Occasional News and comments on the situation in Post-Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi-American living in Texas
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er...Lee C said what?
I rather like this sculpture. It looks a bit like Chinese characters on the post. Have they a certain meaning? Anyone know?
Thank you, Zeyad. I don't know why that was bugging me, but I felt blind without it.
"It looks a bit like Chinese characters on the post."Cuneiform. Long dead, pre-Arab Assyrians. Not Chinese. Or, at the very least, it's a mock-Cuneiform, random marks designed to invoke the memory of Cuneiform writing. Whether it actually says anything in ancient Assyrian or is just on there for looks is well beyond my ken.
It's Sumerian cuneiform characters
Robert Fisk: Iraq's road back from oblivionMemories of sectarian war, kidnapping and child killing are fading. It is safer. But nine years since Saddam's fall, Robert Fisk meets many who feel they have lost their homelandhttp://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-iraqs-road-back-from-oblivion-7670582.html
What Must Be HeardBaghdad, Baghdad,Whatever happened?Leave me alone.Could see you biggerThan Standard OilAnd America’s stovepipe.You are lookingDo battleFor your freedom.Let me talk to yah.Good morning,How’d you get here?RebeccaStole brother.Is that your annex?What have you done to history?Today bombs,That’s all I hear from you.Where’s my case?I’m not wearing that.Can we recall some peopleBlaming defense?What scapegoat nation?What unwarranted invasion?Then textbook came:PropagandaLet’s travel all damn day.He gives us hope.I give –The volleyballOf change’s position.I gotta go.That’s the front line.Here for a second.Where’s Chandru?He just isn’t splitting up.He’s off to race some other battlefield.Getting hit in the face,How did it hurt?It destroyed my ability to spring.That’s too sad.Jumpitis,Like I said,Said no we’re goin’To get rid of your dictatorIn advance of the early warning system.This was not our doin’.Now we start nowGet someone else to replace ‘imOr somethin’.It’ll knock the fire outta yahA foreigner,You doThat get rid of.Isn’t there right around here?That’s for the trash.It’s close to hereThe idea I have to police my neighbor.What are you tryin’ to do?Here’s the horsesThat step in and bother us.Knock it off.Is it always a lonely game?I don’t know check Hitler.We didn’t perfumeHis army hop.We’re openTo receive an apology.We’re openTo receive war reparations.Take your hardwareButGive us your shoulderHealth minister said.You’re still alive?Let’s hope so.Boy you go into some heavy stuff.I’m gonna get you fired.A poet in IndiaMake for youSomethin’ more than snub your nose.I made a donkey;I made an issueOf your going after me:Someone not in your pretty scheme of things.What are people going to think?Good night.Your mother woke me up.It’s ten thirty.Lens we got here.Isn’t that beautiful:Mountain ranges,You’re up.That’s what I’m sayin’.I’ll be seeing you.by a poet in India
"A poet who reads his own verse in public may have other vices," R.A. Heinlein–The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
lols @ fLee C.
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Just a quick rant before I comment...Did they really think UN monitors were going to work?Seriously?Russia and China have a lot to answer for. If they are ignored they have only themselves to blame...
Lee C & Anonymous,Thank you. As to the meaning of the characters...hmmm, well, given the fact that it was of a recent design I might have just attached a "Kick Me" sign on my back when I said I liked it, depending on the sculptor's feeling about the war and Americans in general. :) Seriously though, I would hope if there is a meaning it has more to do with Iraqis working together to rebuild their country.
But nine years since Saddam's fall, Robert Fisk meets many who feel they have lost their homeland.I could say "home is where the heart is", but I know it would be cold comfort to those having to start over or who stay and struggle with the current situation. But one cannot give up hope that things will improve.
Just one more...Sumerian
"Russia and China have a lot to answer for."Indeed? And to whom shall they answer? "Sumerian"I'm not fully convinced it actually is Sumerian. Might be; I can't tell from lookin’ at it. I guessed Assyrian ‘cause Zeyad identified the location as Baghdad, which has its roots in the old Assyrian empire and heritage rather than the Sumerian.But, our anonymous friend seemed dead certain it was Sumerian, so maybe he can tell the difference. Or maybe he knew the sculptor or something like that.
I'm not fully convinced it actually is Sumerian.You can take a horse to water but...
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Lynnette"Russia and China have a lot to answer for. If they are ignored they have only themselves to blame"You cannot ignore Russia and China without ignoring the UN, that's how the veto-power works. The US uses its veto power to serve US interests and Russia and China does likewise. Learn to live with it.Furthermore, actually NATO has a lot to answer for since the supposed "no fly zone" over Libya was readily (mis)interpreted as a green light to launch an all out war to remove the Khadaffi-regime. Small wonder other major powers are reluctant to approve any resolution with any mentioning of military action the way the Libya resolutions were interpreted."Did they really think UN monitors were going to work?"Maybe. Maybe not. But you do seem to have an opinion on what would work. Care to share it with us? No situation that a few hundred cruise missiles can't improve on, eh?
"The US uses its veto power to serve US interests and Russia and China does likewise"OK, that reads a bit wrong, but ya'll know what I mean.
Hi there –The evil poet.You’re gonna pay for thatSays to me.Can youOpen your mind a second?One of the most important questions of our time,And I feel this real good.a poet in India
Lee,[Lynnette] "Russia and China have a lot to answer for."[Lee] Indeed? And to whom shall they answer?*sigh* No one, Lee. Unless of course you believe in God or some other higher power. If the Syrian people are looking for help from them, they're out of luck. (That wasn't my original verbiage, but I thought I should clean it up just in case someone besides you reads me. :))
Marcus,Furthermore, actually NATO has a lot to answer for since the supposed "no fly zone" over Libya was readily (mis)interpreted as a green light to launch an all out war to remove the Khadaffi-regime.Hmmm...I suppose that's one way of looking at it. Or maybe it was interpreted exactly right...Small wonder other major powers are reluctant to approve any resolution with any mentioning of military action the way the Libya resolutions were interpreted.And what you are saying here is that those "other major powers" were okay with the slaughter of innocent people for the sole purpose of Quadafi, or his supporters, remaining in power. Who is supporting dictators now? The United States certainly caught a lot of flak in that regards in the past, and now that we are rethinking our actions, we are still getting flak. There is no pleasing people.But you do seem to have an opinion on what would work. Care to share it with us?I am looking at past situations. Have monitors really worked anywhere where you are dealing with someone as adament as Assad is in remaining in power? Have sanctions ever really worked? Or did they just make it more miserable for the people of the country under sanction? You think I favor some kind of military action because I am some kind of "Rambo" type. Military action by an outside power should be carefully thought out, yes. But unfortunately it is the only thing some people will listen to. As to what I think might work...that would depend on what the goal is. Do we want Assad out of power? If we do, then someone has to go after him or his military directly. Realistically speaking it is the only thing that would work. If we want to try to protect the people of Syria then we have to remove those who are attacking them. Sounds like the same thing to me."The US uses its veto power to serve US interests and Russia and China does likewise"OK, that reads a bit wrong, but ya'll know what I mean.lol!I don't know, Marcus, I kind of liked how you worded it just fine. ;)
Anybody know an easy way to jump back to Zeyad's first blog post without paging through all of 2003? I've been trying to remember when I first started reading him and I thought that would jog my memory.
Zeyad's first postOr, you can just look at the archives for October of 2003. (Change the month and year and check for other months too.)
@LynnetteLynnette: "I am looking at past situations. Have monitors really worked anywhere where you are dealing with someone as adament as Assad is in remaining in power?"UN monitors have worked very well in the past but mainly when there were two sides that were both strong and where further conflict was seen as having really bad consequences. Two examples would be the monitoring of the Sinai desert in between Israel and Egypt and the monitoring of divided Cyprus between Greece and Turkey. A situation as the present one in Syria has no real precedent, but UN monitors is at least a shot at delaying the fighting and hope (yeah, it's a long shot) for some productive talks.But inheret in your question I sense that for monitors to "work" in your opinion the result of the monitors being there should be the oustig of Assad from power. That's not their mandate and no one has suggested that it should be.Lynnette: "Have sanctions ever really worked?"Sure they have. They have kept away weaponry from states such as Burma and North Korea and Iraq under Saddam. They have also been misused to punish populations in some countries, true. But again I sense that for you to deem sanctions a success they must lead to regime change. Again, that's rarely ever been the stated aim of any sanctions. Lynnette: "Do we want Assad out of power? If we do, then someone has to go after him or his military directly."I don't agree at all. What if you applied the same reasoning against North Korea? If we want Kim Jong Un gone, as we all do, does that mean we must attack using military means? Are you willing to live with the consequences?War against Syria? Be careful what you wish for. Assad is no Khadaffi and Syria's no Libya.
"They [sanctions] have also been misused to punish populations in some countries, true."Have they now?When and where were sanctions used to punish populations?
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Lee: "Have they now?When and where were sanctions used to punish populations?"Iraq under the sanctions bbetween the two gulf wars. The thinking was put pressure on the population and they will blame Saddam. You know that damn well but you're going to deny it since you also know it was not an outspoken official policy. No use debating this because we'll get absolutely nowhere.
"No use debating this because we'll get absolutely nowhere."Meaning you are fully invested in your position and have no intention of ever being persuaded, no matter the evidence or argument.Consider this the briefest of rebuttals then. I'm not lookin’ for a response. 1. We didn't give a damn about the population ‘blaming’ Saddam. We wanted rid of Saddam. To that end we were trying to encourage a Ba'ath Party coup. After our experience with the Iranians, post-Shaw, we weren't all that interested in a popular uprising among a majority Shia population. The general notion was to make things hard on the limited upper-class that constituted the Ba'athi ruling class so they'd replace Saddam and we'd still have an Iraq hostile to Iran, but no Saddam at the helm. 2. We began pushing fairly early on for adjustment of the sanctions, ‘Smart Sanctions’ Colin Powell like to call ‘em, to better target our intended target audience (i.e. the pro-Ba'athi ruling class), and we ran into stiff resistance (ultimately effective resistance) from our erstwhile European allies (notably lead by France and Jacque Chirac) who seemed to have believed that we'd eventually buckle under and agree to lift the sanctions instead if we couldn't get them better targeted. 3. It was Saddam who bribed the U.N. officials running the Oil-for-Food program. There was plenty ‘nuff oil flowing out of Iraq and money flowing in to pay the necessaries for food and medicine and clothing and the like. (And it's not like the Shia majority was getting electricity and clean water anyway; those were reserved for Saddam's power base in Anwar and Baghdad.) 4. There's more, but that'll do to go on… ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Arguably, the sanctions against apartheid South Africa were indeed intended to punish Bruno and the whole rest of the honky population then in charge down there.And, some of the participants in various sanctions that have been against Israel would dearly love to destroy the Israeli nation outright. Arguably some of that was/is intended to punish the general population, for being there, for being Jews, to drive them out, to scatter them again.But, I rather doubted that either of those examples would have occurred to you.Felt rather confident that you'd just go with the canard ‘bout the sanctions against Saddam's Iraq.
More re: American politics:Romney enjoyed a modest surge in popularity last week, once he had locked down the Republican nomination. In the RCP average of polls he drew to within 2.5% of Obama. However, that movement has leveled off, even reversed. Current trends show Obama beginning to pull away from Romney again.RCP currently shows Obama would get 227 electoral votes to Romney's 170 (270 needed to win; 141 up for grabs still).Karl Rove, the Republican ‘architect’ and purseholder of the conservative ‘CrossRoads’ super-PAC has Obama at 220 electoral votes solid, and Romney at 93. Add in the states ‘leaning’ one way or another, and Rove gives it to Obama 284 to 172 (82 rated a toss-up).One might suspect Rove of overestimating Obama's lead to ‘fire up’ the Republican base, but it's still lookin’ bad for Romney if one goes with the more level RCP analysis.My guess is that Romney's brief ‘surge’ after locking down the Republican nomination was mostly the result of a few hard-right-wingers coming to the conclusion that they now had to suck it up and back Romney.It's early yet. The economy could still go south this summer, boosting Romney's challenge, and there's still the three debates, which I figure will count fairly heavy this year.
Zeyad, it's a beautiful sculpture. Pity the picture gives no idea of scale, unless those are trees silhouetted at the base, in which case it looks impossibly huge.
Thanks, Lee. Actually I had tried the month and year in the search box, but just picked the wrong month. Or was too impatient to wait for it to pull up. It was familiar, but I don't know if that was because I read it right away or after the fact. For some reason I think of the Iraqi bloggers I read Riverbend first.
Marcus,UN monitors have worked very well in the past but mainly when there were two sides that were both strong and where further conflict was seen as having really bad consequences.Both your examples pertain to countries. What we are looking at in Syria is in effect civil war. And I believe it is a close parallel to Libya in that regard. A similiar situation that jumps to mind that involved UN monitors was Srebrenica. And we all know how that turned out.A situation as the present one in Syria has no real precedent, but UN monitors is at least a shot at delaying the fighting and hope (yeah, it's a long shot) for some productive talks.I beg to differ. I still believe Libya is the precedent. And the fighting has already started. Our choice is which side are we going to pick to support. Or do we let nature take its course and allow Assad to crush his people like his father did?But inheret in your question I sense that for monitors to "work" in your opinion the result of the monitors being there should be the oustig of Assad from power.Yes, I believe Assad should be removed from power. Just as I believe any dictator should. The only question is if we(the US) should be involed in some way shape or form, and if so, how.[regarding sanctions]They have kept away weaponry from states such as Burma and North Korea and Iraq under Saddam.And the resulting collateral damage to the populations of those countries is/was huge. The one country in your list that might actually deserve to be there is Burma. But the jury is still out, time will tell.But again I sense that for you to deem sanctions a success they must lead to regime change. Again, that's rarely ever been the stated aim of any sanctions.Then if I wanted regime change I would not use sanctions. If we want Kim Jong Un gone, as we all do, does that mean we must attack using military means? Are you willing to live with the consequences?North Korea is not the same as Libya or Syria in that the population has not actively, as far as I know, attempted to remove their leader. What we did in Libya, and could do in Syria, is support those who are already fighting for a chance at a different life, much as France helped us in our quest for independence from Great Britain so long ago. Unlike France though our support would not necessarily have to be boots on the ground.
*cough* *cough*Zeyad, you did ask for ideas about the site, and at the risk of being the squeaky wheel again, I have another suggestion. :)For some reason the comments that pop up in the preview box are strung out instead of fitting in the little box. So it's kind of hard to preview without moving the slide on the bottom. And the whole section doesn't stretch anymore like it used to.Okay, so now I'll try to shut up. ;)(I'm not making any promises though.)
