Thursday, July 31

Chaos Upon Us.

Wall Street Journal reports:

The fighting this week has pushed living conditions in Gaza to a crisis point, according to the U.N. and international relief organizations. Israeli fire destroyed Gaza's only power plant on Tuesday, leaving much of the territory without electricity. The outage has disabled sewage pumps, causing waste to run in city streets. The fighting has also disrupted water treatment systems.

"Our shelters are overflowing," said Pierre Krahenbuhl, Unrwa's commissioner-general. "Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue."

About 3,300 people were crowded into the shelter at the Jabalia Elementary Girls School in northern Gaza when three blasts tore through the building just before dawn, leaving floors and mattresses in classrooms smeared with blood and strewed with children's shoes.

"Children were killed as they slept next to their parents," said Mr. Krahenbuhl. A guard at the school was killed. Mr. Krahenbuhl condemned what he called a "serious violation of international law by Israeli forces."
...
Without power to charge their cellphones or watch TV, many Palestinians got only limited information about Israel's four-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting on Wednesday, which a Hamas spokesman dismissed as a "media stunt."

Guy Inbar, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said Arabic-speaking Israeli officials gave two interviews—one on Palestinian Ma'an network, the other on BBC Arabic—explaining that the truce didn't apply to areas of ongoing combat. They specifically named Shujaiyeh, where the market was hit, as a no-go zone.

It wasn't immediately clear what hit the fruit and vegetable market and nearby fuel station, sending up a cloud of black smoke.

Among the dead was Rami Rayan, a journalist with the Palestinian Network for Journalism and Media.

Wednesday, July 30

Shame, Shame, Double Shame...

Everybody Knows Your Name...

(Reuters) - The United States has allowed Israel, waging an offensive in the Gaza Strip, to tap a local U.S. arms stockpile in the past week to resupply it with grenades and mortar rounds, a U.S. defense official said on Thursday.

The munitions were located inside Israel as part of a program managed by the U.S. military and called War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), which stores munitions locally for U.S. use that Israel can also access in emergency situations.

Israel, however, did not cite an emergency
when it made its latest request about 10 days ago, the defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The United States allowed Israel to access the strategic stockpile anyway to resupply itself with 40mm grenades and 120mm mortar rounds to deplete older stocks that would eventually need to be refreshed.

"They didn't ask for it from there but we gave it to them so we could rotate our stocks," the official said.

Additional Israeli requests for U.S.-manufactured ammunition were also being processed in the United States, the official said. The official did not offer further details on quantities or costs of ammunition already supplied or requested.

Israel's embassy in Washington declined comment about the resupply request, including whether it asked for the ammunition because of its operations in Gaza.

Separately, U.S. lawmakers were working in Congress to provide millions of dollars in additional funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" missile shield.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee added $225 million for Iron Dome to a spending bill intended mainly to provide money to handle an influx of thousands of Central American children across the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 1,346 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since Israel began its offensive on July 8 with the declared aim of halting cross-border rocket fire and destroying the tunnel network of the Islamist group Hamas.

On the Israeli side, 56 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Storey and Mohammad Zargham)
This isn't even the final pricetag.
(Who do you think will be footing the bill for the rebuilding of Gaza, and the massive humanitarian assistance that is now and will be needed in the coming days?)

Destruction is easy; Any dummy can do it.
Building something sustainable... that's the hard part.
How do we honestly defend this?

ADDED:
The attack on the market in Shejaiya killed 17 people and wounded 160 as hundreds tried to buy fruit and vegetables, the Palestinian health ministry said.

A journalist who worked for a local news agency was reported to have been killed.

One witness, Salim Qadoum, told Associated Press: "The area is like a bloodbath, everyone is wounded or killed. People lost their limbs and were screaming for help. It's a massacre."

Mr Ban called the attack "unconscionable".

The attack there and in Khan Younis came during a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire called by the Israelis after the school attack. However, Israel said the truce was only partial and applied to areas where Israeli soldiers were not currently operating. It told residents not to return to areas they had previously been asked to evacuate.

Hamas had rejected the truce as meaningless and "media exploitation".
...
The Israeli military said in a statement that its "initial inquiry suggests militants fired mortars... from the vicinity of the school in Jabaliya".

It said soldiers had "responded by firing towards the origin of fire".
Oy.
The shelling of a market near Gaza City killed 17, while booby traps claimed the lives of three Israeli soldiers.
Precision targeting counts in war. A lot.
Interesting when the response to ongoing military deaths incurred during wartime is to continually go off, half cocked. No disciplined fighting there.

Real soldiers don't kills sleeping children.
The UN expressed outrage at the attack on the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

Spokesman Chris Gunness told the BBC that Israel had been told 17 times that the school was housing displaced people, saying the attack caused "universal shame".

Mr Ban later said: "I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable, and it demands accountability and justice.

"Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children."
...
Some 58 Israelis have been killed, 56 soldiers and two civilians. A Thai worker in Israel has also died.

MEANWHILE IN ISRAEL...

The Flopping Continues.*
(I'm embarrased for the people in this picture, even if they're not for themselves. Putting themselves in the dirt like animals, and deliberately.

"Get up already, people. Dust yourselves off and join the real world. Showing weakness like this always ... why? Stop feigning and toughen up, buttercups. It is the only way to truly live freely...")

Gil Cohen Magen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
* [A] flop is an intentional fall by a player after little or no physical contact by an opposing player in order to draw a personal foul call by an official against the opponent. The move is sometimes called acting, as in "acting as if he was fouled".

Because it is inherently designed to deceive the official, flopping is generally considered to be unsportsmanlike.

Flopping effectively is not easy to do, primarily because drawing contact can sometimes result in the opposite effect—a foul called on the defensive player—when too much contact is drawn or if the player has not positioned himself perfectly. Additionally, even if no foul is called on either player, by falling to the floor, the flopping defensive player will have taken himself out of position to provide any further defensive opposition on the play, thus potentially allowing the offense to score easily.

Also:
[T]he penalty for "flopping" is a technical foul if caught in-game, and a fine if caught after the game in video reviews. The technical foul is a non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul (one of six fouls a player may be assessed before disqualification; no ejection is possible).
Say, is there much flopping in competitive flag football, do you think? (Mastery of technique and all...)
2012-13 National Federation of State High School Associations basketball rule 10.6.f specifically defines "faking being fouled," in the judgment of an official, as unsportsmanlike conduct subject to penalty of a technical foul, but in practice this call is exceptionally rare.
Too bad.
It really takes away from the sporting game action in the long run.

We Come from the Land of the Ice and Snow...*

No, really, from the land of the Kalahari and Great Wolf...

#MySister'sFamilyRocks!

---------------

* and the soundtrack pick for this blogpost, to finish off your Hump Day right.

