Why Turkey Matters (Now More Than Ever)

In case you haven’t heard, the city of Istanbul was bombed this week. Suicide bombers chose the city’s main airport — Turkey’s largest — as its target on Tuesday, killing nearly 50, injuring nearly more than 200.


It’s the latest in a series of bombings that has rocked Turkey in the past two years. And it’s a big deal — a very big deal — that we in the U.S. need to pay attention to.


When Paris was attacked in recent months, the Western World reacted in ways it should have. It was horrified. Many of us — hundreds of thousands of us — changed our Facebook profiles to show images of a black Eiffel Tower. Paris was a friend who’d been hurt in this strange new world of terrorist-driven wars. And we wanted to show our support for our friends in France. If it could happen in Europe, it could happen to us.


Turkey’s not getting anywhere near that same level of support. And it needs it. Now more than ever.


Here are just a few reasons why:


1) Turkey is in Europe, too. As a nation, most of us know how important Europe is. We certainly were in agreement about that last week in the wake of the shocking Brexit vote. But most of us think of Europe as Britain, France and Germany. Often forgotten is the fact that Turkey is in Europe, too. Not all of it. But a significant part of it. And it should be given the same level of respect we give to other European nations, especially because of its strategic geographic location, which brings me to my next point:


2) Turkey is where East meets West. Turkey is literally what stands between those European countries we readily identify as our friends — hi France and Britain and Germany — and those nations in an ongoing state of turmoil, notably Syria, Iraq and Iran. Fingers have been pointed in recent years at Turkey, suggesting that the nation has helped — some argue inadvertently while others argue intentionally — stir the pot of unease in the Middle East. But none of that takes away from the fact that Turkey has long assisted us in NATO campaigns and has been a critical buffer zone separating the West from some of the world’s most dangerous “hot spots” that cannot and should not be ignored.


3) Turkey is a Moslem nation. A really impressive Moslem nation. It’s no great secret that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what constitutes a Moslem nation. The mere mention of “Moslem nation” conjures up, for many, images of bloodshed and headscarves and angry men. But that’s not Turkey. Many scholars have heralded Turkey as a miracle. And for good reason. What Ataturk managed to do a century ago was transform a shattered empire into the first modern Moslem nation — replete with a modern alphabet, western attire and capable business leaders. What’s more, he managed to institute a state of peace. Time and again, Turkey is pointed to as the Moslem country that stands to lead the way in spreading the spirit of peace and democracy to other Moslem nations. Its role as a leader among Moslem nations — as the gold standard whose example can be emulated — should not be underestimated.


4) Turkey is a great, big nation full of young people, paying attention to who has their back (and who doesn’t). Let me paint you a more complete picture of Turkey. It’s a nation of 75 million people, 14 million of them based in Istanbul alone. It’s also a nation in which there are tons (and by tons — I mean tons!) of young people. It boasts the youngest demographic among European nations — with the average age of a citizen just 29 years old. These internet- and social media-savvy, increasingly-university-educated Turkish youth are watching closely how the world responds to crises like the one unfolding this week. They know that the world mourned for Paris. They also know that there is a bias against their nation. That bias has been acted out time and again as Turkey tries again and again to be granted a seat at the European Union table. This is a young nation with a ton of potential — trade and otherwise. It is not a nation to be overlooked. And failing to show this very young nation that the lives of their fellow countrymen matter just as much as the lives in other European countries is critical.


5) Turkey is a nation on the brink. Turkey, long a friend of the U.S. and to the western world, has had five significant bombings in 2016 alone. It’s had its fair share of political ups and downs thanks in large part to its current president, Erdogan, and his ongoing efforts to transform Turkey from a democracy into a nation ruled by a firm executive hand (which seeks to strip journalists of their liberties, among other things). The mounting unease created by this week’s suicide attack is the last thing the nation needs — as it tries to maintain a democracy void of the religious conservatives and military officials who wait in the wings, eager to use this moment of vulnerability as an opportunity to seize ever-greater control. If we want Turkey to remain Western-leading, then Turkey — on both political and personal levels — needs to be reminded it does not stand alone and that it has the west on its side.


Just as Paris needed our support last fall, so, too, does Turkey now. If anything, it could be argued that Turkey needs the support even more, owing to its geographic location. The West has a great deal to gain by lending the support, and even more to lose if it chooses to turn a blind eye.


Mary Pflum Peterson is a multi-Emmy-award-winning TV journalist. She lived and worked in Turkey for more than two years, covering earthquakes, federal elections, and mounting Kurdish tensions, among other issues.

