The Endurance of Tacloban: Heart of the Philippines

Originally posted on China Sojourns Photography:

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Violent winds swirl the dark, ominous thunderclouds overhead. The pounding waves crash onto the rocky shore and the roar of the Pacific Ocean makes its intention clear: thrash anything in its path.

With electricity in the air, I am oblivious to everything except the power coming my way as rain beats against my face, sucking me into the depths of the storm.

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Ever since I was young, the powerful forces of storms, especially on the Oregon Coast, have held a rare type of electricity for me.  Electricity that excites my soul and eliminates any trace of fear I may have.

Chasing the idea of becoming one with the storm.  Not just to see the power unravel in front of me, but to physically feel this rare electricity.

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The past three days I’ve experienced a different type of feeling.

Walking along the Tacloban city coastline watching the sunrise, I am beginning…

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Defenses down

Originally posted on AbsurdBeats:

From pages 51-54 (77-80, pdf) of the Torture Report, a model for “enhanced interrogation”:

FireShot Screen Capture #005 - 'sscistudy1_pdf' - www_intelligence_senate_gov_study2014_sscistudy1FireShot Screen Capture #007 - 'sscistudy1_pdf' - www_intelligence_senate_gov_study2014_sscistudy1

FireShot Screen Capture #008 - 'sscistudy1_pdf' - www_intelligence_senate_gov_study2014_sscistudy1

FireShot Screen Capture #009 - 'sscistudy1_pdf' - www_intelligence_senate_gov_study2014_sscistudy1Yes, the CIA created a “mind virus” to convince a Najjar that his “situation would continue to get worse” unless he “cooperated”.

(“Cooperated”: Such a sinister meaning attached to such a benign term.)

They thought through the use of torture they “had a reasonable chance at breaking” him.

Breaking: a much more appropriate term.

And which they accomplished. They broke a man. Through isolation and sleep deprivation and hooding and exposure and hanging they broke a man.

And this ” ‘became the model’ for handling other CIA detainees at DETENTION SITE COBALT.”

A model for how to break a human being.

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Poll: 1-in-3 nonreligious believe torture ‘sometimes justified’

Originally posted on The Barking Atheist:

A new poll has found that, across ideological lines and regardless of demographics, many Americans believe torture can be justified.

CIAThe poll, released Tuesday by the Washington Post and ABC News, found that the three groups that had the most support for torture, answering that torture was “sometimes” or “often” justified, were Conservative Republicans (40% and 32%), Republicans (46% and 25%), and White evangelical Protestants (45% 24%).

The three groups that had the least amount of support for torture, answering that torture was “rarely” or “never” justified, were Liberals (23% and 30%), those with No Religion (26% and 32%), and Liberal Democrats (26% and 33%).

What’s surprising is that most demographics said the same thing as conservatives and evangelicals. Moderate Democrats answered 44% and 7% that torture was “sometimes” and “often” justified, while only 22% said it was never justified.

Even those who are 18-29, answered 46% and 18% that it…

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How Does God Deal With Terrorists?

Originally posted on Tylor Standley:

© 2010 Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P., Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 © 2010 Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P., Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The capital of ancient Assyria, Nineveh, is the setting for one of our most beloved Bible stories. Children in Sunday School giggle as they watch Jonah get projectile vomited from the mouth of the big fish on the flannel-graph (do teachers still use those?). The lesson ends with Jonah’s sermon and the Ninevites singing “I Saw the Light.”

There is, however, more to the story.

For nearly 300 years the Assyrian Empire ravaged the eastern Mediterranean seaboard, including the land of Israel.

We will not find this sinister narrative on any Sunday School flannel-graph or animated in a Veggietales movie. Instead, we find it carved into the monuments of the Assyrian Empire. While we sugarcoat our Bible stories, so as not to damage the minds of our little ones, the children of Israel saw the gory images of…

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What’s so wrong with torture? A defense of John McCain’s view

Originally posted on Wes Cammenga's Blog:

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Last Tuesday the Senate released its long-awaited report on the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program, and I think it is fair to say that the events that this report documents are pretty appalling. I am not going to discuss any of the specific content of the Senate’s report and the reason for this is pretty simple: The details are nauseating and I don’t want to talk about that shit. So, if you are not already up to speed on this, please go ahead and research the details of the CIA’s program. (Some of this can be found at the link above.)

What I do want to talk about in this post is why exactly it is that we should always view torture as a moral outrage. This is a sentiment that many politicians and pundits – most notably John McCain – have expressed over the course of the past week, and…

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CIA Doctors Complicit in Torture and Human Subjects Research, Say Medical Experts

Originally posted on Rupert Stone:

In a detailed analysis of the Senate’s torture report, Physicians for Human Rights – a US-based rights group – found that CIA medical personnel might have committed war crimes by monitoring and approving the use of torture, and by conducting research on prisoners.

Some outlets had already noted the prominence of health professionals in the Senate’s summary, but PHR‘s new report, authored by a host of experienced medical professionals, offers the most thorough treatment of this subject so far. Based on its analysis of the summary, PHR finds that “health professionals played not only a central, but an essential role in the CIA torture program – to an extent not previously understood…Without the participation of health professionals, this illegal program might have been prevented.” Although the torture started with psychologists, it involved three medical professions: psychologists, physicians (including psychiatrists), and physician assistants. PHR enumerates eight categories of abuse by health professionals “that violate their ethical and…

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