Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California? [New York Times] San Francisco bakeries have tried and tried again to replicate the chewy, crusty perfection of New York’s specialty. They are still trying. [more inside]
How the north ended up on top of the map is an article by Nick Danforth, author/curator of (The/Mid) Afternoon Map blog, detailing how the north-up orientation came to be the default orientation, looking beyond Eurocentrism to Byzantine monks and Majorcan Jews who set the path for modern cartography. If you want more information, you might enjoy the Wikipedia article on the history of cartography, or you can really dig deep with the three-volume text, The History of Cartography, which is available in full from the University of Chicago Press online, split into individual PDFs for each chapter. [more inside]
Dr. Jason Hickel, LSE lecturer who was born and brought up in Swaziland, writes on Transparency International's latest Corruption Perception Index and its eyecatching global map. Here's a tiny snippet to encourage you to read the rest of the article on Al Jazeera:
Many international development organisations hold that persistent poverty in the Global South is caused largely by corruption among local public officials. In 2003 these concerns led to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which asserts that, while corruption exists in all countries, this "evil phenomenon" is "most destructive" in the global South, where it is a "key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development". There's only one problem with this theory: It's just not true.[more inside]
Marc Lynch reviews Amaney Jamal's Of Empires & Citizens, which argues that "anti-Americanism has very little to do with cultural resentments or civilizational hatred... Instead, Arab anti-Americanism reflects a deeper rejection of undemocratic political systems in Arab countries, which for decades have been underwritten and supported by the United States."
From the BBC blog of documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis: "Save Your Kisses For Me: How the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Israeli Right became co-dependents in an abusive relationship." Includes images / film clips from the BBC news archive. [more inside]
Galleries of old photographs of camels in America, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, China, Mongolia and India, in war | camel breeds | How the Camel Got His Hump from Camel Tales, Folklore & Legends| baby camels and lots more at this one stop site all about Camels. Previously.
"The Beatles and the Rolling Stones rule pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world...and me and my brother ruled London." Reginald "Reggie" Kray and his twin brother Ronald "Ronnie" Kray were the foremost perpetrators of organized crime in London's East End during the 1950s and 1960s. [more inside]
With East Africa facing its worst drought in 60 years, affecting more than 11 million people, the United Nations has declared a famine in the region for the first time in a generation. Alan Taylor's In Focus quickly brings home the scale of the suffering, with a link to the CNN article listing several ways to donate.
Gulf states send forces to Bahrain following protests: authorities urged the population to "co-operate fully and to welcome" the troops.
The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil: "our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever."
Octavia Nasr Canned at CNN. CNN's Chief Middle East correspondent for 20 years, Octavia Nasr tweeted “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” She was fired by CNN shortly afterward because they believed "her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward".
The world's next Coca-Cola or Starbucks is more likely to emerge from Asia, the Middle East or South America They comprise Juan Valdez Café, a Colombian coffee chain; Almarai, a Saudi dairy and fruit-juice company based in Riyadh; Patchi, a Lebanese boutique chocolate chain; ChangYu, China's biggest wine producer; and United Spirits, India's largest liquor group, which owns Scotch whisky Whyte and Mackay.
What if Akon (the rapper) was from the Middle East? How about 50 Cent? Maybe Britney, The Pussycat Dolls or Shakira?
India, as she is today, was carved out of British India, in 1947 when the left and right hand sides of the country became the new nation of Pakistan (East and West) respectively. While the history of Islamic influence and subsequent tolerance and intolerance goes back centuries to the first advent of the Mughal invasion, it has been said that the post Independence troubles of the modern nations of India and Pakistan stem from this sundering. In 1971, war brought forth Bangladesh from the former East Pakistan on India's eastern border. The Partition, as this holocaust is known, embedded in current day Indian memory, history, culture, movies, books, TV serials and music, was an unimaginable horror of slaughter and bloodshed. This separation was not in the plans of the Mahatma, and it is said he was assassinated by Hindu fundamentalists for letting it happen. What future awaits the Hindus and Muslims who have lived side by side for hundreds of years?
