Sunday 4 February 2024

haarat al-daraj (11. 323)

Coupled with the unconscionable civilian death toll and the destruction and demolition of half the buildings and essentially all vital infrastructure in the strip, NPR takes us on a circumspect tour of the landmarks destroyed in the war that Israel declared against Hamas. What precious few historic and cultural focal points were left to the Palestinian people have been wiped away, including this thirteenth century palace and fortification built for a Mamluk sultan where Napoleon once stayed, seat of power during the Ottoman period, law enforcement headquarters during the British Mandate and most recently girls’ school under the auspices of the UN, as well as  museums and an antiquities shop, an ancient mosque and bathhouse, storied restaurants and other gathering places.

Sunday 7 January 2024

ensh*ttification (11. 250)

As shared by Waxy, the venerable American Dialect Society, founded in 1889, selected as its Word of the Year (technically referred to in the broader sense as a “vocabulary item”) the coinage from Cory Doctorow used to describe, and perfectly encapsulate, how digital platforms degrade and become decrepit, following a tragic bait and switch trajectory of first being good and usefully, then abusing users by commoditising them for the sake of advertisers to finally abuse those sponsors and shunt value for themselves as a brand—to die the death. Among other contenders short-listed were ceasefire for those calling to stop the hostilities in Palestine, context for its invocations from university presidents on free-speech, Kenaissance for the depiction of the heroine’s companion in the Barbie movie, “let someone cook” as an urging to allow an individual to do something they are good at without interference and stochastic parrot for the tendency of language models to generate plausible text without any understanding. The jury also announced categories of most useful, mostly likely to succeed, such as a gendered-x, girl math, boy math and era defined as a personal period of defining style or behaviour. Their euphemism of the year nominees included effective altruism as a movement to benefit all of humanity but as an excuse to spend the money of others, and in the politics category, ๐Ÿ‰ (employed for the similar colours to the flag) was picked as a symbol of solidarity with the people of Gaza with hot labour summer in second place. More at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: close-up photos of the year, the US House of Congress elects a Speaker, a tiny generative remixer, Emperor Norton I plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: the Slovak gaming community, the Tokyo metro in real-time, Powers of Ten, St Distaff’s Day, more links to enjoy, Web 3.0 plus Macron’s vulgarities

three years ago: words that are their own opposites plus the introduction of DALL·E

four years ago: here come the seventies, an animated medieval songbook, the tattoos of a Danish king, fancy apple varieties plus covering GITMO

five years ago: more Japanese New Year cards plus more on the Year of the Periodic Table

Saturday 30 December 2023

mcmxcvi (11. 227)

Due to the periodic nature of the Gregorian calendar, 2024 corresponds precisely to the year 1996, twenty-eight years ago. We can speculate further what historic events from that year might resonate with the coming one, like in January, with the re-election of Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority, the February peaceful transition of power in Haiti and a ceasefire in Sarajevo, March’s intimidating military exercises conducted by China along the coast of Taiwan, April’s Hutu genocide in Burundi, the arrest of the Unabomber, Israeli’s Operation Grapes of Wrath as retaliation for terrorist attacks perpetrated by Lebanon, May’s Port Arthur massacre which prompts Australia to introduce a nationwide ban on gun-ownership, the truce in Chechnya or the election of Benjamin Netanyahu, July’s cloning of Dolly the Sheep, the re-election of Boris Yeltsin or the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta Georgia, August’s first three-parent human baby, November’s re-election of US president Clinton. We also have the choice of recycling the calendars from 1968 or 1940.

mmxxiii (11. 224)

As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2024, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place during the past year. Thanks as always for visiting. We’ve made it through another wild year together.

