Sunday, October 02, 2005

Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-02-05

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review for October 2, 2005. Dona, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, asks that we note, if you're new to this feature, it's done live and transcribed in what is a very rough transcript. This morning we focus on Iraq and what's being called "Operation Iron Fist" as well as other events. We will also have news from the world of science, TV, music and Puerto Rico as well as an editorial on the press portrayals, or lack of them, of the demonstrations in D.C. Now we go to Elaine, of Like Maria Said Paz, with news on Iraq.

Elaine: As reported on Democracy Now! and in the New York Times, US military personell in Iraq have used abuse both as a component of interrogations and as a stress reliever. Human Rights Watch has documented this "method" at length. From their "New Accounts of Torture by U.S. Troops:"

Three U.S. army personnel--two sergeants and a captain--describe routine, severe
beatings of prisoners and other cruel and inhumane treatment. In one incident, a
soldier is alleged to have broken a detainee's leg with a baseball bat.
Detainees were also forced to hold five-gallon jugs of water with their arms
outstretched and perform other acts until they passed out. Soldiers also applied
chemical substances to detainees' skin and eyes, and subjected detainees to
forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold.
Detainees were also stacked into human pyramids and denied food and water. The
soldiers also described abuses they witnessed or participated in at another base
in Iraq and during earlier deployments in Afghanistan.

Elaine (con't): Scotland's Sunday Herald address the issue today with Neil Mackay's "Torture of Iraqis was for 'stress relief', say US soldiers" noting that the 82nd Airborne soldiers stationed near Falluja were dubbed "The Murderous Maniacs" by Iraqis and didn't find shame in the nickname.
"PUCs" was the term soldiers used for Iraqis, "Persons Under Control." "The Murderous Maniacs" took part in depriving sleep and taking a "PUC . . . to the brink of a stroke or heart attack." One soldier said, "It was like a game. You know, how far could you make this guy go before he passes out of just collapses on you?" This entailed "sandbagging" where a sand bag would tied to the heads of prisoners and, while there hands were cuffed, soldiers would inflict "blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them." The soldier detailing that abuse notes, "This happened every day."

C.I.: Elaine, much of what's being described is similar to techniques that were used in Latin America as Jennifer K. Harbury has documented numerous times, most recently in her new book Truth, Torture, And The American Way.

Elaine: Correct, and a point to make is that the current administration contains many of the people who oversaw activies in Latin America during the eighties.

C.I.: In her book, Harbury presents testimony from many of the victims of torture and the details are similar to many of the stories coming out of Iraq now.

Elaine: Jane Mayer's "The Experiment" in The New Yorker, outlined these activities and should have been a starting point for a larger dialogue. But Harbury has been has been documenting how "Mr. Mikes," US intelligence, took part in the torture in Latin America for many decades.

C.I.: Her own husband was a political prisoner who was tortured and murdered.

Elaine: And she's a powerful writer and speaker because, unlike with some victims and family members, it's very difficult for the mainstream press to dismiss her since she comes armed with a law degree from Harvard. As details come out, regarding Iraq, in bits and pieces and while some journalists connect them to a larger picture of what is going on, as with Mayer in The New Yorker, the majority of the reporting, and I'll add this is true of The New York Times especially, presents it as "This just got said, now here's people who say it's not true or not as bad" with no attempt to connect the most recent revelations with the huge body of previous reports. As we began researching this, one of the articles that surprised Dona, Jim and myself was Majid al-Rawi's "U.S. forces hunt militants in western Iraq" by Reuters which details "Operation Iron Fist" with repeated statements of what the US military belives -- "they believe" -- and with no attempt to provide any comments from the people in the areas effected. The closest Reuters gets to actual reporting is when they interview a Qaim doctor, whom Retuers reports, "said relatives of the wounded told him they had been attacked by U.S. helicopters in Sedea." That is in passing, that detail of civilians mowed down by fire from helicopters. The article relies heavily on US military reports as though they were objective. As with much of the reporting coming out of Iraq, Iraqis are rendered invisible and "collateral damage" depends upon that. A sweeping term that leads people to shrug and say, "These things happen." It's easy to do that with the victims are rendered faceless and invisible.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. Still on Iraq, we go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Cedric, you're focusing on Dahr Jamail, correct?

Cedric: Yes, on Dahr Jamail's most recent article,"Securitizing the Global Norm of Identity: Biometric Technologies in Domestic and Foreign Policy." Elaine just got finished discussing the latest torture revelations and noting how the techniques migrated from Latin America to Iraq.
Dahr Jamail, unlike Dexter Filkins of The New York Times, has never shied from discussing realities in Falluja. The "pacification" techniques used in Falluja. As Elaine noted while we researching, the Falluja reporting also depended upon the mainstream accepting military statements as fact and refusing to give voice to the people of Falluja. Jamail writes:

Out of these ruins, occupation forces argued they were erecting a 'model city',
replete with a high-tech security infrastructure centered on biometric
identification strategies to manage returning citizens. Returnees are
fingerprinted, retina scanned, and issued a mandatory identity badge displaying
the individual's home address and collected biometric data.

Cedric (con't): People should be aware of this. They should question whether it's an "American" thing to do in order to "build democracy" and they should ask themselves how they'll respond when the technique migrate back to the United States with calls for a national i.d. card.

C.I.: Cedric, some may hear "biometric" and think, "What is that?" Retinal scans in the film The Minority Report may help illustrate but could you give some more examples.

Cedric: Certainly. Jamail goes into this and explains "the body as passport." Some examples of biometrics include facial scans, iris scans, digitized finger prints and things such as body heat emitting from the face. As Jamil points out, the debate over national security leads to some advocate similar tactics in this country.

C.I.: You mentioned the national i.d. card which would be hard to implement for a number of reasons, among which is the GOP's long so-called support of 'state rights'; however, the way around that has been to require that states develop their own i.d.s and do so under general guidelines. What are your thoughts there?

Cedric: As an African-American male, I worry that digitized cards will be one more technique to disqualify African-Americans. For instance, you go to vote, "Woops, your card doesn't read, you can't vote." The disenfranchisement in the last two presidential elections is enough to cause me to worry whenever a Republican controlled Congress wants to "help" America because some people get helped and some people get hurt and, from my viewpoint, it's the powerless that get hurt and a few years after the fact, the mainstream press can note that in passing while remaining silent in real time. I think you see that in the "pacified" areas in Iraq which result not in safety but in people losing homes and ending up living in tents as evacuees.

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. With other updates from Iraq as the constitutional referendum approaches, we go to Mike of Mikey Likes It!

Mike: While "Operation Iron Fist" goes on, The Independent of London reports that in Baghdad the brother of Iraq's Interior Minister was kidnapped, and "Firas Marid, the son of another senior official in the ministry, was seized by gunmen in Taji, north of Baghdad." This as the military fatality count for American troops in Iraq has now reached 1935 since the invasion.

C.I.: And the total for the month?

Mike: 49 U.S. fatalities and 3 British fatalities for the month of September. Yesterday the Dutch military had a fatality and there are two American fatalities so far for the month of October. The Washington Post reports that Iraq's parliment has put the 2006 budget on hold in an effort "to spotlight government corruption had failed to provide transparent records on its own spending." Questions remain about monies that disappeared under the U.S. installed Iyad Allawi. In addition, the AFP reports that a bomb took the lives of three Iraqi police in Kirkuk and that the iman Salah Hassan Ayash was killed in Baghdad. Iraqi police shot up the car of a suspected bomber killing a seven-year-old child. Finally, Aljazeera reports that:

