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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Colbert on Palin Channel

That should get you going.


Wednesday Updates (From the Top) on Gaza-Israel Tragedy

Well, here we go again.  Another massacre from the air at Gaza school and shelter, at least 15 dead (some say 23 or more),  and again Israel  "looking into it"  etc.   Photo of one victim at left.  Richard Engel just tweeted, "Witnesses tell there were no militants in school when it was hit, UN says it was struck by israeli artillery."  Gazans have taken shrapnel as evidence.  NYT, of course, lets it go that "Palestinians said" it was Israeli shelling.  UN spokesman:  3300 at school at the time, had been told by Israel to evacuate to that area, and UN gave them coordinates. Another strike killed 10 in one family.  Five mosques hit and possibly two more shelters.

Amazing interview with David Frum's clownish source for his debunked claim of NYT and Reuters faking photos from Gaza.

If you missed  my new lengthy piece on the Hamas "terror tunnels" as main pretext for continuing slaughter, and promotion of this by U.S. media.  How often have they been used for "terror" in the past? Note: Not a single Israeli civilian ever killed by a militant from a tunnel. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

David Frum Axes Evil (or So He Thought)

As I noted elsewhere, Michael Shaw's always-excellent BagNewsNotes today took apart David Frum's multiple claims--eight times, I think--that the NYT and Reuters had faked photos showing some severe suffering in Gaza.  Frum now says he is looking into, and sure to apologize any minute.  I pointed out earlier that Frum's source was same clown I exposed a few days back for claiming that the viral video showing a young Gaza man shot by a sniper was totally faked.  The young man's father had claimed his body at the morgue.  Now read this piece based on an interview with the perp.  Almost feel sorry for him, he is a kind of tragic figure.  Almost.

When I was editor of E&P from 2002-2009 I went through this a lot.  There were always these idiot rightwingers who were doing "photo analysis" to prove atrocity photos from Iraq or wherever the Israelis were bombing (Lebanon, Gaza) were fake.  Almost always they were clearly real.  They went came up with charges that there was a virtual movie lot in some of these places where the scenes were played out.  Toxic stuff and also so revealing.  They can't handle the truth, to coin a phrase. 

Feeling Spacey Again

Well, I brought you the first "Call of Duty" trailer with Kevin Spacey so might as well bring you another released today (courtesy of my genius trailer-making son).

There Used To Be a Playground Here

Haunting art/photo via Leem Lubany, co-star of great Oscar-nominated film last year, Omar.


Tuesday Updates (From the Top) on Israel-Gaza Tragedy

My Wednesday live-blog here

Great piece by Rashid Khalidi at The New Yorker, includes:  "It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.  What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted. As Netanyahu’s own words show, however, Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination...

"If the U.S. government wants to fund and arm Israel and parrot its talking points that fly in the face of reason and international law, so be it. But it should not claim the moral high ground and intone solemnly about peace. And it should certainly not insult Palestinians by saying that it cares about them or their children, who are dying in Gaza today."

Huff Post piece by good guy Mike Calderone is better than most on the tunnels, and links to my piece at this blog, but like others he fails to mention the key fact--not a single Israeli civilians has been killed because of someone using a tunnel.  And only about 10 soldiers until the past week.  

In fresh revision, typical NYT headline just now: "Israel Broadens Targets in Gaza Barrage; Power Is Out." You see, it's out--maybe a lightning strike?  Someone threw the wrong switch?  But this reflects the story (see below) which is virtually the only one at a major site that does not clearly attribute the attack to the Israelis. 

Jodi Rudoren in gentle radio interview today with understatement of the year:  "I've been criticized for  just taking what the IDF hands out."  Now, why in the world would anyone think that?  (h/t Patrick Connors)

Please see my new lengthy piece on the Hamas "terror tunnels" as main pretext for continuing slaughter, and promotion of this by U.S. media.  How often have they been used for "terror" in the past? 

So revealing:  AP feels need to correct tweet that accurately stated the U.S. lawmakers are "falling over" each to support Israel.  Classic. 

Jodi Rudoren of NYT, who has emphasized IDF denials in hitting schools and hospitals in past week, now quotes with a straight face spokesman asked about Gaza's only  power station blasted and on fire, who replied "he was still looking into the circumstances of the fire, including 'whether we had anything to do with it.'” Note how she accepts this, refusing to describe the attack on the power station as coming from Israel.  You know, Palestinians claim, IDF won't confirm, so...who knows?  Even though Israel has bombed it before.  Later she declares that this "threatened to turn the deprivations in Gaza into a humanitarian crisis."  Only now!

Worth recalling Wash Post on private talk by Netanyahu exposed in 2010.   "I know what America is.  America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction." And former leader Ariel Sharon:  “Every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."

Glad to see Michael Shaw's always excellent and respected BagNewsNotes destroy David Frum's claim--he made it eight times--that the NYT and Reuters had fallen for "faked" atrocity photos.  Frum's source was the same clown who claimed, also widely covered, that the young man shot by a sniper in a viral video from two weeks ago had also faked the whole thing.  Then the young man's father claimed the body.  I guess that was faked, also.  

Susan Rice with strong defense of Israel, hits UN, claims Gazan kids merely "caught in crossfire" and it's Hamas' fault.

The Guardian says at least 110 killed in Gaza in past 24 hours.  Media center, TV, radio stations, power plant,  hit which somehow count as "strategic targets."   Power plant may take a year to repair--if Israel allows full entry.  Reuters on the harshest, perhaps deadliest, night yet in Gaza.  Death toll there at over 1156 with 6700 injured.  Over 180,000 now in UN shelters in humanitarian disaster.  Ten Israeli soldiers killed yesterday, perhaps inspiring latest spasm of response.  Civilian death toll in Israel remains:  one Bedouin, one Thai worker, one settler. 

