Recent Comments

  • Trump's Folly: Oil is a Worthless Commodity and Saudi's Crown Prince Knows It (7)
    • apparently 25% or so

    • How much of the total oil and other fossil fuel production is not used as fuel? What percentage is used as chemical feed stock, lubrication, plastics, furtelizer, etc? In other words how much oil must we continue to pump in an all electric future?

    • You're not paying attention. Norway jiggered things so it is. cheaper to trade in old vehicle for ev. Also India is on verge of doubling fleet & Norway type policy can ensure people want evs.

    • ....making Putin even more dangerous. How will the hollow giant that is Russia respond when its leaders realize their primary source of wealth is going away for good?

      May you live in interesting times, eh.

    • The average age of an American auto is over 11 years and the number of cars 16 to 24 years old is around 44 million.

      Many of these probably do very little miles but car reliability is now so high a car can be run for 20 years. In India, with lower GDP, cars are likely to be kept going even longer.

      If the oil price drops, these old autos get even cheaper to run. Unless there is a program to remove them from the roads, petrol powered cars will be with us for decades to come.

      In India the middle income car owner will bitterly resent having their functional vehicle forced off the road, while the poor would be the losers if the government provided subsidies to car owners.

      A 100% electric fleet in only 13 years in India is nearly as unlikely as the Saudis dropping oil without becoming an impoverished desert state.

    • And so the Russian Federation runs out of money.

  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
    • Low cost, reasonably accurate weapons that can be produced by the thousands are the "winners." This is why the AK-47 is so ubiquitous. AK-47 built in the early 1950s are STILL in use killing humans in large quantities because the design "just works.".

      This is why the USA will get devastated by Iran when the USA attacks. Iran has designed and made thousands of inexpensive, reliable and accurate missiles and other weapons whereas the USA has a few very expensive ego boosters for the USA officers.

      The main reason I strongly dislike the F-35 is, it is extremely complex and based on my almost 45 years of engineering experience, I know that complex stuff breaks a lot. From a practical engineering standpoint, the F-35 is a total mess and I will not be surprised that it fails spectacularly in combat.

      BTW - USA companies have out-sourced the knowledge of how to build low cost reliable products to Asia.

  • Trump's Folly: Oil is a Worthless Commodity and Saudi's Crown Prince Knows It (7)
    • Carbon energy can not compete with non-carbon energy for several reasons:

      - All carbon energy that can be harvested for very little cost has already been used up. All the carbon energy left requires more and more costs to harvest. Long term the cost to produce a kilowatt of carbon energy will have to go up.

      BUT . . .

      - The cost of non-carbon energy is decreasing every day as the technology evolves. That is, non-carbon energy technology is following a curve very similar to CPUs, memory chips, image sensors, etc.

      - Right now we have a carbon energy glut because conversion from carbon energy to non-carbon energy plus massive energy conservation has drastically lowered the demand for all forms of energy much faster than most people anticipated and that trend is accelerating.

      As a result, as professor Cole noted Saudi Arabia is sitting on an asset that is losing value by the day, especially as most countries (but not the USA) have figured out for any country to thrive by 2050, it MUST be energy self-sufficient so their wealth is kept at home and not drained by others.

      So by 2050 at the latest, Saudi Arabia will have no market for its oil, just like coal producers are running out of markets for their product right now. Within a few short years there will be no active coal mines in the USA because they will not even be able to give coal away (unfortunately, due to USA politics, the coal workers will be in terrible shape - instead of fighting market forces the USA should be educating and moving coal miners to other parts of the USA).

      I helped designed some of the technology we have today and I see non-carbon energy following the SAME PATH which will make carbon energy producers into the buggy whip makers of today.

  • How Soon until we're Using More Than The Earth Can Provide? (6)
    • The big problem with current economic models is that they postulate ever-expanding growth. This is in direct conflict with the Laws of Thermodynamics:
      1) Conservation of Mass/Energy: matter/energy can't be created or destroyed, only its form can be changed.

      2) Entropy increases in a closed system

      3) The universe is a closed system.

      Or, as the frat boys learn it:
      1) You can't win
      2) You can't break even
      3) You can't get out of the game...

      There's a limited amount of EVERYTHING on this planet. Once we're using more of it than we can replace, we're basically living in a Ponzi scheme. Sooner or later, we'll start running out of stuff. At that point, things will get very grim very quickly.

  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
    • The greatness of the WWII generation tossed in the rubbish bin b/c US govt acts more like Germany did in the 30s/40--and less like the great power it was then. Such a shame.

    • We're so much like Britain in 1913 it's sickening.

