Later On

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Archive for December 1st, 2015

As you sow, so also you shall reap – example: systematic program of torture

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Having a systematic program of torture always seems not to pan out in the long term. The Nazis, of course; Soviet Russia; Argentina; Brazil; and so on. And the U.S., as we now know: we know more or less what was done (despite the CIA’s diligence in destroying evidence: every single recording, video or audio, was destroyed—and the reason given, quite explicitly, was to protect the torturers. Certainly it was a help in facing legal punishment, but the blowback goes on: this is a long-term deal.

Murtaza Hussain reports in The Intercept:

Nearly a year after the release of the summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, a major human rights group is calling for the immediate prosecution of U.S. government officials responsible for authorizing and carrying out the abuses.

In a detailed report titled “No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture,” Human Rights Watch identifies a legal basis for prosecution of government officials and calls on the U.S. Attorney General’s office to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct criminal investigations into those responsible for post-9/11 torture. The report also calls for the release of the full text of the Senate report, which remains classified.

Among those the report calls on to be criminally investigated for their roles in authorizing torture are some of the leading figures of the George W. Bush administration, including former CIA Director George Tenet, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice — and Bush himself.

“Nobody should be above the law, and there needs to be credible criminal investigations against both those who authorized and carried out abuses against detainees that amounted to a conspiracy to commit torture,” Laura Pitter, senior national security counsel at Human Rights watch and co-author of the report, told The Intercept on Tuesday. Although the names of many of those who actually tortured detainees remain unknown to the public, they are not unknown to the CIA and Department of Justice, Pitter added. “There’s no reason for the public to be kept in the dark about the worst of these abuses and who committed them. We need to see prosecutions at all levels of the torture program, including those who actually carried out torture.”

The 153-page report recounts in oft-excruciating detail the types of abuses that detainees suffered while in CIA custody, including detainees with broken feet being “forced to stand and walk on their injured legs for days while being subjected to standing sleep deprivation,” sexual abuse including “rectal feeding,” and the frequent use of “water-dousing,” a form of torture described as “virtually indistinguishable” from waterboarding.

Such abuses, which the Senate report investigated, represented those that went beyond the forms of torture that had been “authorized” by Bush administration officials. But Pitter said the torture tactics that were expressly validated by Bush administration lawyers need to be criminally investigated as well.

“The Bush administration concocted spurious legal rationales for its torture policies, such as the claim that high-ranking officials could be excused from legal liability because of the ‘necessity’ of torture,” Pitter said. “These were later removed because they had no basis in the law, but not before they were used to justify acts that were clearly criminal despite being nominally ‘authorized.’”

Like the Senate report, No More Excuses limits itself to abuses related to the CIA detention program. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wide-ranging human rights abuses are alsodocumented to have been carried out by members of the military alongside civilian contractors, including unauthorized practices such as rape and murder. Despite this bracketing of focus, a decision Pitter said was taken for the sake of practicality, the report nonetheless shows how abuses first authorized for the CIA program ended up influencing detention practices in military facilities abroad, particularly through the efforts of former Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who served as a commander at Guantánamo and later went on to propose interrogation guidelines for use by forces in Iraq.

Citing political obstacles and a maxim of “looking forward, not backwards,” the Obama administration has not criminally prosecuted those responsible for torture and other human rights abuses during the Bush era. Despite this refusal, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 December 2015 at 12:20 pm

Chicken heart delight

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Used to, I would buy chicken hearts for 10¢/lb. This was when I lived in Cleveland. (Chicken wings were likewise 10¢/b.) I really like them, so when I saw Whole Foods had them (at $3.29/lb), I had to get some.

I put my large (10″) Griswold cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat, let it heat a while, and put into it:

around 1 Tbsp bacon fat
4 shallots, chopped (that’s how many I had)
1 bunch scallions, chopped (including all the green part)
1 Pasilla pepper, cored and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
good shaking of salt
several grindings black pepper
around 1/2 tsp dried thyme

I sautéed it for 6 minutes, then added:

1.5 lb chicken wings

I cooked it, stirring often, for around 9-10 minutes. At first they cook quite slowly since they’re cold from the fridge and absorb a lot of heat before they warm up. But then the cooking speeds up. You want a little browning to occur. Don’t stir too often: let it cook a while, then stir. You can tell when it needs no more cooking: the shallots and onions will start to caramelize. I use a wooden spatula.

It was very tasty, with quite a bit left over.

Written by Leisureguy

1 December 2015 at 12:12 pm

Ben Carson vs. Ben Carson, on the same day

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Kevin Drum puzzles over two statements Ben Carson made today. First, Carson leads off:

Carson last week visited Jordan to tour Syrian refugee camps in an effort to bolster his foreign affairs credentials, something he has been criticized for lacking. Carson called the camps “really quite nice” and suggested they should serve as a long-term solution. On TODAY, he called the Jordanians “very generous people” who have set up camps and hospitals “that work very well” but just lack to the resources to support the efforts.

Then Carson writes:

Many are now housed in refugee camps, such as the one I visited, the Azraq refugee camp. The Azraq camp is located in a bleak and deserted stretch of desert that was built to house Iraqis and Kuwaiti Gulf war refugees.

