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'11 Mail

LATER Cock-ups? Cruel Hospitals DustBowl Profit Sickness UK? Crims in Power
Corrupt Taxes NHS - more Secret? Faces & Fates Dolly & Gold Cull Badgers? Humans in Asia?
Exploiters Natural Meds Mother Earth? "Royal" News? Zoroaster EARLIER


Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 01:56:56 +0100
Subject: "Conspiracy or Cock-up?"


Although I'm not a political animal, some of my analytical time and effort is spent doing checks of the alleged efficiencies of various systems, sometimes national - like the edu system, or policing set-ups, or taxation etc.

You'll probably not be surprised to learn that there are irregularities - some glaringly and obviously corrupt - in all the systems examined in UK.  That's probably repeatable in USA and Europe also.

Amusingly though, whenever the media (MSM) are forced to ask an awkward question about a particular example, the response is almost always the same:  "Sorry, it was a mistake - We promise it was a cock-up, not a conspiracy".

So what's wrong with that?

Well, for a start it's a fairly obvious lie!

If `mistakes' were being made, in education, policing, taxation etc. then they would happen randomly - sometimes taking from ordinary people, sometimes adversely affecting the rich and powerful.

But that doesn't happen!

All the so-called `mistakes' adversely affect ordinary people, by unjust edu policies, by grossly unfair taxation, and by oppressive, brutal (or murderous) policing decisions.  And all profit the rich and the political class.

That is statistically impossible for `mistakes' - which only leaves corrupt conspiracy as an explanation.

Ray D

Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2011 08:47:21 +0100
Subject: Cruel hospitals / greedy administrators

An impartial analyst could've foreseen these "evil" results way back when `privatisation' was becoming fashionable:  maybe about 30 years ago.  [See mad/lying Thatcher et al].

The greedy and unscrupulous immediately rushed in to get rid of all `Humanity/Safety' mechanisms of national institutions:  the railways were split-up so that no overall responsibility existed - and people died in many rail crashes as a result;  the Hospital Matron - incorruptible guardian of cleanliness and good nursing - was abolished so that corrupt and greedy males could dominate (male administrators and doctors tend to be cruel *and* greedy).

A return of the Matron, with her power to immediately fire negligent nurses, contractors, and even (maybe especially) bad doctors, would solve all those problems of abuse and cruelty.
Ray D
PS - think there's a reason (possibly ancient) why females run hospitals better, and may be why corrupt males are so anti-Matrons.

[The `graduate-nurse' has also been a catastrophe for patient care.  Graduates are by necessity career-oriented rather than patient oriented, and are much more likely (from the shaping of their university indoctrination) to slavishly obey `cruel orders' from male doctors and administrators.]
Treatment of the elderly is a national disgrace - Friday, 14 October 2011

Evidence of the routinely appalling treatment of old people in Britain's hospitals should stand as a warning to us all. The latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) research paints a picture of shameful inhumanity: elderly patients not helped to eat and drink, left lying in soiled clothing, reduced to rattling their bed bars to attract attention as calls for help go unheeded. Neither are such horror stories isolated incidents. In one in five hospitals, nursing care for older patients is so bad it is breaking the law. Fully 40 per cent fall short of basic levels of dignity and respect.
(more ...)

Date: Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 20:51:18 +0100
Subject: Droughts and Profits

Was re-reading articles on the Great Drought (maybe world-wide?) of 4,200 years ago and found a reference to the `Dust Bowl' period of 1930's (in US).

Interestingly it seems, while many thousands of people were being made homeless (by bank foreclosures - for profit) and most were actually starving, the `capital ethic' (profit comes first) motivated those with money (and livestock) to slaughter some six million pigs simply "to stabilize prices.  The pigs went to waste."

Only later did the Gov't choose to step in and buy cattle for food-relief.


[So the US Gov't reaction to Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans was just a continuation of those `hard' policies?  Maybe following the lead of the English Gov't during the Famine in (English-ruled) Ireland?  I.e. let the [poor - tax-paying] people starve.]

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 20:31:20 +0100
Subject: "Eight out of 10 British workers are overweight or have long-term illness

Ha! Am a bit dubious about those figures quoted.  [After return to UK - did] contract work with a national comms firm for about 5 years; on leaving got my various records and was a bit surprised to see I had NO days off sick (remembered having a day-off* when getting flu one very cold winter).  Now, I'm no Superman - so tend to suspect all `sickness reports' - Ray
[Probability: maybe a majority of UK folk are in `bad' non-constructive jobs under ignorant, abusive management - that would make anyone feel `sick'.]
[UPDATE May 2012 - "Fewer work days are lost"]
Eight out of 10 British workers are overweight or have long-term illness
Obesity and poor health conditions, not including stress, costs 103m work days or £21.5bn a year, finds 25-year study, Thursday 29 September 2011 17.06 BST
Eight in 10 British workers are overweight or living with long-term illnesses that limit their productivity, according to early findings of a 25-year study of people's wellbeing.

