Wednesday, 30 December 2009
On the Sixth Day of Christmas,
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it should be six geese a laying.
I have two geese, both from the Goose chain. Which is a nice enough sign the first time you see it, then you realise that every pub owned by the chain is now called the Goose or Goose and something and the only thing to distinguish each sign is the arrangement of bird proofing.
Top left is the Goose in Romford, which was previously the Morland Arms, although when I first knew the pub it it was the Sunrise Inn. Top right is the Goose in Walthamstow (or Goose and Granite)which was the Tower, then trendy (by the standards of 1975) Flanagans Tower, with Rapunzel waving hair and hanky just about where the goose sits now, which I think was the first home of the Tower Folk club, although there was such a thriving folk scene in the borough from 1967 that I can't remember every one.
Geese lay eggs, which is a foodstuff so below are two pub signs representing food.
The Ribs of Beef on the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich, which has as its sign a glass window featuring the Guinness Toucan (another bird. See how I justify everything) and a nice glass of the dark stuff.
The Cauiflower in Ilford, another music pub, recently restored to gin palace spendour. The owner noticed me taking the photo and was proud of his new, especially painted sign.

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Posted on 12/30/2009 4:45 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
A Musical Interlude: Kissing In The Dark (Memphis Minnie)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 12/30/2009 4:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Dating
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"I didn't know what day it was when you walked into the room," rasped Rod Stewart some time in the Seventies. Perhaps he was in the Phillipines, Alaska or Samoa.

It's New Year's Eve tomorrow. In the meantime (geddit?) here are some Quite Interesting facts about the International Date Line:

The Philippines, as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, long had its most important communication with Acapulco in Mexico, and was accordingly placed on the east side of the date line, despite being at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. 00:01 Tuesday in London was 17:21 Monday in Acapulco and about 08:05 Monday in Manila. During the 1840s, trade interests turned to China, the Dutch East Indies and adjacent areas, and the Philippines was changed to the west side of the date line. Monday, 30 December 1844 (ending up as a 365-day year, despite being a leap year) was followed by Wednesday, 1 January 1845.

Until 1867, Alaska began Russia's day, with the date line following the partially defined border between Russian Alaska and British North America, including the colony of British Columbia. The day before the purchase by the United States took effect, it was Friday, 6 October 1867, in the Julian calendar (used by Russia at the time), which would have been 18 October in the Gregorian calendar. The time in New Archangel would have been 12:00 when it was 12:02, Thursday, 17 October, at the future site of Whitehorse, Yukon, and 12:49, 17 October, at the future site of Vancouver, British Columbia. With the transfer of governance, the date line was shifted (moving Alaska back a day), and the calendar was changed (moving Alaska ahead 12 days), and being effective at midnight the calendar moved ahead one day as well, for a net change of 11 days. Friday, 6 October, was followed by Friday, 18 October (not Saturday, 7 October).

Samoa changed in 1892, eight years following the international conference that would result in de facto development of the Date Line. The king was persuaded by American traders to adopt the American date, being three hours behind California, to replace the former Asian date, being four hours ahead of Japan. The change was made at the end of the day on Monday, 4 July 1892, so there were 367 days (1892 being a leap year), including two occurrences of Monday, 4 July.

The central Pacific Republic of Kiribati introduced a change of date for its eastern half on 1 January 1995, from time zones −11 and −10 to +13 and +14. Before this, the country was divided by the date line. This meant that the date line in effect moved eastwards to go around this country. As a British colony, Kiribati was centered in the Gilbert Islands, just west of the old date line. Upon independence in 1979, the new republic acquired the Phoenix and Line Islands from the United States and the country found itself straddling the date line. Government offices on opposite sides of the line could only communicate by radio or telephone on the four days of the week when both sides experienced weekdays simultaneously. A consequence of this time zone revision was that Kiribati, by virtue of its easternmost possession, the uninhabited Caroline Atoll at 150°25′ west, started the year 2000 on its territory before any other country on earth, a feature which the Kiribati government capitalized upon as a potential tourist draw. But Ariel and Berger comment that the international community has not taken this date line adjustment very seriously, noting that most world atlases still ignore this Kiribati dateline shift and they continue to represent the International Date as a straight line in the Kiribati area.[1

Suppose the Biltmore Clock, often referenced at this site, had been in Kiribati. What then?

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Posted on 12/30/2009 3:47 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Eight US civilians killed in suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan
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From The Telegraph
Eight US civilians were killed by a suicide bomber in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, a US embassy official said.
The attack took place at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province, in eastern Afghanistan, said the official, who declined to be named.
No US or Nato troops were injured in the blast, the official said.
The number of foreign civilians in Afghanistan is mushrooming as the war takes a turn away from concentrating on battlefield fighting amid a growing emphasis on development and aid.
As civilian teams arrive, they are being sent to provincial military bases, where many they are billeted to work alongside military reconstruction teams.
The attack on the Americans comes as the international forces in Afghanistan - numbering 113,000 and set to grow to 150,000 next year - are embroiled in controversy over the deaths of Afghan civilians in an operation on Saturday.

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Posted on 12/30/2009 3:35 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Persian or Persians unknown
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More at Wikipedia. What do you get when you cross a Persian with a Siamese?

A twinning combination:

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Posted on 12/30/2009 2:35 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Iraq hostage Peter Moore released in good health
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I am pleasantly surprised - I feared that, like three of his bodyguards he was dead. The fate of the fourth bodyguard is, as yet, unknown.
Peter Moore, the Briton held hostage in Iraq for two and a half years, thought he was about to be executed when he captors led him out to be released, his family said today.
The IT consultant, 32, was kidnapped in May 2007 with four other British citizens. Three of the hostages were killed and their bodies have been flown back to Britain. Alan McMenemy is still unaccounted for but it is believed that he is also dead.
Mr Moore and his security guards, Mr McMenemy, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell and Alec MacLachlan, were taken from a Finance Ministry building in Baghdad in May 2007.
The group was captured by about 40 men disguised as Iraqi policemen.
The kidnappers, from Asaib al-Haq (the League of the Righteous), a Shia splinter group, were believed to be holding Mr Moore as well as the body of Mr McMenemy, as bargaining chips in talks with the Iraqi Government.
The Prime Minister said that he was "hugely relieved by the wonderful news" and praised those who had helped to secure the release.
Mr Miliband said the joy felt by Mr Moore and his family would be mirrored by the grief felt by the family of Mr McMenemy, who the Foreign Office believe has been killed. Mr Miliband called on the kidnappers to release the body as soon as possible.
Mr Moore, an IT consultant from Lincoln, was working in Iraq for Bearing Point, an American firm of management consultants.
It seems from information acquired at the time the bodies of the three bodyguards were released that they were separated from Mr Moore early on, and killed early on, while the UK Government were lead to believe ( will give them the benefit of the doubt) that they were alive and negotiations would prove fruitful.
My personal suspicion is that an employee of a US company was perceived as valuable, while the bodyguards, as ex UK soldiers, were perceived as of no value for randsom, and that  there  would be no threat of rescue or reprisal. Which is a tragedy and another damning indictment of the Brown regime.

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Posted on 12/30/2009 11:33 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere Finds America Makes Afghanistan Safe For Its Expansion
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From The Times

China Willing to Spend Big on Afghan Commerce

KABUL, Afghanistan — Behind an electrified fence, blast-resistant sandbags and 53 National Police outposts, the Afghan surge is well under way.

But the foot soldiers in a bowl-shaped valley about 20 miles southeast of Kabul are not fighting the Taliban, or even carrying guns. They are preparing to extract copper from one of the richest untapped deposits on earth. And they are Chinese, undertaking by far the largest foreign investment project in war-torn Afghanistan...

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Posted on 12/30/2009 10:13 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Compliments of the season
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While my mother was staying with me over Christmas I took her to a favourite restaurant that I normally go to with friends. The owner was delighted to meet the mother of a regular, tactfully refrained from telling her how much I normally drink, and dispensed, along with a glass of port on the house, a well-worn compliment:

"Mama? I thought you were sisters!"

My mother laughed, taking the remark with a pinch of salt not needed for the food. I laughed too, but should I have? Perhaps he meant that I looked as old as my mother.

That the remark is always taken as a compliment to the mother rather than an insult to the daughter shows that neither believes it.

