Making a Killing

Making a Killing
From The Arab American News
May 25, 2005 [Investigative Journalism]

Portland, Ore. — When most documentary filmmakers offer to shoot their subjects, they usually mean with a camera, cinematically. But Mike Shiley—whose film Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories, opened at McMenamin’s Mission Theater here June 10—thought it would be vastly more interesting to do it with a gun, literally.

In one telling episode, Shiley’s autobiographical film describes how he replaced a tank gunner on a U.S. Army “harass-and-intimidate” mission on Iraq’s northwestern border. During the operation, Shiley fired an M1A1-Abrams… Read More »

Night of a Thousand Stars

Night of a Thousand Stars
From Night of a Thousand Stars and Other Portraits of Iraq (Nazraeli Press: 2006)

At 11:30 p.m. on the night of Jan. 17, 1991, the first Tomahawk missile fired in the Gulf War left its launch platform aboard the U.S.S. San Jacinto in the Red Sea. The missile rose eastward, crossed the Saudi Arabian desert, and then descended, roughly one hour and 600 miles later, on the city of Baghdad. The Tomahawk was soon joined by more than 100 cruise missiles from seven U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, including two nuclear-powered submarines. The rockets streaked into the city shortly before 1 a.m., as air-raid sirens… Read More »

Distributing the Pain

From The Bear Deluxe magazine

If nature is not a cathedral, then perhaps it is a town meeting, and none the worse for it—a place of intellectual inquiry, give and take, and above all, human responsibility, a place where people seek the truth, bound only by the constraints of common sense and common decency, a place where people make decisions and learn from the consequences.  — Stephen Budiansky, Nature’s Keepers: The New Science of Nature Management (The Free Press: 1995)

You think that because you understand one, that you must therefore understand two, because one and one is two. But you forget that you must also understand… Read More »

Are biofuels fueling hunger?

From Sound Consumer magazine (Sept. 2010)

The U.S. Navy celebrated Earth Day this year by running a biofuels test on a supersonic F/A 18 Green Hornet fighter jet powered by a mixture of traditional jet fuel, and oil pressed from Camelina sativa, a relative of the mustard plant.

U.S. Navy celebrates Earth Day

The test underscores two trends in U.S. energy policy: an almost fanatical reliance on biofuels as a substitute for oil, and the misconception that anything ‘green’ is good—even if it sports Sidewinder missiles and makes the Hummer look fossil-fuel efficient.

Some experts on food security claim otherwise. Once touted as a panacea for America’s energy… Read More »

A White Vampire Story

From Gobshite Quarterly Winter 2004

In 1996, while I was working with a medical team treating refugees of the civil war in Rwanda, I made a habit of driving a 4-year-old Hutu child to tears every day for nearly a week straight. The truth is, I love children, and under ordinary circumstances, I think I’m a pretty decent person. But hers was a special case. I made it my mission to terrify this frail little girl at every available opportunity—so much so that when I woke up in the morning, before first light I had thought of a dozen ways to torment her.

A Hutu mother helps treat her daughter for pneumonia

Of course this wasn’t the main reason I was in Africa. I was working as a… Read More »

Who’s Afraid of Cap & Trade

From The Bear Deluxe magazine: June 2009

When you cheat on your partner you add to the heartbreak, pain and jealousy in the atmosphere. Cheatneutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and not cheat. This neutralises [sic] the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience.
—Spoof of Cap & Trade schemes at “Helping you because you can’t help yourself.”

In 2007, psychologist Paul Slovic and his colleagues conducted an obscure experiment in which starving children in Mali were used to quantify the breaking point of human compassion. His findings, and those of others who… Read More »

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