Abu Ghraib photos reportedly depict rape and sexual abuse

29 05 2009

[trigger warning]

A report in The Daily Telegraph has emerged claiming that the Abu Ghraib photos which President Obama is refusing to release graphically depict rape and sexual abuse.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, has reported the existence of such photographs to The Daily Telegraph. Although the allegations of rape and sexual abuse had previously existed, the existence of photos of the acts had not previously been revealed.

Read the rest of this entry »





Prop 8 to live on … for now

29 05 2009

As many of you already know, this past Tuesday, the California Supreme Court ruled that Prop 8 was indeed an amendment to the state constitution, which means that same-sex marriage in California is officially prohibited by the state constitution.  This amendment does not apply retroactively, which means that the approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed before Prop 8 passed are still valid marriages.

On the one hand, I do think that the court made the correct decision with regards to how people can decide on changes to their state constitution.  I do NOT think that’s even remotely okay to ban same-sex marriage, but constitutionally, Prop 8 stands.

However, consider what has happened since Prop 8 was enacted.  At first, the only states left to be awesome were MA and CT.  It was lonely.  But suddenly, we were joined by Iowa, Vermont, and Maine.  New Hampshire is working on it, and then we can be all, “Come on, Rhode Island, stop sucking.”  And Iowa’s victory is huge; it proves that New England isn’t alone, and it gives courage and strength to same-sex marriage advocates in the midwest and elsewhere that success can happen in states that aren’t notoriously liberal.

As of now, I would consider the 18,000 existing same-sex marriages in California to be a depressing consolation prize.  While I’m very happy that these couples are not being stripped of their benefits and status, it’s not symbolic of any sort of equality.  Instead, it’s simply that there’s no legal recourse to nullify the marriages.

I also think it’s too soon to judicially challenge the same-sex marriage ban in California, or in the other states which have banned same-sex marriage and unions.  Instead, I think that same-sex marriage advocates and supporters need to focus on pushing for same-sex marriage though the legislature in other states, as we’ve seen in Vermont and Maine, and hopefully New Hampshire soon.  The more “normal” same-sex marriage is, the more likely judges will be to rule in favor of same-sex marriage, and against marriage bans and other LGBT-unfriendly laws.  If we rush to have a federal lawsuit, we run the risk of bad timing.  The Supreme Court may rule against same-sex marriage, thus setting a precedent that reinforces the cultural norm that LGBT people are merely second-class citizens.





Friday Blogaround

29 05 2009

Happy Friday everyone!  Here are some must-reads:

Higher Ground, Not Common Ground by Merle Hoffman in On the Issues magazine:

As a person who feels that war should be the strategy of last resort, I still like to read military history. I find myself going back to the wisdom of Sun Tzu who wrote in “The Art of War” in the 6th century BC: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

As feminists who fight battles against those who would deny women’s freedom and equality, we know the mettle of our enemies. They are relentless, committed beyond secular principles, willing to look at things in the very long term, absolutely sure of their righteousness and totally determined.

They have one solid line, which they define and defend. Those who stand on their side are with the angels; those who stand on the other are misguided, at best, and sinners, at worst.

Educating Ourselves to Oblivion by William Astore:

Can there be any doubt that education matters not just in how we view the world, but in what kind of world we create — or simply accept? And can there be any doubt that, despite a massive educational infrastructure (admittedly now fraying badly), Americans remain remarkably poorly informed about the world? Last year, Rick Shenkman, the editor of the History News Network website, published a book (now out in paperback), Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter, excerpted at this site. Stupid enough (or ill-informed) was the answer.

Cheney’s Bunker Mentality by James Ridgeway:

Say what you will about Dick Cheney, at least he’s consistent. While he was in office, the Vice President made a practice of exploiting the fear and loss wrought by the 9/11 attacks to advance his own political agenda—and he’s still doing it now. During his speech at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, according to Dana Milbank’s calculations in the Washington Post, “Cheney used the word ‘attack’ 19 times, ‘danger’ and ‘threat’ six times apiece, and 9/11 an impressive 27 times.”

When Systems of Oppression Intersect: Mental Health and the Immigration System by Thea Lim:

Angry Asian Man reports on the story of Xiu Ping Jiang, a 35 year-old Chinese illegal immigrant diagnosed with a mental illness who has been stuck in immigration limbo for over a year.

Detainee Abuse: New Details Reported by Melissa McEwan:

[Strong trigger warning.]

My heart went into my throat as I read the headline in the Telegraph this morning: “Abu Ghraib abuse photos ‘show rape’: Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.”

Oh god. Oh god.

The images, according to the story, show one male American soldier raping a female prisoner, a male American translator raping a male prisoner, someone else forcibly removing a female prisoner’s clothes to expose her naked breasts, and other sexual assaults being committed on prisoners “with objects including a truncheon, wire, and a phosphorescent tube.”

Infant Formula Product Placement in Chemistry Matric Exam by Lauredhel:

School and university exam writers often invent scenarios. They play with made-up names for people, they dream up companies, they have fun devising original scenarios and puns to spice up their questions.

But what happens when they get bored doing that, or don’t have time, or when an alternative is shoved under their noses?

There is a national government Senior High school examination for 18-year-olds in the Netherlands. The chemistry exam is a 3 hour exam consisting of four questions, each with a series of sub-questions. This year’s exam has just taken place, on May 26. You can download and read the exam questions and the technical appendix.

Nine Simple Ways to Scare Your Date by Sarah.of.a.lesser.god:

There are several advantages to being a content singleton, one of which is not having to deal with first dates and the thorny path known as flirtation. But I finally decided to just learn to flirt, and decided to take some cues from Marie-Claire’s nine steps to flirting like a pro, provided by a guy named Neil Strauss (he likes to be considered the world’s greatest pick-up artist). I got some amazing results and learned some valuable lessons!

“Mild Mannered” Grandfather Stabs Cheating Wife by Renee:

That is the “gentle” face of an aggrieved man.  Seldom had a read about a more sympathetic person.   This poor sweet grandfather was happily looking forward to his golden years with his wife of  35 years, when he experienced a totally understandable “moment  of madness .”  Brian Gibbs has admitted to wounding with intent and was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Enjoy!