      As for the problem of the magic bullet, note the little-told story of World War 2: the countries that won didn't have the most advanced weapons (the Germans), or the most unstoppable weapons (the kamikaze). The mainstays of the Allies were weapons that their particular economies were capable of producing reliably in large numbers with the available resources. The USA nailed down which weapons it was staking victory on early in the struggle, even before Pearl Harbor: the B-17, the P-47, the Garand and M-1 carbine, the Sherman tank, the Jeep, and one basic generation of submarines. None of these were the best of their types in the war, or the most innovative, or the cheapest. We could have saved the lives of many airmen by using the small, ultra-aerodynamic B-43 that used speed instead of gunners to survive, replacing the B-17s that fell in vast numbers taking 13 crewmen each with them, but it was too late. Some important additions were made late, like the P-51, which was designed in a crash program and was cheaper to build than other fighters of the war. So our procurement system was flexible enough to make some amendments. But ultimately, they had to dance with who brung them. And the civilian factories that converted to produce those weapons largely had succeeded in the commercial marketplace in the same manner; never the most advanced or the most optimized, but conservative, overbuilt, and lacking the last word in every area of performance. That was American industry's strength.

      To say that this notion is dead in our country is a pathetic understatement.

  • How Soon until we're Using More Than The Earth Can Provide? (6)
    • To make it all more frightening, ask oneself this hard question: how much of our social progress and tolerance is conditional on prosperity? How much has already disappeared due to the hardships (intentionally) caused by wealth polarization? How much worse will things get when the pie is actually shrinking?

  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
  • How Soon until we're Using More Than The Earth Can Provide? (6)
    • Humans being divided into competing groups, if one such group shows restraint, it will be out-competed by its rivals. A world government might work, but is more likely to just internalize the competitive pressures. A better solution would be to keep on consuming, while also jostling for a better position vis-a-vis our rivals once the die-off begins. Remember, we're all going to die eventually anyway!

    • Helpful way of thinking about resource capacity.

  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
    • Eloquent as always, the author tracks why the WHAMs bought into the con, but then just notes how there'll be hell to pay once they find out they've not only been conned but royally screwed. Fine. But there's more to what this all means, and his piece failed to deliver the insight it was building up to, or any possible vision for the future to aim at. A kiss and a promise.

      One observation here was how historians can endorse and support identities and the ensuing realities, and how the author nuzzles right up to the edge of the power of alternative histories to drive (if not outright create) different realities. The power of a skillful narrative to empower cannot be overstated, and histories can be written to connect the dots any way one wishes, to support whatever self-serving agenda may be at stake. After all, what is any successful history, even if it sticks to defendable facts, but a well-told tale? Any number of such narratives, supporting any number of visions and agendas, could be spun by those sufficiently skilled. And that's before focused, ruthless people, start just making stuff up.

      Modern history, if not a oxymoron, might be seen as being written by journalists, especially those doing investigative work. So, we get to the argument Glenn Greenwald and others have engaged, that having a perspective and a bias is only being honest. Where does that sort of thinking take us and what does it portend?

      I'll opine, and WELCOME better thinking, that there is an incredible leadership vacuum at the moment, and we may have been lucky with Trump in that he is proving to be, at bottom, an incompetent conman. Or so we hope, and that he doesn't start delegating to people who have what it takes to start following through on some particularly twisted vision. That's the absolute nightmare scenario we have to hold our breath over, for at least another four years.

      So, flash forward, and after four years of muddling through by Trump and zero genuine reform by the DNC of its current corruption. At that point those WHAM's will indeed be really pissed: tar, feathers, and pitchforks, facing another choice between transparent fecklessness and authoritarian panaceas.

      What happens then? What sort of narrative can be written and extended into the future as a constructive vision, anywhere on the political spectrum, of an inclusive nation going forward?

  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
    • Further information. Thanks to renewables, California has faced an energy glut during daytime hours. There have been days when the state power authority actually paid Arizona to take excess power from California. Yes, that seems crazy, but under certain circumstances it makes a sort of sense. A big article in today's (6/25) LA Times goes into detail.

  • How Soon until we're Using More Than The Earth Can Provide? (6)
  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
  • How Soon until we're Using More Than The Earth Can Provide? (6)
  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • my immediate reaction is dismay at the fear the 4 countries have, as you mentioned, should their citizens have a news resource that is recognized internationally, for quite awhile, as being a real source of information which lets the population form an opinion.
      This is a step or two backwards not just for the middle east but for us all. it is happening everywhere as we, the world, slip further and further back in history and development stops and most shocking, for me, is they got away with it. Information is the fuel that makes many things we look around these days, especially toward Trump 's America with its urge to censor even the internet. I would say, beware, we have lost something that was very important to the slow development of the feeling of responsibility for decisions and even interest among a wider segment of the population and which would have influenced very much the political picture of the Middle East.


  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • Iran does not need nukes.

      Iran already has more than enough conventional weapons to make the entire Mideast one giant pile of rubble.

      Per the IDF there are over 50k very accurate missiles pointed at Israel right this minute, which is why the IDF leadership told Bibi to shut up about attacking Iran.

      Iran has been preparing for over 35 years for a massive USA attack and has developed the engineering and manufacturing infrastructure to make any attack EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the attackers.

