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Modern Robots that Speak Like Ancient Romans

pliny

Here’s a piece I’ve written for The New Yorker’s Culture Desk about a course I taught last semester at Brown and the interesting research project that emerged from it. First paragraphs below, followed by a jump. Come on back here to comment!

Hacking the Humanities

Last spring, I taught a literature seminar called “Before Wikipedia.” The subject was the history of encyclopedic writing, from ancient times to the present day. We read excerpts of Isidore of Seville’s “Etymologies” and Diderot’s “Encyclopédie” alongside works by Calvino, Sebald, and Flaubert.

The word “Wikipedia” in the course title seemed to attract an unusual preponderance of science majors for a seminar in comparative literature. There were physicists and mathematicians, a cluster of coders, an engineer, a neuroscience major. I teach at Brown, which has an open curriculum that encourages diverse course enrollments, but I’d never found myself in a room with so many young scientists patiently waiting for me to begin a lecture that I wasn’t planning to give.

In my experience, a successful seminar usually involves a mutiny quite early in the semester, when the students take over and my own voice is drowned out by the din of a crowded wheelhouse. This particular seminar’s discussions, however, began awkwardly. The silences I’ve learned to let hang in a classroom seemed unreasonably long. In the first week, I was further unnerved by an odd sound each time I’d turn to write something on the blackboard—the fluent skittering of fingers across twenty laptop keyboards, transcribing my scrawled words as though they’d be on an exam later in the week.

(keep reading)

Discussion

116 thoughts on “Modern Robots that Speak Like Ancient Romans

  1. Wicked plot, Professor… May the force be with you

    Posted by Vulcan | July 7, 2015, 5:46 pm
  2. Markov Chains, huh? I don’t suppose you got to Vector State Machines (VSM), did you? (I take it as a given that you are now an expert on Bayesian statistics!)

    From what I understand, VSMs are the technology behind wizardry like Google (and now Skype) Translate!

    In fact, I read recently that the Google Translate guy went to work for J. Craig Venter’s San Diego-based Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI) which, with the help of high-throughput Illumina DNA sequencers, aims to analyze the human genome to unlock the biological secrets of aging!

    Google itself is working in this area! Google Genomics just signed an agreement with Harvard/MIT’s Eric Lander-led Broad Institute to implement their GATK (Genome Analysis Toolkit) in the cloud! Google also set up Calico (California Life Company) to also tackle the problem of aging!

    I can go on (ex-Microsoft billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen’s Seattle-based Institute for Cell Sciences is coming on-line soon, and so on) but I’ll stop here!

    Sorry to get all geeky (and perhaps irrelevantly tangential) on you, but since we’re contemplating marvelous but potentially dystopian technological portents, I thought I’d chime in with what I follow and think about. I’d dabble more seriously in this machine learning/genomics stuff if I had the time, but unfortunately I don’t …

    Wonderful piece, as always, QN! 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 7, 2015, 8:26 pm
  3. Correction: Oops! My background in digital design came through a bit in that “state machine”-based VSM designation, which was flat-out wrong! What I should have said instead was “Support Vector Machines (SVM)”, which would have been correct!

    Anyway … 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 7, 2015, 8:54 pm
  4. On a lighter note, Twitter is aflutter today with news that the US negotiating team has been getting by on Strawberry Twizzlers, among other arguably juvenile foods of questionable nutritional value, while hammering out the Iran Deal in Vienna!

    I mean, sure, that’s pretty cool! But you know what’s even cooler? ‘Jungle’ getting by on Strawberry Twizzlers while dancing on frickin’ roller skates:

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 7, 2015, 10:17 pm
  5. The intersection of digital tools with traditional humanities (historical study in my case) isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about. But thanks to this article I can begin to imagine someone (or a team of someones) in Middle Eastern/Islamic Studies (categorizations that beg questions of their own) proposing to analyze, say, Ottoman or local sharia court archives using custom-developed digital tools. What might we learn? An injection of new energy (and resources?) into humanities studies might be a happy spinoff, in institutional contexts where humanities departments must constantly work to justify themselves (and their relatively minuscule resource requirements) in competition with the hard sciences, computer sciences and business programs.

    Posted by Jim Reilly | July 8, 2015, 6:40 am
  6. Just to share a few more thoughts on this subject, I’d hazard that not only is this work very important, but the way in which it’s being done is constantly evolving to make it cheaper, less risky, more accessible and easier to do!

    I’d argue that QN’s project, as outlined in his New Yorker article, was quite traditional and perhaps even a bit outdated. Let me explain.

    The way these projects have traditionally been imagined is that you have a “domain expert” interfacing with a “data scientist”. The data scientist has traditionally been portrayed as this guru who can dabble in Python, Perl, R and perhaps even deploy a Hadoop cluster or two!

    Fair enough! But what are the problems here? Firstly, the domain expert quickly gets utterly flummoxed. There aren’t enough data scientists out there and the good ones are either already taken or quite expensive. Setting up hardware on-premises is a large, up-front capital investment. Nobody is quite sure what the risks are or what the payoffs might be, and frankly the rate of failure ends up being quite high!

    So what are the alternatives? Frankly, companies like Microsoft are working on them. The idea now is to rely less on on-premises hardware, hard-core data scientists and “custom-developed” code, but rather to rely on “digital assistants”, relatively generic methodologies and doing as much of the work in the cloud as possible!

    By now everyone with a smartphone is familiar with assistants like Apple Siri and Google Now (apparently Google “Now on Tap” is on the way too).

    Microsoft recently released a similar product called Cortana, but it’s not getting a lot of attention because Windows is floundering in the mobile space. But Microsoft is very strong in the enterprise and what it has been doing is generalizing Cortana and plugging it into its server-side business software. The first tool to get a Cortana assist will be Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Cortana will also come with Windows 10 and Windows Mobile 10 when both get released later this year.

    But Microsoft is not stopping there. Its Azure cloud (a hyper-scale, best-in-class beast second in size world-wide only to Amazon) has a whole section devoted to “micro-services” handling just machine learning. Plus, Microsoft is trying to turn Excel into a big-data tool. It’s created “Power BI (Business Intelligence)” to mine Excel data through Sharepoint Excel Services for insights, again in the cloud through Office 365, the fastest-growing product in its history.

    In this way, Microsoft is competing with IBM, which has staked a lot of its future on “Watson”, which does pretty much the same thing. IBM markets this kind of thing as “cognitive computing”, which I think is a bit grandiose, but whatever …

    So what are the benefits for the domain expert in this simplified, more generic and delegated arrangement? Granted, he still has to understand the basics of data science (the principle of “garbage in, garbage out” will always apply no matter what), but once he gets over that hump he can focus on relatively mundane, but still critically important, issues like content management and information architecture. He doesn’t bear any up-front expenses, doesn’t have to worry about hardware and will presumably be able to lean on a greater supply of less-hard-core but still helpful consultants for his project.

    And don’t worry about the hard-core data scientist! He’ll still have lots to do and be a rare and precious commodity. For example, I understand the bleeding edge in this space is something called “deep learning” (or “neural networks 2.0”). The joke is that there are only a handful of people in the world who really understand and excel at this stuff, and they all work at Google! 🙂

    Now granted, I understand that universities balk at words like “Microsoft” and “Google”. They are against closed-source, proprietary code and want to dabble in open-source software like Linux. Fair enough! But I am always amused by people who fail to realize the limitations of the open-source movement! Sure, the OS (operating system) kernel is open-source (Linux). But the hardware is proprietary (Intel), the network is proprietary (Cisco and Verizon), the virtualization stack is proprietary (VMware), the cloud is proprietary (Amazon), and even the mobile phone is proprietary (Google Services on Android). I’m sorry to say it but open-source has been contained and is effectively check-mated at this point. It’s seriously time for “if you can’t beat them, join them!”, and biting the bullet, picking up the phone, and calling that tech company you absolutely love to hate … 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 8, 2015, 11:43 am
  7. Thanks Samer. Very interesting! Will try to respond tonight.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 8, 2015, 11:48 am
  8. Hello QN

    While I agree that we can always learn through trans-divisional methods (for example using coding and algorithms to identify structural similarities in style and expression), I still believe that the humanities have a unique way of knowing that is much different from that of the sciences. Not to say that we cannot create interesting way of complementing and interconnecting these disparate ways of knowing. But the scientific approach highlights analyses based on studying and describing tangible and determinate phenomena (some sciences add measurement while others test hypotheses to describe what things are and how they function). The humanities are unique in analyzing or purveying meanings, values, affects, needs and desires that address the intangible nature of our existence and to specifically highlight histories of creating meanings, values, affects, needs and desires in particular existing contexts/lives that are less determinate and more contingent. The difference in methodology may transcend the sciences and humanitiez divide as it pertains to the difference between axiomatic and non axiomatic knowledge.

    To be clear, the digital humanities project focuses on many things: providing access and potential for numerous ways of analyzing texts; my comment is only addressing the specific instance of research that you describe in the article; there could have been a different project in that seminar that would have introduced humanities methods (of reading, writing, and reflecting on history and on creative and critical processes of making sense of the world) that would immerse science students into a “different way of knowing” than the one that they are specializing in–rather than accommodating their limited perspective. I am sure that you do that in your classes, but considering the current paradigm of knowledge (that values scientific approaches to knowledge imbued with the search for certainty), a little dose of uncertainty, doubt and critical reflection can be more desirabke pedagogical tools. Although I may be wrong!

    Posted by Parrhesia | July 11, 2015, 9:15 pm
  9. “What made a certain poem identifiably the product of a person, place, or time, from the perspective of syntax and vocabulary?”

    QN,

    You reminded me of the Egyptian litterateur Taha Hussein, who beat you to it nearly a century ago, and without the help of digital technology, when he wrote his controversial book “on Pre-Islamic Poetry”.

