Rights Under Attack
. . . about Chaos,
Reason, and Hope
Castro Turns Over Power to Brother in Temporary Move
(Yahoo News, 31 July 2006)
Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished his presidential powers to his brother Raul on Monday night and told Cubans in a statement that he had undergone surgery. . . . The Cuban leader said he had suffered intestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba, according to the letter read live on television by his secretary, Carlos Valenciaga. . . . Castro said that extreme stress "had provoked in me a sharp intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding that obligated me to undergo a complicated surgical procedure." . . . Castro said he was temporarily relinquishing the presidency to his brother and successor Raul, the defense minister. . . . He said the move was of "a provisional character." . . . He said celebrations scheduled for his 80th birthday on Aug. 13 were to be postponed until Dec. 2, the 50th anniversary of Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces. . . . Castro said he would also temporarily relinquish his duties as first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba to Raul, who turned 75 in June and who has been taking on a more public profile in recent weeks.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:13 PM
Millions Rally to Challenge Mexico Poll
"Hold on, the people are rising," they chanted as they marched to Zocalo, Mexico City's main public square. . . . Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is seeking a full recount of the vote which saw him lose to conservative Felipe Calderon by half a percentage point. . . . The Federal Electoral Institute has until 31 August to decide. . . . The dispute has paralysed Mexican politics, correspondents say. . . . A president-elect must be declared by 6 September to replace Vicente Fox on 1 December. . . . This was the third - and the largest - protest by Mr Lopez Obrador's supporters to press their demand for a recount. . . . Holding banners that read "No to fraud", and wearing T-shirts with the image of their candidate, they made clear they would not give in until a vote-by-vote recount was authorised. . . . "The elections were filthy," said Maria Teresa Priego. "We are here to support a humble man, a hard-working man." . . . Other voters were more belligerent. . . . "We will take drastic measures. We will blockade airports, we will take over embassies," threatened Sara Zepeda, 32
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posted by Lorenzo 4:54 PM
Israel Deliberately Targets and Murders U.N. Observers
(BBC News, 26 July 2006)
UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says. . . . The post was hit by a precision-guided missile after six hours of shelling, diplomats familiar with the probe say. A senior Israel army general said he expected the fighting would continue for "several more weeks". . . . More than 400 Lebanese and 42 Israelis have died in two weeks of conflict . . . The four unarmed UN observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, died after their UN post in the town of Khiam was hit by an Israeli air strike on Tuesday. . . . The UN report says each time the UN contacted Israeli forces, they were assured the firing would stop. . . . A senior Irish soldier working for the UN forces had warned the Israelis six times that their bombardment was endangering the lives of UN staff, Ireland's foreign ministry said. . . . Had Israel responded to the requests, "rather than deliberately ignoring them", the observers would still be alive, a diplomat familiar with the report said. . . . The UN Security Council is meeting to discuss the incident.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:29 PM
Barbaric Israel Drops White Phosphorus On Children
(Kathy Gannon, Associated Press, 25 July 2006)
Jawad Najem, a surgeon at the hospital, said patients admitted Sunday had burns from phosphorous incendiary weapons used by Israel. The Geneva Conventions ban using white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas. . . . "Mahmoud Sarour, 14, was admitted to the hospital yesterday and treated for phosphorous burns to his face," Najem said. Mahmoud's 8-month-old sister, Maryam, suffered similar burns on her neck and hands when an Israeli rocket hit the family car. . . . The children were with their father, mother and other relatives when the car was hit by an Israeli missile. Their father died instantly. The Sarour family was evacuated from Tyre to Cyprus on Monday aboard a ferry chartered by Germany. . . . The Sarours had to go to the port by taxi because the Lebanese Red Cross suspended operations outside Tyre after Israeli jets blasted two ambulances with rockets, said Ali Deebe, a Red Cross spokesman in Tyre. . . . In the incident Sunday, one Red Cross ambulance went south of Tyre to meet an ambulance and transfer the wounded to the hospital. . . . "When we have wounded outside the city, we always used two ambulances," Deebe said. . . . The rocket attack on the two vehicles wounded six ambulance workers and three civilians - an 11-year-old boy, an elderly woman and a man, Deebe said. . . . "One of the rockets hit right in the middle of the big red cross that was painted on top of the ambulance," he said. "This is a clear violation of humanitarian law, of international law. We are neutral, and we should not be targeted." . . . Kassem Shalan, one of the ambulance workers, told AP Television News nine people were injured. "We were transferring the wounded into our vehicle and something fell, and I dropped to the floor," he said. . . . Amateur video provided by an ambulance worker confirmed Deebe's account of damage to the vehicles, showing one large hole and several smaller ones in the roof of one ambulance and a large hole in the roof of the second. Both were destroyed.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:57 PM
