What’s New With This Story:
–AArrow Sign Spinners is the world leader in “human directional” advertising. They are making a big push in the South Florida market and just opened a new office in Hollywood.
-The company was founded by Max Durovic when he was in college. Durovic started the company with just $500. It now employs 2,500 sign spinners in 35 different global markets.
-The South Florida market is run by two Jamaicans named Kadeem. They are also considered some of the top spinners in the world.
Max Durovic is spinning mad.
And that’s a good thing.
Durovic, the founder of AArrow Sign Spinners sits at the top of an unusual advertising empire.
He doesn’t harvest people’s attention via television or on the radio, he does it using the human form on the side of the road.
Durovic reinvented the sign spinning form and turned it into a sport.
15 years after he founded the company, Durovic now has 2,500 sign spinners working for him across the world in 35 global markets.
He is also doubling down on South Florida, a market that he feels could soon rival his top earning areas.
The company recently opened a new office in Hollywood.
That office is managed by Kadeem Johnson and Kadeem Grant.
Both Johnson and Grant are Jamaicans who met Durovic while he was attending graduate school in Washington, D.C.
Both are also considered to be soon of the top spinners in the world.
Johnson is even a three time world sign spinning champion.
They have a world championship in Las Vegas every year.
This company fits right at home in South Florida.
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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Last week witnessed yet another guerilla attack on a European capital, as bombs went off in the Brussels airport and subway, murdering and injuring hundreds.
Events like these expose the silliness of most of our squabbles, as the true members of civil society shine through while a handful of mad(mostly)men demonstrate for all of us the true downside of mankind.
Anger is what nature provides us with in these situations because it forces us to assign blame, thus highlighting the failures of the present as a warning to future generations, and there is plenty of criticism to go around.
Taking a look back at the evolution of ISIS is instructive of the catastrophic failures of US foreign policy, as it took a series of cataclysmic blunders across two Presidencies that fostered the environment from which this murderous death cult would emerge.
The Bush Administration
George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq served as the catalyst for the creation of ISIS, at least in the form that we know it as know.
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, but one of the “advantages” of a dictator (from a wonkish macro perspective) is that the brutality of dictatorships tends to keep some semblance of order in these intentionally fractured societies.
ISIS did not have the means, nor the capability to become what it is today so long as Saddam was in power.
However, simply removing Saddam was not enough to facilitate the rise of ISIS.
It took a series of cataclysmic blunders across two Presidencies that fostered the environment from which this murderous death cult would emerge.
The first of many gigantic mistakes after the initial invasion came from Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney’s commitment to a “light footprint” in Iraq following the initial invasion.
David Kilcullen, an Australian counter-terrorism strategist who arrived in Baghdad’s Green Zone in 2005 called it “Ground Zero for the greatest strategic screw up since Hitler’s invasion of Russia.”
By not providing American troops with enough support to maintain the peace, Rumsfeld ensured that a power vacuum would be created in one of the most violent areas on the planet, right on the border of our regional nemesis.
The United States sent 127,000 troops to manage a divided population of 33 million in a country that is larger than California (California has about 126,000 police officers, fire fighters, and EMT’s to serve its 38 million citizens).
According to US Central Command’s OPLAN 1003-98, it was estimated that the army would need at least 385,000 soldiers to accomplish its goals in Iraq. The administration gave them a third of that.
Providing our troops with insufficient support in a war torn country was bad enough, but the Bush White House exponentially compounded that problem with its next two calamitous mistakes.
If you had to point to any singular event that is responsible for the rise of ISIS, disbanding the Iraqi army after the invasion would be it.
The US military had hoped to weed out Saddam loyalists and keep it mostly intact, but the administration eschewed that difficult task in favor of simply scrapping the army altogether.
As a result, from May 23, 2003 to September 6, 2006, the security of all of Iraq was the sole responsibility of the United States of America.
Major Robert S. Weiler from the United States Marine Corps summarized the contradiction at the heart of this clusterfuck:
“The decision was a product of colliding priorities. The Secretary of Defense wanted a small occupation force that commanders knew was imprudent, the military planners adapted by planning to use the Iraqi Army to make up for coalition short falls, and the Coalition Provisional Authority wanted to dissolve all things Baathist or resembling Saddam even if it was the only mechanism allowing the country to function.”
