Friday, June 14, 2013

Syria

What the hell is wrong with this country? The US now wants to arm the sectarian factions that have been chopping off the heads of 15-year-old boys for 'blasphemy'? Hate-filled jihadists who cut out the bleeding hearts of dead Syrian soldiers and eat them? These are the same people that drove Iraq to civil war and now they've managed to do the same in Syria, threatening to burn up the whole region in flames with their 7th century mindsets! They have openly declared that America is their enemy over and over again. Do you not read or follow? Can someone tell me why? Fight them in Iraq and Afghanistan and then support them in Syria? Have you not learned the lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq? Why is Obama such a Saudi tool? There is no more Free Syrian Army fighting over there. They have long ceased to count in this fight. It is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria waging holy war against Shia Arabs, Alawis and Christians, and whoever doesn't follow their extremist brand of Islam. Saudi and Qatari backed jihadists who will turn a modern Arab state into another theocracy. They are the Arab version of the Taliban... and you're going to give them more arms to kill our children and later yours...

155 comments:

Freddie Starr said...

Freddie Starr ate my hamster!

Petes said...

Zeyad, I was thinking along exactly the same lines just before I saw you'd posted. I don't understand it either. Surely, at the very least, caution is advised. There are accusations against the regime of chemical weapons use, then the UN declares that the only evidence it has is against the rebels, then -- just as suddenly -- the UN shuts up and two French reporters somehow provide evidence against Assad. That's more than a bit strange.

You have Bill Clinton supporting McCain (seemingly against Obama). You've got U.S. "military exercises" in Jordan, which just happens to station Patriot missiles on Jordanian soil. Might they have the spin-off benefit of protecting, oh, I don't know ... Israel? ... against rocket attacks? Or maybe even be useful for attacking Lebanese Hezbollah. It's all ramping up a bit unnervingly. And -- like you say -- for what? To support what may well be foreign jihadi forces in the guise of an indigenous insurgency? Surely the proper course of action is to pursue whatever negotiated de-escalation may be possible at this late stage.

I don't get it.

Marcus said...

It started in Iraq and it's supposed to end in Teheran, and I don't doubt that it eventually will. Syria is along the way. It must be taken out because it's one of Irans retaliation options. The regime must fall and a new one hostile to Iran put there instead - or throw the country into such chaos it can no longer retaliate on Irans behalf. Hezbollah must be crippled for the same reason. Then the attack in Iran will come in due course.


Petes said...

Probably isn't going to matter who the "new" Syria is hostile to. 90,000 dead (so far) and the country's infrastructure destroyed ... and the economy was in bad shape before this civil war. Agriculture (25% of the economy) under threat from droughts. Oil production (25%) declining and Syria could be a net importer by 2020. Tourism ... uh ...! It's a worrying indictment of the rest of the world that Syria managed to come 134th in last year's "ease of doing business" metrics. 30% of the country was already below the poverty line, and now? It would be a long hard road back for Syria even if hostilities were to end tomorrow.

Marcus said...

70% of syrians support Assad over "rebels":

http://www.worldtribune.com/2013/05/31/nato-data-assad-winning-the-war-for-syrians-hearts-and-minds/

"“The Sunnis have no love for Assad, but the great majority of the community is withdrawing from the revolt,” the source said. “What is left is the foreign fighters who are sponsored by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They are seen by the Sunnis as far worse than Assad."

Seems like an ideal time to arm those jihadis, now that they fight not only the regime but the majority of the population as well. They are clearly up against it and need weapons a.s.a.p. For democracy, of course, and for human rights.

Petes said...

Lynnette ... seem this?

Petes said...

Zeyad et al, I wouldn't normally be a Fisk fan, but this depressing commentary contains a lot it's hard to disagree with.

Marcus said...

Funny:

http://xkcd.com/386/

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

What the hell is wrong with this country? The US now wants to arm the sectarian factions that have been chopping off the heads of 15-year-old boys for 'blasphemy'?

Actually no, I don't think so, Zeyad. That is one of the reasons there has been such hesitation on the part of the US to get more deeply involved. We don't want to wind up sending arms to those who are as bad as Assad. Unfortunately, Obama made the statement about crossing a "red line" if Assad used chemical weapons, and now he is having to "put his money where his mouth is", I think. Personally I think they should have done something more concrete earlier in this conflict. But they let it drag on and allowed an opening for every jihadi and his brother to slip in. So, now it is a question of is it worse to do nothing or to do something?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Lynnette ... seem this?

Yes, I heard about that on the news. The neighbors were rather surprised. Periodically, it seems, Nazis still turn up in the most innocuous places.

Zeyad said...

Lynnette, there is very flimsy evidence that Assad used chemicals. In fact it was the rebels who were reported to have used it first. It's just an excuse, but go ahead and arm al-Qaeda again

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "Unfortunately, Obama made the statement about crossing a "red line" if Assad used chemical weapons, and now he is having to "put his money where his mouth is", I think."

That's not really credible. Are you saying Obama now regrets what he said but can't back down for fear of losing face? That would be an astonishing degree of hubris for the "leader of the free world". I'd like to think the executive branch of the U.S. government contains sufficient checks and balances to stop a president embroiling them in a regional war out of embarrassment. (Also, he was able to live with his failure to close down Guantanamo among other things.) But in any case, if an about face was needed or wanted, you would very soon find a lot of information coming into the public domain about Syrian rebel atrocities and war crimes. I'd say there's enough dirt on both sides at this stage to warrant a Nuremberg Trials.

But don't you think that there is a much more serious calculus going on than Obama's public and international image? There's no good going to come out of Syria, but there are some seriously bad possibilities for the U.S. Two in particular -- the consolidation of Iran as the major regional power in western Asia, and the continued interference of Russia. (Although I'm not quite sure what Russia stands to gain or lose -- they have significant business interests in Syria as a result of trading a debt write-off for commercial and arms deals ten years ago, but Syria is destined to be an economic basket case for the foreseeable future).

Marcus said...

Pete: "I'm not quite sure what Russia stands to gain or lose".

Probably they are a little bit worried by this whole "insert Al Qaeda jihadists into other nations territory"- tactics. Memories from both Chechnya and how the CIA armed the Mujahedin in Afghanistan and looking at their current southern provinces migh make them a bit anxious.

Petes said...

Speaking of saving face ... we've been doing a bit of it here for Obama, who's in town for the G8 summit. Would hate him to think we look like those poor Turkish villages ... the ones who are bailing out the Eurozone.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/352509

One with a less generous slant:

http://larouchepac.com/node/26948

Marcus said...

Meanwhile our housing prices in Sweden hit an all time high this week, supposedly. Myself I believe the real peak was in the spring of 2010 and then we had a sight dip and we've been moving sideways since then. And that the new "record" is based on extremely small volumes of sales. But I could be wrong.

In any case it's very strange we're right up at even close to record prices again since there is effectively a 15% downpayment requirement now, which was imposed in late 2011.

Swedes born later than the mid 70's seem to completely disregard the entire concept of economic margins, the importance of having some savings and the idea that you might not always be in the position to buy what you want right now.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Zeyad,

Lynnette, there is very flimsy evidence that Assad used chemicals.

I really can't say as I do not have access to any kind of intelligence information.

In fact it was the rebels who were reported to have used it first.

I did hear that in the press. If this is the case then I would have to question where they got the chemicals and which "rebel" faction used them.

It's just an excuse, but go ahead and arm al-Qaeda again

I certainly hope we won't be arming AQ again. As to it being an excuse, what are we hoping to gain? In all honesty, Z, it looks like a mess all the way around. That is, whether we arm anyone or not. I still think we left it too long.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS,

Lynnette]: "Unfortunately, Obama made the statement about crossing a "red line" if Assad used chemical weapons, and now he is having to "put his money where his mouth is", I think."

PeteS: That's not really credible. Are you saying Obama now regrets what he said but can't back down for fear of losing face?

Weeelll not being able to read minds I can't really say what Obama is thinking, I am merely guessing.

That would be an astonishing degree of hubris for the "leader of the free world".

No, that would be an astonishing degree of putting your foot in your mouth. You gotta know someone will call you on it. If you can't guess by my train of comments I am a little critical of Obama for making the red line statement in the first place.

I'd like to think the executive branch of the U.S. government contains sufficient checks and balances to stop a president embroiling them in a regional war out of embarrassment.

Hmmm...well, if you are right, then they have another reason for "embroiling" us in a regional war.

(Also, he was able to live with his failure to close down Guantanamo among other things.)

I think in the case of Gitmo the devil was in the details. Something someone running as an opposition candidate doesn't really take into account when they are orating from their soapbox.

But in any case, if an about face was needed or wanted, you would very soon find a lot of information coming into the public domain about Syrian rebel atrocities and war crimes. I'd say there's enough dirt on both sides at this stage to warrant a Nuremberg Trials.

What you are seeing is a civil war. There is nothing more vicious and debilitating. You saw the same in Iraq when the sectarian strife was at its peak. Even some of our guys were astonished at the vicious cruelty involved.

But don't you think that there is a much more serious calculus going on than Obama's public and international image? There's no good going to come out of Syria, but there are some seriously bad possibilities for the U.S. Two in particular -- the consolidation of Iran as the major regional power in western Asia, and the continued interference of Russia. (Although I'm not quite sure what Russia stands to gain or lose -- they have significant business interests in Syria as a result of trading a debt write-off for commercial and arms deals ten years ago,...

