Mysteries Of The Desert

The weekend and it begins….(my poem for the day)…..

Since I love some history and I try to be fair to all parts of the planet…..I have a couple of stories about the continent of Africa…..that reminds me of line from a movie…”It is Africa…No one cares about Africa”….for the most part it is true.  Americans care little about the continent….so I try to write about it as often as I can especially when I find something that I think will interest my readers.

Ever see the movie “Sahara”?  It is a story about some guys searching for a civil war ironclad shipwreck in the desert…..may not be as far fetched as one would think……

Miners have been pulling diamonds from a vast area of Namibia’s Namib Desert called the Sperrgebiet (or “forbidden territory”) for more than a century. But in 2008, workers hunting for diamonds where the desert meets the Atlantic Ocean found something even more precious: the likely remains of the Bom Jesus, a Portuguese sailing ship that disappeared some 500 years ago on its way to India. It’s a discovery, per recent coverage by, that solved “one of the biggest maritime mysteries.” Also, says archaeologist Dieter Noli, it’s the oldest shipwreck ever found in sub-Saharan Africa. And there’s treasure as well: Included in the find were some 2,000 gold coins from Spain and Portugal, according to Gainesville News. Upon unearthing the site of the shipwreck, per CNN, workers found pieces of metal, wood, and what looked like pipes.

Not sure what they had found, they called in Noli. “It just looked like a disturbed beach,” he told CNN earlier this month, “but lying on it were bits and pieces.” Among those were a centuries-old musket and an elephant tusk. “I thought, ‘Oh, no no, this is definitely a shipwreck,'” Noli says. Ultimately, in addition to the gold, workers recovered cannons (the pipes), navigational instruments, tons of copper ingots, swords, and a lot more—some 5,438 artifacts. Not much of the actual structure of the ship remains. But archaeologists have matched the cargo with that of the Bom Jesus (which means the “Good Jesus”) based on details found in a 16th-century book that lists the ship as lost. The stretch of coastline is known for storms. Speaking to CNN, Noli speculates that the Bom Jesus “came in, it hit a rock, and it leaned over.

Then back in the day Southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa were some of the earliest evidence of humans…..there has been new evidence that it goes back some 20,000 years ago……

THE last Ice Age made much of the globe uninhabitable, but there were oases – or refugia – where people 20,000 years ago were able to cluster and survive. Researchers at the University of Huddersfield, who specialise in the analysis of human DNA, have found new evidence that there was one or more of these shelters in what is now Southern Arabia.

Once the Ice Age receded – with the onset of the Late Glacial period about 15,000 years ago – the people of this refugium then dispersed and populated Arabia and the Horn of Africa, and might also have migrated further afield.

Read on and learn something….even it is the weekend….it is never too late to learn a thing or two…..

Source: Researchers prove humans in Southern Arabia 10,000 years earlier than first thought | EurekAlert! Science News

Your history lesson is complete….now go enjoy your weekend and feel a little smarter… are welcome.

As per usual this will be my only post of the day…..Have a day, my friends.

Sykes-Picot Turns 100

History is a cruel teacher……some even say she is a BITCH!

This month is the 100 years anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement……and some point to this document and the dividing up of the Middle East as the reason that the region is ion such turmoil for so many years…..

A century after the Sykes-Picot Agreement carved up the Ottoman Empire, it is still the root cause of much of the region’s strife.

Source: How the Curse of Sykes-Picot Still Haunts the Middle East – The New Yorker

As usual I feel compelled to offer up a little historical perspective in my small attempt to try and help people understand the turmoil in the Middle East…..

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, we’ve got a package with an explanatory article about the secret accord (below) . . .

The Sykes-Picot accord was conceived at a high point in Britain and France’s imperial power. Hammered out in the midst of the first world war in anticipation of an Entente victory (the Russian Empire, France and the United Kingdom) over the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria), it was concerned with distributing the territorial spoils of Ottoman defeat.

France and Britain, along with most other European powers, had been convinced of the inevitable demise of the Ottoman Empire for decades. The image of the Ottomans as the “sick man of Europe” was one of the defining images of 19th-century diplomacy.

Source: 100th Anniversary: What did the Sykes-Picot Agreement mean for the Middle East? | Informed Comment

At the end of WW1 the victors set about re-drawing the lines in the Middle East….they were dividing up the old Ottoman Empire for colonial aspirations…

When the map changed….so did the world……

Source: Sykes-Picot: The map that spawned a century of resentment – BBC News

The Arabs felt betrayed by the UK……their promises of an Arab kingdom free from foreign dominance was squished….and the hard feelings have been there for a century……but why the lingering hatred?

The borders of the Middle East were drawn during World War I by a Briton, Mark Sykes, and a Frenchman, Francois Picot.

The two diplomats’ pencils divided the map of one of the most volatile regions in the world into states that cut through ethnic and religious communities.

Later dubbed the Sykes-Picot treaty, the secret agreement was signed by Paris and London on May 16, 1916, to become the basis on which the Levant region was shaped for years to come.

