Sunday, June 24, 2018

Age Spots

From the Trianon Health and Beauty Blog:
Oil of Frankincense, lavender essential oil and rose geranium essential oil  are all helpful for fading age spots if used regularly. My night cream  has the oils of frankincense and lavender and the day cream has the rose  geranium oil and the lavender as well. The coconut oil in the creams acts as a carrier oil to render the oils more effective. (Read more.)

When the ACLU Sued the Obama Administration

The ACLU sued the Obama administration over the treatment of migrants and their children. From The Washington Post:
Unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border during a historic wave of migration earlier this decade were repeatedly beaten, sexually abused, and deprived of food and medical care by federal border agents, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report released Wednesday.

About 30,000 pages of documents obtained by the ACLU through an open-records lawsuit depict a gantlet of alleged mistreatment for the tens of thousands of children who arrived mainly from Central America between 2009 and 2014, during the Obama administration. Many were seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing death threats and violence in their homelands.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents allegedly used stun guns on the minors for amusement or punishment, kicked them and threatened to either rape or kill them. The ACLU report — which is based on emails, complaint forms and investigative reports — says agents routinely kept minors in detention cells with frigid temperatures, forcing them to sleep on concrete floors. (Read more.)
Visit the ACLU's report on their own website, HERE.

Perfect Fish and Chips

Now I know where to eat when in Shetland. From The Spectator:
I was in Shetland on my summer holiday and one extraordinary day it stopped raining and the sun came out. We went swimming in 4mm wetsuits in the loch in the morning and then went to the Agricultural Show at Voe where we saw sheep with curly wurly horns and Shetland ponies in competition. We also bought shortbread and marvelled at giant onions which had won a first prize red rosette.

After viewing all the fun and hoopla, and taking pictures of three people dressed up as Vikings in the car park, we drove a little further to Brae, to visit Frankie’s, Britain’s best and most northerly fish and chip shop. Frankie’s was voted the country’s Best Takeaway at the National Fish and Chips Awards in 2015. It’s walls are decorated with many other accolades. It is an establishment dedicated to spanking fresh quality and sustainability. The shop runs a fish course for school children to teach them about fish stocks, species and seasonalities and is involved with several local charities. This summer Frankie’s owner, Valerie Johnson, was awarded the MBE for services to the food and drink industry in the Queens Birthday Honours List.

Frankie’s is a little bit perfect. Family-run, founded in 2008, open seven days a week. Inside an unprepossessing industrial unit exterior, the restaurant is clean and modern and efficiently designed. There is a takeaway counter in front of an open kitchen and a separate café area. An LCD screen displays the specials; often deep fried crab claws, sometimes cullen skink or lemon sole panko breaded goujons. Almost all of their fish comes from local waters. Their salad greens are homegrown, the coleslaw and Marie Rose sauce are homemade, there are ‘Bairn’s Boxes’ like Happy Meals, and crayons and paper place mats for kids. There is a whole menu and separate fryer for gluten-free deep frying. (Read more.)

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.)