1.5 Million Protest Vote Fraud in Mexico Capital
(John Parker, Workers World, July 19, 2006)
Sunday, July 16, was not a day of rest in Mexico City. On the contrary, it was a day of mass action reflecting the determination of the Mexican people to demand a basic democratic right: to have their votes for a president counted honestly. . . . Some 1.5 million people marched and rallied in the large Zocalo square in the city's downtown in support of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and protested what they call fraudulent presidential elections held on July 2. . . . The mobilization was so large that more than 10 video screens were placed along the wide Avenida Reforma, one of the most important of Mexico City, so that those unable to reach the Zocalo could see the event and hear Obrador, who announced that he would put together a citizens' committee to define the actions to be organized. One measure proposed by the politician was to reinforce the citizens' camps outside the country’s 300 electoral districts, where the ballots are being safeguarded. . . . It was a statistical miracle. Earlier, when over 70 percent of the vote had been counted, Lopez Obrador had led with 36.86 percent against Calderón’s 34.37 percent. . . . However, miraculously for Calderon, the 70 percent already counted somehow did not represent an established statistical trend. Another trend then began. What makes this new trend even odder is the fact that each percentage increase of votes for Calderon mirrored a percentage decrease in votes for Lopez Obrador, making this a unique and impossible statistical feat. . . . In addition to the electoral abnormalities, many Lopez Obrador supporters also point to the amount of foreign corporate aid, particularly from the U.S., that Calderon received—which is a violation of Mexican law regarding election financing. Some of that aid came through support by multi-national corporations established with the pro-business, pro-rich media. . . . "About 80 percent of the media was for Calderon," said the PRD spokesperson.
ALSO SEE: Mexico's Fox in favor of runoff election
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posted by Lorenzo 4:22 AM
Bush's Crusade Backfires
(Paul McGeough, The Syndey Morning Herald, July 24, 2006)
AS CONDOLEEZZA RICE dawdles on her way to the Middle East, Washington is rushing to replenish Israel's arsenal of precision-guided bombs. . . . In a region burdened with a history of self-serving double standards by the West, this shipment is just another piece in a chaotic policy jigsaw that has plunged the region into crisis in the wake of September 11. . . . Iraq is a disaster; Afghanistan only marginally less so. . . . The collapse of these two has provided the launch pad for a new Iranian ascendancy that tears into the ancient schism at the heart of Islam - Sunni versus Shiite. . . . Listening to no advice, Israel has embarked on one of its most aggressive military campaigns in decades. And America's gift to the region - democracy - has delivered power to US-declared terrorists in the Palestinian territories and to a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad. . . . Lunging for control of their own destiny, Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon have taken their cue from the U.S. prescription for change through war and violence. . . . As a result, Washington's Sunni client regimes - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the statelets of the Gulf - now cower in the face of a combustible cocktail of strident Shiite ambition and intense Arab resentment at their dependence on the US and at Washington's guardianship of Israel. . . . "These leaders spend time on cosmetic democratic reforms. But the concessions they make are to Washington, not to their own people." . . . As Israel and Iran ignore Western efforts to restrain them, there is a growing unease that any ability to control events in the region is slipping from the grasp of foreign powers. . . . "After 9/11, the US and its allies took the terms 'national liberation' and 'resistance' and they did a damned good job of transforming them into 'terrorists'. . . . "The modern Hezbollah can't in any way be termed a terrorist organisation. Clearly it's a resistance movement - the US declarations against it have no meaning here. And if Washington persists in lumping everyone together as terrorists, Arab public opinion will end up supporting Osama bin Laden." . . . The American replenishment of Israeli arms will stoke Arab anger and will be used to justify Iran supplying missiles to Hezbollah. It ill not help that reports from Washington described the shipment as the fast-tracked delivery of part of an order placed last year which included 5000-pound bunker-buster bombs. . . . "Where are those who filled the world with slogans of freedom and democracy? Don't they fear that history will condemn them for their double standards?"
