â€¢ GuantÃ¡namo Memories: Mariah Blake has deep knowledge of the story of Murat Kurnaz, who was imprisoned for five years at GuantÃ¡namo despite determinations within a year that he was innocent. She was in the room Tuesday in Bremen, Germany, when he testified via video to Congress.
"Kurnaz is very boyish: he was only 19 when he was detained," Mariah notes. "He is all about weight lifting and motorcycles and is unpolitical by nature. Had this not happened to him, he'd probably be playing with Game Boys and riding motorcycles."
Mariah says the hearing posed a number of challenges. Some were technical: "It was supposed to start at 8 p.m., but he couldn't speak till almost 10 p.m.," she says. "At one point, he started to give his testimony and the screen went black."
Language was another hurdle. "The testimony was very emotional, since it talked about torture. He spoke for about 20 minutes in halting English and was questioned for about the same amount of time. The complexity of his story and his English made it a bit like a game of telephone. "
â€¢ It Looks Pretty Scary Out There: People from all over the world have visited the Professional Training Institute in Mexico City to look at their efforts to professionalize the city's judicial police, says staff writer Sara Miller Llana. And that apparently is a scary experience for some of them.
"Mexico City, of course, has a bad reputation with violence. One officer told me that a few years ago, they had a guy visiting from Israel. Afterward, a police trainer invited him out for dinner," Sara relates. " 'No thanks,' the man said. 'Oh really, you should come, the food is fabulous in Mexico.' The Israeli guy proceeded to make up all these excuses. Finally, when pushed, he said: 'Well, I've heard it's too dangerous to go out in Mexico City.' The trainer asked him where he lived. Home was the West Bank, in the Palestinian territories."
â€“ Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor