Monday, July 31, 2006
"It is hard to imagine a less appropriate context in which to read Gerard Henderson's latest opinion piece. At a time when we're being inundated by grim reports of escalating carnage in Lebanon and Israel, Henderson has launched an extraordinary attack on the notion that a pro-Israel lobby influences US or Australian foreign policy towards the Middle East. Washington and Canberra support Israel, he argues, because it is in their strategic interests to do so. To suggest anything else is a “conspiracy theory”.
Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel, recently begged to differ. On ABC TV's Lateline last week he noted that the US Zionist lobby wields significant influence, threatening congressmen should they dare to cast an “anti-Israel vote.” Similar tactics are directed at journalists, editors and their boards in many Western nations, including Australia, in an attempt to stifle dissenting views on Israel and the US."
Read the full piece here. Meanwhile, MUP has just released Antony's book, "My Israel Question" - the details of which are here. The author's web site is also worth a visit here. Read the book and open your mind to a perspective, background, analysis and information not usually available through the mainstream media.
"If members of Mr Howard’s own party think the new IR legislation sucks, why should the rest of us have to put up with it?:
(Victorian) State Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu is distancing the Victorian Liberal Party from hardline elements of the Howard Government’s industrial relations revolution.
In the lead-up to the November state election, Mr Baillieu will tell nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers and other public sector workers that under a Victorian Liberal government none of them would be forced onto individual contracts or encouraged to quit their unions.
He will pledge that as premier, and therefore effectively the biggest employer in the state, he will continue the Bracks Labor Government’s policy of negotiating collective agreements with the main public sector unions, which cover hundreds of thousands of Victorian workers.
No wait, he doesn’t think they suck:
State Liberal strategists last night emphasised that he remained a strong supporter of the Federal Government’s laws, but was keen to send a message that on industrial relations he was pro-choice rather than anti-union.
So he’s strong supporter of them, he’s just not anti-union and he’s pro-choice. In other words — and excuse me labouring the obvious implication of his words — he’s saying that WorkChoices is anti-union and anti-choice."
According to the Newsweek editor, Rumsfeld, is "slightly deranged" and living in a "different world" as he is reported here as saying:
"[If I were running against conservatives,] I would make up a campaign commercial almost entirely of Donald Rumsfeld’s press conferences, because the man is looking — I mean, it’s not just that he seems like a bad Secretary of [Defense]. He seems literally in a parallel universe and slightly deranged. If you listen to what he said last week about Iraq, he’s living in a different world, not a different country."
Read the full transcript of the editor's appearance on America's ABC This Week program here.
In the light of the Qana bombing by the Israelis, Fisk writing in The Independent, says:
"You must have a heart of stone not to feel the outrage that those of us watching this experienced yesterday. This slaughter was an obscenity, an atrocity - yes, if the Israeli air force truly bombs with the "pinpoint accuracy'' it claims, this was also a war crime. Israel claimed that missiles had been fired by Hizbollah gunmen from the south Lebanese town of Qana - as if that justified this massacre. Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, talked about "Muslim terror" threatening "western civilisation" - as if the Hizbollah had killed all these poor people."
Read the complete article by Fisk - republished on Information Clearing House - here.
"As if we didn't know it already, the conflict in Lebanon shows that truth and war don't mix. All parties to the tragedy of the Middle East resort to disinformation and historical falsification to bolster their case, but rarely has an attempt to rewrite the past occurred so soon after the fact. Israeli ministers and their supporters have justified the bombardment of Lebanon as "a matter of survival". Total war has been declared on Israel, so Israel is entitled to use the methods of total war in self-defence. This would be reasonable if it were true, but it isn't. It's completely false.
The conflict was triggered by a Hizbullah operation in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and three killed. Let's be frank, this wasn't exactly the Tet offensive. It certainly didn't justify Israel's ferocious onslaught against the very fabric of Lebanese society. Yes, the rocket attacks on Haifa are an appalling crime, but they followed rather than preceded Israel's decision to escalate the fighting. They cannot provide retrospective justification for Israeli strategy."
Read Clark's full piece here.
Meanwhile, hear an up to date report from Human Rights Watch on what occurred in Qana - on ABC Radio's Breakfast program this morning. Bottom line the director of emergency services of Human Rights Watch states emphatically that no one in Qana - be they reporters, aid workers, etc. - has seen any rocket-launchers, or anything else, which would have propelled the Israelis to "attack" Qana.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
The festival program features an enormous range of literary activity – entertaining discussions, debates, readings, film screenings, interviews, performances, workshops, master classes and book launches, as well as a lively schools’ program for both primary and secondary students.
The writers’ festival attracts some of the finest names in writing in Melbourne. It is an international platform for Melbourne writers and a Melbourne platform for international writers. Each festival features a fabulous line-up of Australian authors, from much-loved favourites to some of the most exciting and distinctive new voices in Australian fiction. It also offers the richest selection of international writers, many of whom have changed the way we think about the world, literature, or both.
Go to the Festival web site, here, for more info and to book. Go.......!
"In war as in war: Israel is sinking into a strident, nationalistic atmosphere and darkness is beginning to cover everything. The brakes we still had are eroding, the insensitivity and blindness that characterized Israeli society in recent years is intensifying. The home front is cut in half: the north suffers and the center is serene. But both have been taken over by tones of jingoism, ruthlessness and vengeance, and the voices of extremism that previously characterized the camp's margins are now expressing its heart. The left has once again lost its way, wrapped in silence or "admitting mistakes." Israel is exposing a unified, nationalistic face.
The devastation we are sowing in Lebanon doesn't touch anyone here and most of it is not even shown to Israelis. Those who want to know what Tyre looks like now have to turn to foreign channels - the BBC reporter brings chilling images from there, the likes of which won't be seen here. How can one not be shocked by the suffering of the other, at our hands, even when our north suffers? The death we are sowing at the same time, right now in Gaza, with close to 120 dead since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, 27 last Wednesday alone, touches us even less. The hospitals in Gaza are full of burned children, but who cares? The darkness of the war in the north covers them, too."
