Why are Spanish football stars in legal trouble?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Why are Spanish football stars in legal trouble?

  • 25 minutes ago
  • From the section Europe
L-R Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi (file pics)Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAll three players: (L-R) Ronaldo, Neymar and Messi

Spain has attracted arguably the three brightest lights of world football, with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Neymar all plying their skills in La Liga.

Over the past year, football fans have become used to seeing the trio caught up in accusations of tax fraud and other financial crimes by the Spanish courts.

And they are not the only players in the crosshairs of the Spanish judiciary. In 2016, Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Barcelona team-mate, Javier Mascherano, received a one-year suspended prison sentence for tax fraud.

Three players, three trials

Lionel Messi and father Jorge were last year convicted of defrauding the Spanish state of €4.1m (£3.6m; $4.6m) in unpaid taxes on the striker’s image rights, controlled by offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay.

The pair were both handed 21-month jail terms in a ruling recently confirmed by Spain’s supreme court.

Barcelona's Argentine footballer Lionel Messi (L) in court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi during their trial for tax fraud in Barcelona (June 2016)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMessi and his father Jorge were convicted of tax fraud in 2016

Now the original Barcelona trial court must decide whether the sentences should be suspended in accordance with Spanish custom for first-time offenders whose prison terms do not exceed two years.

Prosecutors have asked for a two-year sentence and a €10m fine for Neymar, who was cleared of fraud but ordered to stand trial over alleged corruption in his 2013 move from Brazilian club Santos to Barcelona.

Now Ronaldo has become the third and final member of the elite La Liga trio to face criminal accusations, after prosecutors announced they were pursuing the 32-year-old former Manchester United man on four counts of tax fraud.

A source close to Ronaldo told the BBC that “he’s very sad and really upset” about the allegations. “He doesn’t want to stay in Spain. At this moment, he wants to leave,” the source said.

Why has footballers’ paradise turned sour?

Soon after David Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003, he was able to enjoy a new tax-exemption scheme aimed at attracting foreign talent to Spain across all sectors. That scheme became known as the Beckham Law, when he became one of the first players to sign up to a six-year-long tax ceiling of 24%, roughly half what Spaniards paid on six-figure-plus incomes.

File pic 2006 of David Beckham and Zinedine ZidaneImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionReal Madrid’s top players, such as a Beckham and Zidane became known as the “galacticos”

Spain was in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom, a perfect playground for “galacticos” of the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo, before the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and the emergence of Barcelona prodigy Lionel Messi.

But in 2010 the Beckham Law was scrapped for salaries of more than €600,000, and since then tax inspectors have begun to wise up to the use of complex financial operations using offshore shell companies to get around tax laws.

“The line between avoidance and evasion is very fine in these cases. In the past few years Spain’s tax agency has intensified its control over footballers and their companies, checking to see if they are mere fronts or whether they are really active economically,” explains Carlos Cruzado, president of tax inspectors’ union Gestha.

Case against big three

Neymar is the odd one out. His case involves alleged wrongdoing towards a contractual party regarding his transfer fee, but the forward has been found guilty in his native Brazil for tax fraud on money earned while playing for Santos.

La Liga rich list

Who earned what?

$93m

Cristiano Ronaldo: $58m salary, $35m endorsements

  • $80m Lionel Messi: $53m salary, $27m endorsements
  • $37m Neymar: $15m salary, $22m endorsements
Getty Images

The Messi and Ronaldo cases are similar. Both are accused of avoiding tax on sale of image rights by using offshore companies. However, the Portuguese was registered as a non-resident taxpayer under the Beckham Law, while the Argentine has spent his entire adult life registered in Spain.

Prosecutors accuse the Real Madrid star of evading tax of €14.7m between 2011 and 2014 via an alleged shell company called Tollin Associates, registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Spanish investigators say the company, owned by Ronaldo, is a “screen” and has no economic activity apart from having bought and then ceded the player’s image rights to a firm based in Ireland that “genuinely manages [his] rights sales”.

Prosecutors also claim that money earned from image rights was incorrectly described as capital gains, to benefit from a lower tax rate.

What is their defence?

Lionel Messi was informed by the judge in his case it was no defence to plead ignorance and argue that his father was the only person who knew how his money was being managed.

Neymar of FC Barcelona leaves the National Court on February 2, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionNeymar spent 90 minutes before a judge in Madrid in February 2016

Neymar has denied any wrongdoing and told the court investigating his case that his father and associates dealt with off-field business matters.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s representatives and legal team say the only dispute can be about quantity and that there has been no intention to commit fraud. “There is no tax evasion scheme… There has never been any hiding nor any intention to hide anything,” they say.

They argue he has paid tax to the Spanish treasury on 20% of his total image rights when, in fact, more than 90% of these are generated outside Spain as he is such a global name.

“The tax agency clearly thinks that if he is being paid for wearing certain boots, shirts or caps in Spain, then he cannot claim this money is being earned abroad,” explains Mr Cruzado.

Will any of them go to jail?

Neymar and Lionel Messi look set to be spared prison due to Spain’s unwritten two-year-sentence rule, even if Neymar is eventually found guilty.

