vicenews:

Meet the Kurdish Motorcycle Gang Helping Syrian Refugees in Iraq

vicenews:

Meet the Kurdish Motorcycle Gang Helping Syrian Refugees in Iraq

Watch Motherboard’s new documentary about how researchers are using virtual reality to treat military veterans with PTSD.

Watch Motherboard’s new documentary about how researchers are using virtual reality to treat military veterans with PTSD.

Death’s Messenger: One Soldier’s Job Delivering the Worst News Imaginable 
“There’s still a war going on,” Captain Richard Siemion began. “There are still people dying—not as many as before—but it’s still happening. And when it does, the Army sends somebody like me to break the news.”
Captain Siemion was recently honorably discharged but was one of several casualty notification officers serving in upstate New York. Whenever a soldier’s death was reported, the CNO on duty would have four hours to track down the deceased’s family and deliver some of the worst news they would ever hear.
CNOs have been the focus of some interest over the last decade of American war. In 2006, the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News published a Pulitzer Prize–winning series about the Marines tasked with the same job as Captain Siemion, and in 2009 Woody Harrelson starred in the independent film The Messenger. He played a CNO.
I sat down with the 31-year-old Siemion to talk about his first-hand experience telling families of active-service soldiers that their loved one have died in action.
VICE: Did you volunteer for the job?Captain Siemon: We call it being voluntold. I had just gotten back from my first tour in Afghanistan when my Battalion Commander sent me to the training course.
What did you learn there?You learn that there’s no right way to tell someone that their loved one is not returning from war, but there are a lot of wrong ways to do it. If you look at history, the way they used to tell families about a death: You had telegrams, you had taxi drivers paid to ring doorbells, you had word of mouth. Through trial and error, the United States Army got it as close to right as they can. I was always the kind of leader who didn’t go 100 percent by the book, but in this case, I went right by the book, because there is a reason why they have it the way they do. Not much room for creativity.
What do you think they got right?One thing is the idea that no job is more important than this job. So, if you’re in the middle of an important brief with a Colonel and you get called to give a notification, you say, “Gotta go.” Another thing is that you go in person. It shows the importance. Obviously you’re never going to see that individual again, or be their best friend, but if my brother died, I’d rather have it straight—face-to-face. 
Continue

Death’s Messenger: One Soldier’s Job Delivering the Worst News Imaginable 

“There’s still a war going on,” Captain Richard Siemion began. “There are still people dying—not as many as before—but it’s still happening. And when it does, the Army sends somebody like me to break the news.”

Captain Siemion was recently honorably discharged but was one of several casualty notification officers serving in upstate New York. Whenever a soldier’s death was reported, the CNO on duty would have four hours to track down the deceased’s family and deliver some of the worst news they would ever hear.

CNOs have been the focus of some interest over the last decade of American war. In 2006, the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News published a Pulitzer Prize–winning series about the Marines tasked with the same job as Captain Siemion, and in 2009 Woody Harrelson starred in the independent film The Messenger. He played a CNO.

I sat down with the 31-year-old Siemion to talk about his first-hand experience telling families of active-service soldiers that their loved one have died in action.

VICE: Did you volunteer for the job?
Captain Siemon: We call it being voluntold. I had just gotten back from my first tour in Afghanistan when my Battalion Commander sent me to the training course.

What did you learn there?
You learn that there’s no right way to tell someone that their loved one is not returning from war, but there are a lot of wrong ways to do it. If you look at history, the way they used to tell families about a death: You had telegrams, you had taxi drivers paid to ring doorbells, you had word of mouth. Through trial and error, the United States Army got it as close to right as they can. I was always the kind of leader who didn’t go 100 percent by the book, but in this case, I went right by the book, because there is a reason why they have it the way they do. Not much room for creativity.

What do you think they got right?
One thing is the idea that no job is more important than this job. So, if you’re in the middle of an important brief with a Colonel and you get called to give a notification, you say, “Gotta go.” Another thing is that you go in person. It shows the importance. Obviously you’re never going to see that individual again, or be their best friend, but if my brother died, I’d rather have it straight—face-to-face. 

