September 14th, 2004


More allegations of abuse in Iraq.

A British lawyer has reportedly uncovered evidence of US prisoner abuse in Mosul. Reuters has obtained multiple corroborating statements from former Iraqi prisoners, stating that detainees were stripped naked, beaten, and doused with cold water. One witness said they had seen a 14-year-old boy bleeding from his anus, and another threatened with sexual assault.

"They left me standing for hours, handcuffed and hooded. Then I was kicked very hard in the stomach, which was followed by continuous beating with a stick and with their boots until I fell unconscious. I only woke up after they poured over my head very cold water," said one former prisoner.

He said he was then abused in groups with other detainees, forced to carry out exhausting exercises and beaten or doused with cold water whenever they fell to the floor. They were not permitted to use the toilet and allowed only two hours sleep.

"I saw a young man of 14 years of age bleeding from his anus and lying on the floor. He was Kurdish and his name was Hama. I heard the soldiers talking to each other about this guy. They mentioned that the reason for this bleeding was inserting a metal object in his anus."

The Iraqis in question appear to be represented by Public Interest Lawyers, a UK firm specializing in international human rights law. The firm is currently involved in litigation on behalf of Iraqi civilians killed by coalition troops in Iraq.

Obviously, Iraqis should have full access to the law, but I haven't seen anything like this before during an active conflict -- have you?! I wonder how many other law firms are pursuing similar cases? Perhaps it could even be seen by some as a "new front" in the war, considering how much of an impact this could have on public opinion. Hm...
  • Current Music
    Red House Painters - Midnight on the Bay

Protect technological innovation. Kill the INDUCE Act.

One of the most important political actions taking place lately has been the campaign over at . In the course of one week, they have organized thousands of people to call their congressional representatives today to oppose the INDUCE Act.

What is the INDUCE Act? It's legislation designed to undermine a previous Supreme Court ruling that allows people to create and use technology -- such as VCRs, iPods, TiVos, CDRs, DVD-R's, etc. -- so long as there are legitimate legal uses for the device. What Hollywood would like to do is prevent these devices from functioning in ways that make sense, taking away features such as the "record button" from future devices, or outlawing them completely.

Congress, at the request of lobbyists in the recording and motion picture industry, is on the verge of passing the INDUCE Act, despite the complaints of numerous manufacturers that the law will kill innovation and potentially kill new industries in the process. VCRs and the video rental industry, for instance, would not exist today if it weren't for the previous Supreme Court decision. If allowed to pass, the INDUCE Act will kill future jobs dead, or send them overseas where legal restrictions don't exist.

Fortunately, today you can do something about this. Visit and fill in their form. They'll send you information on how to call your representative. Tell them that you are calling to oppose the INDUCE Act and that you want your representative to support technological growth. That's it... it takes no time at all.

I called my Congressperson, Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965 *AND* Senator John Mccain's office at 202-224-2235 in under one minute flat, and they got the message. They're getting a lot of messages today. Good. Give them more. The truth is that too few politicians hear from the public on these kinds of issues, but that they do hear from Hollywood's lobbyists and they do accept their campaign contributions.

You can have your say today, and make it count. All it takes is a visit to and a quick, inexpensive phone call or two.

Oh, and if you also agree that this is an important matter, please feel free to link others to this post, or to copy it outright in your journal. Thanks!
  • Current Music
    Crowded House - "Weather With You"

A "best guess" at Hurricane Ivan.

I took this projection for Ivan and moved the storm "to shore" so that those who might be effected know more or less what they can expect.

Areas in the yellow zone should experience winds between 40-60 MPH and heavy rain. Areas in the blue zone can expect to experience 60-75 MPH winds and the potential for flash flooding. Those in the black area can expect 75-125 MPH winds -- worse on the east side of the hurricane -- with a storm surge, flash floods, and a slight risk of tornados. Those in the red area can expect 120-140 MPH winds, a storm surge of up to 14', widespread flooding, and a severe risk of tornadoes.

The big differences between Ivan and Hurricane Frederic from 1979 is that Ivan is somewhat further west than Frederic, therefore effecting New Orleans to a greater degree, and that Ivan is a much "wetter", more dangerous hurricane. Much of the damage done in Jamaica and the Caymans came from the torrential downpours and flash flooding. One witness said that Ivan "turned the air turned to foam" with an endless torrent of vertical rain.

For those inland, the hurricane should head NNW from Mobile towards Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but winds should be no greater than about 40-70 MPH by the time it reaches there. Expect power outages, downed trees, and localized flooding.

BTW, for those that love hurricane photos, adaeon pointed out this lovely satellite photo of Ivan, passing inbetween Cuba and the Yucatan peninsula, with Florida visible in the upper right of the picture.

** Update - According to one meteorologist's report I've seen, warm high winds which were previously forecast and which could have decreased Ivan's strength don't appear to be materializing. Likewise, there is apparently a patch of warm, deep gulf water ahead of Ivan, which could help feed the hurricane. Also, I wanted to stress that Ivan could still hit anywhere in a very large stretch of coast. The goal of my prediction wasn't to say exactly where it would hit, but to indicate the extent to which it could damage a very large region spanning over 210 miles, no matter where it lands.**