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Thomas Mair Charged With Murder Of British Politician Jo Cox


(Reuters) – British police said on Saturday they had charged a man in the slaying of lawmaker Jo Cox, and said the suspect appeared to have acted alone.


West Yorkshire police said on its website that Thomas Mair, 52, had been charged with the murder of the 41-year-old mother of two.


“We have now charged a man with murder, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offense and possession of an offensive weapon,” West Yorkshire Police Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen said in a statement.


Mair was due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, Wallen said.




Cox, a supporter of Britain staying in the EU, was shot and stabbed on Thursday by a man who witnesses said shouted “Britain first,” in her own electoral district near Leeds in the county of West Yorkshire in northern England.


Wallen said Cox “was attacked and sustained serious injuries from both a firearm and a knife and despite assistance from passers-by, the ambulance service and police officers who were quickly on the scene, she sadly died of her injuries.”


Wallen said the suspect was quickly apprehended thanks from help to the public.


He said police, working with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, was pursuing inquiries into media reports of “the suspect being linked to right wing extremism” and “the suspect’s link to mental health services.”


“Based on information available at this time, this appears to be an isolated, but targeted attack upon Jo – there is also no indication at this stage that anyone else was involved in the attack. However we will be investigating how the suspect came to be in possession of an unlawfully held firearm,” Wallen added.


He said, however, that police were working with the Palace of Westminster and the Home Office to review security arrangements for members of parliament.


(Reporting by Sandra Maler in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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To bin Laden and Back: How one man’s journey offers a window into the absence of Arab secularism



By Lily Lousada


Ibrahim Gharaibeh, intellectual and journalist, sits comfortably in the plush velour living room chairs of his Amman home, traditional Arabic sweets (and several bottles of less traditional wine) spread in front of us in an offering of hospitality for our interview. Between deep slow drags of his cigarette, he speaks with calm conviction: “Now my war is to dissolve all religious groups in the State and to destroy the political role of religion.” Once a close friend and personal adviser to Osama bin Laden, his vehement secularism is shocking. Gharaibeh’s journey through political Islam offers a window of insight into the strength and preeminence of Islamism, and the longstanding challenges to the development of secular political thought leadership in Jordan, and the region.


Gharaibeh grew up finding comfort for his early existential ponderings in Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ideology. He accessed a sense of purpose in Quranic studies, fasting and worship. Particularly in weak states, the Brotherhood operates extensively in the social sphere. His colleague, Manar Rachwani, who has never considered himself part of a religious group, admitted that he too used to participate in social activities, mainly football, organized by the MB and their corollaries: “This is very important, because it tells you how Islamists attract young men in a very smart way.”


After the Iranian and Afghan Revolutions, in the late 70s and early 80s, Gharaibeh travelled to meet his university peer and close friend, Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan to undertake what they called the “Islamic Project”. While he is quick to note he disagreed politically with bin Laden, he nonetheless defends his personal character – a dissonance which left him feeling unable to write critically about bin Laden for fear of betraying their friendship. In this crucial historical moment, he joined the Brotherhood’s ‘Institute of Policy Studies’. They aimed to “prepare for an Islamic state” and flexed the Brotherhood’s intellectual muscle, developing extensive public policy on all sectors, from education, agriculture, and economics, to elections. Yet, the key underlying pursuit was to understand the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and the role of Islam in state-building.


In 1989 Jordan shook with the April Uprisings, after which political parties were legalized for the first time since 1953. With existing resources and experienced leaders (including Gharaibeh) flooding in, there was no real competition: by the next elections in 1991, the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Islamic Action Front, won the largest bloc in the House of Representatives.


Outsiders may look to political openings, and despond the absence of Arab secularists. In many post-Arab Spring countries, secularists emerged disorganized and lacking leadership, while Islamists – often MB offshoots – proved resilient and triumphant in the power vacuum. Similar to the pre-April Uprising conditions, Islamist groups, unlike secular political organizations, were able to develop under most oppressive regimes and political bans, navigating as religious institutions, while incubating political thought leadership.


For Gharaibeh, the question of Islam and democracy become clear as the Brotherhood debated boycotting the elections: their arguments for electoral participation contradicted their supposedly religiously ordained power. He published an article calling for the dissolution of religious political parties, and split from the Brotherhood.


From the ’91 elections onward, Jordanian electoral law has been hotly contested and infamous for stifling political parties. Jordanians have struggled, and even died dissenting against the Monarchy, and for many, the fear of retribution is a sufficient deterrent.


It may seem bizarre given the oppression of secular thought leadership and organization, there is not more of an outcry and motivation for dissent — but few are as hell-bent on reform and secularization as Gharaibeh.


Rachwani stressed a gratitude for ‘relative’ freedom in Jordan. He is all too familiar with Jordan’s more oppressive neighbors, having fled Syria in the 1982 Hamma massacre. Now he serves as the managing editor for the opinion section of Al Ghad newspaper, unperturbed by his role to monitor and censor content. “I am so lucky to be in Jordan. Relatively, at least, it’s an open society…we know exactly where the red lines [are].” This sense has a pacifying effect on an increasingly apathetic Jordanian society, who, given recent affairs and the region’s history, seem happy to settle for relative freedom.


Jordanians also resist greater pluralism for its implication on tribal power – deeply structurally entrenched within the state. For example, the 2011-2012 Hirak movement witnessed the emergence of many new (albeit short-lived) political parties, including the Political Gathering of the Bani Hassan Tribes. Fellow Bani Hassan tribesmen repressed the group, physically attacking Gathering participants for their dissent against tribal authority. Most tribesmen continue to vote for their tribes, who in some cases have pre-arranged to alternate between entering in Municipal versus Parliamentary elections, so as to not compete with each other. Even if political thought were highly developed, and leadership prepared, attempting secular reform requires not only dissent against the regime but also against tribal society.


The sustained grip of Islamist ideology comes at an increasing cost. Jordanian youth seeking the same sense of community and structure Gharaibeh did some fifty years ago, may now find it in more radicalized schools of thought. After his early years observing MB-offshoot Takfir wa Hijra, Gharaibeh suggests a concerning ideological proximity, between Brotherhood and violent extremists: “There is no difference between Daesh and Islamist groups here (in Jordan). They [Daesh] are just bolder… Daesh is the graduation of Brotherhood from thought to action.”


The lack of secular political thought in the region should not be a surprise. It took the Western world more than a century, during the Age of Enlightenment, to promote secularism — an issue that is not always as settled as we would like to think. It will take more than Arab Spring pro-democracy banners for secular thought leadership to develop, and for bona-fide political parties to emerge, let alone successfully compete with Islamists. Challenging the current state, Islamists, and the authority of sheikhs requires a deeper, broader philosophical movement — one that cannot be rushed, forced, or imported — but rather must develop organically, garner popular support, and be ready to indefinitely sustain its efforts.


Lily Lousada is based in Amman, Jordan where she works on conflict mitigation, socio-political stability, and governance development. She also serves as a Middle East Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.


Image Credit: Lily Lousada

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Hey Pilates Teacher, Lose the Latte



I saw you today, on my way out of yoga. You were there, waiting for the studio to clear, so you and the others could pile in. There seemed to be, as usual, a decent turn out. At least 20 people were waiting, mats at the ready, smiles on their faces. You were clearly prepared, too, with your usual instructional tool and attire…


I fought back my annoyance as I passed through the group. You see, I attended your Pilates class three times last year and haven’t been back. Unfortunately, you are the main instructor at the gym, so I haven’t done Pilates since then. I have, instead, chosen to do yoga and to use the machines and weights.


I used to like Pilates, so I feel a bit peeved. But… only when I see you with your latte.


Yes, when I see you, in your chosen gym garb, Starbucks in hand, I’m reminded of the three classes that I spent sweating on a mat at your whim. I’d been there, following your instructions, holding my plank until my arms turned to jelly, sweating it out through the 100 as you lead the session- using nothing but your voice. You’d sat there, at the front of the room, cupping your latte in both hands as if relaxing fireside, on a lazy Sunday afternoon.


The first time you did this, I simply assumed you weren’t feeling well. The second time, when you were sitting all cosy-like, again, I wondered if maybe you had a bad back or morning sickness, perhaps. I noted that the others in the class seemed unfazed by your lack of participation and the fact that you were actually sporting a fucking poncho!


So, curious as to WTF?!, I asked the lady next to me: “Does she always teach from a seated position while sipping a coffee?” She smiled and told me that yes, in fact, she did.


Well, that was it!


I was done.


Maybe the others didn’t mind being guided by the voice of the Chillaxing Champion of the World, but I did! And I can’t imagine I’m the only one who doesn’t want to gaze upon a coffee-sipper while sweating my core off.


