Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-30-05

C.I.: Good morning and welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-30-05 and Betty says everyone should have remembered to turn their clocks back last night. We have a report from Florida, news from the world of entertainment, news on Iraq and other items. First we go to Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review and Dona asks that we note this is rough transcript.

Jess: At Alive in Baghdad, Brian Conley has posted an interview. What you won't get in The New York Times, you can get at Alive in Baghdad: the voices of Iraqis.

Omar: What is your message for the American People?
K [Khulood]: I would send a call, a rescue call. To the American people and especially to the mothers to not let their sons to come to Iraq. Because we are completely destroyed, and we are wounded. We want to feel rest, and we are requesting to all the American forces to pull out from Iraq, and also all the occupying forces, in order to live in peace, to get security. To let our children have a better future.
Omar: Is there anything else you would like to say?
K: We want to have a rest because we are so tired and so sick.

C.I.: Jess this comes at a time, it certainly reflects polling in Iraq, Khulood's sentiments, but this comes at a time when rumors are flying regarding Ali al-Sistani.

Jess: Correct. The rumors are that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shi'ite based in Najaf, will issue a call for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. In December, elections will take place for parliment. In January, when the parliment beguns session, it is said that al-Sistani will call for the American troops. Meanwhile, this week, Bully Boy goes to Agentina. Protests are already planned. From an Associated Press article:

To many Latin Americans, "the war smacks of U.S. imperialism and bullying and is extraordinarily unpopular," said Riordan Roett, director of the Western Hemisphere program at Johns Hopkins University. "America is seen as an arrogant, run-amok republic that does things without thinking them through."

C.I.: And in the United States?

Jess: As noted on Democracy Now!, on Wednesday over 15,000 rallies took place around the nation to note crossing the 2,000 mark for US military fatalities in Iraq. Quite a large number for a mid-week event and one that required getting the word out quickly.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. We now go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.

Cedric: As most will know already, Rosa Parks, civil rights pioneer who refused to give up her seat on the bus when ordered to do so which led to the a city wide, bus riders strike, passed away Monday. I've thought about what to say to note the death of a leader and toyed with a biographical sketch or a timeline. But one of the books we read for this week's book discussion offered something that I felt summed up things better than I ever could. From The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son:"

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

C.I.: Thank you Cedric. Again, Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son." Rosa Parks passed away Monday at the age of 92. The following day the US military fatality rate for those killed in Iraq reached 2,000. For news on Iraq, we go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It. We started with Mike last weekend, so Elaine, why don't you start?

Elaine: C.I., the official fatality count for American troops in Iraq stands at 2016. When the count reached 2,000 this past week, over . The official count for American troops wounded in Iraq is 15,220.

Mike: Three of the 2016 who've died in Bully Boy's war of choice are from yesterday, two from a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad and one died near Baiji.

Elaine: While the causes of death in those cases are clear, another military death is less so. The Associated Press reports that an unnamed American soldier was found dead Friday. The cause of death is under investigation. Al Jazeera reports that in Huweder, a car bomb has killed 26 Iraqis.

Mike: The AP offers 30,000 as their count for Iraqis who've died during the invasion/occupation.

Elaine: The occupation has also taken a toll on recruitment in the United States with the military having to lower expections each month. As reported by CounterRecruiter, the figures for fiscal year 2005 find the military 6,600 soldiers short of their target goals. The occupation is also effecting numbers in Great Britain. The war in Iraq is identified, by Michael Smith in London's Sunday Times, as the reason for 6,000 members of England's Territorial Army which has resulted in "a manning crisis."

Mike: Another crisis is the one described by Rahul Mahajan at Empire Notes:

After last November's demolition of Fallujah and its transformation into a prison camp, insurgents shifted their focus to Mosul and Ramadi, as well as towns along the Euphrates up toward the Syrian border. Mosul, which had seen very few incidents before, became a hotbed of violence; Ramadi, which had been quite active before, became probably the city in Iraq in which there has consistently been the most fighting between the occupying forces and the resistance.
In the last six weeks, 21 American soldiers have been killed in Ramadi, far more than in any other city in Iraq, the vast majority by roadside improvised explosive devices, detonated when troops patrolled.
There is no police force in Ramadi and the local government set up by the U.S.-initiated political process is largely unable to function (the deputy governor of Anbar province was recently assassinated).

