Turkey has just invaded Rojava – here’s why that matters

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Turkish tanks preparing to assault Suruc. Turkish Kurdistan, 2014

Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) emerged in the milieu resulting from the total breakdown of civil society in Syria following the emergence of the Islamic State and the division of the country by various Sunni extremist rebel groups led by boisterous warlords, with a good amount of ‘secular’ rebels (secular only in the sense of not being outright Islamic extremists).

The Syrian government’s response to the official declaration of Rojava in 2014, which now functions as an autonomous region within the country, was initially extremely hostile, and the government treated Rojava like any other area controlled by rebels; this has now changed. Assad has given Rojava a large degree of unofficial recognition, and the two governments are in full communication with each other. Rojava was also recognized by pro-Assad Russia, which opened up a Rojavan consulate in Moscow last year.

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Salih Muslim Muhammad, key figure in the PYD and ‘leader’ of Syrian Kurdistan (Al-Monitor)

Relations between the two improved after Salih Muslim Muhammad, the ‘president’ of Rojava, officially stated that he would not seek independence and that the country would remain an autonomous region within the Syrian Arab Republic. This was a great reassurance to Assad. In return for these overtures, the Syrian government began assisting Rojava on the world stage, such as by formally protesting at Turkey’s rampant, illegal, and genocidal bombing campaigns on Syrian Kurdistan – targets of which include schools, hospitals, and offices of the legitimate government there.

Recently, things have changed. Brief exchanges of fire between Syrian Army troops and Rojavan troops have led to increased tensions. Last week, the Syrian Airforce began air strikes in Hasakah (the second city of Rojava) without warning, killing 20 civilians (mostly farmers) hospitalizing dozens more, and causing serious damage to infrastructure. Hasakah is a city in which power is shared between the Syrian government and Rojava, and although tensions have occasionally flared up with small arms fire being exchanged between sides in recent months, for Assad to engage in airstrikes against the city is a first since the diplomatic reprieve between the two sides. Thankfully, the US scrambled jets over Hasakah to prevent further air action by the Syrian government, but the situation remains tense and it is impossible to say how things will develop from here.

This morning, Turkish tanks rolled into Syrian Kurdistan as the Turkish army commenced a full-scale invasion of the area around the border city of Jarablus. The incursion is completely illegal under international law. While Turkey has previously been engaged in a brutal and close to genocidal airstrike campaign against Rojava, a campaign noted for making no distinction between civilian and governmental targets, this may represent a change in the conflict. Turkey’s desire to annihilate any possibility of a resurgent Kurdish nationalism in the region could lead to an attempt to eradicate Rojava itself.

What happens next is crucial. The Kurds in northern Syria are an indigenous people to the region and they are there to stay. They have established a pluralistic, nonsectarian government along democratic and federal lines that allows no discrimination against the Arab population in the region. Rojava has done its best to reassure Assad that it will not seek independence, and is content with remaining within the Syrian Arab Republic as an autonomous region.

If Assad allows this incursion by Turkey to continue without further protest, it will signal that the Syrian government has changed its stance towards Rojava from toleration murderous hostility. It must be understood that from the Kurdish perspective, the only purpose of remaining within Syria as an autonomous region is peaceful relations with Assad. If this is not possible, Rojava will likely seek full independence as its sole recourse.

We are witnessing a key time in the history of the Syrian Civil War and the Kurdish people. If Assad will not allow Arabs and Kurds to coexist, then brutal, bloody war will be the only possible outcome.

Why Did Islamist Terrorists Target a Priest in France?

The sickly men’s fashion failure that just never seems to die

It happens every year around this time in London; if you’re in the city, you’ll be bound to see it. Walking around Green Park or Whitehall; a horde of ill-advised banking and finance kiddies with a uniform to match their lack of exposure to the real world; loose-fitting blue denim with formal shirts to match. Yikes.

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It’s all too real (Pinterest)

Many men working full-time in professional fields may not have enough time to engage in frequent shopping; they’re doing overtime on 9-6 jobs in the City and spend weekends kicking it with chums around their apartments, catching up on work and sleep, or doing egregious amounts of cocaine. Here is the reason behind the instant appeal of the jeans + shirt combination – you’re just wearing what you normally wear, only with the addition of some ill-fitting ‘casual’ pants and shoes that don’t match.

