Friday, March 16, 2007


A rare and reclusive leopard that hunts among the dense island forests of Borneo and Sumatra in south-east Asia has been identified as an entirely new species of great cat.

Genetic tests and pelt examinations have revealed that the animal, now called the Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), is as distinct from other clouded leopards that roam mainland Asia as lions are from panthers.

On the islands the clouded leopard is the top predator, preying on monkeys, deer, wild pigs and lizards, and has a crucial influence on the regional ecosystems. At their largest they reach just over 1m long, and for their size sport the largest canine teeth of the cat family. Their name comes from the mottled white patches that cover their skin.

Clouded leopards were first described in 1821 by the British naturalist Edward Griffith, but few of the animals have ever been sighted and from the sparse information available scientists suspected they were either all one species, or possibly divided into four sub-species.
By testing DNA from clouded leopard populations across Asia and the islands, scientists at the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland identified 40 genetic differences between the island cats and those found elsewhere, confirming them as two distinct species whose evolutionary paths divided 1.4m years ago.

"Almost 200 years on we are just beginning to learn about these creatures," said Mark Wright, chief science adviser with the conservation group WWF-UK, which is working to protect the leopard's Borneo habitat from deforestation.

There are estimated to be only 5,000 to 11,000 of the leopards on Borneo and 3,000 to 7,000 on Sumatra. The island species has small cloud markings, a double stripe down its back, and its grey fur is darker than the mainland species. The leopards are extremely agile and can hunt by staging ambushes from the trees. Little else is known about their behaviour.

"These are big animals, but we know next to nothing about them and that's very telling. We meddle in the tropics at our peril, because we really don't know enough about what's going on there," said Dr Wright. "We know now these are two distinct species, so we have to direct conservation efforts at both the island and mainland populations."

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation/story/0,,2034219,00.html
The Happy Wanderer


I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.
Chorus:
Val-deri,Val-dera,
Val-deri,
Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Val-deri,Val-dera.
My knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"

I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev'ry green wood tree.

High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o'er the world we roam.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God's clear blue sky!



Friedrich Sigismund, 1788-1857

Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann,
Und mir steckt's auch im Blut;
Drum wandr' ich flott, so lang ich kann,
Und schwenke meinen Hut.

Refrain 1:
Faleri, falera, faleri,
Falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri, falera,
Und schwenke meinen Hut.

Refrain 2&3:
|: Hei-di, hei-da, hei-di, hei-da!
Und schwenke meinen Hut. :|

Das Wandern schaffet frische Lust,
Erhält das Herz gesund;
Frei atmet draußen meine Brust,
Froh singet stets mein Mund:
Refrain:

Warum singt Dir das Vögelein
So freudevoll sein Lied?
Weil's nimmer hockt, landaus, landein
Durch and're Fluren zieht.
Refrain:

Was murmelt's Bächlein dort und rauscht,
So lustig hin durch's Rohr,
Weil's frei sich regt, mit Wonne lauscht
Ihm dein empfänglich Ohr.
Refrain:

D'rum trag ich Ränzlein und den Stab
Weit in die Welt hinein,
Und werde bis an's kühle Grab
Ein Wanderbursche sein!
Refrain:

Friday, March 02, 2007

Chris Perry - a tribute

http://mailgate.dada.net/soc/soc.culture.indian.goa/msg00006.html

2003

"Morning you play differently; evening you play differently."

By Naresh Fernandes

Their eyes give it away. Chris Perry wears a slick black jacket, the sleeves
of his crisp white shirt revealing the glint of dark cuff links. His fingers
clasp a gleaming tenor saxophone with a lover's gentleness. Arms crossed
coquettishly above her waist, Lorna Cordeiro is chic in a bouffant and a
form-fitting gown that shows a flash of ankle. They stare into each other's
eyes, mesmerised. Behind them looms a giant camera aperture borrowed from
the opening sequence of the Bond films.

You couldn't miss the poster as you sauntered down Jamshetji Tata Road in
downtown Bombay. It hung outside the Astoria Hotel, across the street from
the octagonal Art Deco turret of Eros cinema, inviting the city to Chris and
Lorna's daily shows at the Venice nightclub. It was 1971. India was
savouring its newfound place on the world's stage. The country's armed
forces had decisively liberated Bangladesh and the idealism of Independence
had welled up again. India's middle classes were capturing their polyester
memories on Agfa Click IIIs that cost 46.50 rupees (taxes extra), aspiring
to the lifestyles of "The Jet Set Air Hostesses" described in The
Illustrated Weekly of India (price: 85 paise), and being encouraged by
newspaper ads to "Go gay with Gaylord fine filter cigarettes".

As the City of Gold bubbled through its jazz age, Lorna and Chris enthralled
Bombay with their shows at Venice each night. Remo Fernandes, who would go
on to become the first Indian pop musician to record an album of original
English-language tunes, was among those locked in the spell. "Two artists
sometimes ignite a creative chemistry in each other which goes beyond all
logical explanation. Mere morals can only look and listen in awe," he
rhapsodised. "In such duos, one plus one does not make two. It makes a
number so immeasurable, it defies all laws of calculus."

But the sparks that flew at Venice gradually built into a roaring
conflagration. As Remo put it: "Hyper-intense, high-temperament artistic
relationships often end in emotional disaster, like two comets when they
steer too dangerously close. Chris's and Lorna's, as we all know, was no
exception."

Like the myths about the city in which they soared to fame, the tale of
Chris and Lorna has gained so much in the re-telling it's sometimes
difficult to thresh the apocrypha from the actual. Thirty years after the
two stopped performing together, old-time musicians in the bylanes of Dhobi
Talao and Bandra still beg anonymity as they reminisce in sad whispers.

"He was shameless. He left his wife and three small children for that girl."

"Chris and Lorna were in love. When they fought, they became mortal enemies.
He destroyed her and he destroyed himself."

"She was very good singer. Beyond that, she was nothing. She got her break
with Chris Perry. He made contract with her. She couldn't sing without his
permission. She had no brains, so she signed. Then he went back to his
wife."

"He didn't let her perform with anyone else. He threatened to break the legs
of one Hindu fellow who tried to get her to sing with him."

"She hit the bottle, men. She became an alcoholic and just disappeared."

Chris Perry - who was born Pereira - died on January 25, 2002, his last
years hobbled by Parkinson's disease. Lorna has refused to recount her
version of events for publication. But the fidelity of her contralto booming
out of our speakers, embroidered with Chris's perfectly crafted sax
filigrees, speaks its own truth.
*

Ronnie Monserrate was 19 when he began to play Sunday gigs at Venice with
the Chris Perry band, sitting in for the regular pianist. Venice had a
reputation. It was the jazzman's jazz haunt, the rendezvous for musicians
from around the country and occasionally from around the world. Dave Brubeck
swung by when he visited Bombay in 1958, as Duke Ellington had when his band
set out on their famous world tour of 1963. As Ronnie tells it, the dapper
Chris Perry was the musician's musician: "He had perfect pitch. He was an
arranger, a composer, a player." Chris played both trumpet and saxophone,
sometimes switching from one to the other mid-tune, a feat that required
elaborate lip control. His trumpet tone was broad and true. He didn't have
flashy technique, but the notes he coaxed out of his horn had a mellowness
that kept the fans coming back night after night.

