Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Safe at Home

CNN National Security Analyst, Peter Bergen, wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times last week, reassuring readers that the US is indeed protected against Al Qaeda driven terrorist attacks within our borders. (Outside of our borders is another story.) It's a prime example of reasoned, measured and logical thought processes. Which, let's be honest, can be somewhat lacking in "The Media".
You can read it here.

So, if you've been worried about a major attack with in the US during the Obama administration's transition; if Peter is correct, consider this article a reassuring pat on the back. Thanks, Peter. Would you like a Christmas cookie? (No snark, I've got cookies everywhere.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christiane Amanpour: Reporting On Genocide

Christiane Amanpour was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air to talk about her new documentary, Scream Bloody Murder.  She hit on several other topics including her rise at CNN, the news business, and CNN's recent coverage of Mumbai.  The link to the full audio interview can be found here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Fixer's role

Aaron Rockett, film director of the documentary "The Fixer - Afghanistan Behind the Scenes" was the guest of CNN's International Correspondents, last week:

I really invite you to check the website of this documentary...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Narrow escape in Baghdad - NPR's Ivan Watson

Ivan Watson talked by phone on BackStory, yesterday, about his car bombed in Baghdad :

More about this news on NPR website (phto gallery and video).
A live chat is also planned with Ivan Watson, today, Tuesday Dec. 2nd, at noon EST, on NPR website. You can read/send your questions here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The ‘Good War’ Isn’t Worth Fighting

Rory Stewart writes about Afghanistan in a series of New York Times op-ed articles on the most formidable issues facing the new president.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Crisis in Congo

The above photo was one of many published in The Boston Globe.  Doctors Without Borders launched these photos in conjunction with a multimedia event to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis in Congo.  

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dexter Filkins on MSNBC

Dexter Filkins was on Morning Joe, Nov.12 :

Good to hear him!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My reflections of Dexter Filkins at the Dekalb Public Library, October 2, 2008

I am looking for a word to call this. Ordinarily, I would call it a "review," but somehow, I don't think a person who has spent the last five years in a war zone needs my "review." Maybe I can call it my "reflections," since I'm over a month tardy in writing it, and the word reflect suggests looking back.

I attended a presentation on October 2 at the Dekalb Public Library by Dexter Filkins, author of THE FOREVER WAR.

As I was waiting for the talk to begin, I started reading the book. In the first chapter, Dexter wrote about
 attending a public execution and amputation in a sporting arena in Afghanistan 10 years ago, so I knew from the start this was not a book to read before going to bed. Nightmare city. But it was real.

Dexter opened his talk by telling the same chilling story. As I looked over the crowd, I could see the looks on people's face
s go from a pleasant welcome for Dexter to grim.

Dexter shared photos by James Hill, who
m he'd traveled with for months in Afghanistan and Iraq. The photos were magnificent. I wanted to jump out of my chair and be there...until Dexter would unfold a story that would usually end in death.

For instance, the funky
-looking old man with a beret...who turned out to be not the local artist but a war lord. And the truck load of men that looked like they were going to work on some sort of desert farm...but were really prisoners that were crying out for water in several different languages; they were dead within hours.

The two sisters in burkas were cute. I pray they are still alive and safe.

I sat there and wondered, with all the beauty and majesty of this land how could such human atrocities be happening?

The only negative thing I could say was Dexter kept telling us he was going to be brief and not talk for long. I wished I could say to him, Dexter, people
were jumping through hoops to get there and hear you. Don't be brief!

Also, at the risk of not seeming to take the subject seriously enough, I must say, Dexter is easy on the eyes. He also has a very cute personality.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Dexter

In late August, Dexter Filkins went back to Iraq, and while he was there the New York Times posted two Q&A sessions he did. They were very interesting:

Then in September, he wrote a long article for the Times about the changes in Iraq since he left:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The New York Times's Lonely War

Vanity Fair has an amazing piece that explores the "day-to-day toll - the infighting, isolation, and near-death experiences - of covering the most important story no one wants to read about."  The author of the article, Seth Mnookin, focuses in on the New York Times's Baghdad bureau (there is a small mention of CNN's Michael Holmes) and talks with John F. Burns, Dexter Filkins, and others.

The above photograph of Dexter Filkins was taken by Ashley Gilbertson in 2004.

Afghan Tales: Conflict and Chaos

Spies, soldiers, diplomats and ordinary people who have lived through Afghanistan's decades of turmoil (including Rory Stewart and former CIA man Michael Scheurer) speak to Alan Johnston, the BBC's former Kabul correspondent.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Timeout in Baghdad

Dexter Filkins writes about taking timeout from war to watch his "beloved team from Miami." The article appeared in this Sunday's edition of the New York Times, Play Magazine.

