Recent Comments

  • In Boon for EVs, Solar Panels, California will roll back CO2 Emissions to 40% Below 1990 (2)
  • The Russian Challenge to U.S. Policy in Africa (5)
    • Contrast and compare the views expressed of Russia selling military materiel to various African countries to those not expressed concerning US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Israel and many others whose human rights records are less than exemplary.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear? (26)
    • Thank you Muslima lawyer. The French are being so anti feminist, anti choice.

    • Freely wearing a certain type of swim-wear is equivalent to buying and selling human beings - and treating them as one's 'possessions' - to buy/sell, beat, thrash, put to work, breed etc etc ?

      That alone illustrates the vapidity of your arguments.

      It is *your* opinion - and only that - that a 'burkini' is a symbol of a "patriarchal system of oppression" - in fact, a 'burkini' is nowhere mandated in the Islamic codes. At best, you could argue that it's an attempt to some how map the burka to a 'swimwear' version. But that is already a violation of the received tradition. Also, Muslim women have minds of their own, and might have their own independent doctrinal justifications to wear 'burkinis' as and when they wish - without your personal interpretations of adhering to 'patriarchal oppression etc' automatically over-riding their views. This is something you would need to debate with them - not assume as proven in your favour.

      Finally, it's simply silly to think that the 'bikini' is automatically a sign of freedom from 'patriarchal oppression'. Plenty of feminist thought views such beachwear, and other fashion, as the work of commercial forces and implicit patriarchy forcing women into conforming to 'fit-in', developing unrealistic body-image, and goading women and girls into acting as 'objects' of male attraction.

  • The Russian Challenge to U.S. Policy in Africa (5)
    • I am not convinced that this is some sinister plot by Russia to undermine democracy and good governance in Africa while challenging US foreign policy.

      It seems more likely that Russia and China see trade matters vastly different from the US and Western Europe. Russia and China on several occasions have made it clear that they do not believe in restricting trade based on a nations internal politics and record of good governance. The US and Europe on the other hand constantly decide trade issues based on their approval of how a nation governs itself and runs its economy.

      So it makes sense that a nation with limited trade options or sanctioned by the west for not running their internal politics and economy in a manner that pleases the west would represent a great trading opportunity to nations that don't care about a nations internal politics and feel no need to approve the way they run their economy.

      I am also not convinced that the primary interest of the US in Africa is about democracy and good governance but that is a different argument.

    • "The U.S. justifies its sanctions largely on the basis of Sudanese government’s human rights and war crimes violations " LOL

      It seems the article justifies any misdeeds by the USA but finds the reasonable responses of Russia to its encirclement, sanctions and vilification by "Western media" to be dangerous.

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • Actually, U.S. immigration policy is primarily based on nuclear family reunification, i.e., spouses, children, parents, unmarried sons and daughters. It is not designed to benefit corporate and global South elites.

      Regarding refugees, they fall under a different program and are not considered part of the immigrant mix. I would agree that U.S. acceptance of genuine refugees, as opposed to those illegal immigrants who are seeking better economic opportunity, is problematic and could be improved.

  • In Boon for EVs, Solar Panels, California will roll back CO2 Emissions to 40% Below 1990 (2)
    • How about increasing bicycling a lot? I am sure many trips could be made by bicycle with no CO2 emissions. And cycling makes people healthier and happier.

  • The Russian Challenge to U.S. Policy in Africa (5)
    • Juan, I've been reading your site since 2003 from New Zealand & I love it & recommend it constantly. However, occasionally I think you have “US spex” on. In this case by allowing this article on your site.
      I'm not saying there's no truth in it - I am saying that “While the US policy toward Africa is founded on a worldview that leads it to promote democratic governance, free markets and the rule of law, “ & the like is so obviously bushit …
      I know the US motto is “Do as we say, not as we do,” but this is allowing your site to take it to extremes!
      I read Nick Turse from TomDispatch regularly too. & in fact, when you publish most of Tom's articles on Informed Comment I have noted that you have completely ignored Nick's own contributions, esp. on the US in Africa!
      PS - all of your readers here know that the US outsells war materiel over any other part of the world, including Russia.

    • Crude display of Cold War propaganda: US as White Knight vs Russ the Dark Lord, good vs evil, usual shtick. Africans are mentioned.

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • US has high legal immigration, benefiting its own corporate and global South elites. It has low rates of acceptance of needy refugees in international terms, especially from countries like Iraq where the US played a big role in causing displacements.

  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear? (26)
    • Yes, the swimsuit shown was the proper attire in the 1890's, but there were already women going to the beach and shown in the fashion magazines wearing much less, and causing an uproar.
      Perhaps more to the point, Catholic nuns can go to the beach in their modest and overdressed nun clothes, so why can't other women choose to do the same? This is what makes the French look not only racist, but ridiculous too. I have lived in France many times, and this is beginning to remind me of a rerun of the Dreyfus Affair and its anti-semitism; now instead of Jews it's Muslim women. As Marx says, the first time it's tragedy, the second time it's farce.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
    • Not really a problem, is it?

      If push comes to shove the USA will not hesitate to push the Kurds under a bus.

      After all, the Kurds have already served their purpose i.e. shedding blood to disguise the fact that all the other "moderate rebels" didn't actually exist.

      So why would the yanks care what happens to them now?

      Maybe if the Kurds now offer to fight Assad's forces. Maybe. Or maybe not, who knows the capricious whims of those that live inside the Beltway?

      Perfidious Albion had nothing on The Indispensables.

  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear? (26)
  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
    • How is the average US citizen going to get well enough informed about the mess in Syria in order to be able to make an informed choice regarding the Trump or Clinton foreign policy? That's a rhetorical question, obviously. There's no way to explain this to millions of voters.