january: Hundred of thousands pay their respects, attend funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, presided over by his predecessor in Vatican City. Supporters of defeated president Jair Bolsanaro stormed the capitol in Brasilia.  Caches of official records and classified files have been discovered mishandled and stored in offices used by Joe Biden after his vice-presidency. Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck passes away, aged 78.  Lisa Marie Presley, artist and singer, has died, aged 54.  Wracked with successive and endemic problems, Haiti descends into anarchy after the last of its elected officials depart the country.  Singer David Crosby has passed away, aged 81.  Jacinda Arden steps down as Prime Minister of New Zealand.  US and Germany agree to send tanks to Ukraine.  A group of five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee brutally murder Tyre Nichols with no justifiable provocation. After speaking out against the criminalisation of same-sex partnerships and denial of basic civil rights, the Pope will journey to South Sudan, joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the head of the Church of Scotland for a dialogue with local church leaders preaching a gospel of intolerance.  Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams, passes away, aged 64.

february: After announcing that conflict with China was on the near horizon, the US acquires additional bases in the Philippines to encircle its rival and potential adversary.  Just days ahead of US Secretary of State’s visit to Beijing, NORAD announces the detection of a Chinese spy balloon over western America, prompting Blinkin to cancel his trip. Fashion designer and perfumier Paco Rabane passes away, aged 88.  The EU holds a summit in Kyiv on Ukraine’s bid for membership.  Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf passes away, aged 77, after contending with a long illness.  A powerful earthquake on the border of Syria and Tรผrkiye claims over five thousand lives, the death toll soon quadrupling.  Songwriter Burt Bacharach passes away, aged 94.  Facing a series of crises and increasing pressure from the war in neighbouring Ukraine, the government of Moldova is dissolved.  Top-tier Czech footballer Jakub Jankto comes out as homosexual, the first professional player to do so.  Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon surprises her party by announcing her departure with no clear successor.  Actor Raquel Welch passes away, aged 82.  North Korea resumes missile tests in the Pacific and the US warns that China may attempt to arm Russia and delegates at the Munich Security Conference urge immediate fortification of Ukraine in order to prevent imminent defeat.  Stand-up comedian and tv detective Richard Belzer dies, aged 78.  Humanitarian and former US president Jimmy Carter enters hospice care.  Just ahead of the one year anniversary of the start of the invasion, Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Kyiv.  Tech companies and media outlets continue tranche after tranche of staff layoffs.  US House Speaker gives previously unreleased trove of January Sixth insurrection footage to conservative pundit Tucker Carlson.  The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks its one year anniversary.

march: Evidence emerges that Ukrainian saboteurs were responsible for the underwater explosions that ruptured the NordStream I pipeline though questions remain.  In the second largest bank collapse in the history of the US and the first of its kind since the 2008 crash, the Silicone Valley Bank servicing tech-sector start-up has become insolvent and went into government receivership.  Thousands of civil servants in France go on strike in protest of legislation to raise retirement age.  After Manhattan district attorney investigation into Trump directing hush-money to Stormy Daniels, US presidential candidate announces that he expects to be arrested and calls for protests.  Mounting evidence seems to vilify suggestions that COVID originated from a lab leak in Wuhan.  Despite attempts to contain the contagion, the fall out from the crisis with California fintech institutions cause havoc with banking stocks worldwide.  UBS absorbs a beleaguered Credit Suisse.  Xi and Putin enter an apparent entente against American influence.   UN warns that time has run out on combating runaway climate change.  Deadly, hour-long tornado strikes ravage rural Mississippi and Alabama.  Intel Corp founder and thinker behind the eponymous law about the exponential improvement of technology Alan Moore passes away, aged 94.

april: Trump arraigned in the Manhattan district court over falsifying business records pursuant to hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels.  A US federal judge in Texas suspends the 2000 approval by the country’s food and drug regulatory body on the safety of an abortion pill, restricting its use.  Demanding stricter gun-laws in the wake of another school and church mass-shooting, the Tennessee state legislator expel two Black lawmakers for their stance.  Preoccupied with filibusters over trans-rights, the Nebraska state senate fails to pass a single law in this year’s legislative session.  Tory ministers begin to walk-back plans for a full-scale repeal of EU regulations following an inter-party revolt against the post-Brexit arrangement.  Phasing out of nuclear energy entirely, Germany closes its final remaining reactors.  Revival military leaders have brought Sudan to the brink of civil war as factions of the regular army face the paramilitary rapid response force in Khartoum.  More media organizations fold as ad revenue dries up and newsrooms turn to AI to generate copy, like BuzzFeed and Vice being the two latest to declare bankruptcy and curtail operations.  Comedian and creator of Dame Edna Barry Humphries has passed away, aged 89.  Civil rights activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte dies, aged 96.  Joe Biden declares his party’s candidacy for a second term for president of the United States.

