August 5/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 14,1-12. At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, "This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him."Now Herod had arrested John, bound (him), and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

Aoun's hollow rhetoric violently divides Christians in Lebanon.By Abdullah Iskandar-Ya Libnan. August 4/07
We already know who will be the loser in Lebanon's by-elections-By The Daily Star. August 4/07
The chronicle of a great newspaper's death foretold-By David Ignatius. August 4/07
Back to an old template in the Gulf.By Michael Young. August 4/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for  August 5/07
Sunday's Election Launches the Presidential Race-Naharnet
Nasrallah Slams Bush, Says He's Ready for Settlement of Lebanon Crisis-Naharnet
Security Council Worried About Arms Smuggling, Rearming of Groups in Lebanon-Naharnet
Arrest Warrants Issued for 6 Libyans in Sadr Disappearance Case-Naharnet
U.N. Invites Members to Nominate Candidates to Join Hariri Tribunal-Naharnet
U.S. Finances Water Projects in South Lebanon-Naharnet
UN Council Troubled Over Lebanon Arms-Washington Post
Hezbollah says US trying to intimidate Lebanese.Washington Post
4 militants and 3 soldiers killed in Lebanon clashes-Daily Times
UN Security Council Tells Syria to Protect Border with Lebanon-Voice of America
Kucinich: Executive Order on Lebanon Undermines The Middle-East ...Common Dreams (press release)
USAID opens 5 water treatment plants in South-Daily Star
Security Council adopts statement on Lebanon-Daily Star
Nasrallah slams Bush for 'meddling' in Lebanon's affairs-Daily Star
Aoun and Gemayel stage simultaneous rallies, drawing thousands of supporters-Daily Star
Israeli court mulls petition to delay Winograd report-Daily Star
Religious leaders warn against strife in elections-Daily Star
Militants in Nahr al-Bared revert to firing rockets as army advances-Daily Star
Baath MP blasts Bush's asset-freeze decision-Daily Star
Murr and Feltman discuss US military aid to Lebanon-Daily Star
Report predicts distribution of votes in upcoming by-elections-Daily Star
Phalange party urges voters to be 'loyal to the blood of our martyrs' on election day-Daily Star
Free Patriotic Movement stresses message of 'real change' in bid to attract support-Daily Star
EU earmarks 4 million euros in aid for victims of Nahr al-Bared clashes. (AFP)
Groups face off for AUB Alumni Association posts -Daily Star
Oh-eight (R): He said what about Hezbollah?MSNBC
Romney criticized for citing Hezbollah as model for US diplomacy.Raw Story

