Sunday, July 30, 2006

Camp 6: permanent GTMO

Brought to you by Halliburton. Seriously:
Camp 6, a state-of-the-art maximum-security jail built by a Halliburton subsidiary, will be able to hold 200 prisoners. Commander Robert Durand, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said the $30m, two-storey block was due to open at the end of September.
So who are these "worst of the worst" still languishing in GTMO? The Independent reminds us:
Of all the prisoners ever held at Guatanamo since it was established in January 2002, only 10 have been formally charged. An investigation earlier this year by New Jersey's Seton Hall University showed that, based on the military's own documents, 55 per cent of prisoners are not alleged to have committed any hostile acts against the US, and 40 per cent are not accused of affiliation with al-Qa'ida.
The same documents suggested only 8 per cent of prisoners are accused of fighting for a terrorist group, and that 86 per cent were captured by the Northern Alliance or Pakistani authorities "at a time when the US offered large bounties for the capture of suspected terrorists".
And what about "Guantanamo North," up in Kingston? Well, it's housing the remaining three men held under so-called Security Certificates. You might recall that those men went on hunger-strike for a month after transferring from Toronto West Det. Centre. Aside from severe curtailments of their access to family etc., mini-GTMO is basically an overheated high-school portable:
There is no air conditioning in the portable trailers that comprise the $3.2-million, high-security six-cell complex, according to an affidavit, which pushes temperatures to between 30 C and 32 C on days where the mercury outside is not nearly that high.
''This was entirely foreseeable, putting a trailer in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of summer,'' lawyer John Norris told the court.
''The men were transferred to a detention centre that was ready in some respects the fences were up and the locks were on the doors. But there have been a number of growing pains, to put it mildly.''
Jaballah and his two fellow inmates also being held on security certificates Syrian Hassan Almrei and Egyptian Mohamed Mahjoub recently ended a month-long hunger strike over their conditions of detention.
Jaballah complained that since moving to Kingston he has been restricted to one hour per day speaking with his family by phone.
Each time he makes a phone call, the affidavit says Jaballah has to fill out a form that goes up a chain of command. This can take up to three hours.
Then, unlike the Toronto jail where he could dial pre-approved numbers on his own, a guard has to come and put the call through for him.
Jaballah said he's been thwarted from accessing the media. His newspapers are never delivered and he's not allowed to contact journalists directly.

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Amanpour smacks-down Blitzer

Christiane Amanpour, one of my favourite journalists (she kicks the living daylights out of her American colleagues) has done it again. She speaks the truth! Blitzer had just finished announcing Kofi Annan's reaction to the killing of the 4 UN observers. It was clear from his tone that Blitzer thought Annan was overreacting and somehow prejudging. Well, Christiane Amanpour had just left the Israel/Lebanon border and had occasion to actually observe Israeli attacks near the UN base. Here's Amanpour giving some much needed context to AIPAC-lobby-friend-Blitzer:
BLITZER: Let's bring in Christiane Amanpour. She's back here in Jerusalem with me. Just came back from the border. You were close to Khiyam, this location where the United Nations observer force was based that was targeted. In the original statement put out by UNIFIL, they claimed what?
AMANPOUR: That it was aerial bombs that hit a patrol base. And they also said that UNIFIL had reported 14 incidents of close firing to that base throughout this afternoon. And we certainly remember that last night when we were at the border there -- and it's just across from Matula (ph), where the CNN position is. We reported last night a massive increase in the amount of air power and of artillery power. So, you know, this is happening in an area where there was a huge amount of activity.
And I think, you know, when you read the secretary-general's very strong statement, number one, there's --
four people are dead, so this is deplorable for U.N. observers. When he says, "apparently deliberately targeting," he then goes on to say the General Alam Pelligrini (ph), who is his force commander there, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers through the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to be careful about that position. And, I mean, you know, these things when we talk to the military up there, the Israeli military, they tell us over and over again that they're doing their best to avoid civilian or other untouchable targets and they say that in war, there is misidentification of targets and misidentifying the enemy and mistakes. I mean, they're open about it.
And, you know, I was talking to former Israeli minister Yossi Sarid, who, as you know, was one of the founders of the Peace Camp. He was a former minister. And he says -- and like many hear in Israel say -- that they, obviously, support the strong response to the killing of their two soldiers. But he said to us the
United States should be aware that it should really try to help Israel by restraining it because Israel, in his words, doesn't know when to stop. So this is an issue that is concerning people here.