One must really question whether Israelis really know what is happening almost literally "down the street" from them. Does the average Israeli really condone the carnage being inflicted on Lebanon by the IDF? Read Levy's very sober, and sobering, article here.
So writes Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive. As Rothschild catalogues, Condi has been nothing short of a disaster. Read Rothschild's "list" here and assess it for yourself.
Even today when visiting PM Olmert in Israel to see whether a cease-fire can be negotiated, there was Condi on the TV news looking her chipper smiling self shaking the PM's hand. No demeanour or anything to remotely suggest that serious matters were at hand.
Lebanon's survival, he said, was now in the hands of Hezbollah and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah."
This sobering assessment is detailed in an article in the Washington Post. Read the full piece here.
"Lt. Steve Smith, in charge of the detective bureau for the Malibu/Lost Hills station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, confirmed to me just now that "the contents seem to be similar" between the official reports and the four pages posted by TMZ.com on the Internet alleging Mel Gibson "blurted out a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks" -- "fucking Jews" and "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" and asking the arresting deputy "Are you a Jew?" -- during his DUI arrest early Friday morning. Smith denied TMZ.com's charge that the sheriff's department was involved in a "cover-up" of Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic tirade detailed in deputy Jim Mee's first arrest report. "TMZ has learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department had the initial report doctored to keep the real story under wraps," the website claims. But Smith told me emphatically, "There's no whitewash. I've seen the first report, and the supplemental report, and it looks to be the same thing as what's on the Internet. The contents that are on the Internet are covered in both those reports." That is the first official confirmation from the Sheriff's station that Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic rants are included in the official reports about his DUI arrest."
So much for Mel's protestations when the film, The Passion of Christ, was made that he wasn't an anti-semite. The "evidence" would seem to suggest otherwise. Read the full report here from Deadline Hollywood Daily.
Well, the seemingly ultimate seachange is revealed in this letter to the editor of delicious magazine - a food magazine - in the July issue:
"After working as a lawyer in Melbourne and then London for six years, and guiltily devouring delicious [and Jill Dupleix's column in The Times] daily, instead of case law, I chucked in the corporate towel and became a chef in a five-star private chalet in the French Alps this past winter. I relied heavily on those hours reading delicious on the way to work! As did British Airways, who made a packet on the my luggage which held four years of delicious. However, the response to my [well, really your!] cooking has been beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you for being my secret weapon".
Saturday, July 29, 2006
"....in these times, to write anything even mildly critical of Israel attracts a hail of letters from furious Jews hurling the charge of anti-Semitism. After last week's column, which canvassed the immorality of the Israeli Defence Forces killing Lebanese civilians, a hysterical Melbourne dentist wrote to accuse me of Holocaust denial."
Carleton draws on his response to visiting Dachau many years ago and reflecting on what the Israelis are visiting on the Lebanese in the current war.
Read Carleton's column here - and ponder the critical questions he raises. Fair or otherwise? Anti-semitic or merely the position of decent and concerned human being?
On the subject of being critical of Israel see also this feature piece, here, in the SMH today - "The dissenter who dared to ask why".
Criticism of the army is also mounting, and for good reason. The Israel Defense Forces have chalked up failures in the air, on the ground and at sea. The army did not have vital intelligence, and was not even aware of this. It did not have a forceful response to Hezbollah's rockets, and was not even aware of this. The army dragged the politicians into a decisive war without having the means to win it. When the fighting is over, the high command will be called to account for its actions."
This nuanced piece [the full article here] from Haaretz hopefully reflects a wider, considered, view in Israel. By all accounts the majority of Israelis still back the Government's actions - at least when surveyed. How long that will last in the current bombardment of Israel, losses of Israeli military personnel and the seemingly intractible on-going fighting in Lebanon may be a moot point.
Friday, July 28, 2006
"Already famed for angry labor strikes and philosophical debates in smoke-filled cafés, the French have now brought these passions online to become some of the world's most intensive bloggers.
The French distinguish themselves, both statistically and anecdotally, ahead of Germans, Britons and even Americans in their obsession with blogs, the personal and public journals of the Internet age.
Just why the French have embraced blogs more than most is anyone's guess, but explanations range from technical to historical and cultural.
Sixty percent of French Internet users visited a blog in May, ahead of Britain with 40 percent and little more than a third in the United States, according to Comscore, an Internet ratings service."
The reasons for "Froggies" [oops - sorry!] taking to blogs, and blogging, in such a big way is explored in the full IHT article here.
Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.
The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington."
One has to ask the critical question. If Israel perceived that Palestinians or the populace in Middle Eastern countries would vent their anger at Hezbollah because of the conflict it allegedly initiated, then it has backfired badly - if the report above, from the NY Times, is to be believed. Indeed, one needs to also ask whether Israeli intelligence didn't goof in not appreciating, let alone knowing, that Hezbollah had been planning its attack on Israel and accumulating a store-house of rockets.
Read the full article NY Times here.
It's a pertinent question - not easily or readiy answered, as David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation magazine, rightly highlights:
"That is question that is increasingly difficult for the White House to answer coherently--and honestly. This past week, George W. Bush, appearing at a press conference with Maliki, noted that the horrific and intensifying violence in Iraq of recent weeks is "terrible" and that more US troops will be deployed to Baghdad. But who--and what--is the enemy? And what can US troops do about disorder and violence there?"
Read Corn's analysis here.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
"Q. Is the country [Iraq] closer to a civil war?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different. If you think of civil wars in other countries, this is really quite different. There is -- there is a good deal of violence in Baghdad and two or three other provinces, and yet in 14 other provinces there's very little violence or numbers of incidents. So it's a -- it's a highly concentrated thing. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I'm not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all.
As Andrew Sullivan in his blog The Daily Dish says:
"His detachment from his own responsibility is breathtaking. The glibness with which he describes the mass slaughter of innocents in a country whose security he is responsible for is astonishing."
It is reminiscent of the trouble his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali got himself into last time the Israelis tried shock and awe on Lebanon back in 1996, when he failed to suppress a report that said pretty much the same thing about the IDF shelling of the U.N. post in Qana, which macerated some 106 Lebanese civilians to death."
