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Our New AP African-American Studies Course Will Cover Black History from January 1996 to December 1996

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“The official curriculum for the [AP African-American Studies] course, released Wednesday by the College Board, downplays some components that had drawn criticism from DeSantis and other conservatives. Topics including Black Lives Matter, slavery reparations, and queer life are not part of the exam.” — Associated Press, 02/01/23

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The College Board is thrilled to introduce our new AP course in African-American Studies, filling a crucial gap in our course offerings. After incorporating feedback from various stakeholders like the Florida Department of Education, we are pleased to report that the AP African-American Studies curriculum will cover Black history from January 1996 all the way to December 1996.

The original vision for our AP African-American Studies course was to give students a comprehensive view of the history of Black America, from the first enslaved Africans that arrived at Chesapeake Bay right up to the Black Lives Matter movement. But after receiving some pushback from conservatives, we thought to ourselves, “If a group of white, right-wing elites thinks we shouldn’t be teaching certain aspects of Black history, maybe it’s just because they have Black Americans’ best interests at heart.” So we nixed the entire curriculum from 1619-1968 since it was a little too one-sided about how slavery and Jim Crow were bad. And everything from 1968 to the present was cut because it was too focused on “activism.” Critics of our course simply couldn’t think of a single justifiable reason why Black people would want to protest any time after 1968.

Luckily, we managed to come to an agreement on material we could cover that would celebrate African-American culture while not drawing attention to any historic struggles Black Americans have faced. That’s how we ended up with a course that will now focus exclusively on Black history during one pivotal year of the 1990s.

1996 is the perfect period to focus on for several reasons. This year comes after the beating of Rodney King by the LAPD but before the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo by the NYPD. If the ’90s were a hurricane of police violence, then 1996 is the calm, sunny eye. So staying there allowed us to avoid any blustering politicking about police reform or floods of difficult conversations on systemic racism that the rest of the ’90s would be sure to bring up. Plus, focusing on 1996 narrowly avoids the O.J. Simpson trial, so, you know, bullet dodged there.

On the flip side, 1996 does cover the death of Tupac Shakur, offering a chance to discuss the Hip Hop Wars and how Black-on-Black violence is the real problem plaguing Black communities.

That year also offers the perfect opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of Black America in ways we can all agree on. There are now just two areas of study for the course. The first semester of the class will focus on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and how the show demonstrates that all Black Americans can achieve the same wealth and success as Uncle Phil, provided they work hard. And the second semester of the class will focus on the Chicago Bulls and how Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson exemplify how Black people can achieve great things if they just listen to white guys. If time in the semester allows, a third short unit on the 1996 Summer Olympics can be included since Michael Johnson’s world record 200M sprint is the only important historical moment we could include when it comes to Black people and the city of Atlanta.

To those that say we’re capitulating to a handful of wealthy reactionaries, you’ll be pleased to know that students will be able to choose from a wide variety of class projects as long as they relate in some way to the year 1996. Sample project titles include “Clarence Thomas: The early years of the Supreme Court’s greatest Black justice,” “Space Jam: How one movie fixed Black representation in Hollywood forever,” and “Emmitt Smith and the Dallas Cowboys: Why it’s great to be a Black guy in Texas.”

We’re confident that, even if our new course omits large swaths of our nation’s history, students will find plenty to learn about Black America during this one relatively harmonious 366-day period (’96 was a leap year).

Sure, they say those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. But that phrase was coined by a Spanish-American born in the 1860s, so we’re not even sure if we’re legally allowed to teach that.

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Word Origins | Âfet, Zelzele, Deprem

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More than 1,500 people have died and rescuers are racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble after a devastating earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria, leaving destruction and debris on each side of the border.

One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in a century shook residents from their beds at around 4 a.m. on Monday, sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel.

In Turkey, at least 1,014 people have died and several thousand are injured, according to the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD). In neighboring Syria, at least 592 people have died, including 371 mostly in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, according to Syrian state news agency SANA, which also reported 1,089 injuries.

The “White Helmets” group, officially known as the Syria Civil Defense, also reported at least 221 deaths and 419 injuries in opposition-controlled areas of northwestern Syria. Much of northwestern Syria, which borders Turkey, is controlled by anti-government forces amid a bloody civil war that began in 2011.



