Thursday, November 24
Behind the phosphorus clouds are war crimes within war crimes
We now know the US also used thermobaric weapons in its assault on Falluja, where up to 50,000 civilians remained
George Monbiot, November 22, 2005, The Guardian
The media couldn't have made a bigger pig's ear of the white phosphorus story. So, before moving on to the new revelations from Falluja, I would like to try to clear up the old ones. There is no hard evidence that white phosphorus was used against civilians. The claim was made in a documentary broadcast on the Italian network RAI, called Falluja: the Hidden Massacre. It claimed that the corpses in the pictures it ran "showed strange injuries, some burnt to the bone, others with skin hanging from their flesh ... The faces have literally melted away, just like other parts of the body. The clothes are strangely intact." These assertions were supported by a human-rights advocate who, it said, possessed "a biology degree".
I, too, possess a biology degree, and I am as well qualified to determine someone's cause of death as I am to perform open-heart surgery. So I asked Chris Milroy, professor of forensic pathology at the University of Sheffield, to watch the film. He reported that "nothing indicates to me that the bodies have been burnt". They had turned black and lost their skin "through decomposition". We don't yet know how these people died.
But there is hard evidence that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon against combatants in Falluja.
As this column revealed last Tuesday, US infantry officers confessed that they had used it to flush out insurgents.
A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC that white phosphorus "was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants". He claimed "it is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal." This denial has been accepted by most of the mainstream media. UN conventions, the Times said, "ban its use on civilian but not military targets". But the word "civilian" does not occur in the chemical weapons convention. The use of the toxic properties of a chemical as a weapon is illegal, whoever the target is.
Murtha's lips are moving, but is it the uniformed military that's really speaking?
By Joshua Holland,November 24, 2005, AlterNet
There's much analysis out there about what might have motivated a hawk like John Murtha to come out against the war.
I think what we're seeing is the uniformed military saying "enough," and Murtha's the messenger.
I want to highlight a point Jim McDermott -- a Dem who's been against the war from the get-go -- made when we chatted about the war back in August.
I asked him how he saw us eventually getting out of Iraq, given the administration's stubborn refusal to face up to the facts of its failed policy. He told me:
… when you talk about how do you get out of Iraq, I think ultimately we're going to get out of Iraq by some mechanism of the military saying, 'You know something, you're going to destroy the military if you keep this up. We're having desertions, our enlistment rate is bad, you won't have a draft--you won't consider a draft to fill out the ranks--you're ruining the reserves, you're ruining the National Guard' … The military at some point is going to get to him. I don't know who it'll be, but somebody's going to come in and say, 'Mr. President, Mr. Rumsfeld does not know what he's talking about. Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cheney have led you down a dark alley and there's no way out except to just back out.
You ultimately either believe your professional military people or you don't, and I believe there'll be a point where they come to him and say, 'look, you're destroying it, and it's going to be a long time putting it back together'--I think that's true anyway--but I think there's going to be a point where they say, 'You just cannot continue to do this.'
Given the reports of the president's increasingly insular inner-circle, there wasn't going to be that brave officer throwing his career away to tell the emperor that he has no clothes. So they did the next best thing -- they went directly to the public through the most hawkish of highly-decorated war-hero legislators.
Monday, November 21
Hillary Clinton's Junket to Israel
Off She Goes
By JOSHUA FRANK, Counterpunch, November 14, 2005
There really is no way of getting around it. Senator Hillary Clinton may well be future presidential material after all.
Senator Clinton, along with her husband Bill, paid a visit to Israel this past weekend. The former President Clinton was a featured speaker at a mass rally that marked the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It was Hillary's second visit to Israel since she was elected to office in 2000. In fact, I think the senator has visited Israel more times in the past four years than she's been to visit her constituents where I reside here in Upstate New York.
The Senator did manage to take time out of her voyage to meet with Ariel Sharon to discuss "security matters." Hillary also made her way to the great apartheid wall, which separates Palestine from Israel. As of now, the barrier is about two-thirds complete, and when all is said and done the monstrosity will stretch to well over 400 miles in length.
Palestinians rightly criticize the obtrusive wall on the grounds that it cuts them off from disputed land in the West Bank. Thousands have also been cut off from their jobs, schools, and essential farmland.
Hillary and her Israeli allies just don't get it. When you put powerless Palestinians behind a wall where life in any real economic sense is unattainable, you wreak pain and anguish, which in turn leads to more anger and resentment toward Israel's brutal policies. Indeed, the wall will not prove to be a deterrent to resistance, but an inciter of defiance.
Verena Vlajo, 24, from Austria talks to a reporter about being the first-ever woman to participate in the World Cyber Games competition, in Singapore. Billed as the world's biggest video gaming festival, the World Cyber Games being held here is testimony to a multi-billion dollar industry that analysts say now rivals music and movies in the popularity stakes.(AFP/File/Roslan Rahman)
Thursday, November 3
Civil Suit Goes To Court: A Scorned Lover, Glue And A Naked Man
Channel 4 Action News, Novemeber 2, 2005
WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. -- Gail O'Toole was convicted of simple assault and sentenced to six months probation for acts she committed against her ex-lover.
On Wednesday, the civil suit went to court, where O'Toole's ex-boyfriend claimed her 'outrageous' and 'inhumane' acts are worth thousands in damages.
Ken Slaby said he was in love with O'Toole five years ago.
He even admitted he was devastated when O'Toole broke it off.
So, when O'Toole invited him over to her Murrysville home to rekindle a friendship, he said he agreed.
Slaby said O'Toole even went to his house in Pittsburgh to pick him up.
But according to Slaby, the night took a turn when O'Toole got angry about Slaby's new love.
Slaby said O'Toole waited until he fell asleep and glued his penis to his stomach, glued his testicle to his leg and glued the cheeks of his buttocks together.
Then came the nail polish.
Slaby claimed O'Toole dumped it all over his head.
When he woke up, Slaby said O'Toole threw him out.
He didn't have a car, so he was forced to walk one mile down Route 22 to call 911 and Murrysville police, Slaby said.
When asked if in his 23 years as a police officer he had seen anything like this, Patrolman Joseph Malone of the Murrysville Police Department said, 'No, I can't say I have.'
At the hospital, oils did little to remove the glue. Nurses actually had to peel it off.
Slaby underwent treatment from a dermatologist several times afterward.
O'Toole's attorney said this was part of routine sexual activity between the couple -- acts that he agreed to -- incidents that should have stayed in the bedroom.
But Slaby said O'Toole told him she planned the acts since the break up. According to Slaby, O'Toole came up with script and followed it to the letter because she was angry that he had moved on.
Slaby said his injuries included severe burning on parts of his body, impingement of normal bodily functions and discoloration of his hair.
The 10 men and two women on the jury can award Slaby $30,000 or more.
Their decision is expected late on Thursday.