Thursday, August 24, 2006

Summer of violence

I don't know what's in the water here, but there is a serious crime wave rocking the city of Philadelphia this summer. It's flown mostly under the national radar because national journalists have more important stories to tell, like the ten-year-old murder of a little white girl. The latest victim, like most in this city, was black, a mother of four. I haven't seen the statistics, but my guess is that other crimes are up as well. Just this year one of my friends has been assaulted, another has had her apartment totally cleaned out by burglers, and I've had 2.5 bikes stolen from my front porch. But you know, as John Street says, you have to expect "a certain level of violence" in the city.

Chalk this up as one more goddamned thing that has gotten worse under George W. Bush.

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Peace requires balance

Is anyone else starting to get the feeling that certain Arab states are starting to take steps to redress the strategic imbalance with Israel? It looks like the Lebanon war may finally have punctured the illusion of Arab helplessness. When certain senior Israeli leaders started making noises about peace with Syria after their humiliation at the hands of Hezbollah, the lesson is clear: Israel has made all the peace it is going to make unless the balance of power in the region changes.

The major Arab states have had a comprehensive and permanent peace with Israel formally on the table since 2002, but they have no partner for peace in Tel Aviv. There is no one on the other end of the line. Maybe these "Eurofighters" (frankly the name does not exactly inspire fear) are a gambit to restart regional talks.

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