An Expert Musical Ear

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 Happens When the World is Warned and Ignores the Warning

Beyond the Cusp

Well, the United Nations has been informed and their response was a simple, “Ho Hum” and they went on as if nobody had spoken. They claim that the people have not said anything and query, “Would not the people protest such things?” But why would people make any complaint over their own nation having the military place their weapons in their towns as they would be told this was for their protection. But who is protecting what? Are these weapons of war to protect the people of the town or are the people protecting the weapons from attack? This depends on who you ask and their perspective of the entire matter. Those whose weapons are spread amongst the towns and even in homes will claim that the safety of the people and the weapons are all one and the same. They will tell the world that this is necessary because…

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Palestinians: Arab Idol or Arab Apartheid?

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 Telegraph – Brexit Bulletin

Good afternoon.

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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Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker

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.

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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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Political Operatives Pose as Journalists, Human Rights Groups

Two Palestinian journalists are arrested — one by Israel and the other by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The name of the one arrested by Israel is Muhammad al-Qiq. The name of the one arrested by the PA security forces is Sami al-Sai.

Although he is registered as a journalist, al-Qiq was arrested for security-related offenses completely unrelated to his profession. Israel did not arrest him because of his reporting or his writing, but because of his activities on behalf of Hamas. As a student at Bir Zeit University in 2006, al-Qiq was already known to be affiliated with Hamas. He was a member of the Islamic Bloc — a student list belonging to Hamas.

Al-Qiq’s affiliation with Hamas even got him into trouble with the Palestinian Authority; its forces arrested and interrogated him several times in the past few years. The last time his family received a visit from PA security officers was in 2014. Then, officers in plainclothes seized al-Qiq’s laptop and personal documents.

Now, al-Qiq is in Israeli detention, where he has gone on hunger strike in protest against his arrest.

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Israel’s silenced majority

During Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House in February, the premier was reportedly taken by surprise when Trump gently prodded – ahead of their meeting – for Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

Since their meeting, Trump’s prod that Israel curtail the property rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria has been the central issue Trump’s chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt has discussed with Netanyahu and his representatives.

From the moment Netanyahu returned from Washington, his government ministers have been asking him to brief them on his discussions with Trump. He has refused. But on Thursday, Netanyahu finally agreed to update his security cabinet.

His agreement is long past due. It is vital for Netanyahu to tell his cabinet ministers what is happening in his conversations with the Americans about Judea and Samaria. It is imperative that the cabinet determine a clear response to Trump’s apparent demand for a full or partial freeze on Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria.

Such an agreed response is urgent because Trump’s position is antithetical to the position of the vast majority of Israelis. If the government caters to Trump’s demands it will breach the trust of the public that elected it.

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Germany’s Jihad on Freedom of Speech

Carnival in Germany is a time for some light-hearted fun, fancy costumes and political satire. This year, many German cities held traditional float parades on Rosenmontag, or Rose Monday, many of which depicted political themes. Images of U.S. President Donald Trump took centre stage in many float processions, in some instances with his decapitated head held up high by the Statue of Liberty, in the style of an ISIS beheading.

Other floats went after nationalist European leaders and right-wing parties. In Düsseldorf, President Trump was shown standing next to a blond Hitler, joined by France’s Marine Le Pen, and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders.

Germany prides in its traditional Narrenfreiheit (“jesters’ freedom”) to mock the high and mighty. This year, Germany’s state-run Deutsche Welle news agency proudly proclaimed, “German jesters take on kings for 2017 Carnival.”

To those objecting to some of these violent depictions of President Trump, prominent German journalist Christian Thiels reminded the public that, “It’s called ‘freedom of satire’. You don’t have to like it or find it tasteful but it is part of free speech.”

In this very spirit of “freedom”, some residents of the sleepy German town of Bad Bergzabern thought they could mock Chancellor Angela Merkel and her refugee policy.

A local non-political group showed up with a float showing Chancellor Merkel behind prison bars, with the caption: “This is how traitors end up.” It is German equivalent of the popular U.S election slogan used by many Trump supporters for former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: “Lock her up.”

A police complaint was filed the following day. The day after that, police rolled into action, and the State Attorney of Landau district opened an investigation against the subversive “miscreants.”

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