Monday, December 05, 2005

Other Items

The head of the United Nations elections agency said Sunday that she would resist a reported action to oust her from her position, a move that would come a week before crucial elections her office is overseeing in Iraq.
Secretary General Kofi Annan plans to deliver a dismissal letter to Carina Perelli, head of the United Nations' Electoral Assistance Division, The Associated Press reported and two United Nations officials confirmed. The officials said they could not speak for attribution because the action had yet to occur and involved "legalities."
"We're going to fight these charges because I reject every single one of them," said Ms. Perelli, whose office promotes and monitors free elections around the world and was credited publicly by President Bush for its work in Iraq.
Voting in the latest of three elections in Iraq that her office has organized starts next Monday. In an interview, Ms. Perelli said, "What is going to be the impact of this timing on the credibility of the process? In elections, you wish for the best, but I fear the worst."

The above is from Warren Hoge's "U.N. Elections Chief Faces Ouster as Vote Nears" in this morning's New York Times. Denise e-mailed to note it. Denise notes: "No, it doesn't seem like a good time to make the switch unless Bully Boy's planning more election shenanigans."

Ved notes Amy Waldman's "In Today's India, Status Comes With Four Wheels:"

The Innova is a new plaything of the moneyed here, one being peddled, like so many products in India today, by a Bollywood star. It is yet another symbol of the kid-in-a-candy-store psyche that has seized India's growing consuming class, once denied capitalism's choices and now flooded with them.
Fifteen years after India began its transition from a state-run to a free-market economy, a new culture of money - making it, and even more, spending it - is afoot.
This domestic hunger for goods has become an important engine for an economy that still lags in exports. So intense is the advertising onslaught, so giddy the media coverage of the new affluence, that it is almost easy to forget that India remains home to the world's largest number of poor people, according to the World Bank.

If you listened to Sunday's broadcast of The Laura Flanders Show you heard John Nichols (and Robert McChesney) discuss the problems with the media. (If you missed it, Air America Place archives the broadcasts.) Trevor e-mails to note Nichols' "The Abramoff Effect" (The Nation via Common Dreams):

Last year Ohio Republican Representative Bob Ney, one of Tom DeLay's lieutenants, coasted to re-election by a 2-to-1 margin over an obscure foe. Next year Ney will face an aggressive, well-financed challenge from a former state legislator who is currently the Democratic mayor of one of his district's largest cities. Why the sharp rise in Democratic prospects? Was it mounting frustration with the Iraq War? Concern about the damage done to Ohio's industries by Bush Administration free-trade policies? DeLay's indictment? All were factors in Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer's decision to take on Ney. But the real appeal of the race--as it is with contests involving a growing number of GOP Congressmen--is Ney's link to an old-fashioned bribery and influence-peddling scandal that has already sullied the reputations of some of Washington's most powerful Republicans and that could muddy the 2006 re-election prospects of dozens more.
The burgeoning controversy surrounding Jack Abramoff, a conservative lobbyist whose Washington ties stretched deep into the Bush White House and the Republican Capitol, has yet to gain anywhere near the media attention accorded the CIA Plamegate leak investigation or DeLay's indictment. Yet with the bank fraud indictment of Abramoff now part of a Florida grand jury inquiry and the guilty plea by Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay aide who became Abramoff's partner, on charges of conspiring to bribe a Congressman, the scandal is creating headaches for Republicans--and opportunities for Democrats to turn a national scandal into political pay dirt. Even the Wall Street Journal admits that the Abramoff imbroglio "raises the risk of serious embarrassment to the [GOP] before next year's congressional elections." Ohio's Sulzer is making the risk a reality with an in-your-face challenge to Ney, who accepted overseas trips, gifts and hefty campaign donations from Abramoff, allegedly in exchange for using his office to advance the interests of the Indian tribes and casinos that were Abramoff's big-ticket clients. Sulzer says Ohioans "need a Congressman who getting headlines for providing better healthcare or better jobs for our district, not for ethics scandals and investigations."
There is every reason to believe that candidates in other states can pick up on that theme. Ney is, after all, only "Representative No. 1" in the Justice Department investigation of how Abramoff used ties to top Republicans--going back to college alliances with Grover Norquist, one of Washington's best-connected conservative activists, and Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition--to build a powerful DC lobbying operation.

By the way, I remembered the criticism of the New York Times John Nichols (I believe it was Nichols and not McChesney) offered on Flander's show last night. Bully Boy's speech last Weds. was more of the same tired nonsense but the Times front paged it. Nancy Pelosi's decision to back John Murtha's stand was buried in that story. Nichols argued, rightly, that Pelosi was the news that day, not Bully Boy's same-old, same-old. A Democrat leader in Congress (Pelosi) calls for withdrawal, that's front page news was Nichols' point.

