Rolling Stones: Band marks 50th year with London show

LONDON (AP) — The Rolling Stones made a triumphant return to the London stage on Sunday night in the first of five concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of their debut as an American-oriented blues band.

They showed no signs of wear and tear — except on their aging, heavily lined faces — as frontman Mick Jagger swaggered and strutted through a stellar 2½-hour show. He looked remarkably trim and fit and was in top vocal form.

The Stones passed the half-century mark in style at the sometimes emotional gig that saw former bassist Bill Wyman and guitar master Mick Taylor join their old mates in front of a packed crowd at London’s 02 Arena.

It was the first of five megashows to mark the passage of 50 years since the band first appeared in a small London pub determined to pay homage to the masters of American blues.
Mr. Jagger, in skin-tight black pants, a black shirt and a sparkly tie, took time out from singing to thank the crowd for its loyalty.
“It’s amazing that we’re still doing this, and it’s amazing that you’re still buying our records and coming to our shows,” he said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Lead guitarist Keith Richards, whose survival has surprised many who thought he would succumb to drugs and drink, was blunter.
“We made it,” he said. “I’m happy to see you. I’m happy to see anybody.”
But the band’s fiery music was no joke, fueled by an incandescent guest appearance by Mr. Taylor, who played lead guitar on a stunning extended version of the ominous “Midnight Rambler,” and Mary J. Blige, who shook the house in a duet with Mr. Jagger on “Gimme Shelter.”

The 50th-anniversary show, which will be followed by one more in London, then three in the New York area, lacked some of the band’s customary bravado — the “world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band” intro was shelved — and there were some rare nostalgic touches.
Even the famously taciturn Mr. Wyman briefly cracked a smile when trading quips with Mr. Richards and Ronnie Wood.

The concert started with a brief video tribute from luminaries such as Elton John, Iggy Pop and Johnny Depp, who praised the Stones for their audacity and staying power. The Stones’ show contained an extended video homage to the American trailblazers who shaped their music: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and others. The montage included rare footage of the young Elvis Presley.

The Stones began their professional career imitating the Americans whose music they cherished, but they quickly developed their own style, spawning hundreds — make that thousands — of imitators who have tried in vain to match their swagger and style.

The concert began with some early Stones numbers that are rarely heard in concert, including the band’s cover of the Lennon-McCartney rocker “I Wanna Be Your Man” and the Stones original “It’s All Over Now.”

They didn’t shy away from their darker numbers, including “Paint It Black” and “Sympathy for the Devil” — Mr. Jagger started that one wearing a black, purple-lined faux fur cape that conjured up his late ‘60s satanic image.

He even cracked a joke about one of the band’s low points, telling the audience it was in for a treat.
“We’re going to play the entire “Satanic Majesty’s Request” album now,” he said, referring to one of the band’s least-loved efforts, a psychedelic travesty that has been largely, mercifully, forgotten.

He didn’t make good on his threat.
He also made fun of the sky-high ticket prices, which had exposed the band to some criticism in the London press.
“How are you doing up in the cheap seats,” he said, motioning to fans in the upper rows of the cavernous arena. “Except they’re not cheap seats, that’s the problem.”

But Mr. Jagger seemed more mellow than usual, chatting a bit about the good old days and asking if there was anyone in the crowd who had seen them in 1962, when they first took to the stage.
He said 2012 had been a terrific year for Britain and that the Stones nearly missed the boat, playing no role in the celebration of the queen’s diamond jubilee, the London Olympics or the new James Bond film.
“We just got in under the wire,” he said. “We feel pretty good.”

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..محمد صبحى — هناء الشوربجى مسرحيه تخاريف : الديكتاتور و الشعب في جمهوريه انتيكا Play the dictator Mohamed Sobhi and Hanaa Shourbagi

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Egypt’s Second Revolution

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Too Bad It did Not Last Good Bye Morsi Tuesday And Have Fun In Qatar We Will Not Miss You

You rotten smelly thing you are the President

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Egypt’s Second revolution day 3 Egyptian judicial body rips Morsi

269 Injured In clashes between demonstrators and Police, and Ikhwan Goons and Militias

Egypt’s highest judicial body joined protesters Saturday in lambasting the country’s president for issuing a decree disabling the courts and giving him unchecked power.

Judges General Assembly this Morning
President Mohamed Morsy on Thursday announced that courts could not overturn any decree or law he has issued since taking office in June and, beyond that, in the six months until a new constitution is finalized, his spokesman said on state-run TV.
He also fired Egypt’s prosecutor general, who has been criticized for the insufficient prosecutions of those suspected in demonstrators’ deaths in 2011.
The Supreme Judicial Council, the highest judicial body in Egypt, weighed in Saturday, calling the decree an “unprecedented attack on the independence of the judicial branch,” state-run media reported.
“The Supreme Judicial Council, which is in charge of all matters related to the judiciary and the judges, expresses its dismay at the issuance of such a decree and is calling on the president of the republic to distance himself from all matters related to the judicial branch and its agencies,” state news agency MENA said.

Judge Al Zanad head of the assembly of Judges and Chief Justice
The president’s decree sparked demonstrations in Egypt and widespread anger in the country at Morsy, who had been widely praised across the world for spearheading a cease-fire agreement in Gaza after eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Dozens of protesters, some throwing rocks, faced off in central Cairo on Saturday morning with police, who fired tear gas canisters at them. The gas drifted through streets near a more thinly populated Tahrir Square, where just a day before thousands of protesters called for the overthrow of the regime.

Ikhwan Moslem Brotherhood goons trying to enter the Supreme court Building where Judges where meeting
Egyptian state TV reported clashes outside the judicial building in Cairo between opponents and supporters of the government. Clashes continued into the evening between protesters and security forces, with police firing tear gas and warning shots in the air near the Interior Minsitry.
Alaa Mahmoud, Interior Ministry spokesman, said hundreds of Morsy supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to storm the building, but riot police stopped them.

The protesters congregated at the entrance of the judicial building. That’s where the leadership of the Egypt Judges Club, an association of judges from across the country, was meeting with former Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud.
The judges and Mahmoud vehemently oppose Morsy’s actions.
“The people want to execute the prosecutor general,” the pro-Morsy protesters chanted outside the building.

The general assembly of the judges’ club has called for a nationwide strike in all courts and prosecution offices to protest the president’s move, state-run Nile TV reported.
Judges in Alexandria and Damanhour say they are putting all court hearings on hold until further notice.
Yet other judges offered support for Morsy. The Judges for Egypt movement, a nongovernmental organization made up of judges, denounced any call for a strike, according to state TV.
Morsy’s supporters plan to assert their clout throughout the week. The Muslim Brotherhood, the movement Morsy once led, will stage nationwide demonstrations starting Sunday to back the president’s decrees and plans. It also announced a “Million Man” demonstration Tuesday at Abdeen Square in Cairo in support of Morsy’s decisions.
Nearly two years after popular unrest spurred former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s fall, throngs have taken to Egypt’s streets in past days to call for revolution again, this time for the ouster of his successor.
Tents dot Cairo’s Tahrir Square, just as they did during the 2011 uprising, and clashes between protesters and police were reported Friday in the capital, the port city of Alexandria and elsewhere around the North African nation. Opposition leaders say they are firm in their resolve and, in Cairo’s landmark square at least, scores could be seen milling about overnight.
Egypt and Morsy proved ‘pivotal’ in Gaza cease-fire talks
In a country already without a parliament, Morsy’s announcement means he seems to have total executive, legislative and now judicial authority, all as a new constitution is being written.