      Other than, "Avoid entangling foreign alliances."

    • Ask Obama. He vetoed every constructive proposal since day one because all meant excluding Iran from the Syrian cake which Iran was insisting on sharing if Obama wanted a phoney deal on the nukes.

      He alienated everyone in his administration who knew the region and relied on Biden and co. of dreamers and kombaya dancers and this was the result.

    • I guess the letter in the drawer of the Oval Office from Bush to Obama just said: follow my international policies everywhere.

    • Everyone in the conflict told the Obama* that the Kurd were their Red-line and will intervene when that Red-line was crossed.

      Obama in his infinite naivety though their red-lines were like his own, lip service for the sake of a legacy, well here is the ugly truth, the world is not naive nor nice to naives.

      * From all my readings the CIA/State Department technocrats were always on the same page when it came to Syria and so was the DoD and all were vehemently resisted by Obama. Everything changed when Gates left the DoD and Admiral Flynn became the most powerful voice in the Syria policy there and it was him who forced the alliance with the Kurds because he had the president's ear.

    • More and more, U.S. foreign policy appears to be designed and carried out by young children dressed in adult attire.

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic (10)
    • I already have, above, by citing examples of regimes that manipulated and propagandized their populations magnitudes greater than anything we in the U.S. have experienced.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
    • Not the first time the US has opted to back multiple factions in a civil war. See US covert and overt actions in Liberia 1970s to 2003, by Niels Hahn. If the objective is to create a crippled and dependent sphere of influence with endless pretexts for further intervention in a region of vast strategic significance, this is how to go.

    • What is surprising in all this is that ISIS left Jarabulus without a fight upon the approach of the Turkish-backed rebels. Where did they go to? Some say Al-Bab. Why did they leave without a fight? Were they warned that they should leave? Possibly Turkish Intelligence gave them notice. The whole thing stinks, including U.S. involvement.

    • Let's not advertise that whole NATO connection. That type of collaberation requires a professional officer core with shared values. The Turkish military was just purged of those types and will become Erdogen / religious fanatics. Not the types that you want to share missile launch codes with. There is no doubt turkey actively supported Isis (who like Assad) saw them as convenient for a time. But as a westerner and a secularist I see anyone who works with Isis/jihadist as an enemy. So let's stay with these underdog YPG SDF types. Let's ditch erdogen-the house of saud-etc. Our long term interest lie in a modern ME not a religious nut job one.

    • our tax dollars hard at work. just wish we could spend more money on these foreign endeavors.

    • the answer is chaos.

  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear? (26)
    • Great column by Juan. And this comment has some good points about the hypocrisies of French secularism. But a clarification is in order: being Zionist does not mean one is Islamophobic. Many of us are not. I write about the dangers of Islamophobia. For me Zionism is defense of the basic right of the Jewish people to a sovereign state with a Jewish identity in a portion of historic Palestine. That is the strict definition of political Zionism. The fact that some have distorted it beyond recognition doesn't mean that all Zionists should be lumped in with them. Plenty of us are very critical of the Israeli Occupation and defensive of the rights of Muslims. And that includes plenty of people in France.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
    • Just a few days ago pundits screamed, "Coalition jets scrambled to defend U.S. forces from Syrian bombing" (Reuters), and now we're told by the Obama administration it's OK as long as the perpetrator is a NATO ally. Having Turkey and CIA-backed terrorists attack US military-backed forces isn't just a snafu, it's the final proof that the goal of US involvement in Syria is destabilization of that country and perpetuation of bloodshed, not democritization or rescue from the "mobster" Assad.

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • "it increased sharply with the Immigration Act of 1990 to just over one million after 2000. I will accept the DHS figure."

      "But this is not generous, it is a tiny fraction of what other developed nations accept. You have not argued your point."

      For someone who thinks I have not argued my point, I am pleased to see that you accept my figure of one million legal immigrants per year, as DHS statistics demonstrate. Your next task, if you want to accurately understand immigration statistics, is to check on those for other developed countries. I assure you, you will find other countries do not come close to the one million per year accepted by the U.S.

      Regarding your apparent belief that the U.S., through humanitarian assistance, could have "lifted half the world from poverty," it demonstrates a significant level of misunderstanding of both what the U.S. has done and the requirements for development. The U.S. has provided a huge amount of development assistance through the Agency for International Development and other organs. But development requires commitment and reforms within the underdeveloped world itself. We cannot do it for them. They must create the conditions within their own societies that lead to permanent, sustained development.

    • The "sovereign right" to exclude is not an argument; might does not make right regardless of terminology. And you fail to argue the central point that US selfishness is the cause of failure to assist those in need elsewhere.

      If the US had spent its pointless military expenditures since WWII on humanitarian assistance, it would have lifted half the world from poverty. If it had thereby built the roads, schools, and hospitals of the developing world, it would have no organized enemies, and would have truly achieved an American century.

      The US needs constitutional amendments to restrict funding of mass media and elections to limited registered individual contributions, and to improve checks and balances, but without those tools of democracy we cannot get those protections.

      As to the numbers, statistics vary widely. The Time almanac states that average immigration (persons granted permanent resident status) in the 1980s was 101,000 annually, while DHS says that it was 624,000 and that it increased sharply with the Immigration Act of 1990 to just over one million after 2000. I will accept the DHS figure. The total (including illegals) is 42 million of 320 million population, about 13 percent versus the public belief that it is 33 percent.

      But this is not generous, it is a tiny fraction of what other developed nations accept. You have not argued your point.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
    • Whatever happened on Biden's recent visit to Turkey? Some are speculating he may have had to sacrifice the Kurds to Erdogan for the sake of NATO.