We get it, winter is cold and demotivating. We all know this! Which is why we come to you. We need you to energize us and inspire us. We need you to put us in motion not to ignite in us a feeling of envy over your Starbucks and your Boho shawl with tassels. (Which is really gorgeous, by the way.) You see, Pilates class isn’t the time to stay comfy or to see how close you can get to full fetal, while remaining upright. It’s just not the place for that. When we, the students, look up, sweat dripping from our brow, we want to see you exercising too.


So do us a favour, Moonbeam, next time- leave your poncho and your Starbucks at the door. Is this really too much to ask?


This post originally ran on BLUNTmoms.




Did you know that Shannon Day and 36 other fab writers have created a book for moms? Well, it’s actually a martini guide too! If you like funny, ridiculous, and heartstring-tugging stories of motherhood (+ easy-to-make martini & mocktini recipes) then you’ll love Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?!

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Easy Ways to Stay Fit While Traveling

Somewhere between long plane rides, indulgent meals and an uptake in alcohol, traveling can really take a toll on your fitness level. With this in mind we asked the travelers of travel website Trippy.com how they stay fit while they’re seeing the world.




“Resistance tubes: Occupy very little space in your luggage and can be used for a variety of exercises.” — Trippy member Cleon Kanellis from Thessaloniki, Greece




“…I’ve switched to purchasing quite a lot of road foods in grocery stores instead of relying on eating out or eating from gas stations while traveling. It’s a lot cheaper, you have more control over your health, and it’s often more satisfying.” – Trippy member Em Flynn from Durango, Colorado




“An ample amount of sleep – this makes all the difference in terms of how I travel.” – Trippy member Krista Gray from San Francisco, California




“Stretching every morning, combined with sit-ups and push-ups, will allow you to start the day refreshed, muscles ready, and since we always do this step prior to breakfast, we generate some appetite!” – Trippy member Terry Lipford from Sarasota, Florida




“Choose hotels with higher quality fitness options including hours of operation that fit into your schedule. Then plan your workouts. You can also determine if there are any fitness options close to your hotel, including pay-per-class studios…” – Trippy member Scott M from San Francisco, California




“…just eat two meals a day. Eat a piece of fruit in the morning then have a late morning meal with protein, and eat a sensible dinner not too late in the evening.” – Trippy member Suzanne Stavert from Pasadena, California




“Don’t forget to pack a basic first aid kit, and understand your healthcare options if you do happen to get sick.” – Trippy member Stacey Danheiser from Denver, Colorado




“I also try to throw in a yoga class now and again when I travel. This helps re-focus me on my health and my well-being.” – Trippy member Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer from Colorado




“I always look up local races in the area. I am much more likely to get some runs in at a hotel if I’m training for a fun event while on the road!” – Trippy member Kaitlyn Burrell from Fryeburg, Maine

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What To Do In Charleston, South Carolina On A Mini Moon

by Marianne McGoldrick, BRIDES




Photo: Courtesy of French Quarter Inn


If you’re planning to stay stateside for your honeymoon, consider Charleston, South Carolina as your romantic destination. Enjoy world-class cuisine, premier shopping, and luxury accommodations while surrounded by good ol’ southern hospitality. And did we mention, romance?




Church Street’s French Quarter Inn offers a more luxurious stay. This elegant hotel is in the heart of Charleston and includes amenities such as champagne upon check-in, gourmet continental breakfast, and evening wine and cheese receptions. Hop on a complimentary bike rental and take a short ride to Battery Park, or take a three-minute stroll to the Charleston City Market.


For a more intimate stay, book a long weekend at one of Charleston’s finest antebellum homes, Two Meeting Street Inn. This bed and breakfast is full of old southern charm and beautiful front-porch views. The Spell Room is a honeymoon favorite featuring twelve-foot ceilings, a queen four-poster bed with an arched canopy and a second floor veranda.




Skip your hotel’s breakfast buffet and head to Hominy Grill for some yummy southern fare. Specialties include shrimp and grits, and The Big Nasty — a biscuit with fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy. If you choose to visit for Sunday brunch, be prepared to wait. But with additional menu options like salmon potato cakes, and a low country omelette, it’s totally worth it.


Lunch is a must at Cru Café on Pinckney Street. Munch on the duck confit arugula salad with port wine vinaigrette or dive into the shrimp B.L.T. sandwich on sourdough. Of course, all entrees should be accompanied by a local craft beer.


Related: 10 Must-See Wedding Dress Trends from the Runways


Enjoy local dinner cuisine at its finest when you visit Husk, from James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock. The menu flourishes with ingredients sourced strictly from the South and changes twice daily. Past menu offerings include deviled eggs with pickled okra and trout roe, and South Carolina shrimp and chopped okra stew with Carolina gold rice and flowering basil.