Poor health and obesity is costing the economy at least £21.5bn a year and will prove a severe drag on any recovery from the recession, the study suggests.

Workers who are both overweight and have three or more health conditions - more than 10% of the total - are taking over three weeks' sick leave every year.

The findings come ahead of publication, due in October, of an independent review of sickness absence, commissioned by the government. That review is expected to warn that growing numbers of workers are living with long-term conditions and need greater support to do so.

According to the wellbeing study, based on initial telephone interviews with almost 4,000 full-time workers, only 20% are not overweight and have no health conditions, ranging from high blood pressure to cancer. Another 20% have a weight problem but no health conditions. But six in 10 have at least one condition and 16%, almost one in six, have three or more.

The study, by pollsters Gallup, is a 25-year collaboration with Healthways, an international wellbeing consultancy, in the UK, Germany and the US. Surveys in Britain began earlier this year and have so far involved almost 9,000 people in and out of employment.

Dan Witters, Gallup principal and research director of the study, said: "Only one in five British full-time workers are in optimal health. Because of this, they miss an estimated 103m days at work a year."

Ben Leedle, Healthways president and chief executive, said: "The implication of the chronic disease burden of the UK's workforce is at alarming levels."

Gallup says the findings are a conservative estimate of productivity loss because they do not include part-time workers and take no account of "presenteeism" - people turning up to work when they are ill.

Conditions counted in the survey include recurring back or knee pain as well as diagnosed depression. However, they do not include stress or anxiety, which are among the fastest growing causes of sickness absence.

The international study has found that while obesity and most health conditions are more common in the US, Britain has the highest rate of asthma and a rate of depression 50% higher than in Germany.

[* Was doing a job in Mid-Wales - long commute in an old drafty Landrover.  Coming back in a snowstorm one Friday night (c. -10 degrees C), got chilled and felt like flu over the weekend.  Took Monday off and was OK Tuesday.]

Date: Thu, 15 Sep 2011 11:54:56 +0100
Subject: Should Criminal Bishops (or Popes) Be Jailed?

Seems some long overdue questions are being asked:
Hague court urged to investigate Pope over sex abuse
Abuse Victims Ask Court to Prosecute the Vatican
Victims call pope criminal - Sex abuse survivors want him prosecuted

Our moral and legal POV is clear - see `LaworJustice' - and it seems even mainstream (MSM) journos are coming to share our opinion of the perps.

Ray D

Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2011 11:18:31 +0100
Subject: UK Tax Corruption admissions

Finally a realization, after years of lies and denials *1, that all UK's taxes - on income, spending & on property - are corruptly unfair (regressive) and, worst of all, wasting 1/3rd, maybe even a half of all tax gathered (about 40% of GDP) by inefficiency and corruption.

[Why're they admitting it now?  Maybe because we called them `liars, thieves and pervs' *2 - which rankled (but they daren't sue) - so now they want to fall back on the usual faked `incompetence' *3 - i.e. the "cock-up, not conspiracy" *4 excuse and cover-up.]
"Unfair and too complex': tax rules attacked in IFS report"
"Mirrlees review calls for end to council tax and NI"
"Rip up tax rules and start from scratch, say top economists"

[BTW - It's also proof that the BBC, *5 the senior Civil Servants, *6 the Press, *7 the magistrates & judges, *8 and the politicians *9 have lied to us for a generation, covering-up unfair corrupt taxes.]

Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2011 16:04:18 +0100
Subject: NHS reforms and FOI

Dear Colleague,

The Campaign for Freedom of Information has written to the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, expressing concern that the public's rights to information about the NHS are likely to be "increasingly constricted" by the reforms in the Health and Social Care Bill.

Under the reforms, NHS services will be provided either by NHS bodies or by independent providers under contract.  The NHS bodies which commission services will themselves be subject to the FOI Act though the independent providers will not.  However, the providers will be contractually required to provide information to the commissioning bodies to help them answer FOI requests.

