Monday, October 17, 2005

Until lions have their historians . . .

I'm starting off with Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts from Sunday. It made me laugh and hopefully it will make you laugh as well.

Sunnis Contest Reports Iraqi Constitution Has Passed (Democracy Now!)
U.S. and Iraqi officials are predicting Iraq voters approved the country's new constitution during Saturday's nation-wide referendum. The constitution could have been rejected if two-thirds of voters in three or more of Iraq's 18 provinces voted against it. But reports indicate only two Sunni provinces voted no. Sunni Arabs are overwhelmingly opposed to the constitution, fearful it could ultimately lead to their exclusion from oil-rich Kurdish areas in the north and Shiite areas in the south. Authorities estimated a turnout of at least 60 percent. Sunni leaders contested the early predictions, saying independent monitors had concluded a sufficient amount of voters voted against the constitution. No foreign election observers were present to monitor Saturday's vote. Representatives of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq reported turnout to soldiers and officials at a command center located on a U.S. base. A U.S. Army Specialist told the Post: "We have to hold their hand to do everything around here."

What a patronizing attitude on the part of the Specialist. If they aren't cooperating, might it not be due to the fact that an occupying force is not prone to inspiring trust?
The "vote" was a joke. Mike and I are both discussing these items tonight and I'll be posting the thing Mike and I did on this from The Third Estate Sunday Review (Mike posted it yesterday). But you had areas where polling stations didn't even open. You had propaganda (on the pro-Constitution side and on the negative-Constitution side) going up in towns throughout Iraq. I'm not as bad as C.I. who really feels the need to totally immerse in something before commenting but between what Mike was finding, what Dona and Jim were finding, what Jess' parents were finding and what I found, we had a huge number of articles we were working off of. We didn't have Cedric's articles because there was no time. When Cedric was giving his report, Mike and I were working with Dona and Jim to determine what points were the strongest and what we wanted to emphasize. I'd already spoken to Isaiah on the phone Saturday and knew his upcoming comic. He was worried that people might miss the joke if the event wasn't covered heavily by Sunday morning. I told him I'd do my part to get it into a report and hopefully people had some idea of the "great" "success" the administration had with the capture of the al Qaeda barber.

U.S. Kills 70 in Ramadi Bombings (Democracy Now!)
Also in Iraq, the U.S. claims military strikes have killed 70 insurgents near the town of Ramadi yesterday. But witnesses say at least 39 of the dead are civilians. A local hospital official told the Washington Post U.S. warplanes attacked bystanders gathered around a burning U.S. vehicle on the side of a road, killing 25. In a separate incident, U.S. air strikes killed 50 people hiding in a building. Witnesses say at least 14 civilians were killed. The attacks occurred after five U.S. Marines were killed in a roadside bombing in the city on Saturday.

Forget the sides involved for just a minutes. Who will know better the casualities? Someone from on high dropping a bomb or someone on the ground? The planes were already circling Ramadi Saturday.

"The Third Estate Sunday News Review 10-16-05" (The Third Estate Sunday 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.

Election under gunfire and falling bombs. My how proud we must be.

Since Friday, the last time I blogged, Common Ills community member Wally has started The Daily Jot where he intends to offer a daily muse "at least five times a week, nothing heavy" and hopes to have it up each morning. I like the idea and like what I'm reading so far. I think you will too and, if you're ahead of me, you probably already do.

Mike talked a lot about how when Cedric started his site it was like a burden was lifted for Mike. I never really got that. Now with Seth in the City and The Daily Jot, I think I do. If I screw up an entry or if I miss a day, there's someone else who could have caught something so it's not all on me. If someone's furious with what I wrote, they've got other places, within the community, to go.

I really admire my friends C.I. and Rebecca. C.I. started it with The Common Ills and until Rebecca started up Sex and Politics and Screeds and Atttitude in January, it was just C.I.
Then along comes Third Estate Sunday Review and the now defunct A Winding Road, followed by Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. The wonderful (and gorgeous haired) Kat started up her site Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills). Mike did Mikey Likes It!, Cedric did Cedric's Big Mix and I filled in for Rebecca while she was on vacation. And now we have this huge community with ten sites. Plus the gina & krista round-robin and the biweekly newsletter from the UK Computer Gurus so it's really kind of amazing.

Who knew, right? I can tell you C.I. didn't. I was not the only one telling C.I. to start a web site through all of 2004 and the end of 2003. But I was one of the people saying it. I didn't even know C.I. had started one until three days after the fact. I can tell you that C.I. couldn't have predicted that The Common Ills would turn out to be what it is.

But that's the community taking up the DIY call.

I'm listening to The Cowboy Junkies' Early 21st Century Blues right now and the link takes you to the review of it and Dolly Parton's Those Were The Days at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Kat did a post for C.I. Saturday on The Laura Flanders Show and in the process found out that Flanders would have TCJ on as guests. She started calling around to everyone saying, "If you get the CD we can review two CDs."

So I put back on my heels (I'd just come from an event for a friend), sighed and headed out the door. I love this CD. Thank you, Kat, for cracking the whip. This is just a beautiful CD.

I've used this quote before (though it may have been while I was filling in for Rebecca and not here) and it's one of my favorite quotes on peace.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.
African Proverb