France calls for “a reaction with force” in Syria, if Bashar al-Assad’s generals have used chemical weapons against their own people in the ghost suburb of Ghouta, Damascus. But an emergency UN Security Council meeting has failed even to agree on a statement condemning the attacks – blocked by China and Russia. “All red lines have been crossed,” the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a hawk, said afterwards. “But still the UN Security Council has not been able to take a decision.” The British Foreign Office says “we believe a political solution is the best way to end the bloodshed”. Tricky to get everyone round a negotiating table after this.
Such an atrocity, whoever the perpetrators, sees the West – not just Europe, but also the US – confronted with the limits of its rhetoric and military capability. And so as the world looks on in horror and UN weapons inspectors sleep 10 miles from the crime scene, the evidence is buried.
Did you know of Sir Isaac Newton’s (weak) credentials for having invented the cat flap? That the cake on the cover of the Rolling Stones album Let it Bleed was baked by a little-known chef called Delia. And that there’s a Test cricket ground named after Colonel Gadaffi? What’s the in-house journal of the Magic Circle called?* More such trivia on the way every Saturday from i’s resident master of the arcane, Simon O’Hagan. We’ll place i’s new Saturday Quiz somewhere obvious – and tuck the answers inside the same paper. Having once won half a watermelon and a can of Tennent’s for seventh place at the local watering hole’s quiz night, it’s unlikely I’ll be troubling the scorers.