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Posted on 12/30/2009 6:01 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Al-Qaeda ?groomed Abdulmutallab in London?
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An exclusive from The Times
The Christmas Day airline bomb plot suspect organised a conference under the banner “War on Terror Week” as he immersed himself in radical politics while a student in London, The Times has learnt.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a former president of the Islamic Society at University College London, advertised speakers including political figures, human rights lawyers and former Guantánamo detainees.
One lecture, Jihad v Terrorism, was billed as “a lecture on the Islamic position with respect to jihad”.
Security sources are concerned that the picture emerging of his undergraduate years suggests that he was recruited by al-Qaeda in London. Security sources said that Islamist radicalisation was rife on university campuses, especially in London, and that college authorities had “a patchy record in facing up to the problem”. Previous anti-terrorist inquiries have uncovered evidence of extremists using political meetings and religious study circles to identify potential recruits.
It emerged last night that Mr Abdulmutallab featured on the periphery of one counterterrorism intelligence operation in Britain. US intelligence authorities are also looking at conversations between him and at least one al-Qaeda member.
He is the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007.
Mr Abdulmutallab left UCL last year. The Times has learnt that his attempt to renew his student visa in May this year was based on an application to study “life coaching” at a non-existent college. That visa refusal may have saved Britain from an attack. His terrorist training took a new turn in August when he moved to Yemen, ostensibly to study Arabic, and was schooled by al-Qaeda there.
President Obama said that it was “totally unacceptable” that US agencies had not prevented the attack with the information available and demanded preliminary results from two security reviews by tomorrow. He is facing criticism for leaving two key federal security agencies without leaders 11 months into his administration.
Dutch authorities dismissed claims that Mr Abdulmutallab boarded the flight in Amsterdam without a passport. A spokesman for its counter-terrorism office said: “He had a passport and a valid visa for the United States and KLM had clearance on the passenger list to carry him to the US.”
As one of the most recommended comments says " why has it taken the security services so long to figure out what Joe Public figured out 10 years ago? Now, what are they going to do about it?"
The Muslim colleague of a friend attended the prayer room at the nearby London School of Economics one Friday, maybe 12 years ago and came out shaking. He had gone to pray and praise his Maker, not listen to anger and hate and vowed to pray at his desk without the gymnastics in future.
The University of East London, which I knew as North East London Polytechnic could bear investigation in my opinion. A University in East London should fill my Cockney heart with pride, in theory, but that place doesn't.

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Posted on 12/30/2009 1:53 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Israeli Cartoonist Dry Bones: Iran 2010
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Israeli Cartoonist, "Dry Bones" has this latest comment on what might happen in Iran in 2010.

We hope his message becomes a reality.

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Posted on 12/30/2009 12:25 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Most North African "Arabs" Are Islamized Berbers
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From a report that could, if used correctly, help to unsettle Arab claims to dominate the countries of North Africa and, since Berber attachment to Islam is far weaker than that of Arabs (Berber ethnic identity undercutting, rather than, as in the case of the Arabs, reinforcing Islam), this could also weaken the hold of Islam on thse who recognize their Berber ancestry and decide to identify with it rather than with an Arab (Muslim) identity: 
Mitochondrial DNA heterogeneity in Tunisian Berbers
Berbers live in groups scattered across NorthAfrica whose origins and genetic relationships with their neighbours are not well established. The first hypervariable segment of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region was sequenced in a total of 155 individuals from three Tunisian Berber groups and compared to other North Africans. The mtDNA lineages found belong to a common set of mtDNA haplogroups already described in NorthAfrica. Besides the autochthonous North African U6 haplogroup, a group of L3 lineages characterized by the transition at position 16041 seems to be restricted to North Africans, suggesting that an expansion of this group of lineages took place around 10500 years ago in NorthAfrica, and spread to neighbouring populations. Principal components and the coordinate analyses show that some Berber groups (the Tuareg, the Mozabite, and the Chenini-Douiret) are outliers within the NorthAfrican genetic landscape. This outlier position is consistent with an isolation process followed by genetic drift in haplotype frequencies, and with the high heterogeneity displayed by Berbers compared to Arab samples as shown in the AMOVA. Despite this Berber heterogeneity, no significant differences were found between Berber and Arab samples, suggesting that the Arabization was mainly a cultural process rather than a demographic replacement.
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Posted on 12/29/2009 10:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Kenneth Timmerman: Israeli officials
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Kenneth Timmerman, just returned from Israel, commented in an email:  “from my own talks with Israeli leaders (see Newsmax today,), I think they are in a serious holding pattern – hoping, praying (and hopefully, scheming) to make the revolution come in Iran.”