Richard Engel back in Sadr City

Seen on NBC web site,Richard Engel reported from Sadr City :"Hoping for a turnaround in Sadr City":

I am always amazed by the paints on the blast walls and Sharon sent me some very interesting links about these walls: NYT's article, LA Times's, a slide-show on BBC News site and a MSNBC video. Many thanks to her.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

High Risk, Limited Payoff

Fred Kaplan, from Slate, has written an excellent piece about the October 26 air raid in Syria, which killed eight people.  He argues that this marks "a new escalation of the war on with limited payoffs and astonishingly high risks".  

How much more damage will be inflicted before January 20, 2009?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dexter Filkins reviews The Wild Card

In June, Dexter Filkins wrote a lengthy review of a book about Muqtada al Sadr, The Wild Card. There is a lot of history and information in the review, it is well worth reading.

Nir Rosen: "The Myth of the Surge"

Nir Rosen wrote an incredible article for Rolling Stone last spring titled "The Myth of the Surge" which still should be required reading for everyone...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dexter Filkins, The Forever War.

I had the pleasure of attending a talk given by Dexter at the Decatur Library. The book gives chilling accounts of thing Dexter has witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I like the book because it is a series of short stories. My time to read is so limited, that makes it tough to get through a book.

I also liked that the book was very nonpartisan. However, it was not hard for me to dislike "you know who" even more after reading the book. Just my opinion.

The slide show of breathtaking photographs was the highlight of the talk. Taken by photographer James Hill. (If you're over 40 it's a slide show, if you're under 40 it's a PowerPoint!)

How shall I say this, Dexter is "easy on the eyes" and has a wonderful personality.

This clip is from Google Books, and is very close to the presentation in Atlanta.

Between Duty and Downtime in Afghanistan has some wonderful photo streams on nearly every topic. The above is from Between Duty and Downtime in Afghanistan by Marco di Lauro, a photojournalist for Getty Images who documented "the daily life of British soldiers deployed in the battle against the Taliban."

I've always been amazed at the ability of photojournalist to capture the pain, fear, brutality and beauty of a war zone in a split-second shot.

It was not easy, and I had the distinct feeling of violating his privacy. I had experienced the same feeling the day after the attack, when I went to the various hospitals to photograph the survivors, some of whom were in critical condition. It was painful to approach the families, trying to be as discreet as possible, and ask them, while they stood vigil at the deathbeds of their loved ones, "Good day. Would you mind if I took some photographs?"

There are times when I feel like a jackal feeding on the pain of others. Yet it is my hope that, by telling the stories of people who, quite often, might otherwise never be heard from, my work can serve as a lesson, heightening the awareness of those sitting comfortably in their chairs throughout the rest of the world, reading their newspapers.

That is Marco di Lauro's own words from a report he did covering the hotel bombings in Jordan nearly 3 years ago. To Die at Your Children's Wedding

Thursday, October 23, 2008

John Burns: Prospects in Afghanistan, Not Looking Good

John Burns, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, was recently interviewed by the Council on Foreign Relations on his recent visit to Afghanistan.  Burns has spent many years in Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s and had the following to say with respect to the front line on the war on terrorism:

"The asymmetric war which was effectively deployed by the insurgents and al-Qaeda in Iraq is moving to Afghanistan.  Indeed, some of the practitioners are moving.  We have been briefed by American military in Iraq that former fighters who in the past were flooding to Iraq, mostly Arabs and Central Asians, are now making Afghanistan their war of choice; which means, in effect, that Senator Barack Obama and the insurgency in Iraq agree on one thing and that is that the front line of the war on terrorism is now Afghanistan and not Iraq."
You can also find Burn's most recent New York Times article on Afghanistan here.

Sebastian Junger in the Korengal Valley

Sebastian Junger has done some great reporting for Vanity Fair from Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.

This is an article and video from January 2008: Into the Valley of Death

And an update from this month: Return to the Valley of Death

NBC's Richard Engel behind-the-scenes in Afghanistan

I just saw this on MSNBC website. Does NBC copy CNN's BackStory. I don't think so...

Now, if we could have the same type of report on CNN with an Australian warco with his cute producer... Just a thought!

All this hard and dangerous work for these two stories:

"Confronting Afghanistan's 'Valley of Death'"

"Seeing the enemy in Afghanistan"