      Putin, Erdogan and Assad seem all to have clear cut priorities in Syria which do not actually conflict one with the other while the US appears to be out of that loop, mainly still hankering to eliminate Assad but with so many concerns elsewhere that that purpose is little more than a cloudy dream. Also, all three of them rule in the old fashioned sense of the word and can eliminate opposition, switch allies, and manoeuvre quickly and decisively whereas Obama is constrained by constitutional circumstances better suited perhaps to dealing with domestic rather than shifting global issues.

      It does appear that Erdogan, for all the criticism he receives, is plotting a neat course between Russia and the US while remaining popular at home, eliminating opposition, and having a good go at the Kurds. Some of his actions do get 'tut tuts' from the West but I don't imagine that bothers him any more than it does Netanyahu. The media coverage of events get these days gives people the sense that they are living History. It is an illusion, History is the selective interpretation of the past, and closer to acting than being.

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic (10)
  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
    • There was a famous old science fiction short story, by one of the classic authors, I'm guessing 1948-54. (Sorry, I'm not trying to look it up, but I read it at least half a dozen times.)

      It chronicles the struggles of a secret US Army expedition to the Moon -- only to find that other humans have beaten them there ! Who could these enemies be? The punchline was, it was the US Navy.

      Of course both hands of a huge bureaucratic entity (the institutions of our American military/"national security" apparatus) are eventually going to be found at odds with each other.

      If you want to generalize about human nature and/or typical human predicaments, this kind of bureaucratic self-hypnotism is one of the few things about which I'll agree with you.

    • The question is what exactly the US wants to achieve in Syria?

  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear? (26)
    • The worldview that would "liberate " Muslim women from the Burkina is the same worldview that "freed" French sex workers by criminalizing paying for sex. Whether your too pious or too libertine, the state must rescue you from men, like it or not.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias (19)
  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds? (8)
    • Turkey has been fighting Kurds for decades. I'm sure the Turks aren't too thrilled about the newish Kurdish Federation that sits on their border.
      Kurds are the perfect target for "influence" because the land the Kurds claim divide Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. A fairly strategic bit of ground. One could imagine a Kurdish State running from the south of Baghdad snaking around through Syria, Iran, Iraq (Turkey?) to the Med. The perfect road block. Wet dream in DC.
      The question is if anyone has what it takes to take and hold the ground.
      However if Assad were to go and a puppet state be formed the Kurds would be smacked down again or a third party would intervene to make Greater Kurdistan a barrier against the Russia, Syria, Iran axis and further neuter Iraq.
      Turkey on the other hand isn't interested in giving Kurds anything except punishment. It's in Turkey's interests to cooperate with regional neighbors except the Kurds who have claims on Turkish territory.
      Turmoil on the border is bad for business. Erdogan was taken for a ride down the La La Trail by the US. Biden will BS him and perhaps a massage to get him to go along with the plan.

  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear? (26)
    • I believe the most unattractive apparel any human being can wear anywhere is a chip on his or her shoulder.

    • Excellent response, Muslima Lawyer

    • Spot on, Sufi Muslim

    • As if this French Mayor and other supporters want to require women beach goers to reveal breast and butts. What would they call it pro show tit s and ass law? So arrogant, anti choice . You know "retrograde".

    • The simple truth is that modern French society is classist, elitist, and racist. Over the door of thousands of government buildings is emblazoned the motto "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" (freedom, equality, brotherhood). The truth is that the "Republican principle of laïcité (secularism), which is supposed to make the State neutral in its laws and administration, has been perverted into a State religion that would compel all people to be its votaries, except when they are closeted in their homes. When police officers surround a woman on the beach and force her to remove her burkini, which is no more offensive than the wet suit worn by surfers or the traditional habit worn by some nuns when they wade in the surf, where is the freedom, equality and fraternity?

      The current Constitution includes the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) and therefore says:

      "La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l'égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d'origine, de race ou de religion. Elle respecte toutes les croyances." (France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It guarantees equality before the Law for all its citizens, with no distinction on account of origin, race or religion. It respect all [religious ] beliefs.)

      That is the hypocrisy of modern France. The principles are clear and enshrined in law, but they are flouted and scorned by both the people and the government.

      As La Bruyère wrote long ago: "Le voile de la modestie couvre le mérite, et le masque de l'hypocrisie cache la malignité." (The veil of modesty cloaks merit, and the mask of hypocrisy hides malice.)

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • The United States for years has taken in approximately one million legal immigrants per year under our immigration law. You can check statistics with the Department of Homeland Security (under which immigration falls). If you think the U.S. takes in only a "fraction" of that, you had better check your source's validity. It is wrong. Filipinos, Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, Mexicans, Brazilians, and scores of other nationalities are admitted as immigrants each year under our immigration law.

      Your claim that a nation does not have the sovereign right to determine who enters the country is simply your own fantasy. It has always been the sovereign right of a country to determine who may enter. The United States indeed has a very generous immigration policy. But it is not obligated to accept every person seeking better economic opportunity to enter illegally.

  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear? (26)
    • We need to lighten the frock up!

      Ebbing Flowing Darkly Inky Controversial Black Burkini

      She was delayed when she came to the water
      She was disturbing to those who could see
      She was delayed when she came to the water
      She was delayed by the powers that be
      Du, twa, qua--no more ooh in ooh la la!

      It was an ebbing flowing darkly inky controversial black Burkini
      That she wore to la mer on that day
      An ebbing flowing darkly inky controversial black Burkini
      Down on the sand where she started to lay
      Du, twa, qua--oh mon dieu, no ooh la la!

      She was unafraid to be out in the open
      Some people snickered, crying "ha ha"
      Unafraid to be out in the open
      Only she could see what she saw
      Du, twa, qua--no more ooh in ooh la la!

      It was an ebbing flowing darkly inky controversial black Burkini
      That she wore to la mer on that day
      An ebbing flowing darkly inky controversial black Burkini
      Down on the sand where she started to lay
      Du, twa, qua--oh mon dieu, no ooh la la!

      She's like a seal having fun in the water
      The surfers are eyeing her keen
      Just like a seal having fun in the water
      On the front page of Surf Magazine!
      Du, twa, qua--no more ooh in ooh la la!

      It was an ebbing flowing darkly inky controversial black Burkini
      That she wore to la mer on that day
      An ebbing flowing darkly inky controversial black Burkini
      Down on the sand where she started to lay
      Du, twa, qua--oh mon dieu, no ooh la la!

      (plus ça change)
      Let's go surfing now!
      Everybody's learning how
      Come and wear Burkinis with me!
      Come and wear Burkinis with me!

    • So Sarkozy and ilk thinks the Burqini ™ is a "provocation" and represents some hypothetical regression to a nasty past.

      That's quite something for a piece of clothing which was developed in Australia so that, according to the designer "I wanted to make sure we blended in with the Australian lifestyle."

      link to

      The argument should basically end there.

      This is a practical compromise that is probably actually healthier for wearers than the modern French passion for expressing oneself semi naked.

      France has ~1800 deaths by skin cancer every year.

      In any case, it doesn't take very long to find pictures of crypto-Islamists like Bridgette Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly sporting head scarves or that subversive Jacques Cousteau and his garb to make swimming more tolerable. Apparently, what these clothes symbolize depends on who is wearing them!

    • Such a clothing ban is also difficult to enforce. How is a police officer supposed to determine that he can't fine one woman because her covering is for sun protection, but he should fine another woman because her covering is to indicate that she is pious?

      If overt religious reference in public is considered wrong, then the officer must go after the covered-up Amish tourist as well as the French Muslim citizen.

      Go look at the sun protective swimwear at this website: link to A woman could wear the swim shirt, the skirted swim leggings, and either the shade cap with cross over drape or the headkini--all outfits not designed for religious expression but for sun protection--and meet the requirements for conservative Islamic dress.

      I live in Southern California, and I see far more runners and swimmers who cover up because they don't want their skin to look like an old leather bag splotched with stains, and they don't want skin cancer.

      Imagine the police officer harassing someone whose body was burn-scarred or who had skin cancer all because he thought her clothing looked like an Islamic burkini!

      The police have better things to do with their time than force women on the beach to take off their cover-ups. I think most of the French would prefer that their police were apprehending murderous terrorists.

    • At first, I thought this almost humorous-the French police enforcing a fashion law. Fashionista fascists, anyone?
      One stereotype of the French is reinforced: The French are fashion-obsessed.

      Laws against the Burkini also bring another French stereotype to life, the stereotype that French men are sex-obsessed. That is the conclusion I draw from a law that women have to be almost unclothed at the beach.

      It's reminiscent of the US silliness that led to "Freedom Fries." Which reinforced an American stereotype, that we obsess on fast food.

    • I am a Muslim female practicing attorney who is admitted to the bar in two states, one being New York, which is considered one of the hardest bar exams to pass in the United States. I am accomplished. As is my husband, a Muslim man.

      And I enjoy wearing both hijab and Burkini with PRIDE.

      I feel that I should correct a lot of the hurtful comments I see on supposedly liberal newspaper websites.

      As for the argument that France should not allow Burkini if Saudi Arabia doesn't allow bikini, I would like to ask those individuals if they have ever travelled to the Middle East. In 2010 in YEMEN I saw Russian women in bikinis at the public beach. Women may also swim in bikinis in Morrocco, Lebanon, Indonesia and a ton of other countries.

      And what type of nonsensical argument is this? Do we wish to become like Saudi Arabia now? Saudi Arabi is not a model country - never has it been and never will it be. They have Mecca and Medina. That's it. Saudi Arabia is also not going around the world and preaching about its exemplary human rights practices - but we see France doing so. Speaking of which, has France ever apologized for the colonization and war in Algeria?

      As for the example that even women who claim to choose Burkini are still brainwashed, imagine this-- a person converting to Islam-- her choice, without at the time having any family or friends who were Muslim- and finding the hijab to be a source of religious pride mixed with letting go of vanity - a way to have control over showing one's own body and destiny (that person would be me).

      For those who say it is demeaning to men, and it means that Muslim women think men can't control themselves, I disagree and have faith in men. Women make these decisions with themselves in mind, not others. Please don't jump to patronizing conclusions.

      For those who say men in Morrocco and Germany and elsewhere harass or abuse women more than other ethnic groups - that is a lie. I work with DV victims who come from all ethnicities and circumstances. Women also get harassed walking down the street in the US just as much as Morrocco and Egypt.

      For those who say that women should not HAVE to wear Burkini if men don't, I say that your statement presupposes that women "have" to wear it - that there is some force or brainwashing at play. Further, if you travel to the Middle East, or have thoroughly done your research, you would know that men have a strict dress code as well. Whether they want to follow it is another story - but I can't control what a man wears just as he can't control what I wear. I have seen men on beaches in Yemen who usually do not take off their shirts or wear shorts - and if they do take off their shirts, they pull their swim trunks up over their belly button, which is seen as awra.
      Further, do people ask men in yarmulkes why they are oppressed and why their wives don't wear them as well? Different religions have different customs.