... from the all-day fun where even hot springs blow-o-o, ooh.

Sunday, July 27

Putin's Daughter Lived in Amsterdam.

But she's keeping a low profile since the Malaysian flight was shot down:

Putin has done a very good job of keeping even basic information about Maria and his other daughter, 28-year-old Ekaterina, under wraps. Still, the fact that Maria and her Dutch boyfriend, Jorrit Faasen, share a $3.3 million penthouse in the suburb of Voorschoten is something of an open secret.

Earlier this week, the mayor of the nearby city of Hilversum, Pieter Broertjes, called for Maria to be deported from the Netherlands. Though Broertjes quickly apologized for his remarks, a number of Dutch people have expressed similar sentiments on social media. "Very convenient that Maria Putina lives so close to The Hague," wrote one Twitter user. "Won't have to go far to see her father's trial."

Based on what her neighbors told British tabloid The Mirror, Maria has gotten the message. "We have not seen her here since the plane went down," said one woman. "She moved in last year and it was all kept quiet for a while. But once it became known who she was, there was certainly some disquiet. And now this has happened. She is obviously not responsible for her father's actions but we don't want ­demonstrations around here."

Saturday, July 26

Hamas Didn't Kidnap and Kill the Israeli Students Afterall.

The recent explosion of violence in Gaza may have been initially sparked by false or inaccurate claims, according to Israeli police.  The ongoing conflict began last month when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped from a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. Their bodies were later discovered in a field outside the city of Hebron. Before police were able to determine who was responsible, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed blame for the tragic deaths squarely on Hamas, Gaza’s elected political leadership—an accusation that may prove to be false.

On Friday, Chief Inspector Micky Rosenfeld, foreign press spokesman for the Israel Police, reportedly told BBC journalist Jon Donnisonhe that the men responsible for murders were not acting on orders of Hamas leadership. Instead, he said, they are part of a “lone cell.” 
...
During the course of Israel’s investigation, some 400 Palestinians were arrested and up to 10 others were killed.  
...
Israel's crackdown in the West Bank instigated Hamas to begin firing rockets into Israel—a move that quickly escalated the conflict.

In early July, several members or activists connected to Hamas were killed, including a 14-year-old boy, which led the group to intensified their rocket attacks. Although there were no resulting deaths, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) began successive airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” Netanyahu said in reference to the kidnapping. However, Inspector Rosenfeld’s statements, along with a number of reports concerning the identities of known police suspects, seem to indicate that Hamas leadership was not involved in the vicious crime.
...
At the time of writing, a reported 848 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed, including 208 children in Gaza, since July 8 when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge.

A number of Middle East journalists have written articles accusing the Israeli government of politicide—launching Israel into renewed conflict with Hamas in order to sabotage the formation of the unified Palestinian government that it so adamantly opposed.
...
The killing of 15 women and children by the Israel Defense Force at a UN elementary school in Beit Hanoun appears to be unifying Palestinians, but not through a shared interest in diplomacy. Roughly 10,000 protesters in the West Bank marched on Jerusalem Thursday after the school bombing. Two were killed and hundreds injured when the march clashed with Israeli police near the Qalandiya refugee camp.

On Friday, Hamas called for a third intifada and Abbas called for a “Day of Rage” marked with increased protests. “This is your opportunity,” a Hamas spokesperson said in response to the protests.

If the reported findings of the Israeli Police hold up and Hamas is officially cleared of any wrongdoing in the case of the three kidnapped Israeli teens, Netanyahu and the Israeli government may have to explain why a massive military operation, with an 80 percent rate of civilian casualties, was instigated under a false premise.

And if violence in the West Bank continues to spread, the IDF may find itself divided on two fronts.

The Children of Tomorrow...

According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, from January 2005 to December 2010, at least 835 Palestinian minors, ages 12 to 17, were arrested and tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing. On Thursday night, though, some Palestinians said they sensed a transition of sorts.

“This is the first time I have seen this many children demonstrating,” said Muayed Debah, 21, an ambulance worker whose job was to retrieve the dead and injured at the Thursday protest.

Thousands of Palestinians were throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, and burning tires at Israeli security forces at the Qalandia checkpoint straddling Israel and the West Bank, where restiveness is rising as casualties and violence mount in Gaza. Israel’s military acknowledges that its soldiers used live rounds, rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas canisters against the crowds. The military said it did so in self-defense, because soldiers felt their lives were threatened.
------------------

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
In the wind of change...

~The Scorpions.

Oak Ridge Boys Summer Saturday.

Ok, here's one from the memory vaults (1982):

I wish you could have turned my head
and left my heart alone...
Ever since I've known you, baby,
you have done me wrong.
You walk by and you shake that thing
and you know I'm not that strong...
I wish you would have turned my head
and left my heart alone.

Bush's Brain... Bibi's Brain... a real No-Brainer.*

In a fawning article that fails to answer honest questions (how did first wife Adi Blumberg die at 29?), this fellow Ron Dermer appears to be a roaring success.

He co-wrote the book, in fact, that President George W. Bush relied upon as his bible in spreading democracy, peace and love in the Middle East. (America got the bills, but not the product promised.)

I wonder if Israel's methods will prove as successful in the long run?

WASHINGTON — As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Ron Dermer reluctantly accepted an assignment to argue that Israel should be condemned for its treatment of Palestinians.

“You’ll do it or I’ll flunk you,” his professor, the Republican pollster Frank Luntz, recalled telling Mr. Dermer, the quick-witted son of a prominent Miami Beach family. Mr. Dermer, barrel-chested and unrelenting, turned in such a passionate performance that Mr. Luntz declared him the debate’s victor. Mr. Dermer celebrated with a call to his Israeli-born mother.

“How did you do it?” Yaffa Dermer recalled asking incredulously.

“I lied,” Mr. Dermer said. “Like they do.”
Horowitz sprinkles in some humor with his obvious admiration of ... "the barrel-chested" politician.
It was Mr. Dermer who helped arrange a meeting between Mr. Netanyahu and former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York after Mr. Bloomberg pushed the case that the Tel Aviv airport was safe by taking what was, for him, a rare commercial flight.

“I told him, ‘There’s no limit to the sacrifices you are willing to make for the Jewish people,’ ” Mr. Dermer said.
Lol. Horowitz too, has an obvious affection for ZBT's, who were considered a decent academic frat at Northwestern, but not really all that and a bag of chips. Horowitz, however, assumes otherwise:
As Mr. Bloomberg spoke on an Israeli television station playing behind him, Mr. Dermer leaned back, exhibiting the self-assurance common to former residents of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity houses — he accepted the fraternity’s Man of the Year award that evening — and the competitive streak of a Hall of Fame Israeli flag football quarterback.
You wonder if his academic skills were as rich as his financial opportunism, and if the ZBT test files, and the earlier mentioned penchant for lying, perhaps led to his outstanding student record:
He applied only to the University of Pennsylvania for its top Wharton business school and started a multicollege business selling “exam buster” study aides with answers to previous tests. Then he enrolled in a political class taught by Mr. Luntz.
It sounds like his first marriage ended in tragedy; suicide perhaps? Mr. Horowitz never provides the simple facts:
In 1995, Mr. Dermer worked in Israel with the Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky — Mr. Luntz was the connection — to establish a new immigrant party. In 1997, he began the process of becoming an Israeli immigrant himself, and the next year he married Adi Blumberg, an artist and daughter of the chairman of the Bank of Jerusalem.

