Sunday, October 16, 2005

"The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-16-05 (The Third Estate Sunday Review)

[Repost from The Third Estate Sunday Review]

"The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-16-05"
[Note: This should be read as a rough transcript.]

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-16-2004. We'll have reports on the world of nature, the world of entertainment and much more than just the election in Iarq yesterday. We'll start off with Jess, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, giving us a peace update. Jess?

Jess: Last Sunday saw 3,000 people turn out in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park to protest the war by taking part in a peace march led by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. LA Indymedia reports: "Buddhist monks and nuns, progressive left and religious peace organizations and other seekers after knowledge met yesterday in MacArthur Park for a meditation with Buddhist master Thich Naht Hanh that was intended to creat a peaceful state that will eventually translate into an end to war." Democracy Now! noted that the leader of the peace march, Thich Nhat Hanh, "was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Martin Luther King Jr." The 79 year-old Thich Nhat Hanh, as reported by KPFA's Evening News, is "a 79 year old Vietnemese Zen master" whose opposition to the Vietnam conflict led to exile in a French monastery. Among those present was Cindy Sheehan. From her "I Have Arrived; I Am Home" at Common Dreams:

We must all do one thing for peace each day. I now know that is not enough. Wemust live peace and embody peace if we want peace on earth. Our entire livesmust be for peace. Not just one activity a day. Every step is peace.

Jess (con't): Thanks to Elaine who's covered this at Like Maria Said Paz last week. Also at LA Indymedia, an Iraq war veteran writes of rashes and boils that have developed since he returned home and notes:

But I can't show them the deepest scars -- the scars that come from killing innocents, the scars that come from being a guinea pig for untested vaccinations and chemical weapons. I can't show America the nightmares that they have inflicted upon me while calling me "hero". America will never know that their yellow ribbons give me flashbacks to a time that I only want to forget, that their fervent "patriotism" is serving only to create more "heroes" like me.

Jess (con't): While some may be taken in by Colin Powell's performance opposite Barbara Walters in The Way It Was remake, others aren't so taken with the spin. LA Indymedia notes details for a protest in honor of Colin Powell's October 17th visit to Pasadena. The summer of protests and activism continues into the fall as we saw in September and as we're seeing now.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. We now go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix with a report on the Iraqi constitution.

Cedric: C.I., the Iraqi constitution will give every Iraqi their own iPod, their own swimming pool and streets of gold.

C.I.: Really?

Cedric: Well, it will enshrine the rights of all.

C.I.: Really?

Cedric: The honest truth is that with various versions, most voters had little idea of what they were voting for. The charter continued to change days before the election and this after the "official version" had several versions. Electricity was out Saturday morning in Baghdad. Riverbend of Baghdad Burning reported Saturday morning that: "The referendum is only hours away and the final version of the constitution still hasn’t reached many people." Many people have no idea what they're being asked to vote on and Riverbend makes the point Elaine made which is that suddenly this isn't the Constitution, it's open to more revisions and alterations. Riverbend compares it to the phoney elections of January and notes:

Areas with a Sunni majority are complaining that there aren’t polling stations for kilometers around- many of these people don’t have cars and even if they did, what good would it do while there’s a curfew until Sunday? Polling stations should be easily accessible in every area.

Cedric (con't): We'll no doubt hear that it was another triumph for "democracy" and that there was a huge turnout but the reality is people weren't provided with the Constitution in time to read it and that the voting places aren't accessible to all. We've got a new spin cycle for the adminstration to launch another wave of Operation Happy Talk. The Iraqis have gotten screwed again.

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. And we'll note that on The Laura Flanders Show Saturday night, we were all reminded that the January elections featured a lot of photo ops of purple stained fingers and only after the spin was in place was it noted that all the photos came from the same polling stations. We now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! for a joint report on Iraq. Elaine, I'm guessing, you have the fatalities figure, so how about we start with you?