Ahhhh, the something to gain thing. Perhaps I should have read your comment before I replied to Zeyad.

Yes, I can see where we might find Iran as a dominant regional power to be unfortunate. That is, as long as they are in persuit of nuclear weapons, vowing to extermiante Israel, and backing terrorist activity in various places.

As for Russia, I think the Cold War is over. Unless, of course, they want to resurrect it? That would also be unfortunate.

but Syria is destined to be an economic basket case for the foreseeable future).

Yes. And it is a very sad thing for the people of Syria.

It is better to try to bring this conflict to a head and end it. For both Syria and the region. If this spreads further the whole area could go up in flames.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

No time to finish the comments, gotta run.

The World Around Me said...

This was a very interesting argument. It is so easy to arm people in another country knowing that none of your people will get hurt. They are simply funding the deaths of innocent civilians. It is funny how Obama is considering arming rebels in Syria yet supporting gun control in America.

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Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "Ahhhh, the something to gain thing... Yes, I can see where we might find Iran as a dominant regional power to be unfortunate."

At the G8 today, both Obama and Putin gave press interviews about Syria. Obama said: "To those who ask if we didn't learn our less in Iraq, I say ..."

... at this point I was certain he was going to say (however misguidedly) that we can't stand idly by while a humanitarian disaster unfolds ...

[Obama]: "...we have strategic interests there".

Putin (confirming Marcus's hunch about Russia's worry about the jihadists next door) pointed out to Britons that the people who cut off the head of one of their citizens on a London street were the same ones that Obama wanted to send weapons to.

Petes said...

Marcus, I've been reading all sorts of crazy things about Swedish house prices. Such as that the average mortgage loan amortization period is now 140 years !!! Batshit crazy. If it's true that the number of property transactions has dwindled to a trickle then I'd say you are on the cusp of your next housing slump. Although, it might take some time to unfold -- ours has been going seven years from the stagnation phase now, and we are still in the depths of it.

Petes said...

European car sales hit lowest for 20 years

Here in Ireland the number of cars on the road that are less than five years old has nearly halved in the last six years. If you go anywhere with fancy cars parked -- e.g. hotels, golf clubs -- it's like entering a timewarp with all the reg plates frozen at 2006-7.

Marcus said...

Pete: "Such as that the average mortgage loan amortization period is now 140 years !!!"

They say that's true. 100 years for houses and 170 for apartments, they say. 140 being the average.

I'm not completely sure how those figures are come by. Possibly they bulk the whole sum of all loans together in one sum and then bulk the whole sum of amortization payments into one sum and then divide the first with the latter to reach the average.

Because there are so many people who pay nothing at all off on the loan. So they can't be doing a calculation based on individual mortage plans because all those zero-payers would lead to the average being infinity. I believe that part is the worst of all, that so many don't pay back at all.

It's true things are batshit crazy here. I got into a debate online a few weeks back with people who seriously believed that since prices have risen it proves that it's stupid and unecessary to pay off on the loan. I tried to make the argument that every 1000 Kr you pay back is 1000 Kr you will never have to pay interest on in the future, but it fell on deaf ears.

I can't understand how those people think. Just because they feel richer when a (temporary) rise in prices increase their equity that doesn't mean their loan is getting smaller. Now if it was salary driven inflation that "ate up" the loan that would be another matter, but the inflation has been miniscule lately.



Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS,

Would hate him to think we look like those poor Turkish villages ... the ones who are bailing out the Eurozone.

Everyone tidies up before guests come, but perhaps that money could have been better spent elsewhere. As for Turkey, I think they have their own problems. Although in their case they are using riot police to "paint over" their problems.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Marcus,

I think I mentioned awhile back about a house going up for sale in my nieghborhood at what I considered a rather high price.

The homeowner had priced it high because he didn't want it to sell too quickly. They are building another house elsewhere and didn't want to have to move twice. At the time I thought he might have been foolish in that reasoning. However, he did sell the house. Although not at the original number. He had went down $10,000. He got the total lower price, but has to pay the closing costs, which can run anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. They also managed to put off the actual date they have to get out of the house until the end of August. His new house will not be done yet, but it will be close. I assume they will stay with his wife's parents for a couple of weeks. So it seems to have worked out for him, kinda sorta.

There are buyers out there looking and they are more willing to pay a higher price, so the housing market is looking stronger. New construction is also picking up.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

The World Around Me,

It is so easy to arm people in another country knowing that none of your people will get hurt.

Except we can't know that. Not really. Pete and Marcus are right in that there is a real risk that any weapons we may send to Syria could fall into the hands of people who would do us harm.

They are simply funding the deaths of innocent civilians.

Innocent civilians are dying now. The only way to stop that is to stop the fighting and have an outcome that promotes peaceful existence as opposed to killing. PeteS is for a negotiated settlement. Do you think that is possible if Assad feels he is winning?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS,

[Obama]: "...we have strategic interests there".

It certainly isn't in our interests if the Syrian civil war spreads into a sectarian war that engulfs the entire region. No.

And, yes, I do agree that we have to be careful who we are dealing with if we supply weapons. There is a lesson to be learned from Afghanistan. Perhaps that lesson is not only who we supply weapons to but also who we supply weapons through. That is one man probably shouldn't hold all the purse strings.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS,

Here in Ireland the number of cars on the road that are less than five years old has nearly halved in the last six years.

Our automotive sector is starting to come back. Hiring by our automakers appears to be resuming in some areas as the demand for cars ramps up.

Petes said...

Yes, Lynnette, it certainly seems to be the perception that the US is -- falteringly -- beginning to pick up again. Ironically, it's making the stock markets jittery. Everyone reckons there'll be a big sell off when Bernanke pulls the plug on QE.

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "Everyone tidies up before guests come"

They don't paint contented dinner guests on the dining room wall and hope nobody notices! :-)


Speaking of dinner guests, Michelle Obama had lunch in my local pub yesterday. All I can say is -- you'd want to like helicopter noise to be a president. Darn things buzzing around all day were a menace. Glad I was studying and not out and about ... I didn't know she was in town 'til I read it in the papers and put two and two together about the helicopter noise ;-)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[Lynnette]: "Everyone tidies up before guests come"

[PeteS]: They don't paint contented dinner guests on the dining room wall and hope nobody notices!

ROFL! No, that's true. :)

Speaking of dinner guests, Michelle Obama had lunch in my local pub yesterday.

I still remember when President Bush visited a local deli in my hometown. It was a bit like a traveling circus moving through town.

Petes said...

Yeah, but he's your president. You have to put up with him.

We already have to put up with Bono, without also having to entertain his noisy lunch guests. :-)

Petes said...

Jordan's fourth largest "city" is a refugee camp for Syrians -- al Zaatari in Mafraq governorate, approaching 200,000 inhabitants.

Petes said...

[Me]: "Everyone reckons there'll be a big sell off when Bernanke pulls the plug on QE."

I swear, I didn't actually know there was a Fed announcement due yesterday. :-)

So, speak of the devil, the US markets took a bit of a beating, and Asian ones followed suit this morning on Bernanke's announcement of a possible end to QE starting this year. The problem is hedge funds and large institutions sitting on hefty profits from markets that are up 20% just in the last six months. Fears over QE ending could trigger a big sell off as market players try to lock in their profits. And of course, the prospect of that could make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Marcus said...

Pete: "I swear, I didn't actually know there was a Fed announcement due yesterday. :-)"

Great timing with that comment though. Today was even worse. 3% down in all Scandinavian markets and of the 14% rise in the Stockholm Exchange this year only 4% remains.

I kind of felt this coming and moved to 50% cash in April. Quite possibly I should have been even more bearish.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

50% cash?!

Bearish is right. I don't know, that seems extreme. The whole reason the Fed is backing off of quantitative easing is because the economy is picking up. That should be a good thing. They can't do QE forever or we end up with other problems. There is a fine line to be walked here.

And where do you put the proceeds from stock sales that actually gives you a return? For the guys looking for a quick profit, yes selling might be a good idea, but for those of us with a longer term investment horizon it might be just as well to hold tight.

I am still a little leary of the sequestration cuts, though. They are still gradually rolling out. That might put the brakes on the economy more than expected.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS Jordan's fourth largest "city" is a refugee camp for Syrians -- al Zaatari in Mafraq governorate, approaching 200,000 inhabitants.

And it sounds like they are settling in. *sigh* Not a healthy situation.

Petes said...

Bearish?! My pension's been 100% in cash since 2010 -- thanks to QE I missed a lot of market increases. No problem, it wasn't worth much anyway. I live off a nest egg ... and that's all in cash too ;)

Petes said...

I know I've been banging on about it for three years now, but I think China may finally be melting down in front of our eyes. The ailing economy and struggling housing market is one thing. But now the SHIBOR (Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate) has gone into overdrive. It stands at 13.4% overnight rate, and 11% weekly rate, up 6% and 3% in a week respectively. What that boils down to, is China may be about to have its very own credit crunch. And that will be a disaster for the economy. Will the government step in with QE?

Petes said...

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100024952/time-to-sober-up-as-america-and-china-remove-punch-bowl/?placement=mid2

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/06/19/chinas-credit-bubble-unlike-anything-in-modern-history-fitch/

http://www.benzinga.com/trading-ideas/long-ideas/13/06/3693867/emperors-with-no-clothes-a-banking-crisis-will-expose-china-e#

Petes said...

