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Total number of comments: 423 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:40)

Eurofrank

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  • More districts of East Aleppo fall to Regime & Militia Allies
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The big problem the enemy have is they are running out of ammunition

      AL Masdar reported last night that the Turks have arranged a surrender for most of the remainer of the pocket link to almasdarnews.com

      Syrian Government forces liberated Marjeh and Sheikh Lutfi yesterday leaving only Sheikh Sayeed and Sukkari in enemy hands

      Fighting was reported in Bustan al Kasir overnight

      It remains to be seen if they will do a last stand in either of these districts.

      There are still reported to be 10,000 civilians still to be liberated in enemy held areas.

      Prayers of thanksgiving are being held in the Ummayad Mosque of Aleppo. Luckily it wasn't fought over.

      It will make a great battlefield tour one of these days

      I like Galbraith in NYT. Reconstruction. He is right link to nytimes.com

  • Russian Pundit: Fall of East Aleppo a Geopolitical Turning Point toward Multi-polar World
    • Dear Professor Cole

      So far I haven't seen any discussion of Russian Air Cover for Lebanon which is historically part of Syria.

      It will be good to see the US depart the European neighbourhood as it will curb Israeli meddling and kill off the Yinon plan to establish Greater Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile.

      The entry of the Egyptians into the Syrian melee is of great interest.

      What we really need to see is an SCO version of the Marshall Plan to rebuild the Middle East

  • In Trump's Shadow, is East Aleppo on Verge of falling to Regime, Russia?
    • Nicholas Taleb is publishing some interesting stuff on casualty figres

    • The interesting thing is that about a third of the city was liberated today. Less that 10,000 civilians are seen. This bears out the comment by Ehsani one of Josh Landis correspondents who has been reporting that there are about 40,000 civilians and that the over-reporting is a scam to sell the UN rations to pay the fighting men

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Yesterday's news also includes a breakthrough near Sheikh Lutfi with Syrian tanks pushing towards the Bab Nayrab district and a breakthrough along the airport road heading for the Citadel.

      Hundreds of civilians have escaped from enemy positions to Syrian government lines

      The attempt by a column from Idlib numbering 3,500 to break the government lines walked into a very professionally run Killing Zone and withdrew having suffered heavy casualties. The result has been to weaken the defences in Idlib.

      Destruction or surrender of the armed groups in the Aleppo pocket will release large numbers of Government troops to come to the relief of the 125,000 citizens besieged by ISIS in Deir ez Zoar. They are supplied by air and there are reports of starvation.

      Syrian government forces are pushing for the town of Al Bab to liberate Raqqa followed by clearing the Euphrates valley of the remaining enemy

      An armoured brigade is heading Qineitra to clear the Golan Heights.

      The Battle for Syria is more of less over.

      We now come to the more interesting problem of how to rebuild the country. Russian firms and Chinese and Iranian firms will get the lion's share of the work

      Just as General George Marshall realised that Europe couldn't be left in ruins in 1945 so we have to realise that Government of Syria cannot be left isolated and alone.

      I have no objection to a Trump hotel being built in Latakia.

  • Trump, Putin, and the new Middle East
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The author omits to mention Lebanon. The Israelis are getting worked up to do another of their atrocities against Beirut and Tyre Sidon and the refugee camps of the Bekaa. Massacring women and children in Cana is tiresomely familiar. Shelling and killing UN troops in clearly marked positions is unacceptable.

      The Israelis will point to battle hardened Hizb Allah who are now in possession of armoured formations in Syria as an existential threat to them.

      Professor Etzioni's incitement to genocide by using thermobaric weapons to inflict massive destruction on Beirut should be kept in mind.

      The new element in the equation is the extent of the Russian air defence that extends over Lebanon and the presence of the Admiral Kiznetzov's air group.

      The sooner we see the Sukhois over Tyre Sidon and the Bekaa the better. Supply of the useful Pantsir air defence system to the cash strapped Lebanese army would be a good move.

      Let us pray that the corruption investigations in Israel finally bring down the warmonger Prime Minister.and let us all breathe easier.

      If that doesn't work, we are left to trust that Vladimir Putin will, yet again, save us from another nightmare.

  • With Trump, we've all Entered the Dark Dimension of Dormamu
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The Chilcott report posts a great big warning to the UK. We will not get involved in US wars of choice unless it is in our interests.

      President Trump's (get used to saying it. he won fair and square) election will mark the beginning of the end of the American Empire and the Return of History. A "Singapore Moment" where everyone saw that the white man has feet of clay.

      As a Distinguished Professor of History I look forward to your balanced evaluation of the phenomenon.

      Sir Lawrence Freedman's view is here

      If crises can be avoided, the emphasis for U.S. allies should be on patience. After all, it will take much of the next year before all the new administration’s key posts are filled with political appointees and are confirmed. Over time, Washington’s bureaucracy may get the new president under control so that he learns not to make impromptu commitments and waits until he has been properly advised on the implications of alternative policies. Candidate Trump proposed a series of radical and disruptive initiatives, but, as with his predecessors, President Trump will discover that he is more constrained than he imagined. On this optimistic view, there will be more continuity than currently expected.

      We shall see. From the early days of the postwar order, allies have worried about the possibility of an American president with Trump’s worldview. The only hopeful way of thinking about what awaits is as a test. If the global order can survive Trump, it may be that it can survive anything. link to foreignpolicy.com

      Isaac Asimov in his prescient description of world progress has a chapter on the emergence of the Mule.

      Lets start from there.
      .

  • Syria's al-Assad: Trump "a natural ally"
    • Dear Professor Cole

      There are many reports from the Aleppo Pocket that a popular uprising against the Al Qaeda occupiers has taken place

      link to twitter.com

      This will of course hasten the collapse. 4000 men aren't enough to hold a perimeter the size of the Aleppo Pocket 24/7

      There are reports of starvation in the besieged city of Deir ez Zor. The sooner the Aleppo pocket is liberated the sooner the armoured divisions can drive from Palmyra to the Euphrates.

  • Neofascist Trump Appointee Bannon: "Anger is a Good thing" "if you're Fighting to Take this Country Back"
    • Dear Professor Cole

      WE note with interest the proposed appointment of Mr John Bolton (he Moustache of War) as Secretary of State

      He outlines his priorities here

      Consider the five gravest challenges confronting America in the next four years, starting with the most imminent.

      First, and almost certainly the highest national-security priority for voters last Tuesday, are the closely related threats of radical Islamic terrorism and the Middle East's spreading chaos. Obama's unwillingness even to acknowledge radical Islam's ideological basis, let alone his failure to counteract its multiple dangerous manifestations, has left us increasingly vulnerable to terrorist attack. And in the Middle East itself, despite long-overdue territorial gains against ISIS, governments have been disintegrating or gravely weakened, thus providing safe havens where ISIS and other terrorists can again take root.

      If Trump does not quickly reverse Obama's strategy, regional chaos will only grow, and the terrorist threat here and in Europe will increase. Destroying ISIS should certainly be a priority, but not Obama's approach, which actually strengthens Iran's hand at the expense of America's traditional allies in the region, Israel and Arab states alike.

      Second, nuclear proliferation, primarily by Iran and North Korea, is continuing and even accelerating. Obama's cherished nuclear deal with Tehran has not contained Iran's nuclear program, has not stopped its cooperation with Pyongyang, and has not changed its offensive behavior across the Middle East. Iran obtained the nuclear deal's financial benefits at the outset, agreeing only to make cosmetic, easily reversible modifications to its nuclear infrastructure. Almost certainly, the ayatollahs have been cheating since before the ink was dry on the deal.

