Smoke from Bayji

It’s been ten years since I took this photo. This is the smoke obscuring the sun in Tikrit, Iraq. The smoke is from an oil pipeline fire near Bayji, approximately 15 or 20 km north of where I was standing at the time. These fires were daily and, ten years later, with reports this week of increased fighting around Tikrit, the notion that the fires were apocalyptic in their forboding and foreshadowing is neither hyperbolic or hysterical.

Smoke from Bayji Oil Fire

 

 

  
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Ira Hayes

Today is the 70th anniversary of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi on the fourth day of the battle for Iwo Jima in WWII. The battle would last for another month and three of the six men in Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph of the second flag raising would be killed within a matter of days of the picture.

The great Johnny Cash immortalized one of the surviving flag raisers, Ira Hayes. Despite the post-war fame, including Hollywood and the White House, Ira never really ever left Iwo Jima and his friends who died on that awful island. Only a couple of weeks after his 32nd birthday Ira would drink himself to death, dying of exposure, in two inches of water in a lonely ditch, as Johnny Cash forever reminds us.

Semper Fidelis Ira.

  
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War Made Easy

Norman Soloman’s incredibly damning documentary on the intersections of our government, war and the media. Produced in 2007, this brilliantly critical examination of the selling of war is essential to understanding today’s perpetual wars. Simply irrefutable and shameful…

  
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My Good Friend Shea

From Myrtle Beach Online, a story on my friend and mentor Shea Brown.

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Myrtle Beach Man Embraces Colorful Life

Shea Brown — every bit of 6-foot-2 — has squeezed himself into his racing-modified 1974 Fiat 128 Coupe so many times over the past three years that it has become second nature for him.

He is getting ready to do it again at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway for the 2015 Spring Vintage Classic — a weekend event in connection with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, which pits similar cars of the same era against each other on well-known tracks across the nation for wheel-to-wheel racing. The Sebring event runs from Thursday through March 1.

A Myrtle Beach resident and lifelong proponent of world peace, Brown has lived a multifaceted life as, among other things, a musician, tennis pro and perennial student. Getting to know Brown is like peeling back an onion, with each layer revealing a surprising new component. He lives life on his own terms and has experienced many fortuitous moments along the way.

Brown, 63, quit drinking more than three years ago and attributes the forward motion in his life to his sobriety. “It made the most amazing difference,” he said. “I saw so many wonderful changes come about and positive things happening when I decided to stop drinking.”

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