Over 140 international law experts sign petition hitting Hamas launching rockets--but stressing that Israel is illegally enacting "collective punishment" with "disproportionate attacks" on entire Gaza population.  

Well, I've had an interesting back and forth late last night with 1) a well-known Hollywood director and 2) CNN's Jake Tapper.   Jake did a segment on the tunnels today that, as I complained, did not reveal how many Israelis have been killed due to them over many years; did not explain why Israel is using them as main pretext for slaughter now when he mentioned himself "they've known about them for years"; and why he closed the spot with reference to claims that Gaza kids may have died in building them--to help bring in fuel and goods during a blockade--when hundreds are perishing now due to Israeli bombing. 

CBS legend Bob Schiefer weighs in on the side of Hamas wanting to get as many civilians killed as possible.

ViceNews visit scenes of attacks in Gaza and hospitals.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 8 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 three books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up on the U.S. suppression of film for decades and another on a Hollywood film)  since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media reactions in the decades after.

On July 29, 1945: 

—Truman wrote letter to wife Bess from Potsdam on deals there (but does not mention A-bomb discussions with Soviets): “I like Stalin. He is straightforward, knows what he wants and will compromise when he can’t get it. His Foreign Minister isn’t so forthright.“ Truman casually informed Stalin about the atomic bomb but no one is quite certain that the latter understood.

—Japanese sub sinks the U.S.S. Indianapolis, killing over 800 American seamen. If it had happened three days earlier, the atomic bomb the ship was carrying to Tinian would have never made it.

—A Newsweek story observes: “As Allied air and sea attacks hammered the stricken homeland, Japan’s leaders assessed the war situation and found it bordering on the disastrous…. As usual, the nation’s propaganda media spewed out brave double-talk of hope and defiance.” But it adds: “Behind the curtain, Japan had put forward at least one definite offer. Fearing the results of Russian participation in the war, Tokyo transmitted to Generaliissimo Stalin the broad terms on which it professed willingness to settle all scores.”

—Assembling of the first atomic bomb continued at Tinian. It would likely be ready on August 1 and the first use would be dictated by the weather.  The second bomb—the plutonium device—was still back in the States. The target list, with Hiroshima as #1, remained in place, although it was being studied for the presence of POW camps holding Americans in the target cities.

—Secretary of War Stimson began work on the statement on the first use of the bomb that President Truman would record or release in a few days, claiming we merely hit a "military base," assuming the bomb worked.

The 'Terror Tunnels'

As we know, Israel's initial call for revenge against Palestinians in the current crisis was prompted by the kidnapping and killing of three teens in June, but soon there were doubts raised (even by some Israelis) that Hamas directed that.  Then they highlighted Hamas firing rockets over and into Israel, but they've stressed that less often since flights started getting cancelled and tourism suffered.  From the beginning, they have attacked what they called the "terror tunnels" built by Hamas over the years, but this has become the main oft-spoken cause for the ground and air attacks in the past ten days, since the ground invasion.  U.S. media have dutifully taken tours of exposed tunnels and filed scare reports, such as the ones on CNN yesterday.

No doubt Israel is right to be concerned about these tunnels. Several of its soldiers were killed by militants emerging from one of them.  No one would object to them destroying them along their border.  Egypt has somehow destroyed as many as 1000 of them at its border used for smuggling goods (but without killing many Gazans).  The reason I raise this is:  The tunnels are being used as a pretext for mass slaughter--and accepted or promoted as much by U.S. media.   So the threat from them to a civilian population, especially before Israel escalated the war, must be proven and very clear.  

Yet the IDF and the media never seem to get around to listing what (you'd think) must be a large number of "terror" incidents and Israelis killed or kidnapped in recent years. A good example was yesterday's report by Jodi Rudoren in the New York Times--quite lengthy  but without a single reference to a deadly "terror" attack via the tunnels until the past two weeks of armed conflict.  Like others, she explains that Israel has known about the tunnels for many years yet did not attempt to destroy many of them until this month.  Why?  Because they actually posed less of a threat than now claimed?  Israelis in the south are always quoted about their fears of militants rising out of the ground in their backyards (one tells Rudoren, "It takes us a little bit to our childhood fairy tales of demons"), but--how many times has this happened? (Here's Rudoren in a radio interview. She admits the tunnel she toured was not finished and "not much going on there" and with no offshoots.)

In that regard, an article this week in the Times of Israel quotes a senior Israeli intelligence officer asserting that the tunnels did not really threaten civilians--Hamas aims for another spectacular soldier kidnapping.  (The Shalit snatching led to freedom for 1000 Palestinians in the prisoner exchange.)  The intel source points out that in the one major tunnel incursion last week the militants could have easily invaded a nearby kibbutz but set off to kill soldiers instead.  They did it again this week.  But using tunnels for military attacks has long been an accepted battlefield tactic.  

Israelis now seek a broad inquiry into why their officials and military did not take broad action against the tunnels until now.  Was it because they didn't think they were such a huge threat? And now they describe finding dozens of tunnels and a wider network--but is anyone in U.S. media questioning what exactly these newly-found tunnels represent?  They take guided tours of a couple carefully selected--including one uncovered two years ago--but they have to take the word (and do) of the IDF in describing the other tunnels and any weapons/explosives found in them.  Were most of them abandoned years ago? Flooded and not really useable?