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posted by Lorenzo 4:06 AM
Government Thugs Attack Oaxaca Student Radio Station
(Rebecca Romero, Associated Press, July 23, 2006)
Gunmen attacked Oaxaca's university radio station, authorities said Sunday, the latest incident in a wave of confrontations and protests that have driven many tourists out of this historic Mexican city. . . . Assailants fired rounds of ammunition into the station's windows while it was broadcasting late Saturday, the Oaxaca state government said. Nobody was hurt in the attack. . . . Witnesses said the attack was carried out by at least 10 assailants wearing ski masks. . . . The university radio station has supported a wave of protests aimed at ousting Oaxaca state governor Ulises Ruiz, who is accused of rigging the 2004 election to win office and of violently repressing dissent. . . . Dozens of protesters, including teachers, students and leftist activists, went with sticks and stones Sunday to guard the radio station. . . . The protests erupted in late June after police attacked a demonstration of striking teachers looking for a wage increase. Since then, thousands of demonstrators have camped out in the center of Oaxaca, spraying buildings with revolutionary slogans, smashing hotel windows and building makeshift barricades. . . . The protests have paralyzed one of Mexico's top cultural tourist attractions, where visitors normally browse traditional markets for Indian handicrafts, hike ancient pyramids and stroll along cobblestone streets to sample mole dishes. . . . Tourism is down by 75 percent, costing the city more than $45 million, according to the Mexican Employers Federation. Business leaders have asked the federal government to intervene [with violence against the demonstrators and their supporters].
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posted by Lorenzo 7:02 PM
Hezbollah wins hearts in Gaza
(BBC News, 21 July 2006)
The posters on the walls of the Palestine Liberation Organisation shop tell the story in life-size techni-colour. Alongside the portrait of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, these days are two pictures of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. . . . In the northern town of Beit Lahiya today, hundreds paraded through the streets after Friday prayers, waving the black and yellow flags of Hezbollah and chanting slogans in support of its leader. . . . Gazans feel intimately involved in events on Israel's northern border. Many see it as two fronts in the same battle. And they see Hassan Nasrallah as a leader, not only of Hezbollah, but also of the Palestinians. . . . "As a leader, I feel he's better than our leaders," says Mohammed Zaqud, as the demonstration passes Beit Lahiya's main square. "He's more credible, more organised, and they have more capabilities." . . . "He retaliates on our behalf," another woman tells me. "He retaliates for those killed by the Israelis, families killed by Israeli shelling." . . . Before the current crisis, many Palestinians were disillusioned with their new democracy - and their divided leaders. Now, Palestinians are again united against their powerful neighbour. . . . The picture in Gaza these days is an old one: Israeli soldiers in Gaza's refugee camps, militants in the streets. . . . And in the process, people are dying. This week was the turn of the Maghazi camp in central Gaza. . . . For two days, tanks bulldozed houses and pulled up power lines at the eastern edge of the camp, while in the centre, Israeli snipers exchanged fire with Palestinian militants, bunched on street corners, nervously eyeing every vehicle that passed. . . . And then, after the withdrawal, the funerals. Fifteen were held in Maghazi. Among those buried were civilians, including a woman and her daughter. . . . The conflict might have focused attention on Israel, but it has not solved Gaza's problems, or lessened the grief.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:03 PM
Fierce clashes in Haitian capital
(BBC News, 20 July 2006)
Fierce clashes have broken out between UN troops and gunmen in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, reports say. . . . According to witnesses, between two and six people were killed in the clashes in the north of the city. . . . Reports describe gangs going on the rampage and kidnappings taking place. . . . An election in February brought some stability to Haiti but correspondents say there are signs the security situation could be deteriorating again. . . .
