Over there, over here

By on March 1, 2021

first_imgBefore they were Harvard, they were military.As many as 150 students across the University have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have real-world stories to tell and pragmatic perspectives to contribute to academia. For them, America’s long-running wars are more than the stuff of newspaper headlines, network video, or armchair arguments. They are crucibles of experience that are, were, and always will be vivid and real.Interviews with more than two dozen of these veterans suggest that these wars have brought to Harvard combat soldiers, airmen, and Marines who have high levels of discipline, judgment, maturity, and leadership.Most of these student veterans are in three graduate programs, as approximate numbers show: business (70), government (50), and law (15). Two Harvard College undergraduates served in Iraq, both in the Marines. A few others are students at the Harvard Extension School.Joshua Miles, A.L.B. ’10, took his first Harvard course online while running a war zone communications shack in Iraq. To study, he sat outside on a concrete pad littered with machine-gun shells.Students who are veterans say they bring a unique perspective to Harvard. Some of it is academic, and some emotional.When it comes to classes about history, foreign policy, or national security, “We have specific, formal experience in these two major wars,” said Christopher Cannon, M.P.A. ’11, a Harvard Kennedy School student who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said veterans contribute a hard-won pragmatism, because of “the judgments we all had to make.”Often those judgments had to be fast and immediate, and could have fatal consequences. Decision-making had to be pragmatic and ethical at the same time, with a built-in awareness that people would be affected by the outcome.“We talk a lot of theory here,” said Hagan Scotten, 34, a third-year student at Harvard Law School who had three combat tours in Iraq as a U.S. Army Special Forces officer. “You realize there’s a lot more out there.”When student veterans talk about Iraq and Afghanistan, they begin with a powerful fact: They were there, and their memories are fresh.Sean Barney, M.P.A. ’11, will graduate from Yale Law School next year, as well. For two months in 2006, he was a Marine rifleman patrolling the narrow alleys and crooked, crowded streets of Fallujah, Iraq.On May 12 of that year, a sniper shot him in the neck. The bullet severed his carotid artery. Stunned, his head buzzing, Barney ran for cover before collapsing. He awoke two days later in a hospital in Washington, D.C., another miracle of modern combat medicine.David Dixon, Ed.M. ’11, a captain still on active duty in the Marines, flew 250 combat missions in Iraq, piloting an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter bristling with missiles and rocket pods. A thousand feet in the air, he recalled, western Anbar Province looked as barren and empty as an ocean. On the ground, the region was alternately frigid and roasting, a weather-whipped cauldron of sudden sandstorms, lightning, and torrential rains.Jared Esselman, M.P.P. ’11, traveled the world in the Air Force, often in C-17 transport aircraft, where he was a loadmaster. (He managed aircraft from the pilot’s seat to the plane’s tail, with responsibilities for passengers, fuel, hydraulics, center-of-gravity cargo, and combat off-loading.)Esselman was in Iraq in March 2003 in the earliest days of the shooting war. His aircraft was the second C-17 to land in Baghdad, where resistance remained stiff. Bombs flashed and blue-tailed missiles streaked past. “Red tracers from anti-aircraft fire [were] just littering the sky,” he said. “It looked like lightning.” He went on to fly nearly 300 combat sorties.One feature of combat is that those who survive “bring a sense of caring about other people,” said Esselman, whose pre-service experience included herding cattle and working in a factory. “It’s hard for veterans to switch off that mode. It’s genuine caring.” Back home, “That translates over some to the classroom. You care about your classmates,” he said, “because you did the same thing on the battlefield.”Several veterans said they contribute something else to Harvard: a kind of diversity that widens the idea of combining different, even divergent, backgrounds and opinions to multiply the strength of an institution.“Harvard preaches diversity,” generally applying the concept to race, gender, or ethnicity, said Dixon, who read the Bible every day while overseas. “Diversity of experience and diversity of insight is just as, if not more, important.”He recalled a recent survey of political beliefs in one of his classes. Out of 30 students, there was one communist and one conservative Republican, said Dixon, who did the Texas two-step with Jessica Simpson on the country dance team in high school. The rest identified as Democrats. (He said he was one of the two outliers, and invited a guess as to which.)Having veterans in the classroom is also important because of the gravity of America’s current wars, said Dixon, who echoed comments from other Harvard veterans. After all, “Many students are the future leaders of the country,” he said, “and I think it is paramount that they personally know who is fighting for their freedoms.”Harvard’s veterans also include women, who attest to gender diversity in the armed forces. (About a fifth of those in the U.S. armed services are women.) Tammy Brignoli, M.P.A. ’10, a major whose next post will be at the Pentagon, is only 38, but already has 21 years in the Army, counting time in the Reserves. She joined at 17, in the summer before her senior year in high school in Texas.As an officer in airborne units, Brignoli served in Iraq and Afghanistan in capacities directly supporting combat units. “I’m really glad the military has changed the way it has,” said the mother of three, whose youngest son’s name is Valor. “It allows women to make a name for themselves.” At Harvard, she said, “I’m building bridges.”Several veterans said one insight they brought with them to campus was that high test scores and book learning do not necessarily equate to everyday competence. They have seen that intelligence takes many forms.