Sunday, October 23, 2005

"Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-23-05" (The Third Estate Sunday Review)

[Repost from The Third Estate Sunday Review. E-mail address for this site is]

"Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-23-05"
C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-23-05. Note that this is a rough transcript. We'll have reports on Iraq, bird flu, the world of sports and the world of entertainment. But first we go to Jess, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, to get a run down on activites related to Iraq.

Jess: C.I., Brian Conley is in Iraq, in Baghdad in fact, after all the hassles with the visa. What he's finding out is what Riverbend's noted at Baghdad Burning, basic needs such as electricity aren't even met in Baghdad, one of the few cities occupation forces have been continuously stationed in. Brian notes:

Iraqis will all tell you about the problems with the electricity, and I have already heard it mentioned to me many times. I will be working on a more formal story about the electricity situation soon. Consider doing some reading about this if you have time on your hands. After the previous Gulf War, Saddam Hussein had the electricity back on in much of Baghdad and Iraq within a few weeks, and in nearly all of Iraq in around 3 months.It certainly leaves oneself asking hard questions about the Multi National Force - Iraq. Are they truly interested in rehabilitating the Iraqi infrastructure when they aren’t even able to ensure that the electricity remains on? For many Iraqis, this is perhaps the first issue they mention when you ask about the problems in Iraq. Another frequent complaint is about the extremely long gas queues in Baghdad. Despite Iraq having one of the largest supplies of oil in the world, Iraqi citizens are currently receiving much of their oil and gas needs imported from Kuwait!

Jess (con't): Here at home, the Bully Boy's visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California was greeted by at least 40 protesters carrying signs with slogans such as "Bring Our Troops Home Now," "Bush Is Waging Genocide, Not War" and "Out of Iraq Troops Home Now!" Bradley has an article, photo essay and audio clips of the protest at LA Indymedia.Among those participating were Tim, John and Aaron of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The library was closed to the public and roads were temporarily closed as well. They were also closed when Bully Boy attended a fundraiser at Bush Pioneer and Brookings Institute's Robert Day's Bel Air home. In Berkeley, California, a two day conference began yesterday and continues today on Counter-Recruitment. Among those participating in the conference are Aidan Delgado and Pablo Paredes. On the Frontlines: Options for Youth in Times of War is open to the public and requires a 10 to 25 dollar donation from adults and is free for youths. Last week at UC Santa Cruz, Erin Gilday of Santa Barbara Indymedia reports, hundreds of students staged a counter-recruitment rally which included a Queer Kiss In that took place in front of the military recruiters' table.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. And to clarify, Brian Conley is an un-embed reporter with Boston Indymedia who is now reporting on Iraq from Iraq at Alive in Baghdad. As bird flu continues to be in the news, we turn to Rebeca, of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, to help us track the latest developments.

Rebecca: C.I. Britain's The Independent reports that "Armed police are to guard stocks of drugs used to fight bird flu." Geoffrey Lean and Francis Elliott report on this as England experiences its first case of bird flu. The bird, a parrot imported from Suriname, has resulted in a call by the British government for the end of importing wild birds to Europe. The Suriname government denies that the parrot contracted bird flu while in Suriname.

C.I.: Rebecca, if you or I wanted to visit England and we had a dog, our pet would be held in quarantine. Was that the case with the parrot?

Rebecca: Yes, in fact the parrot died in quarantine. The parrot arrived in England September 16th and had been held in quarantine until its death along with other birds from Taiwan. Australia is proposing thermal screenings of airline passengers and any flight suspected of carrying someone with bird flu would be quarantined for up to six days. The government of China has announced that the discovery of any case of human-to-human transfer of bird, or avian, flu will resort in the closing of its borders. Sweden has reported their first case of bird flu, a duck who died Friday. In Ha Noi, six million vaccines that will be used on birds to prevent the bird flu arrived from China. Delaware Online, The News Journal, reports that the migratory patterns of birds lead scientists to belive that North American birds will mingle with birds from Asia and transmit bird flu.