The standard NHS contract already contains a clause requiring providers to do this.  But according to the Campaign, the clause appears to apply only to the specific information which the contract itself requires a provider to hold or report on.  While numerous items of information are specified - for example, about the quality of the service, treatment times, complaints, MRSA infections and other matters - it does not cover the full range of information that would be available under FOI from an NHS body itself.

In the letter, the Campaign calls on the government to extend the disclosure provision so that FOI rights in relation to independent providers' NHS work is as wide as that of NHS bodies themselves.  The Campaign director Maurice Frankel says:

"Suppose there is concern about the use of potentially contaminated medical supplies by hospitals.  For an NHS hospital, the FOI Act could be used to obtain details of stocks of the product, the number of doses administered, the numbers of affected patients, the quality control measures in place, correspondence with suppliers, minutes of meetings at which the problem was discussed and information showing what measures were considered, what action was taken, how promptly and with what results.

This level of information would clearly not be available in relation to independent providers treating NHS patients.  This would represent a major loss of existing information rights."

You can read the letter on the Campaign's website -

Best wishes,

Katherine Gundersen
Research Officer

Campaign for Freedom of Information
Suite 102
16 Baldwins Gardens

Email: admin at

Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2011 10:12:51 +0100
Subject: Faces and Fates

Interestingly, two differently-oriented UK newspapers have taken the same "story" - a set of facts - and spun those facts to give more or less opposing conclusions.
[You might get a clue when realizing that the first paper (Telegraph) usually takes a corporate/capitalist line, and the second (Guardian) has a not-for-profit liberal/social stance (and if you read the complete reports, the Guardian writer seems to've understood the scientific probabilities a little better)] - Ray
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have found it is possible to learn about a person's childhood by looking at how symmetrical their face is.
Using 15 different facial features, they found that people with asymmetric faces tended to have more deprived childhoods and so harder upbringings than those with symmetrical faces.
Their findings suggest that early childhood experiences such as nutrition, illness, exposure to cigarette smoke and pollution and other aspects of a difficult upbringing leave their mark in people's facial features.
Surprisingly, their facial features were not affected by their socioeconomic status in later life, which suggests that even those who manage to undergo a rag-to-riches transformation can never escape their past as it will be written on their face. ... (more)
According to a study to be discussed this month at a gathering of Nobel prizewinners, people blessed with more symmetrical facial features, which are considered more attractive, are less likely to co-operate and more likely to selfishly focus on their own interests.
Santiago Sanchez-Pages, who works at the universities of Barcelona and Edinburgh, and Enrique Turiegano, of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, base their claims on the "prisoner's dilemma" model of behaviour, played out under laboratory conditions. Two players were each given the option of being a "dove" and co-operating for the greater good; or a "hawk", taking the selfish option, with a chance of gaining more if the other player chose "dove" and co-operated. The subjects' faces were then analysed.
The study found that people with more symmetrical faces were less likely to co-operate and less likely to expect others to co-operate. The findings will be presented at the annual Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Germany, from 23 to 27 August. ... (more)

Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 19:13:08 +0100
Subject: Re: A Malaysian Businessman Just Spent $4.8 Billion On A Yacht Made Of Solid Gold

Greg *** wrote:
> When one goes down the path of redistribution of wealth, there
> are always those with their hands open and grasping...

Hi Greg - that's very true, and here's the situation in UK -

Working folk (and their children and old folk - about 90% - 95% of the population) pay a total tax-burden of 60% - 80% of all their earnings and all their property or real-estate (even more for some unfortunate folk).

The rich can avoid all taxes on earnings by being non-domiciled and spending 6 months and a few days per year outside the country.  The rich also effectively avoid most taxes on real-estate, because the only property-tax (so-called) is the `Council Tax' which [was] corruptly "capped" at less than 10,000 dollars - so the poorest, who are only renting. pay many times the worth of their actual "property" (old furniture and clothing) - while the very rich are paying less than .0001% of their properties' values.

Then there's a tax on necessities (it's called VAT and is not supposed to affect food or childrens clothes but of course it does - a TV company tracked the effect of VAT over ten years or more and found it had increased the prices of many items by 42% - even some which aren't officially taxed!).  I estimate that VAT now costs the average person 40 - 50% of spending on food, clothing etc.  The rich spend [only a small part of their large incomes] on necessities and so are not forced to pay that [huge - 50%] cost.  (They can even avoid VAT on capital items like cars / luxury goods by sourcing them off-shore.

