Monday, July 31, 2006

Israel acting in self-defense? (I didn't say that, Krugman did)

The above is Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts and it's Condi grabbing a gig when she should have been doing her job. I don't think you go to 'functions' and entertain when your job requires your attention -- more attention than you've given it and I'm not the only one who feels that way. Tony just e-mailed me this:

How would you rate Rice's handling of the Middle East crisis?
Total Votes: 46,737

How would you rate her overall job performance?
Total Votes: 46,888

That's from an online AOL poll going on now. If she were doing her job, I bet most people wouldn't care one way or another that she's fiddling around at functions. But she's not doing her job. Check out "Editorial: Does Condi Rice understand her job duties?" (Third Estate Sunday Review). This is from today's Free Speech Radio News:

Although a 48-hour halt on airstrikes against Lebanon is in effect, the Israeli army continues its attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Air strikes and shelling have killed at least seven residents of the Gaza Strip over the last three days and many others have sustained injuries. Manar Jibrin reports.
An Israeli Apache helicopter today fired two missiles into a governmental ministries compound in Sheikh Radwan in the central Gaza Strip, causing structural damage. Two people were injured in a separate missile attack on the two-storey home in Al Sheikh Radwan area today Three Palestinians died today of wounds they sustained a week earlier during the Israeli invasion of areas in the Gaza Strip. A sixteen year old boy was killed after sustaining shrapnel today by the Israeli artillery fired at homes of Biet Hanoun east of the Gaza Strip. Over one hundred Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks in the past four weeks. Saturday, in the West Bank city of Nablus an Israeli undercover unit backed by armored vehicles invaded the city and killed two resistance fighters of Al Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who started a regional tour met with Egyptian President Husni Mubarek on Friday during which they discussed the situation in both Palestine and Lebanon.

Well that's what happens when Israel's just trying to protect herself right? If you're thinking, "Mike, you're crazy!" well I would be if I believed that. I don't. Paul Krugman does:

Yes, I know that there are differences in the origins of the two wars. There's no question of this war having been sold on false pretenses, unlike America in Iraq, Israel is clearly acting in self-defense.

Clearly? From FAIR's "Down the Memory Hole: Israeli contribution to conflict is forgotten by leading papers:"

WASHINGTON - July 28 - In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three leading US papers--the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times--have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation.
Beginning with the Israeli attack on Gaza, a New York Times editorial (6/29/06) headlined "Hamas Provokes a Fight" declared that "the responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas," and that "an Israeli military response was inevitable." The paper (7/15/06) was similarly sure in its assignment of blame after the fighting spread to Lebanon: "It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation. Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah."
The Washington Post (7/14/06) agreed, writing that "Hezbollah and its backers have instigated the current fighting and should be held responsible for the consequences." The L.A. Times (7/14/06) likewise wrote that "in both cases Israel was provoked." Three days and scores of civilian deaths later, the Times (7/17/06) was even more direct: "Make no mistake about it: Responsibility for the escalating carnage in Lebanon and northern Israel lies with one side...and that is Hezbollah."
As FAIR noted in a recent
Action Alert (7/19/06), the portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis; between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza.
In a
July 21 CounterPunch column, Alexander Cockburn highlighted some of the violent incidents that have dropped out of the media’s collective memory:
Let's go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.
Back we go again to June 13, 2006. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another attempted extrajudicial assassination. The successive barrages killed nine innocent Palestinians.
Now we're really in the dark ages, reaching far, far back to June 9, 2006, when Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing eight civilians and injuring 32.
That's just a brief trip down Memory Lane, and we trip over the bodies of twenty dead and forty-seven wounded, all of them Palestinians, most of them women and children.
On July 24, the day before Hamas' cross-border raid, Israel made an incursion of its own, capturing two Palestinians that it said were members of Hamas (something Hamas denied--L.A. Times, 7/25/06). This incident received far less coverage in US media than the subsequent seizure of the Israeli soldier; the few papers that covered it mostly dismissed it in a one-paragraph brief (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 7/25/06), while the Israeli-taken prisoner got front-page headlines all over the world. It's likely that most Gazans don’t share US news outlets' apparent sense that captured Israelis are far more interesting or important than captured Palestinians.

