[syndicated profile] egystreets_feed

Posted by Egyptian Streets

Al-Sisi and Netanyahu meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met on Monday with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time in public in New York in an attempt to revive the Middle East peace process.

The meeting came ahead of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

Egypt’s presidency spokesperson, Alaa Youssef stated that the meeting had witnessed multiple discussions, including ways to revive the Middle East peace process.

Al-Sisi pointed out the efforts Egypt exert in order to resume talks between Palestine and Israel and to reach an inclusive and fair solution to the conflict.

Additionally, Al-Sisi praised the efforts of the US administration and US president Donald Trump to reach a final solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which will create a new and more peaceful reality in the Middle East.

Since Al-Sisi assumed office as president in 2014, Egypt has become increasingly involved to revive the Middle East peace process and keeps on presenting the two-state solution as an inevitable way out of the conflict.

Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying that the meeting was “comprehensive” and discussed several problems in the region, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Al-Sisi also met with Palestine’s president Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the General Assembly and discussed efforts to advance the peace process.

Netanyahu has said recently that the relations between the Israel and the Arab world have been improving.

In the previous UN General Assembly last year, Al-Sisi also addressed the Arab-Israeli conflict and said that it is the core of instability in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor

Sep. 19th, 2017 01:05 pm
[syndicated profile] tinycatpants_feed

Posted by Aunt B.

So, this thing has a name–viral sinus infection. There isn’t much to do for it other than what I’ve been doing. Just suffer and drink lots of liquids.

Now I want to talk about something hard and weird. Since I last went to the doctor, I’ve lost twenty pounds. Before that, I lost twelve. So, since the Butcher moved out, but also since I’ve got my meds straight, I’ve lost thirty two pounds.

My whole life I have tried so hard to lose weight. I have starved myself. I have exercised like a fiend. I have tried this crazy thing and that crazy thing. I have been called a liar by doctors. I have had symptoms of serious conditions ignored because the “obvious” solution was that I needed to lose weight.

I have loathed my body. I have felt utterly unlovable and unworthy of love because this is my body. I have felt crazy because all the “just”s people say–just eat less, just exercise more, it’s just physics, etc.–never worked for me. And when I said they didn’t work for me, the fault was mine. I was doing something wrong or lying.

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had an eating disorder, but I’ve had very disordered eating over the course of my life. And it was only when I was like “okay, fuck it. I just can’t hate myself any more. I can’t punish myself all the time. I just don’t have the energy for it.” that I started eating in less fucked-up ways and finding doctors who would, even as they nagged about the weight, would also take my symptoms seriously.

Here’s the thing. I’m not doing anything. I’m not trying to lose weight. I don’t walk Sonnyboy more or farther than I walked Mrs. Wigglebottom. I eat a little differently than I did when the Butcher lived here, but I eat what I want–cookies regularly included.

Okay, here’s the thing that concerns me. Last night, before dinner, I had the thought, “Well, if I’ve done this well without trying, what would happen if I skipped dinner?”

And I hate every part of that. I haven’t “done” anything. “Well” is a shitty word there, like being thinner is intrinsically better than being fatter. And, obviously, “what would happen if I skipped dinner?” is not healthy.

Thankfully, I’m on drugs, so my brain forms destructive thoughts more slowly which gives me an opportunity to head them off at the pass.

But my body is just doing a new weird thing that, frankly, goes with all the old weird things it’s done in the past. I’m not causing this. I’m going to try very hard to not put a lot of faith in it, because it seems to me very unlikely that I’m going to continue to lose weight or not find myself back at my normal weight in the future.

And I feel weird about it because I don’t have some great success story. I haven’t done anything. My body is just doing a thing.

The thing that concerns me is how easily I am ready to accept suffering if I think it will work.

Also, just as a last stupid thing, while we’re playing True Confessions on the Internet, I’m still really fucking fat. My clothes all fit the same. I still look exactly the same. All this vanity and self-undermining bullshit literally over a number.

I hate it.


[syndicated profile] alreadypretty_feed

Posted by Sally

Reader Karen sent this request via e-mail: I would love to see a blog post about dressing in the summer without a tan. I think you do a great job for yourself! It would be nice to see some ‘rules’ for looking great with pale skin when...

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[syndicated profile] polviolence_feed

Posted by politicalviolenceataglance

By Cullen Hendrix for Denver Dialogues

The Syrian Civil War (2011-) has so far claimed over 400,000 lives and pushed nearly six million refugees and internally displaced persons from their homes. It is the defining humanitarian crisis of our time, having drawn in the United States, Russia, and Turkey, among others. The massive refugee crisis created by the conflict strains both neighboring countries and relations within the European Union.

Syria has become, like Darfur before it, the go-to example of a conflict fueled by climate change. Documentaries like Thomas Friedman’s Climate Wars, The Age of Consequences, and VICE News’ Assad’s Syria and the Costs of Climate Change have all made strong claims for security impacts of climate change building off of the Syrian case. President Obama said climate change-related drought “helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war,” while Secretary Kerry noted “it’s not a coincidence that immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced its worst drought on record.”

This interpretation has come under fire recently. The resulting exchange is a teachable moment – both about being nuanced about the relative causal weight of various factors, but also about how this discourse is consumed by non-specialists.