"The Vital Triangle: China, the United States, and the Middle East"- seeking to understand the effects of the China-Middle East relationship on the United States, the U.S. Middle East relationship on China, and the Sino-American relationship on the Middle East. Book excerpts (Chapter 1) (Chapter 3). Interview with Jon Alterman, co-author. Via the very useful SUSRIS.
The individualism-collectivism split between Eastern and Western cultures is well known but it's origin somewhat of a mystery. Now a team of researchers has come up with a surprising explanation: disease-causing microbes.
An art exhibition depicting some of the differences between eastern and western culture, using iconography. Examples include but are not limited to “opinions,” “waiting in a queue,” and “leaders.” And a couple more.
Israel not talking. Syria says little. US silent. Syria claimed it chased away the Israeli plane. But since then Syria has said nothing. Nor has Israel. And this news item from BBC says that the intrusion into Syrian airspace is a mystery. But why would N. Korea, Syria, Israel and the US be so reticent to comment? Perhaps because Israel took out a nuke site
One of the few to speak the truth about the Middle East, God-like journalist Robert Fisk holds more international journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent. He has covered every major event in the region for the past thirty years. He rarely gives interviews to anyone, but agreed to talk to edgey/angry youth culture magazine, Vice, about his life in the danger-zone.
Sheik Mohamed, ruler of Dubai, has pledged to donate $10 billion to set up an organization devoted to improving human development in the Middle East. Recognizing that the Middle East lags behind in areas of human development, particularly education, the visionary ruler of Dubai, and avid horse breeder, who has transformed the Persian Gulf port into the financial center for the Middle East and South Asia, has announced one of the largest charitable gifts in history to improve education and human development in the region.
He fought battles on the Plain of Jars, hid his rebel faction in caves for nine years to escape U.S bombs and now has a huge museum in Vientiane. Laos' Kaysone Phomvihane is not the most well documented 20th century communist leader. And not everybody is happy about him of course. But if you want to judge him for yourself go to Laos and visit those caves or visit his humble residence and have a look at his tennis shoes.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali-Infidel from the Middle East Controversial dutch author, film maker, atheist, critic of Islam, and feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali Has been making the rounds for her book, Infidel. She says: the only way to preserve Islam on the one hand and counter them as moderate Muslims is to say "Well you guys are right. All this stuff is in the Qu'ran. The Qu'ran is written by human beings. And as human beings, endowed with reason, we can change this because we don't think that it's beneficial. Or even if we are not going to change it, we are going to believe that in its context, because the Qu'ran was written in a different time, in a different context, in a different age. We're going to move on; we're going to take from the Qu'ran those things that we think are compatible with human hearts." But the minute you start doing that, that's when hell comes in, and the radicals will say "Oh, but then you are not a believer because you are refuting what God says." Also: "What is going to be left of Saudi Arabia if you take away the Qu'ran and the Shar'ia and the prophet. There's simply going to be no Saudi state. They'll all want secularism; they'll all want democracy."
The Last Jews of Cairo As soon as we saw the guns, we knew we’d arrived at the synagogue. Egyptian policemen thronged behind barricades, white uniforms in the dusk, handguns at their hips. Above them, on stairs, Special Forces soldiers in black with red armbands held machine guns as easily as we did point-and-shoot cameras.
