While presidential libraries are usually seen as a coup for any university, bringing with them prestige and tourists, the Bush library has provoked anger among academics and religious leaders.
A number of academics at SMU and elsewhere in the US believe the war on Iraq and the president’s views on issues such as gay rights and torture made the university an unsuitable location.
Alarm has also been expressed over the independent institute that will fund research promoting Bush’s ideas and vision. Academics have also said that an executive order, signed by Bush, which gives presidents and their families more control over presidential papers, could result in material being censored.
Benjamin Hufbauer, an associate professor of art history at the University of Louisville, said the agreement at SMU was “totally different” to that of other universities hosting presidential libraries, reports the Inside Higher Ed website.
“Academics everywhere should be concerned about this. Clearly this goes against the idea of dispassionate inquiry, of looking at things on the basis of fact and merit. If it’s ideological, that’s opposed to the mission of a university,” Hufbauer said.
The Rev William McElvaney, a professor emeritus of preaching and worship at SMU’s theology school, added: “As long as that executive order is in place, it’s really a censored library. What self-respecting university would accept a censored library?”
The religious thinktank Ekklesia said some Christians believed Bush’s views were against church teachings, and reported that those opposed to the library would continue their fight in court.
The Rev Andrew J Weaver, a united Methodist pastor and SMU alumnus who has led a petition against the library plan, said: “SMU has signed something that is totally out of bounds, and it’s only a matter of going to court with them. It will be David vs Goliath, but David won the first time.”
Announcing the decision on Friday to house the centre at SMU, which counts the first lady Laura Bush among its alumni, the university’s president, R Gerald Turner, said it was a “great honour to be chosen as the site of this tremendous resource for historical research, dialogue and public programmes”.
The library will contain documents and artefacts from the Bush administration, while the museum will house permanent and travelling exhibitions. Both will be operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.
The institute will be run by the George W Bush Presidential Library Foundation. It will have its own board and at least one seat will be allocated to the university. Joint programmes may be run between SMU and the institute.
In a letter to the university, Bush said: “I look forward to the day when both the general public and scholars come and explore the important and challenging issues our nation has faced during my presidency – from economic and homeland security to fighting terrorism and promoting freedom and democracy.”
It must be such an honour for the Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
With her back against the wall, Hillary Clinton has been accused of turning to the sort of smear tactics more commonly associated with Republicans, in an attempt to block her opponent Barack Obama from getting the Democratic nomination. Over the weekend her campaign allegedly circulated a photograph of Mr Obama wearing the turban and traditional dress of a Somali elder.
For the past year the Obama team has been fighting back against a whispering campaign that he is a dangerous Muslim. Mr Obama was born a Christian and attends a United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago. Whoever is responsible for the release of the photograph, ahead of votes in Texas and Ohio next week, it appears to be an attempt to use rumour and innuendo to derail Mr Obama’s buoyant campaign.
Mr Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said: “On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world.”
Mr Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, who worked on Bill Clinton’s National Security Policy staff, said the circulation of the photograph was divisive and suggested “that the customs and cultures of other parts of the world are worthy of ridicule or condemnation“.
The photograph was taken while the African-American candidate was on a five-country congressional visit to the continent in 2006. It would be innocuous enough if Mr Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, was not seeking to become the first black president of the US and if his middle name was not Hussein.
In recent days, Mrs Clinton’s attacks on Mr Obama have become more strident and shrill, as he has narrowed her lead in the polls. A Quinnipiac University poll out yesterday showed her leading in Ohio by an 11-point margin with 51 percent, whereas less two weeks ago she had held a 21-point lead.
“We’ve seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security. We can’t let that happen again,” she said yesterday at a foreign policy speech in Washington.
Religion. Intolerance. Racism. Genocide. Culture. Murder. Rape. War. Farce. Tragedy. America.
Outside the Kodak Theatre, the Euro-crowd (Dior, Versace, Armani) will go head to head with the American natives (Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta). Here, the burning questions of the night will be answered: which fashion titan will manage to persuade Nicole Kidman to step out in its crystal-studded gown? What kind of pimp-cum-scarecrow get-up will Johnny Depp wear (and yet still manage to pull off)? And, of the actresses, who will look the most radiant, whose excessive thinness will spark health fears and who will look a bit awkwardly taller than her stocky actor hubby?