All this caused me to ask, via Twitter, for anyone to send me a link to a credible history with this information.  I got no replies beyond, "Good luck with that."  I raised this with Jake Tapper of CNN, who had just done his "terror tunnel" report on Twitter, since he had tweeted about Hamas "exporting death."  Well, how many deaths, before this month's Israel invasion of Gaza?  Yes, in the past week a few Hamas fighters sneaked in and killed five IDF soldiers.  A planned attack by a handful of men on a village was thwarted.  But beyond that--before there was a war--in the past ten years since the tunnels were expanded?  Tapper tells me today that he knows of only six deaths from the tunnels, all IDF.  I've seen an Israeli source claim 10 soldiers.  [UPDATE  12:10 p.m. ET I haven't seen any higher totals yet. Still looking.]  If that's all, then more Israelis have been killed in the past week because of the tunnels, and the Israeli offensive, than in the prevous decade combined.

Always cited is the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Shalit, which became a cause celebre until a prisoner swap last year.  Since it got such massive and long-lasting attention I presume it was the one and only such case.  Then there was some sort of militants' plan to blow up explosives along the border in the south.  Another thwarted attack on a village years ago.  But that's about all I can find easily.  This fairly detailed history from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, no less, is typical in failing to offer more than three or four examples.  Ditto for a lengthy recent Wash Post piece.  Surely there's more?  If not a good deal more:  Why have U.S. media gone along with promoting this as a justification for killing 1000 civilians, including 200 kids, far from the border?  Help me out here.  I'll publish links to any articles with an assessment of the "terror" toll in the past decade.  Thanks.

P.S.  Here's a lengthy and  perhaps definitive look at the tunnels used for importing/smuggling goods. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Updates (From the Top) on Gaza-Israel Tragedy

(Frequent postings all day, as I've been doing for nearly the past week.)

Well, I've had an interesting back and forth tonight with 1) a well-known Hollywood director and 2) CNN's Jake Tapper.   Jake did a segment on the tunnels today that, as I complained, did not reveal how many Israelis have been killed due to them over many years; did not explain why Israel is using them as main pretext for slaughter now when he mentioned himself "they've known about them for years"; and why he closed the spot with reference to claims that  Gaza kids may have died in building them when hundreds are perishing now due to Israeli bombing. 

CBS legend Bob Schiefer weighs in on the side of Hamas wanting to get as many civilians killed as possible.

Amira Hass column in Haaretz: Israel's "moral defeat" will haunt them for years. "If victory means causing the enemy to pile up a number of slaughtered children on one stretcher, since there are not enough stretchers, then you have won, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – you and the nation that admires you."

Update on Israeli civilian casualties:  well, no update needed.  Still one Bedouin, one Thai worker, one settler. 

A Twitter commenter:  "CNN covering this for Israel like it's an American war. In essence, it is."

Beloved Gaza children's TV performer killed in home.

Pulitzer-winning editorial write for Wall St. Journal, Bret Stephens writes tonight that he questions number of Gaza casualties, and says to oppose the slaughter is to defend "barbarism." Ironic choice of words, given tonight's carnage (see below).

What appears, from tweets and reports, to be shock and awe--and slaughter--all over Gaza tonight, including another UN school filled with kids hit. U.S. and U.S. media have willingly accepted carnage so tonight--Israelis are topping everything previous, it seems, according to Gazans who have seen the worst in the past.

All Israel has to do is "accidentally" hit one hotel filled with Western journos and then media outlook may change.  And only then.  Although they may claim that the hotel housed rockets or that they had a right to defend themselves from truthful reports by the media.

New video from Jewish Voice for Peace features dozens, including a few celebs, holding up names of dead Gazans.

Apparently Israel today hit a refugee camp and Shifa hospital nearby killing several more kids, photos have been posted (see left).  Israel once again claims not targeting or operating in area and says must have been Hamas rockets--in both cases!  NBC says at least 30 dead, mainly at the camp, and blames Israel: "The Israel Defense Forces told Haaretz that a 'preliminary investigation has found the Israeli army did not fire at the Shifa Hospital, and the fire is believed to have been Hamas.'  However, a NBC News journalist witnessed the attack on the hospital and said it had been fired by an Israeli drone--this attribution, oddly, removed from a revised NBC story, which now highlights Israel's denials.  ("Early reports from the ground said an Israeli drone was responsible for the attack.")

The NYT, as expected, gives equal weight to Israel's denial--and includes this right in the home page headline despite lies about not hitting the UN school last week. 

Shifa is the most sophisticated hospital in Gaza.  Israel has hit several other hospitals in recent days.

@DrBasselAbuwarda there tweets: "The dead children r from attacking a park in Alshate camp & it was Simultaneous with attack on Alshifa hospital 10 dead majority r children...the children were wearing new cloths for Al Eid , they were just playing in the par." His Twitter response to Israel's claims that hit by Hamas rocket:  "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?"

We reported days ago on two reporters quoting Israeli police spokesman seeming to admit that Israel is not (and never was) certain that the kidnapping and killing of those three teens back in June which set the current crisis in motion had actually been ordered by Hamas (as Israel).  He said it's believed it was actually a small local "cell," perhaps not ordered by Hamas to do this.  Great controversy has erupted since.  Here's a lengthy piece at Vox today by Max Fisher that probes the matter, noting that questions about Israel exploiting the kidnapping have been there since the start. 

Don't miss my piece today on shameful David Gregory and NYT "journalism" related to Israel denying it killed anyone at that UN school last week.

