Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, speaks

The full remarks of Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was murdered by a Neo-Nazi white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend.


Confession: Truth and Lies

The Innocence Project in the US works on cases of alleged wrongful conviction and imprisonment.  They point out how easily confessions can be contaminated.

The following information comes from their website:

Astonishingly, more than 1 out of 4 people wrongfully convicted but later exonerated by DNA evidence made a false confession or incriminating statement.

Why do innocent people confess?

The reasons that people falsely confess are complex and varied, but what they tend to have in common is a belief that complying with the police by saying that they committed the crime in question will be more beneficial than continuing to maintain their innocence.

The factors that can contribute to a false confession during a police interrogation include:

  • duress
  • coercion
  • intoxication
  • diminished capacity
  • mental impairment
  • ignorance of the law
  • fear of violence
  • the actual infliction of harm
  • the threat of a harsh sentence
  • misunderstanding the situation

Confessions obtained from juveniles are often unreliable — children can be easy to manipulate and are not always fully aware of their situation.

People with mental disabilities have often falsely confessed because they are tempted to accommodate and agree with authority figures. Further, many law enforcement interrogators are not given any special training on questioning suspects with mental disabilities. An impaired mental state due to mental illness, drugs or alcohol may also elicit false admissions of guilt.

Mentally capable adults also give false confessions due to a variety of factors like the length of interrogation, exhaustion or a belief that they can be released after confessing and prove their innocence later.

From threats to torture

Sometimes law enforcement use harsh interrogation tactics with uncooperative suspects. But some police officers, convinced of a suspect’s guilt, occasionally use tactics so persuasive that an innocent person feels compelled to confess. For instance, it is perfectly legal for law enforcement to employ deception or trickery in the interrogation room. Some suspects are untruthfully told that there is already evidence pointing to their guilt, such as a forensic test that links the suspect to the crime. Some suspects have confessed to avoid physical harm or discomfort. Others are told they will be convicted with or without a confession and that their sentence will be more lenient if they confess. Some are told a confession is the only way to avoid the death penalty. These tactics can be persuasive in eliciting a false confession.



Exorcisms Today

So you want to keep up with the times?  Or would you prefer to return to ‘traditional times’?  Either way, it appears exorcisms hold a lasting appeal for some.


Read Peter Munro’s article ‘Defeating the Devil: Why Exorcism in Australia is on the Rise’ for a fascinating look at exorcism in Australia.  What parallels can you see between this article – the claims of those who believe in exorcism and the views held by the Salem community in ‘The Crucible’?

Only last week national newspapers in the UK pointed out the alarming rise in exorcisms.


The Handmaid’s Tale: Introducing Serena Joy

THE HANDMAID’S TALE: Introducing Serena Joy

Your task is to carefully complete a set of notes on your ‘OFFRED & SERENA JOY’ page

Look carefully at how Atwood sets up the Commander’s Wife

Re-read Chapter 3 (pp. 22-26)

Re-read pp. 55-57

Watch the footage of Tammy Bakker (see blog post called Serena Joy)

You should take note of any symbols or motifs which are use.  Don’t forget the references to flowers – some specific ones are mentioned.  You are trying to comment on the significance (try to ask AND answer the question: ‘What does this suggest?).    You should capture quotations that embody something of their characters.  Try to comment on the nature of the Wife/Handmaid relationship.  Try to comment on what you perceive is the experience of Serena Joy in the time before and in the establishment of Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Freedom and Oppression in Chapters 4, 5, 6

The Handmaid’s Tale: Freedom and Oppression (chapters 4,  5 & 6)
Consider the differences we have been thinking about between status, authority, power and agency  and how we go explaining the nature of individuals and their relationships to others.  Try to get into the realm of expressing the feelings Offred has (clue: they are complex!). Do not try to answer these questions without first re-reading the text.

Re-read pp. 31-32 to the end of the chapter and respond in fully formed paragraphs incorporating evidence to the following questions:

1.  What are the “tiny peepholes” and their significance to Offred?
2.  What does Offred mean when she says: “Nobody’s heart is perfect.” Why do you think she thinks this?
3.  What is the nature the power dynamic between Offred and the young Guardians?


Re-read Chapter 5 and collect at least four quotations about the nature of freedom and four about the restrictions of Gilead – put these in your Red or Dead booklet in the appropriate section.  Comment on the language and what it suggests.  Look out for the Red Centre propaganda.


Answer the following questions in paragraphs:
1.  What does Offred mean by ” We have learned to see the world in gasps”?
2.  Re-read page 42 and the description of the bodies hanging on the wall, paying careful attention to Atwood’s figurative language here.  Her similes and metaphors are designed to horrify.  Which turns of phrase do this best, in your opinion?  What does Offred’s language tell you about her emotional state?
3. Read the paragraph that begins “I look at the one red smile.” to “…in my own mind.”  What do you think is going on here?


Stan Grant: Could this be the end of times? ABC News

Does the global terrorism threat, rising inequality and stagnant economic growth signal the end of times?

PHOTO: Russia and China are exerting their influence in the space created by US uncertainty. (Reuters: Carlos Barria)

What are our conditions today? What are these times we are living in?

Our headlines are of war or the threat of war. Our politics is divided. Inequality is rising. Terrorism is global. The climate is changing. Economic growth is anaemic or uncertain.

There is suspicion and fear in the air and demagogues only too willing to exploit it.