Archive for category Video

Someone should get David Guetta some kevlar (song of the week)

While I tend to be somewhat of a wanker when it comes to music, I can appreciate the odd well-written pop song and I had been noticing that one particular song had been catching my ear a lot recently. Unfortunately, that song — ‘Titanium’ — is by French music producer David Guetta.

Now, I know that tolerance is part of my general mandate and something that I push on this blog fairly often. I also know that ‘Titanium’ is beloved by a number of luminaries, including Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who said that it was his favourite song during his recent election campaign. Given this, it is with a great deal of regret that I have to say that I cannot tolerate Guetta, or anything by Guetta.

The Eurotrash hack-turned-superstar has built his career by taking passable songs, putting them over a very artificial-sounding drum machine and then adding an electro breakdown every 30 seconds. He is the single worst thing to happen to music in the last decade — and that included a steep drop in record sales, the death of Amy Winehouse, the release of ‘Chinese Democracy’ by Guns ‘N Roses, and Craig Emerson singing.

*shudder*

That’s why I was so happy to stumble across a cover of the song by one young Madilyne “Maddy” Bailey. I had never heard of her before, but having clicked through a few of her videos, it is safe to say that she has a fair amount of talent to her.

Using just her piano and her impressive voice, she gives the song an acoustic rendering that completely de-Guettifies it, revealing the powerful tune underneath all that godawful side-chain compression and arpeggiated synths that he needs to put in so it sounds like “dance music”. The chorus sounds much better without the obligatory/generic breakdowns.

So I applaud Maddy for doing a good song justice, and I recommend that everyone not only plays the video below, but clicks through and spends $1.30 on her song on iTunes. Karnage believes that good music should be supported, so that people make more of it. We would definitely prefer for Maddy to launch a professional music career than to end-up working in a call centre with the other potential greats of our generation.

Oh yeah, the title of this post. Well, here are the lyrics from ‘Titanium’:

I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
fire away, fire away
ricochet, you take your aim
fire away, fire away
you shoot me down, but I won’t fall
I am titanium
you shoot me down, but I won’t fall
I am titanium

Here’s the rub: titanium is a strong metal, but it is not bulletproof. Bulletproof armour is generally made from kevlar. Mr Guetta is not as safe as he may think.

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[Video] Hilarious Peter Berg Israel interview

Peter Berg, director of the new movie ‘Battleships’, was interviewed on Israeli Channel 10 recently.

During the interview, he decided to talk about “more important” things than his movie: like how difficult Bibi and Barak’s decision is on Iran. The highlight is definitely when he starts having a go at the “refusenik” interviewer. Watch it below:

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Saturday Song of the Week: Plan B’s ‘Ill Manors’. Also: thoughts on London Riots

Note: I have started to get a little tired with my music collection, so to overcome this I will be trying to post a different song every week for a while. Think of it as a highbrow version of friends of the blog One a Day (just kidding guys, love you).

I came across ‘Ill Manors’ recently while flicking through Vimeo (note: “manor” is slang for large tower blocks on “council estates” – British public housing). I have always been a fan of Grime – sub-genre of UK Hip Hop – but I have not been following it for the last few years (probably a consequence of my having grown up in London and then moved to Australia, one would think).

The song and the accompanying video (and upcoming album and movie by the same name) are about last year’s London riots. Rapping with spectacular energy over what I’m told is a Shostakovich sample, Plan B gets across the incredible rage felt by Britain’s underclass that resulted in the mayhem that we watched over the British summer. There is nothing quite like Grime’s staggered beats and quick staccato vocals to sound raw and angry in a way that American Hip Hop could never quite achieve. I always felt like there was something a little too Hollywood about the US “gangsters” and their overdone songs about parties and largess. Grime though? That’s just channeled rage.

The lyrics to the song enunciate stereotypes of poor, uneducated “chavs”, who live violent lives and have a particular resentment of those who are more fortunate, yet Plan B seems to embrace these tropes. The reality is slightly more sophisticated, as revealed by Dorian Lynskey, who reviewed the song for the Guardian;Plan B was making the point that the derogatory stereotypes are self-fulfilling as the dejected and marginalised youth are drawn to embrace them. Below is a quote from Plan B himself:

Why Plan B’s Ill Manors is the greatest British protest song in years | Music | guardian.co.uk.