Aoun's hollow rhetoric violently divides Christians in Lebanon
Wednesday, 1 August, 2007
By Abdullah Iskandar
Beirut - The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Michel Aoun, gained his "Christian credibility" with his dual calls for returning sovereignty to Lebanon and returning the Lebanese state to its role.
Translation: The expulsion of the Syrian army from Lebanon, disbanding the militias, and fighting corruption. The General's followers are almost repeating the same calls today in all their detail, with no regard for the advancements that have taken place since Aoun became president of an interim military government when there were complications surrounding the election of a successor to the previous president Amin Gemayel two decades ago.
The crux of the General's positions was his staunch objection to the Lebanese reaching, through their representatives from all sects, a new pact to end the civil war when they convened in the Saudi city of Taif, under Western patronage (American and French in particular) and regional patronage (Saudi and Syrian in particular). He considered the agreement that led to a new constitution as assigning the Lebanese situation to Syria; an assignment that paved the way towards a political direction which did not give Aoun a role since he decided from the beginning that he was not concerned with it. He did not notice the political aspect of the agreement which redistributed authority on the basis of maintaining coexistence in a final nation for all its sons and organizing Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon and disarming all militias. The agreement also mentioned organizing the armed Palestinian presence in Lebanon and the confrontation with Israel. It escaped the General, then as well as now, that Lebanese Muslims accepted once and for all a final allegiance to Lebanon and that the Christians let go of their dream of a private nation and that everyone accepted providing concessions to save this settlement.
Two decades ago, the General fought a "war of elimination" to check the Lebanese Forces because it covered and supported the Taif agreement and announced its willingness to facilitate its implementation, etc. Afterwards, the General rushed into a "war of liberation" and issued a decree thereby dismissing those MPs who participated in the election of a new president under Taif. When President René Mouawed was later assassinated, Aoun described him as a "former MP" who lost his mandate with the implementation of the Taif agreement.
During his exile in Paris, Aoun focused on the "Syrian occupation" and on the Lebanese agents that supported the Taif agreement. He vowed to expose administrative and government corruption, but could not find a link between this corruption and the Syrian presence which, by sidestepping the Taif stipulations, set up military and administrative structures parallel to the authorities and funded with public funds. He considered those who supported the agreement, regardless of their involvement with the authorities at that time, responsible for the corruption and indulgences in matters of authority. According to Aoun, those who were part of the command structure under Syrian patronage and those who opposed it, particularly the Christians, were one and the same.
Upon his return to Lebanon from exile, Aoun found himself in direct clashes with the agents that supported Taif and thereby worked to organize a Syrian withdrawal; those who later organized themselves into what is now called March 14th. At the same time, he rushed into an "understanding" with Hezbollah and into an alliance with the Amal movement; the two fundamental Shiite powers in Lebanon. These two powers publicly deny any intention of amending the Taif agreements but, along with the allied General, do not hesitate to consider the cabinet which is headed by a Sunni and which the Taif agreement gave executive powers to be monopolizing authority, regardless of the internal balance of power that the last elections allocated and that controls the make up of the cabinet. This is the crux of the current crisis, and the crux of the campaign against the current government which has made decisions (from abiding by resolution 1559 to the international tribunal to resolution 1701) stipulated in the framework of Taif (Lebanon's sovereignty and letting go of false security on one hand, and the extension of the nation's authority and disbanding the militias and ending parallel military and security structures and their use of public funds on the other). It is here that the difficulty in solving this current crisis lies, because it pits a movement calling itself sovereign and adhering to the Taif agreement against a movement which wishes to reexamine the details of the agreement.
When Aoun accused the former president Amin Gemayel who, like him, was exiled in Paris, and blamed him for what happened during the past two decades, he told the former president that everything that he had done had amounted to nothing compared to what Aoun had done. Aoun was alluding to everything that happened since Gemayel chose him to head an interim government: the refusal to accept the Taif agreement as a settlement between the Lebanese to end the war, entering into any adventure for the sake of a settlement, including the infamous "understanding", no matter what risk of explosion it may entail. However, since the General has assured us that he is the only one eligible to hold the upcoming presidency, and that the choice is between him and chaos and war, his calls for the politics of virtue ring hollow.
Source: Dar Al-Hayat

Sunday's Election Launches the Presidential Race

Rival Lebanese factions face off this weekend in disputed elections to replace two slain MPs, in a showdown seen as a test for the country's divided Christian factions ahead of presidential polls. Sunday's by-elections are being held to replace two anti-Syrian MPs killed in attacks blamed by the Western-backed ruling majority on former powerbroker Damascus, which backs the Lebanese opposition. The campaign leading up to the polls has exacerbated tensions within the Christian camp, which has been divided since the November resignation of six pro-Syrian cabinet ministers. The polls also come amid an 11-week standoff at a Palestinian refugee camp between the army and Islamist terrorists.The two contested seats were held by Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, a Christian member of parliament who was gunned down in a Beirut suburb on November 21, and Sunni Muslim MP Walid Eido, killed in a car bombing in the capital on June 13.
Although the elections to replace Eido in Beirut are virtually guaranteed to be won by the candidate of the ruling majority, the vote in the Metn region, a Christian stronghold northeast of the capital, has the country in suspense.
Former president Amine Gemayel is vying to replace his son, Pierre, while the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) of Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun has presented Camille Khoury, a doctor, as its candidate. Observers say the election outcome will be an indicator as to which way the Christian camp is leaning ahead of presidential elections to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud by no later than Nov. 22. Parliament elects the president, a Maronite Christian by constitutional text. The prime minister is a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.
"Aoun wants to prove that he is the only representative of the Christians and therefore the candidate for the presidential elections," Joseph Abu Khalil, an aid to Gemayel, told AFP. But Antoine Nasrallah, spokesman for the FPM, said the vote will set the record straight as to which leader is more popular and where the presidential elections are headed. "If Gemayel fails, he will lose any chance for the presidential elections... and if Gemayel wins, he will kill any ambition for Aoun to become president," Nasrallah said. Nasrallah stressed that he is confident his camp will win Sunday "by a good margin."
Aoun's movement won a vast majority of the Christian vote in 2005 legislative polls, but his popularity has slipped since a shock alliance last year with the Iran- and Syria-backed Shiite militant group Hizbullah. Tension has been rising in the country ahead of Sunday's polls in the Metn where a brawl among rival supporters last week forced the army to intervene. A war of words between Gemayel and Aoun has also escalated, prompting influential Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir to warn that "any house which becomes divided will crumble." Lahoud has meanwhile refused to counter-sign the government's decree on holding the by-elections, on grounds the cabinet was "illegitimate" since the resignation of the pro-Syrian ministers.(AFP) Beirut, 03 Aug 07, 17:18