Seemingly overnight, 250,000 young men and their weapons and talents of war were thrown out on the street, and a huge chunk of them wound up joining the initial version of ISIS: al-Qaeda in Iraq.
This choice makes Rumsfeld and Cheney’s decision to use 127,000 US soldiers to keep the peace even more befuddling, and that is before you even get to the fact that around 80% of Iraqis reported a dislike for the American occupation. It was a plan that literally defied logic.
Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority overseeing all this, defended his momentous decision by stating that the Iraqi army could not be trusted by the populace, as the Baathists loyal to Saddam had too much power, and the Sunni’s were accepted as a sunk cost; there was no expectation that they would remain loyal to the state during the American occupation.
But instead of trying to bridge the gap between the CPA and Sunni leaders, Bremer accelerated the process of alienation and installed Nouri al-Maliki as Iraqi Prime Minister; a devout Shiite who was raised with contempt for Sunni’s.
Maliki joined the Dawa party as a young man, which aimed to create a Shiite nation-state in Iraq by any means necessary.
Saddam arrested and executed many members of the Dawa party, including some of Maliki’s family members, which only further exacerbated the sectarian tensions boiling inside of Iraq’s future Prime Minister.
The idea that much of the Iraqi Army would remain steadfastly loyal to Saddam seemed like a specious argument anyway, because Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor wrote in “COBRA II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq,” that Saddam refused to let his army enter Baghdad out of fears of a coup.
In 2007, the Combat Studies Institute published “Warfare in the Age of NonState Actors: Implications for the U.S. Army,” and it detailed the absurdity of Bremer and the CPA’s decision:
“Taking away the jobs and weapons in which so many men have depended for so long, and giving them an equivalent civilian occupation in a peacetime (something even highly educated US military personnel find challenging), is a delicate and absolutely vital challenge which has little room for error. To simply disband them is extremely dangerous”
Nouri al-Maliki provided the final push to facilitate the creation of ISIS, as he fired countless Sunni commanders during his 8 year tenure as Prime Minister.
These seasoned military men were out of a job with no prospects provided by the new regime, and al-Qaeda’s new branch in Iraq (AQI) was more than happy to welcome them into their ranks.
There was no shortage of candidates available for any position in this new army, as some estimates put the unemployment rate as high as 60% in Iraq after the CPA disbanded the military.
The US government basically helped create an enemy from scratch for its army to fight during the Sunni uprising, which carried out scores of bombings across Iraq between 2003 and 2011, resulting in roughly half a million civilian casualties.
Sasnak Joshi, a Senior Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute highlights the central issue at hand:
“It’s less important in terms of the contribution to manpower, or sheer heft or size, and more important in terms of the specific skills, connections, linkages and technical expertise that the Baathists bring to the table.”
In 2014, Adnan al-Asani, Iraq’s deputy interior minister, told Al Arabiya that half of ISIS’s top military commanders: Haji Bakr, Abu Ayman al-Iraqi and Abu Ahmad al-Alwani, were all former high-ranking members of Sadaam’s party.
This map from Mother Jones of a divided Iraq from 2007 further depicts the folly of coalescing behind one faction, as any group that obtained absolute power would be seen as a threat to the rest of the populace:
Iraq is basically a fake country constructed by colonial powers; it’s really three countries cobbled into one, and a modern day colonial power came in, smashed everything, and sparked a civil war.
The History of ISIS
Not only did his actions lead to the creation of ISIS, but the group embodies his spirit; a spirit that was deemed too extreme by Osama freaking bin-Laden. Zarqawi was a fighter who came up through organized crime, not “finding religion” until later in life, yet he thoroughly enjoyed rape, murder, and torture no matter what ideology he presently subscribed to.
Zarqawi became radicalized in prison during the 1980’s, and upon his release in 1988, he traveled to the Peshwar region of Afghanistan to fight against the Soviets.
By 1992, he had returned to Jordan to create Bayat al-Imam, which was the first iteration of ISIS.
Zarqawi was locked up for 15 years by King Hussein of Jordan, where he was subsequently mentored by Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, and the duo expanded the influence of their newfound Jihadist organization both inside the prison and within the outside world.
