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Croak and Dagger

Taxonomy: The spy who loved frogs. "To track the fate of threatened species, a young scientist must follow the jungle path of a herpetologist who led a secret double life." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Sep 16, 2013 - 8 comments

"Come on Clock, talk to me boy!" . . . "It hurts"

Many years ago, I found a quarter inch audio reel in a rotting cardboard box, covered in dust, while helping my dear friend and mentor, Lighting Cameraman John B. Peters, clean up his garage. He told me it had been recorded in Vietnam during his coverage of that war. On the box, still legible, was handwritten: “Firefight, no name village, near Chu Lai, September 10, 1966, Nagra 3, 3,75 I.P.S.” John recalled that he was out with a patrol that day, and when the Vietcong ambushed them, they all had to duck for cover, but his soundman kept the audio recorder rolling throughout the duration of the fierce firefight that followed.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 6, 2013 - 43 comments

Data Visualization Fun Fridays: Mapping Arms Data.

ARMSGLOBE: an interactive visualization of the international trade in small arms (generally defined as lethal weapons for use by individuals) from 1992 to 2011. Click on an individual country or type its name into the search box to examine it separately. Uncheck the boxes in the lower right corner to narrow down by category. Drag the slider at the bottom or click the graph button to view change over time. May take a while to load on slower connections. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Sep 6, 2013 - 5 comments

I'll take "What is Syria" for $100, Alex

9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask
posted by desjardins on Sep 1, 2013 - 425 comments

Fettering discretion

Yesterday the House of Commons and the House of Lords debated a response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. The government lost the debate and the commons rejected military action. David Cameron said "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the Government will act accordingly.." A government MP explains why she voted against and Charles Stross makes a suggestion for what could be done (distributing gas masks, field decontamination showers, NAAK kits, and medical resources to everyone in the conflict zones)
posted by Gilgongo on Aug 30, 2013 - 394 comments

To the honorable doctor, hello

Casualties from the Syrian civil war are being treated in Israeli hospitals, some of them with referrals from Syrian doctors. The identities of the patients and the route they have taken is being kept secret for fear of repercussions from authorities in Syria, which is formally at war with Israel. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Aug 26, 2013 - 13 comments

Love, war and politics

I am chasing you like a drone
You have become al Qaida;
there’s no trace of you

 
The poetry of Afghan trucks.
posted by Artw on Aug 19, 2013 - 10 comments

TP-AJAX

In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times in 2000. Timeline. However, they refused to release them to the public. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 19, 2013 - 33 comments

US use of drones: The good and bad

This article covers the US drone program. It looks at the pilots of drones, the decisions to use a drone, their highly effective short terms goals vs long term potential blowback and whether drone strikes are legal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 15, 2013 - 50 comments

Internet Ecosystem

How the Internet Ecosystem Works. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 11, 2013 - 11 comments

"Elites preying on the weak, the gullible, the marginal, the poor."

"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."
-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat, an essay by Chris Hedges of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 9, 2013 - 57 comments

Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

Richard Prendergast Rode on the Prisoner Train with Kurt Vonnegutt.

"Just to describe you: You're a large man, a big boned man." ..The most fascinating oral history you'll hear this week. Prendergast endured a German labor camp after being captured during the battle of the bulge, and witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden from 15 miles away. Interviews were recorded as source material for Studs Terkel's book: The Good War.
posted by thisisdrew on Aug 6, 2013 - 4 comments

It Don’t Gitmo Better Than This.

It Don’t Gitmo Better Than This. Inside the Dark Heart of Guantánamo Bay By Molly Crabapple.
posted by chunking express on Jul 31, 2013 - 32 comments

Top Myths of Renaissance Martial Arts

The diverse range of misconceptions and erroneous beliefs within historical fencing studies today is considerable. But there are perhaps some myths that are more common, and more pervasive, than others. This webpage presents an ongoing project that will continually try in an informal and condensed manner to help address some of these mistaken beliefs.
posted by cthuljew on Jul 25, 2013 - 39 comments

How War in Syria Turned Ordinary Engineers Into Deadly Weapons Inventors

Makers
 of War. "The arms manufacturers of Aleppo used to be ordinary men—network administrators, housepainters, professors. Then came the bloody Syrian crisis. Now they must use all their desperate creativity to supply their fellow rebels with the machinery of death." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 19, 2013 - 18 comments

Sins of the fathers?

