Monthly Archives: October 2004

Guardian: The Road to Abu Ghraib

The Guardian has a two-part series online called The road to Abu Ghraib. It's sufficiently weird that it reads like gonzo fiction, but we are asked to believe it.

Did a Major General really decide that psychic powers would let him walk through walls, and psychic healing could save troops wounded without access to ordinary medical care? And even if so, is this really connected to Abu Ghraib?

It's interesting, though, to read about the mythical First Earth Battalion and how the ideas behind it might have seeped into reality.

Posted in Iraq Atrocities | 3 Comments

London Theater Update

It's been slim pickings at TKTS, maybe because I've been showing up too early. Show up at or before 10am opening you don't have to wait very long, but there's less choice I suspect than if I showed up at noon and queued a long time. I would have loved to see the new David Hare play, but it's not on while I'm in town.

So last night I saw Jerry Springer: the Opera. I am more of straight theater kind of guy, but I'd read about this and, well, I guess I'm glad I saw it. I've only ever seen about five minutes of Springer in some hotel somewhere, and I was fairly disgusted. The show is pretty smart about walking a line between joining in with Springer and condemning him. It revels in his horribleness while at the same time inviting you to revel too while at the same time marking an ironic distance. That's clever. And uncomfortable. It's a somewhat well, not raunchy but defiantly rude show. And it's a real spectacle. The use of the audience as a modern trailer-trash manipulated Greek chorus is clever.

Jerry gets sent to visit hell, but the permanence of his stay is left ambiguous.

I left wondering what on earth Springer himself thought of it.

Apparently he liked it

“I 'm honored to the point that I realize that I'm the only human being on the planet earth that's an opera,” Springer says. “There have been others, but they're dead.”

This evening I saw an RSC production of “Twelfth Night” set in an Indian milieu. It did the play no harm, allowed the addition of nice costumes and some good physical jokes, and thus distracted a little from the play's utter implausibility. Orisnio was a drip who mostly didn't speak loud enough. Viola played the role very straight, which mostly was not too good except in her scenes with Olivia, who was generally magnificent…topped only by the Fool who kept stealing the show. On the whole a good production of one of Shakespear's weakest plays, but not in the same class as the History Boys, or the RSC production of Coriolanus I saw the last time I was in London, which I'm sure is the best Coriolanus I'll ever see in my life.

Tomorrow it's back to the National for “A Funny Thing Happened”.

Blogging may be sparse until I get back to the US late on Tuesday. Or, if we go on campus to watch the election returns with the students, maybe not till Wednesday…

Posted in Personal, UK | 8 Comments

Catholic LawProfs Debate Catholic Voting Ethics

Over at Mirror of Justice the participants are having a fascinating and largely civil debate over what a Catholc conscience does or doesn't demand when casting a ballot. One of the things I like best about the Internet is being allowed to share in foreign (as in 'very different from my' not as in 'from other countries' although that's very good too) viewpoints — so I love this stuff.

Posted in Blogs | Leave a comment

UM’s Fran Hill Subtly Suggests IRS Is Blowing Smoke on NAACP Case

From TaxProf™ Blog

Today's New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post report on an October 8 letter from the IRS threatening to revoke the NAACP's tax-exempt status in light of NAACP Chairman, Julian Bond's speech this summer condemning the policies of President Bush. Tax Prof Frances Hill (Miami) is critical of the IRS's action in a Newsday article on the subject:

Frances Hill, a University of Miami law professor and an expert on the political rights of tax-exempt organizations, read Bond's speech and said it was indeed critical of President George W. Bush. But she added that Bond was probably on safe legal ground because his speech was broadly conceived, didn't focus solely on Bush and touched on a range of issues that have long been trademarks of the NAACP, such as equality and justice. “You can be passionate and still have a tax-exempt status,” Hill said. “If the IRS thinks that this speech is sufficient to trigger an audit, then I think we have quite a new standard and they must be planning to audit hundreds of other groups.”

Posted in Law: Tax | Leave a comment

Ceci N’est Pas du Tinfoil

OK, this is getting out of the tinfoil category when Salon quotes a NASA scientist who has enhanced photos of Bush's back during the debates,

I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate,” he says. “This is not about a bad suit. And there's no way the bulge can be described as a wrinkled shirt.”

Posted in Politics: Tinfoil | 1 Comment

It Can’t Happen Here

Posted in Politics: US | 1 Comment

100,000 Iraqi Civilians Dead — Most From Bombing

Huge banner headline in the (left-of-center) Guardian today: 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead, says study. The study to which it refers was published by the Lancet, Britain's most respected (and peer reviewed) medical journal. It used sampling, but looks serious.

Although some of the casualties are due to things like an increase in infant mortality because women are unable or too frightened to go to hospitals to deliver, the great bulk of the deaths is civilians killed by aircraft bombings or helicopter-launched munitions.

The amount of civilian casualties is sufficiently high to call into question whether the US has complied with the (rather vague) laws of humanitarian warfare.

Update (10/30): Slate has a good article noting the gigantic margin of error admitted by the authors of the report — so large as to call into question their publicizing the midpoint of a range of possibilities from 8,000 to almost 200,000.

Posted in Iraq | 3 Comments