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Total number of comments: 338 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:40)

Eurofrank

Informed Comment supporter

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  • Pro-Israel Attacker puts British MP George Galloway in Hospital
  • British Cabinet Member Resigns over UK Gov't Gaza Stance, wanted to go to ICC
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It was noticeable that sayeeda Warsi did a long interview with Channel 4 and not with BBC. One wonders why until link to electronicintifada.net

      There rports off BBC staff circulating protests against its coverage

    • Dear Professor Cole,

      Baroness Warsi is one of four serving ofr frmer UK Conservative ministers whom I have heard in the last three months say "what Israel is doing is Wrong"

      As I listened to her mention that the prospective next leader of the conservative party is a good friend of the Israeli government and how David Dameron and William Hague were gagged by the intervention of one of their main campaign contributors, after a 2009 sstement that Gaza is an open air prison, I realised that the Conservative government is going to be one of the asualties of the Gaza Operation.

      We will not vote for Zionist Stooges (though I wouldn't have voted for them anyway)

  • Netanyahu's Last Stand: Why he Cannot Win by Bombing Gaza
  • Neo-Zangid State erases Syria-Iraq Border, cuts Hizbullah off from Iran
    • What is the economics of this state? The Kurds have Kirkuk and those oilfields. Basra is safe in the south. Can they extract enough oil from Mosul to fund a long running war?

  • Pastor Hagee: It's not Climate Change, It’s The Return Of Christ
  • Operation American Spring aims to drive Obama from office this Friday
    • Dear Professor Cole

      We know that drinking water In London is tainted with Cocaine.

      Has LSD found its way into the groundwater in the US?

  • Is Fall of Homs a turning point in Regime's Quest to Retake Syria?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "You wouldn’t want that crew to sweep into Damascus and take it over. Syria is caught between two unpalatable alternatives."

      For me, the only way to decide between the alternatives is to ask "Who keeps my friends safe?" As my friends are mainly Christian, Ismaeli and Alawite this makes the choice simple.

      If this puts me on the other side of the fence from the US and UK government, "c'est la vie"

  • The FBI's Facial Recognition Database Combines Lo-Res Photos With Zero Civil Liberties Considerations
    • Oh well, at least Facebook tell us how far they have got with Deep Face.

      link to extremetech.com

      "What it chooses to do with that software, of course, remains a mystery. It will obviously eventually be used to shore up the existing facial recognition solution on Facebook.com, ensuring that every photo of you on the social network is connected to your account (even if they don’t show a visible tag). From there, it’s hard to imagine that Zuckerberg and co will keep DeepFace purely confined to Facebook.com — there’s too much money to be earnt by scanning the rest of the public web for matches. Another possibility would be branching out into real-world face tracking — there are obvious applications in security and CCTV, but also in commercial settings, where tracking someone’s real-world shopping habits could be very lucrative. As we’ve discussed before, Facebook (like Google) becomes exponentially more powerful and valuable (both to you and its share holders) the more it knows about you."

      Just imagine a global database of people's faces. What can the Department of Homeland Security do with that?

  • Egypt's new Cult of Personality: The Beatification of Saint Gen. al-Sisi
    • Dear Professor Cole

      I looked hard at the date of this article before starting to wonder who has bought the British Government this time.

      link to theguardian.com
      The Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in Egypt in 1928, was branded a terrorist group by the Egyptian authorities last year. It had been banned during most of the latter part of the 20th century up until the Arab spring which saw the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak as Egyptian president.

      British officials are saying it is "possible but unlikely" that the Muslim Brotherhood will be banned in Britain on the grounds of terrorist links. Foreign Office officials figures have until now resisted proscribing the organisation on the grounds that that could encourage extremists. "The truth is that this is a large, disparate organisation that takes different forms in different countries," an official told the paper.

      The security services are said to take a more hardline view. Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, has reportedly described the Muslim Brotherhood as "at heart a terrorist organisation".

  • Why Romney is Wrong that Obama's Syria Policy Emboldened Putin
    • Dear Professor Cole

      His paymaster has even less acceptable views on International Relations.

      link to jpost.com

      NEW YORK – During a panel at Yeshiva University on Tuesday evening, Sheldon Adelson, noted businessman and owner of the newspaper Israel Hayom, suggested that the US should use nuclear weapons on Iran to impose its demands from a position of strength.

      Asked by moderator Rabbi Shmuley Boteach whether the US should negotiate with Iran if it were to cease its uranium enrichment program, Adelson retorted, “What are we going to negotiate about?”

      Adelson then imagined what might happen if an American official were to call up an Iranian official, say “watch this,” and subsequently drop a nuclear bomb in the middle of the Iranian desert.

      "Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes’," Adelson said.

      “So a tremendous demonstration of American strength?” Boteach clarified. “So that they would get the message?”

      “It’s the only thing they understand,” Adelson said.

  • As Putin recognizes Crimea, his other Client, Syria, Goes on the Offensive
    • Patrick Cockburn recounts the tragedy of a massive US Saudi mistake, that people are trying to undo. Returning Government of Syria to control of its territory is the least bad option after all. Wikileaks points the finger squarely at the instigators of the tragedy.

      One hopes that like after the fiasco of Gallipoli, that an enlightened rule will emerge from the chaos and destruction to manage reconstruction and development.

      link to independent.co.uk

  • Israelis slam Kerry over "Jewish State" Remarks as Abbas Rejects Demand
    • Dear Professor Cole.

      sadly the British prime Minister's fawning speech to knesset gave away all of Netanyahu's points and undermined Kerry. I almost threw up as I read it.
      link to gov.uk

      "And to those who do not share my ambition, who want to boycott Israel, I have a clear message – Britain opposes boycotts; whether it is trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange, Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people will never rest on hollow resolutions passed by amateur politicians. It is founded in the spirit and strength of your people, it is founded in international law, it is founded in the resolve of all your allies to protect an international system that was forged in our darkest days to put right historic wrongs. And it is founded in the achievement of your economy and your democracy, a country pledged to be fair and equal to all its citizens, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Arab or Druze, it is your destiny. De legitimising the State of Israel is wrong, it is abhorrent and together we will defeat it."

      Can criminalising BDS be far off?

  • Can the Neoconservatives make a comeback via the Ukraine Crisis?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      As far as i can see you are the first person to accurately describe this ongoing problem.

      We Europeans are horrified at the antics of Ms Nuland and State Department in executing the strategy outlined by her husband in "The Revenge of Geography". Germany depends for its gas on Russia and BP one of UK's biggest companies is heavily invested in Russia.

      Now that the plan to route Qatari gas through Syria to Europe has failed, we Europeans must logically side with President Putin.

      Following on from this it is time to reconsider the European relationship with US. Having wrecked our economies with casino banking and violated many of the basic tenets of European Law in pursuits of even more extravagant returns for US investors and now trying to drag us into an unnecessary war it may be time to dust off the old slogan from he 1960s and 70s and say " Yankee Go Home"

      I trust that somehow you will manage to avoid an election in 2016 where both candidates are prisoners or clients of AIPAC and the Neocons

      I should hate to see a rerun of the Carter presidency that brought Ronald Reagan onto the scene.

  • Obama and the Golden Calf of National Security: Broken Commandments
    • Dear Professor Cole

      One can only laugh at this attempt to harvest facial images.

      GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

      In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

      Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy".

      The documents also chronicle GCHQ's sustained struggle to keep the large store of sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff, though there is little discussion about the privacy implications of storing this material in the first place.

      ......

      Sexually explicit webcam material proved to be a particular problem for GCHQ, as one document delicately put it: "Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography."

      The document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains "undesirable nudity". Discussing efforts to make the interface "safer to use", it noted that current "naïve" pornography detectors assessed the amount of flesh in any given shot, and so attracted lots of false positives by incorrectly tagging shots of people's faces as pornography.

      link to theguardian.com

  • American Writers are Self-Censoring to Avoid NSA Scrutiny (McCauley)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The UK's Chilcot inquiry into how the saintly Mr Blair sent 45,000 troops to war in Iraq are being censored by the US.

      link to independent.co.uk

      Earlier this year, The Independent revealed that early drafts of the report challenged the official version of events leading up to the Iraq war, which saw Mr Blair send in 45,000 troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime.

      The protected documents relating to the Bush-Blair exchanges are said to provide crucial evidence for already-written passages that are highly critical of the covert way in which Mr Blair committed British troops to the US-led invasion.

      One high-placed diplomatic source said: “The US are highly possessive when documents relate to the presence of the President or anyone close to him. Tony Blair is involved in a dialogue in many of these documents, and naturally someone else is at the other end – the President. Therefore this is not Tony Blair’s or the UK Government’s property to disclose.”

      The source was adamant that “Chilcot, or anyone in London, does not decide what documents relating to a US President are published”.

  • France Crashes the Geneva Party, Scuttles Iran Deal
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Perhaps the French want to keep the Saudis in the market for more weapons by stoking the Arms Race in the Middle East.

      If you really want to get scared just imagine the Saudis getting Pakistani warheads for their Chinese Missiles, which provokes the Turks and Egyptians to arm themselves too.

      We don't know how to do Multilateral Deterrence, so we have to disarm the Israelis and do a WMD Free Middle East.

      Fifty years ago when I was ill in the Infirmary at school, I read Neville Shute's "On the Beach" about the end of mankind in a slowly spreading cloud of fallout.

      He postulated the war starting as a General Nuclear Exchange in the Middle East.

      link to goodreads.com

  • Would Israel's Netanyahu really Drag US into war with Iran?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Shouldn't an unprovoked attack by Israel on Iranian Civil Infrastructure not provoke cruise missile strikes on Tel Aviv?

  • I lived to See the Day when the Pope and the President of Iran are more doctrinally Flexible than the GOP
    • Dear Professor Cole

      I know most Americans don't know where Europe is, ( Clue:it is on the other side or the Atlantic, near Russia) however most people of Polish extraction will know where Poland is.

      They know about John Sobieski and the Hussaria and the magnificent charge outside Vienna.

