Friday, August 21, 2009

Peripheral Milit_Urb 30

[Image: Baghdad From the Air [Baghdad Bureau Blog]]

Members of U.S. Army Plead Guilty to Role in Scheme to Steal Equipment from the U.S. Military in Iraq // KBR Got Bonuses for Work that Killed Soldiers // Halliburton profits down by a half [BBC] // Pratap Chatterjee, "Cleansing Halliburton" [Tomgram] // Iraqi Seizes the Chance to Make War Profitable [NYT] // As Iraq Marks ‘Sovereignty Day,’ the Violence Continues [Danger Room] // Maps of U.S. Troop Deployments in Iraq [NYT] // Michael Schwartz, "Twenty-First-Century Colonialism in Iraq" [Tomgram]


Kabul to give diplomats an 'ordinary life' in Baghdad-style green zone [Guardian] // Pakistani military shows off captured Taliban base // US eyes private guards for bases in Afghanistan // U.S. Weighing New Road Rules for Troops in Afghanistan [Danger Room] // Danger Room in Afghanistan: Rebuilding Bamiyan // Danger Room in Afghanistan: Have It Your Way at Bagram?

Lahore to Peshawar: the trophy-target war [open Democracy] // Obama's Pick to Lead Afghan War Linked to Abuse of Prisoners & Secret Assassination Unit // Pakistan Aid Tops Iraq, Afghanistan in War Spending Bill [Danger Room]

[Image: source]


‘Dozens of Civilians’ Killed in Afghanistan Air Raid: Report [Danger Room] // Taleban face human shields charge [BBC] // Thousands flee Pakistan valley as truce crumbles // Officials: Taliban May Have Faked Civilian Slaughter [Danger Room] // Why Isn't This on CNN? Afghan Refugee Describes Recent US Bombings // Afghan villagers get payments for battle that killed civilians [Los Angeles Times] // Villagers in Afghanistan Describe Chaos of U.S. Strikes [NYT] // U.S. Rejects Afghan Civilian Death Estimate // Eight Civilians Dead in New Afghan Airstrike [Danger Room] // Gates Promises to Reduce Afghan Civilian Deaths [NYT] // Military - US Airstrikes Likely Killed 26 Civilians [NYT] // Up to 150 Afghan Civilians Killed in US Attack on Western Province // Drone War Escalates; 365 Dead So Far in ‘09, Study Says // Killer Drones to Get Sound System
// Video: Inside America’s Drone HQ // A defence force of Terminators is almost here [The Age] // The wrong target: air strike, legal limit, human voice [open Democracy] // Training the Top Guns of drone aircraft [Los Angeles Times] // Use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan: deadly, but legal? [CSM] // New Use for Your iPhone: Controlling Drones

Chief Army Chaplain in Afghanistan distributes local-language Bibles, orders congregation to convert locals [Boing Boing] // Afghanistan quarantines its only pig [Los Angeles Times]

Who Are the Real Psychopaths in Afghanistan? [AlterNet] // The Cowboys of Kabul [Mother Jones] // Pepe Escobar, Pipelineistan Goes Af-Pak [Tomgram] // Afghanistan's Tipping Point [Mother Jones] // Afghanistan’s lost decade [open Democracy]

Afghan kids find skateboards the wheel deal [Los Angeles Times] // Shadowy Iranian Vigilantes Vow Bolder Action [NYT] // Kickturns in Kabul: Skateboard park to be built in Afghanistan [Architecture for Humanity] // Afghanistan's first national park waits for tourists CSM] // Army Farmers Work to Regrow Afghanistan [Danger Room]

[Image: "Palestinians sit among billboards promoting park space on land widely seen as the ancient capital of the biblical King David. Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times. SEE PRUNED: More Spatial High Jinks 3: The Forests of Isratine and Palesrael [Pruned] .]


Parks Fortify Israel’s Claim to Jerusalem [NYT] // Israel 'using tourist sites to assert control over East Jerusalem' [Guardian] // Another roadblock for Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance [Archinect] // An Infrastructural Lifeline for Palestine and Israel [InfraNet Lab] // Dilemma of Palestinian settlement builders [BBC]

The Contested Landscape of Jerusalem [Complex Terrain Laboratory] // Life in Nu'man land [Guardian] // Israeli military occupation 'severely compromises Bethlehem' [Guardian] // Working the West Bank checkpoints [BBC] // UN: Israeli buffer zone eats up 30 percent of Gaza's arable land [CSM] // Amos Guiora on Israeli Administrative Detention [The Complex Terrain Laboratory] // How Israel's naval blockade denies Gazans food, aid [CSM] // Hamas Shifts From Rockets to Culture War [NYT] // New U.S.-Israeli Crime Ring Detailed [NYT] // Spies’ Roots Reach Deep in Lebanon [NYT]

Gallery: Inside Alaska’s Answer to Area 51 Photo: Department of Defense.]


