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May 13, 2010

Obama operates a secret torture prison in Afghanistan

Reminder: Torture doesn't work. It doesn't win you secrets, it doesn't save lives. It just causes pain. Sympathy for the Oval: Seeking Shreds to Cover the Naked Truth of Power
The fact that the Obama Administration is operating a secret prison in Afghanistan in which captives rounded up on the usual little or no evidence are being tortured even as we speak -- and even as the president was making his funny-haha jokes about predator drones -- does not come as any surprise. The horror of this reality is by now so routine that it almost defies comment. ... the secret prison's existence was preceded by extensive reporting on the prison -- and the atrocities carried out there -- by well-known media outlets with impeccable Establishment credentials: the BBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post. None of these institutions can remotely be suspected of taking a radical -- or even skeptical -- line when it comes to the operations of state power. It takes a mountain of proof to move them to the slightest criticism of the operations of empire .... Obama will soon have been in power for 17 months. (He had been in power for 16 months when the BBC issued its first report on the prison). When does an administration cease being "new," with its leaders and agents regarded as genial greenhorns, fumbling their way, learning as they go -- "ya really gotta cut 'em slack on this, they haven't hit their stride yet." In any case, Obama has been intensely involved in the Afghanistan war since the very beginning of his term. Indeed, he has already masterminded not one but two "surges" of the conflict, as well as greatly expanding the murderous campaign of assassinations in Pakistan, killing hundreds of people, terrorizing hundreds of thousands, and exacerbating hatred and extremism at every turn. Afghanistan is Obama's war -- he asked for it during the campaign, and he has willingly made it his own. He has his own hand-picked commander in charge (plucked from the pool of Bushist brass, of course), and he -- he alone -- made the decision not only to keep Bush's Pentagon warlord, but to make him one of his closest advisers.

May 10, 2010

Come Out, Virgina
A victim of of child sexual abuse at the hands of a priest blogs it out

The blogger is an old school chum and a crackerjack writer. This is what it sounds like when the abused strike back. Come Out, Virginia Why I Didn't Tell
Many people have asked me why I didn't tell someone. My parents are heartbroken that I didn't, and I sympathize. But was different in the 1970s in a parish community. We didn't have a non-threatening, comprehensive, age-appropriate book about sex called It's So Amazing. This lady did not come to our school and help our parents figure out how to explain sex and sexuality to us. Our lives were centered in the church and the school; the person guiding our parents in talking to their kids about reproduction was...Monsignor. I honestly didn't know adults would think it was wrong. I knew it terrified me. I knew I hated it. ... Other kids told. I have just begun looking at some of the news articles in my hometown paper about the criminal and civil cases against Monsignor. I found two articles that briefly describe what happened when a child spoke up.
“…She said that when she told a school official of the abuse, that official made her kneel on a tile floor for hours as punishment for what was perceived as lying.” (from a 2002 article) "...A former student at [my] Catholic school says that she accused Monsignor of fondling her in 1968 or 1969 but that the principal -- a nun -- didn't believe her and did nothing. ‘Sister K. was principal of the school at the time,’ the woman said. ‘She was told. I told her myself. She said that it was ridiculous.’… Sister K., who is now chancellor of the Diocese, doesn't remember a complaint about Monsignor during her year as principal.‘I have no memory of anyone saying anything like that to me, never in my life,’ she said. ‘That's not true. She must have me confused with someone else.’” (from a 1993 article)
If you are interested enough in the subject of how the Church, as an institution, has responded historically to accusations by abuse victims to be reading this blog at all, you know the routine by now: the kids usually don't tell. If they tell, they usually aren't believed. If they're believed, they're made to shut up. The numbers are overwhelming, and statistics are, as ever, an incomplete picture. The John Jay report says US bishops report hearing of 5,600 abusing priests and 14,722 victims between 1950 and 2002. These numbers are unexcusable in themselves, but then remember that those are only the complaints that made it past the teacher, past the principal, past the abuser's immediate superior, past his immediate supervisor and up to the Bishop. But I am not writing about numbers or statistics. I am trying, in this blog, to convey what it was like.