    Posted by Badr | July 12, 2015, 5:10 am
  10. Parrhesia,

    It’s not the sentimentality, conceit, verbosity and fluffiness of your writing that bothers me as much as its inscrutability! Almost every time you post here, I find myself thinking, “I have no idea what this guy is saying!” But now I realize that is perhaps by design on your part, a corollary of the fact that you apparently value “non-axiomatic knowledge”. But therein lies a contradiction. How can anything follow or be by design in a non-axiomatic intellectual endeavor? To use your own term, how can anything even be “contingent”?

    As an engineer who values science incredibly but would never describe himself as a scientist (I lack the discipline, patience, rigor, commitment, focus and yes, intelligence), I feel I need to correct you on a few things you asserted above. First, science is neither concerned with “certainty” nor with “determinism”. What it values above all else is correctness, operating out of a progressive sense of purpose and urgency. Good scientists have a profoundly keen grasp of uncertainty, and the most exciting fields of science today deal with the complex, probabilistic and stochastic, not the deterministic. Take Quantum Physics, for example, which has revolutionized our understanding of the material world, yet rests on something literally called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle!

    Also, scientists, while yes needing to specialize (because even the smartest and most creative among us have finite capabilities) do not possess “limited perspectives”. Do not confuse modesty and restraint here with disability. I guess you’re playing off that part in QN’s New Yorker piece where he’s surprised by the silence emanating from the scientists in his seminar class. But as an engineer who has endured more than his fair share of blunders and embarrassment, let me argue that that silence in this case was absolutely the appropriate and prudent thing to do.

    An engineer who starts yapping away barely into a new endeavor quickly makes an ass of himself. The correct attitude to take is to humbly realize that you “stand on the shoulders of giants that have come before you” and take the time to survey the field and recognize the state-of-the-art before proceeding accordingly. This doesn’t mean of course taking everything at face value. You used the word “doubt” (which is overly, inappropriately emotional) in your comment and suggested that it’s something that scientists lack, which is not the case at all. In science this trait is called “skepticism”, and a good scientist possesses it in abundance.

    Then there’s the matter of measurement that you cite, which is technically called “empiricism”. You correctly note that hypothesis-testing doesn’t always require empiricism, as theoretical fields like pure mathematics can testify. But even these fields are still extremely rigorous, increasing their reliance on logic, reasoning and deduction. And even these theoretical ideas can eventually succumb to physical scrutiny when technology catches up and enables the manufacture of machines (and yes, computers) that can test them!

    Then there’s the matter of replication, which from my understanding can be a problem in some of the “softer” “sciences”. For example, one of my favorite science bloggers, Ed Yong, likes to highlight the replication crisis that is apparently engulfing the field of psychology right now. While I am not a psychologist, I at least have the rudimentary knowledge to realize that psychology has come a long way since Sigmund Freud started literally pulling stuff out of God-knows-where (spot the euphemism here) to plant a flag in the ground intellectually and stake some prestige. While of course he enjoyed the liberty and prerogative to think whatever he wanted to think, any counselling practices of subsequent decades based on his ideas read today like macabre, tragic horror stories. Granted, psychology has come an incredibly long way since then, but from my understanding and for the sake of society it’s still nowhere near where it needs to be!

    While I’ve already written enough, I want to end this comment with an anecdote. I have a dear friend who is an extremely well travelled musicologist who’s done extensive research and written several books on Mozart. He gives lectures on [Western] music and can explain his field to laymen without ever resorting to gimmicky argumentation like “you have to be German to understand it”. Whenever we meet, we end up drinking lots of wine and conversing about the Middle East and the “Arab Spring”.

    One time he was complaining to me about some of the Middle Easterners that he’s met over the years. There was the rich, Syrian woman who apparently was so deeply in denial about her circumstance that she’d tell him, “Don’t believe anything you see or read in the news. You need to be a Syrian living in Syria to understand the complex country.” Then there was the Persian musician who didn’t even bother trying to explain Persian music, instead resorting to an aloof and rather hostile, “If you’re not Persian you will never understand!”

    My friend was of course coming to me seeking reassurance and reconciliation, but I couldn’t really provide either. All I could muster was an exasperated, “Don’t listen to these people, man! They have very shaky credentials and speak a lot of nonsense!” 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 12, 2015, 12:44 pm
  11. Thanks Nasser for your comment. I agree with many of your positions and our disagreements may be the result of my lack of clarity. My criticism is that our culture at large is fetishizing STEM fields while ignoring the cultural receptacle within which any science flourishes, the arts and humanities that provide the critical and creative impetus for people like Newton (standing on the shoulders of giants).

    What you call correctness (or truth) is only subject to axiomatic thinking: which means setting definitions, terms and building on those. Mathematics would be an example as is chemistry and other forms of thinking based on representing and analyzing what relates to matters of fact (the axiom would be linguistic terms or symbolic representations that are considered universal) and relations of ideas (logic, conceptual coherency, etc.)

    I am highlighting non axiomatic thinking because most of our existence builds on such forms of thinking that presuppose norms and customs but not truth or correctness. In matters of ethics and values, there are no correct or true statements or positions but only an accepted (or dominant or normative) position or critical or creative ones. So non axiomatic thinking applies to ethical judgments (on what is right and wrong) and on aesthetic judgment (on what is beautiful, sublime, etc.)

    All of the non axiomatic issues (where truth and falsity do not apply) are socially constructed in particular social and historical contexts, and constantly transformed.

    Affective relations (passions, emotions, intuitions, etc.) are created by us, not as natural capacities but as the objects, subjects, and goals of these capacities. While natural capacities can be the subject of the natural sciences, the social constructs of meanings, values, needs and desires are the subject of the humam sciences (history, philosophy, anthropology, etc.) and the arts and humanities are the fields in which we create and transform set meanings and values as well as the objects of our affective relations (hope, fear, trust, etc.) and of our desires.

    If this is complicated, it is because not only human existence is complicated but because reality itself is built through complex and intertwined processes that reflect multiplicity rather than the order constructed by scientific and religious imaginaries (built on linear causality, origin and end, determinacy, etc.). The sciences are adapting to this philosophical perspective on reality as multiplicity of open systems and networks (ontology, systems theory, chaos and indeterminacy, quantum and relativity, etc.) but not enough to move away from modern epistemologies (theories of knowledge that are at the foundation of sciences and that do not question the possibility of truth or doubt merely to discover–instead of create or transform.

    Posted by parrhesia | July 13, 2015, 5:29 pm
  12. QN,

    So Microsoft launched its “2015 Worldwide Partner Conference” in Orlando, FL today and what was the big product reveal? Exactly, literally EXACTLY, what I wrote in this blog last week:

    http://venturebeat.com/2015/07/13/microsoft-launches-cortana-analytics-suite-with-power-bi-azure-machine-learning-and-more-in-a-monthly-subscription/

    Now granted, this ‘venturebeat’ article makes it a point to mention the important caveat that for now Cortana will only be providing a natural language interface to structured, SQL-based data warehouses!

    So no, it’s not like you will be able to ask Cortana (or ‘Power BI’ for that matter) to analyze Dostoevsky for you anytime soon!

    If you want to do NLP (text analytics?), then you’d need to leverage the Azure Machine Learning facilities.

    Even if you wanted to go straight to Hadoop, Azure has actually implemented the Hortonworks Hadoop distribution but Microsoft calls it “HDInsight”! How good this implementation is, whether it keeps up with the rest of the Hadoop ecosystem (Cloudera, etc.) and whether it can leverage the open-source stuff out there that companies like Facebook keep pumping out (Cassandra, etc.), is way, way beyond my expertise!

    But yeah, I at least know that you won’t be able to use SQL relational databases for this non-structured text stuff! There’s a whole universe of “NoSQL” “document databases” out there (I’m almost certain Azure implements one called “DocumentDB” or something), and no doubt it’ll be fun to sort through it all if and when the time comes for that! 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 13, 2015, 5:31 pm
  13. Parrhesia,

    Oops! If you look at the timestamps there my message to QN crossed yours to me in transit! So I’m just getting round to a response to you now!

    Let me start by saying that for some reason I always thought you were a Persian male. Why? I guess ‘Persia’ alliterates with ‘Parrhesia’ and most of us around here are male. But after I addressed you earlier, I started thinking that I might have your gender wrong! So I googled ‘Parrhesia’ and to my great surprise came across lots of links to Greek democracy and philosophy, and also some to the Bible! I didn’t know that ‘Parrhesia’ was a word (I thought it was a name), let alone be able to discern its meaning! But now I do! So basically now I still think you’re male but I’ve concluded you are either a philosopher or a divinity/theology/rabbinical student (obviously either Christian or Jewish)! I’m definitely not asking you to confirm my suspicions or divulge your identity but please do realize that in the absence of concrete information I am forced to “gracefully degrade” on my end to best-guesses, as flawed as they might turn out to be!

    Anyway, I don’t want to bore everyone here with another long post, so I’m just going to end here and concede everything to you on this philosophical subject having considered that you are probably better trained and more qualified to comment… 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 13, 2015, 7:26 pm
  14. Parrhesia,

    At the risk of reneging on last night’s concessions to you, let me say that I’ve read your latest comment a few times by now and allowed it to sink in a bit, and find that I have some comments to make. (I’ll try to keep it short as I really should be working right now.)

    Firstly, I’m proud to announce that I actually followed everything you said but you lost me at the very last stretch. I was thrown off by not only this phrase but the fact that you seem to have omitted a closing parenthesis:

    “do not question the possibility of truth or doubt merely to discover–instead of create or transform”

    What I want to do here is constrain the subject a bit in order to, for strictly pragmatic reasons, increase confidence in the scientific process!

    For example, I respect your appeal to anthropology but let’s instead consider a situation where all humans are pretty much the same culturally and speak the same language (yes, as horrid and dull as that might be to imagine).

