Renfield and The Gulf of Oman Incident “So,” Amadeus said to Renfield over the 12 servings of shepherd’s pie that he was eating, “are you still in line to become the Deputy Foreign Secretary In Charge of Geopolitical Intelligence Gathering should Boris Johnson win the British Conservative Party leadership next month and move into 10 […]
I’ve learned over the years that fear doesn’t define me nor can it paralyze me. I’ve learned to embrace fear and welcome it with open arms. When your mind is made up and you know what you need to accomplish, fear eventually diminishes and goes away. Fear should not cripple you nor should fear determine […]
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)
HKSAR Chief Executive announces suspension of amendments to Fugitive Offenders Ordinance
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced Saturday that the HKSAR government will suspend the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance until further communication and explanation work is completed.
“I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise,” Lam told a press conference Saturday afternoon at the HKSAR government headquarters building.
The HKSAR government’s secretary for security will send a letter to the Legislative Council (LegCo) president to withdraw the notice of resumption of second reading debate on the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill, and the LegCo will halt its work in relation to the bill until the HKSAR government completes its work in communication, explanation and listening to opinions, Lam said.
The bill, tabled by the HKSAR government at the LegCo in April, aims to deal with a murder case that happened in China’s Taiwan but involves a Hong Kong suspect who has returned to Hong Kong, and to fill loopholes in HKSAR’s existing legal framework concerning mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
Lam said the HKSAR government has been discussing with various sectors of the community in a rational manner and has introduced amendments to the proposal on two occasions to ease the concerns of society and narrow differences, including increasing the threshold for fugitive offenders surrender and introducing additional human rights safeguards.
“My relevant colleagues and I have made our best efforts, but I have to admit that our explanation and communication work has not been sufficient or effective,” she said, adding that the HKSAR government will do more work in this regard.
“I want to stress the government is adopting an open mind to heed comprehensively different views in society towards the bill,” she added.
To deal with the Taiwan murder case, the HKSAR government has been trying to get the bill passed ahead of the LegCo summer recess in July. However, in consideration of Taiwan’s overt and clear expression that it would not accede to the HKSAR government’s suggested arrangement in the transfer of the concerned suspect, the original urgency to pass the bill in this legislative year is perhaps no longer there, Lam said.
“We have no intention to set a deadline for this work and promise to report to and consult members of the Legislative Council panel on security before we decide on the next step forward,” she said.
The bill was originally scheduled to be discussed at a LegCo meeting on June 12. The meeting was postponed due to violent conflicts between protesters and police around the complex of the HKSAR government and LegCo.
“As a responsible government, we have to maintain law and order on the one hand, and evaluate the situation for the greatest interests of Hong Kong, including restoring calmness in society as soon as possible and avoiding any more injuries to law enforcement officers and citizens,” Lam said.
In response to media questioning, Lam clarified that the amendments were initiated and managed by the HKSAR government and it would not withdraw the proposal since the original purposes were right.
The Chinese central government expressed support, respect and understanding for the decision announced by Lam on Saturday.
“We support, respect and understand the decision,” said a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, noting that the central government will continue to support Lam and the HKSAR government’s governance in accordance with the law and their efforts with people from all walks of life to safeguard Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
Noting that the HKSAR police have always been the protector of Hong Kong residents and society, the spokesperson said the central government strongly condemns relevant violent activities and firmly supports the police in cracking down on such activities and police efforts to safeguard Hong Kong’s rule of law and social stability.
Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the policies of “one country, two systems,” “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong,” and a high degree of autonomy have been faithfully implemented, and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people have been fully guaranteed in accordance with the law, which has been widely recognized.
“I want to reiterate that Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region and its affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that brook no interference by any country, organization or individual,” Geng said, adding that China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests and maintain Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
An official in charge of the liaison office of the central government in the HKSAR said that since she came into office two years ago, Lam has been upholding the principle of “setting no easy goals and avoiding no difficult tasks” and leading the HKSAR government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law and assuming a proactive role, which has always been highly recognized and fully trusted by the central government.
The liaison office will remain steadfast in supporting the chief executive and the HKSAR government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with law, maintaining the order of rule of law in Hong Kong society and safeguarding the lawful rights and interests of Hong Kong residents, so as to secure Hong Kong as a prosperous and stable home for all, the official said.
An official in charge of the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR also voiced continuous staunch support for Lam and the HKSAR government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law, safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and upholding Hong Kong’s enduring prosperity and stability.
