Yemen and Somalia
One of the issues I have been getting a number of questions on lately is the links (imagined and otherwise) between AQAP and al-Shabab in Somalia. This NPR story, for instance, claims that the latest two suicide bombers had links to Somalia. This is just not true. Or at least there is no evidence to support this. Certainly the Yemeni government played up the possibility that the first suicide bomber, al-'Ujayri, may have been trained in Somalia, but this is a classic government defense: blame an outside country so it doesn't look as if Yemen has a problem. That ship, however, has sailed long ago.
The only real evidence that exists as to links between the two are individuals. Mansur al-Bayhani, who escaped from prison along with al-Wahayshi and al-Raymi, and was then killed in Somalia in June 2007 and Ibrahim al-Muqri, who also escaped in the same prison break, and was later arrested in Kenya on his way in or out of the country. Al-Muqri was subsequently returned to Yemen and then released earlier this year when the Yemeni government released 112 different individuals.
Beyond that, AQAP has made frequent mentions and devoted articles to fighting and aiding the fight in Somalia, but there has not been, to my knowledge, any evidence of cooperation between the two groups - and to suggest otherwise, I think, clouds an already murky picture and leads to decisions that often should have been more considered. When one is making decisions about possibly attacking targets in Somalia, as the NPR story suggests, I would think it would be helpful to base that decision on solid evidence rather than self-serving allegations, rumors and conjecture.
This is not to say that AQAP doesn't want connections in Somalia or isn't looking to expand in an effort to become an even bigger regional franchise, I just don't think they have made it yet, and I don't think the evidence supports either the fact that the suicide bombers trained in Somalia or that there are any concrete links between the two organizations.
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Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."
By his mid-30s, Edgar Allan Poe was not only weary by the hardships of poverty, but also regularly intoxicated — by more than just macabre visions. Despite this, the Gothic writer lucidly insisted that there was still a method to his madness when it came to devising poems.
In an essay titled "The Philosophy of Composition," published in 1846 in Graham's Magazine, Poe divulged how his creative process worked, particularly in regard to his most famous poem: "No one point in [The Raven's] composition is rerferrible either to accident or intuition… the work proceeded step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem."
That said, contrary to the popular idea that Edgar Allan Poe penned his poems in single bursts of inspiration, The Raven did not pour out from his quivering quill in one fell swoop. Rather it came about through a calculative process — one that included making some pretty notable changes, even to its avian subject.
As an example of how his mind worked, Poe describes in his essay that originally the bird that flew across the dreary scene immortalized in the poem was actually… a parrot.
Poe had pondered ways he could have his one word refrain, "nevermore," continuously repeated throughout the poem. With that aim, he instantly thought of a parrot because it was a creature capable of uttering words. However, as quickly as Poe had found his feathered literary device, he became concerned with the bird's form on top of its important function.
And as it turns out, the parrot, a pretty resplendent bird, did not perch so well in Poe's mind because it didn't fit the mood he was going for—melancholy, "the most legitimate of all the poetical tones." In solving this dilemma in terms of imagery, he made adjustments to its plumage, altogether transforming the parrot — bestowing it with a black raiment.
"Very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone," Poe explained in his piece in Graham's. "I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven — the bird of ill omen — monotonously repeating the one word, 'Nevermore,' at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone…"
It was with these aesthetic calculations that Poe ousted the colorful bird that first flew into his mind, and welcomed the darker one that fluttered in:
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore…
The details of the poem — including the bird's appearance — needed to all blend together, like a recipe, to bring out the somber concept he was trying to convey: the descent into madness of a bereaved lover, a man lamenting the loss of a beautiful woman named Lenore. With that in mind, quoth the parrot — "nevermore" just doesn't have the same grave effect.
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If you'd like to read more about Edgar Allan Poe, click here to review how his contemporaries tried to defame him in an attempt to thwart his success.
Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.
- An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
- Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
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