October 2013

In the early 19th century there was a florescence of Protestant missionary interest in saving Muslim, Jewish and other kinds of Christian souls in the Middle East. One of the earliest accounts from the 19th century is that of Joseph Wolff (1795-1862), a convert from Judaism to Christianity. His missionary travels began in 1821 and he also went in search of the “lost tribes” of Israel. In 1837 he published a diary of his travels. This is a fascinating book to read, once one gets by the evangelistic fervor. He was considered by fellow missionaries to be somewhat of an “eccentric,” as he acknowledges in the frontispiece to his travels.

Here is how he begins his book… (more…)

Relatives and supporters pray before the remains of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III (right) at the Blue Mosque in Maharlika Village, Taguig City. Kiram died Sunday at the age of 75. by NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

By Marlon Ramos, Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 21st, 2013

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/510943/sulu-sultan-dies-sabah-claim-lives-on#ixzz2iMXdXXVi
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The ownership claim of the sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo to Sabah will not be buried with Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

Kiram made this clear to his family before he died at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City early Sunday, according to Abraham Idjirani, the sultanate’s secretary general and spokesman.

The 75-year-old sultan, the 33rd crowned ruler of one of the oldest sultanates in Southeast Asia, died from multiple organ failure due to complications of diabetes at 4:42 a.m.

Malacañang offered its condolences to the family of Kiram, who tried to force the government to press his clan’s claim to Sabah through an armed intrusion into the oil-rich territory in North Borneo in February, an adventure that left dozens of Filipinos and Malaysians dead.

But the death of Kiram does not mean the end of the Philippine government’s claim to Sabah, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

She said the government’s study of the claim that President Aquino ordered in March was still going on.

Kiram’s wife, Fatima Celia, said her husband died in her arms at the hospital. She said that before he died, he ordered his family and followers to keep alive the historic territorial claim to Sabah. (more…)

Mortality in Iraq Associated with the 2003–2011 War and Occupation: Findings from a National Cluster Sample Survey by the University Collaborative Iraq Mortality Study

by Amy Hagopian, Abraham D. Flaxman, Tim K. Takaro, Sahar A. Esa Al Shatari,Julie Rajaratnam, Stan Becker, Alison Levin-Rector, Lindsay Galway, Berq J. Hadi Al-Yasseri, William M. Weiss, Christopher J. Murray, Gilbert Burnham, PLOS Medicine,



Previous estimates of mortality in Iraq attributable to the 2003 invasion have been heterogeneous and controversial, and none were produced after 2006. The purpose of this research was to estimate direct and indirect deaths attributable to the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Methods and Findings

We conducted a survey of 2,000 randomly selected households throughout Iraq, using a two-stage cluster sampling method to ensure the sample of households was nationally representative. We asked every household head about births and deaths since 2001, and all household adults about mortality among their siblings. We used secondary data sources to correct for out-migration. From March 1, 2003, to June 30, 2011, the crude death rate in Iraq was 4.55 per 1,000 person-years (95% uncertainty interval 3.74–5.27), more than 0.5 times higher than the death rate during the 26-mo period preceding the war, resulting in approximately 405,000 (95% uncertainty interval 48,000–751,000) excess deaths attributable to the conflict. (more…)

An exhibit was held in Paris in April-July 2013 of West African talismans. The catalog is online here and well worth perusing.

Call for Papers for CyberOrient
Vol. 8, Iss. 2, 2014
Submission deadline: 30 April 2014 (Full Papers)

Special Issue: History of Modernity and Telephony in the non-West
Guest Editor: Burçe Çelik


For the past few decades, history of modernization began to be written by focusing on how technologies as components of modernization processes change the lives of humans, their daily practices and imaginations, and the ways in which they construct and express their identities. Telephony, which functions in both public and private spheres and witnesses social and political changes in private as well as professional relations, is regarded as especially important for historical analysis. Functioning on multiple levels, social history of telephony can unearth the ways in which technologies obtain meanings and values in changing cultural contexts and the dynamics of social, political and cultural transformations. The history of modernization in the non-western societies is often studied by focusing on the projects of the rulers and on the discourses of the ruling parties that aim a social/political change in accordance with a particular Occidentalism – where modernity is imagined with a model of the western modernization processes. Yet, the question of how people of these landscapes contributed to the modernization processes and how they produced their own modern practices in daily organizations, relations and experiences, did not receive enough scholarly attention.

This special issue of CyberOrient invites articles that focus on the history of modernity and telephony in the non-west that take the user perspective to the center. Topics could include the daily practices of users with telephone technology, the meaning and values that have been attributed to this technology by users, the role of telephony within the social, cultural and political struggles of users, and the effect of the ownership or non-ownership of telephony in social, cultural and political lives of individuals and collectives. We welcome submissions from across disciplines and methodological approaches that are empirically and critically grounded.


Articles should be submitted directly to Burçe Çelik (burce.celik@bahcesehir.edu.tr) and Vit Sisler (vit.sisler@ff.cuni.cz). Articles should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words (including references), and follow the AAA style in referencing and citations. Upon acceptance, articles will be published online with free access in autumn 2014.

By James M. Dorsey, RSIS Commentaries, October 16, 2013

The decision by the Obama administration to freeze military aid deprives the Egyptian military of its favourite toys but does little to weaken its military capability. It further strains relations with key US allies in the Gulf, and highlights Washington’s difficulty in balancing its twin goals of stability and democratisation in the Middle East and North Africa.


THE OBAMA administration’s decision to impose sanctions on Egypt’s military-appointed government following the killing of 51 anti-military protestors in Egypt illustrates the US’ limited leverage on one of its closest allies in the Middle East and North Africa. It also reflects its difficulty in striking a balance between acknowledging that the region has entered into an era of messy transition and maintaining close ties to its counter-revolutionary allies such as Saudi Arabia.

Washington had refrained in the past three months to define as a coup the military’s overthrow of Egypt’s only democratically-elected president and brutal suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood that left more than 1,000 people dead, to avoid being legally obliged to cut off aid.

Reinforcing worries about US stance

The aid freeze comes on the heels of the announcement of a November date for the start of court proceedings against ousted president Mohamed Morsi. It is likely to reinforce Saudi and Israeli fears that Washington is steering a dangerous course not only by its perceived support for fundamental change of the region’s established order but also by its willingness to engage with revolutionary Iran, seen by Arab conservatives as a threat to their national security.

In anticipation of the US sanctions, Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour secured pledges for continued support from Saudi Arabia and other cash-rich Gulf states that have already funded his government to the tune of US$12 billion. In advance of the coup against Morsi, Saudi Arabia had already assured the Egyptian military that it would compensate for any loss of US economic and financial aid.

The Gulf’s support has kept the post-Morsi government afloat but does little to address Egypt’s festering, structural economic problems nor does it offer the prospect of substituting military hardware for what is the world’s 14th largest armed forces. (more…)

The photographer Ziyah Gafic recently went to Saudi Arabia to film women in context. Check out his interesting video here. He is allowed to photograph several well educated and wealthy women in their luxurious surroundings. The very fact that he is not free to film women outside such crafted, indoor settings is the “elephant in the room” that the lens does not capture.

My grandmother’s aunt, Ms. Ida Hoyt, put together several scrapbooks in the 1890s. The pages are quite frayed today, but most of the images are still in good shape. At this time the British Raj was in full force, including the “glorious” depictions of the British rule.


For Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here; for Part 3, click here.

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