Cristiano Ronaldo may be a different matter. Three of the four accusations of tax fraud are considered by prosecutors to be “aggravated”, so they carry a minimum sentence of two years each. Four guilty verdicts and he could face as many as seven years.

However, an investigating judge needs to ratify the prosecutors’ accusations, and that could take many months or even years.

Even if the investigating magistrate does take up the case, the Portuguese will have several options and a guilty verdict would not necessarily mean jail.

He could admit guilt, pay taxes and fines in advance and reduce any eventual jail term to a half or quarter of the statutory minimum. That way he would slip under the standard two-year bar for first-time offenders and see his sentence suspended.

Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition And Torture Of Jews

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition

A close-up of one of Carvajal diaries
Image caption Luis de Carvajal used gold leaf from Bibles to decorate the diary

A story of torture, betrayal and persecution is captivating Mexicans almost 500 years after it happened.

The dramatic life and death of the Carvajal family in 16th-Century Mexico is in the spotlight after a decades-long search for a national treasure came to an unexpected happy ending.

Luis de Carvajal “The Young” came to Mexico – then known as New Spain – with his large, well-to-do family during the early colonisation of the Americas.

His family governed part of northern Mexico and soon made enemies, including a power-hungry viceroy keen to topple them from power.

The ambitious viceroy discovered that Luis de Carvajal was a practising Jew, a crime punishable by death in the times of the Spanish Inquisition

Older relatives had urged Luis de Carvajal to convert to Catholicism for his own safety, but he staunchly stuck to his faith.

Secret record

When he was first arrested, the authorities let him off with a warning but kept tabs on him.

Far from giving up his religion, Luis de Carvajal became a leader in Mexico’s underground Jewish community.

An employee holds the 16th-century manuscript by Spanish-born Jew Luis de Carvajal the Younger as it is displayed to the media at the Anthropology museum in Mexico City, Mexico March 23, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionLuis de Carvajal chronicled his fall from governor to being sentenced to death in his tiny handwriting

When the inquisitors caught up with him again a few years later, he was sentenced to death. He was just 30 years old.

Before he was executed, he was tortured so badly that he revealed the names of 120 fellow Jewish people, historian Alicia Gojman explains.

His captors forced him to listen as those “heretics”, which included his own mother, were tortured in the cell next to him.

“He tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t cope with having told them about his family and friends, but didn’t manage it,” says Ms Gojman.

We know the excruciating details of Luis de Carvajal’s persecution because he managed to keep secret diaries.

But these were not any old notebooks. They were painstakingly crafted, miniature manuscripts with almost microscopic handwriting in Latin and Spanish.

Some pages were intricately decorated with gold leaf he scraped from pages of a Bible.

Each of the three memoirs was no larger than a present-day iPhone, most likely so he could keep them hidden away under his hat.

An iPhone lies next to the manuscript
Image captionThe small size of the diaries meant they could be hidden easily

Luis de Carvajal wrote about being a young Jew in the New World, about exploring his heritage and practising his beliefs despite the dangers.

But much of the memoirs focus on his final tragic days before he was burned at the stake, with vivid descriptions of him falling to his knees upon hearing his mother’s tortured screams as she was pulled on the rack.

Luis de Carvajal found comfort in poetry, writing verses and prayers to reaffirm his faith in the face of so much cruelty.

Treasured artefacts

Luis de Carvajal’s memoirs are treasured by Mexico’s Jewish population as chronicles of keeping faith despite the ruthlessness of the Spanish Inquisition.

“Children who go to Jewish schools study the Carvajal family history,” says Mauricio Lulka, executive director of the Central Committee for the Jewish Community in Mexico.

A view of the manuscript.
Image captionThe history told in the diaries is taught in Jewish schools in Mexico today

For centuries, the delicate manuscripts were kept in Mexico’s National Archives. They were treasured as being among the first artefacts documenting the arrival of Jews to the Americas and were studied by researchers from around the world.

But in 1932 they vanished, leading to suspicions among the small group of academics who had access to them that one of them may have stolen the precious diaries. After all, they were small enough to hide under a hat.

With no trace of the documents, the search was eventually suspended and the trail went cold.

More than 80 years after their disappearance, the London auction house Swann in 2016 listed “replicas” of the manuscript at an initial price of $1,500 (£1,150).

But a US collector of Judaica, Leonard Milberg, was suspicious.

Why would someone go to the trouble of recreating the minuscule handwriting of Luis de Carvajal’s original to create a replica?

Intrigued, he contacted the Mexican consulate which confirmed that the originals were still missing and sent experts to check the “replicas” out.

Baltazar Brito is the director of the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico and one of the experts sent to assess the documents.

“When I got there, something told me they were originals, I knew it in my heart,” he says.

A man looks at the manuscripts at an exhibition
Image captionBaltazar Brito said he had a “gut feeling” the documents were originals

For Mr Brito, the documents have relevance beyond their time.

“They tell the story of religious intolerance that we shouldn’t let happen again in the world,” he says. “Despite that, it still happens.”

Leonard Milberg felt the manuscripts belonged in Mexico, so the collector made it his mission to deal with all the international agencies involved and covered the costs of sending them back.

Their safe return was welcome news for Mexico’s now thriving Jewish community of about 50,000 people, many of whom were drawn to the country by its modern-day commitment to religious freedom.

After they were briefly exhibited in Mexico City they are now safely stored in a special climate-controlled vault in the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico, as no one wants to risk the miniature manuscripts disappearing for another eight decades.

Related Topics

Russian Arrested In Spain ‘Over Mass Hacking’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Russian arrested in Spain ‘over mass hacking’

Computer keyboardImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Much of Pyotr Levashov’s alleged activity involved ransomware

Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer following US allegations of large-scale hacking.

Pyotr Levashov was held in Barcelona on Friday and is remanded in custody.

Spanish police said Mr Levashov controlled a botnet called Kelihos, hacking information and installing malicious software in hundreds of thousands of computers.

The arrest was part of a “complex inquiry carried out in collaboration with the FBI”, police said.

Mr Levashov is subject to a US international arrest warrant and a Spanish court will hear whether he can be extradited.

Much of his alleged activity involved ransomware – blocking a computer’s access to certain information and demanding a ransom for its release.

Mr Levashov’s wife Maria told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest had been made in connection with allegations that Russians had hacked the US presidential election.

She said Spanish police had told her the arrest was in connection with “a virus which appears to have been created by my husband and is linked to [Donald] Trump’s victory”.

However, Agence France-Presse news agency quoted a source close to the matter in Washington as saying that Mr Levashov’s detention was “not tied to anything involving allegations of Russian interference with the US election”.

Donald Trump on the campaignImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Levashov’s wife linked the arrest to claims of Russian hacking of the US election

A US intelligence report released in January alleged that Vladimir Putin had tried to help Mr Trump to victory, allegations strongly denied the Russian president.

Mr Trump later commented that the outcome of the election had not been affected.

Several cyber security experts, including Brian Krebs, have also linked Mr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.

Spanish minister tells UK to ‘not lose temper’ over Gibraltar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Spanish minister tells UK to ‘not lose temper’ over Gibraltar

Story highlights

  • EU officials suggested Gibraltar could be part of Brexit trade talks
  • Lord Howard compared Prime Minister Theresa May to Thatcher

(CNN) Spain’s foreign minister has called on British politicians not to lose their temper after a Brexit-fueled dispute over a tiny outcrop of land escalated into talk of war.

Less than a week after Britain triggered the formal process of leaving the European Union, London and Madrid were at loggerheads over Gibraltar, a British-controlled rocky headland on the southern tip of Spain.
The EU’s draft negotiating document on Brexit, published on Friday, suggested that Gibraltar could only be part of any future trade deal if Spain gave its approval.
That prompted fury in Britain: On Sunday, Lord Michael Howard, a former leader of the governing Conservative Party, even suggested that the UK might go to war over the dispute.
Gibraltar — a three-mile long headland with a population of 32,000 people — is a British Overseas Territory whose residents remain fiercely loyal to Britain but whose sovereignty is claimed by Spain.
To the surprise of Downing Street, the territorial tangle made its way into the draft Brexit negotiating position published by European Council President Donald Tusk on Friday.
“After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom,” the guidelines said.
In an interview on Sunday, Howard to urged a strong response, drawing a parallel with the Falkland Islands in the southern Atlantic, over which Britain and Argentina went to war for 10 weeks in 1982 under the government of Margaret Thatcher.
“I do think it is a remarkable coincidence that 35 years ago this week, that another woman Prime Minister sent a taskforce half way across the world to protect another small group of British people against another Spanish speaking country,” Howard told Sky News.
Howard said May should “show the same resolve in looking after the interests of Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher did looking after the interests of the Falkland Islanders.”

Spain ‘surprised’ by war talk

Spain called for cool heads on Monday. Speaking in Madrid, the Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, said the Spanish government was “surprised” by the tone of the comments. “Frankly, it seems to me that someone in the United Kingdom is losing their temper,” he said.
Dastis noted that Howard had not explicitly said Britain should go to war with Spain, but said that bringing up the Falklands conflict was “a little out of context.”
May called called Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, on Sunday morning, Downing Street said, and told him that the UK was “steadfastly committed” to the territory.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Brexit would bring no changes to the status of Gibraltar.
“I think the position of the government is very, very clear, which is that the sovereignty of Gibraltar is unchanged, and it’s not going to change and cannot conceivably change without the express support and consent of the people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, and that is not going to change,” he said.

Rocky territory

Gibraltar, dominated by the 426-meter-high Rock of Gibraltar, is classified as a British Overseas Territory but it is mostly self-governing with a chief minister as its head. Britain provides some services, such as security, to the territory.
The UK has held sovereignty over Gibraltar for more than 300 years after it was captured from Spain in the Spanish War of Succession in 1704. Spain has recognized British rule under international law and in several treaties. Successive Spanish governments have raised talk of reunification since the 1960s, but in 2002, residents of Gibraltar rejected a proposal to share the territory between the UK and Spain in a referendum.
But residents also voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union in last year’s Brexit vote, with 96% voting to remain in the union.

