Monday, August 2, 2010

Apathetic Arabs, Is Netanyahu Too Eager?, Mahmoud Calls Out Barack

Paul Krugman
Fareed Zakaria
Amy Davidson

There was a poll taken by the Dubai-based newspaper al-Arabiya, which said that 71% of the respondents didn't really care about the Palestinian peace talks. This has been interpreted that the fate of the Palestinian people no longer drives the political culture of the region, and that the Arabian people have grown apathetic.

Of course, their are other interpretations. One of my favorites is a reader's response in al-Arabiya to an offered analysis of the poll. Besides pointing out that most polls only ask a few hundred people their opinion, which may not be a good sample of millions of opinions, there may be: "That Arabs are not interested in the peace talk does not mean they don't care about the Palestinians. Arabs, as most of the rest of rational human beings, understand these talks are nothing but a charade aimed at giving cover to Israel while it continues its ethnic cleansing, giving a few brownie points to Obama to show off, give some air to poor old Abbas to cling to power, and little else. Nothing will ever come out of these talks, and everybody knows it. Hence the disinterest." - froyo. Perhaps the poll should have judged the cynicism of the average arab on the street...

As for what is actually being done in negotiations right now, Mahmoud Abbas has asked representatives from the PA, Israel, and the US sit down next week and set the agenda for the talks.
"I want to go to direct negotiations, but I don't want surprises"
"Abbas said he is demanding that Netanyahu accept the principle that negotiations over the establishment of a Palestinian state will be based on the 1967 borders, with exchange of territory, and that he wants the talks to focus on borders and security."

On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu seems too eager to get started, the paranoid part of me is wondering what he is planning: "Netanyahu is ready to set a timetable for completion of negotiations, and thinks it will be possible to do so within a year. He is prepared to debate any of the core issues of the final-status agreement - Jerusalem, borders, refugees, settlements, security and water. Netanyahu also wants most of the talks to take place between him and Abbas. He is prepared to include Mitchell in direct talks with the Palestinians to resolve difficulties that arise, but he doesn't want to include Mitchell in every meeting." Which may be a bad thing, as Netanyahu tends to be a huckster, and may try to pull something slick. If their meetings were videotaped and then broadcast on television, it might keep him more honest. I get the impression that Abbas is considered to be too old, perhaps suffering from mild dementia, and giving him something shiny and sparkly might distract him from the larger business at hand. Meanwhile, the children of Gaza live without electricity, running water, plumbing, or available jobs. Hamas is doing a worse job that the Iraqi government does for it's own people, if you can believe that. No-one is allowed to go from Gaza outside to either Israel or Egypt unless you have connections, and Corporal Gilad Shalit is still in jail...

Evidently, yesterday was the beginning of the Iranian news cycle. Today, the perky leader of Iran suggested that the next time he comes to America for the UN General Assembly, he and Obama get together for a televised debate. Look who else has been eating too many camel's milk chocolates!

Of course Mahmoud thinks that he is a clever fellow, after all, doesn't he keep on cracking up his fellows in the Revolutionary Guards whenever he makes statements on Iranian television? But, little dude, please think again before trying to debate Barack in public. He took on the entire House Republicans in debate and made them look vain, arrogant, and foolishly out of touch! If he can do that to the GOP's best and brightest, you're going to be toast. SOS... and if he has the Daily Show writers help him with rejoinders and his opening monologue, you will have done more to re-establish Obama's popularity than any other event before the mid-term elections...

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has come a long way, baby, from a quirky religious group to an ominous military unit, and now morphing into movers and shakers in the business world. They now control over 30% of Iran's economy, and if I may make a stereotypical comment, fast resembling the jewish business class that they so readily condemn... Here is a quick look at the business empire that the RG have squirmed their way into, because they certainly didn't do it honestly or legally. You can see where the sanctions will effect the economy, and where the trickle down theory will hurt the workers in these areas and related companies. Reported from the BBC:


  • Khatam al-Anbia construction firm: employs 20,000 workers and boasts of hundreds of government contracts
  • Iran Telecommunications Company - 50% stake bought in government privatisation scheme
  • Angouran - the largest lead and zinc mine in the Middle East
  • Bahman Automobile Manufacturing Group - (manufactures the Mazda brand) - 45% stake
  • Iran electronics industry - comprises electronic, computer and communications companies
  • Iranians' Mehr Economic Institution - financial institution with hundreds of branches (one of the largest banking networks in Iran)

    Weather patterns are pretty severe this Summer. The monsoons that regularly hit Asia have taken it up a notch. Vast flooding that are killing thousands in China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are beginning to tax the abilities of charitable relief funds... Because the seas are rising as the poles melt, the Mekong River Delta is being flooded, and they can no longer grow rice. Farmers instead have turned to raising shrimp to earn their livings. I wonder if Vietnam will be exporting their shrimp to a po' boy deprived Gulf Coast region this year?.. Russia, on the other end of the spectrum, has been undergoing a severe heatwave. In the agricultural southern region, which grows most of the wheat and other grains, there hasn't been a drop of rain since last April... Paul the octopus has predicted that he will end up as sushi for a rich Japanese businessman... Here at the base of the Rockies, moisture is being sucked up from all directions, up from Baja and the Gulf of Mexico, over from the Pacific, and even from the jetstream up north. We end up with lightening and thunderstorms every few days, makes for some very dramatic displays at night.

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