High-res Drones in Yemen: How U.S. Attacks Are Devastating a Nation

The people of Yemen can hear destruction before it arrives. In cities, towns and villages across this country the air buzzes with the sound of American drones flying overhead. The sound is a constant and terrible reminder: a robot plane, acting on secret intelligence, may calculate that the man across from you at the coffee shop, or the acquaintance with whom you’ve shared a passing word on the street, is an Al Qaeda operative. This intelligence may be accurate or it may not, but it doesn’t matter. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the chaotic buzzing above sharpens into the death-herald of an incoming missile.
Such quite literal existential uncertainty is coming at a deep psychological cost for the Yemeni people. For Americans, this military campaign is an abstraction. The drone strikes don’t require U.S. troops on the ground, and thus are easy to keep out of sight and out of mind. Over half of Yemen’s 24.8 million citizens – militants and civilians alike – are impacted every day. A war is happening, and one of the unforeseen casualties is the Yemeni mind.

Read more at Rolling Stone.

Drones in Yemen: How U.S. Attacks Are Devastating a Nation

The people of Yemen can hear destruction before it arrives. In cities, towns and villages across this country the air buzzes with the sound of American drones flying overhead. The sound is a constant and terrible reminder: a robot plane, acting on secret intelligence, may calculate that the man across from you at the coffee shop, or the acquaintance with whom you’ve shared a passing word on the street, is an Al Qaeda operative. This intelligence may be accurate or it may not, but it doesn’t matter. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the chaotic buzzing above sharpens into the death-herald of an incoming missile.

Such quite literal existential uncertainty is coming at a deep psychological cost for the Yemeni people. For Americans, this military campaign is an abstraction. The drone strikes don’t require U.S. troops on the ground, and thus are easy to keep out of sight and out of mind. Over half of Yemen’s 24.8 million citizens – militants and civilians alike – are impacted every day. A war is happening, and one of the unforeseen casualties is the Yemeni mind.

Read more at Rolling Stone.

High-res The Culture of Shut Up

There once was a remote village deep in the rainforest that had no contact with the outside world. And in this small village there were only three village elders who had the ability to speak. So they were in charge. And they’d have arguments. One would say, “I support a woman’s right to choose.” Another would say, “I oppose a woman’s right to choose.” And then the third would say, “A real debate here on a woman’s right to choose. When we come back, Justin Bieber arrested!”
Now if you were one of the many villagers who didn’t have a way to speak, you just hoped that one of the three elders who could speak would make the argument you wanted to make. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. And it was okay, but it bothered you that these three voices didn’t really speak for everybody. They were, after all, pretty rich and all one color. (Green. These were green people.) And they didn’t really understand what it was like to be aqua or purple or gay or poor like you were. You’re a gay poor purple person. They tried to cover the whole world, but generally they focused on what was on the minds of green people from the big cities who watched Mad Men and went to Middlebury.
And even as the elders spoke with confidence and seriousness, it felt like they kept getting it wrong. They invaded neighboring villages, occasionally the wrong village altogether. They trusted the CEOs of the village banks even after they plunged the village into a Great Village Recession and then went right back to village business as usual as if it never happened. They built a massive village prison system that punished non-violent village offenders at higher rates than anywhere else in the rainforest. They rigged the village economy against the interests of ordinary villagers in favor of those with close ties to the three elders, those who had donated money to their village campaigns, lobbied their village offices.
Then one day you found this rock and you realized that you could use the rock to write on a leaf. And so you developed a written language and taught it to everyone. And at the big village meetings, when the three elders at the front would have their arguments, villagers could participate. People would write things like, “I agree with you and appreciate your position.” Or “I hope you get cancer and die.” Or “Here’s a picture of what I ate for lunch.” Or “Please stop drawing pictures of food, no one cares what you ate for lunch.” Or “Check out this cat in a shoebox because adorable.”
But it turned out by the time we finally had this great way to communicate in our hands, we were already so angry and suspicious that the rock and leaf became a way to vent our frustrations not just at the elders but at each other.
Bill says, “I support single-payer village healthcare.”
And then Mary writes, “Bill is a faggot communist.”
And then Ted says, “I won’t shop at Mary’s boutique until Mary apologizes to Bill.”
Then Angela says, “Stand with Mary against the assault on her freedom of speech!”
And then Bill says, “Angela is a racist.”
And Jeff says, “Anyone who shops at Mary’s boutique is a racist.”
And Ted says, “Check your privilege.”
And Mary says, “I don’t remember who I am in this story but I’m furious.”
And then someone writes, “FUCKK YOU TED!!1!” in all caps with a bunch of typos.

Read more at The Atlantic.

The Culture of Shut Up

There once was a remote village deep in the rainforest that had no contact with the outside world. And in this small village there were only three village elders who had the ability to speak. So they were in charge. And they’d have arguments. One would say, “I support a woman’s right to choose.” Another would say, “I oppose a woman’s right to choose.” And then the third would say, “A real debate here on a woman’s right to choose. When we come back, Justin Bieber arrested!”