Chris was 43 at the time, Lorna was 25. No one seems quite sure exactly how
they met, but everyone's agreed that he groomed her into one of the Bombay's
finest crooners. One version maintains that Lorna got her break when still
in school, after she won the Connie Francis soundalike competition at Metro
cinema. This prompted a musician named Raymond Albuqerque to invite her to
sing in his show at the Bandra Fair. Her rendition of Underneath the Mango
Tree got the crowds so fired up that Chris Perry, already an established
performer, went to her home to audition her. She was just 16 when she joined
Perry's band.

A vocalist in the Shirley Bassey mould, Lorna belted out every tune like it
was her last time on stage. "She had a lot of black feel," is how Ronnie
describes her performances. "You could see the intensity when she was on
stage. She'd give it her best, every time. She was like a magnet. You
couldn't help but be attracted to her when she was on stage. And with Chris
Perry band by her side, it was like magic happening. There was incredible
attraction. There was a lot of love in the interaction. It was apparent in
their body language. They brought out the best in each other. They'd look
into each other's eyes and their understanding was so great that there'd be
spontaneous combustion."

Offstage, though, things could get awkward. Any man attempting to talk to
Lorna was liable to get a taste of Perry's famously volatile fists. During
breaks, the musicians would sit around their table, absolutely silent. "They
were jolly people but they were afraid to laugh around Chris," Ronnie says.
Ronnie was the only exception, perhaps because his youth made him seem
unthreatening. Two decades later, he'd find opportunity to call in that bond
of trust.

Venice was around the corner from Bombay's swinging jazz strip, Churchgate
Street (now Veer Nariman Road). Pianists, trios and quartets were to be
heard all the way down the 200-metre thoroughfare as it led off from
Churchgate station to the Arabian Sea. First came Berry's, with tandoori
butter chicken that was the stuff of Bombay legend and accomplished
piano-fronted groups led by Dorothy Jones and Stanley Pinto. Across the
fence was Bombelli's, named after its Swiss owner, where a trio held sway as
ad men sipped cappuccinos. Then came the Ambassador, where Toni Pinto's
quintet encapsulated Bombay's diversity: the group had two Jews - a singer
named Ephrim Elias and drummer Abie Cohen, an Anglo-Indian tenor saxophonist
named Norman Mobsby, and, in addition to Pinto, another Goan, the bassist
Clement Furtado.

Pinto's kingdom was named the Other Room, so called because after the rich
and famous had finished drinking at the bar, they'd say, "Let's go to the
other room." He ruled for 16 years from 1958, his sharply dressed group
spinning out hard-driving bop and light classics, and playing back-up for
cabarets and visiting acrobats, magicians and flamenco dancers. The
Ambassador was owned by the cigar-chomping Jack Voyantzis, an ebullient
Greek who was assisted by his brother, Socrates. The siblings had started
their subcontinental journey in Rangoon, opened a café in Delhi, and finally
found their way to Bombay, where they transformed a hotel known as the
Argentinian into the Ambassador. The cream of Bombay society turned out to
catch Toni's tightly-rehearsed band. Toni remembers once looking up from his
piano to see three of the city's leading editors appreciatively tapping
their feet: Rusi Karanjia, editor of the left-wing tabloid Blitz, D F
Karaka, editor of the rival Current, and Frank Moraes, editor of the Indian
Express, with his American girlfriend. Another time, as the band was going
through its routine, Toni realised that someone from the back of the room
was playing along on a trumpet. It turned out to be American hornman Eddie
Calvert. "He came for dinner one night even though he was staying at the
Ritz," Toni says, and he asked his drummer, Bobby Hadrian, to go back and
get his instrument. Calvert and Toni's band jammed for an hour, playing the
tunes the American had made famous: Cherry Pink, Begin the Beguine,
Wonderland by Night.

Elsewhere on Churchgate Street, music spilled out through the doors of the
Napoli, The Talk of the Town and Gaylord's. Opposite Venice, there was jazz
at the Ritz, while at the Little Hut, Neville Thomas led a group calling
itself Three Guys and a Doll. Past Flora Fountain stood Bistro and Volga,
home to a quartet led by the grandfatherly baritone saxophonist Hecke
Kingdom.

Dave Brubeck was impressed enough by the local musicians to attempt to make
some recordings with them during his visit. But Bombay defeated him. He
later recounted the episode to an interviewer: "The current fluctuated in
Bombay in those days and so the tape would speed up and slow down. Like,
when you were shaving, the speed of the motor would go up and down. It
ruined one of my favourite tapes I've ever made." Another visiting jazzman,
the pianist Hampton Hawes, was overwhelmed by problems that were rather more
basic. "Bombay turned me around," he wrote. "I'd never seen poverty before."
Art, he decided, was irrelevant amidst the gnawing deprivation. "Here I was
thinking about making a big splash, a hit record, going home a hero, and I'm
walking the streets with motherfuckers who don't even know what a piece of
bread is, let along Stravinsky or Charlie Parker. If Bird was alive and
played for them they wouldn't be able to hear him because they'd be too damn
hungry."

Admittedly, jazz had always been the preserve of Bombay's elite. But while
the audiences were upper crust, the musicians who cooked up the syncopated
rhythms were not. Like Toni Pinto, Ronnie Monserrate, Chris and Lorna, the
majority were Roman Catholics strivers from the former Portuguese colony of
Goa, 550 kilometres south of Bombay. They'd been an important part of the
Bombay music scene since the 1920s, when Bombay began to develop its
appetite for what was then called "hot music". Jazz had made its way from
New Orleans in the waxy grooves of phonograph records and travelled over the
oceans with touring American bands that played for the administrators of the
Raj. Bombay's first jazz concerts were performed at the Bandstand, south of
the Oval. Among the earliest jazzmen to play an extended stint in Bombay was
Leon Abbey, a violinist from Minnesota, who led an eight-piece band at the
Taj during the 1935-'36 season. Abbey wore white tails on stage and played
the freshest sounds. He told one interviewer, "I kept up with the latest
numbers because someone would always come up to the bandstand and say, 'Old
Bean, would you play so and so?', because as far as he was concerned, we
should know how to play everything that had ever been written." Midway
through the trip, the Taj management sent Abbey and saxophonist Art Lanier
back to New York to pick up the latest music.

Abbey's outfit was replaced by the Symphonians, fronted by the cornet player
Cricket Smith. Smith had been featured on the seminal recordings made by
James Reese Europe's Society Orchestra in 1913 and 1914, capturing jazz at
the moment of its transition from the relatively unsophisticated ragtime
style. Smith "signed his contract for a fixed amount of money and two
Coronas a day, so every day, the manager would have to bring him his
cigars", recalls Luis Moreno, a Spanish trumpet player who lived in Bombay
for 20 years. "He was a character."

