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  • Omar Khayyam (135) "You ... checkmated the king of Babylon"
    • funny how human weakness is timeless and get repeated throughout history.

      checkmated the king
      of Babylon,
      after you took his pawns,
      bishops and rooks away.

      the dangers that come with having a lack of institutions:

      Influence in the Syrian regime, Jouejati said, is based on “patronage and who you know. It’s not at all surprising that a young lady would be in direct contact with the president, going over the heads of her father and the whole Foreign Ministry.”

      link to

  • Facebook and the Middle East after the Arab Spring
    • Algeria has seen only small demonstrations

      surely the distress must be great when this is happening:

      At least 50 Algerians have set themselves on fire since last January:

      link to

  • Saudi ban on women’s sports blamed for rising obesity (Zambarakji)
    • a hopeful signal towards moderation?

      Saudi King Abdullah has sacked one of his most hardline advisers, Sheikh Abdelmohsen al-Obeikan.

      Sheikh Obeikan, who was an adviser to the royal cabinet, opposed moves to relax gender segregation.

      The dismissal comes shortly after Sheikh Obeikan attacked plans by "influential people to corrupt Muslim society by trying to change the natural status of women".

      Saudi officials did not give a reason for Sheikh Obeikan's departure.

      His recent comments were taken to be an attack on tentative steps towards relaxing some stricter interpretations of Saudi law.

      King Abdullah has promised women the right to vote in future elections, has opened the country's first co-educational university and introduced measures against domestic violence.

      The head of Saudi Arabia's religious police, the "mutawa", was also replaced in January, with the new head widely seen as more moderate than his predecessor.

      link to

    • These laws, together with cultural and religious expectations, effectively limit women to a sedentary lifestyle – and this has contributed to rising obesity among Saudi women.

      i think depression stemming from being treated as 4th class citizens is also an underlying reason behind unhealthy weight.

    • wives in saudi arabia should go on sex strike as a form of protest and as a way to add to the pressure in the push for reforms.

      what? it worked in liberia.

      In 2003, Leymah Gbowee and the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace organized nonviolence protests that included a sex strike. As a result, the women were able to achieve peace in Liberia after a 14-year civil war and helped bring to power the country's first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.[5]

      link to

  • Omar Khayyam (130) On Forgiveness and Falling off the Wagon
    • i do believe he's impishly suggesting by sinning, he's doing god a favor.

      wait a minute. "falling off the wagon" is of persian origin?

      did omar khayyam coin the phrase himself? if so, this phrase is something like 934 years old! or could it be this phrase is even older than he and predates even him? these poems suggest this period of time was more libertine than i expected!

  • US arms Sales to Bahrain Undercut Criticism of Russia, Iran on Syria
    • another center of shia protest that gets little coverage:

      link to

      The Obama administration has just made itself a laughingstock in that regard

      when has u.s. foreign policy ever not been hypocritical?

      while i am disillusioned with pres. obama for various reasons, doesn't the bulk of the blame here lie with saudi arabia? who are terrified of shia encroachment and of anything that undermines their rule. it is probably they who are twisting obama's arm to support the stifling of dissent. what with the unspoken threat of driving up oil prices if they don't get what they want - underlying every saudi request.

      Just ask yourself if the US would sell coast guard and F-16 equipment to Syria today

      but the pentagon is defending russia continuing supplying military equipment to the syria regime.

      A top Pentagon official is trying to stop congressional opposition to a deal that provides Russian helicopters to the Afghan military — even as the same official Russian arms exporter also supplies Syrian dictator Bashar Assad with weapons used to massacre dissidents.

      link to

      there has to be reforms made with the un security council process when the u.s. is unable to even get an arms embargo put in place against murderous regimes because of china/russia vetoes. (but then again, maybe it doesn't want to.)

    • thank you, fonzy.

  • Romney v. Carter (Jamiol Cartoon)
    • one detail i remember running across in an article about how people transitioned the soviet union collapse. housing was owned by government and people didn't pay rent.

      what a concept.

    • you have a blog? are you on twitter?

  • Israeli Spy Chief Condemns Netanyahu for Iran Hype, Messianism
    • diskin: Today there are extremist Jews, not just in the territories but also inside the Green Line, dozens of them...

      yes there are extremists, but to my surprise, upon learning this, they are a minority. let us also acknowledge the
      moderate majority:

      According to some polls, he said, 83% of settlers say “compensate us and we will relocate.”