2 views on US involvement in Syria:YesNo
"The only question is if we(the US) should be involed in some way shape or form, and if so, how."I'm all for somebody takin’ out Assad. I'm even willing to get involved. BUT… This is not our fight and we're not particularly popular in the neighborhood. Good to keep both these things firmly in mind.I think that Obama's maneuvers with respect Libya are a good model. Show a little leg, but only a little. Make them come to us and ask for help. Make somebody else carry the water. We show up and do only the stuff that only we can do. That's our contribution, what's needed, and only what's needed. And only after we've actually been asked.Make it easy for them to ask. Let ‘em know the answer could easily be 'yeah, sure, we'll help.’. Good way to do that is let the Turks know we're waiting to be asked for stuff they need and ain't got and can't get elsewhere, and would consider favorably any reasonable request. And what is reasonable depends on what they need that they can't get without our help. Also let the Turks know that we'll not be frownin’ on them for getting in there a little deeper themselves, and they'll not be facing any hostile U.N. Security Council resolutions so long as they maintain a modicum of decency and restraint. (No more of that stuff like they did to the Armenians.)The Obama administration coined the term ‘leading from behind’. It drives the neo-cons nuts, but I don't care. That may even be considered a lagniappe.I read an article about Marco Rubio's recent trip to Libya. He remarked that people were coming up to him in the street and, using what may have been the only English some of them knew, saying ‘Thank you America; thank you Obama.’ (Appears they didn't make out that he was there to pump up his résumé in case of a nod for the Republican Veep position in a run against Obama.)
"Mitt Romney's senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, speaking at a Washington Post forum moderated by Dan Balz this morning, underscored that the campaign is ceding the cool-kid argument to President Obama, an issue that dominated part of the last two days after an American Crossroads video that paid homage to the John McCain ‘Celebrity’ ad from 2008. ***: "‘This election is not going to be about who's cooler,’ Romney senior adviser Peter Flaherty said at a Washington Post Live Newsmaker Forum." First Read; MSNBC via Burns & HabermanI hadn't worried ‘bout that before, but, now that they've brought it up… I reckon we can all feel relieved that we'll not be subjected to the spectacle of Mitt Romney tryin’ to be ‘cool’. "Asked if there was any one reliably Democratic state that could be moved into the Romney column this fall, Fehrnstrom predicted that Michigan, where the former Massachusetts governor was born and raised, could flip from blue to red. They're familiar with the Romney ‘brand’ there, Fehrnstrom said." First Read, MSNBC, straight upYeah, right. He barely beat Santorum in Michigan, and he outspent Santorum something like seven to one.
[Lynnette]: "A similiar situation that jumps to mind that involved UN monitors was Srebrenica. And we all know how that turned out."A lot could be said about Srebrenica. But to cut a long story short that whole phase of the Bosnian civil war was characterised by indecision and confusion about mandate on the part of the UN. Plus, there is no point having monitors and "peace keepers" in a situation where the belligerents are still actively waging a war. The UNPROFOR forces needed a resolution just to allow them to use force in self defence!Better examples are the post-Dayton Accord forces -- IFOR, SFOR and EUFOR. They've quietly done 16 years of peace keeping in a situation where for most of the time the parties to the former conflict were still in extremely hostile mood.
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Lee,Fareed Zakaria had Brent Scowcroft on his show Sunday and asked his take on the Syria situation. He seems to lean more toward Marcus' point of view in that the US should use caution in whatever we decide to do, as what is now an insurrection could turn into a full blown civil war with more casualties. Which is kind of what I would expect, because if this were easy it might have been done long ago.I tend to agree with much of what you said. I think the asking has already been done, though, and my guess would be that all options are being looked at. As you suggest Turkey could play a pivotal role.
PeteS,Wasn't the post Dayton period ushered in with some kind of military activity by the US? Bombing as I recall. But I think those forces did do a good job when they were deployed. Plus, there is no point having monitors and "peace keepers" in a situation where the belligerents are still actively waging a war.Very true. And given Assad's actions I question whether or not Kofi Annan's ceasefire is even possible. At least not until Assad's military has beaten the opposition to death.
" Brent Scowcroft…seems to lean more toward Marcus' point of view in that the US should use caution in whatever we decide to do…"Fairly empty platitude. It's hard to argue against a generic warning to proceed with ‘caution’. " …what is now an insurrection could turn into a full blown civil war with more casualties."I do believe that train's already left the station. Assad decided to try to crush an originally peaceful (mostly peaceful anyway) protest movement. They didn't start out demanding revolution; they were merely demanding reforms. When Assad ratcheted things up they could have either raised back or folded; they raised back. It's on now. Now it'll either heat up or drag out as a guerrilla war, but there's gonna more bleedin’ either way. "I think the asking has already been done."They haven't asked us for what they need. (Defined as, what do they need from us; i.e. what can they not get elsewhere? And, one can add the additional caveat that it should also be something they're in a position to use effectively.) I wasn't suggesting we give them everything they might want or even everything they might ask for.
Here's a decent analysis of the situation in Syria:http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ND26Ak02.html I find myself agreeing with Lee in that: "It's on now. Now it'll either heat up or drag out as a guerrilla war, but there's gonna more bleedin’ either way."
[Lynnette]: Wasn't the post Dayton period ushered in with some kind of military activity by the US? Bombing as I recall. But I think those forces did do a good job when they were deployed.Yes, but the bombing was under NATO auspices ( - NATO's first ever combat mission), whereas the peace keeping had been UN. Previously there had been some use of air power, but the UN peace keepers on the ground were a disaster (mainly as a result of lack of resolve), the Bosnian Serbs simply took hundreds of UN peacekeepers hostage to use as human shields against NATO planes.After years of dithering by the European powers, I believe you Yanks finally decided enough was enough and ended the whole thing in three weeks of sustained air attacks, including ship-launched Tomahawks (and, admittedly helped out by the German Luftwaffe and others).It's quite strange to think now, remembering the opprobrium heaped on the US for its military adventures in the first decade of the millenium, that in the previous decade it was sorting out a European problem, in Europe, to bring aid and comfort to European Muslims.
