5.9 earthquake rocks, Virginia, D.C.

Strongest Virginia quake since 1879 damages apartment water lines here

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, as people in the Northern Shenandoah Valley braced for possible inland rains and wind from Hurricane Irene’s projected path north up the Eastern Seaboard they got an unexpected jolt.

At 1:51 PM as this reporter was having lunch with a friend at Elements on South Royal Avenue the building was shaken by what was reported to be a 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered 4 miles from both Louisa and Mineral, Virginia. A quick map check of the USGS website indicated the epicenter triangulated by Charlottesville to the west, Fredericksburg and Richmond to the northeast and southeast, respectively.

According to the USGS the earthquake was centered at 38N latitude and 78W longitude in an area known as the Central Virginia Seismic Zone. Weaker earthquakes in the 4.0 range to 5.0 range are reported as typical of this zone.

ABC TV 7 in DC reported the quake to be the strongest one in Virginia since 1879.

The USGS reports that 4.0 quakes can typically be felt 60 miles away and 5.0 quake as far away as 300 miles, with damage typical as far as 25 miles from the epicenter of a 5.0 quake.

The Associated Press reported that two nuclear reactors operated by Dominion Power in Louisa County near Lake Anna within 25 miles of Mineral were undamaged. Those reactors were automatically shut down near the time of the quake. Four emergency diesel generators were operating key safety systems at the nuclear plants, according to AP.

The quake rolled through Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and into the Northern Shenandoah Valley. One co-patron at our Tuesday afternoon lunch stop, Edward Jones broker George Karnes, estimated what he felt as a 2.0 to 2.5 tremor. We were unable to verify or dispute Karnes’ guess at the strength of the quake as it reached Front Royal.

Local damage

Property Manager Teresa Cherry of the Shenandoah Commons Apartment Complex off Westminster Drive told us initial reports indicated damage, primarily to water lines, in nine of 10 buildings in the complex. Some residents allowed to return to their apartments were advised not to use their stoves that evening. However following an inspection of all units it appeared only five residents and two pets were in need of temporary accommodations to facilitate repairs.

On the scene at Shenandoah Commons at 5 PM, County Fire and Rescue Officer Marti Viggiano said it seemed the county would not have to open an emergency shelter at one of the public high schools due to the small number of displaced residents. Local Red Cross has traditionally been able to utilize local motels for families displaced by residential fires in the county.

DC area damage

Some 70 miles to our east, where nerves are usually a bit more taught due to the national political machinations for control or destruction of the federal governmental apparatus, the U.S. Capitol and other federal buildings were evacuated due to the rolling tremor. DC-area TV reports showed large numbers of people milling about outside buildings in downtown Washington, including headquarters of the Washington Post.

Despite the evacuation of their building, the Post reported the quake was felt as far north as Boston, as far south as Anderson, South Carolina, and northwest to Columbus, Ohio.

The Virginia Department of Transportation initially reported no known damage to bridges or roadways. However damage reports began rolling in as the afternoon progressed.

A spire was reported to have collapsed at National Cathedral in DC, closing that building to the public. News 7 DC also reported that a building on the 6100 block of Oxon Hill Road in Prince Georges County, Maryland had collapsed. No initial details on the type or age of that building were available.

Our initial experience of the earthquake was at our downtown lunch stop. Several customers quickly recognized the source of the vibrations and rattling silverware as an earthquake. When several Elements customers countered they believed a nearby train was the culprit, another asked, “WHAT train?”

Elements owner David Gedney, who rushed outside to check his building exterior, returned quickly to report that his damage was limited to five broken plates upstairs in his Apartment 2G dinner restaurant.

Rockland report

As the quake rolled through Rockland our northside correspondent Malcolm Barr Sr. and his wife Carol were in their kitchen. Barr, a self-acclaimed veteran of many earthquakes while working in Hawaii, strolled to his front door to see “what piece of heavy equipment neighbor Thomas McGeath was driving by on Rockland Road.” Meanwhile, Barr reported his wife was talking “Armageddon” and their future daughter-in-law in Tennessee called to see if everyone was okay.

Echoing initial reactions by some of our fellow Elements lunchtime patrons, Barr observed, “Sounded like a train rumbling by.”

While used to such occurrences during his stints in Hawaii, Barr added, “I guess since we don’t have many earthquakes around here, I couldn’t quite believe my wife when she said we were in the middle of one. Those in Hilo (Hawaii) regularly bounced things off the walls; then one of the volcanoes would treat us to another ‘fireworks’ display.”