“I appreciate other people’s beliefs and norms and values,” Jose Rios, Ed.M. ’10, said of the military’s democratizing effect. When he arrived at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, he brought along a respect for other cultures, opinions, and backgrounds that he gained in the Marine Corps, including on two tours in Iraq with an aviation unit.The University’s veterans say combat also instills a perspective beyond academics or social settings. It sharpens the sense of what matters, and in what order.Aaron Scheinberg, M.P.A./ID ’11, who is working on a joint degree, including business at Columbia University, spent a year as an Army officer patrolling Iraq’s Sunni Triangle. He finds that he doesn’t get annoyed anymore when standing in line for, say, coffee. That likely has something to do with the dozen times his combat vehicles were hit by IEDs (improvised explosive devices). To this day he remembers the bright flash, the choking dust, and the chemical taste.“You catch yourself,” said Scheinberg, an Arabic-speaking graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who appreciates where he is now. “Look, this is not a bad deal. You can step back and say: We’re at Harvard, the best school in the world.”Yes, it can be a struggle to pull an all-nighter to get ready for a final exam, said Thomas Rubel ’13, a 23-year-old freshman who served two combat tours in Iraq with the Marines. But then along comes perspective. “I’m warm,” he said. “No one is shooting at me.”Erik Malmstrom, M.P.P./M.B.A. ’12, who blogs about his wartime experiences for the New York Times, embraces the same kind of perspective. He was an Army platoon leader in northeast Afghanistan’s remote and rugged Waigul Valley, where in a year he lost six comrades. The pain still glitters in his eyes.“The main thing, and the most important thing: We bring a dose of reality,” said Malmstrom. “We’re educating people in many ways.”Jake Cusack, M.P.P./M.B.A. ’12, who was a Marine sniper platoon commander in Iraq, said that veterans educate those around them, in part by demonstrating the power of context. To get results, he said, theory often must be strained through reality.“When you talk in a classroom about executing ‘comprehensive counterinsurgency policies’ in Afghanistan or Iraq, it’s one thing to use those words and to imagine what they might be in an academic setting,” Cusack said. “But it’s another to be able to execute those policies when you’re tired, it’s 110 degrees, and you’re angry because one of your friends was wounded or killed the day before.”It’s important to bring context to the classroom, agreed Malmstrom, but it’s also important to bring a sense of humility. Seeing, up close, the complexities of executing policy, he said, “makes me much more thoughtful and mature about how I view military power.”Cusack added a caveat, mentioning another form of humility. Veterans are not the only ones at Harvard with the real-world perspective gained from living in austere conditions and dangerous places. Students who have had field experience with nongovernmental organizations or the Peace Corps, for instance, often have gotten the same jolt from reality, he said.Melissa Hammerle, M.B.A. ’10, was an Army officer in Baghdad’s Green Zone, where periodic mortar rounds would loop in and explode. She remembers the New Year’s Eve leading into 2006, when she was on a night convoy in the Sunni Triangle. “The fireworks,” she said, “were real.”Hammerle said that many classmates have had little involvement with the military, and that some have never met anyone in the service — a disconnect that concerns many veterans. In a military system without a draft, said Malmstrom, many Americans have been generally unaffected by the wars that have torn through nearly a decade.At Harvard, which has deep historical connections to the military, that disconnect is fairly recent.During the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington garrisoned troops in Harvard Yard, and Holden Chapel became a storehouse for arms. During the Civil War, more than 1,500 Harvard students left to serve — 257 of them for the Confederacy. During World War I, students drilled with rifles on campus. Decades later, the University contributed to atomic bomb research.The Vietnam War strained the College’s centuries-long military affiliations, and the current military policy toward gay members of the armed forces has been criticized as being at odds with the University’s antidiscrimination policies.Still, there are signs that Harvard and the military are renewing some old ties.Last year at Commencement, President Drew Faust presided over the Reserve Officers Training Corps’ commissioning ceremony. Gen. David Petraeus, former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and architect of the troop surge there, was the guest of honor.During the ceremony, Faust announced that Harvard College, all of Harvard’s graduate and professional schools, and the Harvard Extension School will help to pay tuition costs for veterans by participating in the new federal Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program. She called the program, which is aiding about 120 students this year, “an opportunity for us to show our gratitude to the citizen-soldiers who have given so much for our nation.”And on Veterans Day last fall, Faust spoke during a ceremony at the Memorial Church honoring Harvard’s 16 Medal of Honor recipients. She cited the military’s “courage, character, and … profound sense of obligation to service and citizenship.” Delivering the keynote address was Gen. George W. Casey Jr., chief of staff of the U.S. Army, whose father, Gen. George William Casey ’45, died in Vietnam.The pews were crowded with uniformed veterans, including Seth Moulton ’01, M.P.A./M.B.A. ’11, who completed four tours in Iraq. “There’s a war still going on in America, yet people … are disconnected from it,” he said later. “We offer a connection.”The military “is a proud community, and one that would like to retain its place at Harvard,” said Barney, the Marine wounded in Fallujah, who sees hope in the recent interactions. Something important is developing, he said — the concept of “renewing the idea of military service as public service.”last_img read more