[Blitzer quickly corrects Amanpour's use of the word "killing" when she meant to say "kidnapping"]
BLITZER: The kidnapping, Yossi Sarid being a very doveish politician here in Israel.
AMANPOUR: And the killing of the others.
Amanpour has done two important things here: she points out that (a) Annan had every reason to suspect that the bombing of a UN site was deliberate, and (b) that not every Israeli thinks this massive killing of Lebanese is somehow good for peace or good for Israel. You and I might take that for granted but it's an attitude that many don't hear much about in North America. Anyway, here's where the Blitzer/Amanpour thing gets really good:
BLITZER: You know, Kofi Annan is the top diplomat of the United Nations, the secretary-general. Normally, diplomats when they have these kinds of incidents, they respond with diplomacy. They are -- diplomatically, it has to be investigated. For him to make this serious accusation, as smart as he is, knowing the ramifications of what he was saying, you have to presume he has got other information beyond what's in the statement.
AMANPOUR: And he's called for an investigation and you know he has called for a cease-fire in all these past days since this has exploded.
But he's come up with a conclusion before the investigation.
AMANPOUR: He says apparently.
BLITZER: Yes, well, that's serious ...
AMANPOUR: He's calling for an investigation.
BLITZER: But that's a pretty serious accusation. It's a ...
Four of his people are dead.
Yes, Wolf. Four of his people are dead. God, I hope someone posts a clip of this because you have to have seen Amanpour's face when she said this. I'm totally in love with this woman.

To borrow from Dr. Strangelove..."Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


kak·is·toc·ra·cy: "Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens."

It had to be the 10th or 15th time I'd heard the song "Intimate Secretary" on my mp3 player when it struck me: "naaaah...couldn't be...who would use that word in a song?!"

Jack White, that's who. Actually, to be fair, it's "The Raconteurs." And they're awesome. Go listen!
Is this greeting the type that's meant for me?
Are you part of this kakistocracy?

This ringing in my ears won't stop
I've got a red Japanese tea-pot
I've got a pen but I lost the top
I've got so many things you haven't got...

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Terrorists and Rational Actors: Wacky Wednesday edition

Former CIA and State Dept. spook Larry C. Johnson speaks the truth:
Olmert has somehow persuaded the Israeli military to ignore strategy, think tactically, and in the process become really stupid. The events in the next several weeks will expose as myth the canard that you can secure a nation by killing terrorists. No you can't.

[...] Hamas and Hezbollah attacked military targets; kidnapping soldiers on military patrols may be an act of war and a provocation, but it is not terrorism. (And yes, Hezbollah and Hamas have carried out terrorist attacks in the past against Israeli civilians. I'm not ignoring those acts, I condemn them, but we need to understand what the dynamics are right now.) Israel is not attacking the individuals who hit their soldiers. Israel is engaged in mass punishment.
How did Israel respond? They bombed civilian targets and civilian infrastructure and have killed many civilians. Let's see if I have this right.
The Arab "terrorists" attack military units, destroy at least one tank, and are therefore terrorists. Israel retaliates by launching aerial, naval, and artillery bombardments of civilian areas and they are engaging in self-defense.

[...]Iran, meanwhile, is sitting in the catbird's seat. They have a well-trained and highly competent surrogate force in Hezbollah. Hezbollah's successful attack on Friday on an Israeli naval vessel is a reminder that Hezbollah is not a bunch of crazy kids carrying RPGs and wearing flip flops. I would be willing to wager that at least one Iranian military advisor was helping Hezbollah launch the missile that hit the Israeli ship. But Iran is doing more than simply engage in tit-for-tat. They are thinking strategically.
The events unfolding in Iraq and Lebanon are going Tehran's way. The United States is being portrayed in the world media as a government that tolerates and excuses attacks on civilian populations. The perception becomes the reality ...
Boy howdy. Go read the rest from Larry. And make sure you visit Prof. Juan Cole every day, too.