This report will be updated as information becomes available.

Residents of 25 Shenandoah Commons Way await verdict on whether they will be able to sleep at home following earthquake damage to water lines in their building.

Residents of 25 Shenandoah Commons Way await verdict on whether they will be able to sleep at home following earthquake damage to water lines in their building.

WC Fire & Rescue Officer Marti Viggiano speaks with Shenandoah Commons residents.

WC Fire & Rescue Officer Marti Viggiano speaks with Shenandoah Commons residents.

TV 7 DC shows photo of North Anna Nuclear Power Plant after emergency diesel generators kicked in following automatic shutdown of the nuclear reactors after earthquake.

TV 7 DC shows photo of North Anna Nuclear Power Plant after emergency diesel generators kicked in following automatic shutdown of the nuclear reactors after earthquake.

Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm  Comments (3)  

Dalai Lama’s nephew killed in Florida

Jigme Norbu, second from right, with his party of supporters and fellow Tibetan walkers during April 2009 stop at Front Royal's Lucky Star Lounge. Co-owner of the Lucky Star and Norbu interviewer Shawn Patterson is at far right.

Norbu struck by vehicle during most recent ‘Tibetan Freedom’ walk

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

We were distressed to hear of the death of Jigme K. Norbu, the nephew of the Dalai Lama, on Feb. 14. Norbu, who passed through Front Royal during an earlier Tibetan rights walk, was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while walking along the southbound side of State A1A near Palm Coast in northeastern Florida.

According to a local source close to the regional Buddhist community, Norbu, 45, was in the first day of a planned 300-mile walk from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach. She said Norbu had decided to push on later into the night in an attempt to keep on his planned schedule for his latest walk to raise public awareness of the plight of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule.

“Yes, it is true unfortunately,” Tempa Tshering, a representative of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, India, where a Tibetan government in exile is based, told CNN.

An online report by Lisa Flam at AOL News states Norbu was struck by an SUV driven by 31-year-old Keith O’Dell. O’Dell was questioned but not charged, according to Flam’s post.

Norbu’s home base was Bloomington, Indiana. He was the son of the Dalai Lama’s late older brother, Taktser Rinpoche. Rinpoche died in 2008, and was a high-ranking Buddhist religious official in his own right when the Chinese invaded Tibet.

Rinpoche fled his homeland with his brother, the Dalai Lama, and other Tibetans in the face of the Communist Chinese military assault of 1959. Between 1959 and 1960 a reported 80,000 Tibetans followed The Dalai Lama out of their homeland. Today an estimated 128,000 to 150,000 Tibetans live in exile.

The Dalai Lama and his associates’ experience of the historical epoch of Chinese intervention in Tibet has been recounted in numerous documentary and creative Hollywood films, most notably Martin Scorcese’s “Kundun” and “Seven Years in Tibet”, the latter which starred Brad Pitt as a German engineer “tutoring” the young Dalai Lama while living isolated in the Tibetan holy city of Lhasa in the years prior to the Chinese invasion.

Local stop

To accommodate conflicts in our work schedule, Lucky Star Lounge co-owner Shawn Patterson interviewed Jigme Norbu for Warren County Report during his dinner stop at her East Main Street, Front Royal restaurant during Norbu’s 900-mile “Walk for Tibetan Independence” in April 2009. Norbu was then in the midst of a nine-week walk from Indianapolis, Indiana to U.N. Headquarter in New York City. During his April 2009 interview Norbu commented on how well he had been treated by average Americans he had met during that walk.

“Especially out in the rural country where they come out and give me water, food, even money, and the truck drivers along the way as well. So, it has really showed me how kind American people are … They’d say it was great what we’re doing. You know this is not just for the Tibetan issue. We are doing it for the universal issue of world peace and human rights.”

Norbu expressed a belief in the basic humanity of all peoples but worried over the influence of governments and personal apathy in how nations interact with each other.

“We have nothing against the Chinese people. They’re human beings just like us. It’s the Communist policies we are totally against. And I think the world should know clearly that this has been going on for so long and that Americans should wake up and realize, even though I know America deals with China, that we are feeding that sleeping giant,” Norbu said of America’s growing economic relationship with China while the Tibetan people remain oppressed.

“So it’s something that we have an obligation not only to protect our Tibetan people, but the world. I think no country should experience what we went through. So we have this opportunity to meet great people and good people. To come in here and make new friends who give us support and give us the strength to continue on with what we need to do to accomplish our goal. And that goal is to hopefully one day to see our country become independent. That’s our determination and that’s our goal.”

