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‘I could see gas masks all around and [the fighters] were all talking about this. Everyone was already having problems with their eyes. One day I did an interview with the commander of the little position. These guys are used to shelling, fighting, snipers. That’s their life. But chemicals, you never know. It has a real psychological effect. You cannot smell it or see it for certain. Sometimes there is not even smoke.
At first I was scared with what I saw and what I was carrying, because we knew it was something that could change everything….My colleague and I had a long argument. Should we release everything when we were stuck in Damascus? Do we run the story and send it to the newspapers right away? But then we would be a bigger target, so we decided to not do it.’

-Laurent Van der Stockt on realizing that Assad’s forces in Syria were using chemical weapons. Read more - The Photographer Who Crossed Obama’s ‘Red Line’
Image by Laurent Van der Stockt/Reportage by Getty Images, from Nerve Gas in Syria


The boneheaded war in Iraq is claiming tens of thousands more lives now that it’s tied the hands of the US and allies from intervening in the Middle East when something really has to be done. There is no win in sight for either side, and even when arms are eventually lain down what will remain but sectarian conflict, a ruined infrastructure, a lost dream of democracy for what had been one of the most stable nations in the region, hundreds of thousands dead and countless lost landmarks and cultural icons from the birthplace of civilization.
Politics don’t matter, the past doesn’t matter, the fact that the US has never properly lived up to the image it likes to display of helping the rest of the world achieve democracy and intervening in atrocities doesn’t matter, that the government wants to pretend this country hasn’t toppled and instated dozens of governments over the years around the world but can’t be involved now doesn’t matter, that this threatens to be a new Cold War like proxy war following the renewed tensions between the US and Russia doesn’t matter, that there is no easy solution in sight doesn’t matter, that the economy isn’t strong doesn’t matter; all that matters is now and what is happening, human to human and talking and politicking has let the worst humanitarian crisis in the world fester, led to the largest conflict migration in generations and continues to allow torture, disappearances and the use of chemical weapons to stand.
It doesn’t have to be boots on the ground to turn the tide, Libya proved that, but more importantly the US should have been using the Arab Spring as an opportunity to live up to the false buzzword of “exporting democracy” and earn back a positive reputation on the world stage through advising and aid. We still can.
Mincing words and debating non-intervention while the bullets flew left a millions dead in Rwanda, the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Chile, etc., don’t let more nations join that shameful list. 

reportagebygettyimages:

‘I could see gas masks all around and [the fighters] were all talking about this. Everyone was already having problems with their eyes. One day I did an interview with the commander of the little position. These guys are used to shelling, fighting, snipers. That’s their life. But chemicals, you never know. It has a real psychological effect. You cannot smell it or see it for certain. Sometimes there is not even smoke.

At first I was scared with what I saw and what I was carrying, because we knew it was something that could change everything….My colleague and I had a long argument. Should we release everything when we were stuck in Damascus? Do we run the story and send it to the newspapers right away? But then we would be a bigger target, so we decided to not do it.’

-Laurent Van der Stockt on realizing that Assad’s forces in Syria were using chemical weapons. Read more - The Photographer Who Crossed Obama’s ‘Red Line’

Image by Laurent Van der Stockt/Reportage by Getty Images, from Nerve Gas in Syria

The boneheaded war in Iraq is claiming tens of thousands more lives now that it’s tied the hands of the US and allies from intervening in the Middle East when something really has to be done. There is no win in sight for either side, and even when arms are eventually lain down what will remain but sectarian conflict, a ruined infrastructure, a lost dream of democracy for what had been one of the most stable nations in the region, hundreds of thousands dead and countless lost landmarks and cultural icons from the birthplace of civilization.

Politics don’t matter, the past doesn’t matter, the fact that the US has never properly lived up to the image it likes to display of helping the rest of the world achieve democracy and intervening in atrocities doesn’t matter, that the government wants to pretend this country hasn’t toppled and instated dozens of governments over the years around the world but can’t be involved now doesn’t matter, that this threatens to be a new Cold War like proxy war following the renewed tensions between the US and Russia doesn’t matter, that there is no easy solution in sight doesn’t matter, that the economy isn’t strong doesn’t matter; all that matters is now and what is happening, human to human and talking and politicking has let the worst humanitarian crisis in the world fester, led to the largest conflict migration in generations and continues to allow torture, disappearances and the use of chemical weapons to stand.

It doesn’t have to be boots on the ground to turn the tide, Libya proved that, but more importantly the US should have been using the Arab Spring as an opportunity to live up to the false buzzword of “exporting democracy” and earn back a positive reputation on the world stage through advising and aid. We still can.

Mincing words and debating non-intervention while the bullets flew left a millions dead in Rwanda, the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Chile, etc., don’t let more nations join that shameful list. 

Failing to live up to the rules you hold over others

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon claims diplomatic immunity for the UN against the charge that it caused the cholera outbreak in Haiti & will therefore not answer to the case against it. 

They’re not following the very convention they’re invoking.

Article V, Section 20 of the Convention he’s using to shield the UN from answering to it says its his duty to waive immunity in any case where the immunity would impede the course of justice.

And Section 21 reads: “The United Nations shall co-operate at all times with the appropriate authorities of Members to facilitate the proper administration of justice, secure the observance of police regula- tions and prevent the occurrence of any abuse in connection with the privileges, immunities and facilities mentioned in this Article.”

Here’s the convention:

http://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/1946/12/19461214%2010-17%20PM/Ch_III_1p.pdf

Human heroes are so much more powerful than unattainable legends

Let’s remember MLK not as the unassailable legend he’s been made into, but as a human, like the rest of us, that lived & breathed & had flaws, doubts and personal struggles outside of his public life, but that gave all he had for what he believed in, for his fellow man. His actions shouldn’t be “remembered” so much as used for inspiration, civil rights go far beyond race & creed, and we have a long way to go even in the first world, but even now we can take that inspiration and what ever voice, time or talent we have towards ensuring the rest of the world (even if for you that means just your community, school, place of work, etc.) reaps the benefits of the inspiration and lessons men like King left for us. 

I bring up things like this a lot, and plenty of that is to remind myself of it as well: 

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Nearly all the ills of this world boil down to people thinking their rights, their lives are more important than those of others, understand we’re all just one of an equal multitude, and all we can truly accomplish while we’re here is making it easier for the rest of us today and those that will follow.