      The USA might be able to devastate Iran, but in the process the USA will be devastated and will never be powerful again.

    • The blowback from a USA nuclear strike will end the USA.

      Remember that there are three nuclear nations downwind of Iran (China, India, Pakistan) and all three now have the capability of nuking the USA with ICBMs.

      The downwind nations will be "very unhappy" that their food supplies are contaminated by the USA blasts.

      BTW - guess who else is downwind of Iran - the USA food supplies in California and the Midwest - there is a very good reason why EVERY nation on earth no longer sets off nukes in the atmosphere - it contaminates everyone's food. Note that even NK tests underground - not even NK is crazy enough to do it in the air..

    • All empires end.

      What really differentiates the ends of empires is how much the former empire implodes and how quickly.

      Americans seem to want the implosion to be spectacular, quick and as damaging to the USA as possible.

      Rather than manage the end of the empire, the USA seems to making decision based on how much damage they can do to themselves.

  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
    • Right now - it is a race between Europe and Asia (mostly China) to figure out the "best" combination of broad spectrum solar energy harvesting and low cost manufacturing.

      The USA is not even in the race anymore for a few simple reason:

      - Lack of political will. As the article noted, Europeans and Asians are INVESTING heavily in non-carbon energy, not only to clean up the atmosphere BUT more importantly to ensure they have enough low cost energy to ensure their economy continues to thrive. Non-USA countries are well aware that all the "cheap" carbon energy has already been used up and the costs of future carbon energy can only increase particularly as more and more suppliers run out of stuff to sell.

      - USA "magic bullet" obsession. USA companies and universities are obsessed with finding the "magic bullet" rather than finding the "best" low cost practical solution. This is the reason why many "magic bullets" developed on small scale in USA labs never scale up to commercial production. For example, the technology you cited is very expensive to manufacture and may never be manufactured at realistic costs. that is, the cost per installed kilowatt is vastly higher than ordinary medium efficiency Chinese panels. Americans tend to want to make the "optimal" product whereas the Asians and Europeans are looking for the lowest cost per kilowatt.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • Lots of places to go. But unlikely they could survive financially. They don't take in a lot of advertising, and you have to get a slot on the satellite networks; some are Egypt-controlled.

  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
  • Can the Sadr Movement in Iraq overcome Sectarianism with new Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish Party? (7)
  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
    • And Democrats' polls are rising? Where I am the dislike of all politicians is almost universal.
      Then there's the dynamic that many Trump voters don't like him and never did. The term at the time was "Throw a wrench into the works" so those voters have gotten what they want.
      Joe Sixpack won't be happy to loose Grandmaw's healthcare but Democrats shoot themselves in the foot everyday with this Russia BS/John Brennan gig so it's a wash for now.

  • Will New Crown Prince in Riyadh Usher in Open Saudi-Israeli Alliance? (6)
    • Nothing will lead faster to the collapse of the House of Saud's corrupt dictatorship than it forming an alliance with Israel.
      There will be no such alliance.

  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
    • I have long believed the worst about the dupes.

      I think this country was built on a culture of sadism, ingeniously designed by the colonial elites to keep the poor divided against each other via caste.

      The South, the engine of the early American economy, was for all intents and purposes the Stanford Prison Experiment, and the behaviors of the guards in that famous example became the "sacred" culture of the White South whose defense has currently fallen to the GOP. Instead of being paid with enough money to improve their lives and break out of their cycle of poverty, the Whites were paid with sadistic privileges which they treasured.

      I think that subsequent social progress and demands for rights and equality worked because an expanding economy (aided by stolen territories) gave the working class leverage that those elites never intended. In effect, the poor Whites were bribed by progress towards acceptance of industrialization and its logical concomitant of organized, multiracial labor. Once that progress could not even be held back in the South, the country surged forward in the post-WW2 boom and the Civil Rights Movement.

      I believe the elites accepted this outcome as long as prosperity was overwhelming, but eventually they decided they wanted the whole pie for themselves. Which meant restoring the hardships and inequalities of the old order. Which absolutely required restoring for ordinary Whites the old privileges and caste barriers. Which is now underway.

      I don't think the dupes voted for Trump to make the pie bigger. They voted for Trump to violently, and preferably sadistically, take the pie out of the mouths of the children of their enemy. They got sick of Republicans stoking their fears of the Other to get elected, and then refusing to use their offices to carry out a Final Solution to subjugate or exterminate that Other. They are willing to sacrifice any number of their other values to make this monstrous event happen; their health care, their environmental protections, their schools, and anything resembling a future, in the belief that a monopoly of power will make their lives worth living again. Therefore, no matter how many times they are betrayed on these lower-priority issues, they don't view themselves as dupes yet.