C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca. We'll note that on Wednesday, Democracy Now! devoted the hour to a discussion with Mike Davis on the topic of the bird flu. Davis noted, among other things, that flu is endemic with birds but that bird flu, unlike others they carry, is actually killing the birds. With news of Iraq, we now go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.

Cedric: Well the trial for Saddam Hussein began last week following the successful turnout for the referendum on the Iraq Constitution.

C.I.: But Cedric, the trial's now postponed until November, a lawyer's been killed and the referendum results are being closely examined due to questions of fraud as a result of some areas reporting that over 90% of the population voted?

Cedric: C.I., that is true, but don't say it too loudly. The Associated Press' Mariam Fam is pimping both events as milestones. Friday, in The New York Times, I-Saw-It-All-In-Falluja-But-Kept-My-Mouth-Shut Dexter Filkins wasted 22 paragraphs analyzing the election returnsthat are not yet verified.

C.I.: We should note the headline to that "award winning" reporting by Filkins which was, "Iraq's Sunnis Voted In Large Numbers This Time, Officials Say." "Officials say" being key to the headline, to the report and to all that's wrong with The Times.

Cedric: C.I., the press is having a tough time pimping the latest Operation Happy Talk phase.Fam and Filkins obviously want to let loose with the rah-rah reporting but the trouble this time is that serious questions exist and the days when Filkins could turn a slaughter into a video game and actually win a report for it appear to have passed. But still they press on, those brave embeds, thankful that Judith Miller exists to take the heat off all of them.

C.I.: Cedric, thank you for that perspective piece. With more news on Iraq, we now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! All week long, they pair up to select information from Democracy Now! to spotlight at their respective sites. Readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review prefer them paired up for the news review. We started with Elaine last week, so let's start with Mike.

Mike: C.I., despite the AP's best attempts at spinning, if milestones are coming out of Iraq, one may be the secret poll that England commissioned. Australia's Herald Sun reports that in the poll, "up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one percent think allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country."

Elaine: The poll had several findings of interest. As reported by The Telgraph of London:

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;
• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;
• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;
• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both the US and British governments that the general well-being of the average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.

Elaine (con't): Despite the fact that results on the full audit will not be known until Monday at the earliest, the Associated Press is already running a nothing-to-see-here-no-fraud-here-move-along story. As Aljazeera notes, this is a partial return and does not include two provinces with high Sunni population. Aljazeera also notes the death of four more US soldiers on Saturday.

Mike: Which would be another real milestone as we close in on the 2,000 figure, official figure, for US troops who have died on the ground in Iraq. As Democracy Now! noted Friday:

UFPJ Plans Day of Actions Over 2,000 Military Deaths in Iraq
The antiwar group United for Peace and Justice has announced that it is organizing a national day of action planned for the day after the US military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000. As of October 20, the total was 1,988. UFPJ is calling the action "2000 Too Many." Demonstrations are already scheduled in cities around the country. Military family members and veterans will be at the forefront of many planned protests.

Mike (con't): Elaine and I both believe that the count was 1996 via Iraq Coalition Casualties but at present, the site is down. However, an Associated Press report places the total at 1996 and it was filed before the four deaths that Aljazeera has reported.

Elaine: As United for Peace & Justice has noted:

So far, more than 1950 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and more than 15,000 have been wounded. U.S. soldiers are at grave risk in Iraq, and continue to suffer even after they come home. Troops returning to the U.S. are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and are even turning up in homeless shelters in cities through the country. The risk for Iraqis is even more severe: Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the war, and hundreds of thousands of lives have been devastated, even according to the most conservative estimates.

Elaine (con't): Instead of dealing with that, the Associated Press wants to launch a new wave of Operation Happy Talk which isn't limited to what we've noted and Cedric's noted but also includes a "US troops' morale high!" piece. "US Troops Maintain High Morale" screams the headline which is a rather dubious claim if you read the actual article where one soliders airs his grievance that his tour of duty was extended by Donald Rumsfeld.