      Less well known is the disfunctional Sejm, the parliament that was bought and controlled by the neighbouring countries.

      How did the Republicans manage to import this system into the US? Will the US be dismembered between Mexico and Canada?

  • How Putin Saved Obama, Congress and the European Union from Further Embarrassing themselves on Syria
    • Dear Professor Cole

      While my friends at the University in Damascus will be spared US bombing, my besieged friends in Aleppo continue to starve.

      Much is being made of the difficulties of assembling and destroying the chemicals, while fighting continues, by the BBC

      Clearly stopping the fighting is the next step.

      One looks forward to some interesting arm twisting in Qatar and Riyadh

  • Former Iranian President Slams Syria for Gassing own People: Sign of deep Divisions in Tehran
    • Dear Professor Cole

      One of your biggest triumphs during the Iraq fighting was to stop an American Tank Battalion firing on the Mosque in Najaf.

      Perhaps I might suggest you publish as short list of sites of major cultural and religious significance in Syria so the US pilots avoid sacrilidge as well as all the other charges that will be levelled against them.

      Clearly the Ummayad Mosque and the tomb of Salahedin will be avoided.

      The Shrine of Saida Ruqayya is just around the corner and the extraordinarily beautiful shrine of Saida Zainab is in the suburbs near the road to the airport.

      The loss of any of these would be a loss to mankind and would confirm to the world that the Americans have inherited the legacy of Hugalu.

  • The Ghost of Iraq haunts Obama on Syria as British Parliament Defects
    • Dear Professor Cole

      1 Chemical Weapons are of no military use against a modern army which is equipped and trained to operate in an NBC environment.
      2 Use of Chemical Weapons by anyone against civilians or insurgents or other forces is a war crime, or a crime against humanity
      3 The lack of progress on, or obstruction of, establishment of a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East is an affront to humanity.

  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Once the Legal Precedent for use of standoff missiles and cruise missiles fired from outside Syrian territory or airspace is established, it is only a short step to the use of the much loved drone strikes to maintain the stalemate.

      Once the Syrian Air Force is degraded then Syrian Armour and Artillery can be eliminated by drones flying from bases in Cyprus, Turkey, and Jordan.

      The bad guys in Al Nusra, Al Qaeda and similar can happily be killed from the comfort of an air conditioned office in Wiltshire or Virginia.

      The war never ends and the Israelis can continue to build Eretz Israel between the Jordan and the Sea.

  • Top 13 Surveillance Secrets the Gov't Doesn't want You to Know About (Quigley)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Now we seem to be in danger of being convicted of possessing secrets that might possibly assist a terrorist

      If you think this is Monty Python

      link to theguardian.com

      God only knows what defence might be offered.

      "It has to have the right to preserve those secrets and we have to have a law that covers a situation when somebody, for all sorts of wonderfully principled reasons, wishes to disclose those secrets.

      "It just is something that is extremely dangerous for individual citizens to [make] those secrets available to the terrorists."

      Lord Blair said the threat from international terrorism was "constantly changing" and there was a need to "review the law".

      He warned there was a "new threat which is not of somebody personally intending to aid terrorism, but of conduct which is likely to or capable of facilitating terrorism". He cited the examples of information leaks related to Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks.

      "Most of the legislation about state secrets is in the Official Secrets Act and it only concerns an official," he said.

      "I think there is going to have to be a look at what happens when somebody possesses material which is secret without having authority."

      I wonder if I can get dragged away for reading Informed Comment or the Guardian?

  • Does the World Care? 1 Mn Syrian Children Refugees & Aid Money Running Out
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Only six other people cared enough to comment.

      I care because I know people in Damascus,and Aleppo and Homs and their friends, and it distresses me to have to share instructions with them on how to build air raid refuges in their flats and where to find instructions in Arabic on how to respond to a gas attack.

      It distresses me greatly to read of other friends who have fled to UAE,Lebanon, and Egypt and are at the mercy of events there.

      When it is all over and the shooting eventually stops we will need to rebuild a tourist industry and set up twinning schemes and rescue and rehabilitation schemes for the refugees.

      And most of all we need to avoid forgetting this Nakba.

  • Bradley Manning in a World of Cheneys, Hadithas, and NSA Domestic Surveillance
    • Dear Professor Cole

      If you were to post the postal address of Prisoner Manning at Fort Leavenworth, it would be interesting to see how many Christmas cards and Birthday cards he gets over the next thirty five years.

      UK comment suggests that with Parole he might be out in ten years. Does the Uniform Code of Military Justice recognise parole?

  • Syria: Will Killing of Hundreds with Sarin Gas force Obama's Hand?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The Russians are now reporting that it was the Rebels.

      "The missile with a chemical poison gas sarine was launched by Syrian rebels and targeted the eastern suburbs of Damascus. This is according to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.

      "Early morning of August 21, a homemade rocket carrying an unknown chemical warfare agent was launched on the eastern suburbs of Damascus. The missile resembled the rocket which was used by the rebels on March 19 in Khan al-Asal," said Lukashevich.

      "Moscow believes it is important to carry out an objective and professional investigation of what happened", the diplomat continued. "It looks like an attempt to create a pretext for the UN Security Council to side with the opponents of Assad's regime and thus undermine Geneva-2 talks which are now scheduled for August 28".

      "Once again we urge all those who have the opportunity to influence the armed extremists to make every effort to put an end to provocations with the use of chemical agents," Lukashevich asserted.

      link to informationclearinghouse.info

      Clearly, If it is the Rebels who did this then their cause is lost.

      This has implications both for the besieged occupants of Aleppo who are waiting for the relief column to roll North from Homs, and for the unfortunate citizens of Cairo whose agony is still to come.

      If you visit the expat city districts in Dubai one wonders what the death toll of such an attack happening in that area might be.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      By Gordon Lubold

      Why is the Obama administration is opposed to even limited U.S. military intervention? Because, according to a new story by the AP, the administration believes rebels fighting the Assad regime wouldn't support American interests if they were able to topple the regime and seize power. That according to a letter by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey, to Congress, and obtained by AP. AP: "Effectively ruling out U.S. cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn't require U.S. troops on the ground, Dempsey said the military is clearly capable of taking out Syrian President Bashar Assad's air force and shifting the balance of the Arab country's 2½-year war back toward the armed opposition. But he said such an approach would plunge the United States deep into another war in the Arab world and offer no strategy for peace in a nation plagued by ethnic rivalries."

      Let's wait for the UN report

  • It's not about Democracy: Top Ten Reasons Washington is Reluctant to cut off Egypt Aid
    • Dear Professor Cole

      I am reminded of Amritsar and The Year 1905 as I read of the events in Cairo.

      Considering the poverty of the social indicators in Egypt after fifty years of the Army's oligarchy, I wonder if Americans still ask "Why do they Hate Us?"

      "Sow the Wind, reap the Whirlwind"

  • Egypt's Transition Has Failed: New Age of Military Dictatorship in Wake of Massacre
    • Dear Professor Cole

      BBC reports yesterday's death toll as 421, with three thousand wounded.

      Will the rebels who are slowly being defeated in Syria head off to Egypt to give the Army a hard time?

      From what we are told the Army in Egypt has been feathering their nest and I wonder if they are combat ready. Certainly the missing 4000 SAM from Libya must give pause for thought.

      Certainly yesterday's excitement won't do much for the tourist industry, and I will feel even more unhappy being anywhere near the El Al Check-in desk at Cairo International Airport.

      A bit of shooting among the bikini clad lovelies on the beach at Sharm and Hurghada will really put the cat among the pigeons.

  • Israeli Gov't mocks 'Peace Talks' with announcement of 1200 New Squatter homes in Occupied Palestine
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Mr Kerry has insulted my intelligence this morning.

      The US has urged the Palestinians "not to react adversely" to Israel's approval of 1,200 new settlement homes only days before peace talks resume.

      The Israelis are holding the detainees hostage.

      link to m.bbc.co.uk

      US State Department has thrown the Palestinians under a bus.

      Are we complicit in this crime if we do not protest?

  • All Hell Breaks Loose in Libya
    • "raised the question of whether the extremist Libyan and Tunisian devotees of political Islam coorinated the attacks so as to foment turmoil that might form a path whereby they could take over the country."

      This is a reference to the overthrow mechansim of a weak Kerensky like government by the Bolshevik like armed factions.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      How curious to hear you echo the words of the saintly Mr Blair who commented recently about Islamists who are unable to run a modern economy.

      Sounds like it is time for Africom, or at least a demi brigade of La Legion Etrangere.

      ps there might be a "not" missing in the following sentence from the final paragraph "And no, these problems of transition would justify having kept the totalitarian and murderous dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi in place."

  • Indiana: "How do we get rid of" Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States?'
    • Dear Professor Cole

      A Cease and Desist order would be very effective in driving this scolarship or opinion off the Internet and supressing its sale except through regulated outlets

      link to historyisaweapon.com

      Bad sign indeed!

  • Syria: Attack on Sayyida Zainab Provokes Sunni-Shiite Tensions in Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan
    • Dear Professor Cole

      My memory of Saida Zainab is of an extraordinarily beautiful building in complete contrast to the ugly bus grage beside it.

      The throngs of pilgrims being preached to by their ayatollahs remined me of the fervour of pilgrims to Lourdes or Fatima.

      The way the pilgrim routs cross the frontiers were the beginnings of understanding just how silly the lines on the map were as borders.

  • Has NSA Spying Killed US "Cloud" services, Email in Europe, Brazil?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It gets worse for the US.

      Many of the modern IT security programs designed to overcome Advanced persistent threats and Polymorphic malware are funded by US Venture capitalsists.

      Such programs if you buy them have access to everythin in your network.

      If they have a backdoor built in for the NSA then all our IPR and negotiating positions leak to the US.

      I think I see an emerging European Security Applications market.

  • Furious European Parliament Members Warn US Spying could Derail Free Trade Agreement
    • Dear Professor Cole

      As it happens we are discussing new standards and regulations for Cybersecurity in the EU this year.

      link to gov.uk

      As the heard of MI5 said ina radio interview on Radio Four last night, "there are three things in life that are certain. Death, Taxes and finding a Foreign Intelligence Agency in your network."