….Here is a picture of life in Azraq: The camp is a bleak expanse of row after row of white sheet metal shelters. There is no electricity or air conditioning or heat against the scalding desert summer temperatures or cold winds of winter. Lack of electricity adds further hardship, as people are forced to choose between having light to see their way to the bathroom at night (six shelters share one bathroom) and charging their cellphones, which connects them to family and the outside world.

I can’t help but believe there is something awry in Carson’s mind.

 

Written by Leisureguy

1 December 2015 at 9:54 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Law enforcement in the news: Recent links

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Radley Balko has some interesting links today:

  • Tennessee sheriff calls his county’s privatized probation system a “rat wheel” that exploits that poor. [Having private corporations take over state functions has some serious downsides: the state can simply provide a service, focusing on doing it weel, but a private corporation must strive to increase profit every year, usually done by cutting costs each year but in the case of private prisons working to pass legislation that requires mandatory minimums (more people spending more time in prison = more profit to the prison corporation) and life sentences for a third conviction (even if it’s stealing a pizza, for example). – LG]
  • Ohio cops respond to a suicide call (first mistake), visit the wrong house (second mistake), force entry (third mistake), then kill a family’s dog (fourth mistake).

 

Written by Leisureguy

1 December 2015 at 9:24 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

#101 and #102 head to head, with Meißner Tremonia Lavender

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SOTD 1 Dec 2015

A very nice shave indeed. I’ve not used the Omega 20102 for a while, and as I lathered I realized that I’ve missed it. The brush is now well broken in, and it lathers easily, feels good, and has great capacity. I loaded it with Lavender De Luxe from Meißner Tremonia, a fine soap with a very nice traditional lavender fragrance. Meißner soaps seem to be somewhat thirsty: to load the brush well, I had to add a few driblets of water in the course of loading. The end result was a brush full of wonderful lather.

The slant v. nonslant pairing today was, as you see, the first two iKon Shavecraft razors, the #101 on the right in the photo, wearing a Bulldog handle, and the #102 on the left, also wearing a Bulldog handle.

With a very good razor and a new blade and a normal beard like my own, the gain in cutting efficiency is not so noticeable as it would be if I had a thicker and tougher beard, but it was enough that I did notice the #102 shaved slightly easier, but in this case they were close. Still, shaving day in and day out, I find the #102 not only cuts more easily, but it is more apt to leave a perfect BBS finish. The #101 can produce a BBS result as well, but not quite so readily and easily as the #102. (Full disclosure: I used only the #102 on the ATG pass today.)

A good splash of Lavanda to finish the job, and the month begins with another wonderful shave: BBS with no nicks.

I’ve been working on a shaving gift list, and the focus is (inevitably) on products for the traditional wetshaver: a selection of razors, brushes, and soaps that would please a DE shaver. But (oddly) some men still shave with cartridge razors and canned foam, and a significant percentage of those don’t much like shaving. (For a while, if I were conversing with a clean-shaven man, I would ask, “I notice that you shave. How do you like shaving?” and invariably they would reply with the same sentence: “I hate it.”)

Most men who hate shaving and use cartridge razors and canned foam do not make the connection between the tools they use and their lack of enjoyment. They deal with it by focusing on spending as little time in shaving as they possibly can (because the experience is so unpleasant), much as they might gulp down a bitter medicine as quickly as possible—the opposite of how they would drink a fine wine. If the  experience is enjoyable, one wants to linger a while. You don’t slam down a fine dinner the way you eat a Big Mac. And because the experience of the cartridge shave offers no enjoyment, most men develop a blind spot in that regard (cf. Daniel Goleman’s Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception, a fascinating book on the mechanisms and purposes of blind spots).

So when you mention traditional wetshaving—DE safety razor and true lather—to the typical cartridge shaver, he will generally respond by asking how long the shave takes (his primary focus is to minimize shave time). When you tell him that after some practice it takes around 8-10 minutes, he says, “That’s too much time. I’m not interested.” The time it takes is the only thing he thinks about. The possibility that he might find enjoyment and pleasure doesn’t even occur to him because those are so remote from his shave experience.

So for men who shave with a cartridge razor and canned foam and hate every shave, a gift of a nice brush, safety razor, and shaving soap might be the wrong direction to go. I’m sure they will appreciate the thought, but many will place those on the special shelf for nice gifts (cf. the excellent Australian comedy The Castle) and never try using them because it would take 5 minutes longer.

I’m very aware of this type of guy because I was one. I wrote the Guide to make the case for giving traditional wetshaving with a DE razor a try and to help the reader pay attention to aspects of the shave other than how long it takes. The first part of the book points out other aspects of shaving, including the pleasure it can bring. And then, after arousing interest, I describe alternatives in equipment and provide instruction on prep and technique. But the first job is to refocus the reader’s attention from the time takes to the degree of pleasure it provides.

In that regard giving a man who hates shaving and has not really consider traditional wetshaving a gift of the Guide may work better than giving him a razor, brush, and soap. The common wisdom is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. The solution is to make him thirsty.

Written by Leisureguy

1 December 2015 at 9:05 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

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