Sunday, January 29, 2012

Congressman to Liberals: Get the Hell Out of the Country

Americans woke up on Sunday, January 29, 2012, to the following screaming headline: Allan West to Liberals: Get the Hell Out of the Country!

Speaking to a Lincoln Day Dinner in West Palm Beach for the Palm Beach County GOP, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla) fired off a humdinger of a line..."We need to let President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, (audience boos) and my dear friend the chairman of the Democrat National Committee, we need to let them know that Florida ain't on the table," West said. "Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America." Following cheers, West added, "Yeah I said 'hell.'"

Allan West is an African-American right-wing Republican Congressman representing an affluent part of Florida. He was speaking at a Lincoln Day dinner, but for his time, Abraham Lincoln was both a radical and a liberal.

If it wasn't for liberals, West would be still would a victim of segregation, not be in politics and not be able to vote.

In addition, the very idea that America must rid itself of any person whose political, economic, religious, sexual or personal views is un-American and Fascist. Freedom of political thought and expression is guaranteed by The Constitution. And, anyone who does not understand that is unfit to serve in the United States Congress.

Personal Story: I am a Caucasian male who as a boy lived in the district in Florida in the late 1950's and early 1960s that Allan West now represents. Like much of the South, there was still segregation and the de-segregation battles were taking place. At that time, blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. One day after seeing a movie in Hollywood, Florida, I had to return home by bus. When I asked the bus-driver whether I was on the right bus to take me home, he knew from the way I talked that I was a Northerner from New York. He sent me to the "colored section" in the back of the bus.

Arizona: Gun Paradise

No part of the United States more typifies the insanity of the absence of gun-restrictions and gun-use than the Southwestern state of Arizona, USA. Primarily a desert, it has become breeding ground for anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-liberal extreme right-wing, Christian fundamentalist arrogant politics. Republican ultra-conservative Presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and John McCain came from Arizona. The state is in love with the image of the western frontier days and the image of the self-reliant individualist. The results of these attitudes are what follows.


During the lawless wild-west days in the 1880s in Tombstone, Arizona, there was a town ordinance to forbid carrying a gun in the town. But today, Arizona's gun laws are among the most lenient in the United States and allow people to carry concealed firearms almost anywhere without a permit. Essentially, there are very few obstacles to purchasing a weapon in the state of Arizona.

Federal records show that from murders to suicides using a gun, Arizona is consistently among the most deadly states in the U.S. for gun violence. Over a nine-year span, the state's rate of gun deaths of all types ranked seventh in the United States and sixth for gun-involved slayings, according to an Arizona Republic newspaper analysis of death reports compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rankings are based on data from 1999 to 2007, the most recent statistics available from the CDC. Arizona reported more than 3,000 murders with guns over a nine-year span (1999-2007), according to CDC data. That amounts to six gun murders per 100,000 residents. The national rate was about four. Arizona's total gun-death rate, a figure that includes murders, suicides, accidents, police shootings and other unclassified killings, was nearly 16 per 100,000. The national rate was about 10.

Gun sales in Arizona have increased radically since the election of President Obama out of political and media-created hate and paranoia and out of fears of him and the Federal government in Washington.

Currently in Arizona, a person can purchase a shot gun and rifle without having a permit or a license. The purchase of a handgun requires a permit. Registration of the weapon or the serial number on the weapon is also not required. It is lawful to sell or give a firearm or ammunition to a minor with written consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian. It is unlawful for any person while taking wildlife or while in any hunting area to handle, discharge any firearm while intoxicated.

When the Colt Single Action Army revolver became the official Arizona's state gun, it was more than just symbolic. Republican State lawmakers who promoted and passed the measure made it clear that firearms are a part of the contemporary Arizona economy politics, and lifestyle.

The National Rifle Association is the largest and best-known group with 4 million members nationwide. However, it will not say how many members it has in Arizona, but its influence is felt in funding right-wing Arizona political campaigns. Three Arizonans have served as NRA presidents since the 1980s.

Guns are big business in Arizona. The state has more than 1,200 federally licensed gun sellers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They are on track to sell a record number of firearms this year. The bureau also licenses more than 100 Arizona-based makers of guns and gun parts that employ more than 1,000 people. Gun shows and exhibitions are a mainstay in modern-day Arizona.

Many guns go across state lines and enter states with greater gun restrictions. Also, many guns are purchased by the Mexican drug cartels and contribute to violence in that country. The Mexican government has pleaded with the U.S. to create greater gun restrictions and to prevent guns from coming across the borders. Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears both in Arizona and in Washington.