Don't mean to change the subjuct, but I wanted to share this article on dark matter with those interested.
[Lee] They haven't asked us for what they need. (Defined as, what do they need from us; i.e. what can they not get elsewhere? And, one can add the additional caveat that it should also be something they're in a position to use effectively.)Well, to actually ask for something specific would be to have knowledge of our capabilities, and I can't see where they would have that. Also, they may not actually have the organization set up to requisition specific things. So perhaps that lends itself to the idea that they could use organizational and logistical help. Or people who have that capability within Syria itself should be encouraged to offer it...
[Marcus] I find myself agreeing with Lee in that: "It's on now. Now it'll either heat up or drag out as a guerrilla war, but there's gonna more bleedin’ either way."You can include me in that agreement as well. There are too many cracks to put everything back the way it was. That would seem to me to apply to the entire region in general.
[PeteS] It's quite strange to think now, remembering the opprobrium heaped on the US for its military adventures in the first decade of the millenium, that in the previous decade it was sorting out a European problem, in Europe, to bring aid and comfort to European Muslims.Some people have short memories.
The crime of ‘insulting Islam’ is apparently considered a little less seriously in Egypt than in Tunisia, only three months as opposed to seven years: "Adel Imam, one of Egypt's most beloved comedic actors, was sentenced to jail for insulting Islam. Not for something he said but for roles he played in films. *** "What makes this court ruling even more prepost -erous is that these films are not recent films. They are pre-revolution films that were approved by the former government. "Last week a court upheld a three-month prison sentence given to the 71-year old actor in February for ‘insulting’ Islam in his films ‘Morgan Ahmed Morgan’ and ‘Al-Zaeem.’ It was one of two cases brought against him by an Islamist lawyer…" CNN
to bring aid and comfort to European MuslimsLOL! I doubt Pete genuinely believes that.Lynnette,It's not that people have short memories, they just have a different (much less naive!) analysis of why imperial countries project their power abroad.Dropping bombs from the sky isn't humanitarian, that's a good rule of thumb there.Oh Pete$,Your mate Sean Brady is facing renewed calls to resign. If I had my way he'd spend the rest of his miserable days in a jail cell.
"…they just have a different (much less naive!) analysis of why imperial countries project their power abroad."Gonna havta disagree with your implied assertion of some sort of sophistication on your own part. You seem to not have noticed that America has no empire.What kind of idiot claims that countries with no empires are ‘imperial countries’?
JG,to bring aid and comfort to European MuslimsLOL! I doubt Pete genuinely believes that.However, the net effect of our involvement was aid and comfort to those who were on the receiving end of attacks by the Serbs. ...why imperial countries project their power abroad.Ignoring your description of the United States as an imperial power(I'll let Lee argue about that), I think our projection of power abroad had more to do with the fact that Europe was not stepping up to the plate in their own backyard, rather than any devious motive on our part. If I remember correctly we were reluctant to get involved miitarily, kind of like you see with Syria today.Dropping bombs from the sky isn't humanitarian, that's a good rule of thumb there.Certainly not for those they are being dropped on, true. But then humanitarian was not the intent in those cases, was it? Some people just don't listen if they are asked nicely.
The crime of ‘insulting Islam’ is apparently considered a little less seriously in Egypt than in Tunisia, only three months as opposed to seven years:A frivolous lawsuit that should have been thrown out for wasting the court's time.
Anybody read The Swerve? It sounds interesting. Perhaps we could send a few copies to Egypt?
"Dropping bombs from the sky isn't humanitarian, that's a good rule of thumb there."Not prepared to devote the time to address all of JG$'s inanities, so we'll take one at random.Where did this rule of thumb come from? The NATO air sorties were primarily:a) implementing a no-fly zone to stop Serb planes bombing defenceless Bosniaks;b) taking out the artillery pieces with which Serbs had besieged Sarajevo and were protecting their sniper positions;c) busting Serb tanks which were shelling UN patrolled enclaves including, I hasten to add, Srebrenica before it finally caved in to Serb demands to withdraw.Had the NATO bombing been less piecemeal at that time, and the Dutch UN troops less lily-livered, 8,000 male Bosniaks would be still alive today instead of having their bone fragments picked over by relatives and forensic investigators. Which is why moronic and self-satisfied comments like the one italicised above make me very angry.Your mate Sean Brady is facing renewed calls to resign. If I had my way he'd spend the rest of his miserable days in a jail cell.Fortunately your personal totalitarian state doesn't yet extend beyond the confines of your own living room.