  • Under European Pressure, Tunisia suspends Sentence of 3 Protesters who Bared Breasts
    • Dear Profesor Cole

      Quite clearly Mr Berlusconi set a Euopean precedent for clemency towards pretty girls with his intervention on behalf of President Mubarak's niece.

      It is good to see these attitudes permeating the judiciary of all the Mediterranean states.

    • Page: 3
  • NSA says they can't reveal if they Spied on You because it would 'Help Our Enemies' (Larson)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Quite obviously this piece is a result of the dumbing down of US Education.

      We highly educated Europeans recognise the plot of many of Kafka's novels.

      Of course he may already have Metamorphosed into a Giant Beetle.

  • Top Ten American Steps toward a Police State
    • Too late Bill!

    • Dear Professor Cole

      You missed Press Censorship, either Self Censorship or Overt Censorship.

      The UK D Notice process is an example of the technique.

  • Snowden was Right, they're Reading your Mail: How British Intelligence and the NSA are Tag-Teaming US
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Is it time to dust off Mr Biden's CV? At what point do you suspect someone will say "Impeachment"?

      LA Times this mornin reports that CIA Special Forces, and mercs have been training Syrian rebels for months link to latimes.com

      Is Mr Obama in charge or or just doing the Front of House TV appearances while the Generals and Spooks run amok?

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Dear Peofessor Cole

      Bhadrakumar is unimpressed!

      "All in all, Obama's momentous decision on military intervention in Syria, which could well launch a new Cold War, is a desperate diversionary move when his administration is caught up deep in the cesspool over the Snowden controversy.

      The entire moral edifice on which Obama built up his presidency and the values he espoused at the core of his "audacity of hope" when he began his long march to the White House five years ago - transparency, accountability, legitimacy, multilateralism, consensus - lie exposed today as a pack of lies. "

      Ouch!

      link to atimes.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      I am not sure if I am allowed to read your blog anymore.

      link to m.bbc.co.uk

      It does seem to disagree with the wisdom of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

      All will however be well in time as, watching the TV this morning, the decisive and clear minded President McCain seems to have taken over.

  • McCain's Photo Op raises Questions about Arming Syrian Rebels
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Badrakhumar mentions the mcCain visit to Turkey as part of a choreography for some further US adventure in the Middle East.

      I found this quote of great interest

      Moscow remembers Charlie Wilson's War
      By M K Bhadrakumar

      McCain's mission synchronizes with the successful move by Britain (with Washington's backing) to force the lifting of the European Union embargo on supplying arms to the Syrian rebels. Washington has since commended the EU decision.

      Missions such as Charlie Wilson's and McCain's are well-choreographed and signal the directions of future US policies, aside from cultivating domestic opinion in the US. The Vietnam syndrome needed to be got over before pressing the pedal on the Afghan jihad, whereas in the case of Syria, American public opinion is opposed to the US' involvement in another war in the Middle East after Iraq.

      But that opinion is slowly changing. It is no mean achievement that almost two-thirds of American public opinion, according to the latest CNN poll, believe that the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria has been using chemical weapons in the current fighting. (The rebels who met McCain repeated the allegation.)

      link to atimes.com

      The embarrasment of the Turkish authorities recently capturing members of the rebel side with a container of Sarin, which has caused the Russian Foreign Minister to demand an explanation as reported by Interfax, tends to undermine the fantasy.

      Informed Commnent has provided valuable commentary on the need for the US press to investigate the bullshit produced to justify acts of questionable logic, legality and military good sense.

      As "Yellowcake from Niger" and "WMD deployment at 45 minutes notice" are back to do a World Tour it might be useful to subject the lastest clais to scrutiny and rational analysis.

      Was "drinking the KoolAid " the phrase used last time to describe the press abdicating their responsibility?

  • Top Ten Michele Bachmann Goofs on the Middle East
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Whatever became of Sarah Palin and her disfunctional family?

      Do you remember, the one where the joke went that if McCain were ever elected President and had a heart attack, that the Secret Service would have orders to shoot her to prevent global catastrophe.

  • The Coming Israeli-Russian War?
    • Thanks

      Of course being able to monitor Israeli bases in the North will force any attack on Iran to fly the long route to the South across Saudi teritorry or up along the Gulf. This means the attacking aircraft will be short of fuel.

      Now that the Iranians know which way they will be coming and may have early warning of an attack from changes in the civilian air traffic patterns at Ben Gurrion the casualty rate of an attack, already predicted to be 30% will rise.

      I wonder if the Russians will sell Iraq S-300 too?

      Bombing Damascus a few weeks ago really was a silly mistake by the Israelis.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      I notice none of your correspondents have mentioned that the S-300 batteries will provide an air defence umbrella over Lebanon too, at least as far as the mountains.

      This will avoid the distressing tendency of the Israeli Air Force to violate Lebanese Air Space and bomb Beirut and Southern Lebanon.

      Neither have they mentioned the possibility that the resumption of supply of the missiles and systems to Syria may be a precedent for the supply of the same systems to Iran who had also ordered some, but whose supply was suspended at the Israeli's request.

      Curiously enough restricting the IAF's freedom of action may be a boon for the US. They were referred to in University of Exeter analysis of the UK options for the Syrian situation as a wild card or loose cannon. This characterisation seems borne out by their lunatic threats against the Russians.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      It is interesting to note that Neville Shute's book "On the Beach" postulates that the Nuclear War that ends mankind starts in the Middle East. There is a remark that "In the end control of the nuclear strikes devolved to very junior ranks indeed."

      Seeing as we are close to the hundredth anniversary of the events described by the German Chancellor Bethman Hollweg in his memoirs, it is worth looking for lessons. He tells us helplessly, that once mobilisation started there was no way of stopping it.

      Is there a working mechansism today to stop escalation of this Middle Eastern conflict further?

      I see no good reason for many millions to die in a dispute about the route of rival gas pipelines, and conflicting interpretations of ancient manuscripts with no application to the world of the 21st century and its real problems of water, food and clean air.

      On the other hand perhaps we are seeing an inevitable consequence of the breakdown of four empires, Turkish, British, French, and US, accompanied by the usual advent of the barbarians and the collapse of organisation, scholarship and learning

  • "If you Eat a 2000 Hamburgers in the Name of Vegetarianism, You aren't an Extremist Vegetarian"; Nabil responds to Woolwich Murder
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The newspaper and TV coverage of the event have had the inevitable result. There has been a spike in Xenophobia and Racist and Religeous intolerance.

      link to guardian.co.uk

  • Has the Obama administration Given into Russia on Syria?
    • Today's Guardian editorial shows the way things are moving.

      link to guardian.co.uk

      I think I favour the deescalation option. Both sides made mistakes and many people died for it.

      Arming more people with bigger better bangs only gets lots more people kiled and ensures spillover into Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan with the possibility of Turkey going up too.

    • Dear Professor Cole.

      The Germans sound quite worried. They say the delivery of S-300 air defence system to Syria will take place in the next 3 months, and this changes the strategic ballance in Middle East.

      link to welt.de

      "If the situation was not bad enough, now comes evil tidings from Moscow. Russia wants to supply the dreaded west air defense system S-300 to Syria, already in three months. The Russians put that to maintain power and ability to pay Assad and his regime."

      No wonder Sayeed Nasrallah sounds happy. Bombing Damascus on Sunday starts to sound like a major error of judgement. It undermined Kerry's position completely

  • UN has strong suspicions Syrian Rebels used Sarin Gas
    • David

      Tragically the recipe for the substance was widely available on the internet so it can be synthesised by a reasonably competent chemist.

      link to news.bbc.co.uk

      The difficulty with the stuff is in delivering it across a wide area as a weapon. This requires aircraft or airburst munitions. This was the difficulty that the Japanese encountered with their amateurish attack on the Tokyo Underground.

      The small scale results being trumpeted don't sound like a military use of a weapon the results of which would look like Halabja.

      You should be aware that googling the many sites which refer to the substance will probably (might?) bring you up on a watchlist run by Department of Homeland Security et al.

    • Some facinating footshuffling going on that look as if someone is trying to undermine Ms del Ponte.

      link to m.bbc.co.uk

      BBC TV news helpfully had an interview with a Kurdish commander from Aleppo who said they had been gassed and he isn't sure which side did it.

      The rebels drove the Kurds out of one the city districts a week ago.

      The press is doing its job.

      Ho hum, now all we need is Ahmed Challabi to show up ......

    • Dear Professor Cole

      This news will of course be particularly troubling for Turkey who has not not equipped its citizens with Respirators as the Israeli government has (have they equipped the Palestinians?)

      It will eventually dawn on the Turks that the crazies with SAM and Sarin can ruin the tourist trade by either dinging an airliner, or giving the bikini clad beer swilling lovelies on the beaches a whiff of nerve gas.

      There was a report a few days ago of a Russian flight out of Egypt that took evasive action to avoid a SAM over Syria.

      I wonder what you think about when the pilot tells you that the aircraft has been hit by SAM and that both engines are on fire but he will try and make it to the airport. It could be rather a long couple of minutes.

  • The Conservative Logic of Ferguson's Smears of Gays, Muslims, Obama and Krugman
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Sadly there seems to be even a philosophical basis to the "laisser faire" aproach that does away with building inspection and planning permission so factories in Bangladesh collapse under the weight of a few extra unplanned floors and a few generators on the roof.

      Robert Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" provides a mantle of respectability to the simple concept that Greed is Good. Nozick's Entitlement Theory, influenced by John Locke, and Friedrich Hayek, which sees humans as ends in themselves and justifies redistribution of goods only on condition of consent, is a key aspect of Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Practical experience of the results of Nozick's aproach over many hundreds of years in various different guises let the Rich get Richer and the Poor get Poorer until revolution evens the score.

      This leads me to favour Rawls "Theory of Justice" and "Law of Peoples" as a more sensible and workable aproach.

