Friday, 30 June 2017

JUNE, 30 1894. LONDON'S TOWER BRIDGE IS OPENED

Tower Bridge under construction
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London built between 1886 and 1894. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic symbol of London, resulting in it sometimes being confused with London Bridge, situated some 0.80 km upstream. 

Tower Bridge is one of five London bridges now owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. It is the only one of the Trust's bridges not to connect the City of London directly to the Southwark bank, as its northern landfall is in Tower Hamlets.

More information: Tower Bridge

The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical components of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers.

The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, whereas the bridge's twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, for which an admission charge is made. 

The Grandma walking across Tower Bridge
The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, and his wife, The Princess of Wales, Alexandra of Denmark.

The high-level open air walkways between the towers gained an unpleasant reputation as a haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets; as they were only accessible by stairs they were seldom used by regular pedestrians, and were closed in 1910.

The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. Before its restoration in the 2010s, the bridge's colour scheme dated from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. Its colours were subsequently restored to blue and white.

More information: Daily Mail


The lowest and vilest alleys of London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside. 

Arthur Conan Doyle

Thursday, 29 June 2017

JUSTICE FOR THE PAST, DIGNITY FOR THE PRESENT

Salvador Puig Antich, a victim of the Repression
The Francoist Repression, also the White Terror, in Spain was the series of politically motivated actions of violence, rape, and other crimes committed by the Nationalist faction during the Spanish Civil War (17 July 1936–1 April 1939), and during the first decade of Francisco Franco's dictatorship (1 October 1936–20 November 1975). 

For nine years (1936–45), the official mass killings of the loyalists to the Second Spanish Republic (1931–39) included the Popular Front, liberals, Socialists, Trotskyists, Communists, anarchists, Protestant Christians, freethinkers, intellectuals, Freemasons, and Catalan and Basque people.

More information: History Today

To eliminate Red leftism in Spain, the White Terror realized the Nationalists’ political reaction, the re-establishment of the monarchic status quo ante in place of the democratic Spanish republic. The right-wing notion of a limpieza, cleansing of society was an essential political strategy of the Franco government, thus, the assassinations began immediately after the nationalists captured a place. 

The Model Prison in Barcelona: terror and death
The Civil Guard, nationalist military, and the fascist Falange realized political violence against civilians in name of Franco, and were ideologically legitimized by the Roman Catholic Church as defenders of Christendom.

Throughout the Franco dictatorship, the Law of Political Responsibilities, Ley de Responsabilidades Políticas, promulgated in 1939, reformed in 1942, and in force until 1966, gave legalistic color of law to the political repression that characterized the dismantling of the democratic republic; and served to punish loyalist Spaniards who survived the military coup d’État against the Spanish Republic in July 1936. 

In 2015, the government of Spain refused Spanish historians access to the pertinent government archives, open to foreign historians, which would allow determining the physical whereabouts and political fate of victims of the White Terror.

Historians of the Spanish Civil War concur that the death toll of the White was greater than the death toll of the Red Terror (38,000–72,344), because the White Terror was formal policy of the Nationalist government of General Franco until 1945, six years after the end of Spanish Civil War, in 1939.

From 1938 to 1978, 63961 people were processed in Catalonia by the dictatorship without legal conditions. Today, June, 29 2017, the Catalan Parliament has annulled all those illegal judgements and has restored the dignity of all the victims of the Franco's dictatorship.

Justice the past, dignity the present, hope the future.


More information: Revolvy


The struggle is so great that the triumph over fascism 
alone is worth the sacrifice of our lives. 

Federica Montseny

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

TINA PICOTES VISITS EESTI VABARIIK

Tina Picotes walking across Tallinn streets
Fina Picotes is finishing her tour across the Baltic Republics. Today, she's visiting Eesti Vabariik.

Eesti Vabariik or Republic of Estonia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia, and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia. Across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden in the west and Finland in the north. The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands and islets in the Baltic Sea, covering 45,339 km2 of land and water, and is influenced by a humid continental climate.