And lastly `fuel tax' on gasoline / deisel is officially about 65% - 70% but all the other taxes hidden in there (exploration tax, extraction tax, VAT and payroll taxes etc) bring it up to around 90+%. The rich DO NOT pay the tax - all their travel and heating, lighting costs are "business expenses" and are deductible.

Deductible from WHAT? Well the rich who are resident in UK can _choose_ to pay ONE tiny tax.  While working folk pay a total of c. 42% tax in `income and health "insurance" taxes, the rich have all income taken off-shore, converted into `dividend payments' and then only pay 10% `capital gains tax'.

I summed it all up a while ago at answers020.html#edu-ta - if anyone has the stomach to read the gory details.

Forgot to mention - the EU has a system of `grants' of about $40,000 (max) which are given to small-holders, hill-farmers and "crofters" - mainly to keep the land occupied and cared-for. But in UK those `grants' go to the biggest land-owners, which are the banks and insurance co's (usurers) and aristos like the Duke of Westminster and the Royals.

PS see `Who Owns Britain' (amazon review)

"For Britain, Cahill analyses this landownership, showing how a tiny minority exploits British society.  160,000 families, 0.3% of the population, own 37 million acres, two thirds of Britain, 230 acres each.  Just 1,252 of them own 57% of Scotland.  They pay no land tax.  Instead every government gives them £2.3 billion a year and the EU gives them a further £2 billion.  Each family gets £26,875."

(that was maybe ten years ago - you can easily double or treble those grant values to get the dollar equivalent today. Ray


Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2011 10:50:33 +0100
Subject: News Piece reminds of Interview with Dolly P

A few days ago heard an interview with Dolly Parton, whose story has always impressed me.  Maybe not my kind of country-singer but a really nice person (also liked one of her quotes - "If I have offended anybody with any of my language, all I can say is "tough titty.") - Ray

Is Dolly Parton moving to Rotherham?
The country star has been flathunting in south Yorkshire, Monday 25 July 2011 20.00 BST

Dolly Parton, everyone's favourite country music star, has been flathunting in my home town, Rotherham, south Yorkshire.  The news has excited the steel and former-mining town.  Dolly told Radio 4 she "totally related to" the place during her visits to set up her reading programme, Imagination Library - a scheme providing disadvantaged children with books.  We may have given Jamie Oliver short shrift when he tried to make our children eat their greens, but Dolly, you can come back any time.

18 Jul 2011
A reading scheme developed by the US country singer Dolly Parton is a proving a big hit in the UK

Date: Sat, 9 Jul 2011 17:18:44 +0100
Subject: TB - humans, cattle + badgers
"Vaccine 'won't save badgers'
A vaccine to stop badgers spreading disease to cattle is at least a decade away, it has been revealed, as the country moves closer to a cull of the protected woodland creatures."

Typical `wrong-way' thinking by the scientists, politicians and the greedy farmers;
DNA analysis has shown that TB is first spread from humans to cattle, then from cattle to the badgers - so why kill off badgers?

Maybe it would be more efficiemt to kill-off all cattle (or humans!) and then ensure that only `clean' cattle (and humans?) be allowed back on the land.

Ray D

Date: Sun, 12 Jun 2011 15:17:49 +0100
Subject: Homo erectus in Asia 1.85 MILLION yrs ago

That "Out of Africa 60,000 yrs ago" theory is looking dead now (but you still find it in text-books and lazy media) - Ray
The worldwide spread of ancient humans has long been depicted as flowing out of Africa, but tantalizing new evidence suggests it may have been a two-way street.

A long-studied archaeological site in a mountainous region between Europe and Asia was occupied by early humans as long as 1.85 million years ago, much earlier than the previous estimate of 1.7 million years ago, researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Early human Homo erectus is known to have occupied the site at Dmanisi later. Discovering stone tools and materials from a much earlier date raises the possibility that Homo erectus evolved in Eurasia and might have migrated back to Africa, the researchers said - though much study is needed to confirm that idea.

"The accumulating evidence from Eurasia is demonstrating increasingly old and primitive populations," said Reid Ferring of the University of North Texas. Dmanisi is located in the Republic of Georgia.

"The recently discovered data show that Dmanisi was occupied at the same time as, if not before, the first appearance of Homo erectus in east Africa," the team led by Ferring and David Lordkipanidze of the Georgia National Museum reported. They uncovered more than 100 stone artifacts in deep layers at the site. Previously, fossil bones from a later period had been found at the site.

The new discovery shows that the Caucasus region was inhabited by a sustained population, not just transitory colonists. "We do not know as yet what the first occupants looked like, but the implication is that they were similar to, or possibly even more primitive than those represented by Dmanisi's fossils," Ferring explained.

