7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

Of all the artistic works we humans have come up with over the years, our architectural achievements may be the most powerful. Great architecture combines form and function; it serves a purpose while acting as a symbol of the culture that created it. Much of our understanding of ancient cultures comes from the architecture they left behind, making it a crucial part of world history and our understanding of civilization as a whole.

If you get a chance, pay a visit to a few of these jaw-dropping masterpieces to get a full idea of how powerful architecture can be.

Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Chiang Rai, Thailand

Credit: espiegle / iStock

Created in 1997 by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple is one of the newest architectural wonders on this list, though it certainly deserves its place. A sparkling wonder of white plaster and glass, the White Temple is an artistic expression that combines traditional Thai beliefs with modern culture.

Though the exterior of the temple was designed in the Buddhist fashion common in Thai temples, the interior contains an expansive series of pop culture imagery, including depictions of Spider-Man, The Terminator, Michael Jackson, and more. Yes, really. And while photos of the inside of the temple are prohibited by Thai law, seeing the exterior alone should be enough to give you an idea of the grandeur of this bizarre project.

Great Wall of China

Credit: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock

Yes, China’s Great Wall certainly makes our list. And while it’s not the easiest architectural wonder for Americans to reach, it’s worth the trip. Sections of the 13,000+ mile wall were built as far back as the 7th century BCE, with new additions and revisions made over the next several thousand years.

There’s not much else to say about this one, because you already know it! The Great Wall of China is one of the most enduring works out there, with historians agreeing that it’s one of the most impressive architectural feats in human history.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Credit: master2 / iStock

Known casually as “the Pink Mosque,” the design of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is stunning.

This isn’t your grandma’s mosque; rather than the plain grays and slates typical of religious buildings, the Pink Mosque features a kaleidoscope of color, with pink floor tiles, rainbow stained glass, and painted geometric patterns adorning every interior wall. The outside is similarly impressive, but for this one, you really need to go inside to see its most impressive elements.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Credit: stock_colors / iStock

Another architectural favorite, the Colosseum is one of those ancient works that always seems to capture our imaginations. Completed around 80 AD, modern scholars believe that the Colosseum represents the brutality of Imperial Rome, noting its dark history of public executions, gladiator matches, and violent chariot races.

Despite its brutal history, it’s hard to ignore the Colosseum’s beauty as an architectural achievement. Reported to hold anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 spectators in its prime, it dwarfs many modern arenas and serves as a constant (and fragmented) reminder of a lost world.

Santorini/Thera, Greece

Credit: 4FR / iStock

If you ever find yourself in Greece, stop by the island of Santorini. One of many islands on the Aegean Sea, Santorini doesn’t feature one specific architectural achievement. Instead, the whole island can be considered an architectural achievement, acting as a modern representation of ancient Cycladic architecture.

On the island, you’ll see a series of white painted villages dotting red island cliffs, with residents adorning their homes in bright yellow, cyan, and red. Combined with the lush greenery of the region and its proximity to the deep blue Aegean, the whole island bursts forth in vivid colors and unique cliffside architecture unlike any you’ll see in the world.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA

Credit: fcarucci / iStock

The Golden Gate Bridge is a masterpiece of engineering if we’ve ever seen one. The bridge’s impressive length of 1.7 miles is matched by its height, standing a cool 220 feet above the waters of the Golden Gate Strait. Designed primarily by Charles Alton Ellis, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most enduring modern architectural works in the United States, even being named one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Credit: TomasSereda / iStock

One of the most visually striking buildings on this list, the Sagrada Familia basilica is an unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1852. However, despite Gaudi devoting his life to the building’s creation, he would die with less than a quarter of the project complete. And while a current team of architects is working to finish what Gaudi started, the fact that the church is unfinished is a selling point to many of the basilica’s 2.5 million annual visitors. With a surprisingly modern design approach that blends traditional church architecture with Gothic elements, this one is worth a visit—finished or not.

Monuments to Culture

From China to Italy to right here in the U.S., our architectural monuments are more than just buildings. They’re tributes to our culture. If you ever get a chance to scope out one of these engineering marvels, we suggest you take it. These wonders won’t be around forever, and when they go, they’ll take huge chunks of history with them.