Mr. Dermer declined to talk about Ms. Blumberg, who died less than two years after their wedding, but in his eulogy he said, “For those few who understood her — and there were indeed very few who did — the magic of her presence will never fade.”
Then, there's the book...
In 2004, Mr. Dermer and Mr. Sharansky published a book, “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror,” which captivated President George W. Bush and helped shape his foreign policy.
You'd think his career in Washington would be effectively over; his track record of results is disastrous. Nope, ambition exceeds rational thought, and the barrel-chested man -- whom Horowitz so ably builds up here, continues on amassing accolades as the costs and destruction add up.

Something tells me, like Bloomberg flying commercial, this guy rarely pays his own bills or even reviews the receipts; he's continually covered by others as he advances along, lucky soul...
-----------------

* He reminds me of the mid-40s version of American charlatan Paul Ryan.  They appear to fit the parts, so people don't look closely at their work product.  Image is everything, and somebody has decided that for these times -- these are the men demographically selected right now to play the role of "leaders".

The only blessing is to look ahead, and remember how quickly the 1950s passed into the turbulent 60's and 70's, and what a game-changer that was in terms of shared power, and the decline of politically connected power elites. Demographics matter.

So beat those barrel chests while you can, big boys; in time, with further questioning, honest people will come to realize just how hollow these accomplishments are...

(ADDED:  Mr. Dermer ought to go with a darker shade of lipstick as well.  The light-lipped look is fine if you're wearing sunscreen on the beach, but it's the wrong color for him in his many media appearances.  Looks too artificial.)

Thousands take to NY streets...

...to protest Israeli offensive in Gaza.

By REUTERS:

NEW YORK - Thousands of people took to the streets of New York City on Friday evening to protest Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip and demand an end to the violence that has reportedly killed nearly 850 Palestinians.

Police scrambled to corral the demonstrators, which officers estimated numbered between 2,000 and 3,000, as they flooded into the busy streets around Times Square.

Waving Palestinian flags and signs condemning Israel for the offensive, many called for an end to US aid to the country.

"We're trying to break the siege and end the killing in Palestine. We just want them to live like human beings," said Ramsey Jamal, 37, a Palestinian-American from Montgomery, New York.
...
The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip on Friday reportedly climbed to 844. Thirty-seven Israeli soldiers and three civilians have also died.
Say what you want to say...
and let the words fall out:
"I want to see you be free!


~ Sara Bareilles

Friday, July 25

August 26 Court Date.

With the customary 3-judge panel:

In a one-paragraph decision issued Friday, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 7th Circuit in Chicago wrote that a majority of judges in "regular active service" with the court voted to deny requests to have the full court, rather than a customary three-judge panel, hear appeals of decisions overturning laws banning same-sex marriage in Wisconsin and Indiana.
...
The court also set oral arguments in the Wisconsin case for Aug. 26 in Chicago. Each side will have 20 minutes to present its case, though the order noted that judges may decide that less time is required after reading legal briefs that have been submitted.

Reminds me of that old ethnic joke...

 where in the worst of all worlds, the Germans are the lovers, the Italians responsible for keeping time, the Greeks the bankers, the Irish the chefs... and the Jews the fighters?  (Close enough...)

The Onion reports:

JERUSALEM—In response to criticism surrounding the death toll during its ongoing incursion into Gaza, representatives from the Israeli government Wednesday emphasized that warnings sent to Palestinian civilians provided them with ample time to evacuate to nearby bombing sites.
“We are being very careful and thorough as we carry out our targeted strikes, and I can say, without question, that Palestinians are given more than enough time to leave their residences and find shelter in a future bombardment target,” said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, adding that whether alerted by phone, text message, or leaflet, Palestinians have sufficient opportunity to relocate to any number of locations marked for imminent aerial strikes.
“Giving Palestinian civilians the chance to seek safety in the home of a family member or friend that will be shelled to rubble in the next 48 hours is a gesture we deserve praise for, not condemnation. In fact, this initiative has been a major success in this campaign.” Ya’alon added that since there were numerous bombing sites Palestinians could take shelter in, he was not responsible for whatever happened to people who chose to stay home.
--------------------

ADDED: Eugene Robinson spells it out:
Israel says it is taking great pains to avoid civilian deaths. Indeed, Israel has been warning people to leave — with leaflets, text messages and non-lethal “roof-knocking” bombs — before smashing into residential neighborhoods. It is also true that in many instances Hamas, even knowing that an attack was coming, has instructed Gazans to stay put.

I have seen no confirmed reports, however, of Hamas using force to keep people in targeted areas so they can serve as human shields — and perhaps sway world opinion by boosting the body count. When people decide they must leave their homes, they can do so. But where are these evacuees supposed to go? To the nearest school or hospital? Not if these, too, are considered legitimate targets by the Israeli armed forces.

Gazans cannot flee across the closed border with Egypt. They obviously do not have the option of escaping into Israel or sailing away across the Mediterranean Sea. Gaza’s 1.8 million people are packed into an enclave measuring 139 square miles — an area and population roughly the size of Philadelphia.

Israeli officials say they would never consider attacking such targets as a school, a hospital or an apartment building unless Hamas were using these places — which should be off-limits in war — as military command posts, launch sites for rocket attacks and entry points for tunnels through which assassins and suicide bombers could enter Israel.

Again, however, there is the issue of proportionality. The military and political leadership of Hamas has much better intelligence about what the Israeli armed forces are doing, and more options for refuge and shelter, than the average Gazan. Indeed, we have not heard of any major Hamas figure being killed. So if you’re an Israeli commander and you know that there’s a Hamas military facility next to a medical clinic, but you’re not completely sure the militants are still there, while the clinic is likely packed with injured civilians, do you still pull the trigger?

Thursday, July 24

"You're Only a Boy..."

You don't really belong to them...
Come away with us before it's too late...








'








You'll never be one of them.*

----------------



  "... and that's a mighty good thing, son... 
Don't you ever forget it."

~ What the Captain should have immediately added, after disarming ... Rolfe

Monday, July 21

All those AIDS researchers' cell phones...

