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Well, the site's getting its weekly update today. All welcome to peruse! http://www.rugbyleagueratings.com/
The Syrian economy is collapsing, according to the FT:
Syria’s government is under growing financial pressure but is surviving through a mixture of help from allies, severe spending cuts, money from wealthy businessmen and the country’s remaining functioning industries.
Crucial revenue sources such as oil, tourism and agriculture have been choked by a combination of western sanctions and the devastating impact of the conflict on the wider economy. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates the economy contracted 18.8 per cent last year
(If you can't read the article, Google on Syria finds means of financial survival and follow the link.)
Jamie K comments:
it is also de-facto stabilized because territory lost to the opposition means that it can reduce expenditure.
Interestingly, the Syrian government’s main sources of income now seem to be patronage from friendly overseas tycoons, smuggling and sanctions busting and seizure of resources from people deemed to be hostile. In other words, it has reached a point of equilibrium with the rebel economy. Everyone’s a militia now.
If the Syrian government and the rebels now have approximate equality of funding, it makes my prediction that Assad won't last the year out more likely to come true.
In this civil war, the rebels have had the advantage that they are supported by most of the people, whereas Assad had the advantage -- at least at first -- of vastly more resources. But take away that advantage, and Assad looks like a loser.
The fighting in Syria will continue, probably until late this year when the Assad government will finally collapse.
The big winners will be Islamists, and the big losers will be pro-democracy activists. The reason for this is that by the time the civil war ends, after 2 years of fighting, Syria will be devastated, with many of its people dead or fled, and its infrastructure largely destroyed. A harsh environment breeds harsh attitudes, so in this environment Islamism will do well against pro-democracy and liberal viewpoints. This will be especially true for the people with the guns, who will be best placed to take over once Assad has gone.
It's quite likely that there will be a genocide against Syria's Alawite minority who are the main backers of Assad. If a separate Alawite state was set up with international backing, that outcome would probalby be prevented.
The worst-case scenario for Syria is if after the end of the war, the victors start fighting among themselves, as they did in Afghanistan when the Soviet-based government collapsed. If that happens, Syria will be a breeding ground for Islamist extremism, refugees, and will cause major regional unrest.
Scott Adams' view of Microsoft:
According to the (formerly English Democrat) Mayor of Doncaster, the Eng Dems are being infiltrated by BNP entryists:
Peter Davies, the mayor of Doncaster, has resigned from the English Democrats claiming there has been a big influx of new members joining from the British National Party.
Mr Davies, who was elected to the post in 2009, had planned to stand for a second term at May's local elections.
He will now continue in office as an independent until the poll.
I wonder what that will mean for the English Democrats' fortunes in the European election next year.
According to the BBC:
Wild African elephants prefer to live in safer, protected areas and become stressed when they leave them.
Scientists have found African elephants living outside Serengeti National Park are more stressed than those within the protected area.
More elephants also choose to live inside the park, suggesting they "know" which areas are safer to live in, and actively avoid humans.
It's a bit silly that the reporter has put "know" in quotes.
All mammals have a sense of danger and actively avoid it. If they didn't, they wouldn't last very long.
I've been making a website for the 2014 European election.
You can also predict the result in 2014.
Here's what it looks like:
I think it will. I think that these sorts of issues are going to continue to be controversial -- e.g. SOPA/PIPA in the USA, ACTA in Europe -- and that every new controversy will raise the profile and support of the Pirate Party, which will eventually gain power in Europe.
(The Pirate Party is active outside Europe too, of course, but it has had its main successes so far in Europe and it seems likely that it will come to prominence there earlier than in other parts of the world.)
Once Pirates run the EU -- or more realistically are big enough that the other parties want to go into coalitions with them -- then Europe will stop supporting the increasingly restrictive laws around copyright including things like secondary infringement.
Once this happens, copyright is effectively dead in the EU, in that it will be impossible to stop anyone from copying digital content. This will mean inter alia that The Pirate Bay will be able to operate totally openly from servers in Sweden. And the only way any country can stop its citizens from copying content will be to disconnect itself from the worldwide internet.
Since the EU is a quarter of the world economy (and bigger than the USA), it's big enough that it would simply laugh at any US attempt to pressure it into following US copyright rules. And since those rules, by design, favour the USA, it's likely that most countries outside the USA will stop enforcing the USA's rules. And then the USA will stop too because (1) they will realise it's pointless, (2) the MAFIAA will have run out of money with which to bribe politicians, and (3) politicians will start realising that ending the War On Copying is a vote-winner.
And ten years after that, small children will say incredulously to their parents, "you mean there was a law against copying things on the internet and you could go to prison for breaking it? I don't believe you, you're having me on."
Butt cracks eventually appeared in Lamb's public persona:
(from Boing Boing)