may: Gordon Lightfoot, folk legend, dies, aged 84.  The WHO declares the global COVID-19 health emergency over.  Charles III and Camilla are enthroned during a lavish ceremony in London.  A jury finds Donald Trump guilty on the charge of sexual abuse and battery, labelling him a predator and pest.  Elon Musk appoints a former television advertising executive as head of Twitter as he announces plans to transform the ailing social network into a multi-purpose app similar to China’s WeChat.  Harry and Meghan are recklessly pursued by paparazzi in New York—with strong echoes of the death of his mum’s fatal encounter.  China begins to call in loans to some of the world’s most impoverished countries after making them dependent on cheap credit.  Tina Turner passed away peacefully, aged 83, in her home outside of Zurich—Simply the Best.  Florida governor Ron DeSantis announces his presidential candidacy on Twitter.

june: The death toll of a catastrophic train crash in India approaches three hundred with countless more injured.  After months of drama and tension, the US raises its debt ceiling to avoid default.  A dam breach, blamed on Russia, causes massive flooding along the Dnipro river and forces tens of thousands to
evacuate.  Astrud Gilberto, the Queen of Bossa Nova, and original singer of the infinitely covered ‘Girl from Ipanema,’ has passed away, aged 83.  Wildfires rage in Canada, smoke enveloping the Eastern Seaboard.  The awaited Ukraine counteroffensive begins.  Four children who survived an airplane crash in the jungles are Columbia are found alive having survived the forty day ordeal.  Donald Trump is indicted on federal charges for retention of classified documents imperilling US national security. Boris Johnson quits Parliament ahead of an official rebuke from the House of Commons over Partygate. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber and CIA UK Ultra test subject, is dead, aged 81.  Media tycoon and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi passes away, aged 86.  NATO holds large scale military exercises in Germany.  The whistleblower and leaker behind the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, passes away, aged 92.  A submersible taking a compliment of five tourist to the wreck of the Titanic is lost.  Mercenary Wagner Group turns critical of the invasion of Ukraine and stages a mutiny after announced take-over by the Russian defence ministry, occupying Rostov-on-Don and proposing a march on Moscow, reaching half-way to the capital before a truce is negotiated by the Belarusian president.  France riots over the death of a teenager after being shot by a police officer.  US Supreme Court overturns affirmative action in college admissions, student loan forgiveness and LGBTQI+ anti-discrimination laws, though at least on the last case, it looks as if evidence was fabricated.  

july: Joseph Pedott, marketing virtuoso, passed away, aged 91.  Israel conducts a major military raid into a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.  Despite warnings from humanitarians and a ban in place for their use by over a hundred countries, the US is sending surplus cluster-bombs from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to Ukraine.  Catastrophic flooding devastates Vermont and other parts of New England.  Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild joins the writers’ strike.  Jane Birkin, singer, activist and French icon, dies aged 76.  Crooner Tony Bennett passes away, aged 96.  After months of media hype and anticipation, the Barbieheimer phenomenon comes to cinemas.  Singer Sinรฉad O’Connor has died, aged 56—nothing compares 2 u.  Hunter Biden appears before court on charges of tax evasion and illegal gun-ownership, days after boudoir photos of him enter the congressional record, possibly in violation of laws against revenge porn. The Nigeria government falls to a military coup d’etat with the president taken into custody.  Paul Reubens, the actor who portrayed Pee-Wee Herman, passed away aged 70, after a private bout with cancer.  Voyager 2 after two weeks of radio silence has re-established contact with Earth.