Elaine: And the indictment of Scooter Libby is said to lead to a political crisis for the Bully Boy. England's The Independent headlines "Special report: Bush faces his Watergate." In this article, by Andrew Buncombe, it's noted that:

But the issues raised by "Plamegate" - the leaking of the identity of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent - are far more significant than those involved in the "second-rate burglary" of the Democratic National Committee's offices in Washington's Watergate complex in the 1970s. They go to the heart of why America, and its faithful ally, Britain, went to war in Iraq.

Mike: A point missed by Todd S. Purdum who prefers sniffing his own dirty jock strap to reporting. From The Common Ills yesterday, storry C.I. my sister begged me to work this in:

Let's start with Todd S. Purdum ("A Prosecutor's Focus Shifted to a Cover-Up") who apparently decided that instead of washing his dirty jock, he'd turn it inside out and wear it for another six months without washing. That would explain how the fumes got to him yet again and why he feels the need to early on toss out Bill Clinton. Drawing comparisons no sane person would make (Clinton's cover up revolved around a private, consensual sex affair; Libby's cover up revolves around the outing of a CIA agent), you start to wonder if Todd's not only sniffing his own fumes but also chewing on his dirty jock? The after taste of his "news analysis" makes one wonder.
How far into the article before Todd mentions Clinton (for balance, I'm sure)? Fourth paragraph. How far before Nixon is mentioned? Fourteen. (Always check my math.)
And what are we 'assured' when Nixon finally crawls out from under the rock? "The Wilson affair is not Watergate . . ." Really?
The issues involved are not a consensual sex affair either. But Todd didn't have a need to rush to assure there. They may actually go beyond the petty motives of Watergate (original motive: to spy on the Democratic Party during a presidential election) since the outing of Valerie Plame is an attempt to discredit (and silence) her husband Joseph Wilson who was explaining that there was no evidence of "yellow cakes."

C.I.: Jumping in, Todd S. Purdum of The New York Times.

Elaine: At IPS, Jim Lobe calls the administration's loss of Libby "a serious blow." Lobe offers the rundown on Scooter Libby in "A Formidable Hawk Goes Down."

Mike: Robert Parry asks "Letting the White House Walk?" at Consortium News. While Parry notes that other indictments may be forthcoming and that a trial of Scooter might allow more details to emerge, he also notes this that's not making it in other reporting on Plamegate:

In his five-count indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis Libby, prosecutor Fitzgerald leaves the false impression that it was all right for White House officials with security clearances to be discussing the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, a counter-proliferation official under deep cover.
Under the rules of classification, however, to see such secrets an official must not only have a top-secret clearance but also special code-word clearance that grants access to a specific compartment governed by strict need-to-know requirements.
In both the Libby indictment and a hour-long press conference on Oct. 28, Fitzgerald showed no indication he understood how extraordinary it was for White House officials to be bandying about the name of a covert CIA officer based on the flimsy rationale that she was married to an ex-diplomat who had been sent on a fact-finding trip to Niger.
Fitzgerald, who is the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, appears to have bought into the notion that government officials had a right to discuss Plame's covert status among themselves as long as they didn’t pass the secret on to journalists. Then Fitzgerald didn't even seek punishment for that, limiting his criminal case to Libby's lying about how and when he learned of Plame's identity.

C.I.: That is a very important point. Thank you, Elaine and Mike. Scooter Libby indicted for a number of counts -- perjury, false testimony, etc. -- in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson who went public to expose Bully Boy's 16 word lie in the 2003 State of the Union address regarding "British intelligence has recently learned that Sadaam Hussein sought" yellow cake from Niger. Also, quickly, Eric Schmitt's "An Influential Bush Insider Who Is Used to Challenges" rightly pointed out that Scooter Libby is not just Cheney's chief of staff. Scooter was "assistant to the president, chief of staff to the vice president and Mr. Cheney's national security advisor." Now we go to Rebecca, of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, offers us a look at the news from the world of science. Rebecca?

