Easter nightmare in Pakistan

First off, Happy Easter to those who are celebrating it today (Orthodox Christians won’t celebrate it until May 1). Unfortunately, Easter Sunday has been turned into a horror story for people living in the Pakistani city of Lahore: A suicide bomber killed at least 65 people and injured more than 280 others, mostly women and… Continue reading Easter nightmare in Pakistan

Today in European history: the (third) Siege of Algeciras ends (1344)

Modern Algeciras is the main city on the Bay of Gibraltar and one of the busiest commercial ports in Europe. It’s pretty old, too, since it was founded by early Berber-Arab invaders all the way back in 711–“Algeciras” is a European corruption of the city’s original name, al-Jazirah al-Khudra (“the green island”). And, if we’re… Continue reading Today in European history: the (third) Siege of Algeciras ends (1344)

Talking about the thing we never talk about

Tuesday’s terrorist attacks on the Maalbeek metro station and Zaventem airport in Brussels killed 34 people (including three perpetrators) and injured another 300, many critically. This was the worst violence that Belgium has seen since the Second World War. It was a despicable act, and many of us here in the US have expressed and… Continue reading Talking about the thing we never talk about

Security theater in action

The terrorist attack on the Zeventem Airport in Brussels yesterday targeted one of the softest spots in the entire transportation system: the security queue at any major airport. Our “shoes off, belt off, take out your laptop, measure your liquids, put your left foot in and shake it all about” security screening process creates another… Continue reading Security theater in action

Today in South Asian history: Nader Shah sacks Delhi (1739)

The Mughal Empire was easily the richest of the three so-called “Gunpowder Empires”–the Ottomans and the Safavids were the other two–that dominated the Islamic world from the 15th century (for the Ottomans; 16th century for the other two) into the 18th century (and, at least in the Ottoman case, well beyond that). In the patterns… Continue reading Today in South Asian history: Nader Shah sacks Delhi (1739)

Terror attacks in Brussels kill at least 34, story developing

Terrorist bombings at a subway station in Maalbeek and at Zaventem Airport have killed at least 34 people and injured another 170. Two bombs, at least one of which is believed to have been a suicide bombing, struck the airport early this morning, and an hour later another bomb hit the subway station. There are… Continue reading Terror attacks in Brussels kill at least 34, story developing

Today in Middle Eastern history: Iran becomes “Iran” (1935)

I don’t mean to seem obscure with that title, but it’s a historical oddity that the nation (kingdom, empire, whatever it was at any particular point in history) of Iran was never officially called “Iran” by anybody other than Iranians until 1935, even though most Iranians had been calling it “Iran” for millennia. The rest of… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Iran becomes “Iran” (1935)