august: Donald Trump is indicted for his role in fanning the flames that culminated in the January Sixth raid on the Capitol and attempts to over turn the 2020 election.  Wildfires devastate the Hawaiian island of Maui and the town of Yellowknife is evacuated as forests are engulfed in Canada.  A rare hurricane, the first in eighty years, passes over Baja California, causing flooding and heavy rains, a year’s worth in a single day.  Ex-Wagner chief and senior leadership perish in an airplane crash.  Indian lands a probe at the lunar south pole.  Trump is arrested, booked and released on bail after in Fulton County Georgia.  Long-time US game show host Bob Barker dies, aged 99 (playing by Price-is-Right rules until the end).  An unprecedented hurricane strikes Florida’s Big Bend region between the panhandle and peninsula.  “Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett passes away, aged 76.

september: Drought and wildfires are followed by flooding in Greece. An earthquake strikes the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, killing hundreds and destroying parts of Marrakesh.  Rupert Murdoch steps down from News Corp.  Fighting erupts in Nagorno-Karabakh, the breakaway region of Azerbaijan. After more than five months, the Hollywood Writers’ Guild reaches a deal with the studio and ends its strike.  In solidarity with striking autoworkers, US president Joe Biden joins the picket line, the first for a sitting holder of the high office.  As counter-programming to the second Republican debate, Trump also makes an appearance with union workers.

october: Hamas and other terror groups launch a surprise attack on Israel, causing Tel Aviv to declare war against Gaza with thousands killed on both sides.  Earthquakes in Afghanistan leaves over a thousand dead.  An eastern Pacific tropical cyclone devastates Acapulco with hundreds killed and many more displaced. 

november: Three-hundred thousand marched for peace in Palestine through London during Armistice Day celebrations after earlier rallies drawing in huge numbers to urge Israel enact a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.  Pope Francis dismisses an ultra conservative bishop in Texas who criticised the pontiff's more progressive stance on non-gender-conforming members of the Church. OpenAI’s board of directors have ousted founder and CEO Sam Altman, the chief representative of the chatbot revolution and proponent for regulatory framework, for his lack of candour and transparency.  Microsoft immediately hired Altman and fellow defectors.  Humanitarian and former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter passes away.  Rightwing populist Geert Wilders wins a controlling share of the Netherlands’ parliament. A temporary cease-fire is called in Gaza to allow the release of hostages and more humanitarian aid to enter the beleaguered city.  Henry Kissinger dead at one-hundred.

december: Fabulist and fraudster George Santos expelled from the US congress.  Israel renews attacks on Palestine after a temporary truce. Legendary television producer Norman Lear passes away at 101. Israeli forces extend attacks in southern Gaza, where many fled to avoid the violence.  Ousted US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy tenders his retirement from Congress, leaving the Republicans a controlling majority of only two seats.  The EU enacts the world’s first comprehensive AI regulatory framework.  A volcanic eruption occurs on the Icelandic Reykjanes peninsula with Sundhnรบkagรญgar dumping lava and prompting evacuations.  Trump confidant and former New York City mayor Rudi Guliani declares bankrupcy after being ordered to pay nearly one hundred-fifty million dollars in restitution for libelling Georgia election workers.  Houthi pirates attacking cargo ships in the Red Sea cause transportation to round the Cape of Good Hope.  A mass shooting in Prague leaves fifteen individuals dead.  Missing Russian opposition figure Alexei Nalvalny emerges, detained in a penal colony above the Arctic Circle.  A heavy barrage of missiles hit Kyiv as US financial and materiel backing driess up.Veteran German parliamentarian Wolfgang Schรคuble passes away, aged 81.  Jacques Delors, statesman who helped shaped the European Union dead at 98.  Entertainer Tommy Smothers dies at 86.  Israeli bombardment of Gaza continues, with the death toll of civilians surpassing twenty-thousand.

