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daily archive: 12/27/2004
evariste in Discarded Lies:
Horrific Prison Torture In Uzbekistan
Ruslan Sharipov is a human rights activist and journalist who received political asylum in the United States after politically-motivated charges landed him in the Stalinistic travesty that is the Uzbek prison system. A small, macabre sampling of the horrors Uzbek detainees and convicts are exposed to:

Torturers talks about their work

The interrogators and other officers involved in physical abuse appeared to enjoy the process, laughing and swapping ideas about new methods. I got to know two of my torturers. At first I thought Valery Lobanov and Marat Izzatulin were prisoners like me. But when the three of us were transferred to another cell I found out that they were in fact agents of the Tashkent police, from the MVD’s counter-terrorism department that deals with political cases. They tortured me and forced me to sign dozens of documents. But in my last week, after I had signed what they wanted, they told me a lot of stories about their work. These covert agents are specially trained and are paid a higher salary than other policemen since they have to spend so much time disguised as prisoners. Izzatulin told me that such agents will carry out any orders, and that he himself had killed many detainees and made it look like suicide. In fact, he had killed a man just the previous week, he said. The man was a devout Muslim, and refused to confess to any crime. Izzatulin received orders to get a confession at any cost. He raped the man, and then threw him from an upper bunk, head first into the toilet. The fall killed the man immediately. Izzatulin smiled as recounted the incident, and was visibly proud of what he had done. He believes that Muslims want to overthrow the Uzbek state, so as many as possible should be killed. That’s a view his colleagues share. Izzatulin said that interior ministry staff regard it as prestigious to have killed “hizbutchiks? - short for Hizb-ut-Tahrir member - and keep a tally among themselves. He claims he has killed six Islamists, both in the police building and in Tashkent prison. “Unfortunately, our administration does not always let us do this,? he said with a hint of regret. Izzatulin pointed at his colleague Lobanov and said he was not sufficiently experienced yet, but that he still had a lot of time ahead of him. Lobanov said he had not killed any “hizbutchiks? yet, but that he had dispatched three other detainees in the police basement over several years. But he was sorry he had killed these men, and insisted he only did so on the orders of his superiors. Lobanov looked tired, and admitted he was only doing this work so as to feed his family. He said he preferred to torture people to extract confessions but let them live; that was all that was required by the job.

Sexual abuse of detainees

A common element in the range of torture methods is sexual humiliation. One technique involves forcing a bottle into the detainee's anus. Another is rape of male prisoners, sometimes by warders but usually by other prisoners. Taking pictures of the assault, warders threaten they will send these on to the prison camp where the detainee will go once convicted. This is an extremely worrying threat because it will automatically relegate the convict to the lowest grade of untouchables. Even in the cramped conditions of the interior ministry cell, this class of inmate is already an outcast, known by the Russian terms “opuschenny? or “obizhenny?. By being raped, he is categorized as homosexual and is vulnerable to further assault. He cannot speak to other inmates, and in the cell he cannot walk freely around the cramped floor space, but is condemned to sit and sleep next to the toilet. The other detainees did not know that I am bisexual, so I was saved from this fate. I did not come into contact with women detainees in the interior ministry, but I discovered that there are three cells for women in the basement. I heard them screaming at night, and it was clear that this was because they were being raped by police. Some male prisoners with access to money are also allowed to visit these cells and rape the female inmates - the warders actually invited my cellmates and me to do this, for a fee. The price is US$15 to US$20 - at the top end of the range of bribes that warders take. Other standard charges which supplement warders' wages - even though detainees are not supposed to have cash – range from a cup of tea at one dollar to illegal drugs at up to US$20 a time. If suspects have a lot of money, or rich relatives, they may be freed before they ever reach the interior ministry, as long as the accusations against them do not relate to the political or Islamic opposition. A bribe is paid to the right officials, and the case is closed. This has the perverse consequence that wealthy people are sometimes arrested simply in order to extract payment.
Go read the whole thing, if you have the stomach for it.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Workers' Paradise
Socialism arose from the abuses of the industrial revolution. Strangely enough, the exact same abuses are occurring as a socialist state modernizes. Perhaps capitalism isn't the problem after all?
Bai Lin is a sad-faced 19-year-old who seems to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.

