‘Not many people can tell you much about the November 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, by Islamist militants. That’s partly because the Saudi authorities, as is their way, kept a tight lid on information during that fateful two-week period when the regime’s survival seemed, for the first time, in danger. Little changed afterward by way of transparency (even if the Saudis released a fascinating Arabic-language video on the event, pouring opprobrium on the militants). That is why Yaroslav Trofimov’s just-published book The Siege of Mecca is so valuable a document, not only in describing the murky events surrounding the takeover almost 28 years ago, but also as a backgrounder on the depth of Salafist tendencies in Saudi Arabia and the later emergence of Al-Qaeda. Trofimov, an Asia-based reported for the Wall Street Journal, has written extensively on Islam and the Middle East. An earlier book, Faith at War: A Journey on the Frontlines of Islam, from Baghdad to Timbuktu, was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post.’ (Reason article).… Read the rest
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‘Ms Head’s account made her one of only 19 survivors who had been at or above the point of impact when the planes hit. But no part of her story, it turns out, has been verified.
‘The family and friends of the man to whom she claimed to be engaged say they have never heard of Tania Head and view the relationship she describes with the man, who did die in the north tower, as an impossibility.
‘A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch, where she told people she worked at the time of the terror attack, said the company had no record of employing a Tania Head.’ (Guardian article).
‘Did the prisoners at Leavenworth consider suing Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel for ripping off the saggy belt-less trousers they wear in the prison yard? Did hundreds of anonymous graffiti artists sue Stephen Sprouse for printing tags on Louis Vuitton satchels?’ (Village Voice article).
‘As "The Kingdom" progresses, the role of the F.B.I. squad begins to inflate. At first, under the guiding hand of the local investigator, Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), the agents are largely confined to their quarters and barely permitted to disturb the crime scene. As the rules relax, the film turns into "C.S.I.: Riyadh," with Sykes fishing around in bomb craters for twisted clues, and, by the end, the fantastic four
‘2007 has been a great year for sex. OK, every year is a great year for sex. But this year is especially interesting, with reports of sexsomnia, vegansexuals, man boobs, female promiscuity, double penises, horny old folks, cosmetic vagina surgery, publicly funded sex-change surgery, and the decline of marriage and co-sleeping. Among this year’s hundreds of Human Nature stories, five trends and discoveries stand out.’ (Slate Magazine article).
Behind the doors of the CIA and U.S. Army Intelligence, science and ESP come together like a movie in the electrifying scenes of Jim Marrs’ new book, PSI Spies: the True Story of America’s Psychic Warfare Program. The author of best-sellers that have revealed the secrets and the conspiracies of the Federal Government, Marrs traces in PSI Spies the evolution of remote viewing and the use of this mental technology from the hidden laboratories of the 1970s to a new generation of viewers now being trained by former PSI spies.
‘With this week’s application to build a new nuclear plant
‘Who knew music this shit-hot could come from a mountainous Norwegian town known as the "City of Rain"? Following in the footsteps of fellow townspeople Royksopp, Kings of Convenience and Sondre Lerche, Fredrik Saroea and Ketil Mosnes formed Datarock in 2000 while students in Bergen, Norway (where "there’s still lots of black metal"). Or, as Saroea once put it in an online interview, "We fell in love. He became pregnant and gave birth to a small Casio watch. As our love grew, the Casio watch grew to become a Casio keyboard. And that’s how we became Datarock."
‘They gigged around for a couple of years, released a few EPs and finished their full-length debut in 2005 on their own label, Young Aspiring Professionals. After signing with Canada’s Nettwerk Music Group this winter, Saroea (vocals, guitar) and Mosnes (backing vocals, bass) finally saw the stateside release of Datarock Datarock, an album of seriously silly and dweebishly sexy contradictions that’ll have you shouting from Bergen’s seven mountaintops, I have heard the future, and it
‘The 45th New York Film Festival is something of a family affair here at the Village Voice. Two of our own, the estimable J. Hoberman and the indefatigable Scott Foundas, sit on the selection committee of this proudly selective, stubbornly steadfast institution. When it comes to NYFF 45: This time, it’s personal
‘Eddie Van Halen’s son looks like Peppermint Patty. There’s no getting around it. I wish things could be different. As do, presumably, fans of Van Halen. This week, the long-beleaguered pop-metal behemoth disembalms original singer David Lee Roth for what is surely the Chinese Democracy of reunion tours, a long-threatened and oft-aborted rehash of those early-’80s glory years, before jovial, tequila-hawking asshat Sammy Hagar took over and turned the band into wusstastic chart-toppers. The Rothian diehards are (cautiously) elated. But the thorn on this particular rose lies in the absence of beloved bassist Michael Anthony, the bearlike dude with the Mickey Mouse watch collection and (lasciviously) angelic harmonies, kicked to the curb for I’m sure just totally rational reasons and replaced by . . . Eddie Van Halen’s son. His name is Wolfgang. He is 16 years old. And in fascinating rehearsal pics released last week, choogling merrily behind the pleasantly emaciated Roth and his own terrifyingly emaciated father, Wolfgang looks well-fed, looks content, looks beatific, looks like Peppermint Patty.… Read the rest