Today in Middle East history: a couple of greatest hits

There’s nothing like recycling material when you’re taking a break, am I right? Today is the (likely) anniversary of the appointment of Umar b. al-Khattab as the second Caliph in 634. Umar succeeded the departed Abu Bakr, who died on August 22. Umar’s caliphate saw caliphal armies defeat both of the great empires of the… Continue reading Today in Middle East history: a couple of greatest hits

Saturday Night Tunes: Monk’s Music

1957’s Monk’s Music was recorded during the brief period after John Coltrane had left Miles Davis (partly because Davis had had enough of Coltrane’s heroin habit) and joined Monk for a stint at New York’s Five Spot Cafe. Very few studio recordings exist of Coltrane and Monk together, because the two of them were signed to… Continue reading Saturday Night Tunes: Monk’s Music

ISIS may be down to their third-string #2 guy

The White House is saying that an airstrike earlier this week in Mosul, Iraq, killed ISIS’s “second-in-command,” Hajji Mutazz (AKA Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali), along with one of the group’s “media operatives” (seriously?), a guy named Abu Abdullah. This is the second third time Mutazz has been “killed” in an American airstrike, which is either an… Continue reading ISIS may be down to their third-string #2 guy

Maybe your poll would be better if people could understand the questions

Media Matters is criticizing CNN’s Wolf Blitzer for cherry-picking from his own network’s poll on public support for the Iran deal in order to make the case that the deal is unpopular. CNN ran a poll that asked respondents about their support for the nuclear deal in two ways: half the sample had the key… Continue reading Maybe your poll would be better if people could understand the questions

Is Myanmar criminalizing being a Muslim, or what?

Myanmar’s parliament just passed two bills, whose details are unknown, that reportedly aim to criminalize extramarital affairs and make it harder for people to change religion. Freedom, how does it work, am I right? It doesn’t take much in the way of psychic abilities to figure that these laws are aimed squarely at Myanmar’s Muslim… Continue reading Is Myanmar criminalizing being a Muslim, or what?

Here is your primer on the pending resumption of the Korean War

North Korean dictator The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Kim Jong-un has put his country’s military in a “wartime state” and has given South Korea until 5 PM local time tomorrow (4:30 AM on the US east coast) to stop broadcasting propaganda into North Korea or face military action. Wait, what???? Uh, yeah, it turns out… Continue reading Here is your primer on the pending resumption of the Korean War