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–A massive, 13 foot golden shark racing down Biscayne Boulevard on a recent afternoon was a bizarre sight, even judging by Miami standards.
-We followed it just to figure out where the heck the thing was going.
-The journey took us to a series of renovated warehouses near the railroad tracks on NE 59th St in Miami.
-We learned the shark was created by Miami artist Hamilton Aguiar.
-The shark was installed at J. Steven Manolis’ gallery in Miami’s Lemon City section and it is for sale for a cool $125,000
-The shark is a spoof by Aguiar of the well known Damien Hirst piece, “The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living”.
–Aguiar on his inspiration: “I play with the opposite of the materials. So the [Hirst] shark was a real shark that rotted so I did the opposite. I did a handmade sculpture in gold leaf so it’s supposed to be eternal.”
-Manolis moved to Miami after a career on Wall Street.
-While climbing up the corporate ladder and becoming the youngest partner in Solomon Brothers history, Manolis also followed another calling-his love of art.
-For over 35 years, he received one on one lessons from Wolf Kahn, one of the best known colorists in the world.
-He opened his gallery in 2014 and he really loves Aguiar’s shark. “This is $125,000 and cheap at half the price,” Manolis said.—
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Have a news tip about this topic or something completely different? Send it on in to [email protected]Post Views: 791
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By MIA bites
This piece was originally published by our partner MIAbites.com and is produced by them.
Thanksgiving was late this year, Hanukkah started this past Sunday, and Christmas is just a couple more weeks away.
No matter who is on your shopping list…which seems to grow longer and longer with each passing year, these items suggested by ourMIAbites contributors are sure to please. We have compiled a list of favorite items both from local purveyors and if you prefer avoiding the crowds and shopping online.
Brandon Chase- @thebowtiebarrister
I think with all the hoopla of barrel-aged cocktails, gifting a 1L (or larger) Custom Oak Barrel would be awesome. That way people can tinker with their own barrel-aged recipes at home.
The New York Times has a Personalized Oak Whiskey Barrel that ranges from $89.95 for 2 liters to $119.95 for 5 liters. Order at www.nytstore.com
Also, with the craft beer explosion in Florida, most breweries permit you to go to their brewery and fill up your own growler. Wynwood Brewing Company offers a Growler Hour daily from 12-1pm, and Funky Buddhacurrently has no less than ten growlers for Tuesday fills in both 32 and 64 oz sizes. A lot of online stores are now creating the 32 oz. containers for the beer advocate and they are pretty neat (and green!).
Melissa Ginsberg- @TheFoodieTeach
I like gifts for the holidays like magazine subscriptions or monthly gift box deliveries because the recipient continues to receive something even after the holidays are over! Also they’re easy to purchase and you don’t need to brave the holiday rush at the stores. Here are a few that are great:
• For men who like to cook: Mantry–monthly artisanal gift box specifically curated for the male cook/gourmand. www.mantry.com
• For cocktail lovers: Imbibe Magazine subscription. www.imbibemagazine.com
• For the coffee aficionado: Drift Away coffee subscription—www.driftaway.coffee
• Other Magazines include: Gastronomica, Lucky Peach, Sugar & Rice
Mandy Baca – @mandybaca
Bypass the big box stores and shop all your foodie gifts at Flavorish Market. Haven’t been? Well, you’re missing out. It’s a delightful little store in the burgeoning MiMo District loaded with wine, craft beer, tea, cured meats, cheeses, and the like. www. flavorishmarket.com
Also make a stop to Aragon 101 in Coral Gables for lots of food related gift items and cooking classes.
Wok Star ( aka Eleanor Hoh ) is also offering her popular hands on Asian cooking classes at cool venues like ALNO kitchen showroom in Design District and ZONIN 1821 penthouse. Use XMAS as code for MIAbites 30% off discount just thru 12/20 thru this link http://eleanorhoh.com/class-gift-certificates/
A little whimsical
Add some whimsy to your everyday wear, even if you’re the only one that knows you’re wearing it. From Macaroon printed ankle socks to ice cream cone and donut stud earrings, NYLON Shop is your go-to for all the kitschy, yet irresistible stocking stuffers. http://shop.nylon.com/products/macaroon-socks.
