Matthew Phillips

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A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq waves an Islamic State flag in Raqqa in 2014. (Reuters)

At its peak in the summer of 2014, the Islamic State was a bureaucratic, corporatized organization overseeing (without legal authority) a “shell-state” spanning 35,000 square miles. That’s roughly the size of Indiana. The Islamic State has since been defeated militarily a number of times, losing nearly all its territory in both Iraq and Syria. And yet it remains the preeminent international terrorist threat, as we saw again on Oct. 31, when a truck drove onto a New York City bike path, killing eight people.

Scholars have noted that the Islamic State has shown an ability to adapt to a variety of circumstances that seem unique among terrorist organizations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sculptures and scaffolding at the site for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s cremation this week in Bangkok. The government is reported to have spent between $30 million and $90 million on preparations for the five-day ceremony. Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand’s previous king, will be cremated on Oct. 26 on a grassy patch of land in front of the Grand Palace in central Bangkok. He died a year ago, after a 70-year reign, and he is credited with transforming Thailand into a modern nation-state and unifying the country during times of political turmoil.

An army of royal artists and artisans has built for the occasion an elaborate set of structures that, in Thai Hindu-Buddhist cosmology, symbolizes the mountains, continents and oceans at the edge of the universe. The funeral pyre, precisely 50.49 meters tall, represents Mount Meru, which is thought to connect the human realm to the divine.…  Seguir leyendo »