In 1938, pianist Teddy Weatherford, who had played with Louis Armstrong,
took the stage with his men. His swinging style and treble voicing had been
an important influence on jazz during its formative years. The Taj, it
would seem, wasn't quite the genteel venue it now is - not at least from the
way Weatherford's occasional Russian bassist named 'Innocent Nick' described
the gigs to the jazz magazine Storyville. "Teddy used to play downstairs, in
the Tavern of the Taj, for the soldiers, sailors and others, a very rough
place," Nick said. "Teddy would play for hours without a break. Even with
drinks, he would continue one-handed. He had tremendous hands."

For the African-American musicians, Bombay provided refuge from the
apartheid in the U.S. Men like Weatherford and his sidemen, such as the
saxophonist Roy Butler, spent long years shuttling between Europe and the
subcontinent, where racial barriers seemed non-existent, at least for them.
Butler's years in India as a Weatherford sideman, he told Storyville, were
among his happiest - the work was relatively easy, the pay and conditions
good, he was treated splendidly by both management and clientele, and
enjoyed the luxurious life under the British Raj. The Taj management, on its
part, honoured Weatherford by naming a dish after him: Poires Glace
Weatherford. (The absence of colour prejudice was only to be expected. After
all, industrial baron Jamshetji Tata was moved to build the Taj after being
prevented one leisurely Bombay evening from dining at the Europeans-only
Pyrke's Apollo Hotel. Later, he famously hung a notice in the Taj forbidding
entry to South Africans and dogs.)

Weatherford's sidemen were an eclectic lot and opened Bombay's ears to a
wealth of new sounds, the Cuban drumming of Luis Pedroso and the Spanish
brass of Luis Moreno, among them. Butler, who was known as the Reverend in
acknowledgement of his abstemious ways, helped Weatherford drill the band.
Moreno characterised Butler as the "gentleman of the orchestra". Moreno
added, "He never drank in his life and if someone said, 'How about a round
of drink?' Roy would say, 'I'll have an ice-cream. You enjoy beer, I enjoy
ice-cream." Butler went on to lead his own band at Greens, located where the
Taj Intercontinental now stands.

Both Weatherford (who married an Anglo-Indian woman, before dying of cholera
in Calcutta in 1945, aged 41) and Butler recruited Goan sidemen, plugging
Bombay into the source of jazz. The trumpet player Frank Fernand, who
played in Weatherford band with his Goan compatriots, Micky Correa and
Josique Menzies, says that his stint with the American taught him to "play
like a negro". Moreno helped Fernand develop the ability to hit long, high
notes, eventually extending his range up to E flat. Butler, it must be
noted, was less than thrilled with his Goan employees. "My short stretch as
a bandleader in India was not too earth-shaking," he told Storyville. "The
local musicians were not too familiar with jazz at that time. I understood
that there are some very good jazzmen out there now, but the time was too
short for anything to develop, good or bad." For their part, some of the
Goan musicians weren't overly impressed with Butler, either. They believed
his decision to stay in India was motivated by the fear that he wouldn't
find work in the US. As Fernand put it, "The faltu fellows stayed, the good
ones went home."

But by the '40s, Bombay's swing bands had earned a solid reputation. After
listening to Mickey Correa and Frank Fernand play their hearts out the wind
section in the outfit fronted by Rudy Cotton (a Parsi who had been born
Cawasji Khatau), one contemporary correspondent wrote that "the band really
jumped, just another bunch of righteous boys who helped to prove, if proof
were needed, that this jazz of ours has developed into an international
language".

*

Both Lorna and Chris lived on the edges of a precinct of cemeteries known as
Sonapur - the City of Gold. Lorna lives to the south of Sonapur, in Guzder
House in the Dhobi Talao neighbourhood. When the wind blows east, her
starkly furnished room is filled with the aroma of hot mawa cakes and fluffy
buns being unloaded from the ovens in Kayani's bakery next door. In the
narrow corridors of Guzder House, even whispers carry clear down the
hallway, and the mundane details of Lorna's spats with Chris became common
knowledge. "He was a big gambler," one neighbour recalls. "He'd come in a
car and say, "Lorna, give me 5,000 rupees.' She'd go to the bank and
withdraw it. All her savings were wiped out."

Chris lived to the north of Sonapur, opposite the church of Sao Francis
Xavier in Dabul. Once he got home, he became a strict but caring father. "He
was very religious," his eldest son Giles told one interviewer. "We had to
recite the Rosary at 8 every evening. At 12 noon and at dusk, we had to say
the Angelus. If the phone ran during prayers he would say, 'Throw the phone
out.'" Miles, another of Chris Perry's sons, described his father's devotion
to his art. "His daily routine when he woke up was to first smoke a
cigarette and then blow his trumpet. Only then would he go for a wash." His
son Errol added: "He always had his favourite instrument close to him. Even
while he slept, the trumpet would be on one side and mummy on the other."

The neighbourhood in which Lorna and Chris lived had long been the focus of
Catholic migrants from Goa. The first significant numbers of Goan migrants
came to Bombay in 1822, liberal partisans fleeing political persecution in
the Portuguese colony for the safety of British India. More followed in 1835
after a rebellion by mixed-race mestizos deposed Goa's first native-born
governor general, Bernardo Peres da Silva. The mestizos launched a two-year
reign of terror, forcing da Silva's supporters into exile. As the century
progressed, Goan emigration to Bombay swelled. The Portuguese hadn't been
especially attentive to developing industries, so the pressure on cultivable
land was intense. Adding to this, many Goans chafed under the oppression of
the bhatkars, as the feudal landlords were known. By the 1920s, many Goan
men were being employed as seamen by such British lines as BI, P&O, Anchor
and Clan. They used Bombay as a base between their voyages. Other Goans
found work as domestic helpers in British households and social
institutions. The early Goan fortune-seekers were almost all male: The
arduous overland journey from Goa to Bombay, which took between 10 and 15
days, discouraged women. But the opening of the rail line between
territories in April 1881 changed that. By the 1930s, Goans in Bombay had
come to be associated with the ABC professions: they were ayahs (maids),
butlers and cooks. In a column titled Random Jottings published by the
Anglo-Lusitanian Journal in 1931, a writer calling himself Atropos noted
that of the 37,000 Goans resident in Bombay that year, 14,000 were seamen,
7,000 were cooks or waiters and 3,000 were ayahs. A full 700 were estimated
to be musicians. (At least 7,000 Goans were unemployed.)

