Merry Christmas

Bing Crosby, White Christmas 

NFL Liveblogging

Saints at Giants
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX), Giants Stadium

Why To Watch The Saints have clinched the NFC South and are looking to win their final two games to earn the No. 2 seed and first-round bye in the playoffs. First, they must get by the streaky Giants.

The Saints backed into the division crown last week, winning it despite a surprising home loss to the Redskins. Despite their return to the Superdome, the Saints have been better on the road, going 5-2. That’s good news against the Giants, who are 3-4 at Giants Stadium.

If the playoffs started today, the Giants would have the NFC’s second wild-card berth by virtue of beating the Falcons, the conference’s other 7-7 team. But considering Atlanta is playing another wild-card contender, 6-8 Carolina, the Giants must win to maintain their position, especially with a trip to division-rival Washington next week.

Christmas Eve Open

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The reason for the season.

Iran Spurns U.N. Sanctions: What Next?

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Iran has declared that it intends to press ahead with its nuclear programme in the face of sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.

War is sometimes described as diplomacy carried on by other means. No-one should want war or crave for it. It must be the last resort.

First is ‘jaw, jaw’ as Churchill said. Talk by all means, use backroom diplomacy, negotiate, encourage, warn, rebuke – but always leave a door for the other party to go out of with their dignity intact.

Next, the imposition of sanctions. They should be aimed at the government not at the populace. This is a tough option, not least because even the best thought through plans often work out indescriminately, as the lesson of Iraq proved. This does not make sanctions wrong, but it does makes them hard to target, control and enforce.

When all this fails, it’s the time for war, if the stakes are high enough. In Iran’s case they are very high. Frankly, the survival of Israel is on the block.

In Iran there are restive forces, especially on the campus’ that yearn for a more Western leaning government. They need to be strengthened. Any attack must show very clearly that it is not directed at Iran as such but it’s ruling elite.

Iran has been talked to, encouraged and warned. It now spurns sanctions. It will be too late to act when Israel is struck or perhaps, Israel takes a first strike option on Iran (which with a strike on the card it might reasonably do).

It is time for military action. Has the world got the nerve for this? Answers please on the back of an envelope. 

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