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If Legolas can’t pull it off I doubt anyone can (Daily Mail)

Even celebrities have shown themselves capable of falling victim to this tragic phenomenon. Orlando Bloom was snapped here in New York with a similarly drab getup. The man behind him is looking even more unfortunate.

There is certainly cause to sympathize with these people; they’re too busy with their careers and social lives to work out in order to fit into their clothes, or to buy ones that fit better. In fact, this problem seems ubiquitous throughout users of the business shirt & jeans combination. In the majority of cases the fits don’t work; we have classic fit men’s shirts with ballooning muffin top being carelessly stuffed into loose-fitting jeans barely held together with a belt, and poorly selected shoes and belt to match. Does this mean that all jeans & shirts will look bad together?

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This hunk confirms it – jeans and business shirts can look good (Lookastic)

Absolutely not, as the man above illustrates; his business shirt is only tucked in at the front, subtly exposing a rich dark brown belt, whereas at the back the shirt hangs out over his jeans. He sports a lighter, more season-appropriate shade of slim-fit denim, which he has cuffed at the bottom allowing his ankles to be the break between his jeans and his low-top purple sneakers – a distinctive and playful adaptation on an overdone and often ill-used style. Note also the accessories on his wrists, which are a good way to dress down any outfit.

In other words, just by buying a lighter shade of jeans rather than having one pair you use all year around, as well as ensuring that the fits on your shirt and jeans are correct, will often suffice. However, to stand out from the rest of the biz-caj crowd, you may want to try out a new outfit combination this summer. For working men, it’s always better to dress down your bottom half before you dress down your top half – so why not go for shorts to fight the summer heat?

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Note the extra open button on the formal shirt, elegantly dressing it down a notch (Lookastic)

If you, like me, live in a country where it isn’t always quite hot enough to justify showing so much skin, you can swap the shorts for some cuffed slim-fitting trousers. This slick ensemble is perfect for a bar or club night out with workmates, but it’s also formal enough to wear to meet clients on weekend calls. You can rely on this outfit to take you through your weekend smoothly.

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Egyptian cotton and jogging trousers both crease nicely and naturally, lending an air of authentic IDGAF to the ensemble

None of this should be costing you an arm and a leg; if you’re paying anywhere upwards of £300 for an outfit, you’re probably doing it wrong. You don’t need to go to Paul Smith or Ted Baker just for shirts and trousers. Here’s how I picked up the items above:

Topman Premium White Egyptian Cotton Shirt: £38 – $50
Zara Gray Slim-Fit Jogging Trousers: £19 – $25
Clarks Premium Black Business Shoes: £110 – $146
Total cost: £167 – $221

Make sure this summer that you avoid falling victim to the traditional bad fashion tropes that plague young professionals everywhere and equip your wardrobe with what you need to succeed in your professional and social life.

-Will TG

Is the media creating a false narrative on Leave voters?

The outcome of last week’s referendum on British membership in the European Union stunned the world; not only that, it has had immediate and dramatic consequences on Britain and the British economy. Despite this, the Twitter account Britain Elects, which records every electoral result in Britain (from council by-elections to generals) referenced a statistic from ComRes showing that of those who responded, only 43% said that they were unhappy with the outcome, while 48% were reportedly happy with it.

You would be forgiven for thinking otherwise, however. Because almost every media outlet on both sides of the Atlantic has been running stories of profound voter regret at the referendum outcome.

An astute Reddit user, /u/dingoperson2, found an incredibly large number of articles being run which interviewed Leave voters regretting their decision, despite the lack of articles published on Leave voters happy with the outcome. Notably missing, too, were articles with voters regretting their decision on the Remain side.

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“Some regret it, others feel lied to” – which leaves precisely zero satisfied or happy.

it is inevitable in any scenario of decision making that there will be some left behind who are unhappy with the decision they chose to take, the outcome, or both. It should be no surprise when this happens. But the narrative being run here by media outlets both major and minor is very different. It reflects a sort of sneering ridicule that the educated and upper classes have for the uneducated and working classes; it is the same sort of disgusting behavior we saw rife amongst the Remain campaigners, who consistently smeared the other side as being ignorant or unaware of the facts in the referendum.

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Liberal progressive Bob Geldof saying “fuck you” to a boat of British fisherman campaigning for Leave (The Sun).

