Friday, June 27, 2008

internet problems

I am in the Middle East right now, and I've had problems getting internet access (sometimes lack of internet, sometimes too busy with work). I won't be posting much until early September, since i don't know when I will have access. Sorry about that. Please subscribe to my RSS feed to see when I return.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Top Stories 06/16

Asia Times - Iraq takes a turn toward Tehran: an interesting look at the pressures on the Iraqi PM .

Gulf News (UAE) - they don't really have a "top story." They have news updates by time, and then top stories by region, etc. Here's the local top story - Dubai panel to probe learner drivers' failurese.

Yemen Times - Bani Hushaish residents' lives deteriorate as security measures escalate: this area is being blockaded because rebels (Houthi's) are hiding out there. Here's a quote from the government: "When they begin to starve and their source of income is interrupted, they will eventually hand over the Houthis in their area.

Tehran Times - Islamic world must have permanent Security Council seat: Leader:
the Ayatollah is calling for an Islamic country to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Currently, there are 5 permanent members: US, UK, Russia, France, China. That's because this dates back to the end of World War II. The winners got the Security Council. I think Italy is also making noise about wanting to be a permanent member.

Homesexuality in the Middle East

Weird court case in Switzerland. An American man says he was assaulted by an Emirati prince, when he rejected the prince's advances. The prince admits to a scuffle, which he says was after he was accused of being gay. This got me thinking about homosexuality in general. In the Middle East, the subject is pretty taboo. In some countries it's also punishable by death. That doesn't mean it never happens, of course. You hear stories of Saudi princesses being able to have fun when they're out of the country. That made me think of homosexual princes doing the same thing.

The Risks of Blogging

Blogging can be a risky business in some countries. You've seen the link to Fouad al-Farhan on this blog, and luckily, he was released. Many are not. The BBC has an article about the increase of blogging and arrests for blogging.

Terror in the UAE?

The United Arab Emirates is a very rich country, and somewhat modern. So far they've managed to avoid terror attacks at home. Now the British government is warning its citizens that they may be at risk. Frankly, I have wondered in the past why attacks take place in certain areas. Yemen has an al-Qa'eda cell and gets attacks. The same for Saudi Arabia. When the US was attacked on 9/11, that was a "big message" from the terrorists. Dubai is a major symbol of modernity and wealth in the Arab world. So why hasn't it been attacked yet? Is it that difficult, or is some of the funding coming from there? I'm not a psychologist, but I would think that Bin Laden would see Dubai as a symbol of Western decadence, or something like that. Yet things seem to be peaceful over there. So is Dubai a ticking time-bomb or a source of terrorist funding?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bahrain's Jewish Ambassador

I missed this one while I was on vacation. Bahrain appointed a new ambassador to the US, and it's a woman - a Jewish woman. For those who don't know, yes, there are still Jews living in Arab countries (though not as many since 1948). There's speculation about what this means: is Bahrain trying to make a statement, hoping to cover up other human rights abuses? See Mideast Youth article, BBC article.

Saudi Sportswomen

Yes, Muslim women do participate in sports. Of course, in Saudi Arabia, they have to do it unofficially. I think women should be allowed to participate as much as they want. If they are strict Muslims, they can cover up and still participate, except for events like swimming. But I cannot understand why some scholars still don't think women should be allowed in sports. This BBC article suggests that perhaps Saudi women will be allowed in the Olympics in London, if the right people suggest that the men might not be allowed to compete without them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Discoveries Galore!

Panorama (a BBC investigative show) says that $23 billion (yes billion!) is missing in Iraq. Stolen, lost, missing, etc. $23 BILLION. But we can't discuss it, because of a gag order in the US. How dare we discuss that missing money and who may have absconded with it! It probably breaks national security or something.

A cave in Jordan may be the oldest Christian church ever found. They're still discussing the issue.

And some Iraqi antiquities, confiscated in the US, are on their way home to Baghdad. The looting of antiquities was a big problem. Loss of life is the worst tragedy, but after the big stuff like that, the loss of history in Iraq is really appalling.

Iran Knows Geography

They just created some kind of Islamic geography software:

"79 books with their contexts in two languages of Farsi and Arabic in theme of general geography, biography of personalities, city maps( 3548 cities) and travel books"

And at some point they'll put it up on the Internet.

Will you marry me? Today?

A strange one out of Iran. One of the state-owned companies has decided that its employees need to be married. And they have until September to do it. Supposedly there are a lot of prostitutes around, and this will help get rid of them. I guess if you're married, you've got sex at home.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Another update

Now that I'm back, I'm getting ready to travel to the Middle East for a while. :) I will be blogging while I'm there, but if you've been paying attention, sometimes access to Blogger/Blogspot gets shut down every now and then. So don't be alarmed if you don't hear from me occasionally. Hopefully my normal schedule of blogging will continue, or even pick up!

Top Stories 06/09

Yes - I'm back!

Turkish Daily News - No art allowed in front of Art Basel: Art Besel is "world's largest international contemporary art fair" but a street singer was removed because she wasn't registered with the fair.

Al-Ahram - Bottomless basket: article on the Arab-Israeli conflict and where it may go next. Supposedly Olmert may invade Gaza.

Gulf Times (Qatar) - Protests over rising fuel prices spread: Women protested in India, and truckers protested in other countries.

Syria Today - SIIB continues to expand: Syrian International Islamic Bank opened some new branches, and opened headquarters in Damascus.