Metropolitan Opera Stifles Free Exchange of Ideas about a Propaganda Opera

On Monday night I went to the Metropolitan Opera. I went for two reasons: to see and hear John Adams’ controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer; and to see and hear what those protesting the Met’s judgment in presenting the opera had to say. Peter Gelb, the head of the Met Opera, had advised people to see it for themselves and then decide.

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Outrun A Bear?

The two friends, Mike and Ted are out in the woods hiking.

All of a sudden, a bear starts chasing them. They climbed a tree,
But the bear starts climbing up after them.

Mike gets his sneakers out of his knapsack and starts putting them on.

Ted: What are you doing ?

Mike: I figure when the bear gets too close, we’ll have to jump down
And make a run for the car.

Ted: Are you crazy ? You can’t outrun a bear.

Mike: I don’t have to outrun the bear I only have to outrun you !!

Li-Li

A long time ago in China, a girl named Li-Li got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law.

In a very short time, Li-Li found that she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all. Their personalities were very different, and Li-Li was angered by many of her mother-in-law’s habits. In addition, she criticized Li-Li constantly.

Days passed days, and weeks passed weeks. Li-Li and her mother-in-law never stopped arguing and fighting. But what made the situation even worse was that, according to ancient Chinese tradition, Li-Li had to bow to her mother-in-law and obey her every wish. All the anger and unhappiness in the house was causing the poor husband great distress.

Finally, Li-Li could not stand her mother-in-law’s bad temper and dictatorship any longer, and she decided to do something about it.

Li-Li went to see her father’s good friend, Mr. Huang, who sold herbs. She told him the situation and asked if he would give her some poison so that she could solve the problem once and for all. Mr. Huang thought for a while, and finally said, “Li-Li, I will help you solve your problem, but you must listen to me and obey what I tell you.”

Li-Li said, “Yes, Mr. Huang, I will do whatever you tell me to do.” Mr. Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs.

He told Li-Li, “You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious. Therefore, I have given you a number of herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body. Every other day prepare some delicious meal and put a little of these herbs in her serving. Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspects you when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly towards her. Don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen.”

Li-Li was so happy. She thanked Mr. Huang and hurried home to start her plot of murdering her mother-in-law.

Weeks went by, months went by, and every other day, Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother. After six months had passed, the whole household had changed.

Li-Li had practiced controlling her temper so much that she found that she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn’t had an argument in six months with her mother-in-law, who now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with.

The mother-in-law’s attitude toward Li-Li changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. She kept telling friends and relatives that Li-Li was the best daughter-in-law one could ever find. Li-Li and her mother-in-law were now treating each other like a real mother and daughter.

Li-Li’s husband was very happy to see what was happening.

One day, Li-Li came to see Mr. Huang and asked for his help again. She said, “Mr. Huang, please help me to stop the poison from killing my mother-in-law! She’s changed into such a nice woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave her.”

Mr. Huang smiled and nodded his head. “Li-Li, there’s nothing to worry about. I never gave you any poison. The herbs I gave you were vitamins to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude toward her, but that has been all washed away by the love which you gave to her. She too had a bad attitude towards you, which she eventually changed after you shown some change. Who will change first was the problem. Now it is solved” smiled the wise man

Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning. The flags have been lowered, the soldiers are coming home. The UK’s main base, Camp Bastion is being closed down and British withdrawal from Afghanistan is almost complete. “Quietly, the long war ends” is our take. In Helmand, Holly Watt witnesses the coming down of the flags of the US, the UK and Nato. It all feels too familiar to Tom Newton Dunn, who recalls a similar journey to Basra in 2009. “Then, as now, platitudes spilled forth from top brass and politicians,” he writes in today’s Sun: “We leave Afghanistan in the same way, prematurely, with a decision that has everything to do with politicians’ electoral cycles and almost nothing to do with the war on the ground.”

“It’s hard to remember,” James Kirkup notes, “but before Britain’s Iraqi adventure went so far off course, interventionist foreign policy was effectively the political norm.” Now, “Out At Last”, the Mirror’s splash, probably best typifies the war fatigue that has come to dominate politics in the West. But if it’s the Mirror that highlights the mood it’s the Mail that captures the fear: “Not A Trace Left Behind” is the headline. The memorial to the British dead – 453 in all – at Camp Bastion will be taken down is the inspiration, but the wider concern is that for all the money spent and the lives lost, Afghanistan will fall back into the Taliban’s hands and it will have all been for nothing. The Times weighs up the success and failures: life expectancy up from 50 in 2000 to over 60 today, the first democratic transfer of power in that nation’s history, but a threefold increase in the Opium Trade and a country joint-last with North Korea and Somalia in Transparency International’s corruption index.

In his column today, Con Coughlin fears that this will be the last hurrah for the British Army. A combination of war fatigue and fiscal retrenchment – neither the Government or the Opposition has committed yet to maintaining the 2% of GDP target that comes with Nato membership after the election – means that Britain increasingly lacks the ability, much less the inclination, to act on the world stage. Good, says John Prescott in the Mirror: “being the world’s policeman carries a heavy price and does not justify the heavy loss of lives”.

But as we’ve seen in Syria, inaction is also a decision with bloody consequences; and, as a result of our decision to stay out of that country we find ourselves back in Iraq five years after we said “never again”. Could we end up embarking on a fifth Afghanistan war sooner rather than later? As Tom puts it in the Sun: “I deeply wish I could say we’re not facing another déjà vu on disaster. But I can’t.”