Song for a bondholder

Jeffrey said...

I'm currently living in Bangkok and viewing the mess in the Middle East from here is odd, to say the least. Here the majority of people are Buddhist, of course. There are Buddhist shrines all over the city, where Thais light incense, offer food, and pray. You find these shrines everywhere, on street corners and in front of big apartment buildings and in front of enormous city shopping malls. No one is chopping anyone's head off in the name of Buddhism.

So I guess, as I sit here in Bangkok, my feeling is that the problem is with Muslims alone and how they want to live among other people. And, just as Christianity went through a couple centuries of bloodshed between Catholics and Protestants, Islam now is going through a similar period between hard-liners and moderates and between the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam. In the end, what can non-Muslims do to bring about an end to this internal issue of Islam? Not much, I would guess.

Petes said...

They musn't get any news from Myanmar over there in Bangkok. Myanmar has seen plenty of violence against Muslims by Buddhists this year. They even have neo-Nazi Buddhist monks -- the 969 group.

Jeffrey said...

Pete,

Hey, I'm just telling you what I see here in Bangkok. What's funny is to discover that Thais are more outwardly patriotic than Americans. In the parks here, every evening they play the national anthem over loudspeakers and everyone -- and I mean everyone -- stops what they're doing and stands proudly as their anthem plays. Yep, they're even more rah-rah than Americans. Gotta love it.

Have you seen Thai boxing? It's pretty hard-core. I wonder if these neo-Nazi Buddhists you mention in Myanmar can also punch and kick like Thai boxers. If so, Muslims there should be careful.

I agree with Zeyad that Obama is kind of effing up, but, from my point of view, the sources of power conflicts in the Middle East are internal and outsiders can only do so much. As Lisa pointed out, by drawing those red lines, Obama pretty much sucker-punched himself. So much for wise diplomacy, I guess.

I can't say more because I don't really follow all the debates you guys are engaged in. I like to stop by, however, every month or so to see what you guys are discussing. It's always pretty interesting -- and not a little amazing, considering you all have been talking to each other for many years now.

A couple regulars have dropped away, it seems. I don't see Bruno here anymore and Lee C. (to me Sheriff Lee C., a one-time mean hombre at Kurdo's Wild West Saloon) doesn't stop by very often (at least from what I see when I stop by here infrequently ).

Every now and then I go back and read old blog entries typed up by the IBC crew. Those five years were very intense. The tenor of those years couldn't be sustained, but it was really engaging while it lasted.

Okay, it's getting late here, Pete, so I better sign off. Tomorrow I'll look up this 969 group. Neo-Nazi Buddhists? That I got to see.

Jeffrey said...

Lynnette,

Of course I meant to write Lynnette instead of Lisa. I got my wires crossed with Lisa from New York, like you, a former regular commenter at IBC. Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Z, much of the madness you see about American foreign policy is based on the fallacy that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Saddam Bad, Enemy of Saddam Good.
Bashar Bad, Enemy of Bashar Good.

It's as stupid as that. Very few Americans, including unfortunately our leaders in Washington, have a clue about the atrocities you are pointing out.

Myself, I watch Russia Times for international news these days. Might even start watching Al Jazz.

You had a big audience at one time. It would be a worthwhile effort on your part to continue telling the truth about our future "allies" in Syria.

bridget

Marcus said...

Lynnette: "Bearish is right. I don't know, that [50% cash] seems extreme."

It was more or less a gut feeling that the stockmarket had done "too well" since last December - up almost 25%. Many stocks were hitting all time high, or at least their post financial crisis high.

Lynnette: "The whole reason the Fed is backing off of quantitative easing is because the economy is picking up. That should be a good thing."

Yes in the long run. But in the short run it still means less new funny money will chase assets. At least that sees to be the consensus and therefore it's pretty much self fulfilling is my guess.

Lynnette: "They can't do QE forever or we end up with other problems. There is a fine line to be walked here."

Correct.

Lynnette: "And where do you put the proceeds from stock sales that actually gives you a return? For the guys looking for a quick profit, yes selling might be a good idea, but for those of us with a longer term investment horizon it might be just as well to hold tight."

Well, my take is that if you anticipate a drop in the market you move out, into some safe interest bearing thingies, and then when (if) the drop comes you wait until it seems to have leveled out and buy back stocks at lower prices, and you get more of them. I don't mean to suggest I'm some sort of expert in this. When the Greece crisis hit I was taken completely by surprise and remained almost 100% in stocks. But this time around it seems I got away in time, partially.

Lynnette: "I am still a little leary of the sequestration cuts, though. They are still gradually rolling out. That might put the brakes on the economy more than expected."

That, and the possibility of a downturn in China, and our national debt problems in Europe. There's a lot that can go wrong out there.

Marcus said...

Pete: "Bearish?! My pension's been 100% in cash since 2010 -- thanks to QE I missed a lot of market increases. No problem, it wasn't worth much anyway. I live off a nest egg ... and that's all in cash too ;)"

Well, if it's for retiremment that's probably the best way. You might miss out on some some profits but at least you can sleep soundly without worrying about a crash.

But myself I'll be working for 20+ more years. Also I find it fun and interesting to play around with the stock market. Do you remember way back when I said Wallmart might be a good bet and that it was pretty inflation proof? I remember you looked at it and said it had been stagnant at about $50 for such a long time and gave it thumbs down. Check it out now. :-)

Bridget said...

Z and Petes, you might both appreciate the commentary of one Irish woman regarding the arming of the Syrian rebels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QIMucHfUMyg#at=173

Bridget

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Pete,

It sounds like this credit crunch is of the Chinese government's making.

I guess we will see if they can let some air out of the balloon without it popping. Or has it gone too far?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Song for a bondholder

Pete, it made me want to cry.



Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Jeffrey,

Living in Bangkok? Now that sounds interesting! You're not saying you're retired are you? You're far too young for that!

Don't worry about the Lisa thing. I'm actually rather flattered you mixed me up with her. She was always an interesting and intelligent commenter.

I like to stop by, however, every month or so to see what you guys are discussing. It's always pretty interesting -- and not a little amazing, considering you all have been talking to each other for many years now.

It is rather amazing when I think of how long it has been. I started out because of interest in the Iraq war and Zeyad. But I too enjoy the interesting discussions and the varying viewpoints of people here. I think Americans in general should be listening to people of other countries. I just wish more people felt comfortable enough to comment.

I haven't seen Bruno in ages and the last time I talked to Lee he said he was taking a break from commenting.

Every now and then I go back and read old blog entries typed up by the IBC crew. Those five years were very intense. The tenor of those years couldn't be sustained, but it was really engaging while it lasted.

Yes, I know. And yet, the emotions we experienced can't even begin to compare to those who were there. Iraq was truly a testing of the depth of human emotion.

Stop by again, Jeffrey, and let us know how the world of Thailand is doing. :)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Marcus,

Well, my take is that if you anticipate a drop in the market you move out, into some safe interest bearing thingies, and then when (if) the drop comes you wait until it seems to have leveled out and buy back stocks at lower prices, and you get more of them.

In a perfect world. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to know when to get back in. You might do just as well by dollar-cost averaging, which is really what people are doing by investing a little through their paycheck contributions.

I think the worry is really for those people who are close to retirement who will have to live off of their investments. Those are the people who should be more in cash or bonds, because they will need the money sooner.

There's a lot that can go wrong out there.

There is indeed!








Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Hi, Bridget. :)

My sister-in-law was in Austin recently. She said she took the "bat cruise". Apparently that is a big thing down there. :)

Marcus said...

Hi Bridget. Check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CgAP_gBEPQ

Jeffrey said...

Lynnette,

No, not retired. Right now I'm living in Bangkok and considering whether to teach English here or move on to another country. I'm taking a one-year sabbatical from teaching in New York and traveling around Southeast Asia. Bangkok is my first stop. Every day is a bit of an adventure and learning experience, to be sure.

From an American perspective, the oddest aspect of Bangkok is the contrast between the wealthy in exclusive high-rise condos right next to pretty shabby apartment buildings on streets lined with street vendors. The downtown multi-story shopping malls are really something to see. If you need to buy a Lamborghini or a Rolls Royce, you can find one for sure. Thais (and me, too) love these large malls (Siam Paragon is the best, in my opinion). Great air-conditioning and you get to walk around in a glittering fantasy land of wealth.

For people in the countryside, of course, I imagine it's pretty different. I don't know if there are middle-class farmers that you'd find in Minnesota or Iowa (where I'm from, as you know). The top dogs here are the king and his extended family, the military leaders, and the business elite (Chinese dominant).

As for Iraq, I've been saddened to see that even years later there are still suicide-bombers killing Iraqi citizens. Why? What's the point? Yeah, I know, it's probably a sectarian issue. I guess I thought that, after the success of the surge and the withdrawal of American troops, Iraqis would stop killing each other. Not so, it seems. If fact, when you step back and look at the history of Iraq over the last forty years of so it's really very sobering. Lots of blood and madness on the sand.

Okay, Lynnette, thanks for saying hello. I dream of those small, beautiful Midwestern towns and the changing of the seasons here in Bangkok.

Petes said...

