“War Machine”: a studious look at self-serving military career motivations in “Obama’s War” in Afghanistan

David Muchod’s political drama “War Machine”, based on the book by Michael Hastings, looks at the ethics of U.S. military policy and of career military officers.  Most of it takes place indoors on base in Afghanistan (filmed in Abu Dhabi), or on international “will raising” trips to Berlin and Paris.  Toward the end, it explodes into a brutal, personal battlefield scene in a village, worthy of being in “American Sniper”. Otherwise, it’s pure art.

Brad Pitt plays the lifer officer Gen. Glen McMahon, who has been tasked, around 2009, by “Obama’s War” (as Bob Woodward had called it on an NBC documentary) into pacifying and winning back some villages from the Taliban.  Unlike his other movies (like “Babel”), this time he does not look or act like Brad Pitt, the role model. Pretty soon, the movie lunges into long discussions where show that a military career like McMahon’s, starting at West Point, needs to justify its own continuation by making up objectives.  My summer in the Pentagon in 1968 after Army Basic at Fort Jackson, I used to hear this said;  and the Pentagon brass probably didn’t like to hear this from the more privileged, sheltered and well-educated draftees (the “01E20” crowd).  Maybe (besides security clearances for a latent homosexual, in the language of the time) that contributed to my own transfer to Fort Eustis.

McMahon spends a lot of time explaining “insurgency”.  In one speech, he explains the math or the “group theory” where if you kill two of ten insurgents you suddenly have twenty.  In one scene, a reporter in Germany quizzes him about all of this, whether it is indeed self-serving for his own career, Of course, “insurgency” had been a concept in Vietnam, during the time of my own service.  There is also some discussion about how 9/11 probably changed military careers a lot more than it did normal life of Americans (although I could contest that idea). The film presents the idea that American occupation on its own may aggravate religious tensions.

McMahon also courts Hamid Karzai (Ben Kingsley), unconvincingly, about “nation building.”  How self-serving.   But think about what the same idea meant in Vietnam,

With Iraq, of course, it was Obama’s exist that left the power vacuum that allowed ISIS to overrun it, so it gets complicated.

The film comes to a head with the daylight patrol in the Afghan Village.  I know someone (NG) deployed there now (really by Obama, not Trump) and I wondered if this is what he could face. It gets brutal.  One soldier gets shot in the eye and is blinded. Another (Pico Alexander or Will Poulter) is saved by his steel pot. Then one more goes it alone.

Afghanistan picture (Wiki).

Berlin picture (Wiki).  I was there in 1999.

Paris picture (Wiki), near site of 11/13/2015 attacks.

Name:  “War Machine
Director, writer:  David Muchod, Michael Hastings
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Netflix Instant Play, 2017/7/27
Length:  122
Rating:  PG-13
Companies: Netflix, Plan B
Link: (subscription)

(Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 11:45 PM EDT)

“Risk”: Laura Poitras tailgates Julian Assange, with riveting results

Risk” (2017) is the latest historical and biographical film about Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. Director Laura Poitras provides amazing “live” coverage of events in Assange’s life starting in 2011, when he sits in a home in Norfolk, England with journalist Sarah Harrison and talks to a man about leaked State Department cables.  Assange says “It is not my problem, but I don’t want it to become your problem.”

One of the most revealing monologues comes at almost the end, when Assange is asked whether he engaged or indulged in his style of journalism to gain “power”.  He says that his garden is the whole world, and the only way for him to be effective as a person is to act globally.  That is how I feel about my own writing.

Assange also pontificates, a bit earlier, on taking risks, especially when you need to be able to take someone else’s bullets and survive them.

Early on, the film presents another major associate, Jacob Appelbaum, rather handsome (despite the gratuitous upper arm tattoo), and explains his work with the Tor Project.  The film makes the interesting point, however indirectly, that refugees and asylum seekers (in the U.S. or any western country) would need access to TOR to communicate safely with relatives back home, an issue that potential hosts would need to heed.  There are scenes where Appelbaum appears in Cairo, and later in Tunis, training Arab spring activists to use TOR, as authoritarian regimes quickly turn against political change, especially in the Muslim world.

