The Spotlight Of Humanity Or How We Are Told To Look Only Where They Tell Us To Look

It is probably one of the most blatant uses of photography as propaganda that I have seen in a long time. And I am glad for it because it reveals explicitly how easily images can be put to the service of an agenda of power and entrenched interests. And how easily photographs can mislead if not ‘read’ carefully.’What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan’ the cover screams. The answer is made obvious. The shocking photograph closes the mind, numbs thought, distracts insight and silences protest.

If it were only so simple. If we were only so easily fooled. Details »

How Does It Do That….?

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Photographing The Unseen Or What Conventional Photojournalism Is Not Telling Us About Ourselves

Unmarked 737 at "Gold Coast" Terminal Las Vegas, NV Distance ~ 1 mile 10:44 p.m.

Trevor Paglen is a man on a mission and it is one that reminds us that what makes any work of photography relevant, interesting, important or even significant, are the ideas and intentions that inform it. Anything else is merely gazing at pretty pictures. Details »

Jogging Our Memory Or Jogging Our Morality Perhaps?

Denis Halliday, the UN humanitarian coordinator, who later resigned in protest, called the sanctions regime against Iraq ‘genocidal’. When asked by 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl if the deaths of nearly 500,000 Iraqi children was worth it, the then US Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, replied ‘We think the price is worth it.” Details »

In These Days Of Confusion And Obfuscation, A Voice That Still Clarifies, Illuminates and Reveals

Why waste time writing, when Eqbal Ahmed can simply clarify with greater clarity and insight. An intellectual, revolutionary, activist, academic and a MacArthur Fellow, Eqbal Ahmed saw and spoke with a clarity and insight that few have been able to match. Edward Said dedicated his book ‘Culture & Imperialism’ to him (the credit says simply: For EA).

This is an important talk, a reminder of where we have come from, and why today’s ‘good war’ is a mess of our own making.

Eqbal asks the questions we here in America remain consistently afraid to ask. He offers answer that we consistently refuse to hear.

Too many today , particularly in our newspapers of note who tell us that they only print ‘the news that is fit to print’, work hard to hide and erase from our memories the continuities of policy and prejudices that have bought us to where we  are. They work hard to convince us that ‘the barbarism’ there has no connection to ‘the civilization’ here.  But Walter Benjamin would remind us that ‘There is no document of civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism’.

A fascinating film which can now be seen on youtube is called ‘An Unholy Alliance’ which takes us back to our ‘jihad‘ against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and the close relationship of the CIA and the drug trade. The roots of our ‘involvement’, or should i say ‘addiction’ to Afghanistan can be seen here (below is the 1st of 6 parts of this video):

We would do well to remember history, its inter-connections, and our deep, enmeshed and messy involvement and influence in a region we now stare at in confusion

Unintended Consequences Or Why Men Rape In War And Why Development Aid Can Kill

I came across a rather disturbing report recently (thanks to Wronging Rights) released by the Nordic African Institute of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). Titled The Complexity of Violence: A critical analysis of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) it is a critical examination of how crimes of sexual violence in the Congo are depicted, documented and reported on. Specifically the report challenges the prioritized focus on sexual violence, as something ‘abnormal’ and different from other forms of violence, and the undue and highly publicized attention given to it by international health, aid and media organizations. Details »

Where The Head Spun July 4th 2010

It is American independence day, so lets celebrate:

A Harvard Kennedy School study has confirmed what we all already suspected; that when it comes to torture we are more likely to call it torture when others do it, and something obfuscatory when we do it. The conclusion of the report was pretty well clear:

The New York Times called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture in just 2 of 143 articles (1.4%). The Los Angeles Times did so in 4.8% of articles (3 of 63). The Wall Street Journal characterized the practice as torture in just 1 of 63 articles (1.6%). USA Today never called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture. In addition, the newspapers are much more likely to call waterboarding torture if a country other than the United States is the perpetrator. Details »