Being a student at Cambridge, I personally have seen no end to the Leave-bashing going on on Facebook. There has been no end to the posts attacking and demonizing those who exercised their democratic right to vote Leave. Despite the fact that the young demographic had the lowest turnout rate – only 36% – the vast majority of the verbal aggression has been directed at the elderly, who voted mostly for Leave, and the ‘ignorant’ working classes. This seems strangely ironic – I thought that Leftism was about defending those groups in society who do less well, like the elderly or the working classes?

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88 likes for saying “fuk u” to the elderly.

What’s really worrying though, is that we’ve seen simple Leave-bashing descend into an concentrated attempt by almost every media outlet to portray Leave campaigners as regretful bamboozling ignoramuses. When we have narratives in society casting ‘us’ as the enlightened few and ‘them’ as the ignorant masses, discord and infighting can only follow. At this, a time when the country needs national unity more than ever, the media should act fairly to broadcast the voices of not only the Leave voters who regret their decision, but those that are content with it too.

Here is a list (nonexhaustive) of articles on Leave voters ‘regretting’ their decision:

http://www.vox.com/2016/6/24/12024634/brexit-supporters-regret-vote

http://www.people.com/article/brexit-voters-regret-uk-leave-eu

These Brexit Voters Think They Have Made a Horrible Mistake

http://theweek.com/speedreads/632139/some-brexit-supporters-now-say-already-regret-voting-leave-eu

People are already regretting voting to leave the EU – here’s what they told us

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/24/im-full-of-regret

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/leave-voters-changed-minds-voting-8275841

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/brexit-backers-change-vote-remain-eu-referendum_uk_576d37f9e4b0d25711498bb5

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/06/24/british_voters_regretting_their_decisions_a_roundup.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3658563/Meet-Bregretters-Public-backed-Leave-vote-say-want-STAY-EU-one-admits-didn-t-think-vote-count.html

“I’m a bit shocked.” Some Britons are already regretting their vote for Brexit

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-brexit-updates-regret-voting-to-leave-the-eu-there-s-1466794604-htmlstory.html

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/i-really-regret-my-vote-now-the-brexit-voters-who-wish-theyd-voted-to-remain-a3280361.html

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/brexit-regrets-for-leave-voter-who-changed-her-mind-712185923655

https://www.good.is/articles/brexit-voter-regret-year-of-the-mulligan-eu-referendum

http://www.bustle.com/articles/168901-brexit-leave-voters-who-are-now-regretting-their-decision-show-how-much-our-votes-really-matter

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13619508/1/some-british-voters-now-express-regret-over-brexit.html

http://europe.newsweek.com/brexit-leave-voters-wish-vote-remain-regret-eu-referendum-474306?rm=eu

http://www.news.com.au/world/europe/twitter-users-see-the-funny-side-of-brexit-vote-after-uk-votes-to-leave-europe-in-shock-result/news-story/3311779daa1ea62d50b1a66d61581992

http://www.inusanews.com/article/40003961509/eu-brexit-british-citizens-regret-voting-leave?h=4

https://www.longroom.com/discussion/117252/brexit-regret-meet-the-britons-who-voted-to-leave-the-eu-and-immediately-wished-they-hadnt

http://canada.shafaqna.com/EN/CA/269576

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/brexit-regret/vi-AAhAsTj

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-dude-who-thought-his-brexit-vote-wouldnt-matter-is-a-va

http://nvs24.com/news/world/Some-Brexit-supporters-now-say-they-already-regret-voting-to-leave-EU-6697973.html

 

 

The murder of MP Jo Cox is a warning against the horror of political extremism

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Violent extremism of a wholly political nature is something that many of us thought had left Britain’s shores long ago. For most young people like myself, who have for most in their lives lived in a post-9/11 political landscape, the real threat has always been religious extremism. It was the motivating power of religion that flew those planes into the towers, just as it was for ISIS. Political extremism, for most of us, had faded out and lost its relevancy. Today, that belief has been proven wrong.

Today, Jo Cox, Labor MP for the constituency of Batley and Spen, was murdered by being shot and then stabbed in a horrifically act of extreme brutality. The perpetrator, it is understood, was a native British man in his early 50s, who shouted ‘Britain First!’ as he committed the heinous act. While the perpetrator was thankfully quickly arrested, it remains a sobering reminder of the destructive power of political extremism, and a warning to the current generation of its very real threat to our society.

