Hydra gets a new head, Beto drops out, and everyone is still fighting

Third Culture Queen vol. 29

Happy Friday!

Not a lot of upfront commentary today. It’s NaNoWriMo, which means I’m joining the crazy folk trying to write 50,000 words in a month. Or, 1,500 words a day.

Wish me luck, and happy reading this weekend!


PS – Make sure to send me any good stories you come across. :)

Three Things to Know

  1. ISIS confirmed the death of Baghdadi by announcing its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. Belonging to the Quraysh tribe, signifying lineage to the Prophet Mohammad, is a prerequisite for becoming a caliph. The new leader will need to be extra careful since its been revealed it was one of Baghdadi’s own men that sold him out to America and its coalition partners.

  2. The US House voted to formally begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Also, Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the 2020 election.

  3. The Syrian army and Turkish-backed forces continued fighting through the end of the week. Just in time for US troops to begin patrolling the border again?

“What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy.”

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, upon the chamber’s 232-196 vote to approve a resolution setting the rules for the public phase of an impeachment process

American Empire

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi promised to resign, after weeks of protests, if parliament could agree on his replacement. Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, is in Baghdad for the second time since Iraq’s protests broke out in a last-ditch effort to maintain Tehran’s hard-fought influence in its former rival.

Saudi Arabia is working overtime to regain favor with Washington. Meet Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, and the first woman to ever serve as a foreign envoy for the Kingdom.

The Syrian army and Turkish-backed forces continued fighting through the end of the week. Just in time for US troops to begin patrolling the border again? The Syrian military implored the Kurdish fighters to join the Syrian army to help, but the SDF soundly rejected the offer stating, “We absolutely reject this language of speech directed at individuals, as first the Syrian Ministry of Defense should address its speech to the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces, in order to open the door of a sincere desire to unite efforts and not circumvent the reality to shirk its responsibilities."

The Trump administration withheld $105 million in security aid to Lebanon, following the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. The White House believes the country’s government is corrupted/controlled by Iran and any assistance to Beirut is only funding Tehran’s proxies.

US elections in 2020 are under threat from China, Iran, and North Korea, who’s cyber teams studied the success of the Russians 2016 campaigns.

Water Defenders told us this would happen: the Keystone pipeline leaked (again) releasing almost 400,000 gallons of oil, so far.

China’s Belt and Road

China presented an ominously vague “national security” plan for addressing the unrest in Hong Kong. It was announced at the end of the Fourth Plenum, an annual four-day meeting of the party’s 370-member Central Committee to decide the direction of party policy. The plan says Beijing will “build and improve a legal system and enforcement mechanism to defend national security in the special administrative regions.” Hong Kong’s repeated failures to pass its own national security laws may be coming back to haunt them. The city’s status is defined by Article 18 of the Basic Law, but it still provides Beijing broadly-defined authority on any perceived threats to unity.

  • Week 22: Expect a 100,000+ strong protest to hit the streets on Saturday.

The Chinese defense ministry said it will not take a “laissez-faire” approach if the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Asia-Pacific, going so far as to accuse the US of attempting to gain unilateral military advantages in the region by withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Which China never signed.)

European Erraticism

Anything and everything to know about Brexit, and the December 12 election.

Denmark granted Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline the permits it needed to complete 147 kilometers remaining in Danish waters. Although the US voiced adamant opposition to the project – believing it will increase European dependence on Russian energy exports – European nations couldn’t pass up the price tag of Russian gas.

Germany taking a proactive approach to the rise of far-right nationalism. Due to an uptick in violence, Berlin is tightening regulations around hate speech and increasing the restrictions around gun ownership. The new laws will also grant law enforcement agencies the power to demand information about potential threats on their platform.

Russian Revisionism

Russian disinformation campaigns are wreaking havoc on Africa’s democracies. Facebook revealed Moscow’s campaigns used fake and compromised accounts to target Facebook and Instagram users in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Sudan.

Ukraine and Russia executed the beginnings of a peace deal by withdrawing forces from the front lines this week, but while applauding the progress NATO again demanded Russia remove all of its troops from Ukraine. Although not a current member of the alliance, Ukraine announced its five-year plan to meet the criteria for NATO membership. A move Moscow has started a short-sighted war to prevent.

“Now the situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a critical crossroads of either moving toward a durable peace along with the trend of detente or facing again a touch-and-go crisis.”

Choe Ryong Hae, North Korean senior official

Rising Regions

Chile canceled the APEC summit and a key global climate summit later in December due to its on-going protests. The UN is desperate to find a new host as the climate talks were aimed at fleshing out the Paris Agreement climate pact, amid calls for urgency from environmental groups and climate protesters. Spain has offered.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun is seeking to reform his country from a confessional system – where positions are divided among sects – to a civil law state. Currently, the prime minister’s role is given to a Sunni Muslim, while the president is a Maronite Christian and the speaker of parliament is a Shia Muslim.

Mexico is deploying its overworked National Guard to…block Ubers at the airport?

The Uber announcement triggered an immediate backlash on social media, with people wondering if airport raids are really the best use of the national police force, especially after a recent shootout in Michoacan left 14 state police officers dead, and another in the state of Guerrero left one soldier and 14 civilians dead.

North Korea hacked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to place malware within its admin software. The Hermit Kingdom also fired two more missiles this week in plea to get Trump back to the negotiating table.

The Organization of American States arrived in Bolivia to audit its October election results showing President Evo Morales’ victory in the first round. The opposition ground the country to a halt in recent weeks over the results, believing them to be corrupt and fraudulent.

Non-State Factors | Cities, Climate, Corps & Culture

History and philosophy are meant to make us feel baffled and strange. Embrace it.

This is not to suggest that God writes for us, but in writing beautifully, strangely, we intimate that which is Godly, or the infinite, or at least something bigger than ourselves. We still revere this of novelists, but history and philosophy reviewers today are loathe to admit that they might be moved by writing, or that it took them to something so big or generous that it reminded them of their own finitude. Our academic world is, rather, a grudging one in which we more often complain about the success of trade writers, or shift their books to the fiction sections of bookshops in a moment of revenge. Big writing lifts us, makes our heads swim, reminds us of our finitude.

The greatest unifying force in the United States? Hating on California.

Why would anyone live here?

Gee, I don’t know. The 40 million or so people who call California home might have an answer or two, but let me offer a few of my own.

The beaches, the mountains, the deserts, the sunsets, the rural, the urban, the red, the blue, the people, the wildlife, the languages, the history, the diversity, the endless curiosities, the energy, the universities, the music, the art, the food, the culture, the climate, the risks that worked, the experiments that failed, the long tradition of break-away politics and the collective agreement that you can say or think of us what you will — we don’t really care one way or another — just shelter in place (unless you’re a firefighter) and please don’t move here.

Tolkien created The Lord of the Rings for his languages, not the other way around.

Most conlangers do what they do for pleasure. J.R.R. Tolkien admitted in later life that he had created Middle Earth to give his languages somewhere to be spoken—and something to speak about. He referred to conlanging as his “secret vice,” and conlanger David Adger agrees that there is something “curiously satisfying, and almost addictive” about it. “As you create [a grammar], solving problems about how to express different thoughts, you can begin to see how the sinews of the language work, how they mould the thoughts into ways of speaking that make sense for that language.”

Transformation sequences – like the ones in Sailor Moon – were made to sell toys.