The Ideablawg Connections Of The Week

This week, I am launching a new segment on my blog, The Ideablawg Connections Of The Week, wherein I will recommend items, some law related and some not, connecting them to other areas of interest. These items may be Internet based or print based (yes, there is still such an animal) and may be for viewing, reading, listening, or creating. This week, I recommend the following:

  1. A film about Walter Benjamin, philosopher, critic, and prolific writer, whose critical thinking and sharp analysis of the world around him modernized the essay genre. Walter Benjamin, a German Jewish intellectual, committed suicide when he was turned back from a border crossing with Spain and France during the German occupation of France in WWII. This film is nuanced and provocative. For further reading of Walter Benjamin, read his magnum opus entitled The Arcades Project, a blinding riff on life, the universe, and everything inspired by the shopping arcades of Paris, or a compilation of his essays in Illuminations, edited with a forward by Hannah Arendt, which is reason enough to read this. Then read Hannah Arendt’s, Eichmann In Jerusalem, her controversial series of articles for The New Yorker, covering Eichmann’s trial and decide for yourself what “banality of evil” means. To help you decide, read Deborah Lipstadt’s concise analysis of it in The Eichmann Trial and then watch the 2012 biopic, which may mean an Oscar nomination for Barbara Sukowa. For a law connection, read articles on Hannah Arendt as an International Criminal Law theorist.
  2. And now for something completely different: A NPR article of an interview John Rizzo, counsel to the CIA after 9/11, who has just written a memoir entitled Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA, in which he discusses, among other things, his views on “enhanced interrogation techniques” or what we would call “torture.” Look for his last word on the subject of “waterboarding,” which he states, “…if the Justice Department had concluded — that these techniques constitute torture, we would never have done them. So I can't say they were torture. I didn't concede it was torture then, and I don't concede that it's torture now.” Really? Tell that to a group of Toronto lawyers, who called for Dick Cheney’s arrest for war crimes based on these interrogation techniques, when he was in Toronto in October 2013. Let’s also reflect on the Queen’s Bench of Alberta Justice Yamauchi’s decision in Simpenzwe, that “it is not just a dental drill or waterboarding that extracts confessions out of people. Equally sinister are the “more subtle, veiled threats that can be used against suspects.”
  3. Totally unrelated is this article on the 10 “must have” apps for 2014. I like mailbox.
  4. Atlantic Cities regularly has articles of interest to the committed urbanite. They also have a number of articles on crime and, although US-centric, they nevertheless remind us of the Canadian experience. The article on “Nearly 50 Percent of Black Men Have Been Arrested by 23” is sobering. Although, Canada does not compile such data, read the consistently excellent and relevant reports issued by the Canada’s Correctional Investigator, Howard Sapers,  and his recent report on “A Case Study of Diversity in Corrections: The Black Inmate Experience in Federal Penitentiaries.”
  5. Finally, go see American Hustle, the Hollywood version of the 1980s ABSCAM – remember those grainy videotapes of payoffs by fake Sheiks – well watching it in Technicolor is so much satisfying and entertaining, including Christian Bale’s not well-disguised impression of the Mel Weinberg, a Bronx fraudster and confidence man. Is it just me or is Bale channeling Rob Reiner’sMeathead” in All In The Family?