ALAS, POOR JOHANN

“Labour Plunges Into Civil War” is the Scots Mail’s splash. Johann Lamont has resigned as leader of Scottish Labour and she’s kicked off a bitter war of words between the Scottish party and its cross-border cousins. Ms Lamont’s parting shot – that Ed Miliband treated Scottish Labour like “a branch office” is having reverberations. Two former Labour First Ministers, Jack, now Lord, McConnell and Henry McLeish, are demanding that Mr Miliband give up all control over the Scottish party, blaming his “foolish” intervention in the 2011 Holyrood election campaign and his “continual mistakes” as leader for Scottish Labour’s travails. (Ben Riley-Smith has the story.)

As one usually anti-Miliband insider noted to me last night: “It’s the typical ‘victim mentality’ from Scottish Labour. It’s not as if the problems there started in 2010.” The real problem is that Gordon Brown’s popularity north of the border papered over the cracks at the last general election; and with Ed Miliband no better liked in Scotland than in England, it’s up to Scottish Labour to win the day in 2015 in its own right. Oh dear.

SWAMPED

“Migrants row leaves Tories in disarray” is the Guardian’s splash. Michael Fallon’s remarks on yesterday’s Murnaghan that some British towns are “swamped” with immigrants while other parts are “under siege” contrasted with Liz Truss conceded on the BBC that migrant workers are essential to the UK agricultural industry. The word “swamped” is also felt to have an unhappy history. “I’d never use ‘swamped’ in this context,” said Ukip’s deputy chairman, Suzanne Evans. Downing Street clarified the remarks, saying that he should have said “under pressure”. But not everyone feels that the remarks were poorly chosen, with Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, tweeting: “Fallon absolutely right to use the word “swamped” about “some” immigration hotspots despite what teenage spin doctors at No 10 might say.”

HAIL TO THEE, JIM MURPHY?

Can Jim Murphy, still on a high from his referendum heroics, turn Scottish Labour around? That the Labour left is already stepping up its anti-Murphy campaign – Owen Jones gives him both barrels in today’s Guardian – shows that he won’t be able to take the leadership without a fight. Much hinges on what Anas Sarwar, the current deputy decides. It’s no longer sustainable for Mr Sarwar to remain as deputy and stay in the Commons, as it only underlines the “B-Team” problem that so damages Scottish Labour. But he could choose to give up his N0.2 slot and remain in Westminster, which would allow a unity ticket balancing Scottish Labour’s many wings (left/right, east/west and Catholic/Protestant are the big dividing lines) to emerge. Or he could decide to stand as a candidate in his own right. Meanwhile, the attempts to draft Gordon Brown as a candidate are on in earnest, although the man himself is still dubious about the move. Nominations close on November 4th with the winner announced in December.

YOU KHAN’T SAY THAT

Nigel Farage’s party has been accused of exploiting the misery of Rotherham sex abuse victims in the South Yorkshire PPC by-election after unveiling a poster featuring a young woman and the message: “1,400 reason why you should not trust Labour again”. One victim, now 25, tells the Indy: “People shouldn’t be making such comments and using it to get themselves into high positions. That’s very disrespectful to us victims.” Elsewhere, Naushabah Khan, Labour’s Medway-born candidate in Rochester and Strood, has said that the tone adopted by Ukip and its supporters can be “quite upsetting”, Laura Pitel reports in the Times. “When you say: we blame immigration for this, this and this’, that feels really uncomfortable,” Ms Khan says. South Yorkshire voters go to the polls on Thursday.

THE AMERICANS ARE COMING

David Axelrod – Ed Miliband’s six-figure American hire – has visited the United Kingdom just once since being brought in to repackage Ed Miliband as a potential Prime Minister, and it’s beginning to cause friction within the Opposition. “You cannot spend 300,000 pounds on a press release,” one insider tells Seb Payne, who’s written about the rise and rise of the American political advisor in today’s Washington Post.

EAW YES

Theresa May and Michael Gove are working full stretch to persuade Tory rebels to come around to the European Arrest Warrant, with a dossier of the criminals who would still be at large in the United Kingdom without it. Leaving it could turn Britain into a “honeypot” for criminals, Theresa May says, while former immigration minister Damian Green warns that it would be “really dangerous” to leave the EAW. Liberal and Labour support should be enough to pass the measure but a Tory revolt of over 100 would seriously embarrass the PM.

FRUITCAKES 1 LOONIES 0

Yet more noses out of joint thanks to Nigel Farage. Tom Rowley finds that the Monster Raving Loony Party are low on money and morale, and it’s all Ukip’s fault, apparently. “They’re stealing our thunder,” ‘Mad’ Mike Young says, “They’re coming up with crazy things.”

Sykes-Picot drew lines in the Middle East’s sand that blood is washing away

Chainsoff's Blog

REUTERS By Michael Williams

sykespicot

Last week British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said the struggle against Islamic State was “effectively Iraq’s last chance as nation state.”

That somber assessment followed his visit to Iraq a few days earlier, where he had used the expression “last chance saloon” to describe Iraq’s dire predicament.

Iraq, like Syria, was a consequence of World War One and of the infamous, in Arab eyes, agreement between Sir Mark Sykes and Francois-Georges Picot which led to the division of the former Ottoman Turkish domains by the two leading European powers, Britain and France. That agreement, now almost a century old, appears in tatters, as both countries are broken, exhausted by years of war and sectarian division for which there is no easy repair.

In that regard, we might look to Eastern Europe after 1989 for precedents.

Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, all the countries of…

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