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Contents contributed and discussions participated by Ed Webb

Ed Webb

BBC News - How Napoleon's semaphore telegraph changed the world - 3 views

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    A fictionalized version of this line-of-sight telegraphy exists in some of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, called the Clacks.
Ed Webb

Timbuktu mayor: Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts | World news | guar... - 1 views

  • Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts,
  • The manuscripts had survived for centuries in Timbuktu, on the remote south-west fringe of the Sahara desert. They were hidden in wooden trunks, buried in boxes under the sand and in caves. When French colonial rule ended in 1960, Timbuktu residents held preserved manuscripts in 60-80 private libraries.

    The vast majority of the texts were written in Arabic. A few were in African languages, such as Songhai, Tamashek and Bambara. There was even one in Hebrew. They covered a diverse range of topics including astronomy, poetry, music, medicine and women's rights. The oldest dated from 1204.

  • they exploded the myth that "black Africa" had only an oral history. "You just need to look at the manuscripts to realise how wrong this is."
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  • only a fraction of the manuscripts had been digitised. "They cover geography, history and religion. We had one in Turkish. We don't know what it said."
  • Mali government forces that had been guarding Timbuktu left the town in late March, as Islamist fighters advanced rapidly across the north. Fighters from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – the group responsible for the attack on the Algerian gas facility – then swept in and seized the town, pushing out rival militia groups including secular Tuareg nationalists.
  • As well as the manuscripts, the fighters destroyed almost all of the 333 Sufi shrines dotted around Timbuktu, believing them to be idolatrous. They smashed a civic statue of a man sitting on a winged horse.
  • The rebels enforced their own brutal and arbitrary version of Islam, residents said, with offenders flogged for talking to women and other supposed crimes. The floggings took place in the square outside the 15th-century Sankoré mosque, a Unesco world heritage site.
  • They weren't religious men. They were criminals
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    Such a tragedy
Ed Webb

British have invaded nine out of ten countries - so look out Luxembourg - Telegraph - 9 views

  • "Other countries could write similar books – but they would be much shorter. I don't think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century."
  • The only other nation which has achieved anything approaching the British total, Mr Laycock said, is France – which also holds the unfortunate record for having endured the most British invasions.
  • Mr Laycock added: "One one level, for the British, it is quite amazing and quite humbling, that this is all part of our history, but clearly there are parts of our history that we are less proud of. The book is not intended as any kind of moral judgment on our history or our empire. It is meant as a light-hearted bit of fun."

    The countries never invaded by the British:

    Andorra

    Belarus

    Bolivia

    Burundi

    Central African Republic

    Chad

    Congo, Republic of

    Guatemala

    Ivory Coast

    Kyrgyzstan

    Liechtenstein

    Luxembourg

    Mali

    Marshall Islands

    Monaco

    Mongolia

    Paraguay

    Sao Tome and Principe

    Sweden

    Tajikistan

    Uzbekistan

    Vatican City

Ed Webb

U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba - ABC News - 0 views

  • In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.
  • plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities
  • to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro
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  • "The whole point of a democracy is to have leaders responding to the public will, and here this is the complete reverse, the military trying to trick the American people into a war that they want but that nobody else wants."
  • neither the American public, nor the Cuban public, wanted to see U.S. troops deployed to drive out Castro.

    Reflecting this, the U.S. plan called for establishing prolonged military — not democratic — control over the island nation after the invasion.

  • a time when there was distrust in the military leadership about their civilian leadership, with leaders in the Kennedy administration viewed as too liberal, insufficiently experienced and soft on communism. At the same time, however, there real were concerns in American society about their military overstepping its bounds
  • reports U.S. military leaders had encouraged their subordinates to vote conservative during the election
  • One idea was to create a war between Cuba and another Latin American country so that the United States could intervene. Another was to pay someone in the Castro government to attack U.S. forces at the Guantanamo naval base — an act, which Bamford notes, would have amounted to treason. And another was to fly low level U-2 flights over Cuba, with the intention of having one shot down as a pretext for a war.
  • Afraid of a congressional investigation, Lemnitzer had ordered all Joint Chiefs documents related to the Bay of Pigs destroyed, says Bamford. But somehow, these remained.
Ed Webb

Amid Protest, Hong Kong Retreats on 'Moral Education' Plan - NYTimes.com - 3 views

  • HONG KONG — Faced with tens of thousands of protesters contending that a Beijing-backed plan for “moral and national education” amounted to brainwashing and political indoctrination, Hong Kong’s chief executive backpedaled on Saturday and revoked a 2015 deadline for every school to start teaching it.
  • For the past 10 days, swelling protests against the plan were the latest sign of a new interest in political activism by youths here, and there were some signs that this activism could be spreading in mainland China for the first time since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

  • The police initially detained 21 protesters but released them a day later as the crowds swelled. The smelting project itself has been canceled and shows no sign of being restarted, several Shifang residents said, adding that the city had been completely quiet ever since the protests.
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  • The national education curriculum — contemporary Chinese history with a heavy dose of nationalism and a favorable interpretation of the Communist Party’s role — was originally supposed to be phased in school by school starting with the academic year that began last Monday. But only a handful of schools have begun teaching the subject.
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