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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rockets on Tveria

A recent recording (submitted to YouTube on July 18, 2006) of a Hezbollah rocket attack on Tveria, Israel. The recording does not show the actual impact zone though a thud of an explosion is heard as well as the warning siren.

Lebanese Forced to Bury Casualties in Mass Graves

Here's a short BBC report posted on YouTube on July 21, 2006.

It talks among other things of about 80 Lebanese casualties of the current war buried in a mass grave in Tyre, Lebanon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

No sirens in Arabic

Since the fighting broke out, the media has demonstrably ignored the bombs and missiles that have landed on Druze and Arab settlements, and the despair of those citizens has not been heard.

Morning, noon and night, only Jewish voices are heard expressing their fear. Others are forgotten, without a trace, despite the fact that these settlements have absorbed dozens of strikes. There is widespread damage, many injuries and several fatalities.

As opposed to the Jewish sector, the Arab and Druze home front can't take refuge in bomb shelter or reinforced room, and they don't have the benefit of warning sirens.

The Home Front Command does not publish its announcements in Arabic, and the settlements themselves don’t qualify for government aid for being in the "line of fire."

No sirens in Arabic
Yariv Oppenheimer, Yedioth Internet, July 20, 2006

I never thought of it this way. And why would I? Why would I believe that an Arab or a Druze is more resilient to bomb shrapnel or falling debris than a Jew? In guess in some strange way it is even flattering when people think that artillery shells and rockets falling on you is not a big deal, really, and you don't need to be warned about it or given a reinforced shelter in which to weather the attack.

Or maybe it is just racism that's the problem here? Because I would really find it hard to believe that Israeli defense officials who spend a significant amount of their time devising contingency plans in case of enemy attacks have failed to consider the possibility of non-Jewish towns and villages coming under enemy fire in the same areas where Jewish ones were viewed as potential targets.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Iraqi Death Toll Rises Above 100 Per Day, U.N. Says

An average of more than 100 civilians per day were killed in Iraq last month, the United Nations reported Tuesday, registering what appears to be the highest official monthly tally of violent deaths since the fall of Baghdad.


The attack in Kufa on Tuesday occurred near a major Shiite shrine, at an intersection where men, down on their luck and out of work, would gather each morning hoping that someone would hire them for a day of manual labor and the promise of a small wage.

On Tuesday, a man drove up in a van, leaned out of the window and made an offer of work, witnesses said. As the men pressed in close, and some started to climb in the back, the driver pushed a detonator and the van exploded, witnesses said.

The blast scattered bodies and street vendors’ carts, blackened nearby walls, dyed the ground red with blood and ignited pandemonium in the street. When Iraqi police officers arrived, the crowd pelted them with stones. According to The Associated Press, many demanded that the militia loyal to Mr. Sadr, the cleric, take over security of the city.

Mr. Sadr counts an enormous following among the Shiite poor and dispossessed in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The militia loyal to him, the Mahdi Army, has been blamed for many recent kidnappings and assassinations of Sunni Arabs.

Kufa and the nearby Shiite holy city of Najaf — because of their predominantly Shiite populations and tight control by Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated security forces — have largely been spared the sort of sectarian violence that has ravaged mixed cities like Baghdad and Baquba.

But Tuesday’s attack, coupled with several other suicide attacks this year in Kufa and Najaf, suggested an ominous deterioration in security even in Iraq’s demographically homogenous areas.

Iraqi Death Toll Rises Above 100 Per Day, U.N. Says
Kirk Semple, The New York Times, July 19, 2006

This is a truly frightening report. On the scale of the US that would translate to a daily casualty count of 1,000. Or a new 9/11 every three days. I find it hard to even try to imagine this sort of nightmare.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lebanon's Al Manar TV "Marked for Death"

Under US Executive Order 12334, Lebanon's Al Manar TV was the first television station ever to be legally designated a 'terrorist entity' equivalent to Al Qaeda. The Bush administration, at Israel's urging, silenced Al Manar satellite transmissions into the US. In 2006 the order was expanded to include Al Noor Radio, Al Ahed & Al Intiqad Newspapers and their parent company the Lebanese Media Group. On March 23, the US Treasury Department froze Al Manar's financial assets.


