Bloggers on the deaths of four U.N. observers.

Bloggers on the deaths of four U.N. observers.

Bloggers on the deaths of four U.N. observers.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
July 26 2006 4:59 PM

Criminal Intent?

Bloggers question the intent of Israel's bombing of a U.N. observation post. They also waste no time outing the mystery candidate behind Dana Milbank's column on GOP self-criticism and boo ESPN for canning Harold Reynolds.

Criminal intent? Four U.N. observers were killed Wednesday after Israel bombed their outpost in southern Lebanon. Kofi Annan called the attack the result of "apparently deliberate targeting," but U.N. Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman insists it was an accident and doesn't much appreciate Annan's tone of certitude. Cyberspace is roiled in debate over such presumption of intent.

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The blogger behind UNIPAL 2006, the unofficial site of an organization that teaches English to Palestinian refugees, argues that the bombing represents a grim déjà vu:"This of course is not an incident without precedent. In 1996 Israeli artillery targetted a UN base in Qana killing 106, mainly Lebanese civilians who had fled to the base to avoid attacks elsewhere. Although Israel claimed the attack was an accident a UN investigation highlighted how … 'While the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, it is unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of gross technical and/or procedural errors.'"

But Gene at the democratic socialist Harry's Place can't stomach Annan's ascription of Israeli intent behind the bombing. "Now I suppose even Kofi Annan and our smuggest commenters would concede that when Israeli Skyhawks bombed to pieces 20 Israeli soldiers [in 1982], it was unintentional. But if those Skyhawks had instead bombed UN personnel or Lebanese civilians, the same people would have been claiming 'deliberate attack' before the dust cleared."

Centrist liberal Michael Stickings at The Moderate Voice has "conditional" support for Israel, but none at all for the secretary-general: "Annan is surely upset that the U.N. observers were killed, but does it make any sense that Israel would do such a thing? Hardly. Annan's knee jerking is irresponsible and counter-productive."

In the comments section of Finland for Thought, a cross-hatching of Finnish and American politics, "kbs" posts: "I think that UN observers should have been called off on that area a great while ago, because it is quite obvious that they can not provide peace on the war-zone since they are only observating peace there. And when militants are using common people as human-shields it is impossible to avoid the innocent victims."

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Read more about the U.N. workers' deaths.

Nerves of Steele: Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank ran a piece Tuesday about an unnamed GOP Senate candidate who considers his party affiliation a hindrance, thanks to George W. Bush. (Disclosure: Milbank has a column that appears jointly in Slate and the "Outlook" section of the Washington Post, and Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.) After much woe-is-me chatter, Milbank's Mr. X was swiftly identified by the Associated Press and close-reading bloggers as Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Cyberspace has reacted to both Milbank's column and Steele's grumbling.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review's Sixers blog, devoted to covering the midterm elections, writes that the secret was out soon after Milbank's column went to press: "A few of us at NR knew right away when reading the piece early this morning that it was Steele, because (among other things) he had said much of what he said at his Monday lunch at Charlie Palmers during an off-the-record session at NR World Headquarters a few weeks ago."

John Hawkins at Right Wing News faults Milbank for "stick[ing] it to a Republican any way he can" but adds, "in Steele's defense, he's in a state that went 56-43 for Kerry in 2004 and Bush is a lot less popular now. Moreover, for Steele to win, he's going to probably need to pull 20-25% of black voters in Maryland. … So, it's easy to understand where he's coming from."

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At Wonkette, guest editor David Weigel is of the opinion that "we - and you, dear reader - got totally played. Playing this two-day game of charades got him headlines like "Steele criticizes GOP," which are exactly what he needs to play for Maryland voters who hate George W. Bush almost as much as they hated Lincoln. Will it stop the state Democrats from xeroxing this Bush-Steele photo about 400 million times? Nope. But an 'A' for effort!"

Responding to Steele's remarks that Republicans are acting like unhinged Democrats in their lawmaking, liberal BHC at Anything They Say objects: "Of course, like a true realpolitik Republican, the bills he is lamenting are the ones of which he was strongly in favour: the ones would to address those crucial issues of flag burning and gay marriage. Steele is not quite the fresh GOP radical that some might now think him to be."

Read more about the Steele revelations.

No hugging: Baseball analyst Harold Reynolds was fired from ESPN for alleged sexual harassment. "[I] gave a woman a hug and I felt like it was misinterpreted," Reynolds told the New York Post, though the network won't confirm the reason for his canning.

The Sports Guru has a nice recount of past ESPN scandals and their messy aftermath: "For his part, Reynolds is saying it was a big misunderstanding and he is looking to get his job back. A slim possibility in my opinion since ESPN has come under fire before for the way they handle these types of things. Don't worry, Harold, FOX will always have a place for you…."

Baseball columnist Jeff Stanger at Trolley Dodgers writes, "It's a sad day for baseball. Harold was a great analyst and a genuine good guy. I was fortunate enough to talk with him during a rain delay at the CWS this summer and I found him to be personable and humble."

Read more about Reynolds' termination.