A hitch in California as bilingual education is restored

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

A hitch in California as bilingual education is restored

December 31 at 11:45 PM
While Californians passed a ballot measure to bring back bilingual education in the upcoming school year, educators say a challenge to getting the programs started will be finding more bilingual teachers.Nearly 20 years after banning most bilingual education, Californians voted in November to let schools restore it for English learners and English speakers whose parents want them to learn Spanish, Mandarin and other languages to compete globally.

Educators say growing interest in bilingual programs will boost already high demand for teachers trained and credentialed to teach the classes. Schools that already have such programs in California — and in other states, including Utah and Oregon — have brought teachers on visas from overseas to meet the need.

“There is already a shortage for bilingual teachers with just the demand we have right now,” said Joshua Speaks, a spokesman for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The overwhelming vote in favor of Proposition 58 is a huge turnaround from the backlash to bilingual education that followed a surge in immigration to California in the 1990s. Since then, some schools started bilingual programs, but parents of English learners had to sign annual waivers for their children to participate, and many districts were reluctant to take on the paperwork.

With the measure passed — 73.5 percent of voters supported it — many schools are expected to expand bilingual offerings or start programs. Among the most popular models are dual-language immersion programs mixing English learners and English speakers in the classroom and splitting instructional time between English and another language.

California’s Department of Education estimates that the state has at least 350 dual-language immersion programs, although the vast majority of the state’s 1.4 million English learners are taught using English immersion. Robert Oakes, a department spokesman, could not say how many districts will start bilingual programs but expects that many will.

“There is a hope and an expectation there will be a big expansion,” he said.

California already had a teacher shortage that followed the economic downturn. Areas where teachers are needed most include special education, science and bilingual education, Speaks said.

To be authorized to teach bilingual classes, teachers must take extra courses and exams. In the 2014-2015 school year, the state issued about 400 bilingual authorizations, Speaks said.

Cristina Alfaro, a professor of dual-language and English-learner education at San Diego State University, said her program annually graduates about 60 bilingual teachers.

“We don’t even credential enough to meet the demand for San Diego, and we have a lot of people from out of state and throughout the state who call us,” she said. “My phone rings off the hook.”

The lack of bilingual classrooms in California over the last two decades, especially at the high school level, has contributed to the dearth of bilingual teachers, said Nicole Knight, executive director of English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement at Oakland Unified.

To meet the demand, school districts have looked overseas. Los Angeles Unified, which has more than 500 teachers in dual language immersion programs, brought nine teachers and two support staff on visas for Mandarin programs, said Barbara Jones, a district spokeswoman. In Oakland Unified, the district has brought visiting teachers from Mexico and Spain.

Great History Lesson About Spain And It’s Muslim/Christian History

(I FOUND THIS ARTICLE ON GOOGLE PLUS, IF YOU LIKE HISTORY YOU MAY WELL LIKE THIS ARTICLE)

Muslim Spain
inside Alhambra, Granada

In 711 the Muslims had conquered the southern parts of the Iberian Peninsula. By 714 following the decline of the Visigoths, the Muslims had gained a strong grip on virtually the entire Iberian Peninsula. The parts in southern Spain that were under Muslim rule were called al-Andalus.

The vast region was divided into five administrative provinces—Andalusia (including the capital Córdoba and Seville), Central Spain, Galicia and Lusitania, and the Ebro region. The administrative system was subject to change as the Christians regained more power over parts of Muslim Spain in the following centuries.

However Muslim Spain was not restricted to the region named al-Andalus. The Muslims also controlled parts of Aragon-Catalonia and Navarre. Parts of southern France fell briefly under Muslim rule but a strong French military force under Charles Martel managed to drive them away in 756.

Although Córdoba was not the capital city of previous rulers such as the Byzantines and the Romans, it lay at the crossroads of important trade routes. Moreover the city possessed rich agricultural resources. From there the caliphs ruled parts of North Africaand the Iberian Peninsula.

The Muslims had, in fact, amassed a vast empire stretching from Spain to India and ruled diverse groups of people, who contributed to the later development of a sophisticated culture in a cosmopolitan setting found in Muslim capitals such as Córdoba. By 757 al-Andalus had been clearly established as a Muslim polity with a mainly Arab and Berber population, but also with many converts.

Within Muslim Spain, the Umayyad dynasty ruled over Arabs from various locations as well as Berbers, Jews, Christians. The lingua franca used by diverse groups of people within al-Andalus was Arabic.

Umayyad Dynasty

In 750 after a series of rival wars between various Muslim factions, the Umayyad Abd al-Rahman Mu’awiya, also known as Abd al-Rahman I, refused to acknowledge the Abbasid Sunni Caliphate based in Baghdad.

By this time the Abbasid dynasty was considered corrupt and weak. This led Abd al-Rahman to set up his own dynasty of emirs of Córdoba, first by ousting the previous ruler, Yusuf al-Fihri.

Abd al-Rahman proclaimed himself the first emir of Córdoba in the mosque of Córdoba on May 14, 756. The powerful Fatimid dynasty, based in Egypt, opposed the installation of the Umayyad Caliphate on Córdoba. The Fatimid dynasty had a strong hold over North Africa.

inside Cordoba (former) Mosque

Abd al-Rahman thus enlisted the help of the Zanata Berber tribe enemies of the Sinhaja tribe, allies of the Fatimids. Pro-Umayyad rebellions against the Fatimids were quashed and Abd al-Rahman was unable to advance into North Africa, as he was preoccupied with skirmishes with the Christians.

