Sunday, August 21, 2016

partial repeat
Art is intimate empiricism. It's what makes you cry over a picture of a dead baby while another picture would simply make you a sad for a moment. It's the illusion of proximity. Why were people so upset by the pic of the dead kid on the beach? Because he was physically intact. He looked like he was sleeping but he was stiff, like an abandoned doll, a lonely image of death. That's what "aesthetics" means. But the photos themselves are crap illustration, because they aren't made to show you how they work.

Photojournalism is manipulative and voyeuristic. A mature work of art with an image of a dead child teaches you to respect the distance between you and others. You don't believe the fantasy that you're the child's parent; you know you're not and you know you're feeling the wish you were, and that's where it leaves you, in your own world, re-centered of your own world but with a respect for the experience even the tragic experience of others.

Photojournalism is cheap sentiment and cheap politics. It's pity and self-pity, not concern.
From 2004
On the front page of the NY Times this morning, below the fold, is a photograph taken be a camera hovering two feet above the ground, of a naked emaciated child with her head leaning on her mother's thigh.

Get up and walk away from the keyboard, into the middle of whatever room you're in. Bend forward and put your hands in front of your face as if holding a camera; close one eye and look towards the ground with the other and imagine that child at your feet. Move your index finger downwards toward your thumb and make a clicking sound, and see if you can understand what you've become
And as long as we're on the subject, meet the men behind The White Helmets
"Edward", no last name.
The donors page lists the UK, Netherlands, Japan and Norway, but not USAID.
USAID lists them.
https://www.usaid.gov/political-transition-initiatives/syria
"politcal transition initiatives". The words don't appear on the page itself.
Program Highlights
SRP provides assistance to moderate civilian entities at the national, provincial and local levels. All activities include robust outreach components to amplify the efforts of moderate actors and strengthen public support for moderate values. Illustrative examples of SRP programming impacts include the following:
  • Increasing popular support for moderate actors and values in Syria. Assistance to provincial and local councils to provide basic municipal services including keeping schools and hospitals open, electricity and water flowing, and trash and rubble off the streets. SRP also assists the councils with records management, repairing small infrastructure and rehabilitating public spaces such as cemeteries and schools.  
  • Saving lives through support to emergency responders. More than $23 million in assistance to civil defense teams which act as impartial emergency responders to everything from indiscriminate regime barrel bombings to winter storm relief and firefighting. To date, Syrian emergency responders have saved over 40,000 lives.  
  • Preserving moderate space and deterring extremist influence. SRP helps moderate actors remain relevant through community events such as clean-up initiatives, graffiti campaigns, local council outreach events and youth activities. 
"Moderate actors", includes Al Qaeda, and others who behead children and post the video on youtube.
See previous.
Compare Yemen
The June staff withdrawal, which U.S. officials say followed a lull in air strikes in Yemen earlier this year, reduces Washington's day-to-day involvement in advising a campaign that has come under increasing scrutiny for causing civilian casualties. A Pentagon statement issued after Reuters disclosed the withdrawal acknowledged that the JCPC, as originally conceived, had been "largely shelved" and that ongoing support was limited, despite renewed fighting this summer.

"The cooperation that we've extended to Saudi Arabia since the conflict escalated again is modest and it is not a blank check," Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reduced staffing was not due to the growing international outcry over civilian casualties in the 16-month civil war that has killed more than 6,500 people in Yemen, about half of them civilians.

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