Saturday 16 December 2023

8x8 (11. 190)

a portrait of justice: the iconography of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s judicial collars—see previously 

kreuz am bichl: a uniquely divided church in Carinthia  

oh little town of bethlehem: this year’s creche and other required reading—see more

location scouting: historical movies and filming sites mapped  

modern day umarell: Defector contributor unravels a construction mystery with the help amateur experts—see previously  

18¢ piece: making change, the Greedy Algorithm and the Shallit system of optimal coins  

penguin drama: two aquaria in Japan meticulously update a flow chart to document the changing relationships of their residents  

free mickeys: Disney’s flagship character (see previously) to enter the public domain following a US Supreme court ruling that copyrights cannot be extended with trademarks

 synchronoptica

one year ago: Kurt Cobain’s Unplugged session (1993), assorted links to revisit plus OpenAI authors Hallmark holiday specials

two years ago: a triple album from George Harrison plus the mental acumen of rarefied genius

three years ago: awards recognising the best of Quarantine Culture, the great apes, St Adelaide plus a classic spy story from John le Carrรฉ

four years ago: the seasonal designs of Jen Nollaig

five years ago: redundant acronym syndrome, Queen Medb plus the Moon on flags (and flags on the Moon)

Wednesday 29 November 2023

32/40 b (11. 148)

Commemorated since 1978 on the anniversary of the passage of the United Nations resolution 181 on the partition of Mandatory Palestine, which proposed the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states with a special, international regime governing the city of Jerusalem, the UN-organised observance, a day of solidarity, calls for immediate steps to be taken to grant the Palestinian people full sovereignty and independence. The declaration also established a commission to study The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem to couch regional conflict and contemporary violence and displacement in terms of historical perspectives and past miscalculation and transgression.

Sunday 15 October 2023

the battle of the chinese farm (11. 060)

Occurring this day in 1973 after Egyptian forces had advanced beyond the Israeli line of defence during the previous engagement, the Battle of the Sinai, ultimately repulsed but with Israel sustaining significant losses, the titular battlefield that marked a turning point in the Yom Kippur War was given the misnomer for an Egyptian agricultural research station equipped with Japanese-made technology and over the next two days managed to push Egyptian forces back across the Suez Canal in one of the deadliest and brutal clashes of the conflict. Plans for crossing and securing a corridor for re-supply and relief were considered too ambitious and exacting with deviations from the established dead-lines resulting in losses for the Israeli Defence Force, but the Egyptians girded the exposed flank of their forward division (as the IDF had hoped, misinterpreting their objective) and were cut of from re-enforcements, causing Egypt’s withdrawal from the Sinai and abandon its attempts to re-establish control over the peninsula.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

operation nickel grass (11. 050)

To replace materiel spent in the first four days of the conflict, the Soviet Union began an airlift on this day in 1973 of military equipment to Syria and Egypt that led a coalition of Arab states against Israel (to gain purchase on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal and regain the Sinai) in the Yom Kippur/Ramandan War. The US followed suit with a massive resupply of Israel two days later, and having discovered that Prime Minister Golda Meir had authorised the assembly of thirteen nuclear warheads aimed at targets in Egypt and Syria, a move that was made easily detectable so as to conduce American aid and avoid further escalation, wanting officially to minimise the appearance of involvement. Upon receiving intelligence of this development, US president Richard Nixon ordered the deployment of the Air Force to transport all munitions possible to Israel via the Azores and along a narrow airspace over the Mediterranean to comply with European countries that did not wish to be party to a proxy war between the US and the Soviet Union. Although resupply missions on both sides slowed significantly after the 24 October cease-fire resolution, OPEC leaders enacted an oil embargo against America and her allies.

synchronoptica

one year ago: AI movie posters plus conjuring Swedish nonsense words

two years ago:  assorted links to revisit plus Upstairs, Downstairs (1971)

three years ago: revolutionary China, happy birthday to the Candy Bomber, the moon Triton, the role of sharks in vaccines plus coin-op convenience

four years ago: Dunbar Number, guerilla advertising plus more on noise pollution

five years ago: more on Osaka’s Expo’70 plus a shopping cart that gauges one’s mood

 

Saturday 7 October 2023

the third intifada (11. 043)

