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Best opening line ever 17, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in China.
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Time Magazine’s China Blog quotes what has to be the most gripping and intriguing opening line for a story. It is taken from Emma Graham-Harrison’s article for Reuters and is really rather remarkable.

Only two memories brought tears to Sun Yaoting’s eyes in old age — the day his father cut off his genitals, and the day his family threw away the pickled remains that should have made him a whole man again at death.

What to read on? Of course you do…

(Poor guy; he had his bits whipped off by his father with no anaesthetic, was unconscious for three days, could hardly move for months, finally ‘recovered’ sufficiently and was about to go to the palace to take on a Eunuch-type role when he discovered that the Emperor had just abdicated….how annoying.)

Recognise anyone….? 17, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Russia.
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Recognise anyone?

…well, aside from Regan, that is. This picture was taken in Red Square on Regan’s visit to see Gorbachev at the end of the Cold War. And no, I m not after Gorbachev, just over Regan’s shoulder…any guesses? Answers on a postcard…

Lebanese Embassy Opens in Damascus 17, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Lebanon, Syria.
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Twenty years after agreeing to do so, Lebanon has got around to opening/been allowed to open its Embassy in the Syrian capital, Damascus. The initial agreement was reached at the Ta’if Accords back in 1989 which nominally ended the Lebanese Civil War.

Despite protestations to the contrary, this is clearly (another) a nail in the coffin of Syria’s wider ambitions to incorporate Lebanon back into its borders, stemming from teary-eyed notions of a greater Syria. True to form, however, Syrian officials did not attend the flag raising ceremony. Apparently they ‘forgot’ that it was happening on Sunday. Very believable…

UPDATE

Here is a link to a – frankly – far better article than mine discussing this embassy issue.