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PA Museum is Just Sad
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 24, 2016

I've Been thinking:

The Palestinians opened a museum of Palestinian history and culture in Ramallah last week- and it was empty of exhibits. That is both funny and tragic at the same time.

It is also an unbelievable metaphor. A $28 million dollar building that took decades to create was opened to huge fanfare - and there were no exhibits inside.

They said that people will come anyway, just to see the gardens - which are not completed. They admit that the leadership of the museum was in conflict and could not decide what type of direction the museum should take - so it took no direction.

Palestinian leaders opened a satellite museum in Beirut, Lebanon the same week which focused on Palestinian embroidery. The theme of that exhibit is that embroidery is a significant part of Palestinian culture. The hope is to open other satellite museums around the
world in the next year.

The entire idea has been a mess. This is the biggest single project the Palestinian Authority has embarked upon and it is a colossal failure in almost every way - especially in its symbolism and the message it is conveying to the Palestinian people.

For instance, there is no shortage of Palestinian architects, but a Dublin firm was commissioned to design and build the museum. And the heralded gardens are landscaped by a Jordanian firm. Even the director is not a Palestinian - he was hired under the pretense that he was the head curator at the renowned British Museum - but now it has been disclosed that he is not a curator at all, just a visiting scholar.

You can't make this stuff up.

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Building in Saudi Arabia Drops 51%
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Building in Saudi Arabia has dropped 51% compared to last year at this time.

The drop is due to low oil prices.

Saudi Arabia has scaled back on all their building. The building that is going on is the result of contracts that are already signed and buildings in the midst of being built. Most are in the tourism and business areas.

Tens of thousands of jobs have been eliminated and many foreign workers have left the kingdom.

The cost of the war in Yemen in which the Saudis are supporting a regime against an Iranian insurgence is also tapping the Kingdom's reserves. Add to that the enormous cost of supporting the movement against Syrian leader Assad while Iran is propping him up.

Despite being the second largest exporter of oil in the world, Saudis are hemorrhaging money and no longer making what they once made. They are in trouble.

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ISIS Vid Calls for Small Attacks
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A new ISIS video has been posted by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman of ISIS. He is calling on followers to strike at as many targets as possible during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

The nearly 30 minute long message was very explicit - calling on ISIS supporters to advance the cause everywhere they live.

Ramadan is a month long Muslim fast dedicated to introspection. It begins, for most Muslims, on June 6th and ends on July 5th. Muslims fast during the day and eat at night, after sundown.

Al-Adnani said: "Ramadan is coming, the month of attacks and jihad, the month of conquest so be prepared and be on alert, and make sure that everyone of you spends it (Ramadan) in the name of God on the attack. Requesting from God that it (Ramadan), God willing, be a month of calamity on the non-believers anywhere, especially by those soldiers and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America."

"The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night."

These comments are a call to arms for followers and lone wolves to do whatever they can, however they can, wherever they live.

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Let Saudis Sell their US Interests
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia has threatened to pull out their US investments and sell their ownership of US companies if the United States permits 9-11 victims to sue the Gulf oil state.
This is a serious threat and people are rightfully taking it seriously.

And yet, it is also an empty threat and would prove to be a silly move.

Saudi Arabian interests in the United States total about $750 billion. Selling all that, over a period as short as a few months, will cause be a huge loss to the Saudis. Actually, good estimates say that if the Saudis sell their US assets, they will take more than a 50% loss on the sell. That would mean $750 billion will melt away and be reduced to something just over $300 billion. That is a huge loss - and a colossal failure.

The Saudi own $117 billion in US treasury bonds. Even if they liquidate all the bonds overnight, it will not have a huge impact. The daily treasury market is about $500 billion. China sold off their bonds in order to raise cash and it did not impact the market.

If Saudi Arabia did choose to try to sell their interests, there would be a long line of interested people excited about picking up those investments at a price way below market value. Many of those new buyers may actually be Americans.

If the Saudi follow through with their plan, it will backfire and the result may actually be better for the United States.

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Bibi Stabilizes His Government
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The government of Bibi Netanyahu just got stronger and more stable.

Lieberman and his party of six have just agreed to join the Netanyahu coalition. That decision will further guarantee Netanyahu's positions and power.

In joining the coalition Lieberman will become the defense minister and his party will receive several other governmental positions.

The additional six Knesset seats give Netanyahu a total of 67 seats - seven more than the majority he needs to hang on as prime minister
.
The dynamics of this new expanded coalition pushes the Netanyahu government further to the right, but it also insulates the prime minister from any harm the two religious parties in his coalition can do to him - he can now survive if either of those parties leaves, he has the votes.

Netanyahu was not only negotiating with Lieberman, he was also negotiating with Labor. And they almost succeeded in joining a coalition. But, as they say, almost doesn't count.

Labor has 24 Knesset seats. Had they joined with Netanyahu they would have received the foreign ministry portfolio. That move have put Netanyahu in the center left position and stabilized him even more with 85 seats.

And if both would have joined the coalition that would have made it 91 seats.

Some things, it seems, are just not meant to be.

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Pope Tells West to Stop Cultural Colonialism
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 18, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Pope has taken Western countries to task about, as he calls it, their cultural colonialism. He is speaking especially about the United States.

The Pope has been very critical of the desire of Western countries to impose democracy on others, without relating to or concerning itself with local cultures.

In an interview with the French Catholic paper La Croix, the Pope said: "Faced with current Islamist terrorism, we should question the way a model of democracy that was too Western was exported to countries where there was a strong power, as in Iraq, or Libya, where there was a tribal structure."

"We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account. As a Libyan said some time ago: 'We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have 50 of them!'"

The Pope is not anti-democracy. He is simply suggesting that respect for local culture will more effectively achieve the end results of democracy without creating a buildup of resentment.

On Islam, the Pope said that he does not think that Europe or the West is anti-Islam. Rather, they are anti-ISIS. There is a huge difference.

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