Lynnette - thanks for the article on Dark Matter ... very interesting. I'm not a big fan of Dark Matter, although I'd be the first to say that science is much too faddish these days, and scientific truth does not depend on likes or dislikes.One of my gripes is that among the reasons for conceiving of dark matter in the first place was the need to "close" the universe. That is, in order to make the matter density of the universe such that its expansion would eventually stop and reverse, or at least asymptotically approach zero (the "flat" universe), a great deal more matter was needed that was apparent in the luminous stuff that we can see. The reason for the closed or flat universe was purely theoretical: it made some maths more elegant. (It also brought theories of cyclical universes into the fold, countering the alarmingly biblical singular Big Bang ;)I was always of the opinion that the simplest explanation really was the most logical -- the universe isn't closed. And such turned out to be the case when Hipparcos did its measurements in the mid-90s. But Dark Matter didn't go away. It had a role in explaining the anomalous rotation rates of galaxies. But there are other explanations of that -- Hans Alfven's plasma cosmology for one. (Alfven was a very clever Swedish engineer and physicist. Unfortunately he has a "fan base" with a lot of crack pots these days. But Alfven's own credentials -- including a Nobel prize -- are impeccable).Of course, Alfven could have been completely off the mark. He had a penchant for working from processes that could be demonstrated in the laboratory, instead of invoking mysterious principles. The real explanation for galactic rotation rates and cluster behaviour may be different. But my gut tells me that Dark Matter is just too exotic. It's everywhere but doesn't interact with ordinary matter. It surrounds the galaxy in a halo, but is prevented from falling in because of thermal agitation ( - according to one theory; but there are hot dark matter and cold dark matter theories!).Ok, there's no law of the universe that says things have to be simple. But Dark Matter often seems to be clutching at one straw too many.
[lee] "The general notion was to make things hard on the limited upper-class that constituted the Ba'athi ruling class"" Between August 1990 and January 1991, food prices had gone up by as much as 1,000%. For the first time in history, a government has been prohibited from purchasing and importing food and medicine for its own people. Despite clear indications that a humanitarian emergency existed within Iraq, from August 6, 1990 to March 1991 no food whatsoever was allowed to enter Iraq (from any source) according to the provision of sanctions Resolutions 661 and 666. It is patently obvious that thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians (mostly children) are dying of disease and starvation. They are dying because the international community has withdrawn from them their fundamental human right to food and medical care. "http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/International_War_Crimes/Sanctions_EHoskins_WC.html
"Between August 1990 and January 1991…"Ah, yes, the pre-Desert Storm sanctions. Different beast. Likewise did not work though, the Iraqi remained in Kuwait and had to be dislodged by force.
Re: American politics "According to the Wesleyan Media Project, which analyzes political advertising, 70 percent of the ads to date have been negative, compared to just 9 percent over the same period in 2008. "The harsh tone is being driven by interest groups, but they’re not alone — the candidates’ own ads have become a lot darker too." Politico.comRCP has come into closer alignment with Karl Rove's calculations on the American presidential elections. They have Obama currently taking 253 electoral votes to Romney's 170 (270 needed to win). 115 are considered "toss-ups".It's still earliy, and the actual margin is thin; 3.5%.
PeteS,Thanks for your input on Dark Matter. Other than basic astronomy courses in college I haven't delved too deeply into this topic. It is only as I became interested in global climate change that I've progressed to this. I finally found a copy of Stephen Hawkings" "The Grand Design", but haven't started it yet. I was distracted by Iraq again. :)
The European Fiscal Treaty referendum is fast approaching in Ireland. As usual, Ireland is the only country that gets to vote on a matter of considerable import for Europe. While much has been made of past government bullying in Irish European referenda, including re-running two referenda where they didn't get the result they wanted, it seems they are on top of the PR for this one:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZfzAOooEOU
Funny ad Pete. I could have used some subtitles but I got the gist of it. What way will the referendum go do you think?
[lee] "The general notion was to make things hard on the limited upper-class that constituted the Ba'athi ruling class"[bruno] "Between August 1990 and January 1991…"[lee] Ah, yes, the pre-Desert Storm sanctions. Different beast."Moving the goalposts, also known as raising the bar, is an informal logically fallacious argument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. In other words, after a goal has been scored, the goalposts are moved farther to discount the attempt. This attempts to leave the impression that an argument had a fair hearing while actually reaching a preordained conclusion"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moving_the_goalpostsNevertheless:[Tuesday, 8 February, 2000] "A senior United Nations official in Iraq has again called for an end to UN sanctions, saying they have created a "true human tragedy". Hans von Sponeck, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Baghdad, said the UN's oil-for-food programme was not meeting the minimum requirements of the Iraqi people. Under the programme, Iraqi oil can be sold to buy food, medicines and other supplies. "As a UN official, I should not be expected to be silent to that which I recognise as a true human tragedy that needs to be ended," Mr Von Sponeck said. "How long the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this, should be exposed to such punishment for something that they have never done?" he asked."http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/635784.stm
Saddam must nave neglected to get ‘Hans von Sponeck, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Baghdad’ an appropriate cut on action.
(And, your attempts in invoke a logical analysis are almost painful just to watch--look at that and think, ‘Man that's gotta make his head hurt tryin’ to get his head around such things.’ Like watchin’ an elephant tryin’ to jump, ya just know that's gotta hurt.)
Off topic (off any prior topic):The Chinese have apparently agreed to allow Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng to leave the country with his immediate family on a studen visa to ‘study’ abroad. This avoids an embarrassing confrontation over him potentially requesting political asylum after he'd already left the American Embassy. This is assuming the deal goes forward as announced.On the topic of American politics, this case was rapidly being seized upon by the Romney campaign (with congressional Republicans doing all they could to help hype) as an attack point against the Obama administration. Seems it will be substantially defused now.However, April's jobs report was weak, only 115,000 new jobs reported, so Romney's still got that goin’ for him.