The neighbourhoods around Sonapur began to fill up with Goan dormitories
known as coors, a word that derived from the Portuguese cuadd or room. These
were established by individual villages back in Goa to provide a home away
from home for their neighbours who were too poor to maintain two residences,
one in the village and the other in the city. By 1958, half of the estimated
80,000 Goans in Bombay lived in such quarters - which were now being called
"clubs", adopting the word used to describe the chummeries many firms had
established for their single European employees, writes Olga Valladares in
her 1958 thesis titled The Coor System - a study of Goan club life in
Bombay. As you walk down the narrow lanes of the neighbourhoods around
Sonapur today, you can see fading signboards for them everywhere: the Boa
Morte Association (Club of Majorda); St Anne's Club of Ponda; Fatradicares
Club; The Original Grand Club of Pombura; Nossa Senhora dos Milagres, Club
of Sangrem. There were 341 Goan clubs in the city in 1958, mainly between
Dhobi Talao and Dabul. The seamen who lived in them found it easy from there
to get to the docks and the shipping offices, while the cooks and domestics
were within walking distance of the produce sellers at Crawford Market,
where their chores began before they moved on to their employer's
establishments each day.

Life in the clubs was spartan. Residents were allowed minimal baggage,
usually a big trunk. "Life was lived out of the box and on it," Valladares
says. The club-dweller's box "is not only the repository of all personal
possessions, his wardrobe and his safe, but it is his dining table at
mealtimes and his bed at night." The altar was the centrepiece of the club.
In addition to statues of Christ and Mary, they contained icons of the
patron saint of the village, decorated with offerings of flowers. Every
evening, members were required to gather around the altar to say the Rosary.
The highlight of the year was the celebration in exile of the village feast.
Collections were taken up and, after Mass, there was an elaborate meal,
followed by musical performances.

The music, old-timers recall, was superb. After all, the musical talents of
Goans had earned the community a formidable reputation throughout the
subcontinent. The Portuguese may have neglected higher education in Goa, but
the parochial schools first established in 1545 put into place a solid
system of musical training. As early as 1665, a Goan choir performed an
oratorio by Giacome Carissimi in seven voices at the Basilica of Bom Jesu.
The recital caused such a sensation, it led the Carmelite musician Guiseppe
di Santa Maria to declare, "I feel I am in Rome." The clash of civilisations
in Goa created a whole range of syncretic forms: the Goa sausage was a
Portuguese chorizo with a tear-inducing splash of Indian spice; cashew feni
was drunk in a leisurely Iberian manner after sundown; and the mando - the
only harmonised folk musical form on the subcontinent - melded saudade, the
nostalgic melancholy that pervades Portuguese fado, with Indian folk
melodies. Transgressing subcontinental norms, the mando was the
accompaniment for social dancing between the sexes; as the musicians crooned
their songs of yearning, couples struck up delicate postures of stylised
courtship.

Their musical inclination came in handy when Goans sought work in British
India. They soon established themselves as the musicians of the Raj,
staffing the orchestras established by British administrators and by Indian
maharajahs seeking to appear sophisticated. In Bombay, Goan musicians took
over both ends of the music business. In 1888, The Times of India mentions a
Goan ensemble playing in the Bombay Philharmonic Orchestra in the Town Hall.
Other Goan groups are said to have displaced the Muslim street bands that
played at the weddings of the common folk and other festive occasions.
Salvador Pinto, who played coronet in the Volunteer Corps, is thought to
have formed the first proper street band, writes Bombay local historian Dr
Teresa Albuquerque. She says that the demand for Goan musicians was so
great, one ingenious man named Francisco Menezes trawled through the clubs
to find unemployed men to march in the processions, instructing them to
inflate their cheeks without blowing a note. Dhobi Talao's Goans were
prominent not only as musicians but also in the city's musical instrument
trade. L M Furtado opened his store in Jer Mahal, around the corner from
where Lorna lives, in the 1920s, importing pianos and violins that had been
tropicalised to keep them from warping in the Bombay swelter. Marques and
Company was nearby.

Goan musicians also conjured up soundscapes for the silent films. Bombay's
Watson's Hotel had been host to India's first cinema screening on July 7,
1896, a show that advertised itself as "living photographic pictures in
life-sized reproductions by Messrs Lumiere Brothers". By New Year's day in
1900, the Tivoli Theatre was screening 25 pictures, with music by a string
band. A portrait photographer named Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatavdekar
became the first Indian to import a motion-picture camera from London and he
shot a wrestling match between two well-known musclemen in 1897. Other
locally shot films followed, including Alibaba, Hariraj and Buddha by a
Bengali named Hiralal Sen. A creative flashback projects the tantalising
image of Bombay audiences drinking in black-and-white scenes from Indian
folktales as a Goan string quartet trots out phrases from Mozart and
snatches of mandos, varying the tempo to match the action on screen. Goans
have stayed in the picture ever since.

When jazz swung into the subcontinent, Goans seized it as the song of their
souls. "Jazz gave us freedom of expression," explains Frank Fernand, who
played in the Teddy Weatherford band at the Taj. "You played jazz the way
you feel - morning you play differently, evening you play differently." New
tunes came to India as sheet music, but that sometimes wasn't much help even
to accomplished readers: jazz contained such unconventional instructions as
glissando, mute and attack. "But when we heard the records, we knew how to
play the notes," Frank says. For a Goan jazzman, the greatest accolade was
to be told that he "played like a negro". No one seems to have received more
praise on this account than Chic Chocolate, who occasionally led a
two-trumpet barrage at the Green's Hotel with Chris Perry. Chic - whose name
Goans pronounced as if they were talking about a rooster's offspring - was
known as the "Louis Armstrong of India". His stratospheric trumpet notes and
his growly scatting were a tribute to his New Orleans idol. "He had a negro
personality," Frank Fernand marvels. "He played everything by heart." His
stage presence was unforgettable. As the band reached a crescendo, Chic
would fall on one knee and raise his horn to the stars.

Chic had been born Antonio Xavier Vaz in Aldona in 1916. His mother wanted
him to be a mechanic and earn a respectable living, but he dreamt of a life
in music. He started out with a group called the Spotlights and, by 1945,
his own outfit, Chic and the Music Makers, beat out 12 other bands to win a
contract at Green's, which also was owned by the Taj. The pianist Johnny
Fernandes, who later married Chic's daughter, Ursula, remembers the stir the
trumpet player caused when he played at parties in Dhobi Talao homes. He
says, "People would flock to see him as if he was a (movie) hero." To have
Chic perform at a wedding or a christening was a matter of prestige, but it
could bump up the catering expenses. "You'd have hordes of gatecrashers
coming to hear him," Johnny explains. Chic, his contemporaries say, not only
played like a negro, he even looked like one. The swarthiness of some Goan
jazz musicians, such as the saxophonist Joe Pereira, came from ancestors
with roots in Portugal's African colonies of Mozambique and Angola. But
Chic's dark skin is attributed by one musician to his being a Mahar, a
member of an untouchable caste. Many of Bombay's jazzmen, this musician
says, were drawn from this caste. As he theorised: "In Goa, Mahars were
grave diggers. They'd also play snare drums and blow conches in funeral
bands. When they came to Bombay, they became good jazz drummers and trumpet
players."