Sharp divisions have emerged between Iraq's ruling Kurdish and Shia Muslim
factions after Iraq's Kurdish president accused the Shia prime minister of
breaking coalition promises and overly dominating the government.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike. From stories of the invasion/occupation of Iraq, we turn now to a commentary on peace, specifically an editorial on last weekends rallies and marches from Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Jess: To judge by the mainstream media, nothing happened. Or, the alternate take, anti-war activities went on and at the same time pro-war demonstrations took place, both attended in equal measures. The reality of the anti-war protests didn't take hold in the mainstream media. As they've denied the opinions of the increasing majority of Americans on the war, they ignored the protests. As CounterSpin pointed out, Aaron Brown offered the excuse, on CNN, that the protests just couldn't compete with Hurricane Rita. Excuses abound, coverage was denied. The biggest demonstration since the Vietnam era and the press played "I scared of Bully Boy! I can't talk about this!" Years from now, historians will go through news reports from the mainstream media and wonder why such a large, such a historic event, wasn't judged necessary of coverage.
They'll have the answer we already do, a timid press that looks to official sources to tell them what news is and has lost interest in reporting on the activities of the average citizens.
In D.C. last week, we saw citizens come together to express their opposition to this war and to demand that the troops be brought home now. As the corporate media continues to deny the existance of citizens not holding offices, elected or appointed, is it any wonder that citizens care less and less about TV news and daily newspapers? As World News Tonight becomes D.C.'s Entertainment Tonight, should any of us even care what they "report"? For all the back patting over the Hurricane Katrina coverage, we find that little has changed. The mainstream media remains uninterested in any story that doesn't come with an "official sources" quote.
In D.C. last week, the people of this country came together in huge numbers to voice their opinion on the war and the mainstream press proved to be deaf and uninterested. It's been noted. Our "trusted news sources" should consider themselves on notice, we're not buying your crap anymore.
A friend who did not participate in the events in D.C. but watched CSPAN from the comfort of her couch said to me Saturday morning, "I don't understand why some of those people were onstage. They really should have just put the presentable onstage. That's how you get media attention." Like many, she suffers under the belief that the mainstream media would seriously cover events that actually effected our lives.
Consider the lack of coverage a wakeup call that once and for all destroys the notion that the press gives a damn about what you or I care about. As the White House press corps was shown yucking it up with the Bully Boy at the end of last week, they've demonstrated that they have no spine, that they have no objectivity. "We have to remain objective," they repeat as though it's holy and ordained. But when you see them fawning over the Bully Boy like Ed McMahon did Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, it's obvious that "objectivity" is code for "average citizen is on a dead end street to nowhere."
Despite a lapdog mainstream media, a diverse cross-section of people came to D.C. last week. Some may have been more presentable to the moderate factions in the country. On the other hand some may have spoken to people that the "presentable" will never reach. That's the success story of the D.C. events. The peace movement has moved beyond self-styled gatekeepers and so-called experts to truly become a mass movement of the people. Ruth, who was with us in D.C., wrote yesterday at The Common Ills, contrasting the demonstrations now and the demonstrations of the sixties and seventies, that the difference was the inclusion. While the mainstream continues to ignore a mass movement and futon & couch warriors offer critiques, the movement moves on, gathering more participants and reaching out beyond the mainstream media.
We rocked DC the weekend of the 24th and even now the movement rolls on with or without corporate media. To get an idea of what you missed, you can check out Indymedia's extensive coverage as well as last Monday's Democracy Now! and our own piece where we asked people "'Why Are You Here?' and 'What's Changed?'" If you're waiting for The New York Times to put you in touch with the country, you're waiting in vain.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. Turning now to the latest in entertainment news, we go to Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man.

