Monday, July 19, 2010

Recent Scenes from Iraq

It is always good to get some news from Iraq, especially in the form of exceptional and telling images.

What makes these photos so remarkable is their ability to express a feeling and situation without words.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Guilt By Association..."

This article in The Nation is a must-read. A recent Supreme Court ruling defines giving "material support" to terrorists as not just what we would normally associate with that term -- donating money, giving instruction how to build bombs, etc -- but also anything that lends such a group credibility. The article describes how former President Jimmy Carter could technically be charged under this law. (I would also add Bill Clinton, who met with Kim Jong Il to secure the release of journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.)

It also has been ruled to apply to NGOs and aid organizations, even when they are trying to teach such a group how to progress in a non-violent way. But by definition, it could also be applied to any journalist who interviewed insurgents in Iraq (Michael Ware comes to mind, obviously) or worked with possible Taliban-sympathizers in Afghanistan (Rory Stewart? Deep trouble...) and that's not even getting into terror-groups-turned-political-factions, like the IRA or Hezbollah.

Guilt by association: how the US Supreme Court

let fear overshadow common sense

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jere Van Dyk

This is chilling... I had not heard his story before:

From Publishers Weekly

An American journalist exploring the war zone on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border reports unwanted lessons in its perils in this harrowing memoir. Having traveled with the freedom fighters in the '80s, Van Dyk thought he had the connections and knowledge to navigate the tribal lands between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but he was captured by a fractious band of Taliban fighters in 2008. Van Dyk (In Afghanistan: An American Odyssey) and his Afghan guides spent 44 days in a dark cell. Well-fed but terrified, he felt a nightmare of helplessness and disorientation. Dependent on a jailer who mixed solicitude with jocular death threats and a ruthless Taliban commander who could free or kill him on a whim, the author performed Muslim prayers in an attempt to appease his captors; wary of murky conspiracies involving his cellmates, he was afraid of everybody, including the children. Van Dyk's claustrophobic narrative jettisons journalistic detachment and views his ordeal through the distorting emotions of fear, shame, and self-pity. But in telling his story this way, he brings us viscerally into the mental universe of the Taliban, where paranoia and fanaticism reign, and survival requires currying favor with powerful men. The result is a gripping tale of endurance and a vivid evocation of Afghanistan's grim realities. 1 map. (June 22)
He appeared on The Daily Show last night:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jere Van Dyk
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