Saturday, August 30, 2008

"John McCain will win the war in Eyeraq and prevent Eyeran from going nuclear..."
Thus spake the Republican candidate for vice president, ex-beauty queen, ex-reformer, uber-Darwinist but only in social and economic and market matters not in matters related to the origins of the species.

"She is the governor of Alaska, and that is near Russia, so she has foreign policy experience (or something to that effect)." Steve Ducey, anchorman and commentator for Fox News TV.
Ergo: it proves that I am more ignorant and dummer than I have let on.
BTW: does this mean that anybody who lives along the US-Mexico border, including John McCain, has foreign policy experience? The fence should not reduce that foreign policy experience, since apparently the very wide Bering Strait does not.

"Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, has revealed a major scandal in the FIFA Soccer World Cup of 2006. It reporta that a Ghanian player was involved with a betting operation in Asia and may have helped Brazil win against Ghana...." Alarabiya.
So, alles klar: that is why Saudi Arabia never made it past the first round and had no chance to win the World Cup.

"How the old goats of petroleum practice the game of love in London nights: Every August of every year London , the land of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Wellington, among others, undergoes a great change. Rich Gulf Arabs congregate in Knightsbridge, where the British aristocracy hangs out. The method of these old rich men of the Gulf is to walk around with a retinue of sidekicks and flunkies, the larger the retinue the more importance is implied. Many are influential leaders in their countries, yet they behave recklessly where women and sex are concerned. Some do not hesitate to throw their cell phone at any woman who attracts their interest, with the expectation that she will enter her own cell number into the phone and throw it back to the petro-lover. This mini-Olympiad often ends with a meeting that involves much liquid money. Sometimes, a few of the women end up retaining a lawyer's services and threatening a lawsuit for sexual harassment, and they get some hush money. Older Gulf Arab women also have their share of adventure in the world of love, but they do it more discreetly. They often discard the abaya and hijab, and die their hair to change their identity. Unfortunately for them, these women are quickly recognized as Gulf women from the way their bodies are too full in certain parts." Elaph.
It is a wonder the old goats don't get sued for violence and assault: a thrown cell phone can be awfully painful when it meets any part of a human body. Also, I recall that the poorer ones hung around Edgeware Road.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain, Hillary, UBL, Ahmadinejad, Qadhafi and All That

For a week or two John McCain and the Republicans were reduced to adopting one of their favorite punching bags, Hillary Clinton, as an ally. Hillary, much abused by the GOP over the past 16 years, is being used in TV ads to save the GOP from its own eight years of failed policies, both foreign and domestic. They have been essentially hiding behind her skirt, or pantsuit. Not to mention Britney Spears and Paris Hilton's whatever they wear.

Back in the real world- Arab media tour:
Arab media report that the Emir of Qatar, on a state visit to Iran, has invited President Ahmadinejad to attend the next summit of leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Except that the summit will not be in Doha this time, it will be in Muscat, Oman. Man o' man.
The world's most famous holocaust-denier, and GOP campaign mascot, did attend the last GCC summit at Doha. The better GOP mascot would be UBL, but he represents utter Republican failure to find him, dead or alive. McCain has promised to go in wherever UBL is and find him: maybe he will do that before next November? He did say that he has a plan for that. So did Nixon once say in '68 that he had a plan to end the Vietnam War, which turned out to be the invasion of Cambodia and the resurgence of the murderous Khmer Rouge. Nixon's plan, and Kissinger's, ended with the loss of all of Indo-China.

Algerian media report that the ruling party, ruling for the past 46 years, is getting ready to nominate current president Bouteflika for an unconstitutional third term. Bouteflika, in true Arab leadership fashion, is demurring, claiming he is not convinced of it. My eiyiees (that is a southern drawl).
Bouteflika means 'father of Teflika' or 'the one with a Teflika': but no one knows wtf a Teflika is. It sounds rather Greek to me than Arabic or even Berber. Teflika has a similar ring to it as sovlaki (dare I say even ouzu?). There are other Greek words that rhyme with Teflika, but I won't mention them here.

"The Chief of the Jordanian Diabetes Center, a former Health Minister, has said that half of Jordanian women over the age of 25 suffer from at least one serious disease. (It gets more interesting now) The official also said that 62% of Jordanian men suffer from sexual impotence problems to some degree. Ouch" Al-Khabar, Jordan.
Does this explain the phenomenon of rampant 'honor' killings in the country, sort of 'if you can't join them, kill them' ? But that would be the case if the only recognizable symbol of honor is.....anatomical. Oh well.