      Some actually have visualized that extermination, the buyers of racist literature like The Turner Diaries. Many others, who I consider even more despicable, get through their self-righteous existences by not wanting to know the details, by pulling the lever for the worst person they can find on their side and hoping he will plan the deed in secret and then carry it out in a sudden coup so they can claim ignorance (and the benefits).

      It seems to me that Trump is rapidly running out of options to going ahead and doing just that. If in fact he fails to try, the dupes will attempt secession again.

    • The more you remind them:
      a. The more they turn out to vote and thus artificially extend their majority.
      b. The more they turn to demagogues who have, for years, been laying the groundwork for restoring the right of state governments to re-legalize discrimination ("a sincerely-held religious belief" my ass), and even take away one's right to vote (watch out for that new Constitutional Convention).
      c. The more they organize armed militias, as has happened in many other countries headed towards civil war. If they can't rule from Washington, they will cynically switch back to secessionism.

      So reminding them that they are a minority is insufficient. You must make the case to them that the price they will pay for trying to coercively rule as a minority will be much greater than the price of compromise. Which is a problem if they'd rather completely destroy the country than share power.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
    • Finally, a national fracking ban. We need to get these going everywhere until the oil industry can demonstrate it has a solution to the earthquake and groundwater contamination issues.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • Is there any country where al-Jazeera could go, any nation that would not hamstring or compromise their reporting?

    • Having reflected more on the Saudi list and their geopolitical positioning, I think this may be what they really want. It'd also be consistent with the otherwise excessive investment they've made in Yemen. Salman is young enough and rash enough to perhaps think of the local politics as being as manageable as a simple chessboard.

  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
    • It is possible that one of the reasons behind Trump's senseless, symbolic withdrawal from the Paris agreement was that Paris is in France, Macron is French, and Macron made him look foolish in front of the cameras. It won't stop. Trump is always going to look the crude fool he is against Macron. He has no chance in this fight. He is the rodeo clown forever.

    • You don't need to go to France to find a hospitable place for alternative energy scientists and engineers. The state of California is doing a fine job on its own and there are 40 million people in the state, almost as many as in Spain (46 million).

    • M. Hulot - does he ride a bicycle and smoke a pipe? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

  • Can the Sadr Movement in Iraq overcome Sectarianism with new Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish Party? (7)
  • Green France: Macron bans Fracking and welcomes US renewables Scientists fleeing Trump (13)
    • there are technical breakthroughs in PV everyday at universities and research labs around the country and around the world. That is why projections to 2040 or 2050 are so unreliable. Solar power will come much faster than anyone realizes.

    • I understand that progress is being made with solar panels that convert visible light to heat, directing such infrared to solar cells maximized for such, making the resulting panels very efficient even during cloudy days where infrared mostly goes through clouds when visible light cannot.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • It is somewhat strange that 4 countries want another country to close one of its newspapers. It down right weird. What would we say if some countries had G.B. mediate with the U.S.A. to close Fox News or the New York Times. Regardless of what we may thing of what Al-J. its an organization which provides news and its called free speech. from time to time I read the English version on line. I don't agree with every thing it writes, but hey I don't have to read it then. My opinion, it ought to continue to operate. It provides an alterative view point with the news and that is always a good thing.

      Given Saudi Arabia is involved in this it does make one wonder if the U.S.A. is behind this action to censor the news.

      and who is Saudi Arabia to dictate to Qatar who they can speak with. Now Iran is no bastion of liberty and feminism, but I've always had the opinion it was a tad more "liberal" than Saudi Arabia.

      Lets leave Iran and Qatar alone. What are they trying to do, provoke a war with Iran? Perhaps this has more to do with Trump's dislike of Iran than anything else.

      They accuse Qatar of "exporting" terrorism, well so do the Saudi's with their brand of Islam. Let each country clean up its own act internally before going to try to clean up another country. They all look like hypocrits.

  • Can the Sadr Movement in Iraq overcome Sectarianism with new Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish Party? (7)
    • I have been one who has been trying to counter generalized anti-Iranian propaganda in the American media for several years now, for example echoing Juan's knowledge of how Iran has not started an aggressive war in the last few centuries.

      The news that Iran is apparently supporting al-Maliki's return to power, is, however, a serious point in their disfavor. Even if you, Iran, have got to be so pro-Shi'ite, so sectarian -- which is of course a terrible idea contributing to future human misery -- get a new guy. Al-Maliki is poison.

    • Yes. Absolutely.
      & all he demanded was the US leave.
      He had a great manifesto.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
  • Can the Sadr Movement in Iraq overcome Sectarianism with new Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish Party? (7)
    • "But it could also be a trap."
      "Could the Sadrist movement be setting up a Trojan horse?"

      I'm confused as to why these two statements are made. The article doesn't seem to say why this alliance would be bad for Iraq, just bad for al-Maliki. Also, it states that the Sadrists have ties to Iran, but I was under the impression that al-Maliki was friendly towards Iran as well. What is the Trojan horse or trap? Thanks.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • I haven't heard of censorship as part of an ultimatum of war since the Austro-Hungarian empire delivered its harsh terms to Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, including the demand that Serbian school curricula silence their anti-Austrian tone.

