Asia

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Israel But Were Afraid To Ask

After a summer break, another episode of International Edition with Levy and Counsell is up at Ricochet.com. [iTunes link to follow.] Here’s the Ricochet blurb: TV news shows often only turn up in distant countries when the shooting starts. This approach can scare off, or simply puzzle, intelligent and curious viewers who would prefer more backstory […]

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International Edition with Levy and Counsell Episode 12: Michael J Totten

This week, Judith Levy and I interviewed independent international correspondent Michael J. Totten. Michael Totten, who has reported extensively from the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. Sohrab Ahmari of Commentary wrote of Michael that he "practices journalism in the tradition of Orwell: morally imaginative, partisan in the best sense of the word, and delivered in […]

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Levy & Counsell podcast 4: National Manners, International Diplomacy, and Statehood at the United Nations

Over at Ricochet.com, our producer Scott named this podcast The Politics of Petulance after an article of the same name by David Horovitz in the Times Of Israel that Judith and I mention towards the end of our discussion. There are a few other sources I’d like to give credit to: Yau-Man Chan at Skepticblog writing about the curious cult of […]

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Dancing about architecture

There is a small, ugly overlap between the kind of people who complain about reduced state funding for the arts and education in the UK and the kind of people who excuse the burning of books, advocate the closure of places of learning, attack performances of classical music, and disrupt debates in bookshops. Outside this […]

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Emeritus Professor Of Political Thought explains Muslim Rage

There’s a letter in today’s Economist about the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya by fundamentalist extremists that encapsulates the rich blend of bigotry, ignorance, non sequitur, crude generalization, snobbery, and sheer, gobsmacking stupidity in which the thought processes of fashionable over-educated opinion stew. It also gives me an opportunity to try out my new […]

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Lessons For Us All

I recommend you read all of this Martin In The Margins post: Taliban tactics in Tower Hamlets: I’m not sure why I’ve been so affected by the story of Gary Smith, the east London RE teacher who was assaulted by four Islamic extremists because they disapproved of him teaching religion to Muslim girls. Perhaps it […]

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Animals Or Savages?

Some commentators who have opinionated about the recent murders in Afghanistan, murders supposedly committed “in response to” a US pastor’s burning a copy of the Koran, have resorted to what I ironically call “good racism”. Bad racism is what unemployed people living on council housing estates display when they blame their being unemployed on immigrants. […]

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Bush Was Right

This would be a good day to quote and laugh at some of the many racist articles written over the past few years that warned us not to “inflame the Arab Street”, that rhetorical mass of undifferentiated savages that “we” created by interfering in the Noble Civilizations of the region with our Imperialist Adventures, and […]

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A Face-Saving Exercise

The BBC reports: A former soldier who was jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan has handed back a medal in protest at Britain’s involvement in the war. “There’s a real up-swell of awareness now among military families and among the military, and among the people in this country, that this conflict is, has kind […]

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What Hamas Gets Up To When No One (Here) Is Looking

Over at Ricochet, Judith Levy illustrates her commentary on the state of the “ceasefire” with a picture of the effects of another rocket attack from Gaza on a rehabilitation centre for special needs kids in Israel two days ago. For “prison camp” guards, the Israelis are surprisingly easygoing. …the attack on Sderot took place twenty-four […]

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Moral Philosophers Of Our Time

Charles Alexander: The former partner of killer gunman Raoul Moat was yesterday blamed for the death of an innocent man and the maiming of a police officer. The deranged bodybuilder’s uncle Charles Alexander claims Samantha Stobbart also has the blood of her ex-lover on her hands. The 72-year-old former soldier launched a astonishing tirade of […]

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Tough Characters

In Web time, this is an ancient (1991) essay, so I don’t feel guilty that I can’t remember who drew my attention to it today: “Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard“. Someone once said that learning Chinese is “a five-year lesson in humility”. I used to think this meant that at the end of five […]

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Two excellent blog posts

The first is at Freemania: The really important thing about Iraq: us Today Gordon Brown gives evidence to the Chilcot inquiry. This weekend, amid violent attacks on polling stations, Iraq holds an election. I wonder which will get the most coverage? The rest of the world exists primarily as a mirror for us. The second […]

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Unfortunate headlines of the day

