I don’t always agree with Lou Dobbs, but it seems to me that he has a point here:
After a week of escalating violence, around two dozen Israelis and roughly 200 Lebanese have died. That has been sufficient bloodshed for United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to join in the call for an international security force, ignoring the fact that a U.N. force is already in Southern Lebanon, having failed to secure the border against Hezbollah’s incursions and attacks and the murder and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.
As I understand it (and by all means, please correct me if my understanding is incorrect), Israel agreed six years ago to unilaterally withdraw from Lebanon, on the condition that U.N. troops would help the Lebanese government secure the southern part of the country against Hezbollah, thus preserving Israel’s security. The U.N. and Lebanon failed, Hezbollah effectively took control of the south, and now we’re back to square one, with Israel forced to take military action against an aggressive, untamed terrorist entity that has been camped out for years, unmolested, on its border, repeatedly violating Israel’s sovereignty and repeatedly threatening or ending many Israeli lives.
Many people, especially abroad, are blaming Israel for its “aggressive” and “disproportionate” actions. (Israel doesn’t have a right of self-defense, you see, because… it’s Israel.) Some, like Jon Stewart (that oracle of foreign-policy wisdom) are blaming Bush for “destabilizing” the region with his Iraq war (because, y’know, the Middle East was so stable before 2003.) Others are rightly blaming Hezbollah’s provocations for inviting this onslaught. Many also blame Lebanon for failing to disarm Hezbollah as promised. And lots of people are blaming Iran and Syria for their involvement. The point is, there is a lot of blame going around. But why aren’t more people blaming the U.N.?
Isn’t this crisis, in large part, a colossal U.N. blunder — yet another example of that organization’s apparent inability to be effective at anything that involves the use of force? (Yes, keeping the peace sometimes requires the use of force. No, acknowledging that self-evident truth is not automatically “Orwellian.”)
And if the U.N. bears a significant part of the blame, why the heck would we conclude that the proper response is more multilateral internationalist pussyfooting by the same organization that screwed up the first time? Some critics of Israel, including one commenter on this blog, have cited 1982 as evidence that Israel’s attacks on Lebanon are the definition of insanity — “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” — but doesn’t that apply with at least as much force to the notion of another U.N.-brokered “peace” in southern Lebanon?
Perhaps the reason I’m not hearing more blame being heaped upon the U.N. is simply that I’m not reading the right articles and blogs. I am pretty busy at work these days. But on the other hand, if my perception is accurate, I wonder if maybe the relative silence on this issue is because the people who really hate the U.N. are already so convinced that it’s useless, they don’t feel the need to keep harping on that point; and the people who really like the U.N. are so completely enamored of it, they simply ignore all evidence suggesting that it might not be the pinnacle of virtue and the infalliable arbiter of world peace that they like to imagine it as.
Just a thought.
P.S. Whether or not it’s the U.N.’s fault, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg — hardly a Bush fan — makes a compelling case (to my mind, anyway) that the latest Mideast crisis isn’t Bush’s fault. (Hat tip: InstaPundit.) Lengthy excerpt after the jump.
A recent graduate of Jackson High School in Everett, WA who was a member of her schools wind ensemble is suing the Superintendent of the district for refusing to allow the group to perform an arrangement of Ave Maria at their high schools graduation. The Superintendent said that the song is too religious. Although the group performed the song without incident at their winter concert, the issue seems to be that graduation is not a truly volunteer attendence event like the concert was. However the group maintains that the song wasn’t chosen (seniors vote which song they would like to perform) for religious reasons but because it was a dificult piece they had mastered and they thought it sounded good.
Have we really reached the point in this society where even being exposed to music that is of a religious nature is considered some sort of violation of our freedoms? Are we that sensitive? I’m sorry if you are one of those people who feel so threatened by even the exposure to something that goes beyond your belief system, but if you think we should ban all music from schools that has religious roots we are going to be banning a significant swath of music that holds great historical and cultural value. Look i have no problem with schools not allowing a minister to give a blessing at the ceremony or something like that, but this is just plain ridiculous.
As expected, President Bush has used his first veto on a bill that would have given funding to embryonic stem cell research.
President Bush issues the first veto of his presidency, rejecting a bill to expand federal research on stem cells obtained from embryos. Visit CNN for the latest.