Krugman appears to miss a great deal. It reminded me of his "Yes, Immigrants Are Taking Our Jobs!" column (that wasn't the title, that's how it read to me). If he's not uninformed, he's an apologist for a war mongering government. There's no excuse for his claim that Israel's clearly acting in self-defense. With his column on immigrants, he got a lot of fallout and changed the topic quickly. I doubt he'll do that this time. But I wonder what the Krugman worshippers thought of it? I remember Rebecca noting him on an important anniversary:

paul krugman isn't a career pundit. but his column pissed me off. today, he's waxing on about the 50s. oh yeah, he tells you, it wasn't great for every 1 and not every 1 got to be middle class, but we were closer together then and there wasn't bipartisanship (he credits that to wwii).
does he not get how offensive that is?
on today of all days?
if you're blanking, while he's praising the 50s and noting how the policitians could work together in the column that ran today, today is also the day on which, in 1953, ethel and julius rosenberg were executed. that's the 50s he's waxing on about and about the story in time magazine that he read blah-blah-blah.
yeah, there was a bond between a lot of dems and a lot of repubes - it was the desire to launch a witch hunt. ethel and julius were only 2 of the casualities.
krugman should be embarrassed that his paen to the 50s ran today, on the 53rd anniversary of their executions.

So he's hit some foul balls and then some. Today was another. Join me in booing him and let's fill the stadium with boos.

There's really not an excuse for him being informed. More likely, it's a case of him emphasizing what he wants. Today's column read like Al Franken could have written it and we all know to avoid Al Franken.