America is a force for good. They hate us for our freedom. Democracy is on the march. Capture and kill the terrorists. City upon a hill.
The taunts of prisoners and the things his superiors required him to do to them had a severe psychological impact on Mr H. “He was called upon to bring detainees, enemy combatants, to certain places and to see that they were handcuffed in particularly painful and difficult positions, usually naked, in anticipation of their interrogation,” said Smith.
On occasion he was told to make prisoners kneel, naked and handcuffed, on sharp stones. To avoid interrogation the prisoners would often rub their wounds afterwards to make them worse so that they would be taken to hospital.
Some of the techniques used by interrogators resulted in detainees defecating, urinating, vomiting and screaming.
Mr H told Smith he felt profoundly guilty about his participation. “It was wrong what we did,” he said.
The prisoners also threatened Mr H. “They would tell him they had networks of people throughout the world,” said Smith. “If he did not take letters out and mail them then they would see to it that his family suffered the consequences.”
Another guard whom Smith treated described an incident in which a prisoner had hanged himself in his cell after partially knawing his own arm off. The prisoner lost a substantial amount of blood but was cut down by guards and survived.
Spare a thought for the real victims of America’s reign of terror.
Daughter is in bed. Nothing on the box. Catching up on the news and events of the day.
Chillin’ with Nick.
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
‘Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,’ concludes the Pentagon analysis. ‘Once again, warfare would define human life.’
The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
To be clear, the nuclear threats discussed will very likely be developed as a deterrent to American aggression. I have no doubt that in future the greatest threat to Europe, and the rest of the world, will come from the US, as they start waging wars to control food and water. We are, after all, talking about a country that would rather wage illegal wars of aggression, in order to control the energy resources of Middle Eastern countries, than address their dependency.
Once again American intelligence reveals itself to be flawed by applying it’s own cruel logic to the rest of the world.
I started thinking about Robin, Clive and Mike earlier tonight after a conversation. These guys have been firm favourites of mine since my teenage years. For more than 20 years (that’s right, I’m a really old phuquer).
This video I dedicate to ThePoliticalCat.
The British Government announced today that the United States recently provided information on rendition flights through Diego Garcia-a UK territory in the Indian Ocean-that contradicted earlier data from us.
Our government had told the British that there had been no rendition flights involving their soil or airspace since 9/11. That information, supplied in good faith, turned out to be wrong.
In fact, on two different occasions in 2002, an American plane with a detainee aboard stopped briefly in Diego Garcia for refuelling.
Neither of those individuals was ever part of CIA’s high-value terrorist interrogation program. One was ultimately transferred to Guantanamo, and the other was returned to his home country.
These were rendition operations, nothing more. There has been speculation in the press over the years that CIA had a holding facility on Diego Garcia. That is false. There have also been allegations that we transport detainees for the purpose of torture. That, too, is false.
Torture is against our laws and our values. And, given our mission, CIA could have no interest in a process destined to produce bad intelligence.
In late 2007, CIA itself took a fresh look at records on rendition flights. This time, the examination revealed the two stops in Diego Garcia.
The refuelling, conducted more than five years ago, lasted just a short time. But it happened. That we found this mistake ourselves, and that we brought it to the attention of the British Government, in no way changes or excuses the reality that we were in the wrong.
An important part of intelligence work, inherently urgent, complex, and uncertain, is to take responsibility for errors and to learn from them. In this case, the result of a flawed records search, we have done so.
The CIA employs Woody Allen to write statement on rendition. Turns out he’s got heartburn.
British soldiers executed up to 20 Iraqi detainees, say witnesses
British soldiers accused of executing civilians
‘I heard the terrible sound of someone being choked’
Claim UK troops ‘executed’ Iraqis
Mr Abdelreza’s statement said: “I believed people were being killed. I have never heard anything like that sound ever before in my life.
“It shocked me and filled me with such terror.”
The lawyers say the five witnesses are labourers from Majar al-Kabir with “absolutely nothing” to do with the insurgent Mehdi army, who engaged British troops at the Battle of Danny Boy.
Showing images of corpses from the battle, Mr Day said: “The nature of a number of the injuries of the Iraqis would seem to us to be highly unusual in a battlefield.
“For example, quite how so many of the Iraqis sustained single gunshots to the head and from seemingly at close quarter, how did two of them end with their eyes gouged out, how did one have his penis cut off [and] some have torture wounds?”
