A Yemeni Man Is Suing British Telecom over America’s Deadly Drone Strikes
A deep boom rocked through Sanaa, Yemen, the sound coming from outside of the city, perhaps from near the village of al-Masna’a.
Mohammed al-Qawli, who works at Yemen’s Ministry of Education, was at home with some of his colleagues. To find out what exactly had happened, he called someone he knew who lived in the village. The man on the other end of the phone read out the license plate of a car that had been hit; it belonged to Mohammed’s family. Putting down the phone, he immediately made the 20-minute drive out to the bomb site.
This is what had happened: Mohammed’s cousin, 20-year-old university student Salim al-Qawli, ran an informal taxi service to supplement his family’s income, a common practice if you own a vehicle in Yemen. He was approached by two men who wanted to be driven out of the village and—understandably, given it was his job—agreed. Ali al-Qawli, Salim’s relative and a local schoolteacher, went along for the ride.
While driving towards their destination, they were stopped at a military checkpoint. Then, just before 9 PM, a Hellfire missile tore through the sky and struck the vehicle. Everyone in the car died instantly.
Ali al-Qawli, who was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen on the 23rd January, 2013.
In footage of drone strikes, you normally see a target sitting in the center of a screen before a white flash erupts and fades, leaving nothing but absence behind. The process is quick and clean. But this isn’t what it’s like on the ground. With the car still on fire, local villagers had gathered around the remains of the pickup. “The smell of burning flesh was overwhelming,” Mohammed told me. “The bodies were in pieces.”
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.
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.
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 grindingwarinSyria, 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.