A review of ‘Syrian Notebooks’

I read and then wrote things about journalist Jonathan Littell’s account of his trip to Syria in January 2012. Read those things at Inter Press Service.

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From Argentina to Iraq: I have an opinion

I had two pieces published recently by Inter Press Service: One is (nominally) a review of Muhammad Idrees Ahmad’s new book seeking to explain why the United States invaded Iraq; the other, co-authored with IPS’s DC bureau chief, Jim Lobe, is a response to The Washington Post editorial board claiming that the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is an anti-Semite for having noted the financial ties between hedge fund manager Paul Singer and the various right-wing groups and hacks that have attempted to paint her country as a deadbeat ally of Iranian-backed terrorism.

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Hillary the Hawk

Medea Benajamin and I make the anti-imperialist case for Hillary Clinton. Or do we? Guess you’ll have to read it.

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What six weeks at Vice looks like

Pieces I wrote:

“America Helped Make the Islamic State,” by Charles Davis (August 12, 2014)

Israel’s War on Palestine: It’s Bad, but Is It ‘Genocide’?” by Charles Davis (August 13, 2014)

A Reddit Thread Claims a Hookah Lounge in Los Angeles Banned Jews,” by Charles Davis (August 14, 2014) [EDITOR’S NOTE: It didn’t; I investigated.]

Instead of Killing Lawns, We Should Be Banning Golf,” by Charles Davis (August 15, 2014)

“It’s Not Just Ferguson: Protesting Police Violence in LA,” by Charles Davis (August 18, 2014)

This Teen Wants to Abolish School as We Know It,” by Charles Davis (August 20, 2014)

The LAPD Thinks It’s at War and Now It Has Drones,” by Charles Davis (August 22, 2014)

The US Government Will No Longer Trick People Into Deporting Themselves,” by Charles Davis (August 27, 2014)

Hollywood’s Latest Garbage: Our Tax Dollars at Work,” by Charles Davis (August 28, 2014)

Liberals Won’t Let the Death Penalty Die,” by Charles Davis (August 29, 2014)

Immigrants Are Going to Have to Keep Waiting for Change,” by Charles Davis (September 3, 2014)

Why Should We Care What Mitt Romney Has to Say About Foreign Policy?” by Charles Davis (September 5, 2014)

The Establishment Turns Against the Drug War,” by Charles Davis (September 9, 2014)

Is Obedience the Only Way to Avoid Police Brutality?” by Charles Davis (September 15, 2014)

California Lawmakers Want to Limit Police Drones, but Activists Want Them Banned,” by Charles Davis (September 16, 2014)

Read the rest of my archive here: http://www.vice.com/author/charles-davis

Pieces I wrote during this time but were published elsewhere:

Payment on an Unpaid Basis,” by Charles Davis (The Baffler; October 1, 2014)

Why are banks opening branches… in high schools?” by Charles Davis (Salon; October 16, 2014)

Pieces I edited:

Seattle’s Former Police Chief Speaks Out Against Police Brutality,” by Leighton Woodhouse (August 18, 2014)

In New York City, Police Brutality Is Bringing People Together,” by Aaron Miguel Cantú (August 19, 2014)

Republicans Hate the New AP History Exam,” by Avi Asher-Schapiro (August 20, 2014)

People Are Blocking Cargo Ships to Protest Israel,” by Charlotte Silver (August 21, 2014)

We Asked a War Correspondent About the Origins of ISIS,” by Leighton Woodhouse (August 25, 2014)

Gross Old Men Are Hot and Bothered by War,” By Belén Fernández (August 26, 2014)

Al Sharpton Is a Huge Fraud,” by Michael Tracey (August 26, 2014)

The Police Aren’t So Brave When Someone Has a Weapon,” by Lucy Steigerwald (August 26, 2014)

We Asked an Iraqi Teen What She Thinks of ISIS and America,” by Zach Schwartz (August 29, 2014)

Can the Feds Fix Local Police?” by Lucy Steigerwald (September 2, 2014)

This Tribe Wants to Kick Rich People Out of the Hamptons,” by Justin Doolittle (September 3, 2014)

The Pentagon Is Giving Grenade Launchers to Campus Police,” by Hannah K. Gold (September 5, 2014)

Cops Can Take Your Stuff Without Convicting You of Anything,” by Lucy Steigerwald (September 8, 2014)

Rich Millennials on Trains Won’t Save America,” by Aaron Miguel Cantú (September 10, 2014)

Militarized Cops Pretend to Fight Terrorists in Oakland,” by Julia Carrie Wong (September 12, 2014)

It’s Time to Start Boycotting the NFL,” by Michael Tracey (September 12, 2014)

Anonymous Border Patrol Agents Keep Killing People,” by Lucy Steigerwald (September 15, 2014)

Child Refugees Are Pleading for Asylum in Downtown LA,” by Leighton Woodhouse (September 17, 2014)

Pieces I commissioned but which ran elsewhere:

Against Sharing,” by Avi Asher-Schapiro (Jacobin; September 19, 2014)

Prison Smells Like Balls: The Hidden Stench of Mass Incarceration,” by Elizabeth Renter (Playboy; October 28, 2014)

On and Off the Record with Graham Nash,” by Mr. Fish (Huffington Post; November 23, 2014)

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Netanyahu, Sisi and Assad: Peas in a pod

Israel:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likened Hamas to al Qaeda, ISIS and other extremist Islamist groups Tuesday as he implored the international community to hold Palestinian militants responsible for the bloodshed in Gaza. Israel’s top politician said Hamas must be held accountable for rejecting multiple cease-fire agreements and a relentless attack on Israeli civilians.