More information: Visit Estonia

The territory of Estonia has been inhabited since at least 6500 BC, with Finno-Ugric speakers , the linguistic ancestors of modern Estonians, arriving no later than around 1800 BC. 

Tina Picotes in Tallinn, Eesti Vabariik
Following centuries of successive German, Danish, Swedish, and Russian rule, Estonians experienced a national awakening that culminated in independence from the Russian Empire towards the end of World War I. During World War II, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, then by Nazi Germany a year later and was again annexed by the Soviets in 1944, after which it was reconstituted as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1988, during the Singing Revolution, the Estonian Supreme Soviet issued the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration in defiance of Soviet rule, and independence was restored on 20 August 1991.

Estonia is a democratic parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties. Its capital and largest city is Tallinn.

Ethnic Estonians are a Finnic people, sharing close cultural ties with their northern neighbour, Finland, and the official language, Estonian, is a Finno-Ugric language closely related to Finnish and the Sami languages, and distantly to Hungarian.

Citizens of Estonia are provided with universal health care, free education and the longest paid maternity leave in the OECD. Since independence the country has rapidly developed its IT sector, becoming one of the world's most digitally advanced societies.


More information: Lonely Planet


We feel free. We're independent. 
People can be openly proud of being Estonian. 
I have a lot of belief in Estonia. 

Carmen Kass

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

TINA PICOTES VISITS LIETUVOS RESPUBLIKA

Tina Picotes in Vilnius, Lietuvos Respublika
Tina Picotes is still travelling across the Baltic countries. Today, she's in Lithuania.

Lietuvos Respublika or Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe. One of the three Baltic states, it is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2017, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Lithuanians are a Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, along with Latvian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.

More information: Lithuania Travel

For centuries, the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, and the first unified Lithuanian state, the Kingdom of Lithuania, was created on 6 July 1253. 

Tina Picotes in Vilnius, Lietuvos Respublika
During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe; present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were the territories of the Grand Duchy. With the Lublin Union of 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighboring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772–95, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania's territory.

The Lithuanian language (lietuvių kalba) is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 0.2 million abroad.

Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they are not mutually intelligible. It is written in an adapted version of the Roman script. Lithuanian is believed to be the linguistically most conservative living Indo-European tongue, retaining many features of Proto Indo-European.

More information: Lonely Planet


The dearest days in one's life are those 
that seem very far and very near at once. 

Abraham Cahan

Monday, 26 June 2017

TINA PICOTES VISITS LATVIJAS REPUBLIKA

Tina Picotes walking across Riga streets
Tina Picotes is visiting the Latvijas Republika, one of the three Baltic Republics. She wants to explains us lots of things about this wonderful country.

Latvija, officially the Latvijas Republika or Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, one of the three Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast, as well as a maritime border to the west alongside Sweden. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2. The country has a temperate seasonal climate. Latvia is a democratic parliamentary republic established in 1918. The capital city is Riga and Latvian is the official language. 

More information: Latvia

Latvians and Livs are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. Latvia and Estonia share a long common history. As a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, both countries are home to a large number of ethnic Russians. Until World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews.

Tina Picotes in Cesis Castle in Riga, Latvija
Latvia is historically predominantly Protestant Lutheran, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic. The Russian population has also brought a significant portion of Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The Republic of Latvia was founded on 18 November 1918. However, its de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II.  

In 1940, the country was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941, and re-occupied by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next fifty years. 

The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation of Soviet rule. It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991.


Tina Picotes visiting Riga at night
The name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians, which formed the ethnic core of modern Latvians together with the Finnic Livonians. 

Henry of Latvia coined the Latinisations of the country's name, Lettigallia and Lethia, both derived from the Latgalians. 

The terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages from Letonia and in several Germanic languages from Lettland.

The sole official language of Latvia is Latvian, which belongs to the Baltic language group of the Indo-European language family. Another notable language of Latvia is the nearly extinct Livonian language of the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family, which enjoys protection by law; Latgalian, referred to as either a dialect or a distinct separate language of Latvian, is also formally protected by Latvian law but only as a historical variation of the Latvian language. Russian, which was widely spoken during the Soviet period, is still the most widely used minority language by far. 