  • Jesus and Muhammad and the Question of the State
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Some days, your work is just sheer pleasure to read. I have been a fan ever since I read your "Sacred Spaces" and greatly enjoy these rational and erudite pieces.

      Your explanation of the difficulty of using these ancient texts as a basis for present day thought and action echoes much of my own thinking.

      The rector at the local Church was teaching St Paul's Letter to the Romans after he finished teaching the Apocalypse of St John, so I sat in to try and understand how to cope with fundamentalism. I was hooked once he explained how many Egyptian, Assyrian, and Persian myths contribute to the imagery of the Apocalypse.

      It was a revelation because he went back to the Greek texts and highlighted the errors in the very many translations of the New Testament into English. (There is even a Readers Digest Bible for those short of time but I am not convinced that it has anything to do with divine revelation)

      Once you understand that St Paul was trained in both Greek and Hebrew philosophy you can see these influences coming through in his writings.

      I learned enough to know I don't know enough to commend or condemn any organised religion as right or wrong, or to use it as a basis for any claims to moral superiority, or land in the 21st century.

      Your piece today was a joy to read!.

  • Report: Highest US Officials Responsible for Use of Torture (Plus Daily Show Video)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      I raised an eyebrow at this sentence. "The US is not responsible for terrorism against it, and the terrorists are horrible human beings."

      Without being an apologist for the worst, I would draw your attention to Yeats poem Easter 1916 and his commenatry on the ordinaryness of the rebels.

      "I have met them at close of day
      Coming with vivid faces
      From counter or desk among grey
      Eighteenth-century houses. "

      I was at school with the grandsons of the only one of the leaders of the rebellion who wasn't shot for his pains. Terrible person? He went on to be President three times.

      One can think of members of the Stern Gang and Irgun Zwei Levi who went on to become Prime Ministers having perpetrated atrocities.

      Mr McGuiness who is Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and was a candidate for President of Ireland was Brigade Commander of the Derry Brigade of the IRA.

      Terroist is an awfully broadbrush word, and certainly not one that can be used to draw conclusions about their quality as human beings.

  • Can the Boston Bombings increase our Sympathy for Iraq and Syria, for all such Victims?
  • Class Hatred and Bad Memories of Thatcher
    • "The proof of the pudding is in the eating"

      This piece from the Financial Times describes the parlous state of UK Finances and how the Energy Utility is now the posession of the French, and their Chinese investors.

      link to ft.com

      It would seem that Mrs Thatcher's victory over and destruction of the National Union of Mineworkers eventually allowed a foreign monopoly to control a key national utility.

      The US worries about Chinese Hackers getting control of their grid. In UK it is easy. They just buy the thing.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Will Hutton provides a very rational epitaph on Mrs Thatcher's baleful effect on the UK economy.

      link to guardian.co.uk

      "The empress has no clothes or, at least, not the clothes in which so many want to robe her. Despite all the praise, Mrs Thatcher did not arrest British economic decline, launch an economic transformation or save Britain. She did, it is true, re-establish the British state's capacity to govern. But then, although she wanted to trigger a second industrial revolution and a surge of new British producers, she used the newly won state authority to worsen the very weaknesses that had plagued us for decades. The national conversation of the last six days has been based on a fraud. If the Thatcher revolution had been so transformatory, our situation today would not be so acute.

      ......

      The empress really has no clothes. Wednesday's funeral is a tribute to the myth and the conservative hegemony she created. If the royal family is concerned, as is reported, that the whole affair will be over the top, they are right. Mrs Thatcher capitalised on a moment of temporary ungovernability that, to her credit, she resolved, then sold her party and country an oversimple and false prospectus. The landslide Mr Blair won in 1997 was to challenge it, but he did not understand at the time, nor understand now, what his mandate meant. The force of events is at last moving us on. But Britain has been weakened, rather than strengthened, by the revolution she wreaked."

  • Syrian Economy: Stock Market Paralyzed, Insane Poultry and Meat Prices
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The reference to Al Salamiyah is toubling. As you know Salamiyah is the cente of the Ismaeli community in Syria, and as such is exposed to the Jihadi threat to minorities.

      They have taken in many refugees from Hama. It would be a tragedy if their water supply was cut off.

      link to sjpaderborn.wordpress.com

  • Top Ten Ways Margaret Thatcher's Policies Made our World more Unequal
    • Dear Professor Cole

      What you omit to mention is the destruction of UK Industry under the policies of the Thatcher government. The slogan was that they would do away with the smokestack industries and replace them with knowledge industries, funded by the North Sea Oil Bonanza.

      Sadly 25 years on, the oil is declining and gas is having to be imported from elsewhere, and they haven't the money to build nuclear power stations.

      The following from a rabidly fallacious piece in the Telegraph describes the future for UK.

      link to telegraph.co.uk

      Research from the US government, which without doubt applies equally to Britain, suggests that just one out of the top nine occupations expected to create the most jobs this decade requires a university degree.

      The picture is truly dire for the army of university graduates: only five of the top 30 fastest-growing occupations expected to create the most jobs by 2020 require an undergraduate degree (or an additional post-graduate qualification) – nursing, teachers in higher education, primary school teachers, accountants and medical doctors – and 10 of the top 30 don’t require any kind of qualification at all.

      Among the top 10 fastest-growing professions are retail sales staff; food preparation (including fast-food restaurant jobs); customer service reps; labourers and freight, stock, and material movers; lorry and van drivers; and various healthcare aides, related to the ageing population. This is the semi-secret, and devastating, story that far too few people in government want to talk about.

      This is Mrs Thatcher's true legacy: a McJobs Economy.

  • 13-year-old Iranian Girl Sings Adele's 'Someone like You'
  • UN, Host Countries, Running out of money for Syria Refugee Relief
  • Can you Pass the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Quiz? (Rudolph)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      What the piece omits is mention of the percentage of extreme orthodox in Jerusalem-Al Quds.

      Reports last year showed them occupying whole neighbourhoods and subjecting outiders to harrassment varying between assaults on women they deemed improperly dressed and spitting on Christian clergy. They insist that all and sundry observe their Sabath. There were reports of a riot caused by the opening of a multistory car park on a Saturday.

      One of the big dangers I see in this growing Juadaisation of Jerusalem-Al Quds is the isolation of the Haram al Sharif. There are already lunatic groups with US backing whose objective is the erection of a Third Temple on the site of the previous one.

      As this would involve the destruction of the Haram al Sharif and the the Al Akhsa mosque, such sacrilege would be an immediate, and in my view, justified Casus Belli, and in fact for a military intervention by NATO.

      The only consolation is that the long term prospects for an Israeli state with a 30% Extreme Orthodox unemployable population are dim. They will as President Ahmedinejad is reported as saying disappear from the geography of the Middle East.

      What we havent seen so far are scenarios about how this inevitable demographic event might be coped with. Would Europe and the US want to accept six or seven million refugees, even if they are dual passport holders? This might provide the theme of one of your thoughtful and insightful essays.

  • Syrian Revolution even Bloodier in March, with record 6000 Dead
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Al Jazeera compromised their reputation for objectivity at least a year ago.

      Can this report be taken at face value or is it yet more wishful thinking and propaganda?

      The key charcteristic of this conflict is the battle of the narratives where previously reliable sources are being contradicted by bloggers and reports on the ground.

      A sudden collapse of the government in Damascus is a worst case outcome and one that the UK government among others seems happy to avoid. link to exeter.ac.uk

  • Dear Rightwing Catholic Islamophobes: Pope Francis just washed the feet of a Poor Muslim
    • Gosh! Is there no end to Silvio Berlusconi's influence?

      That Ruby the Heartstealer gets everywhere!

  • Republicans not liked, even by 25% of . . . Republicans
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Along comes Petraeus.

      "David will save us with his urge to Surge"

      David vs Hillary in 2016?

  • Qaddafi's Arms Flooding Middle East from Libya
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Well of course the Brits and the French and the Americans should be buying in the Libyan weapons they didn't secure and transporting them to whatever brand of private army they support this week in Syria.

      This apparently is reported as the activity being undertaken by the unfortunate US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi when he died.

      link to dailymail.co.uk

      If we look back to Paris 1870, we find that the Commune was the result of the Mayor of Paris arming the citizens so we watch in fascinated horror to see where this latest blunder will take us.

      Heavily armed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or a myriad of small islamist groups in the countries surrounding Palestine?

  • The Top other thing Netanyahu Needs to Apologize For: The Gaza Blockade
    • Well. That didn't last long.

      link to todayszaman.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      As I watched President Obama climb the steps of his aircraft to leave Palestine, I thought of the resemblance with a well known Biblical figure who achieved a sort of immortality for himself with his gesture.

      Pontius Pilate washed his hands of the blood of an innocent and handed him over to the Jews for retribution.

  • St. Patrick's Day Explained (ReportingSatire Video)
  • Venezuela and the Middle East after Chavez
  • The Syrian Civil War comes to Iraq, as 8 Iraqi and 48 Syrian Troops are Killed on Iraqi Soil
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It is not only the Jordanians who will sleep badly after the fall of Ar Raqqah.

      For some time we have been hearing desperate appeals from the Syrian Christians who have been cut off, pillaged and abandoned in Al Hasaqa

      link to fides.org

      Sadly this tragedy has remained below the notice of the media who are concentrating on the areas where heavy fighting is taking place.

  • Israel Lobby asks Congress to Approve Attack on Iran & to Exempt Israel from Sequester
  • After Benedict: Religions have to Democratize if they are to Survive
    • Dear Professor Cole

      There might of course be a simple explanation for the resignation.

      What would an honest man do if he was diagnosed with the beginnings of Alzheimers?

  • Syrian Revolution Darkens Further, with Damascus Bombings and Hizbullah Involvement
    • Dear Professor Cole

      To think that the UN HQ has a tapestry of Guernica at the entrance, and the Nuncio can still accuse us of indifference.

