Each year Dispatches From The Edge gives awards to individuals, companies and governments that make reading the news a daily adventure. Here are the awards for 2019
Life Imitates Art Award to the US Border Control and the Trump administration that are currently holding between 11,000 and 14,000 immigrant children under the age of 18 in internment camps. According to the London Review of Books, a Border Patrol agent gave a three-year old the choice of being with her mother or her father. When the father was being taken away the child began to cry, only to be scolded by the Agent: "You said with Mom." The child's name: Sofi.
Dr. Strangelove Award to the US Defense Department for its unique solution to the problem of supplying troops in war zones. Between 2001 and 2010, US soldiers escorting fuel convoys in Afghanistan and Iraq accounted for more than half the casualties suffered by American forces. The solution? Portable nuclear power plants that would generate between one and 10 megawatts and service up to 1,000 troops. The "micro-nukes" would be "semi-autonomous," that is, they wouldn't need on-site operators. Even small reactors contain significant amounts of highly radioactive and long-lived isotopes, like cesium-137. I mean, what could go wrong?
The Fake News Award to the US government's Radio Marti. The station, run by the Agency for Global Media that also includes Voice of America, got caught faking a mortar attack during a broadcast from Managua, Nicaragua. One of the journalists involved in the deception, Tomas Regalado Jr., is the son of Tomas Regalado Sr., who oversees Radio and TV Marti. Radio Marti broadcast several shows last year that described philanthropist and Democratic Party donor George Soros as "a non-believing Jew of flexible morals."
Golden Jackal Award to the US arms company Raytheon, with a tip of the hat to Lockheed Martin and Boeing, for landing more than $1 billion in intermediate missile contracts. The contracts were awarded shortly after the Trump Administration withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) in 2018. Intermediate missiles are considered especially destabilizing because their short flight time means all sides must keep their missiles on a hair trigger.
"The withdrawal from the INF Treaty has fired the starting pistol on a new Cold War," says Beatrice Fihn of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Runner up is ArmorMe, a company that produces children's backpacks. Field-tested by the Israeli military, the backpack includes a sheet of bullet resistant Kevlar. According to the company, the backpack "looks and feels like a regular eco-friendly canvas backpack -- so your child will fit in with his or her friends." But if a shooter shows up, it provides "protection for your child, peace-of-mind for yourself."
Catherine de' Medici Award * to the Pentagon for contaminating drinking water at military bases with polyfluoroalkyl, or PFAS, a major ingredient of fire fighting foam. The chemical causes cancer, kidney failure, immune system suppression and other health problems. The military has known about the contamination for decades but failed to tell anyone about it until recently. Scientists have dubbed PFAS the "forever chemical," because it is virtually indestructible.