Continue

Moises Saman’s Stunning Photos of Humanity in Conflict Zones
Peruvian photographer Moises Saman has spent the past few years living and working in Cairo and documenting the effects of the Egyptian revolution on the city’s residents—though he might argue that “documenting” is the wrong word. His work willfully avoids a chronological, ordered, historical view of the uprising, instead focusing on capturing humanity and the emotions of the participants. We spoke to him about how he maintains faith in humanity after working in war zones for years and the irrelevance of “objectivity” in relation to his work.
VICE: I heard that it was images of the Balkan conflict that initially made you interested in photography. Is that right?Moises Saman: Yeah, that was the first time I had any interest in photojournalism. Seeing that work in the mid- and late 1990s was an inspiration.
That seems odd, even by the standards of war reportage—the Balkans conflict always seemed to me a brutal and especially grim war. What was it that hooked you?I don’t know if it was necessarily anything particular about the photos, though amazing work was done there. I think it was more to do with that specific period in my life. It was a time when everything clicked in my head—when I started paying attention to the news and the world. Covering that war day in, day out was the moment that I “dialed in,” if you know what I mean. I became interested in the world beyond my personal bubble.

Cairo, Egypt. May 2, 2012. Anti-military protesters beat a man they allege was a pro-military thug during clashes near Abbaseya Square in central Cairo.
You went to the Balkans at the end of the conflict there—how did that trip effect your newfound awareness of the world?I went in 1999, in the summer. I was totally unprepared and it was a badly thought-out trip. My good friend who was meant to be with me pulled out, so I went alone. I maxed out my credit card and didn’t sell one picture from the trip. I had tried to read up on the situation, but once I was actually there, I realized I didn’t know what I was doing at all.
I needed to do it, though. I think good things came of it, and my experiences there matured me a bit. I went there, and I made mistakes, but thank God I came home in one piece. If anything, it reassured me that I wanted to continue exploring photojournalism.
A lot of your work tends to be done in war zones. How do you feel about the tag of “war photographer”—is it a label you resent?I don’t know if “resent” is the right word. But I don’t like it. I think it’s full of connotations that don’t really represent what I’m about as a photographer. It’s true that I tend to work in a lot of conflict zones. Somehow I hope my work is not just seen as something that is only related to conflict—people killing people and so on. Within the context of violence and repression, I try to find some moments that transcend that.
Sometimes it doesn’t work, of course, but it’s what I aim for. I look for moments that we can all relate to. It’s not just about showing events and images that eventually we all will become numb to—pictures of dead people or violence. So “war photographer” is a term I shy away from.
Continue + more pics

Moises Saman’s Stunning Photos of Humanity in Conflict Zones

Peruvian photographer Moises Saman has spent the past few years living and working in Cairo and documenting the effects of the Egyptian revolution on the city’s residents—though he might argue that “documenting” is the wrong word. His work willfully avoids a chronological, ordered, historical view of the uprising, instead focusing on capturing humanity and the emotions of the participants. We spoke to him about how he maintains faith in humanity after working in war zones for years and the irrelevance of “objectivity” in relation to his work.

VICE: I heard that it was images of the Balkan conflict that initially made you interested in photography. Is that right?
Moises Saman:
 Yeah, that was the first time I had any interest in photojournalism. Seeing that work in the mid- and late 1990s was an inspiration.

That seems odd, even by the standards of war reportage—the Balkans conflict always seemed to me a brutal and especially grim war. What was it that hooked you?
I don’t know if it was necessarily anything particular about the photos, though amazing work was done there. I think it was more to do with that specific period in my life. It was a time when everything clicked in my head—when I started paying attention to the news and the world. Covering that war day in, day out was the moment that I “dialed in,” if you know what I mean. I became interested in the world beyond my personal bubble.

Cairo, Egypt. May 2, 2012. Anti-military protesters beat a man they allege was a pro-military thug during clashes near Abbaseya Square in central Cairo.

You went to the Balkans at the end of the conflict there—how did that trip effect your newfound awareness of the world?
I went in 1999, in the summer. I was totally unprepared and it was a badly thought-out trip. My good friend who was meant to be with me pulled out, so I went alone. I maxed out my credit card and didn’t sell one picture from the trip. I had tried to read up on the situation, but once I was actually there, I realized I didn’t know what I was doing at all.

