October 2010 Archives

My neighbors say it with bullets

New York, NY, USA -- 26 October 2010 | Permalink
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We were having supper when we heard the shots. They came in quick succession, in groups of two, with a slight hesitation between the second and the third report.

"I don't think that was firecrackers." I said.

"It can't be gunfire," said M. "I counted seven."

"I made it six." I said. "And in any case, there are plenty of handguns that take clips with more than six rounds."

"Oh." she said. "I didn't know."

And with that, we went back to our supper. Things that sound like gunshots — and usually aren't — are commonplace in the neighborhood and there was no immediate follow-up in the shape of screams or wailing sirens.

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Ari Up

New York, NY, USA -- 21 October 2010 | Permalink
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Ari Up (Ariane Forster) of the Slits died yesterday.


Hostage diary

17 October 2010 | Permalink

One of the great things about New York is the opportunity it offers to meet interesting people. Last night I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman named Will Van Dorp, who's a teacher, writer, connoisseur of everything that moves on Manhattan's waterways, former Peace Corps volunteer, and probably more besides. He also has one more job description on his extensive resume: unwilling 'human shield' for Iraqi infrastructure.

In August 1990, when Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait, a number of Western civilians living or working in Kuwait and Iraq were taken prisoner. As tension between the US and Iraq increased, Saddam ordered the hostages to be placed at strategic targets such as refineries or power stations, in an attempt to discourage the US from bombing them. It's a part of the story that many people have now forgotten and one that tends to get glossed over or neglected in many histories of the first Gulf War.

Exactly twenty years on, Will is posting his account of his own experiences in diary form, one entry each day, at mybabyloniancaptivity.wordpress.com. It's a fascinating story, and well worth taking the time to read.