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Lobby

Glenn Frankel takes on the role of AIPAC in today's WaPo: "A Beautiful Friendship?" Here's a taste...
On Capitol Hill the Israel lobby commands large majorities in both the House and Senate. Polls show strong public support for Israel -- a connection that has grown even deeper after the September 11 attacks. The popular equation goes like this: Israelis equal good guys, Arabs equal terrorists. Working the Hill these days, says Josh Block, spokesman for the premier Israeli lobbying group known as AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, "is like pushing at an open door."
Not everyone believes this is a good thing. In March two distinguished political scientists -- Stephen Walt from Harvard and John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago -- published a 42-page, heavily footnoted essay arguing that the Bush administration's support for Israel and its related effort to spread democracy throughout the Middle East have "inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized U.S. security."
The professors claim that our intimate partnership with Israel is both dangerous and unprecedented. "Other special interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest," they argue. They go on to say that the war in Iraq "was due in large part to the Lobby's influence," and that the same combine is "using all of the strategies in its playbook" to pressure the administration into being aggressive and belligerent with Iran. The bottom line: "Israel's enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding and paying."
A sweet deal for Israel, in other words, but a very bad one for America.
Here's something that made my eyes bug-out just a bit...
[former AIPAC lobbyist Morris Amitay] had a couple of things going for him: his own experience and relationships on the Hill; a small but hard-working staff, which at one time included CNN's Wolf Blitzer; and Kenneth Wollack, president of the National Democratic Institute.
And what ever happened to that AIPAC/Iran espionage case?
AIPAC in recent years has parted with some of the staff members who gave it a harder edge, foremost among them Steve Rosen, its former director of foreign policy issues. Rosen and a fellow staff member, Keith Weissman, were fired last year after they were indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act for allegedly receiving classified information about administration strategy on Iran from Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon's Iran desk officer. Their trial is scheduled for later this summer.
Lawyers for Rosen and Weissman contend their clients did only what journalists and analysts do every day in Washington -- gather information. Maybe so, but what's really intriguing for our purposes is how this little scandal came about. It wasn't Rosen and Weissman pursuing Franklin; it was Franklin seeking them out to make an end run around his superiors, who didn't share Franklin's view that the White House should crack down harder on Iran's developing nuclear program. Franklin believed enlisting AIPAC's help was the best way to ensure that his message got delivered to the White House.
Read the rest here and then CC Harper/Day. Glenn Frankel (the author of the piece) will be available for Q&A on Monday.

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Boltonite may lose plea-deal in espionage case (his best friend's a talking pie!)

As I wrote last December, John Bolton's Asia "hand" Donald Keyser was accused of spying for the Taiwanese government. Keyser worked in the State Dept. with Bolton on Asian "issues." Keep in mind, Bolton himself once lobbied on behalf of the govt. of Taiwan...without declaring his status as a foreign lobbyist (oopsie!). Jeez, I wonder whatever happened to that Bolton guy?

So here we go: it's no secret that Bolton & Boltonites (including Keyser) have a strong "pro-independence" streak viz. Taiwan. No surprises there. Here's where it gets weird...