      As for North Korea, even Obama's own director of national intelligence, James Clapper, acknowledged last month the hollowness of nearly 25 years of negotiation with Pyongyang, saying, “I think the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause.”

      Failure to contain nuclear, chemical and biological proliferation today has even more dangerous longer-term consequences, namely even greater proliferation. Moreover, the prospect that terrorists could receive weapons of mass destruction risks the perfect storm of more 9/11s but with far more tragic consequences. Moving vigorously to eliminate the rising proliferation tidal wave will either be the hallmark of Trump's presidency — or possibly its epitaph.

      link to triblive.com

      I wonder when American psychiatrists stopped diagnosing paranoia?

  • How can Progressives get through the Next 4 Years? Organize!
  • The Vanity of the Billionaires: Circuses and no Bread
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Some days your work is just pure pleasure to read.

      Today is one of them.

      A discussion of the descent of the Roman Republic to become an Empire that eventually elected its Emperors by acclamation of the Praetorian Guard

      The Empire eventually fell when the Rhine froze over and the Germans on their ponies came West

      In the same manner as the rise of the Praetorian Guard the Ayyubid Empire passed to its Mamluk slaves and the Janissaries, some of the best troops in Europe eventually got into Turkish politics contributing to the decline of that empire.

      The same seems to be happening in the US with appointment of the President now by acclamation of the Praetorian Press.

      The US is fucked, maybe not right away but eventually.

  • De Mistura: al-Qaeda must leave E. Aleppo to save it from Destruction
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Reports this morning are that Ahrar al Sham commander in Idlib has rejected de Mistura's offer. Easy to be brave when you are 100 km away.

      Says his men will fight to the death,

      Factions in Idlib fighting among themselves.

      SAA say they will pray in the Ummayad Mosque Aleppo today. A few hundred metres advance but symbolic victory.

      Very large attack into Sheikh Sayeed district with supplementary attack on the holdouts in 1070 housing project

      SAA advancing in Salah al Din district.

      Confused situation in the North of the Pocket. Half of Bustan al al Basha and all of Suleiman al Halabi liberated yesterday.

      Half of Owaija district was liberated yesterday so the rebel position in North of the pocket is untenable

      The tragedy of this situation is that 250,000 people 50% of whom want to leave are being held hostage by 8000 enemy of whom less than 1000 are Al Qaeda

      As someone said they would never have believed that the UN would be offering to escort Al Qaeda to safety

  • Syria: Russia warns of Mideast Apocalypse if US attacks al-Assad's military
    • ISIS Air Force just killed 50 civilians in Deir ez Zur

      50 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the US-led coalition airstrikes on Deir Ezzur," the sources said on Monday.

      Noting that the US airstrikes have pounded 7 bridges in the past four days, they said that the bridges on the Euphrates in al-Mayadeen, al-Bu Kamal, al-Ashara, al-Basira, al-Tarif and al-Nowam in the Eastern and Western countryside of Deir Ezzur were attacked before the airstrike on al-Abbas bridge on Sunday.

      Army sources in Syria said on Sunday that the US pounded several strategic bridges in Deir Ezzur in the last few days to prevent the army and its allies' further advances in the fight against the ISIL terrorists.

      link to en.farsnews.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Once is an accident
      Twice is concidence
      Three times is enemy action

      The USAF have bombed the bridges in Deir Ez Zor that will be needed by Syrian Army to pursue and defeat ISIS once the Aleppo pocket has been liberated from Al Qaeda/Al Nusra later this week.

      link to almasdarnews.com

  • Vote For Hillary Clinton Or Die in a Fiery Apocalypse: A Letter To Young Progressives
    • Dear Professor Cole

      This must be quite the worst piece I have ever read by any of your contributors

      This incoherent rambling disjointed disorganised rant is quite unworthy of your site

      At no point does he explain his headline about a fiery apocalypse, but instead drags in a fantasy series about Zombies and some what ifs about the Russian president.

      As I trudged through the endless turgid prose i thought of Macbeth.

      "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
      Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
      To the last syllable of recorded time;
      And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
      The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
      Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
      And then is heard no more. It is a tale
      Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
      Signifying nothing."

      If I am being charitable I must assume the author "had drink taken", as the Irish say.

      I agree with Hitchens even more after reading the nonsense

      "The world's fixated on Trump. But Hillary could drag us ALL into a catastrophic war, writes PETER HITCHENS in America"

      A victory for Trump – decisive or narrow – will give astonishing powers to a lonely, inexperienced, ill-educated old man who (I suspect) is increasingly terrified of winning a prize he never really intended or expected to obtain.

      A clear victory for Hillary Clinton would create even greater problems. Educated, informed people here believe that there are serious doubts about her health. Even if they are wrong, her militant interventionist foreign policies are terrifying.

      I lived through the Cold War and never believed we were in real danger. But I genuinely tremble at the thought of Mrs Clinton in the White House. She appears to have learned nothing from the failed interventions of the past 30 years, and scorns Barack Obama’s praiseworthy motto: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’

      She will do stupid stuff, and drag us into it, you may rely upon it.

      How odd it is, to hear on the air the faint but insistent sound of coming war, here in this place of sweet, small hills, rich soil and wistful, mountainous horizons.

      Read more: link to dailymail.co.uk
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • In Massive Intel Error, US Kills 80 Syrian Troops, Helps ISIL Advance
    • This is the report of the incident that scared me so much.

      The Israelis have been looking for a causus belli with Hizb Allah for months

      In First, Israel's Iron Dome Intercepts Rockets Fired From Syria
      No damage was caused, the IDF says; shortly after the missile defense system was activated, it became clear the rockets would have exploded on Syrian territory if not intercepted.
      read more: link to haaretz.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      What really scared me yesterday was the reports of further Israeli airstrikes on Syrian Government positions on the Golan Heights.
      link to richardedmondson.net

      Israeli Airforce are supplying support to Al Nusra attacks in the area of Kuneitra and reports for weeks have indicated that the Israelis want to exclude Syrian Government from the Golan Heights.

      The Russians were reported to have authorised Syrian Arab Army to engage Israeli aircraft with SAM.

      Attacks by USAF and Israeli Air Force at the same time lend credibility to reports that Saudis and Israelis want to attack in the south now that the Aleppo pocket is cut off and in a militarily hopeless position.

      link to al-monitor.com

  • Right-wing Israeli ministers meet with Facebook to discuss censoring 'anti-Semitic incitement'
    • Dear Professor Cole

      What isn't mentioned is that the current campaign to classify BDS and any criticism of Israel as Antisemitism would be included in this ban.

      As Israel, Steals, Kills, Lies, Intimidates, Discriminates and Cheats and is in egregious breach of International Law such criticism of the Pariah State counts as Fair Comment.

      Lack of such comment in UK tame newspapers is quite noticeable

      link to haaretz.com

  • US: Turkish-backed campaign against our Allies in Syria 'unacceptable'
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Meanwhile as the Turks, Kurds, and Uncle Tom Cobley and All fight it out in Northern Syria, the awfully nice ISIS chaps are massing to attack Palmyra again

      " Contrary to popular belief, the Islamic State has far from given up hopes of retaking Palmyra following its strategic loss to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in March, 2016.

      In a newly published series of photos, ISIS reveals its jihadist militants are on the very near vicinity of ancient Palmyra itself. The pictures also show ISIS fighters monitoring SAA checkpoints at the Grain Silos a few kilometers east of the city.

      Despite a month-long stalemate at the Palmyra frontline, ISIS seems more than keen to gain a symbolic victory at Palmyra due to the caliphate’s territory gradually shrinking across Syria, Iraq and Libya."

      link to almasdarnews.com

  • Near-War: US Planes almost tangle with Syrian MiGs, which bombed area of US troop Embeds
    • Al Masdar reports US troops withdrawn

      Al-Hasakah Governorate (10:50 A.M.) – The U.S. Army reportedly withdrew their military advisors from the provincial capital of the Al-Hasakah Governorate last night amid growing security concerns, local sources told Al-Masdar News this morning.

      The security concerns are due to the Syrian Air Force’s ongoing bombardment of the Kurdish police’s (Asayish) headquarters in Hasakah City.

      On Friday, the U.S. military advisors had a close call when a bomb from the Syrian Air Force landed near their positions outside of Hasakah City.

      link to almasdarnews.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      As The Russians Turkey, Iran and the Syrians are playing Kiss and Makeup this story is going to get lively.

      You do have to wonder what the US forces are doing in Rojava and how long this Israeli proxy will last. Turkey will not want a heavily armed Kurdish militia running guns to their insurgents in the East

      US Forces attacking Syrian Government forces and Christian Militia is insanity.

      Life will get exciting if the Syrian SAM light up US aircraft. Even more exciting if they fire on them.

  • Does this Change Everything? Russia's first strikes on Syria from Iran Airbases
    • Of course with S-300 air defence and TU-22 deployed in Iran an Israeli strike is off

      Manama as a naval base looks a little dodgy too. link to nationalinterest.org

    • The Russian bomber deployment must temper the Saudi ambitions to cause further trouble. Riyadh is an hour's flying time from the new Russian base.

      What you haven't commented on is this announcement of Chinese entry into the battle. link to reuters.com

      The appointment of an Admiral with Iranian experience is interesting.

    • Page: 4
  • Arab Street Shocked as Saudi Delegation Visits Israel
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Fisk this morning reminds us of the war in Lebanon ten years ago and finishes up with a warning that a rerun is imminent

      "A veteran Irish UN officer, Commandant Kevin McDonald, has now published his own detailed account of the events of 25 July 2006, Peacekeeping on the Edge. “Throughout the day,” he writes, “complaints were raised by Untso [United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation], Unifil [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] and the highest levels of UNHQ New York to the IDF and the Israeli authorities ... Despite assurances from the IDF, the intensity [of strikes around PB Khiam] never decreased.”

      By the time the UN had decided to evacuate their men, they were already under Israeli air attack. There was then “no response from HF [high frequency], VHF Sat phone or the individual cell phones”.

      So what is left to be said? Only, I suppose, that the Israelis and Hezbollah are now boasting about another, even more ferocious war between them.

      With more Hezbollah weapons in the south of Lebanon, Major General “Herzi” Halevy, the head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, warned last month, the next war would turn Lebanon into “a country of refugees”. And, of course, the UN’s unarmed observers will still be there on the Lebanese border to record it all again."

      link to independent.co.uk

      Professor Etzioni already gave the game away with his article on the use of thermobaric weapons against Beirut which should have got him indicted for incitement in contravention of the Genocide Convention

      "Assuming it is true, the American scholar argues, if Israeli soldiers were to try to take the missiles out of these homes one at a time, it “would very likely result in many Israeli casualties.”

      In order to avoid Israeli casualties, Etzioni writes: “I asked two American military officers what other options Israel has. They both pointed to Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE). These are bombs that disperse an aerosol cloud of fuel which is ignited by a detonator, producing massive explosions. The resulting rapidly expanding wave flattens all buildings within a considerable range.”

      “Such weapons obviously would be used only after the population was given a chance to evacuate the area. Still, as we saw in Gaza, there are going to be civilian casualties,” Etzioni adds. “The time to raise this issue is long before Israel may be forced to use FAEs.”

      Etzioni concludes his piece implying Israel has no other option but to bomb the city of Beirut. “In this way, one hopes, that there be a greater understanding, if not outright acceptance, of the use of these powerful weapons, given that nothing else will do,” he writes.

      Lebanese journalists and activists have expressed outrage at the article."

      link to salon.com

      If the Saudis sell their soul to the devil by coordinating an attack on Hizb Allah in Lebanon with the Israelis it must surely be kiss of death for the destitute Sisi government in Egypt and his Saudi paymasters

      As time goes on more people will come round to Osama bin Laden's view "Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula."

      link to fas.org

      His subsequent admonition to kill Americans and their allies both military and civilian will be bad news for me if I am in North Africa.

      Not a hope of either candidate for US president discouraging the attack on Lebanon. Wikileaks tells us that at one of them will be cheerleader in chief in her blind concern to protect Israel.

      Let us pray that the Russians deter them from any moves against Lebanon.

  • Lieberman: Palestinian National Poet Mahmoud Darwish's Verse is ‘Mein Kampf’
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It adds just an extra tang of enjoyment to reading Qabaani over breakfast.

      "We are accused of terrorism
      if we defended land
      and the honor of dust
      if we revolted against the rape of people
      and our rape
      if we defended the last palm trees in our desert
      the last stars in our sky
      the last syllabi of our names
      the last milk in our mothers' bossoms
      if this was our sin
      how beautiful is terrorism.

      I am with terrorism
      if it is able to save me
      from the immigrants from Russia
      Romania, Hungaria, and Poland

      They settled in Palestine
      set foot on our shoulders
      to steal the minarets of al-Quds
      and the door of Aqsa
      to steal the arabesques
      and the domes."

      link to salaheddine.tripod.com

      and the poignant

      Children Bearing Stones
      Nizar Qabbani

      With stones in their hands, they defy the world
      and come to us like good tidings.
      They burst with anger and love, and they fall
      while we remain a herd of polar bears: a body armored against weather.

      Like mussels we sit in cafes,
      one hunts for a business venture
      one for another billion and a fourth wife, breasts polished by civilization.
      One stalks London for a lofty mansion, one traffics in arms
      one seeks revenge in nightclubs
      one plots for a throne, a private army, and princedom.

      Ah, generation of betrayal, of surrogate and indecent men,
      generations of leftovers, we'll be swept away
      never mind the slow pace of history
      by the children bearing rocks.

      Anything that upsets Lieberman and Miri Regev must be good

  • Disgraced Wasserman Schultz Resigns as DNC Chair, Gets Hired by Clinton
    • Dear Professor Cole

      So "Crooked Hillary" lives up to her name

      The world watches in contempt

      An auction would have been more appropriate than an election this year.

  • Mike Pence on the “American Heartland” and the Holy Land
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Sometimes you give a platform to people whose ostensibly obscure subject matter open up enormous insights into the disasters of the future. This is one

      Clearly both parties' candidates have bought into Netanyahu's nonsense about Jerusalem. This will inevitably lead to some idiot interfering with Haram al Sharif and the beginning of World War III

      The Christian Zionists sound rather like Medieval Popes and can be expected to start preaching Crusade from the vice president's office.

      We Europeans who tried Crusades over ten times know that they don't work and are subject to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

      The resemblance between the Bush-Bliar invasion of Iraq and the Fourth Crusade is striking. Invaded the wrong place, strengthened the enemy, failed to reach Jerusalem and enriched the players.

      It might be like the part Publius Quinctilius Varus loss of his legions played in the downfall of Rome, in the decline of the US.

      One wonders what will happen in the course of the next unhappy US Crusade to somewhere near the Mediterranean. We Europeans will stay well out of it, though of course the UK poodle will sit up and beg under the terms of the "special relationship"

      It is interesting to speculate on what will happen to the Jews once Israeli culpability in arousing the US to do really stupid things becomes apparent.

      Already some of the wiser ones are pointing out that they recognise the "America First" slogan and know what happens to them next.