Treat Krugman like a buffet.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue today, Monday, August 31, 2006.
CNN reports that last week alone: "at least 200 Iraqis were reported to be killed across the country." This as the refugee numbers increase, shootings and bombings continue and the war drags on. On July 26, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad -- 17 kidnapped from an apartment complex and the paper of record in the US took a pass. Yesterday, another mass kidnapping took place (at least 23) and it wasn't news to the paper of record. Today, another mass kidnapping took place, in Baghdad, 26 people. Will it get the attention it should merit? Wait and see. Meanwhile James Hider (Times of London) puts the death toll at 27 dead throughout Iraq today.
James Hider (Times of London) reports that a bomb in Mosul claimed the lives of four Iraqi soliders. The AP notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer. CNN notes a total of three bombs went off in Baghdad today and, in addition to the police officer already noted, the bombs claimed two Iraqi soldiers and another police officer while eight civilians were wounded (Baghdad) by mortar rounds -- also notes a car bomb in Smarra that resulted in two people dead and 17 wounded.
AFP reports that "Brigadier Fakhri Jamil of the Iraqi government intelligence service" was shot dead in Baghdad while, in Amara, "Bassim Abdulhamid, an employee of the Sunni endowment which manages Sunni mosques" was shot dead at his home. The AP notes "two vendors selling cooking-gas cylinders" shot dead in Baghdad; and one "municipal street sweeper" shot dead (two more injured) also in Baghdad. Reuters notes the shooting death, in Baghdad, of "Maad Jihad, an advisor to the health minister".
AP notes three corpses discovered in Baghdad and that yesterday an attorney and four police officers were beheaded in Hawija. CNN notes on the first three: "All had been shot in the head and showed signs of being brutalized." AFP notes that a "bullet-scarred corpse" was discovered in Suwira and the corpse a "gunshot victim" in Husseinya.
Andy Mosher and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's kidnapping, near Baghdad, of "at least 23 Iraqis" who were then "lined . . . up and shot them all". That was Sunday. Today, the AFP reports another mass kidnapping by "[a]rmed men in Iraq national police uniforms" using "15 jeeps of a kind used by police" who went into "the commerical heart of Baghdad and led away the head of the chamber of commerce and 20 co-workers" as well as "15 workers from a nearby office" accounting for a total of 26 people kidnapped. Since Mosher and al-Izzi are among the few to report on Sunday's kidnapping, let's be clear that the latest kidnapping (the 26) happened today (and happened in Baghdad) -- two different incidents. A witness tells Reuters: "I was on the first floor of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and they took all the men downstairs. They were in camouflage army uniforms. They handcuffed the man and blindfolded them. Me and five others were left behind because all the cars were full." James Hider (Times of London) describes the location the kidnapping took place as "one of the safest parts of Baghdad today" and notes that the area "is controlled by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which forms the main party in the Shia governing coalition. Locals say almost nothing moves in the area without the Badr militiamen knowing about it."
As rumors continue to swirl around the Iraq police forces,
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that Jawad Bolani is pledging to "clean up the country's law enforcement ranks, widely viewed as a primary cause of ongoing violence and instability." How much he could or could not do is in doubt for any number of reasons but primarily (not noted in the report) due to the fact that he's currently the most speculated of the names that Nouri al-Maliki may be about to replace. AP reports that there are "many" calls for Bolani to be replaced.
In other news,
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports that "in the last 10 days alone" the amount of refugees in Iraq has increased by 20,000 bringing the official total to 182,154. Georgy notes: "The crisis is likely to be far graver because ministry figures include only those who formally ask for aid within the country, some of them living in tented camps. By excluding thousands fleeing abroad or quietly seeking refuge with relatives, officials accept the data is an underestimate." This as IRIN notes that refugees who fled to Lebanon from Iraq earlier in the month are now in "Baghdad and urgently need assistance" quoting Diyar Salushi (senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) saying: "They have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty."
Meanwhile, from the land of fantasy and myth, it's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk.
Aaron Glatz (Free Speech Radio News) reports on the ad campaign and coordinated visits of Kurdish officials by the firm Russom Marsh & Rogers -- a firm previously behind the spin campaigns known as "Stop Michael Moore Campaign" and "Move America Forward." This wave of Happy Talk, as reported by Bill Berkowitz (, by the same Russo Marsh and Rogers responsible for the so-called "Truth Tour" which was "a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts . . . to spread the 'good' news about what is happening on the ground." Speaking with Aaron Glantz, John Stauber reminded that, although US tax dollars are not supposed to be used to propagandize within the US, "it has happened with the Rendon Group's CIA-funded creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."
In England, an inquiry into the death of Steve Roberts has completed its findings.
Reuters notes Roberts died ("accidentally shot by his own troops) while manning a checkpoint during the 2003 invasion"). England's Ministry of Defense notes the death occuring "on the night of 23-24 March 2003" and notes the death occuring when troops fired in order to protect Roberts from a man who "continued to advance and attack Sgt Roberts" bu mistakenly hitting Roberts. A redacted copy of the report will be reported (at the Ministry of Defense website) but currently Reuters reports that one finding of the inquiry is that Roberts died because he wasn't wearing body armour which he had been "ordered to give up . . . two days before the invasion of Iraq" and quotes from this from the report: "Had Sergeant Roberts been wearing correctly fitting and fitted ECBA (as originally issued to him and then withdrawn on 20 March 2003) when this incident unfolded, he would not have been fatally injured by the rounds that struck him". And in Australia, Jake Kovco's former roommates returned from Baghdad on Friday in preparation of speaking to the inquiry into Kovco's April 21st death and giving DNA to establish where the additional DNA (other than Kovco's) on the gun is their own.
In peace news,
Erin Solaro (Christian Science Monitors) looks at the case of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL "rather than return to Iraq" and has based "her refusal to return to Iraq . . . upon the harrassment and assault she suffered on her first deployment." Solaro notes her own observations with regards to the US military: "in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, where men kept an informal guard over the only all-female shower at Camp Junction City. I saw it in Afghanistan, where an infantryman warned me that he and his buddies had heard a serial rapist was operating down at Bagram Air Field and they hoped to find him. And I saw it in America, where a National Guard colonel who had problems with male troops from another (badly led) unit intruding upon his female troops in their shower told those soldiers, 'You are armed. Buttstroke these men, and I will back you.'"
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on day 28 with over 4,350 participants from around the world. As noted Saturday, five members of Iraq's parliament have responded to news of the fast by arranging a meeting in Jordan with members of CODEPINK. Last Friday, Medea Benjamin and four other members were arrested in front of the White House as they protested Tony Blair's visits.
Troops Home Fast continues (at least until September 21st and Diane Wilson has stated she intends to maintain the fast until the troops come home) -- it's an ongoing fast so if you've wanted to participate but didn't when it started July 4th, you can grab a day at any point. Some are electing to do a one-day fast each week. Betty Jespersen (Blethen Maine Newspapers) reports on Julieanne Reed "among 14 or so men and women who have publicly committed to join a national fast for peace." Jespersen quotes Reed on the topic of activism: "I felt in the past I didn't know enough to take a stand. Now I know I want the war to stop" and also notes Craigen Healy stating: "Depriving yourself of eating for 24 hours reminds you of the suffering of the Iraqi people. There may be reasons to go to war but what is going on over there is counter-productive. It is making us more unsafe. We have unleashed the terror"; and Lee Sharkey declaring: "Fasting for me brings the cost of the war home on a very personal level. I want to raise this question: Is 'life as usual' an acceptable stance while this immoral, illegal and incalculably costly war continues?"
Reflecting on last week's events,
Cindy Sheehan writes (Truth Out): "I saw the Angel of Death in the skin of Donald Rumsfeld say, while he was busy rushing in or out of the Pentagon (it doesn't really matter), that it is 'unfortunate' that the soldiers have to remain in Iraq. I think it is unfortunate for our troops and for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan that Donald Rumsfeld has to remain as the Secretary of War." Also note that: "The Camp Casey dates have been changed to accomodate George's schedule and will be August 6th to September 2nd. Please go to the Gold Star Families for Peace web site to stay posted on future exciting developments for Camp Casey III this summer."