      And finally, for those who call it a blanket, bulky or any other demeaning names or even say it is a hygiene issue-- that is highly offensive and untrue. Burkini is no different than a wet suit with a swimming cap. The Burkini I have is made of special material that dries within 5 minutes after getting out of the water. I do not feel hot in it (but even if I did, so what? It's MY choice). It also does not present a safety risk as far as drowning, anymore than a wet suit would. I also LOVE how when a huge wave comes, I don't have to worry about any of my body parts falling out the way it would happen with a bikini (I know women know what I mean).

      And last but not last, I would never EVER denigrate someone's religion, whether Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu, Christian, etc., the way people have done to mine.

      I love people and their religions. I smile when I see Jewish people walking on Saturdays instead of taking the car out because I know we all have a common bond and they believe as strongly in their faith as I do mine.

      Please respect one another and get to know one another. We are all eccentric and do not fit into neat little stereotypes.

      I will leave you with a quote: "We must respect all religions, for every human must get to heaven his/her own way."

    • Nice comment.

    • The inner reality of women told to wear in a certain way in countries, like Saudi Arabia and Iran, and France, is the same: They are TOLD to dress up in a certain way!

      The outer forms may be different, but the inner meaning is still the same.

      It's sad to see the Iranization and Saudification of France.

      It's secularism gone bad. It's now neo-anti-Islam-Secularism, not secularism, meaning the governments staying out of people's religions, and freedom of religion.

      The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) allows Muslim women to wear the hijab.

      France can learn from Canada, that allowing Muslim women to cover their heads does not damage secularism.

      My suspicion is that those who support the banning of head covering do so because of two primary reasons:

      1. Anti-Islam sentiments.
      2. Colonial tendencies, which cause a sense of superiority, and a desire for control.

      The idea that Muslim women are universally pressured by Muslim men to cover is invalid.

      While there is some truth to it, it's also the case that many, many women actually CHOOSE to dress modestly on their own, often against the wishes of their male relatives and husbands.

      It is incorrect to give covering up a negative meaning and assume that it is the same meaning ALL Muslim women give to their attires.

      So if someone thinks that the covering of hair, or even the face, is a symbol of oppression, it does not mean that others give it the same meaning.

      One might disagree with it, but it is possible that a woman is covering up because she associates it with modesty and her commitment to the Cosmic Consciousness/Reality.

      Same outer form, but two opposite inner meanings associated with it.

      Which is why, these things are a personal matter, in which the state should not interfere; the state should not associate an inner meaning to an outer form and impose it on everyone.

      One needs to look at the inner meanings of outer forms, and see unity in diversity.

      In some religions, men would take off their hats in religious places, while in others men would cover their heads.

      Two opposite outer forms, but they both have the same inner meaning to the adherents of these religions.

      Therefore, inter-faith dialogue is very important, so people develop a good understanding of the inner meanings of each other's faiths and practices.

      Another thing: The Burkini is actually not considered Islamic by many conservative Muslims who live in Muslim majority countries.

      It is actually a manifestation of progressive trends within Islam in the West that want to integrate without compromising too much of their religious traditions.

      So to associate it with extremism is incorrect.

      Moreover, the Burkini has allowed many women to participate in activities in which they'd otherwise not participate.

      And to learn how to swim can be life-saving.

      So it is ironic that on one hand some non-Muslim Westerners want Muslims to integrate, while at the same time discouraging integration.

      The most amusing, and silly, part of this ban is that full-body sweat suits are allowed, and some of the policemen who forced a woman to uncover were fully clothed. Shouldn't they have gone to that beach half-naked?

      Also, what if a Muslim woman went to the beach dressed up like a nun? Would that be allowed?

      Something tells me it wouldn't be, since the ban is exclusively for the Muslims.

      My hope is that humanity will someday rise in its collective consciousness and will empower women to make her own choices.

    • The French right wing is responsible for this idiocy. Just like our right wing, they have nothing better to do.

    • Kinda amazing that assimilation is a critical issue, but the French repel people when they need to be recruiting.

    • It's not really the burkini of course, it is the statement it makes. Why? Why does a dog bark? Humans are not exalted, God knows.

    • Stating that 'wearers of burkinis are harking back to early days of the Third Republic' is like saying that slave traders are harking back to the early days of the United States.
      Regardless of the subject, just because a certain behaviour has precedent does not lend it any legimacy, nor does it mean that it's either wanted or beneficial. Pertinent to the covering of one's body, it is exactly because France has left this culture behind that backlash against the burkini is so fierce.

      That being said, most of us Europeans are very much in favor of freedom of dress, that is very few people feel that we should ban the wearing of any clothing bar those that inhibit normal human interaction such as veils and balaclavas.

      However, the burkini is such a symbolic case because it confronts people with the fact that having finally managed to break free from their own religion (catholicism), here comes a whole new group of people who want nothing of the sort, in fact quite the opposite.
      I must say that the smoking analogy in this article is pretty spot on. Imagine a smoker lighting a cigarette in a crowded restaurant's garden, or a mother smoking while driving her children to school. None of these are illegal, yet the average reaction closely mirrors the sentiment that is felt towards overt manifestations of religion. And in Europe's case that religion happens to be Islam.

      For me, if a woman wants to wear a symbol of a patriarchal system of oppression as a form of piety, I completely respect her right to choose. But that doesn't mean I have respect her choice, or the system that it represents.

    • Dreyfusian spirit is still alive in France.

    • Thanks Juan. I live in France and am amused by the "secular" State with Holy Day holidays all over the place (Ascension, Assomption etc), feast days of Christian saints EVERY DAY on all the calendars. I know people in this country area who probably have never met a Muslim socially yet claim fear!
      With PM Valls a diehard Zionist and all of the Parliament rather pro-Israel, there is plenty of room for Islamophobia, but this instance shows how ridiculous has been this response, and it is great to see the Court agree.

