For those of you who aren’t familiar with the back story to the coup in Honduras that happened a year ago today, here’s a short and sweet video synopsis for you. The music is “Innocence” by “Working for a Nuclear Free City” off their “Businessmen and Ghosts” album.
Please digg/tweet/FB/fwd the link on and here’s to the ongoing struggle for justice that rages on in the face of continued repression.
More for Torture Awareness Month: Just when the US’s “checkered” (read: conspicuous) history of using “coercive techniques” (read: torture) to protect national security in the wake of 9/11 had your constitutional spidey-senses collectively tingling, recently published evidence suggests that government agents went even further. Physicians for Human Rights are behind a mini-site called “The Torture Papers”, which claim that “CIA medical personnel allegedly engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture.” Their goal? To make the process as effective and invisible as possible. Apparently the scope they’d been afforded by the Torture Memos wasn’t broad enough. That is, that in order to constitute torture, the pain suffered must be:
“equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”
It’s nose to the grindstone time at Archcomix HQ (temporarily based out of Ithaca, NY for the next 2 weeks), as I’m fighting to reach my daily goal of 1.5 pages of Borderland (my human trafficking comic), inked and penciled. So far, so good – even managed to get some done in Detroit airport at 6 in the morning. Just finishing a story about a worker who was kept enslaved at a Polish bakery and about to move on to a construction worker who was treated like an animal in one of Moscow’s most prestigious patches of real estate.
On a more upbeat note, my Knight Fellowship for 2010 is now only a summer away, so I thought I’d shed a little more light on the program and give you a chance to see what previous fellows spent their year working on.
June is Torture Awareness Month, so at the very least you can check out this video from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. (Yes, even if you’re a devout pagan). Here’s a good place to start if you’re new to the US’s private use and public condemnation of torture. As for the discrepancy over why the debate over torture continues to preclude taking any actual steps to end it, check out this article from Slate on Maher Arar, best summarised by this quote:
Each time an American court declines to address this issue because it’s novel, or complicated, or a matter best left to the elected branches, it reaffirms yet again that there is no precedent for doing justice in torture cases. By declining to find torture impermissible, they are helping to make it acceptable…Given that [torture is illegal], he wondered, why was the majority of the panel searching high and low for some diplomatic, national security, or supersecret policy reason to defer to the other two branches of government to set the parameters of U.S. torture policy. There is no U.S. torture policy. We don’t torture. So why are the courts leaving it to Congress to set its boundaries?
Which is all the more interesting in light of Ex-VP Dick Cheney’s comments from last year on Fox News, as reported by the NYTimes:
“I knew about the waterboarding, not specifically in any one particular case, but as a general policy that we had approved,” said Mr. Cheney, who noted that neither a gun nor a drill had actually been used on detainees. “The fact of the matter is the Justice Department reviewed all those allegations several years ago…
…The judgment was made then that there wasn’t anything that was improper or illegal”
You have to love that relative clause in the first sentence. Move over Jack Bauer, Fox has a new all-american hero re-writing its constitution.
Panel 1: Order the book here More on its polemical background here.
Panel 2: More on Tony Judt, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein.
Panel 3: For more on the anti-semitic tract in this panel, go here.
Panel 4: Quote from RollCall, an online magazine.
I’m now well into the Borderland comics project, with just over half of the artwork done and nearly all the thumbnails. In my focus on churning out pages, I missed the auspicious milestone that the US treasury passed last week, blazing past the 13 trillion dollar debt line with no hint of a slowdown. This is fast approaching 90% of the US’s GDP, though quite what difference it’ll make when the US spends more than it makes is open to debate. Want to see what part the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are playing in all this? Then visit the National Priorities Cost of War project.
Other interesting curios include the US’s fake theater of war, subject of a great new indie documentary. I first came across this on seeing that the US gov’t was using comics and video games to train troops, providing them with helpful visual guides to help categorize who they’re dealing with and how to adhere to the local mores and customs.
I’m delighted to say that the International Organization for Migration, one of the world’s largest NGOs dealing with trafficking, is going to print 10,000 copies of my upcoming Borderland comic to distribute in and around Eastern Europe as part of an initiative to reach at-risk youth. This week, the whole “Pick of the crop” comic (featuring the panels above) – about a worker’s exposure to harmful pesticides while being forced to pick strawberries – is being handed out in Kyiv at an event for Ukranian youth: it’s on Saturday at Khreschatyk, 11 am till 3 pm, if you happen to be in the area.
On a different note, I recently came across these amazing online lectures from the RSA, which are a hybrid form of audio lecture and accompanying visual presentation, done with speeded-up time-lapse photography. The lecture itself is interesting in its own right – a defense of cartooning you might argue, given the focus on mastery (room for improvement), satisfaction (doing some good in the world) and being your own boss as the most important qualities of a job. See what you think and leave a comment!
[For some reason, you may need to hit the spacebar to start the video, instead of clicking on it]
Above is a sample from my current project on human trafficking, called Borderland. The name comes from the translation of “Ukraine“. The comic, which will be around 32-36pages long, is made up of several different real-life stories recorded during interviews with victims at NGOs around the Ukraine over the past year. The finished pages will be B/W with a single spot colour over the top: search for “Roma” or “Trafficking” in the Apture search bar at the top of the page and you’ll find a complete page from a different story to see what I mean.
We’ll (my colleague and Fulbright Fellow Olga Trusova and I) then bundle those together with information and anti-trafficking resources (helplines, websites, NGO contact details), translate them into Ukrainian and Russian and disseminate them around Eastern Europe. I’ll be creating a dedicated page called ‘Trafficking” over the next few weeks that will feature more information on the project, as well as a gallery of pages, so be sure to come back and check it out.
Panel 3: Quote from the excellent Dutch documentary program “Tegenlicht” about the Israel lobby in the USA. This documentary (April 2007) is available to view for free online: (left)
The quote appears at 10:21sec. For more information on Christians United for Israel, go here.