Israel says a mortar attack in southern Israel has killed at least three. 

David Grossman, famed Israeli writer,  op-ed at NYT today includes:
Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas? 

Name It and You Own It

Jewish Voices for Peace with new video, narrated (I believe) by Wallace Shawn, with a little background on history but mainly scores of people, including a few celebs (such as Jonathan Demme, ChuckD and Gloria Steinem), holding up names of dead in Gaza.

Zen and Now

The Zen master "Roshi"--best known as fabled teacher of Leonard Cohen at his L.A. center in decades passed--has died at the age of 107.   It must be added that his final years were dogged by multiple allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct. 

Oliver on Geckos and Nukes

From John's HBO show last night.

The Shame of David Gregory--and 'NYT'

It's been a tough week for NBC's David Gregory.

First were reports that his "Meet the Press" was sinking under even weaker ratings and that he would soon be replaced.  Then as we noted here yesterday:  Gregory, after a weak interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu,  committed one of the worst journalistic ethical lapses of recent vintage.  After letting Netanyahu claim, again, that Israel may be blameless in the school massacre, despite all the evidence and logic to the contrary, he brought on UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness--and blindsided him by showing a 10-second, hazy, tape just released within the hour by Israel allegedly showing a Hamas rocket being fired from the grounds of a UN school.  Yet Gregory said NBC had not "verified" that it's accurate--and admitted that Gunness could not view  it and had never seen it before.  Yet then asked Gunness to respond!  Gunness naturally protested the unfairness--and then the segment quickly ended.

Gregory has now issued this statement:  “An end note in a discussion about Gaza we asked a spokesman about this video which Israel claims showed rockets being fired by Hamas from a U.N. school in Gaza,” Gregory said. “This is shot by the Israeli government, and that’s their claim. The U.N. has reviewed it, tells us they have confirmed, in their view, the video does not show rockets being fired from U.N. administrative school in Gaza. So this is a back and forth we are not able to settle at this point.”   No apology or recognition of his severe ethical lapse.  Shameful.  And leaves it at the usual "he said/she said"--rather than NBC attempting to verify tape or prove Israeli propaganda.  Which it should have done before airing it.

Meanwhile, the NYT has not updated its report last night that focused on a different Israeli video to add the UN statement debunking the one alleged to show rockets fired from the school grounds.  Surely it's worth noting that Israel's videos may be nothing but propaganda.  And today @ChrisGunness has tweeted, "According 2 information UNRWA has gathered about Beit Hanoun incident, there were hundreds of people @ the installation when it was hit...We had staff @ the school when the incident occurred reporting in as the shelling, which caused multiple fatalities & casualties took place...In addition we have spoken to numerous eye witnesses at the Beit Hanoun school when it was hit." 

Will the Times now add this to their report which emphasized that casualties "reportedly" happened at the site?  Don't bet on it. 

This is what I wrote about it last night:
Will surprise no one that when NYT tonight reports on Israel's claim it killed no one the school--it's the same old refusal to take on the absurd IDF claims head-on.  You'd never know that Israel lied to them for three days that none of their bombs even hit the school.  It's as if the reporters say, "More propaganda, please."   As from the beginning, they ultimately rely on "different versions can't be reconciled now"--even though all evidence and testimony point to Israel being guilty of this slaughter.  It's a false "balance."

They give their point of view away by not even referring to Israel completely changing its story after three days.  That's more revealing than the totally unverified 10-second video.  Most of those who have gone to the site, such as Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, have all pointed their finger at Israel as no doubt the guilty party.  Another one here. Not the Times.

And see the IDF spokesman's "scenario" (below) that maybe the hundreds of wounded and dead were not hit there but brought to the site from elsewhere.  The Times now dutifully uses the phrase that 16 were "reportedly killed"  at the site.  This is the same Israeli official the NYT  reporters give the benefit of the doubt to re: the grainy video with no time stamp.  See my earlier report on the shameful NYT coverage on this (as with much else on the conflict).
 

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 9 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 three books (including the recent Atomic Cover-Up on the U.S. suppression of film for decades and another on a Hollywood film)  since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media reactions in the decades after.

July 28, 1945

--Two days after receiving it, the Japanese leadership  rejected the Potsdam declaration calling for their "unconditional" surrender, or seemed to. The official word was that it would ignore the demand mokusatsu, or "with silence." Another translation, however, is "to withhold comment." This not-quite-rejection has led some historians to suggest that the U.S. should have pursued the confusing Japanese peace feelers already circulating, especially with suggestions that unconditional terms were the main, or perhaps only, obstacles.

--Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal had breakfast with Truman at Potsdam.  He had flown there at least partly to press the president to pursue Japanese peace feelers--especially concerning letting them keep their emperor-- before using the bomb and killing countless civilians.

 --Returning to Washington from Potsdam, Secretary of War Henry Stimson consulted with the top people at Los Alamos about the bomb (or "S-1" as it was then known) and wrote in his diary. "Everything seems to be going well."

 --U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Joseph Davies wrote in his diary that Secretary of State James Byrnes was overly excited by the success of the bomb test vis-a-vis future relations with our allies, the Soviets: "Byrnes' attitude that the atomic bomb assured ultimate success in negotiations disturbed me more than his description of its success amazed me. I told him the threat wouldn't work, and might do irreparable harm." Four days earlier, Byrnes aide Walter Brown had written in his diary that Byrnes' view was that "after atomic bomb Japan will surrender and Russia will not get in so much on the kill." The Soviets were scheduled to enter the war on August 7 (which might have prompted a Japanese surrender, even without use of the Bomb), so there was some urgency.

