To The Point

Welcome to To The Point's Tumblr. Warren Olney's To The Point is following the stories beyond the soundbites. Keep checking back here for curated news and shows.

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We tortured some folks.
President Obama speaking from the White House today, acknowledging the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation tactics in the years after the Sept. 11 attack. It’s not the first time Obama has used the word “torture” to describe the tactics used at CIA-run secret prisons during the Bush administration, but his words today were more direct than previous statements. (via latimes)

(via latimes)


Ukrainian Rebel Gun Locker: A 72-Year-Old Returns To War.

Note this piece from Hill 277.9, in Saur-Mogila, in which Noah Sneider, a preternaturally prepared young correspondent working in eastern Ukraine, documents a PTRD-41 anti-tank rifle, b. 1942, in service again.  

We’ll have more about this weapon, and another from the same time, soon on the At War blog.  In the interim, Noah sums up one of the tragedies of Ukraine, and of many wars, with a pitch-perfect understanding. It is painful to read, because it rings so true. This:

The encounter is emblematic of the war in Ukraine: fought from afar against inhuman opponents. Neither side wants to look the other in the eye, because to do so would be to acknowledge that, for the most part, they aren’t fighting Nazis and terrorists, but neighbors and countrymen. 

When Hitler and Stalin had it out here, George Orwell wrote of a force that he called “nationalism.” He did not mean allegiance to a nation-state though, but the conviction around which one can construct a reality. “Having picked his side, [the nationalist] persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him,” Orwell writes. “Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is alsosince he is conscious of serving something bigger than himselfunshakeably certain of being in the right.”


By Noah Sneider, a short while ago, of a 14.5mm weapon made to stop the Third Reich’s tanks, now, more than 70 decades on, in use in an internal war.

The Mexican border at Sasabe Arizona Photo: Phillip Capper via Flickr/ CC

(The Mexican border at Sasabe Arizona Photo: Phillip Capper via Flickr/ CC)

When author Sonia Nazario wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book  “Enrique’s Journey” in 2006, nobody was paying much attention to the number of children coming across the US border. Now, as the New York Times reports, “more than 52,000 children have been caught crossing the United States border alone since October — double last year’s number.”

Back in March, Warren spoke with Nazario about the book, which resonates strongly today. Here’s an edited excerpt from KCRW’s “To the Point.”

When when I was writing about Enrique’s journey I traveled with a twelve year old boy who was coming to the United States. Children as young as seven were coming alone, gripping onto the tops of these freight trains. Many of these kids have no money to make this journey so they do it the only way they can– gripping on for dear life to travel up the length of the country. It’s an incredibly dangerous journey and the numbers of these kids fleeing violence in Central America,  not only coming to reunify with the parent but fleeing for their lives has gone up hugely in recent years.

Enrique was actually just 16 when he set off on his own come find her and all he had was this slip of paper with his mom’s phone number on it. But I think through word of mouth they know this is the way to go if you don’t have any money. They go with others who have been deported and made the journey.

They call the train El Tren de la Muerte which means the train of death because they face bandits along side the rails. The Zetas, who are gangsters that control the tops of the trains, are the worst and most violent narco trafficking cartel in Mexico. They’re kidnapping 18,000 Central Americans every year making their way north through Mexico and they prefer children. The children carry the number often of a relative in the United States and they can extort those relatives for money. It’s a modern day odyssey that these children are going on trying to reach the United States.

Listen to the full show from March 11, 2014.

(Top) A couple hundred people gathered July 9 in Murrieta in support of Central American children and the wider issue of immigration reform. (Bottom) When you call the phone number in the photo it tells you about immigration reform and then automatically connects you to White House switchboard. Taken at CHIRLA on Wednesday. (Photos: Saul Gonzalez)


Wonder what it feels like to take cover from rocket attacks? Tonight on All Things Considered, the story of families on opposite sides of the conflict trying to keep their children safe. via Instagram

The shooting was a watershed moment in the American occupation of Iraq, and was a factor in Iraq’s refusal the next year to agree to a treaty allowing United States troops to stay in the country beyond 2011. Despite a series of investigations in the wake of Nisour Square, the back story of what happened with Blackwater and the embassy in Baghdad before the fateful shooting has never been fully told.
The Atlantic: How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women’s Rights

The Atlantic: How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women’s Rights

We’re trying to push for a unity government because even General Petraeus said the last thing we want is to be viewed in that part of the world as siding with the Shias again against the Sunnis.
Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, talking about Iraq on today’s To the Point.