Sunday, August 21, 2005

Third Estate Sunday Review news review

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review. With developing news, we go to Elaine.

Elaine: The Associated Press' Robert Burns interviewed Gen. Peter Schoomaker for an article that's recently been posted online, "Army Planning for 4 More Years in Iraq." In the interview, Schoomaker's planning goes beyond Bully Boy's term which would expire in January of 2009. His remarks are in opposition to recent remarks made by Donald Rumsfeld. They are, however, not markedly different from the Bully Boy's own remarks. Which is strange in that Rumsfeld's title is Secretary of the Defense. I'll also note that American military fatalities for this month are now at 64, compared to last month's total of 54. The reported fatality total for American military fatalities is now at 1863. The next largest fatality numbers for a country participating in the "coalition" is Italy which has had 27 military fatalities. Of the fatalities in the "coalition," 47 have been female, all but two American military. The Ukraine and England have each had one female military fatality. The US government does not release the number for the fatality count of Iraqi civilians and claims that they do not keep one. Iraqi Body Count offers that the minimum estimate is 23,589 Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives and 26,705 as the maximum number.

C.I.: To turn the focus to here in this country, this week you wrote about Daniel Cotnoir. Here's a quote from that entry, "Astronauts are 'decompressed' better than the military is. . . the military is expected to return to "normal" and fend for themselves with few resources.."

Elaine: Right. As Democracy Now! had reported, Contoir was "Marine of the Year." Returning from Iraq, he was suffering from post-war stress syndrome, reportedly suffering, and now he's facing attempted murder charges for firing out his window, allegedly firing out his window, at people.

C.I.: Are you familiar with Matthew Sepi?

Elaine: He's facing charges as well. For murder, I believe.

C.I.: He was in alley with a loaded assault rifle and had words with a couple twice. During the second time, shots were exchanged, the woman was killed and the man was injured. There's debate as to whom fired first. But Sepi's mother has stated that after returning from Iraq, her son had tried to get help but was instead put on a waiting list.

Elaine: Which, sadly, isn't that uncommon. The monies needed to deal with the stress isn't budgeted for. I believe that Sepi's attorney made the argument that he shouldn't be facing time but should instead be getting psychological help. And, my opinion, these and other violent crimes are the most extreme cases. There are many more cases where someone will carry pain and stress and as long as they don't turn violent on someone else, it won't be considered an issue or a concern. Even the alarming number of suicides of those returning from Iraq hasn't been given the media attention it warrents. But if I can editorialize here, certain organizations that pride themselves on busting through the spin and being nonpartisan, I'm thinking of one that rushed to the Bully Boy's defense on his "military spending," fail to factor in the fact that we have two wars going on that are declared as well as other actions going on all over. Military spending may be "up" compared to a time of peace, but that doesn't factor in the needs of the returning and to play referee they need to know the demands and the needs of the returning. They called a foul on John Kerry when, in fact, they didn't know what they were talking about because all they could do was look at bunch of economic numbers. They didn't know the first thing about needs or factor in the demands that increase during times of war. Bully Boy was cutting and the organization was wrong. And as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities would later note, the Bully Boy's budget called for a 16% decrease in veterans' programs. As for the other organization, the one that rushed to rescue Bully Boy and deny cuts during the election, it recently went to war on NARAL and why anyone takes them seriously is beyond me. My opinion and they can try to Opinion Check that if they want.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. And I believe Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis has called them the so-called Fact Now we go to Jess who's offering commentary on the reports and reporting regarding Cindy Sheehan and the Bully Boy.

Jess: In Sunday's Washington Post, Vietnam vet Andrew Bacevich argues "Call It a Day
We've Done All We Can Do in Iraq
." Bacevich argues that Iraqis need to determine their own future. On the other side of the coin, The Washington Post also has a laughable article by Mike Allen which includes the following: "The president had made it clear, going back at least to a California railroad swing during his 2000 campaign, that he does not care to meet with protesters or to reward them."
Perspective would require Allen noting that this is possibly a policy for dealing with terrorists but it is not one for dealing with citizens. Allen goes on to report that the Bully Boy and his camp feel that since there was one meeting with Cindy Sheehan in 2004, another is not required. Not once in the article does Allen raise the issue of Bully Boy's mealy mouth words about "sacrifice."
Allen does find time to utilize terms like "fierce partisan" to describe Sheehan. Allen also notes three speeches in the next two weeks, part of Operation Happy Talk, and that Bully Boy will link Iraq to 9/11 and terrorism. Allen, who finds the time to use "fierce partisan" himself to describe Sheehan, never finds the time to note that there is no connection between Iraq and 9/11. If the rest of the media is this derelict in their duties, expect an increase in the nation among people who wrongly believe that 9/11 and Iraq are linked in fact as opposed to just in the spin from this administration. This would coincide just in time for the anniversary reporting on 9/11 which will no doubt feature much footage of the Twin Towers falling down. Allen may be the first propagandist out of the gate but it's doubtful he'll be the last. I'll also note a columnist for The Lufkin Daily News, Cynthia Hall Clements who has written:

I am nearly giddy that Bush staunchly refused to meet with Sheehan, who camped outside his Crawford, Texas home for nearly two weeks requesting a meeting with the commander-in-chief. I am elated that he never relented, didn't meet with her and will head back to Washington D.C. in September fully refreshed after a month of rest and relaxation on the ranch. Bush just didn't need the hassle of malcontented voters while on vacation. Isn't the president entitled to a little R&R every now and again, even while our soldiers are being maimed and killed in Iraq?
Not that Bush did the morally correct, or even polite, thing, of course, but by rejecting this grieving mom's plea for solace and an opportunity to express her opinion about her son's death and the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, he politically legitimized Sheehan's cause. Bush allowed Sheehan to become the public face, a cult icon, of sorts, of the growing American dissatisfaction with his policy, or lack thereof, in Iraq. Bush, in his silence, allowed Sheehan to become the voice of moral authority and political accountability.
Here is what I say now: President Bush, Cindy Sheehan just doesn't need you anymore.
She failed to secure a private audience with the president, but Sheehan, with her stakeout of the president's home, had a captive audience in worldwide public opinion. She was the power of one, an ordinary citizen challenging our highest elected official, democracy in action. Regardless if you agree or disagree with her position on the situation in Iraq, like her, hate her, criticize her, or condone her, Sheehan represents what is best about our country, our First Amendment right to free speech, the right of legitimate dissent.

C.I.: That would be Lufkin, Texas. There are two Common Ills community members from that area.

Jess: One of them e-mailed it.

C.I.: Well good. What's the name of the column?

Jess: "Bush legitimizes Sheehan's cause" by Cynthia Hall Clements for The Lufkin Daily News.
CBS reports that anti-Sheehan "feelings" are mounting. This stems from one station in Utah refusing to air Sheehan's ad, despite the fact that the other two are airing it. Also noted is that war backers have set up camp in downtown Crawford. Unlike Elaine, CBS is unable to report on the organization that's a front group for a political p.r. firm. Wrapping up, I'd like mention that The Lone Star Iconoclast's Nathan Diebenow reports that Air America's Randi Rhodes "donated six cars to shuttle people" back and forth between Camp Casey and the Crawford Peace House.

C.I.: You're feelings on the opposition?

Jess: Late out of the gate and orchestrated. Cindy Sheehan's started the nation talking and this p.r. blitz won't change that. The group Elaine noted last week also attempted to take down Michael Moore's documentary which, as most will remember, went on to become the largest grossing documentary of all time.

C.I.: Thank you Jess. And we'll note that Michael Moore has a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11 in pre-production currently. We now go to Cedric.

Cedric: Australia's ABC network has an interview with Sergeant Javal Davis, sentenced to six months for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, where Davis says, "I was left with an open door to pretty much almost do whatever I want, you know like 'hey, make sure this guy has a bad night you know' or 'make sure this guy gets the treatment.'" Davis states that despite repeatedly requesting that his orders to abuse prisoners be put in writing, they were given orally. As part of a plea bargain, Davis admitted to abuse and making false statements to the military in February of this year so critics who want to dismiss his statements will probably fall back on that.

C.I.: The quote from Davis speaks to what's already been reported. Jane Mayer in her New Yorker article "The Experiment" noted the efforts. How much play is Austraila's ABC giving this?

Cedric: On their web site, not much. It's a brief summary of the program and the BBC has not picked it up. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting on Davis' statements in article nearly word for word the same as what ABC is carrying.

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. We'll now go to Kat with news from the world of music.

