Monday, May 29, 2006

News Roundup

Good morning, it's Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2006. Here are a collection of news stories put together by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Wally of The Daily Jot, Trina of Trina's Kitchen and Dallas.

Starting with the Iraq snapshot.

In Baghdad Sunday, Sheik Osama al-Jadaan and at least one of his bodyguards is dead as a result of an ambush. al-Jadaan had been seen by some as an ally with the US administration. al-Jadaan and the bodyguard were among the at least nine Iraqis who were killed on Sunday, roadside bombs continued to be a party of Iraqi daily life and another daily feature continued as at least ten more corpses were found in Baghdad. There have been sixty American military deaths for the month of May bringing the fatality count to 2464 since the illegal invasion in March of 2003. In addition to American military helicopter pilots are missing, the AFP reports, after the helicopter crashed on Saturday. In Baquba, a new feature to the occupation emerged as three severed heads were flung out of a moving vehicle. Near Baquba, Monday has already seen eleven die from a bombing, Reuters reports. This as the United States Pentagon believes their investigation into the apparent slaughter of civilians in Haditha is winding down -- the estimated 24 civilians died in November. United States House Representative John Mutha maintains that what happened in November is as important as apparent attempts to cover up the events and to stall an investigation into them. United States Senator John Warner has stated that the Senate Arms Committee, which he chairs, will hold a full investigation into "what happened . . . when it happened . . . what was the immediate reaction of the senior officers."

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, has failed to meet another one of his predicitions. He set a date for himself to establish his cabinet and he didn't meet it. He just managed to meet the constitutional deadline (May 22) for the cabinet but did so only by leaving posts vacant. Last week, he announced that he would be fill the vacant posts this weekend. Unless Iraq's having a three day weekend, he's again failed another of his own predicitions -- there remains no heads for the interior, defense and homeland security ministries.

This as Andy McSmith reports (Independent of London) that British troops in Iraq are now being attacked attacked sixty times a month since the start of the year, an increase of 26% since last year. This as the BBC reports that at least 1,000 British troops have deserted since the start of the illegal war.

In Indonesia, an earthquake on Saturday has now claimed the lives of at least 5115. Heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue. This as the Phillipines have been hit with an earthquake that measured 5.3 on the Richter scale -- no injuries or deaths are reported. The Indonesian earthquake was measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) immediately went on alert with news of the quake. Aid agencies, including the Indoensian Red Cross, began providing assistance on Saturday including foods; however, as noted earlier, heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue and relief. IPS reports that this is Indonesia's worst disaster since the tsunami in December 2004 and that doctors and medical supplies are in short supply. "The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an emergency appeal for 12 million Swiss francs ($9.79 million USD/ €7.68 million) to support the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) in providing assistance to the survivors of the earthquake." As noted on KPFA's Evening News Sunday, people are sleeping in the streets as they await emergency assistance and the United States government has pledged 2.5 million dollars while the Euopean Union has pledged 3.8 million dollars.
In the United States, fire fighters have discovered the body of another victim of last fall's Hurricane Katrina "in the rear laundry room" of a New Orleans house they were searching. The current official count of those killed by Hurricane Katrina is 1577.

In Afghanistan, a demonstration was held following a traffic incident. The BBC reports that four died when a US convoy entered rush hour traffic. The AP reports that three humvees were involved on the US side and quotes eye witness Mohammad Wali, "The American convoy hit all the vehicles which were in their way. They didn't care about the civilians at all." At least four demonstrators have died, shot by "U.S. and Afghan security forces."

Meanwhile, as the situation on the ground in East Timor grows more dangerous and deadly, the United Nations is relocating UN family members and non-essential staff to Darwin Australia. Last week, East Timor handed over security duties to Australian forces following shootings, houses being set on fire and other violence. East Timor's president and prime minister are holding talks to discuss resolutions to the current situation while crowds have gathered outside the presidential palace calling for the resignation of the prime minister. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Screscent Socities trace the current wave of violence to March of this year and are attempting to assist over 25,000 displaced persons. The IFRCRSS's estimates that 50,000 have left their homes due to the current violence. As the violence continues Australia's Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison has been quoted as saying,"The United Nations, though, was the lead agency in all of this and the United Nations was, it had planned to pull out in a month's time. So I think really it's a question of the United Nations in this issue of whether people pulled out or not. It was the lead agency, not Australia." Peter Lewis reports that the New Zealand embassy in East Timor had to temporarily relocate the the Australian embassay due to threats from "armed thugs."

