08 December 2013
Many of our Soldiers in Afghanistan are required to carry this paper in a pocket at all times. Troops are expected to memorize the talking points and cough them up to any journalists coming through.
We decided to help headquarters spread their message.
Many complaints about poor morale are coming from Afghanistan. Most troops are kept on base, where they undergo mindless inspections and even small ‘parades’, and of course rocket and mortar strikes.
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04 December 2013
I am in Turkey to study the Syrian civil war. Yet this is also a crucial moment in Thailand. A few words on the Kingdom are due.
December 5 is His Majesty's birthday. As an American, I was raised since birth to reject all kings. That is our upbringing and what we are taught in school, and with good reason.
The King of Thailand is a rare exception.
1 December 2013
Given by Kawa Khalil, annotated by Michael Yon
The Syrian rebel Kawa Khalil told me the recent story of the Holy Cross church.
Before the war, the church doubled as a school, attended by Muslims and Christians. After the destruction of Syria began, classrooms became homes for refugees.
On 27 October, the Holy Cross Armenian Orthodox Church was burned in Tal Abyad, Raqqa, Syria.
28 November 2013
Government opposition has grown in Thailand to historical proportions. Millions of Thai people from all walks of life, and from across the political and economic spectrum, are uniting to overthrow the current government, which is corrupted to the core.
So far, the massive anti-government rally has been peaceful. Many government buildings have been peacefully seized and are being occupied.
by Barbara Lawrence, witness to trial
26 November 2013
Two days before I left to attend the retrial of Master Sergeant CJ Grisham, I received my annual National Rifle Association membership card in the mail. It was a reminder that though MSG Grisham has sought and received considerable attention and support regarding his charge of “interfering with duties of a public servant,” the NRA wants nothing to do with him.
That is not surprising.
He claims to have been on an Eagle Scout hike with his son Chris within Temple, Texas, city limits on March 16, 2013. What is unusual is that he carried an AR-15, while having a cell phone camera within ready access.
This is likely to excite attention in an area that has seen two previous mass shootings: Fort Hood in 2009 and Killeen in 1991.
When a concerned citizen calls police to inform them of the suspicious pair, Sergeant Steve Ermis is dispatched to investigate. He is met with uncooperative defiance as he attempts to disarm Grisham, who is quick to video the incident. Grisham is charged with “rudely displaying a weapon” and “resisting arrest”. Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols later changed it to “interfering with the duties of a public servant.”
The first trial on October 15 ended in a mistrial after 16 hours of deliberation with 5:1 favoring conviction.
This is where it gets weird.
25 November 2013
Some people love war. For most others, the disease is difficult to live with.
Parents have it bad. They are challenged to safeguard children while showing strength when schools close, food runs out, and fetching water can end with a sniper’s bullet.
An oft-repeated parental worry is that they will be killed and nobody will care for their children. Some orphans fall into the safety net of a large family, while for others the loss of a father can leave the mother begging for a lifetime along the roadways, the children spread to the winds as prostitutes, beggars, thieves, or in rare cases, suicide bombers.
19 November 2013
by Barbara Lawrence, courtroom eyewitness
This time it’s a beautiful sunny day, mild and temperate, despite being mid-November in Texas. The trees have turned luscious red, gold and tangerine colors throughout, and a light wind ruffles their leaves.
The parkway has an empty canopy with no visible Grisham supporters. The tenor of this trial is different than his first trial.
Master Sergeant CJ Grisham has none of the bravado he exhibited before. The circus atmosphere is gone. No glad-handing or working the crowd. The crowd has shrunk visibly. Instead of the 25 supporters before, I counted only eight.
Grisham seems serious and preoccupied. He stares off into space often, as if troubled by something. Perhaps something other than the trial.
11 November 2013
War has shattered Syria. Heavily armed government forces will stop at nothing to destroy opposition to retain power. The government uses airstrikes, artillery barrages, and tanks against its own people.
Assad’s army is literally scorching the earth under the feet of women and children. If Assad’s Air Force has a single rule of engagement, the rule seems to be never to waste a bomb. This abject cruelty has led to a brutal war that eclipses Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
While the Syrian government uses heavy weapons, many opposition fighters scramble for ammunition and to invent homemade cannons, large catapults, and giant slingshots that launch grapefruit-sized grenades.