Saturday, June 23, 2018

La Reine Morte (2009)

as the King of Portugal with as his daughter-in-law, Inês de Castro
The Murder of Inês de Castro
Prime Video offers many foreign dramas including La Reine Morte (2009), based upon the play by Henry de Montherlant about the doomed marriage of the future Pedro I of Portugal with Inês de Castro. As heir to the throne of Portugal, Prince Pedro must marry for reasons of state, but has already secretly married his lover Inês, a Spanish lady of illegitimate birth. When Pedro's father the King discovers his son's disobedience, his long-standing grudge against the young man is enflamed, and he becomes obsessed with destroying the couple. As the pair try to live in the present, relishing their time together, they know at any moment they might be separated; Inês prepares to give her life. Meanwhile, even though the King struggles with his conscience he gives in to evil advisors and decides to have Inês assassinated.

The fourteenth century Portuguese court is recreated thanks to authentic sets and costumes and gifted actors. Although the story-line veers from historical fact into fiction and legend, the film nevertheless does a masterful job at encapsulating the poignance and calamity of the union of Pedro and Inês. The lovers' joy in each other provokes jealousy, enmity and bitterness which in the film are shown as being motives behind the murder as well as the alleged political expediency. The final scene, in which Pedro, after becoming King, orders Inês' corpse to be exhumed and enthroned before the nobles, is breathtaking even as the heart breaks.

The real story is no less tragic. According to the Algarve History Association:
It is rare in Portugal to find a Castilian held in high historical regard, but so it is with Inês Peres de Castro e Valadares. In fact she was descended from noble Portuguese and Galician lines as well as illegitimately from the Castilian royal house. Every Portuguese schoolchild knows her story, and every visitor to the monastery at Alcobaça must have visited her magnificently carved tomb opposite the nearly identical tomb of her royal lover Don Pedro I, placed so that when they arise at the day of judgment, they may see each other first of all.

Inês de Castro arrived in Portugal in 1339 as a lady in waiting to Infanta Constanza of Castile, bride of Don Pedro, heir to the throne of Portugal. The Infanta Constanza bore three children, one of whom was Don Fernando, future king of Portugal. Dona Constanza died in November 1345, shortly after the birth of Don Fernando.

When Dona Inês arrived in Portugal, she was only 15 years old, and Don Pedro was immediately struck by a coup de foudre. What a situation, to be married to Constanza, and to be head-over-heels in love with one of her ladies in waiting. The solution was to carry on a secret adulterous love affair with Inês which became open after the death of Constanza. His father, Don Afonso IV King of Portugal, became alarmed at the behaviour of his son and heir, not because of the affair, but because Don Pedro began friendly relations with the brothers of Inês, who were also of course Castilian. Don Afonso feared for the independence of his country after his own death, and warned Don Pedro time and again to break off these relationships, but without success.

In 1344, Don Afonso ordered that Inês be incarcerated in the castle of Albuquerque on the Castilian frontier. Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder, and so it proved in this case. After the death of Constanza, Don Pedro recalled Inês against the will of his father the King, which led to a major disagreement between them. Don Pedro rejected a plan for another marriage to another Castilian princess, saying that he mourned for his dead wife. In the meantime, Inês bore four of his children, including two boys. Rumours began to circulate that the Castro family planned to disinherit Don Fernando the true heir to the throne in favour of the children of Inês. Amid rumours that Don Pedro and Inês had secretly married, and were living in the Convento de Stª Clara-a-Velha in Coimbra, Portuguese nobles pressed the king to resolve the issue. One morning in January, 1355 while Don Pedro was out hunting, the king and three assassins visited the Convento, and performed the dastardly deed. She was 29 years old.

The devastated Don Pedro began a civil war against his father, and upon ascending the throne in 1357, declared that he and Inês had been married in Bragança (on a date which he did not remember) so legitimising Inês´ children. Two of the assassins were executed by having their hearts torn out in front of the king. The third escaped. There is a legend that when he became king in 1357, Don Pedro exhumed the corpse of Inês and forced all of his court to kiss her hand as though she were a living queen. (Read more.)
Whether the enthronement story is true or not, King Pedro loved Inês until he died. On his tomb he had the following words inscribed: Até o fim do mundo...("Until the end of the world..."). And so, even now, they await the final resurrection together.
The Murder of Inês de Castro
The Enthronement of Inês de Castro
Pedro and Inês: "Until the end of the world..."


