Flooding in Saudi Arabia: Russia Today

Check out these Facebook comments to Russia Today’s article on the flooding that went on in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It’s interesting how you can get the perspectives of people via social media. Russia Today is very international, but it’s basically a well-known Russian news company that primarily does English, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian. Primarily English. They currently go by “RT” (Russia Today was their former name that they’ve distanced themselves from), but I’ll use it anyway.In my humble opinion, they are slightly Russian-biased as is CNN being American biased. But internally for Russian media, they are fairly centrist.


Here are some of the highlights of people’s responses. Notice the random references to Syria, United States, Israel, God, terrorism, women, and…Selena Gomez. I might do this again sometime:

I fear religious leaders will blame women who claimed their rights. God was angry. lol

Maybe this will wash away the rats they harbour, fund n send to Syria

Uhm geoengineering, they pumped water into the stratosphere, those home made clouds will hit more countrys… murica..

the answer for supporting terrorists…

This rain is a message to the hypocrisy in Arabia Saudi to straight out and do the right things and stop lying on others to the maximum that they start to believe their own lies. I asked G-d to punish Arabia Saudi and Qatar as well for the blood they caused to be shed in Syria. Arabia Saudi is the biggest Syrian enemy and soon you will be punished by us, the Syrian people

amen sister! let those wahhabi pigs wash away into a pile of shit where they belong. the absolute scum of the earth, those salafi wahhabi. TFEH!

( centre of illuminati)

the main thing that characterize those who hate islam is their hypocrisy, they never look at the mirror, they ignore the horrors done by their countries/ citizens and start blaming islam for a minor thing. I’m sure islam and all muslims support peace & women’s right to drive…etc but those haters will blame all muslims for what 0.000001% of muslims are doing

£5.00 says they’ll blame it on women drivers, just like they do for earthquakes

Maybe God is sending a message that he is fed up of homophobia, inequality against women, wealth, greed etc….

America and Israel are behind this H.A.A.R.P I knew they were going to turn against Saudi Arabia HAHAHAHAHA wake up people America can control the weather

Why does Selena Gomez hate Saudi’s?

Note: this is H.A.A.R.P: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program


Socialize Social Media!


The argument is strangely appealing….

Al Jazeera in America

In light of Al Jazeera’s recent debut in the United States, I figured I’d talk about my thoughts on this brilliant news network.I learned about this news network a number of years ago, but I didn’t start using it seriously until I found their app on the Android Market. I have since stopped using their app (if you need a news app, I highly recommend Huff Post), but I’ll be watching them on TV as much as possible now. I recommend you all read Al Jazeera’s saga as a news network on Wikipedia. They are a provocative news network that is unafraid to say what it needs to of who it wants to. But they are also “unbiased, fact-based, [with] in-depth news.” Their record proves it.

Al Jazeera was born in 1996 straight out of Qatari government funds. I will grant that the network is biased in favor of Qatar, but then again, what news network isn’t biased somehow? The network argues it is not, of course, but with the chairman of the news network being apart of the royal family, I won’t believe. Its original Arabic motto was “the opinion and the other opinion.” It immediately drew criticism – from boycotting to official government censorship – when it put Israelis speaking Hebrew on live TV in the Arab world. This was never done before, and the network had officially made its mark on the history of journalism.

Just two years after beginning, Al Jazeera filmed Operation Desert Fox when no one else would. Just a year later, it became the most popular Arab news network in the region, without Saudi funding. That’s a pretty big accomplishment. in 2001, it received footage from Osama Bin Laden, and it aired the footage. People use this as grounds to criticize Al Jazeera, but imagine if the world never knew who committed the 9/11 attacks ? CNN and many other Western news outlets showed the footage too…after it received it from Al Jazeera. When war broke out in Afghanistan, they already had a station up and running in Kabul that dared to film what would go on during the war.