[Bridget]: "Z and Petes, you might both appreciate the commentary of one Irish woman regarding the arming of the Syrian rebels"

Bridget, that's Clare Daly, a total socialist fruitcake... which doesn't mean she didn't have a few sensible things to say.

Here's a similarly cynical article which says that Qatar and Bill Clinton are among the sources of Syria's -- and Iraq's -- problems.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Jeffrey,

What a wonderful experience. You are very fortunate to have the opportunity to do that. While Midwestern towns can be lovely, it's true, they also can be a little claustrophobic. Sometimes it's nice to look beyond their borders.

The kind of extreme disparity of income levels you are describing would seem to me to be a breeding ground for resentment. Just like we are seeing in so many other places. I think a lot of Americans don't realize the living conditions of many areas of the world. I look at what is important to people I know and wonder if they even realize how lucky they are? I fear not. And they would not even be considered wealthy, just middle class. I can see why people may resent us as well, at times.

We have asked a lot of Iraqis. Change is never easy, and to forget past and current resentments and act for the good of all is a tall order. The United States as a country grew up differently. We are used to doing things on our own, and yet we know that to survive we had to rely on each other in times of need. I think Iraqis tend to look for a "patron". A strong man or power to support them. Right now they are allowing outside forces to pull them apart. Someday maybe they will put aside their anger and really understand they are stronger together. Yes, that means none of that Sunni/Shia crap. Just Iraqi.

Marcus said...

Jeffrey, if you like Siam Paragon I hope you check out Siam Ocean World at the basement level. It's not as impressive as Sea World in San Diego but for an aquarium in a major mettropolis it is great and well worth a visit.

I can also recommend any of the Sunrise Taco outlets for a lunch or dinner. The original one is in Shukumvit in the small square close to Soi 12 or thereabouts. It's an american guy who started a mexican food outlet that grew into a small chain.

You mention the playing of the national anthem. If you do become a teacher you will also notice that every schoolday starts with the kids standing up when the national anthem is played. If you go to the cinema before the show the national anthem is played also. You can get a couple of years in jail if you are Thai and refuse to stand up for it - it has happened. If you're a westerner, a farang, you might get away with it or you might get bashed then and there, if you're foolish enough to try to make some point of being different.

Especially with the King and everything regarding royalty it is essential to either know how to refer to or to keep a distance from such subjects. The Les Majestete laws are serious and harsh.

It can be difficult to know sometimes when you do wrong. An example: if you drop a bill on the street and the wind catches it you can NOT put your foot on it to keep it from blowing away. In Bhuddism the head is the highest and most holy part of the body and the feet are the lowest and considered dirty, and the bill had the Kings head on it...

For the same reason you should not ever pat anyone on the head. Not even children but certainly not adults. And when you sit down you should be careful not to put one leg up over the other and point the sole of your foot at anyone.

Perhaps you knew all that already, but anyway, there it is.

Marcus said...

Lynnette: "The kind of extreme disparity of income levels you are describing would seem to me to be a breeding ground for resentment. Just like we are seeing in so many other places."

On the whole Thailand has been improving and even the poorest are vastly better of today compared to a few decades back. The growth in the economy has been great and long lasting and it spans several sectors. Industry, agriculture, tourism, etc. Unemployment is virtually zero. The national debt is low and basically Thailand is doing well and right now would probably fall in between the status of a developing and a developed nation. It's not yet on par with the west but it's miles ahead of Myanmar or Laos or Cambodia, to name a few neighboring countries.

But you have a point, there is strife and resentment.

But actually the resentment today is mainly from the better offs, who lost the last election. The current government has huge support in the poorer regions. But the "royalists" and many of the ethnic chineese elites Jeffrey mentioned feel like their "right to rule" is in jeopardy. It's quite complicated and there are many scenarios that could unfold.

One possible gamechanger is when the King, who is old and has been sickly, eventually dies. First there will be a national mourning unlike any we in the west can think of.

The King is loved in such a way we can't really comprehend it. EVERY home and EVERY business in Thailand has a photograph or a few of the King on the wall. I have spoken to Thais who if asked who the most important persons in their lives are without the slightest hesitation put their King before any family members - and Thailand is a very family oriented society.

After the mourning Thailand will wake up to whole new political realities. In the past if there was civil strife and the King urged unity people calmed down out of respect for him and him alone. That's not certain to continue when his heir sits on the throne.

Jeffrey said...

Lynnette,

The biggest difference between the West and the Rest is the size of the middle class in the West. The middle class in countries like the US, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, and so on is huge. And, I guess, what the middle class expects to own and what it can offer their children. But, as Marcus points out, Thailand is doing okay. Most people are working. In fact, because the wages they offer are quite low, most stores have too many workers. The other night, for example, I counted ten young workers on the floor of an electronics store, most of them standing around and doing nothing or texting with friends on their i-phones.

On the construction sites, there are a lot of imported workers from Cambodia, Burma, and Laos. I see them leaving work in streams every afternoon. The people in the lunch courts where I get cheap meals work 12 hours a day. All of these people make very little by Western standards, but in Thailand the cost of living is much lower and they are doing okay. They know how to live cheaply. But, for sure, for most Thais, it must be difficult to save for trips to other countries. Most don't, it seems. They would rather spend that money on moving up from driving a motorcycle to buying a car.

Yeah, this country is definitely beyond my border. As I said before, each day I live here I learn something new.

I don't think Thais resent Westerners. They like to over-charge them, but it's just a matter of trying to make as much money as possible from rich outsiders. It's really nothing personal.

Resentment and anger in Thailand, from what I've read and seen, is more of a urban-rural issue. People outside Bangkok, I guess, resent how well people inside Bangkok are doing.

I'm still learning about the issues behind the Red-Shirt/Yellow-Shirt clashes back a few years ago. As Marcus suggests, it appears a bit complicated, especially for a Westerner taking a look.

And they do love the King, as Marcus points out. There is absolutely no point of comparison for that adoration from an American perspective. No matter who is president in the US, you can be sure about half of the populace won't approve of him, if not despise him.

Jeffrey said...

Marcus,

Hey, if you and me and Lynnette were standing together on a street corner of Bangkok, Thais would see no difference between us. We're all pasty-faced Westerners. Heh.

Yeah, I'll check out Ocean World, on your recommendation. I've seen those Sunrise Tacos restaurants, but I didn't know that an American guy started them -- I'll definitely google that.

As you know, I guess, Thailand is very popular with Germans, so I get a kick out of watching Germans in Bangkok. Talk about a smutzig country! I'm not a beach guy (don't believe in paradise, I guess), so I don't get the chance to see bloated German guys in speedos lying on the beach after boozing through the morning and afternoon. There's one street in Sukhumvit that has a couple German restaurants, where you can probably get a Belegte Broetchen mit Schinken, I imagine.

Then, of course, there's the sex tourism (which get really old really fast). If I see one more Western grandpa with a young Thai chick, I think I'll scream. Oh well, so it goes, a quip Kurt Vonnegut popularized back in the sixties.

My best purchase before leaving the US was a cheap Kindle. I have library cards for both the Queens Public Library and the New York Public Library -- between them I've been able to keep a full shelf of books to read for free while living in Bangkok. It's simply fantastic.

Speaking of Vonnegut, after reading a collection of Vonnegut's letters, I'm now reading Cat's Cradle, which I haven't read since I was a tadpole in college. Now Thais may see us as the same, but Vonnegut's voice and vision are distinctly American, especially the way he uses humor to talk about serious issues.

Most of the stuff you talked about I knew already, but anything you know about the country and people you should share with me. I'm living here and can use any information you have to offer. It looks like in a few months I'll be relocating to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), but for now I'm pounding the streets here in Bangkok.

Hey, Marcus, are there any Thais in Sweden? In New York, there are some Thais and over the years I've had quite a few Thai students (but never as many as from Korea and Japan).

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Marcus said...

Jeffrey, up until last year Swedes were the per capita #1 visitors to Thailand. The rate of entries bu swedes compared to our population was 1/20. Now of course some people enter more than once so it doesn't mean one in twenty actually go there but it was still higher than any other nation. Last year our entries dropped by 25%, mmost probably for currency reasons. The Bath continued up whereas the Pound, Euro and Dollar dropped. It sees the ones who skip Thailand went to Spain, the UK and the US instead.

And many Thais come to Sweden too, but not so much for tourism. Wife imports seems to be the main reason, but I could be mistaken thinking that. Anyway, in my town of 300K people there are 50+ Thai restaurants.

Saigon is a cool place although I only spent a week there. Went in by river boat along the Mehkong from Phnom Pehn to Chau Doc. That felt very much like being in a Vietnam VVar movie, except for the no war part. Did the mandatory tourism: the war museum, the Chu Chi tunnels and went down in one too, and boat touring the delta.

I never really noticed that Germans stood out that much. IMO Thailand draws undesirables from many countries. Typically the sex/booze tourists you mentioned. One of the most embarrassing episodes I remember was back in 2004 when I travelled around with a female friend (not girlfriend) and we got caught up in a minivan on Samui with two filthy and stone drunk swedes with hookers half their age they were quarrelling with. That one of the hookers was a he disguised as a she and that the drunkard with "her" probably didn't even know it made the spectacle even worse. I pretended not to understand when they tried to speak to us.

The biggest change I've noticed is the huge increase in Russians, although maybe not so much in Bangkok. I've got nothing against them but they stand out for not mixing with other nationalities at all. There is zero interaction.

Petes said...

