Posts from May 7, 2004

Middleground

Middleground
: David Weinberger tries to find a middleground and I think he succeeds:

I am willing to admit that there are circumstances in which torture is permissible, just as I think sometimes we have to kill people. And I’m willing to admit that what we apparently put the Abu Ghraib prisoners through wasn’t nearly as bad as the torture that’s routine in many other countries.

Is the right willing to admit that: Torture should only be used in the direst of circumstances? Torture should never be a cause for the exulting shown in the photos? The people responsible for allowing the wholesale torture at Abu Ghraib need to be punished severely, quickly and publicly not only for the sake of justice but to try to limit some of the damage the practice has done to our war on terror?

Can we get even to that common ground? Can we as a nation say that we abhor torture, except in the rarest of cases? That we do not believe in the institutionalizing of torture? That we will fight it around the world? That we believe in the rule of law and that no one is above the law? That we believe in treating even our enemies with dignity? That we support the established international conventions for treating prisoners? That we are sorry about what went on at Abu Ghraib?

In a word: Yes.

Marketing genius

Marketing genius
: Seth Godin’s new book, Free Prize Inside, comes inside brilliant packaging: A cereal box with wowy-zowy graphics. They work. My 7-year-old couldn’t wait to open it. She was rather disappointed to find only a book inside.

Yawn

Yawn
: Another dinosaur columnist thinks he’s cute dismissing blogs. This one is notably insipid.

Cover the convention

Cover the convention
: NZ Bear reports that the Democrats are welcoming bloggers to cover the convention (which will help liven things up). Republicans?

Confab

Confab
: Britt Blaser and Doc Searls just sent along word of a New York conference on (liberal) politics and online at the New School. The las time I went there, I couldn’t get wi-fi or even cell coverage to blog. Hoping somebody can fix it for a session about blogs and such. I’m planning to sign up.

Air Titanic

Air Titanic
: The chairman and vice-chairman of Air America leave, following the CEO and programming head last week and there are reports they can’t make their payroll.

This is looking as well-planned as the rebuilding of Iraq.

Ombadsman

Ombadsman

: Tom Mangan has a reverse-psychology marketing idea for newspapers: Hire a blogger to snark about your paper every day and get it talked about.

Citizens’ media from Iraq

Citizens’ media from Iraq

Zeyad has written some wonderful posts lately.

In one, he gives us his memories of visiting friends in Abu Ghraib prison and then eloquently and calmy explains how U.S. abuses there are, sadly, not a surprise and how it damages the effort to rebuild his nation:

They may be just a few soldiers, it may be an isolated case, but what’s the difference? The effect has been done, and the Hearts and Minds campaign is a joke that isn’t funny any more.

In a later post, he tells us about life in Basrah with a matter-of-factness that makes bombs just part of everyday life:

Not much has been going on in Basrah lately. Traffic and movement has returned to ‘normal’, a few streets where IP stations are located are still blocked. Explosives were found near a primary school which caused some panic among concerned Basrawis, another small bomb was dismantled close to a primary health care clinic which caused me to panic since I work at one. Basrah IP said the bombs were amateurish and wouldn’t cause much damage anyway, so I’m a bit relieved!

There are signs, graffiti, and banners all over town against returning former Ba’athists to governmental institutions. Other signs strongly condemned the appointment of General Jassim Mohammed over the Fallujah brigade. One sign reads “Basrah residents demand a trial for Saddam’s new cowboy in Fallujah”. Another said “The return of Ba’athists is a return of Nazism and mass graves.” …

Electricity hasn’t been very good this week at Basrah, but it still remains significantly better than Baghdad. The old medical aide was cursing his luck yesterday morning at the clinic. He had purchased a new air conditioner and a refrigerator but still did not have a chance to enjoy them because of the unstable electricity. He turned to me with a wicked toothless grin “Ah Dr., but there is an area just about 100 meters from where I live, and it has an alternate power schedule. I’m going to draw a power line from it.” … I like the man, he often comes over to my room and chats about politics. What amuses me is his constant criticism of Iraqis. He says things like “There’s no use in anything. Iraqis are all thieves and murderers.”, or “Iraqis don’t deserve democracy, they only deserve Saddam.”

He was ranting like crazy this morning. Recently, there was a MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) immunisation campaign. Primary health care clinic employees are divided into as much as 10 teams, they start making rounds at primary schools and villages, each clinic in it’s surrounding area, immunising children under 12 years old. The campaign is funded by Save The Children and other humanitarian organisations. Each team member is paid 10 dollars a day for a two weeks period. It is their duty to ensure that every child in their area is immunised. The campaign ended two months ago and they still haven’t been paid, although the funds were paid in advance to the Basrah Health Directorate. Someone told them lately thay they will be only be paid 5 dollars a day, instead of 10. Corruption at the higher levels is still at large it seems….

This is a sense of life in Iraq we get from no reporter.

: River reacts to Abu Ghraib just as expected, with rage:

People are so angry. There