Elaine here until Labor Day while Rebecca's on vacation. I hope everyone had a great weekend.
Saturday evening, night and Sunday morning were spent with The Third Estate Sunday Review.
I don't know how they do that every weekend.
They is Jess, Ty, Ava, Dona and Jim as well as C.I. (The Common Ills) with help from Betty (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man), Mike (Mikey Likes It!), Kat (Kat's Korner), Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) and Rebecca. Each weekend they pull together to produce an edition.
This Saturday was a long, long one. And there were times that I think probably everyone involved wanted to just give up. But they stuck to it and should be really impressed with the results. I'll try to post some items from this Sunday's edition during the week. Tonight, at the end of this post, I'll post their news review.
But first I'm going to start with two items from Democracy Now! Mike called and we're going for the same items again so to get his views, check out Mikey Likes It! today.
"Shiites and Kurds Agree on Constitution; Sunnis Reject Draft" (Democracy Now!)
In Iraq, Shiite and Kurdish members of Iraq's constitution drafting committee have agreed on a draft charter but Sunni Arab lawmakers have largely rejected the document. Some members of the drafting committee signed the draft charter but in a surprise move the full National Assembly never took a vote. A nationwide referendum on the constitution is now scheduled for Oct. 15. On Sunday President Bush attempted to downplay the Sunni opposition to the draft constitution. "Some Sunnis have expressed reservations about various provisions of the constitution, and that's their right as free individuals living in a free society," Bush said. "There are strong beliefs among other Sunnis that this constitution is good for all Iraqis and that it adequately reflects compromises suitable to all groups. Sunnis are warning that the constitution could lead to civil war because it will allow Shiites to create an autonomous government in the oil-rich south.
This is actually something that Mike reported on for the news review and that he and I discussed during the news review. Since then, Bully Boy has attempted to draw a happy face on a powder keg. What's interesting to me is how we're seeing some reporters, in the mainstream, attempting to draw happy faces as well. It's their duty to inform the public but instead they act like a state run media reporting on Stalin.
There's a great editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review and I wish that we had seen the way this would be covered because it's not just that they got it wrong in the lead up to the invasion or that they continue to report badly from the occupation; it's also the fact that they act like a state run media. They take the Bully Boy's statements and present them as "he said" with no fact check even in a piece labeled "news analysis" that I saw today.
"Thousands Rally At Camp Casey in Crawford Texas" (Democracy Now!)
In Crawford, Texas, the anti-war vigil led by Cindy Sheehan has entered its 24th day outside President Bush's 1,600 acre estate. Over the weekend thousands of military families, veterans and anti-war activists gathered for the final weekend of the vigil. Former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright -- who has been running much of Camp Casey -- is now estimating that up to 10,000 people have visited the camp since the vigil was launched on Aug. 6. This is Iraq War veteran Sean O'Neill: "I know too many good men that died out there who left behind families, widows, children that will grow up without their fathers. And for what?"
There's so much talk from some on the right about the "liberal media" showering Cindy Sheehan with praise that I wish they'd do me a favor and tell me what they're watching or reading because I could really go for some liberal media on TV or a daily paper that provided that "liberal media" view.
There hasn't been any support for Cindy Sheehan in mainstream print, by a reporter -- not a columnist -- that I've seen and I don't watch a great deal of TV but I haven't seen any support there either.
So what are they talking about?
It's "work the refs" to be sure, but I think it's something else too. Usually, when someone speaks out against the Bully Boy and the smear tactics start, they're toast by now.
That really hasn't happened in the way it usually does. Oh sure the usual crop of so-called "liberal" losers like Marc Cooper have come along to trash Cindy Sheehan. They always join in whether to make money and set themselves up or because they're just that disgusting.
But the smear tactics didn't work with the people.
And the press knows that there's a limit to which smears they can repeat about Cindy Sheehan.
