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Obit: Classicist, scholar & warrior Bernard Knox 17, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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The New York Times ran a suitably glowing and reverential obituary of Bernard M. W. Knox who died on 22nd July 2010. He was 95.

If one was to have the ability to manufacture a romantic yet steely and honoured career for an academic then one would most likely write the life of Bernard Knox. American born but raised in the U.K., Knox studied – what else? – Classics at – where else ? – Cambridge. He then left to fight in the most romantic war of his age, the Spanish Civil War. Later he served in the U.S. Army in World War Two where, as a part of an O.S.S. detachment, he parachuted into France and worked with the resistance before working with the Italian partisans.

After returning to the U.S. and winning the Bronze Star and the Croix De Guerre, he once again studied Classics at Yale earning his doctorate in 1948. He became full Professor in 1959 and in 1961 started the Harvard affiliated Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington.

In addition to writing numerous celebrated books (many still in print today) he regularly featured in the New York Review of Books and won various scholarly prizes.

Hat tip: Abu Muwawama

Qatar: ‘largest radioactive store in Mid East’ 17, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Qatar.
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An environmental NGO has charged that the U.S. military is turning Qatar into the largest store of radioactive waste in the Middle East. They also note that Qatar houses the largest ammunition store outwith America.

Depleted uranium weapons, empty shells casings and uranium ‘infected’ detritus from various battle fields are, it alleges, being stored in vast quantities in Qatar, and elsewhere. Whilst depleted uranium shells etc  may technically be ‘radioactive waste’, it is hardly tantamount to the usual connotations of  the term.

Additionally, in a slightly shrill article, Khalid Al Hjri, the group’s Chairman, warns that the Gulf region as a whole could be subject to a “nuclear disaster” because of the nuclear powered ships that the U.S. has floating around the region. Again, technically true, I suppose. But what’s the alternative? All such U.S. ships to leave? Would the Gulf countries be safer with an Iranian ‘umbrella’?

IDF holiday snaps 17, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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What a delightful photo to put on facebook or to send to your mom. This photo emerged from an album entitled: “The IDF…the best time of my life.”

You’ve got to think that when the Israeli army describes your behavior as “ugly and callous” then you’re really far out in left (perhaps that should be right) field…

Is it just me or do examples like this not really seem to hit on one of the key cruxes of the issue: an institutionalized lack of respect? Obviously, I am sure [desperately hope, rather] that most IDF soldiers are not like the delightful Eden Abergil here, but the simple, every day banality of the measures – from arrests to roadblocks to detentions – can only foster such deep hatred on a personal level. How routine, for example, are the detentions in the above picture? To say that this would build a simmering, burning resentment would be an understatement of epic proportions.

CIA finds 9/11 interrogation tapes under desk 17, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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CIA made tapes of 9/11 plotter Ramzi Binalshinh’s interrogation have been found under a desk. The recordings, made in one of the CIA’s infamous overseas prisons, are thought to be the only remaining recordings of such interrogations by US authorities in their secret prison system.

AP reports that the interrogation took place near Rabat, Morocco in 2002. The other 92 tapes of similar interrogations – waterboardings and all – were destroyed in 2005 in an effort to provide maximum transparency. Apparently, the government twice told judges that these tapes did

CIS not exist. Oops.

These tapes could, it is reported, have a detrimental affect on attempts to prosecute Binalshinh by showing his mental state at the time (or lack there of).