War Porn: The Death of James Foley

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ALEPPO, Syria -- We have become a world of sensates, who require more and more input only to receive less and less gratification. We live in a world, and in fact this website and the millions of others like it, inhabit a sphere dedicated to satisfying the immediate need for any information or misinformation that we may seek.

Today, we awoke to the news that another journalist had fallen in the line of duty while trying to expose gross injustices in war-torn Syria. His death was as brutal as, or more so than, the hundreds of murders captured by video and being circulated through the web depicting the torturous final moments of people chosen by radicals to demonstrate the nature of their resolve.

The radical 'du jour' was ISIS, a.k.a. Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, but yesterday it was Boko Haram, tomorrow it may be Hamas, the next, The Ayran Brotherhood, perhaps the KKK,  Al-Qeda may rattle a saber or two, but in the end, the name of tyranny is less important than the fact that "all it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke.

It is easy for us to blame the evil perpetrators for their reprehensible behavior, and indeed, we should feel outraged, but in so doing we must examine ourselves for our role in this dance of the macabre. ISIS would be just another group of religious zealots killing, maiming, and torturing people in the name of their version of "god," but for social media.

ISIS has learned to harness the power of social media to promulgate its ideology, but more insidious, they understand that human nature will do the rest. Much like the style of horror movies known as "torture porn" for its gratuitous amount of screaming, nudity, and bondage; the industry continues to produce these movies because there is an appetite for it. It satisfies a certain type of voyeurism that requires sadism to complete the experience.

Hence, more and more violence, for less and less satisfaction, as proven by the plethora of disturbingly violent videos and graphic images that crisscross the web. Most cannot be authenticated, but lacking in provenance doesn't stop people from 'sharing' and circulating it. Thus is the case with the horrific beheading of James Foley, an American journalist who reported from conflict ridden areas of the world as a freelance photojournalist for the GlobalPost.

That we would wake up this morning to millions of shares of the images captured by an ISIS adherent of Foley's lasts moments, should make us all feel soiled. ISIS heinously, with malice aforethought, and in cold-blood staged the beheading of Foley for the sole purpose of having us, the audience, disseminate it. They are the bait trap, into which we have climbed, and thus poisoned, we leave believing we have escaped, when in fact, we have become the carrier of that which will kill not only us, but everyone with whom we come in contact.

Like pornography, once the image has been viewed it can never be removed nor unseen. There is no such thing as a degausser for our brains. That is what makes pornography so pernicious, it repels and attracts, the image horrific or seductive continues to gain strength and relief is only found in revisiting the image, thus trying to recapture the initial sensation, it becomes addictive.

ISIS knows this as well as any successful purveyor of illicit material. They know that they only have to put it out there, and if one person views it, and even if that person is appalled and simply wants to share their outrage with their social media network, ISIS has already accomplished the goal of proselytizing through the power of concentric exposure.

That Foley had to die under such tragic and inhumane circumstances is heartbreaking. That his mother had to hear about or read about the fact that the world was greedily consuming the last moments of the life of her child is unimaginable. That his family and friends were not even allowed the dignity and privacy to begin the mourning process without the vivisection of their tragedy is shameful. That news media outlets lacked both decorum and humanity in posting the graphic video and images of Foley's beheading is morally reprehensible.

That we have a choice to share or not share the video and images of Foley's murder is the greatest and most powerful choice we can make in this situation. That, and to remember that "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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Malala Yousafzai, Two Years After Attempted Assasination

Malala Yousafzai, Oval Office 11 October 2013, Photo Courtesy of White House

Malala Yousafzai, Oval Office 11 October 2013, Photo Courtesy of White House

UNITED STATES - On October of 2012, 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot for speaking up about women's rights to education. As an inside correspondent with BBC, subject of two documentaries and frequent guest in newsrooms, Yousafazai was becoming the poster child of youth activism and women's rights. A Taliban gunman attempted to silence her and to set an example. She was hospitalized for three months.

The attack failed to curb her passion for political activism and, with international support, she continued her crusade for education soon after her recovery. Instead of silencing her and the movement, the attack raised global awareness with spokespeople from the US, the UK and Canada showing their outrage and support.

The next time she spoke publicly was on 12 July 2013 -- her birthday. She celebrated at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City where she spoke to a global audience about the role youth can play in ensuring worldwide education. She supported the Global Education First Initiative, which aims to have all school-age children, particularly girls, in school by year 2015. The day became known as Malala Day.

Another namesake is the Malala Fund, which has raised $7 million to spend on education projects in remote areas of Pakistan.

The most recent effort is the We Are Silent Campaign, to be held on April 17. She encourages the world to take a 24-hour vow of silence in honor of 31 million girls worldwide who are denied an education.

Since the shooting, Time magazine featured her in 2013 as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She made history as the youngest nominee for the (2013) Nobel Peace Prize, and was nominated again in 2014. With help from journalist Christina Lamb she's written a memoir entitled "I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up For Education and was Shot by the Taliban." She's gone to Buckingham Palace and the White House and plans to continue her career in political activism.