For me that term [“chav”] is no different from similar terms used to be derogatory towards race and sex, the only difference being that the word chav is used very publicly in the press … When you attack someone because of the way they talk, the way they dress, the music they listen to, or their lack of education, and you do it publicly and it’s acceptable to do that, you make them feel alienated. They don’t feel like a part of society … For every person who uses the word chav there is a less educated person ready to embrace it. They say, well, look, I’m never going to change the way you think of me so actually I’m going to play up to it and fuel the fire. In essence that’s what Ill Manors is about.

Personally, I do not accept Plan B’s thesis entirely (for a more extensive version, see this TEDx talk). I was not completely surprised when the riots broke-out as I immediately saw an element of London’s youth culture that I recognised.

It may or may not be true that London’s poor embraced the stereotypes thrust on them by society and I was not around to see how the “chav” culture developed. What I did see was its explosion and its glorification; when I was a teenager in London, I witnessed the bizarre phenomenon whereby the most popular kids from the most privileged backgrounds at the most exclusive public schools (and that’s “public school” in the British sense) aspired to the ideal of living like their contemporaries in council housing.

To put that another way, they wanted to “act poor” – not through having less money, but by playing-out the stereotypes that Plan B so resents. Teenagers whose parents spoke with BBC-worthy received pronunciation were talking as if they had been born and raised in public housing and always lived on welfare benefits. The attendant fashion trend was truly bizarre – while actual chavs wore fake Burberry tartan hats and Nike tracksuits, unable to afford the genuine article, my schoolmates were wearing the real versions, but the ones that closest resembled the widely-available forgeries in order to imitate people who could not afford what they were wearing.

They were also failing at school and committing petty crimes like their idols were supposed to, listening to underground Garage and Grime music and hanging-out with kids from the state schools on weekends. Parties when I was growing up often resembled miniature versions of the London riots – especially when a “crew” like this managed to get to the house of a wealthy peer who they were not particularly friendly with.

This may even be the answer to the centuries-old left wing dream of downward mobility for the upper classes. I guarantee that my schoolmates with misdemeanour convictions and failing grades will not be replicating their parents’ success. So here’s the formula: in a society still flailing as it falls from power, make “poor” cool and watch a whole generation of middle-to-upper-class youth become welfare-dependent petty criminals like their glamorised idols. Good times.

Remember, the Sun never sets on the British Empire.

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5 reasons why #StopKony2012 is a bad way to feel better about yourself

Last night I promised a post giving background information on Joseph Kony after I explained my doubts regarding the “Stop Kony” campaign. I have to say that I feel entirely vindicated. I am always amazed by people who seem to spend their whole lives not caring about suffering in the world at all suddenly go up in arms because of a 27 minute piece of propaganda, donate a lot of money to a very dubious cause and then go back to sleep. As I suspected, there is much more to the situation than the video let on.

1. The video was bullshit

The best critique of the video itself came from Michael Wilkerson, guest posting on Joshua Keating’s Foreign Policy blog:

Guest post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things) | FP Passport.

Unfortunately, it looks like meddlesome details like where Kony actually is aren’t important enough for Invisible Children to make sure its audience understands. The video, narrated by Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell, says its purpose is to intensify pressure on the U.S. government to make sure Kony is brought to justice this year, and as the message broadcast throughout says, what is important is simple: Stop Kony.

Among other emotive shots, the video features Russell’s attempt to explain the LRA to his toddler son, enthusiastic (and mostly white) volunteers putting up posters and wearing Kony 2012 bracelets, and some heart-wrenching footage of children who walked for miles to sleep in a safe place at the height of the LRA’s power in Northern Uganda. The latter comprised much of Invisible Children’s namesake first film and brought the organization to prominence.

But in the new film, Invisible Children has made virtually no effort to inform. Only once, at 15:01 in the movie, over an image of a red blob on a map leaving Northern Uganda and heading West, is the fact that the LRA is no longer in Uganda mentioned, and only in passing.