The official strongly condemned the violent acts by some people and voiced firm support for the Hong Kong police force to mete out punishment in accordance with law, stressing that freedom is by no means without boundaries, and rights must be exercised within the framework of the rule of law.
The decision to suspend the legislative amendment exercise was also supported by various sectors of the Hong Kong society.
Voicing support to the decision, the Non-official Members of the HKSAR Executive Council (ExCo Members) said in a statement that they would continue to offer their full support for the chief executive, and would call on members of the public to adopt a calm and rational manner when expressing their views, and to safeguard the civilized, free, open and pluralistic society of Hong Kong.
Speaking through a spokesperson, president of the LegCo Andrew Leung said he understood the decision and believed it was made after carefully listening to the voices of various sectors of the society.
Noting that the decision would enable more explanation, he appealed to the public to express their views in a peaceful and rational manner that reflects Hong Kong’s long-respected spirit of rule of law.
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) Chairman Aron Harilela said the HKGCC welcomed the HKSAR government’s decision for it would allow things to cool down and let everyone return to rational debate.
“We look forward to the government continuing to engage in constructive discussions with stakeholders and the public to address and eliminate doubts about the bill,” added Harilela.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)
CELSO AMORIM: TEST IS NOW LULA’S FREEDOM
Ambassador Celso Amorim, chancellor in the Lula government, said that we now have a great test for Brazil: to see what will happen after the leakage of messages from Moro and Deltan in Lava a Jato; “This great test is called Lula’s freedom, and when I say that, I do not say that it’s for him to be president tomorrow, but that Lula is absolutely indispensable for a national, true, profound and authentic dialogue in Brazil at the moment. put in the jail that consciousness that represents a great part of Brazil “; watch
Șoseaua șerpuia mărginită de pâlcuri de iarbă uscată și de garduri joase de piatră dincolo de care se zăreau arbuști de un verde tern, pini mediteraneeni, roșcovi, parfumatul mirt și nelipsiții măslini. După o jumătate de oră de când am părăsit Madridul și după câteva curbe zăresc culmile de granit ale Las Machotas, acoperite de stejari, castani și ienupări. Și deodată… iată-l. Istorie, cultură, încărcătură religioasă, mister: El Escorial. Cu forma sa pătrățoasă și cu turlele cenușii, văzut de departe pare desprins din romanele încărcate de mister ale adolescenței mele. Drumul coboară apoi spre podul de peste Valmayor, iar silueta celebrei mele destinații dispare pentru o clipă. Iarba pârjolită este înlocuită de blocurile stâncoase care preced intrarea în oraș, înlocuite și acestea de leandri în toate culorile și de case îngrijite. Orașul este cochet și liniștit, cu străzi înguste, pavate și umbrite de platani viguroși.
În fața Escorialului, sentimentul este…
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)
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5 things you never knew about the Civil War
A study of the history of the United States is incomplete without reference to the Civil War. The Civil War (1861–1865) set American against American. It has been the cause of the greatest number of documented episodes in the history of the United States.
Civil War trivia asserts that the conflict between the United States and 11 Southern States was the deadliest war on American soil. It claimed about 620,000 soldiers’ lives and about 2 percent of the total population of the time. Civil War history, historians, and aficionados have written many books, articles and reenacted battle sagas.
What caused the Civil War?
This is a question many still debate in the public domain, with several schools of thought asserting their views. However, James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, provides a more explicit narrative of what caused the war. According to him, “The Civil War started due to uncompromising differences between the Northern States, mainly the free and slave states over the power of the national government to disallow slavery in the territories that had not yet become states.”
In the 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln ran on a pledge to block the institution of slavery in the territories. In retaliation, a Confederate States of America was created by seven Deep South states that separated from the Union. During the Lincoln Administration, the Confederate secession from the Union was invalidated, and the legality was never fully established. They feared that it would discredit democracy by creating a dangerous example that would lead to the dissolution of the United States into individual countries.
What were the bloodiest battles of the Civil War?
