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Saturday 30 March 2013

Abu Ghraib - 9 years on

USA ABU GHRAIB IN HINDSIGHT: fascinating to read this article - written 9 May 2004 - featuring an interview with an Al Jazeera employee interrogated by US forces in Iraq.

As I write, Rumsfeld is before Congress trying to explain how U.S. forces could do such things. Many of the journalists in Baghdad think that this will surely finish him off, that it’s only a matter of time. I watched Bush give his apology last night, but it all seems too late. The revelations of torture in Iraq by U.S. soldiers have pushed the country through a bloody and bruised event horizon. There is no apology that can bring us back.

Yeah - amazing what time and disinterest will do to justice. No cakes and sparklers for this anniversary.

Again, I strongly recommend reading Rachel Maddow's book Drift and watching the MSNBC presentation of Hubris.


US #DOMA MARRIAGE EQUALITY ARGUMENTS: it's hard to maintain a stance that holds the US Constitution to be some sort of divinely-inspired & infallible document (except that one bit they forgot to put in but added later but that's OK because obviously, guns), while ignoring the bit about state-sponsored religion...

But since cognitive dissonance is NOT making their heads explode, here's a little snippet from the DOMA hearings that should make it extremely clear:

Elena Kagan read from the House Report from Congress when it passed the law in 1996, which summarized DOMA's entire legal underpinning: "Congress decided to reflect and honor a collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality."

Collective moral judgement; enshrined discrimination.

At various times in history, it was the collective moral judgement that interracial couples should not marry; that women should not vote; that humans could be owned; that indigenous peoples should be eradicated; that old women with cats should be accused of witchcraft. Some people still hold those judgements, but we don't give them airspace any more.

Moral judgements change. DOMA, too, will find itself consigned to history.

Monday 4 March 2013


I've just listened to the Coincidence episode from This American Life and I SO wish I'd had the opportunity to contribute! I have a metric ton of them - growing up as a global nomad, running into people at unexpected places in random countries, etc... But this one's a doozy.
It's too late for TAL, but I decided it deserved an airing anyway.
I graduated from a high school in Papua New Guinea in 1988, with 26 people (of 8 different nationalities) in our graduating class. Over the next 7 years, my best friend in the USA keeps track of everyone as best she can (pre-Facebook); then she gets married & sends all the notes and Contact slips to me in Australia.
So in 1998 I'm organising our 10-year reunion, to be held in Dallas, TX. One person in particular I've lost completely, and his surname is a common one; but I have a contact slip from 3 years prior, saying that he's in Philadelphia and marrying this girl with a very distinctive Polish surname. I call Information and there are two listings in Philadelphia - Charles Jr & Charles Sr. I call Jr, get an answering machine, leave a message saying "I'm looking for Paul L, he married this woman and was she by any chance related to you? If so, please ask him to ring me." Then I call Sr, talk to the guy, he has no idea who Paul is. Dead end - I write off the other number as well.
A week later, my phone rings - it's Paul! So I'm excited to talk to him but also a bit confused about the chain of events - I ask him, so how did you get the message?
* He says, what do you mean - didn't you leave me a message?
* I said, well, yes; but how did it get to you?
* He says, I got home and played it...?
Confusion reigns.
Took a bit longer to get to the bottom of it, but - turns out: he'd split up with his wife (she of the distinctive surname) 6 months earlier, and rented a random apartment where the phone was already connected. That phone? was the one listed under Jr's name. He literally came home & pressed Play.
I've had the chills over that, for 15 years!