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Just a Little Pimpin’

I’m going to put in a good word for my son Josh’s new album “Shame of Tones,” a parody compilation based on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Under the Bus

cairo-embassy-protest

The career of Larry Schwartz, who is the Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Cairo, is over.

Which Way’s that Wind Blowing?

us-politics

Even for a Blue Dog Democrat, GA Rep. Jim Marshall’s campaign ad is rather breathtaking… He’d best be hoping that Pelosi doesn’t retain her Speaker’s role.

A Delightful Pain on the Ass

travel-suitcase

Everyone knows that women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive, at least in the cities. I learned today that women riding bicycles is also frowned upon, but as with their driving cars, there’s not actually a law that forbids it, just custom and a mentality that leads officials toward the officious: “If I think it’s not […]

“Look upon My Works, Ye Mighty!”

intellectual-invention

Shelly’s poem Ozymandias is forced to mind when reading this piece from the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, Florida. It makes perfect economic sense—cheap, useful cars with good gas mileage—but does it ever speak volumes about the inevitability of change… Indian car company readies Sarasota showroom Toni Whitt SARASOTA COUNTY – While working for General Motors in […]

Bow? Wow!

travel-suitcase

The conservative media and blogs have been having a field day parsing the bow that President Obama gave before Saudi King Abdullah in London last week. Some see it as a sign that he is submitting in fealty to Saudi Arabia. Others find ‘coded messages’ about how the US will submit to Islam. His act […]

Major Reforms in Saudi Arabia

travel-suitcase

Saudi King Abdullah announced a major shake-up in his government over the weekend. Among the changes was the naming of the first woman to a high government office, Deputy Minister for Girls’ Education. The promotion of a woman in a country that generally treats women as second class citizens is indeed a big step. More […]

So, Has Rev. Warren Become Muslim?

travel-suitcase

I don’t think I’m the only one who noticed that during his invocation, Rev. Rick Warren used the phrase, “You, the merciful one; You, the compassionate one’. That phrase, the heart of the bismillah, was not accidental, I believe. The bismillah is the prayer that is used to start nearly anything done by a pious […]

The Capitol Is Otherwise Engaged

us-politics

“Prostitution Free Zone” During Inauguration Some headlines just scream for attention… UPDATE (James Joyner): The story itself is rather amusing: District police have placed signs along 5th and I Streets. They read, “Warning, Prostitution Free Zone.” Those who disobey could be fined 300 dollars, and even jailed. But will the city’s plan work? DC City […]

Saudi, Sharia Laws Applied in US Courts

law-scales-justice-flag

Particularly in light of the fooforaw following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement about the inevitability of Sharia law in the UK, this piece from The Volokh Conspiracy on the application of Saudi Sharia law in Texas and Minnesota is interesting, to say the least! The issue is not actually whether Saudi law applies in Texas […]

Saudis Loosen Women’s Shackles

travel-suitcase

Various media are reporting on some serious reforms in Saudi Arabia, starting with giving women permission to drive. The story, so far sourced only to a correspondent of the UK’s The Telegraph, but being widely picked up, says that the government has bowed to the inevitable and is in the process of writing regulations and […]

Book Review: The Siege of Mecca

travel-suitcase

I’ve written a review of The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam’s Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda, a riveting retelling of the events of November, 1979, when a group of around 500 Islamic extremists (including at least two American Black Muslims) seized the Grand Mosque at Mecca. The author concludes […]

‘The Kingdom’: US-Saudi Relations on Film

travel-suitcase

Review: ‘The Kingdom’ Watching the trailers for ‘The Kingdom’ over the past several months, I was curious about how the film would portray Saudi Arabia and Saudis. I had personal experience with terrorist bombings of residential compounds in Riyadh and wanted to see how accurate the film might be. The film could have taken the […]

Late Night OTB – Remembering

movie-popcorn-filmstrip

Back in the late 1960s, early 70s, I was editing a Washington, DC alternative newspaper, “Woodwind”. The publisher, Mike Schreibman, funded the paper as a labor of love. He subsidized the paper with his earnings from his music promotion business, Woodwind Entertainment, specializing in producing concerts at area colleges, from Baltimore down to Richmond. I […]

Diplomats and War

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Back in May, James Joyner and I wrote a piece for TCS Daily, Armed Diplomats? When State and Stability Operations Collide about the conflicting roles and missions of State Department diplomats and those of the US Military. The article noted that diplomats (as well as the various support staff needed to run a diplomatic missions, […]

Uphill Battle to Develop Arabic Speakers in US

travel-suitcase

Christian Science Monitor has a good piece on the difficulties in developing a pool of Arabic speakers who can help develop and support US foreign policy in the Middle East. The article, Why the pool of Arabic speakers is still a puddle, notes that Arabic is a difficult language, taking at least triple the time […]

Islamic World’s Attitudes on US Strongly Negative

travel-suitcase

US Public Diplomacy: A long row to hoe in the Islamic World Worldpublicopinion.org a project of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, has recently published an public opinion poll on attitudes toward the US, terrorist organization, and a generalized ‘clash of civilizations’. [The link is to a 28-page PDF document. […]

Putting Unicorns to Work

intellectual-invention

The Washington Post has an interesting bit today on how researchers are using narwhals to collect data in regions of the Arctic. The project, jointly run by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration, is using the deep diving narwhals to reach poorly sampled […]

