Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart "The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Falluja."
Where are they now? The Guardian UK catches up with a few aging icons of the Punk Rock scene.
In 2011, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi (Arabic: سلطان سعود القاسمي) was lauded for his Twitter stream where he provided English translations of news and events of Arab Spring. A year earlier, the cultural commentator started the Barjeel Art Foundation, serving as a patron and promoter for artists from all over the Arab world: Syrian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Jordanian, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. "I don't buy artworks that I think are pretty and aesthetically appealing," he says. "But I buy art that is politically meaningful." Arab Art Redefined: How art collector Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi is trying to change the narrative (2 minute slideshow with narration by Sultan Al-Qassemi on how he collects and shares art).
So as not to bury the lede, Dutch archaeologists Found a 2,800 year old document that corroborates the Old Testament story of Balaam. Some background: Balaam was a guy in the bible. He had a talking donkey and, according to some, was constipated. [more inside]
Amid the social and political transformations reshaping the Middle East, can King Abdullah II, the region's most pro-American Arab leader, liberalize Jordan, modernize its economy, and save his kingdom from capture by Islamist radicals? - Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic
Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building. Wright Thompson of ESPN: The Magazine profiles Michael Jordan as he turns 50 and finds himself in a world where his body may age, but his obsessive drive to compete never goes away.
A brilliant young Harvard Ph.D. faces jail for impersonating a Bible scholar—and rival of his father [more inside]
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]
The Way They Were (SLYT... 1:07:45 'The tape fails there!')... an old Granada / Channel 4 program that was a compilation of Tony Wilson's So It Goes a show that featured performances from some of the best British Punk and New Wave bands of the time.
SOFEX: The Business of War (video, ad). VICE magazine reports on 'experiencing the military-industrial complex's trade show' [more inside]
"My daughter thought it would be funny/rebellious/cool to post on her Facebook wall just how upset she was and how unfair her life here is; how we work her too hard with chores, never pay her for chores, and just in general make her life difficult. She chose to share this with the entire world on Facebook and block her parents from seeing it. Well, umm... she failed. As of the end of this video, she won't have to worry anymore about posting inappropriate things on Facebook..." (youtube video, contains cursing) Background. Original thread on Facebook.
The push for Chicago as the 2016 Olympic-host city is gearing up, and even the usually reclusive Michael Jordan has publicly declared his support. Jordan also appears in this recently released ad that features testimonials from other former Chicago Olympians such as Jackie-Joyner Kersee, Greg Louganis, and many more.
“There’s culture shock, and then there’s the culture shock of moving to a country that started a war in your home.”
"The war has uprooted 4.7 million people from their homes. So where are they?" With the election of Obama and the economic crisis, the topic of Iraq has fallen by the wayside. As hard as things may be right now, Iraqis have been going through far worse for years now. If you're curious about what they have to say, hear them tell it in their own words. Iraqi Refugee Stories. [more inside]
The Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land is a comprehensive spatially-referenced database of current archaeological knowledge of all periods of Levantine history and prehistory. Spatial search is a good entry point, as are the Palestine Exploration Fund historic maps. You can also search by time period or dig into the many ancient Empires of the area. Or just look at everything in the database. The site is a work in progress, but a cool one powered by a consortium of over 30 professional archaeologists. May require Google Maps. via
R.I.P. Robert Jordan (1948-2007). The author of the best-selling fantasy series The Wheel of Time succumbed to amyloidosis this afternoon.
The Hamas-Fatah civil war seems to be winding down in Gaza. Meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli bloggers discuss the idea that the West Bank will go into confederation with Jordan; leaving Gaza to the Egyptians.
Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
Massive tunnels for peace. Russia is considering building a tunnel under the Bering Strait that would include pipelines, high-speed rails, and a highway, though earlier plans have not gotten far, at least for the last ten millennia. Another large tunnel project under consideration that hopes to encourage mutual understanding is the Red-Dead Canal, which would irrigate the deserts of Jordan and Israel, generate electricity, and refill the Dead Sea using water flowing from the Red Sea to the lowest point on Earth.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
Please enjoy this remarkable rendition of a classic Disney tune from Britain's fabulous Jordan(mildly nsfw).
Slashdot interview with Jordanian blogger Isam Bayazidi, focusing on open source in the Arabic world.
Newsfilter: "France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward." Ray Nagin seeks international assistance after a certain superpower comes up short. [via Humid City]
A rose red city half as old as time. Petra, which means "stone" in Greek, is perhaps the most spectacular ancient city remaining in the modern world. The city was the capital of the Nabateans - Arabs who dominated the lands of Jordan during pre-Roman times - and they carved this wonderland of temples, tombs and elaborate buildings out of solid rock nearly 3000 years ago. By the end of the Byzantine Empire (circa A.D. 700), the once dignified and gracious buildings in the center of town had deteriorated to near ruins. For centuries, Petra fell into the mists of legend, its existence a guarded secret known only to the local Bedouins and Arab tradesmen. Finally, in 1812, a young Swiss explorer and convert to Islam named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt heard locals speaking of a "lost city" hidden in the mountains of Wadi Mousa. Burckhardt disguised himself as a pilgrim seeking to make a sacrifice at the tomb of Aaron. He managed to bluff his way through successfully, and the secret of Petra was revealed to the modern Western world.