Lynnette, Marcus, et al,

Thought you might be interested in this documentary on shale gas fracking.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Marcus,

On the whole Thailand has been improving and even the poorest are vastly better of today compared to a few decades back.

I have to think that globalization of the world economy has something to do with that. As much as some people may resent it, it does have some positive aspects. The negative, of course, being things like garment factories collapsing on workers because of shoddy building and maintenance. Although I believe the one I am thinking of was in Bangladesh, not Thailand. Where there is an easy buck to be made safety may fall by the wayside in countries that don't have strict oversight of operations.

But actually the resentment today is mainly from the better offs, who lost the last election. The current government has huge support in the poorer regions. But the "royalists" and many of the ethnic chineese elites Jeffrey mentioned feel like their "right to rule" is in jeopardy.

Isn't that always the way? Those who have the most are reluctant to share. And from what Jeffrey was describing it is well within their means to do so.

EVERY home and EVERY business in Thailand has a photograph or a few of the King on the wall.

Sounds a bit like a cult. But maybe it is just the difference between a more individualist society, like the US, and a more conformist one? Perhaps that is why there are countries who are prown to dictatorships. It's easier to follow the herd.

Bridget said...

Petes, she's obviously a total socialist fruitcake. But I have to admit, I hugely enjoyed the tongue lashing she gave the Obamas.

On a different note, have you seen this:

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/inside-anglo-the-secret-recordings-29366837.html

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Jeffrey,

The biggest difference between the West and the Rest is the size of the middle class in the West. The middle class in countries like the US, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, and so on is huge. And, I guess, what the middle class expects to own and what it can offer their children.

That's what was so scary about the crash, the effects on the middle class. Having such a large middle class is a boon to the stability of a country. And perhaps, also, the general aging of a population I suppose. For countries who have not had that middle class anchor it's easier to overturn the boat.

The other night, for example, I counted ten young workers on the floor of an electronics store, most of them standing around and doing nothing or texting with friends on their i-phones.

Hmmm...if you had that here they would probably lay off some to save money.

The people in the lunch courts where I get cheap meals work 12 hours a day. All of these people make very little by Western standards, but in Thailand the cost of living is much lower and they are doing okay. They know how to live cheaply.

I think it's easier to live cheaply if you have lower expectations and are not inundated with things. They may hope for a car, but a motorcycle is cheaper to maintain.

Yeah, this country is definitely beyond my border. As I said before, each day I live here I learn something new.

It's never too late to learn something new. That's what keeps us from boredom.

I don't think Thais resent Westerners.

That's nice to hear. After reading so much about the Middle East I was getting a bit paranoid.

And they do love the King, as Marcus points out. There is absolutely no point of comparison for that adoration from an American perspective. No matter who is president in the US, you can be sure about half of the populace won't approve of him, if not despise him.

I think it is an American tradition. :)

Btw, you mentioned having a Kindle. I have not made the jump into that yet, still too much of a book traditionalist. If you are interested in India I have a book to recommend that kind of follows our discussion on life in other countries. If you haven't read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, you might want to give it a read. Excellent and very sad.

How are you enjoying the food there?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Pete,

No time at the moment to look at the documentary. Will give it a look later.

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "That's what was so scary about the crash, the effects on the middle class. Having such a large middle class is a boon to the stability of a country."

Very true...

http://www.salon.com/2012/11/27/median_wealth_of_u_s_households_lowest_since_1969/

New research from NYU economics professor Edward Wolff, flagged by Think Progress, found that the median wealth of American households plummeted over the years 2007 to 2010, and by 2010 was at its lowest level since 1969. Meanwhile, the late 2000′s saw a high rise inequality: while the median wealth fell, the top 1 percent increased their wealth by 71 percent between 2007 and 2010 (a statistic almost ready-made for an Occupy Wall Street banner).

Wolff argues that while “the debt of the middle class exploded from 1983 to 2007, already creating a very fragile middle class in the United States… their position deteriorated even more over the ‘Great Recession.’” His research also detailed how the household wealth of racial minorities and young people dropped to an even greater extent in the wake of the housing bubble’s burst, when house prices collapsed



What's also scary is the number of people who just want to get back to the unsustainable heights of the boom:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-28/american-housing-casino-revives-after-big-drop-mortgages.html

"Renee McCuistion, who lost her Las Vegas home after defaulting in 2010, talks with Bloomberg's Dan Levy about the opportunity to buy again in the market. Renee and her husband Dwaine bought another property last month for $475,000, 42 percent less than what the previous owner paid... “It’s like we won the lottery,” said Renee, sitting on the patio of the four-bedroom house at Red Rock Country Club beside Dwaine, her police officer husband. “With everything so low, we felt it was imperative to start building equity again.”"

And ...

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-29/flipping-homes-back-2005-levels

"In California, the number of homes sold in recent months that had been flipped—or bought and resold within six months—has reached the highest levels since late 2005, according to PropertyRadar, a real-estate data firm. About 6,000 homes have been flipped in the state this year through April, or more than 5% of all homes sold statewide.

While flipping is re-emerging nationwide, brokers say it is happening most in California, where home prices have risen sharply over the past year. Six of the 10 largest price gains in major U.S. cities over the past year have been in California, according to Zillow. In April, home values rose by 25% from a year earlier in San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento, and by 18% in Los Angeles."

Anonymous said...

Zeyad,

Since long before you and i were born the west was on the side of arab regressionists and backwards.
The U.S. didnt really fight AQ in Iraq, and they are leaving Afganistan soon to Taliban. Do Americans stop to think for asecond how absurd all this is? or are they all stupid?
Is depriving Iran from an ally worth all that? Or could it be that the real target is Russia?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Petes,

Wolff argues that while “the debt of the middle class exploded from 1983 to 2007, already creating a very fragile middle class in the United States… their position deteriorated even more over the ‘Great Recession.’"

From what I've read, probably true at the time. I think things might have changed a little since the end of 2012, when the article was written. The Great Recession caused a sharp turn around in how Americans viewed debt, as well as a reduction in the debt carried by households. Of course, foreclosures had a great deal to do with that reduction. The pick up we are seeing in the economy, despite the drop in the markets, has helped people mend their finances. While we are not out of the woods yet, we have at least shifted course somewhat. A more promising statistic I have seen is that younger people in their 20's have a more negative view of holding debt, especially via credit cards, than did earlier generations. Perhaps their views aren't quite as extreme as those of the people of the Great Depression, but at least they are more wary of debt. A good thing for the future hopefully.

"Renee McCuistion, who lost her Las Vegas home after defaulting in 2010, talks with Bloomberg's Dan Levy about the opportunity to buy again in the market. Renee and her husband Dwaine bought another property last month for $475,000, 42 percent less than what the previous owner paid...

When I first read this I wondered who on earth would give them a loan after having defaulted, but it appears there were mitigating circumstances. They lost their first home because of medical issues they both had and they managed to stay current on other loans they had for other properties. Their main mortgage payment will be the same as the rent they have been paying as well. In their case I can see where this might be a good idea with prices so low. Empty houses are never good for a neighborhood. It's nice to see someone living and maintaining a property.

While flipping is re-emerging nationwide, brokers say it is happening most in California, where home prices have risen sharply over the past year.

There have been many foreclosed homes bought and renovated. If the flipping is due to this, then it's not necessarily a bad thing. It upgrades the housing stock and maintains housing values in a neighborhood.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Anonymous,

I know your comment was addressed to Zeyad, but since you specifically referred to Americans I felt I could reply to part of it.

The U.S. didnt really fight AQ in Iraq,

I know many of our people who would disagree with you on that.

...and they are leaving Afganistan soon to Taliban.

We are leaving it to the Afghans. The Taliban is part of their internal problems that they must deal with. We can try to help, certainly, but in the end it is up to the people of the country itself to solve their problems.

Do Americans stop to think for asecond how absurd all this is?

Americans have rarely met a situation where they didn't feel they could change it.

...or are they all stupid?

No, just eternally optimistic. Unlike people in the Middle East who appear to be glass half empty kinds of people.

Anonymous said...

Lynette,

If Taliban is an Afghan problem why did you enthusiastically invade Afghanistan? Could you explain to us how Taliban became an Afghan problem in 2013 after being an American (and international) problem for many years ? When exactly did that happen? what were the stages?

Afghan officials and diplomats are fleeing the country fearing the coming massacre, the army is not ready .. who is going to run the country and protect the people? What did you exactly achieve there apart from killing a huge number of people for revenge?
Would you describe U.S. actions as responsible? reasonable?

Jeffrey said...

Marcus,

Fifty Thai restaurants? That's a lot of Thai restaurants for a city of that size. Hey, maybe I've been seeing Swedes instead of Germans (although when I could hear them talking to each other, it was always German).

Yeah, I feel for you and the cringe factor when confronted with a boorish besotted countryman. The good news for me is that I'm no longer in a hotel in Sukhumvit, so I don't run into the sex and booze louts at all anymore. The Victory Monument neighborhood, where I now live, is populated just by average Thais. There is, however, a huge duty-free mega-structure on my street (Rang Nam) called King Power that attracts bus-loads of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans looking for bargain. Fortunately, they're just looking for deals on consumer goods.

Hey, do you have any thoughts on why ladyboys are so prevalent in Thai society? It's kind of puzzling.



Jeffrey said...