Talk without results

Norbu’s fellow traveler during that 2009 walk, 66-year-old Tibetan Wangchuk Dorjee, expressed mixed emotions about potential results from the Dalai Lama’s ongoing negotiations with the Chinese for a return of some political, cultural and religious autonomy for his people.

“There are positive signs. You know the last few years his Holiness’s envoys have had a dialogue with the Chinese government a few times. That is kind of a positive, I feel that way. But at the same time while the dialogue is there – not very much has become of it. The Tibetans have tried to speak up about their rights and point of view. But when they do that they are put in jail or are killed and all sorts of unbelievable things are done. It is very, very bad.”

A future without hope?

By coincidence as I helped Patterson prepare our story on Norbu and his 2009 walk, I had just finished a re-read of George Orwell’s dark vision of a totalitarian future, “1984”. Norbu and Dorjee’s observations about Tibet’s current plight mixed with Orwell’s dark vision of mankind’s future, a future it seems the Tibetan people and others on our planet already experience on a daily basis. I suggested we end her story with a reference to the lasting warning to humanity Orwell gave us in 1948, perhaps not coincidentally the transposed final two digits of his book’s title. Patterson agreed and to close that story we quoted from perhaps “1984’s” most frightening passage, as the Party spokesman O’Brien explains the Party’s view of the flow of history to Winston as he is tortured into total submission to the state and its symbolic figurehead, Big Brother.

“Always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

Jigme Norbu walked to remove that boot from the face of the Tibetan people – and perhaps also to make us all ponder how far our own faces are from the sole of that boot as it is allowed to crush the spirit of others we share this planet with.

On Feb. 14th Norbu’s walk ended on the side of a dark, Florida highway – or did it?

A national/world version of this story appears in The Huffington Post.

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm  Comments (1)  

National Zoo’s Andean bear cubs names revealed

Male Andean bear cub Bernardo at the National Zoo’s naming ceremony Wednesday, May 19. Photo: Mehgan Murphy, National Zoo.

One week and nearly 5,000 votes after the Smithsonian’s National Zoo opened the online polls to the public to name its male and female Andean bear cubs the Zoo has its winners: Chaska, pronounced Chas’-kuh, for the female and Bernardo for the male!

Animal keepers and the embassies of Peru and Venezuela submitted names for the online poll that are of Andean or South American derivation. Each name held significant meaning special to the bears or the region in which they are found. National Zoo director Dennis Kelly, along with Deputy Chief of Mission from the Embassy of Peru, Mr. Fernando Quiros, and the Charge D’Affairs from the Embassy of Venezuela, Dr. Angelo Rivero–Santos, announced the names today in a special naming ceremony.

The newly named Andean bear cubs at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo romp and climb in their outdoor exhibit prior to their naming ceremony. Bernardo, the male, is at the top of the tree stump and Chaska, the female, looks up from below. Photo: Mehgan Murphy, National Zoo.

When the polls closed on Monday, Chaska edged out Paqarina by merely 72 votes (1,799 or 37% of the total votes). Chaska, meaning the “dawn star,” was submitted by the Embassy of Peru. Bernardo, Spanish for “brave like a bear,” won by a much larger margin claiming 42% or 2,064 votes. Bernardo was submitted by the Andean bear keepers for the poll but coincidentally is also the name of the Ambassador of Venezuela, Bernardo Alvarez.

The two Andean bear cubs (also known as the spectacled bear), were born at the National Zoo to four year-old Billie Jean on Jan. 14 and 15. They are the first Andean cubs born at the National Zoo in 22 years and the only surviving Andean cubs in any North American zoo since 2005. The last surviving Andean bear cub born in North America before these two was their mother, Billie Jean.

Female Andean bear cub Chaska at the National Zoo’s naming ceremony Wednesday, May 19. Photo: Mehgan Murphy, National Zoo.

The cubs, their mother and father, Nikki, and another older female, Bandit, live at the National Zoo’s Andean bear exhibit in the Beaver Valley section of the Zoo. Due to construction on the Zoo’s seal and sea lion exhibit, Beaver Valley is closed to the public during the week but the Andean bear exhibit will be open to the public on weekends beginning May 22 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Andean bear is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species.

