Monday, August 14, 2006

Hmong-mentionables

"As with many kids longing for belonging, books were [Bryan Thao] Worra's refuge and escape — 'speculative literature,' he says, in the realm of fantasy, horror and general sci-fi. By the time he moved to St. Paul in 1998 with an opportunity to work for The Hmong Tribune, he had already written a large body of fantastical poetry.

"Worra has published much of it in an online chapbook titled Monstro, a collection spanning 15 years of work Worra calls 'a meditation on fear.' "In the preface, he writes:

"'The things we fear, the things we
shouldn't, the things that fear us, and those gray zones where all bets are off. It's a global romp through a world with boundaries that are blurring to the point of nonexistence. It's fair to even say: A cosmic romp.'

"Some of the poetry in
Monstro reads like lyrics from vintage Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs. In "Song of the Kaiju," the second stanza reads:




In raging moments
Fists become claws
Our small tales lost beneath the crushing weight
Of epic bloodshed
Cities toppling
Amid the screams
So out of touch with time


"Other poems are direct bows to classic Japanese horror: 'Destroy All Monsters!,' 'Mothra,' 'Why Did Rodan Travel to the West?' But if you read between the lines, Worra laces even his sci-fi work with metaphor tilting to the mysteries and frustrations of his own life. There are quiet musings, the unfolding of love and other discoveries of the spirit, with references spanning Hitler to American Idol. Most of his horror writing is set in Frogtown.

"'For a writer, it's a very rich place to tap into,' he says. 'The fantastic elements are a way to dive into deeper social concerns, like racism.'"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

George Galloway vs. Rupert Murdoch's Sky News on Israel's war

George Monbiot: Israel's war at least one year in the making

George Monbiot writes: "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that 'more than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and thinktanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail'.

"The attack, he said, would last for three weeks. It would begin with bombing and culminate in a ground invasion. Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, told the paper that 'of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared ... By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board'.

"A 'senior Israeli official' told the Washington Post that the raid by Hizbullah provided Israel with a 'unique moment' for wiping out the organisation. The New Statesman's editor, John Kampfner, says he was told by more than one official source that the US government knew in advance of Israel's intention to take military action in Lebanon. The Bush administration told the British government.

"Israel's assault, then, was premeditated: it was simply waiting for an appropriate excuse."

See also Updated Maps of the Israeli Assault on Lebanon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Corporate news: Michael Jackson is 50 times more important than Darfur genocide



Be A Witness.org writes: "Genocide is the ultimate crime against humanity. And a government-backed genocide is unfolding in the Darfur region of Sudan. As the horror in Darfur continues, our major television news networks are largely missing in action.

"During June 2005, CNN, FOXNews, NBC/MSNBC, ABC, and CBS ran 50 times as many stories about Michael Jackson and 12 times as many stories about Tom Cruise as they did about the genocide in Darfur.

"Whether it is coverage of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s, or recent coverage of the tsunami, television news can help stop grave injustices and end human suffering. Increased television coverage of the genocide in Darfur has the power to spur the action required to stop a devastating crime against humanity."

Ralph Nader: "Israel is committing a major war crime"

Monday, August 07, 2006

THE WORST CRIME OF OUR TIME: Internal and External Exploitation of Congo

The word "rape," in my opinion, shouldn't be used in its old-fashioned sense meaning exploitation and destruction of a country, people, or land. It should be reserved for that horrible crime perpetrated almost exclusively by men against women, children and other men.

In all wars, some soldiers commit rape. They may rape as an act of personal depravity rather than military or state policy, but nonetheless, some soldiers rape. Given the physical, social and psychological damage it creates, rape is one of the worst crimes in human society.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, rape has been a daily reality of war for more than a decade. I have nothing but contempt for our enemies abroad who exploit and manipulate and destroy us. Therefore I have even greater contempt for those among us who do so.

On today's Democracy Now!, host Amy Goodman speaks with:

  • Alexis Motunda. National Secretary for the Union for Democracy and Social Progress which is the main oppoistion party in Congo,
  • Johann Hari. Journalist, UK Independent, and
  • Tshimanga John Metzel. Country Conditions expert with Human Rights First. He also works with the Congo Educational Council.
Journalist Johann Hari says:

"This is the deadliest war since Adolf Hitler's armies marched across Europe. And it's a war that has still not ended. But what I think is really important for people to understand is, this is not a distant tribal war that has nothing do with you.

"It's a war whose trail of blood leads absolutely directly to London, to New York, to Paris, to the laptop people will be listening to this on, to their remote controls, the mobile phone, and indeed to the diamond necklace, if they're fortunate enough to spend their money on one....
























"Just to give people a sense of the scale of the suffering there, I’ve covered -- I’ve been to Iraq, Palestine, some of the poorest parts of South America -- the sheer quantity and quality of suffering in Congo is markedly worse than anything I had seen in those countries.


"Going to hospitals full of women who had been gang-raped and then shot in the vagina, a common practice; going to villages where child soldiers had been made to kill their own father so they couldn't run away back to their family --
unimaginably extreme violence is happening there."

Complete audio/video/text is here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Christian Science Monitor: "Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon"

writes: "As pundits and policymakers scramble to explain events in Lebanon, their conclusions are virtually unanimous: Hizbullah created this crisis. Israel is defending itself. The underlying problem is Arab extremism.

"Sadly, this is pure analytical nonsense.

"Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Much-needed break--when villains becomes smart-asses

Israel's War Crimes

Juan Cole and As'ad Abu-Khalil discuss the report of US-based Human Rights Watch.

"The pattern of attacks in more than 20 cases investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers in Lebanon indicates that the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accidents and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbollah practices. In some cases, [Israel's] attacks constitute war crimes....