Heh? We've been here before? According to Ian Williams, writing in AlterNet, yes we have! It's actually earily similar to an incident, exactly 10 years ago, involving Israel and the UN. Read the William's piece here.
"Once again the Bush administration is floating on a wave of euphoria. Israel's offensive against Hizbullah in Lebanon has liberated the utopian strain of neoconservatism that had been traduced by Iraq's sectarian civil war. And the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has propelled herself forward as chief cheerleader. "What we're seeing here," she said, "are the birth pangs of a new Middle East." At every press conference she repeats the phrase "a new Middle East" as though its incantation is magical."
Even if Blumenthal is half-right - and he seems to be - then the prognosis for US involvement in securing both a cease-fire in the Middle East as well as even some sort of resolution of the ongoing conflict, appears remote. Read the complete analysis of the US position as put forward by Blumenthal here.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
"Washington loses no opportunity to scold Iran and Syria for providing weapons to Hezbollah. Yet during the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, Israel received $10.5 billion in foreign military financing -- the Pentagon's biggest military aid program -- and $6.3 billion in U.S. arms deliveries. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military assistance."
"Last week, both houses of Congress, mindful of the importance of retaining Jewish votes and campaign contributions, passed resolutions stating that Israel was acting in self-defense. The vote in the Senate was unanimous; the House vote was 410 to 8. Walking in lockstep with Bush, neither resolution calls for a ceasefire. The Senate resolution praises Israel for its "restraint" and the House resolution "welcomes Israel's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties."
Eh? That resolution seems to contradict everything sober-minded, rational and objective people around the world are saying, let alone what is, obviously, the totally opposite position in Lebanon. But then again Israel is, in effect, the USA's "partner". So, bottom line, is Israel "doing" what Washington would love to but can't? - but knows that Jerusalem will! Read Cohn's complete article, in AlterNet, here.
"Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda.
The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict."
Read the full piece, from Insight on the News, here.
This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion. That is not to say that morality and justice are on Hezbollah's side. Most certainly not. But the fact that Hezbollah "started it" when it kidnapped soldiers from across an international border does not even begin to tilt the scales of justice toward our side."
No, not the words of some rabid anti-semite, self-hating Jew [or some similar offensive "label"] but none other than a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University, Ze'ev Maoz.
Read the full analysis by the professor in this op-ed, here, in Haaretz.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
An independent journalist writes on AlterNet [the full article here] as follows:
"Much of Beirut is a devastated city, infrastructure in many areas lies in a shambles after the Israeli bombing. But the Lebanese are also just feeling devastated.
"Does our country not have the right to move forward like other democracies," says Nidal Mothman, a 35-year-old taxi driver in downtown Beirut. "We hate the American government for giving the green light for the Israelis to bomb us back to the stone age."
Mothman, like so many Lebanese in the capital city, is seething with anger over what he called "indiscriminate" Israeli aggression towards their country."
In an op-ed piece in the LA Times he asserts that there are various types of "civilianality" which seems to mean that in whatever category you fit it might be OK if you are killed, as say in Lebanon.
Leaving aside that this man is supposed to be a professor of law, it appears that our ever-happy apologist for Israel is putting forward some sort of justification for Israel killing "civilians" in Lebanon. If you are the wrong sort of "civilian" it's OK then!
Read this rather astounding piece by Dershowitz here - and stop your jaw from gaping!
"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice touched down in Israel a short time ago after her unannounced visit to Beirut earlier in the day.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he is prepared to accept the deployment of a European peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon, provided it was robust and had a strong mandate.
Meanwhile Israel's peace movement appears divided over the conflict. Anti-war rallies held across Israel over the weekend were boycotted by the powerful anti-settlement group 'Peace Now'.
Even people on the left have been condemning the protesters for not caring about the value of Israeli lives. Shulamit Aloni is one of the country's leading human rights activists.
She's a former government minister and a founding member of the International Centre for Peace in the Middle East. She also took part in the largest peace demonstration in Tel Aviv last Saturday. She joins Breakfast from Israel.
Professor George Joffe is a lecturer at the Centre for International Studies at Cambridge University and he joins Breakfast from Cambridge."
Go here in order to hear the former Israeli Education Minister and the sober assessment of Professor Joffe on what needs to be done to bring about peace rather than a mere cease-fire.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Now for Mr Costello. The Federal Treasurer. The government's policy man on economic and fiscal policy, financial industry oversight, the Banking Act, the four banks policy, banking licences, prudential regulation, currency and legal tender, foreign exchange, corporate and securities law and corporate insolvency.
Husband: Federal Treasurer. Wife: ANZ banking executive. Perception: appalling. Country: Australia.
Just another day at the office."
"The latest violence in the Middle East demonstrates the bankruptcy of the Bush administration's grand design for the region. The Iraq war was going to display American power, promote democracy, strengthen moderates, and secure Israel. Instead, the quagmire has demonstrated the humiliating limits of US military power, fomented anarchy, recruited Islamist extremists, and strengthened a more radicalized Iran.
Palestinian moderates have been marginalized, leaving nobody for Israeli moderates to negotiate with. Hamas and Hezbollah have more support among Arabs than ever. Israel finds itself more vulnerable militarily, prone to excess, and dangerously isolated from world opinion. As for democracy, our few allies in the region are dictators and kings. Democratic Lebanon is a shambles. The democratically elected government in Iraq has just denounced Israel, and a democratic Palestinian election empowered Hamas."
One can only scratch one's head and wonder what sort of people in the US State Department have any idea of what is happening in the Middle East - let alone a "handle", of any sort, of the dynamics in the Middle East. Read Kuttner's piece here. It is hard to see how Condi Rice will have any "impact" during her visit to the Middle East.