Yesterday, though the San Francisco Giants lost to the Colorado Rockies, Barry Bonds broke Babe Ruth's record for home runs. Bonds' 715 home runs now leaves him ahead of Ruth but behind Hank Aaron (755).

Though it seems long ago that Harriet Miers was in the running for the United States Supreme Court, those who remember the media coverage will remember Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht. The media friendly Hecht has received an admonishment from the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct for "improperly using his position" to promote Miers in an estimated "120 newspaper, TV and radio interviews" after he offered his services to the White House as some sort of go-to-guy for the media. Hecht is appealing the admonishment. In other United States governmental news, Feminist Wire Daily reports Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia "by a 57-36 vote." The Washington Post once described Kavanaugh as "a protege" of Kenneth Starr. In The Clinton Wars, Sidney Blumenthal recounts David Brock's statement that while watching the 1998 State of the Union address, Kavanaugh hissed "b*tch" at the TV when Hillary Clinton was shown onscreen. The co-author of the Starr Report now holds a lifetime seat on the court.

In news on the NSA warrantless, illegal spying on American citizens, Bully Boy is attempting to invoke the "state secrets privilege" to stop legal actions. The Center for Constitutional Rights Shayna Kadidal notes, "The Bush Administration is trying to crush a very strong case against domestic spying without any evidence or argument. This is a mysterious and undemocratic request, since the administration says the reason the court is being asked to drop the case is a secret. I think it's a clear choice: can the President tell the courts which cases they can rule on? If so, the courts will never be able to hold the President accountable for breaking the law. If the Executive Branch can secretly squash legal challenges to its conduct like this, then American democracy as we know it is in danger." The administration filed papers Friday arguing that "New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets." Also attempting to quash legal actions that might lead to further embarrasment is AT&T "which filed a 25-page legal brief" arguing that the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class action suit should be dismissed. The AT&T brief had contained redactions but a few simple computer steps allowed the redactions to be made visible. The brief does not confirm the existance of the secret room (reported on in Wired's "Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut" and "AT&T's Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens, 31 December 2005") but argues that "'the same physical equipment could be utilized exclusively for other surveillance in full compliance with' the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

In other news, Amnesty is launching to highlight "governments using the net to suppress dissent."

In Cannes, director Ken Loach has won the prestigious Palme d'Or for his film on Ireland's fight for independence from England -- The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Reuters reports "The 69-year-old film maker told Reuters in an interview earlier in the festival that the Irish fight for independence against an empire imposing its will on a foreign people had resonances with the US occupation of Iraq today."

Amy Goodman noted the scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now! (noted on Thursday's Democracy Now!):

On Monday, we bring you an exclusive interview with British Lieutenant Commander Steve Tatham, former head of the British Royal Navy's Media Operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf during the Iraq invasion. He’s author of Losing Arab Hearts and Minds.

In addition to being able to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio, remember that you can listen, watch or read (transcripts) online at Democracy Now!

This morning on KPFK (time given is PST):

Uprising! --Weekday Mornings from 8:00 to 9:00 am
Coming up on Uprising on Monday May 29th: A memorial day special with Stephen Kinzer on Overthrow : America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.

This evening on WBAI (time given is EST):

7:00-midnight: Building Bridges-Your Community and Labor Report
With Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash, a five-hour marathon special featuring Greg Palast's latest investigative book, Armed Madhouse : Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

Thought for the day from the Mamas and the Papas's "Too Late" (off the album The Papas & the Mamas) : "Cause when the mind that once was open shuts / And you knock on the door, nobody answers anymore/ When the love and trust has turned to dust/ When the mind that once was open shuts . . ." ("and no one can get in").