Now if you were one of the many villagers who didn’t have a way to speak, you just hoped that one of the three elders who could speak would make the argument you wanted to make. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. And it was okay, but it bothered you that these three voices didn’t really speak for everybody. They were, after all, pretty rich and all one color. (Green. These were green people.) And they didn’t really understand what it was like to be aqua or purple or gay or poor like you were. You’re a gay poor purple person. They tried to cover the whole world, but generally they focused on what was on the minds of green people from the big cities who watched Mad Men and went to Middlebury.

And even as the elders spoke with confidence and seriousness, it felt like they kept getting it wrong. They invaded neighboring villages, occasionally the wrong village altogether. They trusted the CEOs of the village banks even after they plunged the village into a Great Village Recession and then went right back to village business as usual as if it never happened. They built a massive village prison system that punished non-violent village offenders at higher rates than anywhere else in the rainforest. They rigged the village economy against the interests of ordinary villagers in favor of those with close ties to the three elders, those who had donated money to their village campaigns, lobbied their village offices.

Then one day you found this rock and you realized that you could use the rock to write on a leaf. And so you developed a written language and taught it to everyone. And at the big village meetings, when the three elders at the front would have their arguments, villagers could participate. People would write things like, “I agree with you and appreciate your position.” Or “I hope you get cancer and die.” Or “Here’s a picture of what I ate for lunch.” Or “Please stop drawing pictures of food, no one cares what you ate for lunch.” Or “Check out this cat in a shoebox because adorable.”

But it turned out by the time we finally had this great way to communicate in our hands, we were already so angry and suspicious that the rock and leaf became a way to vent our frustrations not just at the elders but at each other.

Bill says, “I support single-payer village healthcare.”

And then Mary writes, “Bill is a faggot communist.”

And then Ted says, “I won’t shop at Mary’s boutique until Mary apologizes to Bill.”

Then Angela says, “Stand with Mary against the assault on her freedom of speech!”

And then Bill says, “Angela is a racist.”

And Jeff says, “Anyone who shops at Mary’s boutique is a racist.”

And Ted says, “Check your privilege.”

And Mary says, “I don’t remember who I am in this story but I’m furious.”

And then someone writes, “FUCKK YOU TED!!1!” in all caps with a bunch of typos.

Read more at The Atlantic.

High-res What Happened to Canada?

What is happening in Canada is part of a much larger trend: the formidable disciplinary forces of late capitalism are exerting themselves everywhere, including in other western democracies, where governments are scaling back social programs while lavishing tax concessions and subsidies on industry. The European Union and the United States are similarly absorbing market shocks on behalf of business while allowing downturns to undermine the poor and working class. If Canada is becoming indulgent of, even slavish toward, its resource industry (the biggest contributor to GDP), it is arguably no more so than the United States in relation to its banking sector, which was never brought to heel despite causing the 2008 collapse. 


Read more at n+1.

What Happened to Canada?

What is happening in Canada is part of a much larger trend: the formidable disciplinary forces of late capitalism are exerting themselves everywhere, including in other western democracies, where governments are scaling back social programs while lavishing tax concessions and subsidies on industry. The European Union and the United States are similarly absorbing market shocks on behalf of business while allowing downturns to undermine the poor and working class. If Canada is becoming indulgent of, even slavish toward, its resource industry (the biggest contributor to GDP), it is arguably no more so than the United States in relation to its banking sector, which was never brought to heel despite causing the 2008 collapse. 

Read more at n+1.

High-res More deportations for minor crimes

But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.
…
Mr. Obama came to office promising comprehensive immigration reform, but lacking sufficient support, the administration took steps it portrayed as narrowing the focus of enforcement efforts on serious criminals. Yet the records show that the enforcement net actually grew, picking up more and more immigrants with minor or no criminal records.

Read the full report at The New York Times.

More deportations for minor crimes

But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.

Mr. Obama came to office promising comprehensive immigration reform, but lacking sufficient support, the administration took steps it portrayed as narrowing the focus of enforcement efforts on serious criminals. Yet the records show that the enforcement net actually grew, picking up more and more immigrants with minor or no criminal records.

Read the full report at The New York Times.

High-res State of the News Media 2014

A year ago, the State of the News Media report struck a somber note, citing evidence of continued declines in the mainstream media that were impacting both content and audience satisfaction. As indicated above and throughout this report, many of these issues still exist, some have deepened and new ones have emerged. Still, the level of new activity this past year is creating a perception that something important, perhaps even game-changing, is going on. If the developments in 2013 are at this point only a drop in the bucket, it feels like a heavier drop than most. The momentum behind them is real, if the full impact on citizens and our news system remains unclear.

Read the full report from the Pew Research Journalism Project.

State of the News Media 2014

A year ago, the State of the News Media report struck a somber note, citing evidence of continued declines in the mainstream media that were impacting both content and audience satisfaction. As indicated above and throughout this report, many of these issues still exist, some have deepened and new ones have emerged. Still, the level of new activity this past year is creating a perception that something important, perhaps even game-changing, is going on. If the developments in 2013 are at this point only a drop in the bucket, it feels like a heavier drop than most. The momentum behind them is real, if the full impact on citizens and our news system remains unclear.

Read the full report from the Pew Research Journalism Project.