|Zoe, Katie, and I were off to see the Harry Potter movie yesterday. They still have long lines at the little Oak Harbor Theater. Great movie. Yes, we're Harry Potter fans waiting for the release of book five, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". I've even signed up at Amazon for notification of when they will be accepting pre-orders. I'm lost!
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An Alternate Reality
Most Americans get their news from TV. And what they see is heartwarming — a picture of a nation behaving well in a time of crisis. Indeed, the vast majority of Americans have been both resolute and generous.
But that's not the whole story, and the images TV doesn't show are anything but heartwarming. A full picture would show politicians and businessmen behaving badly, with this bad behavior made possible — and made worse — by the fact that these days selfishness comes tightly wrapped in the flag. If you pay attention to the whole picture, you start to feel that you are living in a different reality from the one on TV.
thanks to BuzzFlash
The US comes out of its closet
by Harold Pinter
The United States has in fact - since the end of the Second World War - pursued a brilliant, even witty, strategy. It has exercised a sustained, systematic, remorseless and quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good. But at least now - it can be said - the US has come out if its closet. The smile is still there, of course (all US presidents have always had wonderful smiles), but the posture is infinitely more naked and more blatant than it has ever been. The Bush administration, as we all know, has rejected the Kyoto agreement, has refused to sign an agreement which would regulate the trade in small arms, has distanced itself from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Biological Weapons Convention. In relation to the latter, the US made it quite clear that it would agree to the banning of the biological weapons factory on American soil. The US has also refused to ratify the proposed International Criminal Court of Justice. It is bringing into operation the American Service Members Protection Act, which will permit the authorisation of military force to free any American soldier taken into International Criminal Court custody. In other words, they really will "send in the Marines".
Arrogant, indifferent, contemptuous of international law, both dismissive and manipulative of the United Nations, this is now the most dangerous power the world has ever known - the authentic "rogue state", but a "rogue state" of colossal military and economic might. And Europe - especially the United Kingdom - is both compliant and complicit, or as Cassius in Julius Caesar put it: we "peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves".
These are reported in the Israeli paper Ha'aretz. Sharon repeatedly claims that peace talks can't proceed unless there is not violence on the side of the Palestinians and then he attacks the Palestinians. When are we going to see no violence on the side of the Israelis? It takes two to untangle.
Zinni heads into the storm, as Palestinians say Sharon is trying to thwart his truce mission
If new U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni had any illusions about the elusiveness of the task that awaits him when he arrives Monday in the region on his cease-fire mission, they would have been rapidly extinguished by the bloody three-day prelude to his visit, in which 12 Palestinians and one Israel have been killed.
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the prevailing view is that the killing of Abu Hanoud is an attempt by Sharon to provoke Hamas into a revenge attack in order to thwart the new American initiative. "The assassination of Abu Hanoud thus places the Hamas leadership in a quandary - if they react with a powerful revenge attack, they will damage Arafat in his talks with Burns and Zinni. But if they fail to react, Hamas' prestige will be hurt," writes Ha'aretz Palestinian affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein.
Senior PA officials, writes Rubinstein, were making a concerted effort over the weekend to calm Hamas leaders, "asking them to exercise restraint, at least in the coming days, to show the Americans and world public opinion that the Israelis are the ones carrying out violent acts and trying to bring about a deterioration in the situation."
The innocent victims
Five Palestinian children on their way to school were killed on Thursday when an IDF booby trap exploded under them. They were members of the al-Astal family - Muhammad Naim, Akram Naim, Anis Idris, Omar Idris, and Muhammad Sultan - two sets of brothers and a cousin, residents of the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The explosive apparently was a bomb placed on what the army suspected to be a path routinely used by Palestinian activists - not, as was first reported, an unspent tank shell accidentally left behind.
Placing booby traps in populated areas or on routes that children and innocent civilians are likely to use cannot have any other result - any more than can firing from tanks in these areas. Earlier in the week, a Palestinian woman and her two children were injured by tank fire near the site where the five boys were killed.
The expression of regret voiced by Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer over the killing of the innocent children can not be a substitute for a vital change in the IDF's concept of what fighting tactics are acceptable in the territories. These methods have already caused a high number of deaths among innocent children and civilians during the year of intifada. The latest incident in Khan Yunis did not arise from a mistake or from negligence, but is derived from an outlook that says harming innocents during attacks on enemies is simply unavoidable. Only a broad and diligent investigation of the tragic circumstances here - without any more whitewashing or dodging of facts - plus the trial of those responsible, might bring about a change in this outlook. It will at least suggest that in addition to the defense minister's
Vanished victims of Israelis return to accuse Sharon
The men who 'disappeared' in the aftermath of the 1982 massacres in Lebanon's Sabra and Chatila refugee camps could get revenge against Tel Aviv's defiant strongman.
The people who disappeared - during and after the massacre - are the forgotten victims of Sabra and Chatila. Almost every family in the camps has a relative or friend among the disappeared.
What is crucial is that they disappeared while in the hands of the Israeli army, during an operation under the direct control of Israel's then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon, now Prime Minister.
The fate of the disappeared of Sabra and Chatila will come back to haunt Sharon when a Belgian court hears a suit brought by their relatives alleging his involvement in the massacres.
Overlooked for almost two decades, the disappeared now seem likely to emerge as a key element in the efforts of 40 Lebanese and Palestinians who lost relatives in the massacre to bring Sharon to trial for war crimes committed when, as Defence Minister, he had overall responsibility for the IDF.
A suit filed in a Belgian court in June - under legislation that allows Belgium to prosecute foreigners for war crimes regardless of where they were committed - charges that Sharon had command responsibility in the massacre.
'In international law, command responsibility - also known as indirect responsibility - is more severe than the direct responsibility of those who actually do the killing,' says Chibli Mallat, one of three lawyers representing the plaintiffs. 'Whether in the Yugoslav massacres or in Germany or Japan in World War II, those who sat at the top, often miles away from the death camps, are more responsible than those who pulled the trigger.'
There is no doubt that those who oppose the US are responsible for terrorist atrocities. We have only to look at the World Trade Center. We can also look at innocents being killed in Israel by Palestinians. The terrorism will not end, however, until we recognize that the US and it's friends have been responsible for much more terrorism which continues with no slowing down. Of course the US is against the International Criminal Court of Justice. It knows that too many US citizens could be brought to trial, and rightfully so, for war crimes.
Or, as the late, great Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."