NYT writer Roger Cohen has some thoughts about the aftermath of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17:

“Swift recovery of the victims’ remains is now an absolute necessity and our highest priority,” Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said in a statement. “I am shocked by the images of completely disrespectful behavior at this tragic place.” He spoke to Putin to express his outrage.

That was pretty much it. Bodies rot in the sun for days. They are stashed in plastic bags in refrigerated railroad cars at a fly-infested station. The black box is a fungible bargaining chip. Louts go looting. It’s a free-for-all! Official investigation teams are barred at the perimeter. Putin spins implausible yarns robed in ghastly official formulas. His plausible deniability is utterly implausible.

A Dutch writer, Sidney Vollmer, addressed a bitter letter to Rutte thanking him for preserving the moral high ground of the Dutch, for “not rushing in for a bunch of rotting corpses” as “their wallets and iPhones make it all the way” to Moscow. The corpses, anyway, “will vanish into the fog of war” and, as everyone knows, “we need Gazprom.”
...
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has been playing with fire. His irredentism has made him a hero in Russia. It has endangered the world. Crimea was the swaggering precedent to this crime. The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 amounts to an act of war. It was impromptu perhaps, but still. Dutch corpses have rained down on the sunflowers and cornfields of eastern Ukraine, to be defiled even in death, 193 innocent Dutch souls dishonored by the thugs of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

“This is murder, mass murder. Let’s call it what it is,” said Julian Lindley-French, a defense analyst who lives in the small Dutch village of Alphen. “Shock is turning to anger here,” he told me, “and that anger will resonate in the coming weeks. This is the beginning of a period of complex torture for the Netherlands.”

The Dutch response has been of tip-toeing deference to Moscow. As for the European Union, it has been near-nonexistent. When crisis comes, Europe vanishes — the ghost that slithers away. The West has become an empty notion. The Dutch trade a lot with Russia. Europe floats along in a bubble of quasi pacifism. Better to be bullied than belligerent. Nobody wants the guns of August.
...
This mass murder is an outrage that should not stand. Falling military budgets have reduced the Dutch special forces to a paltry remnant. Russia would veto any United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing force for a limited mission to recover the bodies and the evidence. But Ukraine, on whose territory the debris and dead lie, would support it. The American, British, Dutch and Australian governments should set an ultimatum backed by the credible threat of force demanding unfettered access to the site.
...
Cohen concludes:
The self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic stares down Mark Rutte. The deathly poppy fields of 1914 give way to the deathly sunflower fields of 2014. Dutch flowers wing around the globe, still, a thriving trade.

A reader, Katherine Holden, sent me a poem called “The Flowering of Death.” She writes: “Velvet leaves and sturdy stems transient graves for children mothers lovers doctors teachers fathers students artists siblings seekers fallen from the darkening sky. Flesh-fed rain.”

Everyone wants the suns of August. Summer vacations rule. Nobody wants the guns — and damn the bigger guns appeasement may bring.

Playing Cleanup.

WaPo writer Jackson Diehl shrugs his shoulders and assumes nothing has changed after the latest in Gaza. He assumes Americans will once again be involved "making peace".

I think Americans are tiring of this process, and don't see a military victory coming in a densely populated civilian area. We are not so convinced of the Israeli victimhood, and tire of reading of the deaths. This is your solution? Long term?

The depressing reality is that this Gaza conflict is headed toward a familiar ending: many people killed but little changed. Israel most likely will avoid toppling Hamas from power in Gaza, since it does not want to go back to ruling the territory itself.
...
Netanyahu used the occasion of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month to arrest scores of Hamas operatives in the West Bank, a measure that sabotages the unity process.
...
Israel is arguably under greater international pressure than it was in 2008. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has grown more visible since then. However, it’s still a marginal phenomenon, particularly in the United States.
,,,
A smart U.S. strategy would aim at brokering a deal between Israel, Abbas and Hamas whereby prisoners are released and the blockade on Gaza eased in exchange for Hamas’s commitment to a long-term cease-fire and free and fair elections for a unified Palestinian government. The result could be ...
A wise man builds his house upon a Rock. Plans for his future, and understands he cannot have it all. Land or security. Enemies or neighbors. If you have two coats and your neighbor is shivering, take one off and give it to him. If your neighbor is hungry and you have plenty, share your bounty. This we know.

I don't think Americans understand the futility of paying to rebuild and help a people, then bombing them to smithereens every 4 or 5 years or so. We tire of your status quo survival -- it's like living from paycheck to paycheck, thinking you are living rich while it's all precariously perched on a weakening foundation.

Until Israel begins divesting of some of her takings, and working to help her neighbors prosper and not decline, I suspect in time more Americans will quietly discontinue support until the region is settled in peace.

Gun Death,,,

Claims PrawfsBlawg Founder Dan Markel, 41, at Home in Florida.
--------------
ADDED: Here's a nice tribute... and investigation update from the Tallahassee Democrat. Markel and his wife both taught at FSU Law.

Sunday, July 20

Garbly Gook.

The NYT editorial board has strung together a hodgepodge of phrases, shaming and pretty words.

But until they address the American people's genuine concerns -- and there are many -- they are preaching to the choir. (With borrowed words.)

The crisis of young migrants at the Texas border is a test of American values, one of those surprise exams that history now and then throws our way: Here are 57,000 helpless children. We are a nation of 300 million. Do we spit on them, or give them blankets and beds?*

It is a test that many are flunking. In Arizona, no surprise, people are losing their minds. Hearing that migrant children were being sent to the town of Oracle, a county sheriff instigated a protest that ensnared a busload of bewildered YMCA campers. A disbarred former county attorney running for governor has an ad showing a Mexican flag swallowing up a map of Arizona and the slogan “Before It’s Too Late.”

The fever is hot in other states, too: Graffiti denouncing “illeagles” in Maryland. A mayor whipping up a bus blockade in Murrieta, Calif. The call going out on YouTube for militias to get their weapons and boots, and man up to keep the little ones on their side of the river.

In Congress, which gave up on creating an orderly immigration system, Republicans are watching President Obama struggle to get a handle on the problem ...

As the crisis emboldens demagogues in Washington, Mr. Obama has the obligation to act the grown-up ...

This volatile situation demands courage and calm. Mr. Obama has the calm, but does he have the courage? ...

With Republicans in a frenzy, public support for immigrants is being tested. Leadership is needed.

The president, who has sought $3.7 billion from Congress for humanitarian and legal aid to migrant children, has the better argument. He has every right to defend his policies on moral as well as practical grounds, to confront the Tea Party’s fear and loathing with a call to treat traumatized children as refugees and protect them from harm.
...
It would be good to see Mr. Obama join other Democrats and Republicans in making the moral and legal case for compassionate action, to lead a backlash against the nativist backlash.
Keep this up -- pretending that we don't listen to the people of America, we lead them to righteousness, nevermind the cost or practicalities; that's for the little people to figure out... Praise the president!