Mike: Half-way into the article you begin to hear from voices like the one Elaine noted. This occurs after the piece notes that: "Others say the toll of two and even three tours in Iraq in as many years has dwindled the number of those who will remain in the military and drained confidence that their work was making the United States safer." That's hardly "High Morale" so our best guess is that the Associated Press is counting on the fact that most people will read only the headline and the first few paragraphs.

C.I.: Thank you for that commentary, Elaine and Mike. We'll continue to attempt to access Iraq Coalition Count. For now we go to Betty, of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, with the news from the world of entertainment.

Betty: C.I., he may have dressed the part of a police man in the Village People, but Victor Willis, who co-wrote such hits as "In The Navy" and "Macho Man," failed to show up in court for sentencing. Arrest warrents have been issued for Willis who already had "an outstanding felony warrent for possession of narcotics." Ted Danson, of TV's Cheers and Becker, presented California Attorney General Bill Lockyer with an environmental award Wednesday but the event may have been upstaged by the fact that Danson's now switched to a gray toupee. George Lucas, of Star Wars fame, has donated a million dollars to the project to build a memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the national mall. $100 million is needed for the project and, thus far, close to $40 million has been raised. Except for a recent upsurge in ER's ratings, the news ain't pretty. Alias, now on Thursday nights, has plummeted in the ratings and this may well be its last season. In the latest ratings, NBC's Joey, ranked 68th for the week, beat the first half-hour of Alias. Don't the Jens ever learn that Ben is Bad News with their public? The WB's What I Like About You came in at the dismally low place of 111 for the week with only two million people watching.

C.I.: If I might interject, I find that "highlarious."

Betty: They couldn't sell that coined phrase to America and now they can't even sell the show.One of the few bright spots is Out of Practice which is now right behind My Name Is Earl as the second most watched new comedy. Though it's not being trumpeted, Desperate Housewives appears to be suffering from eroding numbers with each week. Possibly, James Denton, who plays Mike on the show, has the answer to turning the numbers around? Denton was asked by TV Guide who, now that Mike has broken with Susan, might catch Mike's eye. Denton responds, "I think Mike might have a little thing for Carlos. That would be juicy."

C.I.: Betty, CBS cancelled Judging Amy and replaced it with another piece of trash from Friend of Bully Boy Jerry Bruckheimer. How's that doing?

Betty: I'm guessing you know the answer since you asked. JB's Close to Home is bringing in seven percent less viewers than did Judging Amy. Finally Donald Trump is blaming Martha Stewart for the continued slide in the ratings of his show The Apprentice. This despite the fact that the show was down four million viewers in its second season, long before Martha Stewart's spin off began.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. With we now go to The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava.

Ava: C.I., to first follow up on Rebecca's report earlier regarding the reactions to bird flu, residents of Abu Dhabi are being told that they must either kill their pet birds, chicken and other fowl or turn them over to the government which will destroy the birds. Gulf News reports that home inspections will take place to ensure that the government's declaration is followed. On September 23rd, Filiberto Ojeda Rios was gunned down in Puerto Rico and allowed to die while FBI agents waited close to 24 hours outside and refused to call for help. One known witness, not FBI, to some of the events is Ojeda Rios' wife, Elma Beatriz Rosado is thus far refusing to speak to the FBI for fear of testimony she might offer being used against her. Apparent prophet Mary Sanchez, writing for the Kansas City Star, ascertains both Ojeda Rios' guilt in a 1983 bankrobbery, who needs courts when we have Sanchez, and calls his violent death the death of the independence movement in Puerto Rico. Seer Sanchez fails to predict whether Puerto Rico will ever win statehood. In an article by Miguel Perez for North, the following is noted:

"The FBI turned him into a martyr," said the Rev. Miguel Rivera of Hasbrouck Heights. "By killing him the way they did, without giving him an opportunity to give up, and by letting him bleed to death, they got many Puerto Ricans who don't even agree with his cause to sympathize with him."Rivera, president of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, said that while he could never condone terrorism, and certainly feels the pain of its victims, Ojeda Rios will be remembered as a great Puerto Rican patriot who fought and died for his homeland's independence from the United States.
"The question is not what he did when he was alive," said New Brunswick attorney and community activist Martin Perez. "The question is whether we are going to follow due process and give people a fair day in court, or whether we are going to follow the law of the jungle. And in this case, the FBI followed the law of the jungle."