    • I personally loathe religion but does this give me the right to demand that people who wear a crucifix around their neck should take it off because it offends me? I cannot imagine why anyone would care what someone else is wearing. One should always be careful what powers you give the state as you might get what you wish for and regret it. Logically, if its just the clothing that's at issue, then those participating in sub-aqua sports have got a problem.

    • Love using French art to help quash the ban.

  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds? (8)
    • How about National Interest?
      If the kurds are serious about fighting ISIS and not just about ethnic cleansing and population engineering on Turkish border, this is high time. ISIS is being swept their way, cut off supply routes and internet access. But, the pampered "freedom fighters with light makeup in trenches" are not going to fight ISIS, they will regroup and try to fight Turkish Forces. The success of the latter remains to be seen, especially IF the US keeps its promise to not continue to be the PKK air force west of Euphrates.

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • The "sovereign right" to exclude the desperate is no argument at all. The US takes in only a tiny fraction of the one million immigrants you claim: let's see those facts. The US did not even take in the 10,000 Syrians refugees it promised , while Germany took in over one percent of its population (equivalent to three million in the US).

      The main issue here is the gross selfishness of the US, both in allowing the dislocations of NAFTA, and doing nothing to help Mexico. Add to that the complete abandonment of its own people to poverty, and you have a worthless and fake governing class, suitable only for removal.

  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds? (8)
    • I constantly wonder how long the Kurds will accept being played as saps, stooges, and cat's paws by Uncle Sam in this region. Maybe they feel they have no choice; but being continually betrayed or backstabbed or sold down the river can't be enough to satisfy their long-thwarted aspirations.

      Perhaps the Kurds think THEY are the puppet-masters in this game, yanking the strings of the Americans, and there may be some truth in this, but in the long run, who is going to realize their goals if they're mutually exclusive?

  • ISIL sends families out of Mosul as Kurdish, Shiite Forces advance (5)
    • whose bombing and rebuilding plan is better? trump or clinton?

    • professor cole,
      how much does this blowing stuff up cost us daily? are we also paying for the rebuilding of the stuff we blow up? what is the total price tag of our never-ending iraq war at this point? i would be really interested in a study of the expenses.

    • professor cole,
      have you figured out what the obama administration is doing to rebuild ramadi? are the people of tikrit back in their homes? is the trench around fallujah finished? what kind of preparations has obama made for the impending refugee crisis in mosul?

      it seems to me the only thing that has been completed is the trench. which is actually kind of israeli like.

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • Two points need to be emphasized here.

      First, the United States has a very generous immigration policy, one based primarily on family reunification. Any U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident may petition for the appropriate member of the petitioner's nuclear family. Each year the U.S. takes in over one million legal immigrants based on these family relationships. And that does not count the number of refugees that are accepted via the U.S. refugee program, which, as they will eventually become Legal Permanent Residents and citizens, puts the eventual total much higher. That figure of one million legal immigrants exceeds the total of legal immigrants taken in by all other countries combined.

      Second, I have been to Nogales and seen the fence separating Mexico and the United States for miles. The fact is, the U.S., like every other country in the world, has the sovereign right to determine who enters the country and under what circumstances. There are significant measures taken besides a physical fence: drones, sensors, the Border Patrol covering certain segments, etc. This has led to many more illegal immigrants attempting to cross the hot, arid Arizona desert. But that is their choice. The U.S. has publicly tried to discourage illegal border-crossers. That they continue to make the journey is not the fault of the U.S. That they cross in spite of warnings of the danger and often suffer the consequences is due to their own decision and choice.

      Stories such as the author's above about the illegal immigrant before the judge are of course sad. But the U.S. cannot be the final destination for every unhappy person seeking a better life, either in Latin America or the rest of the world. The U.S. carries its share of legal immigration and has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

      The 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country must be brought out of the shadows and allowed to apply for legal status. The cannot, and should not, be deported. Nevertheless, the U.S. must do a better job of controlling its border and seeing that those who have been granted a temporary tourist visa depart on schedule. What is really needed, though, is a very tough sanctions program, one that is rigidly enforced, against those employers in the U.S. who hire illegal immigrants. That would cut off the magnet that draws illegals to the U.S. in the first place.

  • Ex-president Saleh offers 'all Yemen's facilities' to Russia (2)
    • The sheer cheek Saleh shows is incredible. Here's a man whose North Yemeni government opposed Soviet-allied South Yemen (the ones who actually had these stated agreements). Whose government was supplied by Saudi Arabia in their 1972 civil war! He warred against the Houthis until he was removed from power and suddenly became their "friend".

      While the Houthis might have decent claims over areas where they're popular, they've made a real back-stabber of an ally. Saleh's ambition will inevitable drive him to reconquer all of Yemen. That would be a disaster; his forces have neither the resources nor the support to dream of doing that. Let's hope the Houthis are smart enough not to listen.

  • ISIL sends families out of Mosul as Kurdish, Shiite Forces advance (5)
    • Nationalist and militarist-imperialist tendencies among the varied Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen populations and interest groups of the region have long maneuvered towards a "final showdown" over which of them might be able to secure an uncontested victory of political-military supremacy in Mosul.

      (However, in actual practice, the American-European Allied victory in World War I and the subsequent regimes that have existed, largely within the boundaries written by outsiders, have prevented such a battle from ever taking place.)

      Now it appears that such a battle, involving already-armed and organized state forces and militias among the three major population groups in the area (Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen) and other minority populations, at a time when boundaries appear more liable to change than they have for a hundred years, may actually be forming up.

      As historians we know this means highly unpredictable results.