The occupants of Dmanisi "are the first representatives of our own genus outside Africa, and they represent the most primitive population of the species Homo erectus known to date," added Lordkipanidze. The geographic origins of H. erectus are still unknown.

The early humans at Dmanisi "might be ancestral to all later H. erectus populations, which would suggest a Eurasian origin of H. erectus," said Lordkipanidze. However, there's another theory as well: H. erectus originated in Africa, and the Dmanisi group might represent its first migration out of Africa.

Wil Roebroeks, a professor of archaeology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said the new findings suggest a sustained regional population which had successfully adapted to the temperate environment of the southern Caucasus at about 1.8 million years ago.

He called it "an important observation for our views on the earliest colonization of Eurasia." Roebroeks had suggested in a 2005 paper that Asia might have been a core area where Homo erectus emerged, evolving from an earlier, thus far unknown, pre-human.

But he stressed that's a hypothesis which will be tested in future studies. "Possible does not equate with observable, but the Dmanisi evidence has forced us to have a good fresh look at some of our basic assumptions," said Roebroeks.

Homo erectus, heavier, or more robust, than modern humans, and with characteristic brow ridges, is generally listed as having existed from about 1.8 million to 0.3 million years ago. It has some overlap with the earlier Homo habilis and was the first of the species to spread widely outside of Africa.

Not so sure of Ferring and Lordkipanidze's theory is Richard Potts, director of the human origins program at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

"The new evidence at Dmanisi consists of stone tools, not fossil bones. So we don't really know who the toolmaker was in the time range of 1.85 to 1.77 million" years ago, he said. "(We) cannot know this for sure until fossils come from this older level."

Michael D. Petraglia, co-director of the Centre for Asian Archaeology, Art & Culture at England's University of Oxford, said the findings do show that early humans were present in Eurasia between 1.85 million and 1.78 million years ago.

"The stone tool evidence represents the oldest and best documented case for the presence of early humans in Asia. This means that early forms of humans probably migrated out of Africa at or before 1.85 million years ago, or before, colonizing new regions of the world for the first time," he said.

But Petraglia added that he thinks the authors "are on less solid ground" with their suggestion that this early group may have migrated back to Africa.

More information: Ferring, R. , et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. doi:10.1073/pnas.1106638108 (2011).

Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2011 10:50:31 +0100
Subject: Re: Interesting 15 Malaysia video-shorts

Right Choong, there certainly seems to be a lot of lively thinking going on in the area, unlike UK/EU/US? where conformity seems to be the rule in politics and the MSM.

BTW - when dicussing `colonialization' it might be more accurate to say "English elite" rather than `British' or even `English'.  That's because the Celts (Welsh Irish Scots) while great travelers, tended to intermarry and mingle, and the settled English people (roughly half Celtic, half Saxon) tended to be farmers not colonisers.

It's the "English elite" - apparently coming mainly from the Levant (initially as usurers - because it was illegal for us, so they gradually grabbed everything) and latterly led by the House of Este (maybe Hunnish or Scythian) - who were and are the exploiters, first taking over aristocratic `ownership' and rule of England then directing that "Empire" wave of grabbing, enslaving and looting which only partly ended post-WWII.

Choong *** *** wrote:
> Well Ray, the British left with everything laid out but now
> Singapore is 20 years ahead so that means a lot of things about
> ineptness and inefficiency which translated to tyranny and
> corruption ...
> Choong

> On 10-Jun-11 4:37 AM, Ray D wrote:
>> Hi Choong, just found these, the first one's a 4 min 45
>> seconds short - not a word or action wasted -

>> 15 Malaysia : One Future
>> An edgy and powerful science fiction story of a society where
>> everything is perfect, except no one is allowed to speak.

Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 09:37:33 +0100
Subject: Ha! The corporates are getting in on the act

See this morning's headlines - "Daily pill that could halve the risk of heart attacks and strokes"
and found that the pill is actually a mix of common aspirin and statins.

Ha!  Long time ago found from many American guys' trial and error (or adopting Native American medicinal useage) that low-level aspirin - (willow-bark tea) at way lower than doctors prescribe: about half an aspirin every two days - is fine for lowering cholesterol and reducing risk of blood clots.

[It's also known to be a quite efficient protection against many common cancers - bowel, gut, abdominal etc]

As for the statins - there's plenty of evidence that red wine (in moderation) is just as good or better.