Etsy can be a time warp. 3 hours later, and you don’t know what the heck happened. We’ll save you some time. Check out The Vintage Cookbook Maven. The online store has a fantastic collection of vintage cookbooks for everybody on your list. https://www.etsy.com/shop/cookbookmaven
Sweets are always sweet
If you don’t have the creative bug or just pressed for time, opt for The Mason Cookie Jar Company. Choose from either a glass jar or plastic pouch, ingredients will come artfully layered so the recipient can make their own cookies. The best part of this is that your gift won’t be stale by the time it arrives. Choose from their menu of cookie mixes or create your own. http://masonjarcookiecompany.com/
Care for some tea?
Lemon City Teas is a local tea company making their way about town. You can currently find their teas at Oak Tavern, Andiamo, and Uvaggio. Varieties include Oolong Old Fashioned (90% oxidized competition grade oolong tea), Granada Green (organic green tea, pomegranate essence, organic raspberries and rosenips), and San-Té-Ria (premium whole leaf nilgiri tea blended with yunnan golden buds). http://www.lemoncitytea.com/
Craving artisan chocolates or need a hostess gift?
Cacao Art Miami offers locally made artisanal chocolates made on site from the finest Venezuelan cocoa. You can order online wonderfully packaged gift boxes or visit their shop at 7165 SW 47th st.
Deanna Dominguez- MIAbites Contributor
Sometimes shopping online for the foodie in your life is easier that braving the traffic and crowds. Racked.com just posted a link to www.mouth.com Tasty Gifts for Everyone on Your List. Pre-packaged kits are designed to be the favorite gift. Top choices include Bacon Me Crazy, Marc Murphy Chef Kit, The Holiday Chef and The Spiked Tailgate.
Jen Massolo- @liquidprojects
Gift basket items: Put together your own gift basket by visiting a local Williams Sonoma, or ordering items online at www.williamssonoma.com
Always good smoked paprika, sauces, oils, rubs and kitchen tools like olive wooden spoons, fish spatulas small and large, flat cheese slicers and spreading knives.
Allison Riley- @YallTasteThis
The best gift for a foodie is ALWAYS a donation to a local food bank. Local non-profits to support include, Feeding South Florida, Food Pantries, No Kid Hungry and Common Threads Most people who can afford to be “foodies” are more than capable of buying their own gadgets and gizmos, but if you must include a small gift for someone to unwrap with that donation card, I recommend local South Florida gifts, such as preserves and hot sauces from Robert is Here, a growler from The Funky Buddha, or a key lime rum cake from The Rum Cake Factory.
Ellen Bowen- Managing Director MIAbites
Turn heads while working off those holiday pounds or just show how HOT you like your coffee with Sriracha Hot sauce items from Amazon.com. Choose from water bottles, t-shirts, leggings, socks and coffee cups.
Other items on Amazon include Mimi Sheraton’s “1000 Foods to Eat before you Die” , and many top cookbooks and other foodie items.
Stay Calm and Eat Bacon
Bacon gifts that sizzle with humor…Iphone cases, t shirts, ties, aprons, clocks, luggage tags, wrapping paper…and on and on! 169 pages online at Zazzle.com of Bacon Gifts!
Uncommongoods.com has also always been my “go to” catalog for fun but functional, good quality gift items and this year my faves include Foodie Dice, a set of wooden dice that challenge even the most creative cook by offering over 186, 000 combinations of proteins, spices, cooking methods and bonus ingredients, aBox of Chocolate Soaps AND for the kid in you (or for kids in your life ) the Mr. Food Face Plate which allows you to customize the face using your food. Reminds me of that Wooly Willy magnetic face toy invented in 1955!
DinnerLab, the New Orleans based popup dinner party now in multiple cities, is offering a Gift Card program for events or membership. They host frequent events in Miami, but also all over the country if you want to gift a foodie in another city! Gift Link is here.
Everett Rashotsky- @ErGagit
My wife, Londa, makes beautiful beaded jewelry pieces that are inspired by food. With names like Fresh Mint, Cinnamon Dots and Coconut Crème Bruleethey are colorful and a perfect gift for the foodie in your life. Each is individually hand made with a variety of vintage 50 year old glass beads and are priced from $105- 120. http://foodiebracelets.com/
And of course, gift cards to favorite restaurants are always great gifts…or stocking stuffers, especially if you get to go with the recipient!
Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!
Cover Photo Credit: Edgar Zuniga Jr./ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 679
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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.”
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Cover Photo Credit: Barney Moss/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 926
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