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Hard road  

UK prime minister Tony Blair is having a difficult trip through the Middle East, seeking continued support for the allied actions against terrorism. In Syria yesterday, Bashar al-Assad railed against the bombing of Afghanistan and supported groups like Hizbollah. Today, in Israel, prime minister Ariel Sharon launched into a predictable attack on Syria, probably negating any conceivable benefit Blair’s overture to Assad might have created.

There are some who pretend that Assad, the son of late president Hafez Assad, is a young reformer in the mould of king Abdullah of Jordan, king Mohamed VI of Morocco and crown prince Salman bin Hamad of Bahrain. But the shaky regime of the young Assad seems determined to keep his country both economically and politically retarded.

Should a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict ever be reached, one of the additional good consequences would be removing the last prop from failed regimes like Syria’s.

Good title for Halloween 

Tim Jackson provides a surprisingly kind review of Boo Hoo, Ernst Malmgren’s own account of the speedy rise and fall of Boo.com. His conclusion? The founders were more fools than knaves.

I’m sure he’s right, on the whole. But I’m not entirely convinced in the light of yesterday’s Guardian interview with Malmgren and co-founder Kajsa Leander. To a question about their trips on Concorde (which I saw in the skies above London about 20 minutes ago � still a thrilling sight), Leander responded that she only used it three times, and “they were all special offers”. Certainly fools, but given that it was other people’s money they were blowing, rather knavish as well.

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