Kat: Kanye West has decried the homophobia in rap and stated that rap was intended to be about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people." The world is a little safer from Garth Brooks provided you avoid all Wal-Marts. Brooks has inked a deal where his recordings will only be available at Wal-Mart which, no doubt, will continue to look less than cutting edge as it promotes these albums since Brooks retired in 2000 and has no plans to return to recording. "Want music five years or older? Come to Wal-Mart" could be the slogan. Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas is working on bringing more music to Rosemead, California. Joining with city council member John Tran, they are attempting "to start a nonprofit program to teach Rosemead children break dancing, martial arts and in-house music production." Carly Simon, who is now under contract to Sony, will be performing two concerts on the Queen Elizabeth II as it sails from New York to England. Sony will release a DVD of the concerts in November and a one hour version will air on PBS in December during pledge drives. Moonlight Serenade, Carly Simon's latest album, is currently number two in internet CD sales. wonders if Dolly Parton is anti-war and notes that at her New York concert last Thursday, she performed the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn," Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" and John Lennon's "Imagine." Rolling Stone reports that both Courtney Love and Eminem are in rehab.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat. Now we go to Ava.

Ava: In Pittsburg police used a taser on one woman and a dog another to break up a peace march. The dog bit the woman on the leg. Participants have stated the police used excessive force.

C.I.: How many people were particiapting in the march?

Ava: The estimate is sixty particpants. Failure to disperse led to the two women and two other participants being arrested. There are also reports of pepper spray being used. There are also reports that that no order to disperse was issued.

C.I.: And the reliability of the offical version from the police.

Ava: Unreliable. Tammy Ewin, the official police spokesperson, told the press that no pepper spray was used. That claim was contradicted by the on duty supervisor, Sgt. Clint Winkler, who admitted to using pepper spray on the woman he later tasered. Winkler stated that, due to the woman's glasses, he had to use the taser because her the spray hit her glasses.

C.I.: It helps if the spokesperson has some idea what happened before speaking. You also have news from London?

Ava: Yes. Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man shot down admist claims of being a terrorist wasn't a terrorist, wasn't wearing a heavy coat, and the list goes on. The Observer reports that the police didn't even consider him "an immediate threat." The Independent reports that Sir Ian Blair is now claiming that he was "kept in the dark" until the day after the shooting that an innocent man had been killed.

C.I.: Okay, let me stop you for a minute for two reasons. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, but Blair, Ian Blair, tried to prevent an inquiry immediately after the death of de Menezes, correct?

Ava: Correct.

C.I.: So after having fought an inquiry, he now wants to attempt to use an "in the dark" excuse?

Ava: That's correct.

C.I.: Okay. Well the second reason I wanted to stop you was to review the original report because some people may be coming in late to this story. The world was told, the day de Menezes was mowed down with seven shots to the back of his head, that at the train station, de Menezes was acting erratically, we were also told that he lept some sort of barrier at the train station, that he ran from the police, that he was wearing a bulky jacket and that there was some suspicion that he had a bomb underneath the jacket. Is that how it was originally reported?

Ava: Yes. He was not wearing a bulky jacket. It's been described as a light denim jacket. He did not jump a barrier, he was not running for the police. To repeat from earlier, the police are now admitting that they did not see him as an "immediate threat." Possibly because he was apparently minding his own business and reading a newspaper. But police issued statements at the time that "his clothing and his behavior at the station added to suspicions." This, again, was not the case. The claims were false. The police have also denied claims of an attempted pay out to the family. An offer of some form did occur and The Observer reports that they've seen a document on the payment offer. Scotland Yard now says they offered 15,000 pounds in compensation. There were originally claims of a much higher amount. When those claims were made, the police stated that nothing other than the money required to cover "initial expenses" had been offered. The 15,000, in the document The Observer saw, is for compensation and other monies are mentioned for expenses. The document "sets out a final settlement, on top of an agreement to pay repatriation and legal fees." Sir Ian Blair says that people should not let the shooting overshadow the London bombings.

C.I.: Yes, he would feel that way, wouldn't he? Brazil is sending investigators to England?

Ava: They are sending two investigators and there are some trumpeting the fact that they were invited but the invitation occurred only after the Brazilian government requested it. And Brazil's Foreign Ministry issued a statement using the word "outraged" over the emerging facts.

C.I.: Well thank you, Ava. And thank you to Dallas who hunted down links and to Jess' parents who helped Dona, Betty, Mike and Jim with research. If you enjoy the feature, be sure to credit Dona with coming up with the idea.

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