The dominant narrative, in brief, goes as follows: climate change contributes to a historic drought (2007-2010), which leads to crop and livestock failure, which leads to rural hardship and migration to urban centers, which leads to dissatisfaction with the government and employment prospects, which leads to protest and violent repression, which leads to dissidents taking up arms. This narrative was distilled brilliantly in cartoon form in May 2014, largely informed by a policy brief released by the Center for Climate & Security.[1] That same year, Peter Gleick – a prominent voice on the security implications of water scarcity – published a piece coming to a similar conclusion. In 2015, Colin Kelley and a team of researchers published a more data-driven exercise that augmented existing arguments and brought to bear climate data, demonstrating the Syrian drought was both the worst in instrumental record and made three times more likely by anthropogenic climate change.

Yet also like Darfur before it, the climate-change-contributing-to-conflict narrative is now being hotly contested. A just-published critique by Jan Selby and co-authors takes aim at the links between climate change and the Syrian Civil War, arguing 1) there is no clear and reliable evidence that anthropogenic climate change was a factor in Syria’s pre-civil war drought, 2) this drought did not cause truly mass migration, and 3) there is no solid evidence linking in-migration with the grievances that brought Syrians into the streets in 2011. Kelley et al. and Gleick responded immediately; Selby et al. then responded to their responses. Caitlin Werrell and Frank Femia from the Center for Climate & Security responded soon after.

I leave it to the reader to assess the evidence presented by both sides. If you’re interested in my take on the debate, you can find a longish response here. If you are interested in my short take, it’s pretty much the following: Do I believe climate change and climate shocks can place strain on societies in ways that increase the likelihood of conflict? Yes, most definitely – there’s a relatively large literature on this now, though the findings are still somewhat muddled and context- and scale-dependent: climatic conditions affect different types of conflict in different ways. Do I believe that environmental conditions, i.e., the Syrian drought, contributed to the conflict in Syria? Probably, though the evidence is not entirely clear cut. Do I believe climate change caused the Syrian conflict? That’s an incredibly difficult claim to substantiate for at least two reasons.

The first is that arguing any particular conflict was “caused” by climate change is exceedingly difficult. Multiple motivations are always present among participants, and these motivations are both stated and unstated. Also, contextual factors, like dependence on agriculture for livelihoods, patterns of exclusionary ethnic rule, and low levels of economic development affect whether a given climate “shock” results in violence.

The second is the slipperiness of causal language, especially when these accounts are picked up and rebroadcast by the media and policymakers. One of the big axes being ground in the above debate is what exactly does it mean for climate change or environmental conditions to have “contributed” to the Syrian conflict. Does it mean that absent climatic stresses, the conflict would not have occurred? Does it mean that its impact was decisive in a context already among most- (or at least more-) likely cases for civil war, i.e., the straw that broke the camel’s back?

Most research on climatic conditions and conflict finds climate shocks raise the probability of a large-scale event (like conflict onset) occurring relative to some baseline, or increases the frequency with which smaller-scale events (protests, individual battles or skirmishes, cattle raids) occur. That is, climate shocks are probabilistically causal in the sense that they make something more likely. They are not deterministically causal in the sense that they are wholly responsible for the outcome. These relationships emerge from the study of hundreds if not thousands of cases using quantitative methods, including meta-analyses. That is, the evidence is stronger in the aggregate than as evident in any individual case. This sets up the possibility of an ecological inference problem: attributes of individual cases are inferred from the attributes of the group to which individual cases belong.

Let me reason by example. Does smoking make lung cancer more likely? Of course. This relationship has been confirmed over and over and over (and over). My maternal grandfather died of lung cancer. He smoked until the age of 21. Was my grandfather’s lung cancer caused by smoking? Probably not, or at least not in the main. He worked in a lumber treatment facility where he was exposed to toxic chemicals for most of his adult life. That is, other factors were more important in explaining the outcome, even if the “causal” factor was present and may have been a contributing factor.

In the Syrian case, we might look to long-standing issues like authoritarian rule, human rights abuses, exclusionary patronage networks built around religious identity, proximate “sparks” like surging food and fuel prices, weak safety nets and employment prospects, and the demonstration effect of Arab Spring uprisings in neighboring countries. Environmental conditions may have exacerbated some of these problems (food prices in particular), but they did not create them and were not primarily responsible for them.

Why does this matter? While researchers are good at caveating their arguments, those caveated arguments don’t often translate to media and policy audiences. These audiences are keen to link abstract, probabilistic mechanisms to particular cases. For this reason, scholars face implicit encouragement to frame their results in terms of cases that seem to fit the causal processes they seek to model. When this evidence is marshalled to explain any particular event, however, it often takes on the air of a necessary condition – if but for the climate shock, the event would not have occurred. This claim is almost always impossible to substantiate and invites significant criticism – to wit, the whole exchange above.

Ultimately, I land pretty close to Werrell and Femia: the conversation over climate change’s role in Syria – and other conflicts – is a conversation worth continuing. But as researchers, we must continue this conversation cognizant of how it is being interpreted by non-specialists. If not, we risk public overstatement of the problem and getting cases “wrong.” Doing so would undermine the already strong case for treating climate change as a human and national security issue.

[1] Full disclosure: I am a Senior Research Advisor at the Center for Climate & Security.

[syndicated profile] cairogossip_feed

Posted by bcuser

While many are still bemoaning the end of the summer season, there is a bright-side, in that now the focus returns to Cairo – and that means is plenty of concerts, parties and events right here in the capital.

One of the biggest of the month is taking place this weekend at The Playground at Cairo Festival City. This Friday, the Music Park Festival is bringing together three of the biggest bands in the region together for what is one of the highlight events of the weekend.

First up on stage is the band that took the Arab world by storm back in 2012 with their self-titled debut album. Jordanian rockers, El Morabba3, formed three years prior to their breakout release and the Amman natives now stand as one of the most popular bands in their homeland and beyond.