Remember when former Chinese president Jiang Zemin came to visit Bush in 2002? Me neither, really, but it kinda rings a bell. Well, it turns out that Taiwan was paying much closer attention than me. And by "paying close attention" I mean they sent an honest-to-god spy over for the occasion. That spy? Donald Keyser. Keyser sent frequent email communiques about the Zemin visit to a spy in Taiwan, Isabelle Cheng. Now here's where it gets really weird! []
At some point, prosecutors say, the spy became his lover, and Keyser was caught lying to hide the affair — and hoarding classified documents in his suburban Washington home. Facing jail and with his marriage threatened, Keyser cut a deal, promising to tell all he knew about Taiwan's intelligence operations. But then the tale of the diplomat, his spook paramour and his wife — also a spy — got even weirder.
In return for Keyser's cooperation, prosecutors had accepted his denial of spying for Taiwan and let him plead guilty to three lesser felonies, preserving his pension. But in their filing earlier this month to throw out his plea, they allege Keyser repeatedly lied about his contacts with Taiwanese intelligence. Prosecutors want to enter new evidence to support "espionage-related" charges.
Bonus track: Keyser's wife Margaret Lyons is a "senior CIA official" on-loan to John Negroponte's Directorate of National Intelligence:
The prosecutors' filing says Lyons had known for about a year that Keyser had improperly kept classified documents at home. Worse, current and former U.S. government officials tell TIME, an FBI search of the couple's home found cia documents that Lyons had there without authorization. In a Feb. 22 letter to the judge in Keyser's case, Lyons — who hasn't been charged — admitted she and Keyser had failed "to properly secure" her husband's secret material.
For more (ahem!) salacious details re: the Cheng/Keyser affair, you might want to check out the New York Sun. Then again, if a 62 y/o State dept official jumping a 30-something spy in a car "puts you off your tea" then you might wannu avoid reading any further. Blech...

Anyway, this is easily one of the most confusing stories I've read about in a while. I think it's worth paying attention to, even if it's bespoiled by cheesy headlines like this one at "A Steamy Spy Scandal at the State Department: A tale of the diplomat, his spy paramour, and his wife — also a spy — keeps getting weirder"

Good grief. That reminds me of Homer Simpson's big screenplay pitch: "It's about a killer robot driving instructor who travels back in time for some reason."

His best friend's a talking pie! (H/t on Taiwangate to

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Doctors and Torture

Dr. Steven Miles is hopping mad. And with good reason...

Like most of humanity, Miles was shocked by the outrageous pictures from Abu Ghraib. But he also asked himself this basic question: "Where were the prison doctors, nurses and medics while this abuse was happening?"

