Saturday, July 01, 2006

Yeah, yeah, our first open thread

Torture Awareness Month has now come to an end. I want to thank you all for joining and for your support. You all dominated the Technorati hits for the phrase "Torture Awareness Month", and acted as a valuable defence against the usual spin and misinformation in a month that coincidentally contain some pretty significant events. I want to thank the Americans in the group in particular, for being willing to admit an unsavoury truth, and for accepting the responsibility of the citizen to hold one's government accountable.

The blogroll has exceeded my expectations, and I'm delighted to see that many of you have made new friends and formed new connections. I have learnt a lot from the blogroll members, many of whom were been dedicated anti-torture bloggers long before this blogroll was formed. You are a valuable resource.

A painting from the exhibit Torture: Signs of Despair -- Signs of Hope that was held this month at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Washington, DC.

It is because of this that I would like to leave this open thread here for a few days and let you discuss what you want to do with the alliance. Torture Awareness Month is over, but I know that many of you will continue to write about torture on your own blogs. This alliance belongs to you. What would you like to see happen with it that would help you to your goal?


Blogger elendil said...

Let me kick it off by saying that I'm happy to leave the page up, to add/remove members, and to send out emails to all members alerting them of any changes that are decided upon.

One wild card is that I'm not sure what will happen to the Torture Awareness website in the coming months. I've emailed the people in charge, but my contact is notorious for never getting back to anyone.

9:19 PM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

First, I need to alert everyone that I split my blog into two. My Greetings From America's Finest City is now going to be a personal/sports blog, while Independent Opinions will be the place to find my future torture and political posts.

Second, I am pleasantly surprised that we had a bigger impact on the blogosphere than anticipated. I think we need to keep this going. With Thursday's ruling, we know this is only the beginning and we need to keep blogging.

Third, I'm proud of each and every one of you who took the time to participate in Bloggers Against Torture. Give yourselves a pat on the back, grab your favorite beverage and have a toast --Cheers!

Finally, The Road to Guantanamo is opening in San Diego next Friday, so you know where I'm headed after work that evening.

1:30 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

Hi there. I've been proud to be a member and still am but I'm afraid I'm going to have to discontinue promoting the blogroll as I followed a link to one of the members on it: and it's a blog that all but supports torture. Writing pieces about all the 'good' sides of Gitmo and calling John Murtha a traitor and saying that Warren Buffet has gone 'against God' by giving his money to charity instead of the church.

I'm afraid that unless there is some level of pre-screening going to take place, I can't support the blogroll but rather will directly support torture awareness month.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

nate, Jon Swift is not for torture. His is a parody site. Read the rest of his posts. He pretends to be a conservative and takes positions to their most hilarious extremes.

His satire is quite funny. Reread his blog and I think you will feel much better! :) He is a valuable member of this alliance. A lot of people get a little confused initially, but his blog is one of the best blogs on the web.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

First, I would like to say that Robbie is like an amoeba: he is self-dividing.

elendil, I think we are just getting started with this alliance. I intend to continue writing about torture and human rights. I encourage the rest of my fellow members to continue to do so. I have learned a lot from you folks and I hope to read more of your posts. Torture victims and survivors need and deserve our support. It is little effort on our part to give voice to those who have none.

I do think we can make a difference, even if it is one reader at a time. The growth of this alliance has been incredible in the last month and I see no reason why we wont continue to grow. I think as we grow we can think about leveraging our numbers to focus awareness on particular aspects of the practice of torture.

Finally, elendil, if the burden of maintaining the blogroll becomes too great, I am sure we can all chip in to share the work to keep this blog and the blogroll updated. You've done incredible work in both writing about torture and doing the administrative aspects of the blogroll simultaneously. Without you, of course, this important blogroll would not exist.