--A U.S. bombing raid on the small Japanese city of Aomori -- which had little military significance beyond being a transportation hub -- dropped 83,000 incendiaries and destroyed almost the entire city, killing at least 2,000 civilians.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 10 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 on the U.S. suppression of film for decades)  since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media reactions in the decades after.

July 27, 1945

Truman continued to meet with Allied leaders in Germany, as the Soviets got ready to declare war on Japan in early August ("fini Japs" when that happened, even without the bomb, Truman had written in his diary this week).

Preparations at Tinian in the Pacific to get the first A-bomb ready for use, possibly within a week (weather permitting) were finalized, with the city of Hiroshima remaining as #1 target. It has been barely touched by Allied bombing so it would serve as the best site to judge the bomb's experimental effects.  Also it is nearly surrounded by hills, promising a "focusing effect" that will likely guarantee killing tens of thousands.

The Japanese government today released an edited version of the "unconditional surrender" Potsdam declaration (which did not mention the atomic bomb) to their press and citizens, but had not yet rejected it. The Domei news agency had already predicted that the surrender demand "would be ignored." The U.S, after use of bomb, would later accept conditional surrender -- with Japan allowed to keep its emperor -- yet call it unconditional.

Eleven days after the first, and quite secret, atomic test at Trinity, which spread wide clouds of radioactive fallout over residents downwind -- livestock had been sickened or killed -- radiation experts had become concerned about the exposure for one family, the shape of things to come.

"A Petition to the President of the United States" organized by famed nuclear scientist Leo Szilard, and signed by sixty-eight of his Los Alamos colleagues -- the only real pre-Hiroshima protests -- urgently urging delay or extreme caution on the use of the new weapon against Japan, continued to be held in limbo and kept from the President's eyes while Truman remained abroad.

Sunday Updates (Added at Top) on Israel-Gaza Tragedy

10:35 David Grossman, famed Israeli writer,  op-ed at NYT just up.
"Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas?"

9:00 Will surprise no one that when NYT tonight reports on Israel's claim it killed no one the school--it's the same old refusal to take on the absurd IDF claims head-on.  You'd never know that Israel lied to them for three days that none of their bombs even hit the school.  It's as if the reporters say, "More propaganda, please."   As from the beginning, they ultimately rely on "different versions can't be reconciled now"--even though all evidence and testimony point to Israel being guilty of this slaughter.  It's a false "balance."

They give their point of view away by not even referring to Israel completely changing its story after three days.  That's more revealing than the totally unverified 10-second video. Most of those who have gone to the site, such as Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, have all pointed their finger at Israel as no doubt the guilty party.  Another one here. Not the Times.

And see the IDF spokesman's "scenario" (below) that maybe the hundreds of wounded and dead were not hit there but brought to the site from elsewhere. Note the Times now dutifully adding 16 "reportedly killed" at the school.   This is the same Israeli official the NYT  reporters give the benefit of the doubt to re: the grainy video with no time stamp.  See my earlier report on the shameful NYT coverage on this (as with much else on the conflict).


6:15  AP now reports on Israel claiming it fired at UN school and hit courtyard--but miraculously no one killed.  Like CNN, below, it reports the laughable claims at too great length but does hint at end the absurdity of the claim.  How evil is the Israel spokesman? He suggests that the only dead and injured there were brought from other sites, perhaps for a photo op?  "He also offered other scenarios — that the wounded were 'brought to the compound after injury' or were caught in a crossfire between Israeli troops and Gaza militants. Saed al-Saoudi, the commander of the Civil Defense in Gaza, said Sunday that 'all the testimonies of the wounded, witnesses, paramedics and doctors confirm that the Israeli shells are the cause of this massacre.'"

CNN questions--eventually--Israel's claim today (see full analysis below)  that it only fired one round at the UN school and did not cause any of the 16 deaths.  But it focuses on whether people might have died in the courtyard from that round--instead of also noting that up to half a dozen rounds hit the school away from the courtyard which Israel wants you to believe must have come from Hamas.  

1 p.m. ET  Transcript of predictably weak "Meet the Press"  David Gregory interview with Netanyahu today.  The Israeli leader still claims maybe Hamas rockets wrecking that UN school (see below).  He avows Israel not targeted "a single civilian" and anyway there are "plenty of places" they can flee to. This is standard stuff.

But Gregory then commits one of the worst journalistic ethical lapses of recent weeks.  After letting Netanyahu claim, again, that Israel may be blameless in the school massacre, he brings on UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness--and blindsides him by showing a tape just released within the hour by Israel allegedly showing a Hamas rocket being fired from the grounds of a UN school.  Yet Gregory says NBC has not "verified" that it's accurate--and admits that Gunness cannot view it and has never seen it.  Yet asks Gunness to respond!  Gunness naturally protests the unfairness--and then the segment quickly ends.

UPDATE  Gregory has now issued this statement:  “An end note in a discussion about Gaza we asked a spokesman about this video which Israel claims showed rockets being fired by Hamas from a U.N. school in Gaza,” Gregory said. “This is shot by the Israeli government, and that’s their claim. The U.N. has reviewed it, tells us they have confirmed, in their view, the video does not show rockets being fired from U.N. administrative school in Gaza. So this is a back and forth we are not able to settle at this point.”   No apology or recognition of his severe ethical lapse.