Mavi Boncuk |

Âfet: disaster[1], calamity[2], catastrophe [3]  EN fromAR āfa(t) آفة  bela, felaket, salgın hastalık depreşmek

oldTR tepre- hareket etmek, kımıldamak, tepiz oynak, muharrik oldTR tep- +Uz

1. Önlenmesi elde olmayan büyük felâket, belâ, musîbet, bâdire: Çoğu zaman yerde ve gökte bâzı âfetlerin oluşundan önce havada birtakım gizli, fakat tehdit edici alâmetler belirir (Yâkup K. Karaosmanoğlu).

2. Sakınılması gereken, tehlikeli, insana büyük zarar verecek olan kimse veya şey: Bu adam sarayın içinde herkes için bir belâ, bir âfettir (Yâkup K. Karaosmanoğlu).

3. İnsanın kendini kaptırıp kurtulamadığı durum: “Şöhret âfettir.” İçinde doğup büyüdüğü bu şehrin heyecânı âfetine yakalanmış samîmî bir İstanbul dîvânesiydi (Sâmiha Ayverdi).

4. İnsanı şaşkına çevirip aklını başından alacak kadar güzel kadın: Gül yüzlü bir âfetti ki her bûsesi lâle / Girdik zaferin koynuna kandık o visâle (Yahyâ Kemal). Sevmeyen bu âfeti / Sevenden bahtiyarmış (Orhan S. Orhon).

5. tıp. Hastalıkların dokularda meydana getirdiği bozukluk [Eskimiştir]: Operatör ciğerde bir âfetten korkuyor (Peyâmi Safâ).

Âfet-i can:

1. Iztırap çektiren, can yakıcı şey veya kimse: Dil verme gam-ı aşka ki aşk âfet-i candır (Fuzûlî). Âfet-i can dediler gamze-i cellâdın için (Nedim).

2. İnsana âfet gibi tesir eden güzel: Ne gördüm âh aman el-aman bir âfet-i can (Nedim). Âfet-i devran: Dünya güzeli denecek kadar güzel ve çekici kimse: Sen git gide bir âfet-i devrân olacaksın (Nedim).

Âfet-dîde (ﺁﻓﺖ ﺩﻳﺪﻩ) birl. sıf. (Fars. dіde “görmüş” ile) Âfete uğramış, âfet görmüş.

Âfet-resan (ﺁﻓﺖ ﺭﺳﺎﻥ) birl. sıf. (Fars. resān “eriştiren” ile) Belâ getiren, âfet eriştiren: Belki tûfâna dahi âfet-resandır giryemiz (Fehîm-i Kadim).

Zelzele: earthquake [4] EN  yer sarsıntısı: Bu zelzele bir ay sürdü. Kazâlarda o kadar büyük ve devamlı bir tahrîbat yapmıştı ki halk bir türlü evlerine girmek istemiyordu (Ahmet H. Tanpınar).

(onomatopoeic word) fromAR zalzala(t) زلزلة (ﺯﻟﺰﻟﻪ)) yer sarsıntısı; zalzala زلزل sarsıldı

Oldest use: [ Aşık Paşa, Garib-name, 1330]

defˁ ider bu dört ṣaf ol dört āfeti

[ anon., Tezkiretü'l-Evliya terc., 1341]

Sordular imāma: tevekkül nedür? Eytti: āmāl āfetüŋden χalāṣ olmakdır [arzular belasından kurtulmaktır].

[ Nasırüddin Rabguzi, Kısasü'l-Enbiya, 1310]

yeti tün kün [yedi gün gece] yér titredi zelzele boldı

similar: tezelzül

Zelzele-nümâ (-nüvis) ( ﺯﻟﺰﻟﻪﻧﻮﻳﺲﺯﻟﺰﻟﻪ ﻧﻤﺎ) birl. i. (Fars. numā “gösteren” ve nuvіs “yazan” ile) Sismograf.

Deprem: earthquake [4] EN newTR: "zelzele"

Oldest use:

[ Cumhuriyet - gazete, 1935]

Malatya (A.A.) - Dün gece saat 23'de beş altı dakika süren bir deprem olmuştur.

depremzede "deprem kurbanı" [ Milliyet - gazete, 1965]

Depremzedelerin sevincini görmeliydiniz.