As noted above the new Iraqi Government has condemned Israel's actions - contrary to the position adopted by George Bush. Read the NY Times report of the call by Iraq to stop Israeli aggression.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
"This war must be stopped now and immediately. From the start it was unnecessary, even if its excuse was justified, and now is the time to end it. Every day raises its price for no reason, taking a toll in blood that gives Israel nothing tangible in return. This is a good time to stop the war because both sides can claim they won: Israel harmed Hezbollah and Hezbollah harmed Israel. History shows that no situation is better for reaching an arrangement. Remember the lessons of the Yom Kippur War."
Read the full piece here. Levy's position is unassailable. But will anyone listen?
"You might have forgotten Scott Parkin but his friends in Australia have maintained the rage. It has been 10 months since the Federal Government stripped the American peace activist of his tourist visa on the grounds that he was a risk to Australia's security, thrust him into solitary confinement for five days, and shipped him back to the US. There he was presented with a bill for $11,700 for his detention, air fares and accommodation.
On Thursday proceedings began in the Federal Court in Melbourne to have Parkin's adverse security assessment overturned. As a first step, Parkin's barrister, Julian Burnside, sought a discovery order to determine precisely what Parkin is alleged to have said or done that warranted him being thrown out of the country. He wants to see the Government documents. The Government has never explained to Parkin or the public how he crossed the line between political activism and becoming a security risk. Parkin was never charged with a crime but damned through a secret process that makes international travel difficult. His family wants him to clear his name. He is, after all, a fifth-generation Texan, from George Bush's home state, though with rather different politics.
The same court action is seeking to determine what lies behind the adverse security assessment given two Iraqi refugees, Muhammad Faisal and Mohammad Sagar, who face their fifth year on Nauru. Ignorant of the claims made against them, they cannot defend themselves and remain in limbo with no country willing to take them."
The issues thrown up in Horin's op-ed piece should be of concern to all Australians. The argument that if you have nothing to fear it is ok then simply holds no water. Read the full article here - and reflect on how you and yours could well be effected or caught up, intentionally or even unwittingly, in a "secret" process said to be in the name of "justice".
Saturday, July 22, 2006
"The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.
The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah."
This seems a rather "odd" way of engaging in diplomatic efforts to stop the carnage presently underway. No less importantly what a wonderful re-inforcement of the already existing view that the American-Israel axis is as one - and that the US cannot really hope to play any realist role as the honest-broker in seeking a settlement of the present conflict.
Read the full NY Times article here.
Therefore to read this is startling:
"This morning on the Today Show, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow argued that “nobody has been more diplomatically active than we have” in the Middle East, citing all the phone calls White House officials have made in recent days".
Yet another part of the delusion which infects the White House that it has been attempting do bring a halt to the carnage?
As Think Progress rightly points out diplomacy takes more than phone calls. Read the complete piece here.
Thus, this op-ed piece, in The Age, from Brian Walters SC, President of Liberty Victoria, is more than a timely:
"Australians like to think that their country respects human rights. But our recent voting record at the UN suggests otherwise
Australia has a proud history as a pioneer in the field of human rights. We instituted the eight-hour day as early as the 1850s. We made available, well ahead of most of the world, free universal education. We were among the first to legislate for women's suffrage. The Harvester decision in 1907 resulted in the important safety net of the basic wage. In 1948, when the UN proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was an Australian attorney-general, H. V. Evatt, who presided over that historic assembly.
But recently, Australia has taken a stubborn stand against human rights in the UN."
Reading Walters' list of the way Australia has voted at the UN, here, we should hang our collective heads in shame. And look at the company Australia has been keeping in the way it has voted. Yet another "legacy" of the Howard Government!
Friday, July 21, 2006
Surely the American taxpayers, if they really knew the above, would be calling for Bushs' blood. Just think what the Americans could have done with the money for the country's disadvantaged or "fixing" their failing health system.
On the ABC Radio National program Perspective he said this:
"It is clear that Hezbollah deliberately taunted Israel into this crisis. The issue of Shabaa Farms has been crafted for just such a purpose. It is also possible that they got a stronger response than they calculated (after all kidnappings across borders and prisoner exchanges have been an art form in this neighbourhood). But there are indications that Hezbollah can only be encouraged by the outcome so far - they are now seen as pivotal to the way in which the Middle East question will play out and the Palestinian secularists and the Sunni states are further marginalised.
So Israel, again, may have fallen into a trap. Unleashing a response which virtually knows no bounds in terms of its effects on the Lebanese population is a familiar story which could again provoke unforeseen consequences. Israel itself unwittingly set the scene for Hezbollah's rise during its 18 year occupation of southern Lebanon; as it did for Hama's supremacy over Fatah in Palestine.
So it's not just a question of Israel's 'disproportionate' response. Because the consequences of Israel's actions can't be foreseen, and may be precisely what Hezbollah and Iran want, it is plain foolhardy.
There are other signs that Israel got it wrong - poor intelligence on Hezbollah's rockets (after 7 days they are still falling on Israeli towns); the Patriots' failure to take out incoming missiles; soldiers being snatched hints at poor discipline and field craft; Hezbollah's stage-managed attack on an Israeli ship."
Read the whole piece or access the audio here.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
"Hezbollah is a Shiite militia. Its followers hang pictures of the grandfather of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in their offices and in the towns. And it says its mandate is to liberate Lebanon and Lebanese prisoners from Israel".
"Perhaps more so than at any time since Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, the bloodletting between Hezbollah and Israel has highlighted the huge divide between many Arab countries, and between many people and their leaders. Sunni Arab leaders in Jordan, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries, see in Hezbollah a dangerous beachhead for Iranian influence in the region. They have criticized Hezbollah for the raid that led to the Israeli attack on Lebanon.
But the longer the conflict drags on, the more these leaders are finding their own credibility called into question. The longer satellite television shows images of civilians killed and maimed by Israeli bombs, the more these leaders face hostility from their own people. The longer Hezbollah fires rockets into Israeli cities and towns, killing and wounding Israelis, the longer these leaders have to face questions about why they do not take similar action as well."
Read the full NY Times article here. It presents a critically important perspective and insight into the thinking of people in the Middle East which the mainstream media appears to have either missed or simply ignored.