On January 8, 2011, Democratic Party Congesswoman Gabrielle Giffords was victim of a shooting and an assassination attempt at a supermarket where she was meeting publicly with her constituents in Arizona. She was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head. Six other people were killed in the shooting, among them federal judge and a 9 year-old girl whose funeral was picketed by Christian Fundamentalists. Another thirteen people were injured in the incident. Giffords was later brought to a rehabilitation facility where she recovered some of her ability to walk, speak, read and write. But, she was eventually forced to give up her Congressional seat.

Authorities have claimed that the Giffords would-be assassin is mentally ill and cannot stand trial. However, he was permitted to buy a gun in Arizona.

In a fund-raising effort, the Republican Party in the Arizona district which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords represented in the U. S. Congress raffled off a gun similar to the one used in the assassination attempt on the congresswoman. "That's right, for just $10 this gun could be yours," the Pima County Republicans wrote in an August newsletter. It adds that 125 tickets will be sold for $10 for the Glock 23, .40-caliber handgun, which retails for more than $400 and comes with three 12-round magazines.

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating the origins of a photo on an Arizona police officer's Facebook page. The photo shows a group of armed youths posing in the desert a bullet-ridden image of President Barack Obama.

In Phoenix, Arizona, Republican Governor Janet Brewer exchanged heated words and disrespectfully waved her finger in President Obama's face in front of reporters and other public officials on Wednesday, January 25, 2012. She later called the President "thin-skinned" . The rude behavior was condoned by many of Arizona's politicians including Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona who ran against Obama for President and lost.

In January 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill which repealed an Arizona state law that required gun owners to have permits to carry concealed weapons. Arizona also allows gun owners to carry their weapons almost everywhere in the state, including bars, hotels, government buildings and inside the state Capitol. Exceptions exist for private businesses and doctor's offices.

There was a proposal in Arizona that would allow teachers and students to carry weapons into classrooms which passed the state legislatures. Guns are currently permitted on school grounds if the person is picking up or dropping off a child as long as the weapon is unloaded (bullets can be placed in another part of the car) and the gun owner remains in the vehicle.

In an attempt to rationalize Arizona's gun culture, Senator John McCain of Arizona who says he does not own a gun said, "Arizona, by nature of our history and by nature of a lot of our leadership, has been a state that really emphasizes the rights of the individual. I think there has been a certain independence in Arizona (and) a dislike of governments, both big and small. The bigger the government, the greater the dislike. That, of course, leads to what some view as The Wild West but the rest of us describe as an emphasis on the rights of the individual."


A poll conducted in February, 2011, for the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns found significant support in Arizona for certain specific gun reforms. For example, 83 percent of 600 Arizona voters surveyed by the GOP polling company American Viewpoint (including 75 percent of those who own guns) said they would back a law requiring all gun purchasers to pass a background check. Nevertheless, the Republican politicians and their NRA backers who dominate Arizona's political landscape have shown no inclination to change the laws on the gun culture of the state.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why is English Such a Difficult Language?

Facts about the English Language

English is an international language. It is a complex language owing to its history, its rule exceptions, and its idioms and slangs. Foreign language speakers often have a difficult time learning English because its structure and the denotation (actual meaning) and connotation (implied meaning) of its words. Nevertheless, it is the third most spoken native language in the world (next to Mandarin Chinese and Spanish) and has become the a major language in terms of commerce, entertainment, academics, science, politics and piloting aircraft. It is often called "the world's second language."

English is a Germanic language which was spread to England and Scotland by Germanic invaders. It developed in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The word English comes from the name of one of the ancient peoples of England, the Angles. The language was spread to British colonies in 17th and 18th Centuries principally in North America, Africa and the South Pacific

A significant number of English words are from Latin because Latin was the "universal" European diplomatic, academic and Christian Church language until the 17th Century. In addition, the English language was further influenced by the Old Norse language because of the Viking invasions of the 8th and 9th centuries and the Norman French conquest of England in the 11th Century added may French-rooted words. Finally, English colonization and trade added many words from other languages to standard English. Because of this assimilation of words from languages throughout history, modern English contains a very large vocabulary. Often some words have similar meanings but their use depends on connotations and circumstances. The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 foreign-language words which are now part of standard English and that does not include many technical, scientific, regionalisms, jargons or slangs.


Obscene Words in English

There is no such thing as a "bad word". All words name something and are neutral. It is people who determine the acceptability or non-acceptability of a given word.

Some of the oldest Anglo-Saxon words still in use today in the English language have been deemed unacceptable for common use. Examples of these words are shit and fuck. They were the common word for what they name until The Norman French Conquest of England in 1066. When that event occurred, French became the legal and aristocratic language of England and only the commoner and peasant continued to use Anglo-Saxon. Because the peasants were seen a coarse and unrefined, the French-derivative words, manure and intercourse, were seen as more refined and acceptable. Eventually the two languages merged into what is now Modern English creating the fact that many things can be said two ways, for example, chef and cook, woman and female, and car and auto. It remains the same today.