More information: Lonely Planet 


A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, 
the Testimony of how this person looked 
and what kind of human being he was. 

Philippe Halsman

Sunday, 25 June 2017

MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSON: THE MAN IN THE MIRROR

Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor, and philanthropist. Dubbed the King of Pop, his contributions to music, dance, and fashion along with his publicized personal life made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.

The eighth child of the Jackson family, Michael made his professional debut in 1964 with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon as a member of the Jackson 5. He began his solo career in 1971 while at Motown Records. In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. His distinctive sound and style has influenced numerous artists of various music genres.

More information: Michael Jackson Official Site

Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, with estimated sales of 65 million copies worldwide. Jackson's other albums, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995), also rank among the world's best-selling albums. 

Michael Jackson
He is recognized as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time by Guinness World Records. Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, and was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Dance Hall of Fame as the only dancer from pop and rock music. 

Jackson won hundreds of awards, making him the most awarded recording artist in the history of popular music. 

On June 25, 2009, Jackson stopped breathing while attempting to sleep under the care of Conrad Murray, his personal physician. Murray had reportedly given Jackson an array of medications in an attempt to help him sleep at his rented mansion in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles. 

Jackson was influenced by musicians including Little Richard, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Diana Ross, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Kelly, David Ruffin, the Isley Brothers, and the Bee Gees.

While Little Richard had a substantial influence on Jackson, James Brown was his greatest inspiration; he said: Ever since I was a small child, no more than like six years old, my mother would wake me no matter what time it was, if I was sleeping, no matter what I was doing, to watch the television to see the master at work. And when I saw him move, I was mesmerized. I had never seen a performer perform like James Brown, and right then and there I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of James Brown.

Jackson explored a variety of music genres, including pop, soul, rhythm and blues, funk, rock, disco, post-disco, dance-pop and new jack swing. Unlike many artists, Jackson did not write his songs on paper and instead dictated into a sound recorder. When composing music, he preferred to beatbox and imitate instruments vocally rather than use instruments.


More information: Michael Jackson's Youtube


The meaning of life is contained in every single expression of life. 
It is present in the infinity of forms and phenomena 
that exist in all of creation. 

Michael Jackson

Saturday, 24 June 2017

LONESOME GEORGE:THE LAST CHELONOIDIS ABINGDONII

Lonesome George
Joseph de Ca'th Lon has returned to Pinta Island, in the Galapagos Islands hometown of one of the oldest tortoises we had known: Lonesome George. Joseph met Lonesome George some years ago when he was visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station and today, he wants to remember his experience with this incredible animal.

Lonesome George (1910–June 24, 2012) was a male Pinta Island tortoise, Chelonoidis abingdonii, and the last known individual of the species. In his last years, he was known as the rarest creature in the world. George serves as a potent symbol for conservation efforts in the Galápagos Islands and throughout the world.

More information: Galapagos Conservancy

George was first seen on the island of Pinta on 1 November 1971 by Hungarian malacologist József Vágvölgyi. The island's vegetation had been devastated by introduced feral goats, and the indigenous Chelonoidis abingdonii population had been reduced to a single individual. It is thought that he was named after a character played by American actor George Gobel

Lonesome George and Fausto Llerena
Relocated for his safety to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, where he spent his life under the care of Fausto Llerena, whom the tortoise breeding center is named after. It was hoped that more Pinta tortoises would be found. Unfortunately, no other Pinta tortoises were found. The Pinta tortoise was pronounced functionally extinct as George was in captivity.

Until January 2011, George was penned with two females of the species Chelonoidis becki, from the Wolf Volcano region of Isabela Island, in the hope his genotype would be retained in any resulting progeny. This species was then thought to be genetically closest to George's; however, any potential offspring would have been intergrades, not purebreds of the Pinta species.

More information: Charles Darwin Foundation

In July 2008, George mated with one of his female companions. Thirteen eggs were collected and placed in incubators. On 11 November 2008, the Charles Darwin Foundation reported 80% of the eggs showed weight loss characteristic of being inviable. By December 2008, the remaining eggs had failed to hatch and x-rays showed they were inviable.

