Donald Trump Launches a Missile

Mighty Rocket Man Donald Trump follows suit today North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un. Well, in a way. His recognition of Jerusalem today as Israel’s (and Israel’s alone) capital is a provocation for hundreds of millions of Muslims and utterly foolish. There is no excuse for willfully risking the fragile and unstable balance in the city which belongs in fact to three World religions.

Editors late Oleg Grabar and Benjamin Z. Kedar describe, in particular, Jerusalem’s Temple Mountain with its Sacred Esplanade “Where Heaven and Earth Meet.”

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Of course, for time immemorial, Jerusalem has been the place for deep desire for most Jews. Their religion’s foundation myth has been one of “return” to the promised land with Jerusalem as the location of God’s temple. But Jerusalem is also the city where Jesus died on the cross and Muhammad ascended to the Heavens. It doesn’t belong to one monotheistic faith only but to all three versions where one and the same God only is revered.

Donald Trump lacks many things, among others brains, any sensitivity, any diplomacy, honesty. These would be utterly needed if he was seriously seeking a solution for the root cause of the many crises in the Middle East, broker any lasting deal.

No surprise, he doesn’t seek. He provokes.

6 December 2017 @ 5:52 pm.

Last modified December 6, 2017.

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It’s Cold in Tromsø

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The past couple of days have seen temperatures eventually approaching long-term normal values in Tromsø, at 69° 40′ 58″ N the world’s northernmost city. Provided clear skies, today’s the last chance for seeing the sun rising above the horizon, for the next two months it won’t.  It’s cold right now, minus 9 °C (15 °F).

The Arctic is one of the regions which is strongly affected by climate change and Global Warming. The above (and other pictures on Zach Labe’s blog) is another troubling graph indicating how quickly this vulnerable environment is about to disappears right now.

Well, for those who expect  further exploitation of our planet’s resources it might be exciting instead.

21 November 2017 @ 5:20 am.

Last modified November 21, 2017.

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Holier-than-though

Amids a humanitarian catastrophe of, well, biblical dimension in Yemen, the BBC’s Lyse Doucet interviewed yesterday Saudi Arabia’s foreign affairs minister, Adel al-Jubeir. Visibly miffed by insisting Doucet, the 55-yr-old indeed soft-spoke about Iran as the root cause of the conflict in Yemen since, believe it or not, 1979 when late Ayatollah Khomeini led the Iranian Revolution and promised to export it to other Muslim countries.

As ridiculous that claim appears, it exposes the grudge of the Saudi regime. After more than two years of relentless bombarding the tiny neighboring country, the poorest in the region, there is no real progress. Rebel groups, the Houthis, had dared to dismiss the “elected” (by a ridiculous 99.8% margin) but rather imposed, by the Saudi hegemon, on Yemen president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is now living in exile in the Kingdom.

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Is Salvator Mundi Leonardo’s?

Salvator Mundi

Earlier this week, a new record was set for an artist’s painting. Four-hundred million bucks plus fees for (allegedly) Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (about 1500) were offered by a (yet) unknown bidder in the Postwar and Contemporary (sic) Art Sale at Christie’s in New York. One possibility is Abu Dhabi, which has to fill its stunning new Louvre with spectacular art. The true origin of the heavily restored painting which had long been forgotten and rediscovered only in 2005 is not proven beyond chance, though.

One has to understand that, despite Mona Lisa, Leonardo (1452-1519) was not the most talented, let alone prolific, fine artist ever. Fewer than 20 of his works have survived. Leonardo was a Renaissance Man, a polymath. Similar as his contemporary, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Leonardo was first and foremost a scientist. He instantly applied results of his scientific research, for example in optics, in his artistic work.

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What Has Happened to These Boys?

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I had taken this picture in early 2007 on our walk down from Kawkaban (at almost 3000 m) to Shibam (the other one, not that in the Hadhramaut). Yemen was my last travel destination when living in the Middle East. I got there just couple of months before leaving Kuwait for good.

When revisiting the picture of six boys which had been posted in another blog, I was wondering, what had happened to them in the past 10 years. On the picture, some of the boys had apparently got some candies and cookies from passing tourists, and the little one (second from left) looks a bit envious as he had missed out. The one on the right had cobbled together a little drum from a small cardboard box. The older boys (maybe nine or ten at the time) were wearing already traditional men garments, thobe and vest. They seem to be normal and happy children, of course not living in the best of all worlds.

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