    And yes, I respect your appeal to “scientific imaginaries” but let’s instead consider a situation were all we’re interested in is what happens on planet Earth, where our physical understanding is pretty complete (yes, we don’t understand dark matter, for example, but it only “exists” in the outer edges of galaxies).

    And yes, I respect your appeal to the non-axiomatic nature of ethics and values but let’s consider a situation where we can again constrain the subject around the “big ideas” and codify them around a logical, and yes universal, set of rules akin to laws.

    Where does that leave us? It leaves us with chemistry, biology and psychology, right? This is what I am getting at!

    From mathematics we get physics! From physics we get chemistry! From chemistry we get biology! And from biology we presumably get psychology! And psychology is perhaps as close as we can hope to get right now to what you describe as the “non-axiomatic”! It is perhaps the frontier! We barely understand the brain! We don’t understand the mind! So it would be pure folly to even start to try to understand the soul! Of course we can imagine it, and this is perhaps where philosophy comes in! But it’s not territory where any human, Earth-based scientist should dare tread, at least at this moment in “history”!

    The problem with biology is not that it’s mysterious per se but that it’s complex (interesting that you wrote “sublime” earlier and it’s a word that biologists actually use quite a lot). The difference here is that the complex can be addressed with computational intensity (intensiveness?). The canonical example in biology of a computationally intensive problem is protein-folding! Sure, we can simulate the folding of simple proteins with only a few amino acids! But larger proteins with thousands of amino acids cannot be simulated using today’s computational technology! It actually gets even worse, because protein-folding is quite dynamic. Protein configurations constantly change as proteins interact with their solvent (water), their environment (membranes, lipids, metabolites, DNA/RNA, metals, small molecules) and other proteins!

    This of course is one of the reasons why one should continue to champion advances in computational technology! The human brain with all its ingenuity will never figure this stuff out on its own! Today’s computers don’t really stand a chance either. But tomorrow’s? Who knows? We can try! We have to try!

    Luckily, computational technology is neither mysterious nor magic! There is nothing philosophical or “spiritual” about it. Computers are machines at the end of the day, applying physics that we are supremely confident about at this point in our evolution as an intelligent species! Even quantum computing is well understood theoretically at this point! The difficulty of quantum computing right now is in manufacturing the technology! Yes, it is in the engineering! 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 14, 2015, 11:43 am
  15. Wanna have a laugh, guys? Read this! While it might at first appear irrelevant, I think it provides useful allegorical insight to the contemporary, often insufferably contentious, Middle East conversation:

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/07/i-rejoice-that-it-is-warm-ars-attends-a-climate-contrarian-conference/

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 15, 2015, 5:30 pm
  16. Hi guys,

    Did I miss anything?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 27, 2015, 8:04 am
  17. I am consistently astonished by how stupid and arbitrary Samy Gemayel is! It’s actually quite infuriating! I have such a dismally low opinion of this man…

    Take this latest hypocritical disaster of his, for example. Being the frustrated, vacuous and impotent weakling that he is, he won’t dare make a case for auditing the Lebanese government, so what does he do instead? He gets on his demagogic soap box and tries to prey on, scapegoat and squeeze a private contractor for financial information to try and determine (let alone try to root out, which is probably a mission impossible) corruption in the government!

    He’s got it completely ass-backward!

    He argues the private contractor’s financial information should be “made public” while ignoring the precedent cause of the government’s records being made so. He also makes reference to “the public” while neglecting to appeal to legitimate, public-representative institutions to do the work of investigating corruption in the government!

    So what could possibly come from this bizarre request of his? A witch hunt, “crowdsourcing” forensic accounting auditing to people probably unqualified to do it, a torch and pitchfork mob against Sukleen in Lebanon?

    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2015/Jul-27/308512-gemayel-open-sukleens-bank-records-to-the-public.ashx

    (sorry this article is behind a subscription paywall but read the headline and opening paragraph to get the basic gist of it)

    Sukleen’s lawyers (if there is such a thing as business law in Lebanon) would be completely inept to comply with this request of Gemayel’s under the present circumstances. It should be the government that leads the way and sets the example in financial transparency, not the private sector! And even if Gemayel is so concerned about Sukleen, there should be a legal mechanism whereby he can show probable cause and subpoena the government for their tax records before arbitrarily trying to force Sukleen to hand over their books to what can best be described as an idiotic mob that doesn’t even practice what it preaches!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | July 27, 2015, 1:11 pm
  18. 17 Posts in 20 days.

    OK, I’ll start off. If any jewish congressman vote FOR Obama and Kerry’s Iranian nuclear agreement, they should be tarred, feathered and locked in a stockade at their local synagogue for ridicule and embarrassment. The agreement isn’t just dangerous for jews, it’s dangerous for Americans and the rest of the world.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 4, 2015, 3:59 pm
  19. Freedom of speech is illegal in Lebanon, if you speak out against HA…

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33946842

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 16, 2015, 12:10 am
  20. Ummm, not exactly. Criticism of Hizbullah is fine; it’s killing Lebanese soldiers that’s illegal, go figure. Good work by the Army.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 16, 2015, 7:53 am
  21. QN,

    Who did this sheikh Sheik kill. The article stated:

    Assir built his reputation on television talkshows as a self-proclaimed defender of Sunni rights against the Shia movement, Hezbollah, and its backing of Syria’s President Assad, our analyst says.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 16, 2015, 8:46 pm
  22. And the finale by killing 18 or 19 people, not just talk shows …he is a scumbag terrorist, what’s your point AK? Before commenting on this, at least get the full story!

    Good to have you back anyways.

    Posted by Vulcan | August 17, 2015, 1:03 am
  23. Vulcan,

    Reading the article, I got the impression this cleric was just a “firebrand”. And, fo course, the ME and Lebanon are filled with such people. So what makes him any different than Nasrallah, and is his arrest just because he is a Nasrallah enemy? Did he actually kill someone? What is his crime? The article I read didn’t spell that out.

    Thanks.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 17, 2015, 8:03 am
  24. AP,

    The firebrand cleric was not created out of thin air, he was a product of two main dynamics; the heavy handed approach by the party of God in Lebanon unchecked by any other counter balance, and the vacuum in the Sunni leadership as Saad Hariri son of slain PM Rafik Hariri left Lebanon for security reasons and still remains outside the country.
    He gained momentum on the platform of restoring Sunni dignity and rights but it ended sourly at the end with his entourage taking aim at the Lebanese army accusing it of being a tool of HA. This resulted in the death of almost 20 soldiers. A big no no for all the Lebanese.

    Posted by Maverick | August 18, 2015, 5:28 am
  25. Thanks Maverick for the background.

    Are there any other Sunni “firebrands” in Lebanon, countering HA, who have yet to go violent?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 18, 2015, 8:53 am
  26. AP,

    I don’t know the specific answer to your question, but i am tempted to conduct a hypothetical thought experiment on you. Will you please oblige?

    Let’s say a Chechen, Kazakh or Uzbek radical Islamist militant crosses from Turkey into Syria, joins ISIS, and from there traverses the border into Lebanon, assumes a certain role as a “firebrand” Sunni hostile to HA, and proceeds to “go violent”?

    How would you feel about that as an Israel-leaning Jew living in America who has consistently displayed anti-HA proclivities on this blog? Granted, feelings are cheap these days, so perhaps the more pertinent question is: What would you do at that point? 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 18, 2015, 11:06 am
  27. Samer,

    I rely on the kindness of many of the Lebanese on this forum to be patient with me and provide common info to a non-Lebanese as myself. If the questions bother you, I recommend a strong sigh and a click to another website (just ask Danny),

    I mean, if there was a whole lot of discussion between other members of this forum, I would try not to bud in and disrupt this hypothetical exchange. But in a spurt of quiet, like now, I may as well bring up questions to the unsuspecting Lebanese experts.

    So, I guess I’m wondering how, if any, Sunni-Shia tensions are being handled in Lebanon these days.

    Any non-citizen causing friction in a country should be thrown out. I think the GOI has perfected this sort of thing. Remember Cat Stevens?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 18, 2015, 1:02 pm
  28. I think those Brown students could benefit from a field trip to the new Bible Museum…

    http://news.yahoo.com/bible-museum-display-artifacts-holy-land-under-deal-140223334.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 18, 2015, 1:06 pm
  29. AP,

    Actually, I DON’T remember Cat Stevens! Seriously, and in all honesty, I have no idea what you’re talking about! 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 18, 2015, 1:21 pm
  30. AP,

    You argue that “the GOI has perfected this sort of thing”. But let’s consider this hypothetical scenario: What if the “non-citizen causing friction in a country” like Israel is Jewish? How would the GOI be able to kick him out when the Law of Return [or ‘Aaliyah’] clearly states that any Jew born anywhere on Earth is entitled to Israeli citizenship simply upon presenting themselves at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv?

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 18, 2015, 1:42 pm
  31. Samer,

    Good point. Because Israel is set-up to be a safe-haven for Jews, they don’t seem to deport Jews. Instead, they throw them in jail or in Meir Kahane’s case, throws them out of the Knesset. Unless, of course, such person is an anti-Zionist arab MK. In these cases, they’re allowed to participate in vociferous discussion.

    Anyway, here is an example showing Israel DOES deport non-Israeli Jews…

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4513508,00.html

    On another note, thank goodness we have that agreement with Iran. I feel safer already,,,

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/08/18/israel-must-be-obliterated-new-iranian-video-imagines-muslim-invasion-of-jerusalem/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 18, 2015, 2:04 pm
  32. Wow, AP! Nice work on that legal deportation citation! You milked it for all it was worth!

    Unfortunately, you comprehended that article incorrectly! Nowhere did the article state that the “non-Israeli Jew” was deported. It said he was “likely to be deported”. This article is from 2014 and I have no idea how this pedophile saga ended, but apparently neither do you! If you want to argue that this man was definitively deported from Israel, you need to provide another citation, because this one is insufficient!

