CRomnibus and the Torture Report: Business as Usual in Washington

This week in Washington we saw two monumental reports come out, one in the form of a bill and the other a scathing report of a governmental organization. The bill, CRomnibus, saved the U.S. government from shutting down again for the second time in two years. The torture report exposed the CIA torture methods during the Bush administration, a policy that began a decade ago. Despite CRomnibus saving the government from a shutdown, the bill is overwhelmingly pro-business, and the torture report, without actual prosecutions of individuals, does nothing to reform a clandestine, governmental body that has consistently embarrassed the United States abroad for decades. These two developments, which have both conservatives and liberals upset, couldn’t be better indicators of how Washington hasn’t changed in recent years, and it is simply business as usual inside the beltway.

If average Americans can’t understand “Washington talk” then it’s time for them to stop talking.

 

Cromnibus

When #CRomnibus started trending on Twitter this week and the term was being thrown around on news programs, many people, including myself, wanted to know what the heck it meant. I thought Mitt Romney was riding some sort of bus. But, the term itself, which was conjured up on Capitol Hill, couldn’t better epitomize the disconnection Washington has with the rest of the country. I will now have to define this term, which perfectly illustrates Congress’s inability to be transparent. If average Americans can’t understand “Washington talk” then it’s time for them to stop talking.

CRomnibus is a term that brings together two ideas. The “CR” stands for ‘continuing resolution’; this is the way Congress continues to fund the government when a deal can’t be reached. Omnibus refers to an ‘omnibus bill’ which is how Congress funds the government when things are running normally. In layman’s terms, this term indicates that the government will continue to be funded but not exactly on a normal basis. It’s a resolution, or rather a compromise.

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Marijuana and Soccer: The Evolution of America

Soccer-Ball-Bong

The recent election in November and the World Cup that took place over the summer in Brazil showed two important things about Americans: we are evolving socially and we know how to come together for a fun cause. Marijuana and soccer, once uncommon words in the American lexicon, are some of the hottest topics amongst millennials.

Marijuana

Americans have come a long way since the release of the movie Reefer Madness in 1936 that associated marijuana use with manslaughter, suicide, rape, and madness. Any American who would watch this movie today would laugh at its preposterousness and inaccuracy. But even during the 1980s, more than 60% of Americans were opposed to legalizing marijuana, and that number didn’t drop below 60% until after 2005. So what has made Americans change their minds now?

Certainly, one cause is that millennials are overeducated and are products of the Internet age, a time when people have access to unlimited amounts of information and opinions. With the Internet, we can read news from other countries and study laws and policy from other countries. More importantly, Americans can meet and communicate with foreigners without even leaving their basement. At the same time, more American students are studying abroad than ever before, facilitating unprecedented amounts of cultural learning and exchange. Lastly, millennials can vote now. Any millennial born after 1996 is eligible to vote and marijuana is a big issue, mostly because anti-marijuana laws have directly affected them or their friends.

Another factor is that the proponents of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s have now become leaders within society. The generation that grew up with Reefer Madness is slowly dying out and so are their laws. The newest leaders (aka the baby boomers) grew up in an era with social unrest and witnessed marijuana become a countercultural drug. Nowadays, a large majority of baby boomers view the illegality of marijuana as irrational and hypocritical, since most of them see nothing wrong with the drug and probably have used marijuana at least once in their lives themselves.

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Rand Paul and Kentucky’s Coal

We should be talking about energy freedom. Like all other sectors of the economy, allowing businesses and ideas to compete on the free market will not only produce the most efficient forms of energy, but will also pass along the savings to the consumer. –Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul (KY)

Senator Rand Paul (KY)

As a senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul has to keep his constituents in mind when talking about the issue of energy innovation. The Kentucky coal industry, last quarter, employed 11,670 people, which comprises less than 1% of the Kentucky workforce. Obviously, this isn’t a lot; but what most Americans tend to think about with coal are greasy-looking miners or mountaintop removal. But, the real face of coal production is cheap electricity, and Rand Paul knows this.

As a champion for the little guy, Rand Paul understands that an attack on coal is an attack on his state of Kentucky. Kentucky currently has the third lowest electricity rates in the country, at $7.26/kilowatt. Its coal power plants produce nearly all electricity for the entire state. These cheap rates attract dozens of industries to set up shop in Kentucky; in turn, these industries provide jobs for thousands upon thousands of Kentuckians. Just think, every time you flick on a light switch you’re probably using energy from a coal power plant. Thus, heavy energy consuming industries, like the automotive industry, would like to work in states that have low electricity rates. This makes Kentucky an alluring and attractive option for many industries. Therefore, if you kill coal, these industries could kill Kentucky.

