Thursday, April 25, 2013

The apparent mystery of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

If one glances through some of the reportage of the last week on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as I just did, one finds him described by people who knew him as, among other things, "laid back," "nice," "quite studious" and "a pot head." Among people his own age who knew him and among former teachers, there appears to be uniform astonishment and incredulity at his involvement in the Boston bombings. Is this the case of a "normal" 19-year-old who was "corrupted" by his older brother? Or of someone who concealed his views -- and an aspect of his personality -- from people who knew him? Or some of both? There are enough as-yet-unanswered questions here that one can anticipate a small crowd of journalists already gearing up to produce their very-long-articles-based-on-hundreds-of-interviews-shortly-thereafter-to-become-books. (I assume the genre is a familiar one to readers.)   

Monday, April 22, 2013

Serbia-Kosovo agreement

Here (down toward bottom of the transcript).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chechnya/Dagestan primer

By M. Fisher: here.

See also here; includes this:
In July [2012], Russian security officials announced that for the first six months of the year, through all of the North Caucasus, 194 militants had been killed, along with 104 police officers and 32 civilians. They expressed satisfaction that this represented a decline from the year before.
Fisher notes that the Russian approach to these regions has been repression rather than an effort to address underlying grievances. I don't know enough about the Caucasus to comment much; but he might have mentioned what proportion of the population in Dagestan is involved in (or passively supports) violent separatist and/or jihadist activity.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Are these the streets of a U.S. city?

Except for the words "Boston Police" on the vehicle, the image -- see here (there's a 14-second ad first) -- looks more like something from the streets of a war zone (think Baghdad, Belfast, or Sarajevo during the relevant times). Hard to believe the quarry is one 19-year-old, no matter how armed, dangerous, and apparently depraved.

Hunger strike at Guantanamo continues

Amidst all the other news, some may have missed that a hunger strike by Guantanamo Bay prisoners, some of whom have been held for years without being charged and see no prospect of release, is ongoing. Some of the prisoners are being force-fed. (See this AP story here.) The topic has been covered extensively at this blog. One letter-writer to the blog I just linked suggests that only Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now) is discussing the hunger-strike story. That's not the case; the 'mainstream' press is covering it. Still, the story should be getting more attention than it has been getting.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The world's greatest deliberative body

The U.S. Senate has defeated the gun background checks legislation (Manchin-Toomey). Sigh.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Syria Behind the Lines"

Jeffrey Brown interviews Olly Lambert, director of the documentary Syria Behind the Lines. Among other things, Lambert describes seeing a government plane dropping a bomb on a village, and the aftermath. (There are also excerpts from the film.)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Afghanistan roundtable

Heard this a.m., on C-Span radio, parts of a discussion from yesterday (at the Cato Institute) on the Afghanistan war(s). Participants: Rajiv Chandresekaran, James Dobbins, Gian Gentile. Worth a listen if you're interested. (Google around for a link -- I'm too busy to put one in, sorry.)

P.s. Two costly Taliban attacks today (the casualties including a U.S. foreign service officer).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Note to readers

I will not be doing much posting in April -- have some other things on the plate.