[Marcus]: "What way will the referendum go do you think?"I think it will be passed by a 60-40 majority, although I could see it narrowing to 55-45 depending on events between now and the end of the month.There are two camps, each of them as deluded as the other.The "No" camp think austerity is an evil government conspiracy to frighten the population into accepting wage cuts, tax hikes, and abolition of services. This group, if they think about it at all, think that by repudiating our banking debts life will return to normal. Unemployment will disappear and we will all go back to our natural occupations of building and selling million euro houses to each other, on our damp little Atlantic rock. What about the piffling matter of our 15 billion euro overspend on an annual tax take of 75 billion? Well, there's the fly in the ointment. And that's why the "No" proponents, who are primarily the left wingers and the unions, haven't even convinced their own constituency. In fact, the unions were divided, because the public sector representatives know which side their bread is buttered on, and it is not the one in which Oirland is cast adrift on its damp little rock, to instantly balance its own budget without IMF or EU help. During the Russian financial crisis, the teachers got paid in vodka. We don't have any vodka. Right now the Germans are lending us money to pay our public sector 30% more than the German public sector earns. Who'd want to upset that applecart?Then there is the "Yes" camp. These are the austerity mongers. By lowering costs and reducing government spending we will restore competitiveness and gradually work our way through our mountain of debt. Except we won't ... because it's simply too big, our growth is too low, and the global economic climate too depressed. Our GNP growth is impressive, but that is because of multinational corporations who simply use us (at our request, of course) as a tax haven. That adds welcome wages to GDP figures. But the domestic economy is a catastrophe. We cannot shift the overhang of corporate and personal debt no matter what we do -- it's an economic impossibility. Some of the "Yes" camp know this. They are banking (pun intended) on the idea that the Germans will see what good Eurozone citizens we are and, just when we think all is lost, will wave the magic wand of debt forgiveness. In this fairytale story, the Fiscal Compact is the challenge we have to face in order to live happily ever after, as opposed to a last desperate attempt on the part of German politicians to convince their own constituents that they are not pissing their money down a European peripheral drain inhabited by thieves and wastrels. Personally, I'm leaning toward a "Yes" but I am undecided. I think we are going to default as a matter of practical certainty. It could be argued, if that's the case, that we might as well bite the bullet now and have it over and done with. But the implications are horrendous, so I am joining the ranks of the deluded and voting to kick the can down the road a bit longer.
"Our GNP growth is impressive, but that is because of multinational corporations who simply use us (at our request, of course) as a tax haven."This is one of the things I'd like to fix in my longed for total re-write of the American tax system.Ireland imposes a denominated corporate income tax of 12½% on ‘trade income’, which includes the profits Pfizer makes on sales in the United States. ‘Non Trading Income’ corporate income tax rates (Phizer sales in Ireland) are 25%. Plus, Ireland has a VAT tax that applies to Pfizer sales within Ireland at a rate of 23%.So, Pfizer sales in Ireland are taxed at 48%, but the VAT isn't applied to Pfizer sales in the United States.Again, Pfizer sales in the United States are taxed at 12½%.Considering how much larger the American market is for drugs, one can readily see why Pfizer would elect to be ‘based’ in Ireland, while making its money in America.I would propose that we re-capture the differential Ireland is exploiting. We should have an offshore corporate tax provision that picks up the difference between 48% and 12½% and hits Pfizer up for that differential of 35½% on all sales made in America.I believe we'll need a VAT tax provision for that work. At least a VAT for imports from places that use the VAT tax themselves.Just one of my proposed changes.
And what of France? Will it be Sarkozy or Hollande? And if there is a change, will it upset the fragile European applecart?
Polls indicate that Sarkosy is toast, and François Hollande is going to be the new president. He'll try to upset the austerity consensus. I'm not sure he'll succeed.
Apparently Sarkozy came closer than the earlier polling had suggested was probable. Came in 52% to 48% Hollande over Sarkozy.
Plenty of Oirish will be hoping that Hollande persuades Merkel to cancel austerity and issue eurobonds. Won't happen.
Pfizer doesn't pay tax on US sales in Ireland. It presumably cross charges it's US wing for manufacturing in Ireland. Probably charges way over the odds too. Perfectly legal.
I reckon the euro will limp along until September 2013, when German elections take place. Then the game is up.
"…US sales in Ireland…"Something of a novel notion there. Most people would think that U.S. sales necessarily occur in the U.S. (Unless of course, we were discussing sales by the U.S., which we weren't.) Be that as it may…I realized when I wrote what I wrote that I was simplifying it sufficiently to allow you to intentionally misunderstand if you so chose. Accordingly, I am not dismayed. (For the record, income taxes aren't paid on sales, but rather on taxable income, usually net income (profits) from same. Same is true of VAT taxes. I just didn't wanna string the explanation out more than necessary to get the point across.)
It occurs to me that one possible result of Hollande's win is that it marginally increases the (perhaps slim) chance that it'll be Germany that withdraws from the Euro, and maybe not Greece. (Although I'd bet on Greece going first.) There is an argument to be made that it makes more sense for Germany to just cut the lot of ‘em loose and go its own way.
