Friday, October 26, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Our government authorized torture in 2005, and apparently has found a new Attorney General whose new way of authorizing the tactic is to evade the topic.
$500 Billion is not enough to get the job right, apparently.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The update is a good one. The surgery has been successful. My left hand now works properly again. It is not yet as strong as it was, and there is still some pain from time to time, but I am happy with the improvement. I've had many doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, and a lot of down time for my hand. Now I've been given the 'green light' by my doctor to do what I wish and feel my hand is strong enough for. I have only one more- presuming all continues to go well- doctor appointment, and while I continue to do physical therapy on my own, I have no more appointments with the physical therapist to attend. My time is becoming more my own.
I still find that if I attempt to type too much- too long, that is- that I experience discomfort. However, I am improving and am finding that I can type much more rapidly and accurately, and the length of time I can type is gradually increasing. I suspect my hand will never quite be 'normal' again, but it is returning to at least 'very good' if not perfect, and is much, much better than before the surgery.
Thus, I hope to return to a more active mode here in the weeks ahead. I hope to get back to my thinking, analyzing, and writing about important topics of our collective lives.
One of the important issues that I live with daily is that of education. I find that now, my teaching, may also keep me somewhat limited as a blogger. Why? The standardized test fixation of politicians today is changing the nature of my work as a teacher in ways that are not good- taking up enormous amounts of time as I try to work at a breakneck pace and virtually sucking the life out of me as I become a mere implementer of what the very wise (italics indicates sarcasm in this case) people in Lansing and Washington, DC believe I should teach.
If those people are such experts on the teaching of history, why do they prove to be such poor students of it? Why do they think that they are more qualified than I to decide how to teach the history that they clearly do not know?
Oh, sure, they know some facts. But there is a major difference, and substantial gulf, between mere knowledge and understanding. This the politicians clearly do not grasp. They clearly think that if our students are capable 'Trivial Pursuit' (remember that game) or 'Jeopardy' contestants, then they are ready to be citizens.
An education should not merely be about the ability to recite facts. Educated people should understand the context of those facts, be able to discern the meaning of those facts, and be able to apply those facts in new, flexible, and powerful ways. The current drive towards testing our students by having them fill in bubble sheets takes us no where in terms of these goals. Even the writing that is required by many states- including Michigan- as a part of their testing does nothing for true education because it is so locked-down in terms of format and constricted in terms of content.
Oh, and did I mention that these very wise politicians expect us to do all of this in an environment where our resources are being cut back? Do more and deal with greater problems among our students with less money- is this educated thinking?
So, as a teacher I am left tremendously busy, physically tired, mentally drained, and endlessly frustrated by the environment in which I work. Thus I may not have the time and energy to post as often as I like.
That said, I do hope, however, to become a more frequent contributor to this blog in the future than I have in recent months.
Thank you to all who have continued to visit, only to find limited posts and a lot of 'cut-and-paste' quotations. I hope the future will be more satisfying to us all.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
"The U.S. says this war is part of the global war on terrorism," Saedi Farhan, an Iraqi engineer who took part in an attack on U.S . forces, said in a weekend interview with NBC News. "But people here say that the war has increased fanaticism and brought terrorism to Iraq."
Can we change policies before it is too late?
China warns that a planned White House meeting Tuesday between Bush and the Dalai Lama and a public ceremony Wednesday to award the spiritual leader the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal are bad for U.S.-Chinese ties.
"We are certainly very much displeasured and regret the fact that the U.S. side would totally ignore the repeated positions of the Chinese side and go ahead with its erroneous decision," Wang said in an interview. "Such moves on the U.S. side are not a good thing for the bilateral relationship."
In Beijing, a government official on Tuesday also criticized the U.S. plans.
"The move will seriously damage China-U.S. relations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. Liu did not specify how relations would be damaged if the award does take place.
He told a regular news conference that China hoped the U.S. would "correct its mistakes and cancel relevant arrangements and stop interfering in the internal affairs of China."
Honoring the Dalai Lama is no mistake, and the internal affairs of China are abysmal. If China would end its repression, the critisim will end. Perhaps they should stop worrying about US internal affairs and correct their own mistakes.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
As a mother watches over her child, willing to risk her own life to protect her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings, suffusing the whole world with unobstructed loving kindness.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
He was then transferred to Bagram, where, like many other prisoners, he was suspended by his wrists for long periods of time. He explained to his lawyers in Guantánamo that he was tied by his hands to the ceiling "for days on end," and that "whenever he lost consciousness a guard would forcefully pull him up to wake him." He also said that he was sexually abused and subjected to sleep deprivation, and was threatened with being sent to Egypt to face further torture.Transferred to Guantánamo in August 2002, he said that his first year in Guantánamo was "terrible" and "worse than Bagram," and explained that, in addition to the sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation that he had experienced in Afghanistan, he was also exposed to loud music, as part of a program to "break" the detainees, which was masterminded by the Pentagon and introduced by Guantánamo's commander, Major General Geoffrey Miller. As in Bagram, he was eventually forced to make false confessions, telling his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear.
In protest at his indefinite detention without charge or trial, al-Amin joined a widespread hunger strike in August 2005, when his weight, which had been a meager 121 pounds on arrival (8 stone 9 pounds), plunged, at one point, to just 103 pounds (7 stone 5 pounds). By January 2006, when he was one of 84 detainees who were still maintaining their hunger strike, the authorities responded by drafting in a new team of doctors, armed with restraint chairs and feeding tubes. Al-Amin said that he was removed from the camp hospital and placed in solitary confinement in a windowless black cell, which he called the "freezer," because the air conditioning was turned up to the maximum. He also explained that the guards would "throw water on him to exacerbate the freezing conditions, and would wake him up if he fell asleep."
Describing his force-feeding, he – like others who have spoken about the experience – said he was fastened so tightly in the restraint chair that he was unable to move at all, and that a large feeding tube was then forced into his stomach, which was, of course, extremely painful. He added that, whether by accident or design, the doctors regularly "stated that they could not find the correct position and forcefully pulled the feeding tube from him," repeating the process two or three times, which caused his nose to bleed. He also stated that he was "deliberately overfed until he vomited, and when he vomited the force feeding would start again," that he was "strapped in the restraint chair for periods of two to three hours at a time, which, coupled with being overfed, led him to urinate and defecate on himself," and that he was then "dumped, covered in his own vomit, blood and faeces, back in his isolation cell." Although he attempted to maintain his hunger strike, he admitted that he gave up after 21 days. With some accuracy, he told his lawyers that the authorities "used physicians to commit crimes," and explained that doctors supervised the force-feeding, watching him while he was forced to vomit, and that on one occasion a doctor asked him, "Are you going to quit the hunger strike or stay in this situation?"
Despite all this violence, he was cleared for release sometime in 2006, after an Administrative Review Board concluded that he was no longer a threat to the United States and no longer had any intelligence value...
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
And she also accused Britain of "dismantling" the Anglo-US-led coalition in Iraq by pulling troops out of Basra too soon.
The all-party group of MPs say Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates, made the comments this month.