Miles went on to review page after page of testimony and came to the following conclusion:
Many armed forces physicians, nurses and medics have been passive and active partners in the systematic neglect and abuse of prisoners. At facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the United States often failed to provide prisoners with minimally adequate medical and health systems. Some physicians and psychologists provided information that was used to determine the harshness of physically and psychologically abusive interrogations, which were then monitored by health professionals. Some doctors responsible for the medical records of detainees omitted evidence of abuse from their official reports. Medical personnel who knew of this system of neglect, abuse and torture remained silent.
Steven Miles is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He is also faculty at U Minn's Center for Bioethics. I first heard Dr. Miles on Democracy Now (June 30th), when he spoke to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez about his findings. Miles has compiled his research on doctors and torture into "Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror." Here is a quick excerpt from that interview:
DR. STEVEN MILES: Well, one of the most famous pictures from Abu Ghraib, of course, is the body of Monadel Jamadi wrapped in ice. He was arrested at his home and put up a fight. He was then bound. He was flipped into a Humvee. He was kicked and beaten and hit with a rifle butt while he was transported to Camp Jenny Pozzi, just outside of Baghdad. There, a medic was in the room, as he was saying, “I can't breathe. I feel like I'm going to die.” He was interrogated briefly at Camp Jenny Pozzi. At that point, he was taken to Abu Ghraib.
He was admitted to Abu Ghraib in the early hours of the morning. He was admitted as a CIA ghost prisoner. Now, what this meant was that he was not given the customary medical enrollment. In fact, he wasn’t registered in the prison at all.
He was naked. He was cold. He was complaining of shortness of breath. His head was in a sandbag, and then he was tied to -- his wrists were tied together behind his back and then lifted up and tied to a window bar behind him, so that if he sank down, that his shoulders would be wrenched. And, in fact, about an hour later, he did sink down. Now, keep in mind the man was in a sandbag over his head, and he was found to have died.
Now, at that point the army did an autopsy, but the autopsy was concealed, as was the death certificate. It did find that he died of torture. And, in fact, the first time we learned of this case was about six months after it happened. By concealing this, what the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and the Defense Department did was, they delayed public knowledge of a profound problem inside the prisons and essentially disabled an early warning system about torture.
Miles also explained how doctors used forced-feeding (something I find absolutely horrifying):
DR. STEVEN MILES: Well, hunger-striking is a form of political protest by prisoners. It’s against medical ethics for prison physicians to force-feed prisoners, because what it’s felt that it does is that by keeping a prisoner alive, it basically extends the abuse of the prisoner, okay? And that's exactly what’s happening in Guantanamo. These prisoners have no rights, they have no correspondence, anything like that, and so by feeding them, all that’s being done is their indeterminate sentences, their lack of correspondence, and the other types of interrogational abuse are being extended. And so the military is tying them into six-point chairs -- legs, thorax, abdomen and arms -- and then sticking a tube down them, running a bunch of food in, pulling the tube out, and because docs object to this professionally, they're selecting a subset of docs to take down to Guantanamo to do this procedure.
This past Sunday, Dr. Miles published another account in the Washington Post ("Outlook" section, p. B01). This is truly shocking:
In November 2003, an Iraqi guard smuggled a pistol into the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib and gave it to a prisoner, Ameen Saeed al-Sheik. Tipped off, military police quickly began a cell-to-cell search. When they reached his cell, Sheik went for the hidden pistol; gunfire was exchanged and a sergeant was hit. According to sworn testimony, the soldiers wrestled the prisoner to the floor and sent him to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder and shotgun wounds to his legs.
When Sheik returned to prison, he was beaten with a baton and his arms were handcuffed over his head, putting stress on his injured shoulder and leg. On a cold night, a medic, Sgt. Theresa Adams, saw Sheik naked and bleeding from a catheter that should have been connected to a bag to prevent infection. According to a sworn statement, the physician on call (who held the rank of colonel) agreed that the hospital had erred in leaving the catheter open but refused to remove it or to transfer Sheik to a hospital. When Adams asked him whether he had ever heard of the Geneva Conventions, the physician answered, "Fine, Sergeant, you do what you have to do; I am going back to bed."
In all, Dr. Miles found 120-150 such incidents involving medical personnel. Perhaps most troubling of all, Miles found that clinicians and scientists were used to design some of the torture techniques used at GTMO etc.*:
According to the 2004 report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba on abuse at Abu Ghraib, medical personnel vetted prisoners for interrogations that were designed in accordance with the medical findings to include stress positions, sleep deprivation, isolation and dietary manipulation.
This process required the use of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs or "biscuits"), which helped design interrogation plans to exploit prisoners' psychological and physical vulnerabilities. The BSCTs used clinical information to clear prisoners for harsh interrogation plans; they also used medical information to develop a plan to break a prisoner's resistance to questioning. Clinicians at Guantanamo Bay met with BSCT personnel to offer insight on prisoners' weaknesses, according to the report by Maj. Gen Geoffrey D. Miller, who took command of the Abu Ghraib prison after the abuse scandal broke out.
At times, behavioral clinicians reportedly micromanaged some interrogations; one Guantanamo Bay psychiatrist even suggested rationing toilet paper to seven sheets per day and limiting water for bathing. Similarly, a military intelligence specialist in Iraq applied her background in psychology to design approaches to "interrogate those who could not be broken." She approved coercive interrogation plans involving sleep deprivation but vainly protested the use of dogs or nudity. She eventually asked to be relieved of interrogation duties.
If you missed it, you can read a transcript of a WaPo Q&A with Dr. Miles here. This is something to watch, mes amis. If nothing else, it tells us that doctors aren't socialized in a vacuum. They can be every bit as sick as our society.

*FOOTNOTE: These so-called "BSCT" teams were first brought to my attn. by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, last July. Amy Goodman discussed this with the head of the Am. Psychological Asscn. last month; the APA refuse to bar their membership from participation in military interrogation.

Read on, MacDuff!

A tragicomic history of violence

Did you catch Jim Reed's "Viewpoint" on Go! Go now!