That was reflected in comments from senior Israeli officials in Timmerman’s NewsMax.com article: “Israelis feel Obama weak on Iran sanctions.”

Eight months ago, the talk in Israel was of war. Israelis has just elected a tough new prime minister, who announced that stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program was his top priority. The Israeli Air Force conducted two long-distance exercises with in-flight refueling to demonstrate the capability of striking Iran. There was ominous talk of “red lines” that Israel would not allow Iran to cross.
Now Iran appears to have crossed those red lines, and it has enough uranium to make at least two bombs. Yet the talk of war has receded.
So what changed? A nuclear-armed Iran represents a threat of “biblical proportions,” said government spokesman Daniel Seaman. But the extent of the domestic turmoil that has rocked Iran since the disputed June 12 presidential election has given new hope to some members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet that war over Iran’s nuclear weapons program now can be avoided.
“The unrest [inside Iran] has led to a change in the calculation,” a top Netanyahu adviser told Newsmax. "In April, it was hard to make the argument that putting pressure on Iran would have any effect. Now the case for sanctions is stronger because there seems to be a growing likelihood of success."
Senior advisers to Netanyahu, including cabinet members, told Newsmax in Jerusalem that they now believe a combination of external pressure and help to the opposition inside Iran might convince the regime to change its behavior — or better yet, could provide the catalyst for a change of regime.
“The nuclear issue is tremendously important,” said a veteran Iran watcher who has advised prime ministers for many years. “But regime change must be the objective.”
He and other Netanyahu advisers contend that a secular democratic government in Iran most likely would focus on Iran’s economy and on rebuilding the country’s international reputation, rather than the aggressive pursuit of nuclear capabilities that have made the Islamist regime an international pariah.

Mohsen Sazegara, a founder of the Revolutionary Guards who went into opposition in 1989 and has been jailed repeatedly, agreed.
“The biggest mistake of my generation was to make a revolution against the world,” he told Newsmax. “The new generation wants to join the world, not destroy it.”

Israel now sees the Iranian regime as vulnerable in ways no one could conceive of just months ago. “Recently, they had to expand subsidies on basic foodstuffs,” another senior adviser said. “This is putting economic pressure on the regime.”
New international sanctions “are needed as soon as possible, and they can have a real impact on the Iranian economy. But this must be coupled with support from the outside for the green movement. Unfortunately, until now the U.S. has not provided any support to them at all,” the adviser said.
The third element of a tougher policy on Iran must be a credible threat of military action, should other measures fail to effect a change in Iranian behavior, the adviser added.
“These three things together — economic pressure, support for the opposition, and a credible military option always in view — are the only way you can avoid military action,” he said. “The goal of our policies should be to make the Iranian regime feel they are facing a dilemma, where they must choose between a nuclear bomb, and the survival of the regime. “

These statements by Israeli sources corroborate many of the observations made by Ami Imani in our NER interview with him about possible regime change.

 President Obama’s immediate attention has been   diverted from what to do about roiling events in Iran by the damage control over intelligence and security lapses by his Administration in the foiled al Qaeda plot to blow up North West Airlines flight 253 in Detroit on Christmas.  We doubt seriously if the useful suggestions of these senior Israeli officials, reflected in the Imani interview, will be understood, let alone adopted.

Timmerman notes the skepticism of Israeli officials given the failed quest for engagement with the Mullahs involving Senator John Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

“The track of engagement has been cluttered with a lot of debris, making it harder to pursue,” a Netanyahu adviser said. “Is engagement over? That’s your headline, not mine. But the Iranians are making it increasingly difficult to go down that track.”
Contested Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swept aside any prospect that Iran would comply with Obama’s end-of-year deadline, saying on Thursday that the United States and the West can set "as many deadlines as they want. We don't care."
The possibility that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., would travel to Iran, which The Wall Street Journal disclosed last week, appears to be a last-ditch effort to revive engagement before it dies a natural death.
A Kerry trip to Tehran “would be a disaster,” a former senior Israeli intelligence official said, because it would allow the Iranian regime to buy more time to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“Iran is gaming the situation, playing for time. They think they can avoid sanctions by making some new proposal at the very last minute,” a senior Israeli cabinet member said.
A Kerry spokesman said the senator doesn't plan to travel to Iran, but the White House welcomed such an effort.

It looks like Obama’s Hawaii vacation may end with a quick return to Washington for a huddle with his National Security Advisers to undertake damage control on his failed strategy in the war against Islamic terrorism at home and abroad.  Given the news from Iran,  he and his advisers will have to  rethink his feckless world vision vis a vis ‘engagement’ with the faltering  Islamic Republic of Iran,  its panicky Mullahs and puppet President Ahmadinejad.

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Posted on 12/29/2009 11:56 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
A Musical Interlude: I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues (Jack Teagarden)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 12/29/2009 10:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Do They Still Make Persians Like This Any More?
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Mehdi Forough (From Wikipedia)

Mehdi Forough, ca. 1990

Mehdi Forough (1911-2008) was an Iranian scholar, author, dramatist, writer on dramatic arts and culture, translator, and founder of the College of Dramatic Arts in Tehran. A native of Esfahan, Mehdi Forough attended Danesh Sara-ye Aali in Tehran and went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. He did graduate studies at Columbia University, NYC, where he completed his thesis, Comparative study of Abraham's sacrifice in Persian passion plays and Western mystery plays, 1954. This work was later published by the Ministry of Culture, in Tehran.

Upon his return to his native land he founded the College of Dramatic Arts at which he was teacher and mentor to a whole generation of notable actors, playwrights, and theater producers who continue his legacy around the world. He wrote for the journal Sokhan and authored numerous articles for many other publications. Amongst his books are a treatise on music, titled She'r va Musighi (Poetry and Music, 1957), Nofooz e elmi va elm-e-musighi-e Iran dar keshvar hay-e digar (The Scientific and Cultural Influence of Persian Music in other Countries), and Shahnameh va Adabiat-e-Dramatic (Shahnameh and the Dramatic Literature). In the late nineteen seventies he was the president of Bonyad-e-Shahnameh, an institution devoted to the preservation of the authenticity of Ferdowsi's epic poem.

He is also known for his excellent translations of English texts into Persian. Amongst his many translations of plays are Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie and August Strindberg's The Father both of which he staged and directed. Furthermore, he translated Henrik Ibsen's plays, A Doll's House and Ghost. Another translation related to the Theater is Lajos Egri's The Art of Dramatic Writing. He also translated Aaron Copland's What to Listen for in Music, and Men of Music by Wallace Brockway and Herbert Weinstock. Mehdi Forough, is said to have possessed a legendary voice, although he never performed publicly. He is the composer of a song cycle in which he set well-known Persian poems of Hafez, Saadi, and others to music.

Mehdi Forough was married to Fakhri Dowlatabadi, one of the Iranian women pioneers in playing and teaching of western classical music and the daughter of Haji Mirza Yahya Dowlatabadi, prominent Constitutionalist of the 1906 Revolution and one of the founders of the modern school systems in Iran. Mehdi Forough's son is the violinist and professor, Cyrus Forough.

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Posted on 12/29/2009 10:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Al Awlaki Personally Blessed Detroit Attack
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Victor Morton writes in the Washington Times:

The Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner had his suicide mission personally blessed in Yemen by Anwar al-Awlaki, the same Muslim imam suspected of radicalizing the Fort Hood shooting suspect, a U.S. intelligence source has told The Washington Times.

The intelligence official, who is familiar with the FBI's interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, said the bombing suspect has boasted of his jihad training during interrogation by the FBI and has said it included final exhortations by Mr. al-Awlaki.

"It was Awlaki who indoctrinated him," the official said. "He was told, 'You are going to be the tip of the spear of the Muslim nation.'"

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took credit Monday for the Christmas Day attack on Northwest Airlines 253, an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight. The al Qaeda group and U.S. officials both say Mr. Abdulmutallab was able to smuggle explosive powder in his underwear and only a detonator failure prevented him from blowing up the plane and killing almost 300 passengers and crew.