Then comes a band who one could convincingly and easily argue to be the the biggest in the Middle East – Mashrou’ Leila. With four acclaimed studio albums to their names, there are few controversial, progressive and popular musical collective than Hamed Sinno and co. – and their return to Egypt is long over due.

Rounding-off the night, meanwhile, is a group whose stock continues to rise with every passing week; Cairo’s own Sharmoofers. In a short few years, the eccentric and oh, so jolly group has transformed from a cult-followed band on social media, to one of the most popular acts in the country.

And so there you have it; three big bands, one massive night. For more information, call 16826 or click here.
__________

By Kalam El Qahaira

Distributed confusion

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:34 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Tweeted yesterday by the magazine Bon Appétit (which is apparently not the same as the restaurant management company):


Extensive commentary ensued —

 

[syndicated profile] egystreets_feed

Posted by Egyptian Streets

When an American, British, Australian or other foreign citizen is in trouble overseas, their respective governments tend to take immediate action to support the citizen in any way possible. For many years, the Egyptian passport was unlikely to provide such protection. However, one Egyptian Minister is making sure that no Egyptian is left forgotten.

In September 2015, Nabila Makram was appointed Egypt’s Minister of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs. While many in the media appeared to focus on the fact that Makram wore a short-sleeved black top to her appointment ceremony, the new Minister had already started work on her plan to bring Egyptian expatriates closer to home.

“The Ministry of Emigration was cancelled 20 years ago. Back then, it was an honorary Ministry for Egyptian expatriates and was part of the Ministry of Labour,” explains Makram to Egyptian Streets on the sidelines of a recent visit to Australia where she met with members of the Egyptian community and top Australian officials and attended the opening of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Australia’s Eporo Tower.

“The President [Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi] believed in the power of Egyptian expatriates. Wherever he went, he met Egyptian communities who demanded the return of the Ministry of Emigration.”

In 2015, calls for the return of such a Ministry were finally answered. However, the path ahead was not easy for Makram.

“I did not have staff or a budget, nothing whatsoever,” says Makram, smiling despite the obstacles she faced.

“I had to build a ministry from scratch. In the meantime, I also had to prove to Egyptian expatriates that this Ministry would not be honorary like before.”

Less than a month after taking office, Makram found herself packing her bags and heading to Amman. At least 10 people, including five Egyptians, were killed after two trucks loaded with fireworks exploded in a customs area in southern Amman, Jordan.

“I didn’t send the head of my office or one of my staff. I took my bag and I just went there,” says Makram about the 26 October 2015 incident at one of the Amman Customs Department’s yards which also killed and injured Jordanian workers.

“I went and I spoke with the Minister of Labor…because the Egyptians were not covered by health insurance, and this incident was an accident caused by Jordanian companies.

“I explained that the Egyptians involved were not at fault and they should be covered under the umbrella of health insurance. He agreed,” says Makram.

Minister Nabila Makram at a hospital in Jordan with the Jordanian Minister of Labour

Asked what leverage the Ministry of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs has to ensure cooperation and to help Egyptians overseas, Makram says the key is respect.

“When they see a Minister coming [to their country], they will cooperate. It is not necessarily about the facts, it is about respect,” explains Markam.

“After I finished the meeting [with the Jordanian Minister], the Minister asked me where are you going now. I told him that I will be visiting [the Egyptian victims] in hospital. The Minister told me he will come with me. This shows how the people react when you are there and that they respect that a Minister came for the sake of his or her people.”

This sense of respect extends to all cases, even when an Egyptian is not necessarily innocent. When asked whether Egypt’s new efforts can be compared to the protection the United States and other Western countries provide to their citizens abroad, Makram confidently answered positively.

“Yes, even for a single individual, and even if the individual is mistaken,” said Makram, adding that Egyptians had never witnessed this before.

This could be seen in March 2016, when a group of 26 Egyptian high school students were arrested and jailed on charges of cheating and leaking school exams.

“Sudan considered this [the cheating] as a national security problem. So they took all these kids, boys and girls, and placed them in jail.

“I went to Sudan and spoke to the officials, telling them that this is cheating and that they can cancel the test and not put [the students] in jail.

“The officials said that a week after I left Sudan, they would be released.”

Fortunately for the families and friends of the 26 Egyptian students, all were released from detention following Makram’s visit to Sudan. Makram explains that responding to such incidents since she has taken office has provided a strong message for Egyptians abroad.

“People could finally see that this ministry is working for the sake of Egyptians abroad,” says Makram proudly.

“For many Egyptians, especially those who are disadvantaged, this is a very important message.”

Bringing Egyptian Expatriates Closer to Home

Many Egyptian expatriates, particularly second and third generation Egyptians living abroad, have never stepped foot on Egyptian soil. Along with protection Egyptian expatriates living abroad, Makram hopes to build bridges between Egyptian expatriates – whether or not they hold the Egyptian passport – and Egypt.

“Getting scientists and Egyptian experts from abroad to make use of their achievements to give back to Egypt has been my greatest achievement so far,” says Makram, explaining that she has organised two international conferences in Egypt so far.

The first conference, ‘Egypt Can’, was held in December 2016 in the Red Sea city of Hurghada. The Egypt Can conference was the first of its kind and was aimed at creating links between experts and Egyptian youth abroad, and Egyptians living in Egypt, including officials in charge of national projects.

“[The conference] was a big hit. Egypt was able to use the knowledge of experts living abroad,” says Makram, who has also run a number of other initiatives to promote Egypt to expatriates.

