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Member since: Fri Jun 7, 2019, 03:43 PM
Number of posts: 4,711

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Taliban 2.0 versus The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

A distinction without a difference?


I mean, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian theocratic state oppressing women.

How oppressed are women in Saudi Arabia? Well, the World Economic Forum ranked Saudi Arabia near the bottom in its 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, with the country falling at 134 out of 145 countries. And it was only in December 2015 that Saudi women finally got the right to vote and run for office—and even then only in municipal elections.


It has the death penalty for being gay.

20 Most Dangerous Places For Gay Travelers
#4. Saudi Arabia

“Saudi Arabia is another of the countries on our list which implements the death penalty for consensual homosexuality under their interpretation of Sharia law,” says Fergusson. “Other punishments include 100 whips or banishment for one year ‘Men behaving as women’ or wearing women’s clothes, and vice versa, is also illegal in Saudi Arabia, making this a particularly unfriendly country for members of the trans community.”


It prohibits the free practice of religion.

Saudi Arabia

The Basic Law of Governance establishes the country as a sovereign Arab Islamic state in which Islam is the official religion. The Basic Law says sharia is the “foundation of the Kingdom” and states the country’s constitution is the Quran and the Sunna. The Basic Law contains no legal recognition or protection of freedom of religion. Conversion from Islam to another religion is grounds for the charge of apostasy, which is legally punishable by death, although courts have not carried out a death sentence for apostasy in recent years.

Blasphemy against Islam may also be legally punishable by death, but courts have not sentenced individuals to death for blasphemy in recent years. Punishments for blasphemy may include lengthy prison sentences and lashings. Criticism of Islam, including expression deemed offensive to Muslims, is forbidden on the grounds of preserving social stability.

The 2017 counterterrorism law criminalizes “anyone who challenges, either directly or indirectly, the religion or justice of the King or Crown Prince.” On January 25, authorities issued implementation regulations that criminalize “calling for atheist thought in any form or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion.” The right to access legal representation for those accused of violating the counterterrorism law is limited; according to the law, “the Public Prosecutor may, at the investigative stage, restrict this right whenever the interests of the investigation so require.” There is no right to access government-held evidence.


I could go on an on posting other similarities, but you get the gist.

For those criticizing the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a point to consider...


Excellent point.

So the difference between the Trumpers and the Taliban is...

just a matter of degree?

Seems so.

Welcome back to a Multi-Polar World

The days of the US being the world's sole super power after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 are over.

Since 1991 we have seen the dramatic rise, economically and now militarily, of China.

Since 1991 Russia has stabilized itself into the 6th largest economy in the world, right behind Germany in 5th place. Completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in 2021 enhances the growing economic connection between the two.

In 1991 the so-called G7 nations, the seven nations with the world's largest economies, were:
US, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

In 2021 the eight largest economies in the world are:
China, US, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil


In short, the balance of power has shifted dramatically over the past 30 years.

Get use to it.

Afghanistan was too big and too poor for "nation building" to have been possible

The population of Afghanistan is around 37,466,414 as of 2021,[6] which includes the roughly 3 million Afghan citizens living as refugees in both Pakistan and Iran

Approximately 46% of the population is under 15 years of age, and 74% of all Afghans live in rural areas.[4] The average woman gives birth to five children during her entire life, the highest fertility rate outside of Africa. About 6.8% of all babies die in child-birth or infancy.[4] The average life expectancy of the nation was reported in 2019 at around 63 years

Afghanistan ranks 210th in GDP per capita at $2474, and that's the purchasing power parity number that takes into account local prices.

Afghanistan was just too big at 39 million people and too poor for "nation building" to work.

Hell, we can't even successfully "nation build" in a smaller country much closer to home like Guatemala in Central America.

Oh, wait, even Guatemala now has 18 MILLION people. Honestly, world demographics are shifting at an astonishing fast pace and I don't think our foreign policy has been keeping up.

The Afghan military was probably infiltrated by the Taliban for years and years

People are people and people are intelligent.

And the intelligent thing for the Taliban to have done was to have their people, people sympathetic to their cause, join the Afghan army these past years.

Free training, spies, sleeper agents, people waiting for the opportunity to undermine morale and take their units out of the fight at the climatic moment -- why wouldn't any resistance group anywhere want all those things?

This would explain the current sudden collapse and, honestly, have made it inevitable.


I was so naive when the Trumpers stormed the Capitol, so sadly naive....

I remember watching the mob storm the Capitol and thinking "They have finally gone too far; surely, this must be political suicide for Trump and the rethugs."

I totally underestimated the nativist, white-supremacist, anti-democratic nature of half the US electorate.

My bad.

Who can travel to the US?

What are the requirements to travel to the US?

More than a year and a half after Donald Trump imposed Covid-19 travel bans (first on China, then on Europe and the UK), the US is finally getting ready to relax its restrictions, according to Reuters.
The ban won’t be lifted immediately, as delta variant case counts continue to rise around the world, but there finally seems to be a path toward allowing foreign visitors from currently banned countries into the US—provided they are vaccinated.

According to Reuters’ source, the White House is working to reopen the US on a “phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States (from all countries) need to be fully vaccinated.”
The Covid-19 ban currently restricts entry to travelers who have spent the previous 14 days in China, Iran, the UK, Ireland, Brazil, or the European Schengen area. Citizens and green card holders traveling from those locations are still allowed in the country, as are individuals possessing a National Interest Exception, which includes students traveling to attend the school year in the US.

Tourists and holders of other US visas, including those who have long-term work permits, who pay taxes in the US, must also spend 14 days outside countries on the list before being allowed in the US.

In order to enter the US from the banned countries, foreigners need to stop in a third country—such as Mexico, or Canada—for two weeks prior to entry to the US. However, as the list of banned countries changes regularly, there is no guarantee that the chosen stop won’t itself be banned.

Since the countries on the list don’t actually reflect the ones where Covid-19 infections are higher, and include Europe, which has the highest vaccination rates after the US, pressure to end or relax the ban is strong. The aviation and tourism industry has been pushing to lift the ban for months, and so have leaders including German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
The EU has been allowing travel from the US (with proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test) for over a month.

The logic behind the current ban is highly debatable, as it applies to countries with low transmission rates but leaves out places like Turkey, or many Latin American countries, where cases have been surging.


Interesting that this article doesn't even mention travel from India, where the delta variant seems to have originated, as just one example.

In any case, it's obvious at this point that the current restrictions have not prevented the introduction of the delta and lambda variants into the US. Is it even possible to prevent emerging variants from other countries where vaccination rates are extremely low from entering the US?

OH NO: Trump Lied About Donating His Salary to Charity

OH NO: Trump Lied About Donating His Salary to Charity

David Pakman Show
1.36M subscribers
--It appears that Donald Trump did not actually donate his presidential salary, as promised, during his last six months as President of the United States

quelle surprise...

There is growing evidence that children are now at greater risk

There is growing evidence that -- for whatever reason (higher viral loads, something different about how the virus is handled by less mature immune systems, or something else), children infected by the Delta variant may develop a more severe form of the disease compared to illness caused by other forms of the virus.

In a recent NPR interview, Dr. Rick Barr, who leads the Arkansas Children's Hospital, said that the "Delta variant is acting very, very differently with respect to kids ... just in the month of July, we have [admitted] over 40 to the children's hospital. .. and a number of those have ended up in the intensive care unit."

Half the kids were below 12 years of age and not eligible for vaccine but the other half -- also not fully vaccinated, were 12 years old and up.

And Arkansas is not the only Southern state reporting the increase of child hospitalizations.

All this suggests that the next real area for debate is not whether the current vaccines are good enough against the Delta variant (they are, overwhelmingly) or whether we should mask up and spread out (yes, obviously), but rather what should we do about the children who are not yet eligible for vaccination under a US Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) but will be heading back to school in a month, or sooner -- during an outbreak of a viral variant that could get much more severe?


And yet Gov. DeSantis (Republican) has blocked mask mandates in Florida schools.


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