Aaron MacLean writes: Twice during his train wreck of a press conference this morning in Turkey, President Obama cited the prospect of American military casualties as a major part of his reason for not using U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State. Lecturing an openly skeptical press corps—and, by extension, critics he accused of “popping off” and trying to “sound tough” without actually proposing anything serious—he condescendingly pointed out that ground combat is a serious business. Troops “get killed, they get injured, they are away from their families.”
“From the very outset, Obama has been dishonest about his goals. The biggest take-away of his embarrassing assertion to ABC News just before the Paris attacks that the Islamic State had been contained was indicative of this, and went largely unnoticed by the press.”
As it happens, I talk to Marines I served with in Afghanistan all the time. I am sure there must be a few out there who don’t want to take time “away from their families” in order to annihilate the Islamic State, risking death to do so, but I haven’t heard from them.
Marines have a word for this kind of thing. They call it their “job.” (In fact, I know more than a few who have left the Corps because they concluded they weren’t going to deploy to fight while Obama was still in office.)
” He has a vision for the future, of a United States that is no longer the primary enforcer of world order, but a responsible partner among other nations combating a wide array of challenges, most critically climate change. He has accepted as a risk that the citizens of Paris, or of Washington, might be murdered in large numbers as he sees his strategy through.”
In the press conference, Obama also said his top military advisers oppose ground action against the Islamic State. This might even be true: Obama fires military commanders who are too hawkish for him. It stands to reason that he appoints those who are going to be sympathetic to his views—officers who in some cases then suppress intelligence showing that the fight against the terrorists is failing.
“But as the Islamic State continues to metastasize, and Americans begin to reject Obama’s rhetoric, the president will find himself in a political dilemma.”
Regardless, after a performance like today’s, who would tell the president that ground action is needed? The man clearly doesn’t want to hear it, just as he clearly doesn’t want to entertain the possibility that there might be a middle course between his own demonstrably ineffective word-salad of a strategy and a re-enactment of the counterinsurgency campaigns of the last decade.
“Even if Hillary tacks to the right on national security after her primary challenge is concluded, Obama’s fecklessness could empower Republicans in 2016, thus risking his entire legacy. That, for Obama, would be a disaster.”
Doesn’t America already have one Napoleon already? (Actual Newsweek cover from November of 2012 on left.)
What are Trump’s politics? Like Napoleon’s, no one quite knows, beyond an equally burning desire to make his nation ‘great again.’
For a decade and a half Napoleon wrecked Europe. He hijacked the platitudes of the French Revolution to mask his own dictatorship at home and imperialism abroad. Yet today, two centuries after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, he remains an icon for many in, and a few outside, France. Why? How could geniuses like the novelists Victor Hugo and Stendhal acknowledge Napoleon’s pathologies and the damage that he did to the early 19th century European world, and yet enthuse that he made the French feel both politically and morally “great”? Most French even today believe that he did.
“Donald Trump is not going to invade Russia, but he is starting to sound a lot like Bonaparte, well aside from a similarly narcissistic convergence of America’s future with his own Napoleonic persona.”
Of course, for a while at least, Napoleon really did “make France great again,” at least in terms of territory and power. At its pinnacle between 1806-11, Imperial France ruled the continent in a way not seen again until the Third Reich’s briefer rule between 1940 and 1942 from the Atlantic Ocean to the Volga River. It threatened to do away with the incompetent and reactionary regimes in every European country and replace them with a supposedly meritocratic class of social reformers, beholden to a natural Napoleonic hierarchy.
Moreover, Napoleon’s own political agenda was a mishmash of conservative authoritarianism and populist social justice. So effective was the strange brew that even to this day scholars fight over whether Napoleon was a proto-Hitler whose unhinged ambitions led to millions of innocent European, Russian, Caribbean and North Africa dead, or a loyal defender of the French Revolution, whose eleventh-hour iron hand alone kept alive the threatened ideals of fraternity and egalitarianism. Read the rest of this entry »
Shattered skulls and shin bones of 7000-year-old skeletons may point to torture and mutilation not previously observed in early Neolithic Linear Pottery culture.
The chance discovery of a mass grave crammed with the battered skeletons of ancient Europeans has shed light on the lethal violence that tore through one of the continent’s earliest farming communities.
“This is a classic case where we find the ‘hardware’: the skeletal remains, the artefacts, everything that is durable we can find in the graves. But the ‘software’: what people were thinking, why they were doing things, what their mindset was at this time, of course was not preserved.”
