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.


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

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


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.