The US missile that struck al-Majalah in 2009 reportedly killed 41 people, more than half of them children. If the US government and public are so willing to gloss over this collateral and, by denying and concealing it, essentially label children terrorists, who in Yemen is safe? Perhaps this is the most straightforward interpretation of his statement: if even children can be targets, nobody is innocent enough to be safe. The family of the eight year-old boy killed at the Marathon finish line, and many others in Boston, now know this fear all too well.
Because of the United States’ racially tinged “global war on terror,” people around the world face such fear daily:
Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. (Living Under Drones)
As Farea Al-Muslimi testified to a Senate Committee last week after a drone attack on his village in Yemen: “This fear permeates our country and it is shared by the youngest and oldest Yeminis. A middle age man from Rada’a, in central Yemen, said in an interview recently: “In the past, mothers used to tell their kids to go to bed or I will call your father. Now, they say, ‘Go to bed or I will call the planes.’”
The man grieves his community’s losses. While his tone was not threatening, anger is a natural part of the grieving process. His statement raises the concern that the US government’s continued killing of children and innocent civilians will create anger that ferments into hate, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of terrorism.
Take it from a Stanford/NYU study: “The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%.
My poster, entitled “School Bus Migrations – Repurposing and Replacing Transit Vehicles in the Global South,” tied for third place in the Economics, Finance, Policy and Land Use Category at the 2011 MIT Transportation showcase.
Muñoz, J. C. & Gschwender, A. (2008). Transantiago: A tale of two cities. Research in Transportation Economics 22, 45-53.
Schalekamp, H. & Behrens, R. (2010). Engaging paratransit on public transport reform initiatives in South Africa: A critique of policy and an investigation of appropriate engagement approaches. Research in Transportation Economics 29, 371-378.
wa Mungai, M. & Samper, D. A. (2006). “No Mercy, No Remorse”: Personal Experience Narratives about Public Passenger Transportation in Nairobi, Kenya. Africa Today 52, 51-81.
Santiago Cardoso, A.C. (2011). Da ideia à cidade, do plano ao projeto: gênese do processo de transformação urbana em Curitiba a partir do plano preliminar de urbanismo. Dissertation, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná.
Rizzo, M. (2011). ‘Life is War’: Informal transport workers and neoliberalism in Tanzania 1998 – 2009.
Müller-Schwarze, N. (2009). Diablos Rojos: Painted Buses and Panamanian Identities. Visual Anthropology 22, 435-456.
Monday night, I joined about 200 other bicyclists for a costumed Halloween bike ride through Boston. A friend and I dressed up as militant cyclists, complete with gas masks (which we tested for visibility before joining the pack of riders). We greatly enjoyed the 3 hour ride through Jamaica Plain, Longwood, Fenway, the Back Bay, the Financial District, Chinatown, Cambridge, Harvard, Brighton, and Brookline. Despite the traffic jams our group caused, drivers for the most part enjoyed the show; much of the honking seemed quite friendly and was accompanied by shouts of “Happy Halloween!”
Costumed riders meeting at Green St.
Taking over the streets
Militant bicyclist on the Southwest Corridor
Militant bicyclist at South Station
Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher
A video of the ride is below. I make brief appearances at 0:09 (a silhouette with a gas mask in the foreground) and 3:35 (ringing my bike bell).
For the last month and a half, I have been working on a transit evaluation project with the Across Latitudes and Cultures – Bus Rapid Transit Center of Excellence hosted by the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. The University’s engineering department put together a quick overview of my work here (the result of my first ever interview in Spanish). Below is a loose translation:
Anson Stewart has completed nearly a year touring countries in Central America and Africa, observing transport systems
Anson Stewart, with bachelor degrees in urban studies and engineering from Swarthmore College (Philadelphia) and a masters student at MIT, is undertaking his investigation “School Bus Migrations” thanks to the Watson Fellowship, which 40 young people from the United States receive annually. This scholarship promotes the exploration and learning about other cultures around the world during a year.
South Africa, Tanzania, Guatemala, Panama, Belize, Nicaragua, and Argentina were some of Stewart’s destinations before arriving in Chile. In these countries he began his investigation about school buses that the United States exports en masse to different countries of the world for public transportation. After a bit of exploring, Stewart encountered some interesting findings.
All of the countries of Central America are scrapping the yellow buses which served in previous years as public transportation. Today there exist ongoing implementations or at least plans for bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, as was established in Colombia with the name Transmilenio at the beginning of the past decade, and recently in Johnnesburg. Nicaragua and Tanzania are in the planning stages, Guatemala has two corridors, and Panama has the buses but still do not use them because of the lack of political agreement.
Stewart believes that this tendency to implement BRT in all of these countries does not end up positively in all cases. “I think that the countries are replicating a technical model without necessarily thinking in the specific cases of culture, political system, or infrastructure,” he says.
Although there are not agreements among experts about its definition, according to Stewart, BRT is understood as a system of exclusive corridors for buses with prepaid fares. According to this definition, Transantiago corresponds to a BRT model in the trunk routes where prepaid boarding areas exist.
“Transantiago is the only case in which the change was complete at the level of the city, and not gradual, in contrast with the other countries where BRT is being implemented. This leads to quite a few challenges, and I think that the system functions quite well,” affirms Stewart. Among the positive aspects of Transantiago, the expert highlighted the ease of obtaining and using the Bip farecard,website services, and the security that results from drivers not having to race and compete for passengers.
To complement his investigation, Stewart hopes to travel to Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt, the furthest destinations to which school buses from the US have arrived. At the end of July, he will return to the US where he will begin his MS Transportation studies at MIT to complement his studies in urbanism and engineering.