Lynnette,

Hmmm...if you had that here they would probably lay off some to save money.

Yep, they would. But, I guess, here in Thailand they pay them so little that it doesn't make much of difference for the bottom line. Anyway, you can see why I'm still trying to figure this place out.

For an American, the first hurdle is to think in bahts and not dollars. I was talking to a cabbie the other day and after he explained to me that he was driving his own cab and not renting, I asked him for the details. After driving a rented for thirteen years, he finally had saved enough baht for a down-payment on a new Toyota taxicab (200,000 baht) and then four years of paying around 1500 baht per month. Okay, here's the baht-dollar conversion. He worked 13 years to save 200,000 baht, right? 200,000 baht is $6,427.80. Holy crap, I was thinking to myself. This dude worked for 13 years to save around six thousand dollars?! He also told me that in two more years he won't be able to drive his cab anymore (they kick them off the road once they age about nine years). He's trying to save 400,000 baht right now so he can open a small cafe on the outskirts of Bangkok that's a little closer to his Mom and Dad, now that they're getting older.

You can the problem with thinking in dollars here, right? So I'm trying to view everything in terms of baht (but glad, of course, that I got plenty of American dollars in my bank account). It's also why some Americans retire here. You could live fine just on your Social Security checks. Of course, you have to live far away from family and friends in a foreign country, but that another matter.

About Kindle. When I was younger, I worked in bookstores and university libraries and, like you, I imagine, loved the feel of a good paperback in my hands. But if you're traveling, there's is no replacement for a Kindle and a couple library cards. There are so many free books in the public domain (I have, for example, Gibbon's Decline and Fall and Boswell's Life of Johnson, both fat mothers that, if I had them in my backpack, would have scrambled my lower back already). I recharge the Kindle, by the way, with my laptop, so no batteries to worry about.

Marcus said...

Jeffrey, I have no idea why there are so many ladyboys there. Well, one thing is that they are probably more tolerated than they would be in many other places but that doesn't seem to be the only explanation.

"Hey, maybe I've been seeing Swedes instead of Germans (although when I could hear them talking to each other, it was always German)."

If they spoke German they weren't swedes. Swedes you'd typically come across in Phuket or the islands during our winter season, Dec-Feb.

"Okay, here's the baht-dollar conversion. He worked 13 years to save 200,000 baht, right? 200,000 baht is $6,427.80. Holy crap, I was thinking to myself. This dude worked for 13 years to save around six thousand dollars?!"

I've heard that those cabbies who rent their car pay 500 Bath up front for access to the car for a 12-hour shift. If they are unlucky they might not even recuperate that investment. The standard short fare is only 35 Bath (unless it's changed). Then they have to live off their earnings too so there is probably little room to save up money.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Anonymous,

If Taliban is an Afghan problem why did you enthusiastically invade Afghanistan?

Because at the time of the invasion in 2001 the Taliban was giving refuge to Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden. Given their refusal to extradite those responsible for the attacks of 9/11 we chose to invade.

Could you explain to us how Taliban became an Afghan problem in 2013 after being an American (and international) problem for many years ?

I think the Taliban have always been an Afghan problem. A problem they chose not to deal with. They became our problem when they chose to aid people who had declared war on us.

When exactly did that happen? what were the stages?

Answering these two questions based on my last response I would describe the stages thusly:

1. The Taliban rises to power amid the chaos of the Soviet invasion and their subsequent withdrawal. An innocent religious movement, as some may have assumed, they are not. They are aided in their quest for power by Pakistan and Gulf Arab supporters. Both of which are allies of ours. Stupidity on our part not to see? Possibly so. Or possibly short-sightedness in our obsession with the Soviet Union and the Cold War.

2. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan the US no longer feels a pressing need to be involved in internal Afghan matters. Some might say we took our eye off the ball, others might say we are staying out of other people's business.

3. The Taliban turns out not to be some kind of freedom movement to rid the country of invaders but a fundamentalist religious autocracy that oppresses those with different views and throws away the talents of half the population by turning women into chattel. Afghanistan stagnates. At this point they are an Afghan problem. But because too many people either supported them, or were afraid to fight them, they remain in power.

4. The Taliban make the mistake of allowing Osama bin Laden to operate on Afghan soil. Al Qaida declares war on the United States. The Taliban become our problem.

5. The Taliban are forced out of power by the US invasion. Osama bin Laden is killed in Pakistan. The Afghans have a government in place. How do we stay and run someone elses country? Despite what some people say about us we are not a colonial power. The American people would not support that.

Afghan officials and diplomats are fleeing the country fearing the coming massacre, the army is not ready .. who is going to run the country and protect the people?

Those who are strong enough to stand and fight for it. If they really wanted freedom, real freedom, they have to be willing to sacrifice their life for it. It's what we did in 1776.

What did you exactly achieve there apart from killing a huge number of people for revenge?

The actions of the US government were never about revenge. That is far too emotional a reason to ascribe to them. They were about removing an entity who had declared war on us and the allies who abetted them.

As for what we achieved? Only the future will tell.

Would you describe U.S. actions as responsible? reasonable?

I believe we did ask nicely, Anonymous, for the Taliban to turn Bin Laden over to us and not allow Al Qaida to stage attacks from their soil. They refused. Were we to let them continue to act with impunity?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Jeffrey,

You can the problem with thinking in dollars here, right?

Yes, I can, especially if you are being payed in baht!

So I'm trying to view everything in terms of baht (but glad, of course, that I got plenty of American dollars in my bank account). It's also why some Americans retire here.

That was why I asked that about your being retired before. I was acquanted with someone who did that. Although his wife was Thai as well.

When I was younger, I worked in bookstores and university libraries and, like you, I imagine, loved the feel of a good paperback in my hands. But if you're traveling, there's is no replacement for a Kindle and a couple library cards.

I have always loved the texture and smell of a book. But, yes, I can see your point about what you want to carry when you travel. Light weight is best.

How are the students you are teaching? Eager to learn or just going through the motions? What are the educational facilities like?

Jeffrey said...

Marcus,

I've heard that those cabbies who rent their car pay 500 Bath up front for access to the car for a 12-hour shift. If they are unlucky they might not even recuperate that investment. The standard short fare is only 35 Bath (unless it's changed). Then they have to live off their earnings too so there is probably little room to save up money.

If the driver uses the meter, it begins at 35 baht. Cabbies make more if they drive off the meter and negotiate a price with the customer before taking off. I've done it both ways, on the meter and off the meter. In general, it's cheaper if you're on the meter. For example, when I moved from my last hotel to the apartment building, the ride of twenty minutes or so cost 93 baht and I rounded up to 100. As you may remember, Thais don't tip at restaurants and generally not in cabs, but will sometimes round up if it's only a couple baht. A fat tips from a Westerner is the sign of a newbie. Oh, by the way, my 7 baht tip was about 25 cents of an American dollar.

I've also asked drivers about the motorcycle taxis. Those guys can sometimes make more money but it's more dangerous and you've got to pay into a mafia-type organization to get one of the numbered orange vests all those dudes wear. All in all, as you say, it's not easy for these cabbies and motorcycle fellas to make and save money. The same goes for the tuk-tuk drivers, too, I imagine.

Jeffrey said...

Lynnette,

After teaching straight for twenty years without taking a semester off, I'm now just traveling this year. I don't need to teach for money, but I told myself if I saw a position that I liked, I would teach a bit. But right now I'm happy just hanging out here in Bangkok and looking forward to living in a few other cities in Asia.

There are a lot of places to teach here. The other day I went to the campus of Chulalongkorn University, the best university in Thailand. The first thing that strikes a foreign visitor is that the college students here wear uniforms. All the women wear white blouses, black skirts, and the same style brown belt (which they wear loose by a notch or two so that it kind of rides on their hips). They guys must wear white dress shirts and dark slacks.

It was fun to walk around their campus. There was a group of around eight students who were learning some kind of college song, learning all the steps and arm movements. I sat and watched them practice and it was only when they finally tried the whole song from start to finish that I realized their fight song used the melody from the American gospel hymn, "When the Saints Go Marching In." Funny.

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Marcus said...

Jeffrey: "If the driver uses the meter, it begins at 35 baht. Cabbies make more if they drive off the meter and negotiate a price with the customer before taking off."

AFAIK they are not allowed to insist on that, but I know it's common. I've found that you get pretty far on those initial 35 Bath before the meter starts running. Myself I play it along the lines you yourself describe. I tip up to the nearest even and convenient sum of money, and I might tip more if there is some sort of extra service.

On several occations I took cabs to Hua Hin and since it's a long stint (3-4 hours) it's always a set price. I've payed from the agreed price if I had a grumpy driver or one driving recklessly to giving several 100 Baths tip if they made the journey pleasant. I remember one driver who when we stopped for gas made the effort to bring me an iced coffe, and he got a tip of course.

I took the bus to Hua Hin once but it was not to my liking. Then of course I was on a 3 week holiday so wasting a day was dear to me. If you have ample time in Thailand public transportation is the way to go, in terms of getting your moneys worth.