    Also, you violate the spirit of my argument by appealing to the highly exceptional, fringe, individual cases of pedophile Jewish sex offenders traveling on forged travel documents, with outstanding foreign arrest warrants and wanted on extradition grounds! If this is how you define “causing friction in a country”, then our perpetual misunderstandings and miscommunications on this blog are suddenly not all that perplexing! Good job muddying the waters … 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 18, 2015, 2:46 pm
  33. you need to provide another citation, because this one is insufficient!

    Samer,

    Does the lack of jewish deportees from Israel really bother you? Why?

    If this is how you define “causing friction in a country”, then our perpetual misunderstandings and miscommunications on this blog are suddenly not all that perplexing!

    Samer,

    Let’s go back to the beginning if you don’t mind. A “Firebrand” Sunni cleric was deported from Lebanon. I didn’t know he wasn’t Lebanese. I concurred. I said that any foreign agitator should be deported from any country where such a person is “working”. I suppose every country has laws pertaining to problems like this; some more liberal than others.

    So, it seems like the issue of deportation has switched to Israel (your doing). That’s fine. Did you want to discuss Israeli deportation laws? Are we done with the rest of the world including Lebanon? Palestine? USA? Iran?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 18, 2015, 3:44 pm
  34. AP,

    I’m so impressed by your Arabic! It’s so advanced, so subtle, so nuanced!

    Who? “Habibi!”
    What? “Habibi!”
    Why? “Habibi!”
    Where? “Habibi!”
    When? You guessed it! “Habibi!”

    Are you a Princeton graduate or something? 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 19, 2015, 12:42 pm
  35. Remember Cat Stevens? (*)

    (*): obligatory, bizarre non-sequitur for no apparent reason whatsoever

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 19, 2015, 12:47 pm
  36. you guys are still talking about the Middle East here? Fuck the Middle East!

    Posted by Vulcan | August 19, 2015, 11:11 pm
  37. Karaho!

    Posted by Vulcan | August 19, 2015, 11:12 pm
  38. QN, who you gonna vote for ?

    Posted by Vulcan | August 19, 2015, 11:15 pm
  39. I know AP is voting for Trump lol

    Posted by Vulcan | August 19, 2015, 11:15 pm
  40. Can’t blame anybody anymore … The world is divided

    Posted by Vulcan | August 19, 2015, 11:17 pm
  41. We need a divine intervention

    Posted by Vulcan | August 19, 2015, 11:19 pm
  42. Good night and goodbye I mean until then lol

    Posted by Vulcan | August 19, 2015, 11:20 pm
  43. I know AP is voting for Trump lol

    Vulcan,

    At a party we had recently with a lot of my jewish friends, they all asked me about Trump for some reason. I said it was really simple, the worst republican is better than the best democrat.

    Someone sarcastically replied, “Tell us how you REALLY feel!”. I told him that’s how I really feel.

    This Iran Agreement has really divided the jewish community, which surprises me, because the “agreement” is horrible for everyone including Israel.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 20, 2015, 6:59 am
  44. AP,

    You should work that party anecdote you just told into a film script and pitch it to David Lynch! It sounds creepy as hell and would work great with the right musical accompaniment …

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 20, 2015, 11:04 am
  45. Tocata and Fugue for Peace NewZ

    It sounds creepy as hell and would work great with the right musical accompaniment …

    Samer,

    I am sorry you find me disgusting; no need to beat around the bush. But my “idears” are mine sorry to say, and I have toyed with movie scripts for some time. Never anything to do with the ME mind you.

    However, I do love creepy movies and if I could do a Steven King-type movie where American Republicans and Conservatives save the Palestinians and the Iranians from the evil Israelis, I would do it in a heartbeat. Help me out with it habibi. q;o)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 20, 2015, 11:34 am
  46. AP,

    You’re neither intelligent nor informed enough to realize it of course, but it’s extremely hypocritical when your Republican buddies over at Fox News criticize the UN for being “target practice for bad guys” and for “not doing anything”, when it’s actually US design that the UN not be able to project force and therefore limit itself to “peacekeeping”! I don’t know what the exact US motivations here are, but I think they’re partly driven by the fear that an assertive UN might pose a threat to the US or its interests overseas! Think John Bolton and his hostility towards the institution!

    That’s why it’s empty bluster when some American bonehead demands that the UN be defunded and abolished! For one thing, being a multi-lateral institution, the UN doesn’t have to abide strictly by the whims of the US and I’m sure will be glad to see the Americans out should they so desire but can in all likelihood continue to function! If the Republicans, egged on by their maniacal friends in Israel, want to roll their sleeves up and deal with Iran themselves and unilaterally, let them do it! Everybody is already bored of them talking about doing it, and nobody is afraid!

    So yeah, come on, dude, stop boring us with this trolling drivel of yours! Whatever it is that you want done, go ahead and try to do it!

    And finally, I’m too busy and nowhere near knowledgeable enough to try to rebut all the Fox News-driven garbage on the Iran deal that you’re polluting this blog with, but luckily for me I guess, Max Fisher over Vox News seems to be making a career out of doing exactly that:

    http://www.vox.com/authors/max-fisher

    I will remind you that Max is one of those liberal Jews that you seem to despise so much! Relish that knowledge and spend a bit of time with his work if you can tolerate it! 🙂

    P.S.: And please, don’t resort anywhere in your reply to a desperate first amendment right to free speech defense. We’ve gone over this before. This blog is private property, not public! If you want to exercise your free speech so badly, pay the hosting fees, learn to deploy WordPress, and start a blog of your own! You enjoy no rights here, only privileges afforded to you by an admittedly extremely tolerant QN!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 20, 2015, 11:51 am
  47. You enjoy no rights here, only privileges afforded to you by an admittedly extremely tolerant QN!

    Samer,

    Thanks for reminder. Yes, I almost forgot. Hey look, if I don’t post “habibi” anymore, will you be OK with that?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 20, 2015, 12:24 pm
  48. AP,

    I’m actually OK with whatever you do around here! Don’t be fooled by my feigned outrage! I only put on this act to justify my responses to you which are designed not to influence you in any way, but to destroy your credibility as a serious commenter around here!

    Every time you make a stupid retort to me, which is all the time actually, you fall further and further into my trap, and you reveal yourself more starkly to be the complete imbecile that you are!

    So yeah, proceed as you please! Say “habibi” as many times as you wish! Does it really matter at this point? All the goodwill that ever existed here has been utterly destroyed by now!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 20, 2015, 12:54 pm
  49. Obama has said yesterday that the “Military Option” is still a possibility if the Iranians don’t comply with the “agreement”.

    Who here believes President Obama?

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/08/20/three-years-after-obama-red-line-chemical-weapons-threat-still-in-syria-iran/?intcmp=hplnws

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 21, 2015, 8:30 am
  50. I do!

    If the Japanese can deal with the Fukushima nuclear disaster as well as they have done (albeit yes, extremely adversely), then even a nuclear-armed Iran can be warred with at some point in the future and it can be managed!

    Until then, there is no reason for the US to war with Iran right now, certainly not to appease a bunch of right-wing morons in Israel or political degenerates in the Gulf! If Naftali Bennett and his cadre of Jewish blowhards want to bomb Iran themselves, then let them try! Make way, everyone, let’s see these chumps try! (these guys are so clueless and desperate that not even their propagandized, doped-up loyalists can successfully prosecute arguments on random blogs on the Internet!) 🙂

    Keep in mind I say this as someone who would like to see nothing more at this point than Bashar Assad deposed from power in Syria and the citizens of that country restored to some semblance of peace and tranquility!

    If Iran wants to embolden the Syrian regime with its new-found fortunes, as so many dreadful pundits have argued, then this can easily be matched by an increased US-Turkish-Gulf-Egyptian commitment to deposing Bashar! This is so obvious a strategic recommendation that it reveals the elemental truth of the dreadful situation in Syria: Never mind that the US doesn’t really want to depose Bashar, nobody else really wants to either! Not even the people who swear in public that they are enemies of Bashar!

    The basic reality of the contemporary Arab World is that there is not enough room for everyone (never mind that the corrupt few who run the show have insatiable material appetites), and therefore by necessity millions of people will fall through the cracks for the foreseeable future. It would be foolhardy for any American leader to accept responsibility for such a tragic situation or worse, try to turn it around! This is a Middle Eastern problem for Middle Easterners themselves to fix! As in medicine, the “hippocratic oath” that the rest of the world must swear in trying to assist is first and foremost to DO NO MORE [ADDITIONAL] HARM!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 21, 2015, 10:43 am
  51. Obama with a “military option” works against low hanging friut like Gaddafi, but not against Assad’s chemicals, or Russia’s theft of Crimea. Not even a threat, not even a movement of forces, not even a whisper.

    My “crowd” doesn’t believe Obama, and we have the data to back it up.

    The Japanese had to clean up a nuclear disaster. But we’re talking about creating one, on someone else’s property. Don’t see the comparison. Apparently the US is supplying the GOI bunker buster bombs, but guess what, how are the Israelis going to deliver them to the recipient? You need a long-range bomber. More bluster.

    Methinks the US doesn’t want the GOI to go rogue, and mess up this wonderful agreement.

    This is a Middle Eastern problem for Middle Easterners themselves to fix!

    And they won’t and they can’t. Every decade it’s another ME power-broker/Grand Poobah. So when they threaten a supposed ally, we should work with that ally first and not put our trust in a nation that publicly wants our destruction. “Trust” should not be part of ANY agreement with a violent enemy like Iran.

