Support indie blogging--and keep it ad-free--by purchasing a G.M. book, below right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Updates on Gaza-Israel Tragedy

I'm sure we are shocked that chief NYT stenographer Jodi Rudoren in her amused--rather than appalled--piece tonight on Israelis who take to a hill to enjoy deadly air strikes on Gaza civilians makes this slanderous error:  She claims that the CNN reporter got "pulled from her post last week after she used the word 'scum' in a Twitter post to describe Israelis on the hill who she said cheered airstrikes on Gaza and threatened to destroy her car."   In fact, her tweet clearly referred to just those threatening her vehicle.   A CNN spokesman explained, "She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew."  I'm sure a correction will be coming?

Arab reporter for BBC physically attacked on-air in Israel, by an Israeli, while called "son of a whore."  Update: Wash Post covers it, bravo, but, in a classic headline says attack took place "outside Gaza" rather than "in Israel."  So revealing.

 

NYT's fine public ed. gets to criticism of paper's Gaza/Israel coverage but mainly it's new top editor Dean Baquet defending and explaining.  Most of the criticism, to judge wrongly by this column, comes from the pro-Israel side.  Baquet claims, “There is zero politics involved."  And that he trusts reporters on the ground who are there--fine, except that the two in the Jerusalem bureau have long displayed pro-Israel bias, in the extreme.  To judge from this column, one of the main issues is not enough photos of Hamas fighters in the tunnels!   Weak, but she tells me she will be doing more. 

Gunshots fired into Al Jazeera's bureau in Gaza day after Israel threatened to shut them down, but source unknown.  AP had evacuated building.  Al Jazeera claim it was Israeli shooter and bureau chief displays one of the rounds, left.

That young man in now-famous video murdered by sniper in Gaza? Family found out he died--via the video.

Two days after their official denied "categorically" that there were no missing or captured soldiers in Gaza, Israel now admits that's not true. And the name matches the very one Hamas had claimed over the weekend.

Isabel Kershner, the second member of the Times' Jerusalem-based stenography pool, continues to downplay the civilian death toll in Gaza, suggesting only that "many" have died.  Others place total at about 3/4s of the 604 killed there so far.   But Anne Barnard, who is from the Beirut bureau and has reported from Gaza, does separate piece raising more questions about the Israeli targeting.  Closes: "At the house next door, a little girl, seeing journalists approach in flak jackets, sat on a stoop, put her face in her hands and wept."

MSNBC contributor who complained about their pro-Israel bias on-air says future appearances have been axed. 

Jon Stewart had the nerve to offer some brief, modest criticism of Israel's attacks on civilians last week--and got all kinds of flak, naturally.  So last night he did this:

Topical Song Pick of the Day

Greatest song of recent years about the conflict (or just about anything else) from our favorite lefty songster, Steve Earle's "Jerusalem."

The Real 'Times' Reporter on Gaza-Israel

As you may have noted....I've been very critical of the reporting on the current war by veteran NYT Jerusalem bureau hands Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kirshner, who have paraded their pro-Israel bias (carrying on a long Times tradition from that site) for years now.  No surprise.  But at least some form of balance has appeared in the past week with the arrival in Gaza of Anne Barnard from the paper's Beirut or Cairo bureau (forget which).  She has supplied much-needed up-close reporting on the massive civilian casualties there, even tweeting from the scene at great risk. Perhaps as the mother of two young children she can relate.

Her name seemed familiar to me, away from the Times, and sure enough we covered her often at Editor & Publisher when I was the editor from about 2002 to 2009.  We won many national awards for our coverage of Iraq and the media and she appeared in several of the articles as a reporter and then Baghdad bureau chief for the Boston Globe.  I even found one of mine where I quoted her at the end (it also appears in my book on that war, So Wrong for So Long), and it's quite relevant to the current tragedy--as it focuses on the U.S. assault on Fallujah and the massive civilian casualties there.  Oddly, U.S. reporters were more prone to criticize their own country in such occasions than they are today, re: Israel.

Here's the link to the full story, with Barnard segment here:
Anne Barnard of The Boston Globe noted that the military says it took every possible step to minimize civilian casualties, but "the methods used -- air strikes and artillery and tank fire from a distance -- make it difficult to know whether civilians are caught under fire." U.S. forces had urged Fallujans trapped in the city to stay in their homes, but "troops using thermal sights often assumed that if there was a 'hot spot' inside a house — indicating body heat — the people inside were insurgents." 