Published in: on May 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Video: One-day-old clouded leopard cubs at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Conservation and Research Center

One-day-old clouded leopard cubs at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Conservation and Research Center, originally uploaded by Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

An endangered clouded leopard at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center (CRC) in Front Royal, Va., gave birth to a genetically valuable litter of two cubs on Tuesday, March 24. Staff had been on pregnancy watch of the two-and-a-half year-old clouded leopard “Jao Chu” (JOW-chew) for five days. She gave birth to the litter early Tuesday morning.

This is Jao Chu’s first litter. She and the cubs’ father, two-and-a-half year-old “Hannibal,” were born in Thailand in a collaborative research program with the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand. The cubs’ sex will not be known until the first veterinary exam.

Due to deforestation and hunting, clouded leopards are vulnerable to extinction. National Zoo scientist Dr. JoGayle Howard and colleagues are aggressively working toward saving this species from decline. The Zoo has been working with clouded leopards at the Conservation & Research Center since 1978, with the goal of creating a genetically diverse population. In the past 30 years, more than 70 clouded leopards have been born at the Zoo’s research facility in Virginia, with the last litter born in 1993.

Breeding clouded leopards in captivity has been a challenge, primarily due to male aggression, decreased breeding activity between paired animals, and high cub mortality. In 2002, the National Zoo in collaboration with the Nashville Zoo and the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) created the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium—the largest population of confiscated clouded leopards in Southeast Asia. The Clouded Leopard SSP oversees clouded leopard populations in zoos worldwide, and makes breeding recommendations for potential pairs based on the genetics of each cat. Since Thailand’s captive cubs are only one or two generations removed from the wild, their genes are especially valuable.

To date, the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium has produced 32 surviving cubs. The National Zoo’s program at the Front Royal facility is the only one of its kind combining breeding with scientific research. For example, scientists still do not know why male clouded leopards attack their possible mates, but several graduate students at the National Zoo are studying the males’ behavior—one student plans to test anti-anxiety drugs used in humans and domestic cats in an attempt to suppress male aggression.

Howard and colleagues have learned how to reduce the risk of fatal attacks by hand-rearing cubs for socialization and also introducing males to their mates when they are six months old, allowing the pair to grow up together. Hannibal and Jao Chu, the only compatible pair of clouded leopards at CRC, are proof that these techniques work. The new cubs also will be handreared by experienced CRC staff.

Following mating, the gestation period for clouded leopards is about 86 to 93 days. The average litter size for clouded leopards is two to five cubs. Clouded leopard cubs weigh about a half of a pound when born.

Little is known about clouded leopards. They are cats native to Southeast Asia and parts of China in a habitat that ranges from dense tropical evergreen forests to drier forests if there is suitable prey.

They are the smallest of the big cats, weighing 30 to 50 pounds and measuring about five feet long. Their short legs, large paws, and long tail (accounts for half their length) help them balance on small branches, and their flexible ankles allow them to run down trees headfirst.

The newborn cubs will not be on exhibit at CRC. However, visitors may get an up-close treetop view of two clouded leopards—a male named Tai and a female named Mook—at Asia Trail at the National Zoo’s campus in Washington, D.C.
For more photos, visit the Zoo’s Flickr site: tinyurl.com/dem9uu

Published in: on March 27, 2009 at 7:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Rare Horse Dies at National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center

File photo of a Przewalski's Horse. This wild horse was declared extinct in the wild in the 1970s. National Zoo scientists are part of an international effort to preserve the species. Photo by Jessie Cohen, NZP photographer.

A six-month-old, male Przewalski’s horse died at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va. Friday, Jan. 30 due to a fractured neck. The cause of injury remains undetermined-staff closely observing the horse in the moments preceding its death did not notice any unusual behavior that would have caused the injury.

Staff directed the colt into a chute system leading into a trailer which would transport him and a six-month-old filly to a new pasture on Friday afternoon. The animal walked onto the trailer-as it had many times previously-without exhibiting any signs of stress or injury. Following protocol, staff checked on the animals a few minutes after they entered the trailer. Staff found the colt unconscious, but it was still breathing. The horse was quickly transported to the Center’s veterinary hospital where veterinarians attempted to resuscitate him, but he died a short while later. A subsequent necropsy report showed that the horse had sustained a fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrate in his neck.

The colt was born in July, sired by a 9-year-old stallion named Frog, the most genetically valuable Przewalski’s horse in the North American breeding program. Its mother came from Europe to breed with Frog in order to boost the breeding program. The Przewalski’s horse is a horse species native to China and Mongolia that was declared extinct in the wild in 1970. Currently, there are approximately 1,500 of these animals maintained in zoological institutions throughout the world and in several small reintroduced populations in Asia.