Update March 2012 - `In praise of ... Aspirin' - The Guardian

Update April 2012 - `Aspirin also fights obesity & diabetes'? - Science Daily

Date: Wed, 18 May 2011 20:26:56 +0100 Subject: Interesting - "Law of Mother Earth"
Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights with equal status for Mother Earth
Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation, Sunday 10 April 2011 18.17 BST

Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans.  The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature.  They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration;  the right to pure water and clean air;  the right to balance;  the right not to be polluted;  and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".

"It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all", said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera.  "It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration."

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life.  Humans are considered equal to all other entities.
... more)
Last month, Bolivia announced that it will enshrine the fundamental rights of nature in law.  In Bolivian law all natural entities - plant or animal, river or mountain - will enjoy equal rights to those of humans, including the right to life or to exist, the right not to be polluted and the right not to be genetically altered.  Ecuador enacted similar, though less specific, legislation in 2008.  And last month, the Cambodian prime minister retracted his previous approval for a new titanium mine, reportedly worth billions of dollars, in favour of environmental values.

It is hard to imagine such forward-thinking actions happening any time soon in north America.
.... more)

Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2011 17:57:04 +0100
Subject: News not yet in the media

Although I don't comment on "Royal" stuff per se, a London-based chap, who normally reports music-news & events (pop-concerts and the like), has just posted a thread "The crackdown has started" -

where he says that the police in London spent the night and morning arresting hundreds (maybe thousands) of people suspected of being `democrats' (ie, _not_ `Royalists').

Apparently they're being held in police-cells on trumped-up charges, maybe until the Royals and politicos can get safely back to their bunkers.

Sounds a bit like Bahrain, Libya or Syria doesn't it?


Date: Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2011 18:08:56 +0100
Subject: Interesting Zoroastrian stuff - MAZDA and New Year

New Year's Roots
Norouz (literally meaning New Day), is the celebration of the onset of spring and the solar Iranian year.

It is the most cherished festival celebrated by all Iranians, irrespective of race, religion, status or location.

This occasion has been commemorated in one form or another by all the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, CAIS reported.

Norouz, with its uniquely Iranian characteristics, has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian belief system in the Sassanid period.

This was the religion of ancient Persia before the advent of Islam in 7th century AD.  The familiar concepts of Hell, Heaven, Resurrection, coming of the Messiah, individual and last judgment are incorporated into this belief system.

They still exist in Judo-Christian and Islamic traditions.  In order to understand Norouz, we have to understand Zoroastrian cosmology.

In their ancient text, Bundahishn (foundation of creation), we read that Ahura Mazda residing in eternal light was not God.   He created all that was good and became God. Angra Mainyu (Ahriman), residing in eternal darkness created all that was evil and became the Hostile Spirit  (The word anger in English comes from the same origin).

Everything that produced, protected and enriched life was regarded as good.  This included all forces of nature benefitial to humans.  Earth, waters, sky, animals, plants, justice, honesty, peace, health, beauty, joy and happiness belonged to the good forces.  All that threatened life and created disorder belonged to the hostile spirits.

The two worlds did not have a material form but the essence of everything was present.  The two existed side by side for 3,000 years, but were completely separate from each other.  At the end of the third millennium, the Hostile Spirit attacked the good world.  This was the beginning of all troubles we face today, according to the Zoroastrian worldview.

In order to protect this world, Ahura Mazda created the material world (Geety in modern Persian).  This material world was created in seven different stages.  The first creation was the sky, a big chunk of stone high above.  The second was the first ocean at the bottom.  Earth a big flat dish sitting on the ocean was the third.  The next three creations were the prototypes of all life forms, including the first plant, the first animal a bull and the first human Gayo-maretan (Kioumars, a common name for males in modern Persian), both male and female.  The seventh creation was fire and sun together.

Divine Creation
The struggle between Good and Evil is continuing.  There are four periods, each 3,000 years long.  In the last period, several saviors appear and the last one Saoshyant will save the world.  His appearance will be followed by Resurrection, walking over the Chinvat Bridge (Sarat Bridge in the Qur'an) and Last Judgment.  We recognize this figure as the Lord of Time, Imam Mahdi (AS) in Shiite Islam.

In order to protect his creations, Ahura Mazda also created six holy immortals (Amesha Spenta), one for each of his creations in the material world.  Khashtra (Sharivar), the protector of the sky, Asha-Vahishta (Ordibehesht in modern Persian) protected fire.  Vahu Manah (Bahman) for all animals, Haurvatat (Khordad) protected all waters, Spenta Armaiti (Esphand) a female deity became protector of mother earth and Ameratat (Amurdad or Mordad) supported all plant life.