The Drone That Killed My Grandson — Dr. Nasser al-Awlaki, Fulbright scholar, founder of Ibb University and former president of Sana University, served as Yemen’s minister of agriculture and fisheries from 1988 to 1990. His 16-year-old grandson Abdulrahman (an American citizen born in Denver, Colorado) was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen on Oct. 14, 2011, two weeks after his father Anwar was killed by a previous drone strike.
posted by cenoxo on Jul 19, 2013 - 84 comments

‘the poor man’s atomic bomb’?

Why are we so afraid of chemical weapons? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 18, 2013 - 46 comments

"No doubt about it, journalists are targets now,"

Shooting The Messengers
So, what guides a journalist's decisions in these unlovely places? The frequently repeated maxim that "no story is worth dying for" rings a little hollow. The awkward truth is that, in this field, personal bravery is simultaneously discouraged and rewarded.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 13, 2013 - 2 comments

John Hodgman On Full Metal Jacket

"But The Shining speaks to what makes Kubrick such an interesting and, for a lot of people, troublesome filmmaker, because he does not give you what you want. At all. He does not give you a Vietnam movie set in the jungle, and he does not give you a horror movie that is just like Stephen King’s The Shining. He doesn’t even give you scares for a long time, [just] ominous foreboding. And it takes people a while to figure out, “Oh, maybe I don’t know what I want. Maybe this is better.” - Mefi's Own Jon Hodgman talks about Full Metal Jacket with Scott Tobias for "The Last Great Movie I Saw."
posted by The Whelk on Jul 12, 2013 - 75 comments

FYI, We Just Won a War in the Philippines

Did you know the U.S. was at war in the Philippines? An excerpt from David Axe's new book. Previously.
posted by destrius on Jul 1, 2013 - 15 comments

“I’m dismantling the Death Star to build solar ovens for the Ewoks.”

The Merry Pranksters Who Hacked the Afghan War [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 1, 2013 - 14 comments

broken .

"Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit." [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Jun 30, 2013 - 46 comments

India vs Pakistan in Afghanistan

A Deadly Triangle - the proxy war in Afghanistan
posted by Gyan on Jun 26, 2013 - 8 comments

An Account Of War At Sea

Samuel Leech, R.N., fought in the battle between the 38 gun HMS Macedonian, commanded by Captain John Surman Carden, and the 44 gun USS United States, Commodore Stephen Decatur on October 25th 1812.
A strange noise, such as I had never heard before, next arrested my attention; it sounded like the tearing of sails, just over our heads. This I soon ascertained to be the wind of the enemy's shot. The firing, after a few minutes' cessation, recommenced. The roaring of cannon could now be heard from all parts of our trembling ship, and, mingling as it did with that of our foes, it made a most hideous noise. By-and-by I heard the shot strike the sides of our ship; the whole scene grew indescribably confused and horrible; it was like some awfully tremendous thunder-storm, whose deafening roar is attended by incessant streaks of lightning, carrying death in every flash and strewing the ground with the victims of its wrath: only, in our case, the scene was rendered more horrible than that, by the presence of torrents of blood which dyed our decks.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 24, 2013 - 8 comments

Bang Bang

AMMO - oddly beautiful cross section photos of ammunition by Sabine Pearlman, taken in a WWII bunker. The io9 write-up has Redditor identification of the cartridges.
posted by Artw on Jun 23, 2013 - 59 comments

The World as Free-Fire Zone

Foster was a longtime model-airplane enthusiast, and one day he realized that his hobby could make for a new kind of weapon. His idea: take an unmanned, remote-controlled airplane, strap a camera to its belly, and fly it over enemy targets to snap pictures or shoot film; if possible, load it with a bomb and destroy the targets, too.
An accessible but detailed overview of the history and current implementations of military drones. [more inside]
posted by latkes on Jun 17, 2013 - 47 comments