    • hey, was all this israeli saber-rattling yet more kabuki theater? did obama disingenuously play good cop to israel's bad cop just to get iran to the negotiation table?

    • don't forget big oil. i think they've benefited the most from israel's saber rattling.

  • Top Ten Reasons Israel tried to Censor Bob Simon's Report on Palestinian Christians
    • wait a the beginning of the segment, bob simon says "in syria, revolution seriously threatens christian communities."

      smears that suggest rebels are targeting christians was debunked! from a mcclatchy report:

      The group also has been accused of targeting Christians in Homs. But interviews with Syrian Christian refugees who’d fled to Lebanon from Homs and Qusayr uncovered no evidence that Christians were targeted because of their religion. Rather, Christian refugees from Qusayr said that a Christian man and 16 others working with government security forces in Qusayr had been captured by Farouq fighters in March, prompting some Christians to flee. Members of Farouq confirmed the story, as well as the arrests.

    • re apartheid, heard tarik ali make this case on cspan:

      4...both bishop tutu and ronnie kasrils, former deputy defense minister in the mandela government, vehemently dispute the analogy. they insist that the condition of palestinians in the occupied territories is far worse than was that of blacks in the bantustans.

      if people think this hyperbole, look through the images when googling: gaza poverty.

  • Top 5 Stories from the Arab Revolutions Today
    • avoiding the "oil curse" - could you specify? you mean a country that is oil rich but manages to avoid being authoritarian?

      libya after 40 years of dictatorship wont tolerate another one. they've paid too high a price.

    • indonesia?

  • Yes, MEMRI, there is a Fatwa from Khamenei forbidding Nukes
  • Top Five Green Energy Stories Today
    • we will be caught with our shorts down and will really be hurting if we don't gird ourselves and prepare beforehand for the next inevitable "oil shock." alternative energy is a national security issue! we're being left behind:

      In Spain, on 8 November 2009 wind power production reached the highest percentage of electricity production till then, with wind farms covering 53% of the total demand.

    • i've been reading about france battling leaks from nuclear plants for i don't know for how many years.

  • Romney: Poor Women with 2 year olds "Need to go to work" (Hayes)
    • this wag on twitter boiled it down and nailed it:

      @bpicampus: Moms dependent on husbands: paragons. Moms dependent on society: parasites. This is about Male Privilege.

  • Tens of Thousands of Syrians Protest Peacefully after Ceasefire, 6 Killed
  • The Syrian Army's outlaw Executions (Serle)
    • Syria is already burning out of control, a Nato intervention could not precipitate a wider conflict.

      syrians don't want US/nato boots on the ground. while a few call for no-fly zone, the majority of voices i hear are calling for rebels to be provided anti-tank weaponry. it is obscene how outgunned the rebels are. obama is going around discouraging qatar and saudi arabia from providing weapons.

      eurofrank, if europe was syria, and europeans were being slaughtered by some mad tyrant, would you embrace the same advice you offer the syrian people? i don't think so.

      why do americans and europeans tolerate atrocities for arabs that they wouldn't tolerate for themselves?

    • There’s war hammers, but there are carpenter’s and roofer’s and jeweler’s hammers too…

      the opposition has tried civil resistance for over a year but to no avail. activists were tortured, raped and/or killed for their efforts.

      how many more years are syrians supposed to allow themselves to be slaughtered before the world says "okay, that's enough" and gives the people the means by which to defend themselves? how high does the pile of corpses have to be before reaching that tipping point?

      from andrew tabler who spent 8 years in syria:

      Some still argue that supporting the opposition will "militarize" the Syrian crisis, diverting the revolution from a more peaceful and supposedly more effective path. But the reality, of course, is that this crisis is already "militarized." And tangible outside support for the opposition is now a necessary condition for any Syrian's continued ability to resist the regime's all-out onslaught. Without such support, the Syrian people have virtually no chance of maintaining their courageous stand -- whether peaceful or armed for self-defense -- against regime power. For this reason, immediately supporting the opposition is not a diversion from peaceful protest, but rather the only way to preserve an option for civil resistance.


      In an ideal world, peaceful protest alone would force Assad from power. In the real world, however, the longer the regime holds on, the bloodier and more sectarian the armed insurgency will become, and the more likely the country will be to slide fully into civil and sectarian war akin to that in 1980s Lebanon. The choice now is brutally clear: either support the Syrian opposition, armed and unarmed, or support the Assad regime.

    • by failing to arm the rebels, the international community is propping up the regime. reluctance to support the opposition gives bashar the greenlight to step up his campaign of sectarian cleansing and to commit even more atrocities.

      inaction will prolong catastrophe!