    …an increased US-Turkish-Gulf-Egyptian commitment to deposing Bashar…

    Sound like a theoretical, non-working Rube Goldberg machine…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 21, 2015, 1:17 pm
  52. AP,

    Instead of directing all your ire toward Obama, you should argue instead that it was never a strictly American responsibility (regardless of who occupies the White House and what political persuasion he or she possesses) to exclusively address the admittedly gargantuan security challenges that you list.

    Granted, my memory on the matter is starting to get a bit spotty, but wasn’t it NATO that attacked Gaddafi in Libya?

    I agree that Syria should have followed the same course. Someone should have attacked Assad. I’m actually baffled until today as to why no-one did!

    Let’s not even talk about Crimea! That’s a whole other theater and I’m not even gonna touch it right now!

    Anyway, say, I’ve commented enough this week and need to wrap things up over here work-wise so that I can enjoy the weekend! I’m gonna take some time off on my end, just letting you know…

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 21, 2015, 3:19 pm
  53. Samer,

    I just think the US should have walked away and kept the pressure on the Iranians. No “boots on the ground”. No “war”.

    I blame this important decision on Barry. It was his to make.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 21, 2015, 4:04 pm
  54. AP,

    Just so we’re clear, who’s Barry? Is it Obama or John Kerry? 🙂

    I disagree with you that the US could have walked away and kept the pressure on the Iranians! Seeing as how much of a trust deficit there was going into this thing, the US dancing around with passive-aggressive, potentially unscrupulous, not to mention frivolous, theatrics like that would not have contributed to building any lasting goodwill into the agreement! Being direct, simple, upfront, honest, generous, easy-to-understand-and-work-with was definitely the way to go here!

    And don’t give the Iranians too much credit! They have an aging, declining population, they’re running out of water, their oil production has matured, any nuclear infrastructure they build will just be a military target should any hostilities break out in the future between them and anyone else! Flushing their economy with cash from oil sales is actually likelier to weaken it than strengthen it (inflation, trade imbalances, etc.)! Relax! The US is so far ahead of them that it can run complete circles around them without them even realizing what’s happening! Let’s give this thing a chance! 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 21, 2015, 4:45 pm
  55. Ok back to the Middle East

    The Iran Nuclear Deal Means War Between Israel and Hezbollah.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-schanzer/the-iran-nuclear-deal-means-war_b_8015144.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 12:27 am
  56. Responding to concerns, Obama drops ‘my way or war’ tone on Iran nuclear deal.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 12:31 am
  57. Also happening

    “Summer weather is characterized by long periods of mind-numbing monotony followed by short bursts of terrifying chaos. We’re in one of those chaotic periods right now, where the August doldrums collapsed and gave us a tiny but powerful hurricane in the Atlantic, and a potential hurricane threatening Hawaii next week. » Yesterday 4:54pm

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 12:34 am
  58. يا الاهي

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 12:38 am
  59. We have to call for peace it’s the only way

    I don’t understand why Hizballa and Iran don’t normalize relations with Israel ? Why is this so forbidden ?
    Wtf dudes in there ? Take it easy mofos, Israel has a moral and normal right to exist in peace without your threats
    Khalas they already are there, there’s room for all the old and new refugees stop the fucking wars
    War em uh what’s it good for mothofuckers
    Absolutleh good for nothin em ah
    😎

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 12:46 am
  60. HIzbowlla , listen up folks, it’s time to make peace with Israel, embrace little Satan because you are cousins and y’all are now good with Big Satan with the deal thing so Khalas cut the crapollah

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 12:56 am
  61. AP you handle the Israelis

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 12:57 am
  62. I’m quitting

    Posted by Vulcan | August 22, 2015, 1:01 am
  63. AP you handle the Israelis

    Vulcan,

    Thank you for giving me the honors.

    C’mon you Jewish hardliners, let’s all live in peace with a single Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the sea! No apartheid walls, no BDS campaigns, no HA , Hamas and Iranian missile threats, just the peace we’ve all been looking for! No more war.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 22, 2015, 8:19 am
  64. Hey AP,

    You’re wasting your exquisite taste, class and sophistication on us primitive, Arab schlubs here at QN!

    You should be out in Hollywood with Mayim Bialik trying to make being observant and religious trendy!

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/news/big-bang-theorys-mayim-bialik-its-not-trendy-to-be-observant-or-religious-in-hollywood-circles/ar-BBm0g16

    And while you’re at it, surely you keenly realize that Bialik must completely overhaul her wardrobe! I mean, seriously, check out that picture! G-d did not toil over the creation of the universe only to approve of a dress so damn drab, conservative and boring! 🙂

    P.S.: Did you like what I did there, substituting the ‘-‘ for the ‘o’? Are the heavens smiling down at me right now or what?

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 22, 2015, 11:59 pm
  65. AP,

    I made some references to Fukushima earlier and while I was hoping you’d bite and engage me on a substantive discussion around the topic, you never went beyond, “I don’t see the comparison.” I was going to let it go but I have some time this morning and I want to explain myself more fully for the sake of the blog.

    First, some necessary disclaimers:
    1) I’m not a nuclear engineer, don’t keep up with the technology, don’t know anything about nuclear weaponry but a bit about nuclear energy (both fission and as-of-yet experimental fusion) and nuclear power plant designs.
    2) I actually don’t know much about either the Iran Deal or what the Iranians are doing exactly in the nuclear arena. I trust that they are being constrained to only “peaceful purposes”, which I interpret to mean that they will deploy power plants on their own territory and not, say, ballistic-propelled, explosive, nuclear warheads on the territories of others!

    So having said that, let’s discuss the military ramifications of Fukushima. Granted, from what I understand Fukushima was dated technology. I hear occasional references to supposedly “next-generation” nuclear fission power plant designs that are again supposedly much safer and more robust, but knowing nothing about these modern designs, I have to fall back on what I know about Fukushima, and make the perhaps erroneous assumption that the Iranians will deploy something similar!

    Fukushima showed that nuclear power plants can catastrophically fail via the following mechanism: They need a discrete amount of time, totaling more than one hour, to cool down their reactors before the plants can be safely shut down! The cooling process during this period is totally dependent on a reliable supply of electricity. Reliability can be increased by deploying redundancies of course, but if a disaster occurs that takes down not only the primary electricity supply but also all backup electrical redundancies, then a cascade of events can occur that can result in catastrophe. The power plant will basically turn into a “dirty bomb”.

    When electricity to the cooling system goes down, the cooling system cannot perform its function anymore, and everything starts to heat up dramatically. The coolant itself vaporizes in the system, and dangerously high pressures result that can turn explosive. The reactor runs the risk of melting down and breaching its core. If the core is breached, then radiation from the reactor starts to leak, resulting in an immediate health hazard to all on-site personnel in the vicinity, who must therefore be evacuated. Depending on wind patterns, surrounding urban areas might need to be evacuated as well.

    In the absence of humans, dealing with the situation on-site and bringing it under control will need to rely on automated [robotic], industrial equipment. This equipment will only work for a certain amount of time before the radiation destroys it and it must be replaced. Once the situation is hopefully brought under control, then the radiation contamination of the surrounding area must be cleaned up before humans can move back in and resume civilizational functions (farming, irrigating, etc.). This clean-up process is pain-staking, expensive and will take decades of time!

    You might wonder how I know this. Well, luckily for you I guess, I am an avid viewer of the science show NOVA on PBS. They recently collaborated with science journalist Miles O’Brien on a documentary around this very subject which made for fascinating viewing:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/nuclear-disaster.html

    But, unluckily for me I guess, I am pretty sure that you don’t watch PBS, despite the fact that it is freely available to the public! I suspect that part of the reason you don’t watch is because the Republicans have convinced you that PBS will corrupt your mind with impure, “liberal” ideas! 🙂

    Keep in mind though that this situation does not apply just to the Iranians! Anyone in the Middle East who builds a nuclear power plant will need to worry about this stuff as well. And the last I checked, the Saudis, Emiratis and even Jordanians were in varying stages of deploying nuclear power plant technology! It’s common knowledge by now that the Israelis have nuclear weapons, but I don’t think they have any nuclear power plants, do they? I’m actually not sure!

    So what is the point of this rambling? I’ll keep it short, because this comment is already long enough and I have to leave some things to your imagination after all! Basically, when someone like Jeb Bush goes on American TV and says things like, “The mullahs of Iran cannot be deterred or trusted with nuclear technology!”, I think he’s flat out wrong! For their own sakes and no-one else’s, as soon as the Iranians turn those nuclear power plants on, they better be deterable and better be trustworthy!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 23, 2015, 11:45 am
  66. THIS is the story:
    #YouStink hashtag on Twitter

    Amazing Lebanon…..

    Posted by lally | August 23, 2015, 3:00 pm
  67. Oh my God, guys! You think this blog is frequented by weirdos?

    There’s a woman called Sophia who tweets at @les_politiques. From what I gather, she’s a pro-Assad, pro-Hezbollah Syrian Christian who writes for Russia Today! Needless to say, she’s annoying as F*CK!

    Anyway, she’s going crazy on Twitter right now calling the whole #YouStink thing a Saudi conspiracy! Just go read her tweets and then weep: curl up into a fetal position, suck your thumb or whatever, and wail for your mother! (and when you’re done with that, if you’re still in Lebanon, dash to the nearest embassy, beg and plead for immigration papers, and get the hell out of Dodge already!)

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 23, 2015, 6:00 pm
  68. You think this blog is frequented by weirdos?

    Samer,

    You’re the only one on this blog that is sane and normal. But, don’t worry, we can fox that! q;o)

    I’ll answer your earlier posts tomorrow morning.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 23, 2015, 9:58 pm
  69. Fix…. (one day we’ll employ spell check)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 23, 2015, 10:00 pm
  70. #You_Reek is still alive despite the vandals of last night. This movement is, for once, a purely civil movement void of any affiliation to sect or political party. I can say as a witness, there were on Saturday a tiny minority who were adamant in penetrating the security barriers and provoking the authorities. On the other side there were also a few idiots in the ranks of the army and riot squad who could not handle the pressure and reacted irrationally.
    All in all, a good step for the secular Lebanese and although it’s too soon to tell what the outcomes will be, to have a thousands of Lebanese rejecting the whole political class and the elite without exception, holding only Lebanese flags, is a good step forward.

