3000 Days of Somehow

I do not recall July 14, 2010, which was three-thousand and one days ago today. What is more, I left no social media footprint that day, so I do not even have any words or sentences or “Mark is feeling :-)” emoticon that I may have typed that morning on Facebook that could spark a memory.

Of course I looked. I looked just now with a grimace of anticipation on my face in the worry-slash-hope that I would find something I had written that day to someone about anything at all. Nope. (In fact, I do not enjoy looking at anything I typed before July 15, 2010, for reasons that I hope will become clear.) There is no journal entry, no blog post.
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My Posts about Raif Badawi & Saudi Arabia

Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger of his punishment being resumed. He still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Saudi Arabia’s thought-police know that any news about a prisoner can be one more form of punishment for his family. Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger. The mental torture never ceases.

When his story grows more prominent, as it has since the arrest of his sister, Samar Badawi, on July 30, 2018, that torture only becomes sharper. It becomes exquisitely more difficult to find hope.

For Raif—and for his lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair, who is also in prison in Saudi Arabia in a gross violation of his own human rights—and for their two brilliant and courageous wives, Ensaf Haidar and Samar Badawi, today is another challenging day. Each one is. Each day, news or none, is spent weighing the choice between daring to dream of freedom or to not expend energy in the risky business of dreaming.

Saudi Arabia arrested and imprisoned Samar Badawi on July 30, possible charges and location unknown as of this writing.

This post lists the articles I wrote over the last three-plus years about Raif Badawi, a young writer whom Saudi Arabia has punished for his essays, and whose story is finally an international matter this week in a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Canada. I will file a more current post tomorrow.

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‘Shattered,’ an essay by Matt DeHart

Published exclusively in The Gad About Town.

This is the third article in a series of prison essays by Matt DeHart. The first essay is here: “You don’t act like an American,” and the second is here: “Hospitality in Mexico.”
 
“Shattered” was written in May 2018.

* * * *
Last November, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) informed Matt DeHart, a former U.S. Air National Guard drone team member and alleged WikiLeaks courier, that it had reversed its decision that the fourteen months he spent detained in a Canadian prison would be credited toward his sentence as time served. No hearing was held. His release date of September 2018 is no longer in place.

The decision was announced in a letter that neither acknowledges DeHart’s right to due process nor concedes that he has been denied due process. “An inmate held pending a civil deportation determination is not being held in ‘official’ detention pending criminal charges,” the BOP letter reads. This reverses the stance the government took when it sentenced DeHart. It is worth noting that the BOP employed the quotation marks around the word “official” in its letter to Matt DeHart.

DeHart continues to appeal the BOP’s unilateral decision to effectively extend his prison sentence by fourteen months even though the BOP’s paperwork requirements are Kafka-esque: In December 2017, DeHart was required to include with his appeal of the extension of his sentence a sheet that detailed the computation of his time served; it was to be stapled to the document. This is a page that the BOP already possesses as it is that department’s own computation. DeHart did not staple it; he sent it in a separate envelope with explanatory statements (i.e.: This is exhibit 14 that was not included in the earlier letter which states exhibit 14 will be forthcoming). The BOP did not accept the documents (which is an insidious method of rejecting an appeal) and returned them to DeHart.
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A Father’s Day Memory

For #FathersDay, ‘A Father’s Day Memory’ by @Mark_S_Aldrich. Happy Fathers’s Day to my dad!

The Gad About Town

Some memories are of the photograph of an event and no longer of the incident itself, but some feel to the rememberer like they are a photo, with the details so clear and so accessible. This is one memory … it feels like I could count the rocks in the creek bed if I would just take the time.

Today is Father’s Day. It is a difficult day for my girlfriend, as her father died in February, a sad fact that brought us together in our house-that-is-becoming-a-home.

My father will be 81 next month. That sentence, while I know it to be factually accurate, has the effect of making me feel like a child lost in the mall. Where am I? Where have I been? If August 15, 1935, is known for anything, it is not known for the birth of my dad but for it being the date that…

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Shawkan’s Latest Delay

A journalist’s job is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

* * * *
June 13: The next hearing in the ongoing trial of Mahmoud Abu Zeid, the Egyptian photojournalist who goes by the name “Shawkan,” will be held on Tuesday, July 4, it was learned today.

An additional three weeks. For a human rights trial noteworthy for its glacial pace, this is the latest example of the trial’s simple inhumanity. One more delay is a delay; years of delays are a lifetime.

Today is Shawkan’s 1400th day in prison.
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Never Would Have Imagined …

The ink is not yet wet on the contract, but I will be printing one out and signing it this weekend.

Last week, a journalist contacted me: Would I be interested in writing for a particular website? Sure, I replied, if they’re interested in me, I would reciprocate the interest. For money, he explained.

I was not listening to a vinyl record at that moment, but a needle scratched to a halt somewhere in the world just then. “What’s that again?”
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JFK at 100: A Personal Reflection

President John F. Kennedy laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 1963. The photo at top is from that day, May 30, 1963. By the end of that year, President Kennedy joined the company of dead service members buried there.

President Kennedy would be 100 today, which coincidentally is this year’s Memorial Day.
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