Glad I’m not the only one to notice: Salon asks “Is Bush the only American who hasn't discussed the torture scandal enough in the last month to have decided already how to pronounce the prison's name?” Of course he did promise to tear it down, possibly part of a new Bush Doctrine: tear down everything in the world that George W. Bush can’t pronounce. It would take a while, of course, because we couldn’t use the shortcut of nukyular weapons.
Actually, tearing down Abu Ghraib is a rather odd solution, given that I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the actual building that was the problem. I don’t think it’s the haunted hotel in The Shining (which for some reason is my second Shining reference this month). To paraphrase the NRA, prisons don’t force people into naked human pyramids, people force people into naked human pyramids. Although in the period since whenever Bush last spoke about the prison scandal there’ve been another million revelations, this was his only response: punish the building. Bad building, bad! A UN guy commentating in the Guardian notes that the speech “was, of course, laced with repeated denunciations of the inhumanity of Iraqis fighting the occupation. They are "brutal", they show "contempt for all the rules of warfare and the bounds of civilised behaviour". But clearly the period of US penitence over the abuse is now well past; it is once again only the "enemy" who is brutal.”
Saletan at Slate is excellent on the speech.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (in Britain, as you may have guessed) is calling on members of the public to help it prove that the number of insects is declining, by counting the number of dead bugs on their car windshields.
For 6 months, 11 students of high school age beat, humiliated (including the ever-popular making him masturbate in front of them), etc another student, filmed it all and put it on the internet (actually, while 2 newspapers say that, it sounds like they just emailed photos to each other). The students are Germans, and we’ll all just keep our snide comments to ourselves just this once, shall we?
A little more on Nick Berg conspiracy theories. The biggest problem people have with the video (which I still refuse to watch) is that when his head is cut off, there is no blood. Impossible. Unless he was already quite dead. The previous footage of Berg alive, speaking rather more calmly than your average kidnappee, in an orange jumpsuit, was his interrogation by the CIA. His death was either during interrogation, deliberate as a distraction from Abu Ghraib, or he was killed on the street by one of the Iraqis who dislikes Americans (25 million and counting), and his body used for propaganda purposes.
A longish Andrew Cockburn piece on Chalabi’s Iranian connections.