Elaine: Yes, I do. For the month of October, the fatality count for US troops is 37, this on the 16th day of October. The 37 fatalities bring the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq, by the official count, to 1970. US troops wounded in action? Here's a shocking official number that the press isn't rushing into the headlines: 14,641. When Bully Boy trumpets the election as a "success" will he mention those numbers? It is doubtful. It's also doubtufl that he'll mention 26,521 which is the minimum number of Iraqis killed since the invasion/occupation as noted by Iraq Body Count. The AP estimates that in the last six months alone "at least 3,663 Iraqis have been killed." But good news for Bully Boy. They've yet to capture Osama bin Laden, some five years later, but when he faces the cameras next, he can trumpet the fact that they have allegedly caught the barber of Al Qaeda. Sleep easy, America, terrorists remain at large, but we've nailed the coiffeur! No one's on the run but senior al Qaeda militants will be looking pretty ragged.

C.I.: Indeed. Mike, you were looking into a number of things having to do with the polling places themselves?

Mike: Correct. In Haditha, a Sunni stronghold, they had a whopping two polling places! Two for a city that houses an estimated 60,000 people. Lee Keath of the Associated Press reports that turnout is high in some Sunni areas due to a healthy number of people wanting to vote "no" to the proposed Constitution. Vote counting in Baghdad, as Cedric noted they've had electricity problems throughout Saturday, was done by laterns. In Ramadi, Saturday's election began with gunfire.

C.I.: Not quite fitting the 'flowers in our path' picture that we were so long ago promised or the 'liberation' and 'peace' promised the Iraqis. The basics are that Iraq is divided into 18 provinces. If any three of those provinces have 2/3 of the voters saying no, three of the 18, then the constitution is defeated. Which would then mean that the constitution would be written by their parliment that's due to be elected in December.

Mike: Press reports say the al-Anbar province is likely to reach that 2/3 no vote. But a story not being picked up widely in the US media is that, from KUNA, "The Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission declared Saturday that about 70 ballot stations have not opened in Anbar, western Iraq for security reasons." No one knows what the ballot count's going to be and, though I'm Irish, I won't play Tim Russert and waste everyone's time with predictions.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Mike.

Elaine: Mike quoted "70 ballot stations" and that is what KUNA reports but they headline that story with "60." 60 is also the number Aljazeera's going with. Aljazeera also reports that: "Ten people working for the independent Iraqi electoral commission have been abducted during the constitutional referendum in the restive Sunni al-Anbar province, the commission said." Abducted apparently by armed gunmen.

C.I.: How many polling stations are there in al-Anbar?

Elaine: 207. So if you go with 60, that's a little less than a third of polling stations not open. Mike mentioned the gunfire in Ramadi and Aljazeera notes that people are staying away from the polls due to the violence while US war planes circle at a low altitude. In non-polling news, reports:

A United Nations human rights advocate accused US-led coalition forces in Iraq of breaching international law by cutting off food and water to civilians to force them to flee cities earmarked for attacks on insurgent strongholds.
Jean Ziegler, a UN expert on food rights, said that coalition forces had restricted food and water to civilians in Fallujah, Tal Afar and Samarra in an effort to encourage them to flee before attacks took place."This is a flagrant violation of international law," Ziegler told reporters.

Elaine (con't): Aljazeera also reports that Second Lieutenant Erick Anderson, who was cleared in the killing of an Iraqi teenager in January, is now facing charges again for the same death.

Mike: And I'll note that measures have been taken for the polling but that they are also increasing measures to get into the country. Brian Conley, of Boston Indymedia, reports at his site Alive In Baghdad that an American who'd entered the country many times, with CPT, was prevented from returning recently due to new form regulations.

C.I.: Christian Peacemaker Teams?

Mike: Correct. The man had already made four previous trips to Iraq since the occupation began but a few weeks ago, a new form was added on to the requirements for entering the country.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike and Elaine. One thing that should be remember, actually two. First, Dona's whispering "blue finger" and I'm guessing she means that in the western media it's usually referred to as "purple" ink fingers but in other areas it is referred to as "blue." Yes, that's what she meant. She's monitoring several Iraqi blogs and the bloggers in Iraq are using "blue." So that's something to remember. The other thing to note is that, according to Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, the United States government used "off the book" techniques to influence the January elections. We now go to Ty who'll catch us up to speed with the antics at The New York Times. Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Ty: It's been a busy time for The New York Times' Judith Miller. Saturday, Judy Miller presented an award to Mark Felt, Deep Throat and opponent of civil liberties who should be remembered for enjoying the theft of Jennifer Dohrn's panties. But most surprising was that Jill Abramson has said what "The entire thing" in reply to what she regretted about the Miller episode that led to Miller's jailing for refusing to name sources.

