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Total number of comments: 21 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:50)

Secretarybird

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  • Ashton Kutcher ad in Indian 'Brownface' Pulled for Racism
    • I am reminded of the actor Sayeed Jaffrey's comment (on BBC radio some years ago) on Peter Sellers' portrayal of an Indian doctor in the film "The Millionairess". "Such a shame he played a character with a north Indian name with a south Indian accent." One of the great put-downs.

  • Western Intelligence Analysts Worry that Iran Sanctions are Hurting West: IRGC
    • My worry is that those who are currently trying to avert war by asking that sanctions be given time to work have painted themselves into a corner. Their policy is already backfiring, so what will they do once the war party starts saying, "We told you so."?

  • Afghanistan Massacre: Unstable Soldiers, Untreated Brain Injuries, PTSD
  • Syria Veto and the Revenge of the BRICS
    • I can't help feeling that there is also an element of blowback for the US in ths veto - all those resolutions critical of Israel that the US has vetoed.

  • God's Way of Teaching Americans Geography
    • European smartass replies - Do you mean the Mediterranean island or the village in Carinthia, Austria?

  • Iran Displays Drone, Complains to UN
    • I think the drone simply defected to the other side. Promised a clean hangar, a bevy of female drones, and an unlimited supply of jet fuel, it just did what many another red-blooded piece of smart technology would have done.

  • Empire by the Numbers
  • Herman Cain Painfully Clueless on Libya
    • "It turns out that if you are ignorant on a wide range of important subjects, you can’t actually tell when you’re being given bad advice or who the better experts are."

      This dovetails frighteningly with Daniel Kahneman's notion of "the illusion of skill". For example, fund managers over time achieve results no better than random, yet they present themselves as (and are all too often believed to be) highly skilled.

  • Is an Iranian Drug Cartel Behind the Assassination Plot against the Saudi Ambassador?
    • As our lawyer friends say in these situations - "Cui bono?" - "Who benefits from this?"

      What advantage would accrue to the Iranian government from killing the Saudi Ambassador to the USA?

      I'm not convinced by the supposed drugs connection, other than the possibility that Gholam Shakuri had second career as a dealer.

      An FBI screw-up seems by far the most likely explanation (and avoids having to posit a conspiracy theory to explain anything).

      My second theory - and I realise it does bring in the conspiracy angle - is that Mossad had a hand in it. Recently they have had a track record of incompetence second to none (apart possibly from the CIA). And, to return to the concept of "cui bono", extreme right-wing Israeli hawks would like nothing better than to mount an attack on Iran, especially if it were to finesse the USA into joining in the enterprise.

  • Is Murdoch's Media Empire a Cult?
    • As a Brit, I rejoice in Murdoch's collapse here. He was a bully and a blackmailer - his activities here have been likened both to the Mafia and the Stasi, not without reason. He operated a state within the state, and most politicians cringed before his power. I don't blame many of them - the revenge that he, and the harpie Rebecca Brooks, with whom he seems besotted, could take was as vicious as anything Al Capone could dream up (see the appalling treatment meted out to politicians like Gordon Brown and Tom Watson, who dared to cross him).

      What has just happened in the UK has been building up for years, and there was a real "tipping point" last week. When I read, on the Guardian's website minutes after that paper broke the story, that the News of the World had hacked the voicemail of murder victim Milly Dowler, I knew this would be the biggest scandal in the UK for decades. The Guardian timed its punch exquisitely - Milly was murdered in 2002 but her murderer was only convicted a few weeks ago, so her tragic story was front-page news just as the Guardian revealed what Murdoch's subordinates had done to get a scoop.

      I think it's only a matter of time before proof emerges that Murdoch's gutter-journalists hacked (or attempted to hack) the phones of 9/11 victims. That will finish Murdoch for good.

  • Egypt forbids Protests a Day after it was Shaken by Thousands of Demonstrators, 3 Killed
    • I've read several accounts lately about how Wall Street operators have taken to betting on basic commodity prices - nothing new in that, but it's the scale that's different now. If they drive up the price of basic foodstuffs to make short-term profits, the unintended consequences of their actions are likely to include the toppling of regimes "friendly" to the USA.

  • Beck: You're Going to Have to Shoot them in The Head
    • For what it's worth, there was in interesting snippet in the British press a week or so ago. Newspaperman and former Murdoch henchman, Andrew O'Neill, claimed that even Murdoch himself reckons that Fox is "out of control". Murdoch's flagship rags in the UK are in trouble - The Sun has lost half its sales over the last few years; and The News of the World is in deep doo-doo, with mounting evidence of widespread hacking of the phones of prominent people, which is likely to cost many millions in damages, and possible jail terms for news executives (a private investigator and a reporter have already been jailed).