They say Chic performed one of his greatest feats of improvisation offstage.
"Chic lived in Marine Lines and had a girlfriend called Catherine, with whom
he had a son," a matter that shocked conservative Catholic sensibilities,
one musician recalls. "But then he decided to marry another girl. The
wedding was to be the Wodehouse Road Cathederal in Colaba. But Catherine
landed up there with her son, so the wedding was shifted hastily to Gloria
Church in Byculla", across town. The befuddled guests waited patiently in
the Colaba church, even as Chic said "I do" in the deserted neo-Gothic nave
of Gloria church.

Many early Goan jazzmen were sideman in Micky Correa's band, which played at
the Taj from 1939 to 1961. Among them was Ronnie Monserrate's father, Peter,
who was known as the "Harry James of India". Peter's five sons formed
Bombay's second-generation of Goan jazzmen: Joe and Bosco play trumpet and
fluegelhorn, Blasco the trombone, Rex the drums and Ronnie the piano. The
family lived in Abu Mansion, an apartment block in the textile mill district
of Parel. The boys would come home from school at four and begin to
practice, each having been allotted a two-hour slot by their father. The
music would continue late into the night, then occasionally start again in
the wee hours when Peter Monserrate and his gang - violinist Joe Menezes,
trombone player Anibal Castro, drummer Leslie Godinho and Chic Chocolate -
returned from a drink after work to demand an impromptu performance. As
their mother cooked up a meal, the Monserrate boys would go through their
paces. Their neighbours, mainly working-class Hindus, tolerated this with
fortitude. Ronnie surmises, "I suppose it's like living next to the railway
tracks. After a while, you get immune to the roar of the trains if you want
to get any sleep."

Activity in the Monserrate household would get especially hectic just before
the biennale Sound of Surprise talent shows that the Bombay Musicians'
Association organised on the Sunday in November closest to the feast of St
Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. Bombay's hottest swing bands took to
the Birla theatre's revolving stage to compete for the Franz Marques award
for best original composition. Even though Peter Monserrate rehearsed his
band hard in the corridors of Abu Mansion, his group never managed to win
the trophy. His friend, Chris Perry, won in 1964, the first year it was
given out. Toni Pinto took the award home in 1966 for Forever True, a gentle
bossa nova tune that leapt out at him late one night as he travelled home in
a cab. With only the bulb above the meter for light, he scribbled the theme
down on the back of a matchbox.

Goan musicians who didn't play the nightclubs mainly worked at weddings,
Parsi navjote initiation ceremonies and Catholic funerals. For many, finding
a job for the evening meant taking a trip to Alfred's, the Irani restaurant
on Princess Street, midway between Chris's home and Lorna's apartment. Tony
Cyril, Dennis Vaz, Johnny Rodriges, Johnny Baptista, Mike Machado and Chris
Perry - the major bandleaders each had a regular table at which they'd slurp
up endless cups of milky chai. "You'd come there every morning and hang
around there as a routine," says Johnny Fernandes, Chic Chocolate's
son-in-law. People who wanted to liven up their parties would land up at
Alfred's and approach one or the other leader. The cry would go up: one bass
player needed. Two trumpets and one piano. "Once you got your assignment,
you'd go home to get suit and head out to the venue," Johnny says. It paid
to be sharply turned out: in addition to their 15 rupee fee, musicians got
three extra rupees for dressing up in a white jacket and black trousers.

*

When Bollywood films are beamed through their melodramatic prism of stock
characters and broad stereotypes, Catholics emerge as not being quite
Indian. They speak a mangled Hindi patois with Anglicised accents. They're
dolled up in Western clothes. The men are given to wearing climatically
inappropriate jackets and felt hats. Unlike Hindus who knock back the
occasional glass of something in bars, Catholic men tipple at home, as their
wives and children look on. Still, they're genial drunks, unthreatening
sidekicks to the hero. Often, their role as sideman was literal: The screen
musicians backing the hero as he performs that nightclub sequence that
seemed mandatory in every Hindi film shot in the '50s answer to names like
George and Sidney and Michael. As for Catholic women, they never wear saris
and their immodest legs show out from under their frocks. Older Catholic
women, often called Mrs Sequeira or Mrs D'Souza, are landladies or kindly
neighbours offer the hero consolation when he is temporarily stymied in his
pursuit of the loved one. But younger Catholic women (with notable
exceptions) are danger incarnate. They smoke. They have boyfriends to whom
their parents don't object. They dance in nightclubs and lure men to their
doom with their promise of a world in which the sexes interact more freely,
in which arranged marriages aren't the norm, in which love isn't taboo. In
the end, though, the Catholic characters have only minor roles, a reflection
of their lives at the margins of Indian society.

The bit parts in which Catholics found themselves cast on screen weren't an
accurate portrayal of the vital role Goans played the Hindi film industry.
Until the '80s, India had no pop music save for Hindi film songs. Millions
memorised and hummed the compositions of C Ramachandra, Shankar and
Jaikishan, Laxmikant and Pyrelal and S D Burman, whose names rolled by in
large letters at the beginning of the movies. But the Sound of India
actually was created by Goan musicians, men whose names flickered by in
small type under the designation "arranger". It's clear. The Hindi film
classics that resound across the subcontinent and in Indian homes around the
world wouldn't have been made without Goans. Their dominance of the Hindi
film world is partly a function of the structural differences between Indian
and Western music. Indian classical music is melodic. The ragas that form
the basis of Indian music are unilinear, each instrument or vocalist
exploring an independent line. To move an audience, film scores must be
performed by orchestras, with massed instruments playing in harmony. Only
Goans, with their training in Western music, knew how to produce what was
required.

Frank Fernand was among the first Goans in Bollywood and assisted such
worthies as Anil Biswas, Hemant Kumar and Kishore Kumar. As he describes it,
the men who composed the scores for Hindi films couldn't write music and had
no idea of the potential of the orchestras they employed. They would come to
the studio and sing a melody to their Goan amanuensis, or pick out the line
on a harmonium. The Goan assistant would write it out on sheet paper, then
add parts for the banks of strings, the horn sections, the piano and the
percussion. But the assistant wasn't merely taking dictation: It was his job
to craft the introductions and bridges between verse and chorus. Drawing
from their bicultural heritage and their experience in the jazz bands, the
Goans gave Bollywood music its promiscuous charm, slipping in slivers of
Dixieland stomp, Portuguese fados, Ellingtonesque doodles, cha cha cha,
Mozart and Bach themes. Then they would rehearse the orchestras, which were
staffed almost entirely by Goans. After all, hardly anyone else knew how to
play these Western instruments. To Frank Fernand, the music directors were
mere subcontractors, men whose main job was liaising with the financiers.
"We arrangers did all the real work. They'd show off to the directors and
producers and try to show that they were indispensable. But to be a music
director, salesmanship was more important than musicianship."

Chic Chocolate spent his mornings assisting C Ramachandra, who is popularly
credited with having introduced swing into Bollwood. But tunes like Ina Mina
Dika and Gori Gori (inspired by the mambo standard Tico Tico) bear Chic's
unmistakable signature. His stamp is also audible on the throbbing Cuban
percussion opening of Shola Jo Bhadke, a tune from Albela. Chic and the
Music Makers made a brief appearance in the film to perform the tune, clad
in an Indian wardrobe director's frilly Latinesque fantasy. Cawas Lord's
conga beats out the introduction and hands clap clave. Chic smiles broadly
at the camera in the best Satchmo tradition.