Betty: C.I., as you and Ava know, the new television season has begun. If you leave UPN, you may wonder where are the black people? Watching a show, you can see the token here and the token there but not much more. People of color as a whole take a hit though CBS is proud to offer, in their Threshold, a size challenged indivdual. As with each fall season, people with physical disabilities are also off the radar. Watching the latest offerings and the returning shows this week, Americans were given the impression that the nation is a white world where blacks serve as wacky sidekicks if they are around at all. ABC's Commander-in-Chief offers an interesting rewrite of its own. To a nation divided, ABC serves up a show that focuses on Republicans and swing-voters. Where the Democrats were on that show is almost as mystifying as why Geena Davis' onscreen daughter worships Pat Buchanan. Commander-in-Chief's chief selling point is that Davis portrays the first woman president. As Christine has noted at Pop Politics, it's a show that's not watched in large numbers in D.C. In other TV news, the wedding's off for Loreli on Gilmore Girls. From the state responsible for so much entertainment in the world, The Gropenator declared war on the GLBT community as well as on photographers. With the stroke of pen, Ahnuld is out to penalize paparazzi. Whether that's due to the infamous photo of him in a speedo where the muscle man was revealed to have fat rolls, a saggy butt and man boobs that would more than fill out an A cup bra is not known. Joining his GOP bretheren, Ahnuld, who certainly counted on the admiration of gay men in his film career, demonstrated that he sides with repression and not inclusion by refusing to sign the legislature's bill to legalize gay marriage in the state of California. Will & Grace aired live on NBC Thursday and Deborah Messing found it hard not to break character repeatedly as she giggled at her co-stars and at herself. Watching, one had to wonder how the pioneers of TV's golden age were able to maintain their characters when the Emmy award winning Messing found it so difficult to stay in character. American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino revealed on 20/20 and in her new "book" that she is functionally illiterate. Barrino dropped out of school in the ninth grade following a rape. Her book, which she dicated, is entitled Life is Not a Fairy Tale. As a mother myself, I'll editorialize here by noting that whining you wish you could read to your four-year-old daughter is just whining. Tuturing, which Barrino mainstains she is now taking part in, should have begun with the first paycheck. Mary J. Blige is the perfect example of someone willing to spend the time to educate herself after the schools systems failed. Barrino's daughter won't be four-years-old forever and a little less time spent on interviews focusing on yourself and a little bit more time addressing your shortcomings would probably be more beneficial to your child. I'll pull a you here, C.I., and note that I'm biting my tongue severely with several smart remarks I could make. I will say plainly that it's shameful that a black woman with the resources to become literate not only chooses not to but uses her illiteracy as a marketing plan for the latest step in her career. Far more inspiring to others suffering from illiteracy would be if Barrino had taken the time to become literate prior to dictating her book and if she had made that a part of her latest publicity push.

C.I.: She has begun tutoring?

Betty: She says she has but she also repeated her remarks about wishing she could read to her four-year-old daughter. "See Dick, See Jane. This is Dick. This is Jane." There are children's books that are that simple with wonderful illustrations. Apparently the tutoring has either just started or isn't getting the attention it deserves if such books are beyond Barrino's capabilities. Many people, including many black people are illiterate in this country. Most do not have access to the resources Barrino has. As a black woman and as a mother, I had no sympathy to her tale of "I wish I could read to my four-year-old." No one's expecting her to read [Toni Morrison's] Beloved to her four-year-old so if an adult who can speak well, is trying to learn to read and still can't master a children's picture book, she's either not spending the time needed or she needs to find new tutors.

C.I.: Is there a learning disability mentioned by Barrino?

Betty: No. She says that since she could sing, she was never interested in reading and that her family wasn't made up of strong readers. As she, reported on 20/20, begins her tour and her movie career while brushing aside her daughter's request to read to her with "Not now," someone's priorities are screwed. That's my editorial statement. She ought to be saying "Not now" to some of the business deals and interviews she's saying yes to until she can find the time to manage to read a picture book to her child. Hoping "someday" to be able to read her child is hardly inspiring though it will no doubt help her be seen as "real." Marketing inadequicies instead of attempting to overcome them.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. For additional resources on literacy, you can check out America's Literacy Directory which will provide statistics as well as inform you of literacy programs in your area, for adults, for children and for the learning disabled. Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude joins us now to give us the latest on the world of nature.

Rebecca: The Independent of London reports that "scientists will warn this week" that species are dying at a faster rate than was previously thought. As Artic ice continues to shrink for the fourth year in a row, polar bears, among other species, are increasingly at risk. The warmer temperature upsets the natural cycle of the polar bear, the thinning ice provides them with less of a habitat, and hungry and with less of an area to roam in, they go into towns where they are shot.

C.I.: Rebecca, as the Artic ice decreases, it turns to something, which is water. While the ice reflects the sun's rays back into space, the water absorbs them thereby increasing the global temperature. Correct?

