Category Archives: news

Something is Happening in Saudi Arabia

Arrests of princes? Unheard of. But it just happened. NYT offers this blurb to explain

Taming the powerful religious establishment may bring historic change to Saudi Arabia, where the royal family has always governed in consensus with clerics.

It is not yet clear whether the arrests are more than just a bid by the crown prince to consolidate power and reduce corruption.

But if indeed the arrests lead to less Saudi support for radical Islamic causes, we could see a change in the so called “war against terrorism”.

Stay tuned!

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Catalonia has declared independence from Spain

A headline like that gets your attention.

Here is the link to the BI article describing the current state of affairs.

Post referendum negotiations broke down. While it is not impossible that they will start up again, the crisis also has its own momentum. At a certain point, it becomes more difficult for either side to make concessions.

I am not an expert on the issues involved in this particular conflict. At the same time, I do know that the Catalans have historical reasons to see themselves as separate from Span. One question will be how will any solution to this conflict take this historical reality into account.

BTW, one might say the same for the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Is there a place in this world for a people who historically have their own identity to govern themselves?

Stay tuned on this one.

The Galizia Case is Opened

This blurb from NYT tells you what you need to know about recently assassinated Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Daphne Caruana Galizia enraged dozens of powerful people with investigations that exposed corruption. Virtually nobody expects her killing to be solved.

Wikipedia offers more detail

This was her last blog post

, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate

She didn’t realize how correct she was.  A very short time later, she was killed when a car bomb under her car was remotely detonated. BTW, that is the 5th car bombing this year in Malta.

 

Raqqa Has Fallen!

ISIS has lost its capital.

U.S.-backed militias have completely taken Syria’s Raqqa from Islamic State, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

The conflict that drew US into combat in Syria is now a mopping up operation. But I doubt if US forces are going anywhere. Fighting between the various tribes and factions continues and will continue until some sort of peace deal is worked out.

Stay tuned on that one. But at least we can now saw that the self proclaimed Caliphate has been crushed.

Back Home in Tartu

I have just returned from my trip to the States! It’s great to be home again!

Not too long ago, August was a time when Americans took a break from the news.   It was a time, for example, when we could laugh at Jimmy Carter fending off a killer rabbit from a row boat. Anyone remember that one? I loved the opportunity to retreat from the buzz and chill out. By way of contrast, this August, we got a threat of nuclear war with North Korea, terror attacks, Charlottesville, and the president riffing on the fine neo-Nazis doing their thing in Ccharlotesville. I need a break from my break!

BTW, I am not ht eonly one. VC Al Wenger wrote this in his “blogging break farewell”

I will be disabling all notifications on my phone and checking email only twice a day. Given all the craziness here in the US and elsewhere in the world, I have been spending too much time on news and I am looking forward to this break to dial things down.

The “checking e mail only twice per day” speaks volumes about where we are these days.

The suprising thing is that the above tsunami of horrendous news bites was not a surprise at all. It is just par for the course these days and Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House is not likely to change this.

So what will change this? Getting beyond Trump will help. While no one knows how the Trumpster’s tenure in the White House will play out, there are signs that the dude is increasingly isolated. I heard on the news the other day that not a single Republican senator was willing to come on “Meet the Press” to defend him after Charlottesville.

But getting beyond Trump will not get us beyond the type of politics that gave us Trump. That is a whole other matter. And it is a matter that will have to be dealt with if American politics is ever to get back to some degree of normalcy.  It boils down to this simple proposition – American conservatism has to free itself from the loony right.  The first step is that the loony tunes calling themselves conservatives have to be drummed out of office.

Will that happen? I will be paying extremely close attention to the next election cycle to see. It may be one of the most important in my life time. And I am hopeful. I get the sense that lots of folks are fed up with the ongoing silliness we get from the right. Will they vote dem? Stay tuned!

The Supreme Court Will Take Up the Trump Travel Ban

One should first take a deep breath. Then one might shout out “WTF!” Then perhaps one can summon up the peace of mind to consider the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to take up the Trump Administration’s “temporary” Muslim travel ban.

Let us first dispense with the obvious. The travel ban itself is ludicrous. No one — including the Trump Administration itself  — has offerd any plausible reason why such a temporary travel ban directed at citizens of certain countries would affect the security of the US in any way — other than negatively. It is simply the will of the executive. So be it. And the rest of us are stuck talking about why such a ridiculous piece of executive will should or should not be put into effect. This is absurd.  In othe words, even if the US Supreme Court says that Trump can have his tavel ban, none of us should feel safer. That is not what this is about.

We might also dispense with a second obvious issue.Banning peoples from certain countries who are of a particular religious group  is disriminatory  on its face. That is obvious. Every court that has addressed this issue has said as much. Now the US Supreme Court says  “maybe not”. WTF?

So why has the US Supreme Court decided to allow the Trump Administration to go ahead with a watered down version of tis temporary travel ban while the Court takes up this case? The obvious answer is that the Court is pandering to the executive. The Court doesn’t want to assert that law in the abstract should defeat the will of the executive, even if that will is ludicrous and discriminatory. The Court wants to give the executive time to think it over. The Court hopes that perhaps cooler heads will prevail.

Is there anything to think over? I think not.

And what are the practical effects of this decision? As Issie Lapowsky points out, the Supreme Court has only allowed the ban to cover persons from the listed countries who have no credible evidence of a bona Fide relationship with a person or entity in the US. In other words, this is now a refugee ban. Why allow that? The Court seems to be signalling that in that area, the president’s powers to retrict entry into the US are not limited.