Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for December 1st, 2008

Deep sea people

Posted by Charles II on December 1, 2008

We all know them, from the TV. They’re the deep sea people. In between working to Free Mumia and Legalize Hemp, they’re doing organic brussel sprout farming.

Or whatever.

There’s a lot of talk about how the crazy left is forming up the circular firing squad and undermining Obama even before he has taken office.

I hear something rather different. I hear some pretty well-educated and thoughtful people with some very specific concerns who have accepted that Obama is president, but reserve the right to work toward solutions along a different tack than he seems to be aiming for.

And now you can hear these thoughtful voices, too. For Phyllis Bennis’s analysis of foreign policy and Timothy Canova’s view of economics, click here. As a bonus, Rachel Smolker on carbon trading. If the player doesn’t start, go to for December 1st and rightclick/download.

Posted in Barack Obama | Comments Off on Deep sea people

Water angels

Posted by Charles II on December 1, 2008

Barney Jopson, FT:

… Korail, a rough-and-tumble place that swallows daylight, is not connected to the public water supply in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, because like most slums its residents occupy land to which they have no legal right.

Instead, they are forced to buy water from private sellers such as Shahida Akhter, a woman with sleek features, who manages the network of pipes.

She says she paid for a legitimate connection; they say she bribed a corrupt official from the water authority. She says she fills the tank for an hour and a half every day; they say water runs for 20 or 30 minutes. …

But elsewhere in Dhaka, a city where a third of its 10m people live in slums, there are signs of hope. WaterAid, a charity the Financial Times is supporting in its seasonal appeal, has been working with one of its local partners, DSK, to change water policy.

In 1992, DSK began trying to persuade the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority that slum dwellers had a moral right to public water and were ready to pay a fair price. …

The authority also saw that extending its network to the slums reduced losses from illegal tapping.

DSK went on to replicate its model across Dhaka and last year the water authority agreed the 200-odd water points registered in its name could be switched to slum dwellers….

“DSK are like angels to us,” says Ms Begum, who makes a living from trading scrap. “They have enabled us to pursue our livelihoods. They have helped us live with dignity and courage.”

Posted in Good Things | 1 Comment »

Torture Is Not Only Wrong, It’s Counterproductive: Part 23493

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 1, 2008

From the 11/2 Washington Post:

My team of interrogators had successfully hunted down one of the most notorious mass murderers of our generation, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the mastermind of the campaign of suicide bombings that had helped plunge Iraq into civil war. But instead of celebrating our success, my mind was consumed with the unfinished business of our mission: fixing the deeply flawed, ineffective and un-American way the U.S. military conducts interrogations in Iraq. I’m still alarmed about that today.

I’m not some ivory-tower type; I served for 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, began my career as a Special Operations pilot flying helicopters, saw combat in Bosnia and Kosovo, became an Air Force counterintelligence agent, then volunteered to go to Iraq to work as a senior interrogator. What I saw in Iraq still rattles me — both because it betrays our traditions and because it just doesn’t work.

But of course this wasn’t on any of the TV or radio news programs that most Americans are likeliest to encounter, so this will disappear down the memory hole for all but regular internet news perusers. They’re far more likely to see the fictional Jack Bauer on TV successfully using torture as an interrogation tool.

Posted in abuse of power, Afghanistan, Iraq war, terrorism, torture, unintended consequences | 7 Comments »

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