4 militants and 3 soldiers killed in Lebanon clashes
BEIRUT: Lebanese troops killed at least four Al Qaeda-inspired militants in battles on Friday in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported. The NNA’s report, which could not be independently confirmed, said the four Fatah Al-Islam fighters died after they attacked an army position inside the Nahr Al-Bared camp. Also, the military announced that three Lebanese soldiers were killed in the previous day’s fighting in the camp, where Fatah Al-Islam militants have been entrenched for over two months. Their deaths raised the number of troops killed since fighting erupted May 20 to 131. NNA’s report said the military occasionally pounded the militants’ remaining hideouts in the “old camp” section — densely populated neighbourhoods where most of the remaining fighters are thought to be barricaded in underground shelters and bunkers. Responding to the army shelling, the militants fired two Katyusha rockets, which landed in a residential area and in the courtyard of a house in the village of Deir Amar, some 5 kilometres from Nahr Al-Bared, causing damage but no casualties, the NNA said.
Six rockets fired on Thursday by the militants on nearby villages damaged a power plant in Deir Amar but caused no casualties. The attack halted production at the plant and increased electricity rationing in Beirut and its suburbs, where rationing is common in the summer when air conditioner use drives up energy consumption. The army has refused to halt its offensive until the militants completely surrender, but the gunmen have vowed to fight to the death.
Court officials said on Friday that some 60 Fatah Al-Islam members have been arrested since the fighting began, and are being questioned about their involvement in terrorist acts and possession and use of weapons and explosives. The officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to give media statements. ap

We already know who will be the loser in Lebanon's by-elections

By The Daily Star
Saturday, August 04, 2007
The mood of anxious anticipation is palpable in Lebanon as the country enters the final hours before tomorrow's by-elections in Metn and Beirut's second district. Pollsters and pundits alike have offered up a variety of predictions about which candidates will win the most votes, particularly in Metn, where the race is expected to be especially tight. But one thing is already evident even before the polls open: regardless of who emerges victorious in Sunday's voting, the Lebanese will still be in the exact same boat when everyone wakes up on Monday morning. And that boat is in a state of disrepair and quickly sinking.
On Monday morning, Lebanon will still be encumbered by an outdated bureaucracy that forces citizens to deal with the same spider web of red tape that has entangled their system since the Ottoman era. The country will still be governed on the basis of a haphazardly designed Constitution that is fraught with loopholes and dead ends, and it will still have an electoral law that was written by an occupying power without much regard for fair and inclusive representation.
More worryingly, Lebanon will still be dangerously fragmented along sectarian lines, with escalating tensions threatening to erupt into another bout of street violence - or worse. The country will also still be governed by an alliance of obstinate politicians whose leadership is rejected by an equally stubborn opposition, and these divisions will ensure that the state's institutions remain paralyzed. The country's economy will still be weighed down by a massive national debt and will still be still crippled by the loss of its best and brightest youth, most of whom left the country right after graduating from our most prestigious universities. In other words, Lebanon will still be experiencing a silent civil war whose symptoms are just as devastating as a real civil war, minus the bloodshed and material destruction.
What is perhaps most disappointing about these particular by-elections is that none of the candidates in Beirut or Metn made any of these important national issues a central focus of their campaigns. Instead, the rival parties, particularly in the Metn, opted to either pull the emotional strings of voters or appeal to base instincts by unfairly destroying their opponents' characters. Rather than shining a light on a possible pathway toward a better future, the candidates opted to further darken the current national mood with mudslinging and acrimony.
Therefore, although we do not yet know with certainty who will be the winners of the by-elections, we already know that the loser will once again be the Lebanese citizenry. This does not mean that Lebanese citizens should neglect their responsibility to vote on Sunday. On the contrary, even if the Lebanese vote "against" a candidate as opposed to "for" one - since none was particularly inspiring in the campaigns - they should do so. After all, an election day is one of those rare times when it is the citizens who matter and who hold the ultimate power. If only every day were like an election day in Lebanon.