And, indeed, in the wall-to-wall coverage of the latest Middle East carnage -- and the analysis of said carnage -- the neocon architects who brought us the invasion of Iraq and the promise that it would bring democracy and stability to the region have been notably absent from the discussion.
Where have you gone Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, et al? A nation turns it anxious eyes to you."
Arianna Huffington raises an interesting question, here, in this piece on AlterNet - but isn't able to answer it.
"After the last three years, I didn't think I could be surprised by the level of cluelessness exhibited by the Bush administration when it comes to Iraq. Then I picked up this morning's New York Times.
But before we get to the jaw-dropping money quote that leaves no doubt the Bushies continue to view Iraq through zealots' eyes, let's start with a bracing shot of reality: the United Nations report on Iraq released yesterday.
It paints a devastating -- and wrenchingly specific -- portrait of a country in bloody chaos.
First the numbers: 14,338 civilians killed in the first half of 2006. And, according to the UN report, civilian carnage is on "an upward trend," with more than 5,800 deaths and 5,700 injuries in the last two months. Indeed, on average, more than 100 Iraqi civilians were killed per day in June -- the highest monthly total since U.S. forces took control of Baghdad".
And if that wasn't bad enough:
"The report also puts a human face on those numbers and on the rampant violence raging in the country. It offers examples of homosexuals who have been targeted by militias and death squads because of their sexual orientation. And it's not just gays facing intolerance. The UN cites the case of an Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players who were gunned down in Baghdad because... they were wearing shorts! Forget the fashion police; we're talking fashion assassins. Others were targeted because their hair styles or facial hair didn't conform to the rules of the extremists now in control on both sides of the sectarian divide."
Read the full article, here, with links to the UN pdf and the New York Times.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
As Robert Scheer writes in truthdig.com:
"Bombs were exploding and innocents dying, from Beirut to Haifa to Baghdad, and yet George Bush managed to pose for yet another photo op, smiling as he gave the thumbs up at the close of the G8 summit. Thanks to an unsuspected open mic, however, we could also glimpse the mindset of a leader unaccountably pleased with his ignorance of the world.
What seemed to interest him most at that farewell get together of leaders bitterly divided over a disintegrating Mideast was not some last-minute proposal for peace but rather the fact that it would take China President Hu Jintao eight hours to fly home from St. Petersburg to Beijing."
Read this insight [and shake your head in disbelief] into George Bush and his "thinking" [?] here.
For another, more biting, comment and assessment of Bush - and his lack of intelligence, this from AlerNet:
"You know it, I know it and the American people know it. But everyone is afraid to say it. They say it privately, but people are afraid of saying it publicly because you will be branded as a liberal, elite, intellectual snob. But believe me, you don't have to be an intellectual to see how painfully stupid our president is."
The complete AlterNet article here.
The frazzled refugees who have flooded Beirut are struggling to find food, water and medicine. They sleep chockablock in city parks, abandoned basements and sweltering schools in the capital."
So reports the LA Times in this disturbing and distressing "picture" of what is happening "on the ground" in Beirut. Read the full article here.
One does have to ask what Israel hopes to achieve in causing the upheaval it has for ordinary women, men and children in Lebanon rather than pursuing its objective - Hezbollah.
In another development or aspect of the cuurent Israeli attacks, Guardian Unlimited reports:
"The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.
The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels."
Assuming the report to be correct this should do wonders for the USA and its allies with Middle East countries specifically and Muslims, generally, around the world. Read the full article here.
This morning Peters Rodgers - journalist, author and diplomat and Australia's Ambassador to Israel between 1994 to 1997 - was interviewed on ABC National Radio's Breakfast program. Listen to this interesting interview and the revelation by Rodgers that Israel at one time supported Hamas and Hezbollah.
A different and sober assessment of the current crisis - and not the shrill pro-Israel material pushed in the media - can be read in this op-ed piece, Deadly Double Standards Sow Terror, in yesterday's The Australian newspaper here.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The UNFPA put out a Statement to mark the day. It includes these disturbing and shocking statistics:
"....today millions of young people are threatened by poverty, illiteracy, risks of pregnancy and childbirth, and HIV/AIDS. Today, more than 500 million people aged 15 to 24 live on less than $2 per day; 96 million young women in developing countries do not know how to read or write; and 14 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 become mothers every year. Every day, 6,000 young people are newly infected with HIV."
Read the full Statement here - and reflect on how the so-called "civilised" countries of the world directs their resources. Just last week it was reported in the course of a US Senate Committee hearing that the US is spending a staggering $3 billion a week on the Iraq War.
As they say, "travel broadens the mind!" No doubt about it, but it also test one's stamina [lifting suitcases and bags here there and everywhere], one's patience and endurance levels and fitness. In some respect travel figures fairly high on what constitutes stress.
What also now makes travel a little more challenging is what one needs to take along. Just think.....plugs and various cords and do-dats for laptops, power, the mobile, the digital camera and the PDA.
"The gorilla is threatened with extinction by the mid-21st century if poaching and destruction of its habitat continue at the current rate, the United Nations has warned.
Within a decade, three of the four sub-species of the great ape could be wiped out, it says. "Many populations are faced with imminent extinction," said Matthew Woods, of the UN-run Great Apes Survival Project. "It is incredibly serious."
How sad - and what a reflection of mankind! Read the full story of the plight of these wonderful creatures here.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Despite bitter lessons from the past, Israel's political and military leaders remain addicted to the notion that, whatever they have a right to do, they have a right to overdo, to the point where they lose what international support they had when they began their retaliatory measures."
So writes Henry Siegman, a Senior Fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations, a visiting professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and former head of the American Jewish Congress, in a piece in Guardian Unlimited.
Read this sober and balanced analysis from someone who could hardly be accused of not being well-informed or anti-Israel here.
Meanwhile, read here this grim "picture" of the death and destruction in Lebanon as reported by Robert Fisk from Beirut.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
"The news that the Federal Government has registered the welfare arm of Hillsong Church as the state's - and possibly the country's - biggest charitable provider of financial counselling services to indigent unemployed people has raised alarm bells in some quarters."