So since mainstream reporters aren't filing stories with lurid sex rumors or character assasinations, some on the right may feel it's the "liberal media" again. They've grown so used to their daily faxed GOP talking points working their way through the echo chamber and then infecting the mainstream media that when it doesn't happen, they probably are shocked. They've become so used to setting the agenda that it's a huge shock to them that they're echo chamber can fall apart.
In the face of an honest voice who won't back down, the echo chamber's useless. Even with the usual "liberal" losers like Marc Cooper grabbing the carving knives.
"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
The point of nonviolence is to build a floor, a strong new floor, beneath which we can no longer sink. A platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, the works. Give man a decent place to stand.
"Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 8-26-05" (Third Estate Sunday Review)
C.I.: Good morning and welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review. Today we focus on the Iraqi constitution, the situation in Iraq, human rights issues, music and entertainment news. But first, we take a look at activism with Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Jess, what's happening in the realm of activism?
Jess: While various gatekeepers of all stripes play the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike and attempt to stop the leakage, the peace movement moves on. The United Kingdom's The Independent reports that MP George Galloway will accompany Jane Fonda on the upcoming speaking tour in the United States. Andrew Buncombe notes that "Stand Up and Be Counted, starts in Boston on 13 September and will end at a rally scheduled for 24 September in Washington." September 24th through 26th will see numerous rallies and activism in D.C.From United for Peace & Justice's "September Mobilization:"
Saturday, September 24
Massive March, Rally & Anti-war Festival
Gather 11 AM at the Washington Monument
March steps off at 12:30 PM
Sat., Sept. 24 - Operation Ceasefire Concert
Sun., Sept. 25 - Interfaith Service, Grassroots TrainingMon., Sept. 26 - Congressional Education Day and Mass Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Disobedience Linking Anti-war and Global Justice Protests
END THE WAR ON IRAQ
BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
Leave no military bases behind
End the looting of Iraq
Stop the torture
Stop bankrupting our communities
No military recruitment in our schools
Activism continues at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. In addition, it continues across the country.
Friday, across from the federal courthouse in Richmond, VA, Richmond Indymedia reports that forty activists held a protest against the war. Participant Christie Burwell stated "you can really see the change in perceptions; people are reacting more positively than a year ago." Aaron Samsel quotes a Navy veteran who participated in the protest asking,"If the war is based on a lie, what does it mean to continue fighting?"
San Diego Indymedia reports that the Bully Boy goes to Phoenix this Monday and to San Diego Tuesday. Protests are being organzied for both events.
The vigil continues at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. However, Cindy Sheehan is looking to the future and, as she explains at BuzzFlash, that includes three buses on a tour with stops for rallies and to visit:
"every Congress person, pro-peace or anti-peace alike, Republican or Democrat, and ask them the same questions we are asking the president. Except with Congress, we are going to add one more thing: 'Since there is no Noble Cause, you need to develop a speedy exit strategy and bring our troops home as soon as humanly possible.'"
Additional information can be found at www.BringThemHomeNowTour.org.
One Congressional member they might want to visit is Hillary Clinton. As the Sunday Times of London notes, Hillary Clinton has offered no public statement of support to Cindy Sheehan and, remaining on the sidelines, "[t]he risk she runs is that another Democrat will become the voice of anti-war protest and might overtake her in the 2008 presidential primaries."
C.I.: Thank you, Jess. In the past, you've had a Washington Post article you've wanted to comment on. Do you have one for today?
Jess: I sure do. The Washington Post again embarrasses itself, today with an article by Petula Dvorak. Commenting on the events in D.C. in September, the Defense Department's Freedom Walk and the peace rallies, Dvorak creates a problem by noting that the Washington Post had originally signed on as a co-sponsor to the Defense Department's event. After noting that the Post pulled out, Dvorak then quotes another co-sponsor on why it's not a 'political' event. Where is the statement from the paper? Dvorak then notes that "many" support the headliner Clint Black but "others" criticize his inclusion due to the song "I Rag and Roll." Of the song Dvorak writes:
But one of Black's signature songs, "I Raq and Roll" -- with lyrics about "a high-tech GI Joe" with "infrared," "GPS" and "good, old-fashioned lead" -- makes others cringe.