So, thank you again. You might be getting tired of hearing all of us praise you but I am afraid you will have to get used to it.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Elendil, bravo or brava! I was tickled to see our ranks swell like nobody's business! I have not always been faithful in posting on torture, but I just posted something on Dr. Steven Miles' book, oath betrayed: torture, medical complicity and the war on terror. I won't stop either until the underlying cause of this attitude of 'the end justifies the means' is erased. I am with Mash, we will help. June being torture awareness month worked out great seeing that the Supreme Court just ruled it illegal..such synchronicity!
We all did great!

9:43 PM  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

Every month should be Torture Awareness Month.

Congratulations to all and special thanks to Elendil. Lets keep going.

7:59 AM  
Blogger MHB said...

elendil - does anyone (I guess that means you at this point) screen the sites before adding them to the blogroll? I agree Jon Swift is a really funny parody site - I was able to work through that.

But, as an example, I have no idea what naznazii is posting. I've been comfortable with all of the sites I've visited that I could understand, even if I didn't agree with everything on the sites - at a minimum they're saying they're against torture.

Even if the torture awareness site folds, do we need to fold the blogroll?

I'd also suggest you take mash (dr. strangelove) up on the idea of getting someone to help now with the admin of the blogroll - before it's too much for you to handle.

This is a pretty loose affiliation, so I'm not too worried about being associated too closely with peoplw with whom I disagree.

2:26 PM  
Blogger zazou said...


First, thanks for the invitation to join- I have enjoyed the association and learned some much from all of you + made some very cool blog friends. WHile I won't be posting on torture with quite the same intensity- it does fall into the category of things I address and so I will have something to say once in awhile. Please keep me informed of other initiatives that may come up along these lines- I would be honored to be a part.

2:40 PM  
Blogger zazou said...

PS: Robbie- have enjoyed your takes on San Diego. I live below the park- don't exatly see Sd or Petco the same way- but hey, great stuff!

2:41 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

Dr. Strangelove and others. Thanks for getting in touch with me about my mis-reading of Jon Swift's blog and it's satirical nature. It's a good schtick and after a deeper review it was plain to see.

Thanks again for those who have contacted me to clear it up. I appreciate it.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I wish the list of blogs that contain comments on the Bloggers Against Torture campaign could be put in alphabetical order. Also, I'd like to see a sampling of some of the comments.

3:35 AM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

You're welcome, Zazou. I added you to my newsreader, and now that I'm going back to rewriting a manuscript I've been working on since November I'll have to depend on bloggers like you to keep me informed on what's going on in the world.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Since Robbie wrote that he split his blog, thought I'd mention that I added "Uncle Frank's Farm" to mine. This contains my uncle's memories of his boyhood on the farm in the early part of the 20th century. It seems so very far from today's world of war, torture, and chaos, but maybe that's an illusion. I hope not, because maybe his world was "normal," and ours has just gone temporarily haywire.

5:22 AM  
Blogger No Blood for Hubris said...

Sign me up.

I'd like to see this continue.

2:21 PM  
Blogger elendil said...

There's some good discussion happening here. I'm going to leave this thread here for a few more days.

4:11 PM  
Blogger notjonathon said...

The General sent me over here. The real tragedy is that torture awareness is necessary. For those of us brought up in tender circumstances, in a day when we believed only the "communists" tortured people (slowly we learned that some governments our government supported also resorted to torture), it has been traumatic to learn that not only have elements of our government long resorted to these tactics secretly, but that our present one openly advocates its use. Where is America?

May the day soon come when sites such as this one are no longer needed.

3:06 AM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Firstly, thanks for the invitations to join. Understandably, many people work very hard to ensure we do not find out about the torture committed in our names, and so initiatives such as this one are vital and commendable.

As to what the alliance can do next...

I have been reading about this thing called Blogathon (I forget the URL, buts its on Google), where you agree to spend 24 hours blogging, with atleast one post every half hour. You can do it in groups aswell, and the idea is that people sponsor you (through the Blogathon website, I think) and your chosen charity.

I thought it was a cool idea, and was thinking about whether I'd have enough to talk about (and what to talk about).

