An outstanding series of historical data visualizations and maps over here:
American Panorama is an historical atlas of the United States for the twenty-first century. It combines cutting-edge research with innovative interactive mapping techniques, designed to appeal to anyone with an interest in American history or a love of maps.
For the first six months of the troop escalation, high rates of violence continued unabated. That is suspicious. What exactly were US troops doing differently last September than they were doing in May, such that there was such a big change? The answer to that question is simply not clear. Note that the troop escalation only brought US force strength up to what it had been in late 2005. In a country of 27 million, 30,000 extra US troops are highly unlikely to have had a really major impact, when they had not before.
Too bad the majority of the electorate won’t. Also some good comments over there.
So this guy started a small hotel empire in Iran, and now he wants to bring Disneyland there, too. Most of his biggest ventures are on the island of Kish (just off the southern coast of Iran). I had no idea this island was so much more liberal (a relative term, to be sure) than the rest of Iran – apparently no visas are needed to visit, and some of Iran’s strict social rules are more relaxed. There’s even a dolphin show with dance music:
Mr. Sabet’s 18 Ukrainian dolphins have become the island’s darlings. They perform with Persian dance music, even though dance music was declared un-Islamic, and illegal, after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It is produced only by Iranian expatriates in Los Angeles, and Kish is the only place in Iran where it is heard.
Islamic law, it seems, was powerless before the charms of the dolphins. “Even local authorities love them,” said an employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job. “The island’s cleric comes and visits them every week to make sure they are O.K. He keeps complaining that the music is not jolly enough and they might get depressed.”
I’m all for his attitude of bringing more of old Persia into Iran. I think there’s a big popular sentiment towards this movement, and hopefully there can be a gradual, peaceful, cultural revolution in Iran, rather than another violent, bloody one.
Most in the United States don’t know much about the Middle East or the people that live there. This lack of knowledge hurts our ability to understand world events and, consequently, our ability to hold intelligent opinions about those events.
For example, frighteningly few know the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and most think the words “Arab” and “Muslim” are pretty much interchangeable. They aren’t. So here’s a very brief primer aimed at raising the level of knowledge about the region to an absolute minimum.
It’s a pretty decent run-down of the major high points, the basic stuff most of us should know – especially considering how involved our country is in the region, and how involved all of us should be in the political process. I don’t know about the “Roman Catholics are to Shia as Protestants are to Sunni” analogy, but otherwise, a quick primer that couldn’t hurt to be learned.
It’s like a brief history of US economics, a nice refresher course for those of us who have forgotten a lot since college. I do like that he opened with a quote from Alexander Hamilton and speaks in-depth with apparent subject knowledge, rather than superficially with sound bites (though he does throw in a few one-liners for good measure – he’s a politician, not a professor, after all). I feel I may be warming up to this Obama fellow; still, rhetoric is one thing, and policy decisions are another.
The great task before our founders was putting into practice the ideal that government could simultaneously serve liberty and advance the common good. For Alexander Hamilton, the young secretary of the treasury, that task was bound to the vigor of the American economy. Hamilton had a strong belief in the power of the market, but he balanced that belief with a conviction that human enterprise, and I quote, “may be beneficially stimulated by prudent aids and encouragements on the part of the government.” Government, he believed, had an important role to play in advancing our common prosperity. So he nationalized the state Revolutionary War debts, weaving together the economies of the states and creating an American system of credit and capital markets.