This is worrying as Horin rightly points out - especially as other welfare organisations don't want a bar of the Federal Government's welfare scheme. As Horin goes on to write:
"The dominance of Hillsong Emerge is due to the refusal of all the major charities so far to have anything to do with the Federal Government's new scheme. Their boycott is fuelled by a belief that the scheme is morally unjustifiable. It will strip an estimated 18,000 people a year of their unemployment benefits for eight weeks for infringing job search rules, and then turn around and offer financial counselling - and the chance to get some money back from Centrelink for essentials - to an estimated 4000 of those deemed highly vulnerable."
Read the complete Horin piece here.
And so the power of symbols brings Israel and its Arab foes together again in a deadly dance. Driven by the need to protect these symbols, the competing sides have entered into yet another cycle of violence that threatens to plunge the region into a new abyss. Indeed, the current pair of conflicts could easily expand from two to four fronts, if Hamas' and Hezbollah's patrons, Syria and Iran, are lured into the battle."
So writes David Myers [a teacher of Jewish history at UCLA] in an op-ed piece [here] in the Los Angeles Times. Myers'piece is worth reading because it is a sober analysis of what is happening in the Middle East and doesn't follow the usual drum-beating and polemic of so many writers on the vexed subject of the ongoing conflict. Many Jewish readers and other supporters of Israel will not like Myers' conclusions.....
Friday, July 14, 2006
As he writes in The Independent:
"It's about Syria. That was the frightening message delivered by Damascus yesterday when it allowed its Hizbollah allies to cross the UN Blue Line in southern Lebanon, kill three Israeli soldiers, capture two others and demand the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails."
"And there is one certain bet that Syria will rely on; that despite all Israel's threats of inflicting "pain" on Lebanon, this war will run out of control until - as has so often happened in the past - Israel itself calls for a ceasefire and releases prisoners. Then the international big-hitters will arrive and make their way to the real Lebanese capital - Damascus, not Beirut - and appeal for help."
Read the complete piece here.
So writes Marwan Bishara in a very up to date piece in The Nation Magazine.
As the Middle East seemingly explodes, once again, one has to wonder where Isreal thinks its actions will lead. With the attention of the world diverted to North Korea and Iran - and knowing it's an election year in the US - Israel probably believes it has free-reign to do as it pleases. Who is going to openly condmen Israel's actions? And what can they do about it anyway? There is always the now somewhat hoary proposition that Israel is protecting itself from terrorists for Israel to fall back on in justifying its actions.
Read the full The Nation piece here.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
"What better time than the dog days of summer to watch a dog-torture advocate get hounded?
As three female protesters in Abu Ghraib-style orange jumpsuits and black headscarves stood vigil in the back of the Senate Judiciary hearing room, like the supernatural chorus in “Macbeth,” William Haynes was grilled about his worthiness to ascend to the federal bench when his main claim to the promotion is complicity in letting Dick Cheney dance a jig on the Geneva Conventions.
“The State Department characterizes the use of dogs as an interrogation aid as torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,’’ Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said to the Pentagon general counsel. “We publicly condemned the countries of Libya and Burma for using dogs in interrogation. In November of 2002, you recommended that Secretary Rumsfeld approve the use of dogs to intimidate detainees at Guantánamo.
“The Department of Defense’s own investigation concluded that this technique migrated from Guantánamo to Iraq and Abu Ghraib. At least two members of the armed forces have now been convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for using dogs to frighten detainees. It is striking that as these soldiers were prosecuted, you were being promoted. What message are we sending our troops? And what message are we sending the world, in light of your role in promulgating abusive interrogation techniques, like the use of dogs, stress positions and forced nudity. What message are we sending if we promote you to the second highest court in the land?”
The senator added that the message would be terribly unfair: “Well, we’re going to dispatch a few privates, a few corporals, a sergeant, maybe it will get to a lieutenant, but it’ll never get upstairs. ... Apparently, upstairs there’s a promotion party. Downstairs people are being sent to prison.’’
Mr. Haynes, 48, lamely resorted to the argument that Abu Ghraib was simply a few bad apples, “the work of the night shift, without any authority whatsoever.”
Even as the Bush administration was forced to concede, after being slapped back by the Supreme Court, that terrorism suspects must be accorded the rights enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, W. was trying to reward those who helped shred them. He nominated Mr. Haynes to sit on the Fourth Circuit court, the conservative Virginia go-to court for contentious cases on civil liberties and detention of foreign prisoners.
A group of 20 retired military officers sent a letter to Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, expressing “profound concern” about Mr. Haynes and arguing that he promoted policies that “compromised military values, ignored federal and international law, and damaged America’s reputation and world leadership.’’
They asserted that the policies “fostered animosity toward the United States, undermined rather than enhanced our intelligence-gathering efforts, and added significantly to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.’’
Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator who is a military lawyer, a member of the Armed Services Committee and is close to the JAG Corps lawyers, is reported to oppose Mr. Haynes behind the scenes. Speaking to reporters in the hallway, he echoed Senator Durbin’s fear that soldiers should not take the fall for superiors’ decisions: “We just need to make sure that what we do in terms of promotion, of a civilian, who was part of policies that have led to military members being prosecuted and having their careers ruined, needs to be thoughtfully considered.”
If all the Democrats are opposed and even one Republican is willing to vote no, the nomination could stall on a 9-to-9 vote. Harry Reid, the minority leader, hinted that Democrats might try to filibuster it if it is reported to the full Senate.
When Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel, recently won the Kennedy Foundation “Profiles in Courage’’ award for trying to warn Mr. Haynes and others that unleashing dogs for psychological torture and turning America into a law unto itself would hurt the nation, he said this:
“Cruelty disfigures our national character. It is incompatible with our constitutional order, with our laws, and with our most prized values. Cruelty can be as effective as torture in destroying human dignity, and there is no moral distinction between one and the other.”
He easily summed up something that the president, vice president and their toadies can’t seem to fathom: “Where cruelty exists, law does not.”