He ruled independently of the Abbasid Caliphate for 33 years, consolidating sufficient support for Umayyad authority to ensure the longevity of his dynasty. Abd al-Rahman succeeded in fending off Yusuf al-Fihri’s allies as well as the supporters of the Abbasid Caliphate within al-Andalus.

Later on the emirate became known as the Umayyad Caliphate, which was in fact modeled upon the older Abbasid Caliphate. The Umayyads, who were members of the prophet Muhammad’s tribe Qureish, claimed to be descendants from the prophet Muhammad.

Prior to conquering parts of the Iberian Peninsula the Umayyads had already ruled a huge part of the Muslim world including the important city of Samarkand at the eastern edge of their kingdom. Their conquests stretched to al-Andalus in the west with its capital in Córdoba.

By the time of Abd al-Rahman I’s death in 852, al-Andalus was already a major diplomatic power in the Mediterranean with emirates established over North Africa. Links had also been established with the Byzantine emperor, another major player in Mediterranean politics.

Visigoth Resistance

Visigoth Resistance
Visigoth Resistance

Initially the Muslim power that was responsible for the great wave of Muslim expansion was based in their distant capital city of Damascus. In Muslim Spain, however, Córdoba was made the capital, where the Muslim invaders settled down as property owners soon after their victory over the Visigoths.

One way land was acquired in Córdoba was through marriage with important members of the Visigothic aristocracy. This had the added advantage of staving off potential opposition from the Visigoths, who had been the ruling class in Córdoba before their defeat at the hands of the Muslims.

Despite the Visigoths’ apparent truce with the Muslims within Spain, members of the Visigothic aristocracy who had fled up north of the Iberian Peninsula continued to resist Muslim rule in the south.

This was an impetus for the Muslims to invade the northern mountainous region of the peninsula, as well as France. The Muslim invaders were especially looking to gain resources in France rather than the inaccessible regions in northern Spain.

These attacks were launched in order to gain booty, because at that time the Muslim rulers in Spain possessed a booty or ghanima economy. This system came to an end when the three major military expeditions to France during the eighth century ended in disastrous defeats.

Umayyad caliphs in al-Andalus had a policy of tolerance toward the non-Muslims under their rule. Non-Muslim residents had to bear the heaviest burden of taxation. They had to pay a poll tax (jizya) and a land tax.

Thus the greatest source of revenue, which went toward financing the caliphs’ military campaigns, was the non-Muslim inhabitants of al-Andalus. This contributed to the policy of tolerance of the Christian and Jewish population. Conversion to Islam escalated under the reign of the Umayyad Caliphate.

This is despite the fact that Islamic proselytizing was minimal during this period. Thus it has been suggested that social or economic forces, rather than any active missionary pressure on the part of the Muslims, motivated conversion.

During the ninth century mass conversions took place. The benefits of conversion included employment opportunities in government. Not only did Muslims pay significantly less tax than non-Muslims, they could also gain better positions in the bureaucracy.

In fact the unifying bonds between the various groups of people were culture and literature, rather than religion, which created a harmonious setting. There was a large Christian group within Muslim Spain known as the Mozarabs, who settled mostly in Seville.

They adopted a Muslim lifestyle, in terms of fashion, architecture, and literature, without converting to Islam. These Mozarabs suffered religious persecution in 1139 by fellow Christians after the raids of King Afonso I (Henriques) of Portugal on Seville, as they were not considered true Christians.

Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba

Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba
Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba

The caliph of Córdoba, formerly known as the emir of Córdoba, ruled Spain for slightly more than a century, from the year 929 to 1031, beginning with the reign of the most powerful Muslim ruler, Abd ar-Rahman III, who claimed the caliphate in 929.

The caliph was especially skilled at projecting his image as a powerful Arab leader. Abd ar-Rahman III made sure he was visible to his people in the many ceremonies and processions organized for him. He was Hispano-Basque (grandson of a Christian Basque princess) and was only a quarter Arab.

In order to look more like an Arab, it has been said, he dyed his hair black. The caliph presented himself as an effective leader of his own military troops. In his image campaign, newsletters and poems were glowingly written of his military prowess and piety.

During this period, in addition to having a reputation as an illustrious commercial center, al-Andalus also became an eminent center of knowledge and learning. Al-Andalus was a great civilization, compared with the rest of Europe at that time. Many Islamic works of art were produced during this era of Muslim rule.

Umayyad caliph Abd Al-Rahman III had a keen interest in the arts, as well as the religious and secular sciences. He amassed many books from other intellectual centers such as Baghdad, which were then stored in the library. Scholars were also hired to supplement further the amount of written knowledge imported.

Drawn to the bastion of knowledge and culture, many philosophers and scientists began to migrate to al-Andalus, making it a renowned center of learning. Intellectual life in Córdoba peaked during the reign of Al-Hakam II, who was in power from 961 to 967.

He was responsible for establishing a massive library filled with hundreds of thousands of volumes, a useful repository of knowledge in the Mediterranean world. During this period several intellectuals achieved prominence in Muslim Spain.