Protesters clash after American flag burned outside White House before Trump’s July 4th event

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
(OPED: ITS JUST A THOUGHT BUT, HOW ABOUT DEPORTING THEIR ASSES OUT OF THIS COUNTRY TO WHEREVER THEY WANT TO LIVE BUT DON’T EVER LET THEM STEP ON AMERICAN SOIL AGAIN. JUST A THOUGHT)(oldpoet56)

Protesters clash after American flag burned outside White House before Trump’s July 4th event

Washington (CNN) Leftist protesters burned an American flag outside the White House on Thursday and then clashed with supporters of President Donald Trump, including the far-right Proud Boys group, not long before Trump took the stage for his “Salute to America.”

The protests, which turned into violent clashes at times, took place just blocks from crowds who had gathered to watch Trump’s July Fourth speech and fireworks displays on the National Mall.
Led by activist Joey Johnson, a group from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, linked arms and set an American flag on fire outside as they chanted, “America was never great.” The Secret Service intervened quickly to extinguish the fire.
“Burn, baby, burn,” the protesters chanted.
In a news release before the event, Johnson said he was leading the protest because “I’m going to be speaking to the people of the world letting them know that there are people inside the borders of this country who stand with the people of the world.”
After the flag was extinguished, Johnson’s group clashed with a group of pro-Trump protesters, who began chanting, “Trump 2020.” The two groups traded chants and scuffles that occasionally turned violent.
Multiple protesters, including Johnson, were escorted from the scene in handcuffs by the Secret Service. A news release after the event from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, said Johnson was among those arrested.
Among the protesters were members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group with ties to white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization a hate group.
The Secret Service tweeted a statement later Thursday that said there had been two arrests, though it included no names. One of those arrested was transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, the statement said, as were two uniformed Secret Service officers.
Trump’s July Fourth event in Washington, branded as a “Salute to America,” drew considerable controversy beforehand for the central role that US military equipment was expected to play, including M1 Abrams tanks and a military plane flyover.
Trump pushed back against criticism of the event, saying the military was “thrilled” to be part of it.

Trump Is Tired Of World Leaders Calling Him Out For Being An Idiot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ‘THE TELEGRAPH’)

 

Donald Trump ‘tired of Theresa May’s school mistress tone’ and will not hold talks with her at G7

It is unclear whether Donald Trump and Theresa May will hold bilateral talks during a G7 meeting in Canada
It is unclear whether Donald Trump and Theresa May will hold bilateral talks during a G7 meeting in Canada CREDIT: EPA/SHAWN THEW

Donald Trump has grown frustrated with Theresa May’s “school mistress” tone, allies of the president have told The Telegraph, as it emerged the pair will not hold formal talks at the G7 summit in Canada.

The US president is said to bristle at the Prime Minister’s approach during phone calls, with Mrs May quick to get into policy details rather than wider conversation.

One senior US diplomat said Mr Trump had expressed annoyance at Mrs May’s frequent demands, which are seen as taking advantage of the UK-US relationship.

Another long-time friend of the president revealed he had privately complained of how Mrs May calls him out in public when he is deemed to have stepped out of line.

A third figure, a former White House official who attended meetings between the pair, confirmed the frosty relationship: “No offence, but she is basically a school mistress. I’m not sure anyone gets on well with her.”

Donald Trump and Theresa May were photographed holding hands in January 2017, raising hopes they could strike up a political friendship
Donald Trump and Theresa May were photographed holding hands in January 2017, raising hopes they could strike up a political friendship CREDIT: NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX / EYEVINE

The comments made to this newspaper chime with a report in The Washington Post on Thursday that Mr Trump sees Mrs May as too politically correct after she rebuked him over claims that parts of London have become “no-go” areas.

Asked about Mr Trump’s reported view of her before the summit in Quebec, Mrs Mrs said: “I just get on and make sure that I’m delivering. That’s the job of any politician.”

World leaders will gather on Friday in Charlevoix, Quebec, for a meeting of the G7 that has been overshadowed by Mr Trump’s decision to hit allies with hefty steel tariffs.

On the agenda for the two-day summit will be economic growth, the future of employment, gender equality, climate change and world peace.

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Quebec for the G7 leaders summit 
Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Quebec for the G7 leaders summit  CREDIT: AFP

However, the discussions risk being overshadowed by a growing rift between Mr Trump and leaders of countries traditionally closely aligned with America.

Mr Trump’s decision to put 25 per cent steel tariffs and 10 per cent aluminium tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union have infuriated allies, as has his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Government sources said Mr Trump was not expected to hold bi-lateral meetings with Mrs May during the trip.