"Two ladies who work in a nearby factory were killed by bullets," a young man who identified himself as Maxime told Reuters news agency. . . . "A man who was running away from the scene of the incidents was shot and fell on the ground," he said. . . . "It was a real war," another witness told Reuters. . . . UN spokesman David Wimhurst said peacekeepers had come under attack and returned fire. . . . A UN peacekeeping force has been in Haiti since 2004 to help restore order after former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced to flee an armed coup [organized by the Bush Crime Family]. . . . The unrest follows a gang massacre in the Martissant neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince earlier this month, in which about 20 people died.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:15 PM
Israel Has Torn Lebanon To Shreds
(BBC, 19 July 2006)
Fouad Siniora said more than 300 people had been killed and 500,000 others displaced in a week of Israeli attacks. . . . More than 60 civilians died in fresh air strikes as two Israeli soldiers and a Hezbollah militant died in clashes. . . . Barrages of Hezbollah rockets have been fired into northern Israel, where two children were killed in Nazareth. . . . Twenty-nine Israelis have died - including 15 civilians killed by rocket attacks - since the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah militants began eight days ago. . . . Many thousands continue to flee Lebanon, and several countries have sent ships and helicopters to move their nationals. . . . In an emotional televised appeal, the Lebanese prime minister urged the international community to intervene. . . . "I call upon you all to respond immediately... and provide urgent international humanitarian assistance to our war-stricken country," Mr Siniora said. . . . "Can the international community stand by while such callous retribution by the state of Israel is inflicted on us?" . . . He vowed to make Israel pay compensation to Lebanon for the "barbaric destruction". . . . Wednesday saw further Israeli strikes in the east, south and Beirut, where a Christian district came under fire for the first time. . . . At least 12 people were killed in a southern village near the city of Tyre and civilian deaths were also reported in other parts of the south and near Baalbek in the east. . . . The strikes came as Israeli ground troops continued what they call "restricted pinpoint attacks" into southern Lebanon. . . . Heavy exchanges of fire erupted after Israeli tanks and infantry crossed the border in search of Hezbollah weapons and facilities. . . . For their part, Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets at Israeli cities including Haifa and Tiberias.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:14 PM
Mexicans stage huge poll protest
(BBC News, 17 July 2006)
Mexico's defeated presidential candidate has urged his supporters to use acts of "civil resistance" to press demands for a full recount of the vote. . . . Mr Lopez Obrador has alleged that there was electoral fraud in the 2 July poll. . . . Results show his conservative opponent Felipe Calderon won by a margin of only 0.57 of a percentage point. . . . Mr Lopez Obrador told supporters he vowed to start civil resistance to force a recount. . . . "To defend democracy we are going to begin peaceful civil resistance," the leader of the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) told the crowd gathered in the Zocalo, the main public square in the capital. . . . He did not give details but said what he called a citizens' committee would meet this week to work out what form this resistance would take. . . . Mr Lopez Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City, also called on people to stage another rally in the capital on 30 July. . . . Supporters and party activists dressed mainly in yellow, the PRD colours, walked several kilometres with shouts of "vote by vote, ballot box by ballot box". . . . Police officials in the city government said about a million people took part in Sunday's protest . . . Mr Lopez Obrador has presented some 900 pages of alleged evidence of electoral irregularities to the Federal Electoral Tribunal, which must make a ruling by 6 September.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:08 AM
Barbaric Israel Loses the Right to Exist
(Larry Johnson, Booman Tribune, 15 July 2006)
Apparently not content to let the US do a self-immolation act in the Middle East by itself, Israel decided to set itself on fire by invading Lebanon. Burn baby burn? Like George Bush, Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, never served in a combat unit and launched military operations without thinking the matter through. . . . Olmert has somehow persuaded the Israeli military to ignore strategy, think tactically, and in the process become really stupid. The events in the next several weeks will expose as myth the canard that you can secure a nation by killing terrorists. No you can't. . . . Killing "terrorists" has a place in policy but it is not a strategic military obective. It is a tactical objective and may serve political purposes, but achieves little in terms of securing Israel. Israel is attacking targets in Lebanon like a drunken sailor in a bar fight. . . . What about Hamas and Hezbollah? They are not terrorists. They carry out terrorist attacks, but they are not terrorists. They are something far more dangerous. They are a fully functioning political, social, religious, and military organizations that use terrorism tactics, but they are far more formidible than terrorist groups like Al Qaeda or the Basque Terrorist Organization. They do have the resources and the personnel to project force, sustain operations, and cannot be easily defeated. Unlike the Egyptian and Syrian armies in 1973, Hamas and Hezbollah will not easily fold and cannot be defeated in a seven day war. If that is the assumption among some Israeli military planners it is a crazy fantasy. . . . While most folks in the United States buy into the Hollywood storyline of poor little Israel fighting for it's survival against big, bad Muslims, the reality unfolding on our TV screens shows something else. Exodus, starring Paul Newman, is ancient history. Hamas and Hezbollah attacked military targets-kidnapping soldiers on military