I can't think of a better way to put more and more Republicans in office than to keep preaching such arrogance and to continue ignoring the honest issues in favor of status quo shaming. Enjoy it while you can, I guess.
----------------

* It's good to see the New York Times begin the missionary drive raising private funds to settle these children and families. I understand they've assigned young A.G. Sulzberger to lead the drive, for the good of the country.

The first $5 million in private funds from the family is expected to be matched by staffers forgoing a bit of their weekly paychecks, and some of the top-paid talents forgoing funding their retirement accounts until the crisis at our southern borders have passed.

I remember when our Church sponsored a family of Vietnames "boat people" in the early 8os. They grew with the people of the parish, and we welcomed them the best we could.

It's wonderful to see a private company step up during these times of need, to put just a little patch on a problem that obviously needs bigger government mending. But because we were caught so offguard -- we sadly failed to recognize these needs until the children reached our doorsteps -- as the editorial notes, like a pop quiz, it is good to see who responds...

and who squawks at others to "do something! do something! mira, mira --- needy children!" as if they'd never before encountered such creatures.
-------------

ADDED: The worst thing you could probably do to these children is to give them false hope. The sad truth is... under the law, many of them will be returning to family back in their home countries. Pretending that once they are here, they will be staying is wrong.

Pretending that some great miracle will occur, politically or within the legal system, that will allow all or even a majority of these humans to qualify for refugee status is just not realistic. We can pretend the people will be "led" to such a solution, but they won't.

Why not put the best interests of the children first, and stop playing them as pawns? I'd like to see the well-meaning writers on the editorial board address that.

Summer Vacation.

Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule's son visited the Western Wall years ago for his bar mitzvah, I remember.

Jerusalem was star struck over the weekend, as Hollywood couple Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas arrived Thursday in Israel, local media reported.

The glamorous duo brought their children, too. Indeed, the purpose of their under-the-radar visit to the holy land was part of the bar-mitzvah celebrations for their first-born, Dylan Michael.
...
The merry-makers also took the time for a tour of the city, including a visit to the Temple Mount tunnels and to other holy sites, Israeli media reported.

Israeli Soldier from Los Angeles Killed in Gaza.

By Lauren Raab

A Los Angeles man was one of the Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza this weekend as fighting intensified. Max Steinberg was a Woodland Hills native and voluntarily joined the Israel Defense Forces, according to the Jewish Journal. According to voter records, he was 24 years old.

Steinberg graduated from El Camino Real high school in 2008, studied at Pierce College, joined the Israeli army in 2012 and was a sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade, his Facebook page says.
ADDED: An Israeli-American, from Texas, was reportedly killed alongside Steinberg.
The Texan was identified as Sean Carmeli, according to an article on the website JPUPDATES.
...
Carmeli was from the town of South Padre, Texas, according to his Facebook page. He attended Saint Joseph Academy, a private high school located north of the city of Brownsville, Texas. He was currently living in Ra'anana, Israel.

The two soldiers were part of a team of seven Israeli soldiers who were killed in the attack by the anti-tank missile that was fired from a home in Gaza, according to JPUPDATES.

RIP James Garner.

We loved him best in the Polaroid commercials.

Flame Throwers and Stink.

The Pacific theater is often an understudied part of WWII, compared to the European front and Holocaust history. Still, I wonder if anyone remembers reading how U.S. warships pounded Iwo Jima for days before the American ground invasion.

Marines could not believe anything was left living, but soon found out otherwise.

For weeks, they battled to take the island, from the enemy soldiers who had dug in and were fighting like gophers: Pop up, take out a soldier or two, back into the tunnel to pop up somewhere else. At night, they would often sneak into foxholes and brutally kill American soldiers* -- one at a time, so the numbers added up.

I can't help but reading of the Israeli incursion in Gaza: the toll is adding up, and wonder how Israel will extricate her soldiers from this one. Either way it seems, they lose. As the civilian bodies pile up on the streets... as long as even a skeleton crew of Hamas fighters survive... Palestine wins, no?

GAZA CITY — Sixty Palestinians were killed Sunday in a heavy bombardment of a Gaza neighborhood and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in clashes in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s ongoing offensive against Hamas fighters, officials said.

The casualties brought the total number of Israeli military deaths to 18 since the armed forces launched a ground operation Thursday after days of airstrikes on the coastal strip, the Israeli military said.
...
Israel pummeled a neighborhood in east Gaza overnight Sunday, producing gruesome images of bodies in the streets amid masses of rubble. The Gaza Health Ministry said 60 Palestinians were killed in the fighting.

Thousands of panicked residents were pouring out of the area in mass flight Sunday morning. The scene at Shifa Medical Center, Gaza’s main hospital, was chaotic. Ambulance drivers reported great difficulty entering the east Gaza town called Shijaiyah, which bore the brunt of continuous fire.

After a brief lull at dawn, midmorning Sunday saw an increase of artillery and tank shelling. Explosions sounded closer to the center of Gaza City, and the sky was filled with Israeli drones witnessing the exodus of civilians.
...
Capt. Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military spokesman, said that the military had no intention of reoccupying Gaza and that the main objective of the ground offensive hadn’t changed: to destroy the tunnel network and rocket launchers that Hamas militants have used to attack Israel.

“We’ve expanded the forces on the ground in order to accomplish that mission,” Buchman said. “All of Gaza is an underground city, and the amount of infrastructure Hamas built up over the years is immense. There are tunnels, extended bunkers, weapons storage facilities, even within urban areas.”
...
The Palestinian death toll from the conflict rose Saturday to more than 330, including about 60 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. An additional 2,200 have been injured. The United Nations estimates that 80 percent of the casualties are civilians, many of them children.

Now that Israeli soldiers are actually dying in the fight and they got a real war going, you have to wonder if at some point, the cost of these continual incursions will seem so worth it.

(Fwiw, plenty of those Marines who fought for Iwo looked back later and calculated, for the price paid in young mens' lives, the real estate simply was not worth it.)
----------------

* This tactic sounds familiar:
In an audacious attack Saturday, Hamas fighters dressed in Israeli army uniforms slipped from central Gaza into Israel through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli army patrol, killing two soldiers and injuring two. The army returned fire, killing one militant and forcing the rest back through the tunnel into the Palestinian territory.
...
The militants’ resilience seemed to upend the narrative provided by Israel of a Hamas severely weakened by the Israeli ground offensive, airstrikes, artillery barrages and the ongoing destruction of its tunnel network.

Re. "A Popular President"

No mystery...
I think the voting public honestly believed Bill Clinton represented the American people and their interests.
That's it, in a nutshell.