If everyone, or as many people as possible, from Blogs Against Torture Blogathon-ed on torture (or torture related stuff) then it would really raise the profile and generate some cash for some anti-torture charity (eg. Amnesty International).

I *think* the day for doin' it is next Sat, but I'm not sure.

(btw, my site is at, not my blogger account).

9:47 AM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

heathlander, the blogathon sounds like a great idea. With so many on our roll it should be pretty easy to get enough posts to cover the whole 24 hour period. I bet cyberotter can do atleast half of them himself :)

5:09 PM  
Blogger elendil said...

Heathlander, I checked it out and the Blogathon is on 29 July. That gives us enough time to do this if we move fast. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be your 24 hour blogger -- I'll be interstate on business during that time and my occupation won't allow it. However, if you or anyone else here is willing to do it, what I can do is give you the keys to this blog and let you take over for the next month or so. I'd also be happy to put in the first pledge to get the ball rolling. What do you reckon?

3:35 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Yeh, I'm up for it, for sure. Should be fun, and worthwhile.

How shall we do it - like, a posting free-for-all or turn by turn, and should all the posts be 'torture specific', and so on?

But anyway, those are details. In principle, let's go for it!

5:00 PM  
Blogger elendil said...

Great stuff! I'm at work right now, and I see it's 2.00 am your time, so I'll sort some stuff out tonight to get you started (about 10.00 am Saturday morning your time). By then you should have keys to the blog.

I'll also clean up the template in readiness for the new activity, and get the email list ready. Sometime tomorrow morning if not tonight for the latter. ... this will all be good incentive for me not to hit the turps too hard tonight :-)

I would propose that the blogs be Coalition torture themed. There's 24 hours and half-hourly posts, which makes 48 posts total, which is a lot. I propose that we have one central blogger (Heathlander), and contributions from other bloggers who want to take one or more of the slots. Repayment could be a prominent link back to contributor's homepage. That way we'll get a diversity of bloggers, including our poets and video bloggers, and there's an incentive to contribute.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

heathlander, sign me up for a spot on the blogothon.

1:26 AM  
Blogger elendil said...

Heathlander: there should be an email waiting for you at your account. After you accept I'll send out an email to all blogroll members alerting them of the Blogathon.

4:01 AM  
Blogger elendil said...

Thanks Mash :-)

4:02 AM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

OK, its all set up. We are officially on the List of Bloggers (here:

You can place this link [ Sponsor Me! ] on your blog to encourage sponsorships by placing it on your blogs.

This page ( has lots of buttons to choose from, for the same purpose (my computer isn't letting me see them, for some reason).

Now, an important rule from the Blogathon site - apparently, pre-writing entries is NOT allowed, which makes sense (violates the spirit n all that).

You can read more FAQs at the Blogathon site (htt://

All the sponsorship money goes to Amnesty International USA.

I agree with elendil, that all blogs should be Coalition torture themed, but if anyone doesn't we should come to a decision (and so they should say so).

The Blogathon website says that people should start blogging at 6.00AM Pacific Time. Using the 'Fixed Time World Clock' (on, that means 14.00 in London, 23.00 in Sydney, and so on. From that point on, we must post atleast once every half hour.

Erm,is that everything...?

3:01 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

I've been browsing the Blogathon forums, to try and get a feel for what other people are doing.

Many people are trying to make it interactive, like running quizzes and so on. I'm not sure this is a good idea with our theme, since a) it doesn't really lend itself to games and b) we might be in danger of trivialising the issue.

Also, it seems many people offer 'incentives' for sponsors. Like, for example, people who pledge more then $30 get linked in the sidebar for a period of time, or get sent a thankyou card, or whatever.

Just some ideas to think about...

4:47 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

OK, I've just realised that we really don't have much time. So, here is the current proposal in full. Over the next couple of days, if anyone has any disagreements of suggestions or whatever, put them forward. If not then, then we can finalise the details and start preparing properly (like adjusting the template if necessary, or publicising, or whatever).