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Alleged Colombian Drug Trafficker Extradited to U.S.

By on December 20, 2020

first_img According to U.S. authorities, Linares Castillo’s network has produced and trafficked thousands of kilos of cocaine by air, mainly from the Venezuelan state of Apure, arriving in Central America and México, where the recipients are criminal organizations involved with the Mexican drug cartels of Sinaloa and Los Zetas, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Linares Castillo, age 47, is considered by the U.S. Department of Justice as one of the major drug traffickers in the world, wanted by the United States. Last February, the United States announced sanctions against Linares Castillo, seizing his assets in the U.S. and prohibiting him from conducting any financial activity. Alleged Colombian drug trafficker José Linares Castillo was extradited to the United States, where he was accused of shipping tons of cocaine into that country, as well as of supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Federal Prosecutor’s Office stated on April 26. By Dialogo April 30, 2013center_img “Linares Castillo, arrested in May 2012, arrived at the Southern District of New York on April 25. He was brought before Judge Richard Sullivan on April 26,” the prosecutor of that jurisdiction, Preet Bharara, said in a statement. He faces three charges of conspiracy for “importing cocaine into the United States,” “narco-terrorism” and “providing material support.” Two of the charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. In addition to being involved with the FARC guerrillas, his criminal organization has also been linked in the past to Colombian drug leaders such as Daniel “El Loco” Barrera and Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero Castillo.last_img read more

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New York comedian brings light to Governor Cuomo’s daily briefings

By on December 8, 2020

first_imgThe first briefing she saw, Governor Cuomo began talking about his daughter’s boyfriend. “As a comedian I was feeling, and as a person, how am I useful right now? What can I do?” said DeCotis. “Just for people to have a small sense of relief that’s not at the expense of anyone is a small part of something I could do to help people right now.” Maria DeCotis started watching the governor’s news conferences when she picked up on something. One New York comedian is taking advantage of that. “Maybe I can just use the words he already has then just match it with something visually that’s telling a different story,” she said. “I just thought it was hilarious and I knew I wanted to do something with it but I was like, I shouldn’t write a script, what he said was already so perfect, I don’t really know how to heighten this any further. What he said as is was perfect so I didn’t want to touch it,” she said. Her videos have even given her a new purpose. Since she posted her first video in early May, DeCotis has grabbed the attention of thousands, even the governors. Being a comedian, DeCotis knew she had to act on the opportunity. All to help lighten up a dark situation.center_img That’s how DeCotis came up with the idea to create lip syncing videos. “The response was positive from the governor, that he liked my videos, so that was pretty exciting,” said DeCotis. It led to creating more videos over the weeks, to provide New Yorkers with laughs in a time they’re needed most. (WBNG) — Governor Andrew Cuomo enters the living rooms of thousands of New Yorkers daily with his televised briefings. “I just noticed here and there he would say silly things and he has a really funny dynamic with his brother,” said DeCotis. While he mostly talks about the pandemic, he’s known to occasionally go off on some tangents. “I think the main reaction was people being like, ‘Oh my goodness I really needed to laugh. I really needed this today, I’ve been feeling so heavy, this was such a light part of my day,'” said DeCotis. To see all of DeCotis’ videos, you can check out her Twitter or Instagram.last_img read more

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Kyrie Irving free agency news: Guard will join Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan on Nets

By on August 16, 2020

first_imgThe Nets moved quickly to secure some big names in free agency.Shortly after Kevin Durant’s move to Brooklyn was reported, an ESPN report stated that Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan will join the two-time Finals MVP, as well. Kevin Durant free agency: Star signing with Nets weeks after potential career-changing injury Officially official 📝 pic.twitter.com/RwSmIFOJ1k— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 7, 2019Irving is coming off a season where he averaged 23.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Celtics. Brooklyn is making a clean sweep tonight: Brooklyn will sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019The Nets have been eyeing Irving and had a four-year, $141 million deal ready for the six-time NBA All-Star.Free agent Kyrie Irving is meeting with the Brooklyn Nets in New York on Sunday and both sides are motivated to move quickly toward reaching a 4-year, $141M deal, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2019Brooklyn made the move official Sunday. Related News The Celtics went 49-33 in the regular season and were eliminated by the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, 4-1.Irving opted out of his deal with the team after a number of reports surfaced about turmoil that Boston faced last year and how Irving was unhappy living in the city.last_img read more

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Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin star as Pistons outlast Magic in OT

By on January 18, 2020

first_imgPhilippine Army to acquire MANPADS, self-propelled howitzers Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) passes the ball around Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) to center Andre Drummond (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)DETROIT — Andre Drummond’s bad habits bother Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey.Luckily for Casey and the Pistons, Drummond’s good moments can win basketball games.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Pistons: Host the Miami Heat on Friday.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LATEST STORIES Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross each scored 24 points for Orlando, which had won two in a row after a four-game losing streak.“We had to find a way to win that game,” Ross said. “We didn’t play a consistent defensive game. We weren’t physical enough in the third quarter.”Detroit led by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter, but Vucevic helped pull the Magic within 105-104 with 3:23 to play and tied it at 107 with 2:14 to go. D.J. Augustin followed with a layup to put Orlando ahead, and the teams went scoreless on their next possessions.Drummond’s tip-in tied the game at 109-all, and Vucevic missed a jumper with 20.4 seconds left.“It was a good play, but no one makes every shot,” Clifford said. “We scored 109 points in regulation, and if we defend the way we are capable, we win the game. This wasn’t about making shots.”Griffin ran down the clock, but missed a jumper at the end of regulation.Detroit scored the first four points of overtime, but Ross answered with a pair of 3-pointers.“I raised T from a pup, and I’m thrilled that he’s become one of the best shooters in the game,” said Casey, who coached Ross in Toronto during his first five seasons. “I just wish he wouldn’t do it against us.”Both teams struggled to score after that, and the Magic called a timeout with 42.5 seconds left, trailing 117-115.Vucevic missed a hook, and Griffin hit a layup in traffic to give Detroit a four-point lead. Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Tom Brady most dominant player in AFC championship history Drummond put up his version of a triple-double on Wednesday and the Pistons notched a crucial 120-115 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic.Drummond had 14 points, 11 offensive rebounds and 11 defensive rebounds to record his 11th career “Moses Malone triple-double.” Only Malone (24) and Dennis Rodman (17) have recorded more since the ABA-NBA merger.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back Chriss“Andre’s the best rebounder in the league — it isn’t even close — and that’s a huge asset,” Casey said.Drummond, though, doesn’t impress his coach as a point guard, especially when he tries to go coast-to-coast after a rebound. Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Japeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for Ginebra Australian men’s tennis hit by infighting, Twitter rants MOST READ “Andre and I are going to have a heart-to-heart talk about his sashays down the court,” he said. “Those aren’t winning plays, because teams aren’t going to let a center dribble down the floor and score. It might happen once a month.”Drummond finished with 11 of the game’s 22 rebounds. Detroit ended up with a 14-8 edge on the boards.“That was the game,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “In the last 42 seconds, we were up two and got two stops, but they got three offensive rebounds and tie the game.”Blake Griffin scored 30 points for the Pistons, who won for the third time in 11 games and moved a half-game ahead of Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings. Detroit had six players with at least 13 points.“I thought we were sluggish, which is understandable coming off a West Coast trip, but we dug down defensively,” Griffin said. “In overtime, we were getting stops and forcing them into shots that we wanted. That was great.”ADVERTISEMENT The Magic shot 67.5 percent from the floor in the first half, but the Pistons were able to hold the margin to 63-58 with a 6-1 rebounding advantage on the offensive glass and nine free throws to Orlando’s three. Vucevic and Ross had 15 each for the Magic, while Griffin led Detroit with 12.Ish Smith’s 3-pointer gave the Pistons a 75-74 lead late in the third quarter, and Griffin’s nine points in the period helped Detroit take a 90-84 lead into the fourth.The Pistons reserves, supplemented by Drummond, started the final period with a 7-2 run to expand the margin to 11 with 9:45 to play.TIP INSMagic: Orlando has lost 20 of its last 26 games in Detroit. They trail this season’s series 2-1, with the final game on March 28 at Little Caesars Arena.Pistons: Detroit, which leads the league in offensive-rebound margin, had 10 or more for the 30th time this season. . Griffin came into the game averaging 20.2 points in 13 career games against Orlando, his lowest average against any team other than 18.7 against the Memphis Grizzlies.DRUMMOND’S PERSONAL STATDrummond’s 11 triple-doubles of points, offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds is four more than any active player (Tyson Chandler 7) and more than twice than the players in third (Hassan Whiteside, Dwight Howard 4). This season, he has three of the league’s five with Whiteside and Clint Capela each having one.UP NEXTMagic: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.last_img read more

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