The White House said in a briefing on Wednesday that Mr Trump would hold bilateral meetings with Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, the leaders of Canada and France.

Donald Trump dismisses reports of rift with Theresa May as ‘false rumour’

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However, there was no mention of Mrs May.

Gordon Brown was once infamously snubbed by Barack Obama when he turned down five requests for a bilateral meeting during a 2009 gathering of world leaders in New York.

The then-prime minister had to settle for what one aide would later call a “snatched conversation” with Mr Obama in a kitchen, causing acute embarrassment when it was later reported.

Mrs May and Mr Trump, who have very different backgrounds and characters, have struggled to develop a close political friendship over the last 18 months.

The Prime Minster became the first world leader hosted in Mr Trump’s White House in January 2017, where the pair were pictured holding hands, but officials admit they are now not especially close.

Conservative MPs call on Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account

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A state visit to Britain offered at that time is still yet to happen and they have clashed a number of times over Mr Trump’s tweets and policy stances.

Former aides of Mrs May have insisted that Mr Trump often expresses his love for Britain during phone calls and adopts a respectful tone. However, few claim their relationship is especially warm.

British officials hope rolling out the red carpet when Mr Trump visits Britain on July 13 for a working trip will help improve relations, with a round of golf and tea with the Queen expected to feature.

But Mrs May is not alone in failing to build a rapport with Mr Trump. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has a frosty relationship with the US president, who often swipes at her country’s trade policies.

Donald Trump will head to Singapore after the G7 in Canada for his summit with North Korean leader Kim- ong-un
Donald Trump will head to Singapore after the G7 in Canada for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un CREDIT: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

And many Western leaders have done little to hide their anger at the US president’s decisions over Iran and tariffs, going public with their criticism in recent weeks.

The row over tariffs, which have seen those affected hit back with reciprocal moves, has led to one of the most troubled run-ups to a G7 meeting in years.

Mrs May said that while she has made clear to Mr Trump that the tariffs are “unjustified”, she urged the EU to ensure its response is “proportionate”.

She said: “I made my views clear of the steel and aluminium tariffs. We disagree with these, we think they are unjustified. Obviously the EU will be responding.

“We will be working with others in the EU to ensure that response is proportionate, that it is within WTO rules. I will continue to put the argument for the importance of those trade relationships around the World.”

Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip are greeted as they arrive at CAF Bagotville airfield 
Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip are greeted as they arrive at CAF Bagotville airfield  CREDIT: GETTY

Mr Macron, widely seen as having developed one of the warmest relationships with Mr Trump among world leaders, did little to hide his frustration before the gathering.

“You say the US President doesn’t care at all. Maybe, but nobody is forever,” Mr Macron said, appearing to cite the fact that Mr Trump will someday leave office.

Mr Macron also made reference to the joke that the G7 has become the ‘G6 plus one’, saying: “Maybe the American president doesn’t care about being isolated today, but we don’t mind being six, if needs be.

“Because these six represent values, represent an economic market, and more than anything, represent a real force at the international level today.”

Mr Trump referred to the trade row in a tweet on Thursday night, adding he was looking forward to seeing Mr Trudeau and Mr Macron.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

The US president is reportedly unhappy at having to attend the G7, coming on the eve of his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

The US president fears being lectured to by other world leaders and would rather spend the time preparing for his talks with Kim, according to US media reports.

Democracy Lebanon Style

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-AWSAT NEWS AGENCY)

Opinion

Opinion: When Lebanese Democracy Talks

The controversy surrounding the election of Donald Trump as US president made many outside America have another look at how its electoral system works. However, controversy is surely not limited to America; it extends to Lebanon, a faraway small country that boasts being an ‘institutional democratic’ state built on consensus and entente.

Many pose questions about the logic behind the American political system which values the electoral votes of individual states more than the direct popular votes of the electorate. The fact is that the USA is a federal country, thus its political representation needs to reflect two fundamental principles without which no healthy democracy can survive:
-The first is simple direct democracy whereby the numerical majority has the advantage over the numerical minority; and this is embodied in the House of Representatives where each state is represented by a number of congressmen relative to its population.
-The second is respect for national unity in a diverse society, where an individual in a populous state must enjoy no advantage over another individual from a less populous state before the federal law which must treat all Americans equally. The principle of national unity is enshrined in the Senate where all states, regardless of population, are equally represented by two senators each.