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Some will probably find the prosecutor's position startling. It follows, of course, that if Bush is potentially culpable, then so are PM's Blair and Howard. Probably none of the 3 men even gave it a thought - bear in mind that Blair and Howard are lawyer-trained - that their actions might constitute a war-crime.
Read the full text of the AlterNet article on Bushs'possible crime here.
As well as losing funding, non-government organisations have been silenced in other ways. Many groups that receive some funding from the Government have contracts that include confidentiality clauses which prevent them making public comment. Even where confidentiality agreements do not apply, many non-government organisations self-censor for fear of losing their funding."
So writes Tanya Plibersek, Federal ALP member, in an op-ed piece in today's SMH. Plibersek fairly convincingly demonstrates how the Howard Government - forever asserting how it governs for all even if the fact is totally to the contrary - has severely cut, if not entirely shut off, funding to many worthwhile causes and organisations. It clearly helps to be a Government "mate" - as recent appointments by the Government have so clearly shown Read the full op-ed piece here.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The Dreyfus Affair, which deeply divided France and sparked a vicious wave of anti-Semitism, was finally over. Or was it?"
It's a potent question posed in this interesting article in the IHT. Read a revealing article on how things stand in France 100 years after the infamous Affair. It doesn't make for happy reading!
The war in Iraq gets worse by the day and pundits in the know are predicting that it is only a matter of time before civil war breaks out. So much for the success of the Coalition of the Willing in bringing democracy and peace to Iraq.
Meanwhile, Condi Rice recently stopped off in Afghanistan to show solidarity with Pres. Karzai. Good photo op but little more. All reports from Afghanistan paint a picture of a narcon State with little progress to show for all the effort of stationing foreign troops there, including those from Australia.
If "proof" was needed of how bad things are in Afghanistan this report by The Independent says it all
"The letter pinned overnight to the wall of the mosque in Kandahar was succinct. "Girls going to school need to be careful for their safety. If we put acid on their faces or they are murdered then the blame will be on their parents."
Today the local school stands empty, victim of what amounts to a Taliban war on knowledge. The liberal wind of change that swept the country in 2001 is being reversed. By the conservative estimate of the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, 100,000 students have been terrorised out of schools in the past year. The number is certainly far higher and many teachers have been murdered, some beheaded."
Read the complete disturbing article here.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Howard has, often, made much of his alleged honesty and integrity. The man protesteth too much? That aside, to what extent people have "bought" what Howard has said of himself might be a moot point.
Today's "bombshell" [as the SMH describes Costello's revelation of his meeting with Howard in December 1994] that Howard did - despite Howard's strenuous denials even as late as this morning - in effect, promise the prime-ministership to Peter Costello after Howard had served 1 1/2 terms in office as PM, must surely put pay to Howard's standing.
Read the latest on the "bombshell" here.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
So editorialises Haaretz last Thursday. And the situation is getting worse and Israel carries on regardless - even when some countries have called for restraint on Israel's part.
Read the complete Haaretz editorial here.
"The endless, Kafka-esque punishment of David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay is approaching the status of a crime itself: a vindictive crime committed by the Bush Administration, in defiance of US and international law.
Nick Cowdery, the forthright NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, was entirely correct to say last weekend that the imprisonment of Hicks and others in Gitmo was an unprincipled disgrace. "These people have not been treated according to the rule of law but according to the rule of Bush and his cronies," he said. He demanded that Hicks should be brought back to Australia.
John Howard and Philip Ruddock must have been the only two lawyers in this country who maintained that those American military tribunals would deliver a fair trial. They should have been severely embarrassed by the US Supreme Court's finding to the contrary, but there is no sign of that. They wash their Pilate hands, content to let the White House do whatever it likes. Hicks's pleading letter to the Prime Minister, published in the Herald on Thursday, was a tragic document. Howard did not deign to reply, which is about as bloodless as it gets.
There is a fight worth having here. The noble efforts of Hicks's US Marine defence attorney, Major Michael Mori, offer some hope that this Australian outcast might one day obtain the justice so scandalously denied to him by his own Government.
Perhaps Hicks was a terrorist. Perhaps he was just a hothead kid way out of his depth. It is not for politicians to decide."
Saturday, July 08, 2006
"A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines."
It is to be noted that the Southern Poverty Law Centre is a highly regarded and respected organisation - so its findings are not the "work" of some non-descript group. One has to wonder what action will be taken to eradicate the problem. And no less importantly, can the same situation be said to apply in the Australian military and those of other countries?
Read the complete NY Times article here.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Richard Ackland, writing his weekly op-ed piece in the SMH today, says this:
"The court's findings run much deeper than Bush and Howard might care to admit. It is the most important decision affecting presidential power since US v Nixon (hand over the tapes).
Back here the news was greeted by Howard with a bit of shuffling of the feet and something about receiving the wrong legal advice. Further, he wasn't much interested in this "bloke" Hicks coming back to Australia without facing "some trial in America" because we can't try him here. "Hicks should be brought to trial as soon as possible," he said.
How many years has that refrain been tapped out by this bloodless little coot? And yet the trial is as far away as ever because Congress is unlikely to grope its way to an agreed process any time quickly."
Ackland is right on the money! Read his piece here.
Meanwhile Get Up is petitioning the Government [on line here] to get Hicks away from the clutches of the Americans. Sign up / on...... NOW!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
For a US perspective, AlterNet reports:
"The daily horrors emerging from Iraq have caused a majority of people in the United States to oppose Bush's war there. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis Israel has created in the occupied territories hovers below the radar for most Americans.
Israel has used the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of a third by Palestinians as an excuse to invade Gaza with overwhelming military force and demolish its infrastructure. What Israel and its benefactor -- the United States -- really want is to destroy the democratically elected Hamas government."
One can't help but thinking that the failure of the US to speak out in any way reflects the fact that this is an election year and politicians simply don't want to be seen as being critical of Israel. Meanwhile, a disaster in Palestine is evident on many levels. What Israel hopes to achieve out of all of this has to be a moot point.
