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Decoding Daesh: Why is the new name for ISIS so hard to understand?

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Duly noted. Though using the phrase ISIS and sometimes ISIL has been going on long enough that most people will continue to use it for while, and will be confused to hear the phrase Daesh…

Over the last few months, there has been a concerted effort by several senior global politicians to give a new name to the group known as ISIS, or Islamic State, IS or ISIL. That new name is ‘Daesh’. If you’ve followed coverage of this attempted official linguistic sea change, you’ll have gathered that the new name, although it’s just an Arabic acronym equivalent to the English ‘ISIS’, apparently delegitimises the organisation, mocks them, and thus drives them to threaten taking violent retribution on anyone who uses it.

But why does this acronym have this power, and what’s so offensive about it? If your access to news media is only in English, you might still be none the wiser. You may have got the impression from this coverage that the exact meaning and connotations of the word cannot quite be fathomed by anyone – that this word is a nebulous drifter, never to be pinned down. Basically, the coverage seems to imply, it’s obscured by a veil, like so much else in the Arabo-Islamic world, and we can’t hope to get it spelled out for us. It’s far too Eastern and weird for that.

Well, I’m an Arabic translator, so my work revolves around pinning down and spelling out Arabic words and explaining them in English, and I’m here to let you know that there’s nothing mysterious about this new acronym: it may be from a language quite different to English, and an Eastern one at that, but trust me: it can be explained.

And so if the word is basically ‘ISIS’, but in Arabic, why are the people it describes in such a fury about it? Because they hear it, quite rightly, as a challenge to their legitimacy: a dismissal of their aspirations to define Islamic practice, to be ‘a state for all Muslims’ and – crucially – as a refusal to acknowledge and address them as such. They want to be addressed as exactly what they claim to be, by people so in awe of them that they use the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group, not some funny-sounding made-up word. And here is the very simple key point that has been overlooked in all the anglophone press coverage I’ve seen: in Arabic, acronyms are not anything like as widely used as they are in English, and so arabophones are not as used to hearing them as anglophones are. Thus, the creation and use of a title that stands out as a nonsense neologism for an organisation like this one is inherently funny, disrespectful, and ultimately threatening of the organisation’s status. Khaled al-Haj Salih, the Syrian activist who coined the term back in 2013, says that initially even many of his fellow activists, resisting Daesh alongside him, were shocked by the idea of an Arabic acronym, and he had to justify it to them by referencing the tradition of acronyms being used as names by Palestinian organisations (such as Fatah). So saturated in acronyms are we in English that we struggle to imagine this, but it’s true.

All of this means that the name lends itself well to satire, and for the arabophones trying to resist Daesh, humour and satire are essential weapons in their nightmarish struggle. But the satirical weight of the word as a weapon, in the hands of the Syrian activists who have hewn it from the rock of their nightmare reality, does not just consist of the weirdness of acronyms. As well as being an acronym, it is also only one letter different from the word ‘daes داعس’ , meaning someone or something that crushes or tramples. Of course that doesn’t mean, as many articles have claimed, that ‘daesh’ is ‘another conjugation’ of the verb ‘to crush or trample’, nor that that is ‘a rough translation of one of the words in the acronym’ – it’s simply one letter different from this other word. Imagine if the acronym of ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’ spelt out ‘S.H.I.D’ in English: activists and critics would certainly seize the opportunity to refer to the organisation as ‘shit’ – but I think it’s safe to say that no serious foreign media outlet would claim that ‘shit’ was another conjugation of the verb ‘shid’, nor a rough translation of it. Of course, that analogy is an unfair one, given the hegemonic global linguistic position of English, not to mention the heightened currency of scatological words; but there is a serious point to be made here about the anglophone media’s tendency to give up before it’s begun understanding non-European language

(click here to continue reading Decoding Daesh: Why is the new name for ISIS so hard to understand? | Free Word Centre.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 20th, 2015 at 10:18 am

Posted in News-esque

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Shorties – 11-19-15

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This Man Was Talked To Death
This Man Was Talked To Death

Some extra reading for extra credit…

More than a few times I’ve wondered if I’m absolutely loco, or if I really have something of value to give.” At the other end of the line, Scott Fagan’s voice falls quiet. “At my lowest place, I would go into the library at UCLA and look up ‘Jasper Johns’ and ‘Scott Fagan Record’. It meant a lot to me.”

Fagan’s story is one of extraordinary fortune and disappointment, a tale that takes in abject poverty in the US Virgin Islands, the height of the Greenwich Village folk scene, love, alcoholism, Jasper Johns, the Magnetic Fields and some of the biggest names in music. It is a story that encapsulates the great near-miss of a musical career, and now, somewhat late in the day, the possible glimmer of success. “Forget Rodriguez, forget Searching for Sugar Man,” says Sharyn Felder, daughter of the late Doc Pomus, the legendary songwriter who signed Fagan in 1964. “Scott was so much more. He was cut from a different cloth.”

(click here to continue reading Scott Fagan: the psych-folk singer once tipped to be bigger than Elvis | Music | The Guardian.)

FWIW, i.e., not much, but…

The results of WIU’s 2015 mock election are in, and if you tend to take the mainstream media seriously, the results of that election will more than likely surprise you: Bernie Sanders won the presidency, then the general election… and he did both in a massive landslide.

The WIU mock election, in which thousands of students from multiple schools form parties and caucuses and play out a small-scale election over the course of several days, has Bernie Sanders beating Hillary Clinton in 22 out of 26 primary states; Hillary Clinton survives past Super Tuesday, but loses out before the month of March is concluded.

(click here to continue reading University With 100% Accuracy Record Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Be America’s Next President – Firebrand Left.)

Vive La France

Never even heard of Captagon…

As Syria sinks ever deeper into civil war, evidence is starting to emerge that a brutal and bloody conflict that has left more than 100,000 people dead and displaced as many as two million is now also being fuelled (sic) by both the export and consumption of rapidly increasing quantities of illegal drugs.

Separate investigations by the news agency Reuters and Time magazine have found that the growing trade in Syrian-made Captagon – an amphetamine widely consumed in the Middle East but almost unknown elsewhere – generated revenues of millions of dollars inside the country last year, some of which was almost certainly used to fund weapons, while combatants on both sides are reportedly turning to the stimulant to help them keep fighting.

(click here to continue reading Captagon: the amphetamine fuelling Syria’s civil war | World news | The Guardian.)

Google Wave, remember that? Didn’t last, did it…

What does it say about the technological world in which we live that 92 percent of the people asked could not identify the name of the program they use to access the Web? If other statistics are to be believed, browsing the Web is the primary use of computers today, so that’s saying these people couldn’t name the program they use more than any other.

Worse, some of the answers on the video reveal that they don’t even know what a program is. A number of them identified their browser as “a search engine” and “Google.” When asked which browser he used, one guy said “the big E,” undoubtedly meaning Microsoft Internet Explorer, which has a stylized lowercase letter E as its icon.

When the best someone can come up with is a vague recollection of a program’s icon, it says to me that we’ve entered a “post-literate” technological society, one in which people have lost not just the ability to read and write about a topic, but also the ability to speak about it, all while retaining the ability to use it.

(click here to continue reading Have We Entered a Post-Literate Technological Age?.)

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Prosecutors in the Los Angeles suburb responsible for a huge share of the nation’s wiretaps almost certainly violated federal law when they authorized widespread eavesdropping that police used to make more than 300 arrests and seize millions of dollars in cash and drugs throughout the USA.

The violations could undermine the legality of as many as 738 wiretaps approved in Riverside County, Calif., since the middle of 2013, an investigation by USA TODAY and The Desert Sun, based on interviews and court records, has found. Prosecutors reported that those taps, often conducted by federal drug investigators, intercepted phone calls and text messages by more than 52,000 people.

Federal law bars the government from seeking court approval for a wiretap unless a top prosecutor has personally authorized the request. Congress added that restriction in the 1960s, when the FBI had secretly monitored civil rights leaders, to ensure that such intrusive surveillance would not be conducted lightly.

In Riverside County — a Los Angeles suburb whose  court and prosecutors approved almost one of every five U.S. wiretaps last year — the district attorney  turned the job of reviewing the applications over to lower-level lawyers, interviews and court records show. That practice almost certainly violated the federal wiretapping law and could jeopardize prosecutors’ ability to use the surveillance in court.

(click here to continue reading Police used apparently illegal wiretaps to make hundreds of arrests.)

