Thursday, July 27, 2006

4 Stories on

I think it's a new record - 4 stories on today (front page), including the Top Story. (Other's include 'Cheating on Partner' and 'Beating Depression: Breakdown to Breakthrough).

Helene (from Virgin Active) came to give the students a presentation on becoming a personal instructor with her company (eta). I spoke to her afterwards. She says she's played squash with CJ in the past. Unfortunately I missed 99% of it as I had to write comments on all the reports.

Class has gone quite well today. Got students sitting alphabetically, according to a seating plan, and got a lot of work done and provided some good background and analogies. Also quickly took charge of misbehaving students, including 4 bunkers who came 35 minutes late.

Have a hockey match today at 3pm (Sand du Plessis) and two classes this evening before hostel duty.

Took in an Ideology class last night. Seems interesting. Need to get some training in today if at all possible.

No response so far from Toni Younghusband at Shape magazine.

More news:

Hezbollah fighters kill 9 Israeli troops
By SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes ago

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah dealt
Israel' name=c1> SEARCH
News News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Israel its heaviest losses in the Lebanon campaign Wednesday, killing nine soldiers in fierce firefights. With key Mideast players failing to agree on a formula for a cease-fire, an Israeli general said the operation could last weeks.

Israel said it intends to damage Hezbollah and establish a "security zone" that would be free of the guerrillas and extend 1.2 miles into Lebanon from the Israeli border. Such a zone would prevent Hezbollah from carrying out cross-border raids such as the one two weeks ago which triggered the Israeli military response.

Israel said it would maintain such a zone, with firepower or other means, until the arrival of an international force with muscle to be deployed in a wider swath of southern Lebanon — as opposed to the U.N. force already there that has failed to prevent the violence.

The Israeli bombardment has failed to stop guerrilla rocket fire, even while killing hundreds, driving up to 750,000 people from their homes and causing billion of dollars in damage. Hezbollah fired another large barrage into northern Israel on Wednesday — 151 rockets that wounded at least 31 people and damaged property from the suburbs of the port on Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea to the Hula Valley above the Sea of Galilee. Over the past two weeks, the guerrillas have fired 1,436 rockets into Israel.

Pushing Hezbollah back with ground troops was proving to be bloody. Several thousand troops are in Lebanon, Israeli military officials said — mainly in a roughly 6-square-mile pocket around the town of Bint Jbail, a Hezbollah stronghold just over two miles from the border.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and top Cabinet ministers were to decide Thursday whether to broaden the offensive, military and government officials said on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to discuss such matters with the press. Israel's Haaretz newspaper said military officials have criticized the government for not ordering a larger ground offensive, which they said would give troops an advantage over Hezbollah.

The Hezbollah fighters are still heavily outnumbered, with some 100 in Bint Jbail and several hundred more in surrounding fields, bunkers and cave, according to the officials. But they use classic guerrilla tactics, choosing when to strike in the hilly territory they know well. They are dug in with extensive tunnel networks and stockpiling weapons, including rockets with which they pelted Israeli forces Wednesday.

Violence was also increasing on the other front of Israel's fight on Islamic militants: Gaza, where Hamas-linked militants are holding an Israeli soldier seized a month ago. A force of 50 tanks and bulldozers entered the northern Gaza Strip' to battle Hamas gunmen. Israeli air and artillery attacks killed 23 Palestinians, including at least 16 militants and three young girls.

Israel was feeling pressure on the international front — and anger over a bombing Tuesday night that directly hit a U.N. observation post on the border, killing four U.N. observers.
Australian troops would not join a new international force in southern Lebanon unless it had the strength and will to disarm Hezbollah, the prime minister said Thursday after his government decided to withdraw its 12 peacekeeping troops from southern Lebanon.

"It's no good sending a token force there, and I make it clear that Australian forces will never be part of a token force because it would be too dangerous," Prime Minister John Howard told an Australian radio station. A "serious" force would be made up of "tens of thousands," he said.
In Malaysia, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer offered stronger language, saying "there's no point in sending an international peacekeeping force on a suicide mission."
At the Rome talks, Rice resisted pressure from allies for Washington to change its stance and call for an immediate halt to the violence.

Rice insisted any cease-fire must be "sustainable" and that there could be "no return to the status quo" — a reference to the U.S. and Israeli position that Hezbollah must first be pushed back from the border and the Lebanese army backed by international forces deployed in the south.

The chief of Israel's northern command warned that the fight would drag on.
"I assume it will continue for several more weeks, and in a number of weeks we will be able to (declare) a victory," Maj. Gen. Udi Adam told a news conference.

While the ground battle was intensifying, the bombardment in rest of Lebanon appeared to be easing. Israeli jets were heard repeatedly over Beirut in the evening, but the capital saw no strikes.

But early Thursday, local broadcasters said Israel warplanes hit an army base and an adjacent relay station belonging to Lebanese state radio at Aamchit, 30 miles north of Beirut, knocking down a transmission tower. The Israeli military said it had targeted a Hezbollah radar base like the one used in the July 14 attack on an Israeli vessel that killed four soldiers.

About 24 airstrikes were reported outside the immediate border region Wednesday, down from nearly 30 a day recently. One strike in the center of the southern port of Tyre collapsed the top floor and ripped the facade off an empty seven-story building where Hezbollah's top commander in the south has offices. The strike wounded 13 people, including six children, nearby.