1. Bloggers Against Torture is a team effort. That's what it's all about. The Blogathon FAQ says group blogs are allowed. So, what I want to do is give anyone who wants it direct access to the blog, so you can publish post yourselves. Depending on your circumstances, you may only be able to stay online for an hour or two. You may just want to contribute a post. Others might want to stay online with me for the full 24 hours. So, if you are interested in contributing to the team effort, please reply to this post stating roughly the scale of your committment (a few posts, whole 24hrs, etc.). I will then add you to the blog, which will give you full posting rights.

2. All posts will be torture themed.

3. Contributors will be permitted to place a link to their blog/site in their post. This will encourage submissions, and plus 'tis only fair.

4. People who donate more than $30 should be rewarded in some special way, like placing their link in a sidebar widget.

5. We should have a post up explaining to visitors and contributors the benefits of submitting and/or sponsoring, such as the ones listed above.

6. It would be very helpful if there were some way blog members could communicate with each other outside the blog, so as to coordinate posts and to keep each other awake! I'm thinking of live chat type thing...any ideas??

Once all the details are finalised, I'll post an introduction explaining what's going on and what the rules are.


dr. strangelove, can I assume (from "sign me up for a spot on the blogothon.") that you are a willing contributor? Can you confirm (in light of the above), and also make a rough prediction (not binding, of course:) of the scale of the committment?

7:20 PM  
Blogger elendil said...

This looks good, Heathlander. WRT live chat, an alternative would be to just communicate through the comments. That way everyone can be involved in the discussion, and we can all laugh at your typos when you start getting tired :-)

7:27 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

Heathlander, I will commit to a minimum of one post. We need a total of 48, so let's see how many people we get to sign up. Best case is that we get 48 people and we can all do one post each. However, if we get less then 48, I will commit to more posts to make up the difference.

Once we have a full roster, we should determine who will post when. I will get the pledge link up on my blog by tomorrow.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

I have just posted a piece about the problems Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan is having publishing documents supporting the claims he makes in his book Murder in Samarkand.

Craig exposed the obscene Human Rights abuses of the Karimov regime and US and UK complicity with torture in that country. He was forced out of his job because of this and the UK Government is still trying to bury the story. Craig has published the documents on his site. In case his site gets shut down, other bloggers are mirroring the documents.

In the UK they are being mirrored by Blairwatch and my blog as well as some others. In the USA they are being mirrored by Dahr Jamail and Polizeros. If anyone outside the UK wants to help spread these documents it would be appreciated. It is only UK bloggers who are running a risk but this information should be in the public domain.

12:02 AM  
Blogger elendil said...

Thanks Davide. Unfortunately I don't own my own webspace on which I can do something like this. I've added a link to the main site -- hopefully other bloggers who have this can help out.

3:12 AM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

dr. strangelove - OK, you'll be signed up as soon as I've checked with elendil how to do it (erp..).

As to the 48 posts: yeh, hopefully we'll get 48 people who want to do atleast one post each, and we can then put 'em in order. (Of course, if someone wants to do many posts, they can).

elendil - I forgot about comments (yes, I know, even as I was writing one). Guess this is what happens when I try and write tired...

8:10 AM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

Blogathon? For 24 Hours? Count me in.

I don't have my own webspace for this, but I'd be more than happy to do a few hours. One thing you'd like about me is that I usually keep late hours on the weekends. I have no problem being up until 5am PST if necessary.

4:48 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Cheers Robbie - you don't need your own webspace to do this, we're using the Bloggers Against Torture site to post on.

OK, robbie and dr. strangelove, you have both been sent an invitation email which, when accepted, will allow you to post directly on here.

I'm gonna leave this up here for the rest of today, just to check that no-one wants to make adjustments to the rules, and then I'll put up the formal intro post.

3:17 AM  
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12:38 AM  

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