Nasrallah Slams Bush, Says He's Ready for Settlement of Lebanon Crisis

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah slammed U.S. President George Bush for meddling in Lebanon's affairs and said his party was ready for a settlement of the political impasse that has paralyzed the country for more than nine months.
"We are ready for a settlement internally," said Nasrallah, who has been spearheading the Syrian and Iranian-backed opposition against Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government. Lebanon has been in deep political crisis since November when six pro-Syrian ministers, including five Shiites, stepped down from the government, demanding the formation of a cabinet with greater representation.
Nasrallah was speaking amid tensions in the country ahead of Sunday's crucial by-elections to replace two MPs killed earlier this year in attacks blamed by the ruling majority on Syria. Damascus, a main backer of the Hizbullah-led Lebanese opposition, has denied the accusations.
Reiterating a call for a national unity government to help resolve Lebanon's political deadlock, Nasrallah said "Lebanon can only overcome its crisis with cooperation and unity." "Lebanon cannot be divided, both practically and objectively. And we do not seek to control the government, or control the state," he said in a speech broadcast on huge screens before thousands of seated supporters in the eastern city of Baalbek late Friday.
"We are looking for a united and unified country which will protect Lebanon at a time ... the U.S. Administration is seeking to plant discords."
"Bush keeps on interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs … and no good intentions ever come out of the U.S. administration. The U.S. administration is seeking to plant discords," Nasrallah pointed out. "American policy in Lebanon is pushing a Lebanese party to monopolize powers ... and what is the result? More crises," he stressed.
Nasrallah said "our campaign is peaceful, civilian and civilized." "Weapons destroy the country and burn everybody. We have the power but using force inside the country is not in Lebanon's interest. These arms are for the defense of Lebanon, and not to destroy Lebanon."
"The arms of the resistance are not militia weapons" to be used against other Lebanese factions, said the leader of Hizbullah which fought a 34-day against the Israeli army in July and August 2006.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 04 Aug 07, 07:36

U.N. Invites Members to Nominate Candidates to Join Hariri Tribunal
The United Nations announced it was inviting members to nominate candidates to join the special tribunal being set up to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Friday Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had sent a letter inviting member states to submit names of candidates to be judges on the tribunal by September 24. In July, Ban asked the Dutch government to host the international court for the Hariri case.
Hariri was killed together with 22 other people by a massive explosion targeting his car.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 04 Aug 07, 08:11

Security Council Worried About Arms Smuggling, Rearming of Groups in Lebanon
The U.N. Security Council was deeply worried over continued arms smuggling from Syria to Lebanon.
"The Security Council ... expresses grave concern at persistent reports of breaches of the arms embargo along the Lebanon-Syria border," the council said in a non-binding presidential statement on Friday. The council also said it was concerned about the possible re-arming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese groups and militias and declared that "there should be no sale or supplies of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by the government."
The council pointed to a recent statement by Hizbullah claiming to retain the military capacity to strike any part of Israel. The council also said it had received information from the Lebanese government on "the dangerous activities of armed elements and groups, in particular PFLP-GC and Fatah Intifada."
It called on Syria to further reinforce control at the border. The council also urged Hizbullah and Israel to observe and protect the conditions of the ceasefire that ended last summer's 34-day war between the Jewish state and the Shiite group. It called on "all parties to refrain from statements and activities that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities." The council urged Hizbullah to return two Israeli soldiers it is holding and meanwhile voiced "deep concern" over the increase in Israeli violations of Lebanese air space. The Security Council's statement came as Lebanese troops continued their battle against Fatah al-Islam militants holed up in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 04 Aug 07, 08:07