(He might have failed in his outlook on things like NAFTA, and made grave misjudgments and mistakes... he might even possess an extremely immature and narcissistic personality still, but this trumps all that: I think the voting public honestly believed Bill Clinton represented the American people and their interests.)

Time is of the Essence.

It's like the missing schoolgirls, and the desperate cry for action that came... three weeks too late.

Every minute that passes makes the crash scene harder and harder to contain. And will make it more and more difficult to track the bodies.

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) — Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said.

The surprising, rapid-fire developments Sunday morning came after a wave of international outrage over how the bodies of plane crash victims were being handled and amid fears that the armed rebels who control the territory where the plane came down could be tampering with the evidence.
...
Associated Press journalists saw reeking bodies baking in the summer heat Saturday, piled into body bags by the side of the road or still sprawled where they landed in the verdant farmland in eastern Ukraine after their plane was shot out of the sky.

By Sunday morning, AP journalists saw no bodies and no armed rebels at the crash site. Emergency workers were searching the sprawling fields only for body parts.

It was immediately not clear Sunday if the rebels and the Ukrainian government were working together or at odds with each other on recovering the bodies — and from their comments, many of officials didn't appear to know either.
Is the world busy mobilizing a Twitter Feed? #BringBackTheirBodies will only do so much.
Time for the grownups to get busy, in the real world. Let the children twitter and tweet, safely in the shadows. That kind of mobilizing action might be popular online, but not at the expense of the real stuff....
Alexander Pilyushny, an emergency worker combing the crash site for body parts Sunday morning, told the AP it took the rebels several hours Saturday to cart away the bodies. He said he and other workers had no choice but to hand over the bodies.

"They are armed and we are not," Pilyushny said.
...
Earlier, Ukrainian Emergency Ministry spokeswoman Nataliya Bystro said workers at the crash site were forced to hand over the 196 bodies they had recovered to the armed rebels. "Where they took the bodies — we don't know," Bystro told the AP

This Big Dog Will Act, If You Rattle His Cage...

The rebels, the separatists, the majority, the ruling party... who can keep them all straight?  And whose side are we on anyway?

I do know this:  I hope the president is working Sundays.
I think many realistic Americans -- despite the macho bravado/a policy actions of the past few administrations -- understand that we use force sparingly, but wisely.

If we can't work with our allies now, and the U.N.,
to immediately send in an elite team of militarily trained rescue units to this territory, to bring back all the bodies/body parts of passengers found on the ground from the shot-down plane, why do we even play at being soldiers?  Now is the time.  This is appropriate.  In and out.  Mission defined.  Bring back the bodies.  Negotiate if you must, or else act.  Boom, boom, boom, boom...

Ukrainian emergency responders, working under the watchful eyes of armed rebels, had recovered 196 bodies from the area where Flight 17, a Boeing 777 carrying 298 passengers and crew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed and burned on Thursday afternoon.



But the responders were forced to turn the bodies over to the separatists, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, said at a briefing in Kiev on Sunday. Mr. Lysenko said officials believed that 38 of those bodies were taken to the morgue in Donetsk, a regional capital that is controlled by separatists.
...
Michael Bociurkiw, the leader of an observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (O.S.C.E.), said that most of the bodies had been placed in three refrigerated railroad cars in the town of Torez, not far from the crash site. He said that monitors were told that 167 bodies were in the cars, which were locked but under the control of rebels from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, one of the main separatist groups.

Monitors were permitted to make a brief inspection, Mr. Bociurkiw said, speaking by phone from eastern Ukraine, and the body bags all appeared to have tags on them. “We were escorted to the railway station by heavily armed guards of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” he said.

“They are the ones in charge of that area.”
National security interest?  A worthy moral cause.
Soldiers don't shoot down civilian planes in accident, and then keep the bodies of non-involved victims.  That's not "war" behavior.  We need not intervene in a Ukraine/Russia civil war between majority and minority factions.  We wouldn't even be taking responsibility for determining the cause.

Simply bring back the bodies.  If our technology and equipment is worth anything, and our diplomatic investments not for naught, America should be able to use a bit of muscle and get this done. Nothing more. Body recovery, whatever it takes.

Even if our soldiers die. This is one mission that we would need not look back on in shame for our country or our troops. In and out. Get 'er done.

Today -- rotting body parts can't wait, and we all know how the talk can drag on and on ... while people sit on the sidelines and wait.
Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone conversation on Saturday with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey S. Lavrov, urged Russia to help control the situation at the crash scene and help put an end to the insurrection in east Ukraine by pressing rebels to lay down arms.

“The Secretary particularly stressed the international call for investigators to receive full, immediate, and unfettered access to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site,” the State Department said, describing Mr. Kerry’s remarks,

“The United States is also very concerned about reports that the remains of some victims and debris from the site are being tampered with or inappropriately removed from the site,” the department added.

In a statement on Saturday,
the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, whose country lost 193 of its citizens aboard the plane, urged the speedy return of bodies and expressed outrage at the lack of control over the site.

“Swift recovery of the victims’ remains is now an absolute necessity and our highest priority,” Mr. Rutte said in the statement.

A Sunday Smile.

We'll pare this picture with Ross Douthat's column today.* It's a different subset of America, one I'm glad only to read about...

The Few, The Proud, The Parents!
------------------

* Luckily, with America's changing demographics, I don't think a good majority of the public will be worrying about overprotected kids or busy-body competitive parenting in the future -- that will fall to the smaller subsets, I think.

Saturday, July 19

Seriously... in 3-D?

HT: Bobby @BobbyRobertsPDX

Whoever captured that picture, thank you, I am still laughing. So topical for the weekend too!

Readers:
Whoever you are, wherever you're at,
I wish you a peaceful and happy, relaxing and wonderful, simple mid-July weekend, starting with this Saturday morning.
It really doesn't get any better than this (weatherwise) ...





























in 4-D!
-----------------
ADDED: My second biggest laugh of the day:
Maybe they admire his vegan body,” said David Axelrod impishly ...
Hmmmm... no.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, July 18

All Creatures, Great and Small...

This story is getting a lot of negative internet attention.  The young woman sounds immature, yet she thinks she is a good provider, because she was sufficiently emotional and paid money to bring her dog to the vet for expensive high-end treatments, instead of taking more common sense approaches.

As an adult, I got my dogs from rescue organizations, secretly judging friends who bought theirs from breeders.
...
For a long time, it was a point of pride for me. When I brought home Mookie in 2000, everyone told me how lucky I was to find such a sweet animal. The 18-pound Boston terrier mix adored every person he met. He chased frogs in my condo complex and loved to play with stuffed animals. He was more loyal and loving—not to mention happier to see me—than any of my dates.

