Sunday, September 25, 2005

U.S. Military Prisoner Abuse Update

Two must-read posts at Crooked Timber, here and here. Henry has it right: "At this stage, anyone who’s sticking to the “few bad apples” story is delusional, lying or both." I'm literally shaking from an unholy combination of outrage, fear, disgust, and sadness.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

National Day of Action on Darfur

Today, September 21, 2005, has been designated by the Save Darfur Coalition as a National Day of Action on Darfur. There is a current recognized genocide several times the magnitude of Rwanda happening right now, and almost nothing is being done about it. When's the last time you read about Darfur in the news? Reports estimate the number dead at 400,000. Another 2.5 million have been driven from their home by violence. And the atrocities run much deeper than that. Rape of women and children is commonplace. Here is a picture drawn by a child, and his description of it (courtesy of Human Rights Watch): Mahmoud, Age 13 Human Rights Watch: What’s happening here? Mahmoud: These men in green are taking the women and the girls. Human Rights Watch: What are they doing? Mahmoud: They are forcing them to be wife. Human Rights Watch: What’s happening here? Mahmoud: The houses are on fire. Human Rights Watch: What’s happening here? Mahmoud: This is an Antonov. This is a helicopter. These here, at the bottom of the page, these are dead people. Lots more pictures at the link above. This is the most terrible thing happening on Earth, and the lack of a strong international response is appalling. The first step is to know what is happening.

Houston is in my thoughts

I was in town for Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. I hope that Rita isn't too bad. Many, many of my friends, many of whom read this blog, are in Houston, and in my thoughts today.

More from Texas

This story is pretty disgusting. (Registration required, unfortunately. If you like, use donjoe@aol.com and donjoe1, courtesy of bugmenot.) A prison inmate says he was raped every day for eighteen months, and that his requests for help were ignored. I don't get this part:
Attorneys for the prison officials said Johnson wanted to be placed in a "safekeeping" area for vulnerable inmates only because some of his love interests were there. They also said Johnson's letters were inconsistent, sometimes saying he needed help and other times saying he feared what could happen to him.
So wait, is needing help inconsistent with fearing what might happen? Weird journalism, here. At any rate, a sickening story. The inmate in question is gay. You'd better believe this is a gay rights issue, and that things would've been different if he hadn't been gay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Another quick link

Doctor to attempt face transplant

Google Wi-Fi

Apparently, Google is thinking about moving into wireless internet services. Interesting. How will it work? Where will it serve? Can they offer it with just ads? Or what will it cost? Google does interesting stuff. Let's keep watching this one.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Frontier

Posting has been very light because I've been very busy. But I have just enough time tonight to point out that a Massachusetts company wants to put human settlers on Mars in the next twenty years.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FOTF, PETA, and God

It's sort of funny to observe what positions groups that defend traditional family values end up finding important. I (sort of) get the opposition to gay marriage, I get the anti-pornography, anti-gambling, anti-divorce, maybe even anti-abortion. All of these things at least seem plausibly related to the stregnth of the family. But I have no idea why Focus on the Family feels the need to be anti-vegetarian. Does refraining from eating meat lead to the break-up of many American families? Here's the latest from their Citizenlink newsletter.
Animal Rights Group Twists Scripture from staff reports Spots on Christian radio may leave many thumbing through their Bibles. An ad campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) quotes Scripture to argue for vegetarianism. A female voice in the spot, which is airing on Christian radio, makes this case: "The Bible says that God knows when every sparrow falls. He knows the horrible conditions that cows, pigs and chickens are raised in." ... The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has released a study analyzing PETA's manipulation of Scripture and religious imagery. David Martosko, a spokesman for CCF, told Family News in Focus that PETA freely twists Scripture for its own means. "PETA is a group that has no respect for Christian teaching, but claims to speak for Christians," he said. "We think this is a very dangerous trend."
Is PETA doing anything anti-Biblical here? I mean, as far as I can tell, there might be room for intelligent debate as to whether, according to the Bible, God cares how we treat animals. But the PETA claim about what the Bible says is correct, and I think that it would be absurd for any Christian who takes the Bible seriously to deny that God "knows the horrible conditions that cows, pigs and chickens are raised in." Maybe someone could argue that actually, God doesn't care that his people put animals into such horrible conditions, but that would have to be established -- it's far from obvious, from any passage in the Bible that I know. (And frankly, I find it very difficult to imagine any benevolent being failing to care about such things.) I see no twisting of Scripture here whatsoever.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Better Stories from the Gulf

Here is the closest thing to a feel-good story about Katrina I've seen.
Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control. "I just took the bus and drove all the way here...seven hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus." The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there. "It's better than being in New Orleans," said fellow passenger Albert McClaud, "we want to be somewhere where we're safe."
Check out wonderful pictures here. A close second closest thing to a feel-good story is here.

Blame

Factcheck.org has a nice explanation of what's behind both sides of the dizzying argument about whether or how much blame for the New Orleans disaster can be placed on the Bush administration. The short version is, Bush did substantially cut funding for levee improvements and reinforcements, but the administration-allied Army Corps of Engineers says that the improvements wouldn't have made a difference, and it's basically impossible to tell whether they're right or not. The long version is here. Posting this link does not constitute an endorsement of this debate. Let's get things at least a little bit under control before we start worrying about whose short-sighted policies are to blame.

Road Trip Complete

Safe in Providence now, for anyone wondering. Lots of unpacking to do, and preparing to direct Iolanthe and take courses and teach my course on fiction.