Among the most reputed arrangers in Bollywood was the venerable Sebastian
D'Souza, who did his best-known work with the duo of Shankar and Jaikishan
between 1952 and 1975. "His arrangements were so brilliant, composers would
take snatches of his background scores and work them into entire tunes,"
says Merlin D'Souza, Sebastian's daughter-in-law and a rising Bollywood
music assistant herself. Sebastian had a brush with the film world in
pre-Partition Lahore, where he led a band at Stiffle's hotel. His earliest
arrangements were for Lollywood composers Shyam Sundar and Mohammed Ali,
recalls the saxophonist Joe Pereira. Joe was Sebastian's cousin, and had
been adopted as a 14-year-old by his older relative. Joe would spend his
mornings taking music lessons from Sebastian, then take him his tiffin in
the afternoon when Sebastian took a break from rehearsals. After 1947,
Sebastian made his way to Bombay, but found that there was a glut of
bandleaders in the hotels. He called on his Lollywood contacts and made his
way to the film recording studios, where he got a break with O P Nayyar. The
first tune he arranged was Pritam aan milo, which was sung by C H Atma in
1955. Merlin, who occasionally accompanied her father-in-law to the studios,
remembers him walking around with a pencil tucked behind his ear. He devised
a system of notation that incorporated the microtones that characterised
Indian melodies. Sebastian was highly regarded by his musicians for his
ever-generous nature. He often lent musicians money to buy better
instruments or tide over a crisis. His contemporaries also remember him for
the patience he showed even less-than-dexterous musicians. Merlin says that
Sebastian was willing to give anyone a break. "Even if you played the viola
haltingly, you'd find a place there, on the back row," she says.

That proved the lifeline for many Goan musicians, who, by the mid-70s,
increasingly were being thrown out of work as Bombay's nightclub scene went
into decay. A more rigorous enforcement of the prohibition act and a
crippling tax on establishments featuring live music kept patrons away.
Besides, rock and roll was changing musical tastes and Bombay was developing
the ear for beat groups. The film studio, which until then had been a source
of supplementary income, suddenly became everyone's main job. But the
relatively simply Hindi film music Goan musicians were forced to play ate
them away. "Their passion was to play jazz and big band," Ronnie Monserrate
says. "This was their bread and butter but they didn't enjoy it. They were
really frustrated. That's probably why so many of them became alcoholics."
It took only four or five hours to record each tune. Musicians would be paid
at the end of each shift, so they'd grab their money and head out for a
drink. Few actually cared to see the movies in which they'd performed.

Chris Perry also had a stint in the film studios, assisting Khayyam and
working with such names as Lakshmikant and Pyarelal, R D Burman and Kalyanji
Anandji. He eventually was emboldened to produce his own film. Bhuiarntlo
Munis (The Man from the Caves) was the first colour film to be made in
Konkani, the language spoken along the west coast between southern
Maharashtra and northern Karnataka, and which is the mother tongue of most
Goans. Chris wrote the story, the music and the lyrics. It starred Ivo
Almedia, Helen Pereira and C Alvares, who had gained prominence for their
work in tiatr, as Goa's satirical musical theatre is known. The film was
based on The Count of Monte Cristo, a tale that has great resonance in Goa
because one of the characters, Abbe Faria, who in the Dumas novel is
described as an Italian priest, in real life had been born in Candolim, in
Goa, in 1756. Father Jose Custodio de Faria is acknowledged as having been
among the earliest protagonists of scientific hypnotism, and a statue of him
stands prominently in Goa's capital, Panjim. The priest, who moved to
Lisbon, was forced to flee to France in 1787 when a rebellion he had been
associated with in Goa was crushed. The Conjuracao dos Pintos, the
conspiracy of the Pinto family, was the first Asian struggle that aimed to
replace European colonial rule with an independent state on the European
model. That's how Dumas came to meet the man he knew as "the black
Portuguese". Abbe Faria threw himself into the vortex of the French
Revolution, was imprisoned and died of a stroke in 1819. In the Dumas novel,
Abbe Faria takes it upon himself to educate the hero, Dantes, when the two
are unjustly imprisoned in the French version of Alcatraz for 14 years.
Dantes escapes, transforms himself into the Count of Monte Cristo and
destroys his enemies. When the novel was published in 1844, it earned the
Vatican's ire because the tale was seen to propagate the un-Christian
impulse of revenge. But as the trumpeter Frank Fernand points out, it seemed
like an entirely appropriate subject for Chris Perry, the man whose quick
temper was the stuff of popular lore.

*

One April evening in 1966, the Goan pop musician Remo Fernandes, barely a
teenager then, strolled down to Panjim's Miramar beach to take the air on
the esplanade. All Panjim society, high and low, was there too. "There,
decked up in our over-flared bell bottoms, we checked out the chicks dolled
up in what we all thought were mini skirts - after all they did reach a full
quarter of an inch above the knee," Remo recalls. Keeping an eye on the
younger folk, clumps of parents sat on the green wooden benches on the
esplanade, "running a commentary on whose son had gone off with whose
daughter for a walk along the sea".

>From a kiosk on the beach, a pretty lady named Bertinha played records on
the speaker system provided by the Panjim Municipality. She had a weakness
for Cliff Richard tunes, Remo says. But that evening, she spun out a song
called Bebdo (Drunkard). Miramar Beach was hypnotised. "The Panjim citizenry
stopped in its tracks, the sunken sun popped up for another peep, the waves
froze in mid-air," Remo has written. "What manner of music was this, as hep
as hep can be, hitting you with the kick of a mule on steroids? What manner
of voice was this, pouncing at you with the feline power of a jungle
lioness? And - hold it - no, it couldn't be - yes, it was - no - was it
really? Was this amazing song in Konkani?"

Bebdo had been recorded a few months earlier by Chris Perry and Lorna in a
Bombay studio and released by HMV. The jacket bore the flirty image that
would later hang outside the Venice nightclub. The 45 rpm record had four
tracks, opening with the rock-and-rolling Bebdo and ending on the flip side
with the dreamy ballad, Sopon. "Sophisticated, westernised urban Goa
underwent a slow-motion surge of inexplicable emotions: the disbelief, the
wonder, the appreciation, and then finally a rising, soaring and bubbling
feeling of pride," Remo says. "The pride of being Goan. The pride of having
a son of the soil produce such music. Of having a daughter of the soil sing
it thus. And, most of all, of hearing the language of the soil take its
rightful place in popular music after a period of drought. Chris and Lorna
had come to stay."