U.S. Finances Water Projects in South Lebanon

U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman and USAID Mission Director Raouf Youssef signed a 1.3 million dollar Memorandum Of Understanding with Acting Minister of Energy and Water Mohamad Al Safadi Friday to help bring clean water to Lebanese communities. The U.S. embassy said in a statement the goal is "to help Lebanese water establishments, such as that of South Lebanon, grow into strong organizations with solid business procedures, providing the people of Lebanon with safe and reliable water."
The MOU represents the third phase of the program designed to strengthen water establishment financial systems, train management and staff, and install meters to reduce water loss, the statement explained. It follows two previous agreements, all designed to support Lebanon in major reforms following a law adopted in May 2000 that restructured the water sector. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked in Lebanon since 1951, funding development projects to benefit Lebanese citizens. It provides 40 million dollars in assistance a year, working in partnership with Lebanese and U.S. organizations. Beirut, 03 Aug 07, 17:52

Arrest Warrants Issued for 6 Libyans in Sadr Disappearance Case

Examining Magistrate Samih al-Hajj, who is looking into the disappearance of Imam Moussa Sadr, issued arrest warrants in absentia for six Libyans, including ex-cabinet ministers, ambassadors and army officers. They were identified as al-Mirghany Massoud al-Toumy, Ahmad Mohammed al-Hattab, al-Hady Ibrahim Moustafa al-Saadawi, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Ghawila, Mohammed Khaleefa Hahyoun and Issa Massoud Abdullah al-Mansouri. The warrants were issued after their full names were provided to the Lebanese judiciary. Al-Hajj also issued warrants to establish the identities and whereabouts of Mahmoud Mohammed Bankoura, Ahmad al-Atrash, Abdul Salam Gloud, Issa al-Ba'ba', Ashour al-Fourtass, Ali Abdul Salam Alturaiki, Ahmad Shahti, Ahmad Massoud Saleh Ibrahim Khalifa Gandour, Mohammed al-Tarhini Mahmoud Wild Dada. The warrants could be referred to International Police (Interpol) for follow up. Beirut, 03 Aug 07, 13:57

EU Donates 5.5 Million Dollars to Nahar al-Bared Victims

The European Commission on Friday ear marked four million euros (5.5 million dollars) in humanitarian aid to victims of the fighting in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. "The aid is primarily aimed at the Palestinian refugees who fled the camp seeking refuge in other camps and locations in Lebanon as well as other vulnerable people directly affected by the conflict, including Lebanese," the EU's executive arm said in a statement.
Lebanese soldiers fought fierce battles on Friday with Islamists holed up in the Nahr al-Bared camp north of Tripoli, with witnesses reporting fires raging in a small area still controlled by the militants. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned last month that Al-Qaida could extend its presence from Palestinian camps in Lebanon into Gaza. The EU funds are being channeled through the Commission's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. Michel said he hoped the fighting in and around Nahr el Bared would end very soon. "Too many people have been traumatized," he declared. "It is time to put the violence behind us, consolidate peace and rebuild the infrastructure.
More than 30,000 Palestinian refugees in the Nahr El Bared camp have fled the fighting initiated by the Fatah al Islam faction. People living around the camp have also been affected. More than half of those displaced found a safe, although crowded, haven in the neighboring refugee camp of Beddawi, almost doubling its population in the process, according to the Commission. On the first day of the crisis, in May, the Commission committed an initial 500,000 euros in humanitarian aid to cover the most urgent needs.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 03 Aug 07, 16:47

