With its capability to fly 400 miles to a target, hover for 14 hours, and then return to base, the drone can be a powerful tool but must be operated carefully.
When the operators get lazy, innocent people can lose their lives, as seen in an attack on 35 unlucky Afghan civilians on February 21 of this year.
Drone operators, stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, had been tracking a group of suspected insurgents near the village of Shahidi Hassas, a Taliban-dominated area in the southern part of Afghanistan.
After three and a half hours of tracking, the operators had reported the presence of insurgents on their way to reinforce other fighters.
They didn’t appear to notice that women and children were also in the vehicles.
With approval from their superiors, the Special Operations team fired Hellfire missiles and rockets at the civilians. The helicopter crew spotted brightly colored clothing at the scene and stopped firing after the initial attack, suspecting that civilians might have been inside the vehicles.
But they did not notice early enough to prevent 23 deaths and 12 non-lethal injuries.
Additionally, the ground commander and others who knew about the incident failed to report that they had potentially harmed civilians in a timely manner.
In an investigation of the incident, military officials revealed that intelligence analysts who had been monitoring the drone’s video feed before the attack had sent two messages warning the drone operators and ground commanders that they had seen children.
The report nevertheless states that the drone operators saw only men who looked military-age, meaning that information indicating otherwise was either downplayed or ignored, according to General McHale.
General McChrystal apologized to President Hamid Karzai after the attack, and reported that four American officers had been reprimanded and two junior officers disciplined.
He has recommended that military personnel participate in additional training exercises before coming to Afghanistan and while they are already there.
23 civilian lives could have been spared if drone operators had done better than “inaccurate and unprofessional reporting.
Military officials hope to decrease the level of civilian casualties in the future with the additional training exercises and by emphasizing the quality of the operators’ work.]]>
Around nine months ago, Niknejad started the blog “Tehran Bureau with the purpose of reporting on the situation in her native country. She set out to create a reliable news source for those who wanted current and trustworthy news on Iran.
From her mother’s home in Newton, Niknejad uses only her laptop and her network of contributors to manage the stream of information she receives.
The site’s popularity soared after the election in Iran. No longer just a blog, the site became a major source for breaking news regarding Iran. When the site was hacked into and frozen, Niknejad turned to Twitter to relay her information to her loyal followers.
Now, with the combination of a website, blog, and Twitter, Niknejad provides her followers with a constant stream of information. Each section of her website consists of several posts followed by a “Responses Section, where her readers can share their thoughts on the latest updates. These sections not only provide an area for discussion, but also let those who care about the situation connect with each other.
On the Twitter page, Niknejad leaves links to videos, websites, and statistics for her followers to check out.
Niknejad is only one among the millions of Twitter users and bloggers in today’s world. Unlike many others, though, who “Tweet to inform their followers of what they ate for dinner, Niknejad takes advantage of various sites on the Internet to address serious and important issues in Iran.
As more people take advantage of their resources like Niknejad has done, the internet will become even more essential to our society, opening the world to a whole new means of reporting.]]>
Mawlynnong, located in the north-eastern Indian state Meghalaya near the Bangladeshi border, has earned a reputation as the cleanest and best educated city in India.Â
Volunteers in the city rise at 5 am to sweep the roads, which are lined with bamboo dustpans. The villagers pick up all kinds of litter, even fallen leaves, and put them into these dustpans.
The village council has imposed fines for littering or cutting down trees. Though the fine is only one dollar, the villagers refrain from committing such offenses due to the humiliation and embarrassment they know they would suffer.
The villagers do not use plastic, and compost all trash in pits in the forest. Keeping their village clean and environmentally friendly has engrained itself into the mindset of the villagers, who take pride in their clean city.
As an environmentally friendly city, Mawlynnong has become a tourist site. Many people from other cities in India come to see the swept roads and spotless streets, and are very impressed by the cleanliness.
But the villagers resist turning the city into an eco-tourist site. The people are proud of their work because they care about the city and the environment, and do not want people from other traditions to impose their ideas on the village.
One hundred pigs have already been slaughtered in Alexandria, and the country continues to transport thousands of pigs out of neighborhoods and into slaughterhouses.
The WHO disapproves of Egypt’s precautionary move on the basis that there is no evidence of pigs transmitting the disease to humans. Though the WHO has not yet ruled out restrictions on the circulation of pigs, Egypt calls the slaughter a general health measure.
According to the agriculture ministry’s head of infectious diseases, Saber Abdel Aziz Galal, the pig meat will be frozen and stored in freezers for their owners to sell.
The most affected by this measure are members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, which are both the primary supplier and consumer of swine. The country has promised to compensate for the pig owners’ losses, but some who have lost their entire flocks have not received any money from the government.
The WHO warned that the ongoing infection could increase the risk to human health and safety.]]>
Mexico, the country of origin, has taken the virus extremely seriously. In order to prevent further spread, the government has ordered the closing of many schools and public buildings. Â Â
For two weeks, Mexico became a dead city.Â Everything from restaurants, to schools, to sports arenas were closed, and allÂ public celebrations for Cinco De MayoÂ wereÂ canceled.
Beginning on April 27, only supermarkets,Â gas stations, and other essential businesses have been allowed to operate.Â
Although the swine flu is far from being eliminated, the Mexican government allowed businesses and schools to reopen on Thursday May 7. Â
Mexico is still keeping a close watch on the virus, and had schools scrubbed thoroughly before they could reopen. They have also ordered for any child who exhibits flu-like systems to remain home until the symptoms have passed.
The outbreak has infected over 3,100 people worldwide, with over one- third of the cases from Mexico alone.Â It is unknown what direction the swine flu will take, but the Mexican government will be watching out for any changes.]]>