2. Kony is a useful scapegoat for Ugandan crimes

The video mentioned failed peace talks and blamed Kony for his duplicity in using the talks as cover while he rearmed. This may be true, but there is more to the talks than that. Max Fisher had this to say:

The Bizarre and Horrifying Story of the Lord’s Resistance Army – Max Fisher – International – The Atlantic.

Since the late 1980s, the Ugandan government has tried several times to defeat the LRA or at least compel it to disarm. It even created a senior position dedicated to this cause; the Minister of State for Pacification of Northern Uganda. The first person to hold this office, Betty Bigombe, negotiated directly with Kony, deep-jungle meetings that many of her staffers refused to attend for fear that they would be maimed or killed. But President Museveni squashed Bigombe’s hopeful 1994 peace talks, and others since then. Museveni has good reason to want fighting to continue. He is still unpopular in the north, and the LRA gives him good reason to fill that once rebellious region with his troops. They’ve also given him an opportunity forcibly relocate a number of “vulnerable” northern Ugandans into displacement camps, where he said they might be more easily protected. The LRA’s bloody attacks also provide a rallying point for once-fractured Uganda, a common enemy that keeps everyone in line. Whatever Museveni’s brutalities, the LRA will always be worse.

More on this later.

3. Kony has already been stopped

Has he been captured and brought to justice? No. What the video forgot to mention, however, is that the 30-year long war in Northern Uganda is over and Kony lost. As Wilkerson was getting at, the “moved into other countries” that the video mentioned in passing would be more accurately described as “fled into other countries, with a coalition of African armies hot on his tail”. Kate Collins last October:

The Water’s Edge » Guest Post: Did Obama Make the Right Call on Kony?.

The U.S. troop deployment can make a decisive difference. Kony’s forces have been weakened in the past few years, in good part because of the $4.4 million in aid Kampala has received from the Obama administration. Kony now commands fewer than 300 fighters. Putting U.S. boots on the ground will likely lead to the complete collapse of the last remnants of his army.

4. What are you trying to achieve exactly?

Mark Kersten points out that, while military solutions have failed, raising awareness of Kony in the West would not achieve much and the people in his region are already well aware of who he is.

Taking ‘Kony 2012′ Down A Notch | Justice in Conflict.

Kony 2012 is about making Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious LRA, famous because, the line of reasoning goes, if everyone knew him, no one would be able to stand idly by as he waged his brutal campaign of terror against the people of East Africa.

I am actually stupefied that any analysis of the ‘LRA question’ results in the identification of the problem being that “Kony isn’t popular enough”. The reality is that few don’t know who Joseph Kony is in East Africa and the Great Lakes Region, making it all-too-apparent that this isn’t about them, their views or their experiences. But even more puzzling is that Joseph Kony is one of the best known alleged war criminals in the world – including in the United States. This is the case in large part because of the advocacy of Western NGOs, including Invisible Children and the Enough Project as well as the ICC arrest warrants issued against Kony and his senior command.

… In this context, it is worthwhile remembering that massive regional military solutions (Operations Iron Fist and Lightning Thunder most recently), with support from the US, have thus far failed to dismantle or “stop” the LRA. These failures have created serious and legitimate doubts that the ‘LRA question’ is one that can be resolved by military means.

Why have the military solutions failed? Well, according to Max Fisher, finding Kony is not actually all that easy:

Why Is Obama Sending Troops Against the Lord’s Resistance Army? – Max Fisher – International – The Atlantic.

Kony may be barking mad — he performs bizarre rituals and claims to fight for “the Ten Commandments” — but he has survived for two decades, outnumbered and outmatched by every metric, on little more than his ideology and his wits. “Kony is a brilliant tactician & knows the terrain better than anybody. He surrounds himself with scouts who have what amounts to an early warning system, which is how he’s eluded capture for so long,” Morehouse College assistant professor and Central Africa expert Laura Seay warned on twitter. “Kony also operates in some of the least-governed areas of the world’s weakest states. Many of these places have no roads, infrastructure. All of this adds up for a potential mess for US troops, who don’t know the terrain & can’t count on host government troops to be helpful or even to fight. This will not be easy for only 100 US forces to carry out, especially given language barriers.” Seay also points out that Kony uses children as human shield — and as much of his fighting force — making any direct action ethically and morally difficult.