It isn't as if there hadn't been Konkani records before. HMV released its
first Konkani tunes in 1927. The earliest records had been made by Anthony
Toloo, Joe Luis, L. Borges, Kid Boxer and Miguel Rod, all of them cantarists
from the tiatr world. But by the '60s, Konkani song had grown creaky and old
fashioned. The melodies often were copied from western songs and the lyrics,
for the most, were banal. Konkani songs, he says "were predictable to a
fault - you could whistle the next line and anticipate the next chord change
on the very first hearing. Add to that a few wrong notes from two inevitable
trumpets and modest recording quality."

Chris Perry's tunes shattered the mould. They married the sophistication of
swing with the earthiness of the Goan folk song. "The songs were sensuous,
funny, sexy, sad, sentimental, foot-tapping," Remo raves. "His songs are
peopled by unforgettable fictional characters whom we have come to picture
as real-life acquaintances - Bebdo, Pisso (Madman) and Red Rose are as
palpable as personages created by a skilled novelist or cartoonist. He has
taken us on unforgettable journeys to Lisboa and Calangute, " the Goan beach
that was being colonised by hippies around the time Chris was making his
landmark recordings. Some of the tunes had been written for the two tiatr
shows Perry had produced: Nouro Mhozo Deunchar (My Husband, the Devil) and
Tum ani Hanv (You and Me). Nouro Mhozo Deunchar was Goa's introduction to
Lorna and the 28 performances were an unqualified success. The crowds were
so large, people waited outside the performance tent to hear her voice, one
correspondent writes. After the shows, people would surge backstage to shake
Lorna's hand. One tune she sang, Saud (Peace), became a standard at Goan
weddings, and is still sung before the toast is raised.

Chris Perry's heart may have been in Goa, but it was Bombay that made it
possible for him to record his classics. His albums crystalised the
nostalgia of Bombay's Goan community, giving voice to their rootlessness -
and his. Bombay allowed him to soak in jazz and rock and roll, sounds from
which he crafted his own template. Besides, his Bombay nightclub stints help
him assemble the tight-knit band that accompanied him to the studio - where
his Bollywood experience came in very handy. "His recording work meant that,
unlike the tiatr people, he knew his way around the studio," notes Ronnie
Monserrate. "He knew about placing microphones to get the best sound and
about mixing."

Most of all, there was Lorna. Her rich, sassy voice, everyone's agreed, is
what alchemised Chris's compositions. Their long years together gave him an
acute sense of her potential and he composed especially for her. "Her
nightingale's voice created the magic in rendering the songs effectively,"
insists Tomazinho Cardoz, the tiatrist who went on to become the speaker of
Goa's legislative assembly. Remo, among others, has no doubts about this.
"Without Chris there would have been no Lorna, and without Lorna there would
have been no Chris," he has written.
*
Lorna stopped performing in 1973 after her relationship with Chris Perry
fell apart. The stories about their break up are hazy on the details. In one
version, Lorna came home from a vacation to find that the apartment they
shared had a new lock on the door. Chris's wife, Lily, is said to have
served him an ultimatum and he went home to Dabul. But before the split,
he'd made Lorna sign a bond on stamp paper, prohibiting her for 20 years
from singing with any other band leader without his permission. He is said
to have reasoned that Lorna was his creation, so she had no right to perform
without him. Chris is said to enforced the bond in a muscular fashion.
"Once, Emiliano got her to sing with him when he was performing at the
Flamingo. Chris landed up there, chased him all the way down Marine Drive
and gave him a black eye," one musician says. "Imagine doing that to
Emiliano. He's such a harmless bugger."

Another musician told of how Chris would leap out of his seat at Alfred's
restaurant when he saw Lorna go by on her way to the bazaar. She would
squirm out of his clutches, but was terrified enough to refuse all offers to
perform again.

Chris eventually moved to Dubai with his family in the mid-'70s, and opened
the Dubai Music School. The split is said to have left Lorna a wreck. People
who know her say she became an alcoholic. She worked as a secretary in a
firm that sold earth moving equipment for a while, but disappeared from the
world of show business. Every afternoon, though, Goa radio would broadcast
the tunes she and Chris had recorded and two decades after she'd made her
last record, every Goan still knew Lorna's voice. Rumours boiled over: She's
emigrated. To Canada. To Australia. No, she's dead. *

Goans were still discussing Lorna's whereabouts a quarter of a century after
Ronnie Monserrate first backed her at the Venice. Now a successful record
producer and hot film studio sideman with his brothers, Ronnie kept
receiving inquiries about Lorna when he toured Goa in 1994 to promote a new
album. He decided to take a trip to Guzder House to persuade her to record
again.

A woman fresh from the shower with her hair in towel opened the door. She
sat him down and asked what he wanted. "I want to see Lorna," he explained.
She replied, "That's me." Ronnie was taken aback. "She looked like a wreck.
I remembered her as she was in 1971 - a total bombshell. But since then, she
had hit the bottle and become total gone-case."

It took a while to convince Lorna that he was serious about getting her into
the studio again. She told Ronnie that it had been a couple of decades since
she'd last performed. "She was trying to tell me tangentially that anyone
who'd tried to get her to sing had got a pasting from Chris Perry," Ronnie
says. But after another visit, Ronnie managed to recruit her mother to his
cause and win Lorna over. They began rehearsing in February 1995, knocking
the rust off her voice. "The old power was still there," Ronnie says. "I
began to feel good about the project." Ronnie also made a trip to HMV's
vaults to dig out the infamous contract. The company's lawyer assured him
that it wasn't legally binding. Back in Goa, Ronnie had recruited Gabriel
Gomes to write tunes for the album. "It had been Gabru's dream to have Lorna
sing his songs," Ronnie says. Gabriel set to work in a frenzy of cigarettes,
building into such a peak that, after composing just one track, he took ill
and had to be taken to hospital. He died shortly thereafter. New composers
had to be brought in.

When the recording of Hello Lorna finally got underway in a Juhu studio five
months later, Ronnie would travel back across town with her after each
session. She was still afraid that Chris Perry would accost her.

On December 3, 1996, Lorna performed publicly for the first time in 24 years
at a tourism festival at Miramar beach. The traffic was snarled up for
kilometres as Goans swarmed to catch a glimpse of the legend. State police
say that the show drew 300,000 people - the biggest crowd since the one that
had gathered to celebrate Goa's liberation from Portuguese rule in 1961. At
a press conference the day before, Lorna had been mobbed. "There was
mayhem," Ronnie recalls. "People ran unto stage and were hugging her and
kissing her. They were so overjoyed that Lorna was back." Chris Perry landed
up at Lorna's hotel in a last-minute attempt to scare her off. She wasn't
in, so he left a note. Ronnie intercepted the missive and didn't pass it on.

A few hours later, cheers erupted as Lorna climbed to the stage, looking out
over a choppy ocean of heads. When the hubbub subsided, Ronnie's aching
piano introduction washed over the audience and Lorna began to belt out the
opening tune from her comeback album. "Aicat mozo tavo," she urged. "Avaz
mozo tumchea canar sadonc ishtani ravo portun aicunc mozo tavo." Hear my
voice. Let the sound linger in your ears, my friend. Hear my voice.
CIA blunder 'prompted Korean nuclear race'

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2318711.ece

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
Published: 02 March 2007

The United States appears to have made a major intelligence blunder over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, one that may have exacerbated tensions with Pyongyang over the past four years and goaded Kim Jong-Il into pressing ahead with last October's live nuclear test, intelligence and Bush administration officials have said.