Stinging American Muslims

I've tweeted out my praise for the new HBO doc "The Newburgh Sting," which aired last night but will be in rotation for awhile now.   Now Human Rights Watch with a new report on the overall scope of the many FBI sting/entrapment aimed at encouraging Muslims here to take part in FBI-designed "terrorism."
The U.S.  Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute said in a report released today. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001, have alienated the very communities that can help prevent terrorist crimes.

The 214-page report, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,” examines 27 federal terrorism cases from initiation of the investigations to sentencing and post-conviction conditions of confinement. It documents the significant human cost of certain counterterrorism practices, such as overly aggressive sting operations and unnecessarily restrictive conditions of confinement.
 


Cohen on Creativity in the Tower of Song

Terrific interview, from 1992, with he's-my-man, Leonard Cohen, on the process of songwriting and poetry writing--the "hard work" involved and his total dedication to this hard work, the need to the fully "cut the gem" to see if it's worth saving. 
My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV… So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.
But why shouldn’t my work be hard? Almost everybody’s work is hard. One is distracted by this notion that there is such a thing as inspiration, that it comes fast and easy. And some people are graced by that style. I’m not. So I have to work as hard as any stiff, to come up with my payload.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 15 Days

Every year at this time, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers can be judged more clearly in "real time."  As many know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and two books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up) since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.  


Yesterday's lengthy entry, including Gen. Eisenhower opposing using bomb against Japan. Today:

July 22, 1945:  Still at Potsdam, Secretary of War Stimson meets with Prime Minister Churchill, who says that he was baffled by President Truman's sudden change in getting tough, almost bullying, with Stalin--but after he learned of successful first A-bomb test at Trinity he understood and endorsed it.   Everyone also cheered by "accelerated" timetable for use of bomb against cities--with first weapon ready about August 6, and the second by August 24th.  Stimson in diaries notes that two top officials endorse his striking of Kyoto (which he had visited and loved) off target list.

The U.S. learns through its "Magic" intercepts that Japan is sending a special emissary to the Soviet Union to try to get them to broker a peace with the U.S. as soon as possible (the Japanese don't know the Russians are getting ready to declare war on them in two weeks).

Update: The Young Man in the Green Shirt

Update:  Victim has now been IDed--it turns out his family like others found out after watching him murdered in the video.  

Earlier: This is being called the most horrific, in some ways, video to yet emerge from the one-sided war in Gaza.  Rescue workers in Shujaiyeh are combing through the rubble for survivors, and a young man in a green shirt is seen joining them to carry a stretcher.  A little later while they are taking cover he ventures out to shout to see if any relatives are still alive up the street as you hear the nervous chatter of man and woman back with the camera.  Then a shot from a sniper of unknown origin--yes, Israeli forces are now in that neighborhood--rings out and he falls, but is still alive.  Then another shot.  Then a third.   Adam Weinstein story here.   I imagine we will now get the usual nutty claims that this was all staged.  Much more of my coverage today here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Carnage Continues: Monday Updates on Gaza-Israel

Great photo, left. of silent protest in Tokyo.

Jon Stewart tonight responds, sort of, to pro-Israel critics who knocked his coverage (though modest) last week.

Tonight's Jodi Rudoren stenography from Jerusalem--gets to 19 killed from one Gaza family in, oh, 17th paragraph.  Before that she points to success of mission via  higher body count than previous one.  No matter what the bodies are.   In her view, Israel just trying to destroy tunnels, you know.  It's world leaders concerned about lopsided casualty count who are the real stinkers.

More from @RichardEngel of NBC just now (7 p.m. ET):  "One of fathers of boys killed on gaza beach says his house attacked by israeli forces."   Also notes hospitals overwhelmed.  And:  "Gaza death toll: 570. Among them 150 children, 70 women."

It's gotten lost in the death count lately as dead on the Israeli side has shifted to the military side, but what about the civilian casualities from those thousands of Hamas rockets?  Well, the count remains at....two.  One was a Bedouin outside the Iron Dome who is not even recognized, normally, as an Israeli.  With about 80% of the more than 500 dead on the Gaza side estimated to be civilians, that puts the current civilian dead ratio at about 200-1.  

Richard Engel of NBC tweets at mid-afternoon:   "Several bodies thrown out of gaza building by Israeli blast. Rescuer workers, volunteers enter. Building crumbles on top of them....Bulldozers had to clear path to building to allow ambulances to approach it. Many were near when building came down. apartment building....Gaza city ‘Salam tower’ collapse. Witnesses say 20 dead. some still under rubble."  One of his followers, Stand With Israel, responds:  "GOOD JOB . SO HAPPY."

Earlier Engel has provided some much-needed background:  "palestinians say the closure of gaza a big reason for this. years without being able to travel, do business. frustration pent up, exploding." 

NBC's Ayman Muhyeldin tweets:  " military says 25 soldiers have been killed since ground invasion began 4 days ago. In the 3 week 2008 war it lost 6 soldiers."

Horrifying  photo or video image left purportedly shows huge Israeli bomb about to strike house, and others images then show rubble aftermath.

Reports that hospital hit by numerous Israeli strikes even as patients being evacuated, at least 5 killed and 70 wounded.  Photos.

Anti-war activists getting beaten up...in Tel Aviv.  Reporter for Jewish Daily Forward is outraged.

American nurse writes about her work in Gaza--and that 40% of her cases are children under five. 

Unlike the paper's two main correspondents in the area, who have largely offered stenography from Israel, Anne Barnard of the NYT, who is based in Beirut,  has been providing strong coverage from Gaza.  Here's her report on Gazans having nowhere-to-run.

Four more killed Monday in shelling of hospital.  24 reportedly killed from the Abu Jamaa family in Khan Younis.

Short video covers staggering U.S. aid to Israel (more than half of our foreign aid).



Terrific new piece by Israeli writer who answers demands by friends there about why they should be for ending attacks on Gaza, even unilaterally.  She offers one reason after another, including why it's not just the moral choice--but very much in Israel's best interest.  

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 16 Days

Every year at this time, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers can be judged more clearly in "real time."  As many know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and two books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up) since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.   Yesterday's entry.

July 21,  1945:    Secretary of War met several top U.S. generals in Germany.   Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower would years later in Newsweek write:   "Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. …the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.   During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.

"It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude."

Gen. Leslie Groves' dramatic report on the Trinity test lands on Secretary of War Henry Stimson's desk.  Residents of New Mexico and Las Vegas, who witnessed a flash in the desert (some received radiation doses) are still in the dark.

The Interim Committee has settled on a target list (in order):  Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki.  Top priority was they must be among the few large Japanese cities not already devastated by bombardments--so the true effects of the new bomb can be observed.   That's also why the bomb will be dropped over the very center of the cities, which will also maximize civilian casualties.  Hiroshima has the added "benefit" or being surrounding by hills on three sides, providing a "focusing effect" which will bounce the blast back on the city, killing even more.  Kyoto, on the original target list, was dropped after an appeal by Stimson, who loved the historic and beautiful city. 

Stimson in his diary recounts visit with Truman at Potsdam after they've both read Gen. Groves account of the successful Trinity test.  He finds Truman tremendously "pepped up" by it with "new confidence."  This "Trinity power surge" (in Robert Lifton's phrase)helped push Truman to use the new weapon as soon as possible without further reflection,  with the Russians due to enter the war around August 7.  Truman has not yet told Stalin about existence of the bomb.

Note: Groves' lengthy memo generally pooh-poohed radiation effects on nearby populations but did include this:  "Radioactive material in small quantities was located as much as 120 miles away. The measurements are being continued in order to have adequate data with which to protect the Government's interests in case of future claims. For a few hours I was none too comfortable with the situation."

Bombing crews start practicing flights over targets in Japan.

Drugs Law Stuff U.S. Prisons

Another strong segment from John Oliver on his HBO show last night.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

'Telegenic' Deaths and Other Sunday Updates


UpdatesTerrific new piece by Israeli writer who answers demands by friends there about why they should be for ending attacks on Gaza, even unilaterally.  She offers one reason after another, including why it's not just the moral choice--but very much in Israel's best interest.  

James Fallows tweets:  "When strategic message becomes ‘They’re forcing us to kill children,’ strategy is in trouble. As US learned."   See Vietnam-Gaza image above.

Photos of worldwide protests on Sunday, some massive (such as in Chicago).

Live feed from UN as Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors speak and vote to be held on Jordan proposal.

476 dead in Gaza, 3100 injured.  At least one-quarter kids.

This CNN story purports to tell inside story of why NBC actually withdrew Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza the other day (he is back, see below and follow him).  They key section might be on NBC feeling, for ratings, viewers more "comfortable" with a Richard Engel on air.  NBC wanted Ayman make statement "whitewashing" the episode but he refused.

Hamas announces it has captured Israeli--something that usually triples Israel attacks and resolve.  Anne Barnard of NYT:  "Scattered celebratory gunfire in Gaza City as Hamas announces it captured an Israeli soldier, Cheers and shouts of 'God is great.'" But Israel denies this has happened.

Earlier Sunday: Netanyahu on CNN correctly calls situation "insane"--but means only rockets to Israel.   Then says he's "sad about every civilian casualty" and only mistakes, but Hamas is using “telegenically dead Palestinians.” (He is approvingly citing a Krauthammer quote, it seems.) The "more dead the better."

Ayman Mohyeldin, who was pulled out of Gaza by NBC (for some reason) has just returned and is tweeting fron hospital after today's massacre.  First tweet: "Back inside . Went straight to morgue. Emotional scene as families identify & claim bodies of the killed in attacks."  See @AymanM

What's being described as "the massacre in  Shujayeh" neighborhood in Gaza, in heaviewt bombardment of war, with at least 60 dead today from Israeli shelling.  “Bodies were on the street, body parts everywhere. We couldn’t help them, we had to leave.”  Photo of mother who lost child.  More from The Guardian.    

NYT on its home page: "Casualties growing on both sides."  That is, two more Israeli soldiers and more than 140 Gazans.  No NYT front-page story, just "refer" line at bottom: "Hamas Slips Through Tunnels."  Wash Post headline on front page: "2 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza."   Netanyahu on CNN just now: "If you look at our response it's actually very measured."

I noted the claim, and ran photo, a few days back back but now seems confirmed, as this Guardian story this morning attests.  "The Israeli military is using flechette shells, which spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts, in its military operation in Gaza.  Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on 17 July, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Nahla Khalil Najjar, 37, suffered injuries to her chest, it said. PCHR provided a picture of flechettes taken by a fieldworker last week. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) did not deny using the shells in the conflict."

Sharif Kouddous of Democracy Now! tweets:  "At Shifa hospital two children, 9 & 7 years old, lie dead. Arguments about IDing boy b/c his head is blown off. 'Is it Hamza or "Khalil?'"  Anne Barnard of NYT tweets:  "In ER, girl, 9?, lies still, staring. No relative w/her. Docs gently check pulse, again & again, until it's time. A white sheet & she's gone."

Photo below of video journalist Khaled Hamad killed last night in Gaza.  Note shirt.  His father at his funeral.


"In Event of Moon Disaster"

For the anniversary of our moon landing: The tribute, penned by White House speechwriter William Safire, for President Nixon to read in the event of something going horribly wrong.  Here it is in its entirety, including instructions at the end:

July 18, 1969.

IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT:

The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.

AFTER THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT, AT THE POINT WHEN NASA ENDS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE MEN:

A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.

The U.S. Role in Gaza Tragedy

From a lengthy and vital backgrounder by the venerable American Friends Service Committee.
The United States is complicit in the current situation, playing a key role in sustaining both Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory and the Gaza blockade. Both the current and past administrations have given Israel a green light to carry out attacks on Gaza and have asserted an Israeli right to self defense while failing to recognize an equal right to self defense for Palestinians.  The U.S. also continues to support the isolation of Hamas and the Israeli imposed blockade on Gaza, which it views as a legitimate tool for undermining Hamas, regardless of the blockades’ impact on the general Gaza population.  The U.S.’s refusal to engage with Hamas has also led it to actively oppose reconciliation between Hamas and the PA through a threatened cut in all assistance to the PA if it reconciles with Hamas.  This policy has helped entrench political divisions within the Palestinian polity.

