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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another Botched Execution

This time it's Arizona and it's Joseph Wood on the gurney.  UPDATEs:  His attorney IDs two drugs used in this "experiment."  Reporter who witnessed says witnessed 660 gasps.  Another witness called it "very disturbing to watch ... like a fish on shore gulping for air." The Guardian:
A convicted killer gasped on the gurney as the state of Arizona attempted to execute him on Wednesday, before being declared dead almost two hours after the process began.
Lawyers for Joseph Wood attempted to halt the execution in an emergency court motion, saying he had been "gasping and snorting for more than an hour". The state attorney general announced Wood had died before the court could rule on the motion.
The developments echoed the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed and groaned on a gurney for nearly 45 minutes before eventually dying of a heart attack. The two-hour process in Wood's case appeared certain to revive the arguments surrounding the death penalty in the US, as a shortage of execution drugs has forced states to use untried methods and unregulated drugs.
All week there were legal rights over the secrecy surrounding the drugs used.  For background on all this see my ebook Dead Reckoning

Wednesday Updates on Gaza-Israel Tragedy

Good to see Robert Mackey joining in with blog coverage at NYT.  His post tonight covers Israeli attacks on journalists (while they've been welcomed in Gaza), including the now-famous on-air assault; and the state media there refusing to run add listing the names of Palestinian kids killed.   One of the banned ads here.

Jeremy Scahill calls coverage of this war worst ever, with no TV push back on Israeli leaders and failure to hit constant "war crimes" and massacres.

Powerful little post and photo by NBC's @AymanM from Gaza--survivor of bomb that took 8 members of his famly. 

I suppose this offers some hope for a lasting ceasefire:  war is gutting Israel's much-needed tourist industry.   Hamas may shift aim of rockets to more airfields.   

Writer in Gaza I've often RTed lately, known as "Mo Gaza," with important op-ed in NYT today.

NYT's hits a new low with headline on new story by calling casualty counts just a competing "game of numbers."   Some game.  Some competition:  650 to 30.  Or 500 civilians to 2.    

Max Blumenthal interviews that MSNBC contributor who has now apparently been axed for criticizing the network's one-sided coverage of the war.   She also did interview with Chris Hayes who told her, hey, what do ya expect for criticizing your bosses on air? Blumenthal also talks to unnamed NBC producer who backs her on claims of bias and bosses wanting that. Hayes denies there was "no conspiracy."

I'm sure we are shocked that chief NYT stenographer Jodi Rudoren in her amused--rather than appalled--piece tonight on Israelis who take to a hill to enjoy deadly air strikes on Gaza civilians makes this slanderous error:  She claims that the CNN reporter got "pulled from her post last week after she used the word 'scum' in a Twitter post to describe Israelis on the hill who she said cheered airstrikes on Gaza and threatened to destroy her car."   In fact, her tweet clearly referred to just those threatening her vehicle.   A CNN spokesman explained, "She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew."  I'm sure a correction will be coming?

Kayakers Go for a Whale of a Ride

In Argentina they got a big more than they bargained for.  What an adventure.  Wash Post with a little background.   h/t @Bbedway

Gaza from Space

From Sophie Weiner at AnimalNY: 

Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut living aboard the International Space Station took this photo of the Gaza Strip from space and posted it to Twitter today. The tweet reads, “My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel.”  Of course, some of this is normal nighttime lighting, although much of power is out in Gaza. Also: there is a claim that this is actually Israel and Jordan and merely shows city lights.

A Beer With Jesus

A guess the song goes back a couple years but too amazing to overlook now!  Jesus, he says, likely only good for a couple of rounds.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 14 Days

Every year at this time, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers can be judged more clearly in "real time."  As many know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and two books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up on the U.S. suppression of film for decades)  since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media reactions in the decades after.  

Yesterday's entry.  For today: 

 July 23, 1945:  More decoded cables and reports suggest Japanese might very well surrender soon if "unconditional surrender" amended to allow them to retain their Emperor as symbolic leader.  U.S. will rule that out in its upcoming Potsdam Declaration, but then allow it, after using the bomb.

Truman had come to Potsdam mainly to get the Russians to keep their promise of entering war against Japan in early August--and Truman believed that would mean "fini Japs."  But, after Trinity, Stimson writes in diary today, that he and Gen. George Marshall believe "now with our new weapon we would not need the assistance of the Russians to conquer Japan."  So he again presses for info on earliest possible date for use of bomb.  So the bomb would be useful--even if not, perhaps, necessary.