This great vision has helped make the American political system as a whole, one of the fairest and most advanced in the world. It has sustained an ever growing and geographically expanding country since the 16th century, attracting wave after wave of immigration; and through the years each American state based on its topography, natural environment, and economic resources had specific attributes and qualities despite free and smooth inter-state movement.

Of course Lebanon is far too small compared to the USA. Its ‘democratic’ experience is also pretty modest to compare with that of America’s ‘Founding Fathers’ and the legislations and agreements they adopted, even though these legislations and agreements failed to prevent the American Civil war (1861-1865), some vestiges of which remain until today. In fact, Lebanon too had a civil war in 1860 that helped create its almost ‘independent’ status; and as in America’s case, the vestiges of the war remain, while its borders have changed.

Still, size and global influence aside, there is another major difference between the American and Lebanese examples, which is that the Americans have learnt from their experiences, respected their institutions, and stopped bluffing themselves, which is not the case with the Lebanese.

In the USA no less than five presidents trailed their opponents in the popular votes, but abiding by the Constitution, the process led them to the White House. Moreover, despite the huge diversity in a country of 320 million inhabitants, there remains a good deal of healthy co-existence. We don’t hear people calling every day for a new electoral law that enhances the share of his or her ethnicity or religious sect. Nor do we hear of people calling for foreign intervention in their favor in the light of changing international policies.

Lebanon’s case, however, is totally different. Here, even the Lebanese constitution does not deal with its people as citizens but rather as members of sectarian flocks. The constitution which recognizes 17 sects, has “permanently” allocated each sect what has been deemed as its fair share of governmental position although population changes are continuous as are political disagreements.

Another interesting fact is that any Lebanese may spend his/her lifetime within the confines of his/her sect without interacting with other sects, beginning with birth, death, inheritance and marriage registries, and ending with education, health and employment. Thus, religious sects in Lebanon are de facto quasi-independent ‘states’, that have their own leaders, political parties, schools, universities, hospitals, and even sport clubs!

Given this situation and bearing in mind the vestiges of the past, the Lebanese have two living obsessions: the first is the ‘unfairness’ lamented by the Muslims who believe they are the majority that is long prevented from enjoying what it deserved under the French Mandate (1920-1943); and the second is the ‘fear’ felt by the Christians towards the ‘sea of Muslims’ surrounding them. The latter, led at first to separating Mount Lebanon from its surrounding area in 1861 and giving it the status of an ‘autonomous district’, i.e. “Mutassarrifiyya”, under the joint rule of the Ottoman Government and the European Powers, in order to ensure the ‘protection’ of the Christians. Then in 1920, it led to the creation of the current Lebanon (Grand Liban) under a Christian president, and a 6 to 5 parliamentary representation in the Christians’ favour that lasted until the ‘Taif Agreement’ in 1989.

Now, after ending ‘the presidential vacuum’ and forming the new cabinet, all that remains is electing a new parliament to replace the current one. The latter ended its four year term in 2013, but due to ongoing disagreement the scheduled elections were cancelled and its term extended. Still, disagreements continue regarding under what electoral law the forthcoming elections should be conducted, noting that almost all political parties and blocs refuse to carry on under the current multiple seat constituency law, popularly known as ‘The 1960 Law’.

There are many alternatives being put forward by parties and blocs ranging from full ‘proportional representation’ as preferred by Hezbollah and followers – which is understandable given its virtual armed hegemony – to the ‘Greek Orthodox Law’ whereby each sect elects its own members of parliament, including different ‘mixed’ versions combining direct vote and PR.

One alternative, however, that seems to be intentionally and stubbornly dismissed is the one calling for a bi-cameral parliament comprising: A Senate or Upper House elected by each sect, whereby all religious sects are equally represented and enjoy a ‘veto’ on issues adversely affecting their interests; and a House of Deputies or Representative, elected with no sectarian quota, with Lebanon as a single constituency, thus encouraging proper issue-based political parties after ridding the country of the two obsessions, i.e. the Muslims with ‘unfairness’ and the Christians with ‘fear’!

Why the idea of a Senate looks like being rejected out of hand, is not really surprising, if one keeps in mind the Lebanese eternal gamble in external forces and changes of regional and international balance of power. This remains the case despite the fact that the Lebanese Constitution, as adopted in Taif, called clearly for ‘wide decentralization’ and a ‘senate’.