“It’s unprecedented, it’s unimaginable, it’s more (power) than Mr. Mubarak ever had,” Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and head of Egypt’s Constitution Party, told CNN. “This is the language of a dictator.”
ElBaradei, a one-time head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged “civil disobedience.”
“Endorsing the position of ElBaradei, (former Arab League chief) Amr Moussa and others, I urge all who voted for me to stand with us against the tyranny of the regime,” wrote Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister who received 48% of the vote in this year’s presidential run-off, on Twitter.
Despite such opposition, Morsy was defiant and insistent Friday that his actions are in the interests of the Egyptian people.
“I have dedicated myself and my life for democracy and freedom,” he told hundreds of supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo. “The steps I took are meant to achieve political and social stability.”
Morsy gives himself new powers, orders retrials in protester deaths
The chair of Egypt’s Cabinet, Mohamed Refaa al-Tahtawi, brushed back criticisms that Morsy had made an undemocratic power grab, saying the opposite is true and that Morsy “is not really trying to monopolize power.”
“He is trying to have strong pillars for a steady progress toward democracy,” al-Tahtawi said. “A dictator would not try to have an elected parliament as soon as possible.”
The Cabinet chief added, “I assure you that in the coming days, the opposition will fade away and calm down.”
But that sentiment was not shared by everyone.
Tensions were brewing days before the president’s moves; protesters have been in Tahrir Square since Monday.

Egypt’s Morsy: ‘Imperial’ president or step forward for revolution?
The anger has been directed at Morsy and the Islamist movement of which he is a member. The Muslim Brotherhood was banned under Mubarak but has since risen exponentially in stature. There has also been growing turmoil about the constitutional panel, pitting conservatives who want Egypt to be governed by Islam’s Sharia law against moderates and liberals pushing for it to ensure basic freedoms, including for women.
On Friday in Tahrir Square, thousands had Morsy in mind as they chanted, “Leave, leave,” and “The people want to topple the regime,” the signature phrase of the Arab Spring uprisings, cried out from Tunisia to Egypt and Syria.
Nearby, in front of Egypt’s parliament building, thousands of protesters threw rocks as police used their vehicles and tear gas to keep the crowd contained.
A Cairo doctor said Saturday that a day earlier he treated five patients who had been wounded by shot pellets. But most of the injuries Dr. Mahmoud Said handled at Mounira Hospital were cuts resulting from hurled stones.
The top floor of an eight-story apartment building caught on fire Friday night, a blaze protesters blamed on a police tear gas canister tossed at demonstrators who were on top of the building earlier in the day.
About 215 kilometers (130 miles) north in Alexandria, protesters on Friday stormed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing and set it on fire, said Ahmed Sobea, a spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party.
Protest turns violent in Cairo

Calling for calm and dialogue, the U.S. State Department expressed concern Friday about the developments, saying, “One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution.”
Dr. Khaled al-Khatib, from Egypt’s health ministry, reported at least 140 injuries nationwide in the unrest, including 37 in Port Said and 36 in Cairo, according to state-run EGYNews. Eleven police officers were injured, state TV reported, citing the Interior Ministry.
Al-Khatib said there were no deaths, which differs from an earlier report Friday from Health Ministry spokesman Mohamed Sultan of at least one death. ElBaradei said one young man is “clinically dead” after being shot in the head, with more than 300 people getting treatment at area hospitals because of tear gas.

Ikhwan Brotherhood Militias attacking Police in front of High Court Building
Cameras have been installed on residential and government buildings around Tahrir Square so authorities can “capture images of those troublemakers and protesters who attack security forces,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Alaa Mahmoud.

Thus far, authorities have arrested 210 protesters, 85 of whom are charged with destroying public property, thuggery and attacking security forces, the Interior Ministry said, according to state TV. Some 44 of those arrested are juveniles who are now back with their families.
“My worry … is that the while situation will turn ugly, will turn violent if Morsy doesn’t rescind (his) decisions (and) engage in dialogue with the rest of the country,” ElBaradei said, adding he had met with Morsy a week ago and felt blindsided by his moves.

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Larry Hagman

Larry Martin Hagman (September 21, 1931 – November 23, 2012) was an American film and television actor best known for playing ruthless businessman J. R. Ewing in the 1980s primetime television soap opera Dallas, and befuddled astronaut Major Anthony “Tony” Nelson in the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. His supporting film roles included appearances in Fail-Safe, Nixon, and Primary Colors. His television appearances also included a handful of short-lived other series, guest roles on dozens of shows spanning from the late 1950s up until his death, and a reprisal of his signature role on the 2012 revival of Dallas. He also occasionally worked as a producer and director on television.
Hagman was the son of the actress Mary Martin. A long-time drinker, he underwent a life-saving liver transplant in 1995, triggering a controversy that he had cut in line and had taken a liver that should have gone to someone else, possibly a child, since he was a drinker and had ruined his own health. The donor transplant rules were revised, because of this, to make sure the rich and alcoholics were not favored over children. Although Hagman was a member of a 12-step program, he publicly advocated marijuana as a better alternative to alcohol. He died on November 23, 2012 of the complications of throat cancer.
Early life
Hagman was born in Weatherford, Texas, near Fort Worth. His mother, Mary Virginia Martin, later became a Broadway actress, and his father, Benjamin Jackson “Jack” Hagman, was an accountant and a district attorney. His father was of Swedish descent. Hagman’s parents divorced in 1936, when he was five years old. He lived with his grandmother in Texas and California while his mother became a contract player with Paramount in 1938.
In 1940, his mother met and married Richard Halliday and gave birth to a daughter, Heller, the following year. Hagman attended the strict Black-Foxe Military Institute (now closed). When his mother moved to New York City to resume her Broadway career, Hagman again lived with his grandmother in California. A couple of years later, his grandmother died and Hagman joined his mother in New York.
In 1946, Hagman moved back to his hometown of Weatherford, where he worked on a ranch owned by a friend of his father. After attending Weatherford High School, he was drawn to drama classes and reputedly fell in love with the stage and, in particular, with the warm reception he received for his comedic roles. He developed a reputation as a talented performer and in between school terms, would take minor roles in local stage productions. Hagman graduated from high school in 1949, when his mother suggested that he try acting as a profession
Career beginnings
Hagman began his career in Dallas, Texas, working as a production assistant and acting in small roles in Margo Jones’ Theater in 1950 during a break from his one year at Bard College. He appeared in The Taming of the Shrew in New York City, followed by numerous tent show musicals with St. John Terrell’s Music Circus in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Lambertville, New Jersey. In 1951, Hagman appeared in the London production of South Pacific with his mother, and stayed in the show for nearly a year.
In 1952, during the Korean War, Hagman was drafted into the United States Air Force. Stationed in London, he spent the majority of his military service entertaining U.S. troops in the UK and at bases in Europe

After leaving the Air Force in 1956, Hagman returned to New York City where he appeared in the Off-Broadway play Once Around the Block, by William Saroyan. That was followed by nearly a year in another Off-Broadway play, James Lee’s Career. His Broadway debut occurred in 1958 in Comes a Day. Hagman appeared in four other Broadway plays, God and Kate Murphy, The Nervous Set, The Warm Peninsula and The Beauty Part.
During this period, Hagman also appeared in numerous, mostly live, television programs. Aged 25, Hagman made his television debut on an episode of Decoy. In 1958, he joined Barbara Bain as a guest star in the short-lived adventure and drama series Harbormaster. Hagman joined the cast of The Edge of Night in 1961 as Ed Gibson, and stayed in that role for two years. In 1964, he made his film debut in Ensign Pulver, which featured a young Jack Nicholson. That same year, Hagman also appeared in Fail-Safe with Henry Fonda.
I Dream of Jeannie