There is a night train from Udon Thani to BKK (or the other way round) and it's about 2000 Bath for 2 persons for a private compartment or 1500 for a single person in such a compartment. Those are a great ride. You get to see so much of the countryside passing by and they serve beer and then you spend the night sleepng on the train so it's like transport+hotel for the same amount of money. There's a similar one between BKK and Chiang Mai but I've never tried that one. (The prices I quote were in 2007, might've changed but probably not by much)

BTW, I can recommend Hua Hin for a weekend beach outing if you live in Bangkok. It's sort of a Royal holiday place and a lot of well to do Thais vacation there. The beach is nowhere as nice as on the islands but the water is clean and there are many nice restaurants. There is a "bar street" with some of the riffraff you'd do well to avoid but it's (at least was when I was there) just one street.

There is a Hilton that's expensive to stay at but they have a very affordable restaurant and bar in the evenings called the Brewery Company. I can highly recomend it. Be sure to put on mosquito spray though, because in Hua Hin there are mozzies in the evening.

If you're going to Samui let me know, because there I can give you pointers for sure.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Jeffrey,

A year off to just wander and observe different cultures? Very nice. While teaching can be rewarding, like any job done for 20 years straight a break sounds heavenly. I really envy PeteS his astronomy and you your travels.

I'm ambivalent about uniforms. I think in many of our schools where so much emphasis is placed on being in the "in" group uniforms might help put people on a more level playing field. For some people clothes are far too important. Yet in a culture where conformity is the norm, and I assume from what you describe this would apply to Thailand, a little loosening of restrictions wouldn't come amiss. Either way it is kind of odd to think of them at the college level.

I could see where having you as a teacher might liven things up a little there. You'd probably have them standing on their desks reading their thesis. :) (Yeah, I really liked Dead Poets Society.)

I wouldn't be a true Minnesotan if I didn't make at least one comment about the weather there. I don't remember when their rainy season is, but hopefully you will miss any severe weather events while you are there. Do you know, has the government, or anyone else, been good at helping people get back on their feet if their homes are wiped out by flooding, high winds etc.?

Btw, are you going to China? PeteS and I were having a discussion awhile back about the "ghost cities" there.

Marcus said...

Pete, I finished that documentary on fracking. Very interesting, thanks for sharing. About the final question in the film: "should we do it", I am convinced the answer is "we will do it". If the energy is there and we can get at it for a reasonable cost we will harvest it, eventually.

I've been reading more and more not just about shale gas but also shale oil. There was an article in a Swedish newspaper today that said the US might get back to being the worlds biggest oil producer by 2017 and that the new output would be larger than the peak in the 70's. All due to shale oil. It also said prices will have to stay above $85 per barrel for that to happen, because it's a more costly procedure. Then it said that some "experts" forecast that the cost will go down due to technological advances but others say it will go up because the lowest hanging fruits are picked first, so to speak.

Anyway, this does seem to be one of those game changers that put the "peak fossil energy" calculations to the test. I'd say at the very least it'll buy some time. How much time? That's the question and I have no idea.

What's your thoughts on shale oil and gas Pete?

Petes said...

Marcus, did you see the picture of the drill core sample of shale in that documentary. It's a lump of solid, dense rock. It seems incredible that there are appreciable amounts of gas in microscopic pores inside it. But at many thousands of feet down, the pressures must be incredible, and when that gas comes back to the surface it must expand enormously. From digging around a few web articles, it seems that the volume of gas is about five or ten times that of the rock, that is, 5-10 standard cubic feet (i.e. at standard temperature and pressure) per cubic foot of rock.

I can't imagine the gas comes out easily though. What lateral distance is it possible to frack from a well? I've no idea, but it must depend on how connected the rock pores are (which looks like "not much"). And even gas, let alone oil, behaves like a sticky fluid at those pressures. Nevertheless, if you send a drill thread a couple of kilometres horizontally, that's still a lot of rock you are contacting. Still, it's easy to see why the pressure falls off quite suddenly when a shale well gets depleted, unlike a conventional well which gradually "relaxes".

So I find it believable when I read that depletion curves for shale hydrocarbons are much steeper than for conventional. Does that mean we could have a boom for a number of years, followed by an even more rapid bust? I don't know. Certainly the amounts that are being talked about seem quite huge.

Jeffrey said...

Damn! I move from New York City to Thailand and today Muslims blow up eight non-Muslim Thais down south. Crap. And Muslims around the world wonder why Islam has a bad name?!

Shit.

Zeyad said...

Jeffrey I would feel safer in New York City than in a country that borders a boiling point between Muslims and non-Muslims. You guys overrate the threat from Islamic terrorism in the US very much. PS i live In central Texas now and feel even safer

Jeffrey said...

Zeyad,

I'm in Bangkok, so I really don't worry about Islamic violence up here. But you're right that southern Thailand is a friction plate between Buddhists and Muslims and that if I lived there I'd have to watch my back.

New York City, I imagine, is still a major target in the eyes of Islamic terrorists. If you're a terrorist, replicating the carnage of 9/11 would still a goal, I'd think. Well, after 9/11, I guess Americans ought to be allowed to over-rate the possibility of attack and ill-will of some Muslims in the US, right?

Yes, indeed, most people feel safe in Texas. The law-enforcement folks, as I'm sure you now know, can get in your face right quick. A couple years ago, I was riding a bike on the UT-Austin campus and failed to come to complete stop a stop-sign on the deserted campus and a police officer chased me down on his bike and was itching, I could tell, to put me in cuffs. Coming from New York, I couldn't even imagine why he pulled me over for not coming to a complete stop ON A BIKE. Bottom line: Don't mess with the police in Texas. So, yeah, Texas has a law enforcement tradition that urges caution when dealing with them.

I wonder how many decades we'll be dealing with the outflow of violence as Islam bumps up against other countries and the modern world. Any thoughts?

I should add that, of course, it's not just a question of Islam and modernity, but also of Islamic sectarian issues (like in Iraq), and political and power issues (like in Syria and Egypt) with admixtures of Islam. Anyway, how long do you think it will take for the Middle East, to take one region with Islamic issues, to reach a better state of equilibrium?

Yeah, I know, that's a big question. But, as you know, I've followed your blog all these years because you've been able to look at the big picture (with historical dimensions, thinking of your extended essays on the tribes of Iraq) as well as the local, day-to-day events.

Jeffrey said...

Zeyad,

I should add that in no way do I see these current conflicts of political power and sectarianism as unique to Islam. Within Christianity, for example, many decades passed between that day in 1517 when Martin Luther put his complaints about the Roman Catholic Church in writing and attached the sheet of paper (or parchment or vellum or whatever it was) to a church door in Wittenberg to the signing of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which helped bring an end to Christians killing each other.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Pete,

Thanks for the link to that documentary. It was very interesting.

What lateral distance is it possible to frack from a well?

I don't know what the limit is, but I think the guy in Pennsylvania said his well was running about a mile and a half laterally. That's quite a ways.

I think I tend to agree with Marcus, this is the shape of the future. As long as there is so much demand for energy, companies are going to find a way to fill it. But I think we need to get a handle on what the risks really are, and find a way to mitigate them.

I see he never made it to North Dakota. When the one fellow mentioned about how this benefits the community by bringing jobs, he wasn't kidding. It is directly due to this that North Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. It would be difficult to give that up. That, and greater energy independence.

Btw, I thought the underground shots were rather cool. They reminded me of when I toured Crystal Cave in South Dakota. It's a whole different world below ground.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Anybody following what's going on in Egypt? It sounds like all the dissatisfaction with the Morsi government is coming to a head.

The whole region seems to be struggling with internal divisions. Egypt has always seemed pivotal. We'll see if they turn the corner to a more liberal society or continue to wallow in the conservative thinking that has led to so much stagnation.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Zeyad,

PS i live In central Texas now and feel even safer

We've had our moments of very violent change too. Perhaps it's difficult to avoid, really. If one is very, very lucky, the change leads to something positive. I still wish the best to those who are struggling to achieve what we have.

Petes said...

Quick swing-by ... have a cosmology deadline :(

Lynnette -- what I was wondering was: after you have gone two kilometres horizontally with your drill thread, how far from that drill hole can you access? The fracking fluid is used to open up cracks in the surrounding shale so that gas (or oil) flows into the well. But the shale samples seem so dense to me that I find it really hard to visualise that a large volume of rock far from the drill thread yields up its deposit.

Here's a quick back-of-an-envelope calculation. Apologies for flitting between metric and imperial measurements -- I'm equally non-conversant with both :)

1 mile of horizontal drill thread, by 1 yard laterally fracked by 10 scf of gas per cf of rock = 1.5 million scf. Wellhead price of gas has dropped from about $7.50 per thousand scf to about $2.50 now. So, 1.5 million scf = #3,750. I doubt that even pays for the fracking fluid let alone the drilling. So clearly I'm way off the mark ... but how? Needs more investigation.

P.S. I see the differential between a barrel of WTI and Brent crude has fallen to $5.60 -- the lowest I've seen it. Clearly the bottlenecks in American oil distribution (and refining capacity?) are being gradually eased. Some impact from a strengthening dollar too.

Petes said...

Holy bajoley! Here's a reference to lateral fracking distances which, though it's from an anti-fracking site, contains some apparently verbatim quotes to the effect that "the length of the fracture from the well bore to the fracture tip can extend hundreds to thousands of feet, with one example of almost 2,000 feet"

http://blog.shaleshockmedia.org/2013/02/05/fracker-admits-frack-can-go-up-to-2000-feet/

It's not at all clear whether the fractures travel the same distance in all directions, and some of the shale formations are less than a hundred feet thick anyway, so it's impossible to work out what volume of hydrocarbon is stimulated by fracks of this size. But for the sake of argument, a fully depleted zone that stretched 600 feet in all directions would be 200 times the radius I estimated, and therefore 40,000 times the cross sectional area and volume. Suddenly a one mile string is sounding more like a $100m worth. Even a quite modest fraction of that could be commercial. And of course there are the multi-well drilling pads which can bore multiple wells without multiplying up all the associated costs.