On 23 July 2009, exactly one year after announcing George had mated, the Galápagos National Park announced one of George's female companions had laid a second clutch of five eggs. The park authority expressed its hope for the second clutch of eggs, which it said were in perfect condition. The eggs were moved to an incubator, but on 16 December, it was announced the incubation period had ended and the eggs were inviable, as was a third batch of six eggs laid by the other female.

Lonesome George and Joseph de Ca'th Lon
On 24 June 2012, at 8:00 am local time, Edwin Naula, Director of the Galápagos National Park, announced that Lonesome George had been found dead by his caretaker of 40 years, Fausto Llerena. Naula suspects that the cause of death was heart failure consistent with the end of the natural life cycle of a tortoise. A necropsy confirmed that he died of old age. The body of Lonesome George was frozen and shipped to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to be preserved by taxidermists. The preservation work was carried out by the museum's taxidermist George Dante, with input from scientists.


In November 2012, in the journal Biological Conservation, researchers reported identifying 17 tortoises that are partially descended from the same subspecies as Lonesome George, leading them to speculate that related purebred individuals of that subspecies may still be alive.

In December 2015 it was reported that the discovery of another species Chelonoidis donfaustoi by Yale researchers had a 90% DNA match to that of the Pinta tortoise and that scientists believe this could possibly be used to resurrect the species.

More information:  The Guardian


My mind seems to have become a kind of machine 
for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts. 

Charles Darwin

Friday, 23 June 2017

SAINT JOHN'S EVE: FIRES, DANCES & SUMMER SOLSTICE

Bonfire in Inis Meain, Aran Islands, Ireland
When the sun sets on 23 June, Saint John's Eve, is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:36, 56–57) states that John was born about six months before Jesus; therefore, the feast of John the Baptist was fixed on 24 June, six months before Christmas Eve. 

This feast day is one of the very few saints' days which commemorates the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of the saint being honored.

The Feast of Saint John closely coincides with the June solstice, also referred to as Midsummer in the Northern hemisphere. The Christian holy day is fixed at 24 June; but in most countries festivities are mostly held the night before, on Saint John's Eve.


In Croatia, the feast is called Ivanje, Ivan being Croatian for John. It is celebrated on June 23, mostly in rural areas. Festivals celebrating Ivanje are held across the country. According to the tradition, bonfires, Ivanjski krijesovi are built on the shores of lakes, near rivers or on the beaches for the young people to jump over the flames.

Saint John's Eve in Denmark
In Denmark, people meet with family and friends to have dinner together. If the weather is good, they then proceed to a local bonfire venue. Here the bonfire with the effigy of a witch on top is lit around 10 pm. Beforehand, a bonfire speech is often made, at large events normally by a well-known person. According to popular belief, St John’s Eve was charged with a special power where evil forces were also at work. People believed that the witches flew past on their broomsticks on their way to the Brocken. To keep the evil forces away, the bonfires were usually lit on high ground. Placing a witch, made of old clothes stuffed with hay, on the bonfire is a tradition which did not become common until the 20th century.


In some rural parts of Ireland, particularly in the north-west, Bonfire Night is held on St. John's Eve, when bonfires are lit on hilltops. Many towns and cities have Midsummer Carnivals, with fairs, concerts and fireworks, around the same time. In County Cork in southwest Ireland the night is commonly referred to as bonfire night and is among the busiest nights of the year for the fire services.

Saint John's Eve in Durro, Alta Ribagorça
In the Catalan and Aranese Countries bonfires are lit and a set of firework displays usually takes place, especially in Catalonia and Valencian Country, where special foods, such as Coca de Sant Joan, are also served on this occasion. One of the centers of the festival is in Ciutadella, Menorca, but many different cities and towns have their own unique traditions associated with the festival. In the Pyrenees, people carries torches across the mountains and held a Bonfire in the squares of every town. This feast is recognized as a UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage. Moreover, a flame is lit in Canigo Mountain and runs across all the Catalan spoken lands. 

More information: Vall de Boí


Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response. 

