Afghanistan

Building Trust Takes Resources, Not Drones

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Glancing upward at one of the six U.S.-manufactured aerostat blimps performing constant surveillance over Kabul, I wonder if the expensive, high-tech, giant’s-eye view encourages a primitive notion that the best way to solve a problem here is to target a “bad guy” and then kill him. If the bad guys appear to be scurrying dots on the ground below, stomp them out. But crushing only the right dots has proven very difficult for a U.S. drone warfare program documented to have killed many civilians.

Weekly Wrap 4.22.16: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Mourning Prince and David Bowie, Who Showed There’s No Right Way to Be a Man

“… We’ve lost two men who had an expansive, almost luxuriant vision of what it meant to be a man and lived out that vision through decades when it was much less safe to do so.”

2. On Earth Day, a Look at How Americans View Environmental Issues

Should the country do whatever it takes to protect the environment? The number of Republicans who say “yes” has decreased in the past 12 years.

3. Wage Gap Alarm Clock Rings After 79% of the Work Day Is Done So Women Can Go Home

Brilliant.

What the French Promise of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité Looks Like for Refugees

A small shop in the Jungle. Image via Sean Hawkey / World Council of Church / Sojourners

This month, French authorities have been demolishing the 'Jungle,' a toxic wasteland on the edge of Calais. Formerly a landfill site four kilometers square, it is now populated by approximately 5,000 refugees pushed there over the last year. A remarkable community of 15 nationalities adhering to various faiths comprises the Jungle. Residents have formed a network of shops and restaurants which, along with hamams and barber shops, contribute to a micro-economy within the encampment. Community infrastructure now includes schools, mosques, churches, and clinics.

British Man on Trial for Trying to Rescue 4-Year-Old Refugee

Rob Lawrie with Bahar Ahmadi. Image via Twitter

"I had told her father 'no' many times," Lawrie said in his small suburban-style house in Guiseley, 210 miles (335 kilometers) north of London. "But half past 10 one rainy night, when she fell asleep on my knee as I was leaving for the ferry, I just couldn't leave her there anymore. All rational thought left my head."

Surveillance and Surveys in Kabul

Surveillance drone, Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock.com

In Kabul, where the Afghan Peace Volunteers have hosted me in their community, the U.S. military maintains a huge blimp equipped with cameras and computers to supply 24-hour surveillance of the city. Remotely piloted drones, operated by Air Force and Air National Guard personnel in U.S. bases, also fly over Afghanistan, feeding U.S. military analysts miles of camera footage every day. Billions of dollars have been invested in a variety of blimps, which various vendors, such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Aeros have shipped to Afghanistan. All of this surveillance purportedly helps establish “patterns of life” in Afghanistan and bring security to people living here. But this sort of “intelligence” discloses very little about experiences of poverty, chaos, hunger, child labor, homelessness, and unemployment that afflict families across Afghanistan.

Afghan Survivor of U.S. Hospital Bombing: ‘God Will Hold Them Accountable’

Khalid Ahmed. Image via Dr. Hakim.

“I feel very angry, but I don’t want anything from the U.S. military. God will hold them accountable,” said Khalid Ahmad, a 20-year-old pharmacist who survived the U.S. bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on Oct. 3.

 

Air Force Whistleblowers to Obama: 'Drone Strikes Fuel Terrorism'

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

The joint statement — from the group who have experience of operating drones over Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict zones — represents a public outcry from what is understood to be the largest collection of drone whistleblowers in the history of the program. Three of the letter writers were sensor operators who controlled the powerful visual equipment on U.S. Predator drones that guide Hellfire missiles to their targets.

…The four are represented legally by Jesselyn Radack, director of national security and human rights at the nonprofit ExposeFacts. “This is the first time we’ve had so many people speaking out together about the drone program,” she said, pointing out that the men were fully aware that they faced possible prosecution for speaking out.

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