C.I.: Abramson did her part, talking to, I believe, NPR, but she was never "on board" with the public defense of Miller. Two people at The Times judged her to be reluctant when she was enlisted to participate. So you're saying that now she's going public?

Ty: She's going public with being displeased with "The entire thing."

C.I.: Ty, you've read the Times pieces online?

Ty: Yes.

C.I.: Okay, I haven't. You're walking us through the story that Miller didn't write, the one Adam Liptak and others did, correct?

Ty: Yes. The one written by Don Van Natta, Jr., Clifford J. Levy, and, as you noted, Adam Liptak.

C.I.: So Arthur Sulzberger Jr. says that the paper stood behind her? Is that in the article?

Ty: Yes.

C.I.: And Bill Keller plays the "we supported her but we had no information" card?

Ty: Correct. The official story, from this article, is that in 2002, her editor leaves and she can do what she wants, as she tells one person describing the nickname she's given herself, "Miss Run Amok."

C.I.: Which, my understanding, Miller claims was a joke?

Ty: Yes, that's noted in the article. Bill Keller replaces Howell Raines as the executive editor of the paper and within weeks tells Miller that she is off the WMD and Iraq beat.

C.I.: And to clarify, Keller takes over, in that post, in July of 2003, after the United States is occupying Iraq.

Ty: July of 2003, before Keller assumes his post, I believe, she meets with Lewis Libby.

C.I.: Correct. Scoots, the "source" that allowed her to slam and slam freely for much of her infamous work.

Ty: I just got it. Okay, so she and Libby begin meeting, in terms of Joseph Wilson whose wife Valerie Plame was outed, on June 23, 2003. At that meeting, according to the report by the three Times' reporters, Libby's in defense mode of Cheney and attacking Wilson. The next time they meet, according to the article, is July 8, 2003. In her notebook, Miller wrote "Valerie Flame" but says she doesn't believe that the name came from Libby.

C.I.: She's a little young for the Ronald Reagan defense, but go on.

Ty: On July 12th, Miller speaks on the phone with Libby. The notes of that call have "Valerie Wilson" listed -- which is Valerie Plame's married name. Robert Novak would out Plame on July 14th. Miller told the reporters she had wanted to write about Wilson's past trip to Niger, presumably in relation to what Libby had told her, but she was told no by her editor. Jill Abramson denies that.

C.I.: And Abramson was the bureau chief at that time.

Ty: The new chief, Philip Taubman comes in during the fall of 2003, as press attention was mounting and asks if anyone at the paper was among the "six" the press was reporting Valerie Plame's identity had been disclosed to. Miller denied it then.

C.I.: Ty, I'm going to jump in and if I sound frustrated, I am, it's not you, it's the paper's reporting. Ty's doing a wonderful job walking us through but we've covered the Times' version at The Common Ills and explained it when others didn't have a grasp on it. Such as nonsense about slamming a reporter when he said he didn't know why Miller was in jail with a silly remark of "She won't testify" or some such nonsense. So let me run down the Times' version and Ty can correct me if I'm wrong. Miller went to jail to avoid testifying because she did not feel that the signed statement was a release since the White House instructed people to sign it.
She wanted additional clarification that Scooter was releasing her from her pledge of confidentiality. That didn't come until after she was in jail for some time. He wrote a letter to her that appeared to encourage her to testify but a close reading of the letter could imply that she was supposed to testify that he was not involved. After a phone conversation between her, Scooter and their attornies, she felt she did have the release and she testified. Throughout it all, Sulzberger supported her, Keller scratched his head and Abramson did her job -- as she understood her job. Is there anything else in the article?

Ty: Not really. Shall I walk through Miller?

C.I.: Miller writes that the release wasn't a release until she had additional confirmation?

Ty: Yes.

C.I.: No mention of January 2004?

Ty: None.