Mr. al-Awlaki, an American-born imam who formerly led a large Northern Virginia mosque but now lives in Yemen, has gained considerable public notoriety in recent months because of his influence on Maj. Nidal Hasan, another U.S.-born Muslim.

Mr. al-Awlaki had e-mail contact with Maj. Hasan as many as 20 times from December 2008 until the Fort Hood shootings, where Maj. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people. Mr. al-Awlaki praised Maj. Hasan's actions as a "hero" and said all Muslims in the U.S. military should "follow the footsteps of men like Nidal."

Several British news sources, including Sky News and the Daily Mail, have reported, in vague terms, that authorities suspect unspecified links between Mr. Abdulmutallab and Mr. al-Awlaki. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has said an al-Awlaki/Abdulmutallab link "appears" to be the case.

"It appears that just like with Major Hasan, Awlaki played a role in this," he told ABC News. "All roads point back to Yemen; they point back to Awlaki. I think it is a pretty deadly combination."

According to the U.S. intelligence official, Mr. Abdulmutallab cited Maj. Hasan in his interrogations, but only to praise his religion's diversity, as "an example of how Islam accepts even American soldiers."

Mr. Abdulmutallab did not show any operational knowledge of the Army major or the Fort Hood attack.

In his FBI interrogation, according to the U.S. intelligence official, Mr. Abdulmutallab spoke of being in a room in Yemen receiving Muslim blessings and prayers from Mr. al-Awlaki, along with a number of other men "all covered up in white martyrs' garments," and known only by code names and "abu" honorifics.

The official said such clothing and the lack of familiarity among the men suggests al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula intends to use the men in that room in suicide missions.

The intelligence official's description comes in the wake of several reports that Yemen is breeding scores of jihadists ready to strike the West...

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Posted on 12/29/2009 6:01 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
On the Fifth Day of Christmas
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The Five Bells Brandon, Suffolk.
Brandon is a pleasant country town with an industrial past. The flint mines at Grimes Graves which provided flint from pre Roman times through to the flintlock muskets of the 18th Century are nearby, as is the USAAF base at RAF Lakenheath.
I can't find out whether the Parish church of St Peters has, or had, 5 bells but pubs named Bell something are frequently named for an ecclesiastical connection.

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Posted on 12/29/2009 5:01 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Pseudsay Tuesday
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Paul Virilio is a manly kind of name. Here he is on speed, as it were (my emphasis). Read it as fast as you can:

Paul Virilio's treatise The Aesthetics of Disappearance -- more virtuosic meditation than traditional scholarship -- considers the motivations and repercussions of a contemporary society fascinated by speed. Speed, or velocity, is understood literally as space (distance) mapped against time (duration), reaching its absolute limit in light, which collapses both space and time.

Speed and velocity aren't the same thing, but moving swiftly on:

Indeed, Virilio is attuned precisely to the culturally correlated obsession with moving (driving, flying, riding) at high speeds and viewing (watching) moving (light) images. At this limit, light (absolute speed) dissolves the implicit dualism suspended between these phenomena, that of embodied motion and that of disembodied stimulus, anticipating a neuro-psychological event effectuated by the simultaneous or synchronic discharge of neurons to the brain resulting in an epileptic, or, in Virilio's terms, picnoleptic, seizure. Such lapses are quite common in maturing children whose developing psychic mechanisms are often momentarily incapable of assimilating the prevailing contingency of outside experience, and in adults during their waking moments -- Virilio's example, which opens the book, is of dropping one's morning coffee, a lapse in consciousness for which one is fundamentally unaccountable. Crucial to these two moments, each operating synecdochly, is their structural place at the point of passage between radical binaries: unconscious sleep and conscious awareness; unconscious infancy and conscious adulthood. Speed, then, by inducing such sensory overload, supplants the project of reason (mature consciousness) by eliding observable difference, situating the observer in a perch between things -- between binaries -- the observer himself marked, en passant, as indifferent. Indeed, the world sped up (or the world from the vantage of speed) is experienced as multiplicitous variety irreducible to diachronic singularity or topographical proximity, history, discourse, context, obfuscated for the experience of pure, undifferentiated surface: light.