Construction Crew Severs Secret ‘Black Line’ [Threat Level] // Pentagon’s Black Budget Grows to More Than $50 Billion (Updated) // DARPA 3D reasoning engine to identify urban threats // Darpa’s Simple Plan to Track Targets Everywhere // Inside the Military’s Secret Terror-Tagging Tech // Google Earth Project Maps the Fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan

U.S. Cyberattack Console Aims to Turn Grunts into Hackers // Inside America’s (Mock) Attack on North Korea

Sweat = Threat? Army Looks at ‘Abnormal Perspiration’ as Sign of ‘Harmful Intent’ // Army Orders Bases to Stop Blocking Twitter, Facebook, Flickr // Future Warbot Powered by Xbox Controller

UK Anti-Terror Technology: 007 or 1984?
CIA’s ‘Black’ Helicopters Land in Court //

[Image: The gates of Malibu - The gates of Malibu [Los Angeles Times]


The Mega-embassy That Wasn’t [Voltaire] // Buildings watchdog Cabe calls for fortress-like US embassy plan in London to be rejected [Guardian] // Everyday is Doomsday in Washington [Tomgram] // Barack Obama faces 30 death threats a day, stretching US Secret Service [Telegraph] // Robot negotiates with mentally ill man who threatened White House (UPDATED) [Boing Boing] // The Case of the Missing H-Bomb: The Pentagon Has Lost the Mother of All Weapons [AlterNet] // Federal Courts Says D.C. Police Checkpoints Were Unconstitutional [Washington Post] // Staples Center at core of wide security cordon in downtown L.A. [Los Angeles Times] // Man who drove into City Hall gets 10-year sentence [Boing Boing] // When Glass Acts Like Concrete and Steel [NYT] // High school mixes algebra, homeland security [Los Angeles Times] // Cheney’s New House Is CIA Adjacent [Wonkette] // Lawmaker Defends Imprisoning Hostile Bloggers [Threat Level] // White House declines to release scary photos of N.Y. flyover [Los Angeles Times] // Night chopper flights over L.A. are tied to military training [Los Angeles Times] // Homeland Security Is Not Statistics Driven [Armchair Generalist] // Terror law used to stop thousands 'just to balance racial statistics' [Guardian] // The Ultimate Lock Picker Hacks Pentagon, Beats Corporate Security for Fun and Profit // At Last: US Rethinking Color-Coded "Threat Level" Terror Warning System [AlterNet]

Swine flu: There is no known antidote for panic [The Guardian] // Martial Law and the Militarization of Public Health: The Worldwide H1N1 Flu Vaccination Program

Senate measure would allow loaded guns in national parks [MiamiHerald] // Shotguns, AK-47's and Your National Parks // Report: militia activity on the rise in US [CSM] // Pastor Invites Flock to Bring Their Guns to Church [NYT] // Concealed guns law rejected in close Senate vote

Town bans hoods, hats, shades in banks [Boing Boing] // Professor Gets 4 Years in Prison for Sharing Drone Plans With Students [Slashdot] // LA cop union buys stake in newspaper, demands critical writers be fired [Boing Boing] // Florida town orders employees to wear underwear and cover wounds [Boing Boing]

Obama Continues Bush-Era Secrecy: No Release of Transcripts for Destroyed "Torture Video" Tapes [Boing Boing] // Democrats Say C.I.A. Deceived Congress [NYT] // Who is the CIA allowed to kill? [Salon] // Group Plans Lawsuit To Unveil the CIA’s ‘Pentagon Papers’ [Threat Level] // Bush’s Secret NSA Spying May Have Tainted Prosecutions, Report Warns [Threat Level] //
"Community Security" Mission Creep at Homeland Security [CIP Americas Program]

[Image: By Nick Sowers, via The Wonders of White Sands [Archinect]]