Hint: it begins with this quote from Col. Larry Wilkerson (Colin Powell's former chief of staff):
We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, that's how serious we thought about it.
Ok, ok...hint #2: Reed discusses British historian-cum-comic Robert Newman's "act". He provides a link to the video too (must watch!). Par example:
In a devastatingly funny, but tragi-comic impersonation of the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, Newman has Tony Blair saying that, "…if there were any other way…at all…of uniting the forces…of secular Arab nationalism…with those of militant Islam…then you know…I'd like to hear it…."

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cuba, Si! A message from Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick on US/Cuba relations

This is a special post from a doctor working at The University of South Florida. Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick has a long history of working against his country's unfair travel ban and trade embargo viz Cuba. In 1996, Kirkpatrick published an article in the high-impact Lancet, "Role of the USA in shortage of food and medicines to Cuba" (The Lancet, November 30, 1996; Vol. 398, No. 9040, pp. 1489-1491). Since this is a subscription-only publication and I can't share it with you in full, I've posted a screenshot of the article's abstract below:

On September 19, 2000, Dr. Kirkpatrick was invited by Rep. Charlie Rengel to testify before the U.S. International Trade Commission (House Ways and Means Cmte.). Kirkpatrick testified that the embargo has resulted in the deaths of Cuban citizens--and that the U.S. State Dept. has actively covered this up. You can view a 15 min clip of his testimony here.

Why is this important right now? Last month, Jeb Bush signed a new bill into Florida law that would effectively ban State Universities and Colleges from using funds to travel or do research at "terrorist states"...including Cuba. If this law had been in effect in 1996, Dr. Kirkpatrick could not have traveled to Cuba to conduct his research on the health-consequences of the trade embargo and there would be no publication in The Lancet. Needless to say, he is quite concerned and has established a website--a non-State-University website, mind (wouldn't want to be caught "lobbying" don't you know!).

I have received a request to post the following message. I am more than happy to do so [links added by me, where appropriate]:

A New Law Limiting International Travel and Academic Research is impacting Florida universities and colleges.

According to the Government of Florida, the following bill was passed June, 2006:
Travel To Terrorist States: prohibits use of funds from Community College Program Fund, or funds made available to community colleges from outside fund, to implement, organize, direct, coordinate, or administer activities related to or involving travel to terrorist state; prohibits use of state or non-state funds made available to state universities to implement, organize, or direct activities related to or involving travel to terrorist state, etc. Amends 1011.81,.90, 112.061. Effective Date: 07/01/2006 Last Event: 05/30/06 Approved by Governor; Chapter No. 2006-54 on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 4:27 PM
Section 2. Subsection (6) is added to section 1011.90, Florida Statutes, to read: State University funding.--'None of the state or non-State funds made available to State universities may be used to implement, organize, direct, coordinate, or administer, or to support the implementation, organization, direction, coordination, or administration of, activities related to or involving travel to a terrorist State. For purposes of this section, "terrorist state" is defined as any state, country, or nation designated by the United States Department of State as a state sponsor of terrorism.'
{Here is the entire text of the bill}

Dr. Anthony F. Kirkpatrick of the University of South Florida (USF)'s College of Medicine has indicated his "deep concern about the ban on travel to Cuba [one of the states listed as terrorist]. My publications in science journals about the impact of the embargo on the health of the Cuban people, testimonies before Congress, medical flights to Cuba . . . all required travel to Cuba." He also mentioned, "We have a unique opportunity to beat this and send a message to Tallahassee that they cannot be curtailing academic freedom in their attempt to run foreign policy from the capitol." He and two other academic physicians have documented the impact of the medical blockade [on their website]
"None of these public disclosures about the government's conduct on a major public health issue would have possible without travel to Cuba," he added.