The blunder does not concern the plutonium-based bomb technology that North Korea used in its test and has clearly been developing for decades. Rather it concerns the assessment, in a Central Intelligence Agency report to Congress in November 2002, that North Korea was also pursuing a parallel uranium enrichment programme capable of providing the raw material for two or more nuclear weapons a year, starting "mid-decade".

That prompted the US to cut off oil supplies to Pyongyang, to which North Korea responded by throwing out international weapons inspectors and ratcheting up its plutonium bomb programme.

But now many intelligence officials doubt whether the North Koreans have a viable uranium enrichment programme, and administration officials have begun wondering if they could not have handled the North Korean crisis much more smartly if they had been in less of a hurry to get confrontational.

On Tuesday, a veteran intelligence official called Joseph DeTrani told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that the government's certainty about the programme's existence was only at "the mid-confidence level", agency-speak meaning the information is not fully corroborated and some officials hold other views.

On Wednesday, the Director of National Intelligence declassified a report on North Korea which stated: "The degree of progress towards producing enriched uranium remains unknown."

Non-government weapons experts including David Kay and David Albright - both veterans of the Iraq intelligence fiasco - see such statements as the beginning of a full retraction and an admission that the CIA and other agencies jumped to conclusions based on insufficient evidence.

"The evidence doesn't support the extrapolation," Mr Albright, now president of the private Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, told The New York Times. "The extrapolation went too far."

The extrapolation was based, principally, on seemingly solid evidence that North Korea obtained about 20 centrifuges for the production of enriched uranium from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's atom bomb, in 2000. When it transpired that North Korea was also buying aluminium tubes - not unlike the aluminium tubes so widely mentioned in connection with Iraq's (non-existent) nuclear programme - the CIA and the Bush administration saw a "smoking gun" that convinced them the enriched uranium programme was up and running.

Mr Albright said the aluminium tubes were relatively weak and were not suitable for mass-producing centrifuges for a bomb programme as the US government suspected. The tubes the North Koreans bought were "very easy to get and not controlled" by global export agencies because they were regarded as largely harmless.

So the best assessment now seems to be that the North Koreans were stalled in their ambitions for lack of raw materials. "The administration appears to have made a very costly decision that has resulted in a fourfold increase in the nuclear weapons of North Korea," Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a members of the Armed Services Committee, said. "If that was based in part on mixing up North Korea's ambitions with their accomplishments, it's important."

The apparent blunder is likely to renew questions about the reliability and the political slanting of US intelligence that emerged after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the failure to find any sort of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programmes the Bush administration talked about in justifying its pre-emptive war.

A similar debate about weapons intelligence and politics is raging over Iran, as the Bush administration ratchets up its rhetoric against Tehran, and the Democrat-controlled Congress worries that he is planning another war in the Middle East.

The North Korean case is different, not least because it is the administration itself which seems to be doing the back-pedalling. That may be linked to North Korea's agreement to readmit weapons inspectors. The Bush administration may prefer to sow doubts about its assessments now rather than face greater embarrassment later.
Ancient towers in Peru were a 'solar calendar'

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2318720.ece

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 02 March 2007

Scientists have discovered the oldest solar observatory in the Americas and, in the process, may have solved a centuries-old puzzle about the purpose of an ancient stone fort on a remote hilltop in Peru.
The researchers have shown that an enigmatic wall of 13 stone towers within the Chankillo complex, a 2,300-year-old ruin nearly 250 miles north of Lima, worked as a solar calendar to monitor the winter and summer solstices.
They believe that the solar observatory proves the existence of a sophisticated Sun cult in the region more than 1,000 years before the Inca civilisation built its famous Sun temple in the Peruvian mountain city of Cusco, prior to the Spanish conquest.
Ivan Ghezzi of the Pontificia Universiadad Catolica del Peru in Lima and Clive Ruggles of Leicester University have found that the line of 13 towers at Chankillo can be used to precisely observe the Sun as it rises and sets at different positions along the horizon throughout the year.
Historical accounts suggest that the Inca Sun pillars at Cusco - which have vanished without trace - were used until the 16th century AD to mark planting times of crops and to observe seasonal ceremonies, Ghezzi and Ruggles say in their study published today in the journal Science.
They believe that the discovery means that the massive Chankillo complex - dated to the 4th century BC - must have played an important role in the ceremonial rituals associated with the annual cycles of the Sun.
Archaeologists have puzzled over the purpose of Chankillo since it was first discovered in the 19th century. They suggested it may have been used as a fort, a temple or even a setting for ceremonial battles.
One of the biggest mysteries of Chankillo was the purpose of a low ridge composed of 16 relatively small stone towers which together formed an artificial toothed horizon for no apparent reason.
However, Ghezzi and Ruggles show that the gaps formed between the towers match the annual rising and setting arcs of the Sun while it dips below the horizon during the winter and summer solstices.
The line of towers, which range in height from about 6ft to 20ft, were built along a north-south axis and can be viewed full-on from two other stone positions, one to the east and one to the west of the ridge.
"Viewed from the two observing points, the spread of the towers along the horizon corresponds very closely to the range of movement of the rising and setting positions of the sun over the year," say Ghezzi and Ruggles in their study.
"This in itself argues strongly that the towers were used for solar observation," they say.
In their study, the scientists demonstrated that the setting sun at the winter solstice can be viewed from the eastern observation point as it falls to the left side of the southernmost tower.
Meanwhile, from the western observing point, the same midwinter sun the following morning could be viewed rising from the last tower on the right of the observer. During the course of the year, the setting and rising sun moves through the different "teeth" of the artificial horizon until finally it reaches its next furthermost point at the summer solstice in June - when it can be observed rising and setting beyond the last tower to the north.
"The towers are relatively well preserved; their corners have mostly collapsed, but enough of the original architecture survives to allow a reconstruction," the researchers say.
The towers are regularly spaced and each has a pair of stone staircases leading up to the summit, one on the north and one on the south side.
"Most of the tower summits are well preserved; no artifacts remain on these surfaces, though it is clear from the staircases that the summits were the foci of activity," they say.
Archaeologists have found evidence to suggest that the ceremonial practices took place at the two observing positions. The western point has offerings of pottery, shells and lithic artifacts whereas the eastern site was probably a site of ceremonial feasting, the scientists said.
The gaps between the towers may have been used to mark out the days of a solar calendar. For instance, the sunrises between the gaps in the central towers are separated by a time interval of 10 days, implying that a 10-day "week" may have been important in the solar calendar.
"Once the Sun had begun to move appreciably away from either of its extreme positions a few days after each solstice, the various towers and gaps would have provided a means to track the progress of the Sun up and down the horizon to within an accuracy of two or three days," say Ghezzi and Ruggles in their research.