Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mr Putin's victims

The Dutch investigation into the downing of a Boeing jetliner over eastern Ukraine has made its report. It's couched in careful legalese, but the facts are clear: the airliner was shot down, and its passengers and crew murdered, by a surface-to-air missile. That missile was Russian, and it was fired either from Russia itself or from the part of Ukraine that Russia invaded, probably the latter. The "rebels" paraded just such a missile launcher before the attack. The BBC has published testimony that the men controlling the launcher spoke Russian in native and not Ukrainian accents. One or more missile launchers were photographed crossing back into Russia immediately after the shoot-down.

This murder began in the Kremlin. The immediately responsibility belongs to Vladimir Putin, but some also sticks to Barack Obama and the other western leaders who did so much to empower him.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Goodbye to all that

Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 against America's campaign in Iraq, which he claimed had taken resources away from the "necessary war" in Afghanistan. So he pulled US forces out of Iraq, where the war had been won, and by 2012 was doing the same in Afghanistan. As a result, both countries have been ceded to the bad guys.

Now he's sending troops back to Iraq and ordering US warplanes to bomb the Islamic State, not only in Iraq but also in Syria! (The less said about his manifold bumbles in Syria, the better.)

Libya, where Mr Obama formulated his famous "leading from behind" doctrine, has likewise sunk into the morass. Chinese pilots feel free to harass American reconnaissance planes. Ukraine has basically surrendered to the Russian troops who came to the rescue of those beleaguered "separatists" who among other tricks shot down a Boeing 777 airliner and got away with it. Iran continues to develop its nuclear bomb, and the Palestinians to wage their war of extermination against Israel.

"The tide of war is receding," Mr. Obama told the UN, less than three years ago. He truly believed that if the United States stopped making war, then war itself would have to stop. Rarely in the history of the American presidency has there been an individual who did so much to damage the country that trusted him to lead it.

Friday, September 05, 2014

The war game at Lviv

"Rapid Trident" is not much in the news, perhaps because the newsies can't understand the US Army's explanation of what will happen:

"Rapid Trident 2014 is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed, EUCOM scheduled, USAREUR conducted, Ukrainian led Situational and Field Training Exercise held at the International Peace Keeping and Security Center (IPSC) in Yavoriv, Ukraine."
In fact, it's a dramatic and encouraging response to Russia's invasion of the briefly-free country of Ukraine, now being sucked back into the Russian Empire. A thousand or so Polish, German, British, Norwegian, and American soldiers will conduct a brief war game in the vicinity of Lviv, which until 1939 was the Polish city of Lwow.

Seventy-five years ago this month, the Russian Red Army occupied Lwow and sent its defenders into the Gulag. Stalin lost control of the city when his best friend Adolf Hitler turned on him, but got it back in 1944 and incorporated it into the Soviet "republic" of Ukraine. Then Ukraine gained its freedom when the Soviet Union imploded in 1990. Now Vladimir Putin is engaged in a long, clever, and so far effective campaign to get the lost territories back. He'll probably settle this time for southeastern Ukraine while he moves on to another target, such as Kazakhstan.

But those Polish soldiers, playing war on the outskirts of the former Lwow -- do they know that that this land is part of the historic Poland?

Rapid Trident is scheduled for September 15-26, 2014. The timing couldn't more poignant: the Red Army crossed the Polish frontier on September 17, 1939, and entered Lwow on September 22.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Os ydych chi’n hoff o’ch meddyg neu’ch darparwr triniaeth iechyd, fedrwch eu cadw nhw

I thought I'd give the Washington Post website a try, in hopes that Jeff Bezos's ownership might have spruced it up a bit. Indeed it has! It's still rather, um, bold, but there's lots of delightful stuff including a Welsh phrasebook for Barack Obama to use at the NATO summit this week. I particularly liked the translation of "If you like your doctor or healthcare provider, you can keep them," which I have used as the title of this post.

Go here for the phrasebook.

Given the astonishing combinations of vowels and consonants embodied in the Welsh language, there's a helpful audio option that you can click on. This was especially helpful to me, because fifty-nine years ago over many pints of beer, Malcolm Hopson taught me how to pronounce the name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllandysiliogogogoch, which on road signs is shortened to Llanfair P.G. Come to find out, all these years I have been making a hash of the last two syllables, which I had been rendering go-gah but which apparently should be pronounced go-go.

Thank you, Jeff Bezos!

Everything old is new again ...

Seventy-five years ago this month, Russia invaded and occupied half of a country to its west. Then the victim was Poland. Today, thanks to the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1990, it's Ukraine.

In 1939, the much-maligned British prime minister had the backbone to honor his treaty commitments and declare war (though not on Russia, to be sure). Today, alas, the American president has no backbone whatever.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Don't worry, be happy!

This isn't from the satirical online journal The Onion but from the august New York Times today:

That's right: the Islamic State has taken over much of Iraq, Russia is gobbling up Ukraine, Syria continues to massacre its people and Iran to develop its nuclear bomb, Europeans have returned to anti-Semitism, the Chinese military is bullying everyone in reach including US ships and planes, and Americans remain out of work while corporations flee the country ... and the president wants us to emulate Alfred E Neuman.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Saving Winooski's bacon

The Sneakers restaurant in pretty Winooski, Vermont, maintains a flower garden in a local traffic island. Alas, it got run over, and the restaurant was offered a road sign to show the community's support and gratitude. The resulting sign asked drivers to Yield for Sneakers Bacon, in tribute to its thick slices of Canadian bacon.

Isn't that sweet? Well, a Muslim resident didn't think so, and a couple months after the sign went up, she decided it was offensive to anyone who doesn't eat pork. So the sign was taken down.

I wonder if the Muslim lady knows that observant Jews don't eat pork, either? Perhaps she and the rabbi could get together over breakfast at Sneakers and ... oh, well, never mind!