Barak Obama and Mitt Romney traded barbs in what was a rather unremarkable presidential debate last night. The first of three such debates, the event in Denver focused on domestic issues. As expected, Romney went on the attack with the presidents record on the economy, and was draw on some squirm inducing statistics on unemployment. For his part, Obama countered with accusations that Romney aimed to withdraw benefits for the vulnerable.
Neither candidate did especially badly, although Obama was seen looking down while Romney asked some difficult questions. Obama asking the mediator if they could “change the subject” certainly didn’t do him any favours.
Romney started to humanize himself somewhat by calling on anecdotes from his campaign, but he still has along way to go.
Turkey and Syria are doing the reputation of the Middle East no favours by engaging in tit-for-tat shelling over the border. Syrian forces had previously shelled positions inside Turkey being used by elements of the self proclaimed Free Syrian Army. However this week saw the first Turkish casualties. Retaliatory shelling followed, but in reality there is little Turkey can do. I cannot take on Syria alone, and even if had the ability, it is conscious of the bloody and fruitless ground campaigns against the PKK and Kurdish rebels. Turkey is also aware that many in the region have long memories, and a resurgent Ottoman hegemon will be resisted.
It’s hard to take Greece’s efforts to fix its finances seriously when the Financial and Economic Crimes Unit admits it has lost a list of 2000 alleged Swiss bank account holders accused of dodging taxes.