I was speed-reading with no trouble, until I stumbled over "synecdochly". I can only say part of it, but not all of it - will that do?

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Posted on 12/29/2009 4:50 PM by Mary Jackson
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Detroit terror attack: A murderous ideology tolerated for too long
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The Telegraph View - Hat tip Apostate Islam
Telegraph View: Jihadist Islamism is comparable to Nazism in many respects. The British public realises this; so do the intelligence services.
Is it time for a fundamental rethink of Britain's attitude towards domestic Islamism? Consider this analogy. Suppose that, in several London universities, Right?wing student societies were allowed to invite neo-Nazi speakers to address teenagers. Meanwhile, churches in poor white neighbourhoods handed over their pulpits to Jew-hating admirers of Adolf Hitler, called for the execution of homosexuals, preached the intellectual inferiority of women, and blessed the murder of civilians. What would the Government do? It would bring the full might of the criminal law against activists indoctrinating young Britons with an inhuman Nazi ideology – and the authorities that let them. Any public servants complicit in this evil would be hounded from their jobs.
Jihadist Islamism is also a murderous ideology, comparable to Nazism in many respects. The British public realises this; so do the intelligence services. Yet because it arises out of a worldwide religion – most of whose followers are peaceful – politicians and the public sector shrink from treating its ideologues as criminal supporters of violence.
Radical Islamist leaders are not stupid: they know how to play this system. The indoctrination of students carries on under the noses of public servants who are terrified of being labelled Islamophobic or racist. Therefore they fail to do their duty, which is to protect Muslims and non-Muslims alike from a terrorist ideology. If providing that protection requires fewer "consultations" with "community leaders" and more arrests, then so be it.

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Posted on 12/29/2009 4:52 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Dozy bint of the week
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Say what you like about Giles Coren, he is funny in his own right, as well as having a famously funny father. His writing shows signs of strain at times - he needs to try harder if he is to achieve the late Alan Coren's effortless brilliance.

Victoria Coren, on the other hand, has the surname and not much else. She qualifies as this week's dozy bint for claiming - in The Guardian, of course - that Muslim women should be running the country:

But what if [the cabinet] were all Muslim women? Picture the scene, and be confused to note that you can't help suspecting things would surely be better – better run, fairer, more efficient, more practical and more peaceable – even as you know that it would never, ever be allowed to happen.

It would happen if Eton were all-Muslim and all-female. An alternative universe dances before us, where somebody trod on a butterfly and everything turned out different. As we step back out of the time machine, butterfly corpse on boot, we meet the cockney royals, the female establishment, the white traffic wardens, the black Bruce Forsyth, the gay army leaders. Ah, I suppose the grass is always greener. It would still rain on bank holidays.

The funny thing is, not only are we a million years from having 10 Baroness Warsis in the cabinet, they don't even want the Muslim Eton in Lancashire. The Bishop of Burnley wants the school placed elsewhere, lest it inflame local bigots. Is that how we do things, though, Your Grace?

Miss Coren knows nothing of Islam - Muslim women are not permitted to rule under Sharia, and if they get power in Britain, it gives a false sense of security about Islam. Think of those Muslim "feminists" like Shirin Ebadi, whose campaigning for "women's rights" means nothing without a rejection of the belief system that denies them.

Besides, Muslims couldn't run a booze up in a brewery, and we know how important that is to Britain.

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Posted on 12/29/2009 12:47 PM by Mary Jackson
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Shrink-wrapped oranges are not the only fruit...
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There's the odd rotten pear.

I had been wondering why the once funny and down-to-earth Jeanette Winterson had lost her touch. I now learn that she is stepping out with dreary psychobabbler Susie Orbach.

This may turn out to be Winterson's banana skin. I don't trust thin people who make money writing about fat people; I don't trust "feminists" who give themselves the girlishly twee name "Susie", and I certainly don't trust shrinks. Look what happened to John Cleese when he got his head read - boring as hell.

Dull people should pair off together, but they rarely do. Instead, the dullard latches onto an interesting person, the dullness prevails and the number of dullards is doubled.

What a lemon - and not a melon between them.

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Posted on 12/29/2009 12:24 PM by Mary Jackson
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