When my job kept me in the office for long hours, I decided to get Mookie a buddy, Yogi. I loved him deeply. But just six months after adoption, Yogi was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t balk at the expense and time it took to drag him to oncology appointments to treat his lymphoma. The chemo was supposed to buy me an extra year with him. Considering a dog’s average lifespan, that could mean 10 percent of his life.
And Yogi defied the odds. He hung on for nearly three years before passing away.  I didn’t handle his death well. Just three weeks later, I replaced him with a pug named Clarence.
Poor, simple-minded Clarence. He frequently planted himself halfway through the doggie door, unable to decide between sunbathing on the patio and sleeping under the air conditioning vent. Every time I came home, he cried as if I were a soldier returning from war.

Clarence looked like Yogi, but the only thing they had in common was a penchant for serious health issues. I kept telling myself that at least Clarence didn’t have cancer. But his problems were almost worse. His epilepsy was difficult to control, and the phenobarbital he took to subdue his seizures caused weight gain, liver deterioration and anxiety. I got tired of veterinary specialists focusing on the fact that he was fat rather than helping me figure out how to get the dog to sleep at night.
Weight gain in a small creature really does affect their health -- you're asking the frame to carry extra pounds, which puts more effort into walking and moving, which can affect the daily elimination process, and strain the joints and tendons.  If multiple vets tell you your pet needs to lose weight:  there just might be something scientific there, particularly if you're feeding them a lot of rich, "people food"...

Instead of buying pills and paying for more and more visits and treatments, why not try the simple remedy, like regulating diet and spending more time and attention letting them be animals:  running, rolling, resting, eating simple, and drinking as much water as they can.

I've always praised Buddy when he's lapping away at the water bowl, while we're together in the kitchen:  "Good boy, Buddy, drinking his water!  Buddy is a smart dog; Buddy is a strong dog;  Buddy is a good dog;  Buddy is the buddy-boy dog!"  He knows the repetition by  now, he seems to like the praise, and he seems to drink longer when he's encouraged.* 

He likes river water, lake water, and this year, I've seen him lapping at large puddles, and you know what?  Since there's no oil sheen, and it's fresh, clean-looking rainwater, I let him.  Just for a short time, when we're out -- he's obviously thirsty, and I like to think most dogs are smarter than us about what they're willing to ingest.  If it smells bad, or is stagnant, their instinct is to turn away.  They're animals (as are we, really) and their instincts are very often sharper than ours.

I couldn't imagine giving Phenobarbital to an 18-pounder, without considering what toll that would take on the rest of its body.  Common sense.  I also wonder, like so many of the mentally ill boys whose families have the wealth to provide toys like high-powered guns and cars, if time, time, time, and more directed hands-on, individualized attention would not help some of these animals and children.

It sounds to me like this woman didn't much treat her animals like dogs.  More like toys, or playthings.  Nothing wrong with being a dog.  With meeting their basic animal needs.  Do they really like playing "dress up", more than once or twice, do you think?  Do you see that in the feral animal kingdom?  Do you take into account your dogs' daily needs -- walking, waiting while he sniffs and marks, getting him off lease to sprint and play, chase other animals who have their own safety defenses (up the tree, in the air, into the water) -- if they can be in a full sprint, drop and roll on their backs, then back on the feet again racing to catch up with you, all the time with the tongue out, the eyes alight, and I swear, a smile on their canine faces... that's a happy healthy animal!

Too often, young women seem to want a pet as a step up from Teddy Bears, and kind of a baby substitute.  Nope, they're animals.  Just like us.  With basic physical needs (pooping daily, nutritious foods, fresh air, healthy circulation, rest.)

If you can't give them this,
then spending all the money in the world to fix the problems caused by the lack of basics doesn't mean you're a responsible owner.  It means, perhaps, there's no so  much wrong with dogs adopted from shelters as it is the quality of care you're providing in the home.  You have to be open to that possibility though -- that it's you, not all of them -- and clearly this woman's ego is not yet there:
As a lifelong dog lover, I know how to care for sick and struggling animals better than most. I accepted my dogs as they were, enjoying their sweetness and suffering through their problems. But just because I was willing to do that doesn’t mean it’s my life’s work to heal every sick, helpless animal.
...
Adopting a shelter dog is a lot of work, and it’s a gamble, especially for those who aren’t responsible enough or don’t have the time and resources (emotional and financial) to devote to the animal.
I got news for her: even a purchased pet needs an owner (not a parent) with common sense of caring for animals, who are not playthings or mini-people.
-------------
* You know what? They're eager to please.  I used to run him and run him early on, when Mal pointed out to me, "Mary, take it easy.  He'll go and go and go to keep up with you, even if he's tired and should rest.  He love you and just wants to make you happy.  He'll exhaust himself if you let him."

Point taken. I eased up, and started to take his needs and timing into account.  Like smart parents seem to do in planning activities for young children.  Set limitations.  Understand their routines and physical needs.  Then, you'll likely spend less money and time at the vets, especially if you can get over the mentality that "just paying a lot in doctor/vet bills = the best care, responsible ownership."

Not necessarily...

Devaluing Life.

I guess, things like this are to be easily accepted in our militant "might is right" world of today.  But the president's lack of understanding, lack of gravitas, in responding to the situation is embarrassing.

"Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority.

And I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian governemnt. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and passengers, wherever they call home. "

Obama then jarringly quickly returned to his prepared remarks. 
 
"I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction' he said. 'Give Jeremie a big round of applause.  It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden. We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today.  We've got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here. Give them a big round of applause. We love them."
Obama also acknowledged the presence of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew with a joke.

"Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money,' he said, 'although it's kind of illegible. We teased him when he first became treasury secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom."

From there he launched into a 16-minute speech about transportation projects he wants Republicans to fund, complaining bitterly about their objections to his end-runs around the federal legislature.

"When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it," he said, as cable news networks focused on the lives lost in Eastern Ukraine.

"That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act. And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit. They're suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job."

"That's disappointing," Obama said. "It’s a political stunt."
More and more,
I wonder if we'll ever again elect a junior senator to the top office in the land, based on identity politics.

Yep, he's still the nation's first black president.  But folks with their eyes open are seeing the skin color matters little in many of the issues a president is called upon in doing his job.  Experience matters more.

Maybe it will all be for the best.  All those who were looking to "make history" by looking past the resume --the track record of leadership-- are getting what they voted for:  a black president of promise.  What they didn't get was a seasoned political leader, capable of shining even in the worst moments and inspiring confidence in his abilities.


Some of us -- who grew up in integrated schools, communities, and workforces -- were simply hoping for more...

Thursday, July 17

Getting Hitched in the Conch Republic.

Imagine:  a sunset wedding on Islamorada, barefoot with sand in your toes, and Key Lime pie for dessert. Looks like the law has finally caught up to mellow reality in the Keys:
Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples seeking to wed be allowed to marry.

The judge gave the Monroe County Clerk’s Office until Tuesday to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” Garcia wrote in his opinion, released about 1 p.m. Thursday. ...