Upon Zarqawi’s release from jail in 1999, he visited Osama bin Laden, who was alarmed at his extremist views, but nonetheless was convinced to give him seed funding for his new organization, which was set up in Herat, 355 miles away from bin Laden’s base in Kandahar.
By the time the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, Zarqawi had assembled an army of between 2,000 and 3,000 men, the organization now being known as al-Tawhid wal-Jihad.
Zarqawi soon left Afghanistan to set up camp in Iran, and when some of his operatives were arrested in Europe in 2002, Zarqawi became a much more prominent figure in counterterrorism agencies across the globe.
He spent the next couple years hiding out in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq all while expanding his army, culminating in an agreement with al-Qaeda’s security chief, Seif al-Adel, to move the group into Iraq.
Zarqawi spent most of his time in Iraq in the “Sunni triangle,” gaining new recruits and setting up bases.
By the time the US invaded in 2003, Zarqawi had effectively assembled a Sunni nation-state to combat the invasion.
His strategy was based on four central tactics that we still see ISIS use today:
- Isolate American forces by targeting international coalition partners (ie: the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad).
- Attack civilians there to help (ie: the May 2004 beheading of Nicholas Berg, thought to be carried out by Zarqawi himself).
- Spark a sectarian war by attacking Shiite targets (ie: the December 2004 attack against Shiite leader Sayyid Muhammad al-Hakim at a funeral in the holy city of Najaf)
- Deter Iraqi cooperation by targeting politicians, recruiting centers, and police stations (too many examples to count).
The invasion of Iraq served as one of the greatest recruiting boons Jihad has ever seen (second only to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict), as an influx of foreign fighters from all over the globe entered Iraq to fight with Zarqawi and the rest of the Sunni insurgency against the US army.
After the bloody battle that took Fallujah in 2004, the insurgency began to pass out leaflets demanding full compliance with their version of Islamic Law, even going so far as to list the names of “offenders” who were marked for public execution. By October 2004, Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and renamed the group al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).
The Sunni insurgency boycotted the 2005 Iraqi elections, which proved to be a disastrous decision, as they were left out of the redrafting of the new Constitution.
Zarqawi continued to attack Shiites, further dampening popular support for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The final straw came in November of 2005 as AQI bombed a wedding party, killing 60 people, most of them Muslims.
al-Qaeda began to distance themselves from AQI, as it along with other Sunni terrorist groups were absorbed into a larger Mujahedeen Shura Council from which Zarqawi was excluded.
His brutality and aggression had simply become too much for a terrorist organization that was obsessed with developing popular support from Muslims of all backgrounds. The United States killed Zarqawi in an airstrike on June 7th, 2006, but by then, his ideology had already poisoned an entire generation of fighters.
The 20,000 troop “surge” of 2007 is largely credited as the key event to break the stalemate in Iraq, but the surge would not have had the impact it did if it were not for Sahwa, more commonly known as the Sunni Awakening. Frustrated with the lack of progress by AQI, Sunni tribesmen began to use AQI’s tactics against them, killing many of their senior leaders and intimidating many more to leave the movement.
This was so successful, that by 2009, more than 100,000 Sunni tribesmen were working in cooperation with the United States army against AQI. Not only had they either killed or captured well over half of the organization, but the flow of foreign fighters entering Iraq went from around 120 per month to just a handful.
The Obama Administration
However, an opportunity to reassert themselves emerged when Barack Obama continued the Bush Administration’s misguided “small footprint” strategy by ratifying the US-Iraq Status of Force’s Agreement that Bush had negotiated, which promised a full withdrawal of all US troops by December 31, 2011.
On December 18th of that year, the last US boot left the ground in Iraq, leaving a fractured and vulnerable country with no national force capable of holding all of its disparate parts together.
With AQI seemingly confined to an existence as a regional pest, the Iraqi election of 2010 served as a major event which breathed life back into the movement.
After the populace had elected a more moderate, even pro-American Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in 2010, the United States still continued to back the increasingly unpopular Nouri al-Maliki and his allies in parliament while pursuing conflicting goals, as Joe Biden told top US officials
“I’ll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement]”
As yet another power vacuum was being created by American intransigence in Iraq, next door in Syria, an even larger problem was emerging. The Iranian backed dictator, Bashar al-Assad, was facing a serious challenge to his rule, as the Arab Spring spilled into Syria’s streets.
