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Solly Mack

Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Current location: Back of Beyond
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 55,348

About Me

Busy observing the group dynamics of dust bunnies.

Journal Archives

Clash of the Tiny

An adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was minding his own business when a juvenile male decided to rumble for territory. The adult male was taken by surprise (as was I).

I had to dodge the fight several times and most of the photos were truly awful. I followed them around as best I could while trying to get a decent shot or two. Still...thought you might want to see vicious little hummingbirds in action.

The juvenile hit the adult at full speed, knocking them both to the ground. They proceeded to lock bodies in flight and then dive bomb each other into the ground.

Adult male.

Locked in battle.

Adult male on top.

Juvenile male is on the left.

Adult male on top.

The Victor returns to his roost.

The real Winner: The female that got to feed to her heart's delight while the males were playing gladiator.

A Mediterranean house Gecko that didn't see any of the fight because he only comes out at night.

Without torture prosecutions, we can't claim to be a nation of laws

Without torture prosecutions, we can't claim to be a nation of laws

Imagine what the U.S. reaction -- from government officials to everyday people -- would be if we learned that agents of another country had grabbed people from outside its borders, spirited them away to clandestine chambers in third countries, and tortured them. Special forces would be deployed. The United Nations Security Council would convene. Sanctions would be imposed amid talk of isolating a rogue nation from the civilized world.

But because it was the U.S., it's likely nothing will happen despite calls for prosecutions. The Justice Department, which has already passed on prosecutions once, affirmed Tuesday that it will not reopen investigations into possible illegal acts committed by CIA agents and officials, or the people hired by them (yes, the U.S. even outsources torture).

Torture is illegal. Letting those responsible for such inhumane acts slip away without being brought to justice compounds the crime. We like to think of ourselves as a nation governed by laws, but to shrug off torture by agents of our own government tells the world that we not only find the crimes inconsequential, but we’ve turned off the international beacon of justice.

“The CIA detention and interrogation program was immoral, illegal, out of control and (the committee persuasively argues) unnecessary. President Obama's admission this summer that "we tortured some folks" doesn't begin to convey the appalling violations of human rights and international law cataloged by the Intelligence Committee. The officials who carried out these acts shamed themselves and their country.”

US hid UK links in CIA torture report at request of British spy agencies

US hid UK links in CIA torture report at request of British spy agencies

References to Britain’s intelligence agencies were deleted at their request from the damning US report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11, it has emerged.

A spokesman for David Cameron acknowledged the UK had been granted deletions in advance of the publication, contrasting with earlier assertions by No 10. Downing Street said any redactions were only requested on “national security” grounds and contained nothing to suggest UK agencies had participated in torture or rendition.

However, the admission will fuel suspicions that the report – while heavily critical of the CIA – was effectively sanitised to conceal the way in which close allies of the US became involved in the global kidnap and torture programme that was mounted after the al-Qaida attacks.

On Wednesday, the day the report was published, asked whether redactions had been sought, Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters there had been “none whatsoever, to my knowledge”.

Redha al-Najar, Detainee in Torture Report, Released to Afghan Government

Redha al-Najar, Detainee in Torture Report, Released to Afghan Government

The United States has handed over to Afghanistan a suspected al Qaeda militant named in a U.S. Senate report as one of the first objects of harsh interrogation techniques in a CIA "dungeon" near Kabul, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian who is one of the longest-serving detainees from the U.S. "war on terror", was captured as a suspected bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden in May 2002.

He has never been charged or had the chance to prove his innocence in court, and does not have prisoner of war status. The Senate report said he had been subjected to a psychological ordeal that had left him a "broken man".

His lawyer, Tina Foster, said the U.S. government had notified her that Najar had been transferred from the U.S.-run detention center at Bagram Airfield on Tuesday, six days before the government was due to make a submission to the Supreme Court about his treatment.