See abstract: The Istanbul Earthquake of 1894 and Science in the Late Ottoman Empire[5] 

[1] disaster (n.)

"anything that befalls of ruinous or distressing nature; any unfortunate event," especially a sudden or great misfortune, 1590s, from Middle French désastre (1560s), from Italian disastro, literally "ill-starred," from dis-, here merely pejorative, equivalent to English mis- "ill" (see dis-) + astro "star, planet," from Latin astrum, from Greek astron "star" (from PIE root *ster- (2) "star").

The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet, and "star" here is probably meant in the astrological sense of "destiny, fortune, fate." Compare Medieval Latin astrum sinistrum "misfortune," literally "unlucky star," and English ill-starred.

[2] calamity (n.) early 15c., "damage, state of adversity;" 1550s, "a great misfortune or cause of misery," from Old French calamite (14c.), from Latin calamitatem (nominative calamitas) "damage, loss, failure; disaster, misfortune, adversity," a word of obscure origin.

 [3] catastrophe (n.) 1530s, "reversal of what is expected" (especially a fatal turning point in a drama, the winding up of the plot), from Latin catastropha, from Greek katastrophe "an overturning; a sudden end," from katastrephein "to overturn, turn down, trample on; to come to an end," from kata "down" (see cata-) + strephein "turn" (from PIE root *streb(h)- "to wind, turn"). Extension to "sudden disaster" is first recorded 1748.

Early etymologists associated it with calamus "straw" (see shawm) on the notion of damage to crops, but this seems folk-etymology. Perhaps it is from a lost root also preserved in incolumis "uninjured," from PIE *kle-mo-, from *kel- "to strike, cut" (see holt). Calamity Jane was the nickname (attested by 1876) of U.S. frontierswoman, scout, and folk-hero Martha Jane Cannary (c. 1852-1903).

[4] earthquake (n.) "movement or vibration of a part of the earth's crust," late 13c., eorthequakynge, from earth + quake (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðdyn, eorðhrernes, eorðbeofung, eorðstyrung.

quake (v.) Old English cwacian "quake, tremble, chatter (of teeth)," related to cweccan "to shake, swing, move, vibrate," of unknown origin with no certain cognates outside English. Perhaps somehow imitative. In reference to earth tremors, probably by c. 1200. Related: Quaked; quaking.

quake (n.) early 14c., "a trembling in fear," from quake (v.). Rare except in combinations. Now usually as a shortening of earthquake, in which use it is attested from 1640s. Old English had the verbal noun cwacung "shaking, trembling."

[5] Istanbul Earthquake of 1894 and Science in the Late Ottoman Empire

Professor and Interim Department Chair, History, Clemson University

Books (Published)
Kemalist Turkey and the Middle East: International Relations in the Interwar Period (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Osmanli Ulemasi ve Turkiye Cumhuriyeti (Kitap Yayinevi, 2013).
Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic: Agents of Change and Guardians of Tradition (Stanford University Press, 2011).


A devastating earthquake hit Istanbul and its environs shortly after noon on 10 July 1894. Although seismic disturbances were quite frequent in the long history of the Ottoman capital, the imperial city had not witnessed such violent tremors in more than a century. Hundreds of people died and thousands more were injured as a result of the complete or partial collapse of private dwellings, mosques, churches, synagogues and other public buildings. The earthquake of July 1894 hit the seat of the Ottoman government during a period of rapid socio-cultural change and shortly before the empire faced one of its worst crises in the late nineteenth century. As may be expected, many people in the Ottoman lands sought an explanation to the calamity that befell the inhabitants of the capital and neighboring regions. Some could draw on long-standing interpretive traditions that were primarily either theological in nature or based on classical naturalist theories. However, the Ottoman intelligentsia rejected such explanations out of hand. The Ottoman response to the earthquake mirrored the similar embrace of science's authority and adoption of scientific methods and tools in many other contemporary societies. The process of the expansion and globalization of scientific knowledge expanded beyond the boundaries of Europe and its colonies. Science and technology were widely perceived to be the measure of civilization and modernity. The Ottoman intelligentsia and political elite were therefore invested in helping the Ottoman Empire meet standards that were set in Europe and North America but also achieved quite successfully in Japan. They seized upon the earthquake of 1894 to disseminate knowledge of modern earth sciences and implement new methods of scientific study of seismic events in the Ottoman lands.