  • Washington's Dangerous Blockade of Iran (Cole at Tomdispatch)
    • doesn't israel itself have a history of skirting sanctions? if memory serves, something like 70% of israel's own oil comes from iran which they purchase in europe using third party cutouts.

    • i don't believe israel would attack iran. are they equipped enough to fly all the way over to iran and bomb and then run back to defend israel from retaliatory strikes from hezbollah and such?

      and the US, i don't believe, would chance putting US military troops stationed abroad at risk for retaliatory strikes by iranian proxies in afghanistan and iraq.

      but just for hypothetical sake, let's imagine israel did strike. that would instantly cause israel to be regarded internationally as a pariah state that would make it difficult for even the US to defend. israel would be so weakened, that its ability to shape the public narrative would be incredibly hampered.

      it's in such a weakened position would the liberation of palestine be be possible. one could envision israel bombing iran could jump start a series of events, creating a domino effect, that could lead to a free palestine.

      consider the irony: israel so desperate to demonstrate its power, winds up weakening itself. israel preemptively bombing iran out of a misguided act of self defense - would end up seeding its own destruction.

  • Bahrain Crisis between Hunger Strike and Grand Prix Boycott
    • The United States has widely been accused of hypocrisy [...] while jumping up and down about dictatorship in countries the US government dislikes, such as Syria.

      with all due respect, what syria has suffered under the assad regime is magnitudes worse than what bahrainis have yet to go through. and as such, is a more urgent matter.

      how can anybody look at what the regime has done to homs (as just one example) and not demand redress? a town so bombed and demolished and reduced to rubble that HRW reps and foreign journalists (such as paul conroy, who barely escaped alive) describe it as being worse than grozny, chechnya.

      the US posturing on syria has been more talk than action. talk to satisfy public pressure that demands the turmoil to be addressed - but without actually acting to do anything to stem it. any sanctions applied, syria has been able to skirt with the help of russia and china. kofi annan, presumably acting under US direction, backed off on demanding bashar assad step down. this so called ceasefire has provided bashar cover to inflict more casualties.

      i'm not convinced that the US sees the fall of the regime as being in america's (or isral's) interest as most people are assuming.

      i don't need to remind you this regime has been a US partner in the war against terrorism. such previous relationships aren't tossed aside lightly. in 2010, mrs. clinton approved IT technology be allowed to be shipped to the regime even though syrian expats warned it would be used to oppress dissidents. leon panetta has strongly came out against intervention. and look at this bob baer admission that didn't get a lot of attention:

      "Let me put this very cynically, it's probably in America's interest that the current government subdues a rebellion and a civil war," Baer said.

      It's not at all like Libya, where most Libyans are Sunni Muslims and getting rid of Muammar Gaddafi didn't lead to a Sunni-Shia divide.

      i think it plausible that washington is depraved enough to make cynical deals with this regime that would greenlight assad taking the gloves off in order to quell the unrest. or even enter a deal with iran that allows assad to remain in power in exchange for a deal on the weapons issue.

      who knows what washington's intentions are? there is so many hidden agendas, it's hard to tell anything until the smoke has cleared.

      preposterous, you say? but we've seen such betrayals from the US before. look at how bush senior called upon the shia in iraq to rise up only to allow saddam a freehand in mowing them down.

    • i don't defend US/saudi royals' double dealings but people suffering under tyrannies in libya and syria shouldn't be punished for it. libyans and syrians shouldn't be denied freedom just to give a poke in the eye of imperial powers.

  • Dear CNN: This is not News; *This* is News
    • the syria regime is waging a propaganda campaign in order discourage media coverage of their atrocities the regime is brazenly committing in broad daylight in front of witnesses (something HRW has pointed out) from being covered.

    • that's not so! i wouldn't have even know about the bahrain uprising if i didn't follow aljazeera english.

      filmakers, interviewed on democracynow, of a documentary covering bahraini activists, credited aljazeera for keeping the story alive throughout.

      just last night, aje covered the hunger strike and the grand prix controversy.

