Huge banner headline in the (left-of-center) Guardian today: 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead, says study. The study to which it refers was published by the Lancet, Britain's most respected (and peer reviewed) medical journal. It used sampling, but looks serious.
Although some of the casualties are due to things like an increase in infant mortality because women are unable or too frightened to go to hospitals to deliver, the great bulk of the deaths is civilians killed by aircraft bombings or helicopter-launched munitions.
The amount of civilian casualties is sufficiently high to call into question whether the US has complied with the (rather vague) laws of humanitarian warfare.
Update (10/30): Slate has a good article noting the gigantic margin of error admitted by the authors of the report — so large as to call into question their publicizing the midpoint of a range of possibilities from 8,000 to almost 200,000.
My exuberant colleague Ricardo J. Bascuas has put online an early draft of an important article, The Unconstitutionality of “Hold Until Cleared”: Reexamining Material Witness Detentions in the Wake of the September 11th Dragnet ( forthcoming Vanderbilt Law Review, April 2005).
The article argues very persuasively that the material witness statute is being seriously misused to hold innocent people in jail, and to sweat possibly guilty ones when the government lacks the information to charge them. But we knew that.
What makes this article special is that it also demonstrates through careful textual analysis that the courts which approved the government's use of the material witness statute to jail people fundamentally misunderstood the original meaning of the orignial material witness statute, which was in fact carefully designed to do no such thing, but only to allow the jailing of witnesses who failed to promise to appear, or who failed to appear when bound to do so.
Not only is this a great article, but it's Ricardo's first one — a sign of a glittering academic career in the making.
Slashdot | Absentee Ballots Go Missing in Florida.
I've said for months that the real election fraud in Florida would be absentee ballots not voting machines. This has a tip of the iceberg feel to it.
If Bush should win the state by fewer than 58,000 votes, I will not believe the result unless these ballots are found. (I could even understand why a Bush supporter would say the same thing about a narrow Kerry victory…which just underscores the importance of getting to the bottom of this.)
This is a GREAT idea:
Election Day Project — The Seattle University School of Law is sponsoring an Election Day Project. The purpose of this Project is to provide assistance to attorneys, voting rights and community advocates in key presidential electoral states. This assistance will consist of preparing statements from voters who have experienced harassment or intimidation at polling places. Attorneys and advocates can refer voters who have experienced such harassment or intimidation to a toll free number: (866) 896-4033. Law students will be servicing telephone calls from these voters and will assist in the preparation of statements. These statements will then be e-mailed to the referring attorney or advocate for final edits and signatures. These statements can form the basis for seeking temporary restraining orders or as documentation for any hearings conducted by legislative bodies, regulatory agencies, or the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
Please note the following:
1. The toll free number and the service to be provided will be available only on election day, Tuesday, November 2, 2004. The toll free number is (866) 896-4033.
2. The hours of operation are based upon Pacific Standard Time. The toll free telephone lines will be operational from 7:00 a.m. (PST) to 7:00 pm (PST).
3. When referring a voter to the toll free number, (866) 896-4033, the attorneys, voting rights and community advocates should provide the voter with the name, telephone number, and e-mail of the referring attorneys, voting rights and community advocates. Otherwise we will not be able to forward the statement.
4. The law students will not be providing legal advice or voter assistance.
5. If the lines are busy, please keep trying.
6. For further information contact, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Joaquin G. Avila (206) 398-4117.
Much kudos to Prof. Avila and Seattle law school.
Called home yesterday evening (London time) and among other things learned that the 'Morales' family (read about them here) now has a Kerry-Edwards sign, bringing our street's total to four!
Here's a wacky theory: what if Chief Justice Rehnquist resigns due to ill health, and the court is split 4-4 when it has to decide the election. Apparently the Bush folks are preparing a contingency plan for a recess appointment.
I'm going to go out on a limb here: not going to happen. Why? Rehnquist will not resign in the next few weeks. Not his style, not at all. Of course, if someone on the Supreme Court were to actually die, then all bets are off on this one. And that would create a stir….