Friday, September 01, 2006

In the News

It's hard not to feel gloomy about the near future when you scroll down the newswire and just glance at the stories:

Headline: Israeli defense minister demands sweeping probe of Lebanon war. Government about to dissolve in recriminations; people alert to their collective vulnerability to another genocide. And across the border? Al-Qaida believed to be plotting attacks in Egypt's Sinai resorts, says one headline, referring to resorts popular with Israelis. And a little further down, Palestinian militants launch rockets into Israel.

Good heavens. What are the Europeans doing? Surely they'll stand up for the right. Donors conference raises $500 million in aid for Palestinians

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) β€” Nations promised Friday to send $500 million in aid to the Palestinians, saying the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip turned critical while the world focused on halting a monthlong war in Lebanon.

Only 10 percent of the donations pledged at an aid conference in Stockholm were to be channeled through the U.N., raising concerns that sizable sums may go straight to the Hamas-led Palestinian government shunned by the West since it took power in March.

Well, at least they're in favor of standing up to Iran, since that affects them so materially, right?

EU cautions against early sanctions decision against Iran, calls for diplomacy

LAPPEENRANTA, Finland (AP) β€” Despite mounting U.S. pressure for sanctions against Iran, the European Union said Friday it is too early to punish Tehran for its failure to halt uranium enrichment by the U.N. Security Council's deadline.

But we still have the U.N. as the voice of sanity in the world, no?
U.N. names three-member inquiry into Israeli human rights abuses in Lebanon

GENEVA (AP) β€” The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday appointed a Brazilian diplomat, a Tanzanian judge and a Greek professor to a commission investigating whether Israel committed systematic human rights abuses in Lebanon during recent fighting with Hezbollah militants.

The commission was created last month by the council, which condemned Israel for what it called "massive bombardment of Lebanese civilian populations" and other "systematic" human rights violations.

But of course they'll have a lot to say about Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria, too, right?

The U.N. rights body voted 27-11 on Aug. 11 to initiate the inquiry. European countries, Japan and Canada voted against it, primarily arguing that it lacked balance in failing to mention the Hezbollah militia. The U.S., which is an observer, has no vote on the 47-member council.

Under the resolution, the three will investigate the "systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel," according to the commission's resolution. The commission will also examine the types of weapons Israel used and their conformity with international law.

Oh. OK. So what is the U.N.'s approach to Syria and Hezbollah, for their role in this war? They must bear some responsibility, suffer some condemnation, be denied some international legitimacy after this, right?

U.N. chief says Syria promised to enforce arms embargo on Hezbollah

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that Syria has pledged to step up border patrols and work with the Lebanese army to stop the flow of weapons to Hezbollah.

Annan also said that he had asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to use his nation's influence to help win the release of three Israeli soldiers held by Lebanese and Palestinian militants allied with Damascus.

According to Annan, Assad said at a meeting in Damascus that Syria will boost the number of its guards along the Lebanon-Syria border and establish joint patrols with the Lebanese army "where possible."

Ah, right. Put the fox in charge of the henhouse! Problem solved. After all, no hens, no problems!

Be curious to see how much of this turns up in your nightly newscast tonight, or your daily paper tomorrow.