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Scary, I’m still waiting for the liberal-leaning, or even socialist-leaning billionaire to emulate the Koch Brothers and their ilk…

The Koch brothers are really going to have to kick their public relations efforts into high gear now to make the latest revelation about their nefarious efforts to acquire the  U.S. system of governance in a hostile takeover look like politics as usual. They have a “secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence-gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.” No, it’s not April Fool’s Day. They’re really doing this.

The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as “competitive intelligence” that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network. The competitive intelligence team has a staff of 25, including one former CIA analyst, and operates from one of the non-descript Koch network offices clustered near the Courthouse metro stop in suburban Arlington, Va. It has provided network officials with documents detailing confidential voter-mobilization plans by major Democrat-aligned groups. It also sends regular “intelligence briefing” emails tracking the canvassing, phone-banking and voter-registration efforts of labor unions, environmental groups and their allies, according to documents reviewed by POLITICO and interviews with a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the group.

The competitive intelligence team has gathered on-the-ground intelligence from liberal groups’ canvassing events in an effort to assess the technology and techniques of field efforts to boost Democrats, according to the sources. And they say the team utilizes high-tech tactics to track the movements of liberal organizers, including culling geo-data embedded in their social media posts.

(click here to continue reading The Koch brothers have a surveillance program and staff—to spy on liberals.)

 Droppin a G

In a perfect world, all former members of the Bush administration, specifically former President Bush, along with Dick Cheney and the administration’s national security czars, should’ve spent the last several nights sleepless and emotionally crushed with brutal regret and unbelievable remorse by the horrifying events that transpired in Paris. It’s been a rough several days for the so-called Bush Doctrine and the fallacy that the previous White House occupants somehow “kept us safe,” given the pair of news stories that ought to further condemn the Bushes in the eyes of history.

The first story, though not the most heart-wrenching of the weekend, was a report from Politico’s Chris Whipple who, once and for all, confirmed that the Bush team entirely failed to prevent 9/11 in the face of multiple warnings that a “spectacular” attack was being planned for inside the United States. According to Whipple, the CIA and Director George Tenet were aware that an attack was imminent and reported this information to Condoleezza Rice and others inside the White House, where the intelligence was mostly brushed off. This in addition to the dozen or so counter-terrorism warnings originally revealed by author Kurt Eichenwald that came from other al-Qaeda experts in- and outside the White House. Given the sheer volume of actionable intelligence relating to Bin Laden at the time, there’s no excuse whatsoever for failing to prevent the attack, or, at the very least, doing anything about the warnings, even if those actions ultimately failed.

(click here to continue reading The GOP’s deadly, broken history: Why last week’s Paris attacks prove yet again that George W. Bush didn’t “keep us safe” – Salon.com.)

Enough of this nonsense!

Quite interesting analysis

Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da’esh (the organization formerly known as ISIS [1]) on Paris left 129 dead and 352 wounded, the Internet and the airwaves alike have been filled with profound waves of self-serving nonsense and stupidity from left and right alike. Everyone seems to have found a way in which this situation justifies their position – protect the refugees! Exile the refugees! Bomb someone! Stop all bombing of anyone! – and magically, it seems that one of the most complex political situations of our time can be reduced to simple slogans.

Well, I’ve run out of patience with this, so let me seriously discuss what just happened here, and what it tells us. I’m going to talk about three things which have combined to lead to yesterday’s massacre: the refugee crisis, Europe’s Muslim population, and Da’esh. I’ll then talk about a few things which I think have little or nothing to do with what we’re seeing – most importantly, religion and oil – and a few things which do – such as food and water. And finally, we’ll talk about what it’s going to take to fix this, both in the short term and the long term.

Being entirely out of patience right now, forgive me for being particularly blunt. I suspect that, by the end of this, you will be thoroughly offended by my opinions, whether you are American, European, or Middle Eastern, left or right: nobody has behaved well in the lead-up to this.

(click here to continue reading Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da’esh (the organization formerly known as….)

We’ve grown accustomed to Carly Fiorina’s brand of truth-telling. She seems to lie so easily, I don’t even think she knows the difference between fact and fiction at this point. The overarching theme of her Fox and Friends interview today is fearmongering. Rather than rehashing what she said verbatim, I feel it’s important to discuss reality. I’m certain that you’ve heard her put down President Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry plenty of times. She’s so much more capable because she’d be a real Commander in Chief, not a ‘politician.’ You get the gist of her right wing talking points; the ones that are so easily discredited.