“There is the clearest evidence available of systematic abuse and systematic failings at the very highest levels of politicians, the civil service and the military,” said Mr Shiner.
Mr Day was previously involved in legal action launched against the MoD over allegations by more than 200 Masai women in Kenya that they were raped by British soldiers in the 1970s.
What a wonderful world.
It sips its coffee and reads of its soldiers administering the “water cure” to rebels; of how water with handfuls of salt thrown in to make it more efficacious, is forced down the throats of the patients until their bodies become distended to the point of bursting; of how our soldiers then jump on the distended bodies to force the water out quickly so that the “treatment” can begin all over again. The American Public takes another sip of its coffee and remarks, “How very unpleasant!”
“But where is that vast national outburst of astounded horror which an old-fashioned America would have predicted at the reading of such news?” the World asked. “Is it lost somewhere in the 8,000 miles that divide us from the scenes of these abominations? Is it led astray by the darker skins of the alien race among which these abominations are perpetrated? Or is it rotted away by that inevitable demoralization which the wrong-doing of a great nation must inflict on the consciences of the least of its citizens?”
Responding to the verdict in the Glenn court-martial, Judge Advocate General Davis had suggested that the question it implicitly posed—how much was global power worth in other people’s pain?—was one no moral nation could legitimately ask. As the investigation of the water cure ended and the memory of faraway torture faded, Americans answered it with their silence.
And they are still answering it with their silence.
Another US military serviceman has been detained over an alleged sexual assault on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa.
In the latest of a string of incidents involving US troops, the man is accused of raping a Filipino woman at a hotel.
The alleged rape happened before a 24-hour curfew was imposed on US troops, their families and civilians working for the military on Okinawa.
In the last few days another soldier was found drunk asleep on a sofa in a house he had broken into, while another was arrested for drink-driving.
The military will be hoping that in time Japan’s national media will lose interest in the story.
America busily winning hearts and minds, even if it must be burglary…
Heckuva job boys.
For decades sceptics have dismissed talk of the female G spot as a sort of gynaecological UFO – much searched for, much discussed, but unverified by objective means.
Now scientists believe they have finally obtained the first evidence of its existence – but only in some lucky women.
The G spot is said to confer the capacity for orgasms on its fortunate possessers. Many writers suggested it was a small hypersensitive area of the vagina about three quarters of the way up the anterior wall.
Italian researchers, who used ultrasound scans to explore inside the vaginas of 20 women, say they have found a thickened area of tissue in those who said they had experienced vaginal orgasms – but not in those who had not.
“For the first time it is possible to determine by a simple, rapid and inexpensive method if a woman has a G spot or not,” Emmanuele Jannini, from the University of L’Aquila, told New Scientist.
The finding is unlikely to settle the issue. Other researchers queued up to offer their interpretations of the results, suggesting the thickened tissue could be the internal part of the clitoris, or that those who had learnt to experience orgasms through practice had altered their anatomy.
Dr Jannini plans larger studies to help women decide whether to give up the hunt – or tell their partners to try harder.
From the Guardian, originally published on February the 2nd;
Remote-controlled explosives were strapped to two women with Down’s syndrome and detonated in coordinated attacks on two Friday morning markets in central Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 73 people and wounding nearly 150.
The chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brigadier General Qassim al-Moussawi, claimed the female bombers had Down’s syndrome and that the explosives were detonated by remote control, indicating they may not have been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped-up security measures.
The US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, said the bombings showed that al-Qaida has “found a different, deadly way” to try to destabilise Iraq.
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said the bombings in Iraq proved al-Qaida is “the most brutal and bankrupt of movements” and would strengthen Iraqi resolve to reject terrorism.
From the Guardian, originally published on February the 20th;
The U.S. military said Wednesday that two women used as suicide bombers in attacks earlier this month had undergone psychiatric treatment but there is no indication they had Down syndrome as Iraqi and U.S. officials initially had claimed.
Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, the chief Iraqi military commander in Baghdad, said soon after the attacks that photos of the women’s heads showed they had Down syndrome, but he did not offer any other proof.
A U.S. military spokesman for the Baghdad area, Lt. Col. Steve Stover, also said at the time that medical experts with his division had examined the photos and agreed the women probably suffered from the genetic disorder. “They were both females and they both looked like they had Down syndrome,” Stover said on Feb. 2.