Interesting Facts about English Words

1. Shakespeare had a working English vocabulary of 54,000 works. The average American has a working vocabulary of only 3,000 words.

2. Facetious and abstemious are the only English words which contain all the vowels in the correct order.

3. ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC is the longest English acronym. It is a Navy term standing for Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command.

4. Almost is the longest commonly used word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

5. Dreamt is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

6. Fickleheaded and fiddledeedee are the longest words consisting only of letters in the first half of the alphabet.

7. Asthma and isthmi are the only six-letter English words that begin and end with a vowel and have no other vowels between.

8. Fortnight is a contraction of the word, "fourteen nights." It is a common word in the U. K., but the U.S."two weeks" is more commonly used.

9. Forty is the only number which has its letters in alphabetical order.

10. One is the only number with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.

11. Four is the only number whose number of letters in the name equals the number.

12. One thousand contains the letter A, but none of the words from one to nine hundred ninety-nine has an A.rhymes,

13. Ough can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.

14. Rhythms is the longest English word without the normal vowels: a, e, i, o, or u.

15. Stewardesses is the longest word that can be typed with only the left hand.

16. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.

17. The word set has more definitions than any other word in the English language.

18. Underground is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters "und."

19. The longest one-syllable word in the English language is screeched.

20. There are only four words in the English language which end in"-dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

21. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the longest word in the English language is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

22. The only other English word with the same number of letters whether it is singular or plural is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (
an term referring to a lung disease caused by silica dust)
. The plural is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses.

23. There is a seven letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, here, ere, therein, herein.

24. The English word, testify, is based on men in the Ancient Roman courts swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.

25. The verb cleave is the only English word with two synonyms (same word)which are antonyms (opposite meaning) of each other. It means both come together and separate.

26. The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.


Quotes about English

England and America are two countries separated by a common language. - George Bernard Shaw

When I read some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly, I think any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it. -Henry David Thoreau

English is a funny language; that explains why we park our car on the driveway and drive our car on the parkway. - Author Unknown

Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language. - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

The English language is nobody's special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself. - Derek Walcott

To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. - Gorge Orwell

Correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. - George Eliot

Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country. - President Theodore Roosevelt

English grammar is so complex and confusing for the one very simple reason that its rules and terminology are based on Latin, a language with which it has precious little in common.- Bill Bryson

In my sentences I go where no man has gone before…. I am a boon to the English language. - President George W. Bush

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Great Thinks, Great Thoughts, No. 7

1. We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. - Aesop

Aesop (c. 620-564 BC) was an Ancient Greek writer who is credited with creating many popular fables. No first-hand writings survive him and his very existence is uncertain. In many of the tales, animals speak and have human characteristics, thus leading to applicable morals to the human condition. Scattered details of Aesop's life can be found in ancient sources, including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. Among his most famous tales are The Fox and the Grapes and The Tortoise and the Hare.


2. If you can't change your fate, change your attitude. - Amy Tan

Amy Tan (born: 1952) is a female American writer whose works tend to explore mother-daughter relationships. She has written several other bestselling novels, including The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and The Bonesetter's Daughter. In addition, she has also written non-fiction essays and children's books. She has been nominated or been a finalist for many literary awards and was a winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, the Academy of Achievement, Gold Plate Award, and the Commonwealth Gold Award.


3. Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself. - Henry Miller

Henry Valentine Miller (1891-1980) was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms. His novels mixed social criticism, philosophy, free association, and mysticism. His most famous works are Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. He also wrote travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis.


4. He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. - Harold Wilson

James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916 -1995) was a British Labour Party Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party and elected twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s. He is the most recent British Prime Minister to have served non-consecutive terms. His achievements while in office included the abolition of capital punishment , the decriminalization of sex between consenting men in private, liberalization of abortion laws, divorce reform, and the abolition of theater censorship.


5. Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil. - Plato

Plato (424/423-348/347 BC), was an Ancient Greek philosopher, writer, mathematician, student of Socrates and founder of the Academy of Athens, the first institution of higher education in Europe. Along with his Socrates and Aristotle, Plato is credited with laying the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Thirteen letter and thirty-six dialogues dealing with philosophy, ethics, logic, rhetoric and mathematics have been ascribed to him.


6. Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it. - Confucius

Confucius (Kong-fu-tzu, literally Master Kong; 551- 479 BC) was a Chinese thinker and philosopher. The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal morality, governmental morality, correct social relationships, sincerity and justice. He advocated strong family loyalty, ancestor worship, respect for elders, and the family as the model for ideal government. He was one of the first to state the principle, Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. Confucius' principles became the basis of Chinese beliefs and traditions.


7. Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth - Pablo Picasso

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, better known as simply Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramicist and print-maker. He was also co-founder of the Cubist movement in art, co-inventor of the collage, inventor of the constructed sculpture, and one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. Among his most famous paintings are his Portrait of Gertrude Stein, La Vie, The Old Guitarist, Three Musicians, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Guernica.


8. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.- The New Testament of The Bible, 1 Timothy: 6-10

Important: Saint Timothy is not the writer of the above quote. The quote is contained in an epistle (letter) by Saint Paul to Timothy. In addition, seven of Paul's epistles have been seriously questioned and challenged by scholars concerning their authenticity and Paul's authorship. Among them are the above epistle and quote from 1Timothy, and the following other epistles: 2 Timothy, Titus, Colossians, 1Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Hebrews (an epistle that has been challenged in terms of Paul's authorship for over 1500 years).

The writer: Paul(aka, Saint Paul; c. 5- c. 67) is one of the most influential of the early Christian writers and missionaries. He greatly influenced Christian thought and teaching by his epistles which create a sizable portion of The New Testament. Paul's conversion from Christian persecutor to an ardent Christian on the road to Damascus dramatically changed the course of his life. His leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of Christen communities dominated by Gentiles. Neither the Bible nor history says how or when Paul died. According to Christian tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Paul's original Jewish name was Saul but he changed it presumably to distance himself from his Jewish heritage and to make him more acceptable as a Roman citizen to Gentiles.

The Recipient: Timothy (aka: Saint Timothy) was 1st-century Christian bishop who traveled with Saint Paul. Timothy died around 80AD and is mentioned in the New Testament book, Acts. Paul was so impressed by his "own son in the faith" and arranged that he should become his companion. According to later tradition, Paul made Timothy bishop of Ephesus in 65AD which he was for 15 years. Timothy was stoned to death for trying to stop a pagan festival. In the 4th century, his relics were transferred to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. The name Timothy is of Greek origin Timothy (Timótheo)and means honoring God or honored by God.


9. First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. - Franklyn Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (aka: FDR; 1882 -1945) was the 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945). He was elected 4 times and became the longest serving President. He led the nation during The Great Depression and for most of World War II. FDR was a polio victim who exhibited optimism, leadership and activism which were important during the dark days of nation's economic crisis and war. Roosevelt was a hero to major minority groups, especially African-Americans, Catholics, and Jews. A majority of polls rank Roosevelt as the second or third greatest President in U.S. history and a Gallop poll U.S. citizens rated Roosevelt is the sixth most admired person of the 20th century. FDR also served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and as Governor of the State of New York.


10. A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country. - Texas Guinan

Mary Louise Cecilia "Texas" Guinan (1884 -1933) was an American singer, actress and saloon-keeper. She was born in Waco, Texas, and toured as a Vaudeville singer troop-entertainer during World War I. In 1917, she made her film debut in a silent film, The Wildcat, became the United States' first movie cowgirl Her nickname was The Queen of the West. During Prohibition, she opened a speakeasy (a place that served illegal alcohol), The 300 Club, in New York City. In 1933, while touring with a show, Too Hot For Paris, she contracted amoebic dysentery in Vancouver, Canada and died at the age of 49, exactly one month before Prohibition was repealed. 7,500 people attended her funeral.

Monday, January 23, 2012

News You May Have Missed, No. 29

1. It is now illegal to be homeless in Hungary. Those who found violating the law will initially be given a warning for sleeping out on the streets. Offenders may also face a fine of $600 (€445) or a jail sentence. The National Assembly of Hungary voted in favor of the law in October, 2011. The Fidesz, the ruling party of the country, proposed the law on the basis that homelessness was becoming too much of a problem in the capital city, Budapest. The city is thought to contain 10,000 homeless persons. The new law has had a substantial amount of criticism from charities which claim that it cannot be enforced and there are too few facilities to shelter the homeless.The unemployment rate for Hungary is approximately 10.7%. However, according to International Business Times, for the minority Romani (Gypsy) population of Hungary,the figure is between sixty and ninety percent.

2. China surpassed the United States in 2009 and became the world's largest auto market. Newly affluent Chinese are buying expensive cars in staggering numbers and driving schools are bursting. According to official data, China granted 22.69 million driving licenses in 2011 alone, bringing the total number of licensed drivers in the country to 236 million at the end of 2011. But no amount of driving-school time or simulated driving can prepare drivers for the Chinese roadways that have come to resemble slow-moving battle grounds. In 2010 alone, China reported 3.9 million road accidents that killed 65,225 people and injured 254,075. Lack of experience is often cited as the reason. As a result, Chinese law now requires drivers to attend a driving school before passing a written test. So, thousands of driver-training schools, charging as much as 8,000 yuan ($1,300), have been created in Beijing alone, a city of about 20 million people that is already congested with some 5 million cars.

3. Surveyors have found that London's iconic Parliament's Clock Tower better known as Big Ben is leaning. As a result, a committee composed of Members of Parliament has been formed to investigate what can be done about it. Professor John Burland of Imperial College and a construction expert who oversaw the building of five-story car-park under Big Ben, said that the leaning had "been there for years. When I first started work on the car park it was obvious that it was leaning." He added, the leaning clock tower should not be a big worry because "it would take 10,000 years to reach the inclination of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.” Although the tilt is nothing like as pronounced as that of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, it can still be spotted by the naked eye. The Clock Tower was completed in 1859. It is not the first time there have been problems with Big Ben, which stands at 96m (315ft) tall. In 1976, pendulum weights fell down a shaft and the clock mechanism exploded, putting it out of action for almost nine months.

4. According to a new study by an international team of scientists, the Earth actually has two moons at any given time. One is the big bright object in the night sky that we all know. The other is an asteroid that got caught in Earth's gravitational pull. One such Near Earth Object (NEO), asteroid 2006 RH120, served as Earth's second moon for a full year, from July 2006 through July 2007, before spinning off into the void. There is a one-meter-diameter or larger NEO temporarily orbiting the Earth at any given time according to the research paper published in Icarus, the journal of solar system studies. Once captured by the Earth's gravitational pull, these temporary moons usually have three elliptical passes around our planet. These passes take about nine months. But some moons may stick around for years in more stable orbits, the researchers predicted. The one confirmed temporary moon, RH120, may have been detected by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona because it was larger than most. It is approximately 10 to 20 feet wide.

5. According to a journal study, the world's smallest known vertebrate is a frog the size of a housefly. At an average of 7.7 millimeters long, the newfound Paedophryne amauensis is a hair smaller than the previous record holder, the Southeast Asian fish species Paedocypris progenetica, whose females measure about 7.9 millimeters. During recent field surveys in southern Papua New Guinea, scientists found P. amauensis and another new species of tiny frog, Paedophryne swiftorum, which measures about 8.6 millimeters. The frogs likely evolved their tiny sizes to eat tiny invertebrates such as mites, that are ignored by bigger predators. Scientists locate the frogs by listening for their calls and trying to zero in on the sources of the sounds. It was not an easy task because the high pitch of the calls make their sources especially hard for human hearing to locate. And the frogs are so small, it's hard to see their earth-colored skin patterns with the naked eye. The study was published in the journal, PLoS ONE.

6. At every performance at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, an announcement is made telling audience members to turn off their cell- phones. But, at a recent live performance by the New York Philharmonic during the final movement of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9, a cell-phone started ringing in the first row. When the iPhone's ringtone initially went off, the conductor, Alan Gilbert, turned his head to signal his displeasure. But the ringing from the first row persisted. Finally, Gilbert dropped his hands and stopped the orchestra, turned to the offender, and looked at him. But, the sound just kept on going, Someone shouted, “Thousand dollar fine.” Gilbert said, “Are you finished?” The sound persisted Gilbert: “Fine. We’ll wait.” Then the conductor turned to the podium and laid down his baton. Someone shouted, “Kick him out!” Another person shouted the same thing and some started in the audience started to clap. Finally, it stopped. Gilbert: “Did you turn it off?” The guy nodded. Gilbert: “It won’t go off again?” Another nod. Gilbert turned to the audience, and said, “Ordinarily in disturbances like these, it’s better not to stop, since stopping is worse than the disturbance. But this was so egregious, that …", but Gilberts words were drowned out by the audience's thunderous applause. The man with the cell-phone was a lifelong classical music lover and 20-year subscriber to the Philharmonic. He said he himself was often irked by coughs, badly timed applause and cell-phone rings. “It was just awful to have any role in something like that.... I hope the people at that performance and members of the orchestra can certainly forgive me for this whole event. I apologize to the whole audience,” he said.

7. A California (USA) woman has been arrested after authorities said she cut off her 60 year-old husband's penis with a kitchen knife and ground it up in a garbage disposal. Catherine Kieu, 48, is accused of tying her sleeping husband to a bed with nylon ropes, pulling down his pants and slicing off his penis. The woman took the severed penis into the kitchen, threw it into the garbage disposal and turned it on, mutilating the organ. She then called 911, the emergency phone number in the U.S. Police have also said she may have drugged or poisoned her husband's food to make him sleepy and that the couple was involved in divorce proceedings. Kieu was taken into custody and was charged with torture and causing great bodily injury and use of a knife. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

8. The remains of a 300-year-old warship, HMS Victory, are to be raised from the sea bed, according to a report in The Sunday Times, U.K. The ship, a predecessor of Lord Horatio Nelson's flagship, was found near the Channel Islands in 2008 by an American company. The remains of the ship's hull, an iron ballast, two anchors, a copper kettle and rigging have been spotted on the sea bed. The British warship, which went down in a storm in 1744 killing more than 1,000 sailors, could contain gold coins worth an estimated £500m. The report says the Maritime Heritage Foundation is set to manage the wreck's raising. The guns and other reclaimed artifacts will be displayed in British museums, however under the laws of salvage, Odyssey is likely to receive the bulk of any treasure found, according to the newspaper. The HMS Victory was reputed to be the mightiest vessel of the 18th Century.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hidden Secrets of The Roman Catholic Church, No. 2: Hitler and Nazis

In Roman Catholic Canon Law, excommunication is a censure intended to invite the person to change a behavior or attitude. Excommunication can be either automatic incurring at the moment of the committing of the offence or it can occur when imposed by the Church. Excommunicated Catholics are barred from receiving the Eucharist and from taking an active part in the liturgy. In spite of that, they are urged to retain a relationship with the Church, as the goal is to encourage them to repent and return to active participation.

The Archbishop of Olinda and Recife in Brazil, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, excommunicated the mother and doctors of a nine year old girl who had an abortion after being raped and impregnated by her step-father. Rev. Vernon Meyer was excommunicated by Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead of Phoenix, Arizona, for participation in the priestly ordination of a woman. Pope John Paul II excommunicated Fidel Castro. French Emperor Napoleon I was excommunicated for ordering the annexation of Rome. Catholics who deny the infallibility of the Pope; Joan of Arc (later made a Catholic saint); and Kings, Queens and Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, France, England, Scotland, Hungary, Sicily, and Aragon were all excommunicated . Finally, all supporters of Communism were excommunicated by Pope Pius XII.

But, creating a genocide involving 8,000,000 people, killing Catholic priests and nuns who opposed the genocide, and creating an unjust and destructive war that ended in millions of other deaths is not grounds for excommunication!

Hitler was not an atheist. He was a Roman Catholic and remained one until he died. And, the Catholic Church never excommunicated him.

In 1941, Hitler told Nazi General Gerhardt Engel: "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." He never left the church, and the church never condemned him or his genocide of the Jews. Great literature was banned by Catholic Church, but Mein Kampf never appeared on the Index of Forbidden Books. He was never excommunicated or condemned by Catholic Church. In fact, the Pope contracted with the European fascist dictators, Hitler, Franco and Mussolini, and he gave each of them veto power over whom the Pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany, Spain, and Italy. In addition, all three dictators agreed to surtax Catholics in their countries and sent the money directly to The Vatican in exchange for making sure the state could control the church. Finally, Hitler mandated prayers to Jesus in all schools in Germany.

The Hitler biographer, John Toland, said, Still a member in good standing of the Church of Rome despite the detestation of its hierarchy, he carried within him its teaching that the Jews were the killer of god. The extermination, therefore, could be done without a twinge of conscience since he was merely acting as the avenging hand of God.

No other Nazi or Nazi supporter was excommunicated by The Catholic Church either.

Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli:1876-1958) was the Pope during World War II and his actions during the Holocaust remain controversial today. For much of the war, Pius XII maintained a public front of indifference and remained silent while German atrocities were committed. He refused pleas for help on the grounds of neutrality, while making statements condemning injustices in general. Privately, he sheltered a small number of Jews and spoke to a few select officials, encouraging them to help the Jews.
Pacelli lived in Germany from 1917, when he was appointed Papal Nuncio in Bavaria in Germany until 1929. He understood what the Nazis and Hitler stood for and on July 20, 1933, Pacelli and German diplomat Franz Von Papen signed a concordat that granted freedom of practice to the Roman Catholic Church. In return, the Church agreed to separate religion from politics. This diminished the influence of the Germany's Catholic Center Party and the Catholic Labor unions. The concordat was a diplomatic victory for Hitler.
Pacelli was elected Pope in 1939 (the year that Hitler invaded Catholic Poland) but said very little about Hitler or Nazi ideology. His only public statement concerning the Nazis was in a 1935 speech in Lourdes, France, where he said about the Nazis, It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of the social revolution, whether they are guided by a false conception of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult.
Pius XII issued no condemnation of the November, 1938, massive Nazi anti-Semantic violence known as Kristellnacht (the night of broken glass) and there is some evidence that shows he was informed in advance about it by Berlin's papal nuncio. Pius XII did intervene the month he was elected Pope (March 1939) and obtained 3,000 visas to enter Brazil for European Jews who had been baptized and converted to Catholicism. Two-thirds of these visas were later revoked by the Nazis. But, the Pope did nothing to save practicing Jews in Germany.
Throughout the Holocaust, Pius XII was besieged with pleas for help in connection with the fate of Europe's Jews.

· The Chief Rabbi of Palestine asked the papal Secretary of State to intercede to keep Spanish and Lithuanian Jews from being deported to Germany. The Papacy did nothing.

· Austrian Cardinal Theodor Innitzer told Pius XII about Jewish deportations in 1941. In 1942, the Slovakian charge d'affaires, a position under the supervision of the Pope, reported that Slovakian Jews were being systematically deported and sent to death camps. The Papacy did nothing.

· In 1941, the Assistant Chief of the U.S. delegation to the Vatican asked the Pope to condemn the atrocities against Jews. The response came that the Vatican wanted to remain "neutral". The Papacy did nothing.

· In 1942, after more than 200,000 Ukrainian Jews had been killed, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church wrote a long letter to the Pope, referring to the German government as a regime of terror and corruption. The Pope replied by quoting verses from Psalms to "bear adversity with serene patience." The Papacy did nothing.

· In 1942, Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) wrote, The massacres of the Jews reach frightening proportions and forms. The Vatican did nothing.

· In 1942, the U.S. representative to the Vatican warned the Pope that his silence was endangering his moral prestige, the Secretary of State responded on the Pope's behalf that it was impossible to verify rumors about crimes committed against the Jews. The Vatican did nothing.

· In 1943, the President of the Polish government-in-exile appealed to the Pope to publicly denounce Nazi violence. The same year, the Catholic Bishop of Berlin at least twice said the same thing. The Pope refused. And again, the Vatican did nothing.

Historians offer many reasons why Pope Pius XII did not speak out concerning the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Among the reasons are fears of Nazi reprisals, a feeling that public speech would have no effect, the idea that acting against the German government could provoke a schism among German Catholics, the fear of the growth of communism were the Nazis to be defeated, and anti-Semititism. Whatever his motivation, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Pope (who claims infallibility in matters of morals) could have done considerably more to save the Jews.

There is now a movement to declare Pope Pius XII a saint.

The Nazi Pope

Pope, Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16th,1927. He is a native of Bavaria, Germany, and has both German and Vatican citizenship.
In 1941, Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth, but according to his brother, was an unenthusiastic member. Somehow without any consequences, he managed to get out of attending Hitler Youth meetings. In 1943, while still in seminary, Ratizinger was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps known as Luftwaffenhelfer. Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry. The official line is that he "escaped" as the Allied front drew closer to his post and went back to his family home after his unit had ceased to exist. As a German soldier, he was put in a POW camp but was released at the end of the war a few months later.

Resistance to the Nazis was dangerous and difficult, but not impossible. Many German Catholic leaders were willing to work with the Nazis, but many individual Catholics and Catholic priests resisted as best they could. They refused to cooperate with a political regime they regarded as anti-Catholic and/or the embodiment of evil. Elizabeth Lohner, a German who grew up in the same town in which the Ratzingers lived and whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau as a conscientious objector, has been quoted as saying, It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others. The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice.

The Pope is supposed to be the successor of St. Peter, the leader of the oldest Christian Church, and a symbol of unity for all Christendom. The past actions or inactions of such a person matter a great deal if anyone is going to treat him as any sort of moral authority. Ratzinger’s recollections of his youth in Nazi Germany makes it seem as though all the problems, violence, and hatred existed outside his local community. In fact, it was the exact opposite. The town in which the Ratzingers lived saw violence, anti-Semitism, displacement, deportation, death, and resistance . The Ratizgers and the future Pope Benedict XVI were either aloof and not involved, gave tacit approval to the Nazis, or have succeeded in covering up their approval of the Nazi and their cause.
When Benedict ascended to the Papacy, his election was welcomed by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League which hailed him because of his great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust. However, Benedict's Papacy is now accused of insensitivity towards Judaism. One instance of the insensitivity is the expanded use of the Latin Mass which includes a prayer for the conversion of the Jews so they [Jews] may be delivered from their darkness. Another is the lifting of excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson who denies the existence of the Holocaust. The lifting of his excommunication led critics to charge that the Pope was allowing and possibly condoning his anti-Semitic views. After the excommunication was lifted, Israel's Yad Vashem Museum Chairman Avner Shalev said, When the highest moral authority of the Church states that Holocaust denial is unacceptable, that is a vital message for the entire world. In addition, Cardinal Renato Martino (former head of the Pontifical Council of Peace and Justice and who also pleaded to spare the life of Saddam Hussein) was critical of the 2008-2009 war in Gaza and said that The Gaza Strip was the moral equivalent of a big concentration camp. In addition. the Yad Vashem Museum continues to display a very negative caption on Pope Pius XII which has been strongly criticized by the Vatican.
The Vatican has had diplomatic relations and only recognized the state of Israel since 1993- 46 years after the country was created.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hawai'i: A Story of American Imperialism

