Category: Fake News

Black Migrations Day 5: Seychelles

I keep picking small countries, even though there are plenty of big countries in Africa, but that’s not something I’ve been doing on purpose. The reason I picked Seychelles is because I love their flag. It is one of my top favorite flags in the world. That was about all I knew about Seychelles. I had a vague memory from a long-ago French class that they might be somewhat francophone (the name is a giveaway).
The World Countries Flags
 
The current flag, adopted in 1996, symbolizes “a dynamic new country moving into the future.” Heck yes it does. What a flag. As a bonus, it replaces a series of Seychelles national flags which were pretty blah. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO REPLACE YOUR FLAG WITH A COOL FLAG. I will continue to advocate ceaselessly for Massachusetts to adopt a state flag which is any good at all.
 
Seychelles is another volcanic archipelago in East Africa, in the Indian Ocean, quite near Comoros. However, it has many more islands, 115 of them. Not all of these are populated; more than 40% of Seychelles is nature preserves. It seems like it wasn’t continuously occupied by humans until around the mid-1700s (although pirates would sometimes hide out there), and when the settlers noticed the dieoffs of animals, they…stopped. They let a lot of rainforests stay rainforests. And that conservation mindset has persisted; they made major laws to protect their coral reefs starting in the 1960s. The country is one of the biggest protectors of endangered species in the world.
 
If my data is still current, Seychelles has the lowest population of any African country, and the highest per-capita income. Their economy has strong tourism and fishing sectors, and they grow vanilla and other spices. The primary language is Seychelles Creole, which evolved from 18th-century French but shifted a good deal and incorporated a lot of English, plus some African and Indian phonemes, more wah and zzz. Go listen to some of it on YouTube. For me, it’s very comfortable in the ear and the mouth. Their music and their food is similarly very fusion and appealing. And they like using flowers as garnishes.
 
I am possibly persuading myself, and all of us, that we need to go to Seychelles for a while. The University of London has a branch there.
 
The Seychelles navy has been one of the most active groups fighting pirates (actual pirates with ships, not data copiers), partly because the pirates mess up their fisheries. They’re probably letting India put a military base on one of the islands in a hushed up “no this is just infrastructure development, you don’t need to see our plans” way which everybody understands to mean military base.
 
Amazingly, in 2014, they had an even higher incarceration rate than the U.S. – the highest incarceration rate in the world! But this is partly a factor of the small population size. There were only 735 people in jail. And that was kind of a blip; I think it’s down to 423. Historically, the numbers are usually around 150, 170 people in jail in the whole country. The prison population increased from 2006-2014 and are now coming back down again. I haven’t found anything to tell me why the increase happened, although its beginning and end coincide with the presidency of James Michel. Could have just been a different approach to enforcement by the executive? I’m dwelling on this because people will point the finger at Seychelles to excuse the U.S. incarceration rate (or just as cocktail party conversation about The. Highest.) and they’re not giving you a representative or current picture.
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Iran Nuclear Deal

Reality Check 1: Trump is not able to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran. Only Congress can do that. Only Congress has treaty power. It’s in the Constitution and is also how it works in practice. They have 60 days to decide whether to stay in, which I think most adults would acknowledge is a good idea, including the many many congressional incumbents who are the ones who signed the deal in the first place. Also, the head of the senate foreign relations committee is Bob Corker and if you don’t know why that’s significant, search his name it’s fun.

Reality Check 2: National media needs to stop cutting to live Trump press conferences. He just makes stuff up. It’s not news. It’s like cutting to a puppet show, but a scary puppet show. C-SPAN can air all of it live and unedited because that’s their thing. The rest of you, come on.

Julius Caesar is not Trump

Fox News has manufactured a culture war story about Shakespeare in the Park in New York, which has caused at least two major sponsors (Bank of America and Delta) to pull their funding for the theatre. Fox is faux outraged about a performance of Julius Caesar in modern clothing, with a blond in the title role, which in fake news world means it’s inciting the assassination of President Trump.

“Free Speech” defenders, I’m waiting for your protest tour.