  • Will Brexit Help the Palestinian Cause in the EU?
    • The results of the inquiry is here link to labour.org.uk

      "The Labour Party is not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism. Further, it is
      the party that initiated every single United Kingdom race equality law. However, as with wider society,
      there is too much clear evidence (going back some years) of minority hateful or ignorant attitudes and
      behaviours festering within a sometimes bitter incivility of discourse. This has no place in a modern
      democratic socialist party that puts equality, inclusion and human rights at its heart. Moreover, I have
      heard too many Jewish voices express concern that antisemitism has not been taken seriously enough
      in the Labour Party and broader Left for some years.

      An occasionally toxic atmosphere is in danger of shutting down free speech within the Party rather
      than facilitating it, and is understandably utilised by its opponents. It is completely counterproductive
      to the Labour cause, let alone to the interests of frightened and dispossessed people, whether at
      home or abroad. Whilst the Party seeks to represent wider society, it must also lead by example,
      setting higher standards for itself than may be achievable, or even aspired to, elsewhere. It is not
      sufficient, narrowly to scrape across some thin magic line of non-antisemitic or non-racist motivation,
      speech or behaviour, if some of your fellow members, voters or potential members or voters feel
      personally vulnerable, threatened or excluded as the result of your conduct or remarks. The Labour
      Party has always been a broad coalition for the good of society. We must set the gold standard for
      disagreeing well. I set out clear guidance so as to help achieve this."

    • The results of the Chakrabarti inquiry into "Antisemitism " in the Labour Party will be published tomorrow. 30th June 2016

  • British Trumpism? Anti-Immigrant "Britain First" White Terrorist kills Member of Parliament
    • Shades of Weimar

      The man arrested over the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox is believed to have had long-term links with a hard-right group based in London which had been campaigning for many years for Britain to leave the European Union.

      Thomas Mair was named as a supporter in an online publication of the Springbok Club, an organisation which has defended the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.

      Witnesses to the fatal attack on Ms Cox say they heard Mair shout “Britain First” as the MP was shot and then stabbed. The organisation Britain First, which was founded by former members of the British National Party, has denied that Mair was associated with it and say they condemn the killing.

      The link between Mair and the Springbok Club goes back ten years when its online magazine, the Springbok Cyber Newsletter, was inquiring about the whereabouts of “Thomas Mair, from Batley in Yorkshire [who] was one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of “S.A. Patriot” who has moved from his address in the Fieldhead Estate district of the town.”

      link to independent.co.uk

  • Is Hillary Clinton responsible for rise of ISIL, as Bernie's Campaign Manager Alleged?
    • OK then Hersh, Boykin, Giraldi Too much smoke not to be fire.

      A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

      The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive. link to washingtonsblog.com

    • A most extensively reported conspiracy theory. US government has form. see Contras, Irangate.

      “The Obama administration effectively switched sides in what used to be called the Global War on Terror [GWOT] when it decided to overthrow the sovereign government of our Libyan ally, Muammar Qaddafi, who’d been helping in the fight against al-Qaeda, by actually teaming up with and facilitating gun-running to Libyan al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood [MB] elements there in 2011,” explained Lopez. “This U.S. gun-running policy in 2011 during the Libyan revolution was directed by [then] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and [the late Libya Ambassador] Christopher Stevens, who was her official envoy to the Libyan AQ rebels.” link to breitbart.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Reading the worries about the future of Lebanon, where you were resident during the last collapse this morning makes me reject the Hillary as a fit and proper person to be US President. It doesn't really matter because us Europeans don't have a vote.

      We do get to question, obstruct, oppose and reject any American foolishness she comes up with if the woman is elected.

      "In fact, ISIS is already there; it has infiltrated virtually all the cities and towns of Lebanon, as well the countryside. Whenever it feels like it, it carries out attacks against the Shia, military and other targets. Both ISIS and al-Nusra do. And the dream of ISIS is blatant: a caliphate with access to the sea, one that would cover at least the northern part of Lebanon.

      If the West and its allies do nothing to prevent these plans, it is because they simply don’t want to."

      link to rt.com

      The dead Ambassador in Banghazi was running guns to ISIS and the Fantasy Syrian Army.

      This can be traced back to Hillary's email on Wikileaks where she says "Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach. As long as Washington's political leaders stay firm that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed, as they did in both Kosovo and Libya, the costs to the United States will be limited. Victory may not come quickly or easily, but it will come. And the payoff will be substantial. Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles."

      This email reveals the woman to be a naive fantasist Agent of a Foreign Power.

      UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015

      This email should make her a pariah among European leaders.

      I am struck by how prescient Osama was when he said "Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula."

      His view is the same as that the great poet Nizar Qabbani who says in his poem "We are accused of Terrorism"

      "America is fighting the cultures of Man
      Because it lacks one
      And against the civilizations because it needs one
      It is a gigantic structure but without a wall

      We are accused of terrorism
      If we refuse current times
      Where America the arrogant the mighty the rich
      Became a sworn interpreter of Hebrew."

      Why do I care? Because of the irony that I might get shot by some idiot who thinks that all overweight white men are Americans, as a result of the woman's next screwup.

  • What's at Stake for Israel in al-Sharif Killing: Japanese Officers were Executed for Killing POWs
    • Mondoweiss published the killers name and photograph on March 25th

      Top Israeli officials who issued directive to execute Palestinians hang Hebron killer out to dry -

      Elor Azraya, the soldier who summarily executed Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif as he lay on the street immobile and unarmed yesterday, is suspected of murder.

      In his defense, his lawyer Eyal Beserglick said Azraya “acted in accordance with the rules of engagement as suggested by his superiors.”

      - See more at: link to mondoweiss.net

  • Panama Papers Expose Massive Global Corruption Scandal (TYT)
    • Panama Papers: Hundreds of Israeli Companies, Shareholders Listed in Leaked Documents Detailing Offshore Holdings
      Leaked documents of Panamanian law firm reveal shell companies linked to prominent Israeli lawyers and business persons.
      read more: link to haaretz.com

    • noticeable by its absence from the list of countries involved

      should come close to Iraq and India in the list

      link to projects.icij.org

      Stranger and stranger

  • GOP Candidates up ante, Promise 4 Major Ground Wars, murder of Innocents, Large Genitalia
  • Civility? Professor Proposes Israel "flatten" a City of 1 million
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Surely the esteemed University Professor's article contravenes the Genocide convention? see article 3c Incitement

      Definition of genocide[edit]
      Article 2 of the convention defines genocide as

      ...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

      (a) Killing members of the group;
      (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
      (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
      (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
      (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
      — Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2[2]
      Article 3 defines the crimes that can be punished under the convention:

      (a) Genocide;
      (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
      (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
      (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
      (e) Complicity in genocide.
      — Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 3[2]

      Is the agenda behind the piece to undermine the convention? link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Syria: Instead of a Cease-Fire, have Great Powers unleashed new Proxy Wars?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      what next?

      It seems the Saudi generals agree with me about "Northern Blunder". How interesting that they should write to the Interior Minister and not the Minister for Defence.

      "Senior Saudi commanders in a letter to the crown prince and interior minister, Mohammed bin Nayef, underlined their opposition to the dispatch of ground troops to Syria, warning of its dire consequences.

      Ten Saudi Generals have signed the letter which foresees definite defeat and failure for Riyadh if the Arab monarchy sends forces to Syria following its failure in the nearly-one-year-long war on Yemen, the NTHNEWS news website reported on Thursday.

      According to the report, the text of the letter has been released in different Yemeni media and gone viral on the social media."

      link to en.farsnews.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      This piece has been overtaken by events.

      Saudi Arabia and Turkey appeared Monday to be rolling back rhetoric on sending troops to Syria, as officials said they’d wait to see if a planned cease-fire transpires and for a sign-off from the US-led coalition

      link to independent.co.uk

      The Turks pulled people out of Idlib to attack towards Aleppo. Attack collapsed. Kurds and SAA now attacking towards Idlib and will trap rebels in the Idlib Latakia area.

      We are having much amusement at the press release on the Saudi Northern Storm.

      The Saudis have roughly 1300 tanks 2/3 of them over 30 years old so we don't know where the other 18,000 came from, Kuwait seems to be sending 50 and a battalion of Artillery which may be a bit rash given where Kuwait is

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      The Egyptian Foreign Minister is denying that they want to get involved in military operations in Yemen or Syria despite having sent troops to the exercise.

      With 20 different nationalities not all whom speak Arabic involved it could end up like herding cats. It might get named "Northern Blunder"

      "More than 2,500 warplanes, 20,000 tanks and 450 helicopters will be part of the exercise. Riyadh has billed the manoeuvre as "the largest and most important" drill ever staged in the region.
      Up to 350,000 troops from various Gulf nations, and other allies such as Pakistan, Jordan, Chad and Sudan will take part in the drill, the Saudi Press Agency said. The exercises would involve ground, naval and air forces personnel.

      Those of us who did the Reforger exercises in Germany know just how much staff work is required to make a force this size work. You can't do Mongolian Horde management (get on the ponies and head West) with as complex a logistics problem as this.

      Dutch aircraft are bombing Raqqa on Tuesday. US bombed Mosul Tuesday and leafleted Deir ez Zor warning of imminent airstrikes.

      Now that the Aleppo front is stabilised the battle shifts to ISIS.

  • UK Government to Ban Universities, Public Bodies from BDS of Israel
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Support of the Palestinians has also been criminalized in UK under the Prevent program

      Rahmaan Mohammadi's teachers at Challney High School for Boys in Luton referred him to police under Prevent - the controversial government anti-radicalisation programme, which critics have claimed is heavy-handed, discriminatory and ineffective.

      As well as wearing pro-Palestine badges and wristbands, Mohammadi was in possession of a leaflet advocating Palestinian rights by pressure group Friends of al-Aqsa. He had also asked for permission to fundraise for children affected by the Israeli occupation.

      link to independent.co.uk

      To add insult to injury the British Government so called Minister Hancock will announce the measure while kneeling at the foot of the throne in Jerusalem and pledging unending fealty.

      <i?Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, will provide details of the new regulations during a visit to Israel this week, IBT said. The new legislation – preventing universities, student unions, national hospital trusts and others from boycotting products from Israel – should make it easier for the government to challenge organizations that boycott Israel.

      link to unitedwithisrael.org

  • Will Obama Sign Israel Trade Bill regularizing Colonies in Palestine, Discouraging BDS?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Sadly BDS is to be criminalsied in UK though this measure probably contravenes European Law

      "Under the new rules all contracting authorities including local councils, quangos and universities which receive the majority of their funding from the Government will lose the freedom to take ethical decisions about whom they purchase goods and services from. The only exemption will be UK-wide sanctions decided by the Government in Westminster. Government sources said the ban could also apply to student union boycotts but added this was a “grey area”.

      A spokeswoman for the National Union of Students said they were “concerned by any external pressure that could prevent student unions taking decisions on any issue that affects the students they represent.”

      Mr Hancock said the current position where local authorities had autonomy to make ethical purchasing decisions was “undermining” Britain’s national security."

      Oh really Mr Hancock?

      link to independent.co.uk

      I do not feel comfortable acquiescing in this travesty or in colluding with these killers of schoolchildren.

      I do not feel comfortable thinking of the 1930s slogan "Kauf nicht bei Juden"

      See you in the reeducation camp!

  • Erdogan Threatened Europe with Refugees, now Demanding US abandon Syrian Kurds
    • Dear Professor Cole

      You are a master of understatement

      "If this report is correct, Erdogan has become slightly unbalanced."

      Turkish forces are now reported bombing and shelling Kurdish held areas north of Aleppo. (15:00Z 13 Feb 2016)

      Only a matter of time before the Russian Air Force and the SAM show up. Then WWIII

  • 5 Worst Foreign Policy Moments of GOP New Hampshire Debate
    • Do Americans know just how stupid this parade of know nothing windbag mouthpieces for their finance houses make them look?

      We watch them on TV and think of insurrection

      Yankee Go Home!

  • Saudi Arabia 'Ready' to send Thousands of Ground Troops to Syria
    • Dear Professor Cole

      We also read that Turkey is considering Invading Syria or is making moves that look like it is.

      The current activity at the Turkish-Syrian border suggest that Turkey prepares to invade Syria, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.
      He also said that earlier the Russian Defense Ministry provided the international community with irrefutable video evidence of Turkish self-propelled artillery units shelling Syrian settlements in the northern part of Latakia province.

      Read more: link to sputniknews.com

      Saudi troops in action in Iraq would frighten the life out of the government of Iraq not to mention the problem of Saudi and Iranian troops engaging with each other

      You do have to question the war aims of the Saudis with their support of the rebels against government of Syria

      I wonder if control of the Euphrates and the food growing areas that lie alongside the river are one of their war aims. Water and food are items of concern for the Saudis, where both are in short supply.

      If Saudi troops take part in the recapture of Mosul then there are Saudis on the Tigris.

      With the Ukrainians offering to send troops to Syria as a result of Ash Carter;s visit it becomes increasingly difficult to identify who is in fact the enemy.

      If the Russians are bombing anyone in arms against Government of Syria there will be hell to pay if they bomb a Saudi Special Forces Unit.

  • Foreign Policy Winners and Losers in Iowa
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The most disturbing part of Hillary's appearances were the inclusion of Chelsea in the hangers on on stage.

      It looks like she is being groomed for succession.

      Last time I looked the US presidency isn't hereditary.

      Otherwise obe of the Bush girls would be running.

  • The "Democracy" of Billionaires & the Most Expensive Election ever Bought (Except for Bernie Sanders)
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Notable names that do not appear in the list of runners and riders are Adelson, Murdoch, and Koch

      The absence of Russian and Chinese Oligarchs is noticeable too. In UK they own newspapers and football clubs.

      However Goldman Sachs makes multiple cameo roles as the bank that rules the world. Al Jazeera documents the extent of penetration of European Government and Finance by their alumni. link to aljazeera.com

  • That Swedish black-clad anti-refugee Mob beating Children? Neo-Nazis.
    • Sear Professor Cole

      We have them in UK to. The Prime Minister didn't help when he said that England is a Christian country.

      The deputy leader of far-Right group Britain First has led a 'Christian patrol' through the streets of Luton, insulting the Muslims who live there.
      Brandishing large white crosses, the group - led by Jayda Fransen - is seen on video marching through the Bedfordshire town.

      She rounds upon a Muslim woman, who is out with her two young children, telling the shocked mother that the reason she has to cover herself from head to toe is because 'Muslim men cannot control their urges'.
      Ms Fransen also tells a local shopkeeper Mohammed is a 'false prophet' in the video, which has been viewed almost two million times on YouTube.