Indeed, it has become a habit of Lebanon’s factions to demand justice and fairness when they are the underdogs, but seek hegemony when they feel they are winning.

Given such a mentality, any authority devised to curtail the ambitions of the powerful and defended the rights of the weak, has no chance of being accepted; as every faction hopes one day to be powerful enough to monopolize the country, and obliterate the others. Even the one who may be weak today would rather hope for an opportune moment to gamble again, and settle old scores.

In short, this is ‘electoral democracy – Lebanese Style’!

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with the newspaper since 1978.

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America The Lost

America The Lost

When I write something via free thought I am a person who for the most part needs a title first so that I can write to it. I settled on this title because it is unfortunately true in so many ways. By no means am I anti-American, I am not anti any country. As most people in our country probably know, our country is very sick and I do believe it is now to the point where it is terminal. I completely believe that the only chance our country has of survival is if the vast majority of our population (and our leaders) turns back to God our creator with all our hearts, minds, and souls. To be totally honest with you I just don’t see that happening. I believe that the three biggest pieces of cancer in our country are where the three main media centers are located, Hollywood, NYC, and DC. The pretty Lady with the Torch and all of Her land to Her west is crumbling all around Her and us. Also, these so-called Political Parties who always sell themselves to the highest bidders is destroying all of the fiber which our Country was created on and either it stops very soon or our country will not be in existence for our kids and grand-kids.

There are people in our country who want to get rid of the second amendment (the people’s right to have the means to protect ourselves and our families) all together. I believe that most of the people who wish this to happen are filled with good intentions, it is my contention that these folks are a good bit unrealistic in their thoughts though. Even to this date with all of the revelations shown to us by Mr. Snowden along with the IRS flaws and the so-called Patriot Act which burnt the Constitution, some people still think that our government is only filled with good intentions. Many people do not realize that our Country’s founding Fathers had seen first hand how a country where it’s people could not defend themselves were treated by the government. The Founding Fathers very much intended for it to be where We The People could defend ourselves from a government that oppresses its own people. They plainly wanted the people to be able to revolt if necessary. Do you remember your history classes about how the governments of Europe made it illegal for the people to possess arms and then how the Governments oppressed it’s people, where the people with no means to defend themselves simply became servants to the ruling class? How many lessons did you learn from what happened at Ruby Ridge where the government agents orders were “if it breathes, kill it”. Or do you remember the mass murdering of almost all of the men women and children at Waco? Do you honestly think that your best interest is what our government has on its daily agenda?

Now before you get to thinking that I am some right-wing gun-toting Militia member grand-pappy whose agenda is chaos you could not be further from the truth. I am not an anti gun person at all, and I do own a couple myself. I do believe that everyone has the God-given right to be able to protect themselves and their family. Just like I am not a hunter yet I believe people have the right to hunt if they want to. I am not a vegetarian, I do buy and eat meat from the grocery store, one can not say they are anti hunting if they are not a vegetarian, they would be what is  called a hypocrite. O by the way in case you wanted to pigeon-hole my political association  as being a Republican or as a Democrat, I am neither, I am a long time registered Independent.

Enough now about weapons and people’s concerns of them. I would now like to turn my attention on the economics problems as they are many. If my education was in economics I and many of you could probably write a book on our countries economic issues. I am just an old guy who is speaking from the school of lessons learned from a lifetime of paying attention. O in case you wondered about it, my degrees are in Sociology and in Anthropology but I did study some economics classes while in school. A few months ago I wrote an article in this blog called “It’s Called Trickle Up Economics”, if you would, please spend a few moments reading it. In it I discussed my irritation on how the so-called Stimulus Package money was used. What I wrote (in my opinion) in that blog post spells out my anger without me basically rewriting it here today.

Folks, I love this Country and I love the people who make up the fiber of this Country, for a country is it’s people, not their government. I don’t like the governments of several countries on this Globe but disliking a country’s government doesn’t mean I dislike the people. It is like in our country, I do not like the direction our Country is being led into but I would still give my life to protect our people. It really bothers me when I see how crooked and inept our Government has become and it is only we the people who can change it before we all are led straight into the belly of Hell by this inept evil leadership. I am not mad at how things are, I am just very sad at how blind our country has become and how evil our leaders are.