5. Who is really threatening Ugandan children?

So Kony’s days were numbered before you even heard of him and any campaign to assuage your “white man’s burden” guilt by making a lot of noise about him would not change much. That said, there are far worse things happening to Ugandan children every day than living under the (largely abated) threat of the LRA. The people in northern Uganda are largely Acholi, who fought against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in the Ugandan civil war and who, therefore, Museveni has a strong interest in controlling.

It took some digging to find, but here is what their own government was doing to the Acholi under the auspice of “protecting” them from Koni. Note: this article was from 2006.

The Secret Genocide – By Olara A. Otunnu | Foreign Policy.

The truth is that reports of indisputable atrocities of the LRA are being employed to mask more serious crimes by the government itself. To keep the eyes of the world averted, the government has carefully scripted a narrative in which the catastrophe in northern Uganda begins with the LRA and will only end with its demise. But, under the cover of the war against these outlaws, an entire society, the Acholi people, has been moved to concentration camps and is being systematically destroyed — physically, culturally, and economically. “Everything Acholi is dying,” declared Father Carlos Rodriguez, a Catholic missionary priest in the region. After his own visit, Ugandan journalist Elias Biryabarema wrote, “Not a single explanation on [E]arth can justify the sickening human catastrophe [of] the degradation, desolation, and the horrors killing off generation after generation.”

… The situation in northern Uganda rivals Darfur in terms of its duration, magnitude, and consequences. For more than a decade, government forces have kept a population of almost 2 million (from the Acholi, Lango, and Teso regions) in some 200 concentration camps, where they face squalor, disease, starvation, and death. Imagine 4,000 people sharing a latrine, women waiting in line for 12 hours to fill a jerrycan at a well, and up to 10 people packing themselves sardine-like into tiny huts.

Ninety-five percent of the Acholi population now resides in these camps. In January 2006, World Vision Uganda reported that 1,000 children are dying each week in the region, one of the worst mortality rates in the world. More recent estimates indicate that number may have climbed to 1,500 deaths a week. In March, a survey by a consortium of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported that the death rates in the concentration camps are three times those of Darfur.

Angelo Izama had some thoughts on this as well:

Acholi Street. Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Children’s campaign of infamy « Angelo Opi-aiya Izama.

To call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, it’s portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era. At the height of the war between especially 1999 and 2004, large hordes of children took refuge on the streets of Gulu town to escape the horrors of abduction and brutal conscription to the ranks of the LRA. Today most of these children are semi-adults. Many are still on the streets unemployed. Gulu has the highest numbers of child prostitutes in Uganda. It also has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.

The crux of it

For those of you that are still with me after about 17,000 words: Joseph Kony’s army, the LRA, is the product of ethnic tensions that still remain following the Ugandan civil war in the early 1980s. It was bolstered by support from the genocidal regime in Sudan, whose president is also wanted for war crimes.

The conflict has been perpetuated partly because Kony is a wiley and effective commander and partly because it suits the Ugandan president to keep the war going in the north as it gives him an excuse to crack down on the Acholi people, who pose a potential threat to his otherwise unchallenged rule.

That said, the height of Koney’s power was between 1994 and 2004. Since then, his army has been crushed and he has been forced to flee Uganda. As of today, he has only a few hundred soldiers left to his name and he is being chased around the Congo rainforest by a force of 4,000 troops from a coalition of African countries, which is supported by US intelligence and special forces instructors.

In short: Kony is no longer a problem. BUT Uganda has huge problems with poverty, AIDS, a government that wants to punish homosexuality by death and a president who has been in power for 28 years with no sign of giving this up any time soon. If you want to help Ugandans, forget Koney and do something about that!

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Like what you see? FOLLOW MK ON TWITTER or LIKE MK ON FACEBOOK.

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Before you start shouting about #Kony, STOP AND THINK!