Should they cringe? Dvorak chops up the song to include little that demonstrates why "others" cringe.
As noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, the song is about Iraq. The Defense Department event, we're told repeatedly including in Dvorak's article, is about 9/11 and not an attempt to tie the together. When carefully selecting what to include from the song in her report, Dvorak somehow missed:
"If they won't show us their weapons, we might have to show them ours. It might be a smart bomb -- they find stupid people, too. And if you stand with the likes of Saddam, one just might find you."
Will Black be performing that song? Will Black issue a "correction" to his song since Iraq didn't have WMDs? Dvorak could have told readers what the song said. She didn't. Her article is journalistically embarrassing.
C.I.: Thank you, Jess. Now for a look at Iraq we have Elaine who's substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude on the invasion/occupation and Mike of Mikey Likes It! on the developments regarding the constitution. First we go to Elaine.
Elaine: The official fatality count for US military in Iraq is 78 for the month. When the invasion began with propaganda of "roses thrown at our feet" and greeted as liberators, we didn't see that number. In our first month, March, the fatality count, official, for US troops was 65, in April of 2003, the second month, we reached 74. Then the count dropped to below fifty for each month until November of 2003 when it soared to 82. Eight months later and the fatalities continued with the number actually rising. The total count, the official count, for US troop fatalities now stands at 1877.
Knight Ridder Newspapers ran an article Friday by Tom Lasseter entitled "Iraqi forces may need years of preparation." From Lasseter's article:
Three weeks of patrols and interviews in restive Anbar province suggested that Iraqi security forces will need years of preparation before they're ready to take charge of the complex and violent tribal areas of western Iraq. President Bush has said repeatedly that U.S. troops will withdraw only when Iraqi troops are ready to take over.
Many of the Iraqi troops were in poor condition, unable or unwilling to complete long foot patrols without frequent breaks. They often didn't know what to do in complicated situations, standing back and letting American Marines and soldiers take the lead.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that the US has begun bombing al-Qaim which is west of Bahgdad. Water and electricity have been cut off and one witness says the streets are filled with corpses. We previously 'took' the city this year while claiming that foreign fighters were present. Residents said they saw no evidence of foreign fighters.
C.I.: Which is a point Christian Parenti notes in his book, the "foreign fighters," The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq. He's reporting on Falluja but he notes that claims of foreign fighters in the area aren't backed up. And he notes why residents might tell the military foreign fighters were present, because they weren't going to say, "No, its us Fallujans who are shooting at you." Let's bring Mike in and, Mike, why don't you begin by noting where things stand with the Iraqi constitution.
Mike: Well talks of the future constitution of Iraq are still problematic. The Associated Press reports:
"Five of the top Sunni Arabs in Iraq's government spoke out Saturday against the draft constitution, delivering a major blow to last-minute efforts to craft a document that can win the backing of all ethnic and political groups."
Aljazeera reports that Shia and Kurds maintain that they offered amendments after hearing Sunni proposals but the Sunni negotiator, Fakhri al-Qaisi maintains Sunni concerns weren't addressed. Noting that the interim constitution required that a new constitution be "presented to Parliment" on August 15th, Juan Cole has pointed out that, by the interim constitution, parliment should have been disolved and new elections held. Since that did not occur, Juan Cole states that, "The rule of law is no longer operating in Iraq, and no pretence of constitutional procedure is being striven for. In essence, the prime minister and president have made a sort of coup, simply disregarding the interim constitution." The BBC reports "that [a] revised constitution will be put to MPs on Sunday" but Jon Brain, their reporter on the ground in Baghdad, "says prospects of agreement thus look remote, despite Mr Hassani's upbeat assessment. " Hajim al-Hassani is the Iraqi parliment speaker. The BBC also reports that the Arab Leauge has "described the Iraqi draft constitution as 'dangerous'" for not declaring Iraq an Arab nation. Instead it delcares that although the nation is not part of an Arab nation, Arabs in Iraq are part of the Arab nation.
C.I.: Kurds aren't Arabs, to offer one group in Iraq that's non-Arabic. Is the statement seen as a sign of federalism on the part of the new Iraq?
Mike: Canada's CBC reports that Sunnis maintain the proposed amendments do not deal with their concerns regarding federalism. Nabil Herbo told Aljazeera that, "Geographical or ethnic federation would leave the third ethnic group in Iraq as a minority in a Kurdish federation. Even though we are a majority in several parts of Iraq such as Talafar and Kirkuk." The Guardian reports that Sunnis are opposed to the constitution which "they said would break up the state and sandwich Sunnis in the centre, where there is no oil, between an autonomous Kurdistan in the north and a Shia region in the south."
Elaine: Because the Kurds already have autonomy and the Shia's want it for their region as well. The two are considered oil rich properties.
Mike: Correct and the BBC reports that the Sunnis say "they will reject federal Iraq."
Elaine: What I found interesting, and Mike and I working from different sources, so I'm interested in his take on this, was the fact that civil war seems inevitable. Whether you're reading an article on what might happen if Iraq becomes a federation or on what might happen if the constitution proposal fails, it's suggested that a civil war will be the result.
Mike: Yeah, I saw that too. I wondered about that through the third or fourth article. Then I figured that the reporters were noting it in relation to what they were reporting on.
C.I.: It, "noting it," being a civil war in the making?
Mike: Correct. But, and I think Elaine will agree this, I think that's because no matter what option is taken, civil war seems very likely.
C.I.: And do you agree with that, Elaine?
Elaine: Yes, I think we all do, all of us working on this news review. And agree that our continued presence in Iraq only fans the flame. Iraqis have repeatedly voiced a desire for us to leave. Some people, in this country, act like this is a recent development but it's not. And while it may be hard to get that point into the mainstream media loudly, I'd argue that the Iraqi soccer team did just that during the Olympics. So any surprise over our presence being a continued soure of conflict strikes me as willful denial for anyone who's paid attention to the press.
Mike: I'd agree and I know Ava's going to do the human rights coverage later and hope I'm not stealing from something she plans to report but we're releasing 1,000 prisoners from Abu Ghraib according to The New Zealand Herald. In this country, we've all heard the right-wing argument that any torture that did occur was due to the fact that these were the worst criminals.
Elaine: Right, the argument that behavior on our part had to be placed into the context of these are "really bad people." Another lie bites the dust with the mass release, at Baghdad's request, of 1,000 prisoners.
C.I.: Thank you, Elaine and Mike. Iraq, previously, had been a part of the pan-Arabism movement that seeks to unite the Arab world. Similar in some ways to the pan-African movement. Now Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review has a human rights report.
Ava: To start with, Australia's ABC reports that Terry Hicks no longer believes that his son will be set free. David Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and he has been held in a in the United States for over three years. Terry Hicks feels that the military tribunal will not bring justice and notes:"Regardless of what evidence or anything that David or the defence comes up with, it won't stand up because the President of the United States, he's the head of the military and he has the final say."
Indymedia reports that in Manila, garmet factory workers are occupying the Manila Labor Department and that they have "condemned the anti-worker 'Assumption of Jurisdiction' that Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas had recently declared to ease out the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) deadlock between the union and management."
In China, Xie Shinguang has died of leukemia, the BBC reports. Shinguang was sent to prison four seperate times, for a total of 28 years, due to the fact the he would not renounce his faith, Roman Catholicism.
Australia's ABC reports that "The United Nations says the gap between the world's rich and poor is widening," has greatly increased in the last ten years and that the development must be addressed.