The film concurrently covers the release of Bradley Manning’s leak “Collateral Murder” in Iraq, and covers his court martial, and gender change to Chelsea Manning, and mentions her release from Leavenworth by President Obama just before the end of the film.  As a result particularly of this set of leaks, the US and UK governments start to close in on Assange.  There are accusations of sexual misconduct in Sweden, which may very well be a set-up.  A riveting sequence in the midpoint of the film shows Assange putting on macho-man gay leather drag (including contacts), and driving his motorcycle (left side in the UK) in bike lanes to the Ecuadorian embassy, where he get asylum in 2012.  The rest of the shots of him in the film must be taken in the embassy, even Lady Gaga’s visit.

Poitras herself goes global, interrupting her narrative to show Hong Kong and just a little bit of Edward Snowden (from “Citizenfour”).  Sarah accompanies Snowden to Moscow, where he seeks and is granted asylum from Putin.

The film then covers the leaks during the 2016 US presidential elections and how that probably helped Donald Trump (“I love WikiLeaks”) win the electoral vote.

The US Department of Justice announces it wants to consider prosecuting Assange for espionage and getting extradition from Ecuador.  Under the Trump administration (and in a scene showing FBI offices in New York City), Wikileaks is now painted as a foreign intelligence service (maybe especially for Russia and China) and less a legitimate journalistic group to “keep them honest”.

Laura Poitras says she herself faces constant legal restraints and disruptions in travel from the TSA, as have Appelbaum and perhaps Harrison.  Appelbaum faced sexual misconduct allegations which might well have been trumped up (pun).

Atlantic review is here.

Wikipedia on Sarah Harrison.

My own legacy review of “Collateral Murder” (2010).

Name:  “Risk”
Director, writer:  Laura Poitras
Released:  2017
Format:  1.85:1
When and how viewed:  Landmark West End Cinema, Washington DC, 2017/5/8; theater was showing only this film at frequent intervals
Length:  90
Rating:  NA
Companies:  Madman, Showtime, First Look
Link:  FB

(Posted: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 4 PM EDT)

“Austerlitz” shows Nazi concentration camp tourism

Austerlitz”, by Sergei Loznitsa, provides a curious film concept. In a 94-minute exercise in trolling people in black and white, the filmmaker portrays tourists to visit the museum-exhibits of the Nazi Holocaust concentration camps Dachau and Sachsenhausen.

The first ten minutes of the film portrays nothing but a people-watch of tourists entering the gates near a sign reading “Arbeit macht frei”. We notice many are carrying phone headsets to listen to commentary. Then we do start hearing some tour guide content.  One of the most interesting is that the early camps were set up for intelligence purposes: to interrogate possible dissidents against Hitler, and even intercept plots to kill Hitler.  Only later did the Jews, as well as gypsies and homosexuals, become recognizable populations.

There is a chilling scene where a guide with a British accent explains how the victims were told to expect a shower, before getting gassed with Zytron.  One couple has a picture taken in front of a black crematorium.

As for the tourists, many are attractive, slender, young white males, ironically what you expect in a gay bar. You will see the same people, with recognizable T-shirts, based on companies or sports teams, more than once.

I was not aware of this massive level of tourism. I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau on a Tuesday morning in late May, 1999, having arrived on the night train to Krakow from Berlin, and then taking a taxi to the site (about $60 for the day).  I don’t recall that there was any crowd, maybe a few other tourists walking around at some distance from me.  I did visit rooms with shoes and skeleton remains, and dorms.  I walked along the notorious railroad tracks.  I don’t recall having a headset.

In the first chapter of my novel “Angel’s Brother”, a “part time” CIA agent, married and living a normal life of a history teacher in Texas, visits Birkenau the way I did, and in a light crowd, meets a mysterious college student and rides back with him.  Why both are there develops with the story.  There was one scene in the film of a young man off by himself, on a cell phone, sitting near a wall, who looked like the college student in my novel.  There may have been one other person from the US that I recognized, appearing twice with the camera going blurred the second time, a rather strange effect.

Wikipedia picture of Dachau.

Auschwitz-Birkenau visiting information.

