UN Launches Emergency Appeal For Lebanon

The United Nations has launched an emergency appeal for the international community to help the people of Lebanon. This comes as Israel’s bombardment of the country enters its 14th day. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said $150 million is urgently needed.

  • Jan Egeland: There is an explosive escalation in the suffering of the civilian population. I would estimate that there are tens of thousands of new displaced and refugees everyday now. All the schools in the entire country are filling up now, like this school, with desperate people who are fleeing from the bombardment. It has to stop.

U.S. To Give $30 Million in Aid to Lebanon
The U.S. vowed to give $30 million. The aid package to help the Lebanese people is a fraction of the $2.3 billion dollars that the U.S. gives Israel in military aid a year.

UN Warns Humanitarian Crisis is Worsening
The United Nations is warning that the humanitarian situation in Lebanon will only worsen as the fighting continues. About 800,000 people have already been forced to flee their homes. 150,000 Lebanese residents have left for Syria. Food, water, fuel and medical supplies are running out in parts of the country. The UN said entire communities have been cut off from the world because Israel has systematically destroyed the country’s networks of roads and bridges.

Human Rights Watch: Israel Using Cluster Bombs in Lebanon
Meanwhile Peter Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch has told Democracy Now that he has uncovered evidence that Israel fired cluster bombs at civilian populations last week in the Lebanese village of Bilda.

  • Peter Bouckaert: "In this one attack that we documented one elderly woman was killed and twelve people were wounded from one family, including seven children. The husband of the family lost both of his legs, and I interviewed him in the hospital two days ago. So we’re very concerned that Israel is using these indiscriminate weapons, cluster bombs, in populated areas. It’s simply not acceptable and is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, because these are indiscriminate and very, very dangerous weapons."

Human Rights Watch says the U.S. provided Israel with cluster bombs in the past but the ones used last week might have been made in Israel.

Israeli PM Olmert Vows Attacks Will Continue
On the diplomatic front, the United States is coming under increasing criticism for refusing to back an immediate ceasefire. Earlier today Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He vowed the attacks would continue.

  • Ehud Olmert: "And Israel is determined to carry on the fight against Hezbollah. We’ll reach out for them. We’ll stop them. And we will not hesitate to take the most severe measures against those who are aiming thousands of rockets and missiles against innocent civilians for one purpose–to kill them."

Condoleezza Rice Dismisses Calls For Immediate Ceasefire
Rice also met with top Lebanese officials in Beirut on Monday but they failed to reach an agreement. Rice said there would be no cease-fire unless Hezbollah released two captured Israeli soldiers and withdrew its forces approximately 30 miles from the border. The Lebanese government rejected the offer saying they wanted a two-step process. First, an immediate ceasefire and negotiations for a prisoner swap. And then discussions to work out a solution to the situation in south Lebanon. Speaking in Israel, Rice dismissed calls for an immediate ceasefire.

  • Condoleezza Rice: "If we have learned anything is that any peace would have to be based on enduring principals and not on temporary solutions. We will talk about how to get to an enduring a cessation of violence, how to deal with the significant humanitarian problems that are currently facing the people of Lebanon."

Rice also suggested the United States and Israel is in the process of trying to reshape the Middle East.

  • Condoleezza Rice: "We need always to be cognizant of and looking to what kind of Middle East we are trying to build. It is time for a new Middle East. It is time to say to those who do not want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail. They will not."

Syria Slams U.S. Stance on Israel-Lebanon War
Meanwhile at the United Nations, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari criticized the U.S. for failing to help end the bloodshed.

  • Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations: "The American position now, bypasses the Israeli position, by its intransigence. So, when Kofi Annan for instance, calls for a ceasefire, the American ambassador to the U.N. says no. When the French calls for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor the American delegate says no. When Kofi Annan says Syria and Iran should be involved in the negotiations for finding out a settlement of what’s going on, Mr. Bush says no. There is a paradox, in my own opinion the American diplomacy is isolating itself."

The Guardian newspaper of London is reporting US, European, Israeli and Arab leaders are expected to agree in Rome tomorrow on creating a coalition force to go into southern Lebanon under the banner of the United Nations to help end hostilities. But it remains unclear what countries will provide troops.