In 2006, archaeologists were called in after road builders in Germany uncovered a narrow ditch filled with human bones as they worked at a site in Schöneck-Kilianstädten, 20km north-east of Frankfurt.
They have now identified the remains as belonging to a 7000-year-old group of early farmers who were part of the Linear Pottery culture, which gained its name from the group’s distinctive style of ceramic decoration.
In the seven metre-long, V-shaped pit, researchers found the skeletons of 26 adults and children, who were killed by devastating strikes to the head or arrow wounds. The skull fractures are classic signs of blunt force injuries caused by basic stone age weapons.
Along with close-quarter fighting, attackers used bows and arrows to ambush their neighbours. Two arrowheads made of animal bone were found in the soil stuck to the skeletons. They are thought to have been inside the bodies when they were placed in the pit.
More than half of the individuals had their legs broken in acts of apparent torture or posthumous mutilation. The smashed-in shin bones could represent a new form of violent torture not seen before in the group.
In the Linear Pottery culture, each person was given their own grave within a cemetery, the body carefully arranged and often buried with grave goods such as pottery and other possessions. By contrast, in the mass grave the bodies lay scattered.
Christian Meyer, an archaeologist who led the study at the University of Mainz, believes the attackers meant to terrorise others and demonstrate that they could annihilate an entire village. The site of the mass grave, which dates back to about 5000BC, is located near an ancient border between different communities, where conflict was likely. Read the rest of this entry »
Susan Crabtree reports: The Secret Service’s financial crimes branch just notched a major victory by nabbing the most-wanted computer hacker in the world, a Turkish man accused of running a global operation to hack automated teller machines.
Ercan Findikoglu, 33, is set to be arraigned Wednesday in the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York. U.S. officials successfully extradited him from a German prison after years of negotiations and a legal battle over his release and transfer to U.S. authorities.
Findikoglu allegedly organized criminal operations using hacked debit cards, including one that stole $40 million in cash from ATMs in the span of just 10 hours in February 2013 in New York City and 23 other countries. He used hacked bank debit cards, removing their balance limits, to trigger ATMs to freely release the cash. Read the rest of this entry »
FRANKFURT—Scattered incidents of violence broke out Wednesday across Germany’s financial capital alongside demonstrations against austerity timed to the inauguration of the European Central Bank’s new headquarters.
While most parts of Frankfurt remained peaceful, a policeman on patrol said some police cars had been set on fire and some protesters burned tires. Police used water cannon on some protesters.
‘European unity is being strained. People are going through very difficult times.’
—ECB President Mario Draghi
ECB President Mario Draghi defended the bank’s policies at the inauguration ceremony, warning that moving toward more isolation and nationalization wouldn’t solve Europe’s problems.
“European unity is being strained. People are going through very difficult times,” Mr. Draghi said in prepared remarks at the inauguration. Read the rest of this entry »
Jean Bourdichon c. 16th century
King Louis XII
“It really surprised me as to how mechanically complex a sax was and it did make me wonder as to whether the mechanisms could be simplified.”
— Olaf Diegel
While attending Euromold 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany, last December with a band playing 3D-printed instruments, Olaf Diegel was set a challenge by the head of 3D Systems, Avi Reichental. The Professor of product development at Lund University, Sweden was given the task of creating a 3D-printed working saxophone. The first ODD prototype was revealed last week in a short demonstration video, which you can see here.
For the latest addition to the 3D-printed band, Diegel used a traditional alto sax as a design template to match the various key spacings and mechanisms. He worked in SolidWorks CAD software to produce the STL files needed for printing the nylon blower on a selective laser sintering (SLS) printer. The process took around 6 months due to a move from New Zealand to Sweden and other projects that demanded his attention, and the working prototype is made up of 41 components, not including springs and screws. Read the rest of this entry »
According to the Frankfurter Rundschau paper, about 2,500 protesters appeared in downtown Frankfurt, screaming “God is great,” and slogans such as “freedom for Palestine” and “children-murderer Israel.”
Eight police officers were injured. One sign at the rally was titled, “You Jews are Beasts.”
German media reported that after the protests, groups sought to locate Jewish institutions. Read the rest of this entry »
Somebody is beheading the Frankfurt Zoo’s flamingos
For The Week, Peter Weber writes: People do all kinds of stupid, crazy things, but what kind of a monster sneaks into a zoo and beheads sleeping flamingos? Officials at Germany’s Frankfurt Zoo want to know rather urgently, after discovering 15 dead Chilean flamingos late last week, several of them with severed necks.
“Who would do such a thing? Psychopaths? Was it a completely out-of-order test of courage among young people? Or was it Satanists?”
— Die Welt