As they ignored the news of Pelosi, they ignore other things as well. Cindy was also at Common Dreams and notes Peter Phillips' "Hard Evidence of U.S. Torturing Prisoners to Death Ignored by Corporate Media:"

Military autopsy reports provide indisputable proof that detainees are being tortured to death while in US military custody. Yet the US corporate media are covering it with the seriousness of a garage sale for the local Baptist Church.
A recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posting of one of forty-four US military autopsy reports reads as follows: "Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164, (Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks. Contusions, back of legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist. Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities. Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide. Whitehorse Detainment Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq."
The ACLU website further reveals how: "a 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was "undetermined" although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death.

Zach notes Robert Parry's "A Twist in the Rove-Plame Mystery" (Consortium News):

Defenders of White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove are citing a conversation in early 2004 between Rove's lawyer and a Time magazine reporter as new evidence that Rove didn't commit perjury when he initially denied that he told another Time reporter about a CIA officer's identity in mid-2003.
But this pro-Rove argument is a curious one, since the facts about the 2004 conversation would seem to buttress the case against Rove, not exonerate him.
The available evidence now suggests that Rove did lie to a federal grand jury -- even after his lawyer got the warning in early 2004 -- and that Rove only admitted the initial contact with the Time reporter when documentary evidence surfaced nine months later.
What is most striking about the early 2004 conversation is that it appears that even after Time reporter Viveca Novak alerted Rove’s lawyer Robert Luskin that Rove had passed on information about CIA officer Valerie Plame to Time reporter Matthew Cooper, Rove still claimed to have no recollection when he testified before a federal grand jury in February 2004.
Only in October 2004, when Luskin discovered an e-mail from Rove to deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, recounting the Rove-Cooper conversation in June 2003, did Rove change his grand jury testimony to admit that he had told Cooper about Plame’s identity, according to a Washington Post chronology.
[. . .]
So, one interpretation of the timeline is that Rove did recall his June 2003 chat with Cooper – and was reminded again by the Novak-Luskin conversation – but still denied the facts in his first grand jury appearance because he assumed that Fitzgerald would back off when journalists refused to testify. That has often been the case in the past. [See, for instance,'s "
Dissing Fitzgerald & Prosecutorial Politics."]

Remember to check out Democracy Now! today. Rod e-mails to note the latest dates for the Un-Embed the Media tour:

* Amy Goodman in Nassau Co., NY:
Mon, Dec 5
Public Forum: Civil Rights Leadership:
Where are we and where do we go from here?
Cynthia McKinney giving keynote speech
Nassau Community College
College Center Building
One Education Drive
Garden City, NY 11530
Long Island, NY
Free and open to the public
For information, call Angelo Rivera at (646) 924-6745
or email

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Thur, Dec 8
4th Annual Small Planet Fund Party & Fundraiser
6 pm to 7 pm Democracy Cocktail Hour,
a conversation with journalist Amy Goodman and Frances Moore Lappé
Co-hosted by The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
7 pm to 10 pm Festivities:
delicious and sustainable food & drink - live & silent auction
Democracy Cocktail Hour Tickets :
$250 (includes auction and party)
Please note: Democracy Cocktail Hour guests can begin arriving at 5:30pm.
RSVP : Email your name and contact info at and they
will respond with all the party & payment detailsFor any questions, please contact Betsy Seder or Ari Vena

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Sat, Dec 10
*TIME: 12:30 PM (Lunch Begins at Noon)
Lunch-time speaker
MLK Labor Center
310 West 43rd St.
New York, NY
Symposium registration fee: $35.00.
Scholarships to youth and students available.*

Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Tue, Dec 13
Columbia University
The Society of Professional Journalists
Journalism Building (corner of 116th and Broadway)
3rd Floor
Event is free and open to the public

Sophie e-mailed to ask if it was still the Un-Embed the Media tour? I'm not sure. That was the name of the tour last summer. I just happen to like that name (and the principle behind it).
Sophie had a question regarding the books that members were picking. (An entry that Shirley and Martha are working on.) Sophie e-mailed her selection on last Thursday. It was to have gone up Thanksgiving weekend until I realized that would be Thanksgiving weekend and asked Shirley & Martha not to work on it (I'd also asked Isaiah and Ruth to take that weekend off). It's been further delayed as a result of members asking, "Am I too late?" As noted in the gina & krista round-robin, the cut off date is this Wednesday. Any e-mails coming in after that will not be noted for the piece they're working on.

Sophie's pick did make it in time but we'll mention here because she thinks it makes a great gift. (I agree. So would Mike, check out "1 Book, 1o Minutes" from The Third Estate Sunday Review.) It's Amy Goodman and David Goodman's Exception to the Rulers. You can order it online here. Or, as Sophie notes, "You can get it a big bookstore, a little bookstore, amazon, but get it and gift it." I'll note that the book is, obviously, available in English but there's also a Spanish translation (and there may be other languages as well).

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