    Posted by Maverick | August 24, 2015, 5:42 am
  71. OK, I just read the Jonathan Schanzer piece in the Huffington Post (linked to on this blog by Vulcan over the weekend) that argued for the inevitability of a future (imminent?) war between Hezbollah and Israel due to the success of the Iran Nuclear Deal!

    And granted, while I’m just another two-bit, know-nothing maniac on the Internet, I am sorry but I am completely unimpressed by this analysis! I’ll concede that it might have gotten Israel right, but it definitely got Hezbollah wrong! I’m talking ‘wrong’ to the point of caricature, ‘wrong’ to the point of cut-and-paste-some-boilerplate-horsesh*t-then-press-publish-and-call-it-a-day!

    But that’s not the reason for this comment! Nah, that’d be boring! Let’s make it interesting!

    What I want to do here is cast extreme doubt on that statistic that gets bandied about everywhere that “Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets dispersed across Lebanon and aimed at Israel with launchers strategically placed in high-population areas”!

    Whatever, dude! I don’t believe this statistic at all! I want to see the frickin’ data! 🙂

    Lebanon has an area of 4,306 square miles, but Hezbollah doesn’t have access to the entire country. Let’s assume that Hezbollah only has access to South Lebanon and to the Beqaa Valley. South Lebanon would be the Nabatieh and South Governorates, totaling 408 and 359 square miles respectively. The Beqaa Valley is 75 miles long and 10 miles wide, equaling 750 square miles.

    Add all that Hezbollah territory together and you get 750+408+359=1,517 square miles, or 35% of Lebanon’s area (which roughly coincides with the percentage of the population who are Hezbollah loyalists, right?)!

    But apparently, all these rockets are not out in the open where every Tom, Dick and Harry can see and target them! No, they’re hidden in the high-population areas!

    Now granted, in a large country like the US, high-density urban areas only comprise around 2% of the country’s total area! But Lebanon is a small, crowded place. So while I have no idea what the exact statistic is, let’s really pad it and assume that 10% of Hezbollah’s territory consists of “high-population areas”! That’d be 0.10*1,517 = 152 square miles!

    Moving on, a city block in the US is apparently 2.5 acres, or 0.004 square miles. Assuming that Lebanon has city blocks of roughly equivalent size, then Hezbollah’s 152 square miles of high-population areas would equate to 152/0.004=38,000 city blocks!

    Spread 100,000 rockets across 38,000 city blocks and you get 100/38=2.6 missiles per block!

    Now keep in mind we got this figure even assuming 10% high-population area which is probably an outrageously high estimate! The real percentage is probably far smaller which means the real “rockets per block” metric would be far higher than 2.6!

    Now let’s discuss logistics: Does every city block have its own rocket launcher? If not, how are rockets transported from their storage sites to their launch locations?

    How big are these rockets anyway? If they’re right there at the Lebanese-Israeli border, then sure, they can be pretty small! But if they’re in the Beqaa, then they’d have to be of considerable range, right? Which means they’d be quite large, no? And if there is limited transport infrastructure, they’d need to be stored in concentration close to their launchers, right? And if all that is happening in a high-population area, then surely some astute resident will find the gaul to scream out, “HELLO! My wife and kids are sleeping on mountains of frickin’ rockets!”, right?

    I’m sorry, but until I see the data, this whole “Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets” story, especially when peddled by biased, pro-Israel partisans, will make no sense to me at all! 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 24, 2015, 11:51 am
  72. Maverick,

    Please keep us up to date on the “You Stink” riots. I’m thinking it’s short term; just “hot steam” leaking. Nothing major…

    I’m sorry, but until I see the data, this whole “Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets” story, especially when peddled by biased, pro-Israel partisans, will make no sense to me at all!

    Samer,

    The 100,000 rockets is an estimate of rockets in HA’s possession. They range from mostly inaccurate Katyushas to much more accurate, long range Grad rockets. Nasrallah regretted starting the last war, where again, Israel wasn’t interested in a “proportional” responses to appease some European pin head. The last HA-Israel war shows that about 4000 missiles flew over the border from Lebanon into Israel.

    These two websites have footnotes for anyone to review…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah_armed_strength

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Lebanon_War

    Samer,

    Getting back to the Iran Agreement, I had a discussion with an Iranian Jew at the JCC yesterday. He said he was last in Iran just 4 months ago. He FAVORS the agreement. I had to read his face and carefully parse his words, and my impression is that we have not evaluated Iran correctly. They are big and powerful, and we need to bow down to their new-found place in the world. “They are much smarter than the Arabs”, he said.

    Since last week, I have mellowed a bit, and I almost don’t care. Let’s go through the motions. Israel, apparently, doesn’t think an operation will do much. Barrack Obama (Barry) thinks destroying their nuke sites will start a World War. That’s OK, I’ll learn Persian and Shia Islam if that’s what it takes.

    Today’s Key Phrase: “Snap-Back Sanctions” (please remember this for future reference)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 24, 2015, 12:45 pm
  73. AP,

    With all due respect, you again fell into one of my traps! I was very careful in my post to limit myself strictly to using the term “rocket”, but you were sloppy in yours and conflated “rocket” with “missile”! 🙂

    Again, granted, I am not a military man, but I understand the technical difference between the two is that a missile is basically a rocket with a guidance system! But to get to that point and make it all worthwhile, I think a very real practical difference also ends up being that missiles are on average larger than rockets!

    There’s a reason, after all, why the ubiquitous, shoulder-fired armament is called a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and not a missile-propelled grenade!

    You somewhat made my point for me in your post. Out of an estimated 35,000 or so rockets that HA apparently had going into the 2006 War, it only deployed 4,000 of them, which is a very small percentage of the total! Of course one can argue that HA restrained itself tactically. But I guess one can equally speculate that HA was constrained operationally by supply chain logistics that had to do with more than just rocket availability!

    Again, don’t get me wrong! HA is a threat and Israel has every right to defend itself! What I am trying to do here is temper the “100,000 rockets” hysteria (a statistic which even if true probably vastly comprises smaller, unguided armaments that should not under any circumstances be confused with large missiles), and assert that any link between that hysteria and the Iran Nuclear Deal is tenuous and highly speculative at best!

    Finally, I wouldn’t say that the Iranians are smarter than the Arabs per se! I honestly think they’re just more efficient, industrious and diligent! Over time even the slightest advantages, however conferred, compound!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 24, 2015, 1:36 pm
  74. With all due respect, you again fell into one of my traps! I was very careful in my post to limit myself strictly to using the term “rocket”, but you were sloppy in yours and conflated “rocket” with “missile”!

    Samer,

    Your “trap” may have some sort of importance to you, but not to me. Whether the “projectile” is guided or not, it is a threat to Israel. Your “trap” nothwithstanding.

    The table referenced above states that HA has well over 100,000 rockets and missiles at it’s disposal.

    Out of an estimated 35,000 or so rockets that HA apparently had going into the 2006 War, it only deployed 4,000 of them, which is a very small percentage of the total!

    Speaking of words, the word “deployed” is a bit inaccurate. It is not the number of rockets and missiles deployed that matters, it is how many actually fell inside of Israel. 4000 rockets and missiles landing in Israel from HA (or Hamas for that matter) is quite a bit more than 1 or 2, which is usually an tolerable, weekly occurrence. I would like to see what the US would do if 4000 missiles (or rockets) fell into Texas from Mexico. If and when another cross-border war between Israel and Lebanon ignites, I suspect that 4000 number will climb accordingly, along with the destruction on both sides.

    So what you may call “hysteria”, is your right to do so. I think Israel’s “concerns” regarding both Iran, HA, and Hamas are both real and justified.

    Of course, it there is anything to get “hysterical” about, it would be the carnage we’ve been seeing in Syria. I wonder the BDSers are saying about Assad and Iran these days?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 24, 2015, 2:06 pm
  75. AP,

    I owe you an apology! I took a closer look at that table in that wikipedia link you referenced, and you are correct that in a certain category of weapon (multiple rocket launcher systems), the missile/rocket distinction doesn’t seem to be important or significant (I repeat that I am an amateur at this stuff)! So your conflating “rocket” with “missile” was appropriate! And yes, according to your data Hezbollah seems to have tens of thousands of these things on hand!

    But I fall back on my logistics argument. That table tallied the rockets and missiles but it didn’t tally the launch systems! Those trucks seem quite large and should be quite difficult to hide, and any transportation links that supply them should be readily apparent as well (I am assuming that the rockets and missiles that feed into these launch systems are heavy enough that they can’t be transported via human “bucket brigade” but might they require something even larger than, say, a pick-up truck/”technical”?)!

    Moving on, I agree that the “deployed” that I used was inaccurate but it was definitely better than the passive “flew over the border” euphemism that you used! I was hedging and going off your remark because I didn’t have any data on hand to use myself! I agree that it’s irrelevant whether any of those rockets and missiles hit any targets or caused significant damage to Israel or not. Once they breach Israeli airspace, it’s war! Obviously the same logic applies (within reason) on the Lebanese side of the border concerning Israel!

    Lastly, fine, I will concede on the 100,000 number since I’m not willing to embark on a deep audit right now, but honestly I still don’t believe it and am baffled as to where in tiny Lebanon Hezbollah can find places to hide all this stuff. Alas, I don’t want to hammer the “logistics” theme too hard (the Israelis are no doubt experts at this stuff already), but obviously all these weapons are of no use if they never come out of hiding or have nowhere/nothing to launch from!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 24, 2015, 4:10 pm
  76. This “100,000 rockets” subject reminds me a bit of the “250 billion barrels” number that is always cited for Saudi Arabian (SA) oil reserves.

