Moldovan communists win elections, also after recount


From British daily The Morning Star:

Recount ratifies Communist win

MOLDOVA: Central Election Committee spokesman Iurie Ciocan announced at the weekend that a recount of April’s disputed parliamentary elections had not revealed any irregularities.

The recount backed the original tally, with the Communists winning 60 seats in the 101-seat legislature, but the opposition still refuses to accept the result.

Update August 2009: here.

Alice Mahon resignation bad sign for British Labour Party


This video is called Alice Mahon @ Lancashire Against The Cuts.

From British daily The Morning Star:

MP’s resignation ‘a sign of Labour’s catastrophe’

Sunday 19 April 2009

LABOUR Representation Committee chairman John McDonnell MP warned on Friday that former MP Alice Mahon’s resignation from Labour was a sign of the “catastrophe” facing the party.

The former Halifax MP, who was a member for over 50 years, quit the party on Saturday, saying that the leadership had “betrayed” the principles that inspired her to join. …

Mr McDonnell praised Ms Mahon as one of the “most dedicated and principled” members of Parliament.

He added: “When someone as Labour to the core as Alice Mahon is forced to leave the Labour Party, the Labour leadership must appreciate the political catastrophe that is emerging.

“We need the Prime Minister to immediately launch an inquiry into the operation of the party with the aim of restoring democracy.”

Cleopatra’s tomb discovered?


This National Geographic video is about Cleopatra.

From Associated Press:

Apr 19, 10:33 AM EDT

Coins, mummies and statues point to Cleopatra tomb

By PAUL SCHEMM
Associated Press Writer

BURG EL-ARAB, EgyptEgypt’s top archaeologist made his version of a sales pitch Sunday, presenting 22 coins, 10 mummies, an alabaster head and a fragment of a mask with a cleft chin as evidence that the discovery of the lost tomb of Mark Antony and Cleopatra is at hand.

Zahi Hawass showed off the ancient treasures to journalists during a tour of a 2,000-year-old temple to the god Osiris where they were found. He believes the site near the Mediterranean Sea contains the tomb of the doomed lovers that has been shrouded in mystery for so long.

“In my opinion, if this tomb is found it will be one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century because of the love between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and because of the sad story of their death,” he said.

Mark Antony and Cleopatra challenged Caesar Augustus for control of the Roman Empire more than two millenia ago. Their armies were defeated and rather than submit to capture, the two lovers committed suicide – Mark Antony by his sword, Cleopatra with a poisonous asp.

The Roman historian Plutarch said Caesar allowed the two to be buried together, but their tomb was never found.

Hawass’ claim is the latest spectacular announcement by the archaeologist, who continues to capitalize on the world’s fascination with ancient Egypt. He regularly unveils discoveries that are often met with skepticism and bemusement by Egyptologists abroad.

With his trademark Indiana Jones-style hat, Hawass guided journalists through the Toposiris [sic; Tabusiris] Magna temple 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Egypt’s ancient seaside capital of Alexandria. One by one, he held up the fruits of three years of excavation by a team from the Dominican Republic, including the fragment of a mask bearing a distinctive cleft chin.

“If you look at the face of Mark Antony, many believed he had this cleft on his chin and that’s why I thought this could be Mark Antony,” said Hawass

But he admitted they “are not sure 100 percent” and joked that the mask could depict Richard Burton, the actor who played Mark Antony in the 1963 move “Cleopatra” that also starred Elizabeth Taylor.

Kathleen Martinez, the Dominican archaeologist who has been excavating the site for the last three years, said she chose the temple based on 12 years of studying the life of Cleopatra.

“I believe it could be Taposiris [sic] Magna because it was the most sacred temple of its time,” she said, explaining that the lovers were buried in a temple rather than a public tomb to protect them from the Romans.

Inside the temple enclosure, Martinez’s team also found coins bearing Cleopatra’s name and face, as well as the carvings that could represent the doomed lovers.

For Hawass, however, the most significant element was the recent discovery of tombs from the same time period ringing the area around the temple, including 10 mummies of apparent nobles.

“The discovery of the cemetery this week really convinced me that there is someone important buried inside this temple,” he told the cameras, while standing inside a rough cut tomb surrounded by niches filled with bones and whole skeletons.

“No one would be buried outside a temple without a reason. We saw that in the pharaonic days they were always buried beside pyramids,” he said.

The discovery of the cemetery prompted Hawass to conduct a study of the temple with ground-penetrating radar, which revealed three possible sites for subterranean burial chambers 40 feet (12 meters) underground.

Excavations will start Tuesday, said Hawass, who predicted the mystery of the final resting place for the two would finally be solved. A second radar study is set for April 22.

