A Tale of Two Places – Dabiq and Rumiyah

[ by Charles Cameron — Rumiyah is a city for sure, Dabiq not so much ] . The Islamic State has a new magazine out, and it’s titled Rumiyah, not Dabiq. Here’s the first inside page of the first issue of Dabiq, together with the cover of the first issue of Rumiyah: And here’s the […] Read more »

Human Sacrifice and State-Building

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“] A while back I had a longish post that argued that the mass executions practiced by ISIS drew from the long pagan tradition of ritualistic human sacrifice. Today in the news, some social scientists see evidence of human sacrifice as the catalyst for establishing and maintaining stratified, hierarchical and (usually) oppressive […] Read more »

Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.

Afghanistan, 2012

Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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A very brief brief on black banners

[ by Charles Cameron — wherein black flag patches run riot ] . Just a quick something I gleaned via Leah Farrall‘s recent blog post: That’s the ist of an excerpt I transcribed from an Aussie Insight video last year, which featured host Jenny Brockie and the gentleman depicted, one Abu Bakr. Bakr was arrested […] Read more »

Turning analytic bifocals on the Islamic State’s Irregulars

[ by Charles Cameron — IS / Daesh focus is not on the question of derangement but of repentance – Dabiq #6, Aquinas, adaequatio ] . Lindt cafe worker escapes Man Haron Monis hostage situation, Sydney – credit Jason Reed, Reuters ** It’s interesting to compare how we think about those like Man Haron Monis […] Read more »

The Top @WhiteHouse Tweets from 2014

With 2014 drawing to a close, we thought it'd be a good time to take a look back at the past year on @WhiteHouse.

This year, @WhiteHouse added more than 1.1 million new followers and surpassed 5.57 million overall, while continuing to serve as an important tool for the White House to engage with the American people.

Check out a timeline of some of the top tweets from the year, and be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on Twitter for news and updates from President Obama and his Administration. And don't forget to check back for more Year in Review roundups over the next several days.

Happy New Year! pic.twitter.com/dXoh9AHSka

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 1, 2014

✈ Baby Force One ✈ pic.twitter.com/0e2075cbb2

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 11, 2014

Someone's turning 50 today. Happy birthday, @FLOTUS! pic.twitter.com/msxXl4h17X

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 17, 2014

"It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy." —President Obama #RightToVote

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 29, 2014

"The son of a single mom can be President of the greatest nation on Earth." —President Obama #OpportunityForAll pic.twitter.com/wI9iDiWL2e

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 29, 2014

Obama to Congress: "Join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise." #ActOnTenTen #RaiseTheWage, pic.twitter.com/iYWuA5yaDy

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 29, 2014

Beast mode. #SuperBowlSunday, pic.twitter.com/DvkM6G8QKN

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 2, 2014

RT if you agree: Every student in America deserves access to high-speed internet: http://t.co/0HstOGvh6z #ConnectED, pic.twitter.com/M1GIaCP340

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 4, 2014

Today, President Obama raised the minimum wage to $10.10/hour for federal contract workers. #RaiseTheWage, pic.twitter.com/FtZqcgMgGI

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 12, 2014

Congrats to T.J. Oshie and the U.S. men's hockey team on a huge win! Never stop believing in miracles. #GoTeamUSA -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 15, 2014

Hey @galifianakisz, thanks for sending so many folks to #GetCoveredNow at http://t.co/5zeR2RQuXe. And good luck with those spider bites. -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 11, 2014

The House GOP budget: ✄'s vital programs ✄'s taxes for millionaires ↑ taxes for middle-class families #HouseOfCuts pic.twitter.com/QkUbuYAOsN

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 10, 2014

The Westeros Wing. #WHCD pic.twitter.com/wG4KbQ7BLn

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 4, 2014

60 years after Brown v. Board, let's remember that while progress has never come easily, people who love their country can change it. -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 17, 2014

"I’m here on a single mission & that is to thank you for your extraordinary service." —Obama to troops in Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/FkHRRiIOez

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 26, 2014

"We need to celebrate science fair winners...at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners." —Obama #WHScienceFair pic.twitter.com/i0TU4jFpOh

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 27, 2014

RT to spread the word: President Obama just took a big step to #ActOnClimate and protect our health. pic.twitter.com/qu55I4ihhT

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 2, 2014

Women—not their bosses—should be able to make their own health care decisions → http://t.co/K75k22iO6r #HobbyLobby pic.twitter.com/BKZQQYteJJ