Further, the United States provides more than $3 billion in military assistance to Israel each year.  This unconditional U.S. military assistance subsidizes and allows Israel to maintain its occupation in Gaza.  More specifically, weaponry purchased by Israel from the U.S. using U.S. military assistance, including missiles and white phosphorus shells,[xvii] are used by Israel during its attacks on Gaza.  This policy brings nothing but harm to Gaza and also undermines the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cooperstown and Chicago

My man, Jeff Katz, mayor of Cooperstown, gets major tribute in his hometown rag, the Chicago Ttibune.  He recently hosted me there and wrote a piece on Obama tribute to Cooperstown for my blog.

Death Toll Passes 300 and More Saturday Updates

UPDATE:  Israel announces tonight it is expanding ground invasion, perhaps lashing out after Hamas fighters went through tunnels and killed a couple of soldiers.   

Earlier:  The death toll in Gaza has now topped 340, at least one-quarter kids, NYT story on family of nine, including four children.  Much of coverage still on Hamas rockets and tunnels--when most of the civilian dead have been nowhere near either.

NYT editorial today gives equal weight to Israel and Gaza civilian suffering and largely blames Hamas.  Makes call for peace talks, and says Israel complicit in causing crisis,  but demands no end to disproportionate attacks on Gaza civilians.

Prime Minister Netanyahu says he feels regret "for every mistaken strike on civilians."  That would be more than 200 so far, and counting.  No word of anyone being punished for such mistakes. 

A second Israeli soldier has been killed--the first not from friendly fire. 

If you missed: After much protest, an embarrassed  NBC says Ayman Mohyeldin returning to Gaza this weekend, after suddenly pulling him out.   He just thanks folks for "support" via Twitter, and claimed NBC is indeed interested in the Palestine side of the story (which many had questioned).

Major protests in many cities here and abroad, with as many as 50,000 marching in London (below), for example.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 18 Days

As I noted yesteday: Every year at this time, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers, and the actions of scientists in Los Alamos, and others, can be judged more clearly in "real time."  As many know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and two books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up) since the early 1980s--along the way I've spent a month in the two atomic cities and weeks at the Truman Library--with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.

For background, here are three of my postings already this month:  the first, on Leo Szilard's petition  to the President signed by dozens of fellow atomic scientists urging that the U.S. not use the new weapon against Japanese cities or at least stage a demonstration first;  the second, on the first test of The Bomb at Trinity on July 16, 1945; the third, on why this still matters today.

Now, today's entry, going back to July 18-19, 1945.  Read yesterday's entry for more on Truman's view of how Russia's entry in war would mean "fini Japs."

*

At Potsdam, Truman wrote in his diary today:
"P.M. [Churchil] & I ate alone. Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. Stalin had told P.M. of telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace. Stalin also read his answer to me. It was satisfactory. Believe the Japs will fold up before Russia comes in. I am sure they will when Manhattan [reference to Manhattan Project] appears over their homeland. I shall inform about it at an opportune time."
So there is a "telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace."  Of course, we'll never know if peace could have been worked out shortly. One alleged hang-up was that the U.S. was demanding "conditional surrender" while the Japanese wanted to be able to keep their emperor as a figurehead.  Of course, after we dropped the bomb, we allowed this condition.  This, and Truman's view that the Soviet entry into the war, set for around August 8, would provoke a surrender made it vital for him--in the view of some historians--to use the new weapon as soon as possible.

Truman also wrote a letter to his wife Bess, affirming his belief that the Soviet declaration of war--even without the Bomb--would cause an end to the war well before the planned U.S. invasion.
I've gotten what I came for - Stalin goes to war August 15 with no strings on it... I'll say that we'll end the war a year sooner now, and think of the kids who won't be killed! That is the important thing. 
 Truman would use the new weapon anyway, killing at least 50,000 Japanese "kids." 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The CNN Word--and Gaza Updates

Update #4  Bill Maher tonight follows up his offensive tweet that drew much protest with claims on his HBO show that Israel not at fault at all for civilian deaths in Gaza--apparently all 71 dead kids (so far) had fathers or brothers firings rockets.   And others on panel, including hawkish former Rep. Jane Harman and a rightwing editor, agreed--to much audience applause.  Since it's American TV, no dissenting voice.