There is no shortage of historical sites in Charleston, but Fort Sumter National Monument is a must-see for history buffs. Take a vessel from Liberty Square in downtown Charleston to the site where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. You may even spot some playful dolphins along the way.


Shop both top brands and one-of-a-kind boutiques on King Street. A stroll down this historic strip would not be complete without stopping into one of the oldest antique establishments in the southeast, George C. Birlant & Co.


Take a break from sightseeing and shopping to visit the waterfront Battery Park, a landmark defensive seawall and promenade. Enjoy a front row view of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse.


Walk off your dinner with one of Charleston’s infamous ghost tours. The Charleston Ghost & Dungeon Walking Tour from Bulldog Tours explores the city’s streets, cemeteries, back alleyways churches and, of course, The Provost Dungeon.


Indulge in a nightcap under the stars at the rooftop Pavilion Bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel. Signature cocktails include the Pavilion Punch and Market Pavilion Madras. If it’s too chilly outside, head to The Gin Joint, where there is a seasonal drink menu and no shortage of booze.


More From Brides.com:


50 Perfect Places to Get Married in America


The Most Iconic Brides of All Time


The 61 Best Celebrity Engagement Rings


These Are THE Top Wedding Dress Trends For Spring 2016


How To Find The Perfect Wedding Dress For Your Body Type


Also on HuffPost:


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Is Kim Kardashian’s Style of Self-Esteem Good For Girls?

Kim Kardashian is someone who clearly loves her body. She seems to spend her days snapping selfies incessantly and posting them to social media.




Her latest nude Instagram pic got over 1.6 million likes and 302,000 comments.




One commenter wrote: You flaunt your curves, you show off your body and don’t care what the haters have to say. You’re a mom, and a lot of moms don’t love their bodies so I applaud and bow down to you at the same time.




Another had the opposite opinion: I pray my kids don’t grow up to do what she has done with her body and past. Amen.”




I’m torn. I’m glad Kim Kardashian feels good about who she is, naked or not, but I do wonder, is this style of self-esteem really good for girls?




I want girls to be proud of their bodies — but not as fodder for taking endless selfies, showing off their boobs and butt for others to admire.




I’d rather their confidence in their bodies be expressed in the privacy of their own bathroom. A place where they look in the mirror and say, “Thank you for all that you do for me. You are strong and solid and good and I’m grateful to you every day.” Like the nude yoga girl.




I want them to have the kind of self-esteem where they respond to a sext from a boy they barely know with, “No thanks, my body is private.”




When young girls look at Kim Kardashian’s naked photos I have to wonder if they are gaining less self-esteem instead of more. When they are bombarded all day long with the Kardashians and the Jenners, and anyone they consider a role model, including their friends is it possible to not compare?




Do they feel they don’t measure up because they aren’t wearing the latest lip gloss, glammy clothes, or sporting that sleek ponytail, all while on vacation on some super exclusive island, a gorgeous guy slathering said naked body with celebrity sunscreen–all the while making money, for, well, doing nothing.




I want girls to have the kind of self-esteem to be able to say, “No, Stop it!” when a guy grabs her boobs or even stares at them when she doesn’t welcome the attention.




I want girls to band together and say to each other, “You are enough. I love you just as you are.” No need do more, try harder, or amp it up.




I want girls to get self-esteem from not from nude selfies, but for helping make their neighborhoods and communities better, to join a cause that speaks to them, to help a classmate that others shun, to protect the weak from bullies, to speak out when they see wrongdoing, to show their siblings their secret shortcuts for avoiding misery and loneliness, to start grooving a path now that leads to a meaningful life.




I want to live in a world where mothers to show their daughters the way by loving themselves, stretch marks, sagging skin, muffin tops, flaws and all, every day, right now so they transmit that self-love from womb to tomb. If they don’t set an example, who will?




I want all of us to say to girls, your opinion of yourself is the only one that matters. You don’t need to be checking Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook posts to see if you measure up. Instead, follow your own internal compass, set it to true north and course correct every day. Snapchat that.




Susan Harrow is a top media coach, PR expert & author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (HarperCollins) and True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense Training For Young Women & Teens. For 25 years she’s worked with clients like rock stars and celebrity chefs to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, as well as entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, consultants, speakers, healers and socially conscious businesses. Dozens of her clients have been on Oprah, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America etc. She shows her clients and course participants how to double or triple their business with PR by using sound bites effectively.




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