NOTE: Due to a technical glitch, this breaking-news alert did not actually appear on the blog until 8:36 PM on July 31. I have adjusted the timestamp to more accurately reflect when the alert was originally published.
Lebanon Prime Minister Siniora says 300 people have been killed in Israeli attacks; appeals for immediate cease-fire, according to media reports. Visit CNN for the latest.
Reports of Tropical Storm Beryl’s demise were, it seems, somewhat exaggerated — or at least premature. Less than 12 hours after The Storm Track predicted that “Beryl will be discontinued by this point tomorrow,” the storm is now strengthening. Dr. Jeff Masters writes: “Tropical Storm Beryl spent the night looking pretty ragged, but is starting to put on a burst of intensification.” As of 11:00 AM EDT (8:00 AM MST), Beryl’s winds are up to 45 mph, and she is currently travelling over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. (Never understimate the power of the Gulf Stream!)
The bloggers at The Storm Track still think Beryl is becoming extratropical, or at least “some sort of hybrid tropical/extratropical low.” But Dr. Masters is bullish about the storm’s prospects today:
Beryl is moving north and should stay over these warmer waters until tonight, so we can expect continued intensification today. Once Beryl gets north of the Virginia/Maryland border, SSTs cool rapidly, and intensification should cease. Wind shear is currently 5 - 10 knots, which is low enough to allow intensification. Beryl will probably not spend enough time over these warm waters to make it to hurricane status, but New England may have a strong tropical storm with 60 mph winds on its doorstep Friday.
Yes, Dad… New England. :) Beryl is no longer a threat to the Carolinas or Virginia; the Hurricane Center at 11am dropped the Tropical Storm Watches which had previously been issued for that region. The only plausible targets now are Long Island, New England and the Canadian Maritimes. The official track has Beryl passing just east of Cape Cod and the Islands, hitting Nova Scotia on Saturday while “becoming extratropical,” then brushing Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula on Sunday as a fully extratropical low. But there is a possibility of a direct hit on Long Island and/or Southern New England. Masters writes:
Beryl is expected to continue moving north today, then turn more to the northeast on Thursday as a trough of low pressure approaches from the west. Just how strong this trough is will determine how close Beryl passes to New England. Some of the forecast models are forecasting a strike on Long Island or Cape Cod Friday, but the official NHC forecast of a turn out to sea just south of New England sounds more reasonable, given that no July tropical storm — and only one July hurricane (1916) — has ever made landfall in New England.
The NHC’s 11am EDT discussion has more on the due-north scenario:
THE FORECAST TRACK HINGES HEAVILY ON THE INTENSITY AND STRUCTURE OF BERYL. THE GFDL…GFS…AND NOGAPS MODELS MOVE A VERY WEAK BERYL ACROSS LONG ISLAND AND SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND…WHEREAS THE UKMET…CANADIAN…AND ECMWF KEEP THE CIRCULATION CENTER MORE OFFSHORE. HOWEVER…ALL OF THE MODELS KEEP THE MID-LEVEL CIRCULATION WELL OFFSHORE. SINCE BERYL IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN A VERTICALLY DEEP SYSTEM… THE LATTER SOLUTION OF KEEPING THE CENTER OFFSHORE IS PREFERRED GIVEN THE LARGE SHORTWAVE TROUGH CURRENTLY MOVING ACROSS THE OHIO VALLEY TOWARD THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES THAT IS EXPECTED TO CAPTURE THE CYCLONE AND MOVE IT NORTHEASTWARD.
Given what the NHC is saying about the mid-level circulation remaining well offshore, it sounds like there’s no way a strong Beryl is going to hit the Northeast. (Indeed, despite his speculation about a 60 mph on New England’s “doorstep,” Masters points out that “the two primary intensity forecast models used by NHC–the GFDL and SHIPS–predict that Beryl will only be a weak tropical storm with 45 mph winds on Friday when it approaches New England.”) If anything, this could be like 1992’s T.S. Danielle, which was expected to get lifted out to sea by a trough, but instead was sheared apart by the trough and died a slow death as a weak low-level circulation bringing light rain showers to the Northeast.
Still, the mere possibility of a named tropical system hitting Connecticut will at least give me something to harass (or “balrog,” as we used to say when I was a kid) my dad about for a day or two. :)
The Daily Show is referring to the various problems in Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan as “Crises in Israfghyianonanaq.”