Ava (con't): In Nepal, The Deacon Herald is reporting, King Gyanendra has declared "all-out war on the media." The police twice attempted to seize the FM station Kantipur. The first time, they retreated in the face of protests. The second time, both on Friday, they shut down the station, long a critic of Gyanendra's coup, and seized equipment. In Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, as reported by The Sunday Times of London, has been sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. Khodorkovsky, former head of Yukos Oil and a billionaire, was found guilty of fraud and evasion. The case is seen by some as an attempt by Vladimir Putin to consolidate his power by eliminating opposition and opponents. Some maintain that Khodorkovsky is among those who profitted during the breakup of the Soviet Union. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, said the following on Democracy Now!: February 24, 2005:

. . . Bush's ongoing talk about democracy has more to do with one oil oligarch who sits in prison, who should not be in prison, but who sits in prison because of the looting of a country, stripping the country's assets for his company's use. There has been a campaign in the United States by public relations people, by lobbyists, by senators who have been contacted by those lobbyists to link that man's fate to the future of democracy in Russia.

C.I.: Ava, on another topic, Katrina vanden Heuvel is calling for an expansion of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Could you give the rundown on that.

Ava: In a column entitled "Fitzgerald Must Broaden Investigation," vanden Heuvel notes the White House Iraq Group and the . . . I'd call it a fact but I'll say belief that the administration lied the country into war. Those still unsure can note this from vanden Heuvel: "For more on this important call for the investigation's expansion, click here, and then click here to ask your elected reps to support these calls."

C.I.: Thank you, Ava. We now go to Ty, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, with a review of Falluja Rocks! Dexter Filkins's latest.

Ty: C.I., in The New York Times' Sunday Magazine, Filkins piece reads like you were told it would, as a self-justiciation by a war cheerleader. "Where is the line?" Filkins asks supposedly about the tossing of Iraqis into the Tigris river by US forces but it applies equally well to his own reporting, "award winning reporting," that downplayed a slaughter he was witness to. In the case of the Tigris river incident, a solider decides to be, putting it mildly, less than forthcoming about the incident because if the full truth was told, it might inflame public opinion. "Where is the line" between that and Filkins own less than forthcoming reporting on Falluja that took days to appear in print and has led to whispers that he first submitted it to military censors? Those interested in reading the overlong report/soul confession, it spans over eleven pages, would be wise to do so online or do as I did and tear out the countless pages of ads. When he finally gets to the conclusion, the soldier Filkins' is profiling is receiving a medal back home and is told, "More than anyone I know you deserve this." The line coming as it does at the conclusion of Filkins overly long musings on what should and should not be told can be read as Filkins giving himself a pat on the back and saying, "Yeah, bucko, chin up, you earned that award." That the paper ran this, apparently without editing, at a time when they're under fire for the lies of Judith Miller proves that the culture at the paper remains the same and that no lesson is ever learned by The New York Times.

C.I.: Ty, I was told that the burning of fields to punish farmers who allegedly assisted the resistance is treated in a "things happen" sort of way. Would you agree with that assessment?

Ty: Absolutely. Filkins continuously tosses out the phrase "non-lethal force" to describe those actions as well as kicking women out of one home, telling them to grab their belongings and immediately leave their own home, and then destroying the home with missiles. There's a story here but Filkins filing his own subtext and shouldn't have been assigned it. This isn't a "neutral tone" -- which I'm not sure the outrages in this story call for anyway -- this is Filkins, the ultimate em-bed, yet again seeing himself in the military and now using them and their actions to justify his own. The piece is called "The Fall of the Warrior King" and read it at your own risk.

