The #NotaBugSplat Art Piece in Pakistan Won’t Be Making Drone Pilots Feel Empathy
Earlier today, many publications, including VICE News, started reporting on a large art display in Northern Pakistan. Photos depict an open field or a rural farm on which a giant portrait of a young girl has been unraveled. It’s part of a project called #NotABugSplat.
Saks Afridi, the online PR rep for the project, says “for now, we’re an artist collective from Pakistan, USA, and France.” He won’t divulge precisely who else is involved for the time being. The French component, however, is reported to have been JR, who you may know from his sweet, humanity-affirming art, or his downright saccharine TED Talk.
As The Verge observed, #NotABugSplat is meant to show people coming together to say, “We exist.” In short, it’s like Banksy meets Kony 2012: Straight-up, uncut internet heroin.
Tonight on VICE on HBO: Scrapping with David Choe
As you know from reading this fine piece of journalism, once-great American manufacturing cities like Detroit and Cleveland are experiencing a cultural phenomenon: scrapping. People are literally ripping apart old schools, houses, hospitals, and factories and carting away their raw materials. In tonight’s episode of VICE on HBO, artist and world traveler (and expert butt painter) David Choe investigates the life cycle of scrap metal, from the people who risk their lives to find it to the yards that buy it, all the way to the Chinese traders who take it back home to build their economy.
Then it’s off to the Middle East, where VICE co-founder Suroosh Alvi reports on the effects of drone strikes in Pakistan. Extremism and militancy in the country have been growing in the wake of Obama’s drone campaign, and it’s not hard to see why. While the Obama administration touts drones as a surgical weapon that keeps American soldiers out of harm’s way, for the innocent victims, a.k.a. the “collateral damage,” drone strikes are hardly precise.
You should watch the teaser for the episode, above, and then check out the show tonight at 11 PM. And if you’ve never seen our HBO show… Jesus, people, you don’t have an excuse anymore: You can watch the entire first season right here for free. So get to it.
Let’s take a tour, shall we?
Our site Motherboard just got a whole new look!
How to Make Foreign Policy Less Disastrous in 2014
Look, you might not like it, but the fact is, foreign policy has a lot to do with you. If you live in the US (and you probably do because I can see your iPod), then what Obama does with our bombs reflects you globally. And if you live in the world (and you probably do because I can see you’re human), then you still, for now, live on a planet where the USA has the most sway. And if you like gay people, or women, of all the superpowers available to humans, America is probably your best bet. Your votes appointed a bunch of people who are barely of average intelligence to run—or shut down—Congress and therefore hold some responsibility as to how this country operates.
As such, it’s obvious that last year you, YOU, dropped the ball, because looking back, 2013 was a really shitty year for foreign policy. Against the backdrop of grinding war in Syria, we cringed as Edward Snowden lifted the lid on the largest mass surveillance program in history. Terrorists staged mass prison breakouts and held entire cities to ransom. Egypt killed the hell out of itself and both sides blamed the US and literally nothing was done to make Syria any less hellish. In fact, it got worse. Well done. Meanwhile, on the part of the planet where you can’t even pretend to have any influence, the Chinese navy won a game of WW3 chicken in the Pacific. Somehow in all of this, Russia came out smelling of roses.
So, yes, frankly the US could be doing better. The Taliban are still with us, hiding in their caves, eagerly awaiting the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. And chaos eagerly awaits that. In Yemen, Pakistan and beyond, US drone strikes continue, making Obama the Peace Prize Winner look evermore like someone who uses flying robots to assassinate people. Thanks to an embarrassing climb-down over involvement in Syria, the very idea of the West intervening in another country’s problems has never been less in fashion. And looking at Afghanistan, still donning its A/W 2001 garb of shrapnel and loved ones’ viscera, it’s not hard to see why.
Ruben Pater, a designer from the Netherlands, recently came out with what he calls a “21st century bird-watching” guide—a poster and book explaining how to spot, hijack, hack, and dazzle different types of drones.
Are American Drones al-Qaeda’s Strongest Weapon in Yemen?
Things are getting really messy in Yemen at the moment. With soldiers being murdered in their sleep and embassies closing en masse in fear of an imminent wave of attacks and multiple drone strikes, the country seems to be the latest sandbox full of blood in our War on Terror.
Not that this warzone is all that new. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have had a presence in the area for years, their membership rose from around 300 in 2009 up to an estimated 1,000 today. In an attempt to combat this rise in manpower, the US has escalated its infamous drone program, allegedly targeting high-ranking AQAP members. Although, according to reports, they’ve yet to actually kill any of them.
Is this hit and hope policy really the best way to fight al-Qaeda in Yemen? Or are these drone strikes, which have a habit of killing civilians, exactly the PR ammo al-Qaeda need to lure new recruits in a country that is already as politically stable as a gang of jihadists on a bouncy castle?
A Lawyer Fighting for Guantanamo’s Hunger Strikers
Clive Stafford Smith spent years working as a death-row lawyer in the South before becoming the legal director of the UK branch of Reprieve. Reprieve is a non-profit organization that has long campaigned for the rights of death-row prisoners. Since 2002 Reprieve has helped release prisoners from Guantanamo Bay—a campaign led by Stafford Smith himself.
Not only has Stafford Smith seen first hand the inside of the prison, he’s also maintained relationships with former detainees and built relationships with those currently on hunger strike. The hunger strike in Guantanamo began on February 11, 2013, and it’s gotten to a stage where some prisoners are being force fed, arguably in violation of their human rights.
We discuss Guantanamo and the future of drone warfare—which Reprieve condemns as “the death penalty without trial.”
(Source: Vice Magazine)