      Note that those demands were basically encouraged by the German Army high command because it expected Serbia to reject them and go to war; it was certain that now was the time to go to war with Russia, which was the real goal, but it needed to use the existing alliance entanglements to justify it.

    • The neoliberalization of Saudi Arabia proposed by the new crown prince doesn't need Al Jazeera around playing Naomi Klein. I suspect that neoliberalization was meant to be enforced on all the neighbors as well, which would make it a lot easier for Al Jazeera to document it. Note that I mean neoliberalization in the Pinochet sense; a lot of people will have to be killed for the crime of opposing marketization of a traditional society.

      This isn't a feudal state leaping ahead to parliamentary democracy, this is a feudal state moving into the next stage of centralized despotism plus markets, like Louis XIV.

    • I'd say even if you did put the Gulf based Al-Arabiya and Al Jazeera together, you'd still wouldn't get the right news in regards to Iraq, Syria and Iran, particularly about their host countries roles with those nations. Still, despite what I thought were issues of sectarian bias, Al Jazeera is much better than most media outlets on global news, including Western outlets and you have to respect their journalists who put their lives on the line, be it in Algeria, Yemen, Iraq, even being deliberately targeted and killed by US military.

      After the Shouting in the Dark documentary by Al Jazeera about Bahrain's crackdown on the protesters there, Al Jazeera got curtailed quite a good deal by the Qatari govt.

      link to

      Considering the recent bad press the other countries are getting, like the UAE has, I'm not surprised that censorship is one of their top demands.

      link to
      UAE princesses guilty of servant abuse in Belgium

      link to
      In Yemen’s secret prisons, the UAE tortures suspects — and the U.S. interrogates them

    • So where does the US stand here?
      Rex Tilliotson seemed last week to be standing firm with Qatar, while the sword- dancing- buffoon- in- chief just loved the reception given him by the Saudi royals.
      While the Saudi military may possess many billions of dollars worth of hardware - do they have the military or airforce personel to match Iran's?
      I would think not - Juan?

  • The Millennial's Palace Coup in Saudi Arabia: How Dangerous? (26)
  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • Why does this remind me of Israel? Hmmmm. Could be that in the Good 'Ol Day's if a big, strong country coveted another that couldn't really defend itself, it would just straightforwardly conquer them.

      Now they've world opinion and PR considerations. Drat.

      Take a look at the full list of conditions: really nothing more than Qatar forfeiting its sovereignty. Kinda like the sort of sovereignty Israel would allow a Palestinian state.

      Anyone notice what Israel is up to at the moment? Making moves, predictably enough, while people's attentions are diverted by other things.

    • All freedom-loving people and all rightly guided Muslims should rally behind and support Al Jazerra and the progressive state of Qatar. As a Muslim I sincerely lament the actions of the rulers of our beloved Haramayn towards a small Muslim country

  • Can the Sadr Movement in Iraq overcome Sectarianism with new Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish Party? (7)
    • Without knowing enough to make a very confident judgment, Al-Sadr always struck me as potentially the one statesman on the Iraqi political scene -- probably the only one with a significant following. He has always had an authenticity that the other politicians didn't, which I assumed was why he was always so demonized by the US far beyond anything he said or did.

  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
    • Thank you Andrew, very much, your work has been very valuable in recent years.

      I guess I didn't get enough American historiography on my way to nice Honors degree in History, it was in 1978 when I was already well out of the academic environment (but still trying to puzzle out 'history and how it works,' that I had the
      idea, "what if we tried to understand History As If Every Person Mattered?"

      At the time I did regard this as a corrective to the History that focused on rich, powerful European and American males.

      I've kept poking at this over the decades, and it's led me to some very interesting places, I hope. Lately I have been able to collect my thoughts on a nice blog (that should be easy to google up using my screen name). I'm writing in longer and longer forms, yet hopefully accessible to informed readers, and I'm happy to report that the blog has been getting international readership, at a rate of more than a million hits a year for the last 18 months, so it can't be too bad.

      I hope I have developed a nice "teaching aid," at the least, that can help intelligent young (and old) people make sense out of the cacophony of modern media, towards understanding how everyone's individual thoughts and actions in every moment are indeed creating our history at every moment of every day.

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (9)
    • Appears to be a movement in the midst of suicide. An appropriate and welcome end to an essentially nihilistic creed, though what succeeds it may be no better.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • The attack on Al Jazeera is terrible by itself, but with the other demands it's also a giant step towards war. No sovereign state can tolerate being ordered to cut off diplomatic relations with another state (Iran) or close its major news organization. If Qatar accepts these and the other demands, it loses its independence and becomes a puppet of Saudi Arabia.