Can you believe the kindappings? I used the links and "brazen" is a popular word in the reports on it. It really was. By the way, you've got to read C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." -- always but especially that one. Who's today's Walter Cronkite? I agree with C.I. I was talking to Jess on the phone and he said when the edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review was finally complete it was about ten a.m. They were all in C.I.'s room, pretty much collapsed on the bed. C.I. had agreed to go talk to some high school students so it was get the last thing posted and hit the door. Everyone else was going to watch Tootsie. I don't remember why. But C.I. got back three hours later and they were all there still. Hadn't watched Tootsie. Everyone was too tired to get up and grab the movie. So C.I. grabs it, puts it in, says "Make room for me" and gets on the bed. They fell asleep watching it. Around six o'clock (p.m.), Jim goes, "It's six" and everyone groans and goes back to sleep. That happened an hour later. Jess said they slept through until this morning, waking up every now and then but that C.I. got up just to write "And the war drags on . . ." (and post something else, I'll get to that in a second). They herded the rest of us off at three in the morning saying, "Get some sleep." They thought they'd be done shortly. (Three my time so midnight, their time.) They ended up doing all nighter and then some. Jess offered to get up and help and C.I. said for everyone to keep sleeping. Reading it, I can't believe C.I. provided so much commentary (good commentary too). Jess said that three hours later (about 3:30 there time), C.I. was up for the day and so Jess has been feeling lazy all day. I told him he (and everyone else) needed some sleep. Last week was a long one. They must have been wiped out to all be in the same bed just staring at the ceiling waiting for someone to grab Tootsie and start the movie. :D But it's a great edition:

Truest Statement of the Week
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Does Condi Rice understand her job duties?
Sense of Purpose
TV: What Could Be Lower Than A Cesspool?
McKinney v. Lieberman -- who you gonna root for?
Slam poetry
Non-Think Progress Plays Bash the Bitch
Recommended: Danny Schechter News Dissector

Check it out. And if you need some reality that Krugman won't offer, check out Dahr Jamail's "'Supporters of Hezbollah':"

I met some of these "supporters of Hezbollah" yesterday in the hospitals of Sidon.
I met five-year-old Hussein Jawad as his stiff little body lay prone on a hospital bed, one of his tiny legs in a cast. His eight-year-old sister Zayneb, also a "supporter of Hezbollah,"
lay next to him in the same bed. See, there were so many Hezbollah supporters in the southern hospitals that the small ones had to share beds.
They, along with their mother Yusah in a nearby bed, covered in the kind of shrapnel wounds received from cluster bombs, had stayed in their tiny village near the border during the first three days of the bombing because they were too scared to leave. The bombing got so close; they took their chances and managed to move to another village, where they stayed for another eight days.
They ran out of food, so Yusah and the two little "supporters of Hezbollah," compelled by fear and hunger, along with another car containing Yusah's two sisters, followed an ambulance to Kafra village. When they arrived there, the car carrying the two sisters was bombed by an American-made F-16.
Then there was Khuder Gazali, an ambulance driver, whose
left arm was blown off by a rocket fired by an American-made Apache war helicopter while he was rescuing civilians whose home had been bombed. The ambulance then sent to rescue the rescuer was bombed, everyone in it killed. Miraculously, the third ambulance was able to retrieve him, only because the Apache had left.
16-year-old Ibrahim Al-Hama was surely supporting Hezbollah as he played in a river with a dozen of his friends before they were bombed by a warplane. He lay in the hospital bed, his lacerated chest oozing blood, his left ankle shattered and held together by gauze and medical tape. Two of his friends are dead, along with a woman who was near the bomb's impact zone. Perhaps she too was plotting a rocket attack against Israel?
It's wonderful to see the thoroughness of the Israeli military, their effectiveness at eradicating "supporters of Hezbollah." Like 51-year-old
Sumi Marden Ruwiri. On July 14th his home in Bint Jbail was bombed while most of his family members were inside, killing his mother and sister while they surely were strategizing the next rocket launches for Hezbollah. When he and several others began to sift through the rubble for their loved ones, the warplanes returned to bomb the rescuers. He lay in bed, his back shredded by shrapnel, countless patches of gauze stuck to his wounds. His sheets were stained red by blood and yellow by pus that oozed from the wounds.
Alia Abbas, a 52-year-old, fled her village with five other family members after Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets instructing them to leave their village. She lay in bed shredded by shrapnel wounds, one of her eyes missing. 10 days ago when they tried to flee, hanging white flags out the windows of their car, they were bombed by warplanes. She's the only survivor. "Why did they bomb as after we did what they told us to do," she asked me. All I could do was clench my jaw to stave off the tears.
Apparently Alia didn't know she was a "supporter of Hezbollah," since her family was wiped out after Haim Ramon's preposterous remarks about half a million inhabitants of southern Lebanon.
I met dozens of other Hezbollah supporters, most of them women, children and elderly - the kind most ill-equipped to flee their homes on a moment's notice. They lay in their beds, many of them moaning, some crying, and others comatose and
kept alive only by machines. The man comatose in this picture was fleeing his village on a motorcycle after receiving the leaflets of instruction to do so, according to his mother - the only one left alive from their family of 10.

Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! ROVE DISHES, PRESS TAKES IT!" (I plan to write about him and Law & Disorder tomorrow). And get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.