In perhaps the most revolting official Israel statement of the war, the IDF announced today that after a probe it admitted it had fired deliberately mortars at the UN school in Beit Hanoun where 15 were killed Thursday and over 100 injured.  This after claiming  (which the NYT and other media in U.S. swallowed eagerly) that quite possibly it was a misfired Hamas rocket.  But the IDF adds:  When they hit the school yard there was no one there!  And so Hamas and average citizens must have lied about the casualties from that, I guess.

Or more likely:  Israel knows that any media, UN or independent probe--once it's safe to visit the school site if shelling ever stops in area--will find evidence of Israeli missile or bombs.  In fact,  some of the journos who have gotten to the site have already suggested that.  So they can no longer lie and say they did not hit the school at all.  But, hey presto:  They can claim one single round did hit the playground--when it was empty!  Even though there were 1000 there at the time awaiting evacuation.  Meaning that it was also shelled, I guess, at the same time, by Hamas, which somehow misfired about five rockets that made direct hits killing everyone.  And if you believe that--and the NYT and others probably will, wait for it--I have a bridge to nowhere I'd like to sell you.

So will NYT and other U.S. media now admit they erred in publishing Israel propaganda denying it targeted school? My earlier report.

10:00 a.m. ET Israel's main talking point for continuing its brutal assault on Gaza involves "the tunnels"--but have any U.S. media done an indie probe of actual threat from them? We've seen NYT guided IDF tours and repeated claims of how many are found and destroyed but what is the real danger from them?  All that is cited are a handful of incidents, some from years ago, of "militants" sneaking in and killing or capturing a few Israelis.  I don't doubt that butyou'd think if they were that extensive and well-used that there would have been weekly, and bigger, Hamas entries.  Maybe I'm wrong about that but the point is--no one in the media is explaining this adequately.  More than any other aspect of the war, the IDF is the sole source.

Finally, what is the connection between "destroying tunnels" and targeting hundreds of buildings many miles from the border?  Israel claims tunnels run beneath buildings--but as far away as Gaza City and further south?  Yet media reports rarely raise this.  We know there are tunnels that stretch for a long way in the other direction, towards Egypt, but how far do the Israel-bound tunnels stretch? And why haven't they caused more deadly mischief in the past?


New Gallup poll finds women, people under 50, Democrats and non-whites all firmly against Israel's actions in this war.  Yet few if any members of Congress, that I've seen, and few in U.S. media reflect this.

Over a million around the world--including Tel Aviv--took to streets yesterday to protest Israel's actions.

Wast Post reveals in passing this factoid: One of the 3 Israeli civilians so far was a Thai worker.  Another was a Bedouin, who are not even recognized by Israelis with full rights.  That means exactly one actual full Israeli civilian (a settler) has been killed.  

Hamas this morning backtracks and announces ceasefire, saying it did so at urging of U.N.   No response from Israel so far.

Haaretz: 2 young Palestinian badly beaten by Israeli mob, then police don't call ambulance.

Wash Post, with straight face, in reviewing current state of war and compares to past conflict, states, "In Lebanon, too, casualties on both sides were high."  Yes puts on equal plain the 45 Israeli dead (military and civilian) and a few dozen injured and the 1045 Palestinian dead and 5700 injured.  The story does reveal this factoid:  one of the 3 Israeli civilians was a Thai worker.  Another was a Bedouin, who are not even recognized as Israelis with full rights.  That means exactly one actual full Israeli civilian (a settler) has been killed. 

I reported earlier on the soon-to-be-famous tweets by Jon Donnison of the BBC reporting that Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld had just told him that contrary to the claims that helped provoke this war Israel did not believe that Hamas had the three Israeli teens killed back in June.  Instead they now believed that it was a local "cell" that Hamas did not direct.  Well.  This was such a blockbuster that many held a wait and see attitude, since Donnison did not quickly produce a segment on it.  But Donnison last night tweeted, "For those asking, I stick by 100% tweets regarding comments made to me by Israeli police spokes Mickey Rosenfeld. He said it. Period....And what's more I suspect what he said is common knowledge in Israeli intelligence circles."

NYT late Saturday finally changed headline on story it posted this morning-- which declared, "Gazans and Israelis Tally Damage."   I pointed out here (see below) and via Twitter that the story did not, or could not, point to a single example of Israel damage (beyond it reputation and moral standing, perhaps).  Instead, it had Israelis going to the beach ("It's fun"), holding bar-b-qs and visiting soldiers.  Perhaps feeling shame, the paper has finally changed the headline.  It also added  reference to 21 Gazans in one family killed by Israeli shelling last night--but as always reporter allows Israel flack to claim it must have been because of Hamas fire from nearby.  

 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Updates (From the Top) on Gaza-Israel Tragedy

Hollywood's younger stars and other younger celebs, many of them Jewish,  much more willing to criticize Israel than older generation.  Reflects polls showing younger Americans less supportive of Israeli policies.  A Gallup poll shows that most Democrats oppose the Israeli attacks, while Republicans overwhelmingly support.

Wash Post tonight, with straight face, in reviewing current state of war and compares to past conflict, states, "In Lebanon, too, casualties on both sides were high."  Yes puts on equal plain the 45 Israeli dead (military and civilian) and a few dozen injured and the 1045 Palestinian dead and 5700 injured.

The story does reveal this factoid:  one of the 3 Israeli civilians was a Thai worker.  Another was a Bedouin, who are not even recognized as Israelis with full rights.  That means exactly one actual full Israeli civilian (a settler) has been killed. 