At a time when several Arab regimes are at least feinting toward political reform, Jordan is goose-stepping backward. Freedom of assembly has been restricted, and the threshold for dissent has been ratcheted down as political prisoners accumulate and oppositionists are rattled out of bed for interrogation. Journalists have been intimidated or bribed into spying on colleagues and sources. Street demonstrations have been all but eliminated by laws that require protesters to carry permits that are prohibitively difficult to obtain... Corruption, defiantly uninhibited compared with the low-key looting that percolated under the late King Hussein, has soared. And although diplomats tend to absolve Abdullah of wrongdoing--he is deceived, they imply, by courtiers scheming behind his back--a growing number of Jordanians believe that the 43-year-old monarch is not only aware of the plundering but may be very much a part of it.
Letter From Jordan
Letter From Jordan
Bridging the rift. A joint Israeli/Jordanian biological research centre straddling the border between the two nations is set to become operational in the near future. Scientists from Cornell and Stanford are involved as well. See what it'll look like (big PDF), and learn why studies of biosalinity and other forms of extreme biology are important.
Michael Jordan Tried to Steal My Date is just one of a number of stories in the Washington CityPaper this week, looking back at the good and bad of having 'MJ' in our city... even if it wasn't meant to last.
Ability vs. Guile. If you've seen the latest Gatorade commercial where 39 year old Michael Jordan plays against himself circa his 85 - 86 Bulls era and wondered "how'd they do that?", here's a very cool description of one of the neatest tricks I've seen recently.
The King of the Jukebox who disturbed the status quo They called rock music jump blues during the World War II era, and this amazingly talented clown was its master, with over fifty Top 10 R&B hits -- eighteen reached #1 -- between 1942 and 1951. Chuck Berry identified with him "more than any other artist." James Brown said, "He was everything" and considered him one of the earliest rappers. A pioneer of music video, the first black artist to cross over from the "race" market to a white audience and a central link between big bands and rock, he was a primary influence on Bill Haley, Ray Charles and B.B. King, who once said, "I wanted to be like him." Rest in peace, Louis Jordan. [Dozens of one-minute song clips here]
Judge declares terrorism detainments unconstitutional (NYTimes link) - A federal judge in NY has ruled that the Justice Department abused the material witness statute when it imprisoned a Jordanian college student living in San Diego. The Justice Dept is, of course, appealing the ruling.
Hamas accepts Saudi peace plan:
"There has been generation after generation (of war). Now there is a generation who needs to live in peace, and not worry about their safety," said [Hamas executive Ismail Abu] Shanab. "So it is a generation that wants to practice living in peace and postpone historical issues. We speak of historical Palestine, and practical reality."Since their official position is that "Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason" (Hamas Charter, Article 32), this is a dramatic change in policy indeed. I'm gobsmacked; this is utterly unbelievable, yet apparently real. And genuinely hopeful IMHO. What do you think?
The only moral and practical answer that there has ever been to this question: partition, territorial compromise, a two-state solution, the establishment of a Palestinian state in most of the occupied territories with security arrangements in the Jordan Valley and identity arrangements in Jerusalem. An analysis that I can live with from The New Repuclic.
Will Amman cut off diplomatic relations with Israel? Jordan in turmoil over mideast chaos. I knew the U.S. gave some 3 billion to Israel yearly, and 2 billion to Egypt, but I had known we are also generous to Jordan too, though the total amount unknown. to me. It was of course Jordan who had the West Bank under their control but gave it up after the '67war, while also absorbing many Palestinians. Now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost. Thus another country that may soon topple its rulers in this volatile area of the world.
What now? Fashion profiling? (NYT) For the third time in 48 hours, an alert Israeli foiled an attempted suicide bombing on Tuesday. Near the West Bank settlement of Mehola in the Jordan Valley, a bus driver, Shalom Drei, thought a man climbing onto the second step of the bus looked suspicious. "He wore an aviator's jacket, zipped all the way up," Mr. Drei told Israeli television. "It looked strange to me." Mr. Drei pushed the stranger back off the bus, then, as the bus pulled away, the man exploded.
Osama Bin Laden - The Musical? A new play, being performed in the Jordanian capital Amman, is inspiring a rare glimmer of humour about the world's most wanted man. In one joke, Osama bin Laden tells the audience that he is ready to travel to Washington to hand himself over to US President George Bush but on one condition - "You come with me and I fly the plane!" The musical satire, written by actor/director Hisham Yanes, provokes laughter in about 70% of the audience, he says. The rest want to see him lashed. (Via alt.muslim)
Nike Air Jordan XVII priced at 200.00. Nike unviels this years prize court shoe that comes complete with metal carrying case and CD. But $200? Thats a wholelota Doritos yo!
Jordanian king pulls a Princess Jasmine. According to the report, King Abdullah II occasionally dons a disguise and slips out of his palace to mingle with the plebes and check up on the efficiency of government offices. What a cool idea. I picture George W. disguising himself as a migrant farm worker and applying for welfare. Nah...the Bally loafers would probably give him away...