Ever wanted to improve your writing and reporting skills while learning more about how new media works?
Ever wanted the chance to be treated like a professional reporter and have the opportunity to work on stories that can make a change?
We have something cool to tell you then.
RISE NEWS, a fast growing and highly impactful millennial focused news organization is seeking intelligent, hard-working young people to join our team as editorial fellows.
We are based in Miami, FL but you don’t have to be in order to be a fellow.
Here’s what you need to know:
Our fellows will be treated like professional reporters and will be expected to:
– produce at least three stories per week
– commit to at least 15 hours of RISE related work per week (You can do more of course)
– participate in a weekly team Skype call
– follow news and build relationships in your coverage beat areas.
– promote your stories on social media.
A quick bit on pay:
Our fellows will earn 70% of whatever their stories make from advertising or other means. Don’t do this fellowship for the pay as you probably won’t be making a whole lot. Think of the pay as a plus. And if some of your pieces go really viral, then we want to be able to properly compensate you.
The program will be starting on March 28, but we will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until June. You can start at any time and the fellowship can run for as long as you want it to. (End dates will be discussed during interview process)
What will you be doing?:
You will act as a beat reporter focusing on either a geographical area (South Florida or Alabama if you are from either one of them) or a specific thematic topic if you don’t live in one of our local focus markets (including Culture, American Politics, International Affairs, Tech, Human Interest, etc).
How to apply:
Send an email to [email protected] to the attention of our publisher Rich Robinson with the following:
1) updated resume
2) three writing samples (academic papers accepted, but published journalistic work preferred)
If you have any questions about the process, shoot an email to [email protected] as well.
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Liberal Men With Agendas Can Be Dangerous To The Feminist MovementBy Mariam Ansar
Feminism as a movement is one which sets to confront the patriarchal structural inequalities that oppress women across the world.
From the wage gap to conceptions of femininity and existing in spaces dominated by the male presence, the focus given to men in feminist discourse is not something which can or should be taken lightly, especially when taking male influence into context.
Margaret Atwood’s fictitious The Robber Bride makes significant comments on this:
“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”
For many women, the male gaze and influence is one which permeates views of oneself: from the applying of make-up to choosing to go without it, from sitting on a train to walking down the pavement, from speaking aloud and recognising the voice inflection of a female to increase in pitch, a questioning, unsure manner.
So what happens when patriarchy is molded to a male’s intent? Well, many things: rape, prevention of abortions, standards of femininity, abuse, and the list goes on.
The socialisation of gender roles is one which means the most casual of practises deserves to be unpacked; girls going for pink, boys going for blue, and feminism wondering exactly why all these things exist.
This isn’t to say that every man is afforded the same privileges of his male neighbour: the intersections of race, class, sexuality and religion are valid. A white man may not experience racial profiling. A black man from a deprived area may not be afforded the same consideration as a white man from a wealthier neighbourhood in a job interview.
These differences are significant and deserve to be paid attention to in the wider scheme of things. But when it comes to notions of masculinity in life, men share a common factor of dominance and space-taking, informed by weighted upbringings and casual exchanges. It is therefore easy to recognise how this would translate to their practises of feminism.
I once came upon a quote which argued that men shouldn’t call themselves feminists: rather, they should take the spaces they inhibit and make them feminist. This is a notion which accepts that men are privileged but argues that they have the chance to use this privilege to benefit women. When looking at a number of male feminist figures, from the failed to the somewhat successful, the distinction of success is one which should be clarified. Feminism as a movement is one which cannot be simplified to misandry.
For men, it is a far from simple exchange which harms just as much as it benefits: with toxic standards of masculinity and social cues for dominance comes a questioning of exactly how comfortable one can be to do this, and whether some even question this. In bell hooks‘ ‘Feminism is for Everybody’, it is noted that:
“Most men are disturbed by hatred and fear of women, by male violence against women, even the men who perpetuate this violence. But they fear letting go of the benefits. They are not certain what will happen to the world they know most intimately if patriarchy changes. So they find it easier to passively support male domination even when they know in their minds and hearts that it is wrong.”