      ASIA/SYRIA - Endless slaughter in Damascus. Rumours of plan to strike Papal Nuncio

      Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - The Papal Nuncio to Syria Archbishop Mario Zenari is still shocked by reporst and images of fresh violent attacks this morning in the centre of Damascus, beginning with the attack in al-Shahbandar Square, site not only of the Baath headquarters, but also the ministry of Finance, the ministry of Education and, not far away, the offices of the Central Bank: "It is a massacre; bodies charred and torn to pieces, strips of human flesh, fire fighters struggling to put out the flames" the papal representative told Fides. Walls and windows of the Nunciature rocked with the explosions. In the face of yet another slaughter, Archbishop Zenari confirms the impression expressed in recent statements : "We continue to walk on the dead. At this pont, wherever you go in Damascus, you come to places where innocent blood has been shed: civilians, women and children. The number of 70,000 war victims is even more appalling when we think how these people die. They die not in their beds, not with euthanasia. Their bodies are torn apart and it is difficult even to collect enough fragments for a funeral".
      According to Nuncio Zenari, in the face of the sacrifice of the Syrian people "the international community continues to play the part of Pontius Pilate", whereas the only way to stop the spiral of death and destruction would be to "force the sides to find a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict".
      Nuncio Zenari expresses surprise at rumours - taken up by Alef Agency - about a possible attack on his person which is said to be planned in Syrian military and intelligence circles, in retaliation for recent statements of his regarding the conflict: "I have no idea how much credibility is due to these rumours. Usually people planning an attack would not first leak the intent to the press. My appeals are prompted by what I see, the suffering the conflict inflicts on the Syrian people. Suffering which is prolonged by the indifference of the greater part of the international community ". According to the rumours, picked up by various Syrian blogs, the criminal plan aims to attack the Nuncio when he moves around in his car.
      Archbishop Zenari says it is better to avoid alarmism in reports regarding the situation of the local Christians: "The Christians" says the Papal representative "in this tragic situation suffer like all the rest of the population ". (GV) Agenzia Fides 21/2/2013)

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Oh what fun! Scenarios.

      This is a good one, which we will all recognise of course if I title it the "Gertie Bell Scenario".

      Well thought through and set out. There are a few extra dimensions and factors that need to be taken into account though.

      Like Libya we need to look at consequences too, so we don't end up with the equivalent of the "Mali and the 10,000 missing SAM" or another Genocide.

      Alongside Sir Paul Newton's work on Syria this is one of the best things I have read recently.

  • Dear Neocons: Iraqis still don't feel liberated: Iraq's Sunni Arab Spring
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It begins to look as if this piece by Henri Barkey is more of less on the money.

      link to the-american-interest.com

      I suspect we are seeing the overspill that most reputable observers have been dreading as the worst possible outcome of the Syria mess.

      Patrick Seale catalogues the problems in the Kurdish areas in his latest piece and it begins to look like a return to chaos throughout the area. Except, of course, for a small strip of land between the Jordan and the sea.

  • Top 10 Ways the Middle East Changed, 2012
    • Joe

      Sadly my Russian is a little rusty and I am not sure that Pravda or Isvestia's records are online that far back. Could you provide me with an example for comparison?

      I never said the Palestinians were defeated, and the Summer attacks on Damascus were indeed repelled.

      I would be obliged if you wouldn't resort to the propagandist's trick of putting words in my mouth.

    • Joe

      What will stop the construction of the squat in the E1 block thus joining Male Adumin to Jerusalem?

      As you will see in Jospeh Dillard's comment below, he thinks the PA have given up.

      The attacks on Damascus have been repelled but with difficulties at present along the airport road. This from the Guardian seems to indicate the rebel push in Aleppo has petered out in an orgy of looting and self agrandisement.

      link to guardian.co.uk

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Can we summarise this then as "Israel Wins". There is nobody left to stop them.

      Syria is knocked out and impotent. Egypt is on the verge of an economic crisis and starvation. Iraq which wasn't mentioned except in passing is heading towards civil war.

      Saudi Arabia is keeping the head down and stoking Wahabi rebellion in Syria and Iraq.

      Lebanon is being cut off from its arms supply to defend itself against an attack from the south.

      Turkey is trying to cope with a possible resurgence of Kurdish insurrection.

      And the Israelis are surrounding Jerusalem and preparing to complete the ethnic, religous or other cleasing by administrative means to turn the place in to a wholly Jewish city.

      Happy New Year.

  • Schwarzkopf (RIP) and How the United States got Bogged Down in the Middle East
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The shift to the Pacific seems to overlook the key role of the Indian Ocean.

      Kaplan explains here.

      link to amazon.co.uk

      The key objective seems to be to contain or slow down the growth of China. Doing this requires restricting Chinese access to hydrocarbons from the Persian Gulf and restriction of their access to the raw materiels of Africa.

      The 21st Century thus becomes a new "Scramble for Africa" between the US and the Chinese with the Europeans wishing "a plague on both your houses". The abandonment of Admiral Zeng He's voyages is spoken of wistfully in China as a mistake.

      Retaining a Carrier and Fleet base in Manama is probably not a long term option so I would expect something like a move to Djibouti to get the fleet out of the constricted waters of the Persian Gulf. Fighting warships there would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

      The image of a burning nuclear powered aircraft carrier, carrying thermonuclear weapons (??) out of command in those waters is not a pleasant one.

      Domination of the Indian Ocean then becomes a contest for submarine capability. Submarines become the launch platforms for supersonic anti ship missiles with very substantial ranges.

      There are rather a lot of tiny islands becoming Chinese submarine bases.

  • New Fundamentalist Constitution Approved, Heralds turn to Egyptian Theocracy
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The prediction about moving holidays from Sharm el Sheikh to Eilat in the comments on this article from a year ago illustrates the problem for the tourist trade if booze and bikinis are banned.

      link to dailymail.co.uk

      It would be useful to see how this is handled in Turkey and to see an analysis of how this plays out as an economic scenario.

      If the economy collapses what are the outcomes? Return to a Military Dictatorship and a "be nice to Israel" policy. Austerity and starvation, insurrection with arms looted from Libya??

      We will watch the reaction of the Copts with great interest. If they flee (where to?) they will undermine the Egyptian economy even more.

  • In Rebuke to Obama, Netanyahu-- Much of Western Europe to Support Palestine as UN Observer State
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It seems the Germans have got over their guilt and will abstain.

      link to haaretz.com

      "By Thursday morning Israel time, that support had turned into a full-on landslide, as more European nations decided to alter their positions, essentially leaving... "

      What is really interesting is that Claire Spencer at Chatham House says that the Pivot to Asia might be leaving the Palestine situation in European hands.

      link to chathamhouse.org

      In the summit's joint Cairo Declaration on November 14, all present 'reaffirmed their shared position not to recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by both parties including with regard to Jerusalem'. In a world in which the EU 'has sub-contracted its geopolitical thinking to the US since the Second World War', as a colleague who specializes on EU affairs put it recently, this is a small, but potentially significant start to rethinking who decides what in the Middle East.

  • Morsi Emerges as Key Power Broker in Gaza Conflict
    • Dear ProfessoR Cole

      Now you are on the trail of the hidden agenda. Well done.

      Having failed to buty the US president is the Likud plot to destabilise the Egyptian President by making him look helpless?

      BBC last night reported Morsi as saying the ceasefire was almost ready. So there has been an all night bombardment, and the arrival of the delightful Secretary of State.

  • Live report from Gaza, attacks on Journalists (Democracy Now!)
    • Raincrow

      There have been fairly consistent reports of the Israelis drawing back from a land invasion of Gaza, under US and European pressure, this morning

      I wonder to myself if this doesn't make the "War War Bomb Iran" party of Netanyahu and Lieberman look rather weak.

      If they can't buy a US president and flatten defenceless Gaza (says Ariel Sharon's son)http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=292466 how will they cope with Lebanon and the Iranian Air Defence systems?

      What will this do to the elections in January?

  • Drone, Sanctions affecting Medicine, Intensify US-Iran Tensions
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "Among President Obama’s first decisions after his reelection was to further increase already severe sanctions on Iran. Soon thereafter Iran shot down a US drone it claims was spying on Iranian vessels in the Gulf"

      Shot at or fired warning shots at, but not shot down. Shot down would be far more serious.

  • US backs away from Syrian National Council
    • Dear Professor Cole

      One wonders what on earth these guys in State Department were thinking of?

      Sowing Dragon's teeth like this is going to come back and bite everyone in the ass.

      The borders into Europe from Turkey are porous, so it is inevitable that these weapons will endanger European air travel. I don't really want to experience the thrill of riding a run in to land at Athens or Rome or Malaga with one or both engines on fire.

      link to washingtontimes.com

      We now know why Ambassador Christopher Stevens had to be in Benghazi the night of 9/11 to meet a Turkish representative, even though he feared for his safety. According to various reports, one of Stevens’ main missions in Libya was to facilitate the transfer of much of Gadhafi’s military equipment, including the deadly SA-7 – portable SAMs – to Islamists and other al Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting the Assad Regime in Syria. In an excellent article, Aaron Klein states that Stevens routinely used our Benghazi consulate (mission) to coordinate the Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari governments’ support for insurgencies throughout the Middle East. Further, according to Egyptian security sources, Stevens played a “central role in recruiting Islamic jihadists to fight the Assad Regime in Syria.”

      In another excellent article, Clare Lopez at RadicalIslam.org noted that there were two large warehouse-type buildings associated with our Benghazi mission. During the terrorist attack, the warehouses were probably looted. We do not know what was there and if it was being administrated by our two former Navy SEALs and the CIA operatives who were in Benghazi. Nonetheless, the equipment was going to hardline jihadis.

  • NASA Scientist: We face a Planetary Climate Emergency
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "If the public understood what is about to befall them, they’d agree with me that mining, distributing and burning coal should be criminalized, like, today and that a global crash program to depend primarily on green energy by 2020 should be launched by all the countries of the world."

      Is this proposal, like, realistic? It precludes a confrontational foreign policy.

      Will China and India see this as yet another obstacle to impede their industrialisation and development? It is known as "pulling up the ladder after you". Mr Romney's declaration of economic war against China might give the Chinese food for thought.

