I've decided I would like to open up a political blog. I, unfortunately, have not yet decided that I want to figure out how to do that. If anyone wishes to volunteer some time setting up the site for me, I would be very grateful. Until then, you guys are subjected to my ranting. Sorry to break it to ya. July 27, 2006: 2:37 a.m. Peace talks between the Israel and Lebanon are stalling. Both sides seem content to simply bombard each other with firepower. Yesterday Israel suffered its largest losses in its 15-day offensive against the guerillas of southern Lebanon. 9 Israeli soldiers died at the hands of Hezbollah. Eight of those deaths were in Bint Jbeil, an border town, and the â€˜terror capitalâ€™ of Hezbollah according to the Israeli Defense Forces. 22 more soldiers were wounded in the conflicts there. The casualties were not one sided, however, which is both good and bad. The good side is that this conflict is progressing towards an actual conclusion, Hezbollah being weakened to the point of not being able to actively attack Israel. The bad side is more people are dying. Hezbollah has refused to release casualty figures since the fighting began, but losses were heavy on their side as well. As of Tuesday, the IDF has said that Bint Jbeil has been under their control, although that control certainly seems loose at best. More troops have been arriving, but the city is still a hotbed of violence. Nearby, in Maroun al-Ras, another soldier was killed, and five more injured, leaving the death toll for this past day at 31 casualties, 9 of them fatal. But we also canâ€™t forget the 10 injured Lebanese in Tyre, a Lebanese port city, where an Israeli air strike destroyed a 10-story building. This air strike came only a few hours after a ship carrying Americans, Australians, Britons, and Canadians departed for Canada, leaving Tyre and the violence of Lebanon behind. Major General Udi Adam, of the IDF, stated that the building was destroyed on suspicion of the presence of missile launchers used to attack Haifa. Haifa, the third-largest city in Israel, has been targeted numerously by missile attacks out of Lebanon. In case youâ€™ve forgotten, this entire mess has escalated from a July 12th raid by Hezbollah guerillas into Israel, when they captured two IDF soldiers. Since last week, ground fighting in Lebanese border towns has been fierce. The IDF states that its goal in Lebanon is strictly to push Hezbollah away from its borders and to limit the organizations ability to launch Katyusha rockets into Israel. Yesterday morning, Hezbollah launched 102 of those rockets into Israel, 27 of them landing in cities. 18 people were injured. The primary weapons used to assault Israel have been Katyusha rockets designed to be fired out of 122 mm BM-21 Katyusha multiple rocket launchers. Katyusha rocket launchers fire numerous explosive rockets at a target area, inflicting considerable damage with little consideration for accuracy. Hezbollah has also made use of longer-ranged Fajr-3 rockets, a 240 mm rocket with a range of 25-30 miles. As far back as 2001 it has been known that Hezbollah had set up a belt of mobile Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, as well as numerous trucks mounted with missiles. The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has warned that Hezbollah militants will take the fight beyond Haifa and further into Israel. As of yesterday, the deepest into Israeli territory an attack has gone has been Nazareth, 20 miles southeast of Haifa. Since July 12th, almost 400 people have been confirmed dead by Israeli strikes, mostly civilians. According to the IDF, the death toll from Hezbollahâ€™s rocket strikes and the resistance in southern Lebanon is 50, with 19 of those deaths being civilian. The conflict has left more than 1,400 wounded in Lebanon, as well as over 300 wounded Israeli civilians. In addition to the casualties inflicted to each other, four U.N. observers were killed on Tuesday, when an Israeli precision-guided bomb struck their post in southern Lebanon. While Israel has stated the incident was accidental, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan contends that the Israeli military liaison was told 10 times over the course of 6 hours that aerial attacks were coming closer and closer to a bunker manned by the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon. The U.N. force in Lebanon consists of roughly 2,000 troops, including 40 military observers, and an additional 400 civilians. They have operated in Lebanon since 1978 to observe Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon, maintain security in the region, and eventually return authority over the area to the Lebanese government, as they are ready to assume responsibility. As of yesterday, evidence has come out showing that Hezbollah isnâ€™t acting alone. Representatives of the Amal Party, headed by the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, have stated that militias loyal to their party leader have been involved in every major battle since the fighting broke out. Amal is a Shiite political organization with strong paramilitary tendencies, similar to Hezbollah. Amal actively fought against Israel during its 1990s occupation of southern Lebanon. 8 fighters affiliated with Amal have been killed in the violence over the past three days, during which time Berri has been meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss ways to resolve the issue without further violence. These talks have met with little progress, as the United States resists demands to call of an immediate cease-fire, stating that such a cessation must be part of a wider plan to permanently disarm Hezbollah. Excusing some small degree of personal opinion, people tend to listen best to reason when there arenâ€™t guns going off around their heads. In Gaza, while conducting another offensive, Israeli forces have killed 12 Palestinians and wounded 50 others during an operation in Gaza City. Six of the people killed were members of Hamas, and one was a member of Islamic Jihad. The Israeli Air Force attacked 14 militant cells in Gaza Cityâ€™s Sajaiyeh neighborhood, and also struck two weapons storage facilities in Rafah and Jebalya. Throughout Gaza, 25 Palestinians have died, including 12 militants and 2 children. Seven were killed by Israeli tank fire yesterday morning. In the course of the conflict, both Amnesty International and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights have denounced the actions of both Israel and Hezbollah as tantamount to war crimes. In Lebanon, reports of ambulances being attacked in the streets and hospitals being knowingly bombed by the IDF abound. The sign of the Red Cross, which used to carry with it some amount of protection from the brutalities of war, means nothing now, and fleeing civilians have been attacked numerous times, including reports of families fleeing from a village in southern Lebanon and being struck by an Israeli missile on the open road. 17 were killed, many women and children. Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization that researches possible human rights violations, has called for investigation into the incident, turning up other reports of attacks on civilians. Four days ago, three families were allegedly fleeing from Tyre, when their vehicles were struck by rockets fired from Israeli helicopters. All the automobiles were waving white flags. Human Rights Watch has also alleged that Israel has fired cluster munitions into civilian areas in the town of Bilda. Israel as stated that they are merely acting in self-defense of the over a thousand missiles fired by Hezbollah, and that they have only targeted military objectives. The IDF reiterates that Hezbollah often hides in civilian areas, sometimes storing caches of rockets in private apartments. And yet reports indicate that Israeli forces are under orders from their Chief of Staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz, to bomb ten multi-storied buildings in south Beirut or every Hezbollah rocket fired at Haifa. CNN reports that an Israeli missile hit two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances parked in the Lebanese town of Qana. The ambulances were evacuating civilians. Qana is also the same town in which Israeli artillery demolished a U.N. base in 1996, which killed more than 100 Lebanese civilians who had been taking refuge with the peacekeepers. The Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination of the United Nations, Jan Egeland, has stated that one third of the dead of Lebanon are children, and that the leveling of â€˜block after blockâ€™ of buildings in Beirut was not only â€˜horrific,â€™ but a violation of global humanitarian law. By his estimates, more than half a million Lebanese have been displaced by the bombardments. Rocket attacks by Hezbollah have also targeted civilian sites, including a post office and two hospitals. Human Rights Watch has condemned Hezbollahâ€™s actions, stating that their choice of weaponry indicates a deliberate intent to harm civilians. Several of the rockets launched at Haifa have contained hundreds of metal ball bearings, similar to the way a shotgun shell functions. This type of projectile has very limited use against well-protected, armored military targets, but causes a great deal of damage to both civilians and civilian property. Without body armor or other equitable protection, the ball bearings easily lodge themselves in the body and can cause serious harm and death. Several reports have stated that Israeli forces have used phosphorus incendiary bombs against Lebanese civilians. Such devices are outlawed internationally, and several surgeons and doctors report treating patients with phosphorus burns. Incendiary bombs are designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment. These â€˜fire bombsâ€™ are designed with a large initial explosive payload to ignite the fire, and a supply of some type of material to keep the fire burning at high temperature, typically thermite or white phosphorus. The use of such weapons against civilians has been banned since 1980. The conference at which this ban was decided also prohibited the use of fragmentation weapons whose fragments are designed to escape detection by X-rays, the use of non-detectable anti-personnel mines, and laser weapons whose combat function is to cause permanent blindness to a target. Outside of the firestorm of violence at the Israeli=Lebanese border, life apparently still goes on. More news out of Iraq, two mortars, followed by a car bomb, blasted through Baghdad yesterday, killing 25 and wounding 46. These explosions occurred roughly midmorning in the religiously mixed neighborhood, currently controlled by a major Shiite party. This comes two days have the President approved plans to send more troops into Baghdad to curb sectarian violence. The mortars landed on an apartment structure, collapsing the building. China, in few uncertain terms, has said that Canadaâ€™s decision to bestow honorary citizenship upon the Dalai Lama could hut the growing commercial relations between the countries. The 71-year old Tibetan leader has been in exile since 1959, after a failed uprising against the Chinese. Last month, the Canadian Parliament unanimously approved the award of honorary citizenship, which will be bestowed upon the Dalai lama when he visits Vancouver this September. This marks only the third time that Canada has bestowed an honorary citizenship; They did so once to Nelson Mandela, and again to Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish businessman who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa has already lodged complaint. Economic ties between Canada and China have been growing, but the new conservative government in China that took power this February is much cooler towards Beijing. Already have the Canadians taken a stand against alleged industrial espionage by the Chinese in Canada. The conservative government in China also stands in support of the island of Taiwan, which the Chinese claim as sovereign territory. In a somewhat related story, the Chinese have accused the Dalai Lama as collaborating with the CIA in order to leverage for Tibetâ€™s independence. This information is based on a composition of information derived from news reports by www.cnn.com, www.bbc.com, www.foxnews.com, and articles from www.wikipedia.com. If you read all this, you'll have seen this was more informational instead of opinionated. I tried to be pretty objective, because I wanted you all to see the entirety of the story before you posted on it. From this point on, unless I'm posting more massive amounts of information, I'll post my opinions based upon the evidence, as I usually do.