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S01.E21: Military Translators

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Translators who have aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq are in great danger in their home countries, but red tape is making it impossible for many of them to leave. John Oliver interviews Mohammad, one translator who made it out. 

 

Cameras aren’t allowed in the Supreme Court, so most coverage of our most important cases looks like garbage. We fixed that problem with real animals and fake paws.

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I really hope that HBO releases a DVD of this show. It sucks not having an HBO subscription and getting only partial episodes on YouTube.

EDIT: Stumbled across this, from Tumblr:

Tune in to John Oliver this Sunday, 10/19, to see a guy that the Berekely Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project got to the U.S.
He might be accompanied by another dude who is one of my friends, too.
It’d be really nice if all of you could tune in and listen. His family has still not been allowed to reunite with him here in America and we’re hoping that appearing on John Oliver might be the push that is needed to get these bureaucrats to get their shit together.

Edited by Fremde Frau

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I'm not mad at Smoke the donkey. I'm mad at the ineptitude of a bureaucracy that fails to save lives. In other news: Doggie Supreme Court for the win.

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Yeah, I'm not mad at the donkey. The translator story was enraging. There's no justification for how they're treated.

 

The doggie Supreme Court was fantastic. I need to check out the videos some more. 

 

Oh, and I loved John saying, "Did anyone order a White Russian?" because you know that's what Putin is thinking.

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What was the second part of the episode, as it aired? All I saw online was the segment on translators and the 10 min Supreme Court video for fans to play with.

 

That Afghanistan translator segment was probably their most serious one yet. The only jokes, such as they were, seemed to be when he broke away to curse for a few seconds at whomever (or whatever) was on the screen.

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I was half wondering if there weren't a better route to the same end, but there doesn't seem to be a good choice at all, outside of being someone's new pet donkey, dog, or cat. The process for political asylum is possibly even worse--with precious little transparency, no cultural expertise or education required for individuals who make these life-or-death decisions, and seemingly undefined, arbitrary standards for determining the validity of claims. (That's what I've learned about it, anyway. I hope I'm wrong, or that there has been major reform.)

 

Forgot to mention it before, but it was surprising that John used Vietnam as a success story for safely and quickly extracting refugees, with no mention of how many people who fought alongside the US forces and otherwise helped us or were sympathetic to us were placed in "re-education camps." That seemed like a more relevant comparison to the Afghan translators in this segment. It didn't detract from his overall point, but it seemed rather like comparing tangerines to navel oranges, and not the whole tangerine, at that. Anyway. Our record for helping individuals who've helped us is truly a clusterfuck. That's the headline, and rightly so.

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I really hope that HBO releases a DVD of this show. It sucks not having an HBO subscription and getting only partial episodes on YouTube.

EDIT: Stumbled across this, from Tumblr:

Tune in to John Oliver this Sunday, 10/19, to see a guy that the Berekely Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project got to the U.S.

He might be accompanied by another dude who is one of my friends, too.

It’d be really nice if all of you could tune in and listen. His family has still not been allowed to reunite with him here in America and we’re hoping that appearing on John Oliver might be the push that is needed to get these bureaucrats to get their shit together.

As long as you saw the Translator and the interview with FNU, that was the substance of the show. The rest was just fluff, funny but still just filler. The SC skit was cute thougj.

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I have a Boston terrier so I just FLIPPED when I saw the Supreme Court bit, which featured a Boston in the role of Sonia Sotomayor. I have to hand it to the LWT "casting director" for not making the chihuahua play Justice Sotomayor (I believe the chihuahua was Ruth Bader Ginsburg).
Ooh, somebody's already made a video (I'm guessing this particular case was picked because it contains a dog reference!).

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My mom has an English Bulldog, so I just loved that Alito was played by one! Considering those dogs are as stubborn as their rep says they are, it's not a bad match, although bullies are much more lovable than Alito is.

ETA: Oops--it was Scalia, not Alito--sorry!

Edited by Sharpie66
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That whole story about the translators in Afghanistan was equal parts depressing and infuriating. I hope someone high up watched that show and decided to take a chainsaw to all that red tape, because those guys deserve to become American citizens after all they did for the troops over there.

 

And I would say they could replace the bulldog representing Scalia with a fat, ugly pig. That would be a better representation of him.

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And I would say they could replace the bulldog representing Scalia with a fat, ugly pig. That would be a better representation of him.

 

Hey!  What have you got against pigs?!

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I'm so glad he did the story on the translators.  I spent four years reporting on Iraq and my Iraqi writing partner had previously abandoned (escaped) Saddam's army to work with the Americans, as so many others did at the time.  Many of our articles were critical of Maliki, so he had a double target on him, and near the end al-Qaeda were constantly at his door threatening him and his family.  We finally got him and his brother out of Iraq on an SIV, but it took forever, and he was worried about everything he said in every interview, scared he was saying the wrong thing, and that he would be denied because of it.  

 

In Iraq now, even if you're not under physical threat, getting work has become very difficult if you ever worked with the Americans.  Companies don't want to hire you, because they don't want to be threatened by militants/the government, so some people leave it off their resumes, but if they got their experience from working with the US, then leaving it off their resume makes it look as though they have no qualifications.  And that's not only for translators and fixers, but engineers and a number of other professions too.  The whole thing is just awful.

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Rachel Maddow showed a big chunk of the Supreme Court bit on tonight's show. She was giggling throughout the clip and said that if it were up to her, her network would use this footage exclusively for court coverage.

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Quote

The US Army offers its Afghan translators the right to request the Special Immigration Visa (SIV). It’s a program initiated by the US to help certain foreign employees leave their home countries and get on a path to permanent residency in the states—usually for protection from groups like the Taliban. For the last four years, the program has been renewed in the National Defense Authorization Act. This year, however, both the House of Representatives and the Senate failed to vote for the allocation of more visas, which could imperil remaining applicants.

The translators promised visas but made into refugees by the US Army

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