“This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual,” Garcia wrote.
...
“The plaintiffs’ argument with regard to same-sex marriage has no boundaries,” Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative Liberty Counsel, told Garcia. “The plaintiffs’ argument is not to just redefine marriage to include two people of the same sex, the implications of that is if you include two people of the same sex, then why can’t you have a person of the opposite sex, that also brings in a same-sex partner into the marriage.”

Monroe plaintiffs’ co-counsel Elena Vigil-Fariñas told Garcia that Staver’s legal argument — which included a graphic written description of heterosexual and homosexual sex acts — “embarrassed” her.

I’m embarrassed to have a member of the bar write something like this as an excuse to support the bigotry of the voters of Florida,” Vigil-Fariñas said. “Because in his mind, this court should allow mob rule. If the majority — the one that has the most money, the one that has the most position — don’t like a certain segment of society like our friends over here, they get to rule. And you don’t get to even evaluate whether it’s even constitutional.”

Vigil-Fariñas, who argued the case with law partner Bernadette Restivo, asked the judge, “What would this state be like if we allowed mob rule?”

“Today, it’s against Aaron and Lee. Tomorrow it could be against me. I wasn’t born here,” added Vigil-Fariñas, who is from Cuba.
...
The judge gave the clerk’s office several days to prepare “in consideration of... anticipated rise in activity.”

------------------------
Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes;
Nothing remains quite the same...
With all of our running and of our funnin'
if we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places I've been.
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again.
If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
I could somehow adjust to the fall.
Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
I've seen more than I can recall..


These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.

I think about Paris when I'm high on red wine,
I wish I could jump on a plane...
And so many nights I just dream of the ocean.
God, I wish I was sailin' again.

Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can't look back for too long.
There's just too much to see waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can't go wrong.
(with these...)
~Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band.


Jeremiah 31:16

I think this article by Jewish-American mother Susan Estrich takes the cake. She sure does lay it on thick...

In his stunning book, "My Promised Land," Ari Shavit writes about the Israeli character, the intensity, the passion, the full engagement with life, the entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take economic risks, all no doubt shaped by the reality of living in a land where every Israeli is a target. It is no accident that Israel is a center for startups.

But as Israel calls up some 40,000 reservists, I cannot help but identify with the 40,000 mothers saying goodbye to their soldier sons and daughters, understanding that when survival is at stake, everyone serves. This is part of life, my Israeli friends tell me. I know.
...
We just want to live in peace and quiet," one mother, who had sent her children away, told a reporter. "I hope the day will come. If not in a peaceful or political situation, then the army will have to help us."

"The army will have to help us." Can the army keep every child safe? Can the army keep every soldier safe?

If you are under attack by those who do not value human life as we do
, how can there be peace and quiet. If religious "leaders" can convince gullible, vulnerable young men and women that the best thing they can do with their lives is to die, killing Jews in the process, then how can there be peace and quiet?
--------------

Until the Jewish women like Mrs. Estrich can open their eyes and see the charred Palestinian boys, the grieving Arab mothers, weeping and mourning their loss of life, I suspect people like this writer will continue believing that "their side" is blameless or of better moral character, and the "others" -- "who do not value human life as we [allegedly] do" -- are indeed humans of equal value in God's eyes too, nothing will change.

Why do American newspapers continue to run such blatant pro-Israel propaganda, from writers who clearly are too close to the emotional situation to think or reason clearly?

Mrs. Estrich continue bleating on, insinuating that American interests are the same as Israel's and the old "we're all in this together", even though it's not Americans continuing to settle on internationally contested land:
I read some of the comments posted in response to the story of the brutal killing of the three Israeli teenagers. The comments were as frightening as the story. People spewing hate against Israel, the aggressor, the occupier, and saying we Americans should let them go it alone, not waste our dollars or our hearts. And when accused of anti-Seminitism, they always say it's not about Jews, it's about Israel.

I have bad news for the Israel-haters. The same people who hate Israel also hate Jews and Americans, wherever we live, hate our traditions of equality and freedom, hate those who would allow women to be educated and to have control of their lives and bodies. It is not only Israel that is threatened by extremism, even if the bombs are not falling here. And it is not only Israel that must fight back.
Susan, the American people are tired of fighting in vain, while Israeli extremists continue to believe the law is for other people, and not them. If you, or your children, want to saddle up Sally and volunteer in the IDF, well you would not be the first Americans to do so. Go, fight, win.

(The Cuban-Americans who have successfully settled here, as well as immigrants from hundreds of homelands, understand that when you come to America, your allegiances to your past can continue, but there is a pluralism here -- a recognition of the humanity of others -- that must be respected. America is the New World, where these past ethnic and tribal hatreds must be extinguished. The United States of America: We're not a religious state. We don't have separate roads and facilities anymore for this tribe or that. We don't have special preferences for Jewish people over Arabs or Muslims here. And we understand, G-d made us all equal in his eyes. That seems to be the sticking point the extreme religious Jews can't get over, eh? The reason to move from Boca to Tel Aviv, where your privileges over other peoples are greater based on religious think. Not here though, not in our shared America.)


I just hope America soon stops financing the self-righteous. For such an independent democracy, Israel sure seems to have some internal work to do. Once they're done killing their way to peace and quiet, that is...

Something's Missing, Closer to Home...

The president is not on the same page as the American people, it seems.

Obama touched on the laundry list of global flashpoints situations during a statement from the White House on Wednesday — the disputed elections in Afghanistan, the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and, finally, the conflict in Ukraine.
Nothing about the crisis in Central America and the resulting tens of thousands of refugees seeking shelter in the United States to escape violence and poverty.
"We have to see concrete actions and not just words that Russia is in fact committed to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border," Obama said.

Hmmm... some say that the American border should be his top priority at this point, and yet he finds it barely worth a mention? Quack, quack, lame duck.

Stenography Journalism.

I wonder if it wouldn't be easier for the Israeli military to submit their reports directly to the newspaper, rather than have these wartime reporters rewrite the information they are given, no questions asked.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said it foiled an attempt by Gaza militants to infiltrate a kibbutz through a tunnel early Thursday...

three mortar shells fell in open ground on the Israeli side of the border, military officials said.
...
An Israeli military spokesman said it was not immediately clear if all the militants from the tunnel had been killed.
...
Hamas said that all its fighters had returned to Gaza safely. But the Israeli military said the militants ran back toward the tunnel once they realized they had been exposed.
The numbers of dead civilians continues to add up.
The Health Ministry in Gaza reported three Palestinian fatalities early Thursday, including a man killed in an airstrike on a house in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, another man, 67, who was killed in a strike while on his way to the mosque for the dawn prayer in Rafah in the south and a woman, 71, who died of injuries she sustained in an earlier strike in Khan Younis.