On March 14, 2006 Indymedia found out it is on the "Terrorist Watch List." While the reasons are hotly debated, they remain unknown, because charges against the accused have been censored.

Lebanon's Al Manar TV "Marked for Death"
Trish Schuh, Middle East Media Center, July 17, 2006

An interesting report on the media freedoms and the situation some media outlets find themselves in.

Now, to those willing to surmise that my goal is to "defend" Al Manar my response is, "Not so fast!" I do defend Al Manar's right to publish what they see fit; that does not mean I support them or endorse their message.

Quite likely a lot of it is extremist propaganda and hate speech. I am a fan of neither.

And lastly but not leastly - according to Kevin Barrett, FOX News' host Bill O'Reilly has recently issued a death threat against - or, should I say, call to assassination of - Mr Barrett. Now, I think Mr Barrett is a bit too aggressive himself - though, given what he has been through that is understandable.

I haven't seen the segment where O'Reilly threatens Barrett myself, but given O'Reilly's history that sounds entirely believable. So if such a threat was indeed issued, and Barrett is assaulted, and it turns out his assailant or assailants were motivated by O'Reilly's call to violence I would think authorities would be well advised to consider bringing charges against O'Reilly under the notion of command responsibility.

But, oh, I guess I must have gone slightly off topic here. Here we have a major news organization, FOX News, calling for violence towards dissidents and seeking to turn a peaceful exchange of ideas into a violent struggle. Are they spoiling for a civil war? I don't know but they sometimes act like they are. Are they seeking to intimidate the opposition? Well, threats of violence are sometimes used as a means to that very end. Are they on the "Terrorist Watch List" yet?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Doctor suspected in N.Y. home explosion dies

The doctor suspected of blowing up his Upper East Side town house so his former wife couldn't benefit from its sale has died leaving investigators' questions unanswered about the massive explosion that leveled his building on an upscale block.

Dr. Nicholas Bartha, 66, died late Saturday of injuries sustained in last Monday's explosion, said Mary Halston, a New York Presbyterian Hospital administrator.

Police were unable to speak to Bartha after the explosion because he was in a medically induced coma, but authorities have said they were investigating whether the doctor might have blown up the building rather than sell it as part of a divorce judgment.

Bartha had not been charged and ``if he's dead, there's no criminality," said Detective John Sweeney, a police spokesman.

Bartha's former wife, Cordula, told police she received an e-mail from him shortly before the explosion warning that she would be ``transformed from gold digger to ash and rubbish digger."

``I always told you I will leave the house only if I am dead," the e-mail said.

Investigators have confirmed that someone tampered with a gas line leading into the home's basement, allowing vapors to flow freely for hours until it caused the building to blow up.

The physician, who lived and worked in the four-story landmark, was its lone occupant during the blast, which leveled the building and left the upscale block covered in bricks, broken glass, and splintered wood. At least 14 others were injured, including 10 firefighters.

The last victim to leave the hospital, Jennifer Panicali, 22, was released from New York Presbyterian on Saturday.

Doctor suspected in N.Y. home explosion dies
Karen Matthews, Associated Press, July 17, 2006

I may have to respectfully disagree with Detective Sweeney as a crime is still a crime even if the perpetrator leaves this world while committing it or afterwards. Of course, a dead man can not stand trial so we may never know in this particular case whether Dr. Bartha was indeed the one who tampered with the gas lines and destroyed that building. I am certainly relieved to know that other victims have been released from hospitals; hopefully, their injuries were not particularly severe. But, as I said earlier, how could the federal officials in Washington, DC, know so soon it wasn't terrorism? Might be yet another secret Dr. Bartha is taking with him to his grave.

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