(click here to continue reading Carly Fiorina Can’t Stop Lying About The Syrian Refugee Crisis | Crooks and Liars.)

the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is already saying it’s interested in buying it.

The union is considering leaving its home at 600 W. Washington Blvd. and is considering several locations, including the former Drake building at 2722 S. Martin Luther King Blvd.

“We’re looking to move for a lot of reasons, but we’re getting squeezed out,” said Donald Finn, business manager for the union.

(click here to continue reading Electricians’ Union Wants To Buy Shuttered Drake School for Union Hall – Oakland – DNAinfo.com Chicago.)

Non Moving Target
Non Moving Target

The iconic railroad bridge just south of the Kinzie Street Bridge on the North Branch of the Chicago River that almost always is raised was lowered for several minutes this morning for its one truck crossing per year.

The bridge is lowered once a year so that a Hy-Rail truck (a type of pickup truck that can drive on tracks or roads) can go onto the tracks, which officially places the rail line in “active status,” according to Union Pacific spokeswoman Calli Hite.

(click here to continue reading Chicago River Bridge That Allows One Truck Per Year Lowered Thursday – Downtown – DNAinfo.com Chicago.)

Wolf Point
Wolf Point

There Oughta Be A Law
There Oughta Be A Law

and finally, Texas

According to a finalized list of BCCS clinics for the 2016-17 fiscal year, obtained Wednesday by the Observer, at least one area of the state where Planned Parenthood was previously the only BCCS provider still remains without one: McLennan County.

Tonya Capson, health center manager at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Waco, said that in the two months since the fiscal year began September 1, she has received phone calls from at least seven patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and need help enrolling in Medicaid for breast and cervical cancer treatment. Assistance with quick Medicaid coverage is unique to the BCCS program; only a state contracted provider can directly enroll a patient.

“I have to call them back and explain that we are no longer contracted with BCCS and we are no longer able to help with those applications,” Capson told the Observer, adding that Planned Parenthood has directed patients to the state Health and Human Services Commission’s online clinic locator, but has not directly heard from the agency concerning where to send BCCS patients.

(click here to continue reading Planned Parenthood Ouster Leaves Cancer Patients Stranded.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 20th, 2015 at 10:07 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , ,

Syrian Intervention Is A Bad Idea, Mr. President

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California Army National Guard FMS # 5
California Army National Guard FMS # 5

Speaking of the foolish idea of the US sending our military to Syria, Ramzy Mardini makes some good points:

AMMAN, Jordan — ACCORDING to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama risks looking like a “fool” if he decides not to intervene militarily in Syria’s continuing civil war. Likening the situation to his decision to intervene in Kosovo in 1999, Mr. Clinton said Tuesday that if he hadn’t used force to stop Serbia’s campaign of ethnic cleansing, critics might have said: “You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?” Mr. Clinton believes that Mr. Obama could end up looking like a “total wuss” if he doesn’t intervene. And it seems he’s going to act.

(click here to continue reading Bad Idea, Mr. President – NYTimes.com.)

Guns Or Butter

Guns Or Butter 

Why is America so hell-bent upon getting involved in another nation’s civil war? What interest does it serve? I have yet to hear a compelling reason the US should be involved.

For nearly two years, the Obama administration has described the Syrian regime as having “lost all legitimacy” and “clinging to power.” And yet, it has surprisingly endured. That’s because neither assertion is really accurate. Mr. Assad still has strong support from many Syrians, including members of the Sunni urban class. While the assistance Syria receives from its external allies, like Iran and Russia, is important, it would be inconsequential if the Assad regime were not backed by a significant portion of the population.

Interventionists tend to detach their actions from longer-term consequences. This myopia is often coupled with a prevalent misunderstanding of the political and cultural context of where they want to intervene. Both problems are present in the current American approach to Syria.

The Syrian revolution isn’t democratic or secular; the more than 90,000 fatalities are the result of a civil war, not a genocide — and human rights violations have been committed on both sides.

Moreover, the rebels don’t have the support or trust of a clear majority of the population, and the political opposition is neither credible nor representative. Ethnic cleansing against minorities is more likely to occur under a rebel-led government than under Mr. Assad; likewise, the possibility of chemical weapons’ falling into the hands of terrorist groups only grows as the regime weakens.