Out in the Pacific, the first bomb unit, without explosives, dropped in a test at Tinian.  Meanwhile, 600 bombers get ready to bomb the hell out of Osaka and Nagoya without conventional weapons.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Updates on Gaza-Israel Tragedy

I'm sure we are shocked that chief NYT stenographer Jodi Rudoren in her amused--rather than appalled--piece tonight on Israelis who take to a hill to enjoy deadly air strikes on Gaza civilians makes this slanderous error:  She claims that the CNN reporter got "pulled from her post last week after she used the word 'scum' in a Twitter post to describe Israelis on the hill who she said cheered airstrikes on Gaza and threatened to destroy her car."   In fact, her tweet clearly referred to just those threatening her vehicle.   A CNN spokesman explained, "She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew."  I'm sure a correction will be coming?

Arab reporter for BBC physically attacked on-air in Israel, by an Israeli, while called "son of a whore."  Update: Wash Post covers it, bravo, but, in a classic headline says attack took place "outside Gaza" rather than "in Israel."  So revealing.

 

NYT's fine public ed. gets to criticism of paper's Gaza/Israel coverage but mainly it's new top editor Dean Baquet defending and explaining.  Most of the criticism, to judge wrongly by this column, comes from the pro-Israel side.  Baquet claims, “There is zero politics involved."  And that he trusts reporters on the ground who are there--fine, except that the two in the Jerusalem bureau have long displayed pro-Israel bias, in the extreme.  To judge from this column, one of the main issues is not enough photos of Hamas fighters in the tunnels!   Weak, but she tells me she will be doing more. 

Gunshots fired into Al Jazeera's bureau in Gaza day after Israel threatened to shut them down, but source unknown.  AP had evacuated building.  Al Jazeera claim it was Israeli shooter and bureau chief displays one of the rounds, left.

That young man in now-famous video murdered by sniper in Gaza? Family found out he died--via the video.

Two days after their official denied "categorically" that there were no missing or captured soldiers in Gaza, Israel now admits that's not true. And the name matches the very one Hamas had claimed over the weekend.

Isabel Kershner, the second member of the Times' Jerusalem-based stenography pool, continues to downplay the civilian death toll in Gaza, suggesting only that "many" have died.  Others place total at about 3/4s of the 604 killed there so far.   But Anne Barnard, who is from the Beirut bureau and has reported from Gaza, does separate piece raising more questions about the Israeli targeting.  Closes: "At the house next door, a little girl, seeing journalists approach in flak jackets, sat on a stoop, put her face in her hands and wept."

MSNBC contributor who complained about their pro-Israel bias on-air says future appearances have been axed. 

Jon Stewart had the nerve to offer some brief, modest criticism of Israel's attacks on civilians last week--and got all kinds of flak, naturally.  So last night he did this:

Topical Song Pick of the Day

Greatest song of recent years about the conflict (or just about anything else) from our favorite lefty songster, Steve Earle's "Jerusalem."

The Real 'Times' Reporter on Gaza-Israel

As you may have noted....I've been very critical of the reporting on the current war by veteran NYT Jerusalem bureau hands Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kirshner, who have paraded their pro-Israel bias (carrying on a long Times tradition from that site) for years now.  No surprise.  But at least some form of balance has appeared in the past week with the arrival in Gaza of Anne Barnard from the paper's Beirut or Cairo bureau (forget which).  She has supplied much-needed up-close reporting on the massive civilian casualties there, even tweeting from the scene at great risk. Perhaps as the mother of two young children she can relate.

Her name seemed familiar to me, away from the Times, and sure enough we covered her often at Editor & Publisher when I was the editor from about 2002 to 2009.  We won many national awards for our coverage of Iraq and the media and she appeared in several of the articles as a reporter and then Baghdad bureau chief for the Boston Globe.  I even found one of mine where I quoted her at the end (it also appears in my book on that war, So Wrong for So Long), and it's quite relevant to the current tragedy--as it focuses on the U.S. assault on Fallujah and the massive civilian casualties there.  Oddly, U.S. reporters were more prone to criticize their own country in such occasions than they are today, re: Israel.

Here's the link to the full story, with Barnard segment here:
Anne Barnard of The Boston Globe noted that the military says it took every possible step to minimize civilian casualties, but "the methods used -- air strikes and artillery and tank fire from a distance -- make it difficult to know whether civilians are caught under fire." U.S. forces had urged Fallujans trapped in the city to stay in their homes, but "troops using thermal sights often assumed that if there was a 'hot spot' inside a house — indicating body heat — the people inside were insurgents." 