  • Israeli Mayor Forbids Christmas Trees in part of Nazareth; Christian Tourism Boom Fuels Hopes for Palestinian State
    • Why should a single error of fact - if it is indeed an error (for you have asserted that Juan is wrong without offering any evidence) - disqualify anyone from commenting on an issue?

      I might assert that the President of the United States is elected by a majority of the popular vote, if (as a non-US citizen) I didn't know about the Electoral College. Would that disqualify me from commenting on the USA?

  • Senate Repeal of DADT in Global Context
    • Juan's last paragraph clarifies something that had me baffled. The extreme right-wing English Defence League had invited Koran-burning "Pastor" Terry Jones to their proposed rally in Luton (an English town with a large Asian population). After this caused entirely predictable uproar, and a threat from the British Government to ban him from entering the country, the EDL dis-invited him on the grounds that he's homophobic.

  • Republican Iott a Reenactor of SS Panzer Div. Wiking
    • "I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things. I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them."

      Germany is the largest country in Europe (excepting Russia, which spans both Europe and Asia). Germany hasn't won a war since 1870. Yes, it did take the combined effort of the free world (and Soviet Russia) nearly six years to beat the Third Reich; but they did not accomplish incredible things. Initial success against ill-prepared enemies was followed by inevitable defeat.

  • Obama hands Iraq to Iraqis, Sort of;
    al-Maliki Declares Independence
    • Didn't the Americans foist upon the Iraqis a constitution which requires a supermajority to get some things passed? If so, Iraq's is not the sort of hung Parliament now enjoyed by the Brits and the Aussies, but the sort of constitutional gridlock the Yanks are stuck in right now.

  • The Speech President Obama Should Give about the Iraq War (But Won't)
    • Thank you for the quotation from Eisenhower regarding the Suez debacle. I Knew he put a stop to Britain, France and Israel's nonsense, but I did not know these details.

      A quite similar view to yours has been posted on the BBC's website by its chief foreign correspondent, John Simpson:

      link to bbc.co.uk

  • Israeli and Lebanese Armies Trade Fire; at least 4 Dead
    • As Robert Fisk reports in today's Independent, Israel's refusal to agree where its borders actually lie, doesn't help.

  • Lockerbie Bomber released for Sake of BP Libya Drilling Rights
  • Obama's MacArthur Moment? McChrystal Disses Biden
    • Some posters have mentioned past experiences of imperial powers in Afghanistan. Here's another instructive parallel. Holidaying in Scotland earlier this month I started reading Dr Johnson's account of his journey to the Western Isles of Scotland in 1773.

      The text is here:

      link to gutenberg.org

      and I recommend you all to read the section headed "The Highlands", which begins:
      "Mountainous countries commonly contain the original, at least the oldest race of inhabitants, for they are not easily conquered, because they must be entered by narrow ways, exposed to every power of mischief from those that occupy the heights; and every new ridge is a new fortress, where the defendants have again the same advantages. If the assailants either force the strait, or storm the summit, they gain only so much ground; their enemies are fled to take possession of the next rock, and the pursuers stand at gaze, knowing neither where the ways of escape wind among the steeps, nor where the bog has firmness to sustain them: besides that, mountaineers have an agility in climbing and descending distinct from strength or courage, and attainable only by use.

      If the war be not soon concluded, the invaders are dislodged by hunger; for in those anxious and toilsome marches, provisions cannot easily be carried, and are never to be found. The wealth of mountains is cattle, which, while the men stand in the passes, the women drive away. Such lands at last cannot repay the expence of conquest, and therefore perhaps have not been so often invaded by the mere ambition of dominion; as by resentment of robberies and insults, or the desire of enjoying in security the more fruitful provinces.

      As mountains are long before they are conquered, they are likewise long before they are civilized. Men are softened by intercourse mutually profitable, and instructed by comparing their own notions with those of others. Thus Cæsar found the maritime parts of Britain made less barbarous by their commerce with the Gauls. Into a barren and rough tract no stranger is brought either by the hope of gain or of pleasure. The inhabitants having neither commodities for sale, nor money for purchase, seldom visit more polished places, or if they do visit them, seldom return...."

  • Historic UNSC Condemnation of Israel, and of Gaza Blockade;
    World Body Demands release of Aid Activists, Ships
    • "It is unclear why the commandos behaved in this way with regard to the Mavi Marmara in the first place, but it is possible that they believed their own propaganda."

      There is a parallel with the British Army's shooting dead 14 civilians in 1972 in Derry's "Bloody Sunday". The soldiers on that day were the Parachute Regiment. At least the British government learned from their mistake - never use elite fighting troops against civilian demonstrators. The elite troops will shoot to kill. It's what they're trained to do in combat.

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