The Cold War only ended around a quarter of a century ago, but to our parents, the threat of political extremism was very real. Communist terrorism – terrorist attacks carried out in order to force political change towards communism or otherwise threaten the capitalist political establishment – was something that they spent much of their own lives in fear of. During the Cold War, very few Western countries did not see the blight of communist terrorism or other forms of extreme leftist terrorism affect their societies. And who could forget the inhuman crimes of far-right ideologies like fascism and Nazism in the first half of the 20th century.

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Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves a tribute of flowers for the fallen MP (AFP/Getty)

Jo Cox was a prominent member of the Remain campaign, which campaigns to keep Britain in Europe and is in favor of a ‘no’ vote in the upcoming EU referendum. In doing so, she was expressing her political opinions in an utterly legitimate and acceptable fashion, as designed by our democratic system. This system is one that by its very nature tolerates this behavior; it permits and even promotes dissent within a framework of peaceful political action such as debate and discussion. It is very likely that Jo’s killer took the actions he did due to his political opposition to her pro-EU and left-wing stance. But the decision he made in choosing to resort to murder rather than employing his democratic right to peacefully dissent is antithetical to the very fundamentals of our democracy.

The recent increase in polarization is one that I and many other centrists have been watching with increasing concern. It appears that this tense political climate has claimed its first victim in Jo Cox. This is something that we must oppose with all of our strength. Religious extremism is difficult to fight as long as the religion or tenets supporting it remain unchanged; the cost of reforming a religion can be measured in blood, as in the case of the brutal years of war Europe saw after the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, it requires a long-term approach, and immediate action is unlikely to see immediate benefit.

Political extremism is different. We can, and we must condemn and fight political extremism the like of which took the life of Jo Cox today. We must do it with all our strength. We do so not only out of concerns for our own lives, but for our very democracy itself.

In politics, as in everything else, moderation is key. Extremism, on the other hand, exacts a price too heavy to bear.

White nationalism motivated Dylann Roof – but Islam not to blame for Omar Mateen

Do any of you remember Dylann Roof? Here’s a mugshot.

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Dylann Roof is currently awaiting trial for charges relating to the 2015 Charleston church shooting, in which he entered into a predominantly African-American church and proceeded to brutally gun down nine people.

Dylann Roof was a terrorist. He was a sick and evil man, and I don’t call him sick to absolve him of responsibility for his crimes. His was a cold and calculated act of mass murder intended to terrorize black Americans and show the world the power of his evil white supremacist ideology.

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Victims of Dylann Roof’s vile racist ideology (CNN)

When the media dissected the Dylann Roof case, they were sure to point out the obvious and salient link between his crime of killing 9 black people and his white supremacist and white nationalist ideologies. Every news outlet from the Washington Post to Salon talked about the crucial importance of racism as a motivating factor for the terroristic actions that Roof chose to take against his own fellow Americans. They did not absolve white supremacy or white nationalism of any guilt by pointing to evidence of any mental illness of Roof – and rightly so, because there are millions of mentally ill people in the US and across the world who don’t go out and shoot up black churches because of it. The man was a racist, a white nationalist, and a terrorist, and I’m one of many other Americans praying that he gets the death sentence I know he deserves.

Given that, I find it a little strange given the coverage after the events of last Saturday, where a Muslim American born to Afghan immigrants perpetrated the single worst mass shooting in our nation’s entire history, with gays as the intended target.

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Like Dylann Roof, Omar Mateen had an ideology directly linked to the actions he took and the targets he chose. His ideology, however, was a religious one. Mateen was a Sunni Muslim, a faith in which the penalty for homosexual acts is death as mandated in Sharia Law. This is currently enforced in 11 Muslim majority countries, and in others which do not enforce the death penalty, like Bangladesh, local Muslim groups often carry out killings themselves, such as when Xulhaz Mannan, the former editor of Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine, was brutally hacked to death. Bangladesh, by the way, is by no means tolerant; homosexual acts are illegal in Bangladesh and punishable by up to life in prison.

Islam’s stance on gay rights is well known. The most important Sunni and Shi’a countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of which possess massive numbers of clergymen who devote their entire lives to religious matters, institute and advocate for the death penalty for homosexuality. An Iranian cleric speaking in an Orlando mosque near where the recent shooting just took place said so just this year, stating “Death is the sentence… there’s nothing to be embarrassed about”.