patrols may be an act of war and a provocation, but it is not terrorism. (And yes, Hezbollah and Hamas have carried out terrorist attacks in the past against Israeli civilians. I'm not ignoring those acts, I condemn them, but we need to understand what the dynamics are right now.) Israel is not attacking the individuals who hit their soldiers. Israel is engaged in mass punishment. . . . How did Israel respond? They bombed civilian targets and civilian infrastructure and have killed many civilians. Let's see if I have this right. The Arab "terrorists" attack military units, destroy at least one tank, and are therefore terrorists. Israel retaliates by launching aerial, naval, and artillery bombardments of civilian areas and they are engaging in self-defense. If we are unable to recognize the hypocrisy of this construct then we ourselves are so enveloped by propaganda and emotion that, like the Israelis, Hezbollah, and Hamas, we can't think rationally. We can only think in terms of tribalism and revenge. . . . The events unfolding in Iraq and Lebanon are going Tehran's way. The United States is being portrayed in the world media as someone who tolerates and excuses attacks on civilian populations. The perception becomes the reality and the ability of the United States to rally support among the Russians, the Chinese, and even the French becomes more impaired. We need the international community to deal effectively with nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran. Now, we will be bogged down trying to defend Israel from an angry international community. . . . It appears that there is no one in the Bush Administration who can step up and intervene to calm the situation. Hell, with John Bolton and Elliot Abrams leading the charge, we are Israel's enablers. . . . Former Senator Fred Thompson played a U.S. Navy Admiral in the Hunt for Red October. While speaking about escalating tensions as the United States and the Soviet Union chased a renegade submarine, he said: This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it. . . . Those words are relevant today. Let's hope and pray they don't come to pass.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:22 PM
U.S. stands alone in defending Israel
(Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, 13 July 2006)
All day, the U.S. was alone in defending Israel. At the U.N., the U.S. exercised the sole veto against a resolution condemning Israel's Gaza incursion. . . . The European Union called Israel's attacks on Lebanon "disproportionate." . . . In fact, diplomatic sources tell NBC that Israel has been looking for an excuse to clean out Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon after weeks of rocket attacks into Israel. . . . What role has the U.S. played? Today, U.S. diplomat David Welch arrived in Israel, but critics say too late — 17 days after the first Israeli soldier was captured. . . . And Rice has not been to Israel or the Palestinian territories since last November. . . . In Germany on Thursday, President Bush strongly supported Israel's right to defend itself, blaming Syria for harboring terror groups active in both Lebanon and Gaza. . . . "Syria needs to be held to account," Bush says. "Syria is housing the militant wing of Hamas. Hezbollah has got an active presence in Syria." . . . Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blamed Iran as well, but Thursday night cautioned Israel not to go too far.
World Slams, US Defends Israel Lebanon "War"
Bush Refuses to Press Israel for Truce
Bush rejects Lebanese cease-fire call
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posted by Lorenzo 2:29 PM
Israel's Insanity Revealed In Threat To Murder Elected Head of State
(Martin Chulov, The Australian, 01 July 2006)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed the military will do all it can to avoid civilian deaths once they begin the new holocaust, their ethnic cleansing of Gaza.
Israel last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh if Hamas militants did not release a captured Israeli soldier unharmed. . . . The unprecedented warning was delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter as Israel debated a deal offered by Hamas to free Corporal Gilad Shalit. . . . It came as Israeli military officials readied a second invasion force for a huge offensive into Gaza. . . . Hamas's Gaza-based political leaders, including Mr Haniyeh, had already gone into hiding. . . . But last night's direct threat to kill Mr Haniyeh, a democratically elected head of state, sharply raised the stakes. . . . Thousands of Hamas supporters protested in Gaza City late on Thursday over the arrest by Israeli forces of up to 32 Hamas MPs on the West Bank that day. . . . A Hamas spokesman said the group would never recognize Israel, in spite of a deal its leaders signed this week offering implicit recognition of the Jewish state in return for easing an economic blockade. . . . Israeli fighter jets bombed 20 targets in Gaza, including the Interior Ministry, which it said had been used by militants to stage meetings, while artillery hit the northern strip with 500 shells in the 24 hours until yesterday morning. . . . Much of Gaza, including two main hospitals, was without power and running water as a UN aid chief warned that the 1.4 million residents of the strip were three days away from a humanitarian crisis. . . . "They are heading for the abyss unless they get electricity and fuel restored," said emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland, who urged militants to free Corporal Shalit and stop firing rockets into Israel. . . . Residents complain that sonic booms caused by Israeli jets traumatise children and that shelling confines families to their homes. . . . Egypt and the neighbouring Arab states of Jordan and Lebanon fear a war between Israel and the Palestinians could lead to uprisings within their own borders, which house many Palestinian refugees
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: How can anyone continue to support the murderous Israeli regime. They have declared themselves and their citizens outside the law, much as has the insane tyrant Bush, and do not deserve either the support or continued sympathy of any sane and peaceful person on this planet.]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:07 PM