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The Inventor of Cult-Fave ‘Cascatelli’ Pasta Has Dropped 2 New Pasta Shapes

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Every so often, there’s a moment of hype so powerful that it actually makes history. Such was the case in 2021, when food podcaster Dan Pashman, host of the incredibly popular culinary podcast The Sporkful, took it upon himself to try to create a totally original pasta shape (and sell it). He documented the challenging, years-long journey—which involved wheat academics, rare pasta die manufacturers, and even a professional linguist—in a series called “Mission: ImPASTAble,” concluding with the release of his new shape, cascatelli, through artisan pasta company Sfoglini. The series landed The Sporkful on The New York Times’ list of the best podcasts of 2021; unsurprisingly, the show has also won a Webby, and has made Pashman a two-time James Beard award winner. 

Pashman’s quest to create a perfect pasta shape revolved around an obsession with finding the nexus of his three most important pasta ideals: “forkability” (how well it stays on a fork), “saucability” (how well it holds sauce), and “tooth-sinkability” (how pleasurable it is to bite and chew). This is just a bunch of made up words and metrics, you might be thinking. And you’d be exactly right—that’s why Pashman is one of the most entertaining culinary figures in the game today. Instead of retiring as a modern pasta legend after the success of cascatelli—which found its way to everywhere from fine dining menus and meal kits to being bootlegged by Trader Joe’s—he set his sights on partnering with Sfoglini on two new shapes: vesuvio and quattrotini.

Unlike cascatelli, these new pastas were based on already existing Italian shapes, but ones that are difficult (and in some cases impossible) to procure in the U.S., making this Sfoglini drop a pretty exclusive and landmark event for pasta-heads around the country. Quattrotini—based on Sicily’s cinque buchi shape—is a Sicilian shape involving four tubes connected by a rectangle (it makes sense when you see it), and is manufactured and served only in Italy for one week a year. Vesuvio is the pasta incarnation of a coiled bike tire tube that has become a hat (or a volcano, hence the name). As of January 24, both are now available at Sfoglini

VICE caught up with Pashman and Sfoglini co-founder and CEO Scott Ketchum to discuss the new shapes and how to prepare them, the legacy of cascatelli, and their favorite Sfoglini pastas to keep on deck. 

VICE: Scott, when you started Sfoglini, how did you decide which pasta shapes and flavors you were going to produce? Did you envision creating original shapes, or bringing ones that were virtually unknown in the U.S. into the market?  

Scott Ketchum: When we first started Sfoglini in 2012, there were not many unique pasta options available in the U.S. You would commonly find standards like penne, rigatoni, and spaghetti, but if you wanted something different, you would likely have to visit a specialty market. We wanted to bring more interesting and exciting shapes to the pasta aisle to capture the interest of pasta lovers and help us stand out. We worked directly with a die maker in Brooklyn, Maldari & Sons, to supply us with the bronze dies for these interesting shapes, and we also spoke to them about new shapes we could develop, but the idea of creating something new kept getting pushed back as we continued to grow the business. 

How did the public and the food world respond to cascatelli?

Dan Pashman: It’s been crazy. It occurred to me a few weeks after it launched that this is going to be the headline of my obituary. This is the thing I'm going to be known for the rest of my life. It’s a little weird to be in your mid-40s and think, Oh I may be peaking right now. I may never accomplish anything in my career quite so memorable and special as this. On the other hand, if that’s what you’re going to be known for, that’s pretty good.

Scott: Cascatelli had a great impact on Sfoglini. Besides being an incredible and inspiring project to work on, it helped get Sfoglini pasta the exposure we needed to continue to expand our audience and distribution around the country.

Can you tell me about quattrotini and vesuvio? What attracted you to these two shapes? 

Dan: Basically, I wanted to try to find shapes that checked all my classic boxes, those same boxes I used with developing my original shape, cascatelli: forkability, saucability, tooth-sinkability—how well does it stand the fork, how well does it hold sauce, and how satisfying is it to bite into it? I wanted something that would achieve those things in different ways. You look at these three shapes together and they’re kind of all beautiful, but they’re also different from each other. 

Are there many other producers or vendors in the U.S. that make or sell either of these shapes?  

