Iran Nuclear Deal & New Regional Powers? By F. Sheikh ( Brief Thought)

The Iran nuclear deal has the potential to reset the relations button not only between USA and Iran but also between Saudi Arabia, Israel and USA.

The deal may be a clear signal from the West to acknowledge Iran’s potential to become a regional power. There is strong possibility that the West may encourage such a role by Iran as long as Iran does not threaten their interests. Iran may be ruled by mostly religious clerks, but nevertheless it is a major stable country in the region with well educated population. Saudi Arabia may lead the opposition to Iran because Saudi Arabia’s main concern is its minority Shia population in its Eastern region where most of its oil fields are located and is afraid of any uprising in that area. This may change the whole political structure in the region and Israel and Arab neighbors may join hands to oppose the re-emerging Persian Power.

In Europe, the Greece crisis has brought on the forefront the economic power of Germany and its willingness to use it without any qualms. It has set aside its previous hesitations, because of its past, to be assertive and yield to other European powers, especially France. It has startled the Paris and Rome. Roger Cohen writes in NYT “Europe, once again at a moment of crisis, faces the quandary of how to deal with German power. The German Question is back.”

In Pacific Asia and South East Asia, China is undoubtedly the regional power and world power. USA is encircling China with military and economic pacts with surrounding countries as well as boosting India and Japan to challenge China. India is dreaming of at least becoming a regional power.

Next decade will be interesting to see how these new political currents take a shape. It may be a different world.

The Trolley Problem: Let five die? Or kill one yourself? By Matt Windsor

How the self-driving cars should be programmed to resolve moral dilemmas.

Imagine you are in charge of the switch on a trolley track.

The express is due any minute; but as you glance down the line you see a school bus, filled with children, stalled at the level crossing. No problem; that’s why you have this switch. But on the alternate track there’s more trouble: Your child, who has come to work with you, has fallen down on the rails and can’t get up. That switch can save your child or a bus-full of others, but not both. What do you do?

This ethical puzzler is commonly known as the Trolley Problem. It’s a standard topic in philosophy and ethics classes, because your answer says a lot about how you view the world. But in a very 21st century take, several writers (here and here, for example) have adapted the scenario to a modern obsession: autonomous vehicles. Google’s self-driving cars have already driven 1.7 million miles on American roads, and have never been the cause of an accident during that time, the company says. Volvo says it will have a self-driving model on Swedish highways by 2017. Elon Musk says the technology is so close that he can have current-model Teslas ready to take the wheel on “major roads” by this summer.

Who watches the watchers?

The technology may have arrived, but are we ready?

Google’s cars can already handle real-world hazards, such as cars’ suddenly swerving in front of them. But in some situations, a crash is unavoidable. (In fact, Google’s cars have been in dozens of minor accidents, all of which the company blames on human drivers.) How will a Google car, or an ultra-safe Volvo, be programmed to handle a no-win situation — a blown tire, perhaps — where it must choose between swerving into oncoming traffic or steering directly into a retaining wall? The computers will certainly be fast enough to make a reasoned judgment within milliseconds. They would have time to scan the cars ahead and identify the one most likely to survive a collision, for example, or the one with the most other humans inside. But should they be programmed to make the decision that is best for their owners? Or the choice that does the least harm — even if that means choosing to slam into a retaining wall to avoid hitting an oncoming school bus? Who will make that call, and how will they decide?

“Ultimately, this problem devolves into a choice between utilitarianism and deontology,” said UAB alumnus Ameen Barghi. Barghi, who graduated in May and is headed to Oxford University this fall as UAB’s third Rhodes Scholar, is no stranger to moral dilemmas. He was a senior leader on UAB’s Bioethics Bowl team, which won the 2015 national championship. Their winning debates included such topics as the use of clinical trials for Ebola virus, and the ethics of a hypothetical drug that could make people fall in love with each other. In last year’s Ethics Bowl competition, the team argued another provocative question related to autonomous vehicles: If they turn out to be far safer than regular cars, would the government be justified in banning human driving completely? (Their answer, in a nutshell: yes.) Click link below for full article.

Posted by f. sheikh


Bernie Sander has a secret, an article in Politico magazine by Michel Kruse.

Shared by Tahir mahmood.

Riggs said she was just doing her job and that she had done nothing illegal.

Sanders in his Outsider book devoted nearly three pages to the episode.

“She contacted my ex-wife, Deborah Messing, from whom I’ve been divorced for over 25 years,” he wrote. “Deborah contacted her friend and neighbor, Anthony Pollina, who used to work with me, and Anthony contacted me. Deborah and I then talked.