The second conference, ‘Egyptian Women Can’, was held in July 2017 in Cairo in a year declared by the Egyptian President as the ‘Women’s Year’. The conference honored 31 women of Egyptian heritage for their success abroad and witnessed the participation of women from all walks of life, ranging from Egypt’s female ministers to young Egyptian women.

“This was the first time that Egypt recognized the efforts of women expatriates,” says Makram about the Egyptian Women Can conference.

“We usually talk about men as the Egyptian citizen abroad and how he suffers and what he is facing, but we always ignored the role of the women abroad.”

For Egyptians, the experiences of women abroad can be both inspiring and shed a light on the future for Egyptian women. Asked about her personal experiences as a female Minister, Makram said that women are increasingly breaking stereotypes and glass ceilings.

“It is not tough anymore [to be a female Minister]. Women in Egypt have their rights. We have the first female governor in Beheira, lawyers, judges, pilots, and so many more big icons,” says Makram about the role of Egyptian women in society.

“As a female Minister, it is challenging because you have to prove you are up to this mission,” says Makram on being one of four female Ministers in Egypt

“If you notice, all the female Ministers, it is not as if they are placing the mas an image to say “look we do have women”. No. Each one of us has a long history of experiences and expertise. It is tough and challenging, but I am enjoying it.”

A Message to Egyptians Abroad

Despite her attempts to bring expatriates closer to Egypt, Makram has found that connecting with them has been the most challenging aspect to her role.

“We have this problem of trust. Expatriates still don’t trust Egypt, as they were left for a long time. This gap is getting larger and my role is to tackle this and bring them closer to Egypt,” says Makram.

“This is the main obstacle and it won’t be over come in one day.”

For many Egyptians who have never visited Egypt, the threat of terror is often raised as a reason for not visiting. Makram believes that many fail to see beyond what is written on social media about the country.

“It is our mistake as a country that we do not have information targeted towards Egyptian expatriates [to tackle what is posted on social media],” says Makram.

“So I tell [Egyptian expatriates] to come and see Egypt for themselves. Security-wise, you can look at the United Kingdom, France, and all these countries which have terrorist attacks, and no one is saying to not go there. For some reason, whenever something happens in Egypt, the response is you should not go, it’s not safe, it’s full of tragedy.”

What can Egyptians living abroad do for their country? Makram believes the answer is simple.

“We do not need your money as much as we need you and your experiences abroad. This is the time to help Egypt,” says Makram.

“This is the time each and every one of you abroad should pass your experiences to Egypt and believe that you have a role to play.

“Love your country. Respect your country. Help your country.”

Samuel Johnson's birthday

Sep. 19th, 2017 10:01 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

One of yesterday's Google Doodles commemorates Samuel Johnson's 308th birthday:

A partially-transcribed digital edition can be found here. The lexicographer entry is here (transcribed) and here (page scan):

SGALGG: Emmys Edition

Sep. 19th, 2017 12:30 am
[syndicated profile] dorothysnarker_feed

Posted by Dorothy Snarker

To be honest, at this year’s Emmys there were so many Gay Gals Acting Like Gay Gals at the Emmys we hardly need a Straight Gals Acting Like Gay Gals. Plus we’ve got Straight Gals Acting Like Gay Gals With Gay Gals. Hell, at this point it’s just one big gay jumbles and I’m here for all of it. Though, if any of this smorgasbord of sexuality is causing any lingering confusion, please allow me to clear things up.

SGALGG: Mackenzie Davis & Gugu Mbatha-Raw

San Junipero forever (like, literally, forever).

GGALGG: Lena Waithe & Alana Mayo

Thanking your girlfriend in your Emmy speech is like 1 million Girlfriend Points, no?

SGALGGWGG: Sarah Paulson & Thandie Newton

No one tell Holland.

GGALGG: Samira Wiley & Lauren Morelli

Happily married photogenic couple is happily married and photogenic.

SGALGGWGG: Samira Wiley & Oprah

No one tell Gayle.

SGALGG: Anna Chlumsky & Ellie Kemper

My Girl is Unbreakable. Sorry, they can’t all be winners.

GGALGG: Evan Rachel Wood

I lied. Evan Rachel Wood and her vests can always be a winner.

SGALGG: Zoe Kravitz & Tessa Thompson

Unfortunately, rainbow dresses don’t actually make you gay – yet.

GGALGG: Kate McKinnon

Gay Lady World Domination Tour starts here.

SGALGGWGG: Kate McKinnon & Nicole Kidman

I see Kate’s already attracting tour groupies.

SGALGG: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern & Zoe Kravitz

I may or may not have cropped Shailene Woodley out because she had the gall to brag about not owning or watching television on the red carpet of a television award show where she was nominated for acting on a television show to a reporter broadcasting it on a television show. Also I’m pretty sure she voted for Jill Stein.

SGALGGWGG: Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton & Jane Fonda

Legends only.

[syndicated profile] polviolence_feed

Posted by politicalviolenceataglance

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released

Guest Post by Rebecca Shiel and Jonathan Powell

This Sunday, 17 September 2017, marks two years since the last attempted military coup d’état in Africa. Defined as “illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.” Coups have been attempted over 200 coups times in Africa, with over 100 succeeding.

However, the last decade has seen a pronounced decline in and—with no coup attempts since September 2015 and no successes since 2014—this trend appears to be gaining momentum. This extraordinary shift away from what Samuel Decalo once referred to as the “most visible and recurrent characteristic of the African political experience” likely has its roots in both external and internal dynamics. Each of these dynamics can be seen with the continent’s last coup attempt.