Rebecca: C.I., Steve Connor notes in the UK's Independent that last week Prince Charles of England declared "climate change was one of the greatest problems" facing the world. As England experiences a surprisingly warm October, Connor reminds that "[t] exceptionally hot, dry summer of 2003 is estimated to have resulted in about 35,000 extra deaths in Western Europe." Are any guys drinking hard this Halloween weekend? If so, you might want to know that a recent study in India found it can effect sperm and increase difficulties in having children as well as in getting erections. Erectile dysfunction? In this day and age of Viagra? The consumer organization Public Citizen is asking the FDA "to add warnings to the labels of Viagra and other impotence drugs, noting that some users have gone blind." Is Tony Blair politically impotent? Marie Woolf reports in "Blair caved in after secret royal memo on badger culling" that a snap of the royal fingers by Prince Charles, or in this case a letter, and Tony Blair goes into lapdog mode, panting with a frenzy he usually reserves solely for the Bully Boy. A leaked memo results in the latest embarrassment for Blair. Prince Charles wrote Blair that a thinning of the badger population would meet with his approval due to his belief that this would reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis from badgers to cattle.

C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca. Now for a report from Flordia, we go to Wally of The Daily Jot.

Wally: C.I. the death toll for Hurricane Wilma is now 21. Almost a million residents remain without power and they're telling us somewhere around Thanksgiving, maybe November 22nd, power might be restored. This is unnacceptable. The federal government and the state government's response is unacceptable. We have a gas generator, here at my Grandpa's. Not everyone has that. The widow next door is storing somethings in his refrigerator because she has no power. She's using hurricane lamps. This woman is 67 years old and barely five feet tall.
An offer was made for her to stay here but she doesn't want to leave her home unoccupied after dark. Why should she have to? Why can't they get the power back on? Up and down the street, throughout the neighborhood, her story isn't any different. Earlier, before the review, Kat made a comment about how nice it was of me to stay with my grandfather during this. I don't think it's being nice. In the immediate area around my grandfather's home, a cell phone is a novel thing. There are a number of elderly people here with no electricity and no working phone --

C.I.: Wally, are the phone lines out or is this a case of the phones that are being used? A portable phone, a cordless phone requires electricity.

Wally: Yes, that's the issue. We're dealing with an area where technology caught up enough to justify the cordless phone, usually with an asnwering machine, but not the cell phone. Or an area and a . . .

C.I.: Demographic? These are predominately elderly people?

Wally: Correct. My Grandpa holds on to everything. He had about four of the phones, the cord phones, and he gave them out to neighbors. But these people are here, they don't want to leave their homes which are pretty much fine except for not having electricity. Would you or anyone who'll read this let your grandparents go a month without electricity? This is ridiculous. There should be outrage throughout the United States over the fact that the state of Florida and the United States seems to think a month without electricity is acceptable. It's not acceptable.

C.I.: Wally, you spoke of the woman who is storing some food in your grandfather's refrigerator.

Wally: Right. If you don't have a generator, you can't have food that will spoil. If you don't have a generator, you better use that hurricane lamps at night. It's insane. People, old and young, not being able to have lights, not being able to keep food and what's being done? Not a damn thing. Bully Boy struts into the state long enough to grab some BBQ and act like everything's going fine and it isn't. This isn't a case where we've got the type of destruction that New Orleans got but at the same time, people here didn't leave their homes in large numbers. Those who did, thinking the hurricane was over so all was back to normal, get home to find out that they don't have electricity. And the government wants to say, to almost a million people, "Wait until Thanskgiving." It's going to get cold and without electricity, some people won't have access to hot water for a shower or a bath. It's insane. The state government is failing the people, the United States is failing the people. The press should be all over this. You've got waste in the streets because the sewers are backed up. You got lines at the few gas stations that are open. You got lines for ice, for water. And the almost a million I keep using is Saturday's figure. Thursday they were saying over two million on the radio. I have a hard time believing that after telling everyone it would be Thanksgiving, that a million people suddenly got power. But the figure they're using now is eight hundred thousand and something.