Trump’s Critics Desecrate the Holocaust

Trump's critics obscenely invoke the Nazis every time there is anything they do not like. It is dishonoring the victims of the Nazis to do so. Such stupidity is almost criminal. What is described in the article is only the tip of the iceberg of heinous ways that the Nazis killed millions of people. From The Wall Street Journal:
Almost everyone, including President Trump, agrees that separating alien children from their parents and housing them in detention centers was an untenable policy that needed to be changed. Some have said, not without justification, that the images were reminiscent of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

But another comparison is indefensible. “Other governments have separated mothers and children,” tweeted Michael Hayden, who directed the Central Intelligence Agency under George W. Bush —with a photo of railroad tracks leading into the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. “Children are being marched away to showers,” said MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, “just like the Nazis said that they were taking people to the showers and then they never came back.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said in a television interview: “This is the United States of America. It isn’t Nazi Germany, and there’s a difference.”

Mrs. Feinstein is right. There is no comparison.

Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were rounded up and packed into cattle cars, with little air or light, no food and virtually no water, for a harrowing two- to three-day trip to Auschwitz. They rode in terror and anticipation, having no idea what was in store for them at the destination. Exhausted and scared, they frequently had to stand for the entire trip. Mothers clutched sons; daughters held on to fathers; children gripped both parents’ hands; grandparents and the infirm struggled to stay alive. Many didn’t survive the journey.

When the trains arrived at Auschwitz, it was a scene of chaos, confusion and horror. After days trapped in darkened cattle cars, squinting into bright floodlights lining the tracks was almost unbearable. So was the stench, like nothing the captives had ever smelled before. They didn’t know it at the time, but it was the odor of burning human flesh and hair.

Outside, they heard all kinds of noises: German shepherds and Doberman pinschers barking loudly, and commands in German most of them couldn’t understand. When they stumbled out of the cattle cars, disoriented and anxious, timidly asking questions, the German shouted back, “Raus, raus, raus!” (“Out, out, out!”). In the distance, the prisoners saw a skyline of chimneys, with bright orange plumes of flame shooting into the clouds. They didn’t know that most of them would be ash within hours.

The SS separated the healthy males, slating them for work details while everyone else was taken to the gas chambers. Invariably, mothers wanted to stay with their children. The SS would say, “good, good, stay with child.” Under a rain of baton blows, women, children and old men were marched into “changing rooms” and told to undress. The Germans told the prisoners that they were going to be “disinfected.” Then they tightly wedged some 2,000 people at a time into the chambers, where they saw what looked like shower heads.

The massive airtight doors were locked with an iron bolt. It was dark. Zyklon B was released, and the screaming began. The prisoners huddled together, screamed together, gasped for air together. While children violently hugged their parents, hundreds of people tried to push their way to the door, trampling children in the process. In the dark, skulls were crushed and hundreds of people were battered beyond recognition. The bloodcurdling screams turned into a death rattle, then a gasp. Within 20 minutes, the job was done.

The bodies lay in heaps, every one of them dead—as many people as were cut down in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg; two-thirds of the 9/11 death toll. The bodies were then burned, the ashes used as filler for German roads and walking paths. Within hours, the Nazis would repeat the process, extinguishing another 2,000 human lives.

As for the prisoners who were selected to work in the camps, the Germans stripped them of their identities, referring to them instead by numbers tattooed on their forearms. Prisoners were forced to stand half-naked, doused with buckets of ice-cold water, or lashed 50 times with a whip. They were awakened at 4 a.m., forced to do backbreaking work for 12 hours with virtually no rest or food. They slept almost naked, with no blankets in temperatures often below freezing in the winter. Most died within weeks of arriving at the camp. Between the gas chamber and the work detail, more than a million people were murdered this way at Auschwitz. (Read more.)
Meanwhile, the press manipulates the emotions of the populace, HERE. Share

The Secret to Longevity

From McGill:
You are what you eat. Or so the saying goes. Science now tells us that we are what the bacteria living in our intestinal tract eat and this could have an influence on how well we age. Building on this, McGill University scientists fed fruit flies with a combination of probiotics and an herbal supplement called Triphala that was able to prolong the flies’ longevity by 60 % and protect them against chronic diseases associated with aging.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, adds to a growing body of evidence of the influence that gut bacteria can have on health. The researchers incorporated a symbiotic – made of probiotics with a polyphenol-rich supplement – into the diet of fruit flies. The flies fed with the synbiotic lived up to 66 days old – 26 days more than the ones without the supplement. They also showed reduced traits of aging, such as mounting insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress. 