How A War Hero Became A Serial Bank Robber

How A War Hero Became A Serial Bank Robber. "Army medic Nicholas Walker returned home from Iraq after 250 combat missions, traumatized and broken. His friends and family couldn’t help him. Therapy couldn’t help him. Heroin couldn’t help him. Pulling bank heists helped him." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jun 10, 2013 - 32 comments

Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Federal Data Suggests

Black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates (SLNYT)
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Jun 4, 2013 - 87 comments

Other than Honorable

"A Gazette investigation shows an increasing number of soldiers, including wounded combat veterans, are being kicked out of the service for misconduct, often with no benefits, as the Army downsizes after a decade of war."
"Disposable: Surge in discharges includes wounded soldiers"
"Left Behind: No break for the wounded"
"Locked Away: Army struggles with wounded soldiers"
posted by andoatnp on Jun 2, 2013 - 26 comments

Ten years from the beginning of the last war...

Fortress (SLYT)
posted by Catblack on Jun 1, 2013 - 37 comments

Two Cathedrals

My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity…
All a poet can do today is warn.

Two 20th century choral masterpieces share more than Biblical texts. Benjamin Britten’s well known War Requiem, Op. 66 and Rudolf Mauersberger’s lesser known Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst were both written in response to the destruction of medieval architecture and major churches in WWII bombings. Since 1956, the cities of Coventry and Dresden have been twinned to promote peace and understanding. [more inside]
posted by Madamina on May 27, 2013 - 10 comments

Graduation

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart recounts his father's graduation from Auschwitz survivor to American equal. (SLNYtimes)
posted by roomthreeseventeen on May 22, 2013 - 5 comments

Moral Injury

A New Theory of PTSD and Veterans: Moral Injury
But as clergy and good clinicians have listened to more stories like these, they have heard a new narrative, one that signals changes to the brain along with what in less spiritually challenged times might be called a shadow on the soul. It is the tale of disintegrating vets, but also of seemingly squared-away former soldiers and spit-shined generals shuttling between two worlds: ours, where thou shalt not kill is chiseled into everyday life, and another, where thou better kill, be killed, or suffer the shame of not trying. There is no more hellish commute.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 17, 2013 - 19 comments

This is victory. This is what winning looks like.

"This is What Winning Looks Like is a disturbing new documentary about the ineptitude, drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and corruption of the Afghan security forces as well as the reduced role of US Marines due to the troop withdrawal." [via vice] [more inside]
posted by Drexen on May 17, 2013 - 45 comments

"a job that is so vital to human dignity and human rights."

Last month, HBO Documentaires released "Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life And Times Of Tim Hetherington." It is a "posthumous recounting of one of the most impressive photojournalism careers to date." "'Restrepo' director has sorrowful Sundance return. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 8, 2013 - 3 comments

Crossing the "Red Line"?

Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 2, 2013 - 289 comments

Cookie Monster Broke Luce

Cookie Monster and Tom Waits together again. nsfw lyrics [more inside]
posted by 2N2222 on Apr 30, 2013 - 15 comments

Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

The Finnish Defence Forces have put their archive of 170,000 WWII photographs online.
Some "night fighters".
Some American prisoners, probably from the ill-fated Convoy PQ 17 [more inside]
posted by Authorized User on Apr 29, 2013 - 20 comments

Stop the killer robots before it's too late!

Nobel laureate's campaign calls for pre-emptive ban on autonomous weapons. As our technology advances, it becomes more and more feasible to give more and more autonomy to our drones. A new campaign led by 1997 Nobel laureate Jody Williams calls for an international ban on the design of autonomous weaponized drones. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 27, 2013 - 123 comments

"Never, ever let anybody use your gender as an excuse."

