I think most people agree that waterboarding is torture based on what they have read about how the process works. Journalist Christopher Hitchens went one further and actually put himself through the process. This is a very powerful video:
It wasn’t always thus with McCain. In February he loudly disassociated himself from a speaker who brayed “Barack Hussein Obama” when introducing him at a rally in Ohio. Now McCain either backpedals with tardy, pro forma expressions of respect for his opponent or lets second-tier campaign underlings release boilerplate disavowals after ugly incidents like the chilling Jim Crow-era flashback last week when a Florida sheriff ranted about “Barack Hussein Obama” at a Palin rally while in full uniform.
A well written, scary op-ed piece. Check it out. What's truly scary and down-right abominable is that the McCain camp is plainly invoking murderous rants:
No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”
This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.
The sun used to be his main enemy, but now he has others.
Mr. Mluge is an albino, and in Tanzania now there is a price for his pinkish skin.
“I feel like I am being hunted,” he said.
Discrimination against albinos is a serious problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but recently in Tanzania it has taken a wicked twist: at least 19 albinos, including children, have been killed and mutilated in the past year, victims of what Tanzanian officials say is a growing criminal trade in albino body parts.
A very interesting article outlining the plight of Albinos in Africa. It is absolutely appalling to think that this is happening:
But the killings go on. They have even spread to neighboring Kenya, where an albino woman was hacked to death in late May, with her eyes, tongue and breasts gouged out. Advocates for albinos have also said that witch doctors are selling albino skin in Congo.
The young are often the targets. In early May, Vumilia Makoye, 17, was eating dinner with her family in their hut in western Tanzania when two men showed up with long knives
Vumilia was like many other Africans with albinism. She had dropped out of school because of severe near-sightedness, a common problem for albinos, whose eyes develop abnormally and who often have to hold things like books or cellphones two inches away to see them. She could not find a job because no one would hire her. She sold peanuts in the market, making $2 a week while her delicate skin was seared by the sun.
When Vumilia’s mother, Jeme, saw the men with knives, she tried to barricade the door of their hut. But the men overpowered her and burst in.
“They cut my daughter quickly,” she said, making hacking motions with her hands.
The men sawed off Vumilia’s legs above the knee and ran away with the stumps. Vumilia died.
I am quickly becoming a huge fan of The Pew Research Center. The center recently released a study regarding the number of jailed in the US. Basically, 1% of adult Americans are in jail. The interesting point is not that 2.3 million Americans are in jail, but how that compares to other countries and the demographic breakdown of jailed Americans. Some facts of note from the report:
USA: 750 prisoners per 100,000 people
South Africa: 341 prisoners per 100,000 people
Iran: 222 prisoners per 100,000 people
China: 119 prisoners per 100,000 people
I haven't done any additional research on why our imprisoned rates are so high. My initial guess would be that the "barriers to entry" (for lack of a better term) are probably pretty low. I'd imagine crimes like marijuana possession, drug trafficking, etc bloat our prison numbers.
More interesting facts about our imprisoned:
Last year states spent $49 billion on corrections
1 in 30 men between the ages of 20-34 are in prison
1 in 9 black men between the ages of 20-34 are in prison
Men are 13 times more likely to be incarcerated than women
An interesting "transcript" was released today alleging a conversation between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby:
The talk supposedly took place on Oct. 4, 1963, at the Carousel Club, a Dallas nightclub.
"You said the boys in Chicago want to get rid of the Attorney General?" Oswald asks.
"Yes, but it can't be done. ... It would get the Feds into everything," Ruby says.
"There is a way to get rid of him without killing him." Oswald responds. He eventually adds: "I can shoot his brother."
That's when Ruby tells Oswald that killing the president "wouldn't be patriotic."
Later, Oswald asks where the money for the hit is coming from, and Ruby
holds up his hand and says: "You've heard of the black hand, the black
hand of death?"
"The Mafia," Oswald says.
"Yes, the Mafia," Ruby responds.
Of course the veracity, as always, remains in doubt:
Although the documents have not been reviewed by experts, and he
wouldn't speculate on the veracity of the transcript, Watkins
acknowledged that its release "will open up a debate over whether or
not if there was a conspiracy to assassinate the president."
Warren Commission investigated Kennedy's assassination and concluded
that Oswald acted alone. It looked at a transcript similar to this one
as part of its investigation and ultimately decided it was not
Terri Moore, Watkin's top assistant, said she thinks the conversation is fiction.
"It's a fake. Criminals don't talk that way," Moore said.
Males that are born short have two and a half times the risk of
attempting a violent suicide when adults than average length babies, a
new study suggests.
And catch-up growth during childhood does not change this, say the researchers.
I think that last part is the most unnerving. It seems to indicate that whatever happens to the baby in the womb that leads to being born short, might be a cause of the behavior:
Mittendorfer-Rutz says the research shows that violent suicide attempts
were more strongly linked to the period in-utero than non-violent
The possible links are the usual suspects:
...maternal alcohol, drug abuse, or smoking during pregnancy that
can lead to fetal growth restriction or preterm birth and so increase
their child’s risk of suicidal behaviour and mental disorders later on,
Fascinating article on the Foreign Policy web site. The author does an amazing job of delineating why most suicide bombers are mild-mannered middle class folks. The interesting aspect is the psycho-social explanation of why it is uneasy for humans to act violently:
To grasp the point, we need to first dismiss the myth that it is easy
for someone to act violently. If someone has a sufficiently strong
grievance, the thinking goes, all the person needs to do is get hold of
a weapon and he or she will start killing people. Nothing could be
further from the truth. Sociologists in World War II found that only 15
to 25 percent of frontline soldiers were actually firing their guns.
Later training methods have raised the firing rate somewhat, but the
shooting is almost always very inaccurate. Firing a gun on a range is
quite different from shooting a person. My own research on milder forms
of violence, with fists and feet and clubs, shows that most angry
confrontations end in a standoff, where participants find an excuse to
Middle class folks, it seems can easily commit suicide bombings precisely because nobody expects them to be violent.