Rebecca: Correct, and the BBC reports findings that, if the shrinkage continues, by 2060 "there may be no summer ice" in the Artic "at all."

C.I.: For most of the Bully Boy's tenure, there has been denial that global warming was occurring even in the face of last year's Pentagon report that found global warming to be a threat to humanity. Jeff Goodall, writing in Rolling Stone, has noted that the naysayers have now turned from denial to propositions that what we're looking at now is only more beach time, summer weather. Did you find any happy talk in the wake of this news?

Rebecca: One report that I found interesting from the headline was Aljazeera's "Global warming may boost oil industry." However, at present, when you try to access the article you get a message of server error. Australia's ABC had nothing on global warming in the last few days; however, they did carry a story entitled "Oceans becoming more acidic: scientists." The report details the increase, by 50%, in carbon dioxide in the ocean water. For those who skipped science classes, humans expell carbon dioxide but take in oxygen to breathe. The oceans are made up of many things but as a water based body, they are made up of H2O mean hydrogen and oxygen. The increase in carbon dioxide, though little noted elsewhere, is not good news on its own. When combined with the news of the Artic ice as well as the decrease in glaciers, we're looking at a very troubling situation that all countries should be seriously addressing. In terms of sea life, sea shells will be effected, as well as basic structure, by the carbon dioxide increase and it will enter the food chain. Currently, there is a call for action on December 3rd, similar to the demonstrations in D.C. recently, to come together and insist that the issues of global warming be addressed. Quickly in other news, an excavation in Creete has unearthed the statues of Greek goddesses Athena and Hera thought to be toppled in 367 A.D. by an earthquake. The BBC reports that in the Congolese forest, wild gorrillas have been observed using simple tools "to test the depth of muddy water and to cross swampy areas." In July, astronomers said they'd discovered a tenth planet, known as Xena, and now the Associated Press reports that what's being called a moon has been observed orbiting around the planet.

C.I.: Thank you for that report, Rebecca. From reports of Xena, we now turn to Ty, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, who'll be reporting on events in Bali.

Ty: Following the August 25 bombings that left seven people dead in Bali, Saturday the island was again rocked with bombings. Not much is known in the immediate aftermath. AFP reports that at least 32 people are dead, the AP reports that at least 24 people are dead. Some news sources report three bombs, some report four. In the confusion surrounding the events, The Sunday Times of London attempts to give the attacks a British presence with a piece entitled "Revealed: British link to Bali bombs." They do this by focusing on uninjured tourists from England. At a time when over 100 are injured by conservative estimates, that might not be the "hook" for a story on the bombings. Australia's ABC, which goes with three bombs, reports that the connection between the three is the use of backpacks. The BBC offers:

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Bali -- a predominantly
Hindu island popular with Western tourists -- represents a soft and
tempting target for Islamist extremists linked to al-Qaeda.

Ty (con't): NPR notes the bombings too place "almost three years to the day after bombs killed more than 200 people in Bali" and that "Indonesia's president had recently warned of a looming threat." The Independent of London reports:

The new blasts are the latest in an appalling summer for terrorist attacks.
First there was the 7 July bombings in London, which killed 52, and then, later
that month, 64 people died, several of them Britons, and 200 were injured when
three bombs struck the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. And, in August, there
was widespread anger in the West, and especially among relatives of those killed
in the 2002 Bali Bombings, when Indonesia reduced the 30-month sentence handed
down to controversial cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir.

Ty (con't): As some take to announcing that the bombings are a reminder, a good question to ask may be, "A reminder of what?" As Democracy Now! noted Thursday:

New Report Says US Viewed as 'Dangerous Force'
As Karen Hughes traveled, a new report was released on the international
view of the US. It was compiled by a nine-member advisory committee headed by
former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff. The report found
widespread hostility toward the US and its policies, especially the occupation
of Iraq. The report said, "For what can be heard around the world, in the wake
of the invasion of Iraq, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and the
controversy over the handling of detainees at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, is that
America is less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered."

Ty (con't): Those calling this a reminder had better be aware that the so-called war on terror has not resulted in a decrease in the amount of terrorist attacks.