Baker to the rescue Is this guy the most powerful lawyer in the world? And he is now beginning not just to advise Bush but also it seems to dump Israel as an ally in favor of giving various Arab and Muslim groups--including our enemies-- what they have long wished for. As for the tiny democracy called Israel, they can have this for their future. Follow the dough (and oil)
An official comic book adaptation of the 9/11 commission report is due to hit bookstores this month. The U.S. Army seeks an Arabic-speaking comic book creator. Meanwhile, an Israeli blogger suspects a Kuwaiti company of misusing Marvel and DC comics. These are just the latest incidents in a long-running history of using comic books for propaganda purposes, ranging from Mussolini and Hitler to Captain America vs. the Nazi-affiliated Red Skull to anticommunist comics for Catholic parochial schools to a phony Black Panther comic book created by COINTELPRO to a comic book of the American invasion of Grenada. However, my favorite site of comic book propaganda tends to focus on more innocuous domestic issues such as bicycle safety, USDA nutrition standards, and fighting crack cocaine. (OK, that last issue isn't so innocuous, but comic book propaganda about health & safety issues still generally blows.)
IRAQ RADIO: Turkish soldiers Enter Northern Iraq by Chan News Agency: The 1st division comander of Iraq's Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) Fahmi Sofi, claimed that about 200 Turkish soldiers entered two kelometers into northern Iraq on Wednesday. His statement came from the Voice of Iraqi Radio.......
US plotted to invade Iran: explosive report, Rolling Stone adds new fuel to fire over possible Iran strike. Even before the bombs fell on Baghdad, a group of senior Pentagon officials were plotting to invade another country. Their covert campaign once again relied on false intelligence and shady allies. But this time, the target was Iran. BY JAMES BAMFORD
History of the Israel/Paestinian conflict from a pro-Israel point of view. Like many Americans I have no real idea what's going on "over there." Also like many Americans when I need some "truthiness" in the answers to my questions, I consult Canada and the UK. NPR can be trusted up to a point (drawn from a previous thread), but it's also good to hear from the other side too.
IN THE PARTY OF GOD This is archival from New Yorker but well-worth know in light of events taking place in Middle East.
Emirates Aided Kin of Palestinian Militants The American people, for reasons of possible anti-Arab feelings, made it clear that the Arab Emirates were not to gain control over our ports, despite the statements from the White House that this group is our friend and a partner in the fight against terrorism. Despite our 'friendship," there is now this evidence to the contrary. But will this news be sufficient to prevent Dubai's $1.2 Bln Bid for U.S. Weapons Maker ?
Have you got ICE in your mobile? "Following the disaster in London . . . East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national "In case of Emergency (ICE)" campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston. The idea is that you store the word "ICE" in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency". LINK.
Blogger goes to a nyc chinatown fish market, buys a fish, and then sets the twenty pounder free. A photo essay. but the question is, will it live?
What do you do if it's 1979 and you are a sixteen year old in East Germany? Your Mom and her boyfriend, an officer in the intelligence service, have decided to defect. If you are Thomas Wagner, you wait twenty-odd years, and then you post the whole experience to your blog.
Conflict resolution: Western and Islamic Mediation approaches.
"We're press! Don't shoot!" Isn't PRESS on a flak jacket like painting bullseyes on your butt? The Israel Defense Forces have declared Bethlehem, Qalqiliya and Ramallah officially off-limits, and journalists will either be forcibly removed or in some cases shot on sight. The Committee to Protect Journalists is just one of many organizations speaking out against the unethical treatment of First Ammendment fighters throughout the world. Like this is gonna help. Should enemies of freedom be expected to 'play fair' or should we just accept that some journalists are going to die? Is it possible to investigate the truth right now in the West Bank, or are journalists needlessly putting their lives on the line for nothing?
Looking the World in the Eye Huntington, a Harvard prof., lays out his vision for the future of the clash of civilizations in an article in The Atlantic Monthly. The main points are- • The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples' everywhere thinking as we do. • Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence. • Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cul tural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past. • The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese— that think differently. • In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.
Here's an interesting take on the whole western ideals v eastern ideals idea. The collapse of the Soviet Union as harbinger of the collapse of the west? Well, maybe not from the perspective of your average neo-libertarian. From the perspective of someone who didn't buy into the Enlightenment, from where springs both liberal democracy and marxism, then it may just look like one process. Interesting article from the 'Other Side of the Hill'.