After years of guest-starring in television series, Hagman’s profile was raised when he was cast as Barbara Eden’s television “master” and eventual love interest, Air Force Captain (later Major) Anthony Nelson in the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie for NBC ran for five seasons from 1965. The show entered the Top 30 in its first year and was NBC’s answer to both successful 1960s magical comedies,Bewitched on ABC and My Favorite Martian on CBS. The show ended in 1970. Two reunion movies were later made, both televised on NBC: I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later (1985) and I Still Dream of Jeannie (1991), though Hagman did not appear in either of them.
In November 1999, after 29 years, Hagman agreed to reunite with Jeannie co-stars Barbara Eden and Bill Daily and creator/producer Sidney Sheldon on the The Donny and Marie Show. In 2002, when I Dream of Jeannie was set to join the cable channel TV Land, Hagman once again took part in an I Dream of Jeannie reunion with Eden and Daily, this time on Larry King Live. On the TV Land Awards in March 2004, Hagman and Eden were the first presenters to reunite on stage. The following October, Hagman and Daily appeared at The Ray Courts Hollywood Autograph Show. And the following year, 2005 brought all three surviving stars from I Dream of Jeannie to the first ever cast reunion at The Chiller Expo Show.

Hagman reunited with Eden in March 2006 for a publicity tour in New York City to promote the first season DVD of I Dream of Jeannie. He reunited once again with Eden on stage in the play Love Letters at the College of Staten Island in New York and the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. The appearance marked the first time the two performers had acted together since Eden appeared with Hagman on Dallas in 1990.

In 1977, Hagman was offered two roles on two television series that were debuting. One was for The Waverly Wonders and the other for Dallas. Maj Hagman told Larry Hagman to take the role in Dallas. On Dallas, Hagman was cast as the conniving elder son and businessman J. R. Ewing, a man whom everybody loved to hate. When Hagman read the script for the role of J.R. at his wife’s suggestion, they both concluded it was perfect for him. Seen in over 90 countries, the show became a worldwide success and Hagman became one of the best known television stars of the era. Dallas inspiring several prime-time soaps. Producers were keen to capitalize on that love/hate family relationship of J.R.’s, building anticipation to a fever-pitch in the 1980 cliffhanger season finale in which J.R. is shot.

At the beginning of the third full season later that year, audience and actors were trying to guess “Who shot J.R.?”, now one of fictional TV’s most famous questions to have ever been asked. During the media buildup, Hagman was involved in contract negotiations, delaying his return in the fourth season. Holding out for a higher salary, Hagman did not appear in the first episode of the show until the final few minutes. Producers were faced with a dilemma whether to pay the greatly increased salary or to write J.R. out of the picture. Lorimar Productions, the makers of the series, began shooting different episodes of Dallas which did not include Hagman. In the midst of negotiations, Hagman took his family to London for their July vacation. He continued to fight for his demands and network executives conceded that they wanted J.R. to remain in Dallas. From then on, Hagman became one of the highest-paid stars on television. At the beginning of the 1980-81 season, writers were told to keep the storylines away from the actors until they really found out who actually shot J.R., and it took three weeks until the culprit was revealed on November 21, 1980 in a ratings record-breaking episode.

For his performance as J.R. Ewing, Hagman was nominated for two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1980 and 1981, but did not win. He was also nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, between 1981 and 1985. He was nominated for a Soap Opera Digest Award seven times for Outstanding Villain on a Prime Time Serial, Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role on a Prime Time Serial, Favorite Super Couple: Prime Time and Outstanding Actor in a Comic Relief Role on a Prime Time Serial, and won five times. In 1984, co-star (Barbara Bel Geddes) left the show after suffering a heart attack.

At one point, Hagman suggested to his real-life mother (Mary Martin) that she play Miss Ellie, but she rejected the suggestion and Bel Geddes was briefly replaced by Donna Reed. Reed was fired from the show, just months before her death in 1986, aged 64, from pancreatic cancer. Bel Geddes returned to the role in 1985 and stayed until 1990. By the end of its thirteenth season in 1991, ratings had slipped to the extent that CBS decided to end Dallas. Hagman was the only actor to appear in all 357 episodes. He had also made five guest appearances on the Dallas spin-off series Knots Landing in the early 1980s. Some years after Dallas ended, Hagman appeared in two subsequent Dallas television movies: J.R. Returns in 1996, and War of the Ewings in 1998.

Hagman reprised his role as J.R. Ewing in TNT’s continuation of Dallas, which began in 2012.
Other work
Hagman starred in two short-lived series in the 1970s, Here We Go Again and The Good Life. He also appeared in various television films, including Getting Away from It All, Sidekicks, The Return Of The World’s Greatest Detective,Intimate Strangers, and Checkered Flag or Crash
He appeared in the theatrical films The Group, Harry and Tonto, Mother, Jugs & Speed, The Eagle Has Landed, Superman, Nixon and Primary Colors. He directed (and appeared briefly in) a low-budget comedy and horror film in 1972 called Beware! The Blob, also called Son Of Blob, a sequel to the classic 1958 horror film The Blob. Some have jokingly called this “the film that J.R. shot” In 1980, Hagman recorded a single called Ballad Of The Good Luck Charm.
During the 1980s, Hagman was featured in a national televised Schlitz beer campaign, playing on – but not explicitly featuring – the J.R. character from Dallas. Hagman wore the same kind of western business outfit – complete with cowboy hat – that he wore playing J.R. Ewing. The end of each 30-second spot featured a male voice-over saying, “Refreshing Schlitz beer…the gusto’s back…” and Hagman grinning into the camera and saying, “…and I’m gonna get it!” He also made commercials for BVD brand underwear.
In January 1997, Hagman starred in a short-lived television series titled Orleans as Judge Luther Charbonnet, which lasted only eight episodes. By this time, Hagman had ceased wearing his toupée.
In 2002, Hagman made an appearance in the fourth series of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s British comedy panel game, Shooting Stars. In January 2011, Hagman made a guest appearance in the seventh Season of Desperate Housewives as a new husband for Lynette Scavo’s mother, Stella (played by Polly Bergen).

In 2010, Hagman was hired as a spokesman for SolarWorld, a solar energy commercial enterprise. While the SolarWorld commercials do not specifically mention either Dallas or J.R. Ewing, Hagman essentially revisits the character (complete with a picture of Hagman as J.R. Ewing from the original series on the mantle), stating that his oil company days are long over, “though still in the energy business”, meaning solar energy instead.

Personal life
In 1973, stepfather Richard Halliday died, and Hagman reconciled with his mother, Mary Martin, soon after. The two became close until her death from colon cancer in 1990, at the age of 76.
In 1954, Hagman married Swedish-born Maj Axelsson and they had two children, Heidi Kristina (b. 1958) and Preston (b. 1962). Longtime residents of Malibu, California, they then moved to Ojai, California. Hagman was a member of the Peace and Freedom Party since the 1960s. Hagman derided President George W. Bush, a fellow Texan, before the Iraq War. At a signing for his book he described Bush as “A sad figure, not too well educated, who doesn’t get out of America much. He’s leading the country towards fascism”.

