Features by Pete Muller
While Egypt’s awe-inspiring, popular revolution technically concluded in 2011, its reverberations continued in 2012. The social cohesion that once bound Egypt’s myriad political factions has deteriorated and the country has slipped into a series of rancorous political battles. In May and June, Egyptians headed to the polls to elect a new President–a highly divisive process that saw the rise of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. The country’s liberal and secular communities were devastated by Morsi’s win and, as he set about implementing a series of controversial policies, they took to the streets enmasse. Attitudes in the… read more.
In January 2013, French President Francois Hollande launched a military intervention in Mali, a former French colony in West Africa. Over the last year, Malian forces lost considerable ground to radical Islamist rebels that control the country’s north. As the Al Qaeda connected rebels pushed farther south and closer the the capital of Bamako, the French felt that the situation had become critical. More than 6,000 French citizens still live in Mali, a factor that certainly influenced the decision to become militarily engaged. The French and Malian forces keep journalists on a short leash, allowing… read more.
On the edge of Oklahoma’s Ozarks, where prairies ascend to rolling hills, an outgrowth of American tradition thunders in the air. Under a powerful summer sun, gun enthusiasts peer down the sights of devastating weapons at the annual Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show (OFASTS), one of the country’s largest fully automatic machine gun expos. In the valley below, explosive-laden cars, airplanes, and old appliances lie in wait; incendiary prizes for the sharp or lucky. Husbands and wives, often with children in tow, make a weekend of firing a vast array of fully automatic… read more.
I am deeply intrigued by the pastoralist tribes of southern Sudan. Their way of life seems quite unchanged since its inception on these plains thousands of years ago. The social, spiritual and informal political structures within the pastoralist societies here are based almost entirely on the possession and successful retention of cattle. The number and quality of one’s cows determines his social status, masculine worth and, perhaps most importantly, his ability to marry. Cows form the basis of the dowry system and are therefore a critical obstacle between young men and their ability to reproduce.… read more.
On July 9th, 2011, the swamps and plains of southern Sudan became the world’s 193rd country. For decades, across this vast and largely vacant landscape, unspeakable violence and devastation prevailed. More than two million people perished as southern rebels waged a 23-year rebellion against the northern government aimed at empowering the resource-rich but deeply marginalized south. In 2005, the war came to an ostensible end with an agreement that allowed for the prospect of southern independence in 2011, the same year in which the ceasefire expired. In January of 2011, southern Sudanese voted almost unanimously… read more.
In the lush hills of eastern Congo, a brutal war rages against female inhabitants. As rival militias fight for control of territory and resources, women’s bodies often become components of the battlefield. Each year, thousands of women are raped in eastern Congo, with more than 8,300 reported cases in 2009 alone. Since the 1990’s, rape has been used as a weapon of war; a brutal and indelible tactic aimed at demoralizing male enemies by violating their wives, mothers and sisters. These crimes, committed with impunity, have destroyed tens of thousands of lives. In recent months,… read more.