      They have just announced a $25 Billion new railway network to transport coal from their mines to the population centres.

      link to reuters.com

      "The around 1,800-kilometre railroad will connect key coal producing provinces including Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi with the centre of China and will involve a total investment of about 154 billion yuan ($24.2 billion), the country's second largest miner said in a filing with the Hong Kong bourse late on Thursday."

      The Indians are expanding their rail network too.

      link to thehindubusinessline.com

      "Production target

      Coal India has set a production target of 452 million tonne (mt) for the current financial year and it expects to move a total of 477 mt, including the coal that has piled at its pit heads.

      For the Railways, coal is a key commodity — accounting for 46 per cent of total freight loading and 38 per cent of total freight earnings. "

      The Japanese are using record volumes of LNG to compensate for shutting down their reactors.

      Big LNG Tanks and Tankers: Japan Uses More Natural Gas After the Fukushima Crisis

      link to factsanddetails.com

      LPG ship Japan's LNG imports began rising at a record pace in 2011 as utilities ramp up gas-fired power generation to offset a near-record low in nuclear plant utilisation in the wake of the Fukushima radiation crisis.

  • Syria crisis Shakes Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia as Cease-Fire Crumbles
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "there are concerns that Wahhabi-influenced Salafis might raze the shrine. (of Sayyida Zainab)

      "Hassan al-Rubaie, a Shiite cleric from Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, said, “The destruction of the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab in Syria will mean the start of sectarian civil war in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.”

      For those unfamiliar with the shrine it is an extraordinarily beuatiful complex of buildings, made even more so by its contrast with the ugly bus garage next door.

      It is quite clear that destroying the shrine of the Prophet's Grandaughter would be a sacrilege of an order coming close to the destruction of Haram al Sharif by fundamentalist Jews.

      It remains to be seen if this might be the spark that would trigger insurrection by the Shia in Saudi Arabia.

      It is time for Western Governments to think seriously about how to get the Salafi Warrior Genie back in the bottle.

      The prospect of serious instability in Saudi Arabia as a result of the actions of some misguided idiot with a truck bomb in Damascus followed by a general exchange of hostilities throughout the former Turkish Empire can only fill us with trepidation.

      The antics of the Wild Card in Jerusalem where the corrupt Lithuanian thug has been offered his choice of ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence or Finance can only increase the perception that widespread shooting is about to break out.

      It starts to feel like June 1914.

  • The Most Bloated Election in History (Engelhardt)
    • Dear Professr Cole

      I woke up in a cold swet a couple of days ago. I had been having a nightmare that Romney won the election and that my children and grandchildren were going off to fight in his wars.

      And then I thought, "Why should we?"

  • Romney's Major Flip-Flops in the Third Debate
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Do you mean to suggest that that nice Mr Romney might not be telling the whole truth and that if he gets elected he might not keep all his promises?

  • Top Ten Things Mitt Romney's Insults to Spain tell us About Him
    • Dear Professor Cole

      I have finally got to the point of sayingt clearly and unequivaocably that this man is not fit to be President of the US when he makes fundamental errors like this

      link to guardian.co.uk

      New York Times reported last week that Obama is encourgaing the Saudis and Qataris to cut back on weapons flows to the rebels, because they are creating a Frankenstein that will come and devour them. The Saudis and Qatari officials agree.

      Now this nincompoop makes it an election issue, so rational decision making can fly out the window.

      General Dempsey and some Turkish, Jordanian, and British Generals need to surround the clown and explain the consequences of arming a loose cannon like the FSA and the Jihadis.

      Mr Romney has just provoked the formation of a coalition of the unwilling, against his foreign policy if, tragically, he is elected.

  • Top Seven Errors President Obama has made on the Middle East
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "Even just finding ways to get humanitarian aid in to starving Syrians would make a difference."

      Thank you for raising the profile of the prospect of Stavation and Famine in Syria.

      World Food Program's report on the situation seems to have fallen down a crack. This is particularly important for families in the countryside who face the prospect of starvation in the next few months as the crops rot in the fields, for lack of labour to gather them.

      link to wfp.org

      Rising food prices on world markets due to drought and failed monsoon and the difficulties of buying food due to sanctions have the possibility of turning this into a "Perfect Storm"

      This situation is reminiscent of the obscenity that was the Biafra Civil war where a million died becasue of deadlocked geopolitics and it is beginning to look as if the Churches are the only ones who will have the will and contacts to do anything about it.

      Jesuit Refugee Service is running soup kitchens in Aleppo Homs and Damascus for all in need.

      link to jrs.net

      "Aleppo. According to JRS in Damascus, communications with the city of Aleppo is at best intermittent. Internet and mobile phones have been offline since Aug 1st. Acute shortages of basic commodities include flour, gas and petrol, while electricity cuts last for several hours a day".

  • Did Bashar al-Assad Betray Qaddafi?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Pepe Escobar, who you have quoted on occasion, proposes a plausible root cause for the Syria unrest.

      This combined with failed economic reform and drought looks reasonable to me.

      link to atimes.com

      Even before Prashad concludes his investigation, it's clear what Qatar is aiming at; to kill the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, a deal that was clinched even as the Syria uprising was already underway. [2]

      Here we see Qatar in direct competition with both Iran (as a producer) and Syria (as a destination), and to a lesser extent, Iraq (as a transit country). It's useful to remember that Tehran and Baghdad are adamantly against regime change in Damascus.

      The gas will come from the same geographical/geological base - South Pars, the largest gas field in the world, shared by Iran and Qatar. The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline - if it's ever built - would solidify a predominantly Shi'ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord.

      Now how do we stop this stae, which is even smaller than Israel, though not nuclear armed yet, starting WWIII?

  • Annals of Settler Colonialism (2) German Namibia #savagesunite
    • Dear Paul

      I count my blessings every day and enjoy syntax, content and meaning in many languages

    • Dear Professor Cole

      "Amazing" seems to be a word that implies approval.

      The conventional meaning is given here

      causing wonder or astonishment amazing feats
      amazingly adv

      Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
      ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
      Adj. 1. amazing - surprising greatly amazing - surprising greatly; "she does an amazing amount of work"; "the dog was capable of astonishing tricks"
      astonishing
      surprising - causing surprise or wonder or amazement; "the report shows a surprising lack of hard factual data"; "leaped up with surprising agility"; "she earned a surprising amount of money"
      2. amazing - inspiring awe or admiration or wonderamazing - inspiring awe or admiration or wonder; "New York is an amazing city"; "the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring sight"; "the awesome complexity of the universe"; "this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath"- Melville; "Westminster Hall's awing majesty, so vast, so high, so silent"

      Perhaps astonishing, appalling, or frightening, or sickening? If you look back to the Weimar Republic you see similar evidence of the return of the Age of Ideology. Not much later the posters read "Kauf nicht bei Juden!"

  • The Annals of Settler Colonialism: German Namibia (1) #savagesunite
    • Ah, a precedent. "Without Generational or Time Limit"

      I wonder what court will hear the claims arising from the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine?

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Dear Professor Cole

      As I watched yet another recitation of the crimes of the Germans, I was struck by a number of thoughts.

      I think it is important that your readers realise that the Belgians have equally tragic stories in their past.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      The whole "Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century gave rise to enormous cruelty whether people were ruled by British, French, Belgians or Germans.

      I expect the same will be true of the present day "Scramble for Africa" between the Chinese and the Americans and the Capitalists.

      link to business.blogs.cnn.com

      You do however raise an important question that you as a reputable historian might help clarify for me.

      At what point does a crime in international law become simply a historical event? Do the Israelis simply need to hang on to the territory until all the survivors of the Nakbha and the 1967 occupation are dead?

      At what point can the self flagellation of the Germans over the application of the theories of Eugenics cease?

      Can the descendants of the Armenian genocide make a claim against the present day Turkish Government?

      Are the Italians liable for claims for restitution or damages resulting from the invasions during the Roman Empire?

  • Top Ten Mitt Romney Solutions to our Problems
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The parachutes for the passengers involuntarily exiting a commercial aircraft at 30,000 feet, won't do much for them.

      They have over a minute drop to an altitude they can safely open the parachute. Without oxygen they will be dead or unconscious by that time. Either way they land with a terrible thud.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

  • The Gospel of Jesus' Wife and Sacred History from Judaism to Islam
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Wouldn't the concept of a wife also imply children?

      These are a no show except in the novels of people like Dan Brown. (note I only read one once to see how bad it was!)

  • Dear Democrats: If you do That you have to do This
    • Dear Professor Cole

      One must mourn the rejection of the idea of Jerusalem as an international open city as proposed in the 1948 settlement scheme.

      If the Custodian of the Holy Land is moved to speak out publicly then things must have got really bad.

      link to telegraph.co.uk

      Police inaction and an educational culture that encourages Jewish children to treat Christians with "contempt" has made life increasingly "intolerable" for many, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custodian of the Holy Land, said.

      Fr Pizzaballa's intervention, unusually outspoken for a senior Catholic churchman, came after pro-settler extremists attacked a Trappist monastery in the town of Latroun.

      The door of the monastery was set fire to and its walls were covered with anti-Christian graffiti that denounced Christ as a "monkey".

      The incident is the latest in a series of acts of arson and vandalism this year targeting places of worship, including Jerusalem's 11th century Monastery of the Cross, built on the site where the tree used to make Christ's Cross is held to have been planted.

      Slogans reading "Death to Christians" and other offensive graffiti were daubed on its walls.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      "If you slam Republicans for foreign policy naivete, you have to explain why you just pissed off 1.5 billion Muslims by giving away all of Jerusalem to Israel as its capital."

      As I listened to Obamas reaction to news about the employment figures on the radio, my inner pragmatism kicked in. I thought to myself "I don't really care what you do. Just win and keep the barbarians out"

      As regards Jerusalem, take a leaf out of the Israeli negotiating manual. Say whatever you want people to hear. Then do something else!