I Buildings in Beirut Will Be Destroyed After Every Rocket Hits Israel
On Monday, Israeli army chief of staff Dan Halutz warned that Israel would bomb 10 buildings in south Beirut every time Hezbollah fires another missile into Israel.

Israeli Ground Troops Fight Hezbollah Fighters
The Israeli air force struck about 70 targets across the country. Four UN peacekeepers were wounded in one of the attacks. Early this morning an Israeli missile hit a house in the town of Nabatiyeh killing seven people. The death toll in Lebanon stands at about 400. Intense ground battles are also continuing between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah also fired more than 100 rockets into northern Israel. 13 Israelis were injured.

Israeli Shells Kill Five Palestinians in Gaza
Meanwhile In Gaza, Israeli shells killed five people. Hospital officials said the dead included a 60-year-old grandmother, her 11-year-old grandson and a four-year-old girl. Palestinians have called for a general strike and "a day of rage" today to protest Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region. Palestinian activist Omar Assaf said, "She is responsible for the killing of children in Lebanon and Gaza. She, her administration, and her policies are not welcome here."

Jose Bove On The Failure of WTO Trade Talks
In other news — the latest round of trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization have failed. Analysts say this marks a serious blow to the Bush administration’s international economic agenda. The French farmer and anti-corporate globalization activist, Jose Bove, hailed the news.

  • Jose Bove: "I think this failure first represents the failure of a system. The World Trade Organisation has tried to integrate all human activities, including agriculture, but during the 20 years agriculture has been integrated to global trade negotiations, they failed every time because the majority of the world people refuses that agriculture be integrated as a good. The second reason of this failure is the selfishness of rich countries. The United States and European Union want to open southern countries’ markets in the interests of their multinational corporations. This doesn’t work anymore."

Bush Meets With Iraqi PM Maliki in Washington
In Washington, President Bush is scheduled to meet today with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. On Monday Maliki warned that Israel’s actions in Lebanon will lead to further extremism in the Middle East.

NATO Commander: Afghanistan is "Close to Anarchy"
In Afghanistan a senior British military commander says the country is "close to anarchy. " The warning comes from Lieutenant General David Richards–the head of NATO’s international security force in Afghanistan. He said feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies has been compounding problems caused by local corruption. On Monday, hundreds of Taliban fighters attacked a government building in western Afghanistan. Three police officers were killed. Seven people were wounded.

Report: U.S. Still Abusing Prisoners in Iraq
A new report from Human Rights Watch has determined that U.S. forces are still abusing prisoners in Iraq as part of their standard operating procedure. The report was based in part on interviews with U.S. soldiers. Soldiers reported that prisoners at one camp were regularly stripped naked and subjected to beatings, forced exercises, severe sleep deprivation and various forms of degrading and humiliating treatment.

Senate Prepares to Vote on John Bolton Nomination
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be holding hearings on Thursday on the nomination of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. Last year President Bush gave Bolton a recess appointment after he failed to win enough support in the Senate. Democrats are expected to fight the nomination but one of Bolton’s top critics in the Republican party — Sen. George Voinovich, of Ohio — says he will now support him.

White House Slashes Number of IRS Lawyers Auditing the Super Rich
In economic news, the New York Times has revealed that the federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans. The cuts are specifically focused on estate tax lawyers — those who audit the taxes of the wealthy when they transfer their fortunes to their children and others. One veteran I.R.S. estate tax lawyer called the job cuts a back-door way for the White House to repeal the estate tax — even though the Bush administration doesn’t have the support of Congress.

Senate to Vote on Controversial Abortion Bill
In other news from Capitol Hill, the Senate is expected to vote today on a bill that would make it illegal for anyone to accompany a young woman across state lines for an abortion without notifying her parents. The bill is called the Child Custody Protection Act. Under the bill a grandparent, clergy member or relative could face criminal charges for helping a young woman get an abortion.

5 Ploughshares Anti-War Activists Acquitted in Ireland
And in Ireland, five Catholic peace activists have been acquitted for damaging a U.S. fighter plane on its way to Iraq. The activists, known as the Pit Stop Ploughshares, entered into Shannon Airport three years ago and used household hammers to damage a U.S. Navy logistics plane. The activists faced up to 10 years in prison. Shannon airport has been the center of anti-war protests in Ireland. On average over a thousand U.S. troops pass through the airport each day.

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