New AP report on large number of children among the dead in Gaza.  Full accounting of Friday's toll with names and ages, including 8 in one family.

Update #3  After much protest, an embarrassed  NBC says Ayman Mohyeldin returning to Gaza this weekend, after suddenly pulling him out.   He just thanks folks for "support" via Twitter, and claimed NBC is indeed interested in the Palestine side of the story (which many had questioned).   

Update #2   Final casualty count for day--296 dead in Gaza, including at least 71 children.  CNN's Jake Tapper tweets: "IDF spokesman on civilian casualties: There will be mistakes

While the NYT and most other U.S. media outlets continue to focus on Hamas rockets aimed at Israel (but which almost never cause damage), not a single Israeli has yet been killed by one.   The one Israeli settler killed was hit by a mortar.  The one soldier who died was likely hit by--friendly fire. (Israel is probing that and in those cases it almost alway turns out to be the case.  Latest from IDF spokesman: He was probably killed by tank fire from his own unit by mistake.)   Gaza death toll hits 274 today, and 2200 injured.  Wait, update that:  four kids, youngest age 2, killed just now, AFP reports.    Writing this, I will no doubt be attacked by David Frum and others claiming that I want "more dead Jews."  

Update:  Diana Magnay out.  CNN now removes her from coverage. She stresses that the "scum" were those who threatened to attack her vehicle. Many in media have misreported who she was referring to.  This comes on heels of NBC recalling one of its correspondents who had reported on killing for the four Gaza kids on the beach.

Earlier: A CNN correspondent, Diana Magnay, apparently had second thoughts about an angry tweet that followed he witnessing Israeli crowd on hill cheering air strikes on Gaza--and threatening to attack her car if she uttered a single "wrong word."   She called them "scum." Then deleted it, but not before many saw it and started responding.  L.A. Times covers here.

Dozens of  protests all over the world today and this weekend.  Turks have allegedly seized the Israeli embassy, and so on.

NYT op-ed by Nathan Thrall points finger at Israel and the West for recent actions causing this tragedy. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate, no shock, passes unanimous resolution fully backing Israel missile attacks as invasion begins, with Dems and liberals on board.  "Isolationist" Rand Paul calls for "more teeth."  Lindsay Graham puts it clearly: "The Senate is in Israel's camp."  No kidding.

Hello In There

Opening today in NYC, a Sundance hit, Alive Inside, about how music therapy can crucially help older folks, especially the millions with dementia.  Don't miss.  My wife and her mother happen to appear for a few seconds at the very end, with Ray Charles reference.  Of course, the current acclaimed film I co-produced would probably work wonders for some in this regard. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

4 More Dead Kids in Gaza Today--As Israel Invades.

UPDATE #2   Usual Jodi Rudoren pro-Israel stenography at NYT.  Israel, you see, is merely targeting "tunnels."  She says so in the lede and then a few lines later. Oh, they may have killed four more kids, and a dozen or more other civilians today,  but, hey, rockets are "streaming" into numerous Isrsaeli "cities" (note, no account of any damage whatsoever).  As usual, she plays up the one Israeli casualty--who likely died from friendly fire!  Love the line that all the Gaza residents have to do to avoid trouble is avoid "infrastructure" and being anywhere near Hamas.  And on and on.  And there's more as she also writes separate piece on the rockers "showering" over Israel cities, although she grudgingly admits they have killed zero citizens so far.  Zero. 

U.S. Senate, no shock, passes unanimous resolution fully backing Israel missile attacks as invasion begins, with Dems and liberals on board.  "Isolationist" Rand Paul calls for "more teeth."  Lindsay Graham puts it clearly: "The Senate is in Israel's camp."  No kidding.  

UPDATE  Israel announces it has launched a ground assault.   "Palestinians and journalists in Gaza reported heavy artillery fire from ground troops in the north and Israeli gunboats stationed near Gaza’s port as well as a continuing air assault. The strikes were aimed at a rehabilitation hospital and, earlier killed four young children as they played on a roof." In fact, Israelis destroy only rehab hospital in Gaza, then it burns to ground....And now battles in the West Bank.  Palestine News Network tweets:  "Clashes have erupted between the Palestinian youth and the IOF in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Abu Dis, Nilin and Nablus."