In 1969, friend musician David Crosby, supplied Hagman with LSD after a concert: “LSD was such a profound experience in my life that it changed my pattern of life and my way of thinking and I could not exclude it.” Hagman was introduced to marijuana by Jack Nicholson, as a safer alternative to Hagman’s heavy drinking. “I liked it because it was fun, it made me feel good, and I never had a hangover.” Although Hagman said he no longer smoked marijuana and was on a “Twelve-Step Program”, he explained, “Marijuana is like being compared to alcohol and when you come right down to it, alcohol destroys your body and makes you do violent things, but with grass, you just sit back and enjoy life.”
In 1982, Hagman crowned the winner of the Miss Sweden competition in Stockholm. During the coronation, he wore a traditional Lapphatt and sang a Swedish folksong.

Hagman in August 2011
In August 1995, Hagman underwent a life-saving liver transplant after he was diagnosed with liver cancer in July. Numerous reports state he was drinking four bottles of champagne a day while on the set of Dallas. He was also a heavy smoker as a young man, but the cancer scare was the catalyst for him to quit. He was so shaken by this incident that he immediately became strongly anti-smoking. He recorded several public service announcements pleading with smokers to quit and urging non-smokers never to start. He was the chairman of theAmerican Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout for many years, and also worked on behalf of the National Kidney Foundation.
In 2001, Hagman wrote his autobiography, entitled Hello Darlin’: Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life. This was the only book Hagman ever wrote.

In a 2007 interview, Hagman talked about how he was a major proponent of alternative energy. On an episode of Living With Ed, Hagman and his wife showed actor Ed Begley, Jr. their solar powered, super energy efficient home and talked about their green lifestyle. In early 2010, the couple put their 43-acre Ojai estate (called “Heaven”, which they purchased in 1991) up for sale; it was valued at $9.5 million.
Hagman appeared at the Dublin races in 2008 with his wife. That same year, Maj Hagman was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. In June 2011, Hagman said he had stage 2 throat cancer. He commented, “As J.R. I could get away with anything—bribery, blackmail and adultery”, Hagman said in a statement. “But I got caught by cancer. I do want everyone to know that it is a very common and treatable form of cancer. I will be receiving treatment while working on the new Dallas series. I could not think of a better place to be than working on a show I love, with people I love.”
On November 23, 2012, Hagman died at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas, from complications related to Stage 4 throat cancer. He was 81.

 Search for Tomorrow (1951) (TV-series)
 The Edge of Night (1956) (TV-series)
 The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1958) (TV-film)
 Sea Hunt (1958-59) (TV-series)
 The Silver Burro (1963) (TV-film)
 The Cavern (1965)
 Ensign Pulver (1964)
 Fail-Safe (1964)
 In Harm’s Way (1965)

 I Dream of Jeannie (1965) (TV-series)
 The Rogues (1964) (TV-series)
 The Group (1966)
 Three’s a Crowd (1969) (TV-film)
 Up in the Cellar (1970)
 Vanished (1971) (TV-film)
 The Hired Hand (1971) (TV-film)
 The Good Life (1971) (TV-series)
 A Howling in the Woods (1971) (TV-film)
 Getting Away from It All (1972) (TV-film)
 Beware! The Blob (1972) (directorial debut)
 No Place to Run (1972) (TV-film)
 Antonio (1973)
 Here We Go Again (1973) (TV-series)
 Applause (1973) (TV)
 The Toy Game (1973)
 The Alpha Caper (1973) (TV)
 Blood Sport (1973) (TV)

 What Are Best Friends For? (1973) (TV-film)
 Stardust (1974)
 Sidekicks (1974) (TV-film)
 Harry and Tonto (1974)
 Hurricane (1974) (TV-film)
 Ellery Queen – The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party (1975) (TV-series, one episode)
 Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975) (TV-film)
 The Big Rip-Off (1975) (TV-film)
 Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)
 The Return Of The World’s Greatest Detective (1976) (TV-film)
 The Big Bus (1976)
 The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
 Cry for Justice (1977)
 The Rhinemann Exchange (1977) (TV-mini-series)
 Checkered Flag or Crash (1977)
 Intimate Strangers (1977) (TV-film)
 A Double Life (1978) (TV-film)
 The President’s Mistress (1978) (TV-film)
 Last of the Good Guys (1978) (TV-film)
 Dallas (1978-1991) (TV-series)
 Superman (1978)
 S.O.B. (1981)
 I Am Blushing (1981)
 Deadly Encounter (1982) (TV-film)
 Dallas: The Early Years (1986) (TV-film)
 Lone Star (1986) (TV documentary)
 Ein Schloß am Wörthersee (1992, 1993-1994) (German TV-series)
 Staying Afloat (1993) (TV-film)
 Nixon (1995)
 Dallas: J.R. Returns (1996) (TV-film)
 Orleans (1997) (TV-series)
 The Third Twin (1997) (TV-film)
 Primary Colors (1998)
 Dallas: War of the Ewings (1998) (TV-film)
 Nip/Tuck (2006) (TV-series)
 Lindenstraße (2006) (German soap opera)
 Cómplices (2009) (Spanish soap opera)
 Desperate Housewives (2010)
 Dallas (2012)

Posted in Film and TV, Profiles, Videos | 2,503 Comments

Paul Romer: The world’s first charter city?بول رومر: اول مدينة امتياز في العالم؟

Paul Romer is developing a radical new model of growth and governance, which calls for the establishment of city-scale special administrative zones.

Stanford economist Paul Romer believes in the power of ideas. He first studied how to speed up the discovery and implementation of new technologies. But to address the big problems we’ll face this century — insecurity, harm to the environment, global poverty — new technologies will not be enough. We must also speed up the discovery and implementation of new rules, of new ideas about how people interact.

Throughout human history, big improvements in systems of rules took place when new governments entered the scene. In today’s world, this process has been largely shut down. To bring it back to life, Romer proposes that we create new cities where people can go to escape from bad rules and opt in to new and better ones. With better rules, people can be safe, self-interest can protect the environment, and investment can bring families all the resources that the modern world has to offer.
“Paul Romer has had a massive and profound impact on modern economic thinking and policymaking. … [His work] transforms economics from a ‘dismal science’ that describes a world of scarcity and diminishing returns into a discipline that reveals a path toward constant improvement and unlimited potential. Ideas, in Romer’s formulation, really do have consequences. Big ones.”

بالعودة الى العام 2009, بول رومر كشف النقاب عن فكرة “مدينة الامتياز” — نوع جديد من المدن لديها قوانين لصالح الديموقراطية والتجارة. هذه السنة, في تيد2011 , اخبر القصة حول كيف يمكن لمدينة كهذه ان تتحقق في الهندوراس بقليل من المساعدة من تيد توك.

Posted in Authors, Business and Financial News, Liberal News and Politics, Philanthropy and Philanthropists, Videos, كتابات ليبرالية واخبار | Comments Off on Paul Romer: The world’s first charter city?بول رومر: اول مدينة امتياز في العالم؟

They Cracked This 250-Year-Old Code, and Found a Secret Society Inside


For more than 200 years, this book concealed the arcane rituals of an ancient order. But cracking the code only deepened the mystery.
Image courtesy: Uppsala University
The master wears an amulet with a blue eye in the center. Before him, a candidate kneels in the candlelit room, surrounded by microscopes and surgical implements. The year is roughly 1746. The initiation has begun.

The master places a piece of paper in front of the candidate and orders him to put on a pair of eyeglasses. “Read,” the master commands. The candidate squints, but it’s an impossible task. The page is blank.

The candidate is told not to panic; there is hope for his vision to improve. The master wipes the candidate’s eyes with a cloth and orders preparation for the surgery to commence. He selects a pair of tweezers from the table. The other members in attendance raise their candles.

The master starts plucking hairs from the candidate’s eyebrow. This is a ritualistic procedure; no flesh is cut. But these are “symbolic actions out of which none are without meaning,” the master assures the candidate. The candidate places his hand on the master’s amulet. Try reading again, the master says, replacing the first page with another. This page is filled with handwritten text. Congratulations, brother, the members say. Now you can see.

For more than 260 years, the contents of that page—and the details of this ritual—remained a secret. They were hidden in a coded manuscript, one of thousands produced by secret societies in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak of their power, these clandestine organizations, most notably the Freemasons, had hundreds of thousands of adherents, from colonial New York to imperial St. Petersburg. Dismissed today as fodder for conspiracy theorists and History Channel specials, they once served an important purpose: Their lodges were safe houses where freethinkers could explore everything from the laws of physics to the rights of man to the nature of God, all hidden from the oppressive, authoritarian eyes of church and state. But largely because they were so secretive, little is known about most of these organizations. Membership in all but the biggest died out over a century ago, and many of their encrypted texts have remained uncracked, dismissed by historians as impenetrable novelties.

It was actually an accident that brought to light the symbolic “sight-restoring” ritual. The decoding effort started as a sort of game between two friends that eventually engulfed a team of experts in disciplines ranging from machine translation to intellectual history. Its significance goes far beyond the contents of a single cipher. Hidden within coded manuscripts like these is a secret history of how esoteric, often radical notions of science, politics, and religion spread underground. At least that’s what experts believe. The only way to know for sure is to break the codes.

In this case, as it happens, the cracking began in a restaurant in Germany.

For years, Christiane Schaefer and Wolfgang Hock would meet regularly at an Italian bistro in Berlin. He would order pizza, and she would get the penne all’arrabbiata. The two philologists—experts in ancient writings—would talk for hours about dead languages and obscure manuscripts.

It was the fall of 1998, and Schaefer was about to leave Berlin to take a job in the linguistics department at Uppsala University, north of Stockholm. Hock announced that he had a going-away present for Schaefer.

She was a little surprised—a parting gift seemed an oddly personal gesture for such a reserved colleague. Still more surprising was the present itself: a large brown paper envelope marked with the words top secret and a series of strange symbols.

Schaefer opened it. Inside was a note that read, “Something for those long Swedish winter nights.” It was paper-clipped to 100 or so photocopied pages filled with a handwritten script that made no sense to her whatsoever:

Arrows, shapes, and runes. Mathematical symbols and Roman letters, alternately accented and unadorned. Clearly it was some kind of cipher. Schaefer pelted Hock with questions about the manuscript’s contents. Hock deflected her with laughter, mentioning only that the original text might be Albanian. Other than that, Hock said, she’d have to find her own answers.

A few days later, on the train to Uppsala, Schaefer turned to her present again. The cipher’s complexity was overwhelming: symbols for Saturn and Venus, Greek letters like pi and gamma, oversize ovals and pentagrams. Only two phrases were left unencoded: “Philipp 1866,” written at the start of the manuscript, and “Copiales 3″ at the end. Philipp was traditionally how Germans spelled the name. Copiales looked like a variation of the Latin word for “to copy.” Schaefer had no idea what to make of these clues.

She tried a few times to catalog the symbols, in hopes of figuring out how often each one appeared. This kind of frequency analysis is one of the most basic techniques for deciphering a coded alphabet. But after 40 or 50 symbols, she’d lose track. After a few months, Schaefer put the cipher on a shelf.

Thirteen years later, in January 2011, Schaefer attended an Uppsala conference on computational linguistics. Ordinarily talks like this gave her a headache. She preferred musty books to new technologies and didn’t even have an Internet connection at home. But this lecture was different. The featured speaker was Kevin Knight, a University of Southern California specialist in machine translation—the use of algorithms to automatically translate one language into another. With his stylish rectangular glasses, mop of prematurely white hair, and wiry surfer’s build, he didn’t look like a typical quant. Knight spoke in a near whisper yet with intensity and passion. His projects were endearingly quirky too. He built an algorithm that would translate Dante’s Inferno based on the user’s choice of meter and rhyme scheme. Soon he hoped to cook up software that could understand the meaning of poems and even generate verses of its own.

Knight was part of an extremely small group of machine-translation researchers who treated foreign languages like ciphers—as if Russian, for example, were just a series of cryptological symbols representing English words. In code-breaking, he explained, the central job is to figure out the set of rules for turning the cipher’s text into plain words: which letters should be swapped, when to turn a phrase on its head, when to ignore a word altogether. Establishing that type of rule set, or “key,” is the main goal of machine translators too. Except that the key for translating Russian into English is far more complex. Words have multiple meanings, depending on context. Grammar varies widely from language to language. And there are billions of possible word combinations.

But there are ways to make all of this more manageable. We know the rules and statistics of English: which words go together, which sounds the language employs, and which pairs of letters appear most often. (Q is usually followed by a u, for example, and “quiet” is rarely followed by “bulldozer.”) There are only so many translation schemes that will work with these grammatical parameters. That narrows the number of possible keys from billions to merely millions.

The next step is to take a whole lot of educated guesses about what the key might be. Knight uses what’s called an expectation-maximization algorithm to do that. Instead of relying on a predefined dictionary, it runs through every possible English translation of those Russian words, no matter how ridiculous; it’ll interpret as “yes,” “horse,” “to break dance,” and “quiet!” Then, for each one of those possible interpretations, the algorithm invents a key for transforming an entire document into English—what would the text look like if meant “break dancing”?

The algorithm’s first few thousand attempts are always way, way off. But with every pass, it figures out a few words. And those isolated answers inch the algorithm closer and closer to the correct key. Eventually the computer finds the most statistically likely set of translation rules, the one that properly interprets as “yes” and as “quiet.”

The algorithm can also help break codes, Knight told the Uppsala conference—generally, the longer the cipher, the better they perform. So he casually told the audience, “If you’ve got a long coded text to share, let me know.”

Funny, Schaefer said to Knight at a reception afterward. I have just the thing.

A blindfold that allows the wearer to see, worn by members of the society who wrote the “Copiale” cipher.
Photo: Niedersä Landesarchiv-Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel
A copy of the cipher arrived at Knight’s office a few weeks later. Despite his comments at the conference, Knight was hesitant to start the project; alleged ciphers often turned out to be hoaxes. But Schaefer’s note stapled to the coded pages was hard to resist. “Here comes the ‘top-secret’ manuscript!!” she wrote. “It seems more suitable for long dark Swedish winter nights than for sunny California days—but then you’ve got your hardworking and patient machines!”

Unfortunately for Knight, there was a lot of human grunt work to do first. For the next two weeks, he went through the cipher, developing a scheme to transcribe the coded script into easy-to-type, machine-readable text. He found 88 symbols and gave them each a unique code: became “lip,” became “o..,” became “zs.” By early March he had entered the first 16 pages of the cipher into his computer.

Next Knight turned to his expectation-maximization algorithm. He asked the program what the manuscript’s symbols had in common. It generated clusters of letters that behaved alike—appearing in similar contexts. For example, letters with circumflexes () were usually preceded by or . There were at least 10 identifiable character clusters that repeated throughout the document. The only way groups of letters would look and act largely the same was if this was a genuine cipher—one he could break. “This is not a hoax; this is not random. I can solve this one,” he told himself.

A particular cluster caught his eye: the cipher’s unaccented Roman letters used by English, Spanish, and other European languages. Knight did a separate frequency analysis to see which of those letters appeared most often. The results were typical for a Western language. It suggested that this document might be the most basic of ciphers, in which one letter is swapped for another—a kid’s decoder ring, basically. Maybe, Knight thought, the real code was in the Roman alphabet, and all the funny astronomical signs and accented letters were there just to throw the reader off the scent.