Lebanese legal authorities have issued an order for the arrest of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qadhafi. He is suspected in the disappearnce of the former leader of the Shi'a Amal movement in 1978. Imam Moussa al-Sadr disappeared during a visit to Libya in the summer of 1978, thirty years ago. The Libyans have always denied their responsibility for the disappearnce during the years of the Lebanese civil war. Except there are no records of al-Sadr ever leaving Libya or entering another country.

"A huge Saudi-American arms deal worth billions of dollars is waiting the return of Congress....The Saudis have taken a 'take it or leave it' attitude toward some demands that the deal be adjusted to meet Israeli concerns." Elaph.
"The Saudis note that they have other options. Recently a $4 billion arms deal was negotiated with Russia by chief of Saudi National Security, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan al-Saud, (he of other controversial famous arms deals). Ooops." Elaph

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In this post:
Iraq: Muqtada Goes Civilian.
Tribe Defeats God in Arabia.
Salafis vs Shi'as in Egypt.
Intelligence failure in Georgia?
Hypocrisy in Africa

Muqtada al-Sadr is into diversification: he has changed the bulk of his Mahdi Army into a religious and cultural unit, while keeping ad portion of it armed to 'resist the occupation'. This comes after prime Minsiter al-Maliki more than once publicly supported the idea of a timetable for American withdrawal from Iraq. Oddly, sentiment on the Iraqi street seems to have forced the neocons and the Bush administration to abandon the idea of permanent bases in Iraq, a foolish idea to start with. Iraqi opinion seems to be firmly with a timetable for withdrawal.
Out are Senator McCain's one hundred years of occupation a la Germany and Japan.

Tribe Defeats God in Arabia:
Alarabiya reports today on an unusual but all too common tribal celebration in a courtroom in Saudi Arabia. Members of one tribe became rowdy in celebrating their success in obtaining a decision to annul the marriage of a tribal woman to a man who is a 'stranger'.
'Stranger' in this case does not mean that he is a foreigner, or that he lives far away, or that he is Hindu, animist or bisexual. It means that the man is of a different tribe. Initially the father of the bride had agreed to the wedding, but other tribal 'men' objected strongly and applied strong pressure. The husband was threatened repeatedly, but refused to give up his wife.
The report says that after the court decision and the husband's agreement to end the marriage, all men of the tribe prostrated themselves in thanks to God for this decision. No strange man will penetrate that tribe, for now.
It did not say which God they prayed to: probably one of their own making, just like their pagan ancestors fifteen centuries earlier.

Salafis vs Shi'as in Egypt:
Elaph reports that Egypt has banned the annual celebrations of the birth of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and one of the most revered men to Shi'as. The media report that there is worry that there are too many Iraqi Shi'as in Egypt and that such celebrations may play into the hands of a Shia revival, whatever that means. There are active Salafi porganizations in Egypts who strongly oppose allowing Shi'a festivities, and even marriages between Shi'as and Sunnis. Leaders of these groups are men who had spent years in the Persian-American Gulf region and were closely associated with the Talibanesque Salafis of the Gulf who tend to be rabidly anti-Shi'a.
Historically Egyptians have been among the most tolerant of Arabs and there are shrines in Cairo to many historical figures revered by the Shi'as. Al-Azhar University itself was established by a Shi'a dynasty (the Fatimids) that ruled Egypt for some time.

Intelligence failure in Georgia?
The Russian incursion into Georgia is ruthless, but not as ruthless as that other earlier march through another Georgia: General Sherman's.
Still, what prompted the Georgian government to miscalculate so badly the Russian reaction to events in Ossetia? And did US intelligence not see the crisis coming to start with? Did they not predict the Russian reaction?

Hypocrisy in Africa:
The African Union which organizes inter-African official meetings and almost nothing else, has spoken about the coup in Mauritania. It has suspended Mauritanian membership. The response is good and extremely hypocritical.
Africa is full of regimes that are either unelected or organize phony elections where the leader rules for life. Look at Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, etc.
Oddly, many in the media of Arab regimes have also criticized the coup as undemocratic, which it is. The coup government is undemocratic as almost all other Arab regimes.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Media Tour:
"The wealthy begin to feel the pain in down economy..." Drudge Report 8/4/08
So instead of coke the celebs go back to.....ecstasy?
Besides, help is on the way: John McCain has promised to reduce their taxes some more.

