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News of the World crossword last laugh 10, July 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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Despite threats to the journalists to behave themselves and not to attempt to insert any coded criticisms in the News of the World’s last edition, which included hiring two journalists to scan the paper for any such examples, the NOTW crossword makers appear to have wholly stitched up their former and extraordinarily maligned boss, Rebekah Brooks.

In the quickie crossword clues were the words:

“Brook”, “stink”, “catastrophe” and “digital protection”

The clues for the cryptic crossword were plainer still:

“criminal enterprise”, “mix in prison”, “string of recordings”, “will fear new security measure”  and “woman stares wildly at calamity”

The answer to this last clue is “disaster”

Other answers included

“stench”, “racket” and “tart”.

Hat tip: @blakehounshell

US establishing Jewish state in Kashmir 10, July 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, China.
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It’s been a while since I heard a really good, really daft conspiracy theory. Many thanks to @blakehounshell for sharing this rather special specimen.

So, I can reveal to you what the U.S. government has been up to in recent years, specifically in China and in Pakistan. Bet you didn’t know that they have – in fact – been secretly trying to ferment rifts in key army and “other sensitive departments” to weaken and destabilise the regimes in these countries.

Why would the CIA be doing such nefarious things? Obvious! To establish another Jewish state, as if you needed to be told.

I feel that anyone who reads this article and actually thinks that that is what the CIA has been up to needs to be shot. However, this pushes me uncomfortably towards the crazies that write and believe these things, so I hereby issue a tepid retraction of said comments.

14% of Emiratees to vote in elections 10, July 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Around 129,000 or 14% of Emiratees will be eligible to vote in the elections on 24th September 2011 to elect half of the members of the Federal National Council.

To put this another way, only 1.6% of the entire population of the Emirates will be voting. Or, to look at this more positively, considering less than 7,000 Emiratees were eligible to vote in the last elections, clearly some progress – albeit from an absurd base – is being made.

Yet there are greater issues afoot. Not only is the Federal National Council one of the region’s most rubber stamping of rubber stamping institutions, but there are serious problems to do with freedom of expression currently plaguing the UAE, from the removal of the Gulf Research Centre to a severe crack-down on those who – politely – request more democratic freedoms. I’ll let the Economist take up the story.

The Gulf Blog: curiously pigeonholed 10, July 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Recently, my Gulf Blog email has been filling up. Every day I get a couple of unsolicited emails from various people or, more recently, PR agencies working for companies. It’s interesting to see how all this works.

I fear that thegulfblog.com has become pigeonholed as a reasonable successful minor blog which attracts some demographic or other which is useful and interesting to some company or other. I fervently imagine some PR company sitting in some slick, IKEA clad office waxing obsequiously to a prospective employer about how they have the pulse of a particular sliver of a demographic and the specific, highly nuanced, cultured and attuned ways of reaching said market.

The oddest thing is that the range of emails is astounding.

First, several months ago, I found myself on the AIPAC media list thing. I get loads of their guff about conferences and supporting any and all pro-Israeli policies coming out of Washington. Yet at the same time and to the same email address, I get emails letting me know that some European fashion designer is now designing clothes for some typical UK high street store which are now available in KSA.

I know that these two groups of people – blindingly pro-Israeli folk and people who care about some tubby fashion designer’s latest flick of the pen – are by no means mutually exclusive but it still seems somewhat odd. Curious times.