Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Egypt's Favorite Obama Conspiracy Theories (Link Round-Up 7/18/12)

[via BoingBoing]

State Department to fight online jihad by...trolling message boards?
But why trolling? Would-be jihadists are actually emotionally wimpy. People who post to the forums are "are massive narcissists [who] need constant ego boosts," Jordan Brachman, a researcher of online Jihadism, told Ackerman. The thought here is, if you take away the ego boosts and instead, troll, make fun of, and break jihadis souls online--they won't develop followings to support them in terrorist acts. Viral Peace's creator, Amanullah says, "he wants to use 'logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.'"
Islamic law, women, and the veil - all open to interpretation
The veil has gone through many changes over the years as a cultural symbol, religious icon and tool of control and oppression. Sharia law, which governs nearly all aspects of Islamic life, is ambiguous and unclear about whether women should be completely veiled at all times. Just as laws about the veil have changed over time, the rules that govern Islamic tradition are not uniform in all communities. Even within Iran, religious fundamentalism, Western influence, and minority populations affect the spoken and unspoken social norms regarding the veiling of women. Though global trade and expansion continues to loosen many cultural restrictions on women, the hijab remains an important part of Iranian and Islamic culture.
The Rohingya: Myanmar's newly-persecuted ethnic group
After a long silence, Myanmar's Presidential Office recent anouncement surprised and shocked people around the world. 
"It is impossible for Burma to accept people who are not ethnic to the country and who have entered illegally," the statement read, going on to offer the Rohingya people to the UN. They suggested the Rohingya should be put in camps for a year, at which time they could be taken to a third country. 
The UN, quite rightly, were quick to reject Thein Sein's kind offer, explaining that communities cannot be repatriated from their own country. While the UN may have, for now, endorsed the Rohingya presence in Myanmar, the government's intentions were made very clear to the world. It was the most transparent, clear cut message that the Myanmar government is now hell-bent on ridding Myanmar of the Rohingya people by any means possible.
An absolutely brilliant satire of Shell's arctic exploration campaign
Shell’s Let's Go! Arctic campaign comes after exhaustive market research, in which we found out that people like straight talk about oil, and that what they prize most is honesty and enthusiasm about the challenges in obtaining it, with sensitivity to environmental and cultural ramifications riding a distant second.

With the Let's Go! Arctic campaign, therefore, we have stressed the excitement of working in distant frontiers, in some of the most dangerous conditions known or unknown to Man, and depending for survival not so much on the cutting-edge quality of our equipment, as on the sharpness of our wits. We have also insisted on communicating some of the ways we can minimize risks to environment and culture, without ever compromising our safety.

Another thing our research has found is that people prefer certainty to mere possibility; a bird in the hand, after all, is worth two in the bush (or the snow, as the case may be). So while climate change is a serious thing, and its effects, as scientists say, could wipe out a large chunk of humanity, such outcomes are a mere possibility—whereas the benefits from oil extraction are a certainty. Not only does oil certainly permit our civilization to continue, it is also certain that it could be used to help us transition to clean fuels, not to mention rebuild our infrastructure should climate disaster strike.
The cost of buying a house while black in Chicago 
It's not just a problem for those who lose their houses, or hang onto them while paying substantially more. As Megan Cotrell has written, mortgages blowing up en masse drove the financial crisis, and racial disparities in lending and homeownership played a vital role. The plague of abandoned homes undermines communities, lowers the value of nearby homes and the wealth of their owners, creates public-safety problems, and bleeds public coffers—instead of generating revenue for the city, the city has to pay to tear them down. The new, opaque housing disparities are a legacy of the old, encoded ones, and in some ways more difficult to address because they're ingrained in people instead of law.
Egyptians are starting to believe American right-wing conspiracy theories about a "secret Muslim" Obama
Time's Abigail Hauslohner attended a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton and secular Egyptian activists, many of whom feared the Obama administration's meddling. "One Egyptian-American Christian ... even cited Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachman’s recent assertion that the Obama Administration is pursuing a closeted pro-Muslim agenda," wrote Hauslohner. Newspaper editor and activist Youssef Sihom told her that the Obama administration "is blessing the rise of political Islam in Egypt.”
Suriname's rainforest-destroying, miner-exploiting gold rush (or lack thereof)
All this was once unspoiled rainforest. Now it's the latest victim in the gold rush that is transforming Suriname into a magnet for fortune seekers from around the world. An estimated 20,000 small-scale miners work within Suriname's borders, and supporting these DIY gold seekers are legions of shop owners, cooks, and drivers. The country’s gold industry produces roughly 16.5 metric tons of gold per year while poisoning local water supplies and laying waste to untold acres of rainforest. We've come to Suriname to see the depredation for ourselves, and to find out if anyone is actually getting rich from the boom.
Infographic: the reach of drug cartels through Mexico and the United States

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