“Clearly, Riggs was hoping to find a disgruntled ex-wife who would spill the beans on her former husband. But that was not going to happen with Deborah, who has been remarried for over 20 years. While we don’t see each other very often, we remain good friends, so Deborah told Riggs where to get off. Her sentiments were reflected all over Vermont.”

Sanders cited a chunk of an article from the Associated Press written by Christopher Graff, who at the time was the AP’s longtime Montpelier bureau chief (and whose son, Garrett Graff, is the editor of POLITICO Magazine).

“What may be considered fair and proper in other states leaves Vermonters apoplectic,” Graff had written. “It is against this background that Vermonters viewed Susan Sweetser’s hiring of a private eye to probe Sanders’ background. Such a hiring would not even gain a passing mention in most states these days. It is accepted practice.”

Sweetser, seeing that this attempt at a thorough vetting of Sanders had backfired, denounced the woman her campaign had hired. “I want to make it clear to the people of Vermont that Cathy Riggs went too far,” she said. Too late. Sanders trounced Sweetser, winning the election by more than 20 percentage points.

Sanders went on to win another election in 1998, and another in 2000, and another in 2002, and another in 2004, and was elected to the Senate in 2006. In 2012, 40 years after he got 2.2 percent of the vote in his first bid for the Senate, he was reelected to that seat with 71 percent. “He’s very trustworthy,” said Donna Kaplan, who gave him $20 when he was running for governor in 1976. “What Bernie is saying is the truth,” said Bob McKee, who gave him $100 during that campaign. “And he’s never wavered,” said Betty Clark, a friend from his time with Liberty Union.

Over the last three and a half decades, occasional personality profiles have appeared; invariably, they have focused on his socialism and his looks – his unfussy clothes, his uncombed hair.

“I do not like personality profiles,” he told the New York Times Magazinein 2007.

This past May, in Burlington, he announced he was running for president on a blue-sky day on the bank of Lake Champlain. Some 5,000 people came to see him do it. “This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders,” he said in his speech. In speeches in Denver, in Wisconsin, in Iowa and in Maine, he has said the same thing over and over. “Not about me.”


Worth reading short account of Genghis Khan’s accomplishments through modern eyes.( f.sheikh)

(Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World Jack Weatherford.)

“In twenty-five years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and people than the Romans had conquered in four hundred years. Genghis Khan, together with his sons and grandsons, conquered the most densely populated civilizations of the thirteenth century. Whether measured by the total number of people defeated, the sum of the countries annexed, or by the total area occupied, Genghis Khan conquered more than twice as much as any other man in history. The hooves of the Mongol warriors’ horses splashed in the waters of every river and lake from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. At its zenith, the empire covered between 11 and 12 million contiguous square miles, an area about the size of the African continent and considerably larger than North America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean combined. It stretched from the snowy tundra of Siberia to the hot plains of India, from the rice paddies of Vietnam to the wheat fields of Hungary, and from Korea to the Balkans. The majority of people today live in countries conquered by the Mongols; on the modern map, Genghis Kahn’s conquests include thirty countries with well over 3 billion people. The most astonishing aspect of this achievement is that the entire Mongol tribe under him numbered around a million, smaller than the workforce of some modern corporations. From this million, he recruited his army, which was comprised of no more than one hundred thousand warriors — a group that could comfortably fit into the larger sports stadiums of the modern era.”

“In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the United States, instead of being created by a group of educated merchants or wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma, and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope of Genghis Khan’s accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation.

“As Genghis Khan’s cavalry charged across the thirteenth century, he redrew the boundaries of the world. His architecture was not in stone but in nations. Unsatisfied with the vast number of little kingdoms, Genghis Khan consolidated smaller countries into larger ones. In eastern Europe, the Mongols united a dozen Slavic principalities and cities into one large Russian state. In eastern Asia, over a span of three generations, they created the country of China by weaving together the remnants of the Sung dynasty in the south with the lands of the Jurched in Manchuria, Tibet in the west, the Tangut Kingdom adjacent to the Gobi, and the Uighur lands of eastern Turkistan. As the Mongols expanded their rule, they created countries such as Korea and India that have survived to modern times in approximately the same borders fashioned by their Mongol conquerors.

“Genghis Khan’s empire connected and amalgamated the many civilizations around him into a new world order. At the time of his birth in 1162, the Old World consisted of a series of regional civilizations each of which could claim virtually no knowledge of any civilization beyond its closest neighbor. No one in China had heard of Europe, and no one in Europe had heard of China, and, so far as is known, no person had made the journey from one to the other. By the time of his death in 1227, he had connected them with diplomatic and commercial contacts that still remain unbroken.