Peter Donohoe on the Cold War and Music

Peter Donohoe, British concert pianist, reflects on the cultural and musical climate in the Soviet Union and the response in the West. A thought provoking essay on an extraordinary period in music history.

UK Supreme Court rules against Assange in extradition case but there’s a new twist to the case

In an extraordinary development, the lawyers of Julian Assange, who lost his extradition case in the Supreme Court by a 5-2 majority, have been given permission to submit fresh arguments and challenge a central point of the judgment on the correct interpretation of international treaties.


Assault on reason-1: Serpent-handling pastor dies from rattlesnake bite, Washington Post

Mack Wolford, 44, a Pentecostal pastor from West Virginia, fancying his serpent-handling skills, promised his flock a ‘homecoming like the old days…[and] a great time’, speaking in tongues and handling deadly snakes. His authority for going against common sense? ‘And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover’ (Mark 16:17-18). Tragedy repeated itself: like his serpent-handling father who died in 1983 after being bitten, he did not survive a rattler bite.

‘Why I watched a snake-handling pastor die for his faith’, by photojournalist Lauren Pond + Photo Gallery

How to spot the crackpot — pseudoscience in Pakistan, Pervez Hoodbhoy in The Express Tribune

Pseudoscience and fake science can do a great deal of harm in society. Physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy offers a spot-it-yourself guide, drawing from cases in Pakistan:–pseudoscience-in-pakistan/#comments

In Latest Sign of Print Upheaval, New Orleans Paper Scaling Back –

The Decline and Fall of Print: Requiem for the Latest Casualty in the USA:

Alan Rusbridger and Nick Davies, winners of the Media Society Award 2012 – video profile,

Investigative triumph over phone hacking: A well-merited award for Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger and reporter Nick Davies for journalism of the highest quality, relevance, and impact — and for speaking truth to power; Hugh Grant pays tribute:

Phone Hacking: How the Guardian broke the story (Guardian Shorts, Kindle Edition):

Warren Buffett promises ‘hands-off’ policy towards Berkshire newspapers,

“I’ve loved newspapers all of my life — and always will…Berkshire buys for keeps…You should treat public policy issues just as you have in the past,” he has assured publishers and editors of the Media General Inc. daily newspapers due to become part of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. “I have some strong political views, but Berkshire owns the paper — I don’t. And Berkshire will always be non-political.”

Subtext: I won’t be a Rupert Murdoch.

‘The Secret of the Temple: How a god became a billionaire’, Jake Halpern in The New Yorker, April 30, 2012

How the litigation- and controversy-fuelled discovery of treasure ‘worth billions of dollars’ (trust but verify) at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram is the stuff of dreams worldwide.

Note: The last line in the attached pdf (downloaded from the writer’s website, is incomplete; it should read: “No, let it be.”


pdf iconThe Secret of the Temple, Jake Halpern in The New Yorker.pdf

Advertising (Digital versus Traditional) the 2012 ‘Gush’ versus ‘Bore’ presidential campaign, several links

‘…the motorcades of two largely interchangeable presidential candidates (Gush, Bore)…’ — Salman Rushdie in Fury (2001)

Among other things, here’s a presidential contest between the Digital and the Traditional:


Queen Victoria’s private journals are online and freely accessible

Thanks to a collaborative digitisation project, the 141 volumes aggregating more than 43,000 pages of the private journals of Queen Victoria (reign: 1837-1901), ‘the first British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee’, can now be read online by anybody:

A tweet too far: ‘boring’ & diplomatic non-tweeter Andrew Strauss explains the limits following the fining of Kevin Pietersen, Cricinfo & Guardian

Kevin Pietersen tweet: “Can somebody PLEASE tell me how Nick Knight has worked his way into the commentary box for Home Tests?? RIDICULOUS!!”

What was Nick Knight’s offence? ‘An inoffensive chap…with a modest Test record…[but] one of the most effective England one-day players of his time’, he had questioned Pietersen’s ‘right to a place in the team when…[his] one-day form was at its lowest’:

Of Dalits and Cartoons

Kushinagar by Joe Sacco | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

This story is drawn from “Kushinagar,” which appeared originally in French in XXI, no. 13, January/February/March 2011, and will appear in English in Joe Sacco’s new collectionJournalism, to be published by Metropolitan Books on June 19. As Sacco writes, explaining how he came to draw a comic based on his travels in Kushinagar, a district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh:

The extraordinarily successful French magazine XXI is the publishing industry’s greatest champion of comics reportage. It has regularly sent cartoonists out into the world and given them a good deal of magazine space. Editor Patrick de Saint-Exupery, a seasoned journalist himself, was open to any idea I had and supportive at every step of the way. The author Pankaj Mishra passed me along to Indian journalist Piyush Srivastava, who suggested I visit Kushinagar and who graciously agreed to be my guide. We met in Lucknow, where he is based, and drove for a day to reach the district, where many of the dalits—“untouchables”—are experiencing not just abject poverty but real hunger. After three visits to the same hamlet, Piyush and I were essentially chased out of the area by higher caste individuals who did not like us snooping around. We decided to visit other villages, but briefly, for no more than a couple hours each, to avoid the same result.

Utah woman faces likely deportation after losing appeal | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah woman faces likely deportation after losing appeal | The Salt Lake Tribune.

“Kairi Shepherd was an orphan living in India when a Utah woman adopted her in 1982 — a seemingly good turn of luck for the 3-month-old, which included her obtaining legal permanent resident status in the United States.

But when she was 8, her adoptive mother died of cancer. When she was 17, she was arrested and convicted of felony check forgery to fuel a drug habit. Now 30, she is facing likely deportation after a 10th Circuit Court ruling Tuesday that upheld the federal government’s right to remove her from the country.”

The sad tale of Kairi Shepherd, still unfolding, a hapless victim of an insensitive and increasingly brutal US immigration and penal system, first reported in 2008 in The Salt Lake Tribune. The original story is here, hosted on the site Pound Pup Legacy , devoted to the “dark side of adoption”,  which has some more information on the case.

Some coverage from the Indian media, at the Hindustan Times for instance, US: Adopted Indian faces deportation . Fortunately, it appears that the Govt. of India may intervene to help Kairi ( Govt may help Kairi Shepherd ).

What Makes Countries Rich or Poor? by Jared Diamond | The New York Review of Books

What Makes Countries Rich or Poor? by Jared Diamond | The New York Review of Books.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson 
Crown, 529 pp., $30.00                                                  

Reviewing this book, Jared Diamond returns to his theme of environmental variations as the key to answering the question posed in the title of the book. Reading the review, one is left with the impression that the viewpoint of the book is far more interesting than the views of the reviewer.

Unravelling Facebook I.P.O. scandal: did the bankers secretly slash forecasts before the I.P.O.?

As Facebook shares lose ground (‘Now they call it Fadebook’), Morgan Stanley is subpoenaed, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reviews Nasdaq OMX’s handling of the opening trade in the initial public offering, the hyped-up and overblown I.P.O. raises troubling concerns over bankers’ ethics and regulatory effectiveness: