2015 In Music

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Journal, Music | Leave a comment

TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY by Kendrick Lamar. Album of the year.



BUY MUSIC! Buy a whole album instead of a few tracks. Go to a show and pick up some merch while you’re there. Just spend money! But if you buy music (downloads or physical) and merch online, try to buy from the artist’s website, or the label if it’s a small one.

Cool? Cool. So here we go. Here’s all the stuff that moved me this year. This is my most expansive attempt to celebrate a year in music so far. There’s the inevitable TOP TEN list, and then TOP FIVE lists broken up by genre further down. If you use the evil Spotify there’s eight genre-specific playlists as well, and one “year-in-review” playlist, so keep scrolling down, whatever you’re in to, it’s represented (except for blues and country – I kind of dropped the ball on that this year). I hope this helps you discover something you’ve never heard before.



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Living Level-3 IRAQ

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Comic Books, Home, News & Politics, Unknown Soldier, Web Comics | Leave a comment


Finally, a year after my research trip to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, the comic I went there to research LIVING LEVEL-3: IRAQ is live online and free. Chapter 1 can be read right now! New chapters will be uploaded to the Huffington Post World page every day this week. It’s thirty-five pages of story done from four different character perspectives.

Here’s a trailer that the World Food Programme communications team cut together. Below it are links to the actual comic as well as to interviews and extras, including a blog write-up I did for Huffpo. There’s also some art and some love for the WFP communications team that acted as my guides while I was there. I hope you’ll check it all out…

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2015 in Cinema

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Animation, Film & TV, Journal | Leave a comment



Director: Joshua Oppenheimer, Cinematography: Lars Skree

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Faces of the Recent Peshmerga victory in Sinjar

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Journal, News & Politics, Photos | 3 Comments

A Peshmerga soldier awaits deployment. December 17, 2014, in the Kurdistan region of North-Western Iraq, within sight of the Syrian border. It wasn’t until forty-eight hours later that we learned a major operation to take the city of Sinjar had begun that morning. All photos by me, Joshua Dysart.

First things first. The World Food Program operates under the four principles of humanitarian response. Humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Before we get to the meat of this post I must stress that at no point can the WFP, or I, as a temporary contractor in their service, take sides in hostilities or engage in political, racial, religious or ideological conflicts or conversations. It is imperative that the WFP be able to work with any organization or political power at any time to gain access to populations in need. The photographs I am posting here represent neither condemnation nor celebration of the military forces of Iraqi Kurdistan, known as the Peshmerga. The WFP communications team I was traveling with was only on this military base to track displaced Yazidis as they were being airlifted off of Sinjar Mountain and brought to this compound, behind stable Iraqi Kurdistan lines in Duhok Province. We were not there to report on military movements or conditions. Our mission was solely to document and interview IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) who would be receiving WFP assistance. In so doing we unknowingly turned out to be on the cusp of a notable moment in the struggle between the Peshmerga and ISIS. I’m sharing these photos solely for their relevance to current events. No future posts concerning my trip to Iraq will focus on military subject matter, they will solely be concerned with the refugee and IDP crises and the civilian face of war. If any bias creeps into this post it is solely my own and has no reflection on the WFP.

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I am going to the Kurdistan region of Iraq

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Home, News & Politics | 4 Comments

For over a year now I’ve been in contact with some people at the United Nations World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organization concerned with hunger and food security. We’ve been plotting to tell some stories about the complexity and necessity of feeding the world’s displaced people in an engaging way. Now we’re finally getting started and soon I’ll be leaving for northern Iraq. There, I’ll begin researching the current situation facing Kurdish refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict and the violent push of the Islamic State. The situation is incredibly dire, especially with winter coming. In the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq the temperatures can range from 40 degrees Fahrenheit down to near 0 this time of year.

Compounding the issue, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported a $58 million funding shortfall this year, even as the displacement of human beings has spiked considerably throughout the region. This funding shortfall threatens to leave almost a million people without food and proper shelter as the world turns colder.

Click here to donate to the WFP

Let me hit you with the numbers. There are currently 1.9 million internally displaced people and 225,000 refugees in the region (a “refugee” has crossed an international border, an “IDP” seeks refuge inside their own nation). And 300 to 500 more refugees arrive daily in Northern Iraq from the Kobanî vicinity of northern Syria where the Islamic State succeeded in capturing 350 Kurdish villages in early October and where an active siege still rages. Of those almost 2 million people, some 800,000 are in need of shelter assistance, while 940,000 lack basic winter household items. With the funding shortfall, the UNHCR can only reach 240,000 displaced people instead of the 600,000 they had planned. They will not be able to provide tent insulation kits or sound structures for 140,000 people, and 150,000 people won’t be receiving items like heaters or kerosene.

Kawrgosk camp from 2013, during one of the largest mass arrivals of refugees at that time. These tents went up in a matter of days. Photograph by Abeer Etefa

Kawrgosk camp from 2013, during one of the largest mass arrivals of refugees at that time. These tents went up in a matter of days. Photograph by Abeer Etefa

I believe that this troubled region is the center of the world right now. I believe that no human being should die of starvation. I believe that those of us who are born in a country without war and eat three meals a day have won a lottery. We didn’t earn this, we’re not entitled because of it. We were the lucky ones. We spun a wheel and beat the odds. I believe it’s the duty of the fortunate to witness and help those who were born into unfortunate times in stressed places. I believe that the mission of the WFP is the foundation of civilization. I believe that the people who work for the WFP are real heroes and I can only hope with all my heart that I will be an asset to them instead of a burden while I’m there.

In 2007, researching for Unknown Soldier, I spent a month in Acholiland, Uganda and the surrounding areas speaking to child soldiers, staying with families who had their children kidnapped, and eating dinner with people who were victims of unspeakable brutality during the conflict between the Ugandan People’s Defence Force and the Lord’s Resistance Army. I saw how war destroys culture, family structure, generational ties and hope. Since that trip I have been back here in the States making superhero comics, watching movies, eating well, but – always – there was a sense that I was shirking something, hiding from something. It’s good to be free and full, but with it comes a responsibility to care about those who aren’t. This holiday season everyone reading this will be warm and well-fed, so I want to ask you all to please, please donate something, anything, a dollar, right now, to the WFP. And bear in mind, WFP relies entirely on voluntary contributions to finance its humanitarian and development projects. It receives no funding from the UN.

Click here to donate to the WFP

Thanks for reading. I’ll give you way more information about the project this research is in service to when it’s the right time, and I’ll fill you in more on what I saw and where I was upon my return.

Here’s a 60 Minutes piece on the WFP’s work with refugees in Jordan. Watch it to get a sense of what you’ll be supporting when you give to the WFP. It’s an incredible story.

Much of the information for this post was from, “UNHCR warns of winter crisis ahead for almost a million displaced people in Iraq, Syria” There’s a lot more data there.

Further information here, “Displaced Iraqis face new threat as winter approaches” by Chloe Cornish


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