Read the complete AlterNet article here.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
As The Indpendent reports Dershwowitz saying:
"The problem is that the current laws regulating the detention of combatants are near useless when it comes to this motley array of detainees. These detainees simply do not fit into the old, anachronistic categories. Most are not classic prisoners of war. They were not part of a uniformed army under the command of a nation. But neither do they fit in to the classic definition of "unlawful combatants". They are not spies or saboteurs, as those terms have been understood in the context of conventional warfare. Nor are many of them simple "criminals", subject to ordinary trials under the domestic law of crimes. They comprise a new category - or set of categories - unto themselves. They cannot be held as POWs until the end of the war, because this is a war that will never end. They cannot simply be released, because many of them would quickly volunteer to engage in suicide terrorist missions against their former captors, as some already have done. Most cannot be tried as criminals, because their actions took place outside the jurisdiction of the detaining nation. Those who have valuable, real-time information will be interrogated, and - short of the absolute law against "torture" - there are few, if any, rules governing the nature of permissible interrogation when the object is not to elicit "incrimination confessions" for purposes of criminal prosecution, but rather to obtain "preventive intelligence" for the purpose of pre-empting future terrorist attacks."
Read Dershowitzs' position, in the complete piece, here. This man's views are dangerous and caste aside the basic rules of law. Ignore him! Needless to say Dershowitz is critical of human-rights oprganisations like Amnesty International. Some lawyer!
Sunday, July 02, 2006
This part of a NY Times editorial encapsulates it fully:
"Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni being held in Guantánamo, has been charged with conspiring to help Al Qaeda. The Bush administration has contended that he and the other prisoners there are not covered either by congressional laws governing military trials or by the Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners of war. Instead, Hamdan was put on trial before a military tribunal where defendants can be excluded from the proceedings and convicted based on evidence kept secret from them and their lawyers. Prosecutors can also rely on hearsay, coerced testimony and unsworn statements.
What is more than troubling is that PM Howard and A-G Ruddock not once criticised a system of "military tribunals" - as it effected David Hicks - so far removed from a judicial approach let alone fairness on any level. And these 2 men are lawyers by training?
"Spotting attempts by News Ltd hacks to impress Rupert Murdoch when he visits Australia is a fun sport. But with the Sun King's trip winding up this weekend, we've already got a clear winner. Step forward, Andrew Bolt, who produced this on Tuesday:
"Fox News, owned by the company that owns this paper, has a tone too raucous for the ABC. But it has a format for debate the ABC should copy, not condemn. .. Channel Nine under Eddie McGuire is examining the Fox News model because it makes for more interesting television – and cheaper. The ABC should, too, because it is more fair – and informative."
The closest the ABC will ever get to Fox News was broadcasting Robert Greenwald's powerful Outfoxed documentary, which has sold more than 250,000 DVDs worldwide and was banned in Murdoch outlets across Australia, as Media Watch revealed at the time.
One of the Fox News media monitors from Moveon.org explains how they assembled the evidence to produce the documentary which left Rupert's claim of "fair and balanced" only supported by his most loyal courtiers, such as Andrew Bolt. Truth be known, Fox News is a disgrace to journalism, but Rupert can't afford to let it be labelled blatant Republican Party propaganda and patriotic pap.
Witness the way Fox News even sued comedian Al Franken in 2003, claiming that it had trademarked the expression "fair and balanced", although this proved to be a PR disaster.
Bolt has also been displaying the high-pitched patriotism that is characteristic of The Sun and Fox News. Witness yesterday's attacks on the minority of Italian-Australians who barracked for the Azzurri on Tuesday morning:
"Did you see the pictures from Sydney's Norton St – the Italian heart of our most ethnically torn city – when the ball fizzed past Mark Schwarzer's despairing glove? As many as 8000 people, many in Italy's blue shirts, screamed, clapped, sang, danced, lit flares, honked car horns and set off fireworks. Fantastic! Australia, their home, was beaten! The country that had opened its arms to them and their parents was devastated! How sweet."
Right, so next time Rupert Murdoch drops in on the US Open to cheer for Lleyton Hewitt, the New York Post will no doubt blast its US citizen proprietor for being un-American."
Saturday, July 01, 2006
"Bombing bridges that can be circumvented both by car and on foot; seizing an airport that has been in ruins for years; destroying a power station, plunging large parts of the Gaza Strip into darkness; distributing flyers suggesting that people be concerned about their fate; a menacing flight over Bashar Assad's palace; and arresting elected Hamas officials: The government wishes to convince us that all these actions are intended only to release the soldier Gilad Shalit.
But the greater the government's creativity in inventing tactics, the more it seems to reflect a loss of direction rather than an overall conception based on reason and common sense. On the face of it, Israel wishes to exert increasing pressure both on Hamas' political leadership and on the Palestinian public, in order to induce it to pressure its leadership to release the soldier. At the same time, the government claims that Syria - or at least Khaled Meshal, who is living in Syria - holds the key. If so, what is the point of pressuring the local Palestinian leadership, which did not know of the planned attack and which, when it found out, demanded that the kidnappers take good care of their victim and return him?".
Read the complete editorial here - and ponder what the wider picture is here and why the West still seems not to get it. Bombing the Palestinians and subjugating them to appalling conditions is hardly going to get people, of whatevcr political persuasion, on side. This is a dispute which just won't go away......
"Visiting Washington to hobnob with Deadeye Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, our mini-Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, promised to do everything possible to prevent the North Koreans firing their new long-range missile into the Pacific.
This will have pleased his hosts no end, although exactly how Nelson hopes to stop the launch was not spelled out. Unless he intends to throw himself gallantly on top of the thing before it goes off, Australia's options would seem limited."
Carlton's column this week is particularly perceptive as it analyses a world seemingly confronted by conflicts and issues all over the place. And then there is how despite all the might of the US having been put on display the world actually views America and its actions. Read the full column here.
21% of respondents travel with a laptop, 54% with an MP3 player, 83% with a mobile [cellphone] and 86% with a digital camera.
And flashpacker? Well, the word was coined by the NZ tourist people to "cover" backpackers loaded up with high-tech gear. In fact, in NZ hotels have been upgraded the past 3 years to accomodate these techno-glitterati!