World in Brief: Shorts

News on Twitter, Ariel Sharon and marijuana

The World Today Published 6 February 2014 Updated 7 December 2018 3 minute READ
Ariel Sharon failed to build the foundations for peace, says biographer. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Ariel Sharon failed to build the foundations for peace, says biographer. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Ariel Sharon: A warrior’s legacy: peace postponed

Obituaries of Ariel Sharon, who died on January 11, focused on his life as a ‘warrior turned peacemaker’ with the Palestinians. His biographer, David Landau, sees his legacy differently – as the man who ‘perversely’ reinforced the split in Palestinian ranks which has made a peace settlement all but impossible.

Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 could have become a stepping stone to peace, Landau writes in Arik: the Life of Ariel Sharon. Instead Sharon handed Gaza over to the Hamas movement, which used it as a base to send homemade rockets into Israel, dampening any desire among Israelis for withdrawal.

Due to Sharon’s ‘highhandedness’, he failed to coordinate the withdrawal with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and thus allowed Hamas to take over the Strip. ‘He failed to build strong foundations that would have made the unilateral disengagement from Gaza the indestructible basis of a two-state solution to the conflict,’ writes Landau, a former editor of Haaretz.

In the run-up to the disengagement Condoleezza Rice, the US national security adviser, was working on a Palestinian-Israeli agreement on access, trade and communications with Gaza. But since the Palestinian Authority forces had no chance to re-establish control of Gaza, this was never signed.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has a deadline of April 29 for the conclusion of a framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. If he fails, as many suspect, then Sharon’s legacy may be revisited.

Internet: Twitter at 8 years old

  1. It took three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent. The same number are now sent every 48 hours.
  2. The average Twitter user has 208 followers and spends 170 minutes on the site every month.
  3. About 20 million Twitter accounts are believed to be fake.
  4. The top five Twitter accounts by followers are: Katy Perry, 49,887,367; Justin Bieber, 49,102,270; Barack Obama, 41,162,919; Lady Gaga, 41,030,092; and YouTube, 38,779,436.
  5. If the Britain’s next election’s result was based on Twitter followers, @David_Cameron would be in the lead with 575k followers. Deputy Prime Minister @nick_clegg is behind the opposition with 150K to @Ed_Miliband’s 286k. The clear winner in popularity with 850k, is Boris Johnson. Though if he chooses to run as an MP he may have to change his handle from @MayorofLondon.

Marijuana: Where is the jackpot?

A month after it became legal to sell marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado, business is booming and tourists are flocking in. One retailer, Medicine Man, has outlined plans to become a nationwide brand – what the Daily Beast calls the ‘Ikea of weed’ – if other states go down the legalization path. The state expects to earn $100 million in this financial year from marijuana taxes.

But the finances are turning out to be a problem. Marijuana remains a cashonly purchase as banks are unwilling to do business with retailers whose trade, though legal in Colorado, is still a federal offence. Lack of bank statements and credit card records makes it hard for authorities to tax the retailers.

In Washington, Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, has promised to address the banking issue. But The New York Times reports the Obama administration is conflicted on how much to encourage the legalization experiment.

Marijuana taxes were expected to fund the building of schools and plug a hole in the state budget. But experts at the University of Colorado’s Futures Centre have concluded that, once the cost of enforcing the law is taken into account, ‘revenue from marijuana taxes will contribute little or nothing to the state’s general fund’.

A month after it became legal to sell marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado, business is booming and tourists are flocking in. One retailer, Medicine Man, has outlined plans to become a nationwide brand – what the Daily Beast calls the ‘Ikea of weed’ – if other states go down the legalization path. The state expects to earn $100 million in this financial year from marijuana taxes.

But the finances are turning out to be a problem. Marijuana remains a cashonly purchase as banks are unwilling to do business with retailers whose trade, though legal in Colorado, is still a federal offence. Lack of bank statements and credit card records makes it hard for authorities to tax the retailers.

In Washington, Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, has promised to address the banking issue. But The New York Timesreports the Obama administration is conflicted on how much to encourage the legalization experiment.

Marijuana taxes were expected to fund the building of schools and plug a hole in the state budget. But experts at the University of Colorado’s Futures Centre have concluded that, once the cost of enforcing the law is taken into account, ‘revenue from marijuana taxes will contribute little or nothing to the state’s general fund’.

Internet: Twitter at 8 years old

  1. It took three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent. The same number are now sent every 48 hours.
  2. The average Twitter user has 208 followers and spends 170 minutes on the site every month.
  3. About 20 million Twitter accounts are believed to be fake.
  4. The top five Twitter accounts by followers are: Katy Perry, 49,887,367; Justin Bieber, 49,102,270; Barack Obama, 41,162,919; Lady Gaga, 41,030,092; and YouTube, 38,779,436.
  5. If the Britain’s next election’s result was based on Twitter followers, @David_Cameron would be in the lead with 575k followers. Deputy Prime Minister @nick_clegg is behind the opposition with 150K to @Ed_Miliband’s 286k. The clear winner in popularity with 850k, is Boris Johnson. Though if he chooses to run as an MP he may have to change his handle from @MayorofLondon.

Ariel Sharon: A warrior’s legacy: peace postponed

Obituaries of Ariel Sharon, who died on January 11, focused on his life as a ‘warrior turned peacemaker’ with the Palestinians. His biographer, David Landau, sees his legacy differently – as the man who ‘perversely’ reinforced the split in Palestinian ranks which has made a peace settlement all but impossible.

Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 could have become a stepping stone to peace, Landau writes inArik: the Life of Ariel Sharon. Instead Sharon handed Gaza over to the Hamas movement, which used it as a base to send homemade rockets into Israel, dampening any desire among Israelis for withdrawal.

Due to Sharon’s ‘highhandedness’, he failed to coordinate the withdrawal with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and thus allowed Hamas to take over the Strip. ‘He failed to build strong foundations that would have made the unilateral disengagement from Gaza the indestructible basis of a two-state solution to the conflict,’ writes Landau, a former editor ofHaaretz.

In the run-up to the disengagement Condoleezza Rice, the US national security adviser, was working on a Palestinian-Israeli agreement on access, trade and communications with Gaza. But since the Palestinian Authority forces had no chance to re-establish control of Gaza, this was never signed.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has a deadline of April 29 for the conclusion of a framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. If he fails, as many suspect, then Sharon’s legacy may be revisited.