C.I.: Thank you, Ty. We'll also note, on the topic of the Sunday magazine, that there's a profile on Diane Keaton. We now go to Wally of The Daily Jot.

Wally: Last night the Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros 5 to 3. In this World Series opener, White Sox Joe Crede scored a homer in the fourth inning. The news wasn't as good for Astros pitcher Roger Clemens. 43 year-old Clemens left the game after the second inning due to a hamstring injury. 19 years ago Clemens pitched his first World Series game and now the question is whether the Astros have a chance and whether Clemens can recover in time? Game two is tonight. How long can the Astros go without putting Clemens in and still have a chance at a World Series win? In other news, next year in Madrid, the WTA will feature male models as ball boys. This after the outcry over the recent use of female models as WTA ball boys. In other WTA news, Mary Pierce who has won 18 WTA titles, has pulled out of the Generali Ladies Tournament in Australia. The 30 year-old Pierce is suffering from a groin injury. Finally, next year may see women golfers at the British Open. The rules have been changed to allow women to be eligable.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Wally. We now go to Kat who's devoting her music news segment to one issue which she'll provide commentary on. Kat of Kat's Corner (of The Common Ills).

Kat: I asked ahead of time for three minutes to sound off on Rolling Stone's latest cover story. Cover boy Bono, of U2. Bono has seen Bully Boy's heart and it is pure. How else to explain the denial in which Bono lives in even when confronted throughout the interview by Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner? Wenner points out that Bully Boy's $5 billion in AIDS funding was reduced by Bully Boy to $3 billion and then by Congress to $1.75 billion but Bono can't question his Bully Boy. As Bono plays Eva Braun, Wenner brings the topic back to the promised $5 billion Bono, drones like a Stepford Wife, "The money is still promised. . ." and Wenner cuts him off with, "He makes a lot of promises he doesn't keep." Bono's response? "The money is still promised . . . That money will come through." Bono justifies the funds going to ABC programs, abstinence, be faithful and conodms, saying that it "is pretty much accepted by most religious groups" in this country as if that has anything to do with scientific effectiveness. We're talking about some countries that were already deeply hostile to what they see as a disease that the west has lied about. Various theories abound. After years of stressing condoms, we're now going to go back and say, "Hey, let's also practice abstinence and be faithful"? It's crazy and it's a diversion of funds to what does work. Bono's so far up Bully Boy's ass, he can't see any light. Wenner challenges Bono on why he publicly shamed the Prime Minister of Canada for not living up to his pledge but has failed to do the same with Bully Boy. Bono's defense? "We're not shrinking violets here." On the war, Bono offers that "everyone knows" how he feels about the war. "Do I campaign against the war in Iraq? No. . . . That's the compromise." It's too bad that when choosing subjects to stay silent on, praise for Jesse Helms isn't one of them. Yes, Bono again praises Jesse Helms. Bono has left the planet earth many times. When he was "The Fly" he was living in a land that common sense could not gain entry to. But he's never embarrassed himself, or sold himself out, as much as he does in this interview where he continually presents himself as being slightly to the right of Hillary Clinton. As the displeasure the band has with him continues to become more and more well known, it's obvious why. His talk of "half-a-loaf" is ignorant and uninformed. An illness demands a scientific response, not a feel good lecture. When a saner president is in office in the United States and we revert back to treat a medical illness from a scientific point of view, we'll have to spend months undoing the damage that ABC has already caused. As the deaths continue to mount, one wonders if Bono will look at them and say "Well that's half a loaf! Let's talk about me again! Let's talk about how I won over right wingers and evangicals by meeting with them! It's all about me!" The compromised, self-stifiling, self-deluded Bono.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Kat. As always we also thank Dallas for hunting down links and Jess' parents for help with research. Keeping everything running smoothly throughout are Jim and Dona of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Thank you both.