  • The Age of Mass Killing Comes to Syria & France Pushes Gov't in Exile
    • Mr Fisk seems to be seeing a different story to some of the others we have been hearing.

      link to belfasttelegraph.co.uk

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Mr Coughlin seems unimpressed with the French idea of intervention in Syria and is unimpressed with the result in Libya.

      link to telegraph.co.uk

      Can I still be a bleeding heart left wing liberal if I agree with him?

    • Dear Professor Cole

      I seem to remember heavy casualties inflicted by the US Marines in Fallujah and the Israelis shelling Beirut for days. Mahmoud Darwish wrote a book about it.

      I suspect the State Department is wise to avoid getting sucked into precipitate action by the ex colonial power while discussions are taking place among the Egyptians, Iranians, Saudis and Turks (?).

      link to atimes.com

      One always treats French proposals with a certain amount of cynicism and scepticism. Who might they have lined up as a national leader and what might be the value of the resulting infrastructure projects?

  • South Africa: Label West Bank Squatter Products; Israel: You Apartheid State!
  • Syrian Official: Resignation of al-Assad on the Table
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Here is verbatim a report from a friend of mine in Aleppo.

      Google Translate works pretty well. It seems to back up fisks report this morning. The Rebels seem to have suffered massive casualties in their misguided attack on Aleppo.

      As Tim Collins says "Never interrupt the Enemy when he is making a mistake"

      اهم اخبار الأربعاء 22-8-2012 :
      حلب:
      -مسيرات كبيرة في العزيزية والسليمانية وسعدالله الجابري جرت يوم امس واليوم تأيدا لعمل الجيش بتطهيره لعدة مناطق من المرتزقة المسلحين.

      -وحدات الجيش السوري مازالت تواصل تطهيرها مناطق تواجد المرتزقة المسلحين وتلاحقهم في عدة مناطق.

      -عملية نوعية في حي الأنصاري " الجهة اليسرى لحي سيف الدولة " استهدفت تجمع لقادة المسليحين واتباعهم من المرتزقة وهم بحدود 150 شخصاً تم الق
      ضاء عليهم جميعا وتدمير المقر بما فيه من أجهزة اتصالات حديثة.

      -وحدة من قواتنا المسلحة الباسلة تتصدى لمجموعة مرتزقة مسلحة كانت تتمركز في مدرسة التحرير بحي الفردوس وتسحق أفرادها المرتزقة بالكامل.

      -وحدات من قواتنا المسلحة تلاحق مجموعات مسلحة مرتزقة في أحياء الهلك وبستان الباشا وسليمان الحلب وتكبدها خسائر فادحة وتقضي على العشرات من المسلحين المرتزقة .

      -وحدة من قواتنا المسلحة تستهدف بعملية نوعية مقر عمليات المسلحين المرتزقة ومستودع ذخيرة في مارع بريف حلب وتدمرهما وتقضي على عدد كبير من المرتزقة.

      - اكتشاف مخزن للاسلحة بالتعاون مع اهالي الحي يضم كمية كبيرة من الاسلحة الخفيفة والمتوسطة ومعظمها صناعة سويدية وبلجيكية, وتم القاء القبض في المخزن على سبعة مرتزقة بينهم تركي وشيشاني وليبي.

      دمشق:
      -الجهات المختصة تلاحق مجموعات مسلحة في نهر عيشة وتقتل 14 منهم وتعتقل 31 اخر.

      -الجهات المختصة تعتقل 17 مسلح وتقتل 38 اخر في بساتين داريا. ومازلت العميلة مستمرة لملاحقة فلول الهاربين من المرتزقة المسلحين.

      -إنتشار مسلح بشوراع المعضمية وإطلاق رصاص على السيارات والمارة باتجاه اتوستراد القنيطرة .. وذلك من أسطح مناطق مطلة على الحي الشمالي وعلى الاتوتستراد واللجان الشعبية مستنفرة ومدفعية الجيش تقوم حاليا بضرب مناطق انتشاروتجمع المسلحين وسط المعضمية..والعملية مستمرة الى الان.

      -وحدات من الجيش تدهم معاقل لمجموعات مسلحة مرتزقة في بساتين عقربا وتعتقل 7 وتقتل 29 منهم وتصادر كميات كبيرة من الاسلحة المختلفة.

      أدلب:
      الجهات المختصة تضبط كمية من الأسلحة حاول مرتزقة تهريبها إلى مدينة اريحا وهي عبارة عن صواريخ يدوية الحمل وعبوات ناسفة مصنعة في تركيا ورشاشات ب ك سي.

      -بعملية مفاجأة للجيش السوري في اريحا ادت لمقتل و جرح العشرات المسلحين و من بينهم قادة لهم خطيرين و اعتقال اكثر من 80 مسلح مرتزق.

      -الأمن العام اللبناني يعتقل أحد " قاطعي الرؤوس " في عصابات " الجيش الحر" ويظهر صور ضحاياه على هاتفه الخلوي.

      -التحقيقات الأمنية بينت أن " قاطع الرؤوس" إرهابي ضمن عصابة " كتيبة الفاروق " الوهابية التابعة لـ " تنظيم القاعدة " في حمص والموقوف من مواليد عام 1981 من بلدة القصير .

      -مصدر أمني لبناني : الموقوف اعترف بأنه ذبح 10 عسكريين مجندين في الجيش العربي السوري بناء على طلب الأمير " أبو حمزة ".

      -روسيا والصين توجهان رسالة تحذير واضحة إلى واشنطن والغرب من التدخل في سورية .

      -روسيا اليوم: مقتل نجل غيلايف قائد احد التنظيمات الشيشانية الارهابية في سوريا.

      -"صوت روسيا" عن بيانل لقناة "خبر تورك" انه تم إلقاء القبض على جنرال تركي كان يقود مجموعات من المعارضة المسلحة بالقرب من مدينة حلب.

      -مصدر دبلوماسي غربي : إسرائيل تستخدم دولا خليجية في مهام استخبارية خارجية كالتجسس على إيران .

      -المصدر الدبلوماسي يؤكد تعاونا استخباريا على أعلى المستويات بين إسرائيل ودول في المنطقة وفي مقدمتها قطر والسعودية.

      -الاعلامي التونسي محمد كريشان يتحدث في " القدس العربي " عن انتهاكات و عمليات سلب وسرقة ونهب مخجلة يرتكبها المسلحون المرتزقة في حلب .

      -بالجرم المشهود : مجموعات مسلحين مرتزقة تحول متحف معرة النعمان إلى ثكنة وتسرق الآثار بالسيارات .

      -شريط فيديو على موقع الحقيقة في باريس يظهر مسلحين مرتزقة وهم يقومون بعملية سطو على آثار رومانية من أحد المتاحف السورية.

      -ميليشيات" كتيبة الفاروق " الوهابية استولت على قصر الملكة جوليا دومنة أشهر الملكات السوريات للإمبراطورية الرومانية وحولته إلى ثكنة عسكرية في حمص .

      -منظمة " أسالا " الأرمنية تحذرالحكومة التركية من التدخل في سورية .

      -منظمة " أسالا " الأرمنية تدعو المثقفين الأتراك إلى إدانة سياسات الكراهية التي تتبعها حكومة أردوغان .

      -واشنطن تدعم مصر في نشر قوات في سيناء لكن بموافقة إسرائيل .

      -صحيفة معاريف : رسالة إسرائيلية شديدة اللهجة إلى القاهرة عبر واشنطن تطالب بسحب فوري للدبابات المصرية من سيناء.

      -حركة " النهضة " الإسلامية تحذر من فتنة مذهبية : دعاة سعوديون ينشرون الفكر الوهابي في تونس .

      -المصدر : تواتر الاعتداءات السلفية على التظاهرات الثقافية ينذر باحتقان مذهبي غريب عن المجتمع التونسي .

      -رئيس الوزراء: العمل لضمان عودة الأسر المتضررة من العمليات الإرهابية إلى بيوتها وتقديم الدعم لتأهيل المنازل والبنى التحتية.

      -النائب الاقتصادي من موسكو: سورية تستعد لإنجاز اتفاق مع روسيا لضمان إمدادات المنتجات النفطية .
      Unlike ·

  • Anonymous Billionaires are Stealing Your Election with Attack Ads
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite.

      Every nation gets the government it deserves."

      Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre (1 April 1753 – 26 February 1821)

  • Putin, Pussy Riot, Hooliganism and the Syrian Bloodbath
    • No Joe.

      We have other disturbances in London besides the looting and arson in response to police shooting an unarmed man.

      These were students protesting against fee increases.

      link to guardian.co.uk

    • Provoking public outrage counts as hooliganism, even if no battery or property damage occurs.

      Doing things in Church gets people caught under UK law.

      "Much contemporary and sensationalist art is concerned with pushing moral boundaries and provoking strong reactions from its audience. Gilbert and George, Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili and the Chapman brothers are all examples of artists whose work expresses a sense of artistic autonomy which is seemingly protected under our right to freedom of expression, incorporated into English law by the Human Rights Act 1998. However, the 'right' to freedom of expression is not straightforward, as there are restrictions and even penalties according to what the government feels is necessary in a democratic society.

      Offences of outraging public decency, blasphemy, corrupting moral values and those under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 are all an attempt to protect the public and control an artist's and a gallery's freedom of expression. "

      link to harbottle.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      I think I preferred your piece yesterday, to today's piece.

      You are quite correct when you said yesterday "The Great Divide in the Greater Middle East continues to devour its partisans on both sides and to introduce new forms of instability into the region. That it has three levels makes it intractable. "

      Along with the Britsh Military I am avoiding getting sucked into the intractable situation. Mr Putin is already involved by historical fact.

      It would have been better if the instigators had never started it.

      Largely as a point of Information

      I checked the records of disturbances in London and found this from the Daily Mail on the sentence of sixteen months on Charlie Gilmour, the son of a Pink Floyd Musician who performed acrobatics on the War Memorial in Whitehall during protests about student fees.

      Three judges of appeal agreed that his sentence was fair.

      link to dailymail.co.uk

      The unfortunatly named Pussy Riot's sentence does not seem so totally far from European norms.

