The War on ISIS: Views From Syrian Activists and Intellectuals

Syrian rebels from the “Al-Qasas Brigade” or “Justice Brigade” run through an olive grove to avoid Syrian Army snipers as they travel between villages on foot in the northwestern Jabal al-Zawiya area. By Freedom House via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Syrian rebels from the “Al-Qasas Brigade” or “Justice Brigade” run through an olive grove to avoid Syrian Army snipers as they travel between villages on foot in the northwestern Jabal al-Zawiya area. By Freedom House via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Dissent Magazine:

Conspicuously absent from the debate about ISIS and U.S. intervention—both in the mainstream and in the leftosphere—are Syrian voices. ISIS and U.S. officialdom occupy center stage, leaving the perspectives of Syrian civil society activists and writers out of the equation. While hardly surprising, this omission is troubling.

In an attempt to remedy this imbalance, I asked several Syrians—longtime activists and intellectuals from a range of backgrounds, including Kurdish, Palestinian, and Assyrian Christian—what they think about the ISIS crisis and Western intervention. Here are their responses.

Three Monsters

I am ambivalent about a Western attack against ISIS.

On the one hand, I would like to see this thuggish gang wiped from the face of the earth.

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Welsh Satanic Sex Cult Exposed

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Wales. What do you think of? Choral singing? Rugby? Gareth Bale? But probably not satanic sex cults, right? The Mirror does its best to change that, exposing an alleged cult that had a “twisted ideology, based on a bizarre text called the Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley”:

The victim of a satanic sex cult has told how she will never forgive her “evil” mother for putting her through 11 years of hell at the hands of the sick group.

Annabelle Forest was initiated into a notorious sex cult that operated from a quiet Welsh cul-de-sac by her own mum at the age of seven.

Even worse, she was abused by her mother as a teenager under the orders of the cult’s leader Colin Batley – the man she can’t even bring herself to name.

Now a mum herself and living happily in another part of the UK, Annabelle has taken the brave step of recounting her horror in a bid to get others to speak out about suspected abuse.

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CIA brags about media manipulation and more

In the latest Freedom of Information Act CIA disclosure, the agency reveals media manipulation, foreign covert operations details, and a moment by moment account of being by Bush’s side the morning of 9/11 and more.

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via The Intercept:

The CIA has declassified a trove of articles from its in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence. Ostensibly a semi-academic review of spycraft, Studies emerges in the pieces, which date from the 1970s to the 2000s, as so much more, at turns mocking excessive secrecy and bad writing, dishing on problematic affairs, and bragging about press manipulation.

Of course, there is plenty of self-serious material in the journal too, including scholarly reviews, first-person memoirs, interviews and intellectual ruminations on everything from maps to “How We Are Perceived” and “Ethics and Clandestine Collection.”

The CIA posted the hundreds of declassified articles to its FOIA site. Here are a few that caught our eye.

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Man who ate napkins to conceal insider trading pleads guilty

By Ged Carroll via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Ged Carroll via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Reuters:

A Brooklyn, New York mortgage broker, who would scribble secret stock tips on napkins and pass them to an accomplice in Grand Central station before eating them, pleaded guilty to insider trading on Friday, federal prosecutors said.

Frank Tamayo, 41, was the middleman in what prosecutors called a three-man scheme that generated $5.6 million in illegal profits over five years, based on tips about a dozen transactions being negotiated by a prestigious New York law firm.

Tamayo, who had been cooperating with authorities, pleaded guilty to securities fraud, tender offer fraud, and conspiracy charges in the federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey.

The defendant also agreed to forfeit more than $1 million, the contents of two brokerage accounts, and a 2008 Audi Q7. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the fraud counts.

