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Newsletter 11-19-2021

Colin Powers
Colin Powers

Hi everyone. Thanks for subscribing. If you have the inclination, please pass this newsletter around to others who might enjoy the read. Now onto this week's edition of No Craic, Mad Craic, and Great Craic.

(Am on the road the next few weeks folks so apologies for the atypical brevity.)

No Craic

(1) In response to a series of bombings carried out by Al Qaeda in July of 2005, UK parliament would expand authorities already granted the Home Office vis-a-vis the denationalization of naturalized citizens. Henceforth, the ministry was empowered to revoke citizenship even were a criminal conviction was not or could not be secured, so long as the action was deemed "conducive to the public good."

During Theresa May's tenure as Home Secretary, these powers were applied liberally. In 2013, May used "deprivation of citizenship orders" to cut loose, as if with a snap of the fingers, twenty Brits who were believed to have joined one of the various jihadi groups in Syria.

At the time of writing, a rule change to the nationality and borders bill is currently being discussed. If passed, it will allow the Home Office to render persons stateless without even needing to give them notice.


(2) The collection and disposal of garbage have become politically salient issues in the Middle East and North Africa in recent years.

The state's closure of a waste dump in Naameh, Lebanon back in 2015--which prompted a capital strike of sorts from Sukleen, the company contracted to pick up trash in Beirut and Mt. Lebanon--led to a protest wave that lasted nearly two years.

Qais Saied's decision to overrule a 2019 court order which had finally stopped garbage from the city of Sfax being disposed in the nearby town of Agareb (where residents had rightly complained about the spread of disease), is seeing things get testy in Tunisia now as well. Protests initiated in response to Saied's decision were met by a predictably heavy-handed crackdown from the Ministry of Interior. After the excessive use of tear gas caused a young man, Abdelrazak Lachhab, to die from asphyxiation on November 8th, things escalated, culminating in the burning of a police station on November 9th.

With Tunis soon to run into trash disposal issues of its own, the scuttlebutt says more of this may soon be coming.

(3) Switzerland was Lebanon's largest export market for 2020, and by a huge margin.    

A curious data point, to say the least, and one that prompts the obvious question of what Lebanon, in its current state, could possibly be exporting to Switzerland at such magnitudes as to to generate more than $1 billion in revenues.

The answer: unwrought gold bullion.

At a time, then, when nearly the entirety of the Lebanese population saw whatever savings they had managed to accumulate be wiped out through hyperinflation, somehow someway some folks/institutions managed to move a huge amount of an asset whose primary function is wealth preservation outside the country and into one of the world's great privacy sanctuaries.  


(4) A former officer in the Israeli Defense Force's Unit 8200 has informed journalists that literally every phone imported into Gaza through its southern border is implanted with a bug allowing his former team to listen in on calls, etc. In addition, the whistleblower conveyed that the networks of Jawwal and Wataniyya, the only two mobile service providers in the whole of occupied Palestine, are also fully compromised: whether an individual uses bugged hardware or not, then, the IDF still retains the capacity to monitor calls and activities at its own discretion.

These revelations come but days after the Washington Post published an expose on Israel's use of a smartphone technology they call Blue Wolf. Broad strokes: over the course of many years, the IDF has made an effort to photograph just about every person in the occupied West Bank (including your boy!). Having developed such a digital repository, soldiers at checkpoints need now only train their camera on the faces of people passing by and the aforementioned Blue Wolf software will run in a background check in live-time to determine if the person ought be detained.

All this while the world still waits with bated breath for Benny Gantz et alia to finally give us the straight dope on the secret terrorist activities of Palestinian human rights defenders, as promised.

(5) The Bank for International Settlements, a coordinating body of sorts for central bankers from around the world, put out a publication that ought put an end to all the hullaballoo that has been popping off around the causes of current spikes in inflation.

Long story short: per report authors Daniel Rees and Phurichai Rungcharoenkitkul, it's supply chain bottlenecks all the way down. Without bottlenecks, year-on-year inflation in the US and Europe would be low and wholly in line with recent historical trends.

The ceaseless panicking over interest rates, government spending and uppity labor organizing, it appears, is merely just how Larry Summers and friends get themselves off.

Mad Craic

(6) An employee of a private-equity firm in New York does not think he can be an impartial juror for the case being brought by Federal prosecutors against Ghislaine Maxwell because of his job, err, because of the "number of high-profile individuals who are in (private-equity) that have been implicated" in the case.

Maxwell, I will remind you, is being tried with child sex trafficking.

In the same vein of people telling on themselves via strange interactions with the subject matter of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, Rachel Johnson--the sister of United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson--took the time this week to pen an op-ed titled "It's hard not to pity Ghislaine Maxwell."

Ghislaine Maxwell, I will again remind you, is being charged with child sex trafficking.

Great Craic

(7) Naomi Kanakia has written a wonderful and hilarious essay on the many illusions and misconceits that surround a classical education. For those inclined to think Harvard, Yale et alia serious places, the piece offers a nice rejoinder, pointing out that these institutions only became moderately deserving of their reputation when they started letting in the non-blue bloods, mostly Jewish people, who happened to take the university mythos seriously:

For most of their histories, neither the Ivy Leagues nor the Oxbridge colleges were particularly known for the difficulty of their education. It’s impossible to overstate how easy it was to get into Harvard in the 19th century. If you were of the right background and had gone to the right secondary school, you would get in. The Greek and Latin requirements were merely class markers. No intimate understanding of the texts or dedication to scholarship was needed to enter.
As Richard Karabel documented in his monumental work The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (2005), the general raising of academic standards at elite universities is almost entirely due to the entrance of Jewish students at the beginning of the 20th century. Because Jewish kids took all this stuff seriously: they actually studied Latin and Greek; they actually studied and absorbed the Classics. In this devotion, they were continuing a process that’s occurred repeatedly throughout history: the children of the bourgeois exploiting brief periods when a Classical education might gain them an advantage in a changing world. They’re similar to the Florentine notaries who studied the secular Classics to improve their Latin and rise in the civil service. Or to the educated laymen of the 14th and 15th centuries in England, scions of gentle families impoverished by the Black Death or merchant families enriched by it, who turned their knowledge of Latin into influential positions at a court that had traditionally been the preserve of the priesthood. Or to Cicero, a fiery orator and novus homo (his family had never held a consulship) who put his talents in the service of an aristocratic party that needed a “man of the people” who could bear its standard and oppose the rising tide of populism.
In some ways, these Jewish students killed Classical education, because Harvard and Princeton and Yale realized that, if they were only to admit students on the basis of their knowledge of Greek and Latin, their entering class would be entirely Jewish.

(8) Here you can see a guy in the Australian outback use a handmaid pouch to keep a baby kangaroo that lost its mother warm and happy.

Have a great weekend.


Colin Powers

Colin received his PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 2020. He is a two-time Fulbright Fellow.