A very powerful and provocative 30-minute video by an NGO called ‘Invisible Children’ seems to have become a huge viral sensation in a matter of hours. The hashtags #Kony and #Kony2012 are all over Twitter and my Facebook wall seems to be inundated with people talking about this.

I will admit at this stage that I do not know too much about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, about whom the film was made – although I intend to do so by this time tomorrow. In fact, I do not follow Uganda that closely; I am very much in favour of caring more about Africa, but I tend to pay more attention to Somalia, Sudan and South Africa. I can see a lot of appeal in the video – there is no doubt that Kony is a disgusting human being, and violence against children is always a good tearjerker. That said, everyone seems to have missed what is actually going on in the video. Let me spell it out for you:

They want America to invade central Africa.

The video calls for military intervention in central Africa, it celebrates the fact that Obama was compelled by their group to commit a small number of troops there already and it is calling for more action. It even seemed to be hinting at a potential targeted assassination.

This is a *bad* idea! military intervention into the middle of a foreign war zone is a tough call at the best of times and generally should only be entered into when there is a substantial threat to world peace (i.e. to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon) or in a situation like Libya or Kosovo where there is clear disproportionate warfare going on and hundreds of innocent people are being slaughtered by an enemy of the West.

Taking out Kony has no strategic value whatsoever; the man is a tyrant, but he is in good company in Africa and is far from the only game in town when it comes to recruiting child soldiers and other crimes against humanity. In fact, I bet that the Ugandan army itself is not exactly made-up of angels. This is not at all to say that we shouldn’t be trying to find a way to stop him, but we have to pick our wars and nothing about this one looks particularly appealing.

As I was writing this post, I was been referred to this site (currently censored on Facebook), which gives some more in-depth information:

We got trouble. – Visible Children – KONY 2012 Criticism.

Still, Kony’s a bad guy, and he’s been around a while. Which is why the US has been involved in stopping him for years. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has sent multiple missions to capture or kill Kony over the years. And they’ve failed time and time again, each provoking a ferocious response and increased retaliative slaughter. The issue with taking out a man who uses a child army is that his bodyguards are children. Any effort to capture or kill him will almost certainly result in many children’s deaths, an impact that needs to be minimized as much as possible. Each attempt brings more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children supports military intervention. Kony has been involved in peace talks in the past, which have fallen through. But Invisible Children is now focusing on military intervention.

It’s worth clicking through and reading the full piece.

Really though, I am quite amazed at the bloodlust that seems to have been going on in my social media. I never thought that I would see such a strong viral phenomenon calling for war.

Meanwhile, expect a post with a full breakdown on the situation regarding Kony to appear on this blog in the next 24 hours.

 

**UPDATE**

For a full briefing on Kony, see HERE.

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Crazy video of religion in Jerusalem

Created by a student at the Bezalel School of Art, Hebrew University

(Forgive the pun)

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Didn’t think a photoshop montage could be art?

Then you obviously haven’t seen this:

Via The Dish.

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All these drums, where’s the fife?

Apparently the “drums of war”  keep beating for Iran:

U.S., Iran, Israel should cool the rhetoric – CNN.com.

In 2012, hard-nosed rhetoric from the United States and Israel has accompanied an ever louder drumbeat for a possible “military option” to combat Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran’s nuclear adventure | The Australian.

THE war drums are beating and people everywhere should be speaking out against this latest plan for aggression masquerading as justifiable pre-emptive strategy.

But it’s not a true war march without the fife. Here’s how a  real nation goes to war:

 

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Anonymous’ final solution video

I have written before in praise of, or at least amusement at, hacker group Anonymous, but then I saw this Haaretz article on a video they just posted about Israel. Now, I am well aware that Anonymous is not one entity and this could easily be some rogue idiot with nothing to do with the group, but it is still quite frightening.

The video and a transcription are below, remind you of anything? I’ve bolded the important parts.

(Thanks to Daphne Anson for saving me from having to transcribe this myself).

“To the government of the state of Israel.

We are Anonymous.

For too long we have tolerated your crimes against humanity and allowed your sins to go unpunished. Through the use of media deception and political bribery, you have amassed the sympathies of many.