I thought Paris Hilton's energy policy was better than the other two candidates for president- at least the version in her free video, no, the recent video. Her special effects were better than McCain's, especially when he looked like a mummy, and she sounded more credible, perhaps because she is not seeking elective office yet. She was, however, short on details.

"Many Iranians confront poverty while the Mullahs confront America." Middle East Online, 8/4/08

"President George W Bush has led America during two terms marked with setbacks and catastrophes. He has waged two failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has pushed the economy into a depression (probably means 'recession' here). He has burdened the federal budget with a deficit of $450 billion, after he had inherited a huge surplus from his predecessor. It is not far-fetched for Mr. Bush to respond again to recent Israeli provocations and urgings and resort to the military option against Iran in a desperate attempt to salvage a political and military legacy that has so far been full of failures and defeats." Alquds Alarabi, London.

"It was no coincidence for U.S Secratary of State Condi Rice to order all foreign minister of the moderate Arab states to meet with her at Abu Dhabi while she was en route to Asia. She made sure to bring along Mr. Burns who met the Iranians in Geneve." Alquds Alarabi, London.

"Iran is playing with fire by being uncooperative with the West. She will be attacked just as Iraq was." Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi, on a visit to Tunisia.

"It warms my heart to see Mr. Bin Ali running for a sixth term as president of Tunisia." Colonel Qadhafi who, like all other Arab leaders has never heard of term limits or losing an election. BTW: what is an election?

Wages of Sinning by Telephone in Arabia:
A Saudi appeals court (I did not know they had those) has upheld a sentence of flogging and prison for a Saudi academic and one of his female students. He was sentenced to a flogging of 600 lashes and 8 months prison, she was sentenced to 350 lashes and 4 months in prison. They will both need to spend the months in a hospital ICU, if they survive the lashes.
He is accused of establishing an illicit relationship with her over the telephone (seriously) and encouraging her to break up her marriage. Talking over telephone with an un-related woman is considered a form of sinning in parts of the moderate New Middle East. She is accused of breaking up her marriage. All this was allegedly done through telephone conversations about her research paper.

The husband had sued after he had agreed to the divorce (for a price of Saudi Riyal -Real en Espanol- 70,000 paid by the wife to the husband for her freedom). The good husband took the money, granted the divorce, but sued one week later, after the money was safely in the bank.

The professor has declared that he refuses the sentences although it is not clear how he can stop them, unless he has access to the royal palace.

Wages of getting stoned in Arabia:
On the subject of the law and judicial justice: police in Dubai reported yesterday that they have busted a Saudi judge and his wife for possession and use of Hashish in a hotel room. Initially Saudi authorities were quick to deny that the man was a Saudi judge, the ministry of justice denied that he was on their list of judges. But now alarabiya (Saudi) reports that an attorney for the Saudi consulate in Dubai will defend his honor the judge, who turns out to be a judge after all.

The media were quick to report that the arrested wife is in fact the judge's second wife and that she is 'Moroccan'- hinting that a native Saudi woman would never be caught dead smoking Hashish, and even if she smoked she would never inhale, and even if she inhaled she wouldn't like it. In either case, she would never consent for a stoned husband.
And to prove it: they report that the man's first wife, a conventional and definitely 'square' Saudi of course, was with them at the same hotel, but staying at a different room.They had, all three of them, arrived from Cairo. I guess the judge made the rounds in the hotel, unless he was into groups.
No word yet if the first wife was the one who ratted on the blissful couple. The man's othere wives, if he has others, were not with them in Dubai.

Alarabiya volunteers to share with us that the judge was a good straight man, you might say an average decent Saudi, before he married the Moroccan wife. He was just an average Saudi judge who sentenced people to such things as flogging and sentenced poor people to public beheadings for committing such crimes as murder, resorting to witchcraft, committing adultery, or smoking Hashish.
I wonder what the punishment in Dubai is for smoking Hashish with one's second Moroccan wife in a hotel suite while the first wife is in another room at the same hotel?

And so it goes in the moderate tribal New Middle East with the famous birth pangs that Condi Rice mentioned in the summer of 2006 while the Southern suburb of Beirut was burning.
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