    If you look into its history, back when Aramco was an American company, that SA oil reserves number was far smaller, less than 100 billion barrels I think! But when the company was nationalized in the 1980’s and became Saudi Aramco, the independent auditing stopped and that number began to grow steadily year after year until it stabilized around 250 billion barrels, which is where it stood the last I checked!

    This number gets cited in every energy report I’ve ever read that gets published anywhere, but if you ask oil professionals in the field about it, nobody really believes it to be true at all!

    If you challenge the Saudis on the matter, the closest you will get to a concrete resolution would be them telling you, “Don’t worry! We will continue to honor/fulfill our contracts!”

    But they will not let any party conduct an independent audit at all. It’s a complete non-starter for them, which really is too bad!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 24, 2015, 4:56 pm
  77. Samer,

    I wouldn’t get caught up on numbers. The fact of the matter is that HA has a “crap-load” of rockets and missles, that can cause a “crap-load” of death and destruction. That is why there is “hysteria”. Added to the mix is a “crap-load” of funds that are to be released to Iran. This will not reduce Iran’s policy of arming Assad and HA. It will do the opposite: increase such an influx of weaponry.

    As far as space is concerned, HA and Hamas have excellent methods of hiding missile launchers using sliding doors in the ground, etc, that they’ve proudly displayed in YouTube videoes. HA is armed to the teeth, thanks to Iran. Let’s see if they really want to free the Palestinians again. Personally, my guess is they won’t stay quiet for long. People with guns want to use them.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 24, 2015, 10:24 pm
  78. It’s Obvious Eng Samer never been to South Lebanon or Mount Lebanon or if he has it’s very brief, my guess is statistically speaking. meh meh
    Thank Elohim the comrades at IAF know the area well.
    And Thank Allah the Men of the Resistance are well armed.
    And a special salute and thanks to Uncle Sam, and the West always.
    God Bless America.
    Let’s focus on Cuba bengan pues tontos!!

    Posted by Vulcan | August 25, 2015, 1:05 am
  79. Maverick you are dreaming, the revolution has been taken over by the “crowd” you know whom them is
    Get out fast 😁

    Posted by Vulcan | August 25, 2015, 1:14 am
  80. You can put a countdown stop watch to how fast this will turn into us versus them tribe thing

    Posted by Vulcan | August 25, 2015, 1:16 am
  81. Shall I name the parties ?? Come on

    Posted by Vulcan | August 25, 2015, 1:18 am
  82. Lebanon is the most essence of corruption in the known Galaxy with lots of completion from the surroundings

    Posted by Vulcan | August 25, 2015, 1:20 am
  83. Competition that is

    Posted by Vulcan | August 25, 2015, 1:21 am
  84. Goodnight and goodbye

    Posted by Vulcan | August 25, 2015, 1:22 am
  85. Vulcan,
    And this is why we shouldn’t give up. Here is a chance after 10 years of M14 and M8 polluting our air waves, our streets, our homes pitting the Lebanese against one another when they’re all in it together fighting over the bigger share of the pie.
    The idiots have erected a wall to keep the protesters away from the government buildings. In true Lebanese fashion, the wall has become a mural of graffiti.
    Those punks that set fire to property are either sent by a wiley crass shrewd politician, or just unemployed youth taking out their frustrations. But it shouldn’t stop the majority of Lebanese from going down this Saturday and demanding the basics. At least give more power to the municipalities to decide their own waste management

    Posted by Maverick | August 25, 2015, 5:28 am
  86. Vulcan,

    You’re right! I’ve never been to South Lebanon and only visited parts of Mount Lebanon very briefly a long time ago! But don’t dismiss me as some naïve, foreign rube! I’ve experienced things that young, Lebanese whippersnappers in their twenties today cannot even imagine!

    I was born in Beirut in the late seventies (don’t want to be more specific than that right now out of identity privacy concerns), and granted, while I was whisked away to safety shortly afterwards, because my grandparents never abandoned Beirut, my parents and I used to visit them when it was safe to do so for summer “vacations” all throughout THE GODDAMN CIVIL WAR! 🙂

    I have childhood recollections that I tell Americans which blow their minds!

    I don’t remember what year exactly this was, but we’re in literally war-torn Beirut, right? I just spent the day bored out of my wits in an apartment on Hamra Street in West Beirut with no electricity and therefore no television! To take showers, I’d boil water on the stove from a plastic cistern that my grandma kept on her balcony, and then light candles in the bathroom just to see what the hell I was doing!

    I think a few days before that, I went to visit a fellow-expat, schoolmate [in another part of Beirut, but don’t remember where exactly] and we got our kicks lighting fireworks on the street outside. My friend was a bit of a dunce and didn’t release them on time and injured his hand!

    Before that still, I think we went to eat at some restaurant in Broummana. I got food poisoned.

    I remember also going to visit a Maronite, also fellow-expat, schoolmate in Jounieh one time. Her father quizzed me on my family background and my religious beliefs and practices!

    But the memory that will always remain with me is of me and my family packed in some sh*t-kicker car driving around Beirut, I think going somewhere by the coast for lunch. I’m looking out the window and we’re passing bombed-out buildings, no windows, shattered glass everywhere. In the alleyways between buildings I could make out tanks and heavy artillery pieces!

    But then we get to a check-point, and there is this militiaman there, armed with rifle in hand and bullet rounds strung across his chest! He asks to see our papers! My father obliged.

    Then the militiaman asks, “So what brings you to Beirut?”

    And my father responds, in total deadpan seriousness, “We’re on holiday!” 🙂

    The militiaman let us through. Thankfully during all those trips, I neither personally witnessed nor experienced any violence!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 25, 2015, 11:23 am
  87. The last time I was in Lebanon was the Winter of 1995. I went skiing in Faraya!

    It was a warm day on the slopes and the snow was very slushy. When the sun started to set in the evening, the temperatures dipped, the slush froze, and inept me, I slipped and dislocated my shoulder on the ice!

    When the emergency responders came up in their snowmobile to fetch me, the first question they asked was, “Do you have insurance?”

    To which I responded, “No, but don’t worry! You’ll get paid! Just get me to a hospital!” 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 25, 2015, 11:30 am
  88. AP,

    Going back to the Jonathan Schanzer article in the Huffington Post, his war scenario starts with a flush Iran coming to the aid of Assad in Syria, which frees up Hezbollah to retreat back to Lebanon and resume its role as “harasser-in-charge” of Israel.

    But there presumably are control mechanisms built-in here, right, that don’t make that simplistic analysis a foregone conclusion?

    A newly emboldened Assad with Iranian assistance will presumably cause Turkey and the Gulf to resume their pleading with the United States to intervene (the US will in turn insist that they culturally address the whole ISIS/Al Qaeda phenomenon first).

    A US that’s friends with Iran might be able to dissuade it from coming to Assad’s defense.

    A Hezbollah that’s newly emboldened in Lebanon will cause its opponents there to plead with the international community for assistance in that regard as well!

    You think freeing up $100 billion to Iran is a lot of money? Dude, the GCC can scrounge up $100 billion just by imposing a moratorium on European summer holidays for two years!

    That’s what’s so tragic about Syria! Yes, it’s a proxy battlefield at this point, but the “external” belligerents aren’t even trying!

    That’s why I’m becoming more and more convinced that the most efficient solution is just to depopulate the country! Resettle all the refugees elsewhere! Don’t rebuild anything in goddamn Syria! [please consider that this final paragraph here might not be the most well-thought-out thing I’ve ever written!]

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 25, 2015, 12:14 pm
  89. A US that’s friends with Iran might be able to dissuade it from coming to Assad’s defense.

    Samer,

    You may be a “smarty-pants”, but I’m still trying to find your common sense! Sometimes you get stuck on details that don’t really pertain to the problem at hand.

    What data do you have showing the Iranians are NOT going to support Assad and listen to the US?? By all accounts, the Iranian government is ANTI-American to the core. Iran just WON an agreement that gives them everything they want and gives nothing to the US or the West. They are glowing in the spotlight! They are dancing horas! They have ZERO incentive to cooperate with the US. They will do what is in their best interest, and that is to spread Shia Islam south of Iran and into Arabia while “wiping out” Israel in the process.

    I did a very cursor search and found this (2 yr old) article…

    http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/08/27/iran-s-unwavering-support-to-assad-s-syria

    A Hezbollah that’s newly emboldened in Lebanon will cause its opponents there to plead with the international community for assistance in that regard as well!

    HA’s opponents have been weak. I do not see that changing. HA is in a process of building up. If you’ve ever played the game “Risk” their little country is PACKED TO THE GILLS with weaponry and armor. Try attacking this terrortory and find out how you feel after a few rolls of the dice. You will be “done”.

    You think freeing up $100 billion to Iran is a lot of money? Dude, the GCC can scrounge up $100 billion just by imposing a moratorium on European summer holidays for two years!

    “Dude” nothwithstanding, $100 Billion in the hands of terror organizations is a “crap-load” as HA digs in as the defacto Lebanese government and military. Just think of Lebanon as the sea-side part of Iran as Gaza is the sea-side part of Palestine. Except the two halves are in perfect working harmony.

    That’s what’s so tragic about Syria! Yes, it’s a proxy battlefield at this point, but the “external” belligerents aren’t even trying!

    Syria is now a battlefield between fanatics on the opposing sides of militant Islam, Shai and Sunni.

    Don’t think too much, because you’re right. Apparently, Syria has become empty wilderness of fanaticism. All the good people have left or are trapped in towns praying to survive. This agreement will probably give Iran the momentum to tip the scales and incorporate Syria fully into her sphere of influence. Go Barry! Make sure you destroy ISIS!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 25, 2015, 1:00 pm
  90. AP,

    Fine, I’ll concede! I lose! You win! But you are playing a “heads I win, tails you lose” game as far as Lebanon is concerned.

