Tag Archives: war

Northern Ireland’s Segregated Peace

Twelve years after the signing of the Belfast ‘Good Friday’ Agreement signalled an end to the Troubles, Northern Ireland is in a state of ‘segregated peace’, says Kevin Cullen, describing the situation.

Not only is there an official ethos of separate but equal, but an infrastructure underpinning it. There are three times as many so-called peace lines — elaborate walls separating working-class neighborhoods — than there were at the height of the Troubles, 88 of them at last count. […]

With segregation the status quo, there is an enormous duplication of public services, such as schools, community centers, and health clinics. The Alliance Party […] estimates that duplication of public services costs more than $1 billion a year, this in a place the size of Connecticut with a population of less than 2 million.

But it’s more than money that Northern Ireland is losing. It is losing the very kind of people that might change things. Some are voting with their feet, others simply not voting at all. Voting participation, which surged in the optimism following the Good Friday Agreement, has slumped. The brain drain, which saw educated young people head to England and everywhere else, slowed after everything looked possible in 1998. But it has picked up again, as a new generation that grew up without widespread violence concludes that peace is nice but not everything. So much creativity, energy, and productivity, lost across the Irish Sea.

via Link Banana

The Tao of War Photography

Laying dormant at the bottom of my bookmarks was this article Jason pointed out over four months ago: photographer Bruce Haley‘s Tao of War Photography.

1.  To begin with, practice this sentence: “If I get out of here alive, I’ll never do this again.”  You’ll say this to yourself every single time an already dangerous situation really turns to shit…

63. Always keep in mind the following when you photograph people in war zones and other awful places:
a. You’re there because you want to be – they aren’t…
b. You can leave – they can’t…

Beware, the Flash interface makes my eyes bleed.

Two Stories of Escaping WW2 POW Camps

The fascinating story of how Waddington’s Monopoly sets were used to help captured Allied soldiers escape from Nazi POW camps:

In 1941, the British Secret Service approached Waddington with its master plan, and before long, production of a “special edition” Monopoly set was underway. For the top-secret mission, the factory set aside a small, secure room—unknown to the rest of its employees—where skilled craftsmen sat and painstakingly carved small niches and openings into the games’ cardboard boxes. Along with the standard thimble, car, and Scotty dog, the POW version included additional “playing” pieces, such as a metal file, a magnetic compass, and of course, a regional silk escape map, complete with marked safe-houses along the way—all neatly concealed in the game’s box. Even better, some of the Monopoly money was real. Actual German, Italian, and French currency was placed underneath the play money for escapees to use for bribes.

I have a certain fondness for stories such as these.

My late grandfather was a WW2 POW in Capua 66 on the plains below Mount Vesuvius, Italy. After escaping from the camp, he made made his way 750km north, past Rome, to Milan where he stayed in a safe-house/restaurant run by a Welsh woman (from Cardiff, now my home town). Once winter passed and the snows subsided, he then made his way another 250km north, over the Alps, into Switzerland where he worked, hidden, on a farm before eventually making his way back to Allied land.

That was just one of the stories my grandfather revealed to me in the months before his death a few weeks ago. Before then, few knew that he witnessed the first V-2 rocket attack on the UK (while on leave after arriving back to the UK following his POW experience), or that he had served in the same unit as Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe‘s brother, Fred, while in Tunisia (where he, and many others, were captured and sent to the POW camp).

Stories like this are so humbling.

The Final Salute: A Touching Story

They are the troops that nobody wants to see, carrying a message that no military family ever wants to hear.

It begins with a knock at the door.

Final Salute is a double Pulitzer Prize winning article (writing and photography) from The Rocky Mountain News profiling the work of Major Steve Beck – a US Marine responsible for notifying family members of a Marine’s death. As the Pulitzer Award cited, the article is a “haunting, behind-the-scenes look”.

It’s long; but it’s worthy of every moment of your time no matter what your stance on the numerous armed conflicts currently under way. It’s a difficult read that will put a lump in your throat.

(Alternative link)

Sir Arthur C Clarke’s Final Message – Peace and Climate Change

By now everyone knows that Sir Arthur C Clarke recently passed away – a truly sad event. However, you may not have watched his ‘final message to earth‘.

Communication technologies are necessary, but not sufficient, for us humans to get along with each other. This is why we still have many disputes and conflicts in the world. Technology tools help us to gather and disseminate information, but we also need qualities like tolerance and compassion to achieve greater understanding between peoples and nations.

I have great faith in optimism as a guiding principle, if only because it offers us the opportunity of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I hope we’ve learnt something from the most barbaric century in history – the 20th. I would like to see us overcome our tribal divisions and begin to think and act as if we were one family. That would be real globalisation…

He continued his communiqué with three final wishes, the second of which was:

I would like to see us kick our current addiction to oil, and adopt clean energy sources. For over a decade, I’ve been monitoring various new energy experiments, but they have yet to produce commercial scale results. Climate change has now added a new sense of urgency. Our civilisation depends on energy, but we can’t allow oil and coal to slowly bake our planet…

via Wired Science