FDL Book Salon Welcomes Juan E. Mendez and Marjory Wentworth, Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights

By: Saturday December 3, 2011 1:59 pm

What could possibly make a human being torture another human being?

That’s a question that, as a young boy, I recall asking my grandparents—Holocaust survivors—after they described to me in vivid detail the torture they and other members of my extended family were subjected to by the Nazis during World War II.

It’s a question I returned to earlier this year when I had the opportunity to interview a veteran of the US Army Reserves who was torn up about the torture he says he witnessed and participated in against some “war on terror” detainees while serving as a guard at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. [That guard, Pfc. Albert Melise, has since been barred from reenlistment for speaking to me.]

 

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Bernard Harcourt, The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order

By: Sunday July 24, 2011 1:59 pm

It is a pleasure and an honour to introduce Professor Bernard Harcourt to the Lake for a discussion of The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of the Natural Order. The book advances several claims that go to the heart of libertarian ideology. For FDL readers probably the most important claim holds that belief in the efficacy of unregulated markets naturally to secure maximum economic and social well-being has as its counterpart the assertion that the role of government is properly confined to the spheres of criminal justice, national defense, and the protection of private property. Harcourt considers it no coincidence (Comrade, as we used to say in my cell), that the nation where free-market ideology is most pervasive has the world’s highest rates of penal incarceration by an order of magnitude, and that the rising incarceration rate since the mid-1970s is synchronous with the ascendance of an exceptionally rabid free-market ideology.

There is a deeper set of intellectual issues at play, however. What exactly do we mean by ’free markets’?

Petraeus, Spox Lie Again When Confronted with Afghan Civilian Deaths

By: Tuesday February 22, 2011 8:34 am

In a meeting Sunday at the presidential palace in Kabul to investigate reports of multiple civilian deaths in a US operation in Konar province, General David Petraeus deeply offended those present when he suggested that Afghan civilians had deliberately burned their children in an effort to blame US attacks for their injuries. Rear Admiral Gregory J. Smith, the top military spokesperson in Kabul, then provided a statement to the Washington Post suggesting that the burns were inflicted on the children as punishment. This development is remarkably similar to events last March, when Smith initially stated after Special Forces killed two pregnant women in a night raid that the women had been slashed to death by knives before the raid took place, only for a later investigation to reveal that the Special Forces soldiers had used knives to remove the bullets that they had fired into the women.

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