Ahura Mazda himself became the protector of all humans and the Holy Fire.

There was one problem with this material world: it did not have a life cycle.  The sun did not move.  There were no days or nights and no seasons.  The three prototypes of life were sacrificed.

From the plant came the seeds of all plants.  The bull produced all animals and from the human came the first male and female.  The rest of humanity was created from their union.  The cycle of life started.  The sun moved; there was day, night and the seasons.  This was the first Norouz.

Ahura Mazda also created guardian angels (forouhars or farvahars) for all living beings.  Every human had one as long as they stayed with the good forces, as we see in the myth of Azydahak in Avesta, the Zoroastrian holy book.

We know this figure in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh as Zahak, a prince who chooses the Hostile Spirit as his protector, was made a king, ruled for 999 years and became immortal.

Zoroaster (Zardosht) the architect of this cosmology introduced many feasts, festivals and rituals to pay homage to the seven creations, the holy immortals and Ahura Mazda.  The seven most important ones are known as Gahambars, the feasts of obligation. The last and the most elaborate was Norouz, celebrating Ahura Mazda and the Holy Fire at the spring equinox.

Archeological Record
The oldest archeological record for Norouz celebration comes from the Achaemenian rule over 2,500 years ago.

Achaemenians had four major residences one for each season. Persepolis was their spring residence and the site for celebrating the New Year. Stone carvings show the king seated on his throne receiving his subjects, governors and ambassadors from various nations under his control. They are presenting him with gifts and paying homage to him.

We also know that the ritual of sacred marriage took place at this palace.

Sassanid Origins
What we have today as Norouz goes back to the Sassanid period. They formed the last great Persian Empire before the advent of Islam. Their celebrations would start ten days prior to the New Year. They believed the guardian angels and spirits of the dead would come down to earth within these ten days to visit humans.

A major spring-cleaning was carried out to welcome them with feasts and celebrations. Bonfires would be set on rooftops at night to indicate to the spirits and the angels that humans were ready to receive them. This festival was called Suri.

Modern Iranians still carry out the spring-cleaning and celebrate Chaharshanbeh-Suri. Bonfires are made and all people will jump over the fire in the evening of the last Tuesday of the year. This is a purification rite and ancient Iranians believed that by going over the fire they will get rid of all illnesses and misfortunes.

This festival did not exist before Islam in this form and very likely is a combination of more than one ritual.

Ancient Zoroastrians would also celebrate the first five days of Norouz, but it was the sixth day that was the most important of all. This day was called the Great Norouz (Norouz-e Bozorg) and is assumed to be the birthday of Zoroaster himself. Zoroastrians today still celebrate this day, but it has lost its significance for other Iranians.

During the Sassanid rule, the New Year would be celebrated for 21 days and on the 19th day there would be another major festival. At all times, there were feasts, prayers, plays and jokers.

Haji Firouz
Haji Firouz might be what is left of the ancient festivities. Men color their face black, dress in colorful outfits and appear in public, dancing and singing joyful and merry songs.

Modern Iranians celebrate the New Year for 13 days. It is customary for all to take a bath and cleanse themselves thoroughly before Norouz. This is a purification rite but has lost its meaning in modern times.

New garments are worn to emphasize freshness. This is very important since Norouz is a feast of hope and renewal. Families stay home and wait for the start of the New Year that starts at the exact time of the spring equinox--called Sal Tahvil-- between the 19th and 21st of March.

The first few minutes are spent around an elaborately prepared spread known as the Haft Seen with several items and objects that begin with the Persian letter 's'. People will read or recite verses from the Qur'an, before the start of the New Year.

After New Year
The first few days are spent visiting older members of the family, relatives and friends. Children receive presents and sweets and special meals are consumed. Traditionally, on the night before the New Year, most Iranians will have Sabzi Polo Mahi, a special dish of rice cooked with fresh herbs and served with smoked or freshly fried fish.

Koukou Sabzi, a mixture of fresh herbs with eggs fried or baked, is also served. The next day rice and noodles (Reshteh Polo) is served. Regional variations exist and very colorful feasts are prepared.

Zoroastrians placed the lit candle in front of the mirror to increase the reflection of light. Mirrors were significant items in Zoroastrian art and architecture, and still are an integral part of most Iranian celebrations, including weddings. They are extensively referred to in Iranian mystical literature as well and represent self-reflection.

All Iranian burial shrines are still extensively decorated with mirrors, a popular decorative style of ancient times.