Name:  “Austerlitz”
Director, writer:  Sergei Loznitsa
Released:  2016
Format: 1.85:1, black and white
When and how viewed:  MICA Brown in Baltimore, 2017/5/7, fair audience
Length:  94
Rating:  NA
Companies:  Imperativ, Deja-vu
Link:  official

(Posted: Monday, May 8, 2017 at 1 PM EDT)

“The Promise”: World War I epic about Armenian genocide is also a personal moral fable

The Promise”, directed by Terry George, and written with Robin Swicord, apparently based on an original story, is a historical epic about genocide, specifically of the Armenians in the early days of World War I by the Ottoman Turks.  The film has a bit the style of a modern western, and makes a compelling narrative with many moral points about a historical event that generally doesn’t get that much attention.  In fact, even today, the Turkish government (exacerbated by Erdogan’s dictatorial and press-suppressing behavior, which Donald Trump has supported), doesn’t admit that the Turks murdered 1.5 million Armenians (in an area that became part of the Soviet Union) during the period.

The basic story concerns an Armenian medical student Mikael (Oscar Isaac), an American Associated Press journalist Chris Myers (Christian Bale, who had played the Asperger-like doctor Michael Burry in “The Big Short”, helping drive the 2008 financial crisis), and the Parisian-raised Armenian woman Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), whom both men love.  The movie really plays down the romantic or erotic potential of the love triangle, to pursue more abstract moral arguments.

For openers, as the film opens, Mikael is a pharmacist in the mountain town of Surin, agrees to an arranged marriage so that the dowry will pay for his medical school.  It sounds off-putting to me for a promise of procreation and marital performance to pay for school, but that is how things used to be, where arranged marriages were common and  people were expected to “learn to love” their socially assigned spouses.  Once in school in Istanbul, the winds or war appear.  A friend bribes an official so that he can get a “student deferment” from conscription for being in medical school, an issue that would occur in my own life.  Eventually he faces brutality from Turkish officials who view him as a physical coward.  But he escapes, in a thrilling train sequence, and gets back to Sirun to find the Turks have destroyed it.

Chris and Ana have wound up in a nearby Red Cross facility, but Chris is captured.  The Turks accuse him of being a spy, but his release comes at the cost of the life of the Turk who helped him.  Chris repeatedly insists his writing (he has a notebook that looks like a pre-Internet blog) is necessary so that the rest of the world learns what is going on.  He even tells a French Captain that his reporting may help get the United States to join the allies in World War I (which would happen in 1917).  In the final scenes, where the orphans and some families are recused by the French, Mikael uses his skills to treat civilians wounded in battle (his mother dies), and Chris has to fight like a soldier.  But combat journalists often have to be able to handle themselves in battle.

Wikipedia article on Armenian Genocide.

This is a good place to note Comey’s comments on journalists and classified information.

Name:  “The Promise”
Director, writer:  Terry Georgr
Released:  2016
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Quarter, very late, 2017/5/2, I was the only person in audience!  Showing just for me!
Length:  133
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  Open Road
Link:  FB

(Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 5:30 PM EDT)

“Last Men in Aleppo”: a feature docudrama about the White Helmets in Syria

Last Men in Aleppo” carries on, to feature length, the story of the White Helmets, a volunteer rescue group in Syria.  There is already a high profile short film on the group reviewed here Oct. 6.  This new film is directed by Steen Johannessen and Frias Fayaad.  It is harrowing and difficult to watch.

The main characters are Khalid, Subil and Mahmoud, founders of the group, who remain and perform sensational multiple rescues, particularly of children buried in the rubble.

The rolling titles provide a brief history of the Syrian Civil War, backing up to the time of the Arab Spring, which had been inspired by social media, leading to the severe backlash from Assad with military support from Russia and Iran. The credits also note that there are now over one million refugees. The film shows some of the air strikes form a distance. Assad claims he is routing out terrorists, and it is obvious from the context of the film that this is not happening.

There is a scene in the middle where one man talks about losing the opportunity to emigrate to Turkey as a refugee.

The film has a brooding orchestral music score, composer unidentified, in outstanding Dolby.

In the QA following the film, director Fayaad noted that most of the men who stay behind and rescue make a choice to do so, but to do anything else would seem cowardly. It is an incredible feat for a photojournalist to make first-rate video, in widescreen, of such carnage as it happens.

CNN has a comprehensive article on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Name:  “Last Days in Aleppo
Director, writer:  Frias Fayyad
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1   (mostly in Arabic with subtitles)
When and how viewed:  Filmfest DC, 2017/4/26, Landmark E St., large auditorium, sold out
Length:  104
Rating:  NA (probably R for extreme war violence)
Companies:  Grasshopper Films, Sundance Selects
Link:  official 

(Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 11 AM EDT)

“Cries from Syria” is harrowing

The live-filmed documentary “Cries from Syria”, directed by Yvgeny Afineevsky and narrated by Helen Mirren, traces the brutality of the Syrian civil war(s), mostly focused on the atrocities committed by the Assad regime starting in 2015. The film was first aired on HBO Monday March 13, 2017 at 10 PM EDT.

The story is told by a variety of rebels, including women, and shows grotesque results of regime violence and prison torture, including starvation, and in one scene the aftermath of chemical weapons (even chlorine).  It is filmed in many locations in Syria (besides Aleppo, which Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson didn’t identify in 2016).

The film is prefixed by an animated history of Syria in the 20th Century, and with stunning images of ancient mosques and religious sites.

There are massed demonstration scenes, one with a flag several hundred feet long.

Slightly beyond the halfway point in the film, the attention shifts to Raqqa and the arrival of ISIS.  At the very first, ISIS was seen as “liberators” (relative to the Free Army).  Very quickly, the brutality and total control (though with law and order) of the ISIS regime is apparent.  The film shows both an ISIS smoking ticket and a prep for a beheading. The presentation is grittier and more graphic than in Fareed Zakaria’s films for CNN (“Blindsided: How ISIS Shook the World”, 2015, and “Why They Hate Us”, 2016).  But one spokesperson claims that Assad is still responsible for 98% of the civilian deaths in Syria.

Life in this world is all about street smarts and collective action and not much else.  Young men are shown operating machine guns fired from apartment living rooms.

The film then shows a meeting between Al-Assad and Vladimir Putin (“The Most Powerful Man in the World” – CNN special by Zakaria tonight) to control ISIS, as a pretext for controlling the rebellion.  The volunteer rescue group “The White Helmets” is shown.

The film moves into Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, into refugee camps.  Refugees pay smugglers, sometimes to take them across the Mediterranean, or sometimes directly into adjoining countries. Small children are found drowned on the beach.

Yet at the end the Syrian people parade through streets “united”.  The film ends with an aerial shot of a refugee camp.  600,000 people have been killed in the war, and 7 million displaced. More than 1 million are in Europe.  2.5 million Syrian refugees are children.  Well, actually the film ends with a tweet.

I do have to wonder if the president, White House, or members of Congress watched this film.  This has to be about the most violent and confrontational documentary film I have ever watched.  And I’m still a spectator.

Destruction after Homs Offensive, Wiki picture.

Pictures from Raqqa (Wiki images).

Name: Cries from Syria
Director, writer: Yvgeny Afineevsky
Released: 2017
Format: 1.85:1
When and how viewed: HBO, 2017/3/13
Length: 111
Rating: NA  (would be R for violent war images)
Companies: HBO documentary
Link:  official

(Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 12:15 AM)

“The Source”: oratorio by Ted Hearne, based on career and “wikileaks” of Chelsea Manning — Bush’s and then Obama’s wars

The Source” is a 62-minute chamber oratorio by Ted Hearne (b. 1982),  libretto by Mark Doten, first premiered at the Next Wave Festival at the Chamber Academy of Brooklyn in 2014.  There are seven instrumentalists.

There are 13 poems or songs, with iconoclastic titles and texts, based on US military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010.  Much of the material comes from the “Iraq War Logs” and “Afghan War Diary” and incorporates materials from formerly classified military communications leaked by Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning,

Some of the material even comes from tweets, such as when another soldier Lamo debates whether to turn Manning in.  Some songs depict violent events, such as an IED explosion (the first song) and others depict political negotiation and even the question about moderate Islam.

The last song is “I encrypt as much as I can”, where Bradley/Chelsea characterizes him/herself as “very intelligent” and “very effeminate”, as if curiously elitist given the tone of today’s culture wars.

The music is angular, with voices in clear, parallel harmonies and rather simple chants.

The work has been performed at the Disney Center by LA Opera in Los Angeles. https://www.laopera.org/Source   The New York Times has commentary here.

This is the sort of idea that gets commissioned these days.  My own compositional taste is for large post-romantic, broken into miniatures sometimes, but still more in the tradition of classical instrumental and symphonic music that I grew up with (Schoenberg and Berg sound post-romantic to my ear now, but that’s as far as I got.

This work really ends quietly, with Sprechstimme of spoken voice only, “I opened up the computer and just talked.”  No wonder Donald Trump says “No computer is safe.”

One would imagine this work as choreographed, too, so that it is full chamber opera.  But for that matter, the 10-movement, massive two-piano suite “Shy and Mighty” (2007), by Timo Andres, ought to be choreographed, especially for the East Village.

The work is available on CD from New Amsterdam Records (NWAM071), which I purchased on Amazon (easier than Bandcamp).  The composer’s official site is here.  The cover has a frazzled picture of Kabul against the mountains.

Wikipedia picture of Kabul.

(Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2017. at 9 PM EST)

“Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing” from HBO does a sneak preview tonight in DC

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Name: Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing
Director, writer:  Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg
Released:  2016
Format:  1.85:1
When and how viewed:  Sneak, AFI-Docs, free, Landmarl E St. 2016/10/18
Length :About 100
Rating PG-13?
Companies: HBO
Link: TBD

Tonight, AFI Docs held a special free sneak preview of the HBO documentary “Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing”, directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg.  It will air on HBO in mid November and show in New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

The documentary recreates most of the events of that week in April 2013 as they happened, with high quality video.  This includes the two bombings twelve seconds apart, with explicit scenes of the carnage;  then video of the shooting at MIT Thursday night, of the call from a convenience store after the carjacking, the shootout in Watertown, and the capture of Jahar.  Video shows the Tsarnaev brothers just before the bombing. Jahar is shown in his jail cell later.

2013_boston_marathon_bombings_map-1

But, unlike “The Thread” (see Index), which focuses on how technology helped find the bombers, this film focuses on the hundreds injured, and the seventeen who lost limbs.

scenes_and_approximate_times_of_events_of_april_18-19

Several of these men and women were in the audience, with prosthetic limbs,two with service dogs, one of which sat very near me.

There is a scene where the police ask a novice cameraperson to respect the victims and not photograph them on the street.

nih31

The film focuses on the care these civilians get at Walter Reed (formerly Bethesda Naval Medical Center, across Wisconsin Ave. from NIH), from military surgeons.  It is normally very difficult for civilians injured by war-like injuries in terror attacks to get military care.  This observation would apply to the Pulse attacks.  The civilian patients bond with the military casualties, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have multiple amputations and incredible disfigurement.

img91138

The love story of one couple, both who lost limbs, was difficult to watch.  I don’t like to use the word “victims” when others influenced by foreign ideology go to war with us as if we were personal enemies.  I personally process this as “casualty”, but I did go through the Vietnam era draft, although I didn’t go into combat.    But the willingness of people to form and keep intimate and marital relationships when challenged by unforeseeable adversities is important to resilience against potential enemies.  This is a personal issue for me, but I’ll take that up soon elsewhere.

At the end, the film covers the death penalty deliberations and sentence handed to Dzhokkar Tsarnaev under federal law (in a state that does not have the death penalty).

The QA was followed by a 7-minute short film “Wicked Strong: A Walter Reed Story

QA 1:

QA 2: In response to my question about availability of military medicine to civilians after terror attack (I also mentioned Pulse); and on the importance that healthy young adults have health insurance because it can happen to anyone (the young man in Central Park July 3). Health insurance often covers basic prosthetics but not specialized limbs for running or water use (as in a scene in Florida).  Prosthetics last about eight years before needing replacement.

Wikipedia attribution link;  by Anna frodesiak CCSA 2.0

Wikipedia attribution link second map  CCSA 3.0?