So what happens when patriarchy is molded to a male’s intent? Well, many things: rape, prevention of abortions, standards of femininity, abuse, and the list goes on. The male fantasy, as Atwood mentioned previously, is perverse. It can also color a male’s practice of feminism, and this is precisely what happened with Tumblr’s Josh Macedo, known online as confusedtree.
For the Internet-savvy, this is old news, a drama concluding in 2013: a 20-something lover of nerd culture builds up his following through a mixture of meme humour and feminist discourse, maintains himself as a defender of misogyny, and then is revealed to have sent sexually-explicit material to underage teenagers.
Pedaling the guise of the awkward loner, the scandal that followed Macedo was one which took notice of the undercurrent of manipulation which plagued his actions. His fame was one which was credited to a cause he took little notice of except to manipulate to his own intents: Macedo was aware of the benefits of his masculinity but could not shake off the allure of its benefits.
Prompting hesitant, terrified responses to his sexually-explicit behaviour, these exchanges are typical of the pressurizing male, aware of his power and using it to his own advantage. Aja Romano said it best for the Daily Dot:
“When you frame yourself as an outside-the-establishment liberal who understands the struggles that women face, it puts you in an elevated, respected position—and it becomes easier to abuse your power in the community.”
The influence of social media is one which, paired with the fast-evolving rate of social justice and feminist discourse, is dynamic, and which can be both negative and positive. A community which is both effective and which can amount to nothing is difficult to comprehend, but for many, saying the ‘right’ thing can be backing women’s rights while remaining divorced from them, refusing to support victims of abuse or to understand the dangers of the male gaze but accepting the number of likes or shares something you penned acquires.
The male voice is one which requires being conscious of one’s actions. It is to recognise that where an intention is positive, an effect can be negative and to speak is to speak with an awareness of patriarchal repercussions.
For a male, it is easy to use feminism as a tool, to speak over a woman without realizing one’s influence or that a woman’s voice has already articulated your words. Male influence within feminist discourse is powerful in this way.
For Matt McGory, star of Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black and self-proclaimed feminist, a male understanding of feminism is to recognise misconceptions and to fix them, to know the limits of your knowledge and to expand on it further:
“The people we have to convince who are gonna be allies, like me—the people I feel like I’m trying to go after are the good people who just maybe have blind spots about gender inequality like I did. Or, didn’t know what the term feminism meant. You know, a guy who’s a bigot who hates women is not gonna care what feminism means anyway, so I don’t need to go after him. But I’m trying to incorporate an easy way in for those people that don’t know a lot about it. Who actually have good intentions.”
While intention is not sacred and while one can be aware of the privileges afforded to them based on race, gender and sexuality, the idea that an ally is protected from ever making a mistake is an unfair demand. McGory’s estimate of a male ally is simplistic, but fair. In speaking about the wage gap, trans rights, and the importance of intersectionality, his handle on feminism is interesting and somewhat significant.
While it is already regarded a dilution of the value of feminism that we now place celebrities (with personal agendas) as the faces of the movement, the value given to a voice is only worth something if it corresponds to an awareness of power, an awareness of domination, an awareness of how masculinity is detrimental in its effects for society.
The male voice is one which requires being conscious of one’s actions. It is to recognise that where an intention is positive, an effect can be negative and to speak is to speak with an awareness of patriarchal repercussions.
It is to divorce the self’s need for approval, to ignore the modification of social justice as ‘trendy’, to prioritise the need to improve the standard of living that women so ardently require, and to be happy with this decision. The most important thing comes from an awareness of the history of male oppression and dominance: to recognise that your support will always be secondary to the issues women face.
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Clusterfuck: How Bush And Obama Both Created ISIS
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
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is effectively the father 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!
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Missy Elliott Releases First New Song In 7 Years, And Its Pretty AwesomeBy Staff Report
Missy Elliott, the still reigning queen of rap proved her title this morning after she released her first new single in over 7 years.
The song, titled “WTF (Where They From)” is a upbeat anthem that features Pharrell in puppet form. It is well worth the watch if you need a few minute break during your work day.
Check it out and tell us what you think in the comments below:
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