Syria: The Past. The Present. The Future?

My brief experience recently visiting Turkey has completely transformed me. With all the challenges that I faced, one of the greatest was failing to understand the sheer scale of the devastation the Syrian war has inflicted on so many innocent people. It is well known that while I have an impenetrable and staunch commitment to human rights, I am also extremely empathetic to a point that I almost feel the suffering of others and this pain has vicariously and rather deeply hurt. I felt helpless, heartbroken, desperate and unable to speak to anyone, the indifference only perpetuated the feelings I was having.

With my professional experience in human rights and procurement, I intend to return with close friends and bring with me the funding necessary to assist those who are most vulnerable and in need as we together support one another to face the struggles we are likely to encounter. The most important, however, is to bring an understanding of the history and the politics of the region that has wreaked such havoc and caused so much unnecessary suffering. The civil war in Syria has seen more than half a million innocent people killed since it began in 2011, with 5.7 million refugees fleeing the country and 6.1 million internally displaced. Thousands upon thousands of people have died that have never had the respect and dignity of a burial. What happened in Syria that caused such horror?

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European Union Hypocrisy

Twenty years ago, the European Union began discussions with the Mercosur bloc of countries in South America – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – and only recently this historic agreement was officially signed that will successfully reduce billions of dollars in costs for both sides. The EU-Mercosur deal will both strengthen the relationship with European countries by removing duties on goods and improving an integrated market system, but also by modernising the challenging Mercosur system will improve agreements with South America beyond Europe, including Asia and the United States.

The agreement predominately includes the agricultural market – namely, beef – in exchange for cars and other items all with reduced tariffs. Included in this EU-Mercosur deal is the commitment by each of the signatories to climate change with reference to the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement included targets by the year 2020 to reduce COemissions and Brazil is a signatory committed to the reduction of the global threat of climate change. The agreement ensured that all parties involved will improve and adopt a sustainable, low-carbon economy inclusive of mitigation strategies.

A sustainable, low-carbon economy. Cars? Cows? Mass deforestation? Read More

Understanding Asexuality

There is a level of stigma on the subject of asexuality. It is ‘funny’ and almost irrelevant, often confused with celibacy and thus a religious experience where no clear distinction between sexuality and sexual desire is explained; celibacy articulates abstention from sexual activity, but it does not preclude an absence of a sexual orientation or identity.

Anthony Bogaert is a Canadian psychologist that wrote on sexuality and his book Understanding Asexuality stated that the architecture of relationships is founded on our need for bonding with our mother and this cognitive process built into us is transferred later in life to our partners. This bonding is channelled as romance and incorrectly used synonymously with sex, which is formed biologically rather than neuro-psychologically.

Romance is therefore psychological whereas our sexual inclinations are biological, but we often confuse the two as being one and the same thing. This is because of the role of our subjectivity with sexual attraction and that our subjectivity is the psychological  core of our experience with our sexual orientation. This orientation from heterosexual, homosexual, and asexual finds each individual uniquely designated somewhere along that spectrum. Depending on where they are, asexual persons can form romantic relationships – this innate need to bond – but do not actively seek sexual partners.

spectrum

Bogaert clarifies that asexual individuals who masturbate do not view pornography or paraphernalia because there is no subjective ‘target’ and thus a disconnect between the subjective relationship of physical arousal and our sexual orientation. They see the experience as only physical in nature and any need is related to something like a release of tension following their menstrual cycle much the same as one maternally driven to children. There is a distinction between behaviour and attraction.

Attachment theory models this explanation of how we form interpersonal relationships and our experiences during early childhood may have some connection with how we understand romance; a person who may have experienced some trauma or neglect could become promiscuous or detached from any bonding, irrelevant to their sexual identity. The influence of parent-child experiences may have an impact on the anxieties and challenges of romantic relationships later in life including our comfort levels with closeness and intimacy, threshold to experiences of loss and abandonment, and our vicarious learning with the relationship dynamic between our parents among other indicators.

To further perpetuate the confusion, we categorise identities into archetypes of “normalcy” that may, in one way, help designate an explanation of relationships that are considered stable – trophy wife, white picket fence – but it mostly alienates our ability to identify and introspect on how we are feeling authentically. This has been my greatest challenge, since I was left when young feeling quite isolated and confused because I simply deviated so much from the norm and did not understand why.

But the way that I see it, it is almost like real logic without the subjective and imaginary elements that attract people to sexual intercourse and why for me a deep bond is first needed as it logically follows that such a bond explains an authenticity in the connection.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Amelie-English-Subtitled-Audrey-Tautou/dp/B006LXQID8

 

Saudi Arabia and Iran: The Arms Race Continues

In 2017, Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia signed a $110 billion dollar arms deal. It was clearly articulated that the purpose was to strengthen the “long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian related threats.” The long-term security of Saudi Arabia? According to Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) in Yemen, there have been over 56,000 people killed since 2016 and complicit to this atrocity is neighbouring Saudi Arabia who – along with their allies – marketed the violence to be less intense and thus less of a concern. While they signed this deal, tens of thousands of Yemeni were suffering from starvation and malnutrition as well as well as preventable diseases.

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Alt-Right: Gavin McInnes and his Exhibitionism

Some people would do anything to get attention. They navigate the social system to find an opportunity to whore themselves to an idea that would generate enough controversy to attract the surveillance of a bored and angry cohort thirsting for dissension. While the internet provides access to a repository of information that can inform and enlighten, a byproduct is a cesspool of toxic and debauch trolls devouring reason and common sense.

Gavin McInnes is one such exhibitionist with his cliche tattooed sleeves and Ned Kelly beard that pattern the popular and fashionable punk signature, but how effective has this provocateur been in reigniting far-right tensions?

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Aida: Palestinian Women of Bethlehem

In the introduction to this book, I speak of my struggles over the last few years and condensed my thesis on autonomy and breaking away from the powers of social programming that often conflicts with our ability to understand who we really are. We become so immersed in this socially constructed identity that we begin to believe that it is real, that it is who we are. I went through a process of learning to think for myself and to find the courage to be myself in a world that encourages quite the reverse.

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