Adam Klein has the kind of life that many of us, chained to our desks, might envy. A wanderer and frequent expatriate, he has lived and taught in places as disparate as Bangladesh, India, Beirut and Kabul. He is the singer and co-songwriter for San Francisco-based band The Size Queens, as well as the author of the Lambda Book Award-nominated short story collection The Medicine [...]
David Petraeus is snide gnome with a toupée hairstyle, and he is not even very good at winning wars—his military career can be accurately described as a draw in Iraq and total defeat in Afghanistan. As his personal scandal of marital infidelity involves ever more civilian women, shirtless FBI agents sexting those women, fellow commanders in Afghanistan, and the entire state of Florida, perhaps we will take a pause in our race for additional sleazy details to ask additional, important questions that are also about as sexy as a 60-year-old man with his pants off.
Last year, the Army undertook a war crimes probe, with, as evidence, some 4000 photos and videos from Afghanistan. Which sound in some cases really bad, and in some cases, in extremely poor taste: posing next to dead bodies alone seems like a gross way to pass the time. Apparently people really get into this: "Soldiers have told investigators that such photos of dead bodies were passed around like trading cards on thumb drives and other digital storage devices." 12 soldiers in all have been charged, most of them for lesser crimes; five were charged regarding "premeditated murder." Now Der Spiegel has just published three of the photographs, [...]
Once again, we're having that magical moment where the world-from the President on down-is up in arms over a scandalous piece of magazine writing that pretty much no one can read. Rolling Stone's profile of General McChrystal, the top man in Afghanistan, is now big-Drudge-banner, front-page Times news. But the magazine isn't on stands yet and most likely it won't be on the website for weeks, as is the top-down military strategy of RS owner Jann Wenner. (This was the bizarre situation we found ourselves in a couple years ago, when the magazine published the world's most compelling story of Britney Spears' meltdown.) [UPDATE Bad news! The [...]
This would be hysterical if it weren't so predictable.
NORTH LAS VEGAS—An inflatable space pod to be attached to the International Space Station in a couple of years will be like no other piece of the station. NASA is contracting a private company to build an inflatable space pod for the International Space Station. Instead of metal, its walls will be made of floppy cloth, making it easier to launch (and then inflate). NASA said Wednesday that it had signed a $17.8 million contract with Bigelow Aerospace to build the module, which could reach the space station as soon as 2015.
We were driving to Lake Tahoe, my wife and I, headed north on one of the [...]
Well, thanks to a heads-up from CNN food writer Kat Kinsman, I was spared the annual confusion that lasts for a couple of city blocks as you walk past person after person who has apparently been very sloppy with their application of mascara, or has been hit in the forehead by a thrown lump of coal. Today is Ash Wednesday, when Catholics wear ash on their foreheads in commemoration of the forty days of fasting that preceded his crucification. It's an act of repentance.
But, man, reading through today's news, or looking elsewhere on the streets, people may be repenting, but they don't seem to be in [...]
"So 2014 is the new July 2011. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the caveats and the asterisks that the Obama administration and NATO want to place onto the dates, and understand that neither date heralds the End Of The War. But there’s a word for politicians who need you to listen carefully to their statements to grasp the full depth of their meanings: liars. They’re putting out a line that suggests on its face that the war will wind down or end when they’re actually promising no such thing." —Oh I see.
"We do not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war effort or in opposition to it." That's Time editor Rick Stengel on his new cover story…. which is coverlined "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan," and has a portrait of a woman brutalized by the Taliban. The story contains this: "As the war in Afghanistan enters its ninth year, the need for an exit strategy weighs on the minds of U.S. policymakers. Such an outcome, it is assumed, would involve reconciliation with the Taliban. But Afghan women fear that in the quest for a quick peace, their progress may be [...]
After much searching, in the summer of 2021 we found Afghanistan napping in a small hut that had been hastily built into a bombed-out former mountainside. "I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare," said Afghanistan. "Sure, we called the Sudden Money Institute, those people who try to help lottery winners who live in trailers to not go crazy, but they were annoying and they kept talking about 'trusts' and 'foundations' and interest ratings, so, whatever, we eventually just blew them off."
If you are looking for a comprehensive primer on the state of affairs in Afghanistan-what are the strategies, who is making the decisions, what are the possible outcomes-let me suggest this extensive assessment by Spencer Ackerman. It is really rather long, but at the end of it you'll be much better informed about the whole situation. And probably much more depressed.
Robots: friendly helpers or heartless monsters that will destroy humanity? This is no longer just a question for the movies that play all the time on "Spike" or TNT. As you may or may not have noticed, aggressor nations such as the United States are getting out of the people business when it comes to fighting wars. Drones and robots are where the action is today, because drones don't urinate on the corpses of innocent people in Afghanistan, and drones don't burn the Koran, and drones don't come home missing a couple of limbs or a chunk of brain and end up standing alongside a freeway ramp with a [...]
John Cook's 4500-page Blackwater document dump is incredibly engrossing. These little stories! It's like, "we shot this dude's car, then everything was okay." What a nightmare Baghdad must have been (for Iraqis, I mean).
Oh cool. Now we're supposed to "shore up" and guarantee Afghanistan's bank too? I mean, haven't we done enough, what with helping Iceland and Latvia and Greece and-oh, wait, what's that you say?
If you're going to spend the day digging in on the just-released 75,000+ reports from the U.S. military provided by Wikileaks, and why shouldn't you, you should start with their mirror site, as their main site has gone down due to massive, crushing fascination. But first! It's time to learn the Afghan base acronym list and figure out who's all fighting whom. Here are a few other ways to dip your toe in: what the data reveals about reconnaissance drones; how they show that "the Pakistani military has acted as both ally and enemy"; and, that old chestnut, where in the world is Osama [...]
I cannot understand why Obama took so long to make his decision on what to do in Afghanistan. Look how simple it all seems!