October 18th, 2006

Chris Keeley

Bush's new torture law mean that Americans have lost the key, constitutional right on which Anglo-Am

US torture bill signed into law

Edward Gomez at sfgate.com blogs:
George W. Bush got what he wanted, ostensibly as a tool in his unfocused "war on terror": By signing into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Bush has made it legal for the C.I.A. to continue operating torture facilities in undisclosed, foreign countries, and for the writ of habeas corpus to be suspended for individuals who are designated "enemy combatants" against the U.S. (Designated by whom? That question remains unanswered.) The law also "establishes military tribunals that would allow some use of evidence obtained by coercion [that is, torture], but would give defendants access to classified evidence being used to convict them." (Reuters)

The provisions of Bush's new torture law mean that Americans have lost the key, constitutional right on which Anglo-American criminal law (and criminal-law procedures in true democracies in general) is founded; that's the basic right of an individual to know why he or she is being apprehended and detained. Now, technically, as in Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany, Mao's China or Pol Pot's Cambodia, anyone labeled an "enemy combatant" - again, by whom; by Bush? - can be whisked away and never heard from again. That kind of authority, in the hands of corrupt or untruthful politicians, may or may not be an effective tool in some kind of "war on terror," but it certainly can be a useful tool when it comes to silencing their opponents.


posted by Xeni Jardin


Extraordinary Rendition

Chris Keeley

A rumor is what you do when you try to figure out the truth with other people

The Truth about Rumors and Why We Believe Them
New book reveals the psychology of rumors

A flurry of rumor and gossip followed recent reports of a small plane hitting a high-rise apartment building on New York’s Upper East Side. Was it a helicopter or a plane? Was it an accident or a terrorist attack? The pilot’s celebrity identity added another strange twist as the rumor unraveled to substantiated fact.


The process of that unraveling, of people sorting out bits of fact and fiction, fascinates Nicholas DiFonzo, professor of social and organization psychology at Rochester Institute of Technology and one of the leading experts on rumor and gossip research. He is currently researching how rumors proliferate, spread and die over time as part of a National Science Foundation-funded study.

In their recent book Rumor Psychology: Social and Organizational Approaches published by APA Books, DiFonzo and co-author Prashant Borida, associate professor of management at the University of South Australia, present new research and ideas about rumors, which they differentiate from gossip and urban legend.

“A rumor is what you do when you try to figure out the truth with other people,” DiFonzo says. “It’s collective sense making. The classic example is ‘I heard that…’”

Gossip, on the other hand, is sharing information with an agenda, he says. It could be for entertainment or to bond with another person or to reinforce a social norm. Gossip, which may be true, tends to have an edge.

“Gossip is more to do with social networks,” DiFonzo says. “A strong motivation we have as humans is to connect with a group.”

The urban legend is a misnomer, he says. “‘Modern legends’ or ‘contemporary legends’ would be more accurate.”

“How do people know what’s true is true?” is the question that most interests DiFonzo. His research on rumor accuracy and the role of trust in rumor transmission seeks to determine how successful people are at figuring out the truth.

One of the studies included in Rumor Psychology surveyed public relations professionals from Fortune 500 companies about the veracity of organizational or workplace rumors from their own experience. The authors found that most workplace rumors are 95 percent accurate.

Rumor Psychology also includes new studies about rumor propagation and why people believe them. The authors also recommend methods for managing organizational rumors and present a research agenda for future rumor research.




To talk to Nicholas DiFonzo about Rumor Psychology: Social and Organizational Approaches, contact Susan Gawlowicz at (585) 475-5061 or smguns@rit.edu.

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging technology, fine and applied arts, and education of the deaf. More than 15,300 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 340 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For well over a decade, U.S. News and World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. The Princeton Review recognizes RIT as one of America’s “Most Wired Campuses,” and the university is also featured in The Fiske Guide to Colleges and Barron’s Best Buys in Education

Chris Keeley

Roving gangs of big baboons are terrorizing suburbanites in Cape Town, South Africa


Baboon gangs terrorize suburbs

Roving gangs of big baboons are terrorizing suburbanites in Cape Town, South Africa, brazenly breaking into homes, cleaning out refrigerators, and shitting all over the place. Now, rival human groups have emerged, some wanting to protect the monkeys and others wanting to clear them out or kill them. From National Geographic:
"I have had them in my house several times, even while I was there. They simply brushed past me. I had to get out of the way," (said Joan Laing, co-chair of the ironically-named Welcome Glen Baboon-Free Neighbourhood Action Group.) "Even my husband got threatened by a baboon."