I reported yesterday on the soon-to-be-famous tweets by Jon Donnison of the BBC reporting that Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld had just told him that contrary to the claims that helped provoke this war Israel did not believe that Hamas had the three Israeli teens killed back in June.  Instead they now believed that it was a local "cell" that Hamas did not direct.  Well.  This was such a blockbuster that many held a wait and see attitude, since Donnison did not quickly produce a segment on it.  But Donnison tonight tweets, "For those asking, I stick by 100% tweets regarding comments made to me by Israeli police spokes Mickey Rosenfeld. He said it. Period....And what's more I suspect what he said is common knowledge in Israeli intelligence circles."

NYT tonight finally changes headline on story it posted this morning-- which declared, "Gazans and Israelis Tally Damage."   I pointed out here (see below) and via Twitter that the story did not, or could not, point to a single example of Israel damage (beyond it reputation and moral standing, perhaps).  Instead, it had Israelis going to the beach ("It's fun"), holding bar-b-qs and visiting soldiers.  Perhaps feeling shame, the paper has finally changed the headline.  It also added  reference to 21 Gazans in one family killed by Israeli shelling last night--but as always reporter allows Israel flack to claim it must have been because of Hamas fire from nearby.  

Haaretz: 2 young Palestinian badly beaten by Israeli mob, then police don't call ambulance.  

Jodi Rudoren at NYT naturally includes in her fawning profile of Netanyahu tonight a reference to the "anti-Semitic tinge" of protests against Israel's bombing of Gaza.  Yes, there have been small examples of that--amid hundreds of thousands of protesters expressing none of that.  Except the usual anti-Israel policy = anti-Semitism. 

Typical top NYT headline today As Cease-Fire Holds, Gazans and Israelis Tally Damage.  Except, there's been so little damage in Israel--and the story, amazingly, can't even cite on example.   One side is pulling bodies out of rubble, those on other side go out to "beaches," host "barbeques,"  visit soldiers and "pick peppers." One Israeli there says,  "It's fun."  And civilian death toll 1020-3 so far.  And story makes clear near the top that we know Israel's only out to hit tunnels and Hamas hides weapons all over the place.  And closes with false hint that most of dead were armed militants.

Israel's ultra-hawkish ambassador to U.S. got his start working with GOP's Frank Luntz, then wrote book that influenced Bush foreign policy, helped Romney. Believes Israel today deserves Nobel Peace Prize.

Must-read New Yorker piece by a leading Israeli author on mood there now:  "It’s become clear during this operation that the right wing has lost its patience in all matters regarding that elusive term, 'freedom of speech.' In the past two weeks, we’ve seen right wingers beating left wingers with clubs, Facebook messages promising to send left-wing activists to the gas chambers, and denunciations of anyone whose opinion delays the military on its way to victory. It turns out that this bloody road we walk from operation to operation is not as cyclical as we may have once thought. This road is not a circle, it’s a downward spiral, leading to new lows, which, I’m sad to say, we’ll be unlucky enough to experience."  (h/t @BBedway)

Those who survived mass killings accuse Israel of using "human shields."  

Chris Guinness of UNWRA tweets:  "UN reports a rise child mortalities, miscarriages and premature births among pregnant women. Pity the women & children of Gaza...45,000 women pregnant women in in need of maternity care and an estimated 5,000 of these displaced by the current conflict...Access to maternal health services in increasingly limited by attacks near & on health facilities. Women paying inordinate price."  Women's organizations in U.S. largely silent. 

Major piece at The Guardian on Gazans able to venture out finally amid 12-hour ceasefire--and shocked at the full extent of the damage (left).  Also:  death toll there has shot up again and topped 1,000 as 85 bodies are pulled from rubble. 
At the nearby hospital, six patients and 33 medical staff had spent the night huddled in the X-ray department as the neighbourhood was shelled, said the director, Bassam Abu Warda. A tank shell had hit the second floor of the building, leaving a gaping hole, and the facade was peppered with holes from large-calibre bullets.
Two Red Crescent ambulances were hit in Beit Hanoun overnight, killing a medic and wounding three, one critically, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. On Saturday, rescue workers pulled the scorched body of the medic from the wrecked vehicle, which had been hit about 200 metres from the hospital.
"Targeting ambulances, hospitals and medical workers is a serious violation of the law of war," said Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC delegation for Israel and the occupied territories.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus 11 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 on the U.S. suppression of film for decades)  since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media reactions in the decades after.

July 26, 1945:

Early on July 26, Chief of Staff Gen.George Marshall cabled to Gen. Leslie Groves, military chief of the Manhattan Project back in Washington, DC, his approval of a directive sent by Groves the night before. It read: “1. The 509th Composite Group, Twentieth Air Force, will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Nigata and Nagasaki…. 2. Additional bombs will be delivered on the above targets as soon as made ready by the project staff…..”

This assembly-line approach would have tragic consequences for the city of Nagasaki. (Kyoto had been removed from the target list after the Secretary of War Henry Stimson pleaded that destroying this historic and beautiful city would really turn the Japanese against us in the postwar period.)

In a 1946 letter to Stimson, Truman reminded him that he had ordered the bombs used against cities engaged “exclusively” in war work. Truman would later write in his memoirs, “With this order the the wheels were set in motion for the first use of an atomic weapon against a military target.” Even years after the decision, and all the evidence (largely kept from the American people) that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only partly “military” targets, Truman still acted otherwise.

The other major event from this day was equally significant. The Potsdam Declaration was issued in Germany by the United States, Britain and China. (The Soviet Union was still ostensibly not at war with Japan but agreed to enter the conflict around August 7. This has led some to suggest that we used the bombs quickly to try to end the war before the Russians could claim much new territory.) It was Truman’s first key wartime conference with other top leaders.