The BBC News Website has changed its original headline: SARAH PALIN LASHES OBAMA AT FIRST TEA PARTY CONVENTION —bring your houseboy, and let’s party like it’s 1779!—to this one: SARAH PALIN CONDEMNS OBAMA AT FIRST TEA PARTY CONVENTION but, Liz Jones’s latest wibble—search for it if you like; I’m not going to link to it—retains […]

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National Stereotypes

I have just searched Google News for “Afghanistan”. The top three stories are, in order: 500 more British soldiers will go to Afghanistan—[report] Italians bribed the Taleban all over Afghanistan—[report] France will not send any more troops to Afghanistan—[report]

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Single Transferable Mope

I picked up this Prospect blogpost, via the magazine’s twitter feed, where it carried a headline that falls into the Kamm/Rentoul category of “Great Historical Questions To Which The Answer Is ‘No’.“: “Is Afghanistan Obama’s Vietnam?” The article itself doesn’t bother with the question mark, but is a classic of the “another Vietnam” genre, once […]

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Making The Cars Run On Time

Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, said yesterday that he preferred totalitarian regimes to democracies and praised Adolf Hitler for his ability to “get things done”. Mr Ecclestone endorsed the concept of a government based on tyranny. “Politicians are too worried about elections,” he said. “We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea […]

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The Spirit Of Lord Rothermere Lives On

Every single “serious” newspaper in the UK led with Iran this morning. But The Daily Mail devoted its entire front page to an attack on Gordon Brown and the Iraq Inquiry, and The Express (alongside a photograph of a Euro Lotto winner cradling a giant cabbage) to asylum seekers, the largest group of whom before the war came […]

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Offensive Language

Harry Windsor is a “thug” for referring to another soldier by the nickname “Paki”, according to Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, quoted by the BBC. The BBC page links to the Website of that organisation, where Shafiq also claims that the government of Israel is like that of the Nazis. The organization’s Chairman and […]

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Top Chef

Tim Newman is a blogging engineer, currently terraforming the far eastern Russian island of Sakhalin, a place Wikipedia describes as “less cold than inland Siberia”, with a view to it being fit for human habitation some time in the 22nd century. His account of his ten days spent on a Russian icebreaker is entertaining.

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On The Thrown

[J]ust how effective is it to insult someone in an alien cultural idiom? Bush, naturally enough, looked bewildered, but he ducked speedily and seemed none the worse for wear afterwards. Gordon Brown, I suspect, would have stolidly absorbed the blows; Obama would probably have caught one shoe in each hand before throwing them across the […]

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“It’s not the despair; I can cope with the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.”

Cornershop Man watches every single cricket international he can on his satellite TV under the counter—and, unlike me, he fails the Tebbit test. At the start of the week, I asked him: “Suppose you’re looking forward to whupping England’s backsides?” “Hmm,” he inhaled, “I don’t know. You’ve got some good bowlers with you. You could […]

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USA Gets Black President; BBC Notices Al-Qaeda Racist

Al-Qaeda in Iraq have reacted to the US presidential election by issuing a statement on Friday directed at President-elect Barack Obama and his incoming administration. … [H]ardliners have greeted Barack Obama’s election victory with a stream of racist and other insults. Because, previously, when Al-Qaeda in Iraq referred to Kurdish-speaking bomb victims as “Kuffir to […]

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Clinical Research Paper Of The Year

Via The Motley Fool, comes this essential abstract from the scholarly journal Digestive Surgery: Red Hot Chilli Consumption Is Harmful in Patients Operated for Anal Fissure – A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Study Pravin J. Gupta Fine Morning Hospital and Research Center, Laxminagar, Nagpur, India

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Merrit

Do you remember Wei? Well, Wei… …wed… …Bobby… …in Edinburgh earlier this month, and I was hired to shoot the event. It wasn’t my first tri-lingual wedding, but it was my first Cantonese/Mandarin/Scottish one. And it was the first one from which the happy couple excused me in the small hours because the tea ceremony […]

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Future News: Headlines Of 2108

NASA ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE ON CENTAURI IV AND ENCOUNTER POPULATION OF HUMANOIDS SO PRIMITIVE THAT THEY STILL HAVE FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS. PANEL OF HISTORIANS VOTES ON MOST HATED FIGURES OF 21ST CENTURY. SADDAM HUSSEIN, CLONED HITLER, HEATHER MILLS-MCCARTNEY TOP POLL. HUMPHREY LYTTELTON FORCED TO STAND DOWN AS PRESENTER OF I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T A CLUE AFTER EXPOSURE […]

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