Archive for March 9th, 2009

Musical Torture

NYT’s Robert Mackey focuses on the use of rap and heavy metal music to torture detainees.  It’s about as awful as you’d expect, but it gets downright weird at the end:

But since the idea that being forced to listen to a certain song or record can be described as “torture” often strikes people hearing about it as funny, reports of the tactic are often cast in a comic light.

Mr. Piore later told the British writer Jon Ronson that when he called his editor at Newsweek from Iraq to describe the use of loud music on detainees, “I was told to write it as a humorous thing.” After Mr. Piore filed his report, Newsweek stressed the fact that one of the songs blared at detainees in Iraq was the theme from the children’s television show “Barney” and added a comic kicker to his the story:

The sledgehammer riffs of Metallica, that’s understandable. But can children’s songs really break a strong mind? (Two current favorites are the “Sesame Street” theme song and the crooning purple dinosaur Barney — for 24 hours straight.) In search of comment from Barney’s people, Hit Entertainment, Newsweek endured five minutes of Barney while on hold. Yes, it broke us, too.

In Jon Ronson’s book on the American military’s development and use of psychological operations, “The Men Who Stare at Goats” (soon to be a major motion picture, starring George Clooney, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor), he writes that while loud music was used on detainees in Guantánamo, other sorts or sounds were deployed as well, often in puzzling ways.

Jamal al-Harith, another British man who was released from Guantánamo, told Mr. Ronson that recordings of loud screeches and bangs, “jumbled noises,” were played by his interrogators — and also that at one stage during his interrogation, he was asked to listen to songs played at normal volume for no apparent reason. According to Mr. Harith, an interrogator baffled him by playing CDs including one by a Fleetwood Mac cover band, another with a selection of Kris Kristofferson’s greatest hits, and an album by Matchbox Twenty. As Mr. Ronson notes in his book, Matchbox Twenty was one of the bands Mr. Piore found listed on the PsyOps playlist in Iraq.

The editor’s urging to trivialize psychological torture is pretty despicable, but… Matchbox Twenty?  Of all the potential weapons in thePsyOps toolkit, they chose Matchbox Twenty???

4 comments March 9th, 2009 at 07:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture

Monday Media Blogging

What if Watchmen was a Saturday morning cartoon?

This is possibly only brilliant if you’ve read the comic or seen the movie.  But if you have, it’s really, really brilliant.

(h/t shadowy and mysterious Codename V.)

March 9th, 2009 at 05:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics,Monday Media Blogging

This Can Only Be God Good For Republicans

These are some surprising and interesting poll numbers:

According to the the American Religious Identification Survey which queried over 54,000 people in the U.S., 15% of Americans have no religion, an almost 7% increase from in 1990. The number of Christians overall has decreased 10% since 1990  with Christians who aren’t Catholic a declining segment of the country: Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population. The survey also found that

Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

(…)

Traditional organized religion seems to be playing less of part in people’s lives, as well, with 27 percent of respondents saying they did not want a religious funeral and 30% of married couples stating they did not have a religious wedding ceremony.

There has a rise in the influence churches that either don’t belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group, while about 12 percent of respondents believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths.

Go on, Republicans, keep on pushing that old-time religion – America is moving on.

My only worry is that the fundie bloc might shrink so far by 2012 that a guaranteed-to-lose religious nut won’t even be able to get nominated.

1 comment March 9th, 2009 at 11:26am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Polls,Religion,Republicans

Wanker Of The Day

Chris Wallace, failure troll:

Wallace: How do you think he’s doing so far?

McCain: I think he’s working very hard. I think he continues to have the support of the majority of the American people. I think he’s making very serious mistake in this budget which will have very dangerous consequences in increasing taxes no matter who it is….

Wallace: You ever feel like saying ‘ I told you so?”

McCain: Oh, I’m sure that would be pleasant feeling, but the point is we’re in such a severe crisis….

Wow, he’s such a wanker he almost helped McCain sound statesmanlike.  But he rose to the bait just a little too much.

March 9th, 2009 at 05:55am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,McCain,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers


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