But of course the United States couldn’t stand that. Their station in Kabul was bombed (luckily know one was hurt), and according to the then managing director Mohammed Jassim al-Ali, “This office has been known by everybody, the American airplanes know the location of the office, they know we are broadcasting from there.” But perhaps I am speculating too much. Then again, the United States also fired on their office in Baghdad, killing one of their journalists and injuring a cameraman. The Qatari government provided the United States a map of Baghdad with the location of their office, but I guess they “forgot”. After all, the United States has a habit of killing brave journalists.

But true journalism prevailed. The network has continued to film war footage – whether it is the United States or the Taliban doing the bombing. The network has continued to film war footage in Syria, showing the public what is really going on, graphic content and all. The world deserves to know.

The network has been amid controversy since their founding, as every good news outlet ought too. Former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell wanted it shut down, current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it’s quite unbiased. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is “delighted” it’s come to the West.

They’ve aired Jews and Bin Laden, Tony Blair and the Taliban. They’ve been censored in Palestine for being pro-Israeli, and sanctioned in Israel for favoring Hamas. China threw them out of Beijing, and Saudi Arabia made their own media to fight back. Iraq bans them every once in a while, and Spain threw one of their journalists in jail for seven years.

What are their motives, therir views, true opinions? Who knows. But they are provocative, insightful, and they certainly make me think. And that’s what media ought to be. They are the fifth most influential global brand in the world, and their story has only just begun.

Another Illusion of Choice

GE should stick to dishwashers…

Source: http://www.neatorama.com/2008/07/07/who-owns-what-on-television/



Crisis of Islam

Bernard Lewis is an interesting Middle Eastern scholar who I will surely talk about more when I get into Orientalism. This book, Crisis of Islam, is about the utter chaos the Islamic World has experienced in the last century. The book explores the history of the Islamic World and the modern context it is now. The book discusses the various edge groups and their opponents in the modern world – from the Salafis to the hidden secularist liberals. This is an extraordinary read that is well worth, insightful, easy to understand, and scholarly.

Professor Lewis is quick to explain that Islam is not inherently linked to terrorism. He goes through the historical roots of terrorism and the history of violence in the Islamic World, and thoroughly demonstrates the lack of relationship between the two. Terrorism has “no antecedents in Islamic history, and no justification in terms of Islamic theology, law, or tradition.” Nevertheless, the terrorist of the Muslim World justify themselves through their religion in an incredulous way. Dealing with the Middle East has thus become so difficult – that the fanatics believe wholeheartedly that they are correct, and that killing them is only good for them.

The crisis of the Islamic World and the rise of extremism can be attributed much to the decline in Islamic thinking, which occurred a little before colonialism  and after the fall of the Mongols as a reaction to the Renaissance (the public perception suddenly became that the roots of Islamic decline are because of too much thinking and too little dogma, and this led to only more decline). This was not helped by colonialism centuries later, which destroyed the academic institutions (theological, philosophical, and scientific) forever. In modern times, oil has both been crucial and destructive to the Arab world in particular. Lewis has a famous quote where he flips the common American quote: “No representation without taxation”. The oil rich gulf states have traditionally had almost no taxes on its citizens- the wealth of the nation was generated entirely by oil resources. Their was no need for a parliamentary system to develop a taxation system, and thus the monarchies established themselves permanently, and are only replaced if ever by ruthless tyrants.

His book after explaining what I have said so far in much more details concludes with a solution. The purpose of the text was not really to provide a solution, so it doesn’t focus too much on it, but his conclusion is that the only solution to the Middle East is non-secular democracy (secular preferably, but that is asking for too much too quick). America is a necessary component for reviving the Middle East (Lewis was a big advocate of the Iraq war…before it happened). I won’t comment on what I think about his conclusions, but I am content to say that his identifying of Middle Eastern and Islamic problems was excellent, and his analysis of their roots essential.

What the Mainstream is – and isn’t

The Google Dictionary defines mainstream as “the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional; the dominant trend in opinion, fashion, or the arts.” In conventional use, this definition of mainstream works, but we can get confused and use the term improperly.