According to the USF Vice Provost, "The State University System (led by the Chancellor) has well articulated its opposition to this bill:

'We need you to voice your concern regarding HB 1171 and SB 2434, which will prohibit faculty travel to terrorist states. This bill is an attack on academic freedom. While it may be well-intended, it can be a first step toward reducing the academic freedom that is so critical to research and classroom creativity. As well, it will send a message to scholars both nationally and internationally that Florida is not serious about free inquiry. Finally, closing down access would greatly undermine Florida's academic efforts to gather that much needed information. We believe that there are better ways to address the underlying concerns of this bill.'

He added the following points:
  • An attack on academic freedom - restricts research and classroom creativity
  • Sends a message to scholars nationally and internationally that Florida is not serious about free inquiry
  • We need more rather than less information on states that are hostile to the U.S. -for national security, economic health, social/cultural/political understanding.
  • Finally, as a scholar who is deeply committed to the principle of academic freedom and who continues to conduct work in the area of globalization, I am very much concerned at the likely negative impact of the passage of [this bill] SB 2434 on (a) the freedom of faculty and students to pursue their chosen scholarly endeavors at Florida's public universities, (b) the ability of SUS institutions to attract and retain world class scholars, (c) our contribution to enhanced global understanding, and (d) any strides we might make toward achieving improved global security and, ultimately, world peace."
Subsequently, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU) filed a lawsuit June 13, 2006 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, challenging the constitutionality of the recently signed law. There are a number of plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Feelin' kinda Patton :)

The following was inspired by a poster spotted by Patton Oswalt that read: "Caring is thinking with your heart"

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]
Here are some other interesting facts about emotions and feelings:

Jealousy is hating with your asshole.
...Terror is getting an erection with your liver.
...Patriotism is making cupcakes with your nutsack (yes, this also applies to you, ladies).
...Happiness is your brain masturbating about how good your hair looks.
Read the rest over at Patton's blog, "Spew." Then go check oot his CDs, DVDs etc :)

"Bend over, Abigail May - here comes the gravy pipe!" [from "Feelin Kinda Patton," Track 19]

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A very special Canada Day :)

Congratulations on your marriage, Jason & David! I hear that it was a beautiful ceremony and I couldn't be prouder to know that it happened in Canada. [photo courtesy of]

Jason Tree and David Connors are RCMP Constables. They tied the knot today--replete in their red serge uniforms--in a very private ceremony in Yarmouth, NS. One of their guests, Ken Spragg, had this to say about the marriage:
This is long overdue. I got to see them take the vows that other people have taken for granted for so long and so many don’t understand what it means to have that opportunity...The fact that they can do now what everyone else can do is really gratifying. It’s great to see...This is one more step to being treated like everybody else.
Well said, Mr. Spragg. And Congratulations to everyone who fought for equal marriage. We can't forget how truly special this is. If you know someone who needs reminding, direct them to last week's "Fearless in Canada" TorStar piece by David Graham:
As Toronto Pride Week reaches its culmination with today's Pride Parade, one could easily forget that in many parts of the world, it is extremely dangerous to be gay.
In some cases, it's not just the state that harasses and sometimes executes homosexuals, but the intolerant citizenry as well. So, for some foreign-born celebrants and their loved ones, Pride Week's theme of "fearless in 2006" strikes a particularly resonant chord.
Because it arguably sets the gold standard for gay rights around the world, Canada is the new home of choice for many homosexuals fleeing repressive countries. Only a few other nations (Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain) can match our record of legalizing gay marriage and adoptions by gay and lesbian couples, or our strong anti-discrimination laws.
"I think Canada is a beacon of hope for a lot of refugee claimants," says immigration lawyer and gay community activist Michael Battista, who has represented many gays and lesbians seeking refugee status.
"We are known internationally for having one of the fairest refugee determination systems, where a person can actually go face to face with a decision maker and try to persuade that decision maker on the basis of their claim. Where (lesbian, gay, bi and transgendered) asylum seekers are concerned, Canada does have a remarkable reputation.
"I've asked many claimants why they chose Canada, and they tell me, `I first started thinking about it when I heard about the marriage case. I thought this is a country that will respect who I am.'"
Happy Canada Day!!

{ Mountie Moose courtesy of Wendy at }

Read on, MacDuff!