Of course, a substitution cipher was only simple if you knew what language it was in. The German Philipp, the Latin copiales, and Hock’s allusion to Albanian all hinted at different tongues.

Knight asked his algorithm to guess the manuscript’s original language. Five times, it compared the entire cryptotext to 80 languages. The results were slow in coming—the algorithm is so computationally intense that each language comparison took five hours. Finally the computer gave the slightest preference for German. Given the spelling of Philipp, that seemed as good an assumption as any. Knight didn’t speak a word of German, but he didn’t need to. As long as he could learn some basic rules about the language—which letters appeared in what frequency—the machine would do the rest.

While his family got ready for spring vacation—a “history tour” of the East Coast—Knight looked for patterns in the cipher. He saw that one common cipher letter, , was often followed by a second symbol, . They appeared together 99 times; a frequently came after: .

Knight reviewed common German letter combinations. He noticed that C is almost always followed by H, and CH is often followed by T. This sequence is used all the time in German words like licht (“light”) and macht (“power”). , Knight guessed, might be cht. It was his first major break.

During his vacation, as his daughters played on their iPads at night in the hotel room, Knight scribbled in his orange notebook, tinkering with possible solutions to the cipher. So far what he had was a simple substitution code. But that left scores of cipher symbols with no German equivalent.

So one evening Knight shifted his approach. He tried assuming that the manuscript used a more complex code—one that used multiple symbols to stand for a single German letter.

Knight put his theory to the test. He assumed, for example, that , , and all stood for I. It worked. He found others, and soon he started assembling small words, like or der (“the” in German), which Knight recognized from World War II movies. Then he got his first big word: , or candidat, followed by , or antwortet (“the candidate answers”). The cipher’s wall of secrecy was crumbling.

But some of the cipher’s symbols—especially iconic ones like , , and —remained baffling. Worse, he couldn’t get German translations for any of the cipher’s standard Roman letters.

On March 26, Knight reviewed his notebook. The words of his first phrase—Der candidat antwortet—were separated by an and an . That made no sense if the coded and stood for German letters. That’s when Knight realized how wrong his initial assumption had been. The unaccented Roman letters didn’t spell out the code. They were the spaces that separated the words of the real message, which was actually written in the glyphs and accented text.

A trio of handwritten notes, each from an aristocrat asking to be admitted into the society.
Photo: Niedersä Landesarchiv-Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel
On March 31, Knight sent an email to Schaefer and her boss, Beáta Megyesi, head of Uppsala’s department of linguistics and philology, who was also interested in the manuscript. “I think I’ve been making some progress,” he wrote, and included two lines from the cipher: dieser schlag id das zeiche und der anfang de jenige vertraulichheit die der bruder von jetzo an als geselle von uns zunerwar …

Schaefer stared at the screen. She had spent a dozen years with the cipher. Knight had broken the whole thing open in just a few weeks.

The message in these two lines was almost as remarkable. Schaefer made a few tweaks and sent back a tentative translation: “This stroke is the sign/the symbol and the beginning of the confidentiality/familiarity that the brother, from now on companion, can expect of us …”

It was an initiation ritual, Schaefer said. Geselle literally means a “companion.” But she knew the term was also used in fraternal orders—clandestine societies like the Freemasons. In this context, a geselle was a rank in a secret society.

Schaefer’s boss, Megyesi—a 41-year-old Hungarian émigré—was especially taken by the cipher’s contents. “I would not mind being chased by a secret org,” she emailed Knight. At night, after she was done managing her department of 450 courses and 25 professors and after she put her twins to bed, Megyesi sat at the computer, turning the symbols into text. She and Knight started emailing multiple times a day about the cipher—and signing their emails in Copiale cipher text.

But they still hadn’t cracked the code’s big symbols—especially , which they transcribed as “lip.” Megyesi and Schaefer were pretty sure it stood for a word, not a letter. But they weren’t sure what word it meant.

Then one night in the middle of April, while Megyesi was working late in her office, she stared absentmindedly at the neatly arranged folders on her desk. She looked at a page containing the lip symbol. Schaefer walked into her office just as she was thinking about this. Megyesi looked up. “This symbol,” Megyesi said to Schaefer, “it’s not a lip. It’s an eye.”

The Oculists’ seal, featuring a cataract needle, a pair of pince-nez, and two cats watching over mice.
Photo: Niedersä Landesarchiv-Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel
As it turned out, Schaefer had made a discovery of her own. A phrase in the Copiale text, a reference to the “light hand” required to be a master of the society, had seemed familiar to her. So she dug up an academic article she had read some time before about a secret order in Germany that called itself the Great Enlightened Society of Oculists. The “light hand” was mentioned in their bylaws.

It was a massive breakthrough. Active in the mid-18th century, the Oculists fixated on both the anatomy and symbolism of the eye. They focused on sight as a metaphor for knowledge. And they performed surgery on the eye. “We exceed all other [healers] by being able to pierce all cataracts, whether they’re fully developed or not,” the group boasted in its public—and uncoded—bylaws.

Centered in the town of Wolfenbüttel, Germany, the Oculists, it was believed, played the role of gatekeepers to the burgeoning field of ophthalmology. They kept out the “charlatans” who could cause someone to “lose their eyesight forever.”

On their crest, the Oculists featured a cataract needle and three cats (which, of course, can see in near darkness). In their bylaws, the Oculists’ emphasis on the master’s “light hand” seemed to be a reference to members’ surgical skill. And they appeared to have a rather progressive attitude; women could be Oculists, just like men.

Schaefer contacted the state archives in Wolfenbüttel, which housed a collection of Oculist materials. The archives had a coded text just like the Copiale—and some cool amulets too.

Megyesi plunged even deeper into the cipher. But the text confused her. The weird rituals it described didn’t exactly seem like medical school classes. Although the Copiale mentioned the master’s “light hand,” Megyesi couldn’t find anything in the coded text about eye surgery or cataracts.

Instead the Copiale noted that the master had to “show his skill in reading and writing of our cipher.” These Oculists might have been presenting themselves as ophthalmologists in public. But inside the order’s chambers, the light hand must have meant something else. Could it have been about keeping secrets through cryptology?

Even with its code broken, the Copiale’s swirl of ritual and double-talk was getting harder and harder to follow—especially for someone whose experience with secret orders was drawn mainly from cheesy movies. Megyesi knew she needed help figuring out what these societies were all about. So she asked around for someone who could tell her what really happened in those candlelit initiation rooms.

The cover of the “Copiale” cipher.
Image: courtesy of Uppsala University
Officially, Andreas Önnerfors is a historian of ideas. But he spends a lot of his time as one of 50 or so university researchers in the world seriously examining the historical and cultural impact of secret societies. When Megyesi contacted him, Önnerfors readily agreed to read this newly decoded document from a clandestine order. “Like the kid who sees candies, I could not resist,” he says, tugging gently at his ascot. “Plus, my boss wasn’t there.”

They agreed to meet in September in the castlelike university library in Lund, Önnerfors’ cobblestoned hometown in southern Sweden. Megyesi and Schaefer came down from Uppsala with the Copiale manuscript. Knight flew in from California.