C.I.: Miller's case took place in D.C., not New York. Some find it strange that she couldn't find her notes until after she was released, notes on a June 2003 meeting with Scooter. She lost her desk in D.C. in January 2004. Presumably, and this is the opinion of two at the paper, she had all her belongings in New York. The Times needs to explain where the notes were found and why she was unaware of those notes until after her release. If they're going to cover the story at length, which supposedly they've done, they need to explain the mysterious reappearance of the notebook. Some rumors say Miller was aware of the notebook all along. Some rumors say it was brought to her attention by someone at the paper. A reporter like Miller can't seriously be expected to have not reviewed her own notes before deciding whether or not to go to jail. Did she have the notes before she went to jail? If they were discovered after she was released, who discovered them? That's the speculation wafting through the halls of the paper. Ty, I know I ate into your time and I'm sorry for that.

Ty: No, it's a good point. She did claim to suddenly have notebooks and that's an aspect of the story that's not in any of the reporting by the paper on this story. I don't know anyone at The Times but if I were going to speculate, I'd guess that a number of things could have happened. Should I speculate?

C.I.: Please do since the paper doesn't touch on it.

Ty: She could have intended not to mention the earlier meeting and changed her mind. Her notes could have been found by someone at the paper who confronted her on them at which point she changed her mind. But she did testify to the grand jury and then say, "Wait a minute, I've got something more" afterward. That needs to be explained. And since she knew her source, it's very doubtful that she didn't review every note she had on him before going to jail.

C.I.: Thank you, Ty. And my apologies because we've gone over on this segment and it was no one's fault but my own.

Ava: Actually, Jim's asked me to step out here and make a statement before anything moves on. C.I. noted the January date Saturday morning in an entry. Not surpisingly someone's all over it right now as we do this entry and there's no mention of the entry. Despite having covered this story at length, the person just now figures out January 2004 after it's noted at The Common Ills. This is actually the second time something from Plamegate has 'suddenly occured' to this writer after it goes up on a Saturday at The Common Ills.

C.I.: Noted. That was Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review. And note that was Ava's statement, so take it up with her or The Third Estate Sunday Review. I can guess who the person was but I haven't read the piece so I've made no statement on it. For myself, I'll state that I didn't do any "reporting," I merely listened to friends at The Times. Let's move on. Rebecca, of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude.

Rebecca: In Japan, they're entertaining a plan to put microchips in "dangerous animals" such as crocodiles. AFP reports that in Australia, plans are in place to bring back the extinct Tasmanian tiger by using bones and teeth for cloning. The Irish Examiner reports that nine people in Turkey have been tested and released after no sign of bird flu was found in their systems. The nine lived in the area where Turkey's bird flu outbreak occurred. In Jefferson, Texas, almost four hundred people gathered for a conference on Big Foot. Australia's ABC reports that a German team believes that they have found a brain belonging to a Hobbit. United States researchers disagree. The Independent of London, on the same topic, reports that"at least nine more "hobbits" - a miniature species of human discovered two years ago - have been unearthed by scientists excavating the floor of a cave on a remote Indonesian island. "

C.I.: Rebecca, The Independent has a story on the measures England will take if they have a bird flu outbreak.

Rebecca: Right. Let me first note this from Geoffrey Lean and Severin Carrell in The Independent:

The likeliest scenario is that the mutation will take place in China and South-east Asia, and be carried to Britain by a passenger on a commercial flight. Professor Oxford warns it could arrive here just a day after beginning to spread widely in Asia.No fully effective vaccine will be ready in Britain in time for the first wave. Instead, the Government is relying on building up stocks of anti-virals, like Tamiflu, which may blunt its effects. But Britain dithered last March in ordering the drug, which means that it will not have enough if the pandemic arrives in the next year.

Rebecca (con't): The article you're referring to is also by Geoffrey Lean, "Schools to close and sport banned if bird flu hits." From that article:

The plans allow for: closing schools, theatres and public buildings; cancelling mass gatherings such as sporting fixtures; suspending international flights from infected countries; deploying police to deal with public disorder; setting up special centres to dispense the anti-viral drug Tamiflu; and encouraging people to observe basic hygiene.

Rebecca (con't): Here in the United States, Bully Boy continues to push the "turn it over to the military!" nonsense and we don't appear to be any closer to a plan of response.

C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca. Due to the time we used on The Times, we're running short so Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man and Kat of Kat's Corner will do a joint entertainment report. Betty, why don't you start.