As is the case with many coups, General Gilbert Diendéré’s September 2015 effort to seize power in Burkina Faso has its roots in the breakdown of an earlier regime. Coming to power after the ouster and assassination of Thomas Sankara, Compaoré had ruled for 27 years with little challenge. This changed with his effort to seek what many believed would be power for life. “Thousands of new Sankaras,” along with civil society actors, and an army that was no longer interested in fighting its people on behalf of the president, forced Compaoré into exile.

A transitional government worked to prepare the country for elections in October 2015. However, on 17 September 2015, the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), the 1,300 strong and well-equipped former president’s elite security unit, attempted to depose interim President Michel Kafando’s regime. Protests immediately commenced, as activists from many backgrounds stood against the coup. As Hagberg writes, “virtually all Burkinabé seemed to reject the military takeover. Civil society, political parties, trade unions, students – citizens from nearly every walk of life expressed their disgust.”

Apart from domestic reactions, swift condemnation from regional and international powers also played an important role. The AU, ECOWAS, the UN, and the European Union all met the coup with harsh condemnation. The AU sanctioned the coup leaders the day after the coup began, imposing travel bans, asset seizures, and suspending Burkina Faso’s membership. ECOWAS quickly drew up terms of surrender. These efforts were echoed by actors including the UN and United States.

Recent scholarly work has demonstrated that such reactions can play an important role in coups over the long term. The African Union has been found to have strengthened its anti-coup norm over time, especially after the launch of its Peace and Security Council. Further, this has lead to a significant reduction in coups on the continent. Evidence also indicates that negative reactions from both domestic and international actors substantially reduces the amount of time coup conspirators can maintain power.

The regular army forces took a cue from both reactions to the coup and—perhaps belatedly—threatened to retake the capital from the putschists by force. After brief fighting, the conspirators returned to their barracks and Diendéré and 23 co-conspirators were soon charged with crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, so long as there exists a plethora of illegitimate regimes with few alternatives to remove dictators (and the occasional democrat), the prospects for unconstitutional seizures of power will remain. However, as recently observed, the world seems to be moving away from military-led takeovers and towards popular movements. Causes for this shift can very well be found in how domestic and international actors respond, with hostile reactions toward coups providing important lessons to future would be plotters, whether domestic or abroad.

 

Rebecca Schiel is a PhD Candidate at the University of Central Florida in the Department of Political Science. Her work has appeared in Studies in Comparative International Development and Africa Spectrum. Her research focuses on coups, mutinies, and institutions.

Jonathan Powell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His research focuses on civil military relations and the dynamics of conflict with a specific interest on coups and mutinies. His publications have appeared in outlets including the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Democratization, African Security Review, and Africa Spectrum.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Video description: The Bangles cover Big Star’s September Gurls in Pittsburgh in 1986.

It’s time for the monthly thing where we answer the things people typed into search engines as if they are actual questions. This feature is generously funded by Patreon supporters.

1 “How to stop a neighbour and hubby putting me down every time I walk past
.”

Ugh, your husband is being a giant asshole, and it’s time to tell him straight up to knock this behavior off. “Stop doing that. It’s rude, disrespectful, and it hurts my feelings.” If he won’t, you’ve got Husband-problems more than you have Neighbor-problems.

2 “What does it mean when a girl says focusing on school right now after you say your feelings
.” 

It means she did not enthusiastically say “Yes, I feel the same way, let’s definitely date each other!” It means she’d rather focus on school than go out with you. Interpret it as “No.”

3 “Anonymous STD notification letter.”

National treasure website Scarleteen recommends InSpot  for sending an anonymous e-card and has a good how-to guide on doing this kind of notification. Australia has a service called Better To Know that lets you notify partners of possible Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) anonymously via text or email. In both cases, you enter info, the person gets a message that lets them know that they may have been exposed to an STI (+ there’s a way for you to enter which ones) and should get tested. There’s a good roundup of similar services in this article.

If you’re feeling blue and alone in this, the Netflix show formerly known as “Scrotal Recall” (now renamed Lovesick) is a romantic comedy about a man who must notify past sexual partners about possible chlamydia exposure.

If you don’t want to go anonymous, a simple text or phone call that says “Hey [Sex Friend] I recently tested positive for ________. You should get checked out, too” is a very kind and ethical thing to send. The more we all remove stigma and shame around STIs, the better job everyone can do taking care of ourselves and each other.

4 “My boyfriend mom prophesied that we are not meant to be together.”

Translation: Your boyfriend’s mom does not want you to be together.

What do you and your boyfriend want?

5 “When some knocks on door and says the Lord compelled them to stop and talk to you.”

Translation: The someone wanted to stop and talk to you.

What do you want?

6 “How to decline a neighbor asking us over

.”

“How nice of you to think of us, but no thank you.”

7 “What to do when your friend sets you up on a blind date and the guy’s interested in her.”

Acknowledge the awkwardness, have a good laugh together, tell the guy “good luck, dude, tell her how you feel and maybe we can avoid this sitcom nonsense next time” and go home with your dignity. You didn’t do anything weird.

8 “Should you invite girls of interest to your party

.”

Throwing a party is a great reason to invite someone that you might be interested in romantically over. That person can meet your friends, see your place, everyone can see how everyone gets on together, you can get to know each other better without having it be a DATE date, etc. Why not?

Now, girl(s) plural is an advanced move, but again, why not?

9 “What do you do when your daughter owes you money and is not paying you back but takes vacations and spends a lot
.”

