The ceasefire in Lebanon continues to hold in its third day. But there are growing questions over how long it will last. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a Senior Israeli military official said today the Israeli army may stay in south Lebanon for months until an international force is deployed. The Washington Post is reporting Hezbollah has rejected withdrawing from South Lebanon but says it is open to a compromise of pulling back its fighters so long as the Lebanese army does not heavily search its bunkers and operation centers. Israel and the US insist the ceasefire must lead to a full Hezbollah withdrawal from south Lebanon.
Israel continues its blockade of Lebanese ports and has warned residents not to head south of the Litani. On Tuesday, Israel dropped leaflets warning residents south Lebanon will: “remain dangerous” before the deployment of international forces. Thousands of Lebanese are ignoring the threats and making their way home.
As thousands return to their homes, Lebanon continues to bury its dead. On Tuesday, a mass burial was held for thirty-nine people killed in Tyre. Earlier today, workers dug another grave there that will hold an estimated one hundred bodies.
Lebanon is facing a massive rebuilding effort. On Tuesday, the Centre for Economic Research in Beirut said repair and reconstruction costs will rise above $7 billion dollars. The costliest repairs will be for Lebanon’s roads and bridges. According to the Guardian of London, Israel bombed more than 94 roads and 70 bridges during its attack. At least 10,000 homes are believed to have been damaged or left in ruins. Last week, the Beirut Daily Star reported more than nine hundred small and medium-sized business were destroyed, causing an estimated $200 million dollars in damage.
Meanwhile, an official working on the clean-up of the massive oil spill off Lebanon’s coast said Tuesday Lebanon is dealing with the biggest environmental problem in the Mediterranean. More than 15,000 tons of oil have leaked into the sea following Israel’s attack on a power station last month.
In Syria, President Bashar Al Assad discussed the Lebanon war Tuesday in his first major speech since the conflict began. Assad said Israel and the US are to blame for stalling peace in the region and said Hezbollah has won a major victory.
The government of Sri Lanka is drawing international condemnation for declaring that children can be legitimate targets in its fight against Tamil Tiger rebels. The declaration followed a military strike Monday that the Tigers say killed at least sixty-one children and wounded dozens more. UNICEF has condemned the bombing and says it believes the victims were schoolchildren attending a first aid course. The military says the children were conscripted child soldiers. A Sri Lankan government spokesperson said: “If the children are terrorists, what can we do?”
In the Occupied Territories, two activists with the International Solidarity Movement remain hospitalized after coming under fire from the Israeli military. Rina Klauman of Denmark and Lymor Goldstein, an Israeli, were shot Friday as they took part in a demonstration in the West Bank village of Bilin. They were among a group of Arabs, Israelis and foreign nationals protesting the confiscation of the village’s farmland by Israel’s separation barrier.
In other news, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting the Bush administration has been pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dismiss the entire Hamas-led cabinet. Abbas has rejected the demand.
Meanwhile, the chief of staff of the Israeli military is facing internal criticism after it was revealed he sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of stock within hours of last month’s Hezbollah raid that captured two Israeli soldiers. Dan Halutz, head of the Israel Defence Force, reportedly initiated the sale just as senior military and political figures began discussing Israel’s response to the raid. Collette Avital, a Labour member of the Knesset, said: “The country burnt and all that interested him was his investment portfolio.
In Iraq, eight people are dead and at least twenty-eight wounded in an attack in Baghdad earlier today.
Meanwhile, new figures show last month was the deadliest of the Iraq war on record. According to Iraq’s Health ministry and the Baghdad morgue, nearly thirty-four hundred and thirty Iraqis died in violence in July — an average of more than one hundred and ten people per day.
The New York Times is reporting President Bush has privately expressed frustration about the progress of the war in Iraq and the lack of public support for the US occupation. Citing participants in Monday’s gathering at the White House, the New York Times says “the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd.”
The British government is reportedly considering an airport screening system that would include identifying passengers by their ethnic or religious background. The idea is drawing criticism from Arab and Muslim groups who claim they’ll inevitably come under the most scrutiny. Some British police officials are also criticizing the measure. Ali Desai, a British Muslim police superintendent, said: “What you are suggesting is that we should have a new offence in this country called 'travelling while Asian.'”
In Toronto, the Bush administration has come under heavy criticism from the UN’s top official for AIDS policy. Speaking Tuesday at the 16th International AIDS Conference, UN Special Envoy on Aids Stephen Lewis _said the administration is practicing “incipient neo-colonialism” by making demands _on how African countries fight the disease. Lewis singled out the White House’s emphasis on abstinence education.
Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton also spoke and called on _Western countries to increase funding for research.
Here in this country, there is news of more scrutiny of Video News Releases — corporate propaganda that is presented as real “news” to unknowing audiences. The Federal Communications Commission has sent letters to nearly eighty television broadcasters asking whether they have properly identified video news releases, or VNRs, before putting them on air. Stations face up to a $32,500 fine for failing to properly label VNRs. The FCC sent the letters to seventy-seven stations identified in a study released in April by the Center for Media and Democracy. The stations are scattered throughout 30 states and are affiliated with all of four major networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. And many of the stations are owned by some of the country’s largest media companies including Clear Channel, News Corp, Viacom, the Tribune Company and Sinclair Broadcast. Companies funding the video news releases include General Motors, Intel and Pfizer. In a statement, FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, said: “The public has a legal right to know who seeks to persuade them so they can make up their own minds about the credibility of the information presented. Shoddy practices make it difficult for viewers to tell the difference between news and propaganda.”
In political news, Jack Carter, the son of former president Jimmy Carter, has won the Senate Democratic Primary in Nevada. Carter will face incumbent Senator John Ensign in November’s elections.
In New Zealand, a week of mourning has been declared following the death Maori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu. She died Tuesday at the age of 75. She was the longest serving monarch of New Zealand’s Maori community.
And finally, Victoria Gray Adams, the co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party has died. Along with Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Gray Adams founded the party with on the belief that the Democratic Party in Mississippi didn’t welcome black participation. Gray-Adams was the first woman to run for the U.S. Senate from the State of Mississippi. She was a member of the board of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a national delegate to the Democratic Party’s national convention in 1964, where she challenged the Democrats and President Lyndon Johnson.