I still find it mind-boggling to consider that fractures this size can be forced open in solid rock using hydraulic fluid.

Marcus said...

Lynnette: "Anybody following what's going on in Egypt? [...]Egypt has always seemed pivotal. We'll see if they turn the corner to a more liberal society or continue to wallow in the conservative thinking that has led to so much stagnation."

Here's an article speculating whether there will be civil war in Egypt.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-250613.html

I'd say the place is probably almost ungovernable for a democratic government today. First of all there's no history of respecting a democratic mandate. If others "vote wrong" you don't have to respect the outcome, it seems.

But more importantly Egypt is broke. There's been massive capital flight, the tourism industry has been ruined and the unrest must have done serious damage to other parts of the economy as well. Of course Egypt with its large population cannot feed itself but is reliant on imports of food as well as energy. Without quite large emergency loans from Gulf countries the people would be starving already.

If I were to bet on the outcome I'd bet that the military will eventually step in and take control. Some sort of military coup. Either an outright one or attempts at a soft one where the elected leadership are nominally still in charge.

Marcus said...

Pete: "I still find it mind-boggling to consider that fractures this size can be forced open in solid rock using hydraulic fluid."

It seems strange. But hydraulics is a very powerful way to focus power. Think of a typical wheel loader. It drives back and forth and effortlessly scoops up up to 10 metric tons at a time. And the scoop is powered by a small hydraulic motor sending oil through relatively small hoses. And the engine in the wheel loader that propells the machine itself plus the hydraulic system is just a 170 horsepower diesel engine, not much more than in a regular car.

Also I think it's got to do with the nature of rock. Once it splits it seems like it was never that tough. Check this clip out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoTvAQr4J1E

Relatively little effort to split a slab of rock that you'd think was almost unbreakable if you held it in your hand.

But yeah, I'm blown away by this whole business of fracking also.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS,

I still find it mind-boggling to consider that fractures this size can be forced open in solid rock using hydraulic fluid.

Perhaps it has to do with the layers of different types of rock? Put enough pressure on the harder layer and it will be forced back against the underlying layer of whatever. The layers aren't uniformly flat and smooth. There must be ridges of varying hardness underneath forcing varying degress of pressure on different areas. And since it is a confined area fractures will occur. The distance would have no bearing?

I'm still not sure where the different chemicals come into play.

But I could see where this could cause surface tremors in the immediate area. Given the depth and mass of the tectonic plates I don't see where it would have any bearing on normal siesmic activity.

But then I'm a layman on this stuff and probably don't have a clue as to what I am talking about. :)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Marcus,

I'd say the place is probably almost ungovernable for a democratic government today. First of all there's no history of respecting a democratic mandate. If others "vote wrong" you don't have to respect the outcome, it seems.

Some people might say that of the entire Middle East, but be that as it may, I think in the case of Egypt part of the problem was that the government was overreaching on its mandate. Actually they never had a mandate. Anyone could see they would have problems if they didn't move to a centrist stance in their policies. Instead all they tried to do was consolidate power.

But more importantly Egypt is broke. There's been massive capital flight, the tourism industry has been ruined and the unrest must have done serious damage to other parts of the economy as well.

Indeed. It would have taken a highly skilled and experienced politician to run a government that could deal with those kinds of problems. Judging by some of his actions, Morsi isn't it.

Marcus said...

I said my best bet was that the military would step in in Egypt. That was before they actually said they might do so. Now I am convinced they will. I'll give it a week or so, until the military takes "control" of Egypt. In some fashion. Of course they will make some comments about just securing the country for democracy to be given a new chance, etc. but in the end it'll be a military coup.

If it hasn't happened by late July you may tell me I was wrong.

Petes said...

Another terrible veggie bombing day in Baghdad. Been a lot of them lately :(

Petes said...

Wow! Incredibly round numbers on Bloomberg just now for oil spot prices. WTI - $100.00, Brent - $104.00, spread of only $4.00.

Petes said...

WTI increases appear to be down to: 1) strengthening dollar, 2) middle east uncertainties, 3) promising US economic outlook, 4) new rail and pipeline openings in mid-west, 5) completion and restart of BP Whiting refinery upgrade in NW Indiana, taking 0.4 mbpd.

No idea about the relative importances -- the press rarely have a clue.

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Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I'll give it a week or so, until the military takes "control" of Egypt. In some fashion.

It looks like it may not even take that long.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Gas prices have fallen here recently. Normally they seem to rise before a holiday weekend, but not this time.

Petes said...

Ironically, while American producers are getting paid more for their oil than most of the last four years, the price of Brent is lower than most of the last two and a half. For once it's good news for both producers and consumers in the States.

Petes said...

Looks like Morsi may only have minutes left in government.

Hard to know what to think. He's their democratically elected president. He's being blamed for an economic crisis but will someone else be able to do better? And will they have any more of a democratic mandate than Morsi.

Petes said...

Yep. Thirty minutes to be exact. He's gone.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I watched a little of the crowds in Egypt cheering Morsi's ouster. And Sandmonkey's Twitter feed is all aflutter with the current events. I hope it turns out better than other military coups I can think of. We can only wait and see. I wish them well.

Petes said...

I'd hate to be the pilot of the helicopter that was hovering over Tahrir Square. The crowd there are the army's biggest fans at the moment, so they expressed their appreciation by lighting up his underside with a couple of dozen green laser pointers. Quite a pretty sight, but I'm not sure I'd be trusting a random selection of protest-drunk supporters to not sear my eyeballs out in an accidental laser keratotomy.

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Marcus said...

Pete: "Hard to know what to think. He's their democratically elected president. He's being blamed for an economic crisis but will someone else be able to do better? And will they have any more of a democratic mandate than Morsi."

That's the problem, there's no easy way out. What you basically have got is a country with a massive and growing population that cannot economically sustain itself. And where parts of the population, the educated city-dwellers mostly, long for some kind of western like society. But where the rural folks and the disenfranchised in the slums look to religion for their answers - and they are the majority. How do you govern that?

It seems to me you have the "real power" in one corner and the power of the majority in the other. Much as they might want the same things they are very much in disagreement on how to get there. Both parties first and foremost wish for economic prosperity and getting their basic needs fulfilled and some sort of social security I'd guess.

It'll be tempting for a lot of people, at least in the short run, to go for a military-led government where technocrats can get "the trains running on time".

OK, I'm about to go guessing again:

The military will install a new and temporary Ad Hoc government for the brief future - that much we know.

I believe they will then announce new elections but they will also restrict those elections so that any new democratic government will either be screened in advance (likke in Iran) or that there will be some other set of checks and balances fro the "old powers" put on it. They will wish to have a nominally democratic government but one they can ultimately control. And they'll get one.

One thing is that it's very easy for the outside powers (US, EU, KSA, Etc.) to make or break any new Egyptian government. They need money. They are desperate for money. You either give it to them and they can satify public demands to a satisfying degree, or you don't and they fall.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

They need money. They are desperate for money. You either give it to them and they can satify public demands to a satisfying degree, or you don't and they fall.

And there is the quandary for the US. A stable Egypt is important to the US. It has a large population, and if it should go the way of Syria, it would be one more domino in a chain reaction that could lead to a meltdown of the entire region. Yet, by law, we cannot send money to a government formed by a military coup.

So, it is in our interests, and Egypt's, to hold elections as soon as possible.

The road to democracy isn't always easy. For in truth it is not about one man rule, one party rule, or military rule. Morsi had his chance and he blew it. In all honesty I feel this is only another chapter in Egypt's revolution. If they are to succeed they cannot forget the lessons of Mubarak or Morsi. Checks and balances only work if they are the proper kind. If your true goal is democracy those that ensure that power be held by one entity will ultimately fail.

To all those who are celebrating our revolution...Happy 4th of July!

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Zeyad,

I hope you have found out why the Mexicans, and other immigrants, celebrate the 4th of July.

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "Yet, by law, we cannot send money to a government formed by a military coup."

Ah c'mon Lynnette. You paid off Mubarak for thirty years in spite of his rigging of votes and running a corrupt government. Aren't such rules are made to be broken? :)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

*looks at PeteS in amusement*

You will note how the Obama adminstration has done cartwheels to avoid calling what has happened in Egypt a "coup" haven't you?

And, in point of fact, it really may not have been one, if the military is true to their word of restoring civilian government and acted with the consent of the majority of Egyptians. Because as far as I could tell, by his actions, Morsi acted not as a democrat but as a dictator wanna be by attempting to consolidate power in one party, the Muslim Brotherhood. This would make him eligible for removal by anyone with the wherewithal to do so.

:)

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It's funny because you believe what you hear solely based on what your media tells you. Let me tell you something my friends, there are other sources other than CNN to find out what's really going on. I have learned that the vast amount of humanities problems come with the inability to accept our own problems at home, and with ourselves. Where so busy looking to be the "saviors" of the world, that we forgot about our own people - before we can do any good in the world we have to start with ourselves!!!!

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