U.S. Closes Bagram Detention Center, Hands Over Last Afghan Prisoners

The U.S. has closed its controversial detention center near Bagram Air Base, leaving it with no prisoners in Afghanistan, after it turned over two Tunisian prisoners mentioned in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA interrogation techniques to Afghan authorities, defense officials told NBC News on Wednesday.

The Pentagon told NBC News that it "no longer operates detention facilities in Afghanistan nor maintains custody of any detainees" after the final handover. Under Washington's agreement with Kabul, the handoff to Afghanistan wasn't due to go into effect until Jan. 1. Defense officials said they couldn't explain why the U.S. was getting out three weeks early.

A spokesperson for the State Department would neither confirm nor deny the detainees' identities. The spokesperson told NBC News that the transfers were due to the Jan. 1 deadline and were "not linked to the release of the Senate committee report on detention and interrogation."

But Tina Foster, al-Najar's attorney, said her client — one of the first detainees to have been subjected to the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" — and other detainees were shuttled among various detention centers for years "to avoid scrutiny by U.S. courts." She said al-Najar was turned over less than a week before the U.S. government was to have filed a response to the Supreme Court about his treatment.

CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its own complicity

CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its own complicity

Under President Bush the CIA used a web of European airports and bases for its extraordinary rendition flights, secretly transferring terror suspects across borders for interrogation. Some European states helped the CIA to carry out kidnappings. Others hosted CIA “black sites” – in effect, torture chambers – on their territory. The 600-page redacted summary of the 6,000-page report, published on Tuesday by the Senate intelligence committee, will no doubt be scrutinised to see what it may reveal of the continent’s involvement in these abuses.

In 2007 a special investigator for the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, concluded that there was “enough evidence to state” that American secret prisons existed in Poland and Romania. He added that the “illegal deportation of suspects by CIA kidnapping teams in Europe” amounted to “a massive and systematic violation of human rights”.

After 9/11 the CIA reached out to its European allies as it embarked on its detention and extraordinary rendition operation. The aim was to place detainees beyond the reach of law. The active participation of dozens of foreign governments made both the renditions and interrogations possible. How many in Europe will now be pressed to disclose the full extent of their involvement in these operations?

To this day the exact scale of European complicity remains unknown. This is because of the secrecy maintained for years by the US and its partner governments. Washington has never confirmed the location of secret CIA prisons, nor named the governments that cooperated, and nor indeed does the material just published. A decade on, there is still no public comprehensive account.

Torture planning began in 2001, Senate report reveals (from 2009)

Just a blast from the past. 2009 Senate Armed Services Committee Report on Treatment of Detainees

To hear former President Bush tell it, you would think the United States only turned to the techniques in desperation. When Bush announced the existence of the CIA’s interrogation program in September 2006, for example, he argued that suspected al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah stopped cooperating with interrogators after his capture on March 28, 2002, forcing the agency to get rough. “We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives,” Bush said. “But he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation,” the president said. “And so, the CIA used an alternative set of procedures.”

Not to worry, the president explained. “The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively, and determined them to be lawful.”

But that’s not how it happened

To set up the torture program, the Department of Defense and the CIA reverse engineered something called SERE training, which was conducted by the JPRA. Based on Cold War communist techniques used to force false confessions, in SERE school elite U.S. troops undergo stress positions, isolation, hooding, slapping, sleep deprivation and, until recently, waterboarding to simulate illegal tactics they might face if captured by an enemy who violated the Geneva Conventions.

In either December 2001 or January 2002, two psychologists affiliated with the SERE program, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, developed the first written proposal for reverse engineering the training for use on al-Qaida suspects. Their paper made its way to the Joint Staff. (Salon first zeroed in on the pair in a June 2007 article.) The military also then began discussions at that time about using the ideas at Guantánamo.

In early March 2002, Jessen began two-week, “ad-hoc ‘crash’” courses for training government interrogators slated for Guantánamo. The courses therefore began before the allegedly uncooperative Zubaydah was ever captured, and Zubaydah was the first allegedly high-level al-Qaida operative in U.S. custody after 9/11.

