Saturday, August 26, 2006

Thank you Matthew Good

Last night, I was one of about 20 lucky Matthew Good fans lucky enough to attend a private concert at his house, perhaps the last concert he gives (hopefully not), certainly the last one before he leaves the country for an undetermined period of time. He's had a rough go of it the last six months, with his ex-wife leaving him, and I think it's good he's getting away from it all.

Matthew Good is a rare bread, a relatively successful musician with a large following who truly shows that he appriciates and cares about his fans. Doing what he did last night, in this day and age, is unheard of for a professional musician of his calibre.

Matt, if you read this, thank you for last night, for your music, and for making a difference in the world. See you on your blog.

Elizabeth May: new Green Party leader.

Elizabeth May, as expected, has won the leadership of the Green Party of Canada. I am, to say the least, intrigued. I have a feeling that she could bring about the rise of the party. I have said to myself before that I would never join any politcal party again, but to be honest, I'm thinking about it. Not acting on it, but thinking about it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

NCW report

The National Council of Welfare has released a report showing how significantly welfare rates have decreased over recent decades. That is particlarly pronounced when inflation is taken into account.

It is astounding that a sane society can treat the poorest of it's citiziens like this, in some cases denying them their right to the basic necessities of life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I'm with Gandhi. Poverty is the worst form of violence.

Stephen Lewis closes the AIDS Conference

Stephen Lewis gave a speech at the closing of the International AIDS conference in Toronto that basically smmed up his years of frustration with the UN and certain member countries. He also made some recommendations. Interestingly the AIDs pandemic in Africa,, he also expressed his support for the InSite in Vancouver:

Harm reduction programmes do work. Needle exchange and methadone treatment save lives. More, it would be positively perverse to close the 'Insite' safe injection facility in Vancouver when it has been positively evaluated in a number of studies; in fact there should be several more such facilities in Canada and around the world. Russia, Central Asia, parts of India are all struggling with transmission through injecting drug use. To shut 'Insite' down is to invite HIV infection and death. One has to wonder about the minds of those who would so readily punish injecting drug users rather than understanding the problem for what it is: a matter of public health.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

HRW report on Israeli war crimes

Human Rights Watch has released a report accusing the IDF of committing war crimes against the Lebanese people:

This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Lebanon between July 12 and July 27, 2006, as well as the July 30 attack in Qana. During this period, the IDF killed an estimated 400 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and that number climbed to over 500 by the time this report went to print. The Israeli government claims it is taking all possible measures to minimize civilian harm, but the cases documented here reveal a systematic failure by the IDF to distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Since the start of the conflict, Israeli forces have consistently launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military gain but excessive civilian cost. In dozens of attacks, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some cases, the timing and intensity of the attack, the absence of a military target, as well as return strikes on rescuers, suggest that Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians.

The Israeli government claims that it targets only Hezbollah, and that fighters from the group are using civilians as human shields, thereby placing them at risk. Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack. Hezbollah occasionally did store weapons in or near civilian homes and fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers, which are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. However, those cases do not justify the IDF’s extensive use of indiscriminate force which has cost so many civilian lives. In none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack.

By consistently failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians, Israel has violated one of the most fundamental tenets of the laws of war: the duty to carry out attacks on only military targets. The pattern of attacks during the Israeli offensive in Lebanon suggests that the failures cannot be explained or dismissed as mere accidents; the extent of the pattern and the seriousness of the consequences indicate the commission of war crimes.


A couple of things that seem to be overlooked by just about everyone with respect to Israel's case for military actions.

1) You remember hearing about those prisoners Hezbollah wants released in exchange for the Isreali soldiers who were kidnapped. Well, if they are among the Hezbalah prisoners who are being held without charge, that changes the optics of the issue. Kidnapping is a crime regardless, but it shows that Hezbollah is merely playing the same game as the Israelis.

2) Hezbollah did not start firing missiles into Israel until the IDF began their airstrikes. Ergo, Israel's self defense claim does not hold up.