Security Council adopts statement on Lebanon
Daily Star staff
Saturday, August 04, 2007
BEIRUT: The Security Council on Friday adopted a Security Council presidential statement in support of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's report over the implementation of Resolution 1701. "The Security Council held a formal meeting to adopt a presidential statement on Lebanon in which it urged all concerned parties to cooperate fully with the Security Council and the secretary general to achieve a permanent cease-fire and a permanent solution as envisaged in Resolution 1701," said Ban's spokesperson Farhan Haq after the Security Council meeting.
"The Council also expressed grave concern at reports of the breaching of the arms embargo along the Lebanese-Syrian border, as well as the increase in Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace," he said.
"It welcomed the recommendations of the Independent Border Assessment team and looks forward to their implementation," Haq added The US permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the French permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said they were very happy with the presidential statement.
"I am happy that the Council came on an agreement on the presidential statement regarding 1701. It's a good statement," Khalilzad told reporters after the Security Council meeting.
Khalilzad said he considers the presidential statement as a "strong message that Syria needs to do more."
He said that Syria should "stop arms shipments across its border into Lebanon."
When asked if the Security Council is only relying on Israeli reports on its assessment of the arms shipment, Khalilzad said that Hizbullah's words that it has the ability to hit Tel Aviv is an admission that it was breaching Resolution 1701.
Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Pashar Jaafari said that Britain, France and the Untied States do not care about the protection of Lebanon, but rather want to defend Israeli violations of Security Council Resolution 1701. Lebanon's Ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam said: "We welcome the presidential statement, especially the Security Council's support of Lebanon's legitimate Cabinet and the Lebanese Army."
The UN Security Council on Thursday had failed to issue the presidential statement due to preservations made by Qatar over some of the points mentioned in the statement. Qatar had objections because the UN Security Council did not condemn Israel for its continued violations of the Lebanese airspace but expressed a "deep worry about the increasing Israeli violations of Lebanon's skies," and urged all parties to respect the Blue Line.
When asked by reporters why the Security Council did not "condemn" the Israeli violation, Lacroix said: "We have a strong message to the Israeli violations," refusing to use the word "condemns."A source close to the Qatari delegation had told As-Safir newspaper Thursday that Doha also objected to the third paragraph of the statement, which "expresses deep worry about the latest statement delivered by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah who confirmed his party enjoys a military power enabling it to hit all Israeli regions."
Qatar called for a general statement urging all parties to ensure the implementation of the Resolution 1701 without mentioning Hizbullah in particular, the report said.
It also objected to the fact that the statement only referred to Syria as the country violating the UN resolution without mentioning any other country, including Israel.
During his noon briefing, the United Nations spokesperson also said that "the Legal Council Nicolas Michel is sending a letter on behalf of the secretary general inviting member states to submit names of candidates for consideration as international judges for the special tribunal for Lebanon by September 24, 2007."
Haq said that the judges should be appointed by the secretary general upon recommendation of a selection panel established by him, after he indicates his intention to the Security Council. "The selection panel should be composed of two judges currently sitting on trial to an international tribunal and the representative of the secretary general," he said, adding that the selection panel will be appointed in due course. - The Daily Star, with agencies

Romney criticized for citing Hezbollah as model for US diplomacy Nick Juliano

Published: Friday August 3, 2007
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's endorsement of Hezbollah as a model for US diplomacy represents a "fundamental misunderstanding" of political realities in the Middle East, the head of the National Jewish Democratic Council said.
"It is the height of irony that, within weeks of saying Democrats are 'uncomfortable in recognizing evil in the world,' Governor Romney would make such ill-informed remarks that cite a terrorist organization as a model for US diplomacy," NJDC Executive Director Ira N. Forman said in a written statement. "Indeed, Mitt Romney's naive comments suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of the Middle East and geopolitical realities. Mitt Romney desperately wants to be President of the United States, but this type of comment clearly shows that he is not ready for prime time."
Forman was referring to recent remarks from the former Massachusetts governor in which he cited Hezbollah's work building schools and health clinics in southern Lebanon to build support among the citizens.
"That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world," Romney said. "And so, I want to see America carry out that kind of health diplomacy."
Romney's praise of one Hezbollah's school- and hospital-building efforts is a part of his broader foreign policy strategy that would increase the size of the military while also expanding diplomatic efforts, ABC News reported. The NJDC's Forman said Romney ignored Hezbollah's aggression toward Israel and its anti-American views.
"Any candidate for President should know that Hezbollah's social programs are inseparably tied to terrorism," Forman said. "The health clinics and schools praised by Romney have also been used as a cover for rockets launched at Israeli cities."
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to RAW STORY's request for comment, but campaign spokesman Kevin Madden told ABC News that Romeny viewed Hezbollah as a "bloodthirsty" terrorist organization. "These terror organizations cannot and should not be allowed to gain an advantage with the citizenry in Muslim nations just because they mask their terror agenda with an offering of some vital services," Madden said. "By working with moderate Muslims to break down and defeat terror organizations like Hzbollah militarily, we can turn them to a new 'Marshall Plan' approach that strengthens the foundations of freedom and prosperity in the burgeoning Middle East democracies."

