Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Catching up . . .

Thanks to some family matters and a hellacious workload, I've been away for a while. And coming back is like coming back from vacation and seeing thousands of e-mails in your inbox. There's been so much taking place over the past couple of weeks . . . Tom DeLay getting indicted . . . David H. Safavian getting indicted . . . Jack Abramoff getting indicted . . . Tom DeLay getting idicted again . . . But here's my favorite. It seems that -- surprise! -- the Afghanistan elections have been found to have been, as Carlotta Gail of The New York Times puts it, rife with "significant incidents of fraud." In Monday's paper, she writes:
Whole districts have come under suspicion for ballot box stuffing and proxy voting, said Peter Erben, the chief of the United Nations-assisted Joint Election Management Board. He said ballot boxes from 4 percent of the 26,000 polling places - about 1,000 stations - had been set aside for investigation on suspicion of fraud and other irregularities. (Read the entire article.)
She goes on to say that, "Mr. Erben said that there were no signs of countrywide efforts to defraud the Afghan people but that there had been local efforts." Hmm; what's the Pashtun translation of "Ohio"? Then, just to make sure that no one accuses us of dumping only on the GOP, there was the news that the impending Iraqi referendum on that country's constitution is being modeled on the Chicago Democratic Party template. Reuters reported:
In a session on Sunday, Shi'ites and Kurds, who hold more than three quarters of parliament's 275 seats, decided the existing interim constitution should be interpreted in such a way as to create two different thresholds for the referendum.

For it to pass, a majority of those who turn out to vote have to say "Yes," while for it to be defeated, two-thirds of registered voters in three or more provinces have to say "No."

What the interim constitution actually says is: "The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two -thirds of the voters in three or more governorates do not reject it." (Read the entire article.)

Great, isn't it? Sort of like saying "Heads, I win; tails, you lose."

Finally, while there has been enough piling on about the Katrina non-efforts, we couldn't resist this story, in the London Independent. It cites a study commissioned for the U.S. Defense Department that says simply that the Iraq war caused the foul-ups. Kim Sengupta writes:

The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.

The report was commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defence as an "independent and critical review" of what went so wrong. In a hard-hitting analysis, it says: "The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous."

The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of the US Army's War College and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts.

It charts how "corruption and mismanagement within the New Orleans city government" had "diverted money earmarked for improving flood protection to other, more vote-getting, projects. Past mayors and governors gambled that the long-expected Big Killer hurricane would never happen. That bet was lost with Hurricane Katrina." (Read the entire article.)
And there's more, but tomorrow is another day.

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