A century on, the Middle East continues to bear the consequences of the treaty, and many Arabs across the region continue to blame the subsequent violence in the Middle East, from the occupation of Palestine to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on the Sykes-Picot treaty.

In this piece, we revisit the circumstances that led to the signing of this critical agreement and the events that unfolded afterwards.

Source: A century on: Why Arabs resent Sykes-Picot

to this day, many blame the Sykes-Picot Agreement for all the problems in the Middle East….but there is one group that sees history a bit differently….Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)…….they have offered up an opposing look at Sykes-Picot…..I would expect them to do so….I mean they were part and parcel to the dividing and why would they admit they screwed up…..

Sometime in the 100 years since the Sykes-Picot agreement was signed, invoking its “end” became a thing among commentators, journalists, and analysts of the Middle East. Responsibility for the cliché might belong to the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn, who in June 2013 wrote an essay in the London Review of Books arguing that the agreement, which was one of the first attempts to reorder the Middle East after the Ottoman Empire’s demise, was itself in the process of dying. Since then, the meme has spread far and wide: A quick Google search reveals more than 8,600 mentions of the phrase “the end of Sykes-Picot” over the last three years.

The failure of the Sykes-Picot agreement is now part of the received wisdom about the contemporary Middle East. And it is not hard to understand why. Four states in the Middle East are failing — Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. If there is a historic shift in the region, the logic goes, then clearly the diplomatic settlements that produced the boundaries of the Levant must be crumbling. History seems to have taken its revenge on Mark Sykes and his French counterpart, François Georges-Picot, who hammered out the agreement that bears their name.

View full text of article.

I apologize….for these tools want you to become a subscriber and may not allow you access to the piece…..but if you would like to try please feel free to do so….

But if that one did not work out….I found an article in the UK’s The Telgraph along those same lines…..

Exactly a century ago, an Englishman and a Frenchman unrolled a map of the Middle East and drew an improbably straight line across the desert. With one pen-stroke, Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot created the modern states of the region and carelessly lit the fuse of a thousand conflicts that blaze even today.

By drawing a line from contemporary Iraq to the Mediterranean, they ignored explosive ethnic and religious divides. In this way, Britain and France carved up the Middle East after the First World War, jointly committing the original sin that lurks behind today’s tragedies.

So runs the folklore version of the Sykes-Picot agreement, whose centenary falls on Monday. This critique has gained such power that it has entered popular culture, largely because of David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia.

Source: A century on, don’t blame Sykes-Picot for the Middle East’s troubles

And finally a good debate piece on the Agreement………

Source: A century on: What remains of Sykes-Picot – AJE News

I know it is a lot to take in and the Agreement has some many aspects that ity can be confusing….but maybe the fact that so many Americans are dying in the region would make it worth the read and a bit of understanding…..

Now you have both sides of the story……you may chose which ever of the fairy tales you care to believe……there are two sides to every situation…..I could not find a non-interested party to take the side of the US and the UK in this……

Class dismissed!

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Nope, not some silly reference to the Man of Steel movie…..but rather something a littler more real than some cinematic crap.

I am an old fart and I remember the Cold War all too well.  The arms race….build a bigger and better plane…or a tank…..or a bomb.

In my youth when in grade school we had nuke attack drills…..where the kids would get under their desks and cover their eyes and ears and wait for the blast.  These were monthly drills….they were very scary for 8 or 9 year olds…..

Thankfully those days are behind us……a new world was born and we feel safer….at least against a nuke attack.

In today’s world things move at a faster pace…..and the necessities for delivering a nuke bomb is no exception…..

A rocket went up over the Australian desert on May 18, but this successful test launch was no ordinary feat: The experimental rocket hit a speed of Mach 7.5—or 7.5 times the speed of sound—qualifying it for “hypersonic” status, reports Gizmodo. Military scientists from the US and Australia teamed up on the project, called Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation, or HiFire. The goal, reports techradar, is to design an engine that flies at Mach 7, and Wednesday’s test is one in a series that will run through 2018. “It is a game-changing technology … and could revolutionize global air travel, providing cost-effective access to space,” says chief Australian scientist Alex Zelinsky, per AFP.

To put the feat in more concrete terms, the scientists say such an engine could make a trip from Sydney to London possible in a mind-boggling two hours. (Today’s travelers can figure on closer to 24 hours, factoring in connecting flights.) In fact, it would make any trip in the world much more manageable and make it far easier to put satellites in space. But Popular Science also takes note of the military applications: “With that much speed, it would be impossible for an enemy [to have enough time] to move anything on the ground after radar detected [a] plane, letting it either capture pictures immediately or drop bombs almost unimpeded.” The next test, in which the engine would separate from the booster rocket, is scheduled for 2017.

This is what the industry has come to……we now have a rocket that can deliver a nuke in the time it takes to pee…..

Ain’t progress great?