In the past, archaeologists have not always backed Hawass’ more enthusiastic claims and suggested a degree of caution is sometimes warranted.

See also here.

Scientists have uncovered heart disease in 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummies, suggesting the risk factors behind it are not just modern in nature: here.

Overlooked statue found to represent children of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra: here.

Uncensored Madame Bovary on the Internet


From NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Beginning this week, Madame Bovary, the masterpiece by Gustave Flaubert and one of the most important French novels of all times, will be readable in its entirety on the Internet. All notes, additions, censored parts, and rewritings by Flaubert, owned by Rouen library, are there, thanks to volunteers.

Wren and woodpecker


Today, again to the cemetery.

A jay in a treetop.

This is a French video on wrens.

A wren at the lower end of a tree.

Chaffinch singing. A blackbird hopping from tombstone to tombstone.

A nuthatch on a narrow branch.

A grey heron flies overhead, calling.

A female great spotted woodpecker on a tree.

Protest songs about Ireland


Journalists of British daily The Guardian have made a list of protest songs. All of them in the English language.

I ‘ll reproduce some of that list on this blog. Not exactly in the same way as they did. Eg, they have options to listen to songs on Spotify, which is not available in all countries.

And I have added links. And grouped the songs according to themes. The theme of this entry is Ireland.

On the Blanket Mick Hanly with Christy Moore 1980.

Ireland’s powerful history of rebel songs gained some notable new additions during the hunger strikes of the 70s and 80s. None was more formidable than this outraged, deeply emotive protest about the treatment of the Maze prisoners demanding political status and refusing to wear prison uniforms. “If we stay silent we’re guilty, while these men lie naked and cold,” sang Moore and Hanly with quiet intensity – at personal risk to themselves on the frontlines of Republican rallies and marches. CI

Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six The Pogues 1988.

Released while the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four were still in jail, this was to the Troubles as Free Nelson Mandela was to South Africa. But where the Special AKA were persuasive, the Pogues were simply furious. Segueing from the folky Streets of Sorrow, bemoaning Northern Ireland’s tragedy, it slams into McGowan’s punk-driven denunciation of British justice. Fearful of Thatcher’s “oxygen of publicity” laws, gutless broadcasters banned it and a live performance on Friday Night Live was abruptly interrupted by adverts. SY

Suspect Device Stiff Little Fingers 1978.

John Peel heavily supported this Belfast punk band’s vicious debut single, featuring a lyric (co-written by music journalist and SLF manager Gordon Ogilvie) that compared angry Belfast youth with the bombs that ripped Northern Ireland apart at the height of the Troubles. The other star was the sandpaper-throated howl of frontman Jake Burns, who reached a state of near-apoplexy as he imagined himself “the suspect device the army can’t defuse”, set to “blow up in their face!” GM

Irish music blogs under attack over royalties: here.

Protest songs on Africa


Journalists of British daily The Guardian have made a list of protest songs. All of them in the English language.

I ‘ll reproduce some of that list on this blog. Not exactly in the same way as they did. Eg, they have options to listen to songs on Spotify, which is not available in all countries.

And I have added links. And grouped the songs according to themes. The theme of this entry is Africa.

Free Nelson Mandela The Special AKA 1984.

Few protest songs achieve their stated aim, but this ebullient Afropop anthem definitely played its part. Beloved of left-wing discos and adopted by South African Mandela supporters, this big-band plea for the release of Robben Island’s most famous prisoner also persuaded its composer Jerry Dammers to quit music for full-time anti-apartheid activism. GM

Zimbabwe Bob Marley and the Wailers 1979.

Written by Marley during his pilgrimage to Ethiopia in 1978 and recorded for his album Survival – the cover of which depicted the flags of Africa’s independent nations – this stirring song in support of the freedom movement in Rhodesia became its own self-fulfilling prophesy. The opening verse declared “Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny”, and on 17 April 1980 Marley found himself singing it on the Zimbabwe’s independence day in front of an audience that included Robert Mugabe, Indira Gandhi and Prince Charles. CLS

[Unfortunately, I could not find a video of this song. UPDATE December 2011: but now, I have.]

The Ballad of Sharpeville Ewan MacColl 1960.

On 21 March 1960 a peaceful black demonstration against apartheid in the Transvaal township of Sharpeville ended in massacre when the police turned their guns on the unarmed demonstrators, killing 69 and wounding hundreds of others. MacColl’s response was immediate: he sat down and wrote one of his most epic songs, coldly recounting the distressing details of the tragedy in the manner of the old broadside ballads. XX