Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Abdelhamid Amine is a very brave man.
"The United States justifies all this in the name of its war against terrorism. But we, as the defenders of human rights in Morocco, cannot accept that in the name of the war on terror you can also violate human rights or practice the terrorism of torture."
There has been at least one account of Morocco's secret services torturing for the US. It is very disappointing to see that Morocco, too, has fallen under the spell of US outsouring. On the other hand, it is not as if the US is playing Svengali here. Morocco has committed horrific human rights abuses in the past and hundreds of people have gotten hauled off in the name of insulting the dignity or this or that entity (like the time the head of the Human Rights group in Tangiers got picked up by the goon squad the second he stepped off the set of Lika'a- right after criticizing the police for creating problems for Tangiers tourist and fishing trades by their over-zealous campaign against narcotics and smuggling). And then there are the (hopefully) former detention centers in Casablanca and Rabat from which locals claim to have heard screams and moans wafting over the walls. There was also one incredible horrendous place, Tazmamart Prison, in Southern Morocco, which has now been destroyed.
For awhile, it looked as if Mohammed VI was going to break with his father's legacy (see Notre ami, le roi, by Perrault) and work to right past wrongs against the various declared enemies of the palace. But now, with the rise of Islamicists (mainly the Salafist) and increased incidents of terrorism within the kingdom, Mohammed VI is listening to his advisors and allowing the Americans (who have had bases in Morocco)to send "suspects" for questioning in all likelihood, in a center in Temara, near Rabat.
People such as Binyam Mohamed, end up there and things like this happen:
“They cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor's scalpel. I was totally naked. They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut, maybe an inch. At first I just screamed.

a little thing called strappado torture where you are hung by your wrists for hours while someone (or several someones) use a scalpel to make little cuts all over, including your genitals.

This is disturbing on many levels, but I find it especially disturbing because Mohammed VI seemed to be on the right track: reforming the Moroccan government, holding clean elections, reforming the moudouana, paying attention to neglected corners of the kingdom, fostering a more open society.

But back to Abdelhamid Amnine:
"The United States, which declares itself a democratic country, must recognise that these so-called black sites exist and that torture goes on there," he said.

"The United States justifies all this in the name of its war against terrorism. But we, as the defenders of human rights in Morocco, cannot accept that in the name of the war on terror you can also violate human rights or practice the terrorism of torture."

(read the rest)
These are the words of a very brave man.

Morocco must not allow the US to tempt it back down a path it seemed to have been ready to turn away from, and the American people must not turn a blind eye to rendition and torture, lest they make the morally bankrupt vision of this administration the coin of the land.

Friday, September 29, 2006  

Ciao, Lucca!

Allora!!!!!!! About time Lucca got some props! It's Fiesole this and Fiesole that (scusi!), but Lucca! Course I'm biased, since half my cousins live there. But Tuscany is one of the most beautiful places on earth, not only for its landscapes but also for its architecture, including clock towers like this - typical of the the region, which find their echo in North African muezzin towers. Mark Bittman has a nice take on Lucca, but I really disagree with his stance that the food is boring. The colomba di pasqua is to die for and the soups and the polenta dishes, among other things... Check out the Roman coloseo turned into apartments when you go and get a driving lesson from my cousin.
Also, take a look at photography by another, true Toscano, my friend Simon Loli of nostro bel paese.


J'ai deux amours...

Wow. Sometimes when I see a picture like this, I realize how much I miss Paris. When I hear any version of J'ai deux amours...I think back to living in the 3eme Arrond., hanging out with friends, dancing on the sidewalk while waiting for a table, vaulting over the walls of Les Jardins des plantes at midnight, sneaking into movies, lots of fun and sometimes rather dangerous stuff- like being illegal for several years, and writing about terrorist groups.
But I guess you always miss the place where you really started to grow up, and for me, Paris, will always be more home than any city other than the one in which I was born.
Gros bisous a Djamila, Bruno, Laure, Benedicte, Beatrice, Denis, Luca, Benoit, Dian et Isabelle.
Read this great article from the NYT


Elmo Will Not Save You

I love this title.
You will be seeing a lot of Laura Bush in the next couple of days.

Talking with authors.
Hanging out with kids.
It's just a nice cover for the killing.

We wanted to know more about the National Book Festival.
So, we went to the Library of Congress web site.

And we registered in the press area.
And we got a call back from --

Susie Schoenberger.

She's not with the Library of Congress.
She's with the public relations firm -- Fleishman Hillard.
Since when is the Library of Congress outsourcing press duties?

Anyway, we want to know -- whose paying for this?
How much is Target putting up?
How much is AT&T?

Can't answer that, Schoenberger says.

You'll have to speak with Sheryl Cannady.
She's with the Library of Congress.

So, we call Cannady.
And she sends us an e-mail saying that the one-day National Book Festival costs $1.5 million.

But we can't tell you who pays for it.

RUSSELL MOKHIBER and ROBERT WEISSMAN have a really funny report from the front lines with Laura's reading warriors. As usual, some books are deemed more readable than others. Says who? Says the ever so literate First Lady. The President's comments went unrecorded. But then, he doesn't "do" reading...
It's his dad who said "read my lips..." remember....

David Swanson has a great list for you. Here it is:

1.-Launching an aggressive war, using fraud to sell the war to Congress and the public, and misusing government funds to move troops to Iraq and begin bombing raids prior even to Congress's dubious authorization to use force.

2.-Targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.

3.-Arbitrarily detaining Americans, legal residents, and non-Americans, without due process, without charge, and without access to counsel.

4.-Authorizing the torture of thousands of captives, resulting in some cases in death. Having prisoners hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross and shipped to other nations and secret U.S. bases to be tortured.

5.-Illegal warrantless spying, and lying to the public about it for years.

6.-Failing to protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, to provide troops in Iraq with body armor, to attempt to prevent the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or to work to decrease global warming.

7.-Using signing statements to refuse to obey hundreds of laws passed by Congress.

8.-Stealing the 2000 and 2004 elections.

9.-Systematically using propaganda and disinformation, selectively and misleadingly leaking classified information, and keeping secret information meant to be public.

10.-Urging Congress to pass bills that will retroactively and unconstitutionally legalize a number of the crimes listed above.

read the rest

Thursday, September 28, 2006  

By any other name...

Bush would do well to do a little reading. In a way, torture is like that famous quote on pornography, it's hard to define, but I know it when I see it.

Slate has got a nifty little primer on Torture, including an interactive section (Taxonomy on Torture). As the definition of what the US, or for that matter, George W. Bush, considers torture, gets ever more convoluted, you might want to take a look at this and decide how you feel about various techniques- all of which the US has used in he tlast five years on self-identified Al Qaeda operatives and innocent people alike. And here's the really tricky part: think about who it is ok to knock around a bit, and just exactly how do you know who is innocent and who is not? If, after reading this primer, you feel clearly and strongly about torture, contact your representative and make your view known.

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