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans belonged to secret societies in the 18th century, Önnerfors explained to Megyesi; in Sweden alone, there were more than a hundred orders. Though they were clandestine, they were often remarkably inclusive. Many welcomed noblemen and merchants alike—a rare egalitarian practice in an era of strict social hierarchies. That made the orders dangerous to the state. They also frequently didn’t care about their adherents’ Christian denomination, making these orders—especially the biggest of them, Freemasonry—an implicit threat to the authority of the Catholic Church. In 1738 Pope Clement XII forbade all Catholics from joining a Masonic lodge. Others implied that the male-only groups might be hotbeds of sodomy. Not long after, rumors started that members of these orders actually worshipped the devil.

These societies were the incubators of democracy, modern science, and ecumenical religion. They elected their own leaders and drew up constitutions to govern their operations. It wasn’t an accident that Voltaire, George Washington, and Ben Franklin were all active members. And just like today’s networked radicals, much of their power was wrapped up in their ability to stay anonymous and keep their communications secret.

After reading the Oculists’ cipher, Önnerfors suggested that it described one of the more extreme groups. Forget the implicit threats to the state or church. In part of the Copiale, there’s explicit talk about slaying the tyrannical “three-headed monster” who “deprive[s] man of his natural freedom.” There’s even a call for a “general revolt.” Remember, Önnerfors told the code-breakers, this book was written in the 1740s—30 years before the Declaration of Independence. “To someone at the time,” he added, “this would be like reading a manifesto from a terrorist organization.”

To Önnerfors, decoding the Copiale was a significant achievement. Traditionally, historians have just ignored documents like this, because they don’t have the tools to make sense of them. That’s why the Oculists passed as early surgeons for so long. But there are scores of these enciphered documents—many in Lund alone. Some concern new rites of a fraternal order; others could detail political movements. There’s no way to tell for sure, because they’re cryptologically sealed. There’s a whole secret history of the West waiting to be told. There are so many more codes.

Cracking the so-called Copiale cipher was a three-step process. First the characters had to be rendered as machine-readable text: became “eh,” and became “lip.” Next, software analyzed the behavior of the cipher letters and guessed that the Copiale’s original language was German. The code-breaking team then was able to translate the text into German and finally into English, revealing a secret manual of an esoteric society. Here’s how it worked.

z ns eh n hd iot hk tri j ns ah b mal tri nu h z ih plus c ni three bar d r. ki mu del oh s z uh three zs lip o.. pi iot oh r g zzz ni x. ns ah j iot del gam zzz y.. lam l iot hk p z eh plus f plus uu cross c. iot bas uu c del grr cross c. oh arr lam f h. nu x. uh : j sqp lam e m. ns r. gs m. c. : uu h tri sqi : lam gs grr y.. ru ah ds bar p. arr uh b m. oh c. : uu h tri sqi c. tri bar n z grr bar m. ah x. uu o m. grr iot c. n bar ns uh c x. ih hd zzz y.. plus zs del eh hd n. c. lam uu
die historie von dem ursprunge der *lip* *o..* die neugierigkeit ist dem meNschlicheN geschlecht an geerbt wir wolleN offt eine sache wisseN blos des wegeN weil sie geheim gehalteN
The history of the origin of the Oculist society. Curiosity is the inheritance of mankind. Frequently we want to know something only because it needs to be kept secret.
These unaccented Roman letters appeared with the frequency you’d expect in a European language. But they don’t represent letters—they mark the spaces between words.Algorithmic analysis showed that letters that looked alike also acted alike. These all actually stand for the letter E. It’s a way to confuse codebreakers.The Copiale’s more unusual symbols denote words, not letters—in this case, “Oculist” and “society.”
“Copiale Cipher”

On October 25, 2011, The New York Times published a story about the Copiale, focusing on Knight’s code-cracking techniques. A flood of media attention followed—along with hundreds of emails from people who claimed to have ancient ciphers of their own. In December, when I visited Knight, he had just received a picture from Yemen. Some Bedouins had found a stone with an unknown, squarish script. Perhaps Knight could tell them what it said?

This was unfamiliar turf. Knight and the other members of the Copiale team weren’t used to such attention. And not all of it was positive: There were also miffed Masons telling him he didn’t understand the full picture, and warnings from the fringe set telling them to stop spilling dusty secrets or claiming that Lucifer was really the Freemason god.

Back in Lund, Önnerfors grew surprised too as he continued to plumb the Copiale. In the midst of the descriptions about Oculist rituals, the document took a narrative turn. It described a meeting of “a few good friends” who talked about people’s desire to “know something only because it needs to be kept secret.” The friends decided to use this curiosity to play a little prank. They set up a fraternity and “would agree immediately as they would like to pretend that a great secret would be behind their unification.” They called this farce, this hoax, this grand psychological experiment Freemasonry. In other words, the Oculists were making an outrageous claim: that they founded Freemasonry … as a joke.

That certainly wasn’t true, but at the very least the Oculists seemed to be watching Freemasonry’s every move. Starting on page 27 and continuing for the remaining 78 pages, the cipher detailed the rituals performed by the highest degrees of the Masonic order—rites unknown to ordinary Masons at the time. Nothing was omitted from the Copiale’s descriptions of these top-level rituals. Not the skulls. Not the coffins. Not removal of undergarments nor the nooses nor the veneration of Hiram Abiff, builder of the Great Temple of Jerusalem, whose decomposed body became the alchemical emblem for turning something rotten into something miraculous and golden.

Decades later, most of these practices became widely known as the Freemasons’ secrets seeped out. But in the 1740s they were still well concealed—except to the Oculists. The Oculists were a secret society that had burrowed deep into another secret society. Önnerfors noted that the cats on the Oculists’ insignia were watching over mice. It could be another Oculist joke — or a sign that they were spies.

A note from October 30, 1775 reads, “This box concerns the Oculist Order, and is not to be opened until special order of the Duke.” Photo: Niedersä Landesarchiv-Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel
Before their cipher was broken, the Oculists were practically unknown. The main thing historians in Wolfenbüttel knew about the group was that it was led by a count named Friedrich August von Veltheim, who died in April 1775. Like many aristocrats of his day, he belonged to multiple secret societies, including an Order of the Golden Poodles, which likely sounded as goofy back then as it does today. But in his will, his Oculist heirlooms merited special instructions. He had locked all of the Oculists’ objects in a leather trunk and ordered his son to make sure the seals remained unbroken until the local duke (or one of the duke’s descendants) said otherwise. If the count’s goal was to make sure that whatever was inside that trunk faded into obscurity, he succeeded. The trunk wasn’t opened until 1918. Its contents—now at the state archives in Wolfenbüttel—have rarely been examined since.

After months of talking about the Oculists with Knight, Schaefer, Megyesi, and Önnerfors, I decided this past winter to see Count von Veltheim’s trove for myself.

Unable to make the trip personally,Önnerfors arranged for his mentor—a professor named Jan Snoek—to meet me at the archives. Snoek is a high-degree Mason who has designed his own rituals for the order. We met at the archives in Wolfenbüttel and found a series of rectangular boxes waiting for us.

Snoek and I took them into a private reading room with circular windows that overlooked a browning forest. Inside the first box was the silver-dollar-sized seal of the Oculists; its watchful cats and pince-nez perfectly preserved thanks to almost two and a half centuries of near isolation. Another box revealed a bone-handled cataract needle and the luminescent green aprons that members wore. Inside a third box were five oval amulets bearing raised blue eyes so anatomically correct I half expected them to wink.

There was also a tiny cylinder, covered in jade and gold—the colors of the Copiale itself. I screwed it open to find a tortoise-shell cup holding an eye made of ivory and horn. The model came apart like a Russian doll: pupil inside lens, iris on top of pupil, cornea resting on iris. Each layer was more exquisite than the next.