Dan: So, vesuvio—I don’t know if it’s being produced in the U.S. You can get it—there certainly are specialty stores that import vesuvio, but you’d have to really hunt to find it. I'd say it’s safe to call it rare in the U.S. 

In terms of quattrotini, that one’s even more rare. That one’s modeled after a shape called cinque buchi—it means “five tubes.” That shape is almost impossible to find, even in Italy; it’s only made in Sicily, and only during Carnival. It’s almost impossible to find outside of that time and place. I saw a picture of it and I was trying to get my hands on it to try it, but there’s only one company in Italy that makes and ships it, and it was going to be like $100 to get it shipped to my house from Italy, which seems crazy. I asked Sfoglini to add ridges to the outside and cut it a little longer than the original shape, and we renamed it quattrotini—cinque buchi means “five tubes,” but to me, when you look at it you think four, you don’t think five. 

As a big fan of your cascatelli journey, I’m curious whether this one was as challenging. Obviously you didn’t have to create these shapes, but I’d think getting set up to produce them the right way would still be pretty demanding.

Scott: It was definitely an easier challenge to take on, but every shape has its own unique problems that it presents. The more intricate or ornate the shape is, the more it can cause issues with drying or packaging (which is why many companies do not attempt to make them). If shapes are too long or have too many ruffles or twists, then it can get caught up in machinery and be very frustrating to produce. Yields can be smaller as well if the shape is thicker and needs more time and space to dry. So far, we've only had some small issues with packaging the quattrotini, but we should be able to work those out as we continue producing more. 

Dan: These shapes already exist, so we know that they can be produced. That was a big hurdle. The other thing is that because we’ve done it once—Sfoglini and I have rolled out a pasta product—so we know how to do that. Any big creative project, the second time around is going to be smoother. That being said, it was still plenty stressful. There were a lot of delays, supply chain stuff, waiting for new equipment and the equipment crashed, the dies took longer to get to us than we wanted it to. And the most stressful thing was that i committed to quattrotini without having tasted it! As a self-admitted control freak who puts a lot of thought and careful study into these kinds of decisions, the idea of committing to something so important without ever sampling it made me very nervous.

If you were cooking a meal with vesuvio or quattrotini pasta, what would you make? Are there any favorite sauces, dishes, or recipes that you’ve tried?

Dan: I did share on Instagram that I did a shrimp and andouille mac and cheese that I'm testing for a cookbook that I'm working on, and that was great. In general, I think the idea that there’s one perfect shape for every sauce and vice versa is a little bit overdone. I think all three of these shapes will work well with anything that’s thick, creamy, has a lot of small bits or has a lot of chunks.

Scott: The Sporkful collection shapes were selected for their great sauceability, so my first recommendations are for thicker sauces like a Bolognese or sausage- or meat-based ragu. But we also like to develop recipes that focus more on vegetables for a healthier meal. These shapes also work well with eggplant or pestos. We're developing recipes now and will have them added to sfoglini.com soon. 

What are your favorite Sfoglini pastas in the overall lineup?

Scott: Our top seller, year after year, is our trumpets. The ruffled edges and flower-shaped design appeals to a lot of our customers. My personal favorite has always been our reginetti. It's basically a small lasagna noodle that can work well in so many different recipes. But what I like most of all is that we have so many unique shapes that I seem to rediscover one every now and then. Lately I've been obsessed with our radiators

Dan: I like their reginetti. That one’s similar to one called sagne a pezzi by a company called Rusticella in Abruzzo. It’s, like, just the ruffles. I don’t know if you remember when Captain Crunch did [a cereal] called, “Oops! All Berries”; I feel like with the reginetti and the sagne a pezzi, it's like, “Oops! All ruffles.”

Cascatelli, vesuvio, quattrotini, and more incredible pastas are available on Sfoglini’s website.


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter



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Putin has never threatened me, Germany’s Scholz says

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin has never threatened him or Germany, following claims by Boris Johnson that Putin threatened the former U.K. prime minister with a missile strike.

“Putin didn’t threaten me or Germany” in the phone conversations the chancellor has had with the Russian leader, Scholz told German newspaper Bild in an interview published Sunday.

