Sunday, August 14, 2005

Third Estate Sunday Review news review

C.I.: Welcome again to The Third Estate Sunday Review news review. We go to Dona with news from England.

Dona: The Sunday Times of London is reporting a big story. A memo warning of impending attacks in London and the United States. The memo is from the New York State Office of Homeland Security and dated August 11th of this year. It warns of al Qaeda and "affiliated groups" possibly using vehicles as bombs. "Tanker fule trucks, among other vehicles" being used "to faciliate a major explosion targeting critical infrastructure and designed to create mass casualties or economic destruction. "

C.I.: What do you make of the warning?

Dona: Considering the past use of Homeland Security, it's hard not to be skeptical. It should also be noted that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the sources for this warning and he was captured in March of 2003. Since the warning is through September 19th, from what's in the memo, I'm having a hard time figuring out how they've arrived that a 2005 attack was coming.
U.S. cities mentioned are New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and the memo notes "It is unclear whether the attacks will occur simultaneously or be spread over a period of time. The stated goal is the collapse of the US economy." It warns that vehichles hauling gasoline, oxygen or gas cylinders could be used as well as "water trucks filled with gasoline or other highly combustible material." One question that I think many will ask is why does this warning come from the New York office of Homeland Security and not the national office?

C.I.: An article in The New Yorker recently addressed the issue of New York's police department, New York City. Ray Kelly has restructured the department since 9/11 and they've gone from under thirty working on terrorism to around a thousand officers. They also are thought to have better translation resources than the federal government. Kelly hired a 35 year veteran of the CIA, former director of operations, by the name of David Cohen and they have officers, this is the New York City police department, stationed around the world in places such as Tel Aviv. Whether or not that's why the memo would come from New York state, not the New York City police department, I don't know. And the article is entitled "The Terrorism Beat," written by William Finnegan and appearing in the July 25, 2005 New Yorker. That's hypothesis and certainly wouldn't explain why the information wouldn't go to D.C. and then be relayed to London.

Dona: And with that question unanswered, I do think people will be skeptical. The color code system became a joke and there was a strong feeling, that Tom Ridge appeared to later confirm, that the warnings were used to manipulate the Bully Boy's poll numbers. Which are at yet another all time low.

C.I.: Thank you, Dona. Now for Iraq news, we go to Ty.

Ty: Picking up with The Sunday Times of London that Dona was citing, David Cracknell's "No 10 refuses to reveal Iraq war e-mails" reports new developments in the Downing Street Memos. On March 7, 2003 Lord Goldsmith warned that a war with Iraq would be illegal. Ten days later, he would issue another finding that refuted the earlier one. All this time Tony Blair has maintained that there was no pressure on Goldsmith or any contact with him but Cracknell has learned that an assistant to Prime Minister Blair was e-mailing someone during this period. The assistant is Baroness Morgan.

C.I.: And what do the e-mails say?

Ty: Cracknell doesn't know. The government refuses to release them. I want to note this paragraph:

A senior source at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, which Falconer heads, said colleagues had been been "s***ing" themselves that the Morgan e-mails would be released after No 10 went against precedent and released Goldsmith's full legal advice during the election.
Lord Goldsmith during this period.

Ty: In other Iraq news, Sameer N. Yacoub reports in Scotland's Sunday Herald that "New Iraq in doubt as leaders struggle on agreement." Power sharing and "the role of Islam in law" appear to be the stumbling blocks. The proposed constitution needs to be completely quickly to meet the deadline of being handed over to Iraq's parliment tomorrow. Bassem Mroue of the Associated Press is reporting that Kamal Hamdoun, the Sunni negotiater, has said that "his group would never accept terms that would lead to the division of the country." Meanwhile,
US troop fatalies stand at 48 for the month thus far. By way of contrast, the US troops fatalities for the month of July were 54 and we're nearing the half-way point of the month of August but not yet there. Reuters reports that a month ahead of schedule, Italy has begun withdrawing troops, 130 withdrawn of the planned 300 total.

C.I.: How many troops does Italy have in Iraq?

Ty: 3,000. Violence has been breaking out all over Iraq. Hamed Ahmed of the Associated Press reports that, among other things, an ambush in Baghdad resulted in the death of Ahmed Kamil who was a police major there. Samara, Sadar City, Ramadi and other areas have been the scene of violence in the last 24 hours. In addition, Reuters reports that "Police said they found the body of a Turkman doctor named Rida Rifaat Amin, who was abducted two days ago, dumped on the main road between Kirkuk and the town of Huweija."