"Of the 153 dead civilians named in the report, 63 are children. More than 500 people have been killed in Lebanon by Israeli fire since fighting began on July 12, most of them civilians....

"On July 16, an Israeli aircraft fired on a civilian home in the village of Aitaroun, killing 11 members of the al-Akhrass family, among them seven Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals who were vacationing in the village when the war began. Human Rights Watch independently interviewed three villagers who vigorously denied that the family had any connection to Hezbollah. Among the victims were children aged one, three, five and seven....

"[I]n none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in the report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah was operating in or around the area during or prior to the attack."

Sign the petition: SHAME ON YOU, MR. HARPER.

Video: John Pilger's Palestine is Still the Issue.

Hezbollah kills 7 Israelis in most recent attack

Lebanon death toll 'exceeds 900'

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hezbollah's war crimes


Juan Cole writes:

"190 Hizbullah Rockets Rain down on Israel, 21 Wounded


"There had been some question about whether Hizbullah's ability to hit Israel with rockets had been degraded, or whether it was just observing the 48 hour air cease fire. On Wednesday it cleared the mystery up.

"The indiscriminate firing of rockets on civilian targets wounded 21 persons and one hit the Palestinian West Bank. Among the rockets fired was a long-distance Khaybar II. Targeting civilians or unnecessarily endangering them is a war crime."


His site also provided the link to the above graphic.

Robert Fisk Reports From Lebanon on the Israeli Bombing of Qana That Killed 57, Including 37 Children
























Robert Fisk:
"When I arrived there, there were a number of, maybe 20, 30 children, the corpses of children, lined up outside the government hospital, hair matted, still in their
night clothes. The bomb that killed them was dropped at 1:00 in the morning. And they ran out of plastic bags.


"They were trying to put the children in plastic bags, their corpses, and they would put on it, you know, 'Abbas Mehdi, aged seven,' and so and so, aged one, and use a kind of sticking tape on it. But then they ran out of plastic bags, so they had to put the children's corpses in a kind of cheap carpet that you can buy in the supermarkets, and they roll them up in that and then put their names on again. I was having to go around very carefully and write down, from the Arabic, their names and their ages. It would just say 'Abbas Mehdi, aged seven, Qana.'

"And, of course, every time I saw the 'Qana,' I remember that I was actually in Qana ten years ago when the massacre occurred there then."

Watch/read/listen to part 1 here.
Watch/read/listen to part 2 here.

See also by Robert Fisk: A NATO-led force would be in Israel's interests, but not Lebanon's

Israel Launches Massive Ground Invasion of Lebanon

Day 20

Lebanese dead - at least 577 confirmed, could be up to 750. Israeli dead - 51.

Israel bombs and shells southern Lebanon despite announced halt in air raids.

Rescue workers find 28 bodies buried for days in destroyed buildings in three Lebanese villages.

UN postpones a meeting on Lebanon peacekeeping force indefinitely.

Bush says he will seek UN action this week to end the fighting.

Clashes near Aita Al-Shaab leave four Hizbollah fighters dead and three Israelis wounded.



Democracy Now!
reports: "Israel has sent as many as 18,000 troops into Lebanon as part of a massive ground invasion. The ground assault comes as Israel continues to bomb areas around South Lebanon. A Lebanese official said Israel is carrying out an 'unprecedented' air attack on the ancient city of Ba'albek.

"The assault began late Tuesday -- three hours before the end of Israel’s announced two-day pause to the bombing. The raid of Baalbek marked Israel's deepest known incursion into Lebanon in twelve years. Meanwhile, three Israeli soldiers and an unknown number of Hezbollah fighters were killed in clashes near the Israel-Lebanon border.

"Hezbollah launched more than sixty missiles into Israel today, after firing just eight on Tuesday. It was the furthest Hezbollah had fired since fighting began last month. Tens of thousands of Lebanese refugees are expected to once again be displaced as the Israeli bombing intensifies, and many Lebanese villages have yet to receive desperately needed aid.

"Mohamad Bazzi is the Middle East Bureau Chief for Newsday. He was born in Lebanon and lived there for the first ten years of his life. He joins us on the line from Beirut."

Listen to/watch/read the full piece here.

The Israel War on Lebanon today

Democracy Now! reports the following today:

Up to 18,000 Israeli Troops Invade Lebanon
Israel has sent as many as 18,000 troops into Lebanon as part of a massive ground invasion. An Israeli military official told the Washington Post the number of troops could soon triple.


Israel Bombs Hospital, Homes in Baalbek Strikes
The ground assault comes as Israel continues to bomb areas around South Lebanon. A Lebanese official said Israel is carrying out an “unprecedented” air attack on the ancient city of Baalbek. The assault began late Tuesday -- three hours before the end of Israel’s announced two-day pause to the bombing. At least twelve civilians were killed in an Israeli air strike in a nearby village. Five family members were found dead in their collapsed home.

Witnesses said Israel bombed Baalbek’s main hospital, which was already filled with wounded patients.

The raid of Baalbek marked Israel’s deepest known incursion into Lebanon in twelve years, when Israeli forces abducted a Lebanese militant leader it later released in a prisoner exchange. Meanwhile, three Israeli soldiers and an unknown number of Hezbollah fighters were killed in clashes near the Israel-Lebanon border.

Hezbollah Fires 63 Rockets At Israel
Hezbollah launched at least 63 rockets into Israel today, after firing just eight on Tuesday. An Israeli man was killed when a rocket struck close to the Israeli town of Nahariya. Meanwhile, a Hezbollah rocket landed in an open area near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. It was the furthest Hezbollah strike since fighting began last month.

(We pray for the families of all the dead and wounded, regardless of nationality.)