C.I.: Are people staying?

Wally: Most of them are. There's a couple, an elderly couple, who are leaving Monday for their son's if the electricity isn't on but most people don't have the choice or don't want to leave. There are people with kids, some babies, and from that group I usually hear that Christmas is almost here and they don't have the money to do Christmas for the kids and to hit the road. So people are trying to manage for now but a month is insane. I was in line for two hours the other day, Thursday, and people are calm and all, but they are pissed off. This is a huge embarrassment for the state government and the federal government and if the press would give us a little attention and put a little pressure on this, maybe Bully Boy would do something more than drop by for a sandwich and a photo op before jetting back out. In fact, instead of visiting, he should just send us the fuel that would have been used to fly in. The planning for the refineries wasn't what it should have been which is one reason that there are lines for gas. Another reason is that some of the stations have gas but the pumps aren't working. People are pissed but calm right now. You got people having cookouts to cook meat before it spoils that they had stocked up on before the power went off. But I don't think they can take a month of camp outs.

C.I.: Thank you for that report Wally. For news from the world of entertainment, we go to Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man. Betty, what do you have for us this morning?

Betty: C.I., no one wants to talk too much about it but for the fifth week in a row the show that America supposedly had to watch is down in the ratings: ABC's Desperate Housewives. 30 million watched last season's ender, 28.4 million watched this season's debut. Each week, this year, has seen erosion in the viewership and it's now down to 25.2 million. In the who the hell asked for it department, the otherwise unemployed Sylvester Stallone will make his sixth Rocky film and his fifth Rambo film. While Republicans punch their fists in the air and holler, 13 and 14 year-old boys ask, "Who?" As Robert Greenwald's Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices readies for release, Wal-Mart's trying to offset the Greenwald documentary with their feel good, Up With Corporations response film entitled Why Wal-Mart Works: And Why That Drives Some People C-R-A-Z-Y. The fact that they spell out crazy demonstrates how out of it the store that no self-respecting teen would purchase clothes at is. I spent time with my teenage nieces this weekend and apparently the must-say insult in their crowd is anything having to do with Wal-Mart. From, "Where'd you get that shirt? Wal-Mart!" to "Where'd you get that weave? Wal-Mart!" the corporation that just won't go away is fast becoming the punch line to any insult.

C.I.: Betty, Kat wants to jump in on this. Kat of Kat's Corner (of The Common Ills).

Kat: Sorry to butt in but as someone a bit older than Betty, I'll note that it's a similar process to what happened with K-Mart. It stands for cheap goods and as a new group of teens comes of age that's been lugged to Wal-Mart once too often, they turn on it. If Betty's nieces are knocking it for non-political reasons, Wal-Mart should worry more about that than Robert Greenwald's documentary. I'll jump back out now.

Betty: That's a good point that Kat made. The teen years are all about what's hot and what's not for many and when something gets bad word of mouth, there are problems. With my nieces, they're not commenting on Wal-Mart's practices of hiring or insurance or wages. They're commenting on the store being uncool. As Kat points out, once that rep starts getting around, it's very hard to recover. You lose the teen girls, forget it. Greenwald's film opens in select markets on November 4th and can be purchased online. George Takei, known to millions as Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, came out this week. Takei, who's been in an 18 year relationship with Brad Altman, said, "The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay. The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young." Demi Moore teams with Sharon Stone, Anthony Hopkins, Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan for Emilio Estevez's upcoming film Bobby. Estavez will appear in front of the camera but he'll also be directing from a script he wrote. Finally, this coming Tuesday, Lifetime's Real Women will remember Rosa Parks with an Intimate Portrait featuring commentary from Ruby Dee, her late husband Ossie Davis and Gloria Steinem among others. Following that, Lifeteime Telivision will broadcast The Rosa Parks Story starring Angela Bassett as Parks and Cicely Tyson as her mother.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review offers us some news from Europe and Indida. Ty?