Netanyahu made his comments at a joint press conference in Tel Aviv alongside U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. “What we’re seeing here with Hamas is another instance of Islamist extremism, violent extremism that has no resolvable grievance,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas is like ISIS, Hamas is like al Qaeda, Hamas is like Hezbollah, Hamas is like Boko Haram.”

Egypt:

A month after an Egyptian court ruled that Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was a terror organization, another court on Saturday branded the entire group — including its political wing — with the same designation.

Since Egypt’s military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the authorities have accused Hamas of aiding jihadists who have waged a string of deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

Syria (note: Resistance State):

The Syrian regime no longer has any relationship with former ally Hamas and will never trust the movement again, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Friday.

“There is no relation at all on the formal level or on the popular level,” the president told Swedish newspaper Expressen, adding, “I don’t think the Syrian people will trust them anymore.”

Assad alleged that the movement had allied itself with extremist militants fighting in Syria.

He said that recent events in Yarmouk refugee camp “have proved that part of Hamas, which is basically a Muslim Brotherhood organisation, supports al-Nusra Front.”

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On claims in the Argentine media

As a writer, it’s always nice to find that something you wrote did not just disappear into the worldwide abyss, but was actually read by someone – someone who liked it, even. So as I was sitting in my living room on Sunday night engaged in my biweekly pondering of whether or not I should quit journalism and go work at the artificial flower factory, I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat alarmed when a user of the social network “Twitter” alerted me to the fact that a two-part series I wrote for Inter Press Service back in 2013 was making the rounds in Argentina and was being cited by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (or, presumably, an intern) on her official website.

“Wait, what?” was my in-real-time response, but I’ve since pieced together and here’s the deal: That two-part series – part one; part two – concerned U.S. hedge fund manager Paul Singer’s attempts to defame Argentina as a deadbeat backer of international terrorism as part of his campaign to shake down the South American nation for billions of dollars. In 2002, the Argentine government defaulted on its debt and while it reached deals with 93 percent of its bondholders to pay them back a fraction of what they were owed, people like Singer – people who run what are called “vulture funds” that do this sort of thing all the time – bought up a bunch of those defaulted bonds and took Argentina to court in New York City, de facto finance capital of the world, where he insisted it pay all that was owed. So far he’s winning.

In addition to the legal battle, Singer has been fighting in the court of public opinion, using millions of his ought-to-be-confiscated wealth to fund a whole bunch of far-right hacks and the think tanks that employ them to link Argentina to terrorism by way of Iran. At the same time, in Argentina, prosecutor Alberto Nisman was investigating the 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people. Nisman was murdered in January, found in his apartment with a bullet in the head, but before he died he alleged that the Kirchner government was helping Iran cover up its role in that bombing so as not to jeopardize its expanding economic relations with the Islamic Republic. Singer, naturally, exploited this, with Nisman becoming a hero to neoconservatives and Republican lawmakers in Washington who are ever eager to allege that Iran is engaged in the same nefarious actions in Latin America as a previous generation accused deceased bogeyman, the Soviet Union; now as then, the allegations make headlines, but they rarely stand up to scrutiny.

I don’t know who carried out the 1994 bombing: Some have charged that Iranian officials, acting officially or not, ordered the attack, while others claim right-wing elements in Argentina’s intelligence service did it (the Kirchner government has accused these same alleged elements of feeding disinformation to Nisman and then killing him the night before he was set to deliver his findings to Congress, presumably an attempt at a “false flag”). What I do know is that in my reporting on Paul Singer I never uncovered any direct financial links between him and Alberto Nisman, though that appears to be the charge now being made by Kirchner and Jorge Elbaum, writing in the pro-government newspaper, Página/12 (there’s an English translation on Kirchner’s website, seemingly thanks to Google). It’s a convenient allegation, combining two problems facing the Argentine state into one neat little enemy, but it’s also not one that my reporting made. I’m not saying Nisman definitely didn’t get any of that sweet Singer cash or steer some of it to his allies, just that from what I know Nisman’s crusade – he was appointed as a special prosecutor to look into the AMIA bombing by Kirchner’s deceased husband – was merely exploited by Singer and his allies in pursuit of their own, what-appears-to-be-separate agenda, not directly funded by his ill-gotten wealth.

Anyway, as far as being cited by a head of state goes, it could be worse but I don’t really want it to happen again.

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Now accepting editor applications

When you write for the same outlet for a year or two, you end up building a rapport with the editor you deal with, a relationship that, over time, makes it easier to get pitches accepted – or at the very least gets those pitches acknowledged. When that editor leaves, though, often enough so does the relationship with that outlet; oh, you’ll get an email for the new guy or gal you are supposed to deal with from there on out, but to that new person you are just another poor scrub filling up their overcrowded inbox with a proposal for a think piece on what “Game of Thrones” can teach us about the conflict in Syria.

Which brings me to my point: I need another editor, my last one at a national publication choosing to leave me for some hot new sketchy start-up. Could it be you?

My ideal partner is: Compassionate, but not a pushover; firm, but gentle; rigorous, but not a god damn pedant; and good with words, but not intent on replacing every other one that I write with a synonym.

What I can offer: A rollicking but respectful back-and-forth regarding every little edit you make – I’ll keep you honest! – and, of course, exposure. You could be my editor; just think of all the doors that will open. If you think you have what it takes, submit an application to charles@freecharlesdavis.com. Be sure to include a paragraph or two on why I should choose you out of the dozens of other qualified candidates to edit the words that I write. And good luck!

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