Spanish Muslim intellectuals excelled in the fields of mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. The most famous example is Ibn Rushd, otherwise called Averroës, who was a philosopher, theologian, physician, and sometime royal consultant, born and educated in Córdoba.

Christian Reconquest

Simultaneously the territories owned by the caliph of Córdoba decreased just as aspects of commerce and culture thrived. Internal dissension among different Arab factions weakened the Umayyad power base in Córdoba as they disintegrated into warring divisions.

The lack of Muslim unity proved crucial to Christian success. During the reign of Hisham II, the Umayyad Caliphate disintegrated into party-kingdoms in 1009. He was executed in 1013, only to be succeeded by another weak ruler, Hisham III, the last caliph of Córdoba.

Hisham III was exiled to Lerida. Nominal rule continued under the short-lived Hasanid dynasty until 1054. The further remaining territories dwindled into mere Muslim principalities, better known as independent taifas, ruled by mainly Berber rulers, though there were also non-Berber rulers.

With their defenses weakened because of lack of unity, these taifas often had to hire mercenaries from North Africa or Christian mercenaries to protect their principalities, which were constantly at war with each other. This chaotic situation in the Muslim states was conducive to Christian reconquest.

Christians in the northern parts of the Iberian Peninsula had already begun to consolidate their military and political power as early as the eighth century, and into the latter half of the ninth century.

Under the reign of Alfonso II (791–842), the Christians in the northern region had stabilized themselves. He was able to install Visigothic institutions in his kingdom with his capital in Oviedo.

The Christians viewed the reconquest of southern Spain (al-Andalus) as justified, since they were reclaiming what rightfully belonged to the Visigoths. Further impetus was provided by the discovery of the tomb of St. James the apostle, a patron saint around whom the Christians could rally.

From the eighth to the 10th century the Christian north had possessed an inferior economic system and cultural milieu compared to al-Andalus in the south. However they were already clearly formed political entities with military forces that were able to stave off attacks from their enemies from the south. This enabled them to reconquer Muslim Spain upon its disintegration during the 10th and 11th centuries.

In 1056 the Almoravid Empire took over as the rulers of Muslim Spain. They were replaced by the dynasty of Almohads in 1130. The decline of the Almohads in 1269 enabled the Christians to conquer parts of Muslim Spain with more ease.

The important cities of Córdoba and Seville had already fallen into Christian hands in 1236 and 1248, respectively, leaving only Granada as the last Muslim stronghold. In 1469 through the union of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, much of Spain was united. By 1492 a stronger Christian Spain finally took over Granada.

History Of The New World Of The Dutch, Swedish, English And Dutch West India Co.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NINA ASTIKA AT GOOGLE +)

 New Netherland
New Netherland
New Netherland

This Dutch colonial outpost existed along the Hudson River from 1609 to 1664. A relatively small and ineffectual colony, it was known for its trade and diversity. It was eventually captured by the English and became the colony of New York.

Following its independence from Spain in the 1570’s, the Netherlands began constructing a worldwide empire due in large part to its powerful navy and savvy traders. In one of the country’s first colonial ventures, Dutch merchants in 1609 financed Henry Hudson to explore North America and Hudson discovered the river that bears his name.

In 1614, the Dutch established their first permanent settlement at Fort Nassau, later relocated and renamed Fort Orange (present-day Albany). This northerly settlement never grew very large and existed primarily to trade with Iroquois Indians for furs.

In 1625, the Dutch West India Company established New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island to control access to the Hudson River. This southerly settlement soon attracted a variety of settlers to farm.

New Netherlands was beset by a series of problems for most of its history. Relations with Native Americans were generally poor. Fort Orange was largely dependent on the Iroquois for its survival, while colonists in the south drove Algonquins from their lands and fought four wars in 20 years with them.

Of more pressing concern, however, were the colony’s mismanagement and ineffective leadership. The colony never produced a profit for its investors, while its most effective governor was the autocratic Peter Stuyvesant (1647–64), who barred the colonists from participating in their own governance.

Because of these problems, New Netherlands had trouble attracting colonists. The Dutch West India Company did offer patronship, large land grants with manorial rights, to anyone who took 50 settlers to the colony. However, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was the only person to take up the company’s offer seriously.

Lacking Dutch settlers, New Netherlands opened its borders to dissenters from New England including Anne Hutchinson as well as emigrants from Belgium, France, Scandinavia, and Germany and African slaves. As one visitor noted of New Amsterdam: “There were men of eighteen different languages.” Very quickly the Dutch became a minority in their own colony.

Ethnic diversity invited religious differences and although Stuyvesant attempted to privilege the Dutch Reformed Church, the company insisted upon a policy of religious toleration. Puritans, Quakers, and Lutherans were common in New Netherland, and Jews received greater religious freedom than anywhere else in America.

Ultimately, New Netherland suffered the most from foreign competition. A Swedish colony on the Delaware River proved a distraction to the Dutch and, in 1655, Stuyvesant engineered a military takeover of New Sweden. However, Dutch hegemony proved short-lived as in 1664 an English fleet under the command of Richard Nicolls arrived off New Amsterdam.