The filly that was also being transported sustained no injury and is in good health.

From a release.

Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 4:20 pm  Comments (4)  

Free complete print edition: Mid January, 2009

Click here to open

Inside this issue:

  • Front Royal, VA woman loses finger in domestic dispute
  • Browntown Road shooting
  • Additional charges filed in Warren County, VA house ramming incident
  • Two arrested in Papa John’s Pizza robbery
  • Be on the lookout for Daniel Eli of Bethlehem, PA
  • Driveway scams
  • Openings for Citizens Police Academy
  • R-MA teacher honored
  • State River Park attendance down
  • New Linden, VA trash site opens
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approaches liaison: Let’s talk – just not about ‘that’
  • Warren County, VA approves 5-pronged January liaison agenda
  • Capt. Richard H. Furr makes it official – applying for Front Royal, VA police chief’s job
  • Del. Clay Athey’s Report from Richmond, VA
  • Neighbors point fingers (not guns) during shooting debate
  • ‘Pawsitive Pup’ makes dog grooming more convenient
  • NFL playoffs – Still Cheering Purple Pride
  • Activities & events in Front Royal and Warren County, VA
  • Opinion: The Gaza Holocaust
  • Letter: History’s Revenge
  • Front Royal/Warren County, VA Chamber of Commerce news
  • Entire issue is free here.

Also, 2008: The Year in Review

  • 2008 – It wasn’t that great: From bad weather to a lousy economy – good riddance
  • Inventor John Kovak: Childhood machine could be key to clean energy production in Front Royal, VA
  • CPV, Dominion Power make it official – the ‘buy’ is on
  • Paying for our own noose? Front Royal, VA debates the true price of power – 50 years of coal
  • Loss of father, two young children mourned at Candlelight Vigil
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approves corridor, EDA resolutions  – Threat of litigation by Riverton Commons restaurants hovers over passage
  • First Crooked Run Center tax revenue estimates in
  • Town, FDR Services settle water-sewer rate war – Two years of litigation ends with compromise, 15-year service contract
  • Should the Dow be at 3,000? Up a grand, down a grand – Great Depression 2.0?
  • Show me the money – Brooks calls out EDA financing – EDA’s reduced municipal funding request opens a fiscal can of worms
  • Town move on EDA assets likely futile – Virginia state law protects autonomy of economic development authorities
  • Town to EDA – ‘Pretty please with sugar on top’ – Town rephrases effort to gain control of millions in EDA assets
  • Abusive driver fees’ hit the dustbin of legislative history – Refunds included in ‘civil remedial fee’ repeal signed into law by Virginia governor
  • Virginia Governor Tim Kaine cites importance of dialogue in state government
  • Va. Supreme Court rules against NVTA road taxing – Local plaintiff, delegate weigh in on decision, state funding responsibilities
  • Questions remain about Virginia state trooper collision – Public’s right to know at issue as accident investigation continues
  • Humane Society board recalled under contentious circumstances – Accusations fly over membership voting eligibility, animal care priorities
  • Wagner Shelter two weeks later – ‘a remarkable change’; In the wake of contentious board recall, humans & animals move on
  • Monk murder mystery – A personal remembrance of a soul in wonder
  • Entire issue is free here.

The Gaza Holocaust (Op-ed)

Photo by Bilal Mirza

Photo by Bilal Mirza

Israeli dissent: ‘Israel is like the abused child who grows up to be the abuser.’

By Elizabeth Molchany

The 1967 war between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria was born of a lie that Israel had to wage a pre-emptive attack to defend itself, much as George Bush said the US had to wage a pre-emptive attack against Iraq because it had weapons of mass destruction.

Declassified documents in recent years of statements by Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan reveal the contrary. Since then, in violation of more than 100 UN resolutions and the Geneva Conventions, not to mention the international standard of unlawful aggression the US held Iraq to as justification for the first Gulf War in 1991, Israel has retained control of the Occupied Territories it captured in 1967 and committed numerous atrocities reported in its own media, to which the US is complicit in its American-made, Americanpaid DC9 Caterpillars, F16s, and Apache helicopters, among other weapons.

Home made placard from Melbourne protest December 30, 2008 about Israel’s attack on Gaza. Photo by Takver taken on Swanston Street towards the back of the march.