The Battle of Gettysburg
- Location: Pennsylvania
- Casualties figure: 51,112 (U.S. 23,049/C.S. 28,063)
- Date: July 1-3, 1863
The Battle of Chickamauga
- Location: North Georgia
- Casualties figure: 34,624 (U.S. 16,170/C.S. 18,454)
- Date: September 19-20, 1863
The Battle of Chancellorsville
- Location: Virginia
- Casualties figure: 30,099 (U.S. 17,278/C.S. 12,821)
- Date: May 1-4, 1863
The Battle of Spotsylvania
- Location: Virginia
- Casualties figure: 27,399 (U.S. 18,399/C.S. 9,000)
- Date: May 8-19, 1864
The Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg)
- Location: Maryland
- Casualties figure: 26,134 (U.S. 12,410/C.S. 13,724)
- Date: September 17, 1862
The Battle of the Wilderness
- Location: Virginia
- Casualties figure: 25,416 (U.S. 17,666/C.S. 7,750)
- Date: May 5-7, 1864
The Battle of Second Manasas
- Location: Virginia
- Casualties figure: 25,251 (U.S. 16,054/C.S. 9,197)
- Date: August 29-30, 1862
What caused casualties of the Union Army during a battle?
According to Mark Hughes in The New Civil War Handbook, the causes of casualties of the Union Armies during battles are:
- Musketry – 50.6%
- Unknown – 42.1%
- Cannon – 5.7%
- Pistol/Buckshot – 1.2%
- Saber – 0.2 %
- Bayonet – 0.2%
How many soldiers fought and died in the Civil War?
The total number of soldiers deployed from both armies of the North and South were 2,128,948 and 1,082,119 respectively. By the end of the war, the total number of soldiers that died from both sides was approximately 620,000. However, a recent study put the figure closer to 850,000.
How much pay did the soldiers receive?
There are discrepancies in the amounts white and black union soldiers received as salaries until 1864, when Congress rectified it. White Union soldiers collected $13 a month, while their black counterparts got $7 a month. The Confederate Army paid their soldiers $11 a month. It was common that they sometimes went for long stretches with no pay.
The United States has since remained united after the Confederates called for a ceasefire in April 1865. Civil War history reports that the total number of people that both armies lost within those four years remains the second highest in the history of the nation.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)
Places That Are Now Off Limits Thanks to Tourists
Over tourism is a problem in a lot of places around the globe. Natural places, especially, are susceptible as they can easily see negative human impacts. Some places simply aren’t built to handle so many people, and can be effectively ruined by our simple presence. Of course, littering is another big reason certain places are heavily impacted. Here are five places that are now off limits thanks to tourists.
Mt. Everest Base Camp, Tibet
Credit: Scott Biales/Shutterstock
The Chinese base camp is accessible by car, and has been closed to tourists without hiking permits because of the increased amount of waste left by visitors. The Nepalese base camp is only accessible by a two-week hike, making it difficult to reach for a typical tourist. That’s why so many head to Tibet. Or that’s why they did, at least. Only 300 permits will be issued each year, and with the recent deaths of 11 climbers, it’s not unreasonable to think that number could be chopped down.
Boracay Island, Philippines
While this island in the Philippines has reopened, it’s still undergoing restoration and is under the threat of closing once again. It closed in 2018 to visitors for about six months to recover from heavy tourism and utility issues like sewage running into the ocean from nearby hotels. It was used as a party island, essentially, since the 1980s, and saw 1.7 million visitors in a 10-month span in recent years, many of them from cruise ships passing through. It has strict new rules like “don’t vomit in public.” There are also bans on pets, grilling meat, fireworks after 9 p.m., casinos and single-use plastics.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
With the island’s famous inhabitants, the Komodo dragons, being stolen and sold on the black market in recent years, Indonesia’s Komodo Island has been closed to tourists through at least January 2020. Millions of visitors to an island that can’t handle that impact has also been an issue. Other islands that are part of Komodo National Park remain open.
What’s the Italian name for Florence?
Maya Bay, Thailand
Credit: Drone Thailand/Shutterstock
Famous for being in Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach (2000), Thailand’s Maya Bay saw a massive increase in visitors after the film. Before, it only had some 100 people on its shores every day. By 2018, it was 5,000 a day. In June 2018, the country’s department of national parks, wildlife and plant conservation announced they would be closing the beach temporarily — maybe a couple of months. However, the damage was so severe that it’s still closed today, having been indefinitely off limits to visitors since October 2018. Authorities may not have a set reopen date but are working to determine the true capacity of the beach, which will make human impact more minimal.
Fjadrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland
The most recent victim of overtourism is Iceland’s stunning Fjadrárgljúfur Canyon. Blame Justin Bieber. More than 1 million people visited the area since the pop star released a music video filmed there in 2015. The country itself has also received a massive uptick in visitors — up to 2.3 million in 2018 from 600,000 just eight years ago. With that in mind, Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, the Minister of the Enviroment, said it is “a bit too simplistic to blame the entire situation on Justin Bieber.” But we’re going to anyway, because he added: “Rash behavior by one famous person can dramatically impact an entire area if the mass follows.” And it did. The canyon also requires only a half-mile or so of hiking to reach the panoramic views. Fences, signs and park rangers are in place to keep people out, but the number of people who try to go is still overwhelming.
