Column: the Nuclear Ankh

In June of 1981, Israel bombed a not-quite-active nuclear power plant in the suburbs of Baghdad, Iraq. This was the second time in a year that the power plant faced attack from the air: Iran struck at the end of Sept., 1980, in a mission the name of which dripped with warrior-poet self-mythologizing: “Operation Scorch Sword.” That mission damaged the reactor, but the technicians were able to repair the damage. The Israeli strike, on the other hand — this one code-named “Operation Opera” — managed to disable the facility for good, though perhaps Iraq might have resurrected the project again were it not enmeshed in the Iraq-Iran War that dominated the country’s attention throughout the 1980s. At the time, Operation Opera drew nearly universal condemnation from the international community. The Iraqi nuclear reactor would not have been powerful enough to make materials for nuclear weapons, and the deal to provide the reactors, the fuel to power them, and much of the technical knowledge and workforce to install and operate them, had been brokered not by some infamous rogue power, but by France.

Half the Sky is Falling: theology or conquest

[Warning: This article deals with a topic that may be upsetting for some of our readers.]

On Aug. 26, 1920, American women were granted the right to vote when the Secretary of State certified the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ninety five years later, the day is acknowledged as “Women’s Equality Day.” While the Utopian ideal of gender equality in the U.S. is far from realized, long term statistics do suggest significant improvements for American women. Political and cultural shifts have opened doorways, allowing for opportunities that were not available to the many brave women who walked in those early protests nearly a century ago.

In the crosshairs of persecution: the Yezidis

Among the many atrocities committed by members of the Islamic State of Syria and Levant (ISIL) is the group’s attack on the Yezidis, a tribe in northern Iraq known mostly for its secretive religion and repeated persecutions by neighbors. The reports on the Yezidis hiding on mountainsides to escape conversion or death was a factor in President Obama’s decision to use airstrikes against ISIL. The average westerner knows little about the Yezidi people and their religion, and media channels have struggled to learn more. The Yezidis are typically described as polytheists and have been branded as devil-worshipers many times over the centuries that their culture has endured. However, neither label is a good fit.

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. The New York Times profiles Baba Heru Semahj, a New York police officer turned Kemetic priest. Quote: “He performs weddings, funeral services and Kemetic cosmological holiday services. He has bestowed his blessings and jewelry on the likes of the jazz bandleader Sun Ra, the controversial Judge Bruce Wright and celebrity clients like Wesley Snipes, Erykah Badu and Ben Vereen, he said. Mr. Semahj had five children with his first wife.

Babylon Is Open To The Public (But Should it Be?)

The Iraqi government is re-opening the ancient site of Babylon over protests from the state board of antiquities and heritage that the ruins are in bad neglect and shouldn’t be accessible to tourists yet. “The Iraqi government plans to open Babylon to visitors on 1 June, according to news reports. Iraq’s state board of antiquities and heritage is opposing the move, on the grounds that the site needs further protection and investigation before being reopened. This follows the controversial reopening of Baghdad’s National Museum on 23 February, after a government decision to proceed with this, defying opposition from curators who felt that it was too early.” So why is the government pushing for this re-opening despite experts saying that there is “considerable evidence of damage” from the years of occupation and war?