a quick ceasefire with Israel and called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from south Lebanon. Choking with emotions as he described his people's suffering during 27 days of conflict, the Lebanese prime minister told Arab foreign ministers at an emergency meeting in Beirut on Monday that he remained committed to a seven-point peace plan endorsed by his cabinet.
Full Story

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Death Toll in Lebanon Reaches 1000; Humanitarian Crisis Mounts

Humanitarian Crisis Mounts As 1/4th of Lebanese Residents Are Displaced

The Israeli military is reportedly planning to ramp up its attacks on Lebanon by targetting more of the civilian infrastructure as well as symbols of the Lebanese government. One military official told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz "It could be that at the end of the story, Lebanon will be dark for a few years." Democracy Now! speaks to Catholic Relief Services representative Mark Shnellbaecher, who suggests that Lebanon could run out of fuel within the week, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe that will not be easily solved by ceasefire alone.

For complete article: Listen/Watch/Read Democracy Now!

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Harper-Valley: "Justice Really Is Blind"

Check out this latest wonderful post on Harper-Valley blog about Justice Marshall, including the remake of the old Ray Charles tune, "Hit the Road Jack". Very witty and totally funny!!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Tomgram: Bunker-busting the Nuclear Taboo

[Tomdispatch Notes from Here and There: For those readers wondering about Nick Turse's long absence from the site, the reason is now apparent. Today, the first article in a major series he has co-authored on previously unrevealed American war crimes in Vietnam appears on the front page of the Los Angeles Times (with sidebar). When the series is finished, he will return to Tomdispatch. In the meantime, we here -- which means me, here -- at Tomdispatch are exceedingly proud of him for this accomplishment.

On a TD backward/forward-looking note: Even as you sweltered last week, perhaps you were somehow unaware that the rest of the country was gripped in the sort of heat-wave that was a living ad for Al Gore's hit film; but you surely knew that Mel Gibson, on being stopped by the police for driving while intoxicated, launched into an anti-Semitic tirade of media-stopping proportions -- and later asked for meetings with prominent Jewish community leaders so that together they could discover "the appropriate path for healing." He was even essentially forgiven in the President's name by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow (perhaps in the name of all Jews everywhere, since this President feels free to speak in the name of almost anyone). The exchange went:

"…And my question: Does the President forgive Mel Gibson or not? (Laughter.)

"MR. SNOW: The President believes in the forgiveness of sins for all who seek forgiveness."

George Bush himself later ducked the forgiveness question in a curious way -- by calling ABC's Sam Donaldson a "has-been," a good offense being perhaps the best defense. None of this would, however, have surprised long-time Tomdispatch readers, given the piece the ever-prescient Mike Davis wrote back in March 2004 on Gibson's Aramaic action movie, The Passion of the Christ, which he called "one of the most manipulative films ever made," and placed in a "tradition" we all might prefer to forget -– "the anti-Semitic conventions of Hitlerian cinema." It's well worth a re-read today. Tom]

First, there was one, Little Boy, which the United States dropped on Hiroshima as a bitter war was nearing its end sixty-one years ago today; then came Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki three days later. Both cities were essentially obliterated.

By the time the Russians got theirs -- Joe (for Joe Stalin)-1 in 1949, the U.S. had 235 in its arsenal. By the time Britain got its first ("Hurricane") in 1953, the U.S. had 1,436 and the Soviets, 120; by the time France had its first 4 and China its first in 1964, the U.S. had 31,056; the Russians, 5,221; and the British, 310.

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