The women behind Sykes-Picot

This month is the 100 years anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and to many historians is a direct link to the problems the Middle East is suffering from today.

In honor of this milestone I have given a few historical posts about this agreement with the hopes that it will help people understand what is happening in the Middle East today….that is if they are interested but most had rather bitch and moan than learn something.

Most of us know the men that were involved but few know of the women that played an amazingly important role in the formation of the modern day Middle East…

And this is why I am here…..I am becoming notorious with my historical perspectives……(he said smilingly)….

British diplomat Mark Sykes and French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot garnered most of the attention in the retrospective commentaries published around May 16, the 100-year anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Treaty.

Other pieces referred to their contemporaries, such as the British agent T E Lawrence, who led the Arab Revolt during World War I, or the influential oil broker Calouste Gulbenkian.

These Europeans sought to shape the Middle East, yet for every discussion of a European man who engaged in this endeavour, there is also a story of a European woman who both made this region, and was made by the region.

Jane Digby, Gertrude Bell, or Freya Stark, just to name a few women, led lives as illustrious as their male counterparts in the Middle East.

Source: The women behind Sykes-Picot – Al Jazeera English

Another tale of the accomplishments of women pushed aside by male counterparts…..sad state of academia…..where gender was more important than the facts.

Truman and Clinton’s Foreign Policy

Yes, I do read the American Conservative…..I do not agree with them much but I do like to get the perspective of others when I am writing……..and I am always looking for a historical perspective that I can use that could help my readers understand the issues and situations that I am always writing about….I hope it helps……

Recently I read a bit of a comparison between Truman and Clinton and since I feel that foreign policy will be of super importance in the coming years I had to press it for my readers……

Jonathan Chait considers Truman as a model for how Hillary Clinton might govern, and then says this:

It is impossible to predict how Clinton will handle foreign policy, but it is not fanciful to hope that her experience (unusually deep for a president) will enable her to imaginatively face the confounding challenge of radical Islam.

It’s true that we can’t know exactly what Clinton will end up doing abroad as president. However, we have a fairly good idea of how she approaches foreign policy issues and how she reacts to conflicts and crises overseas. Given Clinton’s longstanding record of hawkishness, the comparison with Truman isn’t a particularly reassuring or flattering one, but I fear it could be a very accurate one.

Source: Truman and Clinton’s Foreign Policy | The American Conservative

Clinton will be just an extension from Bush to Obama to her….a hawkish foreign policy with more and more conflicts that will be ever expanding…..and we will be forced to pay the price in so many ways…..


Moderate Democrat Versus Extremist Republican

If the two “presumptive” nominees are the two candidates that the American people will have to choose from this November then we have a repeat of the 1964 election…….when the moderate Dem, Johnson was facing off against the extremist Repub, Goldwater….

Larry Wines: “They told me if I voted for Goldwater in 1964 that there would be racial violence in the streets and a major war in Southeast Asia. And you know what? I did, and they were right!” Goldwater-Johnson Election

The popular perception of GOP nominee Barry Goldwater as a right-wing extremist who would drop nukes in Vietnam and undo the hard-fought gains of civil rights. LBJ, the ruthless political hack with every kind of insider connection, including big money, running as “the experienced moderate” who talks diplomacy but has a record favoring military incursion.

Trump, the internationally dangerous xenophobe who threatens to use nukes and courts violence at his rallies. Hillary, the ruthless political hack with every kind of insider connection including big money, running as “the experienced moderate” who talks diplomacy but has a record favoring military incursion.

Source: Moderate Democrat Versus Extremist Republican: 1964 All Over Again? – LA Progressive

As usual I have to give that damn historical perspective… can curse or thank me….but you did learn something from the experience.

You are welcome!

Ghosts of ’68 in Election 2016

We have to admit that the election of 2016 is anything but normal….it has gotten damn right wacky.  So wacky that I am tuning most of it out.  There is only so much manure can be spread before my eyes glaze over and I turn to more interesting events and situations.

I have been looking for some historical perspective much to the chagrin of my readers….in the past their have been outsider candidates, convention fights and the atypical candidate…….and then I found a good piece in Consortium News….sure saved me a lot of headache trying to write something…..

The year was 1968 and it is a good one too……

Longtime observers of American politics have noted striking parallels between the unpredictable wartime election of 1968 and the bizarre presidential contest of 2016, another time of war and distress, as Michael Winship recalls.

Watching the mad, mad, mad, mad world that is the 2016 presidential campaign, I was trying to remember a presidential campaign that was as jaw-dropping, at least in my lifetime, and easily settled on 1968.

For those too young to remember, imagine: As fighting in Vietnam rages on and the Tet Offensive makes us all too aware of the futility of our Southeast Asian military fiasco, Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy decides to run as an antiwar candidate against incumbent President Lyndon Johnson.

Source: Ghosts of ’68 in Election 2016 – Consortiumnews

Ya see….there can always be a historical perspective…..DAMN!  I love this stuff.