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Kentucky has both Eastern and Western coal-producing areas

But, Rand Paul is not some climate-change skeptic or a fool with his head in the sand. The obvious issue with coal is its pollution and Rand Paul understands that non-renewable energies increase CO2 emissions, and that alternative energy is the way of the future. But at the same time, he cares about that $7.26/kilowatt for electricity and knows that Kentucky’s coal provides a livelihood for thousands of families across his state.

Rand Paul believes in energy freedom.

As a true capitalist, he understands the power of the free market. This is certainly an area where progressive environmentalists might get wary, but the fact is, an open, unregulated market for sustainable (or renewable) energies is the best way to figure out which energy is the best. Handing out government subsidies to specific sectors of green energy (i.e. solar, wind) makes “it impossible for companies to know what is really the most efficient solution…Any energy source that really meets the needs of the American consumer would not need the government to subsidize it. Just as we don’t subsidize laptops and iPods, we should not be subsidizing solar and wind power” (Rand).

When the government gives out subsidies based on preference and not performance, there will always be unneeded lobbyists and special interests groups. Everyday Americans don’t like this game and this is what has turned Washington politics into a circus show. But, Rand Paul is among them ready to play hardball, for the sake of America’s energy future and of course, his fellow Kentuckians.

Far-left environmentalists simply want to pull the plug on the coal industry overnight, without even considering how many millions of families it could affect, or how many of these families have made a living off this industry for decades and even generations. But, all citizens will acknowledge that you can’t shut down an entire industry and not offset the job loss for these working Americans.  Rand Paul has a common sense proposal that champions these individuals and families, and opens and deregulates the sustainable energy market in order to find the most efficient and reliable energy alternative.

Listen to Rand Paul discuss several different issues below (including the energy industry starting at 4:40):

5 reasons Americans should consider Bernie Sanders in 2016

On Tuesday November 8, 2016, Americans will again go to the polls and choose between Republicans and Democrats to run the country, this time deciding on the next president. President Obama’s successor most definitely will come from one of these two parties in what looks to become the most expensive election cycle in U.S. history. And like Obama, the next president will have to be a media sensation with a youthful look and catchy motto and be a corporate pawn. And, the next president won’t have many new ideas and will do nothing to stop this perpetual oscillation of politics in Washington, today. But there is an alternative: Bernie Sanders, the Independent, U.S. senator from Vermont. Here are 5 reasons to consider him as an alternative in 2016:

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004

He’s an independent: A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders has identified as an independent since his days as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont starting in 1981. To assume that mayorship, he beat out both the Democratic and Republican candidates in that election, and he has never lost an election since. The more important element to consider, however, is that according to Gallup, 42% of Americans now identify as independents. This is the highest recorded level of independents ever in the U.S. and it outranks the Democrats who stand at 31% and the Republicans who recorded a measly 25% of the general voting public. There is a feeling sweeping across the country that the two parties that run the show in Washington have not been doing an adequate job for some time and a change is needed. Sanders’ views obviously are far-left and he tends to caucus with the Democrats, but his positions have the power to fire up the leftist progressives but still appeal to some moderates on the right.

He’s old (and wise): In 2016, Sanders will be 75 years old, and if he is elected will become the oldest president ever (Ronald Reagan was elected at 69). But age is always relative, because wisdom is more important. He has extensive political experience having served as Burlington’s mayor for 8 years, was a member of the House of Representatives for 16, and since 2007 has been a U.S. senator. This politician knows the system very well, but more importantly has been in Congress when it functioned on a bi-partisan basis. Having served in both houses of Congress, he knows the political games but also knows how to satisfy his constituents, considering he was able to get Vermont’s support (as an independent) for the senate seat. What more experience and wisdom does a future president need having served in both houses and remaining consistent to his ideology since 1981?

He’s a socialist: Despite its negative connotation in the U.S., we are a socialist nation. Medicare, Medicaid, and now Obamacare are national healthcare plans; the FDA verifies that your food is safe; the roads we drive on are regulated and funded by the government; public libraries provide free books, music, and movies; and the Veterans Affairs (whose chairman is Sanders himself) provides overwhelming support for returning soldiers. These are certainly things we take for granted but are by definition socialist programs. The U.S., as a country, is by no means on the far left in terms of socialism but these programs do exist and help millions of people every year. Sanders has consistently voted to continue funding these programs and has vehemently opposed tax cuts for the 1%, most famously in 2010 when he stood on the Senate floor for 8½ hours lambasting the Obama tax cuts. (A full transcript of this speech can be found here. Below is the last half hour of this speech) Sanders, himself, supports a Scandinavian form of socialism, a form that provides free education and healthcare for everyone and features things such as a 52-week, paid maternity leave and free childcare for working mothers. Again, these are not things that many Americans would oppose when put into practice. But, as a socialist he understands that the top 1% need to be taxed higher to pay for the social programs that so many Americans rely on. He understands that corporate welfare actually eliminates jobs for the middle class and sends them overseas.

He’s against corporate personhood: Those unfamiliar to the 2010 Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will be reminded that this case ruled in favor of equating corporations to individuals; thus, all corporations now have unlimited spending power when it comes to campaign contributions, protected by the First Amendment. Sanders, as an Independent, is strongly opposed to this idea and understands that money should have no business influencing the political process, as many Americans would probably agree. Essentially, the Supreme Court has enabled corporations to buy out Congress and the White House, and only the Supreme Court, whose members are appointed by the president, can overturn this ruling. Sanders might be one of the last few members of Congress who, as president, could influence the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, preventing the U.S. from spiraling farther into an oligarchy.

He wants to fix our ailing infrastructure: Part of his 8½-hour tirade on the Senate floor in 2010 also included an appropriate railing against the lack of federal effort to fix the U.S.’s deteriorating infrastructure. Sanders realizes that improving our infrastructure is a jobs program. Cars, trains, and airplanes all rely on government-funded infrastructure, and these are all things Americans use on a daily basis.

So come November 8, 2016, consider writing in Bernie Sanders’ name for president, since chances are the corporations won’t let him be on the ticket for the Democratic Party.

Watch Bernie Sanders on a panel explaining the 2014 midterm elections:

No sympathy for recently released U.S. detainees

No sympathy for recently released U.S. detainees

Although it was a wonderful bit of news to hear that North Korea had released two American detainees on Sunday, it is hard to muster up any bit of sympathy for these two individuals, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller. Bae had spent the last two years in prison in North Korea and Miller the last seven months before they arrived back stateside in Seattle Saturday night.

Kenneth Bae, a foreign tourist operator, was serving a 15-year sentence for apparent anti-government activities that sought to overthrow the government. According to sources, he had taken unsuitable pictures that showed starving children and public executions of dissenters. Unsurprisingly, he was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

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Where’s the U.S. twitter campaign for Ayotzinapa?

Where’s the U.S. twitter campaign for Ayotzinapa?

Not too long ago there was the global twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls headed up by none other than the First Lady Michelle Obama. This campaign raised awareness about a large number of Nigerian girls that were kidnapped at school by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. And according to some reports this campaign helped put pressure on the Nigerian government to try to save these girls.

Fast forward to the last month and a half and we see a similar kidnapping story coming out of our southern neighbor Mexico. In the Mexican state of Guerrero, 43 “normalistas” (student-teachers) went missing hours before a scheduled protest in the town of Iguala. These students, who were studying at the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in the small pueblo of Ayotzinapa, were apparently intercepted en route to this scheduled protest on September 26, 2014. The protest was intended to raise concerns about discriminatory hiring and funding practices by the Mexican government that seems to prefer hiring inner-city teachers to those from rural areas like Ayotzinapa. The protest was scheduled to coincide with a political conference celebrating a local politician’s public works.

What happened instead is now being called a kidnapping and mass murder. On September 26 just outside the town of Iguala, law enforcement intercepted the buses of protesters and a shootout ensued. Six students were killed and 43 went missing. According to reports, students were rounded up by law enforcement and taken to a police station in Iguala.

"All policemen of the world are bastards"

“All policemen of the world are bastards”

After that it is presumed that these students were handed over to Guerreros Unidos, a criminal organization within the state of Guerrero. Now, just in the past few days, reports are circulating that all these students were executed, incinerated, and disposed of, according to several members of this organization that have now turned themselves in. The local government appears to be in collusion with this criminal organization and authorized the release of these students to Guerreros Unidos.

HUMAN RIGHTS DISASTER. SUPPRESSION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH. GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION AND COVER-UP. KIDNAPPING AND MURDER.

These are things that should upset any American, and yet where is the outrage? There isn’t even a puny twitter campaign. Latin America sure is pissed. So why isn’t the White House and Michelle Obama? Where’s the media outcry? Oh, it must be that Guerreros Unidos doesn’t perpetuate Islamophobia. They’re just funded by drug money filtering in from the U.S.-Mexico border. Or maybe Nigeria is more important because their main export country is the U.S. And guess what their number one export product is? Yes, oil.

How is it that Americans can jump onboard a futile twitter campaign like #BringBackOurGirls which focused on an equally disturbing event in an African country that many Americans probably can’t even find on a map, but, they can’t get upset over a mass murder-kidnapping that occurred in a town just north of Acapulco in a country that borders the U.S.? And by the way, those Nigerian girls were never “brought home,” according to Boko Haram they are now “Islamic converts.”

So, are twitter campaigns even worth it? Yes, there are. They raise awareness about certain historical events that might otherwise be forgotten, BUT, an outcry goes beyond just writing a hashtag with four words and then going back to binge-watching The Walking Dead. How about supporting and voting for politicians who have comprehensive reform ideas for ending the drug war on our border? Comprehensive ideas that include working with the Mexican government. Or maybe donate money to a non-profit organization focused on Nigeria, like the Grace Foundation, which aims to help poor citizens of this oil-rich nation have a sustainable and healthy community, because that’s what they should be allowed to have.

Yes, the White House and the media have dropped the ball on this story. And yes, they each have their own agenda to attend to. But, let them know your agenda. And simply being a cynic is not an agenda. Yes, you can be wary of the political system and complain about how corrupt the government is. Or maybe you think the drug war can’t be fixed and oil will always be America’s opium. But, where have new ideas and innovation gone? The future tycoon of renewable energy is currently sedated by technology and cynicism. But, I implore him or her to ask: Do I dare disturb the universe? Please do.

#JusticeForAyotzinapa #YaMeCansé #FueElEstado

3 reasons you should listen to Hozier’s debut album

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known as Hozier, is an Irish singer-songwriter from Bray and he just released an incredible self-titled, debut album. Hozier-Byrne is a Trinity College music graduate and was a member of the Irish choral group Anúna before going solo. This indie-rock newbie has put together an instant classic with Hozier, a soul and blues infused, indie-rock masterpiece. Here’s why you should listen to it:

1.) A new voice. Hozier’s choral training can’t be missed throughout this soulful album. More importantly, he adds a new voice to the indie-rock scene, a market that has become oversaturated with rustic, run-of-the-mill mediocrity. At the same time, the balance between the blues and soul on this album is almost perfect, with Hozier offering a crisp and clear voice on blues medleys such as “To Be Alone” and “It Will Come Back” that rival that of Jeff Buckley. The Irish musician has already sold out many stops on his European tour, which extends until the end of January 2015; but, Americans can look for this new voice to land in their local concert hall early next February when he embarks on a 28-city American tour.

2.) Lyrical uniqueness. Not many other albums have a better opening line than: “My lover’s got humour/She’s the giggle at a funeral.” Hozier offers a fresh, poetic mind full of vibrant yet morbid allusions and sexually charged yet subdued angst. This opening line comes from the chart topping “Take Me to Church,” a cheeky rock medley alluding to two lovers’ “worship in the bedroom” as the best form of a spiritual cleansing. Other lyrical highlights include “In a Week,” a beautiful yet morbid duet with Karen Cowley detailing the decomposition of two lovers who will “feed well the land” but will “be home” together “in a week.” Lastly, the straightforward love tale of “Like Real People Do” pits an anxious lover requesting: “Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips/We should just kiss like real people do.” Hozier’s lively yet macabre approach to lyrics entices the listener to deconstruct each love song line by line.

3.) Melodic sensuality. A new voice with unique lyrics blends perfectly with the musical composition on this album. The track list offers a new sound with every song, sprinkling in blues ballads right after hard-hitting rock medleys and soulful play-tunes alongside indie-rock basics. The upbeat foot tapper “Sedated” follows the macabre “In A Week;” whereas, the soulful, piano-driven “Foreigner’s God” follows the slide-guitar blues ballad “It Will Come Back.”

Just released in the U.S. on October 14, this instant classic from the indie world already has heads turning and is assured a long tour-run globally. Look for Hozier in the U.S. early next spring as well as during the music festival circuit next summer.

Hozier feat. Alana Henderson – “In A Week” Live @ Lollapalooza 2014:

Is Obama justified in vetoing everything for the next two years?

The 2014-midterm elections have been a landslide victory for the Republicans and the next two years look like one big uphill battle for President Obama. On the state and national levels, Republicans have won big. Very big. They now control both houses of Congress and picked up 6 governorships in key states (Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, and Massachusetts). With Congress going all red and the White House still blue, what choices does President Obama have in the next two years?