You claim to be democratic, yet in reality this is far from the truth.

In fact, your only goal is to better the lives of a select few while carelessly trampling the liberties of the masses. We see through the propaganda that you circulate through the mainstream media and lobby through the political establishment. Your Zionist bigotry has displaced and killed a great many.

As the world weeps you laugh while planning your next attack. All of this is done under the veil of peace but so long as your regime exists peace shall be hindered.

You label all who refuse to comply with your superstitious demands as anti-semitic. And have taken steps to ensure a nuclear holocaust.

You are unworthy to exist in your current form and will therefore face the wrath of Anonymous. Your empire lacks legitimacy and because of this you must govern behind a curtain of deceit.

We will not allow you to attack a sovereign country based upon a campaign of lies.

Your grip over humanity will weaken and man will be closer to freedom. 

But before this is accomplished the people of this world will rise against you and renounce you in all your worth. Our crusade against your reign of terror shall commence in three steps.

Step one will be initiated after the release of this video and will be comprised of systematically removing you from the internet.

Step two will be later disclosed and is already in initiation.

And as for step three, well think of this one as a present from Anonymous to you. We will not stop untill the police state becomes a free state.

We are Anonymous.

We are legion.

We do not forgive.

We do not forget.

Israeli government, expect us.”

In case you didn’t get it, I took the liberty of using the same words, but switching pronouns and making it a call to action:

We see through the propaganda that they circulate through the mainstream media and lobby through the political establishment.

They are unworthy to exist in their current form and will therefore face our wrath.

Their empire lacks legitimacy and because of this they must govern behind a curtain of deceit. We will weaken their grip over humanity and man will be closer to freedom.

The people of this world will rise up against them and renounce them.

Step one will be initiated after the release of this video and will be comprised of systematically removing them from the country.

Step two will be later disclosed and is already in initiation.

And as for step three, well think of this one as a present from Anonymous to you. We will not stop until we achieve the final solution and there are none of them left on this Earth.

I am not generally one to invoke the Holocaust or to throw the “antisemitism” card around lightly, but seriously, it sounds like Anonymous have been taking tips from Joseph Goebbels. “The Jews rule through deceit and cunning, they have a secret grip over our society and the only way to end it is to be rid of them” – that is exactly the kind of thing that was being said in 1930s Berlin.

For shame Anonymous.

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Syria’s style icon First Lady is killing it

 

Remember Asma al-Assad: the Western-educated family woman, philanthropist and style icon? You remember, right? Well, Walter Russell Mead has pointed out the remarkable difference between her reaction to Israel’s 2009 Gaza incursion, aimed at stopping Hamas’ bombardment of Israeli civilians, versus her reaction to Syria’s 2012 “unrest”, aimed at preventing her husband from being overthrown.

Asma Assad: Stand By Your Man | Via Meadia.

In January 2009, a prominent political icon took to CNN to express moral outrage over the actions of a Middle Eastern government attacking civilians. It was a moving performance, filled with pathos and righteous anger.

… The source of this searing moral critique? Asma Assad, wife of Bashir Assad. Her target? Israel during its 2008 incursion into Gaza to halt the Hamas rocket fire which had forced a million of its citizens into underground shelters.

The immensity of Ms Assad’s hypocrisy is only fully appreciable today. While her husband oversees the slaughter of over 5000 of his own civilians, the lovely Assad is standing by her man. After remaining silent since the killing began in March 2011, she today released a statement to the international press. It is a veritable profile in moral courage:

Mead points to this quote from an email sent by Assad herself (my bold):

Syria: President Assad’s British-born wife Asma speaks for first time | Mail Online.

‘The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the First Lady supports him in that role,’ she told The Times.

‘These days she is equally involved in bridging gaps and encouraging dialogue. She listens to and comforts the families of the victims of the violence.’

Well that’s nice of her, she’s providing cold comfort to all the victims of her husband, who she stands by resolutely.

Watch the video below of her remarks on Gaza, overlayed with facts in Arabic (includes English translation) about the slaughter going on in Syria right now whose victims she is “comforting”.

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