ABC TV Looks at Saudi Arabia

travel-suitcase

This past week, ABC TV’s Diane Sawyer has been reporting on her travels to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia for the ‘Good Morning America’ program. There’s not a lot there for anyone with any foreign policy savvy, but a few things did pop out. Below is a brief overview of the different segments that aired and […]

The Quest for the Perfect Cup of Coffee

movie-popcorn-filmstrip

As Outside the Beltway has noted in the past, coffee–its presence, its absence, its quality–is a matter of interest to many. Why, it’s even earned its own category on OTB! As noted in comments at the above link, Northern Europeans–from Holland, north and east to the Polish border–has its own way of doing coffee. Some […]

Muslims Speaking Against Terrorism [Updated]

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[UPDATE 09/30/06: Well, I’m happy to be proved wrong, at least in part. MSNBC runs this article: At Ramadan, TV turns up heat on extremists: Satirical Saudi show makes mockery of militants, draws fundamentalist ire which talks about the impact of “Tash Ma Tash”. I’m glad to see it and wish there were more.] Opening […]

Op-Ed in Asharq Alawsat

travel-suitcase

David Perlmutter, Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies & Research at the University of Kansas’s School of Journalism & Mass Communications, and I have written an op-ed on peace in the Middle East. The piece appears in today’s Asharq Alawsat. David is author of VISIONS OF WAR, blogs at PolicyByBlog, and was the author […]

Fake Eunuchs? Black Magic?

“Fake eunuchs held for black magic scam in India” (Khaleej Times) MUMBAI (AFP) — Two men masquerading as eunuchs have been arrested after convincing Indian families to hand over money for ridding their homes of black magic, a report said on Wednesday. The two men spent 15 days fleecing families in western Gujarat state before […]

Saudi Reforms, Five Years After

travel-suitcase

Over at Crossroads Arabia, I’ve posted a lengthy and detailed entry about the reforms that have happened in Saudi Arabia since 9/11. Some of the post concerns things that happened while I was assigned there as Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Riyadh. The rest is culled my my blog on US-Saudi […]

Assimilation or Not?

newsman

America’s Muslims Aren’t as Assimilated as You Think Geneive Abdo If only the Muslims in Europe — with their hearts focused on the Islamic world and their carry-on liquids poised for destruction in the West — could behave like the well-educated, secular and Americanizing Muslims in the United States, no one would have to worry. […]

Realigning Foreign Service Assignments

travel-suitcase

Rice Orders Difficult Posts Filled First New Rules Will Push Foreign Service Officers Toward More Dangerous Spots Glenn Kessler The State Department plans to implement sweeping changes in the way foreign service officers bid for new assignments in an effort to more quickly fill vacancies in Iraq and the growing number of dangerous hardship posts […]

Guidelines for the FCC?

newsman

Mumbai TVs blank as cable firms strike over nudity MUMBAI (Reuters) – Cable television distribution firms in India’s entertainment capital of Mumbai have suspended services following a row with police over erotic content on TV channels, industry officials and police said on Tuesday. Cable covers almost three million homes in the teeming city, of the […]

Looking for “Moderate Muslims”?

travel-suitcase

If you want sharia law, you should go and live in Saudi Shahid Malik, the Labour MP, explains why he told fellow Muslims that if they don’t like Britain they should pack their bags Scotland Yard described it as a plot “to commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale”. John Reid concurred: “The terror threat […]

Moderate Muslims II

James started a good discussion with his Moderate Muslims post below. One of the commenters raised a question that I think has an answer: To get a handle on jihadism we really need to try to figure out why people feel the need to emphasize that aspect of their tradition over allother aspects.. The tradition […]

Blogging, Red Meat, and Happy Thoughts

Couldn’t pass up the opportunity… Thanks to Instapundit, we follow a link to Creating Passionate Viewers, a blog dedicated to stuff about the brain, neuroscience, and how we use that grey mass. One of the writers for this group blog, Kathy Sierra, has an entry about how “Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain”, […]

Tony Blair on the GWOT

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Yesterday, the British PM gave a major foreign policy speech, the first of three. That speech delineated quite clearly why he thinks we’re in a clash not of civilizations, but a clash about civilization. One could wish that GW could speak with Blair’s eloquence, but the message is the same. Noteworthy–among much–is his knocking those […]

Culture Clashes within State Dept.

us-politics

Today’s Washington Post has an article, Administration Critics Chafe at State Dept. Shuffle  that refers nicely back to my post yesterday about the different cultures within State. The article shows an instance of genuine friction between career employees and political appointees, though it doesn’t really distinguish between Foreign Service Officers and General Service employees in the […]

Bureaucrats As Pundits, Part IV

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James–along with Dr. Demarche–has a good conversation going about bureaucrats, particularly in the State Dept., and their “proper” roles. I’d like to toss in a couple of other variables that I think affect the conversation. The first deals with the population that comprises State Department employees (the subject of this post). Another is that the […]

On Bureaucrats as Pundits

military-soldier-sunset

In Dr. Joyner’s post about former government officers becoming pundits, I had a bit of a disagreement with him in the comments section. Perhaps part of that is protecting my own “rice bowl” as I’m a former State officer and now comment about my areas of interest/specialization. That I’m not among the talking heads constantly […]

Muslims in the West

travel-suitcase

I’d like to thank Dr. Joyner for the invitation to post on Outside the Beltway. His interest in shining light into the less popular niches of the blogging world is commendable, to say the least. On my own blog, Crossroads Arabia, I write about Saudi Arabia, particularly how reforms are taking place there, but also […]