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • When the news reports regularly broadcast sentences such as "Iran is the greatest source of terrorism in the ME" in between reports of ISIS atrocities you can be sure we in the US are being prepped for war with the Shia. Its revolting.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • No news media is perfect but despite initial expectations and more recent setbacks, Al Jazeera remains one of the very few top news organizations in terms of accuracy, neutrality, timeliness, and scope. It must also be said that during Al Jazeera's life, other news sources traditionally ranking high in the above traits have been debilitated with that of US media most pronounced. I rank Jazeera globally in the top ten, and probably in the top five. Jazeera's loss would be a condemnation of the Arab states seeking its end. Killing off the best of the best in favor of state propaganda is a threat to all humans. Again, this in the context of accurate global news reportage that has shrunk in the past twenty years.

    • Any chanve the news network could go to a crowd sourced type of model i.e. PBS or some new model?

    • Qatar's citizen population is 300,000. Saudi's is around 30 million.

  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
    • Donald J. Trump LOST the popular vote, which makes Trump voters a true minority. And these are the last folks who want to be regarded as a "MINORITY" which they are, in fact.

      They must be REMINDED at every opportunity.

  • Will New Crown Prince in Riyadh Usher in Open Saudi-Israeli Alliance? (6)
  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • One can't be completely sure but it looks like this is an attempt to unite the Sunni front before attack on Iran by this front takes place. US military presence makes sure that it will be part of the attack willy or nilly. Israel may enter the fray directly if necessary.
      I know I haven't added anything new to the discussion but I hope that Iran is ready to defend itself. I was always dismayed that Iranians could not build even one nuke to act as the deterrent when they had time. There is no guarantee that Iran will not buckle under the combined air and ground assault. It is a pity since Iran has such a subtle and beautiful civilization. I have Iranian friends; they are very sensitive and generous. Aljazeera just ran an article about Polish refugees from Soviet Union who settled in Iran during the 2nd World War. The story goes like this: When Poles were being driven from port of Anzali to Tehran people threw objects at them. Poles thought they are rocks but they were actually pieces of candy. Such was hospitality of a nation that itself was experiencing famine and was under the occupation of Allies.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out? (9)
  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • This recent intensity of animus toward Qatar doesn't seem to add up. Similarly, the Saudis southern flank in Yemen would be more than a passing concern to them. But there must be more at play strategically to account for the scope of these two moves.

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (9)
    • From the perspective of the Muslin people there is no difference between the two actions because the ultimate goal in Iraq and elsewhere is to do away with Islam.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • The Middle East is going backwards in time, and the US supports, arms, and protects the nations doing it. Is this how we take "democracy" over there? Attacking Arab nations where we cannot control their leader, has also added to this situation. Is this how the Western nations want the ME to be?
      A festering wound, and we keep picking at the scab?

    • I cannot imagine they will get away with this. Ayman Mohyeldin ducking shellfire day and night as he covered the 2008-2009 Israeli carnage from within Gaza was in my view one of the greatest pieces of journalism in the history of media. Surely its international audience is too large and its global respect too great. It may be Qatari but in a meaningful sense it belongs to us all. I hope its supporters get organised and make that clear to the despots otherwise the world comes under their yoke.

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (9)
    • ISIS has claimed that the mosque was destroyed as the result of American bombing, and some people have argued that ISIS would not have destroyed the mosque, as it was an Islamic building. However, ISIS is very likely to be the main culprit, because the puritanical Wahhabi branch of Islam to which most ISIS members belong is against even Islamic monuments that according to them take away from the simplicity of Islam.

      When the Wahhabis came to power in Saudi Arabia they demolished many mosques, burial places and historical locations associated with Prophet Muhammad, and especially with Shi’a Imams. The Wahhabi ulema viewed many religious practices and visits to the shrines of Muhammad and the Imams as superstition. They destroyed the shrine built over the tomb of Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter and Ali’s wife, and even wanted to destroy the grave of Muhammad himself.

      They did the same when they attacked Iraq. In 1801 and 1802 when the Saudis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud captured Shi’a holy cities of Karbala and Najaf they destroyed the tomb of Imam Hussein ibn Ali and massacred many people. Therefore, the destruction of a beautiful ancient mosque in Iraq is quite in keeping with their narrow, barbaric beliefs.

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • Why cannot Qatar simply ignore this?

    • This is just another example of the state wanting to shut down any form of alternative narrative, especially one that contradicts or exposes the state for lies and corruption. There are plenty of people out there who would like to shut down the RT (Russia today) TV station both in the US and over here in England. As for the internet and blogs like yours professor, the deep state and the main stream media are working over time to close down all this "fake news" as they call it and so stifle any alternative voice or opinion. Whilst TV station like Aljazeera and RT etc are a thorn in the side of middle East states and the West, its the net that poses the most dangerous threat to the power of the state, that's why its banned or under state control in many countries.