  • Arab revolutions Continue
    • egypt:observers worry that if it gains the presidency as well, that development would allow the emergence of a one-party state.

      marwan bishara (aljazeera analyst) was on cspan discussing his book. an audience member raised the question of whether the arab spring was an authentic expression of populace desire for freedom and democracy or was it something that's only being hijacked by islamic extremists.

      bishara replied that fear of the people had been so demolished that never again would egypt be ruled by just one islamic party or ruled by the military like it had been in the past. he insisted that that old paradigm had been shattered.

      this kind of skepticism was heard during the arab spring. i even heard people argue that democracy was a western concept that couldn't be applied to the middle east and you were an "orientalist" for trying to apply western concepts to arabs!

      it's down right bigotry to consider arabs incapable or "not ready" for democracy. i wish more mena pundits would call out this bias for the bigotry it is!

  • Iraq Slams Saudis, Qataris for Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels
    • i could be missing nuances or even mislead but
      libya's LIFG renounced al qaeda.

    • ty! i hadn't considered israel would oppose such weapons to be given to rebels.

    • prof. i just remember this story from mid march. the US accused iraq of allowing weapons coming from iran and going to syria.

      State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Iranian arms exports are banned by a U.N. Security Council resolution. She says Iranian cargo flights are crossing Iraq and that the U.S. is concerned about possible weapons shipments.

      She told reporters: "Any arms sent to the Syrian regime at this time would obviously be used in the brutal repression that the regime is exacting on its own people."

      another account here.

      so, the iraq policy is weapons for the regime but not for the rebels!

    • the sourced wiki page for the cite above:

      link to

    • 50% sunni? where did you get that number?

      via wiki:

      Of the Syrian population, 74% were Sunnites (including Sufis), whereas 13% were Alawites, Ismailis and Twelvers combined. 3% were Druze, while the remaining 10% were Christians.

    • assad doesn't deserve to be defended by anti-imperialists.

      Assad’s relationship to Israeli and US imperialism

      Hafez Al-Assad first, and later his son and current ruler Bashar, regularly entered into alliances with the Western imperialists. They have played an openly counter-revolutionary role in repressing mass uprisings in Lebanon in league with regional imperialist powers, were open partners with George Bush Sr.’s invasion of Iraq in 1991 and have played a collaborative role in the so-called “War on Terror”. Far from the image that some on the left attribute to Assad as an anti-imperialist, he has been a regional partner with imperialism and has played a destructive role in relation to mass left-wing movements in the region, most notably in Lebanon.

    • it was assad is who sent militants to iraq. how many americans were killed because of assad's meddling?

    • more than 80% of Palestinians are in favor of the syrian revolution

      yay! may i inquire where you got this stat?

    • American involvement in Syria militarily could avoid anarchy and bloodshed – but at what price to America and Obama’s re-election hopes?

      i'm not clear about what you mean US military involvement. syria rebe;s aren't calling for american boots on the ground. they want military arms provided to them. specifically, anti-tank weaponry.

    • My fear in Gaza would be that Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, and various extremist clans and pro-Iranian groups essentially seize control from a Hamas-controlled government and have sufficient public support to become an outlaw state as Afghanistan was.

      several mena pundits have interpreted the success and popularity of the arab spring as a repudiation of al qaeda.

    • Just to say that Iraq’s fears are not without reason. Saud al-Faisal’s idea of arming the rebels recalls the similar plan to arm the Afghan opposition, in in the 1980s, which led to a Soviet withdrawal but also created a long-term security nightmare in the form of al-Qaeda.

      what sunk afghanistan wasn't because it was flooded with weapons. (the US did offer a weapons buy-back program, did they not? i'm sure impoverished afghans didn't pass up a chance for a quick buck.) it was because after the soviets left, the US abandoned the country which caused it to descend into a failed state status. the US and the gulf states should have done more to support development instead of abandoning the country.

    • I`m sure that most syrians are not even aware of Iran`s intentions.

      huh? you need to talk to more syrians. they're hyper aware about iran's machinations!

    • i knew there was a sunni/shia proxy war going on. what i didn't know was it also included this dimension. from the documentary Iran Is Not the Problem:

      due to a historical accident, most of the world’s petroleum is in the shitte parts of the middle east. including shia controlled iraq, shia iran and shia region of saudi arabia. washington’s worst nightmare is the formation of an independent loose shitte alliance controlling most of the world’s oil. possibly even joining the "shanghai cooperation organization" linked to the asian energy security grid. US economic rivals china and russia are members and iran is an observer. the US, however, is shut out. also, saudis and japanese are holding financial reserves in US dollars, propping up the US economy. if the energy grid expands, they may diversify. causing the value of the dollar to plummet. the economic problems for the US could be huge.

      this explain the russian/china UN veto.

    • Arab uprising been high-jacked by Salafies in Egypt.

      the liberals boycott the last elections! that made the muslim brotherhood representation look bigger than it should have. and mb isn't the salafists.

