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It’s 4:30 P.M., early December 2004, and a caravan of Humvees rumbles out of Camp Victory carrying Staff Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver and his team of bomb-squad technicians from the U.S. Army’s 788th Ordnance Company.
As Sarver’s team bounces down Victory’s rutted roads, the convoy passes a helipad where Chinooks, Black Hawks and Apaches thump in and out, some of them armed with laser-guided missiles and 30-millimeter cannons that fire fist-size shells. Sarver sees the Bradley and Abrams tanks sitting in neat rows, like cars at a dealership, their depleted-uranium bumpers aligned with precision.
All that lethal hardware is parked, more or less useless against the Iraqi insurgency’s main weapon in this phase of the war: improvised explosive devices made from artillery shells, nine-volt batteries and electrical tape—what the troops call IEDs.
As they leave the front gate, Sarver is in high spirits.
He grabs the radio and sings out in his West Virginia twang, “Hey, ah, do you want to be the dirty old man or the cute young boy?” “I’ll be the boy,” comes the response with a laugh. It’s Sarver’s junior team member, Specialist Jonathan Williams.
"Okay, cute boy. This is dirty old man, over." "Roger, ol’ man. We’re en route to the ah-ee-dee."
He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer.
He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who’s still utterly, terrifyingly human.
It did not take long for the infant to die. A half hour after her parents brought her into the makeshift emergency room lit by hazy flashlights, she was gone.
The 26-year-old doctor, a third-year resident, worked frantically over her lifeless body. He had not slept for a day, but he was determined to save her life. The doctor, who goes by just the name Dr. Hamza, lost the battle.
After a few minutes’ resuscitation, the girl died. The doctor wrapped a triangular cloth around the small corpse. Her mother slumped on a chair, in shock. Her father paced the room.
They had not yet named her. This baby did not die of shrapnel wounds or a sniper’s bullet. She died from a respiratory illness.
According to the charity Save the Children, the majority of children’s diseases in Syria-measles, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses-are treatable.
"When I see a wizened dead baby," said one U.N. officer. "I think: did they really die of starvation? Or did they die of some horrible disease? Or even a treatable one they can’t get drugs for?"
Sixty percent of the hospitals in Syria are damaged or destroyed; half the doctors have fled the country. Medicine is heading backward several centuries.
In her latest project “Our House Is on Fire,” Iranian artist Shirin Neshat examines the brutal aftermath of the failed Egyptian revolution by overlaying photos of the victims with poetic text.
The project, on display in New York City starting Jan. 31, will also help some of those victimized by the revolution: The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, a humanitarian arts organization, commissioned Neshat to create the series and as part of the arrangement, proceeds from some works will be donated to charities in Egypt. (SEE Shirin Neshat’s Photos of the Egyptian Revolution)
Even when disaster strikes, students around the world try to keep up with their assignments.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Marial Simon, one of 17,000 desperate souls crowding into the dusty United Nations Tomping compound in Juba, was still in shock from what he had seen on December 15. “That was the night of the killing,” said the Nuer schoolboy, slight for his age, as he clutched nervously at the filthy clothes he has been wearing for weeks.“The shooting went on and on, and the killing began and it did not stop. I was there. I saw it happen.”
Violence erupted in South Sudan on December 15 after members of the Dinka tribe in President Salva Kiir’s presidential guards in Juba tried to disarm their Nuer colleagues.
Many of former vice president Riek Machar’s supporters are believed to be Nuer, his own tribal group.There is a historic enmity between the two groups.
“[The incident] caused [the Dinkas] to panic and go out on a rampage,” said a Western diplomat. “They went after anyone who had allegiance to Riek Machar. Now it’s unclear whether the people who were targeted will take revenge.”
The two communities, Nuer and Dinka, are the largest in the world’s youngest country.
Two years before, in a much-hailed event, after a four-decade-long war that left more than a million people dead, South Sudan celebrated its independence from Sudan. It was, briefly, a time of hope. But by then people seemed too exhausted, too traumatized and too shattered to celebrate their new country.
Post-independence corruption was rife. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the national army meant to be a symbol of the new nation’s multiethnicity, was splintered. And there was lingering ethnic hatred.
“On the upper level, there were too many Dinkas,” says the Western diplomat. “And on the lower, too many Nuers.”
This week’s NEWSWEEK: Reporters Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova trace the story of the United States’ impact on Afghanistan over the past 13 years of conflict, and the troubling situation the country is in today. The state, now governed by a group of shaky, corrupt individuals faces another, more insidious threat: a global $68bn opium trade that, in some areas, is the country’s only economic engine.
It was an open secret that one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s worst tormentors, Bosco Ntaganda, lived on Avenue des Tulipés until 2012, crossing into Rwanda now and then despite a travel ban. Rich off the proceeds of the illegal tax revenues he imposed on local mines, he served as a general in the Congolese army.
For a wanted fugitive, the man nicknamed “the Terminator” lived a comfortable and unencumbered life. Six years before, a warrant for his arrest had been issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his role in recruiting child soldiers.
Goma, the capital of Congo, is still trying to reintegrate these former combatants: boys now in their teens who were forced to become killers before they had reached puberty and now struggle to be seen as victims. A second warrant for Ntaganda, issued in July 2012, added four more counts of war crimes and three more of crimes against humanity. But no one wanted to move on Ntaganda.
It was widely acknowledged he was useful – an important interlocutor in a region that is perpetually about to slide back into violence. Ntaganda’s apparent impunity was a neon sign that the ICC’s reach and relevance, 12 years on from its creation, were weak and waning, and that justice for war criminals remains subordinate to global realpolitik.
Now, a cynical, targeted attack on the ICC by two Kenyan leaders charged with crimes against humanity has lifted the hood on the flaws in the global “court of last resort”.
Through what one experienced court insider calls “a dirty-tricks campaign,” the two killers are attempting to discredit and dismantle a system that, while far from perfect, metes out justice to victims of warlords and those responsible for state-sanctioned abuse.
As two military-style helicopters touch down in a remote village in the jungles of Ecuador, masked men with guns hop out and scurry into a one-room schoolhouse. Inside they capture their target: a 6-year-old girl who doesn’t speak their language and can’t even guess why they are kidnapping her.
They carry the terrified child, Conta, into the belly of one of the helicopters and it quickly rises up and away. Inside a thing she has only ever known as a screaming demon that roars across the sky, she is flown to a nearby city. There, she is taken by these armed strangers to a hospital that is a teeming petri dish of germs for which she has no immunity, since she has never been in a city before.
This is the second time in seven months this girl, who grew up in a tribe without access to metal tools, has been violently wrenched from her daily life and thrust into a new and terrifying world. [more]