When Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A couple of days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Beethoven was buried. Terrified, the drunk ran and got the priest to come and listen to it. The priest bent close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music coming from the grave. Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate.
When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said: “Ah, yes, that’s Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, being played backwards.”
He listened a while longer, and said: “There’s the Eighth Symphony, and it’s backwards, too. Most puzzling.” So the magistrate kept listening; “There’s the Seventh… the Sixth… the Fifth…”
Suddenly, the realization of what was happening dawned on the magistrate.
He stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery: “My fellow citizens, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just Beethoven decomposing.“
What could possibly be said against a leader who supports and encourages art, especially music, singing and dancing of youths? A leader who does so, particularly one from the Arab world, should be commended for such efforts.
The catch: except when a leader says that supporting singers and musicians takes precedence over solving basic problems facing hundreds of thousands of his people.
Take, for example, the case of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently visited Beirut for talks with Lebanese leaders on a wide range of issues pertaining to bilateral relations and the status of more than 500,000 Palestinians living in extremely harsh conditions in numerous refugee camps throughout Lebanon. Many of the camps have long been “no-go zones” for the Lebanese security forces; this situation has turned them into bases for anarchy, lawlessness and a home for various rival armed gangs, which sometimes kill each other.
During his three-day visit to Lebanon, President Abbas held a series of meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and scores of Lebanese government officials and politicians. He also met with some representatives of the Palestinian community in Lebanon. Abbas, however, steered clear of any of the refugee camps, where Palestinians are deprived of basic rights, particularly employment.
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The EU doesn’t want to punish Britain over Brexit, Donald Tusk insisted, as “ Brexit in itself is already punitive enough”. British negotiators will be raising a collective eyebrow then given the opening demands from the the European Council president. Parallel talks on exit and future relations “will not happen”, he said, and Britain would be banned from cutting taxes or red tape as part of any trade deal that is agreed.
There is a lot in the EU’s list of demands that will annoy British officials, as Peter Foster writes about five ways it will try to shaft Britain over the process. They have been blindsided, we report, by the extra demand for Spain to get an effective veto over the future of Gibraltar. “One really wonders why the EU has thought it sensible to put in something that’s a bi-lateral issue between Spain and the UK,” one remarked.
In the meantime, Nicola Sturgeon has formally demanded a second vote on Scottish independence from Theresa May. Tom Harris has written his own mischievous version of her letter here. The First Minister may be feeling confident after winning a vote in Holyrood on the right to request a second vote, but she signalled a softening in tone, announcing that she will “ work on the basis of your stated timetable” on Brexit. If that means Scotland will be less of a problem during the Brexit negotiations, Mrs May will be grateful.
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On the morning of December 30, the day after Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 US election, Tillmann Werner was sitting down to breakfast in Bonn, Germany. He spread some jam on a slice of rye bread, poured himself a cup of coffee, and settled in to check Twitter at his dining room table.
The news about the sanctions had broken overnight, so Werner, a researcher with the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, was still catching up on details. Following a link to an official statement, Werner saw that the White House had targeted a short parade’s worth of Russian names and institutions—two intelligence agencies, four senior intelligence officials, 35 diplomats, three tech companies, two hackers. Most of the details were a blur. Then Werner stopped scrolling. His eyes locked on one name buried among the targets: Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev.
By Lily Hay Newman
By Brendan I. Koerner
By Lily Hay Newman
Werner, as it happened, knew quite a bit about Evgeniy Bogachev. He knew in precise, technical detail how Bogachev had managed to loot and terrorize the world’s financial systems with impunity for years. He knew what it was like to do battle with him.
But Werner had no idea what role Bogachev might have played in the US election hack. Bogachev wasn’t like the other targets—he was a bank robber. Maybe the most prolific bank robber in the world. “What on earth is he doing on this list?” Werner wondered.
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