In Iraq, Safia Taleb al-Souhail isn't pleased over the Iraqi constitution developments, The Independent reports. Safia Taleb al-Souhail was one of the people featured when elections took place and, after waving her ink stained finger, she was brought to the United States for the Bully Boy's February Operation Happy Talk speech and seated next to First Lady Laura Bush.The former Iraqi exile Souhail now serves as Iraq's ambassador to Egypt told The Indpendent that "we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment. Human rights should not be linked to Islamic sharia law at all. They should be listed separately in the constitution."
While there are human rights issues in every country, I'd hoped to highlight Haiti with a story published Saturday but searching various news sources turned up very little. What did turn up was dubious.
So I'll instead note a report from Friday's Democracy Now!:
The U.N. mission in Haiti recently launched an inquiry into the massacre of at least 20 people last weekend in the Port-au-Prince slum of Martissant.During a soccer game on Saturday funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the US-backed interim Haitian government, hooded police and men with machetes attacked people they called "bandits." This according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Haitian priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste remains in prison and is still suffering from injuries inflicted during his arrest in July. Father Jean-Juste is now considered the prime candidate to run for president on the Lavalas ticket. He told the Associated Press earlier this week that he may run if his candidacy is approved by ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown in what he calls a modern day kidnapping in the service of a coup d'etat backed by the United States.
And I'll follow that up by noting The Haitian Information Project on the same slaughter:
Eyewitnesses described to a group of human rights agents today this super t.v. drama styled event. As fans were being entertained during one of the breaks in the soccer game--highly attended because national league players had joined the local teams--a group of police and men wearing red tee shirts and head bands entered the playing field and took over the microphone from the announcer. The people in the crowd at first thought that this was a friendly show of security by the police. But that idea was immediately dashed when the red shirt announcer stopped the music being played by the DJ and then demanded everyone to lay on the ground. A shot was fired into the air and people began a panicked response. Some tried to run away, some tried scaling the walls to escape and several of these were shot. Others tried running into the adjoining rooms of the stadium and later were found hacked to death. The red shirts, backed up by the police began demanding specific individuals lying on the ground if they were affiliated with Aristide, asking for confirmation from others whether these people were "bandits". Then without mercy these red shirts either hacked their victims to death or hacked them and then had their victims shot by the police. According to eyewitnesses and the family members of the victims interviewed today, the victims of the executioners were innocent people and were attacked only because they were allegedly Lavalas supporters.
Here in the United States, charges against the Tucson Raging Grannies have been dropped, the Associated Press reports. The five women, whose ages range age from 65 to 81, were charged with trespassing when they take to their protest against the war into a recruiting center and insisted that they be signed up to go to Iraq as opposed to the nation's children. The city prosecutor had this to say on the dropping of charges:
"Essentially, by the time the police arrived, 10 minutes after the initial call, they had already left and were back at their protest on the sidewalk. Proving they did not leave after they were requested to leave would be difficult."
The Raging Grannies maintain the protests at the recruiting center will go on "until there is no longer a need to be there."
C.I.: Thank you, Ava. The July 13th arrest brought international media attention to the Tucson Raging Grannies, as Arizona Indymedia reported, and found them fielding interviews with everyone from the BBC to The Today Show in this country. Now we go to Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man for entertainment news.
Betty: C.I., a press that was largely silent on the passing on publisher John H. Johnson now comes alive as they attempt to portray a fight between Chicago Defender editor Roland Martin and media giant Oprah Winfrey loosely basing their "reporting" on Martin's column Friday. An Associated Press article circling the web screams of Oprah being "furious" That Martin called her out. Despite what the AP reported, it was not just for not attending Johnson's funeral. Martin had checked with the family of John H. Johnson and they told him they'd had no contact from Oprah. Oprah states that she sent flowers and a note. She further states that she will honor Johnson in a program when she returns from her vacation.
C.I.: Your take on it?
