Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday entry so nobody give me any crap. Here's my part of "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review:"

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. And we'll note that on The Laura Flanders Show Saturday night, we were all reminded that the January elections featured a lot of photo ops of purple stained fingers and only after the spin was in place was it noted that all the photos came from the same polling stations. We now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! for a joint report on Iraq. Elaine, I'm guessing, you have the fatalities figure, so how about we start with you?

Elaine: Yes, I do. For the month of October, the fatality count for US troops is 37, this on the 16th day of October. The 37 fatalities bring the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq, by the official count, to 1970. US troops wounded in action? Here's a shocking official number that the press isn't rushing into the headlines: 14,641. When Bully Boy trumpets the election as a "success" will he mention those numbers? It is doubtful. It's also doubtufl that he'll mention 26,521 which is the minimum number of Iraqis killed since the invasion/occupation as noted by Iraq Body Count. The AP estimates that in the last six months alone "at least 3,663 Iraqis have been killed." But good news for Bully Boy. They've yet to capture Osama bin Laden, some five years later, but when he faces the cameras next, he can trumpet the fact that they have allegedly caught the barber of Al Qaeda. Sleep easy, America, terrorists remain at large, but we've nailed the coiffeur! No one's on the run but senior al Qaeda militants will be looking pretty ragged.

C.I.: Indeed. Mike, you were looking into a number of things having to do with the polling places themselves?

Mike: Correct. In Haditha, a Sunni stronghold, they had a whopping two polling places! Two for a city that houses an estimated 60,000 people. Lee Keath of the Associated Press reports that turnout is high in some Sunni areas due to a healthy number of people wanting to vote "no" to the proposed Constitution. Vote counting in Baghdad, as Cedric noted they've had electricity problems throughout Saturday, was done by laterns. In Ramadi, Saturday's election began with gunfire.

C.I.: Not quite fitting the 'flowers in our path' picture that we were so long ago promised or the 'liberation' and 'peace' promised the Iraqis. The basics are that Iraq is divided into 18 provinces. If any three of those provinces have 2/3 of the voters saying no, three of the 18, then the constitution is defeated. Which would then mean that the constitution would be written by their parliment that's due to be elected in December.

Mike: Press reports say the al-Anbar province is likely to reach that 2/3 no vote. But a story not being picked up widely in the US media is that, from KUNA, "The Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission declared Saturday that about 70 ballot stations have not opened in Anbar, western Iraq for security reasons." No one knows what the ballot count's going to be and, though I'm Irish, I won't play Tim Russert and waste everyone's time with predictions.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Mike.

Elaine: Mike quoted "70 ballot stations" and that is what KUNA reports but they headline that story with "60." 60 is also the number Aljazeera's going with. Aljazeera also reports that:"Ten people working for the independent Iraqi electoral commission have been abducted during the constitutional referendum in the restive Sunni al-Anbar province, the commission said." Abducted apparently by armed gunmen.

C.I.: How many polling stations are there in al-Anbar?

Elaine: 207. So if you go with 60, that's a little less than a third of polling stations not open. Mike mentioned the gunfire in Ramadi and Aljazeera notes that people are staying away from the polls due to the violence while US war planes circle at a low altitude. In non-polling news, reports:

A United Nations human rights advocate accused US-led coalition forces in Iraq of breaching international law by cutting off food and water to civilians to force them to flee cities earmarked for attacks on insurgent strongholds.
Jean Ziegler, a UN expert on food rights, said that coalition forces had restricted food and water to civilians in Fallujah, Tal Afar and Samarra in an effort to encourage them to flee before attacks took place."This is a flagrant violation of international law," Ziegler told reporters.

Elaine (con't): Aljazeera also reports that Second Lieutenant Erick Anderson, who was cleared in the killing of an Iraqi teenager in January, is now facing charges again for the same death.

Mike: And I'll note that measures have been taken for the polling but that they are also increasing measures to get into the country. Brian Conley, of Boston Indymedia, reports at his site Alive In Baghdad that an American who'd entered the country many times, with CPT, was prevented from returning recently due to new form regulations.

C.I.: Christian Peacemaker Teams?

Mike: Correct. The man had already made four previous trips to Iraq since the occupation began but a few weeks ago, a new form was added on to the requirements for entering the country.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike and Elaine. One thing that should be remember, actually two. First, Dona's whispering "blue finger" and I'm guessing she means that in the western media it's usually referred to as "purple" ink fingers but in other areas it is referred to as "blue." Yes, that's what she meant. She's monitoring several Iraqi blogs and the bloggers in Iraq are using "blue." So that's something to remember. The other thing to note is that, according to Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, the United States government used "off the book" techniques to influence the January elections. We now go to Ty who'll catch us up to speed with the antics at The New York Times. Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Ava: Actually, Jim's asked me to step out here and make a statement before anything moves on. C.I. noted the January date Saturday morning in an entry. Not surpisingly someone's all over it right now as we do this entry and there's no mention of the entry. Despite having covered this story at length, the person just now figures out January 2004 after it's noted at The Common Ills. This is actually the second time something from Plamegate has 'suddenly occured' to this writer after it goes up on a Saturday at The Common Ills.

C.I.: Noted. That was Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review. And note that was Ava's statement, so take it up with her or The Third Estate Sunday Review. I can guess who the person was but I haven't read the piece so I've made no statement on it. For myself, I'll state that I didn't do any "reporting," I merely listened to friends at The Times. Let's move on.

That's where everything ground to a halt because Jim finds out that C.I.'s been ripped off. There was all this cross chatter and I don't know how Ava and Dallas got anything typed or how Ty and C.I. were able to do their exchange. It was all, "Oh my God!" "What?" "I'm sending it to you!" And then it became even more loud as we started reading the piece ripping off C.I.

At some point, we're so loud, even with Dona telling us to pipe down, and Jim and Ava start working on a statement. C.I. still doesn't know what's going on at this point. Ava comes out
and reads that statement and C.I. makes the statement ending with "Let's move on." But we take a break.

I wish I could be as laid back about it as C.I. but I'm pissed.

I am not pissed at my buddy Wally, however. Wally started his own website and he never gave me a clue it was coming. Wally's site is The Daily Jot. Everyone better be checking it out because Wally's a cool guy and it will be a cool site.

We lost Dear Third Estate Sunday Review. That was a feature that we were working on but trashed when all this came up. But they do read your e-mails. That's why Elaine and me got paired up again because e-mails came in saying they liked that. Thank you to the people who wrote them about that. Elaine's really cool and it's a blast to work with her.