Ugh, this is a hard one. Here are some steps for dealing with friends and family members who are not good/prompt/conscientious about paying back loans,

a) Assume that you won’t ever be repaid. Take whatever steps you need to shore up your own financial well-being so that you’re not depending on that money. If you do manage to collect it it will be a happy thing.

b) Ask the person to repay you what they owe. If you bring up fancy vacations or their other spending they will get automatically defensive, so skip that part in your request (even if it is relevant to the issue). Why skip it? You don’t need the story about how she bought the tickets long ago or how they were really a gift from a friend and you don’t want to give her a reason to feel judged and aggrieved (even if judgment is warranted). The vacation money is spent. It’s not coming back. She knows that you know that she knows that she owes you money. Just be simple and direct and ask for what you need:

Script: “Daughter, you still owe me $______. When can we expect repayment?” or “Daughter, you still owe me $_______. Can you repay me by (date)?” Brace yourself for the wave of defensiveness and excuses that is coming. Do not, I repeat, do not get into the details of her spending or her excuses or reasons. Just repeat the question. “Okay, so, when can you get the money to me?

c) Don’t lend this person any more money. You may or may not ever get the money back, but you can definitely control whether you lend them more. You now have a lot of information about how they’ll behave when you lend them money and you both have a hard, awkward lesson. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior here, and “I’m sorry, Daughter, I don’t feel comfortable lending you money since you didn’t pay me back” is a situation your daughter created, not you.

I hope you get a good result. Also, general thought, if you are going to lend money to friends or family, it’s a good idea to put something in writing: How much, what it’s for, when & how will it be paid back. Your script can be “Let’s just write it down so we all know what the agreement is and I never have to bug you about paying me back.

10 “Etiquette of peeing when surfing.”

We are people of action and lies do not become us: In the unlikely comedy of errors that lands me on an actual surfboard in an actual body of water, there is no way on earth my enthusiastic and prolific middle-aged bladder is gonna be able to wait until I swim to shore, find a land-based bathroom, and peel off my wetsuit in time to pee decorously in a toilet. This seems like a “it’s a big ocean” and “that’s between you and your wetsuit” issue to me, but maybe an actual surfer has insight?

11 “How to make girlfriend move out to Colorado.”

You do not make. You ask, and then she either moves or she doesn’t.

12 “I have to leave the Midwest or I will die but my husband thinks it’s all in my head.”

Ok, this seems like a REALLY specific situation and we are DEFINITELY missing context here but what if I said “Even if it were in your head, is your need to go so great and so urgent and so necessary that it’s worth going alone, even if that’s a difficult & sad decision?”

13 “Dating female academic awful
.”

It certainly can be, since the prospect of relocation is always hanging over the whole deal.

14 “He said he wants to do his own thing and maybe see other people.”


Translation: “I am planning to see other people and have less energy/focus/time/interest for a relationship with you.”

It’s a prelude to a breakup, possibly one where “he” either wants you to be the bad guy and actually do the breaking up or where he’d like you to stick around in his life but in background/low-priority mode.

15 “My 23 year old son looks so unattractive, but he won’t shave or cut his hair
.”

[Bad Advisor] Well, it’s definitely 100% his job to make sure his face and body look attractive and acceptable to you, his parent, at all times so definitely be sure to bring this up as often as possible! Your concern, constantly expressed, will only bring you closer together as a fellow adult human strives to please you in all things, including and especially the hair that is growing on his personal face and body where he lives and you do not.

Also, to be on the safe side, hide all of your copies of the musical about this very question, lest he get ideas about fur vests, naked dancing or protesting the Vietnam War.

It is not only your business but your duty to set this young man straight. [/Bad Advisor]

16 “What does it mean if you ask for a guy’s phone number and his response is he is antisocial
.”

He did not want to give you his phone number, or, if he does/did, he is warning you that he doesn’t want to actually hang out. Try again, another dude, another day.

17 “Fucking past due invoices.”

Fucking the worst.

18 “Girlfriend of 11 years is leaving me
.”

Wallow. Fuck Around. Do The Thing.

Repeat the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear to yourself.

(Or not, as it suits you).

19 “Angry that my husband allows his parents to come whenever they want
.”

This would make me angry, too. His family may have a drop-in culture or agreement and expectations, but you do not, and therefore the family that you and your husband make together does not. There are several conversations/actions that need to happen if they haven’t already (and maybe they have and need to happen again):

a) “Husband, I want your folks to feel and be welcome in our house, but to make that happen I need some advance notice. Please ask them to call first and ask if we’re free, and please check with me before you say yes.” 

b) “In-Laws, I really want you to be and feel welcome in our house, but I need more advance notice than you’re accustomed to providing. Just dropping by, even when I’m happy to see you, really stresses me out. I know this is different from how you do things in your family, but I need you to call first and ask if I’m free or if now is a good time. Thanks!” 

c) “Husband, I know I’m somewhat ‘changing the rules’ on your family, but I really need some consideration here. Back me up.” 

d) When they just drop by anyway and your husband isn’t home try: “Oh, too bad this isn’t a good time, I’m just stepping out” + LEAVE (go to the library or run errands or something, just take a drive around the block on principle). Btw if they have keys and are in the habit of just letting themselves in, put the chain on when you’re home alone. Teach them that you won’t drop everything because they came over.

e) When they just drop by anyway and your husband is home, “Oh, too bad, this isn’t a good time, I was just about to take a nap” + HIDE (in your bedroom with the door shut  – keep books handy – and let him do whatever work of entertaining them). Risk seeming unwelcoming and unfriendly. You ARE unwelcoming…to people who invite themselves over.