She works in a small industrial town for a factory that makes intravenous drip kits for hospitals. Once she lived with her family in a dirt-floored hovel at the end of a mud road in a forgotten hamlet called Two Dragons.

She left home at age 15 because her father decided she must. The family was poor, but there was an option: Every day, it seemed, more people from the villages were leaving for work in the city.

Bai Lin remembers clearly the day her father took her to the bus station. He cried. She held in her tears.

Her stoic nature defines her still. Bai Lin is a factory nun. She lives cloistered in the dreary compound of the medical instruments company, where she works 11 or 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for 11 months straight until the New Year's break. When she returns home for a month, her year's wages in her pocket, it amounts to about $500.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Revolutionary Leap In Ass-Xeroxing Technology
New Scientist - Flexible scanner works on curved surfaces
An image scanner built into a piece of flexible plastic little bigger than a credit card has been developed in Japan.

The idea is that you will plug the scanner into a mobile phone which will both provide power for it and act as its display and storage medium. And because it is flexible, it will let you copy just about anything, even if it is on a curved surface such as an open book or the label on a wine bottle.

The lightweight device, unveiled last week at an electronics conference in San Francisco, is the latest development in the field of flexible organic electronics, which exploits the electronic properties of conducting plastics.


The new device, developed in Japan by electrical engineer Takao Someya and colleagues at the University of Tokyo, comprises a polymer matrix in which thousands of light-sensitive plastic photodiodes have been deposited 700 micrometres apart beneath a grid of plastic transistors.

Each photodiode produces a current in response to light input, which its accompanying transistor stores as a charge. This can then be read into the memory of a mobile phone and converted into an image.

To use the sheet image scanner, it has to be placed on the area of interest, such as a bottle or an open book. It can only capture the image it covers; it cannot be swiped across it like an office hand scanner.

The plastic is transparent, so ambient light can pass through it to reach the object being scanned. Because the transistors sit on top of the diodes, shielding them from ambient light, only the light that reflects off bright areas strikes the photodiodes, which generate a current proportional to the greyscale light intensity.

The resulting charges are stored in the array of transistors and are then read out to construct an image.

The developers say their device can scan text with resolution good enough "to image all the letters on a wine bottle". In their prototype the resolution is only 36 dots per inch, but the plastic electronics are scaleable and 250 dpi is said to be easily achievable.

Someya says it could be on the market in three years with sizes varying up to A4. A 7-centimetre-square scanner, small enough to fit in a wallet, will cost about $10, he predicts.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Today's Marxists
When Azzedine Belthoub was growing up in the shantytowns outside of Nanterre, France, 40 years ago, the people who came to take the young North African kids to swim in the community pool, to register them for school and give them candy and comic books, were Marxists. The French Communist Party offered a political voice for the working classes, including the growing number of North African immigrants imported to fill labor shortages after the war.

Today, Islam plays that role, especially in France, where men like Mr. Belthoub, wearing long beards and short djellabas, reach out to the poor and disillusioned in the country's working-class neighborhoods. Young Arabs and Africans here have turned to Islam with the same fervor that the idealistic youth of the 1960's turned toward Marxism.

"Now, religion has become our identity," Mr. Belthoub said last week, sitting in a friend's small apartment in a largely Muslim suburb north of Paris.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Will and Moral Courage of Free Men and Women
You'd never know it from the media but 2004 was an amazing year for freedom and democracy. The steady drumbeat of media negativity tried to drown out all the good news but the dogs barked and the caravan moved on.
Boston Red Sox fans celebrated a World Series victory for the first time in 86 years. Weekly Reader grade school students can celebrate being better pollsters than Zogby, Fox and CBS: in October, as in 11 of the previous 12 elections, they correctly picked the winner of the presidential campaign. And SpaceShipOne became the first private craft ever to reach space--71 miles above the earth. So 2004 was a very good year in America.

It was a good year too in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Iraq. On the other hand, it was a very bad year for the United Nations, Russia, establishment American media and the liberal Democratic Party.

Read the rest after the jump (with many thanks to jim russell)
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Greek Police Brutality
The Independent reported on Friday, December 24, that up to 30 Afghan immigrant men were subject to brutal beatings, mock executions and being photographed while naked by four Greek police officers during interrogations.

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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Failure of Political Islam
In the early 1990s, the Muslim world witnessed a bloody struggle between militant Islamists and local authoritarian regimes.

The radicals launched an all-out frontal attack to dismantle the secular political order and replace it with an Islamist one. The fight was so brutal and prolonged that Western governments feared for the survival of their Arab and Muslim ruling allies -- particularly in such pivotal countries as Algeria and Egypt -- and prepared for the worst. Pundits warned that the Islamist revolution was unstoppable, on the march, and likely to sweep away failed socialist and nationalist experiments.

Not so fast, cautioned Olivier Roy, a French sociologist and an authority on Islamist movements. Challenging the prevalent conventional wisdom, in 1994 Roy published a sensational book, "The Failure of Political Islam," that made headlines the world over. He convincingly argued that the Islamist revolution was already a spent force and, more important, an intellectually and historically bankrupt one.

According to Roy, Islamist movements neither possessed a concrete political-economic program nor offered a new model of society. An Islamist slogan holds that "Islam is the solution" to Muslims' developmental crisis; in fact, the radicals' rhetoric about the Islamic revolution, the Islamic state, the Islamic economy and the Islamic society proved to be empty talk serving as a cheap drug for some of the masses.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Winds of War.NET
My Winds of War roundup at Winds of Change.NET with Bill Roggio is up!
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guest author: Semite5000 in Discarded Lies:
Still having fun here
I've been eating like a King since I've been here. Two days ago a teacher at our school took Nyeema and I to a Chinese restaurant, and man- it was delicious. This place was actually Chinese-Korean, but walking in you could smell the distinctive Chinese restaurant aroma.

We didn't have to teach that day because it was the day before "Children's Day." The kids got to play all sorts of games outside, like tug-o-war, relay races, etc. Since no school lunch was served, one of the teachers took us out to eat.

The next day -- Children's Day -- I went with my host family to Chongdeok Palace in Seoul, one of four palaces in the city. We wanted to have an English tour for my benefit, but we were too early. In the meantime we went to check out "The Blue House," which is the residence of the President. We went into a little gallery that had various gifts to Korea from other head's of state and ambassadors, etc. All of a sudden I heard all these loud voices as a large group of Chinese tourists entered. My "mom" leaned over and said "Chinese are the loudest people in Asia."

After that we returned to the palace. True, our guide spoke English, but I still had to strain to understand what she was saying. We walked around the grounds looking at all the different structures. It was a perfect day, about 80 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze. The palace buildings were beautiful and ornate and there were ponds, pools and lot's of trees and shade.

When that was over we went to a Korean restaurant and had a delicious meal of noodles in a soup broth with various sea food goodies. We all had our heads down in our bowls as we noisily slurped our noodles.

That night we met my "dad's" sister and her husband, their child and a visiting niece from Vancouver who spoke fluent English at an upscale Chinese restaurant. It's nice that my family has money. Both of my "parents" have BMW's and when we go out to eat, we eat well. The restaurant was amazing. The food was so good it made me emotional. Happy to be tasting such luscious flavors. Excited when the next dish was placed in front of me. We ate shrimp in a sauce that was so delicious I wanted to cry. Like in the movie Big Night, I tasted flavors that were so good that after I ate them I wanted to ... to kill myself! Yes, kill myself, because I'd never taste anything like it again. Okay ... I am exaggerating, but man, it was a satisfying meal.

Another curious thing about Seoul is that just as much as it is a vertical city, it is also a subterranean city. Seoul may not be larger than the Metro-Milwaukee area, but it has about ten times the population. There are numerous underground shopping malls that stretch as far as the eye can sea, almost. You will be walking down the street and see stairs leading underground. Some only take you on a safe path under the busy street. Others do that too, but also double as big underground malls. Many restaurants and other establishments are also underground, but none have a basement-like feel. When you are in them, you don't feel as though you're underground.

Another thing I have to start trying is eating street food, Korean fast food. It's basically the food that is cooked near outdoor markets or on sidewalk stalls. I did try a strange thing the other day- a corn-dog on a stick coated with french fries. It was pretty good. The French fries were attached to the corn-dog, making the thing look like an edible mini-mace.

Well, that is all for now. Hope the weather is nice in Milwaukee.

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