Sunday, June 29, 2014
Round of 16 looms huge on the World Cup stage. In the pool that I am entered in I predicted that a Suarez-less Uruguay would come up short against Colombia as the brilliance of James Rodriguez continues to astound and so it was to be.The Golden Boot battle will continue to electrify the footer world with Messi, Robben, van Persie and Neymar solidly placed in the mix as well. Brazil were disappointing and I really expected them to defeat the Chileans in regular time. In fact it was Chile that was unlucky not to win after the power shot from Mauricio Pinilla rattled the cross bar. Brazil will really have to up it if they hope to beat Colombia in the quarters. Neymar had a mediocre game and Hulk was clearly their best offensive threat. For the rest of the round I believe that the Dutch will beat Mexico, Greece should see off Costa Rica, Argentina will beat Switzerland, Belgium will end the run of the US, Germany will send Algeria packing and the French will bid adieu to Nigeria.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
It appears that ISIS is being funded by sources in the Gulf States. The US State Department has been a bit hush-hush on the issue as it historically is loathe to rock the boat with the Saudis or Qataris (money talks after all). Yet the tentacles of Riyadh and Doha are not too far away. Duplicity is a key theme in Middle Eastern Politics and the Saudis/Qataris while pretending to be American 'Allies' (remember the Scorpion on the back of the frog tale) are at the same time using ISIS as an extended force to weaken Iranian influence in both Syria and Iraq. The US should back up Baghdad with arms support (not troops) if only to stave off further ISIS success. At the same time it should pressure the Saudis to come clean about their actions. The first plan of action may yet see the light of day, the latter seems unlikely.
As much as I admire Luis Suarez's goalscoring skills (he surely is one of the top five players in the world today) his biting behaviour in the otherwise dull Uruguay v Italy game must be wholeheartedly condemnded. This is the third time in his career that Suarez has been guilty of such stupidity and I hope that Liverpool (the club I support) will see fit to sell him to either Real Madrid or Barcelona. The Reds could do with the cash, especially if it is sweetened by a pot that may include Karim Benzema or Alexis Sanchez. Liverpool will also benefit by ridding themselves of the headache that characterizes the actions of this manboy and the added money could be well spent by investing in a plethora of young stars viz. Lallana, Shaw et al.
Monday, June 23, 2014
The lost IRS E-mails/Lois Lerner scandal is both tragic and hilarious. I wonder if you could use the same argument when your tax file goes 'missing'? Not sure which IT departments are worse that of the IRS, the consultants developing the Obamacare website or those responsible for safeguarding the computer accounts for The University of East Anglia climate science crew?
The ongoing ISIS advance in Iraq has revealed that Saddam Hussein did indeed possess Weapons of Mass Destruction(WMDs). The terror group is now in control of the Al-Muthanna facility that is less than one hundred kilometers north of Baghdad. Al-Muthanna is believed to be a site that developed both sarin and mustard gas for use by Iraqi troops in the Iraq-Iran War. How this site escaped inspection prior to the US invasion of Iraq is anyone's guess? Will the left apologize for this error on the WMD front? Not likely...they never apologized for being wrong on the Petraeus driven Iraqi surge to begin with so holding one's breath here is most certainly futile. For more read http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/06/20/isis-now-in-control-of-saddams-notorious-1980s-chemical-weapons-complex-with-sarin-and-mustard-gas/
As predicted Brazil and Mexico are through in that respective order. The Dutch did well although they left it late to beat Chile and Spain salvaged pride by mauling the Aussies who return home with a record that does not do justice to their otherwise admirable performance (they led the Dutch 2-1 at one point in their clash). Portugal kept Iberian hopes alive yesterday but look like a shadow of the 2006 team that made it to the final four eight years ago. Ronaldo is not fully fit and it shows. The US could do some damage and may put a wrench in my predictions on this front (I had Germany and Ghana going through from the so-called Group of Death). Neymar now has four goals to his credit and if Brazil go far he could be the most likely Golden Boot winner. I am not a huge fan of this Brazilian team. It pales in comparison to the team of 2002, let alone 82 or 70 and seems like a facsimile of the 94 squad that groaned their way to victory. Nevertheless it is results that count and this Brazilian squad seems likely to trudge on to success carried on by the inertia of home field advantage,
Sunday, June 22, 2014
The countdown to the end of the worst US Presidency in history is on..if one still had doubts on the positive efficacy of this current administration in the foreign realm the trade of five high profile terrorists for a deserter must put this to rest. The US appears weaker than ever in international eyes...it bungled the gains of the Iraqi surge, dropped the ball in Afghanistan, helped spread Jihadist aims via an ill-conceived endorsement of the Arab Spring, set up an Islamist group in Libya, allowed itself to be duped by Pakistan, and has shown itself to be inept at clamping down on tne stealth campaign by Islamists in the US, who have used political correctdness and a compliant mainstream media to checkmate anti-Jihadist efforts across the country. However I am not convinced from what I have seen that Republicans would be much better...they too have bought into the narcotic of political relativism and have allowed the Saudi snake to undermine the moral credibility of the party. The Obama administration is a disgrace but until the US wakes from its slumber...chooses right from wrong and stops giving a free pass to evil one can expect more of the same to follow.
The rise of ISIS in Iraq brings the country closer to a Shi'ite/Sunni War. I don't have sympathy for either side but I do not wish for the country to slide into a war. Should the US intervene? I don't believe that it is in American interests to do so. While it is clear that Obama's premature evacuation of American forces, folllowing the gains of the 2007 surge, may have exasperated the condition it is in everyone's interest to allow local parties to sort this out themselves. Iran will do their best to support Shi'ite interests and will most likely supply enough ground support to nullify the Sunni Jihadists (as they did in Syria). The end result may be the division of Iraq into three sectors: Kurdish (which is already de facto), Sunni and Shi'ite which seems to be the most natural breakup of this region anyway.
As a Liverpool fan I would take this in a second. Sanchez is worth about 30 million pounds and comes with less baggage than Suarez. Liverpool can buy three players with that cash. A forward line of Sanchez, Sturridge, Lambert and Borini should be more than a threat next year. I can't see this being a great move for Suarez...he will have to play third fiddle to Messrs. Messi and Neymar in Catalonia. Not only that but Barcelona are a team in transition..it looks as though they have lost Xavi and Iniesta is on the downside...without an adequate supply line it doesn't matter who you have up front.
This tournament is all over the place. I thought England performed as expected in Group C and were unlucky not to take at least one point from their opening two games. I am still picking them to beat Costa Rica with Uruguay and Italy playing to a draw. Final standings - First Place Costa Rica...Second Place Italy. Brazil and Mexico should emerge from Group A with the hosts topping the group (sorry Croatia fans..I know the win against Cameroon got you all excited). The Dutch will top group B at the expense of Chile while the Spaniards will salvage some pride when they beat Australia. Colombia and Ivory Coast will move through from Group C, with the tournanent's most boring team (Greece) relegated to the nether regions Group E has France written all over it but Ecuador will pip Switzerland to the second spot. In Group F Argentina will emerge with Nigeria following close behind. The Iranians will seize third spot with a win over Bosnia (who can pride themselves on a decent rookie campaign) Group G will favour Germany who will beat the US to capture top spot. Second spot will be a toss up. I am picking Ghana to take it after they arise from the dead to defeat a limp Portugal. Group H..the group of sleep...Belgium to win with Russia in second place.