Nearly coinciding with the 1973 Yom Kippur War when a coalition of Arab states fought to retake the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights territories occupied by Israel, the militant governing authority of Palestine, Hamas, together with other nationalists groups launched a large-scale surprise offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip, breaking through barrier and crossing the Green Line, in the first such incursion since 1948 with a barrage of thousands of rockets and hostages taken. Declaring a state of war, Israel has retaliated in what may escalate into a regional conflict. The near complete blockade of Gaza in force since 2007 (when Hamas was elected to political power) and denial of statehood to Palestine or any meaningful form of self-determination, though commanding officers cite tensions that occurred six months earlier at the Temple Mount / al-Aqsa Compound in Jerusalem and under Israeli jurisdiction when Passover, Eastertide and Ramadan occurred all at the same time and Muslim worshippers were forcibly removed after clashes with police.

Saturday 9 September 2023

tirazain (10. 992)

Via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest (happily back after a short hiatus), we learn about the traditional form embroidery practiced in Palestine and the efforts to preserve, promote and catalogue the neglected and endangered craftwork used to decorate dress, curtains and bedding. Called tatreez (ุชุทุฑูŠุฒ), with instructions included on how to create these cross-stitch designs, the formerly unstudied occupation is no recognised as more than a pastime but a form of biography (see also) for those marginalised and had no other medium for expressing and transmitting their ambitions and skills. Much more at the links above.

Thursday 9 January 2020

resolution 678

On this day in 1991 Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and US Secretary of State James Baker held a conference in Geneva lasting some seven hours to try to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the invasion and annexation of Kuwait (August 1990).
Though the dialogue was overshadowed by the respective parties’ messaging, that George HW Bush was willing to continue talks and privileged peace and regional stability over any exercise of power—and that Saddam Hussain would not agree to an unconditional withdrawal, arguing that the region was put in turmoil over Palestine issue well before the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and targeting their advances with the backing of the UN and the US-backed coalition was hypocrisy and an injustice. Both sides lost their leverage and no progress was made in finding a mutually acceptable solution, and the failure of the Geneva Peace Conference precipitated Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Sunday 30 December 2018

jahrgang xxmviii

As this year draws to a close, we again take time to reflect on a selection of things that took place in 2018. Thanks as always for visiting. We've made it through another wild year together.

january: Turkey enters the Syrian conflict in attempts to wrest control in the north from Kurdish rebels.  The US government experiences a partial shutdown over a lapse in funding due to a stand-off regarding the status of immigrants that were brought to the US as children by their parents.  We had to say goodbye to science-fiction and fantasy writer Ursula Le Guin.

february: There are further advances in private-sector rocketry that seem primed to usher in a new age of exploration.  Another school shooting in America fails to get the country to open up to a dialogue on gun-control. The US Federal Communications Commission repeals net neutrality consumer protections.

march: A former Russian double-agent and his daughter are poisoned in Salisbury, England.  In China, term limits for the office of president and general secretary of the Communist party are eliminated.  In the US, a nation-wide school walk-out occurs to protest gun-violence and weak gun-control laws.  Vladimir Putin is re-elected to a fourth consecutive term as president of Russia.  We bid farewell to scientist Stephen Hawking.

april: France, the UK, and the US launch airstrikes on Syria bases following a government sanctioned chemical weapons attack that killed over seventy civilians.

may: The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect in an attempt to wrest back some modicum of control over individuals’ digital dossiers. Donald Trump precipitates a trade war by imposing punitive steel tariff on exporters with other countries responding in kind.

june: At the G-7 summit in Toronto Donald Trump pushes for the reinstatement of Russia before embarking to meet with the leader of North Korea in Singapore for talks on denuclearisation. 

july: A series of climate-change driven heat-waves devastate North America and Europe, causing many deaths and torrents of forest fires.  A boys’ football team and their coach are rescued from a cave in Thailand after a harrow, seventeen-day ordeal.  Researchers confirm the existence of a subglacial lake of liquid water on Mars.  