In a British documentary that aired last week, Johnson revealed that Putin threatened him in a long phone call in February 2022 just before Russia invaded Ukraine. “He said ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute’ — something like that,” Boris said in the documentary, referring to Putin.

Johnson said he took the Russian leader’s threat to be “playing along” with attempts to get him to negotiate over Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied any threat.

Pushed in the Bild interview on whether Scholz had also received similar threats during phone calls with the Russian leader, the chancellor said “no.”

In his phone calls with Putin, “I make it very clear to Putin that Russia has sole responsibility for the war,” Scholz said. “In our telephone conversations, our very different positions on the war in Ukraine become very clear,” he said.

The chancellor also denied that Germany’s decision to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine was a threat to Russia.

He said that Germany is delivering battle tanks to Ukraine, along with other allies including the U.S., so that Kyiv “can defend itself.”

“This joint approach prevents an escalation of the war,” Scholz said.

Scholz’s comments come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that “the situation is getting tougher” on the front lines of the war in the east of the country. Moscow is throwing in “more and more of its forces to break our defenses. Now, it is very difficult in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, near Lyman, and other directions,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address late Saturday.

As battles rage around these towns, an early mediator between Russia and Ukraine at the start of the war — former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who served for just six months last year — revealed that Putin early in the invasion had promised not to kill Zelenskyy. In an interview with the Associated Press published Sunday, Bennett said that during a visit to Moscow in March 2022 he asked Putin if the Kremlin was planning to try to kill the Ukrainian leader.

“He said ‘I won’t kill Zelenskyy.’ I then said to him ‘I have to understand that you’re giving me your word that you won’t kill Zelenskyy.’ He said ‘I’m not going to kill Zelenskyy,’” Bennett told the AP. Bennett said that after his meeting, he called Zelenskyy to inform him of Putin’s comments.

The Kremlin has previously denied Ukrainian claims that Russia intended to assassinate Zelenskyy.

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Secretary of "Swagger" Bloviates in a Self-Serving Book

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Secretary of “Swagger” chums it up with a kindred spirit

 Pompeo dishonors those diplomats who sacrificed their lives for their country as well as the thousands today who serve worldwide.

Mike Pompeo was never a good fit to be Secretary of State. Ethically compromised by his Faustian relationship with Donald Trump, his vision distorted by radical right ideology and religious zeal, and failing to grasp that quixotic brass-knuckled “swagger” makes for poor diplomacy, the ex-Tea Party congressman/MAGA minion has come out with a self-serving memoir to try to turbocharge a delusional quest for the presidency. Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love is a slurry of rat-a-rat-tat attacks on his countless enemies mixed with North Korean-style servility to his Master, Donald Trump. Read it only if you’re researching for your next article or book on the troubled Trump era. Otherwise, check out the latest on Netflix.

The Washington Post, in its review, describes the book as “a master class in the performative anger poisoning American politics. Hatred animates this book. It’s got more venom than a quiver of cobras.”

It also brims with the rank hypocrisy that marks such MAGA heavy hitters as Lindsey Graham, Elise Stefanik & ilk. Example:

In 2016, Pompeo warned that Donald Trump, if elected, would be “an authoritarian president who ignored our Constitution.”

In 2022, addressing the RNC from a state visit to Jerusalem (a violation of the Hatch Act), in an eerie Major Ben Marco-esque delivery, he robotically droned, “Delivering on this duty to keep us safe and our freedoms intact, this president has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world.”

Pompeo goes down as one of — if not the worst — secretaries of state in history (he’d be tied with the ephemeral Rex Tillerson but for the latter’s weeks-long tenure constituting little more than a proverbial “15 minutes of fame” and nothing more).

The Washington Post wrote in 2018, “Pompeo has managed to worsen the State Department’s already abysmal standing with every significant constituency. Legislators, major allies, the media, career staff, even North Korea are alienated. The only satisfied customer may be President Trump — and even he has grounds for grievance.”

His likely dumbest public iteration was his — again Ben Marco inspired — praise of Vladimir Putin, calling him a “genius” and “a very talented statesman. He has lots of gifts. He was a KGB agent, for goodness’ sakes. He knows how to use power. We should respect that.”

On second thought, an even dumber statement was this one, four days after Joe Biden crushed Trump in the 2020 presidential election: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

He later insisted he was jesting, but by that irresponsible statement, Pompeo shares at least some guilt in the January 6 Trump Putsch.