I notice the simian knows more about jumping elephants than the sanctions on Iraq ... although he's never shy to foist his worthless opinion on us. Case closed.
"I just didn't wanna string the explanation out more than necessary to get the point across."Yawn. You already have.
"There is an argument to be made that it makes more sense for Germany to just cut the lot of ‘em loose and go its own way."Only a stupid one.
"Only a stupid one."Be that as it may… My point was that the election of Hollande suggests that Germany's preferred ‘solution’ to the PIIGS problem is becoming considerably less popular with its Euro-partners. The less likely one is to get one's own way, the more likely one is to pick up one's marbles and leave. And I still think that Hollande's victory makes it at least marginally more likely that Germany may decide to go that way. You don't seem to have addressed that point at all.(In my estimation, you are spending way too much time actively looking for some tangential matter to argue about.)
The French weren't thinking about the PIIGS when they elected Hollande. They were thinking of the French. (And Lee is spending way too much time deliberately misunderstanding and then getting pissy)
"The French weren't thinking about the PIIGS when they elected Hollande. They were thinking of the French."They were thinking France is up next on the list, and they don't want the German austerity solution is what they were thinking.
I think many of the French were just thinking: "merde! I really hate that little wannabe Napoleon Zarkozy and that trophy wife of his. I'm voting for the other guy!"
+1 Marcus. By the way, what'll be the new portmanteau to replace Merkozy? Merkande is a possibility, but even more compact would be Merde. :-)I fancy they won't be quite so joined at the hip though. Mme Le Pen prob got it right today when she said Hollande would first disappoint his supporters and then disappoint France. Hard to see how he can go on a stimulus spree. France probably has a housing bubble about to pop, it's banks are knackered as well as having 750 bn in loans to PIIGS.
"The election of Socialist Francois Hollande to the presidency of France is a transparent ploy by the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to make Obama look more reasonable. Probably organized by ACORN and funded by Soros. American voters will see through this ruse." Grover Norquist ― President, Americans for Tax Reform (author of the anti-tax ‘pledge’ commonly signed by our Republican congressmen)
Ok, now that made me laugh. Could be the first time Lee ever provided entertainment (as opposed to being the entertainment).Along the same lines, I dug up this bonus track.
Don't tell Norquist that Hollande is what passes for a centrist and a moderate in France :-)
In fact ... how's Hollande going to avoid France's austerity measures? They can't print money. The bond markets will kill them if they keep running a deficit. Maybe he's gonna stop paying for the banks and let them take their losses.So is that what Europe is scared shitless of? A socialist behaving like a capitalist?:-)
"The election of Socialist Francois Hollande to the presidency of France is a transparent ploy by the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to make Obama look more reasonable.ROFL!Keep on talking Grover and maybe your supporters will finally wake up to what an idiot you are. There's always hope anyway.
"The bond markets will kill them if they keep running a deficit."Money money gets concentrated in the hands off fewer people, and they gotta put it somewhere. They keep looking for the borrower who won't default.More re: American politics:In the meantime, seems Romney is enjoyin’ a surge against Obama. RCP average of polls show it at a .6% advantage for Obama nationwide. 46% to 45.4%.Even so, they've still got the electoral vote at 253 for Obama, 170 for Romney (270 needed to win).That doesn't seem to make sense.There's been something of a persistent disconnect for me between the results of the averaging of polls (a fairly recent phenomenon but an extremely useful idea), which averages consistently show Obama with a very small lead over Romney, and the analyses of electoral college votes, which analyses generally show Obama with a commanding lead in electoral votes. It just didn't seem to feel right to me. Apparently, I'm not the only one. Electionate.Com is claiming that the averages of polls have been skewed by the fact that the Rassmussen and Gallup polls are coming out daily, and thus getting ‘overweighted’ in the averaging processes, and that both exhibit a persistent ‘slant’ in favor of Romney. Theory works for me.I'd not actually noticed a slant in favor of Romney in the Gallup polling organization, but now that they mention it…Rassmussen polls, on the other hand, were so consistently favorable to the Republicans that I'd noticed it without bothering to look for it. (I'd begun to discount their polling almost as much as I discount the polling of FoxNews.) In fact Rassmussen pollsters were beginning to show up as guests on the Glenn Hannibaugh radio circuit, and fairly clearly acting as cheerleaders for the Republicans.There are some other polls I suspect of a ‘slant’ in opposition to the Republicans.But, I hadn't noticed that the Gallup and Rassmussen polls were getting extra weight in the averages published by RCP and others, simply by publishing results more often. Probably something to keep in mind going forward.On the other hand, maybe the state-wide polls are just lagging, aren't conducted often enough and just haven't caught up with the Romney surge as of yet.
Speaking of bonds, I just changed some short term for itermediate term. I had bought short term when I thought inflation was just around the corner, but now I'm starting to wonder.
Although, perhaps Hollande's stimulus policies will pull Europe out of another recession?
The French economy isn't big enough to drag the rest of Europe out of a recession on its own power. Might make a local difference in France; might not.
I might say "home is wherever the guts is", however i do know it might be consolation to those having to begin over or UN agency keep and struggle with the present state of affairs. however one cannot hand over hope that things can improve. power precision
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