In the simplest form, he can work with a Republican Congress and work to pass comprehensive, bi-partisan legislation or he can simply use every part of his executive power to veto everything Congress tries to pass. Is it acceptable for him to say “no” to the same party that has said “no” to him for the past 6 years?

Apparently, saying “no” worked for the Republicans. This midterm election is no bigger example of that. But if President Obama decides to say “no” for two years he, and his party, have a lot more to risk, most notably the presidency in 2016. Rumors continue to swirl that Hillary Clinton will run then and nothing would hurt her and the Democrats more than an inactive, disgruntled White House left behind by President Obama.

A president also has his legacy to consider. If Obama vetoes everything for two years not one history book or pundit will discuss the first 6 years of his presidency where he attempted to be bi-partisan and was given the cold shoulder from a disgruntled, gridlocked Congress. They will only remember the last 2 years where he decided to do everything possible to prevent the Republicans from passing legislation.

So he isn’t justified, is he? And everyone in America now expects him to work with a Republican Congress that never tried to work with him when they only had control of the House. They expect him to work with congressional leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, the former being someone who is attempting to sue the President. Both of these Republican leaders feed into the extremist base of the Republican Party. Political scientist Alan Abramowitz summed it up perfectly on the eve of this election: “We’ll have a Republican caucus that is more conservative than it is now, and a Democratic caucus that is more liberal than it is now, [because] you’re subtracting moderates from the Democratic caucus, and adding very conservative Republicans to the GOP caucus.” With such sweeping victories by the Republicans this is exactly what has now happened. And no two leaders are better at rallying their troops than Boehner and McConnell. America, get ready for the pendulum to swing far right. Let the extremist legislation commence.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (left) next to the Speaker of the House John Boehner.

And yet, Obama has to work with them. The Democratic Caucus will force him to. But why is it the Democrats that always have to yield to the Republicans. They’re the ones that have to compromise. President Clinton had to work with a Republican-controlled Congress during the latter stages of his presidency as well.

With this election, Americans have said that it is okay to say “no” until you get your way. The Republicans have been let off the hook by the American voter and rewarded them for acting like a child with full control of Congress. This mid-term election has taught us the importance of all three branches of government and over the next two years we will learn what President Obama intends to do about his legacy.

I leave you with a clip from freshman state senator Jeff Jackson from North Carolina that perfectly sums up the dysfunction in politics today:

The Effect of Single-ism and ISIL’s True Intentions

Single-ism

The Islamic militia known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has made headlines around the globe in recent months, most notably for terrorizing and destabilizing the countries of Iraq and Syria. This is nothing new for this region, ISIL itself was once called al-Qaeda in Iraq but now they have regained power and rule under a new flag and a new mantra: Khilafah.

ISIL’s Quran-inspired black flag. The white circle translates to: ” There is no God but Allah.”

Since August, the news media has spun this over and over again on its 24 hour axis prompting both sides of the aisle to blame each other for this reborn, ultra-extremist Islamic group, as if further divide in Washington was needed. By now, the media and the rhetoric out of Washington has made us pick sides, and whether you blame U.S. involvement that stems from the 80s or after 9/11 or rather you blame neighboring Islamic nations of turning a blind eye, ISIL is here and expanding rapidly as you read this. But, should Western powers again get involved? Is a more comprehensive coalition – one that includes both Western and Middle Eastern nations –with a socio-economic reconstruction plan needed? Maybe. Maybe not. But what the news media has failed to reveal or discuss I will fill you in on: single-ism, the cause of one too many issues in our modern world.

Single-ism may not be an actual –ism but that doesn’t stop it from being something to talk about. I’ll define single-ism as the lifestyle of anyone who is not in any type of relationship with a significant other. Sure, that includes a vast majority of individuals in the world, but the issue arises when select individuals have a deep feeling of loneliness and apathy towards the world. Essentially, the behavior associated with single-ism is when one feels he has no purpose in life. This is a centuries-old, human thought but in modern times, we live in a fast paced, highly social, and interconnected world where knowledge is endless on the Internet and social media tells single people that their life should have a meaning. Technology has brought us together, made us want to feel connected constantly, and to feel the need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Cue Islamic extremism.

 Social media tells single people that their life should have a meaning.

