Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pretty disturbing:

Life was different in Unit E at the state prison outside Newton, Iowa.

The toilets and sinks — white porcelain ones, like at home — were in a separate bathroom with partitions for privacy. In many Iowa prisons, metal toilet-and-sink combinations squat beside the bunks, to be used without privacy, a few feet from cellmates.

The cells in Unit E had real wooden doors and doorknobs, with locks. More books and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes, chores, music practice and discussions. There were occasional movies and events with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches from Subway. Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in an environment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting days.

But the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prison life was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress. The program — which grew from a project started in 1997 at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor at the time — says on its Web site that it seeks “to ‘cure’ prisoners by identifying sin as the root of their problems” and showing inmates “how God can heal them permanently, if they turn from their sinful past.”

One Catholic inmate, Michael A. Bauer, left the program after a year, mostly because he felt the program staff and volunteers were hostile toward his faith.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Here is an answer to a really dumb question approvingly quoted over at Cafe Hayek:
More than a few reputable scientists see potential problems in the climate change that is occurring...For every factoid about ice sheets or sea levels or sun spots I can pull from the skeptics' literature, someone else can produce a counter-factoid. How is a nonscientist to decide which is accurate?
It's really not very hard. Much like in the debate over evolution, one side is made up of the overwhelming majority of scientists; the other is not (the wikipedia list of scientists who are global warming skeptics currently contains 16 names).

Monday, December 04, 2006

From the Times today:

Israel’s military, which has been accused of abuses in its war against Hezbollah this summer, has declassified photographs, video images and prisoner interrogations to buttress its accusation that Hezbollah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and took cover in those areas to shield itself from attack...

In video from July 23, a truck with a multi-barreled missile launcher, presumably from Hezbollah, is parked in a street, sandwiched between residential buildings. The video was transmitted from an Israeli missile approaching the truck. The screen goes fuzzy as the missile slams into the target.

In another video, from a Lebanese village, rockets are seen being fired from a launcher on the back of a truck. The truck then drives a short distance and disappears inside a building. Seconds later, the building itself disappears under a cloud of smoke from an Israeli bomb.
There is a link to the video next to the article. It seems like the public showing of these videos has been a low priority for Israel's government; the evidence would have had much more impact had it been released as the fighting was going on. Even the effort to compile these videos has been made by a think tank, rather than the government itself.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More violations of civil liberties from the Bush administration.