But mostly, I am mad at Fox News for being so dumb about Shakespeare. I’ve studied Julius Caesar. I’ve performed Julius Caesar (as one of the assassins! As the assassin who strikes the first blow, in fact!) That play is a fan of Julius Caesar. If this theatre did want to turn the play into a Trump commentary (which I doubt), it would be PRO TRUMP. It would be a major Trump compliment.

Shakespeare, you may remember, liked the monarchy (or at least wrote things flattering to the monarchy). Caesar is portrayed as a great guy—very smart, brilliant general—and Brutus’s central conflict is “I’m worried this is bad for our democracy, but I love this guy! On a personal level, he is so likeable!” Then, after the assassination, everything falls apart, there is a power vacuum, and it’s awful until Caesar’s heir kills all of the conspirators and takes over as for sure a king. (This reflects anxiety in Shakespeare’s England over how the successession would go after the death of the childless Queen Elizabeth.)

Basically, if Shakespeare in the Park were to put on a “Trump is Julius Caesar” play, it would be a way to say “hey, liberal audience of ours, maybe don’t impeach this guy, it’s a terrible idea that will go badly. Plus isn’t he kind of likeable and great?”

I don’t think they’re saying that. (I think they’re trying to get nontraditional Shakespeare audiences to come see Julius Caesar by dropping in “hip” “contemporary” references. Like usual.) Hence I think this is a made up story. Hence SHAME ON YOU FOX AND FRIENDS for not understanding Shakespeare plays you should have studied in HIGH SCHOOL but I guess you find WORDS too complicacted.

Portland’s Neo Nazis

On the Media has a good interview with Wilamette Week repoter Corey Pein, one of the only journalists (maybe the only journalist) to have interviewed the Portland train stabber before the stabbing (interivews at right-wing demonstrations). He contextualizes the white power movement in Portland, a power center for skinheads dating back to at least the 90s (you may recall if you recently watched Green Room), the KKK before that, and the Oregon territory’s “whites only” status.

Pein describes the attacker as an avowed Nazi eager to commit violence against people of color and antifa activists — a man who had Vinlander tattoos, participated in skinhead forums, and spoke openly about being radicalized in prison. In other words, not a Bernie bro gone bad. He did root for Bernie because of an explicit desire to kill Hillary Clinton, but also presumably wanted to kill Bernie, since he hoped that all Jews (and the wrong sort of Christians) would be sent to the gas chambers. (Not an ironic Nazi. A Nazi.)

The whole interview is worth a listen. It’s 12 minutes.

Angela and Hillary, Sitting in a Tree

Normally, I say “look beyond the personalities; look at the issues,” but given Trump’s instinctual style, this newly invented feud with Germany looks an awful lot like an attempt to go after Angela Merkel—an experienced female political centrist with a global outlook who sometimes wears a familiar-looking blue pantsuit. I think there’s some misogynist transferrence going on, and I don’t think it’s mine.

Would not be surprised if Trump starts saying “crooked Germany” out of nostalgia.

By the way, you’ve probably missed this (well done, you), but the idea that Hillary and Angela are lesbian lovers running a sinister liberal conspiracy has been much explored by both Breitbart and Russian propaganda mills (explicit propaganda, not state-run news) over the last few years, so I’m guessing that will turn up again, too. Because women can’t be friends, or admire each other, apparently. Women and men can’t be friends, but also women can’t be friends. Too catty. Lock them in towers is what I say.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing


Maria says: For reals. He’s got a beef with women in power. Let’s not forget his bizarre reception of Merkel after his inauguration. Nevermind that she’s held her tongue about him for four months. He’s made it clear that our U.S. allies are his enemies.


Rebecca says: Jesus Howard Christ. The same Breitbart that claimed Colbert was being homophobic? You don’t get to have it both ways.


Rosi says: Yep, and powerful women are always lesbians… *eye roll*

Maria: I’d tap that.

Romie: Yeah, it is kind of a lovely idea. I hate Breitbart both for sexualizing something that’s not sexual, AND for assuming I’d be upset by such a couple, when holy cow. I dream of being an Angela Merkel in a romantic relationship with a Hillary Clinton.


Jeff says: Angela Merkel earned a doctorate in physical chemistry, one of the most difficult subjects to understand. She’s brilliant, and insecure men sadly often have a problem with brilliant women.