For any reasonable person, the direct link between the Islamic faith and its mandates and the actions that Omar Mateen took last Saturday should be eminently obvious.

Why is it, then, that nobody is blaming radical Islam?

After Dylann Roof’s terroristic rampage in which 9 innocent souls were brutally murdered in a place of worship, Obama condemned the ‘blight’ of racism – and rightly so. But after 49 were brutally shot down in a space designed to accommodate their identity, with over 100 killed or injured, making this the worst terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11 and the worst mass shooting in all of US history, Obama said nothing about Islamic terrorism. He did not even mention the words ‘Islamic terrorism’. Many news outlets are doing the same; the HuffPost was castigated by Breitbart after blaming everything but Islam, up to and including Ted Cruz, gun control, and and Pope Francis.

The double standard here is as clear as day. It is sickening and it is utterly unethical. Dylann Roof was a racist and a terrorist. I as a white person condemn Dylann Roof and the racist ideology that motivated him to murder innocents in Charleston. I am glad that our president blamed racism for the killing, and hope that his actions will have discredited his ideology so that it will fall into the graveyard of history books.

But the hypocrisy of the president and of western media outlets in refusing to condemn the link between Omar Mateen’s crimes and the religious ideology that motivated him to murder innocents in Orlando is beyond belief. There are no words to describe this incidence of insidious dishonesty and double standards. By not condemning the cause of these killings, we fail to move towards a solution. And we pave the ground for the deaths of more innocents as a consequence.

Reddit sees egregrious censorship after Orlando massacre

The popular news site Reddit – the self-proclaimed front page of the internet – played host to a series of bizarre and arbitrary wipeouts in the wake of the Orlando shooting, now confirmed as the worst in the nation’s history. Reddit is usually among the first places one can find breaking news stories as they unfold – not so this Sunday, as /r/news, the ‘subreddit’ or messageboard for posting news related stories, went dark.

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The moderators of /r/news initially attempted to prevent the story from being posted and deleted it multiple times, resulting in the surprise of many users when a repost was finally allowed to remain on the front page. However, they then engaged in a mass removal of comments of all kinds – and not just those critical of Islam or Muslims. Setting aside the entirely legitimate criticism of Islamic ideology in circumstances such as these, the censorship even included deleting the posts of users posting information desperately seeking blood donations. The user below can be seen frantically posting the same information a number of times, begging for people to sign up and donate blood.

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A good amount of the censoring seems to have come at the hand of a user known as suspiciousspecialist, who told a user to ‘kill himself’ after deleting multiple comments asking for people to step forward and donate blood to prevent deaths.

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Among the deleted comments was this one, which is of a man seeking confirmation as to the safety of his friend, who may have been at the club in question.

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The censorship is similar to that practiced by the moderators at /r/news and /r/worldnews after the Cologne Sex Attacks on New Year’s, during which again, the comment sections of both subreddits became veritable graveyards. Many redditors have shown their overt displeasure at such censorship, and this is currently the top post on /r/jokes

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Many of the deleted comments were extremely popular, with hundreds or even over a thousand upvotes. In some cases, almost all (over 90%) of comments made were deleted, as can be seen here.

The censoring of breaking news stories relating to Islamism and Islamic terrorism is something the internet is very used to. The fact that Reddit moderators attempted to blackout this story should be no surprise as after all, it is identical to their behavior following the events of Cologne. The fact that this behavior remains routine amongst the moderation team implies that many more less-well publicized incidents with Muslim perpetrators are indeed successfully censored.

While Reddit does have a stated goal to function as a free speech platform, it is no surprise that this policy ends when it comes to Islam and Muslims; it is in line with practices pushed by other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Ironically, the only subreddit which was successfully able to post news stories relating to the Orlando massacre was /r/the_donald, which is the main subreddit supporting Donald Trump in his run for the presidency. The moderation team of /r/news did eventually come out with a statement on the incident of mass censorship.

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The post is currently sitting at an unspecified number of downvotes, but knowing the Reddit community’s distaste for censorship, and given the popularity of posts critical of the moderation team, it is likely in the negative thousands. What’s noteworthy about this statement is that it deliberately conflates criticism of Islam and Islamism with hate speech, stating “there is still a lot of hate speech prevalent”, implying that the mass deletion of comments will continue. The social media crackdown on criticism of Islam appears to be as strong as ever.