Ty: It's practically the summer of 1968 in Paris all over again as, for the third night in a row, youths rioted. The young people are protesting the deaths of a 15 year-old and a 17 year-old on Thursday when they were apparently eluding police and ended up being electrocuted. The authorities say that Saturday night was less violent, 20 cars were torched, 13 youths were arrested. In New Delhi, 61 people are dead from bombs that went off in two market places. A third bomb went off on a bus but the driver had apparently gotten the passengers off in time after spotting a suspicious object. Also in India, The Taipei Times reports that a train derailed leaving at least one hundred dead.

C.I.: Thank you, Ty. Also from The Third Estate Sunday Review, Ava brings us up to speed on Guantnamo Bay and Venezuela.

Ava: C.I., the BBC reports that Fawzi al-Odah wants to die. Who is Fawzi al-Odah? A man arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and held at Guantanamo Bay since. Three years with no hearing. Locked up and forgotten. Fawzi al-Odah is one of the prisoners who in Guantanamo who has staged a hunger strike. The US government's response? To force feed. The US military asserts that only 26 prisoners are currently on a hunger strike, other estimates place the number at 150.

C.I.: Ava, the Center for Constitutional Rights is calling on a day of fast for November 1st to highlight this issue.

Ava: And on that day they are also staging rallies in DC and in NYC. The DC rally will take place at noon on 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in front of the Justice Dept. In New York, the rally will take place at 26 Federal Plaza at one o'clock in the afternoon. I'd like to turn now to an Associated Press article by Natalie Obiko Pearson that dismisses the allegations against New Tribes Mission but, unlike the reporting of Juan Foero in The New York Times, notes some of the allegations.

C.I.: Great. Before you do, to set up for readers, Hugo Chavez has ordered New Tribes Mission out of Venezuela. Juan Forero is up in the arms over this expulsion which makes makes any rumor of CIA connections seem all the more valid since Forero doesn't tell you about past allegations. With Forero, always note what he leaves out.

Ava: New Tribes, the article notes "has settlements in remote, mineral-rich tracts of Venezuelan rain forests located far from the surveillance of authorities" and that they have "long faced accusations of wrongdoing in Venezuela." From the article:

Anthropologists, military officials and others have accused the group of watching indigenous people die of malnutrition while living in luxurious camps, forcing communities to give up ancestral traditions and creating a sophisticated enclave of airstrips and settlements to exploit gold, quartz and even uranium deposits.

C.I.: Does she question why the US embassay gets involved when New Tribe Ministries is asked to leave a foreign country, they're based in Florida.

Ava: Sarasota, Florida. One would think with the problems facing Florida, they'd want to return to help there. But no, she doesn't mention anything about that. She does note that "Tomas Antonio Marino Blanco, a navy captain, recently revived claims first made in 1978 that New Tribes missionaries have helped U.S. defense contractors from Westinghouse conduct mineral prospecting." Unlike Juan Foero, she could find the public allegations. I'll give her credit for that.

C.I.: Thank you Ava. We now go to Kat with musical news. Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills).

Kat: C.I., what's that?

What is that sound ringing in my ears
I've heard that sound before
What's that I hear ringing in my ears
I hear it more and more
It's the sound of freedom calling
Ringing up to the sky
It's the sound of the old ways falling
You can hear it if you try

Kat (con't): From Phil Och's "What's That I Hear?" A question worth asking as the outing of a CIA agent can now be traced to the White House, as poll numbers for Bully Boy tumble and while polls show an increase in opposition to the war in Iraq. Some people hear the ringing. Take Audioslave who are addressing the war in their new video "Doesn't Remind Me." Some don't hear the ringing at all. Take Kelly Preston who will star in the film Angel which has enough problems finding an audience with Burt Reynolds in the cast but only triples the problems by co-starring, as the love interest -- will he get a hair cut -- Bully Boy supporter, wonder if Bully Boy wears Keith around his groin, and all around war cheerleader who put even Judy Miller to shame, Toby Keith. Hell, give Miller the role of love interest opposite Kelly Preston, it would certainly create more of a stir.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat. And thank you to Dallas for doing the links, to Jess' parents for hunting down links and to Dona and Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review who keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes throughout. Studs Terkel and Ruth Conniff, of The Progressive magazine, on The Laura Flanders Show tonight.

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