I needed to do it, though. I think good things came of it, and my experiences there matured me a bit. I went there, and I made mistakes, but thank God I came home in one piece. If anything, it reassured me that I wanted to continue exploring photojournalism.

A lot of your work tends to be done in war zones. How do you feel about the tag of “war photographer”—is it a label you resent?
I don’t know if “resent” is the right word. But I don’t like it. I think it’s full of connotations that don’t really represent what I’m about as a photographer. It’s true that I tend to work in a lot of conflict zones. Somehow I hope my work is not just seen as something that is only related to conflict—people killing people and so on. Within the context of violence and repression, I try to find some moments that transcend that.

Sometimes it doesn’t work, of course, but it’s what I aim for. I look for moments that we can all relate to. It’s not just about showing events and images that eventually we all will become numb to—pictures of dead people or violence. So “war photographer” is a term I shy away from.

Continue + more pics

vicenews:

VICE on HBO: Season 1, Episode 3

In episode three of VICE, Thomas Morton meets a gun-crazy pastor who teaches his young students gun drills and tactics to disarm attackers, and Shane Smith travels to Fallujah, Iraq, where a rise in birth defects has been linked to the American military’s suspected use of depleted-uranium munitions during the war.

(Source: viceonhbo.com)

My Boyfriend Tried to Put Tony Blair Under Citizen’s Arrest
Tony Blair’s tenure as prime minister of the UK has been over for nearly seven years now, but some Britons are still extremely upset at him. One British poll from last year even found that a fifth of the country thinks that Blair and his partner in war George W. Bush should face trial for invading Iraq. So far, five people have attempted to place Tony Blair under citizen’s arrest—the fifth being my boyfriend Twiggy on Friday night. I decided to interview him to find out how it went.

VICE: You just placed Tony Blair under a citizen’s arrest—how do you feel?Twiggy Garcia: I feel great. Lots of people have been contacting me to say well done. I’m still in disbelief that I got the opportunity to citizen’s arrest the former prime minister.
Was this a planned scheme? Did you wake up this morning knowing that you were going to try to arrest Tony Blair?Not so much a plan, but it’s something I have wanted to do for a few years. I had been waiting for the opportunity after seeing the website ArrestBlair.org, and it just so happened that we were in the same place at the same time. I believe Blair is responsible for the mass murder of Iraqi civilians after taking our country into an illegal war and breaking articles 31 and 51 of the UN charter, of which the UK is a signatory.
Where did you see him?At a restaurant called Tramshed in Shoreditch—I was working at the bar. My heart rate increased when I found out he was in the building; there was a eerie presence, which some of the other staff noticed too. It wasn’t like any other night. I couldn’t believe he was there. His security people were sitting at the bar directly in front of me and I got nervous because I thought they overheard me say, “Should I citizen’s arrest him?”
Did you act on impulse or did you think about what you were going to do?I thought about it for a while. I went on the ArrestBlair website to see how to perform a citizen’s arrest. Then I spoke to some of the other staff and they said I shouldn’t do it. I then phoned my friend Callum and told him my plan. He said, “Go for it,” and that was all I needed to hear.
What was he doing when you arrested him?
He was sitting at the head of a table upstairs in the restaurant with about eight other people eating dinner. I think he was out with his family and a few friends. I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder, and said, “Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge.”
Continue

My Boyfriend Tried to Put Tony Blair Under Citizen’s Arrest

Tony Blair’s tenure as prime minister of the UK has been over for nearly seven years now, but some Britons are still extremely upset at him. One British poll from last year even found that a fifth of the country thinks that Blair and his partner in war George W. Bush should face trial for invading Iraq. So far, five people have attempted to place Tony Blair under citizen’s arrest—the fifth being my boyfriend Twiggy on Friday night. I decided to interview him to find out how it went.

VICE: You just placed Tony Blair under a citizen’s arrest—how do you feel?
Twiggy Garcia:
 I feel great. Lots of people have been contacting me to say well done. I’m still in disbelief that I got the opportunity to citizen’s arrest the former prime minister.

Was this a planned scheme? Did you wake up this morning knowing that you were going to try to arrest Tony Blair?
Not so much a plan, but it’s something I have wanted to do for a few years. I had been waiting for the opportunity after seeing the website ArrestBlair.org, and it just so happened that we were in the same place at the same time. I believe Blair is responsible for the mass murder of Iraqi civilians after taking our country into an illegal war and breaking articles 31 and 51 of the UN charter, of which the UK is a signatory.

Where did you see him?
At a restaurant called Tramshed in Shoreditch—I was working at the bar. My heart rate increased when I found out he was in the building; there was a eerie presence, which some of the other staff noticed too. It wasn’t like any other night. I couldn’t believe he was there. His security people were sitting at the bar directly in front of me and I got nervous because I thought they overheard me say, “Should I citizen’s arrest him?”

Did you act on impulse or did you think about what you were going to do?
I thought about it for a while. I went on the ArrestBlair website to see how to perform a citizen’s arrest. Then I spoke to some of the other staff and they said I shouldn’t do it. I then phoned my friend Callum and told him my plan. He said, “Go for it,” and that was all I needed to hear.

What was he doing when you arrested him?

He was sitting at the head of a table upstairs in the restaurant with about eight other people eating dinner. I think he was out with his family and a few friends. I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder, and said, “Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge.”

Continue

The World’s Most Depressing Museum Is in Iraq, of Course
"They used the wood so that nobody could hear the screams," explained Bawer, a smartly dressed Iraqi Kurd. He stood over a desk that once belonged to Ali Hassan Al Majid—Saddam Hussein’s right-hand man, better known as Chemical Ali—and ran his hand over the room’s wood-panelled walls.
On the other side of the room, a plaster mannequin hung on a hook from the ceiling, its hands bound behind its back and electrodes running from its head to a metal box on the desk. “And here,” Bawer said, as he walked towards the model, pointing directly at its groin, “is where they would attach the weights, usually 20 to 30 kilograms [about 45 to 65 pounds]. Sometimes more.”
Most cities have monuments to the past, so it seems appropriate, given the bloody history of Iraqi Kurdistan, that Sulaymaniyah’s main tourist attraction is a torture museum. Tucked away in a now relatively quiet and leafy suburb, Amna Suraka is the former headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency, and a building known to all Iraqi Kurds. Until the armed Kurdish fighters (known as the Peshmerga) liberated it in the early 1990s, the prison held students, dissidents, and Kurdish nationalists, as well as anyone else who happened to attract the attention of Baathist authorities in northern Iraq.
Continue

The World’s Most Depressing Museum Is in Iraq, of Course

"They used the wood so that nobody could hear the screams," explained Bawer, a smartly dressed Iraqi Kurd. He stood over a desk that once belonged to Ali Hassan Al Majid—Saddam Hussein’s right-hand man, better known as Chemical Ali—and ran his hand over the room’s wood-panelled walls.

On the other side of the room, a plaster mannequin hung on a hook from the ceiling, its hands bound behind its back and electrodes running from its head to a metal box on the desk. “And here,” Bawer said, as he walked towards the model, pointing directly at its groin, “is where they would attach the weights, usually 20 to 30 kilograms [about 45 to 65 pounds]. Sometimes more.”

Most cities have monuments to the past, so it seems appropriate, given the bloody history of Iraqi Kurdistan, that Sulaymaniyah’s main tourist attraction is a torture museum. Tucked away in a now relatively quiet and leafy suburb, Amna Suraka is the former headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency, and a building known to all Iraqi Kurds. Until the armed Kurdish fighters (known as the Peshmerga) liberated it in the early 1990s, the prison held students, dissidents, and Kurdish nationalists, as well as anyone else who happened to attract the attention of Baathist authorities in northern Iraq.