“Probiotics dramatically change the architecture of the gut microbiota, not only in its composition but also in respect to how the foods that we eat are metabolized,” says Satya Prakash, professor of biomedical engineering in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and senior author of the study. “This allows a single probiotic formulation to simultaneously act on several biochemical signaling pathways to elicit broad beneficial physiological effects, and explains why the single formulation we present in this paper has such a dramatic effect on so many different markers”. The fruit fly is remarkably similar to mammals with about 70 % similarity in terms of their biochemical pathways, making it a good indicator of what would happen in humans, adds Prakash. (Read more.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Katherine of Aragon's Speech Before the Legatine Court

Queen Katherine pleads with her husband. To quote:
Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger born out of your dominion. I have here no assured friends, and much less impartial counsel…
Alas! Sir, wherein have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have I deserved?… I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did any thing to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had any delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much. I never grudged in word or countenance, or showed a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved, only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies. This twenty years or more I have been your true wife and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them out of this world, which hath been no default in me…
When ye had me at first, I take God to my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether it be true or no, I put it to your conscience. If there be any just cause by the law that ye can allege against me either of dishonesty or any other impediment to banish and put me from you, I am well content to depart to my great shame and dishonour. And if there be none, then here, I most lowly beseech you, let me remain in my former estate… Therefore, I most humbly require you, in the way of charity and for the love of God – who is the just judge – to spare me the extremity of this new court, until I may be advised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much impartial favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause! (Read more.)

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria....

From Balkan Insight:
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose country holds the EU presidency, has intervened in the acrimonious debate on migration by saying the EU must "close its borders" to those who do not use authorised checkpoints. Borissov made the call to the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union, COSAC – a joint conference of MEPS and MPs from the EU parliaments – on Monday in Sofia. “Bulgaria made it through [the refugee crisis]; without much talking, without much complaining, we secured our border with Turkey with fences and additional police and coastguards. This is why I will recommend a compromise to the European Council – prevention, including the shutdown of all EU borders,” he said.

As Sofia’s stint as head of the EU Council of Ministers enters its last days, the Bulgarian leader notably toughened his stance on migration and border issues. “Everybody who wants to enter [the EU] should make it through a border checkpoint. This is something that is done in the US, in Canada, anywhere! Why should Europe be a 'yard without a fence?'" Borissov said on Tuesday, using a Bulgarian expression for someone who cannnot control who enters and exits their land.

Borissov added that migrants who are open to integration should be integrated, while the others should be sent back to their home countries. If this does not happen, the EU risks more internal divisions, he warned. His words will echo with a recent statement of the head of the government of the next country that will take over the presidency of the EU. (Read more.)

The Great Stink

From Number One London:
The Great Stink actually took place in 1858, but of course London had been stinking for centuries prior. In the first half of the 19th Century, London’s population was 2.5 million, all of whom ultimately discharged their waste directly onto the streets or into the Thames.  Besides people, there were hundreds of thousands of horses, cows, dogs, cats, sheep, etc. adding their daily contributions to the waste problem. John Cadbury, social reformer and candy company founder, wrote:  “Foul odors emanated from more than 200,000 cesspools across London, in alleyways, yards, even the basements of houses. It was not a smell that could be easily washed away.”

Most homes and businesses were built above cesspits, designed to drain to the street by means of a crudely built culvert to a partially open sewer trench in the center of the street. The design was faulty, to say the least. Cesspits often overflowed and waste soaked foundations, walls and floors of living quarters. Culverts typically became blocked and caused sewage to spread under buildings and contaminate shallow wells, cisterns and water ways from which drinking water was drawn. In October 1660, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary: “Going down to my cellar…I put my feet into a great heap of turds, by which I find that Mr. Turner’s house of office is full and comes into my cellar.

While causing disgust in Pepys and thousands of other Londoners, cesspits gave work to a portion of the population who included night soil men and saltpetre men. Saltpetre is another name for potassium nitrate, an essential ingredient in the manufacture of gunpowder. It was typically generated by collecting vegetable and animal waste into heaps and mixing it with limestone, mortar, earth and ashes. These heaps were kept moist from time to time with urine or other waste from stables. Digging for ingredients in outbuildings such as dovecotes and stables provided adequate supplies of gunpowder for the navy. Beginning during the reign of Elizabeth I, official saltpetre men were given powers to requisition any suitable deposits they came across. In 1621 James I appointed Lords of the Admiralty as Commissioners for Saltpetre and Gunpowder. They divided the country into districts for collection, and specialised saltpetre men were appointed and given weekly quotas to meet. They were also awarded powers with the right to enter premises to dig for nitrogenous earth. (Read more.)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Solstice

The longest day has arrived. Here are some pictures of sunsets and sunrises.