august: The market value of Apple surpasses one trillion dollars.  The US reimposes sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme (having announced its intention to withdraw from the deal in May) while maintaining support to Saudi Arabia in its retaliatory attack on the Yemen.

september: The National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro is engulfed in flames.  The Supreme Court of India decriminalises homosexuality.  Following a contentious hearing, a controversial justice is appointed to the US Supreme Court, altering its composition.

october: A dissident journalist is kidnapped, murdered and spirited away in pieces at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Canada legalises cannabis possession and use nation-wide.  Trump deploys soldiers to the Mexican border to fend off an approaching caravan of asylum-seekers. While visiting his native China, the chief of INTERPOL goes missing and presumed assassinated. The US signals its intent to leave the International Postal Union and shutters its diplomatic outreach offices for Palestine.

november: Democrats take control of the US House of Representative with Republicans retaining control of the Senate.  The InSight probe lands on Mars, beginning a mission to pierce the surface of the Red Planet. We had to bid farewell to SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg and social justice warrior Harry Leslie Smith.  US ex-president George Herbert Walker Bush passed away, rejoining Barbara Bush, his life partner of seventy-three years, who died in April.

december: The shambles of Brexit and the investigation into the Trump campaign and administration to Russia are ongoing.  US forces withdraw from Syria with plans to also do so for Afghanistan and the country’s defence secretary resigns in protest.  We had to bid farewell to actor and director Penny Marshall.   The US government enters another partial shutdown over Border Wall funding. 

Tuesday 11 September 2018

inter alia

While only briefly a signatory to the Treaty of Rome during the final years of the Clinton administration, Bush II withdrawing America along with Israel and the Sudan with the US being only an observer state during the Obama years under contingent provisions that US soldiers were immune from its verdicts or prosecutions, it is still far out of bounds for the US to excoriate the International Criminal Court (ICC) as irrelevant and capricious.
Beyond the gesture of refusal to cooperate (previously here and here), the US government is threatening dire consequences against the ICC should it move forward in investigating allegations against the US for war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan to include sanctions and criminal charges against the members of the court and any parties cooperating with their case. A parallel inquiry into human rights violations and practising a policy of apartheid on the people of Palestine resulted in the US closing off all diplomatic outlets for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)—evicting the group from its offices in Washington, DC—a move also characterised as an assault on sovereignty and a country’s right to self-defence undermined.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

special rapporteur

Unsurprisingly, US has announced its intent to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council following criticism of Trump’s practise of separating children from their families and interning them in concentration camps. Administration officials moreover cite what they characterise as the council’s disproportionate focus on the Israel-Palestine dispute.

Monday 9 April 2018

a separate peace

While Russia may have donned the public-facing mantle for meddling and media manipulation, one is puts out of mind the Trump regime’s other cosy relationships at one’s peril.
While debate rages on about the extent that Russia undermined the US presidential election or whether democratic institutions can be under siege from multiple fronts or not—some seem to have adopted the contrarian narrative that it can’t be both Russia and sophistry—other political strongmen in the Middle East have leveraged Trump’s compromising business-ties to achieve desired, measurable outcomes at the expense of alienating other regional partners and players for the appeasement and enrichment of the few whose tensions will pull the world into a fresh conflagration—not that the embers from before are not still glowing.

Thursday 12 October 2017

patrimony

Disturbingly—though the US only rejoined the international body promoting education, scientific research and preservation of cultural heritage from hegemon in 2002 after an eighteen-year hiatus that Ronald Reagan initiated, accusing it of betraying a bias towards Communism—Dear Dotard has unilaterally decided to withdraw America’s membership from UNESCO (also the purveyor of international days of observation and the committee behind the creation of CERN, for starters) predominately over what’s characterised as its anti-Israeli leanings demonstrated by making Palestine a full-member and for (in July) inscribing a site in Hebron to its World Heritage List. Fiduciary concerns were also cited as contributing factors—including some half a billion dollars in back payments that America has yet to repay. Following the US announcement, Israel expressed its intent to leave the organisation as well.