  • Top 5 Dangers that the Syria Conflict could Destabilize its Neighbors
    • so, then, how is it in US (or israel's) interest that the region becomes destabilized and syria becomes a failed state? because that is what will result if we don't intervene.

      best proposal i've seen to date:

      Not Supporting the Opposition "within Syria" Is Supporting Assad

      Some still argue that supporting the opposition will "militarize" the Syrian crisis, diverting the revolution from a more peaceful and supposedly more effective path. But the reality, of course, is that this crisis is already "militarized." And tangible outside support for the opposition is now a necessary condition for any Syrian's continued ability to resist the regime's all-out onslaught. Without such support, the Syrian people have virtually no chance of maintaining their courageous stand -- whether peaceful or armed for self-defense -- against regime power. For this reason, immediately supporting the opposition is not a diversion from peaceful protest, but rather the only way to preserve an option for civil resistance.

  • Israeli Peace Marchers Protest Iran War Talk in Tel Aviv
    • another iranian profile:

      Razi says he belongs to Iran’s constantly shrinking middle class. He dresses up, speaks and thinks like a Westerner, yet to his great regret lives in Tehran. “I would run away if I could,” he says. “But I have a big family and roots here, and I prefer to hope and believe that sometimes all of this will pass and we’ll again be able to live like human beings.”

      In recent weeks, the local currency depreciated dramatically, the prices of goods skyrocketed, and inflation has spun out of control. Meanwhile, the government has minimized fuel subsidies and encourages residents to walk or use public transportation. “We’re eating less meat, whose price went up significantly, and settle for staples. It’s good for our health. Maybe the Americans want all of us to go on a diet,” he quips, bitterly.

      When Razi is told of the recent Israeli Facebook campaign under the “We Love Iran” banner, he laughs. “I would do a similar campaign. I love Israel,” he says. “However, I have this slight concern that 10 minutes after my first post goes online, you’ll find me hanging upside down from a city crane.”

    • iranians cry upon hearing about the israeli campaign.

      Iranians see our page and break down with excitement. They always thought we hated them. The power of this initiative is that it bypasses governments," she says.

      An Iranian landscape architect named Majid began an equivalent Iranian initiative, opening a Facebook page called "Iran loves Israel." He says he heard about the Israeli page on a free radio station broadcasting to Iran from Prague, and immediately joined in.

      "The responses to the page were extraordinary," says Majid, 34, a father of two. "Don't forget the Internet in Iran is blocked and it's very difficult to surf. I had no reason to think the Israelis were bad people, but in recent days I've found them to be very civilized," he says.

      Shaidi Shahin, a young Iranian living in India, filled her Facebook page with expressions of love for Israel. "When I read what the Israeli couple had written," she writes to me, "I started crying."

  • McCain: Bomb Syria; But Iraq and Russia oppose Intervention
    • via the hurriyet:

      Veteran diplomat Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, will offer “a last chance” to President Bashar al-Assad when he visits Damascus on March 10, a Turkish diplomatic source said yesterday.

      The offer will give al-Assad the chance to “honorably exit the scene,” the source told the Daily News. Annan will go to Damascus on the same day Russia joins an Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo.

      link to

    • how is taking up arms to defend oneself from attack delegitimizing? is it more noble, more ethical, to accept being massacred without protest?

    • al jazeera english demonstrated how the regime is shipping in new weapons from overseas via air cargo. airstrikes crippling airports would serve to block these shipments.

      didn't the clinton/nato intervention into kosovo lack a UN mandate? what is stopping the US or turkey from employing the same approach? indifference?

      all of this blatant evidence of assad committing war crimes and yet hillary clinton refuses to refer him to the international criminal court? by failing to do so, doesn't that, in effect, give assad a green light to ratchet up and commit even more crimes?

      you called for intervention into libya to prevent benghazi from being mowed over. massacres in syria evidences more need for intervention that libya had.

      i don't see how armchair nitpicking of revolutionaries serves anything. that only underlines the fact how badly they need help!

      the world rarely agrees upon anything. lack of consensus isn't a valid excuse to do nothing.

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • professor, what are you thoughts about releasing the photos? i'm not sure i buy the argument that it will incite the extremists.

      my apologies if this has been addressed already.

  • Apple Tracking likely a "Bug" or Oversight
    • i heard an analyst speculate that data collected about location tracking - apple could sell to marketers.

      i doubt it's coincidental if profit is involved.

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