C.I.: Thank you Ty. We now go to Jess with a report on Cindy Sheehan's vigil.

Jess: Last week, we noted that while the Bully Boy takes his month long vacation in Crawford, Texas, he has Cindy Sheehan waiting to meet with him. Bully Boy announced Thursday that he didn't need to meet with her because he's heard the "bring the troops home" argument. Cindy Sheehan's 24 year-old son Casey Sheehan died in Iraq. She's stated that she's not leaving until the Bully Boy meets with her. If it means staying in the Crawford heat for all of August, she's willing to do that. On Wednesday, Bill Mitchell joined her. His son, Mike Mitchell, died in Iraq on the same day as Casey Sheehan. The Lone Star Iconoclast has an interview with Mitchell. On Friday, Bully Boy supporters were bussed in from the DFW area and The Lone Star Iconoclast estimates that they were fifty in number and also reports that at one point they chanted "We don't care, we don't care!" which sums up their attitude in the face of dying and loss. They rallied for thirty minutes and then left for another location. This seems to be a reoccuring problem for the Bully Boy supporters. On Saturday, the Associated Press reports, they started off the day with 250 and dwindled down to 12. Those protesting with Sheehan numbered 350. Also on Saturday, Sheehan's commerical began airing on nearby Waco's Crawford's cable TV system:

"Mr. President, I want to tell you face to face how much this hurts. How many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war?"

C.I.: Are most reports making a deal out of the support Cindy Sheehan has from volunteers?

Jess: The presence of others protesting is noted in most reports as is the help she's getting in handling interviews.

C.I.: An interesting aside to me is the fact that Chris Frosier, who lost his son Kurt Froshier in Iraq, November 2003, could have been the starting point for a national dialogue, the way that Cindy Sheehan has kick started the discussion. However, Frosier's own story was lost in a lengthy piece by George Packer where Packer tried to show boat and do everything but convey Froshier's complex feelings. This included George Packer's attacks on the right and the left, Andrew Sullivan to Arianna Huffington, by Packer as well as on Naomi Klein and "the bitterly anti-war Nation." Somwhere the bitterly bitter Packer lost the story of Chris and Kurt Froshier and went off on his own free association. So the point here is that any smart and sane person would gladly take on assistance in dealing with the news media.

Jess: Exactly. From basics such as scheduling to vetting the reporters. On The Majority Report this week, with Laura Flanders filling in and doing an outstanding job, Cindy Sheehan's voice was often close to giving out. We addressed that topic in class, in a journalism class, this week and the consensus was that you do need help naviagating the media. Certainly the Bully Boy has his team helping him. But the right wing is trying to make something of this and reporters who should know better are falling for it. Meanwhile rallies are being planned around the nation to demonstrate support for Cindy Sheehan, the AP is reporting. She has kick started the conversation and captured the attention of the nation, including the Bully Boy. Besides his comments Thursday, Editor & Publisher reports that he used the weekly radio address to respond.

C.I.: What's your feel on how that came off?

Jess: I think people would ask, "If he can respond in some way over the radio, why can't he speak to her face to face?" It makes him look bad. If I could, I'd like to note that Reuters reports Tony Blair was a no show for Robin Cook's funeral this week.

C.I.: The reason for that?

Jess: Like the Bully Boy, Tony Blair is on vacation. And, like the Bully Boy, death doesn't interrupt a vacation, apparently.

C.I.: Thank you Jess. If I could bring Dona back in here . . .

Dona: Yes.

C.I.: We led with your summary of the warning The Sunday Times of London had obtained, one sent from New York state's Homeland Security office to London, correct?

Dona: Correct.

C.I.: The time line again?

Dona: The memo reports the time period for concern as being around the anniversary of the attacks. It specifically mentions up to September 19th.

C.I.: And there was nothing in there about the Bully Boy returning to D.C. and ending his vacation early due to this warning?

Dona: No.

C.I.: If I'm remembering correctly, and Dallas don't research this, I heard it on the radio, his father, George H.W. Bush will be in D.C. for an event honoring the CIA. I believe it's scheduled for Tuesday and to honor former directors of intelligence. But the Bully Boy remains in Crawford?

Dona: On vacation at least, he's been in and out for bill signings and fund raisers. And yes, I think I know where you're headed, this is an echo of the response to the August 2001 PDB that warned bin Laden was determined to strike. If the memo The Sunday Times of London has obtained is serious and the on up and up, it seems Americans should be demanding that the Bully Boy curtail his vaction and return to D.C. to deal with what may be a serious threat. Are we a nation at war or are we a nation on vacation.