Celebration of Life
For the ancient Iranians, Norouz was a celebration of life. They felt forces of nature, which were completely beyond their control and had a dominant effect on their lives. They formed a union with these forces to protect themselves. Through this union, they created a balance and maintained cosmic order, or Asha. Without it, there would be chaos, dominated by the Hostile Spirit.

Zoroastrians are expected to only think of good things, speak good words and enact good deeds. This helped keep their balance.

Norouz was an occasion when life with all its glory and purity was celebrated and cherished.

Sizdah Bedar
For modern Iranians, Norouz is a feast of renewal and freshness; a time to visit relatives, friends and pay respect to older members of the family.

A thorough house cleaning purifies the physical space, merrymaking creates comfort and happiness becomes a celebration in itself. This is reminiscent of ancient traditions when all forces of joy were regarded as holy.

New Year festivities continue until the 13th day, known as Sizdah Bedar, which literally means getting rid of the omen of the 13th day.

The 13th day is spent mostly outdoors. People will leave their homes to go to the parks or any green area for a festive picnic. It is a must to spend Sizdah Bedar in nature.

In the past, there were outdoor festivities to pray to this deity and ask for adequate rain that was essential for agriculture.


Norouz Rituals in Iranian Provinces

Some of the rites observed by the provinces are mentioned below:

Norouz is observed with many rites in Gilan province. Some of these rites have been forgotten with the lapse of time but some continue to be observed in certain parts of that province.

Cleaning the house, holding Chaharshanbeh-Suri (Festival of Fire), playing with spoons, Norouzkhani (singing Norouz songs), cooking sweetmeats, drying fruits, painting eggs, sewing local dresses and tens of other rites are observed in Norouz in Gilan.

Whitening the walls with lime and washing carpets by the river are customs that continue to be observed in some villages of Gilan. However, customs like playing with spoons, which prevailed in the entire province in the past, have been forgotten in many towns.

As the sweet scent of spring floats from nature into villages and towns, the people in Mazandaran province clean their homes. In this province, Chaharshanbeh-Suri, Khatoun Chaharshanbeh and Norouz Soltan are celebrated by people with the rebirth of nature.

Besides washing the household accessories in villages they decorate the house with a special soil. This soil is called Serish in the local dialect. It is predominantly white and prepared two weeks before the start of the New Year by women.

Different districts in Mazandaran province observe special rites for Charshanbeh-Suri while reciting poems.

On the last Wednesday of the year, the locals visit the vegetable market to buy spinach, leek and marigold to cook a special stew called Torsheh Tareh.

Of other merry customs at the beginning of spring, one may refer to Norouzkhani in which several people sing verses such as "King Norouz has come, the ancient holiday has come," or "Laugh and revel, the season of nightingale has come". These show people's appreciation of the beauty of spring, budding of plants and the arrival of goodness and blessings.

Citizens in Yazd province also observe special rites to welcome Norouz.

Before Norouz, the confectioneries and candy-makers do bustling business, as customers order sweetmeats, such as qottab, baqlava and cotton candy, for which Yazd is well known.

Of other rites observed in Yazd province in Norouz is Panjehchini. Five days before the beginning of the New Year, all the shops in the province decorate their shops and illuminate them.

Zoroastrians celebrate Norouz in fire temples by reciting verses from Avesta and praying for the prosperity of their family, neighbors and countrymen in the New Year. Ardebil
In Ardebil province also, since olden times, people make preparations for welcoming Norouz.

Although with the mechanization of life, some of these rites in that province have lost their original color, still one can observe enthusiasm for Norouz festivities in Ardebil.

Earlier, Norouz was celebrated with the appearance of Takams or Takamchis in various districts of Ardebil. With the appearance of Takamchis, the people prepared themselves to receive Norouz. Takam was a wooden puppy with four legs, which was made to move like an animal.

An old Ardebili citizen says Takamchis appear in the last ten days of Esfand (March 10-20) and this represents the arrival of the New Year.

In this province, family members gather around the Haft-Seen table to welcome Norouz. The table features seven items beginning with the Persian syllable 's', the holy Qur'an, a goldfish bowl, candles and delicacies. Before the onset of the New Year, the people make ablutions and the moment when the New Year starts, they recite a prayer.

On the first day of Norouz, the people in Ardebil commemorate the departure of relatives who had died in the preceding year and the citizens visit the bereaved families to express their condolence.

Of other rites that have awakened a new interest during Norouz is a trip to war zones.


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