Torture: Still Bad

Tuesday night’s Republican Presidential Debate was a debacle: the biggest applause from the audience was in favor of waterboarding, and the candidates variously called for doubling the size of Guantanamo (Mitt Romney), employing the talents of fictional torturer Jack Bauer (Tom Tancredo), or for interragators to “use use every method they could think of” (Rudy Giuliani). Only John McCain and [edit] Ron Paul were against it.

The Washington Post published, in response, a great op-ed by two former U.S. Generals (Charles C. Krulak, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Joseph P. Hoar, former head of CENTCOM).

It says, in part:

These assertions that “torture works” may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security.

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture — only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works — the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real “ticking time bomb” situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of “flexibility” about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone — the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

Complex situational ethics cannot be applied during the stress of combat. The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality.

This has had disastrous consequences.

This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

Read the Full Story at The Wasthington Post
“It’s Our Cage, Too: Torture Betrays Us and Breeds New Enemies”
By Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar
April 17, 2007

As Seen in Real Life

Behold, an actual, real live ad that I received along with my weekly update from Science magazine
(“Unpopular Science”, as my good friend Reggie Ratcliff once quipped):

Stop Cloning Around …
Discover Stratagene’s Next Generation Cloning Reagents

Regardless of your starting material we offer a solution that will
help guarantee the success of your cloning experiments. Our next
generation cloning reagents include: Accuscript™ High Fidelity
Reverse Transcriptase – the most accurate RT. PfuUltra®II
and Herculase® DNA Polymerases – providing the highest
fidelity and yields respectively. StrataClone™ PCR Cloning Kits
– the new, more affordable topoisomerase-based cloning method.

I shared this with a good friend, and he wondered if it was a hoax. No, the whole magazine is like that, just brimming over with enough actual science to make your head spin.

Hey, and you can get a subscription for only $75/year, if you’re a student.

Pet Food Recall Expands Again

As you’ve probably heard by now, the melamine contamination in pet food was almost certainly caused by deliberate adulteration — adding melamine to wheat gluten and rice gluten makes them test higher for proteins, garnering a higher price.

Oh yes, and the Chinese food companies in question were placing ads on the Internet for scrap melamine. Not just adulteration, but adulteration with random scrap.

With recall-related deaths in the thousands (though the FDA only admits to 16), it pays to stay on top of the situation.

The ASPCA has a well-updated set of pages on the ever-expanding recall. Click on the kitty!

ASPCA Pet Food Recall Center