Current Events

A Dizzying Spin

Posted Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Comments Off on A Dizzying Spin |

I keep in my RSS feed as a reality check when it comes to political spin. They recently posted a “year in review” of the whoppers from both sides of the aisle. As you enter 2014, it might be worth a few minutes to look over the past year and remind yourself to take everything a politician says with a grain of salt.

Current Events

Inside Cuba

Posted Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Comments Off on Inside Cuba |

When Michael Totten reports, he doesn’t just describe the scene like narrating a photo. He makes you understand the culture and history driving current events. His recent undercover excursion to Cuba is a fine example, and definitely worth a read.

Current Events, Miscellaneous

Understanding Middle Eastern Politics

Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Comments Off on Understanding Middle Eastern Politics |

If you don’t understand the religious allegiances in the Middle East you can’t hope to understand the forces driving regional politics. In this long New Yorker article, we get a look at Iran’s aspirations. Using underground fighters, Iran– a Shiite state–kept Shiites in charge of Syria, who in turn fought over Lebanon.

The early months of 2013, around the time of Shateri’s death, marked a low point for the Iranian intervention in Syria. Assad was steadily losing ground to the rebels, who are dominated by Sunnis, Iran’s rivals. If Assad fell, the Iranian regime would lose its link to Hezbollah, its forward base against Israel. In a speech, one Iranian cleric said, “If we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”

If Iran becomes a nuclear power, I’d say chances are high that it will use such a weapon on a Sunni rival to bring the entire region to heel. At that point only Israel will have the nuclear deterrence to stand up to Iran. I think at that point we’ll see even scarier brinkmanship, with Iran using proxy fighters like Hezbollah on brazen attacks that can’t be directly pinned on them. Would Israel risk prompting a nuclear exchange by rolling out conventional attacks like they’ve done most recently in Lebanon? Would Iran risk nuking Jerusalem? The best course of action is keeping nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands so that we don’t have to find out.

via Dexter Filkins: Qassem Suleimani, the Middle East’s Most Powerful Operative : The New Yorker.

Current Events, Miscellaneous

Shrinking Competition

Posted Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Comments Off on Shrinking Competition |

The PDF below, provided by the FDIC, shows the 20+ year trend of consolidation in the banking industry. Whereas in 1990 there were more than 12,000 commercial banks and 2800 savings institutions, now the number is less than 6,000 commercial banks and less than 1,000 savings institutions. In other words, competition in the banking industry has been reduced by more than 50% since I graduated from high school.

Current Events

A Harsh Dose of Reality

Posted Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 5:47 am | Comments Off on A Harsh Dose of Reality |

Michael Totten returns with another great article about US relations with the Middle East.

The Middle East is as trashed right now as I’ve ever seen it. The Syrian conflict has killed more people than the Bosnian war. Iran is moving ahead on its nuclear weapons program while convincing fools in the West that it’s playing nice and reforming. Egypt is in its worst shape since the Nasserist era, and the Saudis are pitching the biggest fit since the Arab oil embargo in the 70s.

via From Tehran to Cairo | World Affairs Journal.

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