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Monday, 28 December 2009
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From The Times
At least fifteen anti-government protesters, including a nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s opposition leader, were shot dead yesterday as the smouldering confrontation between the regime and the so-called Green Movement finally erupted.
Early reports put the number of dead at five, but as clashes continued late into the night, Iranian state television reported that the number of dead had risen to 15. The Ministry of Intelligence said more than 10 were members of "anti-revolutionary terrorist" groups.
The other five who died during the bitter clashes in the Iranian capital were killed by "terrorist groups," Iranian TV claimed.
Analysts heralded the start of what could be a bloody endgame as hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters poured on to the streets of Tehran and other cities and fought running battles with the security forces. Opposition websites claimed that some policemen had refused to fire on demonstrators. Foreign journalists have been banned from Iran but Western newsrooms were inundated with mobile telephone footage of astonishing scenes: jubilant demonstrators attacking riot police and Basij militiamen, protesters gleefully setting light to a police station, Basiji building and motorbikes being captured from the security forces, detained protesters being freed from a police van while colleagues are carried away with blood pouring from gunshot wounds. Dozens were injured and more than 300 arrested. “The gloves are off. There is no question about that,” said one analyst. Ali Ansari, Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, said: “No one can now doubt that change is coming.”
The demonstrators’ fury was no longer directed solely at President Ahmadinejad, whose alleged theft of the presidential election triggered protests in June, but also at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader and embodiment of a theocratic government that has lost legitimacy.
Opposition websites said that demonstrators broke through cordons, blocked streets to thwart squads of baton-wielding motorbike police, hurled stones, stripped captured police officers of their uniforms and weapons, and burnt state-owned banks. Mobile telephone footage showed them holding aloft captured Basiji crash helmets as onlookers cheered. “People no longer fear,” one activist told The Times.
Another witness told The Times how a middle-aged woman emerged from a cornered crowd and yelled at the police: “Aren’t you ashamed to beat and kill your own people?”
“To our surprise two of them admitted they were ashamed and were doing this only for money. The head of the squad then asked that we go home because he did not want to have to give the order to have us beaten,” the witness said.
The opposition claims that the unrest is spreading across Iran, and to every social class. It senses victory, but activists fear a bloodbath first. “The security forces, especially the Revolutionary Guards, are prepared to fight until the end as they have nowhere to go,” one member said.
Except, I'm old enough to remember (1979) 1 million people on the streets of Tehran rejoicing that the corrupt regime of the Shah was out and welcoming the Ayatollah Khomeni home from Paris. And look how pear-shaped that went. But hope blooms eternal in the human breast, and that was then, this is now.
Btw Neda Soltan has been named
The Times Person of the Year.

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Posted on 12/28/2009 2:57 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 27 December 2009
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Listen here.

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Posted on 12/27/2009 8:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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I saw three ships came sailing by. Thus killing two carols with one pub sign. Fear not gentle readers, I doubt I can keep this up for another
Journalist Leo Rennert writes to the Times: Two terrorist attacks occured over the Christmas holiday, but strangely only one was reported by the New

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The Birmingham Mail doesn't sound desperately impressed that the notorious Green Lane Mosque went ahead with this. RADICAL Islamic preachers have given
I fume every time I have to take my shoes off at the airport. Mark Steyn agrees. Well, the authorities have reacted to the Pantybomber in the usual way: Passengers

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My vicar has just preached on the difference between wisdom and intelligence. This is Christmas wisdom from The Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali in the Sunday
From The Independent: With his wealth, privilege and education at one of Britain's leading universities, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab had the world at

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my true nerd gave to me, Two Chairmen carrying. The Two Chairmen, Dartmouth Street Whitehall London.
NYPost: A Dutch airline passenger told The Post how he leapt into action when an alleged Muslim terrorist tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner packed

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An American visits the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem for midnight Mass.
Christmas is the season of goodwill to all twaddle. Television is terminally twaddled, and as the newspapers all tell us,  "we" -

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From The Times Captain Miles Malone 28, is a member of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps 102 Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit, based in Sennelager,
A partridge (and dog) and a pear tree. The Dog and Partridge North Stifford. The Pear Tree Hildersham.

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From The Times A Nigerian reported to be studying in Britain allegedly tried to blow up a transatlantic airliner on Christmas Day in what the White House
WSJ: DETROIT -- A passenger on a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight tried to detonate an explosive device that was strapped to his leg and later

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What its all about. Nativity scene in the crypt of St Martins in the Fields London. Photograph E Weatherwax December 2009
"Merry Christmas!"

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This is one of my favourite films, a wartime production by The Archers who were Michael Powell and Eric Pressburger. They also made One of our Aircraft
The 82-year-old pontiff was caught on camera being dragged to the floor as he proceeded down the main aisle in St Peter’s Basilica. Although shaken,

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