      It seems a good time to reflect on a key truth in human history: military conquests seldom result in actual economic growth and prosperity on their own. True prosperity over generations in an area is usually identified with peaceful urban centers in which different ethnic identities and economic interests can live productive lives, under a power structure that recognizes it must make use of all population segments, rather than aggrandizing some segments over others. (In other words, the power structure doesn't have to be "democratic" necessarily, but it must be coalition-based and ultimately inclusive of the vast majority of population segments and sub-segments.)

    • really! Is tht possible?!

  • The Short-Lived Russia-Iran Axis (9)
  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • The fundamental issue is that there are not enough jobs. The efficiency of modern production ensures that most must seek employment in non-essential goods and services, a market that disappears in every recession. Only a socialist economy can plan for full employment and prevent the financial scams that cause bubbles and recessions.

      Only strong economic regulation can protect the elections and mass media, the tools of democracy, from the economic power that seized them in the right wing revolution after WWII.

      Neither Trump nor Clinton have any wish for full employment or economic regulation for public benefit. Neither of them cares at all for the people of the United States, let alone those of foreign countries. Such persons are a disaster for America, and have made America a disaster for the world.

  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds? (8)
    • Two questions:
      1) Where does this now leave the enclave of Afrin, now that the YPG is blocked from linking up with it? Is it safe and secure, albeit isolated, or is it now looking rather exposed and vulnerable?

      2) How do you expect the Syrian Arab Army to "fight Daesh head on" when almost everywhere you look on the map (apart from Palmyra) there are "rebel militias" between the SAA and ISIS? Are Assad's soldier somehow expected to leapfrog over the top of that alphabet soup of head-choppers and liver-eaters?

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • Generally, before World War I, visas and passports were NOT required for entry to most Western European nations. In the U.S., there was no federal immigration law until 1790. Before that time, the states controlled entry. All the 1790 law did was set a residence requirement of 2 years before naturalization. The first significant U.S. law was not adopted until 1819. Properly managed, there is no real reason to patrol borders, except to intercept contraband, sex slaves, etc. Otherwise, if a person enters and then leads his or her life in a peaceful and lawful manner, he or she should be left alone and allowed to be naturalized after a reasonable time.

  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds? (8)
    • ". . . So I don’t think Ankara is likely all that upset about Daesh losing Jarabulus, but it might be apprehensive about what comes next."
      Uh, don't you mean Damascus?

  • The Short-Lived Russia-Iran Axis (9)
  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • The purpose of Trump's rhetoric was never really to make illegal aliens go away. This is all about the creeping fact that Whites are losing their majority in America, which drives all the other perceived affronts in the eyes of racists. The purpose was to pursue the process of delegitimizing the rights of all immigrants, and then the rights of those citizens perceived as not being "real" Americans.

      Now, the purpose for that might be preparatory to ethnic cleansing. But our history suggests that racists have no problem with non-Whites within their borders as long as the latter clearly have lesser rights, much lesser, as in the rights of caged animals. The trick is restoring the legal recognition that White people are categorically on top over all other citizens, stretching precedents under Common Law from a single victory like Voter ID, or a religious right to discriminate, or profile searches, or a right to kill based on "reasonable fear." Such efforts exist in dark corners of the far-right fringe... but they are no longer the fringe under Trump, are they?

    • America is a mean country. Not just to the original inhabitants, most of whom were decimated, but to poor whites and every peron of color. That meanness is clearly told in the book by Nick Turse, 'Kill Everything that Moves'.

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic (10)
    • Race war. That's what is most damaging to democracy. Because there is no democratic road out of a race war. If those judged the "good guys" are the majority and win the war, they will bloc vote on every issue. Rigid factions that guarantee one will win every election and issue is not democracy. If they are instead the minority but still managed to win, they truly can't risk restoring democracy. And if the faction judged the "bad guys" wins, whether majority or minority, it likely will seek a final solution through elimination rather than the costly hassle of routine oppression. Increasingly, that seems to be what happens.

      If you can't believe race war can happen in America, you haven't been paying attention to Americans at all.

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • Yes, most of the people crossing the border illegally have compelling stories that tug at the heart-strings. But the truth is, most people CAN and do enter the country legally - thousands enter the country legally every day with the appropriate visas. And when someone is caught crossing the border illegally for the first time, they're not sent before the judge. They're put on a bus and sent back to their country of origin - it doesn't even count as a deportation. It's only after repeated disregard for proper entry procedure that they wind up before a judge facing jail time - or if they have a criminal record. While most people who come into the country illegally are good, hard working people, the truth is, not all are. There are people who enter with bad intentions, drug smugglers, criminals, potential terrorists and people who the US should make every effort to keep out. Every country in the world, including Mexico, monitors who enters their country and attempts to keep out those who might do harm. Mexico itself is very tough on people who cross their borders illegally from the south. Assuming that everyone who crosses the border illegally is good and harmless is just silly. Maybe a fence isn't the answer, but painting all border crossers as good, well intentioned people doesn't help either. Most people can enter the country legally, but for whatever reason, they simply chose not to.

  • The Short-Lived Russia-Iran Axis (9)
  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds? (8)
    • They are not mutually exclusive. I suspect Daesh to get a Russian umbrella over the gas pipeline and mollify Washington, and the Kurds to protect the homeland and mollify Assad. Whatever it is one should not look for consistency. By the bye, I suspect that for all his huffing and puffing he is quite happy for the US to prevaricate over extraditing Gulen. That does him no harm in the home market.

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic (10)
  • The Short-Lived Russia-Iran Axis (9)
  • Top 6 Reasons Turkey is Finally attacking ISIL in Syria's Jarabulus (6)
    • #7 because they won't. Turkey didn't liberate Jarbulus...Isis just gave them the keys. Every town taken from Isis was after weeks of fighting and destruction. Jarabulus was what....a 1 day affair?!?! That wasn't a battle but collaboration. Our NATO partner is Isis.

