Archive for Middle East

I’m Baaaaaack!

It took me a few days to recover from those horrible pre-spring break midterms my professors cooked up for us (I love my professors, really, I just wish there weren’t so many tests in one week). But, I’m rested and raring to go. So, a quick wrap up of the news I’ve missed: Read the rest of this entry »


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Cheney Despondent

Cheney’s crying his eyes out, not for the 23 people that died in explosion that was meant for him, but because he won’t get that newest, bestest toy that he’s been wanting forever: war with Iran. Turns out those “super IED’s” (or EFP’s, explosively formed penetrators) that could only have been made in Iran, were in fact made in Iraq, from parts bought on the open market in many countries other than Iran.

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A Huge Step Forward

Great news out of Egypt tonight. The Grand Mufti of Egypt (one of the most respected scholars of Islamic law) has issued a fatwa saying that premarital hymen reconstructive surgery is halal (religiously permissable), and that women don’t need to tell their future husbands about it. He even went so far as to say that a woman is under no obligation to tell her husband that she had premarital sex if she has repented. I can’t be sure, since I can’t find the actual fatwa, but the newspaper article made it seem like this applies even to adultery.

The best part? Another scholar (Shiekh Khaled El Gindy) has chimed in, saying that the reason for this fatwa is that “Islam never differentiates between men and women, so it is not rational for us to think that God has placed a sign to indicate the virginity of women without having a similar sign to indicate the virginity of men.” Apparently he also has a similar sense of humor as I do, since he added that “Any man who is concerned about his prospective wife’s hymen should first provide a proof that he himself is virgin.” (I want to meet this guy!)

So, next time someone tells you that Islam is inherently misogynistic, point them here. It’s happening slowly, but it’s making strides.

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No Shit, Joe

Joe Lieberman wants a “war tax.” This is where my high school English teacher would have written “NS.”. Duh! Every war we’ve been in, we’ve raised taxes, and it’s controversial whether we should raise them now? We’re spending billions a day on Iraq, and the debt is up $3 trillion since Bush entered office, and it’s controversial? We have become the ultimate taxophobic society, willing to sell our children into slavery to China rather than pay another 4 or 5 percent in income taxes. The Scandinavian countries have income tax rates approaching 80% and some of the most stable and productive economies, while the U. S. has an obscenely low maximum rate of 35% and an economy that tanks at the slightest ripple.

Okay, got that venom out.

As Alon Levy pointed out, I screwed up a bit. I originally said that Scandinavian countries have income tax rates approaching 50%, rather than 80%.

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Munich, Belfast, and New York

I just finished watching Munich (which I’ve never done in one sitting before), and was struck by the absolute stupidity of Mossad in Operation Wrath of God. I sympathize with the Israelis’ desire for vengeance: I felt a similar desire after September 11th. But. (There’s always a “but.”) There is no point in vengeance, not in the struggles we face against militant groups. As we started to prepare for the invasion of Afghanistan, we saw a new piece of doublespeak: the War on Terror. The War on Terror? Even if you set aside the idiocy of waging war on a tactic and say that it’s a war against al Qaeda, there’s the unavoidable fact that we could never win.
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I’m a little late posting this, but Ali Eteraz posted this absolutely beautiful piece on his blog. It’s an arrangement by the Symphony Orchestra of Bosnia-Herzegovina of the adhan and a Sufi chant.

Next time someone calls Arabs “barbarians” or “backwards” I won’t know whether to hit them, laugh, or play this.

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Al Franken Running for Senate

Al Franken “will definitely challenge Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008.” Obviously, kicking Norm out would be wonderful—he gets perfect or near perfect scores on conservative score cards (especially “pro-life” ones), and nearly universal disapproval from liberal ones (especially peace-oriented groups). I’m not sure I like Al Franken a lot, though. First of all, he is unconditionally pro-Israel. Second, he’s friends with G. Gordon Liddy. You know, the guy who broke into a hotel at the behest of a paranoid-delusional president to bug the rooms of some Democrats? So, support Franken, but keep an eye on him.

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