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (9)
  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera (25)
    • Despite all their protestations to the contrary, it is now clear that what really bothers the medieval autocrats in the Persian Gulf littoral states most is their citizens’ access to any other form of media, especially in Arabic, that is a little more open to the outside world than their own tightly controlled propaganda outlets. This also shows the hollowness of the claims of the new Saudi crown prince and strongman Mohammed bin Salman that he is a reformer and wants to bring real change to his country, because he and the UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nuhayyan have been the main drivers behind the move to isolate Qatar and to close down Aljazeera.

      This is no longer a local or Arab issue but goes to the heart of free speech. Aljazeera certainly has many faults, especially in it coverage (or the lack of it) of Qatar’s domestic issues, but it certainly is a breath of fresh air compared to other stale Arabic channels. Aljazeera has been mainly responsible for opening the eyes of young Arabs to the realities in the outside world, and this knowledge cannot be unlearned no matter how hard MbS and his fellow-autocrats try. It is a duty of everyone who relishes free speech to go to the support of Aljazeera and to make sure that a relatively open media operates in the Arab world. MbS’s campaign against Aljazeera will fail in the same way that his barbaric attack on Yemen has failed, and it will only expose him as an over-ambitious, irresponsible and shortsighted dictator.

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • The US has been arming only Sunnis for decades. It may be an attempt to divide and conquer Islam in general but it sure seems like a never ending war on Shiites.

  • Will New Crown Prince in Riyadh Usher in Open Saudi-Israeli Alliance? (6)
    • There might be something else going on. The Saudis have enormous wealth but a military of demonstrated incompetence and dubious loyalty.

      Israel has a effective and proven military but depends on US support for it's existence. The deal for both would be Israel's military would prop up the Saudi monarchy while Saudi money would prop up the Israeli state.

      The thing that makes this urgent is American dissatisfaction with the way everything is going in the Middle East. Our long standing Middle Eastern policy of 70 years is now failing everywhere. Two or three wars of long duration are showing no results. More wars are in the offing. The true cost, while well hidden, is enormous.

      Meanwhile China is grabbing all the lucrative trade deals in Africa and South Asia. They are running way in the black while we are running way in the red. Such things never go on forever.

      Russia is picking at all the weak spots of American foreign policy. They act in situations where we are under constraints. They are subtle and we are clueless.

      In the US only people with gray hair still believe in Israel. On college campuses Israel is becoming a dirty word. It is not hard to see the trajectory as the same as it was for Apartheid in South Africa.

      Israel and Saudi Arabia, perfect allies of convenience!

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • There simply is no way for the US to launch a meaningful military action on Iranian territory without facing massive resistance... unless it's a large nuclear first strike.

    • God help them if they think the soft underbelly of the Iranian Empire is located in Lebanon. Hezbollah is smarter than any of the other actors elbowing each other in Syria.

    • So basically, like abandoning TPP without any discussion of a strategy to prevent China from signing up capitalist states for an alternative trade pact that's even worse for workers and the environment?

      Seems to not just be a right-wing problem here. More like, Americans across the spectrum can't imagine what other nations will do with the corpse of the American Empire, because they can't be bothered to learn any history or accept its infinite, mind-boggling cynicism unless you dress it in medieval robes and call it "Game of Thrones".

  • What to do when anti-Muslim Hate Speech now passes the Dinner Table Test? (1)
    • It pretty much passed the dinner-table test in America back in the '90s, long before 9/11. It only remained to be seen how far leaders and the public would keep egging each other on down the road to organized oppression.

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • Has no one wondered what the reaction of the Iranians would be? Saud ain't got the juice to take on Iran so the US would have to get in.
      Always a mistake to underestimate what desperate people will do. Certainly a huge risk for Israel.
      Europe won't be too happy to be flooded with refugees. Probably push them closer to Russia. Speaking of whom, they'll probably send every advanced weapon system they have and soldiers too.
      At that point we can pretty much kiss our asses goodbye.
      Do these idiots ever think "Well if I do this, what are these other people going to do?"
      The reaction of the US public might not be what the politicians expect. They're already P.O. and ready to tar and feather the lot.

  • Will New Crown Prince in Riyadh Usher in Open Saudi-Israeli Alliance? (6)
    • As I recall the last "modernizer" monarch came to a rather bad end. I think it was television pushed everyone over the line. Now this guy wants to get in bed with Israel? Bound to be interesting.