A cell phone image of one of the heads viewed by The Associated Press was inconclusive.
There was speculation that the heads could have been distorted by the blast, leading police initially to believe they had Down syndrome.
On Wednesday, Smith backed away from the claim about Down syndrome while responding to a question concerning the psychiatric histories of the two bombers.
“Both had recently received psychiatric treatment for depression and/or schizophrenia. From what we know now there’s no indication that they had Down syndrome,” Smith said, citing records obtained by the military.
Smith also said one of the women was married but that neither had criminal backgrounds. He said it was not clear how they were linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, which the military has said was behind the bombing.
On the 2nd of February the Guardian published unsubstantiated claims as fact.
Mr Bush said the idea that he was currently visiting Africa looking for sites for US bases was “baloney”.
Mr Bush is on the second-to-last stop of a five-country Africa tour.
He said the new command, Africom, was to provide African states with military training and assistance so they could handle Africa’s problems better.
“It is a command structure that is aiming to help provide military assistance to African nations so African nations are more capable of dealing with Africa’s conflicts – like peacekeeping training,” he said.
Critics say Africom is designed to protect strategic American interests on the continent such as oil.
Africom is a benign command structure that will both ensure the security of strategic American interests, and teach American-style problem solving techniques to a continent that sorely needs them.
US marine held over Japan rape
US apology over ‘rape’ in Japan
Japan PM: Okinawa rape case ‘unforgivable’
Japan Focuses Anger on U.S. In Rape Arrest of a Marine
U.S. Marine arrested over rape in Japan’s Okinawa
U.S. Marine accused of girl’s rape
Curfew for US troops in Okinawa
US imposes rules on marines in Japan after alleged rape
The US military has imposed a curfew on its troops in Okinawa amid tensions over incidents involving service personnel, including an alleged rape.
Under the curfew, which began early on Wednesday, troops’ movements will be restricted to allow them a “period of reflection“, a military statement said.
Thousands of US troops are based in Okinawa, Japan’s southern-most island.
Many Okinawans dislike the US presence. The recent alleged rape of a teenager by a US marine has caused outrage.
In 1995 there were mass protests in Okinawa after US troops gang-raped a 12-year-old girl – an incident which raised concerns for the future of the US-Japan security alliance.
Last week, US Marine Staff Sgt Tyrone Hadnott was arrested for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl in his car. He admits forcibly kissing her but denies rape.
Over the weekend, two more US troops were arrested for drink-driving and trespassing – causing Japan’s top government spokesman to accuse the US military of a lack of discipline.
“I only have one thing to express and that is our true anger,” Nobutaka Machimura said. “We demand serious self-reflection.”
Serious self-reflection isn’t going to do it I’m afraid. I suggest compulsory chemical castration for Americans traveling abroad.
Better to be safe…
An Israeli MP has blamed parliament’s tolerance of gays for earthquakes that have rocked the Holy Land recently.
Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the tremors had been caused by lawmaking that gave “legitimacy to sodomy“.
Mr Benizri made his comments while addressing a committee of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, about the country’s readiness for earthquakes.
He called on lawmakers to stop “passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes“.
From the Urban Dictionary;
This word combines the sentiments of “homo” with a dash of “shlong”. It is reserved for those who are such shlomos that the two words that comprise it are not descriptive enough.
Amy: I bought my boyfriend some earrings from Claire’s because they were having a sale.
Alysia: You are such a shlomo.
Shlomo Benizri is such a shlomo.
My work is done,
My task is o’er, And so I come,
Taking it home,
For the crown is won,
Castro steps down as Cuban leader
Fidel Castro resigns as president
Bearded revolutionary who laughed in America’s face
Weird and wonderful: the facts about Fidel Castro
Castro resigns as Cuban president
Castro: his last battle
Although the Cold War is frozen in the past, the era […] is not a closed chapter. More people across the Latin American sub-continent are looking to the Cuban leader for inspiration than ever before, as popular – and especially young – opinion swings against the United States. But the world’s most instantly recognisable leader, who has left his iconographic mark on history, is about to enter the Pantheon of memory.
Huzzah! It seems that, in the case of Cuba, the application of sanctions and exercising of patience does work after all!
p.s. did I mention how much I love Jon Swift?