"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 25, 2013 - 49 comments

"The Logic Of Violence In Criminal War"

Criminal Cartels And The Rule Of Law In Mexico: Summary, PDF
The cartels have thousands of gunmen and have morphed into diversified crime groups that not only traffic drugs, but also conduct mass kidnappings, oversee extortion rackets and steal from the state oil industry. The military still fights them in much of the country on controversial missions too often ending in shooting rather than prosecutions. If Peña Nieto does not build an effective police and justice system, the violence may continue or worsen. But major institutional improvements and more efficient, comprehensive social programs could mean real hope for sustainable peace and justice.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 25, 2013 - 20 comments

A sobering look back on an infamous chapter in history

In the Year of the Pig is a documentary on the Vietnam war, produced and originally released in 1968 as the war raged. It begins with some background on the end of the French colonial period, then moves on to the American involvement. It features gripping historical footage from the war itself and from leading political players of the time. At the time of its release, a New York Times review said "There are no frills and few ifs, ands or buts about the stinging, graphic and often frighteningly penetrating movie". It is highly recommended for anyone seeking to understand more of the history of the war. Viewable in its entirety here.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 21, 2013 - 27 comments

"U.S. Practiced Torture After 9/11, Nonpartisan Review Concludes"

Years after the first hints of "harsh interrogation practices" in the US war on terror, years after Obama's decision to "look forward, not back" and not investigate or pursue official torture by the CIA and other agencies, the 577-page Report of the Task Force on Detainee Treatment that was released today is, "[i]n many respects, . . . the examination of the treatment of suspected terrorists that official Washington has been reluctant to conduct." The New York Times' Scott Shane reports. [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Apr 16, 2013 - 51 comments

What's The Question About Your Field That You Dread Being Asked?

"Maybe it's a sore point: your field should have an answer (people think you do) but there isn't one yet. Perhaps it's simple to pose but hard to answer. Or it's a question that belies a deep misunderstanding: the best answer is to question the question."
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 14, 2013 - 259 comments

Frontline: The Bombing of al-Bara

Frontline journalist Olly Lambert captures the event of a Syrian government air strike on the town of al-Bara. Powerfully upsetting and tragic, his footage conveys the sheer terror afflicting the lives of Syrian refugees struggling to survive under the Assad regime. [36min SLYT] [more inside]
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee on Apr 12, 2013 - 38 comments

How a Single Spy Turned Pakistan Against the United States

More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power. - The Spy Who Lost Pakistan (SL NYTIMES Magazine)
posted by beisny on Apr 9, 2013 - 53 comments

40,000,000 dead at home, but our boys won the war anyway!

The 36-Hour War. A look at the future of nuclear warfare, from a 1945 issue of Life Magazine
posted by empath on Apr 8, 2013 - 27 comments

North Korea Sets April 10th Deadline

North Korea has warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it cannot guarantee their safety from the threat of conflict after 10 April, and has advised them to consider pulling their staff out of the capital. This follows North Korea blocking South Korean Workers from the Kaesong industrial complex - a sign that this might be more material than the usual posturing, warning that a 'moment of explosion' is nearing and moving missiles with "considerable range" to its east coast. Though the US is playing down the threat and the UK and Russia have no plans of moving their diplomats the possibility of an accident or miscalculation leading to war looms. North Korea has earned the reprobation of Russia and Fidel Castro in recent days and even longtime supporter China is beginning to lose patience with it - something some say is not before time.
posted by Artw on Apr 5, 2013 - 239 comments

"Rule 1: Truth and Falsity Do Not Matter"

Frequently dismissed as trivial or unimportant because untrue, rumors are a potent in the information war that characterizes contemporary conflicts, and they participate in significant ways in the struggle for the consent of the governed. As narrative forms, rumors are suitable to a wide range of political expression, from citizens, insurgents, and governments alike. The authors make a compelling argument for understanding rumors in these contexts as "narrative IEDs," low-cost, low-tech weapons that can successfully counter elaborate and expansive government initiatives of outreach campaigns or strategic communication efforts.
Narrative Landmines - The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Insurgencies Around the World [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 4, 2013 - 18 comments

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