Arthur M. Schlesinger

Thursday, 22 June 2017

ERIN BROCKOVICH: PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich (born June 22, 1960) is an American legal clerk and environmental activist, who, despite her lack of formal education in the law, was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California in 1993. Her successful lawsuit was the subject of a 2000 film, Erin Brockovich, which starred Julia Roberts. Since then, Brockovich has become a media personality as well, hosting the TV series Challenge America with Erin Brockovich on ABC and Final Justice on Zone Reality. She is the president of Brockovich Research & Consulting. She also works as a consultant for Girardi & Keese, the New York law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg, which has a focus on personal injury claims for asbestos exposure, and Shine Lawyers in Australia.

She was born Erin Pattee in Lawrence, Kansas, the daughter of Betty Jo, a journalist, and Frank Pattee (1924–2011), an industrial engineer and football player. She worked as a management trainee for Kmart in 1981 but quit after a few months and entered a beauty pageant. She won Miss Pacific Coast in 1981 and left the beauty pageant after the win. She has lived in California since 1982.


More information: Erin Brockovich

The case alleged contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium, also written as Chromium VI, Cr-VI or Cr-6, in the southern California town of Hinkley. At the center of the case was a facility, the Hinkley compressor station, built in 1952 as a part of a natural-gas pipeline connecting to the San Francisco Bay Area. Between 1952 and 1966, PG&E used hexavalent chromium in a cooling tower system to fight corrosion. The wastewater was discharged to unlined ponds at the site, and some percolated into the groundwater, affecting an area near the plant approximately 3.2 by 1.6 km. The Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) put the PG&E site under its regulations in 1968.


Erin Brockovich
The case was settled in 1996 for US$333 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history. Masry & Vititoe, the law firm for which Brockovich was a legal clerk, received $133.6 million of that settlement, and Brockovich herself was given a bonus of $2.5 million.

A study released in 2010 by the California Cancer Registry showed that cancer rates in Hinkley remained unremarkable from 1988 to 2008. An epidemiologist involved in the study said that the 196 cases of cancer reported during the most recent survey of 1996 through 2008 were fewer than what he would expect based on demographics and the regional rate of cancer. However, a June 2013 Mother Jones magazine article featured an extensive critique from the Center for Public Integrity of the author's work on the later epidemiological studies.


As of 2006, average Cr-6 levels in Hinkley were recorded as 1.19 ppb with a peak of 3.09 ppb. For comparison, the PG&E Topock Compressor Station on the California-Arizona border averaged 7.8 ppb with peaks of 31.8 ppb based on a PG&E Background Study.
 
More information: Chasing the Frog


 If you believe you're right... 
stand up and fight for your place in the sun. 
If you believe you can do it, hang in for the whole 15 rounds 
because even if you don't win, 
you will have earned the respect of everyone in the fight, 
including yourself, and in that sense you will have prevailed.
 
Erin Brockovich

JOAN FUSTER: WE, THE VALENCIANS

Joan Fuster i Ortells
Joan Fuster i Ortells (23 November 1922-21 June 1992) was a Valencian writer. He is considered a major writer in Catalan language and his work contributed to reinvigorate left-wing, pro-Catalan nationalism in Valencia during the Spanish transition to democracy. 

In his influential political essay Nosaltres, els valencians (1962) he coined the term Països Catalans, Catalan Countries, to refer to the Catalan-speaking territories, for which he claimed independent statehood from Spain.

In 1947 Fuster graduated with a degree in law and he received a doctoral degree in Catalan philology in 1985. Of his first books, all of which are poetry, Escrit per al silenci, Written for the Silence (1954) stands out. 

With El descrèdit de la Realitat, The Discredit of Reality (1955) he started a notable career as an essayist of vast thematic breadth and whose incisive style was noted for its precise use of adjectives. Another aspect of his work was his erudition and concern with the craft of storytelling and he worked greatly to maintain a literary reviewal he pushed forward in anthologies. His dedication to Valencian themes culminated in 1962 with the publication of what remained as his most known work: Nosaltres els valencians, We, the Valencians

Joan Fuster and Josep Pla
Within the realm of essay writing, he published L'home, mesura de totes les coses, The Man, Measure of All Things (1967), within the tradition moral root of classical humanism, close in spirit to the moralists and French reformers as a critic and skeptic noted for his acid humor. 