As a work of cultural criticism, The Terror Dream is comprehensively shocking. But didn’t the extreme disconnection between reporting and reality that it exposed present the author with a problem? If the country’s cultural narrative was driven more by fiction than fact, and failed to reflect the truth of post-9/11 America, why base a whole book upon such spurious material?
“Because we live in a culture that’s so . . . you can’t . . .” She casts a hand around the hotel bar helplessly. “I mean, this is sort of miraculous, to be sitting in a room where there’s not some massive flat-screen TV yelling at us. It’s almost a sci-fi feeling, this kind of constant bombardment of programmed thought.” Its effect is not as simple, she stresses, as “monkey see, monkey do”. “But it certainly has a warping effect on how we think about the world, and how we think about ourselves.” Journalism became not descriptive but prescriptive – “and that had an enormous effect on our political life, our policy, our nightmarish policy, our misbegotten military strategy”.
This echoes my (not very original) view of modern mass (largely American) media as prescriptive and ideologically committed; the news has evolved to be less the recounting (mirror) of events couched in narrative form, and more a tableau where the details are exaggerated at the behest of some dark aesthetic. Still a mirror, but now reflecting the prejudices of it’s creator rather than that which it claims to represent.
In one respect, she concedes, cultural criticism today is less relevant than it used to be. “The culture used to move relatively slowly, so you could take aim. Now it moves so fast, and is so fluffy and meaningless, you feel like an idiot even complaining about it.” But on the other hand, “I think a reason that a lot of people feel politically paralysed is that it used to be clear how power was organised. But those who have their hands on the levers of popular culture today have great power – and it isn’t even clear who they are.” They may be commercially accountable, in other words, but not democratically.
In my youth I would often contemplate the highly accelerated nature of mass media, and it’s effects on culture. It was it’s instantaneous nature that occupied me the most. A good analogy for me was how, in bygone days of yore, the passage of time was a function of the sunrise and sunset. These days we measure the same phenomenon (illumination) through the flick of a switch.
Analogous to this, the instantaneous nature of media and popular culture lends authenticity to the mediated as immediate, and as a consequence we are prone to mistake the mediated for the truth.
A new extreme sport is gripping America;
A Florida prison officer who dumped a paraplegic man out of his wheelchair in order to search him could be jailed after being charged with abuse of a disabled person.
Surveillance video footage showing the behaviour of Charlette Marshall-Jones, a sheriff’s deputy at the Hillsborough county detention centre in Tampa, caused national outrage when it was picked up by the news channels and posted on YouTube.
After repeatedly having asked Brian Sterner, 32, who has been paralysed from the waist down since a wrestling accident 13 years ago, to stand up to be searched, Deputy Marshall-Jones is shown tipping him on to the floor as if unloading a wheelbarrow. Other officers look on and one walks away smiling, as Mr Sterner is searched while still lying on the floor. Four officers, including Ms Marshall-Jones, have been suspended while the incident is investigated, and the deputy faces five years in jail if convicted of abuse. She was bailed at the weekend.
Mr Sterner, who drives a car fitted with hand pedals, had been arrested for a traffic offence. In a national television appearance, he said: “Hopefully, that’s what will come out of this, that this negative way of dealing with life and people will change.”
So far the first major event, broadcast primetime, has resulted in a 4 – 0 victory for the able-bodied. American wheelchair manufacturers are salivating as the demand for wheelchairs has skyrocketed in the last few days. Detractors are claiming that this new sport is little more than abuse, but their criticisms are being met with calls to “Shut the fuck up or we will kill you!”.
Thanks to David for the link.
The joys of M$ Vista speech recognition (from here).
ABC2 has obtained new video of Baltimore police officer Salvatore Rivieri in action at the Inner Harbor. This time he confronts Billy Friebele, an artist from Washington D.C., who was videotaping at the Harbor last summer.
Friebele told ABC2 he was taping the reactions of passersby to a box he was moving with a remote controlled car. Officer Rivieri is seen on tape kicking the box off of the car and then kicking the car. The officer then orders Friebele to leave the area.
Rivieri is the same officer caught on a youtube video wrestling a 14 year old skate boarder to the ground. A spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department declined to comment on this latest videotape. Officer Rivieri is suspended without pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation of the incident with the skate boarder.