      Read more: link to dailymail.co.uk
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • Will Iowa's Women Dems choose Hillary or Bernie?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Here is the White House vote

      Hillary Clinton's unsecured home server contained more than a dozen emails deemed "top secret"- one of the highest levels of classification in the US government, the White House has said.
      State Department spokesman John Kirby said the emails were not marked classified at the time they were sent.
      Mrs Clinton's use of a personal email as secretary of state has become an issue in her presidential campaign.
      This is the first time her emails have been labelled classified at any level.
      Messages were marked "top secret" because they would cause "exceptionally grave" damage to national security if disclosed, the State Department said.

      link to bbc.co.uk

      David Petraeus was binned for lesser offences.

  • GOP Billionaires Complain Super-Pacs aren't Buying Election Effectively
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Is Trump the only one that hasn't been bought?

      "What does Saban want for all that money? “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel,” he said.

      In order to pursue this objective, Saban has been pouring money into Hillary Clinton's super PAC, $2 million by one estimate. This week, Hillary returned the favor. She wrote a long letter to Saban praising Israel and pledging to fight the Palestinian-led boycott movement, which seeks to use economic pressures to end the occupation of their territories.

      Saban was so proud of the letter he took the rare step of publishing it in full through a public relations firm, broadcasting it to the world."

      link to alternet.org

  • How the fate of Syria's al-Assad divides the GOP Field: Cruz, Trump, Rubio
    • Oh great God. Imagine Trump with nuclear weapons. Biden is trying to scare us all to death. Vice President Joe Biden is hoping Donald Trump does not become the next president, but he acknowledged it's a possibility.

      "Yes, I think it's possible,'' Biden told Savannah Guthrie during TODAY's live broadcast from the White House on Tuesday when asked whether he could imagine Trump taking the Oval Office.

      "I hope that if that were to occur — I hope it doesn't because I have fundamentally different views than he does — I'd hope that he gets a lot more serious about the issues, a lot more serious about gaining knowledge about this this nation functions and foreign policy and domestic policy, but look, that's a long way off." link to today.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      The Republican Party looks to be as divided as the UK political parties link to theguardian.com

      However this news this morning where Trump casts doubt on the eligibility of the Canadian born Cruz is worrying. link to reuters.com and an eminent law professors opinion link to theguardian.com

      If Cruz is eliminated then the choice will fall (when someone shoots Trump as is traditional in US elections) to the wholly owned Rubio. (The Manchurian Candidate )

      However the farce in the Republican party will allow the dismal Clinton woman and her anachronistic policies to be president.

      Either way it will be a problem for us in the Rest of the World just as the return of fascism to Hungary, Germany and Poland is link to independent.co.uk

  • Why have we normalized Islamophobia?
    • Sear Professor Cole

      We shall see if the Home Secretary has any backbone or whether she caves in to this blackmail from Trump.


      MPs are due to address calls for the travel sanctions in the House of Commons on 18 January after more than half a million people signed a petition triggering the debate.

      The US Republican presidential candidate, who became the focus of the petition after his call for Muslims to be banned from entering the US, reacted on Wednesday by saying his organisation had plans to invest more than £200m in the development of his resort in South Ayrshire and invest £500m in a golf course in Aberdeen.

      “Any action to restrict travel would force the Trump Organisation to immediately end these and all future investments we are currently contemplating in the United Kingdom,” his company said in a statement.

      MPs to debate banning Donald Trump from UK in wake of petition
      Read more
      “Westminster would create a dangerous precedent and send a terrible message to the world that the United Kingdom opposes free speech and has no interest in attracting inward investment.”

      It added that many millions of US citizens who it said “wholeheartedly support Mr Trump” would also be alienated.

      If she gives in it only confirms UK status as a banana republic for sale to the highest bidder.

  • Top 7 Middle East Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The region is otherwise relatively low in resources (though apparently its phosphate could become more valuable over time

      Phosphorous is a mineral essential as a fertiliser in the food chain. It runs off the land into the sea and is recovered through fish, and seabirds as Guano.

      It is a limited resource in concentrated form and if it runs out humanity has a problem. In 2007, at the current rate of consumption, the supply of phosphorus was estimated to run out in 345 years.[4] However, some scientists believed that a "peak phosphorus" will occur in 30 years and Dana Cordell from Institute for Sustainable Futures said that at "current rates, reserves will be depleted in the next 50 to 100 years. link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Top 5 Things for which We should be grateful to Arabic Writing
    • Dear Professor Cole

      This xenophobia is worrying. It betrays a stunted or truncated educational system that starts to resemble the excesses of the Catholic Church When I was going to school the "Index librorum prohibitorum" was still extant link to legacy.fordham.edu

      When you find Erasmus on the list along with the great Philosophers Kant, Locke, Hume, and Sartre you realise how dangerous this principle was and still is today.

      "In 1966 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (AKA Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition) ceased publication of the INDEX but claimed that it still served as a "moral guide in so far as it reminds the conscience of the faithful they must avoid writings which can be dangerous to faith & morals." Today the Church may issue an "admonitum," a warning to the faithful, that a book might be dangerous. It is only a moral guide, however, without the force of ecclesiastical law."

      What I think I am seeing is a Grassroots Inquisition in US and UK. The Prime Minister has previously been accused of stoking "alienation and division" by doing referring to the country as "Christian"

      "The guidelines confirm that non-faith schools have to reflect the fact that British religious traditions "are, in the main, Christian", while taking account of the teaching and practices of other prominent religions."

      link to express.co.uk

      Given that Islam is the second largest religion in UK this declaration of an orthodoxy must be worrying and offensive.

      It must be even more worrying in an America where one third of the population would vote for Donald Trump and Zionist Billionaires are buying up the newsmedia.

      If the 2016 presidential election was held today, 37% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for Clinton, while 36% would vote for Trump. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that a sizable 22% would choose some other candidate, while five percent (5%) are undecided.

      link to rasmussenreports.com

      See you in the reeducation camp

  • Christmas and Christians in the Middle East
    • Dear Professor Cole

      This arrant nonsense from Netanyahu has completletly ruined the day and reduced me to rage

      "I wish Christians in Israel and all over the world a very merry Christmas.

      Christmas is a special opportunity to spend time with loved ones and to celebrate this most festive of holidays. And as you gather with your families and your friends to celebrate this Christmas and as you enjoy the blessings of the New Year, I am sure you will remember those who are less fortunate because Christian communities across the Middle East are experiencing a particularly difficult time. They experience violence, persecution and fear. This has become the daily staple of Christian communities throughout the Middle East. Not so in here in Israel, the one exception. Because here in Israel, religious freedom is a sacred principle. Israel's Christian citizens enjoy the full blessings of freedom and democracy, their equal rights enshrined in Israeli law. (unless of course they are Palestinian)

      So on this most important day in the Christian calendar, let us remember the common heritage and values that unite us (theft lying, murder, opression) in the face of extremism and hatred, which we will never accept.

      From Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, (recognised by nobody) the city of peace, I join Christians everywhere, and especially those in the Middle East, in a common prayer for a more peaceful and tolerant world.

      Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!"

    • Dear Professor Cole

      The Archbishop of Canterbury disagrees link to theguardian.com

      I find Mirvis the Chief Rabbi adopting the Christians as a species offensive and opportunist. Mirvis doesn't have the PR gift his predecessor Sachs who persuaded had so it seems hypocritical in the face of the Israeli attacks on Al Aqsa.

      This in contrast represents the public racist supremacist face of the Israelis particularly as they are stealing Christian and Church lands in Palestine. link to aljazeera.com

      Cardinal Nichols echoes Welby "He also warned there was a risk of the government "unintentionally bypassing" Christian refugees trying to enter the UK when asked if he thought they should be given preferential treatment over Muslims.

      His comments come as Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, said Christians "represent the most persecuted people on earth in the 21st century". In a letter published in The Times, he wrote: "We are not talking here of a bit of ridicule or silly marginalisation.