Home made placard from Melbourne protest December 30, 2008 about Israel’s attack on Gaza. Photo by Takver taken on Swanston Street towards the back of the march.

The Occupied Territories includes the Gaza Strip, a small 25 x 6 mile area bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, inhabited by 1.5 million Palestinians, 20 percent of whom and their forefathers have lived there for centuries. Eighty percent are refugees created when 750,000 Palestinians were forced or fled in fear from their homes in what is now Israel in April 1948, before the first Arab-Israeli war. They and their forefathers had lived there for 1600 years since the 7th century.

For 42 years, Israel has had tight control over Gaza, making it the world’s largest prison. No one may leave or enter without an Israeli permit. When its troops left in 2005, Israel left 44 acres of massive rubble when it demolished Jewish-only housing rather than leave it for the Gazans to use as an act of good faith since it had illegally occupied the land so long.

But Israel retained control of Gaza’s air, land, and sea, and the money they earn on produce and other products, and imposed a blockade on food, fuel, water, electricity, medicine, even ink and paper and parts and supplies necessary for a viable economy.

Because of this, thousands of Palestinians are starving, hopeless, and helpless. It is the middle of winter, they are freezing and without fuel, food or money. In an open and democratic election in 2005, Hamas was elected.

Hamas has refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist based on Israel’s refusal to accept the existence of a Palestinian state and their rights to human dignity, freedom and security. Despite this, Hamas immediately offered Israel a 10-year ceasefire and acceptance of a 2-state solution if Israel would agree to return to the 1967 borders. Israel refused. Hamas abided by its own 18-month unilateral truce.

In June 2008, Hamas and Israel agreed to a 6-month truce during which Israel was to relax its blockade.

Israel immediately breached that part, and would not even allow Gazans to fish within 3 miles of their own coast without a permit, stringently enforced.

Palestinian men bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Lama and her sister were reportedly riding a donkey cart Tuesday near a rocket-launching site that was targeted by Israel. Photo by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi

Palestinian men bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Lama and her sister were reportedly riding a donkey cart Tuesday near a rocket-launching site that was targeted by Israel. Photo by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi

On November 4, Israel again breached the truce by entering Gaza, killing 6 Palestinians, and sealing the borders, denying food and all necessities, foreign journalists and dignitaries, including President Carter. On Dec 27, Israel launched its massive assault despite the fact that not one Israeli had died during the past year from a Qassam Rocket. Hamas responded with its only weapons, Qassam Rockets, killing 4 Israelis. Since Israel’s attack with American weapons, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed, 3,000 wounded, and their entire infrastructure destroyed or seriously damaged, including homes, the American school, the university, dormitories, stores, markets, fishing boats, the Gaza mental heath center. This massacre, planned six months in advance, is not about Hamas or rockets but about Israel’s upcoming elections and denying the right of a Palestinian state. On January 14, nine Israeli human rights organizations issued a letter stating that “This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.” http://www.btselem.org/English/ See its accompanying report on “The Humanitarian Collapse in the Gaza Strip.”

Had Israel wanted peace, it would have returned the occupied territories to the Palestinians, the rightful owners under international law; it would have accepted the Saudi peace initiatives offered in 2002 and 2007, which all 21 Arab states signed, recognizing Israel and offering it permanent peace in return for an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in 1967, establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Each time, Israel said no, contradicting the notion Israel alone seeks a just and peaceful solution to regional issues. http://tinyurl.com/SA2007PlanHaaretz and http://tinyurl.com/JPAcceptInitiative

Please do not rely on the mainstream US media – you will not find the truth there. Research the alternative media on the Internet and other sources, such as Link and Free Speech TV’s “Democracy Now” daily news show, online sources such as Jewish Voices for Peace, the Electronic Intifada, or England’s print media The Independence and The Observer, which are also available online, as are the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, and Israeli organizations such “Gush Shalom,” “B’tselem” and “Breaking the Silence: Israeli Soldiers Talk About the Occupied” – the latter at www.shovrimshtika.org/index_e.asp

As one Israeli conscientious objector recently stated in a “Democracy Now” interview after being released from prison, “At least in Israel there is debate over the actions of the right-wing government, in the US you don’t even get that.”

Elizabeth Molchany is an attorney in private practice in Front Royal, VA. Ms. Molchany is a long-time student of the crisis in the Middle East. She can be reached at: emmolchanylaw@embarqmail.com

Published in: on January 9, 2009 at 9:03 pm  Comments (57)  
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