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Liberty can not be preserved without general knowledge among people' John Adams 1775

The fires in California are dying now. Eighteen hundred homes and businesses have been consumed. Many thousands are homeless and a quarter of a million people were evacuated. About one dozen people lost their lives but charred bodies of Mexican immigrants who were camping in the canyons are being discovered. The Federal Emergency Management Agency - FEMA had its faked press conference with employees posing as reporters and then ate humble American pie. But then Hollywood was down the road. A resident star, John Travolta, 'admits he was forced to fly his helicopter over the region to ensure his family were safe'. Arnie, the Governor, visited the fires several times; most recently he raised the likelihood of arson. He promised the forces for right would hunt the perpetrators down. 'Smoking them out' might have seemed tasteless.

This element of nature has been known in these hills for millennia during drought and the sprawl of building into them has risked this disaster. There was a time perhaps when fire was used by the white colonist to drive the North American Indians from their tepees and their caves. Gunfire, fire, smallpox and other imported disease erased twenty million natives from the land of open sky and prairie. The colonist's descendants and the many late comers would not have dwelt on the justice of these acts of God but instead heat gave rise to hyperbole.

Firefighters described scenes of devastation, with one pilot battling fires in San Diego telling his commanders: "It looks like an atom bomb is going off over there," the Los Angeles Times reported. Another firefighter, Mitch Mendler, said the area "was like Armageddon. It looked like the end of the world." Good that a US citizen has had a glimpse of both.

David Halpin argues that, under the pretext of “war on terror”, Israel and its allies are practising torture with impunity while the rest of the world looks on.

To inflict severe pain or mental suffering, especially as a punishment or to extract information: Latin – tortura, torment.

On this the 59th anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights by the UN one can hear the thuds, splutters and screams in a good many of those united nations. When did man first start applying physical and mental pain to his fellows? I doubt those artists and masons who made the beautiful cave paintings at Lascaux 20,000 years ago did this to neighbouring peoples. No, this expression of the worst in homo 'sapiens' came with political power and religious belief. It has been used more for confession and subjugation perhaps than the extraction of supposed information.

Dear Sue,

You beat me to it. I was going to write to say 'well done' to you all. I could see the souk was stuffed full and saw easily how much work you had done. The atmosphere and brotherhood was good. I have not much enjoyed 'dabke' before but I enjoyed the three good fellows and Isabel enjoyed learning.

I am happy to speak somewhere/anywhere about 'unconventional weapons'. Stroud in January, Barcelona 2 weeks ago, Guildford last April - latter two to orthopaedic surgeons. In fact these weapons are used widely and they are 'conventional'. My talk and pictures are shocking but we have to shock. Our population is sleeping and the dark will grow if they are not stirred. See below - which I have just sent. A fiery sunrise has quickly gone. A beautiful world being ruined by greed and pure evil when shared it would be even more beautiful.

By David Halpin
David Halpin calls on the BBC to honour Alan Johnston by reporting Israeli war crimes, in particular the deliberate shooting and crippling of a Palestinian TV cameraman on 5 July 2007.
Thus is the image of the BBC. It has reporters worldwide and they are usually of high calibre. Listen to “From Our Own Correspondent” to hear good English and sharp observation. Its natural history, Open University programmes and a minority of its documentaries are peerless. But the rub comes with its “news” and current affair programmes. Its motto “Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation” has a very hollow ring when it chooses to interview the discredited “bomber” John Bolton several times about his current target – Iran.

By Andrew Lee Butters
August 2nd, 2007
On Patrol in Shijaiyah, the toughest neighborhood in Gaza City, Lieut. Naim Ashraf Mushtaha, 31, an officer of the Hamas Executive Force, spots a man in civilian clothes carrying an M-16 assault rifle and walking through the street suqs in broad daylight. His officers quickly encircle the suspect and demand that he identify himself and turn over the weapon. The man turns out to be a member of one of the neighborhood's most powerful clans, and he refuses to give up his gun. "What's my name, boys?" he shouts to the gathering crowd of curious onlookers. "Mohassi Abbas!" they shout back. "See, everyone knows who I am," says the gunman. "I don't care who you are," says Mushtaha calmly, without raising his voice or his weapon. "No one is above the law."

Gaza War Cemetery 

The Palestinian gardeners trim the immaculate lawns. Blood red Bourgainvilleas climb the limestone walls. The British are good at death. My eye through the camera focuses on many of about three and a half thousand gravestones caught by the name, the unit or the inscription chosen by the family. 3,217 of these fell in WW1 and were joined by 210 brothers and sisters from round the pink world in WW11. The family of Private Alfred Crittle, Royal West Kent Regt 19th April 1917 said ‘to see his face, to hear his voice, what would we give’.

Alongside lies Rifleman Norman Victor Crouch 8th Battn. Hampshire Regt and his folk chose ‘faithful until death’. They later receive this as do all the next of kin:- ‘He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, by giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom.

Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten

He took his last breath during the Third Battle of Gaza on the 2nd of November 1917 as did at least another two hundred men and women on that same day.

Gaza - Autumn 2006 --- The thin and limpid crescent lies on its back in a clear sky. If it does not reappear tomorrow then Ramadan will end. A 'drone' can be heard above the amplified recitations of the Quran, but it cannot be seen.


On the third floor of the battered and very busy Shifa hospital here in Gaza city lies a 9 yr old boy in his fourth month of recovery. Saad is a sad and frightened boy. He has lost all the muscle from the front of his left thigh. The shape of his femur can be seen in its entirety beneath the skilful skin grafting. There is just a twitch of motion in the foot. Most parts of his young body are scarred. There are many of punctate type, including on his face. There is a colostomy which will probably be permanent because his bowels were badly damaged. The tracheostomy has healed, and the pleural fistula is well on that way.