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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Did ’24’ help Obama?

I’ve been watching with interest the whole Presidential race and election in the US. It’s obvious how jubliant many Americans are at the election of Obama as their new President. It is  fascinating  to think that this guy was such an outside contender for the position when the race first began – many people had never heard of him. At that time he was not really a prominent figure to the general public.

But a thought came to me the other night as I heard person after person tell reporters on news channels how much it means to them to have a black President (okay, yes he is bi-racial, we’ll just stick to black for this argument)  and how much it seems like a dream come true, that they hoped it would happen one day but didn’t imagine it would be so soon…I wondered, how much effect did the TV show ’24’ have in helping Obama get elected? Some might say none as it’s just a TV show. But TV does have an impact on the public consciousness. It’s happened with other social situations, as well as TV reflecting social trends.

So did ’24’ help to open people up to the idea that America could have a black President? For there are undoubtedly many, both inside and out of America, that would have said that America was not yet close to accepting a black man in that position. I think it ought to be considered that seeing a black President on TV could very well have done something to make it seem more acceptable to some of the general public. I haven’t heard anyone talk about this yet, and hope someone does investigate it more. It’s an interesting social study.

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You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about the economic downturn in various countries. America being the hardest hit with unemployment figures quoted today at 10 million.

There are many debates about what has got us into the current situation. Some blame big business, some blame the credit system, but whichever way we want to look at it, I think it is a certainty that one of the outcomes is going to be a re-evaluation of our values.

For so long our highly Commercial societies have put an emphasis on being able to have everything material we want – if you don’t have the money, you can get the money by way of debt. The focus in our public media is on getting more, getting the newest. And many have bought into that. How many people  feel less ‘worthy’ if they are not seen to be sporting the latest trend, or have the latest model of something, or the latest gadget? All for how others will perceive us.

Economic hardship is no fun for anyone. Nor would I wish it on anyone. It causes stress, physically, emotionally and mentally. But I feel that it will ultimately push people to consider what is really valuable in their lives – basic needs of food, shelter, love, friendship, companionship. We can live without the latest gadget, or in a smaller house, but we can’t live without those 5 things I listed. And maybe, in a society where the balance has tipped to far towards material acquisition, it can only take a stripping away of that in the extreme to make people realize that.

I wish it didn’t take that.

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The subject of torture has been in the news alot recently. I guess for most of us it’s not a subject that we give much thought to. The question of whether the  US has been carrying out Extratordinary Rendition, the practise of sending  suspects to foreign countries to be tortured, and the US use of ‘Waterboarding’ has been forefront (if you don’t have a clear concept of what is involved I recommend reading this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding

Many people are horrified that any modern Western democracy would resort to such tactics to ellicit information, firstly on the grounds of humantiarian reasons, but also because it is blatantly hypocritical – the US is a signatory on the United Nations Convention against Torture. Rendition of course is the way to get around that, and there have been rumours for years that the practise was being carried out, and of course denied for years.  Former CIA agent Robert Baer has been quoted as saying  

 If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt.

Now it would seem those rumours were founded on truth.

Perhaps, some would argue, the end justifies the means..Let’s take a look at that more closely.  We have to first of all ask

‘How useful is torture as a means to produce viable information in the interest of national security ?’. 

From what I have been reading, there does not seem to be any evidence that use of torture is as effective in producing viable information as governments would have us believe. Intuitively this makes sense – if you are being slowly drowned, are in extreme pain, and are desperate for your situation to cease, what are you going to say? You may be the sort of person who becomes more resistant to complying under coercion, or may be you are the opposite, and will say whatever you need to to put and end to your agonizing situation. In either case (and apparantely there has been research which shows the former does happen) the information is not going to be reliable is it?

There is also the consideration of the actual physical and psychological effects of torture on the mind. If you have suffered damage in either respect it is possible that your ability to recall information will be impared. So again – how useful or accurate will be any ‘information’ you ‘give up’.

Methods of torture have been devised, known as ‘Clean’ methods which leave no visible physicals signs of torture, but it doesn’t mean they are any more/less effective.

So is the use of torture ever really ‘justified’ if it can not be shown that it really does produce useful information ? Apparantely there have been a few statistical studies on this, but with little evidence that this is the case.`

But I am no expert on the matter. If you are, or have some knowledge to add to gaining more clarity on the matter please leave a comment. 

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I was watching the debates tonight, and I thought it was really interesting how none of the the candidates who were given time to answer the question about what they thought Jesus would do regarding the death penalty, actually answered it. They all came back with some answer about them praying for guidance  to personally do the ‘right’ thing.

Why couldn’t they answer the question?

I believe it’s because in their minds they knew what the answer was, but to say it would consequently (since they profess to be Christians) make them look like hypocrites : if you asked any Christian whether or not they thought Jesus would support the death penalty, and even if they could imagine him sitting in on an execution, I am pretty sure they would say no (I’d love to hear any opinions contrary to this). So, if Jesus wouldn’t, then shouldn’t Christians also not?

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