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (9)
    • caliphate (a lapsed medieval institution akin to the Christian papacy)

      I have been a Muslim all my life but never had this understanding of the role of Khalipha (correct pronunciation) which means the successor- in this case the successor of the Prophet Muhammad (PUH)

      The role of a pope or a precast in Islam doesn't exist

      In the Quran, God created Adam to rule the earth and created all that on earth to serve the human being so all human beings are Khaliphas = vicegerent

      (30) (2:30) Just *36 recall the time when your Lord said to the angels *37 , "I am going to appoint a vicegerent *38 on the Earth." They humbly enquired, "Are you going to appoint such a one as will cause disorder and shed blood on the Earth? *39 We are already engaged in hymning Your praise, and hallowing Your name"

  • Will New Crown Prince in Riyadh Usher in Open Saudi-Israeli Alliance? (6)
    • Ha'aretz, June 21/17
      "Cluster Bombs and Yachts: 5 Things You Should Know About Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince"

      "The world's youngest defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, has become the poster boy for Saudi Arabia’s proxy wars in the Middle East"

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
  • Will New Crown Prince in Riyadh Usher in Open Saudi-Israeli Alliance? (6)
    • Saudi Arabia is under the boot of a corrupt, medieval, soft-handed, murderous and despicable leadership. What the new "crown prince" and his ilk fear more than anything is the demand for democracy throughout the Arab world.

  • Top Five things to know about Sharia (Muslim Canon Law) (5)
    • Great comments all round. Sufi Muslim raises good points for example, but for me Pat Duran hits the nail on the head. The Islamic world will have to embrace its version of Mosque/State separation, but I hear even from very cosmopolitan Muslim friends that "it is impossible to separate the two". I disagree with this.

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • Well, I agree with the vast majority of this post. Trump and many of his top advisers are clearly very hawkish on Iran, and there have been lots of unwise moves directed at Iran made recently. But I think Feffer overdoes it a bit.

      Clearly the most important and most central issue is the nuclear deal. Yes, Trump dissed it, but I suspect that the fact that he has not dumped it so far means he will not do so in the future. Feffer is precisely accurate on this, noting that the unpleasant moves by Trump and Congress are all within the agreement, if clearly hostile. I suspect that even Israel is for keeping it, despite all the rhetoric from Netanyahu, which is mostly political propaganda for Israeli yahoos (yes, there are dumb Israelis). His military/intel people know better, and I suspect he does as well. They know the agreement puts the Iranian nuclear weapons genie into a box, at least for awhile, and that is good for Israeli national security.

      I would note one sloppy point, although Feffer was probably just being rhetorical himself. The ruling group in Saudi Arabia do not call themselves "sheikhs." They are royals carrying titles of "emir," prince. There are people in Saudi Arabia who do bear the title "sheikh," respected newspaper columnists, such as Sheikh Ahmed Tashkandi, and other notable public figures. But none of these people are members of the ruling royal family, and they know it.

      As it is, the worst dangers look to be a possible troops on the ground involvement in the disaster in Yemen, and overdoing going after Iranian forces in Syria. But bad as these would be, they are not remotely as bad as an outright attack on iran, which Muhammed bin Salman has seemed to support. Maybe US intel will be trying to overthrow the Iranian regime from the inside, but I suspect that such efforts will go exactly nowhere and probably not lead to some broader conflagration.

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (9)
    • A building can be rebuilt. Some years ago the when the world was outraged over the destruction of the large Buddha statues the people who were least concerned were Buddhists, as it confirmed their belief that all worldly things are transitory.

      The impending destruction of US health care for millions of people is a much greater travesty.

    • Daesh has beheaded and otherwise slaughtered so many real, living human beings that it is perhaps wrong to concentrate on the destruction of a mere building.
      No, it is not wrong to give equal weight to preserving history and to preserving human life. It is our ability to know history that makes us human.

      Also, a moratorium please on use of the words "icon" and "iconic". To a millennial it seems anything older than they are is iconic.

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran (14)
    • It's not just in Iran. Bone headed is the very definition of US policy in the Third World.

    • The USA treasury use of the SWIFT banking network to "punish" Iran is just driving most countries on earth to use the new Chinese version of SWIFT. As countries move to the Chinese network, the USA loses all ability to monitor all transactions and Chinese banks gain revenue by hiding transactions from the USA.

      And if the USA tries to punish Chinese banks (mostly controlled by he government), the Chinese will just make it harder for USA companies to operate in China, making Chinese companies wealthier and USA companies poorer.

      Basically, the USA is handing China global leadership on a golden platter inscribed with a big "T."

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (9)
    • A significant difference between the destruction the Nuri Mosque by Daesh, and the Iraqi National Archives by the US is that the mosque, like the 6th century Buddhas of Bamiyan, was destroyed with malignant deliberation whereas the library was bombed out of sheer ignorance and could well have been avoided had anyone in the command line considered for a moment Iraqi heritage rather than just oil installations. Were Trump to decide to go for Iran we would see unimaginable cultural destruction and the owls would be calling again from the towers of Afrasaid.

  • The Millennial's Palace Coup in Saudi Arabia: How Dangerous? (26)
    • @my comment - Iran can do a LOT more damage to KSA than KSA can do to Iran.

      Iran has thousands of very capable missiles and a three tier and very deadly air defense network that will make short work of the KSA air-force.

      Whereas KSA has a small number of Chinese DF21C and very bad pilots driving very expensive USA made air toys.

      Iran is NOT a nation to take lightly.