bm150 Direct from Afghanistan

by bicyclemark

The news reports indicate the that Taliban is alive and well in Afghanistan. Meanwhile life goes on, the militaries of various nations work in the country, and we are left wondering what is going on. In this program I speak with an Afghani translator for the US military, and ask him what changes he has seen.

No Links Today, interview speaks for itself.


GI Jane Emailed from Afghanistan

by bicyclemark

I emailed GI Jane, who if you recall, is currently stationed somewhere at a base in Afghanistan. I had heard she mentioned me to Madame L in an email, something about an interview with an interpreter. When I heard this I immediately thought back to our last emails before she deployed, how she was anxious to get it over with and also that she be stationed somewhere relatively safer than out in the mountains in a tent somewhere.

My email was met with a very enthusiastic response, as only Jane can write. She seemed in good spirits if you don’t count the fact that she referred to daily life in Afghanistan as “prison-like”. She was also distressed about a close friend who is off on a very dangerous mission right now in what seems like a very unsafe part of the country. Seems like that applies to a growing amount of Afghanistan… unsafe.

She also told me that indeed she’d been telling an interpreter about me. He is an Afghani doctor that I guess translates for the Army, I found it completely flattering that of all the things she would be talking to him about, she was speaking of me and my podcast. The good doctor, evidently, could not believe that such interviews and such personal media outlets (me) exist. He seems eager to talk on my podcast!

Jane is the best. Not only was I excited to hear from her , but I was happy to hear she’s in a very mundane yet safe-sounding base. Hopefully she will come home soon and not be subjected anymore to that neverending, slow, mental-torture.

Now I must prepare questions that I want to ask the translator. Obviously he has things to say, but I will have my own queries for him on the subject of the present situation, the future outlook, and as an Afghani… how he would have liked to see the situation handled in terms of toppling the Taliban.

Let’s do this Radio Open Source style, if you’ve got questions you’d like me to ask, write them in the comments. Also, if you’re interested and willing, the skype out rates to Afghanistan are quite expensive and I no longer have a sponsor. There’s a tip jar to your left… send me a few dollars to fund the communication. (thanks!)

bm135 Allen Zerkin on Alternative Strategies for Ending AlQaeda’s War on the West

by bicyclemark

The title of this show alone makes alot of people angry. They have decided that war is the only way, and refuse to seek other solutions, even though the so-called war on terror has produced some very questionable results in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Allen Zerkin braves the firestorm of pro-war threats and condemnation to explore other ways, specifically related to how and why the west can engage AlQaeda to bring an end to this unwinnable fight. (note, unlike my usual length, this one goes to around 55 minutes)

Much of his discussion refers to this now infamous LA Times Editorial

There was this French Teacher

by bicyclemark

Cold Thursday nights in late-May Amsterdam are a goodtime for watching the LOST season finale and taking a stroll down memory lane.

Back when I worked for the Dharma Initiative….. ha, just kidding; the internet does not need more TV blog posts. I’ll start again.

Back in 2001, right around the time the WTC towers fell, I was enrolled as a happy night student at New York City’s Alliance Française. This is the French cultural center and language school that you can find in most major cities all over the world, funded by the French government, I do believe. I was there to make use of my favorite language, after my time in southern france and all my new francophone friends in Lisbon, I needed something to give me a place to have conversations and improve my weak spots. The alliance seemed like the perfect place and of course I hoped to meet some great people there or a nice girl… either is always a welcome thing.

So as the rubble was sorted through, the country was going anthrax crazy, and the government prepared to bomb Afghanistan, I was making the commute to class and sitting for a few hours each week chit chatting away and enjoying the vibe. But time passed quickly. Most of the other classmates, especially the nice girls, didn’t seem preoccupied with hanging out with me, which I grew to accept.

Instead however, I did make friends with someone else in the class: the teacher. Gilles was from Paris, if I remember correctly. He was a calm and hip dude in his early 30’s (i think) who seemed to be caught in between loving new york, but being sick of the US. I’d hang a little longer after class and sometimes we would chat. I remember he liked my plan to move to Portugal… he was a big supporter of it, and expressed that he intended to move back to France or Europe at some point.

Thats pretty much how it went. Semester ended. I moved to Portugal. Gilles kept in touch… infrequent emails saying hello. Still in New York. Still plotting his exit. And well, you know how it goes… time passes..

And then today I got an email: A familiar name announces a new book; a novel. He probably doesn’t remember that I’m on his mass email list. Still, seeing the name in my email brought back good memories. My time as a night student, working on my french, while the city wrapped itself in American flags, and the government bombed a country to dust.