In this Oculist text, the coded symbols seem to stand for numbers, not letters.
Photo: Niedersä Landesarchiv-Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel
The artifacts laid out in the reading room also undercut the idea that the Oculists were sleeper agents on a mission to expose Freemasonry. Why would spies need all these extra rituals? Or be so interested in anatomy?

Put yourself in a Mason’s shoes, Snoek explained. The Catholic Church has outlawed your order—and every other secret society. You don’t want to give up your Freemasonry, but you don’t want to be accused of sodomy. Even in a largely Protestant country like Germany, that was a withering accusation at the time. So “you hide it in a veil,” Snoek said. You start a new set of rituals, to layer on top of the old—and make it impregnable to Vatican attacks.

Perhaps the Oculists weren’t spying on Freemasonry so much as keeping it alive.

“As a Mason you are not allowed to write down—let alone publish—your rituals,” Snoek said. So how do you spread your ideas? You publish esoteric rites as if they are exposures—public outings of Masonry. Except you publish in code, so only an elite cadre of fellow Masons can read the dangerous things you have to say. And when your mission is over, you stuff all the evidence into a box that doesn’t get opened for nearly 150 years. The Oculists guarded and transmitted the Masons’ deepest secrets, Snoek believes, using a mixture of ritual, misdirection, and cryptography.

Eventually we turned to the last items in the Oculist trove: nine copies of a four-page document written in a mixture of old German, Latin, and the Copiale’s coded script. The message was more or less identical in every set. “Die Algebra,” it said at the top of page one, a primer on the “old way of calculating.” Rows of cipher letters lay beneath. The document seemed to add them up as if they were numbers. The third page mentioned the Jewish Cabala—the mystical system in which meaning is derived from the numerical value of letters.

It would appear that the Copiale symbols don’t represent just words and letters, they stand for numbers too. But if they do, Knight, Megyesi, and Schaefer haven’t been able to tease out the meaning. The Oculist master apparently understood these coded documents in a way that today’s interpreters do not. Despite years’ worth of attacks on their cipher, the Oculists’ secrets have not been pried loose, at least not fully. What they saw in their initiation chambers may never again be seen.

Noah Shachtman is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor of this little blog right here.

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Egypt’s Second Revolution is on, Internet and cell phones cut off in Tahrir Square BYE BYE MURSI

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi’s decision to assume sweeping powers caused fury amongst his opponents and prompted violent clashes in central Cairo and other cities on Friday.

Mursi cut the internet and cell phone communications in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas
Police fired tear gas near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, heart of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, where thousands demanded Mursi quit and accused him of launching a “coup”. There were violent protests in Alexandria, Port Said,Ismailia, Al Kana, Tanta, Mahala Assuit,Dakahlia, Sharkiya and Suez.
The Moslem Brotherhood head quarters have been burnet in most of these cities.

Opponents accused Mursi, who has issued a decree that puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected, of being the new Mubarak and hijacking the revolution.

“The people want to bring down the regime,” shouted protesters in Tahrir, echoing a chant used in the uprising that forced Mubarak to step down. “Get out, Mursi,” they chanted, along with “Mubarak tell Mursi, jail comes after the throne.”

Mursi’s aides said the presidential decree was intended to speed up a protracted transition that has been hindered by legal obstacles but Mursi’s rivals condemned him as an autocratic pharaoh who wanted to impose his Islamist vision on Egypt.

“I am for all Egyptians. I will not be biased against any son of Egypt,” Mursi said on a stage outside the presidential palace, adding that he was working for social and economic stability and the rotation of power.

“Opposition in Egypt does not worry me, but it has to be real and strong,” he said, seeking to placate his critics and telling Egyptians that he was committed to the revolution. “Go forward, always forward … to a new Egypt.”

Buoyed by accolades from around the world for mediating a truce between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip, Mursi on Thursday ordered that an Islamist-dominated assembly writing the new constitution could not be dissolved by legal challenges.

“Mursi a ‘temporary’ dictator,” was the headline in the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Mursi, an Islamist whose roots are in the Muslim Brotherhood, also gave himself wide powers that allowed him to sack the unpopular general prosecutor and opened the door for a retrial for Mubarak and his aides.

The president’s decree aimed to end the logjam and push Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, more quickly along its democratic path, the presidential spokesman said.

“President Mursi said we must go out of the bottleneck without breaking the bottle,” Yasser Ali told Reuters.


The president’s decree said any decrees he issued while no parliament sat could not be challenged, moves that consolidated his power but look set to polarize Egypt further, threatening more turbulence in a nation at the heart of the Arab Spring.

The turmoil has weighed heavily on Egypt’s faltering economy that was thrown a lifeline this week when a preliminary deal was reached with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan. But it also means unpopular economic measures.

In Alexandria, north of Cairo, protesters ransacked an office of the Brotherhood’s political party, burning books and chairs in the street. Supporters of Mursi and opponents clashed elsewhere in the city, leaving 12 injured.

A party building was also attacked by stone-throwing protesters in Port Said, and demonstrators in Suez threw petrol bombs that burned banners outside the party building.

Mursi’s decree is bound to worry Western allies, particularly the United States, a generous benefactor to Egypt’s army, which praised Egypt for its part in bringing Israelis and Palestinians to a ceasefire on Wednesday.

The West may become concerned about measures that, for example, undermine judicial independence. The European Union urged Mursi to respect the democratic process.

“We are very concerned about the possible huge ramifications of this declaration on human rights and the rule of law in Egypt,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, said at the United Nations in Geneva.

The United States has been concerned about the fate of what was once a close ally under Mubarak, who preserved Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The Gaza deal has reassured Washington but the deepening polarization of the nation will be a worry.


“The decree is basically a coup on state institutions and the rule of law that is likely to undermine the revolution and the transition to democracy,” said Mervat Ahmed, an independent activist in Tahrir protesting against the decree. “I worry Mursi will be another dictator like the one before him.”

Leading liberal Mohamed ElBaradei, who joined other politicians on Thursday night to demand the decree was withdrawn, wrote on his Twitter account that Mursi had “usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh”.

Almost two years after Mubarak was toppled and about five months since Mursi took office, propelled to the post by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt has no permanent constitution, which must be in place before new parliamentary elections are held.

The last parliament, which sat for the first time earlier this year, was dissolved after a court declared it void. It was dominated by the Brotherhood’s political party.

An assembly drawing up the constitution has yet to complete its work. Many liberals, Christians and others have walked out accusing the Islamists who dominate it of ignoring their voices over the extent that Islam should be enshrined in the new state.

Opponents call for the assembly to be scrapped and remade. Mursi’s decree protects the existing one and extends the deadline for drafting a document by two months, pushing it back to February, further delaying a new parliamentary election.

Explaining the rationale behind the moves, the presidential spokesman said: “This means ending the period of constitutional instability to arrive at a state with a written constitution, an elected president and parliament.”


Analyst Seif El Din Abdel Fatah said the decree targeted the judiciary which had reversed, for example, an earlier Mursi decision to remove the prosecutor.

Mursi, who is now protected by his new decree from judicial reversals, said the judiciary contained honorable men but said he would uncover corrupt elements. He also said he would ensure independence for the judicial, executive and legislative powers.

Although many of Mursi’s opponents also opposed the sacked prosecutor, whom they blamed for shortcomings in prosecuting Mubarak and his aides, and also want judicial reform, they say a draconian presidential decree was not the way to do it.

“There was a disease but this is not the remedy,” said Hassan Nafaa, a liberal-minded political science professor and activist at Cairo University.

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