This article is part of the series Voices in Danger, which aims to highlight the plight of journalists working in difficult conditions around the world.Â Years ago, a colleague rang me for advice. She was being sent to Baghdad in advance of a US threat to attack Saddam Husseinâs Iraq. But should she go?Â Were the dangers simply so great that she should not risk her life? I gave her the only advice I could â the decision was up to her, but she should remember one thing:Â she was going to Baghdad to report, not to die.
I have this one book that holds a special place in my heart. It’s not famous. It’s not all that well written. And it’s a little bit weird. But it’s a book that will always be on my shelf because of where I bought it – a trading post in Northern Ontario. Photo …
The U.S. government is proposing to charge a new fee for every vehicle or pedestrian crossing the U.S.-Canada border — an idea that has prompted fierce objections from New York lawmakers who claim the levy would stifle transboundary commerce and undermine recent efforts to ease the flow of people and goods between the two countries.
Embedded Vice thano-tourist gives a frontline view of the Syrian Civil War (from Alleppo). Stunning, harrowing footage.
THE FIRST STATEMENT offered from the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office was issued midday September 11:
“We reel before the blunt and terrible reality of the evil we have just witnessed. We cannot stop the tears of grief. We cannot bring back lost wives and husbands. Sons and daughters. Canadian citizens…citizens from all over the world. We cannot restore futures that have been cut terribly short.”
In a speech later in the day, Prime Minister Chretien offered the following statement: “[The attack is] a cowardly act of unspeakable violence…It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have conjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault.”
Chretien was visibly shaken. The political sheen and candour were gone. Cameras rolling, he jutted his uneven chin into the awkward silence and expectation that emanated from his sweaty, information-starved audience of journalists, politicians, law, and military officials. The Prime Minister’s hesitation permitted focus to fall on the trivial minutia underpinning the scene: the confusion mapped onto his body, made manifest in the wrinkles on his mangled suit and the indecision of his remaining plugs of hair; Opposition leader Stockwell Day’s athleticism (he was seated off to the side) secreted between bowed shoulders and beneath a furrowed brow belonging to one twice his age; the scores from the NHL exhibition games scrolling across the banner, interrupted by “Canadian Prime Minister Speaks…”; and the FOX and CNN reporters, relaxed as ever, trading business cards in the third row (I was not very impressed by those miserably cavalier fuckers). The disheveled PM held the podium for support, and began to issue what was rumoured to be a stern warning to the so-called enemies of freedom.
Ahead of his voice, riddled by breaks in pitch and shaken by a staccato grind through the prefatory statement, his hands began to tremble. At the airport bar in Glasgow, where my colleagues and I sipped on browns as we waited irritably for our puddle-jumper to Toronto, The Calgary Herald reporter to my right jotted his disgust heavily into a pocket-notebook. Fear and loathing in Glasgow; perhaps fear and shame at Parliament Hill, and more of the same on either side of Edmonton’s Iron Bridge. In this moment of shared vulnerability, the perceived weight of each subsequent syllable grew exponentially. Where was the courage? The glowing heart? The Shawinigan Handshake of the street-fighter-cum-national-leader?
Chretien’s pitiful trembles turned into intentional gesticulations in tandem with the rhythm of the speech, and his sickly hands became fists. My Calgarian acquaintance choked on his Canadian Club in disbelief when the old Quebecer began slamming the podium. “This damnable act of cowardice will not go unpunished. If the evil is domestic, the perpetrator will pay. If the evil is international, the perpetrator will pay,” he bellowed to a room of Canadians, no longer content with playing placid, cow-eyed multilateral pacifists. Stars supplanted the tears, and the crowd emitted a primal, anticipatory growl. “Vengeance! From the darkness, nous avons vu et entendu—and we’ve seen enough. Measure for measure, and then some.” Remembering his own mother was a Franco-Albertan from the Edmonton region, Chretien continued: “Canadians—Albertans—Edmontonians—should not fear the dark…” He searched the rafters for the god he forsook and then the audience for his wife Aline’s confidence, “for the rejoinder will be a brilliant spectacle!”
Hagel will announce a change to the controversial “drone medal” as early as today. A Pentagon source tells Situation Report that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will reveal the results of the analysis he directed of the Distinguished Warfare Medal as early as this afternoon. It’s likely that Hagel will change the “precedence” of the controversial new medal, which now falls below the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Soldier’s, Airmen’s, Navy and Marine medals, but sits above the Bronze Star (and Bronze Star with a Combat ‘V’) and Purple Heart. Putting the new medal above those combat awards had caused outrage from Capitol Hill, veterans groups and, more privately, the uniforms inside the Pentagon. The so-called drone medal is likely to be awarded only in rare cases and for highly classified operations, making it akin to the awards agents receive in the clandestine service. Still, put bluntly, the award recognizes achievement with a joystick over life-risking combat on a battlefield. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement Feb. 13, shortly before he left the Pentagon, seemed not to have gone through enough of the normal vetting process. Hence the change expected today.
The source tells Situation Report about Hagel’s announcement: “He’s is expected to restructure [the medal] in a way that addresses the precedence issue and also preserves recognition for exceptional service from outside the war zones.”
Why this is important - Where the medal sits in the military is a big deal in the hierarchy-hyper world of military culture because of what it says about the value placed on physical courage. But Hagel’s decision is important for another reason. If he does in fact change the medal’s precedence, it means Hagel, the former combat-wounded sergeant, will be seen as responsive - and quickly so — to concerns from inside and outside the building.
By Gordon Lubold
For more information: www.faultline49.com