C.I.: I agree fully and while we'll continue this, I want this posted, the part we've finished thus far, posted online right now as a rough draft if there aren't any objections. Okay, thanks. If you're reading and there's text below, you're reading the final draft which will have corrections for typos, hopefully. We go to Betty now.

Betty: The Bully Boy may not be able to break his vacation in the face of what is supposedly a serious threat to England and the United States, however he is still able to posture. As reported by, Bully Boy has stated that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran. Iran says that it's nuclear program is to produce energy, the United States administration belives it is to begin a nuclear weapons program. The AP reports that Germany's chancellor, who faces an upcoming elections, has responded that the wrong tactic is being taken. He says negotiations should continue "But take the military options off of the table; we have seen that they're not suitable."

C.I.: Which is being seen as a rebuke to the Bully Boy?

Betty: Correct.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. For music news, we now go to Kat.

Kat: If I could, I'd actually like to start with news on John H. Johnson. B.E.T. will have a tribute to Johnson: "Don't miss BET's Mon., Aug. 15 special on the life and legacy of John H. Johnson, 10 p.m. (ET/PT)." They already have a page at their web site offering tributes in video format and text and, to tie this in to music, Nelson George is one of people offering reflections in the video you can watch online. As has been widely reported, the Rolling Stones have a new song on their forthcoming album entitled "Sweet Neocon." Mick Jagger has made a point to note that it's not a song about the Bully Boy. The NFL has said that with all the songs in the Stones catalogue, there's no reason for the Stones to perform it at the NFL "Opening Kickoff" event.
Added to the list of performers are Green Day, Santana, Kanye West.
VH1 reports that Jewel's nearly completed her latest album and that some songs on it have been tested on the road during her summer tour. Singer Marc Cohen, of "Walking in Memphis" fame and married to ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas, was shot in the head during an attempted car jacking in Colorado. Cohen was released from the hospital. Spin reports that Ryan Adams has cancelled his US tour. And to follow up on an item I noted last week, Martha Reevers, formerly of Motown's Martha & the Vandellas, faced the Tuesday primary election for Detroit City Council and is now one of 17, out of 120 candidates, standing. The general election takes place in November. I opened with TV, so I'll go out with a TV item. A reunion special, where the actors offer remeberances of a show, that type of thing, has been filmed for Knots Landing. Participants included Joan Van Ark, Donna Mills, Michelle Lee, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Dobson. Why are we noting it? Because also participating is Michelle Phillips, of the Mamas and the Papas, who played Anne Mathison on the series.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat and we're moving quickly now. Mike, give us the latest on Lynne Stewart, longtime activist and attorney convicted this winter on counts of aiding terrorism.

Mike: The AP has reported that attornies for Lynne Stewart request that the February guilty verdict be tossed out. They feel they have grounds for a mistrial based upon the fact that one juror withheld that he had been jailed and that his belief was if you are charged with something, you must be guilty; in addition, a second juror has come forward to say she was pressured by other jury members as well as by being pointed out as a juror not yet voting for conviction outside the court despite the fact that the jurors' identities were not supposed to be known to the public.

C.I.: The jurors identies were supposed to remain secret. Reporting on it Saturday in The New York Times, Julia Preston didn't reveal the name of the juror who states she was intimidated; however, I understand that the Associated Press did reveal the name.

Mike: That is correct. In the second paragraph of Larry Neumeister's article, he reveals the name of the woman.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike. Cedric wanted to note an upcoming event.

Cedric: This is from Spin:

On September 24, a slew of musicians and activists will convene in Washington to protest the Iraq War. Thievery Corporation, Le Tigre, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Jello Biafra, the Bouncing Souls, and Wayne Kramer of the MC5 are among those participating in an event being dubbed Operation: Ceasefire. The concert, predicted to be over ten hours long, is just one part of a four day protest event. The event will also include speeches and rallies centered around the Washington Monument. "The idea of this concert struck a chord with me," said Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation, one of the event's organizers. "As a private citizen...I feel a moral imperative as a human being, who happens to be a musician, to take part in this event." Jello Biafra, the always outspoken former Dead Kennedys frontman, seconded Hilton's feelings. "Hijacking 9/11 to invade Iraq is the worst mistake our government has made in my lifetime...The best way to support the troops is to bring them home," he said.

C.I.: Thank you Cedric. Thanks to Elaine, Jim and Ava who did research throughout and to Dallas for links. This is Dona's concept where she holds the stop watch and in one hour or less we run down stories.

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