Continue

The Invisible Scars of Syrian Teens 
When Asalah, her daughter, and her son fled the war and left their home, Damascus for Iraq, they found themselves on the Syrian side of a closed border. Two months later, when the border opened on August 19, Asalah, her children, and 55,000 other refugeeshopped onto buses and trucks and entered Iraq’s Kurdistan region. They and another 30,000 refugees camped out wherever they could: parks, mosques, and even schools. By the time UNHCR arrived a week later, they hadn’t eaten in 36 hours and disease had spread among the refugees.        
Asalah didn’t have a say in where she and her family could go in Iraq but technically lucked out when they were randomly assigned to Arbat camp by the Kurdistan government. Arbat camp is a transit refugee camp established by UNHCR located in the Sulaymaniyahprovince about six hours from the border Syrian-Iraq border. Arbat houses a small number of the refugees currently in Iraq—with only a 1000 refugees living in 500 tents compared to the Za’atari mega camp in Jordan that houses 130,000 refugees. The refugees were told they would temporarily stay in the transit camp for a few days while another, more accommodating camp was built. They’ve been there for almost two months.
Continue

The Invisible Scars of Syrian Teens 

When Asalah, her daughter, and her son fled the war and left their home, Damascus for Iraq, they found themselves on the Syrian side of a closed border. Two months later, when the border opened on August 19, Asalah, her children, and 55,000 other refugeeshopped onto buses and trucks and entered Iraq’s Kurdistan region. They and another 30,000 refugees camped out wherever they could: parks, mosques, and even schools. By the time UNHCR arrived a week later, they hadn’t eaten in 36 hours and disease had spread among the refugees.        

Asalah didn’t have a say in where she and her family could go in Iraq but technically lucked out when they were randomly assigned to Arbat camp by the Kurdistan government. Arbat camp is a transit refugee camp established by UNHCR located in the Sulaymaniyahprovince about six hours from the border Syrian-Iraq border. Arbat houses a small number of the refugees currently in Iraq—with only a 1000 refugees living in 500 tents compared to the Za’atari mega camp in Jordan that houses 130,000 refugees. The refugees were told they would temporarily stay in the transit camp for a few days while another, more accommodating camp was built. They’ve been there for almost two months.

Continue

VICE on HBO: Episode 3 - Guns & Ammo

In episode three of VICE, Thomas Morton meets a gun-crazy pastor who teaches his young students gun drills and tactics to disarm attackers, and Shane Smith travels to Fallujah, Iraq, where a rise in birth defects has been linked to the American military’s suspected use of depleted-uranium munitions during the war.

Already seen this episode, have you? But have you seen the season one outtakes? Watch them on VICE here: http://www.vice.com/vice-on-hbo-outtakes

VICE on HBO – Episode 3
Our Emmy-nominated HBO show recently wrapped up its first season, and complaint numero uno that we got throughout its run was: “I reaaaalllyyy want to watch your show, but I don’t have HBO.” Well, your cries have been heard. Earlier this week we released the first episode on VICE.com, and episode four went live yesterday. Today we’re giving you the third episode. Why did we post episode four before episode three, you ask? Don’t worry about it. Online media strategies can be very complicated and boring. Just enjoy the show! Next Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll release episodes nine and ten, respectively.

In episode three of VICE, Thomas Morton meets a gun-crazy pastor who teaches his young students gun drills and tactics to disarm attackers, and Shane Smith travels to Fallujah, Iraq, where a rise in birth defects has been linked to the American military’s suspected use of depleted-uranium munitions during the war.
Watch it here

VICE on HBO – Episode 3

Our Emmy-nominated HBO show recently wrapped up its first season, and complaint numero uno that we got throughout its run was: “I reaaaalllyyy want to watch your show, but I don’t have HBO.” Well, your cries have been heard. Earlier this week we released the first episode on VICE.com, and episode four went live yesterday. Today we’re giving you the third episode. Why did we post episode four before episode three, you ask? Don’t worry about it. Online media strategies can be very complicated and boring. Just enjoy the show! Next Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll release episodes nine and ten, respectively.

In episode three of VICE, Thomas Morton meets a gun-crazy pastor who teaches his young students gun drills and tactics to disarm attackers, and Shane Smith travels to Fallujah, Iraq, where a rise in birth defects has been linked to the American military’s suspected use of depleted-uranium munitions during the war.

Watch it here

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