The declaration ordered Japan to surrender immediately and unconditionally or face a reign of ruin—“prompt and utter destruction”—although the new weapon was not mentioned (such a warning had been considered by Truman but rejected). Much was made of the importance of the “unconditional” aspect but three weeks later, after the use of the new bombs, we accepted a major condition, allowing the Japanese to keep their emperor, and still called the surrender “unconditional.”

Some historians believe that if we had agreed to that condition earlier Japan might have started the surrender process before the use of the atomic bombs. Others believe an explicit warning to the Japanese, or a demonstration of the new weapon offshore in Japan, would have speeded the surrender process. But the Potsdam Declaration set US policy in stone.

Greg Mitchell’s latest book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Updates (From Top) on Gaza-Israel Tragedy

It's, in some ways, if true, just about  the biggest news of the day: An Israeli official has admitted, it's reported by @JonDonnison of the BBC, that Hamas did not kidnap and kill those three teens!  Instead it was a small local "cell" that might have been sympathetic to Hamas but not ordered to do it.

You'll recall this whole round of ultra-violence kicked off by savage crackdown in search for "Hamas" killers of the teens.  Some pointed out long ago that unlikely Hamas did this, knowing how Israel would respond, leading to claims that Israel wanted to pick fight with Hamas now.  This revelation may be coming to light as Israeli police need to explain why they have not caught the killers of the teens yet--so they are claiming very hard because an unknown "cell."  More to come.

From Israeli daily Haaretz just now (8:00 p.m. ET): "IDF forces stationed in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip continued bombing a hospital in the area before midnight Friday. There are approximately 60 medical staff members in the hospital, in addition to three patients and two international solidarity activists.

"Several people were injured in the fire including one swede. Most of the patients were already evacuated from the premises.  It's now chaos, the military is shelling directly at us. There are two patients on the second floor and we think they're okay, but we can't move them easily as they're bed-bound. I'm bleeding from a head wound and there's another person injured. People are very frightened," Fred Ekblad, a Swedish activist said. (Amira Hass)." 

Latest official numbers from Gaza Health Ministry:  Out of the 848 dead, 40 were elderly (20 males, 20 females), 600 were adults (518 males, 82 females) and 208 were children (138 males, 70 females).

Out of the 5,694 injured:  230 elderly (108 males, 122 females), 3685 adults (2573 males, 1112 females) and 1779 children (1126 males, 653 females).

Chris Guinness, UNWRA spokesman, in statement.  No proof on who fired but--now, why wouldn't Israel want a probe?  "At 1400 today an UNRWA team which included an international weapons expert went to the school at Beit Hanoun which came under attack yesterday causing multiple deaths and injury. The aim of the visit to the site was to survey the scene in the aftermath of the incident. The Israeli army had been notified in advance about the composition of the team, the time and purpose of the visit. The mission had to be cut short and the team was forced to leave the area after gunfire around the school. UNRWA regrets not being able complete even this initial assessment. We will attempt to visit the site when the situation allows. We again underline our call for an immediate and comprehensive investigation."

Five Palestinians now dead in West Bank protests.  One shot by a settler.  From The Guardian:
In the first incident, 46-year-old Hashem Abu Marieh and 30-year-old Sultan Yusef were killed in the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar near the flashpoint southern city of Hebron by Israeli soldiers.
In the second incident, a group of settlers opened fire on protesting Palestinians after they threw stones at their car near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The settler fire killed an 18-year-old Palestinian named as Khaled Oudeh. Shortly afterwards, Israeli troops arrived at the scene and clashed with the Palestinians, firing live bullets and tear gas.
The Israeli army fire killed a second Palestinian, 22-year-old Tayyib Oudeh, the security sources said, adding that three other Palestinians were injured by live fire.
Hashem Abu Maria, 46, killed today in Beit Ummar near Hebron by Israeli soldiers worked with Defence for Children, an NGO for Palestinian kids.

You can rest easily now that Michael Gordon, veteran war hawk and Judy Miller's co-author on some of her most notorious Iraq WMD pieces, joins Gaza-Israel coverage at the NYT.  Reports that Hamas has chemical weapons may soon follow....

On the other hand, Anne Barnard of the Times tweets "RE "human shields"--Israeli troops' use of them in WB & Gaza is well-documented; IDF says punishable aberation; HR gps say in past systemic."  And she links to several cases, e.g. hereAnother incident took place near site of yesterday's school massacre.   Gaza residents this week have charges that IDF soldiers have entered their homes and fired weapons from there.

Richard Engel of NBC yesterday tweeted that he was in Gaza in ambulance under attack by Israel.  Here's his report on this common occurrence:


Massive demos in West Bank last night left one or more Palestinians dead and hundreds injured (235 admitted to one hospital).   John Kerry pressing "ceasefire" talks--or "humanitarian pause"--but it would leave Israel within Gaza to clean out more tunnels, which doesn't seem likely to fly with Hamas.

My full report on disgrace at NYT as it trumpets Israel claim on not hitting UN school yesterday in both its news and editorial sections.

Extra Basis for Katz: Cooperstown's Hizzoner and Upcoming Book

Update:  Now NYT follows with major profile of Jeff today.  He had told me it was coming this past Tuesday when we had lunch over in White Plains, on his trip down here for his son's orientation at SUNY-Purchase.    Induction ceremonies this weekend but Jeff's baseball book drawing notice.  We share several other interests, and we are also among the few who have journeyed out to....Big Pink. Last month he wrote about President Obama's recent visit to Cooperstown for my blog.

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.