      Hooliganism is generally used in the context of Football in UK law.

      link to politics.co.uk

      "The Public Order Act 1986 permitted courts to ban supporters from grounds, while the Football Spectators Act 1989 provided for banning convicted hooligans from attending international matches. The Football (Disorder) Act 1999 changed this from a discretionary power of the courts to a duty to make orders. The Football Disorder Act 2000 abolished the distinction between domestic and international bans.

      The Football Offences Act 1991 created specific offences of throwing missiles onto pitches, participating in indecent or racist chanting and going onto the pitch without lawful authority.

      In Scotland, a new law was introduced in March 2012 to deal with the growing problem of threatening behaviour particularly in relation to inciting religious hatred. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 creates two new offences: Offensive Behaviour related to football and Threatening Communications. The former covers expressing or inciting religious, racial or other forms of hatred and and threatening behaviour at or on the way to a regulated football match. The latter relates to threats of serious violence and threats intended to stir up religious hatred sent via the internet or other communications."

      As football has largely replaced religion in UK, the young ladies would seem to have been charged appropriately.

      The hooligans attacked the Russian Embassy in London last night. They are entitled to the same level of protection (from Ayatollah Cameron) as the Equador Embassy.

      link to reuters.com

  • Syria and the New Great Divide in the Greater Middle East
  • Conservative 'Dark Money' Outspending even Superpacs on Attack Ads (Barker)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don’t have to disclose their donors to the public. "

      As you have commented in the past, ifthe Rest of World were voting in the elections we would vote for Obama, even if he is drone infested.

      Where do I sign up to contribute to his 501?

  • Your Election is being Bought by 47 Billionaires (and they are Buying War, Climate Change)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It is only now fifty years later that I recognise the value of having studied Roman History at School. Rather than being just another boring piece of memory work and the subject of tedious translations it does in fact give insight into the machinations of today.

      Thank you for the introduction to the New Crassus and the New Catiline conspiracy.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Crassus it is interesting to note crucified Spartacus and the slave army but came unstuck in Syria.

  • You might be Paul Ryan if....
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Isn't yesterday's goings on in Egypt the kind of thing referred to as the 4am phone call?

      Perhaps you might seek the views of Congressman Ryan and Governor Romney on what they think should be done.

      Please don't ask Michelle Bachman. She sees Muslim Brotherhood everywhere.

  • In Switch, Egypt's Civilian President Makes Coup against Generals
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The events of yesterday give rise to more questions than answers. Apparenly heads of Air Force and navy have gone overboard too.

      link to ynetnews.com

      First of all the question ofthe Egyptian Economy remains open. Are they going to run out of money or are they going to get aloan from IMF?

      Second does publicly lining open the Christians with the army presage further problems between the faiths? The Christians are economically important.

      Third has the government now taken control of the military budget? That will upset the Gravy Train.

      Fourth will this instability on its southern front clip the wings of the warmongers in Jerusalem. It is quite striking to see the press comment in the Israeli press being about an attack on the Iranians this morning.

      link to jpost.com

  • Syria: The Battle for Aleppo Begins as Rebels Retreat
    • link to bbc.co.uk

      But he says the risk of not working with Syrians who want a democratic and open Syria is that the conflict will be hijacked by al-Qaeda and other extremists.

      And the foreign secretary acknowledges that the risk of total disorder and a power vacuum in Syria is now so great that British contacts with what he calls "political elements" of the Syrian opposition need to be stepped up.

      BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says it is a significant shift in policy, after months of British frustration about deep divisions within Syria's opposition, and complaints that it has failed to set out a clear programme for good government .

    • Kim Sen Gupta's report from Aleppo indicates a breakdown of organised resistance.

      Notable are the reports of people leaving for their villages.

      link to independent.co.uk

      BBC News at 6 am 10 August reports FCO giving £5 million in communications and medical supplies to the FSA to prevent the rebellion being hijackedby Al Qaida. BBC reports this as a major change of policy.

    • BBC News at 10pm reports the rebels in Aleppo saying they are running out of ammunition.

      This isn't going to be pretty, if someone can't negotiate a surrender.

    • Not crocodile tears. Just pity for so much wasted young life, seduced by dreams of glory toan exercise in futility.

      Wilf Owen says it better

      What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
      Can patter out their hasty orisons.
      No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
      The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
      And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

      What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
      Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
      Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
      And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds.

      link to bbc.co.uk

      The futile slaughter of Picket's Charge at Gettysburg evokes a similar emotion.

    • Now we will have the pitiful scenes of terrified boys without food water and ammunition trying to find a way out ofthe trap. I wonder if there is a neutral body who can negotiate a surrender so they don't have to die.

    • 15.00 9 August. The Aleppo Front has collapsed.

      The Guardian

      Martin Chulov confirms the rebel's withdrawal Salahedin. His latest report begins:

      The Free Syrian Army has withdrawn all its main fighting units from its stronghold in the war-ravaged suburb of Salahedin in southern Aleppo.

      The withdrawal was ordered just after sunrise on Thursday after a night of intensive shelling from planes and tanks on all three rebel frontlines. Commanders in Aleppo claimed the pullout was tactical and said a small force had remained behind to oppose any advance by regime forces.

      However, the rebel move seems to mark a significant moment in the fight for control of southern Aleppo – which has raged for more than two weeks, claiming several hundred casualties – and laid the rest of the city to siege.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      The half million Christians in Aleppo are sitting on the fence and would like the armed men to go away.

      link to thetablet.co.uk

      Fr Nawras Sammour of the Jesuit Refugee Service, who co-ordinates three refugee centres, said that most Syrians have not been drawn into supporting either one side or the other. He added: "All Syrians are suffering, without any discrimination."

      link to fides.org

      Christian religious leaders have recommended the faithful not to accept weapons and not to draw up in the civil conflict is what local sources report to Fides Agency from Aleppo. "We do not want to become another rival group," say our sources, expressing deep concern for the community dimension which the civil war is taking in Syria, fuelled even from abroad.

  • Top Ten Signs you Might be a Nazi Loser
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Finding yourself kicking on the end of a rope because the hangman got the drop wrong is a dead giveaway to being a Nazi loser.

  • Chinese telecoms giants are taking over the world. Should we be scared? (McClenaghan)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      One does wonder if people are worried about the Chinese doing to them what they have been doing to the rest of the world for years.

      If you are not aware of the Crypto AG exploit it is a good place to start.

      link to schneier.com

      Selling encryption engines to embassies all over the world with a very good encryption algorithm, but transmitting the decryption key in the first package of each message must have caused many a laugh.

      Your readers might of course enjoy a well written and well researched up to date papers on Chinese Cyber Espionage and Economic Warfare from the Brits.

      link to cityforum.co.uk

  • Revolutionaries in Syria Claim 60% of Aleppo as UN Condemns al-Assad
    • Joe

      Just wait and see.

    • Chaps

      BBC Radio News at 13:00 Sunday 5 August reports that the Syrian Armmy has 20,000 men ready to take part in the recapture of Aleppo.

      The residents of Aleppo are unlikely to join the numerically inferior rebels while this number of troops are waiting outside.

      I would be surprised if they will offer the survivors aid and assistance to escape after the battle either.

    • Chaps

      This is the throughput at one casualty clearing station

      The hospital is treating around 50 patients a day, almost all of them injured due to the fighting. At present it has five doctors and two nurses working a rota. Dr Ahmed, an orthopaedic surgeon, the only specialist, says: “We really need around 12 doctors, some with specialisation, and two nurses per doctors. So you see how difficult it is to deal with complicated cases

      link to independent.co.uk

    • Chaps do please pay attention. Rebel figures are widely reported.

      A rebel commander in Aleppo said his fighters' aim was to push towards the city center, district by district, a goal he believed they could achieve "within days, not weeks".

      The rebels say they now control an arc that covers eastern and southwestern districts.

      "The regime has tried for three days to regain Saleheddine, but its attempts have failed and it has suffered heavy losses in human life, weapons and tanks, and it has been forced to withdraw," said Colonel Abdel-Jabbar al-Oqaidi, head of the Joint Military Council, one of several rebel groups in Aleppo.

      Oqaidi told Reuters late on Monday more than 3,000 rebel fighters were in Aleppo, but would not give a precise number.

      The fighting has proved costly for the 2.5 million residents of Aleppo, a commercial hub that was slow to join the anti-Assad revolt that has rocked the capital, Damascus, and other cities.

      link to thisdaylive.com

      link to reuters.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Rebel forces said Saturday morning that they now control 60% of Aleppo.

      In several days of fierce fighting, the regime still has not been able to reassert itself in Aleppo, despite the use of heavy artillery, tanks, helicopter gunships and even fighter jets. Admittedly, the Baath government has not mounted a really big tank assault a la Homs, suggesting it does not have enough tank battalions it trusts to risk sending them away from the capital.

      Rebel strength has been reported at about 5,000 men. 5,000 men is not enough to control a city of 2.5 million.

      The fighting for the past week looks like it has been designed to bleed the rebels and wear them down, and make them use up their ammunition and fuel. They were reported yesterday as losing 50 dead.

      1% per day is unsustainable.

      UN reports reinforcements for the Syrian Army moving up to surround Aleppo and attack with overwhelming force. Well rested, well supplied, and well led and motivated troops will be able to move systematically through a largely sympathetic city who just want the fighting to go away.

      "God", The Emperor said, "is on the side of the Big Battalions". Voltaire said he on the side of those who shoot best.

      Either way, the inevitable outcome is only a matter of time.

  • Obama signed finding to help Syria Uprising
    • Hi Joe

      Rebels would be Syrian citiyens who have taken up arms against the government.

      There are extensive reports of Libyan, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Iraqis and Saudis entering the fray.

      By definition these are not "rebels"

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Not only Miller but Pepe Escobar.

      link to atimes.com

      You do have to question the sanity of equipping the Al Qaeda groups in a city near the Turkish border with Surface to Air Missiles.

      It is not far from there to the BTC pipeline at Ceyhan and the tourist beaches at Iskenderun.

  • Romney on Jerusalem: A World of Hurt for America

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