Friday, May 28, 2004

Come out with your hands up! Just kidding!

For the story of the arrest of cleric Abu Hamza, McNeil-Lehrer had a graphic with a picture of handcuffs. Hamza has no hands. Hamza was arrested by the British to be extradited to the US under new rules that allow fast-track extraditions without any of those pesky rights (or having to show that they have a case) slowing things down. John “Lost to a dead guy” Ashcroft, who is an idiot, did a lot of big talking about how Hamza could face the death penalty, without realizing that unless he guarantees that that not happen, there will be no extradition (or perhaps realizing, but not caring how much he insults the British as long as he gets a soundbite, and who’ll see a correction anyway). The British home secretary had to be trotted out today to explain that. Hamza basically helped out various terrorist types, helped set up training camps etc, so I suspect it’ll be darned hard to prove anything solid against him.

Gwyneth Paltrow will play Marlene Dietrich in a biopic. You have to be FUCKING kidding.

The US seems to be giving up in Iraq on the instalment plan. Today it agreed to pull out of Najaf, in exchange for neither of its objectives (which were the arrest of Sadr and the disbandment of his militia). You’ll remember this particular uprising, that we just surrendered to, was started when the US shut down a small newspaper.

Guardian piece points out that the Taguba report didn’t just talk about torture of prisoners, but about the sheer unadulterated incompetence at the top and middle of the military structure, and lack of any training at the bottom. Which comes down to using reservists, who cost 1/7 as much as professional soldiers.

The Post has a poll that says Americans don’t approve of torture, but approve of various torture techniques, as long as they aren’t called torture. They are, however, against applying electrodes to genitals and many of the techniques that have actually been used. Women, the poor and Democrats are less likely to approve of torture.

Governor Ahnuuld snuck an item into his proposed budget to seize 75% of all punitive damages awarded in civil suits. And would limit the awarding of punitive damages to one case, no matter how often the defendant did something horrible and lost in court.

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