C.I.: Thank you, Ty. We now turn to Ava, of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Ava: C.I., in Brazil a judge has been sentenced to fifteen years for the murder of a security guard. While a portion of detainees held in Guantanamo enter the second month of their fast, the U.S. military tells the BBC that it's simply a bid for media attention.
Last week saw the assassination, in Puerto Rico, of Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Little reported on the corporate media, but noted in Pacifica's WBAI extensive coverage, the assassination included shutting down the power to the area. As the FBI surrounded the home of Ojeda Rios, wanted for a 1983 bankrobbery, he asked that his wife be spared. The FBI was kind enough to tape her eyes shut as they then placed her under arrest for 24 hours. Ojeda Rios is said to have fired ten times, hundreds of times is said to be the FBI's record. It's being called a "shoot out." Though the FBI now says, in the face of growing outrage, that they'll attempt to determine whom fired first. They'll also attempt to determine why Ojeda Rios was allowed to bleed to death for twenty-four hours from a wound to his shoulder. Puerto Rico was seized by the U.S. in 1898 and has long sought its independence. In March of 2005, U.S. prosecuters attempted to seek the death penalty but the verdict was life imprisonment instead. Puerto Rico's 1952 constitution bans the death penalty but a U.S. federal court ruled in 2001 that federal law trumps the Puerot Rican constitution. These events and the continued use of Puerto Rico for military testing add to the tensions and the cries for the right to autonomy that some say the assassination of Ojeda Rios will only further inflame. In addition to WBAI, more news on this can be found at Democracy Now! and at Puerto Rico Indymedia, in both Spanish and English.

C.I.: Thank you, Ava. For our final report, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) gives us the latest from the world of music.

Kat: Billboard reports that the Rolling Stones' "Streets of Love" will be used on NBC's daytime drama Days of Our Lives beginning October 18th after which it will become a "love theme" for a couple on the show. In 1979, Herb Albert's "Rise" was used on General Hospital in the infamous Luke & Laura storyline. The song benifitted. "Baby Come to Me" would later be used on General Hospital to promote the love story of Luke & Holly. That Patti Austi and James Ingrahm duet went to number one. Days of Our Lives has not had the impact of General Hospital but they did help promote then cast member Gloria Loring's duet with Carl Anderson "Friends & Lovers" which reached number two on the Hot 100 in 1986. In product endorsement news, Pepsi has denied dropping Kanye West in the face of complaints from lovers of the Bully Boy. This Tuesday, Fiona Apple's long delayed, long suppressed Extraordinary Machine makes it ways to music stores. This is Apple's first release since 1999. Apple's abscence is nothing compared to Stevie Wonder who will release his first studio album of new material in ten years, A Time to Love. Bright Fans can see Conor Oberst November 12th at the University of Missouri's Jesse Auditorium, MTV reports. Oberst cancelled a planned performance in St. Louis due the venue's connection to radio conglomerate and music killer Clear Channel. Oberst is among the "20 Greatest Innovators Of The Past 20 Years" profiled in this month's Spin. Also profiled in that feature are Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Courtney Love, Chuck D., Eddie Vedder, PJ Harvey, Chris Martin of Coldplay and the Beastie Boys. MTV also reports that Alanis Morrisette is preparing to release a greatest hits album, this on the heels of her acoustic remake of Jagged Little Pill and two studio albums after she released her MTV Unplugged live album. The Morning Call reports that indie rock is seeing a new surge and let's all hope so. Lastly, The Independent of London features an interview with Sinead O'Connor entitled "Sinéad O'Connor: Talks exclusively about suicide and redemption."

C.I.: "Streets of Love" is one of the songs Kat's praised in her review of the Rolling Stone's latest album A Bigger Bang. And that does it for this week's Third Estate Sunday Review News Review. We thank Dallas for hunting down links and Jess' parents for their help with research. Overseeing everything and acting as the glue that holds this feature together were Dona and Jim, both of The Third Estate Sunday Review, who helped with research and helped shape the reports.
Finally, we welcome Seth of Seth in the City to the community. Seth started his own site on September 28th, please check it out.

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