The Trump/Pompeo foreign policy was one based on whim, driven by theology and implemented by hacks. Among the lowlights:

He announced the establishment of something called the “Commission on Unalienable Rights,” aimed to formulate policies on social and human rights near and dear to the hearts of arch-conservatives, religiously-tinged with stress on anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights. Clearly designed to bypass the established bureaucracy (i.e., “Deep State”), the measure set a dangerous precedent for the process of U.S. foreign policy formulation.

“I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and his word, and the truth,” Pompeo said. Previously, as a congressman, he said, “It is a never-ending struggle…until the Rapture.”

“President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace," Pompeo told the BBC. “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” adding, “I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”

It seems Mike Pompeo would have been a better fit as foreign minister of Iran.

Moreover, his time at State was constantly blemished by ethical violations, ranging from him and his wife ordering government employees to do personal chores, including picking up their dog, to using government funds to entertain political cronies. He fired an inspector general who was investigating these infractions; three others quit in quick succession, a hallmark of the corrupt Trump era.

Of all of Pompeo’s inane utterances, however, those that get very personal for me are his trashing the people who loyally served under him during his failed tenure. According to the Washington Post:

Pompeo disdained America’s career diplomats. He describes them, by turns, as un-American, deceitful denizens of the “deep state,” and “overwhelmingly hard left.”

The contempt was mutual. As I reported back then:

A retired U.S. ambassador who regularly visits the State Department, told me, “Morale is totally in the toilet. There is no process or any systems in place that are respected at all. The cafeteria is really doing a great business. Usually by 6 pm, the hallways are nearly deserted.” An active duty Foreign Service officer told me that “nobody knows what to do and everyone keeps their head low.” Senior career diplomats have been blackballed from taking positions on flimsy political grounds. Others are ducking for cover in marginal roles, waiting for the Trump occupation to end. Several other active duty officers have confided that they are “sticking it out” with the aim of trying to maintain or salvage norms from within and to rebuild the department once the Trump storm has passed.

One of these described an increasingly toxic work environment in which employees are afraid to speak frankly, even to friends for fear of being exposed and punished. Another stated he felt like “the last of the Mohicans.”

Applications to take the Foreign Service Officer Test plummeted to a record low during Pompeo’s term.

Most days of the week when he was Secretary, Pompeo would have passed by the department’s Memorial Plaques in the main diplomatic lobby on which are inscribed the names of 321 diplomats killed in the line of duty, seventy-eight of whom perished during my 23 years of service. Some were personal friends, or mentors, like Ambassador Arnie Raphel, killed in a still unsolved plane crash in Pakistan in 1988. His burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, with military honors, still tugs at my heart.

I also had friends among the 52 Iran embassy hostages. Some underwent mock executions. One, Richard Queen, developed MS and died of the condition at age 51.

How dare an ex-secretary of state call these brave public servants, many of whom gave their last full measure for their country, “un-American,” “deep state,” “overwhelmingly hard left.” Pompeo, who spent his brief Army career in a cushy deployment in Germany, is what the troops on the front line refer to as a “REMF.”

Pompeo dishonors those diplomats who sacrificed their lives for their country as well as the thousands today who serve worldwide, including in hardship posts and war zones. He’s not worthy of the selfless service they gave him.

If anyone is “un-American” in this picture, it is Mike Pompeo.

Go peddle your lies in your self-serving, hate-filled book. And after your quest for the nation’s top job crashes and burns, recede into the obscurity you deserve, of corporate boards and malignant far-right neoplasms.

The opinions and characterizations in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent official positions of the U.S. government.

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hannahdraper
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The Stink A.

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Toby Morris has an amusing piece for The Spinoff (NZ/Aotearoa) about a common problem in reproducing Māori words typographically: the macron doesn’t come out right. It’s in comic form, so I can’t easily quote from it, but I’ll type out one “speech balloon” to give you an idea:

It can be complicated though: Tainui in the Waikato prefer double vowels, and many older speakers grew up not using macrons at all.

Check it out! (Via MetaFilter, where you will find discussion of computer fonts, the Hawaiian ʻokina, the Ming Kwai typewriter, and other vaguely related matters. Cf. also The World of Ā.)

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hannahdraper
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