Friday, April 08, 2011

A visit to Wat Rong Kung

A friend of mine is visiting Thailand from Australia.  She asked me what my favorite place in Chiang Rai was.  The answer my friend is, Wat Rong Kung (The White Temple).  We went there  on Wednesday afternoon.  It was cloudy with a bit of rain. It was a perfect for photography.

Having the opportunity to visit a place like Wat Rong Kung on more than one occasion has it’s advantages.   You know the whole complex is a work in progress; it’s  really fun to see what’s been added since the last visit.  The art gallery is now open.  No photography is allowed inside.  You’ll just have to come and have a look for yourself.  An excellent collection Ajarn Chalermchai’s work is on display.  You’ll just have to come and have a look for yourself!
The gift shop has reproductions of several works for sale.  I’ve already put Maliwan on notice.  I intend to have one of them framed and hung in our home and not in the too distant future.
This last trip resulted in a few interesting photographs.  I posted the day’s work at:  Without further comment here are a few of my favorites 

Abundant Blessings, 

More on the Bradley Manning Thing

Gentle reader, 

This doesn't fit this blog any more than my review of the book but I think it's well worth reading and considering.  I received an email asking me to sign a petition on behalf of Bradley Manning who is now incarcerated at Quantico.  The email I received is below my ramblings.  

How you feel about this is how you feel about it, and you are right!  The article is obviously designed to help Manning.  It's well written and they have included several links. The most interesting to me is Obama's where he advocates for whistle blowers.   Having said that, here is how I feel:

There certainly is enough evidence to try Manning as depicted in his charge sheets. There is a copy of the charge sheet attached to one of the links in the article. I believe he should be tried by courts martial.  I also believe that he's entitled to a speedy trial.  He's been held for 10 months pending.   How long does it take to prepare a slam-dunk case?

I also have serious reservations about his treatment. I doubt that he can be placed in general population as he'd likely be killed the first day.  However, this solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and forced stripping treatment described below is just stupid. The idiots are turning him into a martyr! In the meantime there are much more serious issues to deal with:   

1.  Security:   How was this much information allowed to be leaked.  Manning is not a spy, he's a young man who took an action he thought was correct. Hell if he hadn't shared his story with his friend who ratted him out, he might never have been caught.  What would a real spy be able to do?   Scary question huh?  

2.  Ethics & Morality:  How do we take the "high road" in the conduct of war?  The Iraq logs and the Afghanistan logs suggest that this is a question we have yet to answer.  It seems to me that we are, in may ways, lowering ourselves to their level and that's a damn shame.  While I'm at it, by what standards to we make the decision to make military commitments and to what extent. 

Should you sign the petition?   That's a decision for you to make my friend.

This is what I received:

Dear friends,

Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning is being subjected to brutal torture in a US military prison, part of a broader effort to silence and intimidate those behind any further leaks. The government is split on Manning's abuse. President Obama cares about the US global reputation -- a massive global outcry can push him to stop the torture:

Sign the petition
Right now, Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning is being tortured in a US military prison. Manning is subjected to utter isolation that can drive many people insane, with short periods each day where he is stripped naked and abused by jeering inmates.

Manning is awaiting trial for releasing secret military documents to Wikileaks – including a video of US soldiers massacring Iraqi civilians. And his brutal treatment appears to be part of an intimidation campaign to silence whistleblowers and crack down on Wikileaks.The US government is split on this issue, with diplomats publicly criticizing the military for Manning's treatment, but President Obama has stood aside so far.

Obama cares about the US's global reputation - we need to show him that it's at stake here. Let's build a massive global call to the US government to stop torturing Manning and uphold the law. Sign the petition below -- our message will be delivered through hard-hitting ads and actions in Washington DC as soon as we reach 250,000 signatures:

On paper, the United States opposes torture. The US Constitution forbids “cruel and unusual punishment". And, along with almost a hundred other countries, the US has signed an international convention promising to treat all prisoners “with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”. But today, Bradley Manning is utterly isolated in a cell without sheets, not allowed to exercise and is being subjected to brutal humiliation that is causing serious mental harm. This violates US and international law.

Bradley is being held under 'prevention of injury' status despite 16 reports from military mental health professionals that he should be removed from these severe conditions. His lawyers are trying to enforce his basic constitutional and international human rights in court, but so far the military tribunal responsible for Bradley’s fate has ignored his suffering.  

There has been a crack down on Wikileaks since the explosive revelations of US military crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many speculate that this brutal pressure on Bradley is intended to force him to implicate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But Obama promised Americans and the world that he would protect, not persecute, whistleblowers:

"Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled."

Bradley's cruel treatment does the opposite and sends a chilling message to others who may want to expose important information. Let's act quickly to put massive international pressure on the United States government to honor its commitment to human rights, the protection of whistleblowers and end the shockingly cruel treatment of their own citizen. Sign the petition below:

Bradley Manning claims he is a patriot and has admitted to releasing information that he felt the world had a right to know. While reasonable people can disagree about the approach of Wikileaks and the the rights or wrongs of those who delivered information to them, the illegal torture of Bradley Manning, who has yet to receive a fair trial or be convicted of any crime, is a shameful violation of human rights and human dignity.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Ricken, Pascal, Janet and the rest of the Avaaz team


Check out Obama's statement on the importance of whistleblowing released on his official website

PJ Crowley resigns over Bradley Manning remarks, The Guardian

Soldier's inhumane imprisonment, LA Times

US: Explain Conditions of Bradley Manning’s Confinement, Human Rights Watch

Stripped naked every night, Bradley Manning tells of prison ordeal, The Guardian

WikiLeakers and Whistle-Blowers: Obama's Hard Line, Time,8599,2058340,00.html

The Implications of the Inhumane Treatment of Bradley Manning, Huffington Post

U.S. Pledges Rights Improvements, New York Times

Bradley Manning: charge sheet