  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds? (8)
  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception (13)
    • What an excellent, well thought out and informative article. What a pity that, popular though this website may be. this information is hidden from the American people at large and those that need to know this don't. Perhaps the only way to reach the masses is to dumb the whole thing down: "10 reasons why Trumps border already exists and is a humanitarian abomination - number seven is shocking!"

  • Is Turkey's Pivot to Russia about Erdogan's Survival? (18)
  • The Short-Lived Russia-Iran Axis (9)
    • "Iran and Russia enjoy a level of interoperability that will never be extended to the U.S."

      No, Iran and Russia do not enjoy interoperability. Interoperability requires that both sides possess the same armaments--ground forces, aircraft, naval vessels--and more importantly, that both have a high level of joint training in not only the use of weapons, but also in Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence. Russia and Iran share none of these requirements. I'm afraid you lack an understanding of just what inoperability entails.

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic (10)
    • "The US is the most propagandized, manipulated people the world has ever known."

      Your statement cited above is so ahistorical as to hardly warrant comment. You obviously know nothing about the Stalinist Soviet Union or today's North Korea under the Kim dynasty. Not to mention a host of others: Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Mao's China, etc., etc.

      Read a little history and inform yourself before making such nonsensical, ahistorical statements.

  • Top 6 Reasons Turkey is Finally attacking ISIL in Syria's Jarabulus (6)
    • No mention of the failed Coup or the decimation and/or incarceration of the military and many other institutions' personnel???

    • @joshua_landis 7: ISIS no longer strong enough to stop the Kurds and has to be replaced.

    • From all the sources I read the Turks were willing to conduct such an operation for at least two years. The problem was that the US simply refused to give any assurances about the Kurds nor any support especially a no-fly zone from Ayn Al-Arab all the way to Afrin and including Aleppo.

      Today the Russians, true to their word, did enforce a no-fly zone in Northern Syrian and the Turkish planes went into Syrian air space and at least 1 Turkish Armoured Brigade (the 5th) invaded Syria with no harassment from either Russia or the Syrian regime and from all the news sources Jarablus has in effect been liberated.

      The Turks are now hoping that their plan they submitted a year ago to move 300k refugees from Northern Aleppo currently in Turkey back to 3-4 large refugee camps in Northern Syria in the newly liberated territory especially Manbij. The Russians did not object to refugees going back but the Kurds are (the entire Kurdish population east of Khabour is less than 300k) and the US is trying to please everyone and they will never be able to.

  • Is Turkey's Pivot to Russia about Erdogan's Survival? (18)
    • One Sultan out of 36 is not a rule. Plus the Suleiman's strength actually weakened the state against local interests (especially those of the Janissaries and other military groups) and there is a strong case to actually blame him for the stagnation and decline of the Ottoman empire because of those policies.

      The sad story of the printing press and regular native army (as opposed to slave/landed gentry based armies both proposed in the early 17th century by visionary civil servants) is an example. Both were not to be adopted until the time was late (end of the 18th century) and Europe was decisively ascendant.

      As for Erdogan, he might have eliminated all opposition within the AKP through internal party shenanigans (3-4 term limit on all MPs, something unique in Turkish history and a source of its popularity) but his political opponents are strong and will challenge him if they see him as a threat.

      Erdogan's and his friends of the AKP were and are pure statist politicians, ideology for them meant nothing (that is they actually believed in the supremacy of the state) which is why he is in an open conflict with Gulen who wanted an MB/Iranian style state where the AKP would run the real state and Gulen and the movement would run the parallel state.

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic (10)
    • Democracy? What democracy? Harvard says we're an oligarchy. How can we be a democracy when war criminal leaders are above the law? Who voted to send our jobs overseas? The US is the most propagandized, manipulated people the world has ever known. No democracy here.

  • Top 6 Reasons Turkey is Finally attacking ISIL in Syria's Jarabulus (6)
    • It is interesting that the SDF (umbrella group for YPG and Arab fighters) are speculating that the leader of the Jarabulus Military Council was assassinated by Turkish intelligence operatives. (link to The SDF may now elect to attack Al Bab, as the Jarabulus route has been severed. In any case, Northern Aleppo is inhabited by Turkmen, and they may have affinities to Turkey. On the other hand, taking Al Bab may bring the SDF into direct conflict with the regime. The SDF may be so ideologically oriented that it might cause it's own destruction.

  • The Republicans who fear that Trump isn't Belligerent Enough (8)
    • It is unfortunate, and I wish I had the ability to change it, that the American people mainly get the views of the mainstream media, who do, whenever they so chose, occasionally, whenever they must, to establish a little credibility, spit out a little truth that can be no longer covered up.

      That said, it is becoming more and more obvious to the American people, that our country does not prosecute its own war criminals; rather they end up working for corporations or foundations, or teaching at our universities.

      (Imagine the rise in our international prestige if we prosecuted some (one) of our own top war criminals).

      Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton, our country is at a political and emotional low, with less and less faith in our government, and it seeming, baring a major miracle, Hillary Clinton will continue, or raise, our current wars policies and she, too, will be just another war criminal.

      American soldiers will be sacrificed for wars not explained to the American people, or families whose loved ones were killed. (And innocent people whose countries we attack).

      In the mean time;

      "Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." ---- Hermann Goering

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic (10)
    • What about the scenario where Trump acts so erratic that the military step in to remove him as a security threat. They will, of course, hand power over to civilian authorities quickly, but it will set a dangerous precedent to have the military as open "protectors" or democracy.

  • Top 6 Reasons Turkey is Finally attacking ISIL in Syria's Jarabulus (6)