Now In It’s Time
The Spirit of God speaks to the Soul
It is time to go for the Seed is in the womb
The Soul to the Seed now the heart beats
The Seed does swell and fills the womb
Now it is time to breathe and feel the Sun
The Soul is given within the Momma’s womb
The Soul is now designated a woman or man
First we crawl then we walk or run the trail of life
Now the Mind learns what the Soul already knows
Now it is time, responsibility is now our own
We grow, we learn, we live, but in our own way
We see evil, we see good, now we do choose
Freedom of choice, this we all have within
Do we choose love, kindness, mercy, or no
How did we choose for now in it time we die
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)
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What life was like on the Oregon Trail
After stocking up on supplies, some settlers striking out from Independence, Missouri, may have been relieved to leave the bustling city. Many were rural pioneer folk — farmers, loggers, miners, and ranchers — ready to risk everything for Manifest Destiny, their chance to lay claim to a slice of the new American frontier west of the Continental Divide. They were simply passing through to find a new life in the unknown of the Northwest Territories. Their relief at leaving civilization was tempered with trepidation as they began an often harrowing journey.
The Oregon Trail proper was nearly 2,000 miles of rugged, barely charted terrain that took settlers on an arduous route from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon. From its first heavy use in the mid-1800s, the trail served hundreds of thousands of pioneers emigrating westward. Winding its way from Missouri through present-day Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and — finally — into Oregon, the trail pushed pioneers, their horses, oxen, mules, and cattle through extremes of broiling summer on the plains to frigid high-mountain winters.
The National Frontier Trails Museum is devoted to the history of the three major routes of westward expansion used by early settlers: the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails. Especially gripping are narratives and diary excerpts from pioneers about life on the trail. However much fortitude it took to make the trek, the case can be made that without the Oregon Trail, and the Oregon Donation Land Act in 1850 — which encouraged settlement in the Oregon Territory — American pioneers may have been far slower to settle the American West.
Striking out for the New Frontier
Depending on the size of the party, weather conditions they encountered, and delays for broken down wagons, the cross-continent trek could take anywhere from five months up to a year. Having left their old lives behind, most settlers piled everything they needed for the trip into covered wagons, loading up on supplies including staples like flour, sugar, bacon, coffee, and salt. Rifles and ammunition were packed along for hunting and protection from wild animals and skirmishes with Native American tribes. The wagons were also weighed down with extra wheels and axles for repairs along the route.
Early obstacles and endurance
The best-planned trips had settlers departing Missouri in April or May in order to try and reach Oregon before snow started to fly in winter. That timing also meant there would be ample grass for grazing livestock along the way. Whether headed to Oregon or California, travelers shared the same initial trail as they crossed the Great Plains. Averaging 10 to 15 miles per day, they eventually reached Fort Kearney, Kansas, where their paths diverged. Those with “gold fever” headed to the Gold Rush in California to the south, while others headed northwest into Oregon.
The final push: into Oregon at last
Originally laid out by trappers and fur traders starting around 1811, the early incarnation of the Oregon Trail was only wide enough for foot and horse traffic. However, by the time the first wagons rolled out of Missouri, around 1836, a wagon-friendly thoroughfare had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. Continually extended and improved with bridges, cutoff routes, and ferries, the wagon trail eventually reached the verdant Willamette Valley in Oregon, delivering settlers to the rich farm and timberland of the Pacific Northwest.
Towns sprung up along the route, making re-supply possible along the way and the trip much faster and less dangerous. About the time things got dialed in, though, the first transcontinental railroad was completed, in 1869, making wagon travel obsolete. The trail remained a main route for cattle drives and other uses for many years, and although train technology cut short the trail’s use by settlers, its high historical importance is recognized and commemorated by the National Park Service, which declared the Oregon Trail a National Historic Trail in 1978.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHABAD.ORG)
This article will be something of a mixed-media piece. It’ll start with a “Purim Torah,” move on to more serious “Kabbalah” stuff, and conclude with an inspiring Chassidic teaching.
(A “Purim Torah” is what Torah scholars do for fun on Purim: a short exposition that sounds and feels like a typical piece of Talmud, yet is either patently absurd or just skewered enough to be taken seriously on Purim.)
