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Death Toll in Lebanon Tops 1,000; 90% Civilians

The death toll in Lebanon from Israel’s attacks has now topped one thousand. According to the Lebanese government more than 90 percent of the dead have been civilians. Lebanon’s High Relief Committee estimates another thirty-four hundred people have been injured and one quarter of the country has been displaced from their homes. Meanwhile about 75 Israelis have been killed since the conflict began 27 days ago. On Sunday, Israel suffered its single deadliest blow yet when a rocket fired by Hezbollah killed 12 soldiers near the Lebanon border. Another three Israelis died in rocket attacks on the city of Haifa.

Israeli Military Official: "Lebanon Will Be Dark For a Few Years"

The Israeli military is reportedly planning to ramp up its attacks on Lebanon by targeting more of the civilian infrastructure as well as symbols of the Lebanese government. One military official told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, "It could be that at the end of the story, Lebanon will be dark for a few years."

Dozens Feared Buried Alive in Southern Lebanon

Earlier today Israeli air strikes destroyed several houses in the south Lebanon border village of Houla. Dozens of civilians are feared buried under the rubble.

Israeli Strike Kills 33 Farm Workers Near Syrian Border

On Saturday, Israeli war planes bombed a farm on Lebanon’s border with Syria. The attack killed at least 33 farm workers. It was one of the deadliest attacks in Lebanon so far.

Israel Warns All Residents of Lebanon’s Third Largest City to Leave

Israel has also begun dropping leaflets on the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon urging all residents to leave. Sidon is Lebanon’s third largest city with a population of over 200,000.

U.S. Resolution Would Allow Israel to Stay in Lebanon

On the diplomatic front, efforts by the United Nations Security Council to secure a ceasefire appear to be faltering. On Saturday the United States and France announced they had agreed on a draft resolution. But Lebanon and other Arab states rejected the proposal. This is Lebanon’s special envoy to the United Nations Nouhad Mahmoud.

  • Nouhad Mahmoud: "We appreciate all the efforts made to come up with this draft but unfortunately it lacked for instance a call for withdrawal of Israeli forces which are now in Lebanon, and that’s recipe for more confrontation."

Lebanon’s envoy Nouhad Mahmoud also said the resolution must order the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Shebaa Farms. Lebanon accused the U.S. of drafting a resolution slanted toward Israel. Meanwhile Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Security Council to quickly approve the resolution. She said its passage will determine "who’s for peace and who isn’t."

Report: Israel Allowing Rocket Attacks to Give It "A Sort of Moral Equivalency"

On the military front, Thomas Ricks, a top reporter for the Washington Post, has said that Israel is purposely not bombing all of Hezbollah’s rocket launchers. Sources have told him that the Israeli military feels that if Hezbollah continues to fire rockets at Israel it gives Israel a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.

Up to 100,000 Protest in London Against Israeli Attacks

Protests against Israel’s attack on Lebanon occurred around the world this weekend. In London, the Stop the War Coalition said as many as 100,000 demonstrators marched to call on Tony Blair to back an immediate ceasefire. Demonstrators were urged to pile children’s shoes near Blair’s residence to protest the large number of children killed so far. Protests were also held in Capetown, Cairo, Indonesia and Morocco.

5,000 Israelis Protest in Tel Aviv Against Attacks

In Israel, over 5,000 protesters marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to condemn the attack on Lebanon. The protest was one of the largest in Israel since the attacks on Lebanon began. Demonstrators called on Israel to negotiate with Hizbollah.

  • Israeli Protester: "Hizbollah kidnapped two soldiers and Israel started a stupid war instead of talking to Hizbollah like it demanded. And we are protesting against those stupid acts. Israel is murdering people every day and we disagree."

The protesters also encouraged Israeli soldiers to disobey orders in Lebanon.

Reporter: Israeli Fighter Pilots Deliberately Missing Targets

The Observer newspaper reports that at least two Israeli fighter pilots have deliberately missed bombing targets in Lebanon because they were concerned they were being ordered to bomb civilians.

Israeli Military Abducts Speaker of Palestinian Parliament

In the Occupied Territories, the Israeli military has abducted the speaker of the Palestinian parliament. Aziz Dweik was seized on Saturday after Israeli soldiers surrounded his home in the West Bank. Israel defended the arrest of the high-ranking official because Dweik is a member of Hamas. In June, Israel seized eight Palestinian government ministers and 26 legislators. Most of them remain in jail.

UNICEF Warns of Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

In Gaza, the aid organization UNICEF is warning the region is facing a humanitarian crisis. This is UNICEF Special Representative Dan Rohrmann.

  • Dan Rohrmann: "I just returned from Gaza and the situation there is quite dramatic for the children. And It is understandable that the international media is paying attention to what goes on in Lebanon right now, because there you have a humanitarian disaster. But I can tell you that for the children in Gaza the eight hundred and forty thousand, the humanitarian crisis there is very real to them."

Palestinian Government spokesperson Ghazi Hamad accused Israel of waging a war against the people of Gaza.

  • Ghazi Hamad: "What happening in Rafah is something that is critical, because we feel that there is a comprehensive war against the people, against civilians and against their buildings so we think that in the last two days we lost about 15 people in the last aggression attack"

Palestinian Cultural Activists Call for Israeli Boycott

Meanwhile over 100 Palestinian cultural activists have begun distributing a letter urging artists and filmmakers to participate in an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The letter reads in part "Like the boycott of South African art institutions during apartheid, cultural workers must speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities."

Reuters Suspends Photographer For Doctoring Photo

In other news from the region, the Reuters news agency has suspended a photographer for manipulating a photo of the bombing of Beirut. The photo was doctored to make the smoke look darker and thicker.

Mexico’s Electoral Tribunal Rejects Full Recount

In Mexico, an electoral tribunal has rejected calls to conduct a vote-by-vote recount of the recent presidential election. Presidential runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for protests to continue in Mexico City to demand a full recount.

  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: "We are not in agreement (with the electoral court decision) because we are clearly demanding that all the votes be recounted, vote by vote, ballot box by ballot box."

Over the past two weeks, supporters of Lopez Obrador have virtually shut down parts of Mexico City by setting up street blockades and tent cities in the middle of the capital city. On Sunday thousands of supporters of Lopez Obrador took to the streets to form a human chain along miles of Mexico City’s streets. Lopez Obrador’s chances of being declared the winner are not over. The electoral commission has agreed to conduct ballot-by-ballot recounts in about one-tenth of the country’s polling places.

U.S. Sends 3,700 More Troops Into Baghdad

In Iraq, the U.S. is sending 3,700 more troops into Baghdad to help contain the increasing violence. An average of 100 people are dying a day in Baghdad. Last week General John Abizaid, the top US military commander in Iraq, admitted that Baghdad is now more violent than ever. The general warned that Iraq could be moving toward civil war.

U.S. Military Opens Hearing on Rape/Murder Case

In other news on Iraq, the U.S. military has opened a military hearing for the five Army soldiers who allegedly raped and murdered a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killed her family in the town of Mahmudiya. On Sunday, an Iraqi doctor testified about what he saw after he was called to the girl’s home. The doctor said the young girl was raped and shot in the head, just under her left eye. Her parents and her five-year-old sister were also shot to dead. The doctor said he was ill for weeks after witnessing the crime scene.

Cuba Gov’t: Castro Will Be Back to Work Soon

Cuban President Fidel Castro is reportedly recovering from surgery and will back to work soon. On Sunday Cuban vice president Carlos Lage said, "In a few weeks he’ll be recovered and he’ll return to his duties." Last week Castro temporarily handed over power to his brother Raul. Meanwhile the Bush administration has sent a message to the people of Cuba. The statement from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was beamed into Cuba on the U.S.-government run Radio and TV Marti.

  • Condoleezza Rice: "The United States respects your aspirations as sovereign citizens and we will stand with you to secure your rights, to speak as you choose, to think as you please, to worship as you wish and to choose your leaders freely and fairly in democratic elections. All Cubans who desire peaceful democratic change can count on the support of the United States."

Meanwhile the Miami Herald reports the Bush administration is increasing its broadcasts into Cuba.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales Opens Constitutional Convention

In Bolivia, president Evo Morales has opened up a constitutional convention to rewrite the country’s constitution. Supporters of Morales have vowed to adopt measures to benefit the majority indigenous population. Portions of the country’s economic elite have opposed the moves.

45,000 Mark Atomic Bombing Anniversary in Hiroshima

In Japan, about 45,000 people attended a memorial at the Hiroshima Peace Park to mark the 61st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bomb attack on the city. Hiroshima’s Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba called on the international community to abolish all nuclear weapons.

  • Tadatoshi Akiba: "The only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished And yet the world’s political leaders continue to ignore these voices."

Memorials are also scheduled for Wednesday to mark the bombing of Nagasaki. Over 200,000 people died in the atomic bombings of the two cities.

Republican Congressman Bob Ney Will Not Seek Re-election

In political news, Republican Congressman Bob Ney has reportedly decided not to seek re-election. In May, the House Ethics Committee announced an investigation into bribery allegations against Ney who has been linked to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Lieberman-Lamont Race Enters Final Day of Campaign

In Connecticut, Senator Joseph Lieberman and the millionaire TV executive Ned Lamont have entered their last full day of campaigning before Tuesday’s Democratic primary. On Sunday Lieberman tried to distance himself from President Bush. He said he was the only Democrat in America to twice run against Bush in a national election. Lamont has campaigned as an anti-war candidate but he has openly joined Lieberman in supporting Israel’s attacks on Lebanon. Lamont said "when Israel’s security is threatened, the United States must unambiguously stand with our ally to be sure that it is safe and secure." One recent poll showed Lamont leading Lieberman by 13 percentage points.

Cindy Sheehan Returns to Crawford, Texas to Protest Bush

Cindy Sheehan has returned to Crawford Texas to hold another series of protests outside of President Bush’s estate. Last year Sheehan became the face of the country’s anti-war movement after she set up Camp Casey. It was named after her 24-year-old son who died in Iraq. President Bush arrived in Crawford on Thursday for a 10-day vacation. Meanwhile in Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair has postponed his summer vacation in order to deal with the crisis in the Middle East.

Newly Reformed Students for a Democratic Society Hold Nat’l Convention

In Chicago, the newly reformed Students for a Democratic Society held its first national convention this weekend in 37 years. The original SDS was founded in 1960 and played an instrumental role in protesting the war in Vietnam. Student organizers reformed SDS this past January and new chapters have sprung up on campuses across the country.

Book: Bush Didn’t Know Difference Between Shiites and Sunnis

And finally a new book by former U.S. ambassador Peter Galbraith has raised questions about President Bush’s understanding of the Middle East. According to Galbraith, the president didn’t understand as recently as 2002 that there were two major branches of Islam in Iraq — Sunnis and Shiites. At a meeting with Iraqi Americans the president reportedly said, "I thought the Iraqis were Muslims."


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