Assad and his Alawite support (who are minorities in Syria) were being challenged on all sides, and his strategy to stay in power is to build up the more extremist segments of the revolution while brutally massacring the moderates, thus presenting the West with a stark choice for the future of Syria: him or ISIS.
Obama massively compounded the problem when he stated that Assad using chemical weapons would be a “red line,” for the United States.
Once it was discovered that Assad did gas his own people, the President did nothing militarily, effectively letting the rest of the world know that he did not have the will to commit to a war with a relatively small regime like Assad’s even if he implied it, making his future proclamations on this conflict ring completely hollow.
Additionally, it let Assad (and by extension, Iran) know that they had full control over this situation.
While the United States debated what to do, the former Iraqi officers and Sunni Jihadists who had comprised AQI began to unite with Syrian factions, and captured Raqqa in 2013, declaring it the capital of the Caliphate the following year.
Still paralyzed by indecision, the United States watched as this new iteration of AQI claimed town after town, reaching a breaking point in 2014 as ISIS took over Mosul, Iraq’s 2nd largest city.
Five months prior to this event, Obama dismissed ISIS as a “JV team,” further demonstrating the administration’s miscalculation of this virus rapidly spreading across the globe. By the time a serious military campaign was launched, ISIS had already established a nation state.
Long story short: a decade-plus of foreign policy adventurism and fecklessness from two Presidents combined with the psychotic brutality of a charismatic Jihadist culminated in the establishment of a functional Caliphate in 2014.
Since its establishment, the US State Department estimates that upwards of 25,000 foreign fighters have flocked to these hinterlands formerly known as Syria and Iraq.
Even though they have demonstrated the capability to export their ideology and tactical skillset across the globe, there are still many signs that ISIS is on the decline.
In January, the US military estimated that ISIS has lost 40% of its territory in Iraq and 20% in Syria. In that same month, ISIS announced a 50% pay cut for everyone on the payroll.
Additionally, there have been many reports of protests in ISIS controlled territory, as we are seeing the same dissatisfaction that many Iraqi Sunni’s felt after the initial opposition to the US occupation.
If we have learned anything from this quagmire, it is contained in this sobering quote from Syrian Businessman Raja Sidawi:
“I am sorry for America. You are stuck. You have become a country of the Middle East. America will never change Iraq, but Iraq will change America.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!
Cover Photo Credit: Barney Moss/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 332
What Do You Think?
By Tony Myhre
Through what are being called unofficial channels, folks claiming affiliation with the hacktivist group Anonymous have released a ‘nationwide call to action’, listing locations for demonstrations in 37 US cities where simultaneous protests begin at 7pm, EDT.
The ‘collective day of rage’, as per the Anonymous affiliated YouTube video’s description of the particulars of the event, is being billed as “A day of action centered around civil disobedience and the right to protest”.
Also being billed by other Anonymous associated accounts as #FridayofSolidarity, the group calls for solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter in its mission to bring about social justice and police reforms, stemming from the recent shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Referring to the subsequent shooting deaths of 5 Dallas area police officers during a BLM protest, “While we do honor these fallen officers, we will not be discouraged, we will not stop, until the officers responsible for the deaths of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the voice in the YouTube video says.
WATCH: Video Message from TheAnonMessage on Youtube
While the YouTube video calls for a ‘collective day of rage’, it also states “We MUST STRESS the importance of staying nonviolent.”
Police Departments and Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, are make preparations for the events.
According to the NY Post, the Defense Department put out an “AllCon”, or All Concerned briefing to post commanders in the US Northern Command, telling soldiers “Please be advised the [US Northern Command] has issued a threat advisory informing DOD personnel that a series of protests has been scheduled to be conducted across the United States on July 15, 2016. For your personal safety, we highly encourage you to avoid this specific location entirely”.
In Pittsburgh for example, local media contacted police in an effort to find out how they plan on responding to the potential for protests.
“We are in close contact with the FBI, almost up to the point of an hourly update. We are monitoring the intelligence along with our federal partners,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told CBS Pittsburgh.
This afternoon, I spoke with Detective Patrick Michaud of the Seattle Police Department, another city on the list.
