Israel’s Security Cabinet has unanimously agreed to expand and deepen its ground attack in Southern Lebanon. The country is preparing to call up 15,000 more Army reservists and Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected international calls for an immediate ceasefire.
On Sunday night, the U.S. State Department announced Israel would stop bombing Southern Lebanon for 48 hours, but Israel resumed air strikes within a few hours.
At the United Nations, Lebanon’s Acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri criticized Israel and the United States for rejecting an immediate ceasefire.
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri also called on the international community to investigate the Israeli bombing in Qana that killed about 57 civilians including 37 children.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour strongly condemned the Israeli bombing of Qana and said an independent investigation is needed. The International Committee of the Red Cross criticized what it described as the recurring lack of respect for international humanitarian law by both Israel and Hizbollah. Protests over the bombing of Qana were held throughout the Muslim world including in Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan.
In Southern Lebanon rescue workers continue to dig up bodies buried under the rubble of houses bombed over the past three weeks. Lebanon’s Health Ministry estimates there are at least 200 unrecovered bodies. The remains of 40 civilians were uncovered on Monday.
Thousands of civilians in Tyre and Bint Jbeil fled their homes on Monday. Residents in Bint Jbeil reported spending the last week without food or water. “There is no Bint Jbeil anymore. All Bint Jbeil was ruined,” said survivors in the town. “Our neighborhood was the most destroyed of Bint Jbeil.” The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid describes Bint Jbeil as “a forsaken panorama of destruction and devastation.”
Meanwhile on Monday President Bush dismissed calls for what he described as “stopping for the sake of stopping.” He connected Israel’s fight against Hizbollah to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Israeli military officials have told the paper that they have received indications from the United States that the Bush administration wants Israel to attack Syria. On Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the country’s military to raise its readiness. Israel has been repeatedly bombing sites in Lebanon along the Syrian border.
The United Nations Environment Program is expressing “grave concern” over a massive oil spill off the Lebanese coast in the Mediterranean Sea. The spill occurred when Israel bombed a Lebanese power station. Scientists say that almost as much oil may has entered the water as during the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker incident in Alaska. The oil spill now covers 50 miles of the Lebanese coast.
Cuban President Fidel Castro has temporarily handed over power to his brother, Raul. The 79-year-old Castro was forced to undergo surgery for intestinal bleeding. This marks the first time he has temporarily relinquished power since he became president in 1959. The 75-year-old Raul Casto is Cuba’s defense minister and first vice president. Under Cuba’s constitution, he is first in line to take over from the president in case of incapacitating illness or death. In Miami thousands of opponents of Fidel Castro celebrated last night after learning of his illness.
The Bush administration has already begun laying plans to help a pro-American leader take power after the death of Castro. Last month the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba produced a report calling on the US to spend millions of dollars supporting opponents of Castro. The promised funding has been billed as “democracy promotion.” Critics say it will work to undermine Cuba’s government the same way that US democracy funding has destabilized regimes in other countries such as Haiti and Venezuela.
In Iraq, a series of bomb attacks in Iraq have killed at least 44 people. 20 Iraqi soldiers traveling on a bus died in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad. Another 14 peopple died in a suicide car bombing in Baghdad.
In Mexico, several hundred thousand protesters are camping out throughout Mexico City to show support for a full recount in last month’s presidential election. Presidential runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for the massive protest during a demonstration on Sunday that attracted up to 2 million people. The protests have brought the city’s business district to standstill.
The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution that gives Iran until August 31st to suspend its uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel reprocessing activities or face possible economic sanctions. This marks the first time that the Security Council has made legally binding demands on Iran regarding its nuclear program.
In Iran, a student dissident has died in jail while on a hunger strike. The student, Akbar Mohammadi, was arrested six years ago for taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations. He is the first political dissident known to have died in prison in Iran in many years.
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller has retired from the Army. On Monday he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, one of the Army’s highest honors. Miller is the general who oversaw the interrogation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. While at Guantanmo, Miller implemented a number of harsh interrogation tactics that included the use of dogs, the stripping of prisoners naked and the shackling of prisoners in stress positions to force them to talk. Such tactics later were used in Iraq. Miller had originally tried to retire in February but he was denied his request because there were a series of investigations and courts-martial underway. Army experts say it now appears unlikely that Miller will face any disciplinary action in connection with the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have agreed to work together to help fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting low carbon technologies. The two met at a summit on climate change in California. The meetings were also attended by the heads of 25 major corporations including BP, Dupont and Goldman Sachs. The Bush administration decided not to send a representative to the meeting. On Tuesday Schwarzenegger said the debate over global warming is over and that California can’t wait for the Bush administration to take action.
In news from Washington, the House of Representatives has voted to increase the federal minimum wage by two dollars and ten cents. However, the bill is being criticized because Republican lawmakers added on a measure that would also extend cuts to the Estate Tax for the wealthiest Americans.
ABC Television has announced it is canceling plans to work with Mel Gibson’s production company to make a miniseries about the Holocaust. Gibson, who directed “The Passion of the Christ,” was arrested on Friday for drunk driving. At the time of his arrest Gibson reportedly unleashed an anti-Semitic tirade. He asked the arresting officer “Are you a Jew.” He then said “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”