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DatC #047 – The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power with Lady Sable Aradia

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047_lady_sable_aradiaHello and thank you once again for joining me down at the crossroads for some music, magick, and Paganism. Where witches gather for the sabbath, offerings are made, pacts are signed for musical fame and we cross paths with today’s most influential Pagans, occultists, and deep thinkers. Tonight, we meet with witch, High Priestess, blogger, and author Lady Sable Aradia to discuss her new book The Witch’s Eight Paths to Power: A complete course in magick and witchcraft. We have a great, friendly, and open discussion as we go into her experiences with writing the book as well as delving into some of its more controversial aspects, like ritual drug use, such as the incorporation of intoxicants and entheogens, and the heavy topic of sex in initiation within certain forms of traditional based Wicca.

In his Book of Shadows, Gerald Gardner writes about the witch’s Eightfold Way as a means of developing one’s magickal abilities.

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Banana Peel and Ugly Art Win Ig Nobel Awards

The 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, took place this week. From Reuters:

Researchers who measured the slipperiness of banana peels, the ability of pork strips to stop nosebleeds, and the reactions of reindeer to humans in polar bear suits were among the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes for comical scientific achievements.

The annual prizes, meant to entertain and encourage global research and innovation, are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpart to the Nobel Prizes which will be announced next month.

Among the 10 awards, four went to researchers that took a peculiar interest in food. A team of Japanese scientists earned the Ig Nobel Physics Prize, for example, for detailing the hazards of stepping on a banana peel in their paper titled “Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin.”

Other teams earned prizes for studying what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in their toast, how infant poop can be used in the production of fermented sausages, and how pork strips can be stuffed into peoples’ nostrils to stop severe nosebleeds…

[continues at Reuters]

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DatC #046 – The Always Relevant Jason Pitzl-Waters

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046_jason_pitzl-watersHello and thank you for joining me down at the crossroads for some music, magick, and Paganism where witches gather for the sabbath, offerings are made, pacts are signed for musical fame and we cross paths with today's most influential Pagans, occultists, and deep thinkers. Tonight, we meet with the humble and always relevant founding editor of the Wild Hunt Blog Jason Pitzl-Waters to discuss his work, his very personal post titled The 3rd Degree: Exploitation and Initiation, as well as his Wild Hunt editorial Wagging the Dog, and we close with a glimpse into the upcoming event FaerieCon East which I look forward to attending. Jason and I have a great discussion and cover some heavy topics concerning the future of the Pagan community.
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Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists

Mitt på golvet stod en öppen kista och sutto två förskräckliga troll.jpg

A new study shows that internet trolls really are just terrible human beings, reports Psychology Today, to absolutely no one’s surprise:

In this month’s issue of Personality and Individual Differences, a study was published that confirms what we all suspected: internet trolls are horrible people.

Let’s start by getting our definitions straight. An internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.

What kind of person would do this?

Canadian researchers decided to find out. They conducted two internet studies with over 1,200 people. They gave personality tests to each subject along with a survey about their internet commenting behavior. They were looking for evidence that linked trolling with the Dark Tetrad of personality: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadistic personality…

[continues at Psychology Today]

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Why we love repetition in music

via Brain Pickings:

How and why this happens is precisely what cognitive scientist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas, explores in On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind (public library). This illuminating short animation from TED Ed, based on Margulis’s work, explains the psychology of the “mere exposure effect,” which makes things grow sweeter simply as they become familiar — a parallel manifestation of the same psychological phenomenon that causes us to rate familiar statements as more likely to be true than unfamiliar ones.

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Study Finds That Martian Soil May Be Usable for Farming

Graph taken from Vox.com

Graph taken from Vox.com.

When we asked if you would rather terraform Mars or mitigate climate change, much of the Disinfo community replied with: both! Well, according to this Vox article, growing plants with Martian soil might be more probable than previously thought.

via Vox:

If we ever wanted to permanently colonize Mars, one thing seems probable: we’d have to figure out how to grow some food there.

This raises an interesting question: could we use Martian soil to do it?

Previously, NASA researchers had speculated that we’d have to either grow food hydroponically on Mars, or ship soil there from Earth. But a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that using Martian soil might actually be a possibility.

In it, researchers found that plants actually grew better in a simulated Martian soil than in nutrient-poor soils found on Earth (and Martian soil seems to be more suitable than lunar soil).

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