This didn’t start overnight and won’t go away overnight but in my opinion it’s a battle worth picking.

20 “How to agree a girl for fucking if she dislikes doing it.”

Find someone else to fuck. Someone who likes doing it. Someone who enthusiastically likes doing it with you.

What the fuck, people.

21 “Got an apology from my ex after 15 years
.”

That had to feel weird.

Whether this was welcome or unwelcome contact, there’s one important thing you should know:

It doesn’t obligate you to do anything or feel anything or re-open any kind of contact with this person. If you want to talk to them, ok? You could say “Thanks for the apology, I forgive you and wish you well” if that is true of how you feel.

But if you’d rather let the past stay in the past, you can 100% delete the weird Facebook message or whatever and go on with your life.

22 “Did the date go good or bad?”

This is a great question. You can’t control whether another person will like you, so after a date ask yourself:

  • Did I enjoy myself?
  • Was I relaxed and comfortable with this person?
  • Could I be myself around this person?
  • Did the conversation flow?
  • Did I feel like the other person was on my team, helping the date go smoothly and laughing gently at any awkward moments? Or did the awkward silences turn into awkward chasms on the edge of the awkward abyss?
  • Did the other person seem at ease and comfortable with me?
  • Was the actual time we spent together fun/enjoyable/comfortable/pleasurable?
  • Was it as good as spending time alone doing something enjoyable or with a good friend or do I wish I’d just spent the evening at home?
  • Was I bored? Checked out? Apprehensive?
  • Was it easy to make plans?
  • Do I feel like the person was listening/paying attention/engaged?
  • (If kissing is a thing you’re interested in) Can I picture myself kissing them?
  • Am I looking forward to hanging out again?
  • Were there any red flags?*

If the date went well for you, where you enjoyed yourself and felt good, ask the person for another date. The rest is up to the other person.

If you can get in the habit of checking in with yourself about your own comfort and enjoyment levels during and after dates, even a “meh” date can be useful because you’ll know more about yourself and what you’re looking for.

*Bonus list of some of my personal First Date red flags from back in the day when I bravely put on clean shirts and lip gloss and met strangers from the Internet for drinks:

  • Was the person I was meeting generally congruent with the person presented on the dating site and during any prior conversations? If you’re “single” on the dating site and suddenly “planning to get divorced btw we still live together and no one at work knows we’re separated so I’d appreciate your discretion” when we meet, if you’re 28 in all your dating site photos and 58 in person…it was not going to work.
  • Did the person monologue the whole time?
  • Did I feel like I was monologuing the whole time at someone who just shyly stared at me and nodded? (The Silent Type is a great type and it may be your type but experience tells me it was not mine).
  • Did I feel like I was an unpaid nonconsensual therapist while someone shared everything about their life?
  • Did the person constantly talk about their ex & exes?
  • Was literally everything they said a complaint about someone or something?
  • Were these complaints at least funny and entertaining?
  • In these complaints was nothing ever their responsibility? Was it just a long list of Ways I Have Been Wronged By Others with a subtext of Surely You Have A Duty To Not Disappoint Me Like Everyone Else Has (Now That You Know My Tale of Woe)?
  • Ugh, mansplaining, especially politics or philosophy, how movies get made, the “authenticity” of whatever food we were eating, the makeup & history of the neighborhood where I lived and they did not (for example when I failed to pick the “most authentic” taco place in Pilsen or Little Village), telling me why everything I liked was actually overrated.
  • Talking during movies. No.
  • Taking me to some sort of performance and then critiquing how much it sucks into my ear in real time. No.
  • Overfamiliarity, over-investment. “I can’t wait to introduce you to my son, he’s going to love you!” Ok but u just met me I am still wearing my coat slow down friend.
  • Overdoing innuendo & sex talk too soon, like, “I just got a new bed, it’s very comfortable, you’ll have to come test it out with me later heh heh.” Ok but u just met me I am still wearing my coat slow down friend.
  • Overdoing it with the touching. If dinner and a movie remind me of how my cat likes to constantly crawl all over me and make annoying biscuits everywhere it’s too much touching!
  • Negging of all sorts, especially “I don’t usually date ________, but you seem really cool.” (Bonus Nope!!!!! if the blank includes fat people, feminists, “women who seem really smart”)
  • Constant contact, expecting constant texts/calls/emails before we’ve even met in person, all up in my social media biz, “liking” every single photo/comment going back through the archives. It feels good to be seen and not so good to be surveilled.
  • Neediness  – We literally just met, so, surely there is someone else in your life who can drive you home from dental surgery or hold your hand while you put your dog to sleep or fly home with you to your father’s funeral or weigh in with you about whether you should accept this job offer? (All true stories of actual things actual men wanted me to do after a few emails and one hour-long bar or coffee date). I will move mountains to take care of people I love, when, you know, I have had a chance to figure out if love them.
  • Casual, “ironic” sexist or racist comments, dropping code sentences like “I hate all the political correctness these days, I feel like I can’t say anything.
  • Bringing your feature screenplay to the date for me to read.

Your Mileage May Vary, as the great saying goes. My list doesn’t look like anyone else’s and I may have had stuff on there that is not necessarily a problem in itself or not a problem for you, or where there are exceptions to be made (I did drive the guy home from dental surgery as a human favor for a fellow human being, I just didn’t date him more) or that are just differences in styles and interest levels. It’s not meant to be universal and it’s about compatibility with you vs. any one thing being Good or Bad.