The use of the word “mainstream” implies it to be in the middle. That’s the mental picture we get, anyway, and this middle requires two extreme ends. But that delivers the wrong impression: go out on the street and ask people if they like “extreme views”. Be they Tea Party or hard line Socialist, they’ll likely say no. This connotation of “extreme” is not helping anyone. What is extreme in America is commonplace in Europe. What is commonplace in Europe is liberal trash in Singapore. Extreme is bad, follow the majority! Follow the masses. So the saying goes.

Now let’s pretend we’re all in school…in the hood. Most of your classmates have smoked pot or sniffed crack, at least once or twice before. That’s mainstream for you. Extreme isn’t being a nerd or a suck up…it’s not smoking pot. Not doing something that the mainstream does suddenly makes you extreme – and that’s ok.

Back to reality. When we hear the media’s rambling of the mainstream, we must caution ourselves, especially when its from a region of the world other than our own. When we hear of the notorious “radical” Hugo Chavez, remember that Venezuela elected him. Many times. Peacefully. Fairly. The socialists of Venezuela are mainstream. Radicals are us, intruders who want to provide them with some sort of weird foreign capitalist concept.  When we scream and cry about the world being radical because they are different, we think we are mainstream. And we aren’t, not always. When the UN voted for Palestine to become a nonvoting member of the chamber- effectively a semi-nation (whatever the hell that means) – we were the radicals. Only 8 radical extremist countries voted no to the proposition, and we were one of those countries. And to say we are wrong because we are extreme is, well, wrong.

To call the mainstream as who agrees with us is flawed logic. To say that following the middle is the best idea is ludicrous. Our progression as a species could not have happened without radicals: from the left and the right. To turn people down because they have widely varying opinions from ours is stupid, a word I will use more and more as I write. Our media pampers our flawed logic in this regard. CNN wouldn’t dare interview a communist on live prime time television – only on mini editorials that you’ll never find on the front page. Let alone Fox. This is despite the hundreds of millions of communists out there, who have opinions we must think about. The danger of not doing so is losing sight of values another part of the world may have that we don’t. That leads to bigotry, hatred, and ignorance. We must learn to embrace differences and learn them where they are, lest we confuse our values for the world’s. “Learn, even unto China”, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad once said. There is no reason to not do so.

In light of Trayvon Martin

The tragic case of Trayvon Martin we’ve all heard about has spurned an extraordinary discussion on the inner racial tensions in this country. The President himself highlighted this point in his speech, but I wish he emphasized how the law played out in this case. The trial went on for over 4 weeks, and the jurors that heard it spent 14 hours discussing it behind close doors…who else has spent that much time with it? Every one of the jurors came back with the same decision: innocence for Zimmerman. There simply wasn’t enough evidence, and I liked how one person I heard said it: every witness to the case is either dead or biased. That in itself also highlights something that no one seems to be talking about: the failures of the American court system. Granted, I’m no lawyer, and one of the prosecutors of the case in a press conference admitted the mistakes of our system, but defend it as the best in the world. I think I could agree with that. How to fix a system where so much bias exists is a challenge, and I wouldn’t know where to start to accommodate for the failures of man. On an off note, the jury system is something that has also always baffled me. I certainly wouldn’t trust the justice for the death of my child to a random selections of six Americans…would you? But then again, would I trust justice to some old white guy that has never been out of a gated community in his life if I was from the hood? That’s another challenge for our system.


But back on to race: how important is it, really, to this trial? I find it difficult to believe that Zimmerman just shot Martin because he was black. Certainly, Zimmerman profiled him. He followed him, and the phone tapes show that he was an obvious racist. But what happened that night is speculative, and the thousands of protestors around this country have probably no better speculations than me. I think it much less fair to call out the jurors as racists. The prosecutors spent some serious time picking 3 of those jurors…why? Those prosecutors weren’t stupid. They had reasons. The media probably won’t just say, because when does the media ever explain things properly? That said, I don’t think protesting the trial changes anything at all. The protestors need to ask themselves: does screaming and flailing your signs around on the streets change racial tensions? There are better ways that they should involve themselves with. The justice system has decided, and there isn’t much else it can do.