Warplanes continued to target trucks at a time when aid groups are worried about moving aid to the south by truck. Three trucks carrying vegetables were hit in the Bekaa Valley and another on a road between Syria and Beirut.
The eight deaths in Bint Jbail, which Israel has been trying to take for four days, were the heaviest Israeli casualties in a single battle during the Lebanon campaign.

Israeli troops had thought they secured the area around the town, but the guerrillas ambushed a patrol before dawn, said Capt. Jacob Dallal, an Israeli army spokesman. A rescue force went in, and fighting escalated. Hezbollah said its guerrillas ambushed an Israeli unit from three sides as it tried to advance from a ridge on the outskirts of the town.

Eight soldiers were killed and 22 wounded in the fighting, the army said. It later reported a ninth soldier killed and several other casualties in the nearby village of Maroun al-Ras.
At least 30 guerrillas were killed Wednesday, an Israeli military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Hezbollah announced no casualties; it has acknowledged 19 dead in four days of fighting around Bint Jbail.
The area features dense growth of underbrush and trees, with hills and narrow, winding roads — ideal for guerrilla emplacements and ambushes. Israeli media reported that some of the casualties resulted from direct hits by anti-tank rockets and others from roadside bombs.
So far, Israeli troops have gone house to house taking positions on the outskirts of the town, without going far inside Bint Jbail, the Israeli official said.
Bint Jbail has great symbolic importance for the Hezbollah guerrillas, who are Shiite Muslims. It has the largest Shiite community in the border area and was known as the "capital of the resistance" during Israel's 1982-2000 occupation because of its vehement support for Hezbollah.

An Israeli seizure of the town would rob Hezbollah of a significant refuge overlooking northern Israel and force its fighters to operate from smaller, more vulnerable villages in the south.
Wednesday's deaths brought to 51 the number of Israelis killed in the campaign, including 32 members of the military, according to the military.

In Lebanon, at least 423 people have been killed — including 376 civilians reported by the Health Ministry and security officials, 20 Lebanese soldiers and 27 fighters Hezbollah has acknowledged were killed. Israel says more than 100 guerrillas have been killed.

Rice defends U.S. over Mideast cease-fire

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 50 minutes ago
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Sticking to a position that has complicated relations with allies, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the United States' insistence on a lasting Middle East cease-fire that addresses deep-seeded conflicts on the Lebanon-Israeli border.

Even with the issue consuming her agenda, Rice turns her attention Thursday to a long-scheduled meeting on the other side of the globe that's certain to address another festering diplomatic problem for the United States: North Korea.

Rice spent three days traveling to Beirut, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Rome, trying to convince world leaders that the Bush administration's insistence that a cease-fire on the Lebanon-Israeli border must come with terms to ensure the violence doesn't flare weeks or months later.

The position isolated her from nearly all U.S. allies, who are seeking a quick end to the fighting that has cost millions of dollars and hundreds of lives. They want to stop the fighting before engaging in complex negotiations about disarming the Lebanon's well-armed Hezbollah militia, strengthening the country's central government and other difficult issues.

As a result, a meeting of senior diplomats in Rome on Wednesday failed to produce an unanimous, concrete course for a cease-fire, falling back to a broad outline aimed at peace.
Briefing reporters on her way to Asia, Rice stressed areas where she found common ground with the 17 other international leaders who gathered in Rome. She acknowledged that many countries called for an immediate cease-fire, but said several did not.

"I thought that a way forward got a big boost today in the consensus around that table," she said, including an agreement on the need for an international force to help stabilize Lebanon, particularly to its south, which is controlled by Shiite militants with Hezbollah.

"Yes, we want a cease-fire urgently," Rice said. "But let's create the conditions for a cease-fire, and create them quickly and urgently that will make the end of violence finally last."
Rice's position effectively gives Israel more time to continue its strikes against the capabilities of Hezbollah. She has said she does not want to dictate to Israel how it should handle its affairs.

At a press conference, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he regretted that the delegates couldn't agree on the precise language calling for a cease-fire. He said the French had wanted to call for an "immediate cessation of hostilities," but Rice successfully pressed for "we will work immediately for the cessation of hostilities."

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora pleaded for more. "The more we delay the cease-fire, the more we are going to witness (that) more are being killed, more destruction, more aggression against the civilians in Lebanon."

Aboard her plane en route to Asia, Rice tried to downplay expectations of a quick fix in the Lebanon or the Middle East. "I am a student of history, so perhaps I have a little bit more patience with the enormous change in the international system and the complete shifting of tectonic plates, and I don't expect it to happen in a few days or even a year," she said.
Rice indicated she plans to stay engaged in the issue, even as she meets with leaders from Asia to discuss how to deal with North Korea at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The opaque regime has pressed ahead with its nuclear program despite international demands and launched seven missiles earlier this month, also angering the world community. The
United Nations Security Council responded with an unanimous U.N. resolution to impose limited sanctions on North Korea. It also demanded that the reclusive communist nation suspend its ballistic missile program.

North Korea immediately rejected the resolution and vowed to launch more missiles. North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-Sun was expected to attend the sessions
Rice said she doesn't anticipate any talks with the six nations who have met formally to address the North Korea problem. They haven't met since last November, when Pyongyang began boycotting the talks in November, protesting U.S. sanctions for alleged counterfeiting and money laundering activities.

"I've said anytime people want to talk in the six-party framework, I am ready to do it," Rice said. "But I don't have any indication that the North Koreans intend to take up the call that was there in the resolution, that they should re-engage."

Rice skipped the annual conference in Asia last year, drawing criticism from participants afterward. This time, Rice flew in with two fellow diplomats, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Canadian Foreign Minister Peter McKay.

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