What's For Dinner? Medicare

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Chrycka Harper, Poet & Literary CriticLast Modified: 00:44 a.m. DST, 16 January 2014

The following prose was inspired by the enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.

Dear Journal,Eden Writing in Her Diary, Photo by Eden, Janine, and Jim

Today, Jamesha, Wei, Spirit, and José came over to play. We played Hide & Seek, Tag, Red Rover, and a lot more other stuff. We played so much that we got really hungry. My dad was in the dining room, so we ran there to ask if we could get some pizza. My dad and 10 other adults were in the room.

Our walls were painted a light cremé color and the room was “decorated with the finest collectibles,” said my dad. But I don't like the walls and the “collectibles” are ugly. We ran around the really big and strong dining table. My dad said it was made out of African Blackwood. And the legs are so tall, I can stand under the table.

Anyway, the adults were busy talking. One man was standing next to an old woman and yelling at her. My dad's face was very red. One woman was talking on her cell phone. And two men were working on something important on their computers.

It was weird because when I make noise in that room, my dad tells me to be quiet. But he didn't say anything to us. The adults kept saying “drugs” and “money” and “government” and “good.”

Finally when my dad knocked on the table two times, everybody in the room got quiet. The adults looked down at us kids, smiled, and asked, “so... what's for dinner?”

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Who is Black in America? | Soledad O'Brien

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:00 p.m. EDT, 30 August 2013

Model: Trudyann DucanUNITED STATES - On the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech," America has been forced to reconfront the issue of 'colorism' in our society. I am purposely not using the word race because there is only one race, the human race.

However, in America and South Africa in particular, and in other countries to a lesser extent, the issue of color is complex and problematic, and is often the sole measure by which people are defined and relegated to particular groups in society.

I have faced the issue of color and acceptance most of my life. Most recently after the birth of my son whose father is not American, but German; I am constantly reminded of how limited the options are for people of mixed or biracial heritage when confronted with documents and other census gathering transactions that seek to categorize people by race.

With regard to organizations requesting the race of my son, I choose to enter 'other' or write in 'biracial.' In reviewing his records, I have often been chagrined to discover that an institution has subsequently change his assignation to Latino. In fact, most people who interact with my son and view him as Latino, emphasize their perception by pronouncing his name with Spanish accentuation, often changing it to 'Javier' though it is clearly not written as such.

This perception remains in force until they meet me, and then his race is changed to African-American which is wholly inaccurate. This lack of clarity and inability to fit neatly into 'white' or 'black' culture has caused my son to question me about why he is so light and I am brown? Why his hair is straight and mine is curly?

And at one point he identified himself as 'white,' until I emphasized the fact that he is biracial like President Barak Obama, and that he should not only be proud of his dual heritage, but should correct people who mistakenly believe him to be otherwise.

People often believe that I am Ethiopian or Somalian, and because my father though born in America has lived in Africa for the past 40-years, and I spent my childhood there, the cultural nuances of these societies resonate with me more than Black American culture.

As you can see from the video below, my struggle and that of my son is all too familiar to many people of color in this country where black and white cultures are perceived as monolithic, thus stifling any acknowledgment of the multitude of diversity that exists within either group, as well as in America as a whole.

I would encourage you to watch the video below which is both provocative and informative. Hopefully, it will provide greater insight into 'colorism' and the concomitant expression of racism in America.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWcs7YsZVuY]

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Boston Terrorist Bombing Silences Martin Richard

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 12:49 p.m. DST, 17 April 2013

Martin Richard, 8-year-old victim of Boston Terrorist Bombing, Photo by Peter BostonBOSTON, Massachusetts - The FBI has determined that two bombs made from pressure cookers with nails, ball bearings, metal, exploded near the finish line during the Boston Marathon on Monday, 15 April 2013. The explosion left three people dead, one of which included an 8-year-old boy, and over 140 people injured. Authorities do not know who is responsible for the blast at this time, however, speculations suggest terrorist are responsible.

The two blasts sent the city of Boston into chaos. A third explosion was reported at JFK Library, however, the incidents were not tied together. According to the Huffington Post, the explosion occurred in Copley Square just before 3:00 PM. Commissioner Ed Davis reported there have been no arrests made or person of interest at this time.

The Associated Press reported the bombs went off at two separate time, and only seconds apart.  The streets were blood stained and people were frantic.  Although speculations suggest a terrorist attack, President Obama was careful to refrain from using the actual word “terror” or “terrorist.” According to the AP, the Pakistani Taliban denied having any parts in the bombing. The FBI are attempting to obtain all spectators videos, photos, and any audio from the event.

Two additional bombs were found near the end of the course and were disarmed once located.

The 8-year-old boy killed in the blast was identified as Martin Richard, the Boston Globe reported. The boy was attending the race in support of his father. Richard’s mother and younger sister were also in attendance, and were injured by the blast. CNN reported Richard’s mother had emergency surgery due to brain injuries, and his 6-year-old sister lost a leg.

Supporters of the victims from the Newtown shooting which occurred in December 2012 were in attendance and all were counted as safe. Authorities asked for people in the city to remain indoors and out of the streets. There was no prior knowledge of the attack, according to police officials.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe