Daily Archives: July 22, 2008

Believe Me, It’s Torture: Politics & Power: Hitchens

I couldn’t not blog Believe Me, It’s Torture: Politics & Power:, even if I am not always a great fan of Christopher Hitchens — because this essay in which he describes being “waterboarded” surely must rank with George Orwell’s “A Hanging” as reportage we all need to be exposed to if we are not to lose our moral compasses completely.

Here is the most chilling way I can find of stating the matter. Until recently, “waterboarding” was something that Americans did to other Americans. It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave men and women were introduced to the sorts of barbarism that they might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions. But it was something that Americans were being trained to resist, not to inflict.

Exploring this narrow but deep distinction, on a gorgeous day last May I found myself deep in the hill country of western North Carolina, preparing to be surprised by a team of extremely hardened veterans who had confronted their country’s enemies in highly arduous terrain all over the world. They knew about everything from unarmed combat to enhanced interrogation and, in exchange for anonymity, were going to show me as nearly as possible what real waterboarding might be like…


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Posted by on July 22, 2008 in America, awful warnings, Best read of 2008, challenge, human rights, humanity, right wing politics, terrorism, USA


Death of Free Internet? And other cautionary tales on "free enterprise" and lying more generally…

Death of Free Internet is Imminent – Canada Will Become Test Case « Dandelion Salad is one of the posts that have hit the top at WordPress at the moment, and I can see why. Is it inevitable, or will the open source spirit that sustains projects like WordPress at the moment find work-arounds? I did appreciate this bit:

…The free transfer of information, uncensored, unlimited and untainted, still seems to be a dream when you think about it. Whatever field that is mentioned- education, commerce, government, news, entertainment, politics and countless other areas- have been radically affected by the introduction of the Internet. And mostly, it’s good news, except when poor judgements are made and people are taken advantage of. Scrutiny and oversight are needed, especially where children are involved.

However, when there are potential profits open to a corporation, the needs of society don’t count…

At present, the world condemns China because that country restricts certain websites. “They are undemocratic; they are removing people’s freedom; they don’t respect individual rights; they are censoring information,” are some of the comments we hear. But what Bell Canada and Telus have planned for Canadians is much worse than that. They are planning the death of the Internet (free) as we know it, and I expect they’ll be hardly a whimper from Canadians…

That should be “there’ll be” of course… And some may see more than a bit of the conspiracy theorist in the entry, but contemplate what it says nonetheless.

Another cautionary tale emerged over several months in the Sydney Morning Herald — as pointed out there today, and acknowledged by the ABC, but the amazing example of the ugly face of capitalism they had revealed was beautifully summarised on last night’s Four Corners:


Go and weep!

After which came an excellent Media Watch dealing with the media excess on World Youth Day — wonderful as that event proved to be beyond all the hype — and the reactionary excess of The Usual Suspects. The story on that follows:

mw21.7 wee aus editorial e

Again, do take the trouble to investigate.

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Posted by on July 22, 2008 in Australia, awful warnings, British, Canada, climate change, culture wars, current affairs, environment, globalisation/corporations, right wing politics, TV, weirdness, www


How Different My Life Would Have Been If… — Anthony Venn-Brown

Remember my account of the gathering at Pitt Street Uniting Church on the eve of World Youth Week? Now you can read  Anthony Venn-Brown’s talk, which he has just posted on his blog. You may recall I was very impressed at the time.

…It would take too long to explain, but without any real volition on my part, I had a spiritual experience. The God who I thought had rejected me and I’d said I would never have anything to do with for the rest of my life, became a part of my consciousness again. Something shifted dramatically inside me. I knew everything was okay and God was no more concerned about my sexual orientation any more than he was concerned that people have red hair or are left handed. All that really mattered was the way I lived my life. The most overwhelming sense of peace and resolution overwhelmed me. I didn’t hear any voices but somewhere in the deep inner recesses of my being something told me as clearly as this. “Tell your story, it will help many people. Just be completely honest, and don’t worry about a publisher, I’ll organise everything”.

And so here I stand before you today, a gay man of faith. A faith so strong it believes the Pentecostal world in Australia will change their position on homosexuality and welcome gays and lesbians into their churches. There is evidence this is already happening. I believe this change will happen because in my heart I know two things, 1. God will have his way with his church and 2. For the most part Pentecostal people are good people.

I stand before you as a man who is free because he stepped out of the dark closet of shame and guilt and brought his gay self into the light. A man who counts it a privilege to be something he never dreamed of, that is, being a gay ambassador, proudly representing his community in places where homosexuals fear to go. Who would have thought? Certainly not me!…


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