Betty: Joal Ryan summarizes the TV season thus far and notes that Chris O'Donnell's show was one of the first casualties. Wonder if "Lisel" still holds "deep affection" for O'Donnell's alleged "adorableness"? In every non-entertaining news, I'll join with Laura Flanders in expressing my disappointment that the Millions More March promised a lot, talked a great deal about inclusion, but, as noted on The Laura Flanders Show, when it came time to put their money where their mouth's were, they elected to uninvite the sole openly gay speaker. They put on a good show ahead of time. At a time when one of the issues the black community needs to address includes AIDS rate, this black woman is highly offended that a promised spot to an openly gay speaker was denied at the last minute. The promoters were happy to push this speaker as a sign of how they'd changed, grown and were going to be more inclusive. But in the end, they demonstrated that was only talk. That's an editorial statment from me and may or may not reflect the opinions of others particiapting. Now I'll hand off to Kat.

Kat: I've got your back, Betty. I agree one hundred percent. And I've got three things. Dona told me to take my time but I know we're all tired, and many of us angry, so I'll stick with three things. First, to correct the statement earlier, this is actually the third time that the same writer ripped off The Common Ills. This summer, at The Common Ills, you, C.I., noted, in an apology format, that you had neglected to cite BuzzFlash for their work in pressing the Plame issue. Shortly after you posted that entry giving them the credit, the same writer suddenly remembered to give credit to BuzzFlash. That's one. Two. On Labor Day, The New York Times falsely announced the release of Greg Dulli, formerly of the Afghan Whigs, album Amber Highlights. The CD had previously been sold only at concerts. The CD is now being sold, not Labor Day week as The Times announced would be the case, online at Dulli's own site and at Dulli has only manufactured 5,000 copies of the CD. For those of us, like myself, who read that the album was coming out the Tuesday after Labor Day in the paper of record and went to Tower, et al to find this new CD, The New York Times owes not only a correction but an apology. It won't happen. But it needs to be noted that before they do their next "upcoming releases" they need to check their facts. They also need to ask why an album with only 5,000 copies manufactured was even noted since they don't cover independent releases as a general rule? Third Bono's got problems. Currently, as noted at the BBC, he's slamming politicians for attempting to profit off U2. Named are Hillary Clinton and Rick Santorum, who are using their suites at concerts as fundraisers. Bono's offended. A spokesperson for the group tells the BBC: "U2 concerts are categorically not fundraisers for any politician . . . They are rock concerts for U2 fans." Of course, it's perfectly okay to give seats out to Bully Boy twins or to Hatchet face from the Senate. If a line's been crossed, it was crossed when Bono put himself in service of the Bully Boy and Tony Blair. Bono's also, as reported by The New York Times, on the good end of tax breaks in Ireland and fighting to keep it that way. Man of the people, Bono.After the phoniness of Live 8, Bono's karma appears to be out to get him.

C.I.: Kat, you read Z-Net religously. Would you like to comment on the article in it re: Bono?

Kat: "How Rock Stars Betrayed The Poor" should be required reading to anyone still thinking investment guru Bono is a man of the people. The article addresses the Live 8 concerts and makes it clear that Geldof, Bob Geldof, knew ahead of time that the whole aid talk was a sham. He was warned ahead of time. Still he and Bono pushed it as historic. Only to act surprised later on when it was obvious that the aid package was nothing to cheer about.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat and thank you, Betty. That wraps up another Third Estate Sunday Review News Review. We thank Dallas, always, for hunting down links. We thank Jess' parents for all their help in hunting down topics. We thank Jim and Dona of The Third Estate Sunday Review for being the online "producers" of this and making sure that everything flows. Hopefully, they did such a great job that you won't even be able to tell where we stopped to take a one and a half hour break. Thanks also to Ava who got stuck with a statement and put her own report on hold. The statement was the statement of The Third Estate Sunday Review minus myself because I'm the only one who didn't read the article in question. Nor do I intend to. But with The Third Estate Sunday Review claiming me, I need to clarify that the statement wasn't made by me and I don't intend to make a statement other than it's nice to be read. We'll note that community member Wally has just started his own site, The Daily Jot. We'll see you next week.

[10-20-05, post corrected. Dona caught an error in transcription and corrected it earlier at The Third Estate Sunday Review. I didn't read this when I copied and pasted so I didn't even notice it until she alerted me to it -- C.I.]