Torture planning began in 2001, Senate report reveals

Fallapalooza 2014

In my community we celebrate both fall and Halloween. The Fall festival is really just another celebration of Halloween with hayrides through scary mazes and train rides through spooky woods. The kids get treat bags and most of them wear costumes. Volunteers work all day preparing 3 kinds of Chili (one was "Zombie Free"- Vegetarian) and 3 kinds of Hobo Stew. There was also Frito Pie and various sweets and drinks. (water and juice, to be exact)

We went for the "Zombie Free" chili - very spicy - and the noodle free Hobo Stew. Both tasty.

I don't like asking people to take their photo. I'm very uncomfortable with it. Last night I gave it a try.

Here are a few. I'll probably bore you with more later.

She's giving me the look.

This is Uggsy. She was more than ready to have her picture taken.

I don't know what the Fairy Princess is telling Dorothy but Dorothy doesn't seem too impressed.

There were games and rides and things to climb on for the children. There was also face painting.

She did her own face painting!

Not sure if this cutie is a Spider Queen or what. I felt old and out of touch for not recognizing more costumes.

This little beauty wouldn't stand still for Daddy to get a shot. I snapped away.

The closest she got to posing.

Of Toxic Bondage

On Tuesday morning I went in for my first dose of chemo and to have my mask fitted for radiation therapy.

First up was my weekly blood work at the lab, complete with visits from the dietitian and the hospital social worker. Both got a little squeamish during the blood draws. They both begged off and said they would see me later.

It was an active morning filled with nurses walking me back and forth between the two treatment clinics, deciding on who would get me first. Sort of a ghoulish popularity contest but you take what you can get.

Radiation won out but only after the Chemo nurses placed my IV. It took 4 sticks to get one going. The death grip I had on the deceptively comfortable lounge chair might have been part of the problem. I was already mad at the chair. When I first sat down the chair reclined back on its own and my feet came out from under me. I can't control a lot of what is happening to me now but I still wanted to control where my feet went - and on the floor was where I wanted them.

At the radiation clinic a very nice woman explained what she and a very nice man were going to do to me. It began by them asking me to remove my shirt and then laying me out on a table connected to the X-Ray. A pillow was placed under my knees and my bra straps and hospital gown were pushed down my shoulders. Once on the table they explained how they were going to place my hands in fluffy cuffs that would be attached to my feet. I had to bend my knees up on the table and they placed a foot hold around each foot. Each foot hold was attached to a cord that was attached to the fluffy cuffs that ended in a loop knot. Once I straightened my legs out the cord would pull against my hands forcing my shoulders down and tightening the fluffy cuffs around my wrists.

Once in position I had to remain as still as possible for the X-Rays.

So here I am not only agreeing to be placed in bondage - I'm the very instrument of my bondage. I don't think they make a safe word for that level of kink. And would I even listen to myself if I shouted out my safe word? Turns out, I wouldn't. They told me to stretch my legs out more to pull the cuffs tighter and I did - again and again. My fingers were numb by the time it was over.

Next up comes the mask. The mesh mask starts out flat and fairly solid. It is washed in a warm bath to soften it up and then this flat piece of mesh is pushed down over your face, stretching to form around your head. My mask includes the tops of my shoulders. Once they get the mesh pressed down to the table there are screws that lock the mesh into place and you can't move your head.

So now I'm hog tied and wearing a mask that brought to mind Hannibal Lecter. Every time one of them would ask me a question I wanted to answer "Yes, Clarice" or "No, Clarice" through the lip binding mesh.

I had to stifle my giggles. The mind goes where the mind goes.

The session ends and I thank them both for a good time. The woman walks me over to Chemo.

While the nurse is getting my various bags ready I tell her about the kinky time over in Radiation and she doesn't stifle her giggles. Which is good since I'm laughing about it with my husband. I've made my peace with the chair... thanks in no small part to the large dose of Benadryl.

I was getting a loading dose and would be there for two hours.