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 1, 2014

Very proud of @USSoccer. We'll win it all sooner than the world thinks. #BelieveIt -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 1, 2014

It's time for Congress to reauthorize funding to rebuild our roads & bridges: http://t.co/VAevH7GBGF #RebuildAmerica pic.twitter.com/BYaPeRZiTB

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 14, 2014

Instead of acting to help millions of Americans, House Republicans are suing the President today. #DoYourJobHouseGOP pic.twitter.com/vvxzFj43yo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 30, 2014

He made us laugh. He made us cry. He ended up touching every element of the human spirit. #RIPRobinWilliams pic.twitter.com/kbEq7OwPOf

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 12, 2014

"ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents." —President Obama

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 20, 2014

RT if you agree: Women should earn the same pay as men for doing the same work. Period. #WomensEqualityDay pic.twitter.com/C8QvttmthF

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 26, 2014

"13 years after small and hateful minds conspired to break us, America stands tall and America stands proud." —Obama pic.twitter.com/gvXmSsoTFY

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 11, 2014

When #WomenSucceed, we all succeed: http://t.co/GBzcbSV0MN #HeForShe pic.twitter.com/gaCddXtfkm

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 25, 2014

#Ebola is NOT spread through: 1. Casual contact 2. Air 3. Water 4. Food in the U.S. http://t.co/kICO4R7GpX pic.twitter.com/3QkxgUI9Ic

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 15, 2014

Over the past year, the unemployment rate has dropped by as large of an amount as any 12-month period in 30 years. pic.twitter.com/d8MqIqbTAR

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 7, 2014

I'm urging the @FCC to keep the internet open and free. Here's my plan to protect #NetNeutrality for everyone: http://t.co/3y3YLQD6MB –bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 10, 2014

Big news: The U.S. & China just announced new targets to cut carbon pollution → http://t.co/pW5LQYzFRr #ActOnClimate pic.twitter.com/r2JtIKzes3

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 12, 2014

Sharing a koalaty moment in Australia. http://t.co/mbSY0ZQLxD #G20 pic.twitter.com/roeOMwh33h

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 15, 2014

RT if you agree: It's time to fix our broken immigration system → http://t.co/tqb6H23QH5 #ImmigrationAction pic.twitter.com/sxGp6ni0bq

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 21, 2014

"Thanks to Stevie, all of us have been moved to higher ground." —Obama: http://t.co/O025qS2F3O #MedalOfFreedom pic.twitter.com/5eOFLNdFrX

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 30, 2014

This is not a black problem or a white problem, this is an American problem: http://t.co/BwzL009O7K #EricGarner

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 3, 2014

Our businesses have added: 10.9 million jobs over 57 months ✓ 2.6 million so far this year ✓ 314,000 last month ✓ pic.twitter.com/yTmnPF1Znt

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 5, 2014

I just took action to protect one of our greatest national treasures: Alaska's Bristol Bay. http://t.co/hcGH4Dkega -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 16, 2014

"To the Cuban people, America extends a hand of friendship." —President Obama Watch the full video. #CubaPolicy http://t.co/Qrzp5zODZk

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 17, 2014

Welcome home, Alan Gross. http://t.co/ZeORP4H0jr #CubaPolicy pic.twitter.com/rOeFEY3GQv

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 17, 2014

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The Sydney siege fits the new, confusing global norm: the ‘lone actor’ attack

First of all: Happy holidays to anyone who is reading this! A brief hiatus over the holiday period after a slowdown towards the end of the year for a variety of reasons, but will be hopefully back to more regular output next year. In the wake of Sydney (and subsequent events in France) had a spate […] Read more »

Black Banners in Sydney 2: on flags and their meanings

[ by Charles Cameron — the history and dwindling significance of a sign ] . ** In my previous post in this series, Black Banners in Sydney 1: a DoubleQuote in the Wild from Ardeet, I wrote: The flag in the image from the Lindt cafe is not in fact the Daesh / Islamic State […] Read more »

Black Banners in Sydney 1: a DoubleQuote in the Wild from Ardeet

[ by Charles Cameron — feeling kinship with the cartoonist who calls himself Ardeet ] . ** As my regular readers know by now, I have a “form” I use for juxtaposing ideas — verbal, visual, and even mathematical on occasion — that I term DoubleQuotes, and I believe that juxtaposition, whether it be used […] Read more »