May 28th, 2008

The cluster bombs re-re-revisited

In Dublin Ireland, negotiations are proceeding about the ban on cluster bombs. My country’s administration is partnering with the United Kingdom, France and Germany on this subject. It cried loudly for a ban, but oh erm, wanted to keep the 9 bomblet M261 rocket grenade for the Apache attack helicopter. That one will have to go too. That is pretty good news huh? But wait, there is a little spin here eh? Foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen:

“In his opinion the treaty text in all reality means a ban on all existing and known [cluster] ammunition, but he doesn’t rule out new cluster ammunition will be developed that will be compatible with the treaty (emphasis added).

Verhagen also assumes it will remain possible to co-operate with allies that have not signed the treaty, such as the United States.

Hey, pst, can your guys hang one of those fancy thingies under my wing if we go in there together?

Earlier on the nest: US is investigating Cluster Bombs “fair use” in Lebanon, The cluster bombs revisited, The cluster bombs re-revisted.

By the way: Today we also decided to buy 2 JSF test aircraft as a pre-ample to buy 50+ to replace the aging F-16. The stealthy JSF will be useless in peace-keeping missions a la Afghanistan and it heavy reliance on stealth technology will be obsoleted by improved rada technology way before we get the real thing. What a waste.

December 24th, 2007

The cluster bombs re-revisited

The Israeli army handed over a report to the military prosecutor stating it’s use of cluster bombs in Southern Lebanon in 2006 was not violating international rules. Therefore, that prosecutor decided last Monday to not press charge against the commanders responsible. The conclusion sharply contradicts those of the UN, which stated that cluster bombs were used far too casually and was not used exclusively against military targets. If it weren’t so serious it was almost good enough a joke for hysterical laughing. The bombs were “dropped on mostly inhabited terrain” and “a military necessity”. Sure, let’s drop some cluster bombs in empty dessert, that will teach those terrorists a lesson.

Facts: The offensive against the Hezbollah took 34 days. Almost 1200 Lebanese were killed, mostly civilians. 157 Israeli were killed, mostly military. After the offensive, over 30 people (usually children, but I have no figures for this specific case) were killed by littered cluster ammunition.

Earlier on the nest: US is investigating Cluster Bombs “fair use” in Lebanon, The cluster bombs revisited

February 20th, 2007

The world press photo

I am pretty sure almost everybody has seen this picture, that won the World Press Photo

World Press Photo 2006

The general desription of the picture was something along the lines of “wealthy, bored libanese teenagers war-touristing the just bombed area, while SMS-ing and cruising in their hot shot cabrio”.

Today, a newspaper here published an interview with the group.

(…) However, the depicted, Jad (22), Bissan (29), Tamara Maroun, Liliane Nacouzi (22) en Noor Nasser (21) didn’t feel ‘fabulous’ at all that day. They gathered in the appartment of Bissan’s fiancee Wissam Awad in the Christian neighbourhoo. Tamara, the blonde, is the only one not there. Lana El Khalil (25) however is, the owner of the red sportscar, well, actually an orange Mini Cooper. They like the world to know a few things about the World Press Photo.

“See the sticker on the dashboard?”, while she points at the picture. “That is a Samidoun sticker, a volonteer organisation that was formed during the war to help victims”. (…) “After the first boms had fallen, we immediately started to provide help. I opened my appartment in Hamra to refugees from the south, and went back to live with my parents”. The first couple of days he drove in the dahiye to pick up the homeless and drive them to the shelters. Later he brought goods to the peaople who had stayed in the daiye. He drove the Mini Cooper that was about to become a symbol of the lack of compassion of beautiful, young people from Lebannon.

The others are all from the southern outskirts of Beirut. Four from the dahiye, one from the next area, Shiya. Noor is only muslim, the others are Christians. Haret Hreik, at the center of the dahiye, was originally a Christian neighbourhood.

Well well, too easy to assume I guess.

Usual disclaimer: my translation.

September 7th, 2006

The countries of the world

Today, three people independantly started talking to me about the moon, two on another continent. I must confess, it’s a very clear night here and it’s pretty stunning. The nice thing about the moon’s phase is, it’s (virtually) the same all over the world, other than i.e. the position of the Sun. Me day, you night. Which seems to be a perfect excuse to post this tube video. We’re all connected.

August 25th, 2006

US is investigating Cluster Bombs “fair use” in Lebanon

As more and more UN staff is pouring into Southern Lebanon, it becomes evident what’s really going on there. In almost every village the place is littered with cluster bombs payloads. Some look like ventilator blades, others just tiny cylinders, about 1 by 2 inch. The latter are supposed to go through 3 inch steel armor. Nice stuff.