The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.
The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
“It’s clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week,” a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.
But according to this AP report…
Israel declared Tuesday it was ready to fight Hezbollah guerrillas for several more weeks, raising doubts about international efforts to broker an immediate cease-fire in the fighting that has killed more than 260 people and displaced 500,000.
We report, you reconcile.
En route to Becky’s parents’ house in Gold Canyon this evening after work, Becky and I drove smack into a bitchin’ haboob:
But the most truly awesome sight was the dust cloud running smack into the Superstition Mountains:
The dusty sunset was pretty nice, too:
CNN is reporting in a breaking-news alert on its homepage: “FAA: Power outage at high-altitude radar monitoring center grounds flights at Los Angeles area airports.”
UPDATE: Story here.
As of the 8 pm advisory, Tropical Storm Beryl was located about 160 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. With sustained winds near 40 MPH, she is heading towards the north, and will eventually move off to the northeast. Current minimum pressure of 1006 MB, next advisory is due in at 11PM EST. A Tropical Storm watch is in effect from north of Cape Lookout to south of Currituck Beach Light.
Senate votes 63-37 to loosen President Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, a move Bush has pledged to veto. Visit CNN for the latest.
NOTE: Due to a technical glitch, this breaking-news alert did not actually appear on the blog until 1:53 AM on August 1. I have adjusted the timestamp to more accurately reflect when the alert was originally published.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s Hizbollah, which claims links to the Lebanese group of the same name, said on Tuesday it stood ready to attack Israeli and U.S. interests worldwide.
“We have 2,000 volunteers who have registered since last year,” said Iranian Hizbollah’s spokesman Mojtaba Bigdeli, speaking by telephone from the central seminary city of Qom.
“They have been trained and they can become fully armed. We are ready to dispatch them to every corner of the world to jeopardise Israel and America’s interests. We are only waiting for the Supreme Leader’s green light to take action. If America wants to ignite World War Three … we welcome it,” he said.
As one my fellow summer associates just said to me over the phone: “All right, well, we’re all gonna die. Talk to you later.”
UPDATE: It gets better and better:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday promised a “rejoicing” for Muslims in the Middle East “soon,” the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Speaking to university officials in the town of Mashhad, Ahmadinejad said the “volcano of rage” at the “arrogant powers” was “on the verge of eruption.”
Referring to escalating violence in Lebanon and northern Israel, he was quoted as saying, “The Zionists themselves have realized that they have launched a risky move and are aware that the flame of the fury of the regional states will set them ablaze.”
This might be a good time to read up on the 12th imam cult.
UPDATE 2: More:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, “The day of happiness for the region is nearÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ The world is on the verge of great changes,” according to the Iranian news agency.
Ahmadinejad added that he considered IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s operation in Lebanon “a type of playing with fire.”
The speaker of Iran’s parliament warned Israelis on Tuesday that no part of their country is safe from Hezbollah attack.
The comments by Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel called into question Tehran’s official position that it is not involved in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“The towns you have built in northern Palestine (Israel) are within the range of the brave Lebanese children. No part of Israel will be safe,” Haddad Adel told thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators in Palestine Square.
Honestly, if Israel were to a launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran RIGHT NOW, I don’t see how you can argue that they wouldn’t be totally justified.
A group of Oklahoma City area investors led by buisnessman Clay Bennett has reportedly purchased the Seattle SuperSonics and Seattle Storm for $350 million.
The Sonics were the first pro team in the northwest, starting 1967 and were the first to bring home a championship to Seattle in 1979. The Seattle Storm, founded in 2000, won Seattle’s most recent (and only other as far as I knwo) pro-Championship in 2004.
An ongoing dispute has been occuring between the Sonic/Storm ownership and the City of Seattle regarding their lease of the KeyArena. The teams ownership has been pushing for a major renovation of the Arena largely funded by public tax dollars, and the city and State have balked at the high demands the team has been offering, especially given their recent mediocre performance and the general lack of interest in the NBA across the country. The teams lease runs out in 2010.
There had been talk of moving the team to another local city (Bellevue and Renton being the top choices).
According to the group the team will play the 2006/2007 season in Seattle, but beyond that nothing is known at this time.