      "We are talking about men, women and children being singled out because of their Christian faith or identity and put to an unimaginably cruel death. Or being driven out of home, away from livelihood, deprived of identity and dignity. Or, for women and girls, being forced into sexual slavery and subjected to rape-at-will."

      Bishop Baines went on to accuse the "largely religiously illiterate western intelligentsia" of an "embarrassed silence" on the issue." link to ibtimes.co.uk

      I find your rational survey of the state of the Christians more believable

      Somehow the word Palestinian doesn't occur in the pieces and it jars when there is discussion of the most presecuted people on earth.

  • Could an end to Syria's civil war be in sight?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The Saudi Boy Prince's Islamic Alliance will throw a spanner in the works

      I suspect that their war aim is the establishment of a Saudi Turkish Empire on the Tigris Euphrates.

      Michael Clarke who knows what he is talking about is pretty much on the ball (Sir Michael Clarke is the former Director of the Royal United Services Institute)

      "For Western powers, the Saudi initiative promises to help achieve our main and only military objective – the defeat of Isil. But for the Saudis themselves, defeating Isil is only the first step in wresting back control over the Sunni communities of the Levant and Arabia. They could be at the beginning of a long war. How far will we go along with them?
      There are disturbing historic echoes in the two great struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims – in the Seventh and 16th centuries. In a region where grudges, animosities and spilt blood are particularly long-remembered, the repercussions are still felt today."

      link to telegraph.co.uk

  • Putin: Turkey supports Radicalism & We may have to Respond, hence Tourism Ban
    • Of course

      "While the graphic shows the crude going directly from Ceyhan to Ashdod, it's worth asking whether ISIS crude is also "laundered" (as it were) through the same Malta connection utilized by those smuggling "illegal" Kurdish crude (which also ends up in Israel). We ask that because as it turns out, Bilal Erdogan owns a Maltese shipping company. "The BMZ Group, a company owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son Bilal alongside other family members, has purchased two tankers in the last two months at a total cost of $36 million," Today's Zaman reported in September. "The tankers, which will be registered to the Oil Transportation & Shipping company in October -- an affiliate of the BMZ Group set up in Malta -- were previously rented to the Palmali Denizcilik company for 10 years."

      This gives chapter and verse link to zerohedge.com

  • A New Yalta? Can France Craft an alliance of Putin & Obama against Daesh/ISIL?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      One of the Dragons Teeth outcomes of the beginning of the Thirty Years war in Europe was the spreading of the insurgent message after the battle of the White Mountain when the defeated Protestant followers of Frederick the Winter King of Bohemia fled north to bang on the Doors of the Kings of Denmark and Sweden asking for help.

      Yeltsins devastation of Grosny has generated a peripatetic cadre of hardened islamic fighters .

      How do we avoid generating even more of these guys in the military destruction of ISIS by Russia and France?

      Ideas are damn hard to kill.

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Ukraine in NATO is a total NoNo for the russians. The creeping encroachment by the neocon plans of the last 20 years leaves president Putin in the role of Michael Romanov at the end of the Time of Troubles. NATO is an obsolete organsiation as is its concept of "US supplies the troops and Europe supplies the battlefield"

      It is down to the Syrians to choose their next President not anyone else. The big danger in Syria is that the Alawites will get massacred in any unstable solution. The war in Syria is a result of Western, Israeli, Turksish and Gulf state meddling.

      The objectives were twofold:
      1 to cut the supply lines through Syria from iran to HizbAllah
      2 to open a gas pipeline through Syria to export gas from Qatar to Europe thus breaking Russia's stranglehold on European Energy.

      I did think to myself as I listened to the UK Foreign Secretary saying "Assad has to go", "Who is this colonialist imperialist gobshite?"

      The project of American Empire is alive and well. I suspect Osama got it right in 1998 with his assessment of the situation..

  • Swedish FM worries about Muslim & Palestinian Youth Despair, draws Israeli Rebuke
    • Dear Professor Cole

      it is refreshing to see someone realise at last that you can't just solve the iraqi and Syrian wars without solving the criminal situation in Palestine.

      I feel uncomfortable that we are acquiescing those crimes by allowing reporting of Gaza and the land theft and ethnic cleansing in Palestine to be silenced by our tame press.

  • Paris at Midnight: Attempt to push France out of anti ISIL coalition in Syria?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Ooops I was thinking of the size of a Marine Expeditionary Force. III MEF is 27,000 men link to iiimef.marines.mil

      Rupert Smith in his excellent book "The Utility of Force" tells us that the first thing you do when the politicians want to do something military is to identify how big the operation is. Is it a Brigade, Division or Corps operation?

      Once you know that you can start planning.

      Sending a small force into Syria against ISIS 30,000 men might just get bogged down and surrounded and would have difficulty in covering the geographic area with consequent Logistic Difficulties

      An airborne operation to seize Raqqa in a coup de main by a division might be doable. Hold until relieved by Syrian Army forces. Having air superiority means the assault will succeed.

      USAF and RUAF have Antonov and Gallaxy aircraft capable of lifting tanks that outgun ISIS tanks. Ilushin, Airbus and Boeing models can operate from improvised airfields

      These aircraft are capable of supplying a division in the field.

      A second operation to relieve the Garrison of Deir ez Zoar will trap ISIS between Syrian Army and Iraqi Army.

      The Saudis will go apeshit. Oh Good!

    • Paris press commentary

      link to twitter.com

      "This time it is War!"

    • Dear Professor Cole

      A French Division in Syria? How on earth do they get out again?

      The really big danger in France is that savage police and military reaction in the banlieu kicks off open rebellion.

      Marine le Pen will have gained many followers overnight.

  • In Palestine's Hebron district Israeli Occupation troops impose 'draconian' measures
  • Palestinians in own city of Hebron live in Fear of Israel Squatters, Soldiers
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Is there any alternative to driving the colonialist squatters out at bayonet point?

  • Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      "But in my view it is both dangerous and shameful for the US to ally with groups that are in turn linked to al-Qaeda or have al-Zawahiri in their reporting line."

      The Israelis however have no such scruples and are lending aid and comfort to the enemy

  • Why Obama and Putin are Both Wrong on Syria
    • Dear Professor Cole

      The Syrian war is originally a vehicle of the US, Israelis and Saudis to cut the supply lines to Hizb Allah through Syria.

      The Israelis want to remove a heavily armed enemy defending Southern Lebanon from their imperialist depradations.

      The Saudis want to reinstall a puppet government to allow their reinstatement of their playground and investment vehicle and money laundering centre.

      The Americans do whatever the Israelis tell themto do.

      If Putin lands the couple of Infantry divisions required to eliminate ISIS and does so then the political part follows.

      The israelis have issued licences for oil and gas exploration on Syrian territory and are supporting Al Qaeda militarily and medically on the sothern front so the endgame contains a danger that Russian forces will fire on Israeli forces or alternatively that they will tangle with the NATO member Turkey and its forces triggering Article 5.

      Still, On balance Russian forces clearing out ISIS and the failed Western Backed Fantasy Syrian Army (FSA) will be a good thing.

      A Russian Air Defence Umbrella will stop the Israeli overflights of Lebanon attacs on Gaza and attacks on Hizballah weapons supplies in Syria which can only be a blessing

  • President of Israel declares Israeli Squatting in Palestinian West Bank a "Right", key to Zionism
    • Dear Professor Cole

      At least that will make the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions effort simple to operate. Everything Israeli can be labelled,and can rot on the shelves.

  • Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Man Allegedly Stabs 6 At Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade
    • Dear Professor Cole

      It is instructive to see that one form of Jewish Extremism is reported worldwide but that the death of an infant in a Jewish Extremist Terror attack is only reported on Jazeera and RT

      "The toddler died in a house fire which broke out in a village of Kafr Duma near the West Bank city of Nablus, Reuters reports.

      The infamous “Price Tag” slogan, typically used by radical Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians houses, as well as other sites like Christian churches, mosques and government buildings, was daubed on the walls of the home, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri cited by Reuters."
      link to rt.com

  • Obama in Kenya: Why the Horn of Africa Matters to Geopolitics
    • Dear Professor Cole

      " The al-Shabab attacks led CNN unfairly to call Kenya a “hotbed of terrorism.” (This is not true and it is perfectly safe to visit)."

      Foreign and Commonwealth Office is wary

      The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to

      areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border

      Garissa County

      the Eastleigh area of Nairobi

      Lamu County and those areas of Tana River County north of the Tana river itself

      within 15km of the coast from the Tana River down to, but not including, Watamu

      The area to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel does not include Kenya’s safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies; including the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills, Tsavo, nor does it include the beach resorts of Mombasa, Kilifi, Watamu and Diani.

      There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The main threat comes from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.

      link to gov.uk

      Detailed Daily incident reports support FCO's asessment.

  • Iran Deal: Why doesn't US Media interview Real Allies on American Policy?
  • 2 Years after Coup, will Assassination of Egypt's Att'y General be Pretext for More Repression?
    • Al Jazeera reports Muslim Brotherhood calling for Open Rebellion as a result of Egyptian Police slaughtering 13 unarmed prisoners

  • Syria: Al-Qaeda takes Jisr al-Shughur, threatening Key Port
    • Dear Professor Cole

      I am concerned at the amount of armour I am seeing among the attacking forces. I suspect that there is a two pronged attack with one prong coming south and west from Turkey to threaten Latakia and Tartus and draw forces away from Damascus and a second attack from Jordan coming to Damascus.

      A siege of Latakia will be very messy. 300,000 people and a Russian base. It can be supplied by sea but we may need to take women and children off and transport them to perhaps the UK sovereign bases on Cyrprus.

      An alternative would be for the UK Tornados on Cyprus to fly close support for the defenders of Latakia. However we suspect UK government is with Al Aqaeda and the attackers

  • Obama "I've aged so much Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak at my Funeral"
    • The most telling comment was The Koch brothers spending a $billion on the candidate

  • Mideast Apocalypse 2030: Why Obama wants the Palestine Issue Solved. Now.
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Your most excellent piece does not mention the Lebanese front or the Gaza front.

      This from Al Manar indicates that they are preparing to repel another Israeli assault. link to almanar.com.lb

      One does wonder what would happen to the Sabra who decide to flee, as they have no second passports. Germany in contrast to UK has been rather good at accepting Syrian Refugees, but PEGIDA objects.

  • Could a Netanyahu loss in Israeli Elections change Everything?
    • Dear Professor Cole

      A good place for Livni to start might be in evicting the few hundred squatters from Hebron (Al Khalil) and restoring the vitality of this Palestinian town.

  • Israel denies Gaza govt floodwater allegations
    • Now they use Gaza as a sewer. Here are pictures of untreated Israeli sewage being discharged into Gaza waters.

      link to facebook.com

      Are they trying to make the place uninhabitable so people leave and save them the trouble of carrying out ethnic cleansing at bayonet point.

  • Article withdrawn
    • The hasbara hit back link to honestreporting.com

      The recent stormy weather in Israel and the vicinity has seen widespread flooding in Gaza. For the Palestinians and their media supporters, however, it isn’t enough to blame heavy rain. There has to be some way to blame Israel.

      Xavier Ghazi · Top Commenter
      Nothing is exposed and no lies busted, you're just trying way too hard..Here:
      “The [Israeli] army opened the floodgates of a canal leading to central Gaza, which resulted in the removal of sand mounds along the border with Israel,” the CDD announced, according to Palestinian News Agency WAFA.
      “Opening the levees to the canal has led to the flooding of several Palestinian homes, and we had to quickly evacuate the afflicted citizens.”
      link to rt.com

  • Putin on the Nile: an Isolated Russia Seeks friends in Egypt w/ offer of Nuclear Plant
    • Dear professor Cole

      So it needs to come with a bloody good Air Defence system to avoid the chappies next door bombing it. The siting of the nuclear station then becomes subject to the need for good fields of fire for the SAM.

  • French Far Right Poised to Exploit Paris Attacks for Political Gain
    • This is causing some excitement on Twitter.

      Shadi Hamid
      ‏@shadihamid
      This Rupert Murdoch tweet is one of the most remarkable things I've seen from a public figure on #Paris attacks.

      Rupert Murdoch ‏@rupertmurdoch 4h4 hours ago
      Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.

  • How a Republican Congress could Entangle the US further in the Middle East
    • This about sums it up. Ravid reports for Haaretz

      Barak Ravid @BarakRavid 2h2 hours ago
      Pretty good morning for Bibi Netanyahu, Ron Dermer (@AmbDermer) and Sheldon Adelson

      I suppose it is time to pick your children for sacrifice in the next great conflagration.

  • Jerusalem tensions over al-Aqsa Mosque turn bloody as Far Right-winger is Shot
    • A Cassandra posts a warning and a choice.

      "Jerusalem is burning and you are not taking any significant steps to stop the blaze. You are only adding fuel to the fire.”

      So said opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening session of the Knesset this week.

      Netanyahu has two more pyromaniacs at his side adding fuel to the fire: the Israeli Police and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

      Netanyahu continues to approve more Jewish housing starts in east Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. The Israeli Police is using excessive force in suppressing the rioting in east Jerusalem, and Barkat has announced a campaign of collective punishment.

      The police are firing tear gas and sponge bullets in a seemingly random manner – most of the houses in Isawiya are said to have broken windows. East Jerusalem residents claim the infamous “skunk truck” which spews a vile-smelling liquid has been used not just to disperse rioters but to punish residents.

      They claim police have used clubs to smash car windows. Isawiya’s mukhtar, Darwish Darwish, said, “This makes no sense. They’re just heating things up instead of calming things down.”

      Meanwhile, Mayor Barkat has told municipal department heads to punish east Jerusalem residents for any violations of the municipal code – everything from traffic offenses to unlicensed businesses, house demolitions and animal confiscations.

      link to jpost.com

    • Dear Professor Cole

      Netanyahu continues to blame the victims. Nobody has told Chickenshit that he is playing with fire.

      Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a harsh response to the closure of the Al Aqsa Mosque Thursday morning. "Harming the places sacred to Muslims and Christians is a red line," he said, adding that he would "not permit this line to be crossed."

      Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the Israeli government bears responsibility for the escalation in Jerusalem. "The state of Palestine," he said, will use all measures available to it in international law to bring Israel to account and to halt the aggression.

      Abu Rudeineh also appealed to the international community to take steps to stop what he called "Israeli aggression," saying its continuation amounts to a "declaration of war" on the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nation.

      Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a harsh response to the closure of the Al Aqsa Mosque Thursday morning. "Harming the places sacred to Muslims and Christians is a red line," he said, adding that he would "not permit this line to be crossed."

      link to haaretz.com

  • 5 Things to Know Today about the Fight Against ISIL
    • Dear Professor Cole

      Correction

      On the Syrian side of the border, the Bashar al-Assad regime

      On the Syrian side of the border, the Governement of Syria or The Syrian Arab Army

      ISIS are the result of a mistaken and mismanaged Saudi/ US attempt to overthrow the Government of Syria.

  • 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."

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