Yes, single-ism can be blamed for ISIL. Sure, there are other factors at play here but where’s single-ism’s story on the 6 o’clock news? Undoubtedly, ISIL is comprised of nearly all men, but more importantly the majority are young and single. These are the individuals who should be getting an education and a well-paying job to hold intact the economic infrastructure of their countries. Instead, Iraq and Syria are war-torn nations with no leadership and little to no well paying jobs. Why be a poor doctor in Iraq when you can be a part of a group that stands to conquer the world? Sure, blame religion for its vitriolic passages and brainwashing but that hasn’t stopped Westerners from joining the cause. Thousands of individuals in France, Germany and England support ISIL. The U.S., itself, has seen its fair share of individuals join the fight for ISIL. These Westerners weren’t raised in an Islamic country or education system. Yes, perhaps their lifestyle and culture was Muslim. But, there is a mutual need amongst these individuals to feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

Don’t believe me? Just listen to what CBS Foreign News correspondent Clarissa Ward has to say about an Australian man who joined ISIL: “The way he talks, the rhetoric he uses…is reminiscent of, okay, if he had grown up in South Central he would have joined a gang.” She goes on: “Maybe this fills a similar space that gangs can fill in the sense of a spirit of fraternity, a sense of belonging… of purpose.

See below for the full Clarissa Ward interview on Charlie Rose alongside Tim Arango, another foreign correspondent:

Single-ism is an issue that is causing various problems across the globe. This sense of worthlessness inspires young people to act rash and join dangerous movements. ISIL is no different than a gang. It attracts individuals the same way and entraps them indefinitely. Unfortunately, modern culture has convinced the youth that being a part of any group is better than being a part of none.

ISIL’s True Intentions

Khalifah. Yes, this purpose-driven, bloodthirsty group has declared a modern-day caliphate. For those without a history book by their side, a caliphate is a supreme leader of an Islamic state, the last recognized one was in 1922 before the Ottoman Empire was dissolved. But according to ISIL the new caliph is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This in and of itself indicates that a new Islamic state shall exist and one doesn’t need to look much farther than the name ISIL to understand what this state will be.

ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Western media, however, tends to refer to them incorrectly as ISIS (it must sound catchier). Another reason for this misrepresentation might also be that the Levant is an old geographical term unfamiliar to many; but, in terms of having a declaration of a caliph this specific detail shouldn’t go unmentioned. The White House, however, seems to have found a geography book lying around because they are the only ones referring to them as ISIL.

This is about land. This is about power.

The Levant is a region in the Middle East that comprises the present-day countries of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and a southern portion of Turkey. One will notice Iraq is not included on that list which is why the second “I” in ISIL refers to Iraq since it is not part of the Levant. A lot can be made from a name. This is what the new Islamic State will be according to ISIL. Yes, Israel will be a part of it. So, it’s no wonder the U.S. is a little concerned about such a ruthless, terrorist group that currently controls many cities in Syria and Iraq.

The island nation of Cyprus just off the coast of Syria is also included in the Levant region

Now, let’s look at some ISIL rhetoric to better understand their motives. Like any great social movement, some literature is needed to promulgate its intentions. Cue ISIL’s magazine Dabiq.

The word Dabiq actually refers to a town in northern Syria with significant importance in the Quran. According to a Hadith, Mohammed said: “The Final Hour will not be established until the Romans land at either al-A’maq or at Dabiq. Then an army from al-Madinah of the best people on the earth at that time will leave for them.” Yes, this is the apocalyptic verse similar to the book of Revelation in the Bible.
In the first addition of this magazine, Mr. al-Baghdadi openly declares:

“O Ummah of Islam, indeed the world today has been divided into two camps and two trenches, with no third camp present:
The camp of Islam and faith, and the camp of kufr (disbelief) and hypocrisy – the camp of the Muslims and the mujahidin everywhere, and the camp of the jews, the crusaders, their allies, and with them the rest of the nations and religions of kufr, all being led by America and Russia, and being mobilized by the jews.” (Issue 1, pg. 10)

In essence, the Romans (non-Muslims) have landed at Dabiq and all Muslims must stand and fight this “other camp.” He goes on: “We make a special call to the scholars…judges…people with military, administrative, and service expertise…medical doctors and engineers…We call them and remind them to fear Allah…The State is a State for all Muslims…So fear Allah, O slaves of Allah.”

(The full English version of Issue 1 of Dabiq can be found here.)

This is about land. This is about power. This is about ISIL being a gang within Islam. Unfortunately however, too many disenfranchised singles want to be responsible for dividing this world even further, simply to be remembered in this modern era of instant forgetfulness.