Earlier: No, this is not just catching up with yesterday's horror--it's today in just first hours after ceasefire.  This NYT story--which naturally focuses on rockets to Israel--mentions three but Tyler Hicks of the paper, ace photog, just tweeted it's four.  Photo of the four....Meanwhile, NBC has pulled from Gaza its correspondent (who hails from Egypt) who memorably reported on the deaths of yesterday's four slain kids....Banned shrapnel like arrows allegedly used by Israelis now...Confirmed dead:  237 of  which 52 are children and 33 are women, 1706 injured 450 are children and 360 are women...

There may be even more child deaths today.  Follow local journalist @Mogaza for live updates from scene.  Latest:  "Terrifying scenes. Child now arrives to Shifa hospital without head..."

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 20 Days

Every year at this time, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers, and the actions of scientists in Los Alamos, and others, can be judged more clearly in "real time."  As many know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and two books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up) since the early 1980s--along the way I've spent a month in the two atomic cities and weeks at the Truman Library--with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.

For background, here are three of my postings already this month:  the first, on Leo Szilard's petition  to the President signed by dozens of fellow atomic scientists urging that the U.S. not use the new weapon against Japanese cities or at least stage a demonstration first;  the second, on the first test of The Bomb at Trinity on July 16, 1945; the third, on why this still matters today.

Now, today's entry, going back to July 17, 1945.
*
Even at this late date, Americans would be surprised to learn that President Harry Truman, just three weeks before ordering use of the new atomic bomb against Hiroshima, wrote in his diary, after meeting Joseph Stalin in Germany, that the Russians’ promised entry into the war against Japan would end the conflict—“Fini Japs”—even without the Bomb. It happened on this date in 1945.

As it happened, the Russians did enter the war—on schedule—within two days of the bombing of Hiroshima, and some historians believe that this shock, as much as the two A-bombs (the second against Nagasaki on August 9), provoked the speedy Japanese surrender a few days later. The question remains: Would this have happened without the Bomb? It’s a close argument, but the fact remains: most citizens of the only country to use the dreadful weapon (killing 200,000 civilians) are not even aware of it.

Now here, verbatim, is a famous (to some) passage from Truman’s diary on July 17, 1945. Also note Truman’s assessment of Stalin as “honest.”
Just spent a couple of hours with Stalin. Joe Davies called on Maisky and made the date last night for noon today. Promptly at a few minutes before twelve I looked up from my desk and there stood Stalin in the doorway. I got to my feet and advanced to meet him. He put out his hand and smiled. I did the same, we shook, I greeted Molotov and the interpreter and we sat down.
After the usual polite remarks we got down to business. I told Stalin that I am no diplomat but usually said yes and no to questions after hearing all the arguments. It pleased him. I asked him if he had the agenda for the meeting. He said he had and that he had some more questions to present. I told him to fire away. He did and it is dynamite—but I have some dynamite too, which I am not exploding now. He wants to fire Franco, to which I wouldn’t object and divide up the Italian colonies and other mandates, some no doubt that the British have. Then he got on the Chinese situation told us what agreements had been reached and what was in abeyance. Most of the big points are settled. He’ll be in the Jap war on August 15. Fini Japs when that comes about.
We had lunch, talked socially, put on a real show, drinking toasts to everyone. Then had pictures made in the backyard.
I can deal with Stalin. He is honest, but smart as hell.
Most American when asked about the Soviets entering the war at that late day seem to believe they were just   “getting in on the spoils.”  In fact, we had demanded that the Soviets do this and we knew it was coming, bomb or no bomb. This has led to theories – which I have never embraced – that the main reason we dropped the bombs, knowing Japan was already defeated, was to keep the Soviets out of Japan, and intimidate them in the postwar era.   I’d call this a reason, not the reason.  

Be that as it may, there is no question that the Soviet declaration would have had a huge impact on the Japanese.  That's why Truman, in his diary, declared that the Russian attack alone meant "fini" for "the Japs." 

The key point is:  We didn’t wait around to find out if the Japanese would have surrendered to us shortly (especially after we let them keep the emperor) to prevent the Russians from invading, or if a strong nudge via use of our bomb would have been required.