Stinging American Muslims

I've tweeted out my praise for the new HBO doc "The Newburgh Sting," which aired last night but will be in rotation for awhile now.   Now Human Rights Watch with a new report on the overall scope of the many FBI sting/entrapment aimed at encouraging Muslims here to take part in FBI-designed "terrorism."
The U.S.  Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute said in a report released today. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001, have alienated the very communities that can help prevent terrorist crimes.

The 214-page report, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,” examines 27 federal terrorism cases from initiation of the investigations to sentencing and post-conviction conditions of confinement. It documents the significant human cost of certain counterterrorism practices, such as overly aggressive sting operations and unnecessarily restrictive conditions of confinement.
 


Cohen on Creativity in the Tower of Song

Terrific interview, from 1992, with he's-my-man, Leonard Cohen, on the process of songwriting and poetry writing--the "hard work" involved and his total dedication to this hard work, the need to the fully "cut the gem" to see if it's worth saving. 
My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV… So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.
But why shouldn’t my work be hard? Almost everybody’s work is hard. One is distracted by this notion that there is such a thing as inspiration, that it comes fast and easy. And some people are graced by that style. I’m not. So I have to work as hard as any stiff, to come up with my payload.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 15 Days

Every year at this time, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers can be judged more clearly in "real time."  As many know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and two books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up) since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.  

Yesterday's lengthy entry, including Gen. Eisenhower opposing using bomb against Japan. Today:

July 22, 1945:  Still at Potsdam, Secretary of War Stimson meets with Prime Minister Churchill, who says that he was baffled by President Truman's sudden change in getting tough, almost bullying, with Stalin--but after he learned of successful first A-bomb test at Trinity he understood and endorsed it.   Everyone also cheered by "accelerated" timetable for use of bomb against cities--with first weapon ready about August 6, and the second by August 24th.  Stimson in diaries notes that two top officials endorse his striking of Kyoto (which he had visited and loved) off target list.

The U.S. learns through its "Magic" intercepts that Japan is sending a special emissary to the Soviet Union to try to get them to broker a peace with the U.S. as soon as possible (the Japanese don't know the Russians are getting ready to declare war on them in two weeks).

Update: The Young Man in the Green Shirt

Update:  Victim has now been IDed--it turns out his family like others found out after watching him murdered in the video.  

Earlier: This is being called the most horrific, in some ways, video to yet emerge from the one-sided war in Gaza.  Rescue workers in Shujaiyeh are combing through the rubble for survivors, and a young man in a green shirt is seen joining them to carry a stretcher.  A little later while they are taking cover he ventures out to shout to see if any relatives are still alive up the street as you hear the nervous chatter of man and woman back with the camera.  Then a shot from a sniper of unknown origin--yes, Israeli forces are now in that neighborhood--rings out and he falls, but is still alive.  Then another shot.  Then a third.   Adam Weinstein story here.   I imagine we will now get the usual nutty claims that this was all staged.  Much more of my coverage today here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Carnage Continues: Monday Updates on Gaza-Israel

Great photo, left. of silent protest in Tokyo.

Jon Stewart tonight responds, sort of, to pro-Israel critics who knocked his coverage (though modest) last week.

Tonight's Jodi Rudoren stenography from Jerusalem--gets to 19 killed from one Gaza family in, oh, 17th paragraph.  Before that she points to success of mission via  higher body count than previous one.  No matter what the bodies are.   In her view, Israel just trying to destroy tunnels, you know.  It's world leaders concerned about lopsided casualty count who are the real stinkers.

More from @RichardEngel of NBC just now (7 p.m. ET):  "One of fathers of boys killed on gaza beach says his house attacked by israeli forces."   Also notes hospitals overwhelmed.  And:  "Gaza death toll: 570. Among them 150 children, 70 women."

It's gotten lost in the death count lately as dead on the Israeli side has shifted to the military side, but what about the civilian casualities from those thousands of Hamas rockets?  Well, the count remains at....two.  One was a Bedouin outside the Iron Dome who is not even recognized, normally, as an Israeli.  With about 80% of the more than 500 dead on the Gaza side estimated to be civilians, that puts the current civilian dead ratio at about 200-1.  

Richard Engel of NBC tweets at mid-afternoon:   "Several bodies thrown out of gaza building by Israeli blast. Rescuer workers, volunteers enter. Building crumbles on top of them....Bulldozers had to clear path to building to allow ambulances to approach it. Many were near when building came down. apartment building....Gaza city ‘Salam tower’ collapse. Witnesses say 20 dead. some still under rubble."  One of his followers, Stand With Israel, responds:  "GOOD JOB . SO HAPPY."

Earlier Engel has provided some much-needed background:  "palestinians say the closure of gaza a big reason for this. years without being able to travel, do business. frustration pent up, exploding." 

NBC's Ayman Muhyeldin tweets:  " military says 25 soldiers have been killed since ground invasion began 4 days ago. In the 3 week 2008 war it lost 6 soldiers."

Horrifying  photo or video image left purportedly shows huge Israeli bomb about to strike house, and others images then show rubble aftermath.

Reports that hospital hit by numerous Israeli strikes even as patients being evacuated, at least 5 killed and 70 wounded.  Photos.

Anti-war activists getting beaten up...in Tel Aviv.  Reporter for Jewish Daily Forward is outraged.

American nurse writes about her work in Gaza--and that 40% of her cases are children under five. 

Unlike the paper's two main correspondents in the area, who have largely offered stenography from Israel, Anne Barnard of the NYT, who is based in Beirut,  has been providing strong coverage from Gaza.  Here's her report on Gazans having nowhere-to-run.

Four more killed Monday in shelling of hospital.  24 reportedly killed from the Abu Jamaa family in Khan Younis.

Short video covers staggering U.S. aid to Israel (more than half of our foreign aid).



Terrific new piece by Israeli writer who answers demands by friends there about why they should be for ending attacks on Gaza, even unilaterally.  She offers one reason after another, including why it's not just the moral choice--but very much in Israel's best interest.  

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 16 Days

Every year at this time, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers can be judged more clearly in "real time."  As many know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and two books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up) since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.   Yesterday's entry.

July 21,  1945:    Secretary of War met several top U.S. generals in Germany.   Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower would years later in Newsweek write:   "Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. …the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.   During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.

"It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude."

Gen. Leslie Groves' dramatic report on the Trinity test lands on Secretary of War Henry Stimson's desk.  Residents of New Mexico and Las Vegas, who witnessed a flash in the desert (some received radiation doses) are still in the dark.

The Interim Committee has settled on a target list (in order):  Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki.  Top priority was they must be among the few large Japanese cities not already devastated by bombardments--so the true effects of the new bomb can be observed.   That's also why the bomb will be dropped over the very center of the cities, which will also maximize civilian casualties.  Hiroshima has the added "benefit" or being surrounding by hills on three sides, providing a "focusing effect" which will bounce the blast back on the city, killing even more.  Kyoto, on the original target list, was dropped after an appeal by Stimson, who loved the historic and beautiful city. 

Stimson in his diary recounts visit with Truman at Potsdam after they've both read Gen. Groves account of the successful Trinity test.  He finds Truman tremendously "pepped up" by it with "new confidence."  This "Trinity power surge" (in Robert Lifton's phrase)helped push Truman to use the new weapon as soon as possible without further reflection,  with the Russians due to enter the war around August 7.  Truman has not yet told Stalin about existence of the bomb.

Note: Groves' lengthy memo generally pooh-poohed radiation effects on nearby populations but did include this:  "Radioactive material in small quantities was located as much as 120 miles away. The measurements are being continued in order to have adequate data with which to protect the Government's interests in case of future claims. For a few hours I was none too comfortable with the situation."

Bombing crews start practicing flights over targets in Japan.

Drugs Law Stuff U.S. Prisons

Another strong segment from John Oliver on his HBO show last night.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

'Telegenic' Deaths and Other Sunday Updates


UpdatesTerrific new piece by Israeli writer who answers demands by friends there about why they should be for ending attacks on Gaza, even unilaterally.  She offers one reason after another, including why it's not just the moral choice--but very much in Israel's best interest.  

James Fallows tweets:  "When strategic message becomes ‘They’re forcing us to kill children,’ strategy is in trouble. As US learned."   See Vietnam-Gaza image above.

Photos of worldwide protests on Sunday, some massive (such as in Chicago).

Live feed from UN as Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors speak and vote to be held on Jordan proposal.

476 dead in Gaza, 3100 injured.  At least one-quarter kids.