Oh-eight (R): He said what about Hezbollah?
Posted: Friday, August 03, 2007 9:08 AM by Mark Murray
Categories: Republicans, 2008
More on Sunday’s 90-minute GOP debate: Each candidate will get 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for follow-ups. Also, there will be no opening or closing statements and no audience questions. And there will be two commercial breaks in the first hour and no commercial breaks in the last half hour.
Bloomberg News notes that two of three GOP front-runners are starting to distance themselves from Bush on Iraq. "With pessimism growing about the ability of a troop injection to overcome Iraq's sectarian violence, Romney … and other Republicans who embraced the plan are gingerly laying the groundwork for a possible shift away from White House appeals to stay the course." Giuliani "says the administration's fixation on Iraq has been a distraction in the war against global jihadism. In a July 19 interview with USA Today, he said efforts to battle al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan are suffering because ‘America is too consumed by Iraq.'”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune previews the GOP convention, using this week's RNC meeting as the backdrop. And it notes the possibility that a brokered convention is as high as it's been in decades.
The stronger Clinton looks on the Democratic side is good news for Giuliani, right? Remember two years ago when many in the chattering class thought Clinton's general election strength (or weakness) would be the deciding factor in Iowa. Perhaps it's Giuliani's relative strength (or weakness) that will decide his fate in the GOP primary.
The former mayor writes an op-ed in the Boston Globe, calling for a “free market cure for U.S. health care system.” He uses all of the conservative buzz word phrases like “expanding individual choice,” “tax cuts, not tax hikes,” “empowering patients…not bureaucrats,” “free-market solutions, not socialist models” and that the “system is being dragged down by decades of government-imposed mandates.” He proposes tax-free Health Savings Accounts with tax breaks of $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals -- as he laid out earlier this week in New Hampshire.
MCCAIN: The AP calls McCain’s newfound support for a scaled down immigration proposal that would not include a path to citizenship “an about-face.”
ROMNEY: Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson gives Romney some advice on what he should say when he gives his Kennedy-like Mormon speech.
Romney said in Iowa that he’s “most disappointed” in his own party’s ethical mishaps and “proposed stripping federal employees convicted of official misconduct of their government pensions,” writes the Des Moines Register’s Tom Beaumont. Romney added that he could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election and that he’s better on health care. "One big difference is my health care plan got passed, and hers didn't.”
Romney is lucky the press has been kicking around Obama this week – otherwise his statement below about Hezbollah would be receiving A LOT more attention. “At a town hall meeting in Iowa last Friday, Mitt Romney offered an eye-catching twist on his usual stump speech when he held up Hezbollah as a model for the effectiveness of using social services as a way to win hearts and minds. ‘Did you notice in Lebanon what Hezbollah did? Lebanon became a democracy some time ago. And while their government was getting underway, Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there and schools. And they built their support by having done so,’ Romney said. ‘That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest toward modernity and goodness and freedom for all people of the world.’”
Romney's camp "sought to add context," saying Romney "did not intend to praise Hezbollah but was simply expounding on a proposal he made in April for a "second Marshall Plan" to strengthen the "democratic underpinnings" in places vulnerable to Islamic extremism.
The irony in this statement? Had a Democrat candidate said that, the RNC and all of the leading GOP candidates would have jumped on the candidate as being supportive of terrorists.
F. THOMPSON: According to a New York Times analysis, most of the money Thompson has raised to date was new for the campaign cycle. Of the money he raised that came from donors who had given to other candidates, Thompson received the most money from Romney contributors, a mild surprise since there had been speculation he'd cut more into McCain's donor base or even Giuliani's.