(Posted: Tuesday: October 18, 2016 at   11:45 PM EDT)

 

“Cameraperson”: Kristen Johnson tells parallel stories from her lifetime of camerawork, emphasis on Bosnia war crimes

manjaca_camp

Name: Cameraperson
Director, writer:  Kristen Johnson
Released:  2016
Format:  1.85:1 (sometimes 1.37:1)
When and how viewed:  Landmark E St, 2016/10/17, small audience
Length 102
Rating NA
Companies: Janus
Link: link

Cameraperson” plays like a Smithsonian film that you want to see in Imax. It is a collage of the camerawork of Kristen Johnson from many provocative documentaries she worked on.  It also seems to include other material she took herself.

The most important location in the film is Bosnia-Herzegovina (Foca and then Sarajevo), where she revisits the sites of ethnic cleansing in the 1993 war, and especially focuses on Muslim families.  There is one spectacular sequence where she drives in a mountain canyon through three successive tunnels, to locate a mass grave.

Bosnia becomes interspersed with several other narratives telling their own stories.  One is an amateur prizefighter in Brooklyn. Another is a prosecutor explaining the graphic evidence book for the murder of James Byrd in Jasper, TX by White supremacists (for “The Two Towns of Jasper”).  Still another is her own mother’s coping with early Alzheimer’s while still functioning on the family ranch in Wyoming.

penn09

Other snippets are more localized.  There’s a bizarre “location unknown” spot from “Citizenfour” showing destruction of NSA data.  An overweight girl in Alabama (“Trapped”) talks about ending her pregnancy while the camera dawdles on surprisingly hairy thighs through torn jeans.   In a few of the segments, the camera stays focused on the person, and the screen narrows to 1:37:1.  There’s a brief shot of Michael Moore from “Fahrenheit 9/11”.  There’s a shot of the first football game at Penn State after it’s allowed back in to the NCAA after the Jerry Sandusky scandal in “Happy Valley”.

Here’s a supplementary article from “The Moveable Fest”,

Kristen says he is addressing “what it is to film, and to be filmed”.

Compare this to “Koyaanisqatsai, Life our of Balance” (1982) by Goeffrey Reggerio.

(Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 11:45 AM EDT)

 

“The White Helmets”: civilian men who rescue victims of violence in Syria

wounded_civilians_arrive_at_hospital_aleppo

Name: The White Helmets
Director, writer:  Orlando Van Eisendel
Released:  2016
Format:  HD video
When and how viewed:  Netflix instant
Length 41
Rating N/a
Companies: Grain media, Violet films
Link: organization 

Remember recently when Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson asked a news interviewer, “and what is Aleppo?”  I guess if you take care of your own at home, you don’t need to watch the outside world.

In the “long short” featurette, “The White Helmets”, filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel (Germany?) becomes inside man to a group, organized in 2013, of about 2900 volunteers, organized into 130 units, who rescue civilians from bombings and devastation in Syria, especially Aleppo.  So far 130 volunteers have given their lives, and saved 58000 lives.

The film focuses especially in interviewing three young men, Khalad Farah, Mohammed Farahm and Abu Omar.  There is one scene where a baby is rescued from rubble.  One of the men says the baby, one week old, is like his own son, two weeks old.  Later he says, “Life requires sacrifice.”

The men go on the road to southern Turkey for basic training, where instructor Read Saleh is interviewed.

Religious ideology is never mentioned.  But the young men seem to be living up to the commandments of the Koran for charity in its more reasonable and moderate interpretations.

There are horrifying reports specifically about the effects of Russian bombing on civilians in Aleppo, as in the Mail or the Guardian.  Putin’s policies may have killed more civilians than ISIS.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of civilian evacuation in Aleppo, p.d.

Update: Dec. 18, 2016

CBS 60 Minutes presented a segment “The White Helmets: Fighting for Life in Syria’s Vicious Civil War“. The volunteers themselves become targets in Assad’s “double taps” and have wound up as amputees. The story (also subtitled “Hope in a Hopeless Place“) by Brit McCandless is here.

(Published: Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016 at 1:30 PM EDT)