Hawai'i. It is sometimes called "The Land of Aloha" and "Paradise". The island chain has incomparable beauty. It contains such geological wonders as Diamond Head, the Na Pali Cliffs, Kilauea volcano constantly spewing lava, and snow-capped Mauna Loa and Mauna Kia dormant volcanoes. It is the land of "The Big Wave" and surfers, of the hula and the luau, of palm trees and exotic flowers, and of the Mai Tai and Kailua Pork. It also is the subject of a tragic tale of a remarkable woman.
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The Last Queen of Hawai'i

Queen Liliuokalani (1838-1917) 
Hawai'i was a sovereign nation before wealthy American land-owners engineered a take-over of the island kingdom. The last Queen, Lili'uokalani, was overthrown by U.S. and European business interest in 1893. Sanford B. Dole (of famous Dole pineapple) was appointed The Republic of Hawai'i's first and only President. Out-going U.S. President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, appointed an investigating commission which found that the overthrow was illegal. Cleveland was willing to restore the monarchy. But, his successor, William McKinley, a Republican with heavy ties to big business, turned a blind eye to both Cleveland's commission report and personal entreaties by The Queen.

Lili'uokalani was threatened with beheading if she did not sign a statement that transferred authority to Dole's government. Shortly after, she was arrested and tried for an alleged plot to overthrow the installed government. The totally non-Hawai'ian jury sentenced her to 5 years at hard labor and a $5000 fine. But, the sentence was commuted to 5 years under house arrest in a second-floor bedroom of her own palace. When she was released, he lived quietly in a private house near-by. Eventually, Iolani Palace was turned into Honolulu Police Headquarters and can be seen as such in the old TV series, "Hawaii 5-0". The Queen's royal lands were given to the U.S. government, making the Federal government the greatest land-owner in the islands to this day. During the period after her abdication, she wrote and played a secular and sacred music and became Hawai'i's first female author. The Queen died of complications from a stroke in 1917 at the age of 79.

Hawai'i was annexed to the U.S. as a territory in 1898. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, there were several attempts at statehood but all of them failed, in part due to politics and in part due to prejudice against the minorities that made up the majority of the populations of the islands. But, an agreement was reached between the America's two major political parties that first majority Republican Party territory of Alaska would be admitted to the union as the 49th state, and then majority Democratic Party territory of Hawai'i would be admitted as the 50th state. Hawai'i achieved statehood in 1959.

Some Facts about Hawai'i

1. Hawai'i is the most isolated spot on Earth. It is further away from any other land mass than anywhere else on the planet.

2. The native Hawai'ians migrated in boats from Samoa in The South Pacific over 900 years ago.

3. The native Hawai'ians used thin strip of palm leafs to create clothing.

4. At Kaluapapa on the island of Moloka'i, there is a former leper colony, the only one remaining in the U.S.

5. Macadamia nuts and palm trees are associated with Hawai'i. But neither one is native to Hawai'i. Macadamia nuts are native to Australia and palm trees were imported to Hawai'i from the U.S. mainland.

6. Although pineapple and pineapple plantations are associated with Hawai'i, no longer is pineapple grown there.

7. Contrary to popular belief, the southern-most point in the U.S. is not in Key West, it is at the town of Captain Cook on The Big Island of Hawai'i.

8. One island, Ni'ihau, is totally owned by one family, the Robinson Family. In a referendum on statehood, it was the only island to reject the proposal.

9. Senator Daniel Inouye (Democrat) has served in The Senate since 1963. He is the longest serving member of The Senate and as President Protempore of that body is third in the line of succession for The Presidency. He also was the first Congressman from Hawai'I (1959-62) and is a World War II hero mentioned in President John Kennedy's book, "Profiles of Courage".

10. There are no snakes in Hawai'i.

11. The only major city in the North Pacific is Honolulu, population 371,657. Nearly 56% of residents are of Asian heritage.

12. A new Hawai'ian island is forming southeast of The Big Island. It is called Loihi and it is forming on the Pacific Ocean seabed. It is already 2 miles high and within 1 mile of breaking the ocean surface which it is expected to do in thirty or forty thousand years.

13. The big island of Hawai'i is the biggest island in the U.S. It is larger than all of the other Hawai'ian islands combined. And it is still growing several feet a year because of lava flows from Kilauea volcano continuous eruption since 1989.

14. The word "aloha" means "from the heart to the mouth". In other words, "What is in my heart become the words I speak".

15. The state song of Hawai'i is "Ke Aloha o Ka Haku" ("The Queen's Prayer"). The words and melody were written by Queen Lili'uokalani during her five year house arrest in her bedroom of her palace.