Australia Launches Anti-Terror Operation [NYT] // Russian Subs Patrolling Off East Coast of U.S. [NYT] // Learning For Life [NO CAPTION NEEDED] // New Desert City [Archinect] // Russia-China war games battle extremists, separatists [CSM] // Strange New Air Force Facility Energizes Ionosphere, Fans Conspiracy Flames // Obama Seeks $46 Million for Military Base in Colombia // New Military Base in Colombia Would Spread Pentagon Reach Throughout Latin America [CIP Americas Program]

Chalmers Johnson, "Dismantling the Empire" [Tomgram] // Threat Convergence: Subversion, Destabilization and Insecurity // US needs 'digital warfare force' [BBC] // Taking the Politics Out of Insurgency [The Complex Terrain Laboratory] // Scientists in Moral Panic: Debating ‘Mercenary Anthropology’ « Africa: Politics and Societies South of the Sahara // A new security paradigm: the military-climate link [open Democracy] // Hacking The Deep Ecology of War [The Complex Terrain Laboratory]

Government Experiments on U.S. Soldiers: Shocking Claims Come to Light in New Court Case | Health and Wellness [AlterNet] // US war zone troops 'can smoke' [BBC]

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder [The Nation] // US Still Paying Blackwater Millions [The Nation] // Bill Moyers: The Rise of Private Armies -- Mercenaries, Murder and Corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan [AlterNet]

In the U.S. Military, Energy-Saving Projects Proliferate // Army Starts Solar Plant; Next Step: Care About Cilmate Change [Danger Room]

Cadets Trade the Trenches for Firewalls [NYT] // Plan to teach military robots the rules of war [New Scientist] // BMW Builds the Ultimate Security Machine [Autopia] // American Sikhs Run Billion-Dollar Security Firm [NPR] // Women at Arms - G.I. Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier as War Evolves [NYT] // How Baida Wanted to Die - [NYT]

[Image: Fake DHS "photography license" for fake no-photos laws [Boing Boing]]


1,000 surveillance cameras = 1 solved crime in the UK // Giant sphere attracts attention in Stead // Inside the ‘James Bond Villain’ Data Center [Data Center Knowledge] // London cops catch and search a potential terrorist every three minutes [Boing Boing] // British cops deliver Catch 22 to photographers: you're not allowed to know which areas you're not allowed to photograph [Boing Boing] // Shield Law Overturns Warrant for Student Photographer [Raw File] // CCTV schemes in city and town centres have little effect on crime, says report [The Guardian] // Google Threatened With Sanctions Over Photo Mapping Service in Germany [NYT] // Stores paint ads on roofs for satellite map services // Airport security bares all, or does it? [CNN] // Judge Tosses Telecom Spy Suits [Threat Level] // Suit Seeks Records on Planned Surveillance Network [City Room Blog] // Twitterers defy China's firewall [BBC] // Lancaster, Pa., keeps a close eye on itself [Los Angeles Times] // Corridors of Power [BLDGBLOG] // Utah will host new $1.9 billion NSA spy center [Desert News] // Keeping an Eye on License Plates [Planetizen] // Thousands of Crimes Not Displaying on LAPD Crime Map [Planetizen] // Britain will subject everyone who works with kids to multiple, repeated police-checks [Boing Boing] // FBI Lab Processes 600 Billion Fingerprint Sets a Day (Update: actually, more like 200,000) |[Threat Level] // Subway Train Under Full Surveillance [Planetizen] // Canadians vow mass-mooning of US spy-blimp [Boing Boing] // School's CCTV 'Big Brother-ish' [BBC]

[Image: Daniel and Geo Fuchs’ STASI – Secret Rooms [Prison Photography].]


The Sludge Threat [Planetizen]

Excavation begins at WWI mass graves at French village [Los Angeles Times] // Wal-Mart Proposed Near Civil War Site Angers Historians // Border bunker battle // Relics of once-mighty Maginot Line dot France's border with Germany, Italy

Flight 93 memorial plan makes progress [BBC] // Post-9/11 Realities Warp Plan for a Manhattan Transit Hub [NYT] //

South Korea's abandoned airports [BBC] // WWII Stalingrad diorama photos [Boing Boing] // Memorial war [Honolulu Weekly] // The battle to defend military history [The Jakarta Post] // Nazi college to become museum [The National] // Underground Cities and Bunkers: Living Down Below [Dark Roasted Blend] // Daniel and Geo Fuchs’ STASI – Secret Rooms [Prison Photography] // Foreclosures Add to Hurricane Hazards [NYT] // The Reclamation of Governors Island [Archinect] // Europe trains' history of intrigue isn't over [Los Angeles Times] // TOPOTEK 1 Selected for Imperial War Museum North Exterior [Bustler] // A Tour of America's Nuclear History [Planetizen] // A tense yet colorful tour of Korean DMZ [Los Angeles Times] // Afghan War’s Buried Bombs Put Risk in Every Step // Iraq Suffers as the Euphrates River Dwindles [NYT] // Search and Rescue: Squad Leader Musters Robots to US Disaster Zones // Berlin's Invisible Wall: Little Is Left Today of the Cold War's Most Famous Monument [SPIEGEL] // Port Covington: The Ghost of the Masterplan in Tinkerer's Paradise [sevensixfive] // On Hitler, Hadrian, bunkers and bananas [(New) Babylon Reloaded] // Architecture and Design 101: Where is the only brick artillery fortress built on the West Coast? // Legacy of War - Fake Work at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum [NYT] // Tsonjin Boldog Journal - Genghis Khan Rules Mongolia Again, in a P.R. Campaign [NYT] // Photos from inside an abandoned Titan missile silo [Boing Boing]

[Image: A Modern Ozymandias, NYT. Photo by Richard Mosse.]


Of Trees and Neighbors [The Brooklyn Rail] // Positions in Flux - Panel 1: Art goes politics - Hans Bernhard from UBERMORGEN.COM [we make money not art] // A hostage to hallucination [Mind Hacks] // Autopsies of War Dead Reveal Ways to Save Others [NYT] // Emanuel Licha's War Tourist series at LOOP [we make money not art] // 'Gangsta gene' identified in US teens [New Scientist] // UCLA law students help taco truck operators overturn L.A. ordinance [Los Angeles Times] // Designing The Friendly Skies [a456] // Sewer Zeppelins for the Era of Infrastructural Anarchy & Other Roman Tales [Pruned] // Live Stage: The Torture Memos [Second Life] [Networked_Performance] // ATMs that spray attackers with pepper-spray [Boing Boing] // Countering Riots, China Rounds Up Hundreds [NYT] // Art History? No, a Master’s in Art Crime in Amelia, Italy [NYT] // In Brazil, judge holds city accountable for stray bullets [CSM]

[Earlier peripherals ... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29]

Monday, August 17, 2009

Subtopes B-lining to San Diego

[Image: Woodbury University, San Diego School of Architecture. Photograph by Hewitt Garrison]

So, part of the reason it’s been so quiet on Subtopes as of recent is due to some big news I’m excited to share here. As it turns out, I’m heading down to San Diego to teach for the Fall semester at Woodbury University’s School of Architecture at their new campus in Barrio Logan down by the shipyards where the Navy constructs its sea arsenal.

As you can imagine I’m pretty fired up about this, especially since the seminar I’ll be leading will largely draw upon Subtopia for framework. The title of the course is ‘Military Urbanism’ Vs. ‘Spatial Justice.’ Yet, as good as that sounds I’m finding it a huge challenge to distill and organize Subtopia into an actual seminar. It’s actually a very good exercise; think of your blog as a seminar, how would that make you rethink it? Regardless, after a few months of some serious structuring I think I have a good handle on how to narrate the class and am very much looking forward to it, not to mention how honored I am to have been invited.

Hopefully the students will get out and find some crazy critical aspects to their city they’ve never noticed before, or just simply never stopped to really pay attention – which is the clearest goal; to help them interrogate the spaces around them. Yes, interrogate. To turn them into “spatial interrogators”, Subtopes-style.

The class is going to be a survey of “military urbanism” starting with some historical background on the origins of the city as a political entity and the conceptual development of the nation-state, before moving through “military urbanism” as it is practiced in various parts of the world (e.g. Occupied Territories and the “War on Terror”), then onwards to the sheer omniscience of this stuff today. Borrowing from Krzysztof Wodiczko’s term “interrogative design” I hope to further develop our lenses for observing everyday space and the dimensions of our daily environments as they are inseparably linked with politics, state power, militarism, security, (in)justice, etc. The general idea here is that military urbanism in the end is not just some condition far off on the other side of the world in the Middle East, or on the battlefields of Afghanistan – but, rather is completely constitutive of our normal existence, of capitalism and urbanity itself, of the constructs of globalization and democratic space today. Military urbanism at the contemporary condition, absolutely pervasive, etc. You read the quasi-About page, you know the routine.

San Diego is actually a perfect city for this since it has such an intense relationship with the military industrial-complex that I hope to really get out and measure with the students. The seminar will conclude thinking about what some allies of ours (whom you should know by now) have termed as “spatial justice” and how spatial practioners can respond to the ubiquitous nature of military urbanism.

That is all really a short take on the syllabus (which I may post in full once the class gets rolling), but should give you an idea. Anyway, super excited. I hope to relay all of this on Subtopia in various dispatches over the next few months, so – even though it’s been a bit quiet in these parts recently, and probably will be for a short foreseeable future, there is the unfolding of all of this look forward to. Subtopia in a strange and cool sort of practice.

As if that’s not enough, I will also be co-teaching an urban design studio with my friend Rene Peralta (whom you’ve heard me before refer to as “the architectural mayor of Tijuana”), on post-industrial infrastructure as it can be developed and explored within Barrio Logan, a historic Latin American community that has fought over the decades to preserve a heritage there amidst redevelopment, post-industrial abandon, all in the shadow of the Navy.

Sorry to be so low key, and to rush off again for now – but just had to finally let everyone know. If anyone has any suggestions for things/places/sites-to-see/activities-to-do/people-to-meet, please let me know. And any SD/TJ readers out there interested in meeting up at some point, I’d also love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hutong Cemeteries

[Image: Area around Gulou Dajie subway station | July 14, 2009, Photo by Bert de Muynck.]

A nice three-part series of posts over at Moving Cities draws our attention once again to the rapid disappearance of the Hutongs in Beijing, which seems to have somewhat vanished from the conversation now that the attention brought to them during the Olympic Games has elapsed.
What is a follow up to a previous publication written by Bert de Muynck for MUDOT, (Making mince meat of memory) he asks, “where have the memory masochists gone to?” and why has “the topic of the disappearance of the hutongs disappeared from the agenda. Are the hutongs the victims of their own hype? If we don’t debate it, does it mean we don’t care (and we actually have never cared about it)?”
It’s a cogent comparison I think, the disappearance of attention to the hutongs with their own physical demolition. Might we take it a step further and ask, has the media attention in some way been equally demolished? Or, has the effort to preserve the hutongs in Beijing merely given in and lost will to resist, and thus the scrutiny over them has followed? What is the real connection between the actual disappearance of the hutongs and the media attention that once hawked over the process?
In some ways, I wonder, if even this post-Olympic phase is where the real damage is done, not only in physical terms to the neighborhoods but the real damage to memory as the public enters into a larger collective amnesia of the entire history of the hutongs.

Included are some great photographs Bert has taken of a specific area that is being diced for the construction of the Gulou Dajie subway station; corridors of historic rubble, atomized memory bits, the urban masks of blue walls (which we have written about ourselves here), homes perforated by what almost looks like concentrated blasts of urban warfare, tractors ripping through the alleys like robotic droogs on a rampage, furniture left on the street as if abandoned elderly crouched and waiting to die alone.

In an email exchange with Bert, I asked him: what if any positive memory archival projects are standing strong in all of this? Is there a sense that the Chinese are forfeiting a big part of themselves, or are there new forms of activism desperately trying to render something positive out of the rubble? From an architectural historian perspective, what strategies of archive could be discovered in this scenario? Is there something experimental that could come out of the demolitions?

In part 2 Bert discusses some of the preservation efforts that are happening there, for example, "punctual preservation" whereby single elements are somewhat stored in the new structures. In the final 3rd part, he looks at what he calls “the celebration of the collapse of pre-Olympic “Beijing Hutong Preservation”-bubble” and details the “phenomenon of the hutong “fake-overs” and “paper preservation”.

It is of course a very interesting topic for various reasons and from various angles. One could easily put this in perspective of New Orleans today, or Flint, Detroit, or even parts of downtown San Francisco for that matter, Tijuana, Gaza, Rio, the greater foreclosure crisis -- you name it. Redevelopment, or, the tragic lacks of proper redevelopment in some cases, are leaving places across the world in semi-erased states of manmade disaster everywhere, whether they're ordered by the evaporation of capital or are completely obliterated by the poorest of responses to natural disaster and war, the politics of redevelopment are leaving marks just as quickly as they are taking old historic marks away from the landscapes of memory. Glad someone is keeping watch.

Thanks Bert for pointing us that way!

(All Images: Area around Gulou Dajie subway station | July 14, 2009, by Bert de Muynck.)