First, the Purim Torah:
Question: We read in the Book of Esther how Hamandesired “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, from young to old, infants and woman, in a single day — on the 13th of the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar” (Esther 3:13). But why was it so important to Haman that his evil decree be carried out “in a single day”? Would such a thing even have been logistically possible? Indeed, Haman initially cast lots to determine which month should be chosen as the time for the genocide of the Jews.1 Our sages tell us that when the lot fell on the month of Adar, Haman rejoiced: this was the month in which Moses had died (on Adar 7), surely a month that bodes ill for the Jews.2 Having hit on an apparently auspicious month for his plans, why did Haman continue with his lot-throwing to pinpoint a particular day?
Answer: Haman was a keen student of Jewish history. He knew that the Jewish calendar is dotted with festivals celebrating the Jewish people’s salvation from an enemy who sought to destroy them. What if — Haman worried — their G‑d saves them again? If I designate the month of Adar for their destruction, they’ll celebrate all month long!
Finale: In this, too, Haman’s plan was foiled. When Mordechai and Esther institutionalized the celebration of the Purim miracle, they ordained not only the Purim observances of Adar 14 and 15, but also the commemoration of “the month that was transformed for them from sorrow to joy, from mourning to festivity” (Esther 9:22). Hence the Talmudic ruling, “when the month of Adar enters, increase in joy” (Talmud, Taanit 26b).
Now for the Kabbalah:
There are two ways in which the Jewish Calendar, and the nature of Jewish time, can be understood:
a) The “Special Days” Approach: The annual cycle consists of hundreds of days, most of which are of the ordinary, run-of-the-mill variety. Thankfully, these are punctuated by a number of special days — festivals and holy days imbued with special spiritual qualities. We trudge through the ordinary days, inspired and encouraged by the fact that we’re never more than a few weeks away from a Passover or Purim, or — at the very least — a Lag BaOmer or a “New Year for Trees.”
b) The “Quality of the Month” Approach: Jewish time is comprised not of days but of months, each possessing a distinct spiritual essence. The “special” days of the year are simply days on which the particular month’s quality is more pronounced and actualized. Thus, Nissan is the “Month of Liberation,” while Passover (observed on Nissan 15 to 22) is a week-long period in Nissan during which the month’s freedom-quality is more accessible. Similarly, Sivan is the month of Wisdom, Shevat is the month of Growth and Fruitfulness, Elul is the month of Compassion, and so on. Each month has days in which the month’s quality rises to the surface and manifests itself more than on the month’s “ordinary” days; but these are differences of expression rather than of essence — essentially, each day of the month equally possesses the month’s unique spiritual properties. This is why many of the festivals and special dates of the Jewish calendar occur on the 15th of the month — the night of the full moon, representing the point at which the month’s essence is in its most revealed and luminous state.3
Adar is the month of Transformation. Adar transforms sorrow into joy, doubt into supra-knowledge, oblivion into exuberant being. Adar transforms a “scattered people” into a unified nation, and a moment of national weakness (when the Jewish people participated in Achashverosh‘s feast in the belief that allegiance to a mortal king will ensure their survival) into the greatest statement of Jewish commitment of all time (when for an entire year every single Jew remained faithful to his/her people and G‑d, even as a decree of annihilation hung over the head of every Jew in the world). Adar transforms the most physical of activities — eating and drinking — into an affirmation of our bond with G‑d.
So while two days in Adar — the 14th and the 15th of the month — are observed as “Purim,” these represent the apex of an entire month of joyous transformation and transformative joy.
Finally, here’s the inspiring chassidic thought we promised:
A month on the Jewish calendar includes either 29 or 30 days (reflecting the 29.5-day lunar cycle). But every two or three years — seven times in a 19-year cycle, to be exact — Adar doubles in size: on these “pregnant years,” as they’re called, there’s a 30-day “Adar I” followed by a 29-day “Adar II.” In addition, 30th of Shevat is also the first of Adar I’s Rosh Chodesh (“head of the month”) days. This makes for a total of 60 “Adar days.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that the number “60” represents the power of transformation. A rule-of-thumb in Torah law is the “nullified by sixty” principle. For example, if a piece of non-kosher food accidentally falls into a pot of kosher food, the undesirable element is “nullified” if the desirable element is sixty times greater than it.
Thus, the Rebbe concludes, in a year blessed with a double, 60-day Adar, all undesirable elements — every and any cause for pain, sadness, discouragement or dejection — are nullified and sublimated by the transformative joy of Adar.