Back in the late 70′s, early 80′s, cluster bombs were supplied by the US to Israel, under certain “rules” on how to use them. One rule is they cannot be used against civilian targets. Stop reading here and think for a second will you? OK, thanks.

So, not only were complete villages covered with cluster bombs (“of course, all these villages housed terrorist Hezbollah fighters”), but the quality of the shit is obviously so bad, the place is littered with unexploded devices. And guess who is going to pick picking this stuff up, with population returning in the area? Right, the children. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to think about how the youngsters that loose friends, brothers, sisters like this will feel about it, and how willing they are to face up “the enemy”. Right, with hatred.
Read-see Seymour Hersh (New Yorker) on how Israel and the US pre-planned this war way before the two soldiers were captured. The idea was to kill Hezbollah (I don’t like Hezbollah, but they WERE elected by the people), while saying to Iran: “hey, watch out with your nuke toying”. Condi heavily involved, now on a peace mission there. Ehhh?? Anyway, seems that backfired a bit.
Now, the US, in an attempt to counter the the long established opinion that the US will back the Israeli government whatever they do, is investigating if the use of cluster bombs is in line with the agreement mentioned before. Complicating is the fact that the Israeli army has both US made as well as home brew cluster bombs in their arsenal. Anyone interested in making bets on the outcome?

ps: the fact that I am writing this ps is crazy enough in itself, but I would like to state I have nothing against Israel, Israeli’s, Jews and for that matter Arabs, Muslims, yes, Christians, fill in anything. I simply don’t care too much for lying stupid trigger happy governments, especialy as they, by definition, hold the right to use violence exclusively, which imho requires some intelligence and prudence.

Update: Jan Egeland (UN) has called Israel’s use of cluster bombs “Entirely immoral”. According to the news here (my translation back into English) he said “What is shocking and in my opinion entirely immoral is the fact that 90% of the attacks with cluster bombs were carried out in the last 72 hours of the conflict when it was certain there would be a resolution”. So far, 13 people have been killed and 46 wounded by the delayed explosions of cluster bomb “bomblets”.

August 21st, 2006

BBC News: Prescott denies calling Bush ‘crap’.

- from your non-domestic reporter -

Ben Poole is a blogger in my (IT) profession, but now and then he calls a private statement. He pointed to this item on BBC News.

“Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has denied saying the Bush administration had been “crap” on the Middle East road map – the plan for peace in the region.”

FYI, deputy prime minister is a sort of Dick Cheney for the United Kingdom. John has been given “the keys” while Tony Blair has been enjoying his vacation. Except for the denial, John has my kudos, as the total lack of Washinton diplomacy has made me very pessimistic and it seems the bad guys in the middle east are more united than ever and only a little incident is needed to set the world on fire (tension in: Afghanistan [taliban], Iran [nuke toys], Lebbanon [new tork times: US-Israeli pre planned war waiting on a soldier kidnapping], Iraq [yeah], Saudi Arabia [all our oil coming from this suppresscracy].

August 2nd, 2006

Credit when due (must read): CJR Daily: Lawrence Pintak, “Open Season on Journalists in the Middle East.”

A couple of days back I mentioned journalist Layal Najib who was killed recently in Lebanon. Lawrence Pintak wrote about Journalists and the “Middle East” on CJR Daily yesterday. I think it’s worth your time to read his piece: “Open Season on Journalists in the Middle East.”

July 27th, 2006

Are attacks on journalists increasing?

najb.jb It would seem that attacks on journalists are increasing. I was looking at a UNESCO site for information about the preservation of cultural artifacts and noticed a UNESCO press release condeming the recent killings of journalists in The Philippines and other regions. So where is our press (U.S.A. & Alaska) – they seem to have missed the story?

Hey girls and guys in the “mainstream press” why don’t you try talking your editors into a story about Layal Najib? The Committee to Protect Journalists reported on July 24, 2006:

“Layal Najib, 23, a freelance photographer for the Lebanese magazine Al-Jaras and Agence France-Presse, became the first journalist to be killed since Israel began attacks on Lebanon in response to a cross-border raid by the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Najib was in a taxi yesterday trying to meet up with a convoy of villagers fleeing the Israeli bombardment of south Lebanon when she was hit by shrapnel from a missile on the road between the villages of Sadiqeen and Qana, local media reported. She died at the scene.”