The dietitian shows back up while I'm drifting in and out of sleep. I had slept poorly the night before so a Benadryl induced nap was most welcomed. The dietitian had a lot of info and thankfully she had handouts.

A lot of Do's and Don't's about what I could eat and what things to avoid. I did my best to follow along.

When she got to the part about the bathroom activities that would now require a Hazmat team my eyes popped wide open.

I kid, of course. I won't need to call a Hazmat team - I have to be my own Hazmat team.

Lot of poo-jokes possible there and believe me when I say I thought of a bunch.

I'm still giggling over it.

So, a long day. A day of firsts. A stressful day. A scary day.

But, OH!...a day where I could still laugh.

!!!!!March Photo Contest Winner's Thread!!!!!

March Photo Contest Winner's Thread

Theme: Graffiti/Street Art

1st Place: alfredo

"Ladders with Shadows"

2nd Place: Mira

"Trompe L'Oeil...and find the painted sleeping Cat"

3rd Place: mth44sc

"Out of the Ashes"

Congratulations!!!! to alfredo !!!!

As the WINNER , alfredo will host next month's contest.

Congratulations to Mira and mth44sc!!!!

Rounding out the Top 10

4. bluedigger - "Grabbing a Little Air"
5. Earth First - "Light the Night"
6. MichaelSoE - "Lights are on but Nobody's Home" (Tie)
6. Callalily - "Dragon in the Alley" (Tie)
7. Blue_In_AK - "Men at Work"
8. MattSh - "Victor's Vendetta"
9. Agschmid - "#subwayrainbow"

Honorable Mention

"Junk" by ljm2002

"You looking' at me?" by NV Whino

Host's Picks

"Any Revolutionary Change" by justiceischeap

"#subwayrainbow" by Agschmid

Now about that cat...

Thank you, Mira! - for adding an extra fun element to this month's contest!

Blind Submissions: Full reveal

1. Blue_In_AK - "Men at Work"

2. Agschmid - "#subwayrainbow"

3. mnhtnbb - "Red, White, and Blue Danube"

4. Callalily - "Dragon in the Alley"

5. justiceischeap - "Any Revolutionary Change"

6. Earth First - "Light the Night"

7. alfredo - "Ladders with Shadows"

8. bluedigger - "Grabbing a Little Air"

9. MattSh - "Victor's Vendetta"

10. NV Whino - "You looking' at me?"

11. Celebration - "Doodlemania on My Bathroom Wall"

12. MichaelSoE - "Lights are on but Nobody's Home"

13. Kali - "Coche de Cranios"

14. handmade34 - "End"

15. ljm2002 - "Junk"

16. Mira - "Trompe L'Oeil...and find the painted sleeping Cat"

17. JohnnyRingo - "Sound City"

18. ohheckyeah - "Journey Through Time and Space"

19. Dyedinthewoolliberal - "Urban Art, Everett, WA"

20. mth44sc - "Out of the Ashes"

21. Mz Pip - "Abstract"

Thank you all very much!

Solly Mack

!!!!March Photo Contest FINAL!!!!

March Photo Contest Final

Theme: Graffiti/Street Art

***Theme encompasses all aspects of Graffiti/Street Art - to include tools of the trade, paint covered hands, bathroom graffiti, sidewalk art, simple tagging, children at play with sidewalk chalk, original window art and street signage, along with street signs that have been altered. As well as all the usual forms. ***

Final will run for 72 hours. Winner's Thread to follow immediately after.

Please help keep kicked. Please share your comments! Don't forget to K&R! Please Vote!

Your patience has been appreciated! It's been a wild contest.

Thank you!

Solly Mack

!!!Congratulations to all the finalists!!!

1. "Men at Work"

2. "Ladders with Shadows"

3. "#subwayrainbow"

4. "Dragon in the Alley"

5. "Light the Night"

6. "Lights are on but Nobody's Home"

7. "Trompe L'Oeil...and find the painted sleeping Cat"

8. "Out of the Ashes"

9. "Victor's Vendetta"

10. "Grabbing a Little Air"

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