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However this round of violence ends — and it’s hard to see any scenario in which it produces remotely positive results for anyone involved — the outcome at the regional level will likely be to further exacerbate these conflicts and to undermine the chances for the incoming Obama administration to make early progress. While Arab regimes will almost certainly survive the latest round of popular outrage, the regional atmosphere may prove less resilient. Syria has reportedly broken off its indirect peace talks with Israel, for instance. A bloody Hamas retaliation against Israelis seems highly likely, and if Abbas is seen as supporting the Israeli offensive against his political rivals then Hamas may well emerge from this even stronger within Palestinian politics. The offensive is highly unlikely to get rid of Hamas, but it will likely leave an even more poisoned, polarized and toxic regional environment for a new President who had pledged to re-engage with the peace process. Obama has scrupuously (and wisely) adhered to the “one President at a time” formula in foreign policy up to this point… but you have to wonder how long he can sit by and watch the prospects for meaningful change in the region battered while the Bush administration sits by and cheers.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”