I’m including the list because I developed it over time by paying attention to what made me feel good, comfortable, safe, relaxed, happy, excited and what made me feel the opposite.I stopped asking people “Is this normal/cool/okay thing when you date?” and started asking “Am I good with this?” and “Am I delighted by this?” Those experiences (and the decision to be picky about second and third dates) helped me avoid some entanglements that would have been fleeting at best and draining at worst, and it helped me know “Just Right” when I saw it.

We focus so much on the auditioning aspect of dating – Am I good enough? Does the other person like me back? – that our own comfort and needs and pleasure can get lost right when we need them most. It was a good date if you enjoyed yourself and felt good and did your best to be kind and considerate. It was a bad date if you didn’t enjoy yourself. Whether a good date will lead to another one is up to more than just you.

 


[syndicated profile] egystreets_feed

Posted by Kari Megeed

An Irish national who was arrested for his role in 2013 protests was acquitted on all charges after a four-year imprisonment, Wadi al-Natrun courts ruled Monday.

Ibrahim Halawa, 21, of Dublin, was cleared of murder, inciting violence, and arson during a mass trial in courts near Cairo, the capital city of Egypt.

The trial saw verdicts read for 500 prisoners, including US national Ahmed Etiwy.

Arrest and Charges

Halawa was arrested at the Al-Fath mosque raid in 2013 after he participated in protests against the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president Mohammed Morsi. He was originally on a summer trip to Egypt with his family, and just 17 years old at the time.

The Irish-Egyptian was detained along with his three sisters, although they were released and returned to Dublin three months following their arrest. Halawa, however, remained a prisoner until news of his upcoming release earlier today.

 

Halawa was reported to have “jumped with joy” upon hearing the verdict, hugging nearby detainees and clearly beaming with happiness.

Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, stated that their government plans to facilitate Halawa’s homecoming “at the earliest opportunity”.

“We are delighted with today’s news,” said Halawa’s lawyer, Darragh Mackin, to the Guardian. “After four turbulent years, Ibrahim Halawa has been found innocent of all charges. He has, from day one, maintained his innocence to the charges. He now looks forward to being reunited with his family an innocent man.”

 

Ireland’s consul Shane Gleeson was also in attendance, and was photographed giving the detainee the “thumbs up” signal following the reading.

RTÉ News‏ at One spoke to his sister, Nosayba Halawa, who reported that his family is “delighted” by news of his acquittal.

She said that they were watching his trial online from Dublin: “We couldn’t believe it. After all that suffering, it’s really come to the end.

“We don’t know when he’ll be released and when he’ll be home but I hope it will be soon. He has suffered a lot,” she stated.

Halawa’s trial was adjourned more than 30 times, and he faced gruelling conditions and multiple transfers during his four years in detention.

The exact date of Halawa’s release is yet to be known.

Neo-Nazi kanji

Sep. 18th, 2017 03:49 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Tattoo on the shoulder of a marcher in Charlottesville on Saturday, August 12:

Source: "A lot of white supremacists seem to have a weird Asian fetish," Vice News, Dexter Thomas (9/12/17)

People who know only the Chinese forms of the characters are puzzled by this tattoo.  It is a Japanese kanji, not a Chinese hanzi.

It can mean English "real": riaru リアル.

The on (Sinitic style) reading is jitsu the kun (Japanese style) reading is mi.

See the etymologies here.

The Chinese simplified equivalent is shí 实; the traditional form is 實.

Check out the definitions here: "real; true; honest; solid"   I think the guy is wearing this tattoo to indicate his dedication to "truth" and "reality".

[h.t. Ben Zimmer, Lane Greene; thanks to Fangyi Cheng]

[syndicated profile] egystreets_feed

Posted by Kari Megeed

The widely popular “This is Egypt” campaign was awarded the title of Best Tourism Promotional Video in the Middle East at the World Tourism Organization’s 22nd General Assembly in China over the weekend.

In another win for Egypt’s tourism industry this year, the video was chosen for the award out of 63 nominations, and presented to Egypt’s Tourism Minister Yehya Rashed in front of 130 WTO member nations.

The promotional film features clips of some of Egypt’s most prized tourist attractions, activities, and unique historic and cultural elements in a mesmerizing minute and 24 seconds-long video compilation.

Take a look at the video below:

The “This is Egypt” campaign previously took home the Golden City Gate Award for Best Tourism Promotion by the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin, Germany last March.

Upon accepting the award, Rashid commented on the World Tourism Organization’s consistent support of Egypt’s efforts to drive international tourism back into the nation, and restore it to its original place on the map.

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Yehya Rashed Accepting the Award (Shorouk News)

The WTO was founded in 1975 by the United Nations as a promoter of sustainable tourism, and currently boasts 156 member nations.

Patriarchal homestead

Sep. 18th, 2017 01:43 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

A tweet by Alex Gabuev:

The first translation on the panel (Northern Landscapes) seems all right, but both the Chinese and the English of the second are laughably off the mark.

The word “патриаршее” means “something that belongs to the Patriarch (of the Russian Orthodox Church)”. The original meaning of “подворье” is “inn”, “guest house”.  However, in this context it means “residence” (the temporary residence) rather than a “farmstead”.  Together, the phrase “патриаршее подворье” may be rendered as “Patriarch’s residence”.

For the Chinese, "zhòngnán qīngnǚ de nóngzhuāng 重男轻女的农庄" is a direct translation of the English, but taking the wrong meaning ("androcentric") of the mistranslated English word "patriarchal".  A better translation of “патриаршее” (from Greek Πατριάρχης) would be zōng zhǔjiào 宗主教 (Patriarch).

[h.t. Don Clarke; thanks to Nikita Kuzmin]

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