Today in Middle East history: the Battle of Marj Rahit (684)

The early caliphate was not an especially stable place. In the two centuries after Muhammad’s death in 632, the empire went through four Fitnas, or civil wars. It’s fair to say that the second of these, which lasted from 680 to 692, was really almost a do over of the first, with the same factions… Continue reading Today in Middle East history: the Battle of Marj Rahit (684)

Republican candidates unveil their generous “Die Quickly” healthcare initiatives

Marco Rubio and Scott Walker both revealed their alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, and if you’re anything shy of a millionaire, prepare to get excited: you’re not going to live too long under either of these plans! Scott Walker’s plan makes the interesting decision to subsidize healthcare, like the ACA, but to base the… Continue reading Republican candidates unveil their generous “Die Quickly” healthcare initiatives

Backing a winner

Now that the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen has finally started seeing some major successes, there are calls for both sides in that country’s civil war to stop fighting and pursue peace talks. The feeling is that previous negotiations were rendered impossible by the fact that the Houthi-Saleh side was in such a dominant position that… Continue reading Backing a winner

Crime and punishment

Chinese authorities have “detained” ten top executives at the Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Company, which was responsible for the facility that exploded on Wednesday in the port city of Tianjin. The death toll from that explosion has reached 114, with 57 people still missing and environmental hazards (including “several hundred tons of… Continue reading Crime and punishment

The Trump flameout doesn’t seem so imminent

These early presidential polls aren’t useful for much other than the occasional laugh or when TV news networks decide to take it upon themselves to cull one political party’s primary field, and since I’m not a TV news network I’m mainly in it for the laughs. Take the Republican field Everybody else in the field… Continue reading The Trump flameout doesn’t seem so imminent

Who bombed Bangkok today?

Earlier today, a pipe bomb tore through the popular Erawan Shrine in downtown Bangkok, killing at least 22 20 people and injuring at least 125 more. The shrine, dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, was built in the 1950s and has thousands of visitors every day in spite of the fact that Thailand is a… Continue reading Who bombed Bangkok today?

What’s King Tut hiding?

King Tut is still getting over the trauma of having his beard broken off and badly reattached with epoxy, so maybe it’s unfair to pile on the guy like this, but an Egyptologist at the University of Arizona named Nicholas Reeves is now accusing Tutankhamun(‘s tomb) of hiding the tomb of Nefertiti, the chief consort… Continue reading What’s King Tut hiding?