And finally, a rebel victory is more likely to destabilize Iraq and Lebanon, and the inevitable disorder of a post-Assad Syria constitutes a greater threat to Israel than the status quo.

Not since the 2003 invasion of Iraq has American foreign policy experienced a strategic void so pervasive.

The responsible role of a lone superpower is not to pick sides in a civil war; it’s to help enable conflict resolution while maintaining a policy of neutrality. Instead, the United States came down on one side of a regional sectarian conflict, inadvertently fomenting Sunni hubris and Shiite fear — the same effects (but in reverse) caused by America’s involvement in the Iraq war.

I sincerely hope President Obama comes to his senses, and ignores the warmongers.  

Written by Seth Anderson

June 16th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , , ,

American Intervention in Syria

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First:

WASHINGTON — For two years, President Obama has resisted being drawn deeper into the civil war in Syria. It was a miserable problem, he told aides, and not one he thought he could solve. At most, it could be managed. And besides, he wanted to be remembered for getting out of Middle East wars, not embarking on new ones.

(click here to continue reading Heavy Pressure Led to Decision by Obama on Syrian Arms – NYTimes.com.)

Sounds reasonable enough to me. But war is the answer for everything, lest we forget.

MoDo - Get a Clue
MoDo – Get a Clue

I ignore the mean girl burbling of Maureen Dowd as much as possible; the only topic she writes with any clarity is sexual abuse and the Catholic Church. Otherwise, she’s predictable, and not interesting. 

To whit:

The oddity of Obama’s being taken to the leadership woodshed by the Democrat who preceded him and the Republican who failed to pre-empt him was not lost on anyone. When Obama appointed Clinton “the Secretary of ’Splaining Stuff,” he didn’t think Bill would be ’splaining how lame Barry was.

 

(click here to continue reading Bill Schools Barry on Syria – NYTimes.com.)

Yes, apparently, we are all foolish in our opposition to military intervention in Syria. President Obama is lame because he hasn’t already dropped nuclear bombs on Damascus. Only John McCain and Bill Clinton, and their ilk have all the facts, according to Dowd. Ironically, when President Clinton was in office, MoDo penned OpEd after OpEd ridiculing him. But Obama is even less of MoDo’s favorite, so now we get:

The less Obama leads, the more likely it is that history will see him as a pallid interregnum between two chaotic Clinton eras.

Yes, Hillary is going to lead the charge into Syria, and hence right into the White House. Uh huh. 

Fading One By One
Fading One By One

If the reason the US is “forced” to invade Syria is because 90,000 Syrians have died, Syria will have to get in line. More automobile accidents take place in a weekend than the number of civilians allegedly killed by chemical weapons in Syria.

“Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. “

(click here to continue reading US says it will arm Syrian rebels following chemical weapons tests | World news | The Guardian.)

and

MOSCOW — The Russian government on Saturday stepped up its attack on the accusation by the United States that Syria had used chemical weapons against the rebels in its civil war, saying that evidence cited by the Americans was unreliable because the samples were not properly monitored until they reached a laboratory.

The angry criticism by Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov at a news conference in Moscow was a setback to the United States’ efforts to forge a common position with the Kremlin on how to end the conflict, which has killed more than 90,000 Syrians.

(click here to continue reading Russia Faults Proof of Use of Chemicals in Syrian War – NYTimes.com.)

Not to mention:

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has said that any attempt to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria using US fighter jets and Patriot missiles from Jordan would violate international law.

He said the evidence must meet the standards of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which specifies that samples taken from blood, urine and clothing can be considered reliable evidence only if supervised by organisation experts from the time they are gathered to when they are delivered to a laboratory.

Lavrov, after meeting with his Italian counterpart Emma Bonino, scoffed at suggestions that Assad’s regime would use chemical weapons now in light of its apparent growing advantage against the rebels.

“The regime doesn’t have its back to the wall. What would be the sense of the regime using chemical weapons, moreover at such a small quantity?” he said.

(click here to continue reading Syria no-fly zone would violate international law, says Russia | World news | guardian.co.uk.)

Hey, but to Maureen Dowd, and her boyfriend, John McCain, who cares! Invade away, and figure out why later, after the shooting has started…

Written by Seth Anderson

June 15th, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,