... in helicopters

When i am president (Obama vs. Osama) ...

Just read a fairly impressive speech on terrorism by US presidential candidate (technically he is a candidate for nomination as a candidate) Barack Obama. The speech it is quite a contrast to what you hear from the current US administration and for large parts actually makes sense even though it contains a fair share of patriotic pathos. For all i know this speech is the first time i have come across a US presidential candidate (who actually has a realistic chance of winning) who seems to realize that there are people outside of the US who hate the US not because they hate freedom but because of the way the US are bullying around the rest of the world:

When you travel to the world’s trouble spots as a United States Senator, much of what you see is from a helicopter […] And it makes you stop and wonder: when those faces look up at an American helicopter, do they feel hope, or do they feel hate?

I guess realizing that the way the US are behaving themselves in the rest of the world is one of the root causes of what is labeled ‘global terrorism’ is one of the core qualifications you would wish any future president of the US to have. Lets hope that he still remembers this should he ever come to sit in one of these new presidential helicopters. Now unfortunately Mr Obama gets a little bit over-excited about his proverbial helicopter ride in the rest of his speech:

[…] That child looking up at the helicopter must see America and feel hope. […] I will speak directly to that child who looks up at that helicopter, and my message will be clear: “You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.” […] The America I know is the last, best hope for that child looking up at a helicopter. It’s the country that put a man on the moon; that defeated fascism and helped rebuild Europe. […] And we can be what that child looking up at a helicopter needs us to be: the relentless opponent of terror and tyranny, and the light of hope to the world.

Not sure if this is a particularly realistic scenario [especially since mr. Obama also hints at invading pakistan in this speech]. Also, given the demographics of your typical ‘terrorist’ i think he should be more concerned about (young) adults than children, but then politicians seem to be generally unable to formulate unrealistic scenarios without referring to children. Guess this is because they are ‘pure’ or ‘innocent’ or both….

Update [22.08.07]: Shudda adds: ‘Nobody invades Pakistan without India’. Interesting times ahead indeed…

Kurtlar Varsi vs. Valley of the Sun

13 Mar 2006 | 624 words | iraq war movies film united states helicopters review

Have seen one and a half war movies today. First i went to Neukölln to see ‘Kurtlar Varsi: iraq‘ (Valley of the Wolves: Iraq) and then tonight on TV i ended up watching the second half of ‘Tears of the Sun‘.

For those who have not followed the hysteric discussions in Germany in the last month: Valley of the Wolves is the Turkish Blockbuster that depicts a Turkish secret service agent’s mission in Iraq. He is on a (unofficial) mission to kill a CIA operative who was responsible for arresting and humiliating a dozen of Turkish soldiers who were stationed in northern Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003. Having the soldiers arrested and taken away with bags over their heads apparently caused an enormous nationalistic trauma in Turkey and our hero (the tagline of the film is ‘Some Men Are Born to be Heroes’) is here (or rather in Iraq) to take revenge (and to break the hearts of local women).

The film has been wildly accused of anti-semitism and anti-Americanism in the German media and while does indeed use anti-semitic clichés to a level where it is hard to not leave the cinema i would not call it anti-American. The film rather portraits the the American aggression against Iraq from a viewpoint that is not identical with that of the aggressors (and the western media). While in general the story-line is at best absurd (like in most of the films starring Chuck Norris) and the dialogues are extremely weak, the film does give you an idea how the global war on terror can be perceived if you have been born on the wrong side of the either-you-are-with-us-or-you-are-against-us rhetoric.

The most striking scene of the movie is the re-enactment of the 2003 Abu Ghraib torture photographs which makes some of the pictures (the dog & pvt. England) come alive on screen. You can argue that this is a cheap trick (like two young leftists in the subway station did), but it also is the most realistic scene of the entire movie as it is undoubtedly based on real events. In the end it is this scene what keeps the movie form being a bad, anti-semitic, pathetic and pseudo religious piece of crap as it it gives it some credibility. To me it almost feels like the rest of the movie just serves the function of tying the Abu Ghreib scene and the arrest of the Turkish soldiers together. The interring question is if the film would have had the same success without the blatant anti-semitism…

Tears of the Sun, to the contrary, features Bruce Willis as a cynical American special force commander that goes into the jungle to save a (attractive female) american doctor and (being under the influences of her charms) ends up disobeying orders (and losing a couple of his men) in order to protect (her and) the 70 or so refugees, whom his superiors considers ‘excess baggage’.

Valley of the sun (just like Kurtlar Varsi, where the Turkish super agent finally manages to kill his American counterpart but looses the beautiful chick) does have an happy ending (complete with a copy of the palm tree napalm air-strike scene from apoclypse now) in which the black hawk helicopters arrive to take the exhausted special forces soldiers and the refugees home while smiling african kids wave the helicopters good-bye as they depart into the afternoon sky…

While i cannot help to feel relieved when the black hawks arrive in the sky this particular combination of films makes me wonder how many people outside of the first world are left to muster the optimism of thinking that help is on its way when they see a black hawk helicopter approaching in the sky…

More on helipads in São Paulo

I blogged about the helipads in São Paulo back in october of last year. Seems like i am not the only person fascinated by the phenomenon of intra-city civilian helicopter traffic: The transmediale06 media arts festival in Berlin features a short video by french artist Richard Nicolas about the helipads of São Paulo:

The sky of Sao Paulo is always swarming with helicopters: 350 daily departures and landings – or one flight every four minutes. The city ranks first in helicopter air traffic and its air fleet – with 500 counted passenger planes – internationally ranks third after Tokyo and New York. The Brazilian bureau for civil air traffic confirms 220 helipads. The video-performance shows a bird’s eye view from the hustle of São Paulo and its huge choice of helipads.

The video is absolutely beautiful. if you are in berlin go check it out! It can be seen in the transmediale Lounge on the big projection screen (there are two other videos on that are projected alternating on the same screen, so you might have to wait for a while for it to appear). It even features a birds eye view of my favorite helipad.

Helipads (!!!)

I have mentioned it before, but the thing that impressed me the most so far is the facts that people actually travel by helicopter within the city. There are lots of heli-pads on buildings in the city and if you find yourself placed high enough to oversee a bit of the city you actually see helicopters taking of somewhere and landing elsewhere on a heli-pad. Of course this is kind of sick (someone told me that you can actually commute by helicopter from the north-zone to downtown for R$ 5000 per month (the minimum income is something like R$ 500)) but it is also poetic in al its shabby futuristic-scenarions-have-come-true glory.

Heli-pad on Avenida Paulista

Heli-pad in downtown area (with helicopter landing)

The small shabby helicopter from the last image in mid-flight

Heli-pad on Avenida Paulista

Heli-pad in downtown area

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

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