Friday, I participated in a CrossTalk debate on Russia Today. It aired today. I was nervous. I didn’t realize the topic would focus on drones, so I contacted friends in Pakistan to hear more about the election. It turned out we were focused on Drones. Probably this discrepancy was a good thing.
I could have smiled more often. Could have left out the phrase ‘I think’ on a number of occasions though it is probably better than the "umms" I had managed to control.
But, all in all, not too bad. I got my point across.
I also think it is worth while to confront people. Yesterday I took my mother to an event where my 90 year old father (and 43 others) were celebrated for their participation WWII. It was a very stressful experience. Little children were encouraged to run up and hug these old warriors and to raise money for their trip to DC where the visited the WWII Vet Memorial, the Korean Vet Memorial and the Vietnam Vet memorial. It took a very long time for 43 guys, more than half in wheelchairs to move through the crowd. We were the for four hours, waiting, then cheering, more waiting, and more cheering.
From the family point of view, it was an obligation and an opportunity to seem my parents feel happy and important. I was on point to support my mother. As she sat in front of the roped off procession route more than 60 years fell from her mind. Most of he honorees smiled and waved as they were rolled by. Some honorees seemed confused, and others wept. My dad walked along with a rakish manner I haven’t seen in years, while my brother (whose son is struggling to recover from nearly a decade as a Marine in Iraq) was in tears. I know it was a powerful experience for these men, who feel like their lives are ending; who feel they have been or may soon be forgotten. But there ought to be a better way to celebrate their lives, most of which were devoted to the activities of peace; family, work and community life. But then what could be as important as saving civilization? Continue reading Loving Dad. Celebrating War.
A year ago, at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, I met a drone pilot while I was outside the main entrance protesting the MQ9 Reaper drones being flown from nearby Hancock Air National Guard Base. Every year we have a Tableau on the lawn beside the entrance to the Fair that depicts the aftermath of a drone strike in Afghanistan where Hancock pilots fly their drones, though it could be Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or any of the other places where drones strike civilian targets where suspected ‘militants’ might be present. Notice I say, ‘suspected’ and ‘might’. The only certainty is that the location is a civilian structure like a home, a workplace, a place of worship or market in a civilian context, like a village. This isn’t war as it was explained to me in the study of history. It is pillage. And the result, as we show in our tableau, is the death or ordinary people, men, women, children and elders, and the destruction of their homes, workplaces and places of worship.
Last year, in particular, Hancock Air Base was promoting it’s grisly work with a booth inside the fair where people could experiment with controlling a drone flight emulator. Continue reading Meeting a Drone Pilot
I spent the weekend at the Upstate Drone Coalition‘s Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire, A Convergence to Action, a weekend of networking , learning and action. It was a wonderful weekend with a Conference followed by a day of action at Hancock Air National Guard Base. You can see an assortment of videos on the Upstate Drone Action Blog.
Hundreds of prisoners of the US War of Terror languish in prisons around the world, in Guantanamo and on the US mainland. Some have been there as long as 12 years some have sentences that extend beyond the span of their life. Many have never been charged with a crime and more than half the prisoners who remain in Guantanamo have had their original charges dropped or have served their full sentence, but are barred by US law from being repatriated to their homeland, therefore can not be released. Even the few prisoners in Guantanamo who are considered ‘high value’ are mostly charged with thought crimes, plans that were never carried out in any significant detail. In many cases, the leads that initially brought them to the attention of the FBI or CIA have proved to be inaccurate. Continue reading Prisoners of the War on Terror
A woman finds herself alone on the street in an unfamiliar neighborhood of an unfamiliar city. The people around her don’t speak her native language, and in fact, she doesn’t understand their language. She is accompanied by a 12 year old boy, Ali. She doesn’t recognize him, but she has a great affection for children, and he is in her care. He will later be identified as her son, Ahmed whom she has not seen in the 5 years since they were abducted from a taxi in Karachi not far from their home. She doesn’t know how she got there, and she isn’t entirely sure why she is there. Small and slender, no more than 110 lbs, he seems fragile, a little disoriented, out of place. She will later say that she was looking for her husband, or another time, that she was looking for a particular woman. It’s possible she really doesn’t know why she is there. She hears the Muezzin’s call and begins to move towards the mosque. Perhaps she will find a refuge there.
The Afghan police in Ghazni notice a woman on the street. Something draws their attention to her. She doesn’t appear to belong to the place. Perhaps she isn’t dressed in the local style. She is on the street in the early afternoon on a Friday when most men are at the Mosque and women are in their homes. The Police say she seemed out of place, lost. The police would later say that she was loitering after dark, but among the court documents, there is an interview with the shopkeeper in front of whose store she was detained. He says that he wasn’t in the store because it was Friday, he was attending the prayer service at the Mosque. It would have been between 1 pm and 3:30 pm. He swears the woman is a stranger and he has never seen her before. Continue reading Lunar Eclipse
I’m not prepared to write a eulogy or a memorial. As much as I knew this day was coming, I couldn’t prepare for it. I can only hope that the people of Venezuela are ready to stand on their own for their rights they have won, and the forces of the Bolivarian Revolution are prepared to go on without their progenitor. And may the new South America the child of your dream and your determination, continue on the path of independence and prosperity under your watchful spirit. There is still a lot of work to be done and a long road ahead. Continue reading Hugo Chavez, Presente!