    It’s perhaps true that HA is armed to the gills in Lebanon. This by the way is why HA’s opponents both in and out of Lebanon are reluctant to tackle HA too aggressively, since they know it’ll result in the complete devastation of the country!

    But you’re saying Israel will be forced to tackle HA instead which, guess what? Will result in the complete devastation of the country!

    So what is the contingency that the average Lebanese should plan for? You know, the Lebanese citizen without the money or the second passport to emigrate! What does he do? Get on those migrant smuggler boats to Europe, and get stranded on some beach on a forsaken Greek island? Trek to Germany and beg Merkel to let him in? Put his hat in his hand and plead with the Gulf for residency? Or does he just sit tight and wait for the bombs to collapse the building he lives in over his head?

    In any case, I’m out of here for now! I need to get back to work …

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 25, 2015, 1:50 pm
  91. But you’re saying Israel will be forced to tackle HA instead which, guess what? Will result in the complete devastation of the country!

    Samer,

    I don’t play “win” or “lose” games when discussing international relations. This is all opinion and no one is “right” or “wrong”. I enjoy discussing these issues because it’s fun to learn from others. I have a basic understanding of Lebanon, so, in the end, I’m just learning. As I said previously, I have a “hunch” HA or Iran will start something. Will it be because they hate Israel so much or will it be a diversion to cover up another aggressive plan? I don’t know.

    The potential is there.

    So what is the contingency that the average Lebanese should plan for?

    Party like there’s no tomorrow?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 25, 2015, 2:57 pm
  92. Islamists beating up on Lebanese Palestinians for some reason…

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4694323,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 25, 2015, 10:10 pm
  93. I swear, and I say this in perfectly good faith, the Gulf Arabs on Twitter are a highly peculiar lot! 🙂

    They squeal about Iran, Maliki [or at least they used to], Bashar, Hezbollah and the Houthis all the time, and are literally mind-boggled why the US is not doing much to address these challenges!

    But anyone who so much as throws these guys a snyde remark on Twitter immediately gets accused of being “jealous” and/or “covetous of [their] wealth”! That’s just where it starts of course. If that person is a beneficiary of their largesse in any way whatsoever (has a job, or a pension, or peace and security, or whatever), then the abuse proceeds to guilting them out for being “ungrateful”!

    It’s seriously patronizing and not confidence-building in the slightest, which actually explains a lot about the mess the region is in!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 26, 2015, 2:50 pm
  94. Vulcan mutters darkly:
    “Maverick you are dreaming, the revolution has been taken over by the “crowd” you know whom them is
    Get out fast”

    Face palm! Could this photo of some Dearest American Friends of Lebanon be proof of his allegations?!!!! Conspiracies will out.

    Posted by lally | August 26, 2015, 3:03 pm
  95. Lally, are you saying the Americans are plotting with Mr. Berry how to quell the great national Lebanese garbage revolution?!! a conspiracy led by Dr Abumuqawama himself ?!! 😁
    besides that’s not what I alleged, I am and was hedging my “stop watch” on the actions of the Lebanese warlords and their racist and sectarian and tribal followers.

    In Lebanon, we are busy with the real stuff, how to handle the Wahhabisis rat infestation coming from Syria and Iraq. Thankfully, Lebanon has survived thus far because of the American help. or “interference” as the comrades at the Kremlin like to call it..them commi bastards

    FYI, Lebanon is now numero cinco in the world on the FMS list of recipient from the DoD, funnily, paid by the Wise Kingdom.

    Posted by Vulcan | August 27, 2015, 2:53 am
  96. Jeb Bush versus Donald Trump on Latinos and illegal immigration: “I speak Spanish and my wife is Mexican American!”

    Reminds me a bit of:

    Nicki Minaj versus Iggy Azalea on female hip-hop and cultural appropriation: “I’m black and I write my own lyrics!” 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | August 27, 2015, 9:26 am
  97. Vulcan. Sure, why not? There is no such thing as a too far-fetched a conspiracy theory these days…. after all, the good DR does seem to be on deck during some particularly volatile times for Lebanon…..</;~{)

    Re the Wahhabis rat invasion…rumor has it that the CIA informs the LAF who informs HA…….Is that what you are referring to when you claim American "interference" is key to Lebanon's survival thus far? Or are you referring to night vision goggles and the like?

    How is the WK funneling monies through the agency of the DOD? Please elaborate as anyone looking at the issue of arming Lebanese security agencies knows that Israel and her interested American operatives keep a close eye on what assistance Lebanon is allowed.

    Posted by lally | August 27, 2015, 2:12 pm
  98. There is no such thing as a too far-fetched a conspiracy theory these days….…rumor has it that… Israel and her interested American operatives…

    Lally,

    Welcome back to “QN’s Conspiracy Theory Central”, where no “hunch” or paranoid delusion is left unturned.

    I’m still waiting for the Israel’s American Operatives™ to scuttle the dangerous Iran Agreement, but, for some reason, they’re not answering their telephone calls or secret decoder rings. We need to get Austin Powers involved.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 27, 2015, 2:35 pm
  99. A Palace. IMO, the voices of Israeli security types who support the Iran deal have finally broken through and influenced those who give them more credence than they do the traitor agents of influence and/or zio nutter gop evangelicals like Huckabee (who traveled to the WB settlements to raise funds for his presidential run???)

    Posted by lally | August 27, 2015, 2:50 pm
  100. Lally,

    Whoaa! Are you saying foreign “voices” are making US policy and not home grown American Operatives™ (like Huckabee, me, and the other 20% of American Friends of the Hardline Likud™ Party)?

    We need to save this date! The impenetrable invisible wall has been shattered!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 27, 2015, 2:58 pm
  101. American Operatives™ NewZ

    Now we know who the REAL American Operatives™ are: the leftist high society “voices of (ex) Israeli security types”

    Meanwhile the vast majority of Israelis are against “The Plan”…

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/.premium-1.670835

    I’m still hearing voices.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 27, 2015, 3:16 pm
  102. Lally, I’m referencing both, intelligence assistance and hardware supply.

    As for Foreign Military Sales cases concerning lebanon, usually a request is made by Lebanon thru the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. embassy, this is turned to the DoD which seeks approval from DoS which seeks approval from congress in case the request is for advanced hardware.
    Once the request is approved a combination of Saudi grants and U.S. Grants pay for whatever is delivered as we have seen in the past few years.

    On another note, interesting to see the positive new cooperation from Iran already. A couple of weeks ago Iran tipped the Americans about a certain Saudi terrorist arriving to Beirut from Tehran, the Americans tipped the Lebanese who swiftly arrested him and put him on a plane to Riyadh the same day. The guy is the prime suspect in the Khobar towers bombing and has been a guest in Tehran and Beirut since 1996

    Posted by Vulcan | August 27, 2015, 3:40 pm
  103. Vulcan, interesting tictoc and thanks.

    Someone needs to tell Donald Trump that the Saudis are indeed “contributing” to regional stability I’m sure…..

    Bottom line,General Kahwagi can request whatever the hell he wants but Israeli has the veto over what Lebanon gets. Having aircraft with Israeli avionics aboard is about as useful as Hariri having Israeli jamming equipment aboard on his fatal last ride.

    I like that the Iranians were once again cooperative. They were also of assistance before our invasion of Afghanistan and got nothing but grief for their troubles. Let’s see if this favor is any different or if Unkie Sam once again holds out his hand and says gimme more and BTW, congratulations on your ascendence to the axis of evil.

    Posted by lally | August 27, 2015, 8:58 pm
  104. Yes, anything the Iranians do is altruistic and benefits mankind, like supporting the self-elected President of Damascus…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 27, 2015, 10:39 pm
  105. Posted by Vulcan | August 27, 2015, 11:00 pm
  106. Who needs bland old politics when you have delicious conspiracies to behold. The garbage speaks volumes, that is all.

    Posted by Maverick | August 28, 2015, 5:25 am
  107. “A strong backlash to this rhetoric is already taking place in the streets. “We are all infiltrators” has become a popular slogan of the movement, widely present at the protests on signs and banners. The term infiltrator itself is slowly being reclaimed by the protesters at large, to serve as a badge of honor rather than of shame.”
    http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/scents-of-an-ending-2/

    Posted by lally | August 28, 2015, 11:09 am
  108. Thanks for the link Lally. The writers look like a “Who’s Who” for leftists, liberals, and avant-garde artists. PLENTY of Jooish names as well; no surprise there. They are literally the “air” that gives life to terrorists all over the world, specifically HA.

    http://thenewinquiry.com/about/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 28, 2015, 11:24 am
  109. “We are all infiltrators” is NOT a popular slogan because some soft hearted naive individuals said so. Wow the over romanticism is blinding. Despite a few groups and individuals who empathised with the vandals of Sunday night, the vast majority on social media voiced their opinion to the contrary including the organisers of #You_Stink campaign and others. The fact is while there are some unemployed and neglected citizens who have every right to express their grievances and frustrations towards the ruling class, it does not help their cause by intentionally targeting the authorities violently, smashing shop fronts and public property, setting fire to the place. If they feel they are oppressed enough to explode like that, why don’t they take it out on their affiliations, I.e political parties who got them into the wretched conditions in the first place?

    Posted by Maverick | August 28, 2015, 12:22 pm
  110. I guess modern Lebanese have unconsciously followed Ataturk’s decision to adopt Roman letters and numerals without any imposition, to express themselves in their own language, to make it more easily translatable to communicate with the rest of the world and adapt to it.

    But what do I know?

    Posted by Ray | August 29, 2015, 12:36 pm
  111. Ya3ni ?

    Posted by Ray | August 29, 2015, 12:38 pm

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