This CNN story purports to tell inside story of why NBC actually withdrew Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza the other day (he is back, see below and follow him).  They key section might be on NBC feeling, for ratings, viewers more "comfortable" with a Richard Engel on air.  NBC wanted Ayman make statement "whitewashing" the episode but he refused.

Hamas announces it has captured Israeli--something that usually triples Israel attacks and resolve.  Anne Barnard of NYT:  "Scattered celebratory gunfire in Gaza City as Hamas announces it captured an Israeli soldier, Cheers and shouts of 'God is great.'" But Israel denies this has happened.

Earlier Sunday: Netanyahu on CNN correctly calls situation "insane"--but means only rockets to Israel.   Then says he's "sad about every civilian casualty" and only mistakes, but Hamas is using “telegenically dead Palestinians.” (He is approvingly citing a Krauthammer quote, it seems.) The "more dead the better."

Ayman Mohyeldin, who was pulled out of Gaza by NBC (for some reason) has just returned and is tweeting fron hospital after today's massacre.  First tweet: "Back inside . Went straight to morgue. Emotional scene as families identify & claim bodies of the killed in attacks."  See @AymanM

What's being described as "the massacre in  Shujayeh" neighborhood in Gaza, in heaviewt bombardment of war, with at least 60 dead today from Israeli shelling.  “Bodies were on the street, body parts everywhere. We couldn’t help them, we had to leave.”  Photo of mother who lost child.  More from The Guardian.    

NYT on its home page: "Casualties growing on both sides."  That is, two more Israeli soldiers and more than 140 Gazans.  No NYT front-page story, just "refer" line at bottom: "Hamas Slips Through Tunnels."  Wash Post headline on front page: "2 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza."   Netanyahu on CNN just now: "If you look at our response it's actually very measured."

I noted the claim, and ran photo, a few days back back but now seems confirmed, as this Guardian story this morning attests.  "The Israeli military is using flechette shells, which spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts, in its military operation in Gaza.  Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on 17 July, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Nahla Khalil Najjar, 37, suffered injuries to her chest, it said. PCHR provided a picture of flechettes taken by a fieldworker last week. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) did not deny using the shells in the conflict."

Sharif Kouddous of Democracy Now! tweets:  "At Shifa hospital two children, 9 & 7 years old, lie dead. Arguments about IDing boy b/c his head is blown off. 'Is it Hamza or "Khalil?'"  Anne Barnard of NYT tweets:  "In ER, girl, 9?, lies still, staring. No relative w/her. Docs gently check pulse, again & again, until it's time. A white sheet & she's gone."

Photo below of video journalist Khaled Hamad killed last night in Gaza.  Note shirt.  His father at his funeral.


"In Event of Moon Disaster"

For the anniversary of our moon landing: The tribute, penned by White House speechwriter William Safire, for President Nixon to read in the event of something going horribly wrong.  Here it is in its entirety, including instructions at the end:

July 18, 1969.

IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT:

The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.

AFTER THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT, AT THE POINT WHEN NASA ENDS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE MEN:

A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.

The U.S. Role in Gaza Tragedy

From a lengthy and vital backgrounder by the venerable American Friends Service Committee.
The United States is complicit in the current situation, playing a key role in sustaining both Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory and the Gaza blockade. Both the current and past administrations have given Israel a green light to carry out attacks on Gaza and have asserted an Israeli right to self defense while failing to recognize an equal right to self defense for Palestinians.  The U.S. also continues to support the isolation of Hamas and the Israeli imposed blockade on Gaza, which it views as a legitimate tool for undermining Hamas, regardless of the blockades’ impact on the general Gaza population.  The U.S.’s refusal to engage with Hamas has also led it to actively oppose reconciliation between Hamas and the PA through a threatened cut in all assistance to the PA if it reconciles with Hamas.  This policy has helped entrench political divisions within the Palestinian polity.

Further, the United States provides more than $3 billion in military assistance to Israel each year.  This unconditional U.S. military assistance subsidizes and allows Israel to maintain its occupation in Gaza.  More specifically, weaponry purchased by Israel from the U.S. using U.S. military assistance, including missiles and white phosphorus shells,[xvii] are used by Israel during its attacks on Gaza.  This policy brings nothing but harm to Gaza and also undermines the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cooperstown and Chicago

My man, Jeff Katz, mayor of Cooperstown, gets major tribute in his hometown rag, the Chicago Ttibune.  He recently hosted me there and wrote a piece on Obama tribute to Cooperstown for my blog.