Photos From the RFK Funeral Train

From The Year in Pictures:

To put it simply and truly, these pictures are my favorite body of work in photography. They were taken on June 8, 1968, from inside the funeral train that carried Robert Kennedy’s body from New York to Washington so that he could be buried beside his brother at Arlington. The photo-
grapher Paul Fusco had been assigned the story by LOOK Magazine and on what turned out to be an unusually hot Saturday, close to a million people – black and white, rich and poor, young and old, singly and in groups – spontaneously came out to pay their respects to the man who had inspired so many Americans.

(via Gerry Canavan)

Headline from 2000 – Bush Would Use Power of Persuasion to Raise Oil Supply

This worked out quite well….

WAYNE, Mich., June 27 — Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude.

“I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.”

Implicit in his comments was a criticism of the Clinton administration as failing to take advantage of the good will that the United States built with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf war in 1991. Also implicit was that as the son of the president who built the coalition that drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, Mr. Bush would be able to establish ties on a personal level that would persuade oil-producing nations that they owed the United States something in return.

(via J-Walk)

Driving a Humvee in Iraq


I came across this story about an Afghani traffic jam caused by a military convoy that seems to convey a lot of the emotions that were displayed in the comments for this post. It’s worth a read.

The ambulance attendant said they’d just been in a motorcycle accident. The more severely injured was in need of immediate hospital attention. “They won’t let us pass,” the attendant complained. “I’m afraid this man will die.”

Another motorist, at the head of the line, had already tried flagging the soldiers ahead, pointing repeatedly to the ambulance.

“Perhaps they will listen to you,” he suggested, hopefully.

Aw geez.

I know not to approach a military convoy, especially when it’s standing still. I’ve written stories about innocent civilians killed under these very circumstances.

Soldiers, leery of an environment that can explode violently at any moment, have often fired first and asked questions – if even that – later. And only 24 hours previously, not too distant, in the outskirts of Kabul, a suicide bomber had attacked an American convoy. The troops were unharmed but three civilians had been killed.

So I understand their wariness. But no explanation had been given for why we had all come to a standstill in the middle of nowhere, open desert on both sides of the road, or how long we might be there.

I went back to my car and blasted Eminen on the CD-player. I thought, perhaps stupidly, that would give them a clue that I was, more or less, one of them, not an Afghan to fear.

“You go first,” the first driver had urged. “I’ll walk behind you. We must make them listen.”

Then, hands in the air, dangling my media credentials from my fingers, I forced one foot in front of the other. Clearly the troops should be able to see I was Western, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, not hiding a weapon or a suicide vest.

Fifty metres away, the air gunner in the rear vehicle lowered his machine gun at me threateningly.

“Don’t shoot!” I croaked. “Just let the ambulance pass!”

The doors opened and two soldiers got out, clearly angry.

“You!” he hollered, pointing at me. “Get back where you were.”

Then, stomping up to my Afghan colleague, the senior soldier got right in his face. “We’ve got a problem here,” he spat out. “And you are creating an even bigger problem. Now go back to your car or we will have one REALLY REALLY BIG PROBLEM.”

I felt the Afghan’s humiliation and saw red.

“Don’t you f—-g talk to him like that. And don’t you f—-g talk to me like that. This is his country. Not yours, not mine.”

The second soldier, a younger fellow who looked intensely embarrassed, whispered to me: “I’m sorry ma’am. It’s just been a long day.”

And right there, my own rage melted away. We were just two human beings, in an alien place, trying to communicate, to defuse the situation.

An open-bed truck, part of the convoy and carrying heavy munitions, had snapped its containing straps. Whole containers of munitions had broken open on the highway. That’s what they were loading up and trying to secure again, halting the entire convoy.

Somebody could have said so sooner; could at least have come back to explain the situation to the motorists now idling as far back as the eye could see.

“This is why Afghans have come to hate Americans,” said my driver, who works as an interpreter for ISAF and is a strong advocate of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is not our country any more. They are our bosses. They treat us sometimes as if we are trespassing on our own land.”

Video From the Inside of a Volvo V40 Crash

A TV crew going back home to Warsaw (road 801) in a Volvo V40, near the town of Dziecinów, was blocked by a green Seat Ibiza which suddenly drove out feeding road 805. To avoid direct hit, the driver changed the driving lane. To avoid another direct hit with a vehicle coming from the opposite site he changed it back. Our car slid, which resulted in a roll, falling to a ditch.

(via A Welsh View)