Although Stuyvesant attempted to mount a defense of his colony, “a general discontent and unwillingness to assist in defending the place became manifest among the people.” On August 27, Stuyvesant surrendered New Netherlands to Nicolls, who granted the colonists generous terms, including the preservation of their property rights, inheritance laws, and religious liberty.

Explaining The Prophet Jonah And His Famous Mission

 

Jonah is the Prophet of the God of Israel that is know in most children’s stories as the man who got swallowed by a big fish and was spit out three days later. The issue here was that God gave him a directive to do something that he did not want to do so he got on a ship going in the opposite direction of where he was order to go. This event happened in about the year 759-758 BC. God had directed Jonah to go to the city on Nineveh and proclaim a message to them that if they did not repent of their evil ways and change their ways that they and their whole city would be destroyed my God in 40 days hence. The issue here is that Jonah hated the people of Nineveh and he did not want them to repent, he wanted God to destroy them instead. Nineveh was a huge and powerful city that was known far and wide as a ruthless people and basic logic would have said that Jonah was probably a bit afraid of going there. This event would have occurred during the reign of Nineveh’s King Ashurdan the third (773-755 BC).

 

Jonah was born in the town of Gath-hepher which was about 3 miles north of Nazareth in lower Galilee. This would have made him a Prophet of the Northern Kingdom. This fact also meant that the religious leaders of Jesus time the (Pharisees) were wrong when they said about Jesus in (John 7:52) search (the Scriptures) and look; for out of Galilee there has come no Prophets. There is a Jewish tradition that Jonah was the son of the boy who Elijah raised from the dead. You can find this story in the book of (1 Kings 17 8-24). Jesus Himself did support the historical accuracy of this book in (Matthew 12: 39-41). In this Scripture is the only time where Jesus ever likened Himself to a Prophet when Jesus spoke of Jonah being in the belly of the whale for three days and that He would also be in the heart of the Earth for three days.

 

Being that Jonah was in northern Israel when God told him to go to Nineveh which was to his north-east Jonah thought he could run from God and His directive by getting on a ship and sailing west to  Tarshish (Spain). While Jonah was on that ship a huge storm came up and the men on board who were very superstitious started looking around to find out who might have angered “the God’s”. Jonah stepped up and admitted what he had done so he told the men to throw him overboard so that they could be saved, they did and the storm calmed down. When Jonah hit the water a huge fish (probably a whale) swallowed him whole. Jonah survived in the belly of the fish for three days. During this time Jonah came to grips with his situation and repented of his sin and the fish spit him out onto dry land apx 20 miles from Nineveh.

 

If you were a citizen of Nineveh think of this scenario for a moment please. From 20 miles to the south of your city a man whom would be physically quite pink from the acids of the whales belly walks through your city and out the north end while proclaiming one sentence over and over, “40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Much to Jonah’s irritation the King and all the people sat in sackcloth and ashes while praying to the Lord for mercy. After Jonah had walked through the city he found himself a good viewing spot on top of a hill to where he could see if God would destroy the city and these evil people, or not.

 

While Jonah sat there waiting God planted a gourd that grew quickly which gave Jonah shade from the heat and the hot winds. Yet early the next morning God made a worm that ate the gourd killing it. Jonah soon passed out from the heat beating down on him. Once he woke up he was very mad about the gourd dying. God used this event as a teaching moment for Jonah. God asked Jonah why it was that he was so upset about a plant dying especially one that he had not planted or nourished in any way. Yet he (Jonah) wanted God to destroy this huge city and all of its inhabitants? To make a long story short God did not destroy Nineveh at that time because the King and all the people repented. Two generations after this event God did destroy the city as the ancestors of the people reverted to their old violent ways. I believe that a lesson to us all is that we need to try to look at life and at other people in our lives through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. All Christians are a tabernacle in which the Spirit of God resides and we should always try to see through His eyes, not through the eyes of humans.

Two Cowardly Men Murder Spanish Nun In Port-au-Prince Haiti

 

Spanish Catholic Nun Who Spent Her Life Helping The Poor Murdered In Haiti

  • The body of slain Spanish nun Isabelle Sola Matas is carried away by morgue workers, after she was attacked while driving her car in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. Local judge Noel Jean Brunet said that two men on a motorcycle drove by and killed the 51-year-old Roman Catholic nun while she was driving. Matas worked at St. Joseph church where she directed a program providing people with prosthetic limbs. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

    The body of slain Spanish nun Isabelle Sola Matas is carried away by morgue workers, after she was attacked while driving her car in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. Local judge Noel Jean Brunet said that two men on a motorcycle drove by and killed the 51-year-old Roman Catholic nun while she was driving. Matas worked at St. Joseph church where she directed a program providing people with prosthetic limbs. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)(The Associated Press)

A missionary from Spain who devoted her life to helping the poor in Haiti was fatally shot at a crowded intersection in the Caribbean country’s capital Friday.

Jean Bruner Noel, a justice ministry official at the scene, identified the woman as Isabel Sola Matas, 51. He said she was from Barcelona but had lived in Haiti for years.

Noel said her purse was stolen after assailants shot her twice in the chest as she sat at the wheel of her old SUV. She was attacked as she inched down a winding avenue filled with pedestrians and vehicles in Bel Air, a rough hillside neighborhood of shacks in downtown Port-au-Prince.

A Haitian woman who was a passenger in the car was also shot twice and taken to a hospital. Her condition was not immediately known.

At Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Rev. Hans Alexandre described Sola as a “tireless servant of God” who helped build houses, worked as a nurse, fed the hungry and created a workshop where prosthetic limbs were made for amputees injured in Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

“The loss is immense. In killing her they didn’t kill just one person, they killed the hopes of many people,” Alexandre said.

Sola invited Alexandre and four other priests to live at her two-story home for over a year after the previous church building and its rectory were toppled by the quake.

She helped raise tens of thousands of dollars to build a parish vocational school where Haitians could learn everything from catering to electrical wiring to music, Alexandre said.

One Haitian woman at Sola’s downtown home shouted in distress and anger when she heard about the killing.

“What a country this is! She did so very much for people here and this is what happens,” Suzie Mathieu said, covering her face with her hands.

Sola was a member of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, whose website describes it as a group of women from various countries who commit themselves to serving others.

Outside the home’s metal gate, a disheveled man in tattered clothes stared at the ground.

“She was the person who took care of people like me, helping with food and other things,” he said. “I am very sad today.”

___

Gun Rights Were Designed To Protect The People From Their Government

 

The Europe that our fore fathers left back in the 15, 16 and 17 hundreds was a landscape of tyranny put upon the people of the lands by their governments. Back in those days the people were not allowed to have any fire arms. Only the Royals, Feudal Lords and the Armies were allowed to have any fire power, not the people. So, anytime you had a mad man or woman who was your Landlord or the current Prince, Duke, King or Queen (evil women do exist you know) the people had no way to fight back against their aggression. When the State has all of the power that means that the people have none. If you lived in a country like England, France or Spain and you have a (Lord) who wished to take your land, your daughters, your sons, there was little you could do. You have probably heard the term bringing a knife to a gun fight, that is about how much chance the people had when those with power over them decided to rape, murder or steal from them.  Then there is the issue of cases like Ruby Ridge Idaho in 1992 when federal agents from among other “policing agencies” like the FBI  who murdered a 12 year old boy by shooting him in the back and his unarmed mother in the face killing her. If the family had not had fire arms, they would have all been murdered, and yes that does mean all the children also.

 

Federal agents were ordered there with the order given to “if it is breathing, kill it”. This is the way to make sure that there is no other side of a story getting told, simply kill everyone. The man who was at the center of this was supposed to be a white supremacist who had contacts within a like-minded group of people. This man was told to sell an illegally altered shotgun to this group, this would then give the government the “reason” to raid this group of people. The man in question said no, the government’s response was a directive to the FBI man in charge to “if it breathes, kill it”. These illegal acts upon American citizens was directed under a Republican administration (George H.W. Bush). Just a year later in Waco TX under a Democratic administration (Bill Clinton) there was another case of the American “policing agencies” gone insane. There the American government murdered over a hundred men, women, and children. After these two horrible events nothing happened to the ones who gave the orders to murder these innocent people or to the ones who murdered them. With both of these cases the very top, and I do mean the very top of the government agencies should have been prosecuted for mass murder, possibly even to the point of both presidential administrations (both Presidents) being removed from office, nothing happened to any of them. Just how much do you personally trust that all levels of the governments around you are honest?

 

Our fore fathers had enough sense to know that the only way to have freedom was if the people had a way to protect themselves from internal and external aggression. No matter how much fire power a government has the human leaders of the government know that they themselves can be brought down by a little gray pill. If those in power know that the people have no power to remove them from office as it would be if say only two political parties were allowed to share all the power between themselves and the people had no munitions to end their reigns of terror the people become nothing but slaves and cannon fodder to those in power. There are many reasons to keep fire arms in your home and one of those is self-protection from intruders who wish you and/or your family harm. No, this does not necessarily mean that all government employees are out to kill and steal from you but it is a means to try to keep you and your loved ones alive if crooked politicians or police departments do decide it is your day to die.

 

Guns are also a means to put food on your families table and or to rid your personal property of animals that you don’t want on your property. Just a few years back a rancher in Montana shot and killed a charging grizzly bear on his own property the result was that the feds fined him $2,000 for doing that. I guess the alternative would have been for the rancher to have stuck his head between his legs and kissed his behind goodbye. You or I as humans are not ever going to out run one so I guess that rancher should have volunteered to be bear poop. You know that is what the politicians would have done if it had been themselves out in that field with that bear, right? There are many predators in this old world, some on two legs, some on four.

 

There is also another reason that We The People were to be armed citizens, it is called invasions from nations or factions of people, lets say a religious culture who want to enslave or wipe out a town, city or even the whole country. If our government is really our government then they have nothing to fear from the citizens as the citizens will use their weapons to help back up and support our troops and law enforcement departments. Think about this for a moment, if you are going to raid a home, town or country it is much safer for you the aggressor if none of the above have any firearms. The nation becomes much easier to conquer if the population can’t fight back against the aggressor. I as a veteran took an oath to protect my country and my family from all threats, both foreign and domestic. Do you notice that it is the government that keeps trying to take away our ability to protect ourselves, why do you think that is?

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oldpoet56

truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.

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