Michaud confirmed that Seattle PD is aware of the planned demonstration, but did not have specific information on the number of anticipated demonstrators.
According to Michaud, public demonstrations “don’t require a permit” in Seattle.
They are also in communication with other law enforcement agencies about the event.
With all of that said, this isn’t the first time a so called Day of Rage has been announced on the internet.
Similar posts were released in 2014, with a nearly identical set of cities.
Snopes.com in fact says that despite all of the above, it’s all just a hoax.
For those who aren’t planning to join the potential protests, here is a ‘how to’ wiki on what you can do to prepare before and during a public gathering that could potentially get out of hand.
We’ll stay on top of this tomorrow and update our coverage accordingly.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 220
What Do You Think?
I lean to the left, voted for the Democrat, and wanted her to win.
I’m ashamed that the first black president will be succeeded by someone who led a racist birther movement and is supported by the KKK.
But despite the number of factors that lead to this election outcome, some of which are valid, many which are not, the Democratic Party largely has themselves to blame.
They dropped the ball.
The twist ending to this election is that what was supposed to be a civil war in the Republican Party is actually something that will certainty now take place in the Democratic Party.
Democrats need to recalibrate and figure out what happened, and what they stand for.
From my point of view, there are a number of things that need to be changed going forward.
I think Hillary Clinton would have made a fine President.
But the reality is that she was a truly awful candidate.
Her campaign will become the textbook “what not to do” for future campaigns.
The people around her cared more about protecting her than lifting her up and making her a successful candidate.
In an age where authenticity mattered, she was too scripted, and not human enough.
She carried enormous baggage, made many mistakes, and seemed out of touch with what the electorate was really feeling.
I support a DNC “drain the swamp” effort.
Get people who will follow a mandate, be fair, and not become an extension of another campaign.
The way Bernie Sanders was treated by the DNC was shameful.
The way the DNC tried to shoe in Clinton for the nomination is a disgrace.
Clinton was treated as the incumbent nominee by the party before the primaries even began.
The party forfeited a lively, spirited primary process with a number of interesting candidates to back an establishment candidate with enormous baggage and a likability problem.
Why they took the risk on an accomplished but incredibly flawed candidate, when it was so important to conserve President Obama’s progress for a new term, I will never understand.
It was status quo politics, elitism, and people are rightfully sick of that crap.
Clinton’s ideas were generally the right ideas.
She had vast knowledge of world and domestic issues that Trump does not have.
If that wasn’t clear before, it certainly will become so during his administration.
The problem was with communication and perception.
Perception is reality.
If there was one piece of advice I could offer to change this for democratic candidates in the future, it would be this:
Democrats, stay away from Hollywood.
Stay away from celebrities.
Stay away from elites.
Stop associating yourself with big money interests.
Appeal to the average working person that Trump intercepted.
It felt like every other week Clinton was having a celebrity fundraiser in Los Angeles or New York.
Celebrities don’t represent most people.
They don’t represent me.
Instead of taking the message to Wisconsin, which Clinton didn’t visit once as the nominee, and then lost, she chose to have a big money event with elites somewhere.
What a missed opportunity.
Wisconsin and Michigan should have been won.
And no one gives a shit about celebrity endorsements by the way.
We don’t care what Eva Longoria thinks about politics, or that Lena Dunham likes Clinton.
No one on the face of the earth should use a celebrity endorsement as a major factor in choosing a candidate.
Stop encouraging it.
No more $30,000 per plate dinners with George Clooney in the Hollywood Hills.
Clinton doesn’t need their money.
She had enough of her own.
No more concerts with Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, or Beyonce.
No one is impressed.
People are tired of elitism, and I am, too.
The bells and whistles do nothing, people just want someone who will listen to them.
Take the message to the people, and make clear that your interest is to stand up for them.
Michael Moore posted on Facebook that the Democratic Party needs to be returned to the people.
Moore has been right about this election all along.
Nearly everyone else wasn’t.
I’m optimistic real change will happen.
I think we are in for some major disillusionment about Trump, and in the meantime, the party will have the opportunity to fix the issues, re-evaluate their strategy, and come back stronger.
It needs to.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Georgia Democrats/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 307
What Do You Think?