She insists that monitoring teams trying to keep the baboons at bay are not effective.

"These animals are quick. They can cross walls and roofs at speed. For two or three people to try to keep them away is impossible," she said.

"They move in a troop of about 30, and they are so wide apart that it is impossible to stop them slipping into built-up areas..."

The source of the problem is human encroachment into the baboons' historic habitat.
Chris Keeley

Besides looking at Weldon's Karic connection, the FBI is examining the lawmaker's contacts with a Ru

Weldon's Ties to Serbian Businessman Part of Probe

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 18, 2006; A08


Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade were surprised three years ago to be invited to a luncheon in honor of visiting Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), hosted by Bogoljub Karic, a wealthy Serbian businessman who had been barred from visiting or trading with the United States because of his close ties to former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Weldon "was visiting solely because of Karic," whom he was trying to get off the U.S. blacklist, a former senior embassy official familiar with the visit concluded. "It seemed odd" at the time, because Karic had no obvious tie to Weldon's district outside Philadelphia, and Weldon should have known the embassy was shunning contacts with him, the official said.

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Chris Keeley

Francisco Mata Rosas: Mexico Tenochtitlan

Francisco Mata Rosas: Mexico Tenochtitlan


Francisco Mata Rosas: Mexico Tenochtitlan at ZoneZero (56 black & white photographs). "...One of the greatest pleasures my craft has given me is, without a doubt, the experience of the streets, our popular culture fed by a sense of belonging, tradition, imposition, history, resistance, violence, love of the land, solidarity, malice, music, sensuality, hopes and fears; to experience the street is to observe, listen, feel, smell and share… in order, finally, to photograph." Fantastic!
Chris Keeley

Rachel Corrie was killed in Gaza on March 16, 2003, nearly three years ago, when she stood in front

“My Name is Rachel Corrie” – a play based on the life of the late US peace activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer 

“My Name is Rachel Corrie” Opens in New York

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006


“My Name is Rachel Corrie” – a play based on the life of the late US peace activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer - was scheduled to open last March at the New York Theatre Workshop. But six weeks before opening night, the theater announced it was indefinitely postponing the production. The move that was widely criticized as an act of censorship. On Sunday, the play finally opened at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York. We play exclusive excerpts of the play, and speak with Rachel Corrie’s father, Craig; her sister, Sarah; and the play’s co-editor, Katharine Viner. [includes rush transcript]


Rachel Corrie was killed in Gaza three years ago when she stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer set to demolish a Palestinian home. The play is based on Corrie”s writings before her death.


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Chris Keeley

Rachel was killed defending the human lives, which is the first human right, of a Palestinian family

Rachel was killed defending the human lives, which is the first human right, of a Palestinian family. 

Oscar-Winning Actor Vanessa Redgrave to Present International Human Rights Award to Extraordinary Rendition Survivor Maher Arar

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006


Tonight, the Institute for Policy Studies will award its International Human Rights Award to extraordinary rendition survivor Maher Arar. In 2002, Arar, a Canadian citizen, was falsely accused of terrorist links and handed over to Syrian authorities where he spent nearly a year enduring brutal torture. Just last month the Canadian government exonerated Arar and criticized both Canadian and US officials for his ordeal. Maher Arar’s Human Rights award will be presented by Oscar award-winning actor Vanessa Redgrave. [includes rush transcript]


Redgrave is one of the most famous of the Redgrave acting dynasty with a career that spans some 47 years. She has served as a UN Goodwill Ambassador and was a founding member of International Artists Against Racism. Most recently she has spoken out on behalf of Guantanamo detainees... and she also spoke out when the New York Theater workshop canceled ‘My Name is Rachel Corrie.’


  • Vanessa Redgrave. Oscar-winning Actress and Human Rights Activist.
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Chris Keeley

Antonin Kratochvil

Antonin Kratochvil




Antonin Kratochvil 

Photographer Antonin Kratochvil (see some samples here and lots of them here) has just published his Homage to Abu Ghraib. I'd probably be the last person who'd want Abu Ghraib to be forgotten, but I'm not sure that creating photos of an event that became known through photos is really such a good idea. After all, the original photos are chilling enough - and it's hard to see what re-creations add to them.