Betty: The same media that didn't see fit to note Johnson's death in great detail is now interested in what they see as a "black on black" battle helped out by the fact that one of the parties is a media titan. If there's a story here worth circulating, it's that Oprah will be honoring Johnson in an upcoming program. Instead the "black on black" battle is played up. In other news, playwright August Wilson announced Friday that he was dying from liver cancer. Wilson'splays include Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Fences. Fences won both the Pulitzer and the Tony. NPR has revived the fifties radio series This I Believe. Knight Ridder Newspapers reports that NPR has already recived over 3,000 essays and that those selected will be posted at NPR's website.
C.I.: Thank you, Betty. NPR's This I Believe series has already featured Gloria Steinem, as Christine at Ms. Musing noted last week. You can listen to Steinem or read the transcript of her essay. Also, let's take a moment to note And we'll note that in honor of Women's Equality Day, Ms. is offering subscriptions at half-price, $12.50, through Wednesday, August 31st. For our final report, Kat, of Kat's Korner, will bring us to speed on the music world.
Kat: Fiona Apple's long supressed album, Extraordinary Machine, will be released October 4th. Track samples are available online at her web site. The album Sony had to be forced into releasing by Apple fans will be released in the dual disc format. Other upcoming albums include the September 6th releases of Joan Baez's live CD Bowery Songs and Another Run Around the Sun by Ben Taylor, son of Carly Simon and James. From the Joan Baez web site, September 30th, she will performing in concert at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, CA. followed by performing at a free festival on October 1st at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Baez spent several days last week performing for free at Camp Casey in Crawford, TX. Photos from Camp Casey can be found at the Not In Our Name web site. In other upcoming album release news, October 11th brings the release of Alicia Keys' MTV Unplugged album featuring Common and Mos Def. Rolling Stone reports that August 30th, when Kanye West's Late Registration is released, West will be at Tower Records in NYC signing copies. Spin reports that Slash and Duff of Guns 'n Roses have sued Axel Rose over Rose's attempt to get ASCAP to send royalties due Slash and Duff to Rose. Spin also reports that Bjork has donated the swan dress she wore to Oscars in 2001 to Oxfam for a charity auction. As reported by the Buffalo News, Ani DiFranco has cancelled her tour which was due to begin next month due to tendonitis. She will be taking a year off from touring. Professional nuisance and one time acne medication schill, Pat Boone has taken to denouncing Cindy Sheehan. Whether that will win back any of his small number of fans is unknown though it's hard to think they've forgiven Bafoon for his desperation foray into heavy metal in 1997. Message to Baffoon, Jesus forgives but Rock 'N Roll never forgets. Pat Baffoon hasn't had a political crush like the one he has for Bully Boy since Nixon was in the White House.
In the real world, as ABC reports, the most requested video on MTV is Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends." October 13th, Wilco will play a benefit concert for Riley Hospital for Children reports Indianapolis' The Indy Star. Finally, the latest issue of Rolling Stone which features a cover story on Jack White of the White Stripes also features a sixteen page fashion layout featuring the Black Eyed Peas. It also contains an article by Matt Taibii where he once again makes a complete ass of himself.
C.I.: Taibii recently won praise for addressing the Ohio voting issue after dismissing it. What's your opinion of the article itself?
Kat: Junior gatekeeper has mistaken himself for a voice of authority. A beat at the New York Press don't impress real much. He can be funny but he's pulls whatever brain muscles he does have when he attempts actual thought. Confronted with actual Americans, on both sides of the issue, Taibii runs like a scared rabbit while attempting to toss off pithy remarks over his shoulder. It's the worst article Rolling Stone has run since their hideous Bug Chasers article a few years back. Hopefully, readers will weigh in and inform Jann Wenner that Rolling Stone doesn't need to attempt to fill the pomposity vacuum created by the retirement of William F. Buckley and that pieces like this don't belong in the magazine.
C.I.: Thank you, Kat. And thanks to Dallas for hunting down links and to Ty, Jim and Dona of, The Third Estate Sunday Reivew, who supervised and researched, edited and kept the news review flowing and on track.