Trump and the Invasion of the West

As the Trump administration tries to fix a mess created by bad laws passed during previous administrations, we remember that maintaining a border is the right of every country, along with the duty to protect its citizens. It is a matter of the rule of law. My mother and grandmother are Hispanic; three of my grandparents and both of my parents were legal immigrants. They made sacrifices in order to obey the law and become citizens through the proper channels.

The migrant crisis is fraught with complications which add to the suffering of the innocent. What about all the children who arrived without parents? From Big League Politics:
 Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen revealed Monday that 10,000 of the 12,000 children detained at the border came to the border without parents with him, smacking down the mainstream media narrative that the Trump administration is tearing many families apart out of callous disregard for illegal immigrants. The illegal immigrant child-detention program that was criticized during the Obama administration is a policy that President Donald Trump is trying to end, pressuring Democrats to get on board with an immigration bill that funds his Wall and creates merit-based immigration among other policy planks. (Read more.)
The border patrol agents, whom the liberal media are comparing to Nazis, are trying to protect the children from human trafficking:
San Diego’s chief Border Patrol agent Rodney Scott said Monday that the Border Patrol separates children from the adults they are with if there are concerns that the kids are being human-trafficked. Scott revealed that oftentimes traffickers “recycle” children in order to get illegal alien grown-ups over the Southern border into the United States. “OOPS! A media outlet slipped & printed the truth today!,” Ann Coulter declared, showing people that the media is not being forthright and truthful when reporting on the supposed border separation program. (Read more.)
And from ICE:
The Washington Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), in collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Operation Predator, participated in Operation Broken Heart from March 1 through May 31. The operation identified individuals using peer-to-peer networks to share child pornography. During the operation, the Washington ICAC Task Force conducted 51 investigations involving peer-to-peer networks and made 47 arrests. HSI, as part of the task force, conducted 11 search and seizure warrants; made six federal arrests, four state arrests, and one state arrest pending military charges; and identified/rescued one minor victim. The Washington ICAC Task Force also made 67 presentations to educate the public about child exploitation investigations, reaching nearly 4,000 people. (Read more.)
Although President Trump is resolved to keep families together, the isssues at the border remain formidable. From Breitbart:
President Donald Trump reminded critics of his tough immigration policy on Monday that criminals were using children to cross the Southern border. “Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,” Trump wrote on Twitter. (Read more.)
 Also from Breitbart:
Border Patrol agents rescued a woman traveling with three children not her own after they became stranded in the middle of the Rio Grande River border with Mexico. Officials told Breitbart Texas the children traveling with the woman were unaccompanied minors. The woman was also crossing with another and her two children. Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents battled strong currents and high water to rescue seven illegal immigrants left stranded in the middle of the Rio Grande River, Breitbart Texas reported. Agents assigned to the Eagle Pass Border Patrol station came across a group of illegal immigrants on June 12 who were abandoned on a small island in the middle of the Rio Grande River border with Mexico. They found two adults and five juveniles who became stranded, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Border Patrol officials indicated the two women put the minors in dangerous conditions while attempting to cross the border illegally. “The individuals were trying to cross and make their way into the United States,” officials said in a written statement. “However, unusually swift and strong currents proved too much for the group.” Officials did not say if the group was traveling with a human smuggler at the time. (Read more.)
From The Hill:
 As House Republicans prepare to meet Thursday to discuss various options on immigration reform, they should remember one of the things that makes America such an attractive place for immigrants from all over the world, which is our dedication to the rule of law, and the shared commitment to the belief that what makes the rule of law work is our determination to apply the law equally, without fear or favor. Seen in that light, it is odd, to say the least, that some Republicans in Congress would “solve” the “immigration problem” by advocating for “solutions” that take our current failure to enforce the laws on the books and, instead of reversing course and enforcing them, find ways to change the law to legalize breaking of the law. (Read more.)
From PJB:
Consider. Since 2016, some 110,000 children have entered the U.S. illegally and been released, along with 200,000 Central American families caught sneaking across the border. Reflecting its frustration, the White House press office declared: "We can't deport them, we can't separate them, we can't detain them, we can't prosecute them. What (the Democrats) want is a radical open-border policy that lets everyone out into the interior of this country with virtually no documentation whatsoever." Where many Americans see illegal intruders, Democrats see future voters. And with 11,000 kids of illegal immigrants in custody and 250 more arriving every day, we could have 30,000 in custody by summer's end. (Read more.)