He became the intellectual leader of Valencian nationalism by the end of the 20th century, and was central in proposing the Països Catalans concept, which advocated for unity within Catalan culture as proposed by Catalan nationalists. In these books Fuster asserted that it was necessary to strengthen Valencia's relationships with the other Catalan speaking territories for there to be any chance of defending the autonomous culture of Valencia. In this way he sought to bring a Catalan-based cultural community into existence.

Fuster is, for some, the most remarkable political essayist in Catalan of the generations that appeared after the Spanish Civil War.

On September 11, 1981, two bombs exploded in his house, damaging heavily his library and archive. Nobody was prosecuted, but it is widely believed that it was the anti-Catalan far right's response to Fuster's political and cultural position. He died in Sueca, his hometown, in 1992.


More information: Visat


Joan Fuster was a person of an incredible intelligence 
and a great tenderness. He is essential.

Maria del Mar Bonet

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

WATERGATE SCANDAL: RICHARD NIXON'S IMPEACHMENT

Richard Nixon
Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17 1972, and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the U.S. Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis.

The term Watergate, by metonymy, has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such dirty tricks as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides also ordered investigations of activist groups and political figures, using the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

More information: Watergate

The scandal led to the discovery of multiple abuses of power by members of the Nixon administration, an impeachment process against the president that led to articles of impeachment, and the resignation of Nixon. The scandal also resulted in the indictment of 69 people, with trials or pleas resulting in 48 being found guilty, many of whom were Nixon’s top administration officials.

The Watergate Hotel
The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate complex on Saturday, June 17, 1972. The FBI investigated and discovered a connection between cash found on the burglars and a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP), the official organization of Nixon's campaign. In July 1973, evidence mounted against the President’s staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee. The investigation revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and that he had recorded many conversations.

After a series of court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the president was obliged to release the tapes to government investigators. The tapes revealed that Nixon had attempted to cover up activities that took place after the break-in, and to use federal officials to deflect the investigation. Facing virtually certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974, preventing the House from impeaching him. On September 8, 1974, his successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him.

The name Watergate and the suffix -gate have since become synonymous with political and non-political scandals in the United States, and some other parts of the world.

More information: The Washington Post


 You must pursue this investigation of Watergate even if it leads to the president. I'm innocent. You've got to believe I'm innocent. 
If you don't, take my job. 

Richard M. Nixon

Monday, 19 June 2017

GARFIELD THE WORLD'S MOST WIDELY COMIC STRIP

Garfield and Odie
Garfield is an American comic strip created by Jim Davis. Published since 1978, it chronicles the life of the title character, the cat Garfield; Jon, his owner; and Jon's dog, Odie. As of 2013, it was syndicated in roughly 2,580 newspapers and journals, and held the Guinness World Record for being the world's most widely syndicated comic strip.

Though this is rarely mentioned in print, Garfield is set in Muncie, Indiana, the home of Jim Davis, according to the television special Happy Birthday, Garfield. Common themes in the strip include Garfield's laziness, obsessive eating, coffee, and disdain of Mondays and diets. The strip's focus is mostly on the interactions among Garfield, Jon, and Odie, but other recurring minor characters appear as well. 

More information: Garfield

Part of the strip's broad pop cultural appeal is due to its lack of social or political commentary; though this was Davis's original intention, he also admitted that his grasp of politics isn't strong, joking that, for many years, he thought OPEC was a denture adhesive.

Garfield's comic strip

In the 1970s, Davis created a comic strip called Gnorm Gnat, which met with little success. He then proceeded to create a new strip with a cat as its main character and thus created Garfield, who borrows the first letter of his name from Davis's earlier work. 

Davis later realized that Garfield and Jon could communicate nonverbally. The strip, originally centered on Jon, was first rejected by the King Features, Post-Hall and the Chicago Tribune-New York News agencies, all of which asked Davis to focus on the cat, who in their opinion, got the better lines. 

United Feature Syndicate accepted the retooled strip in 1978 and debuted it in 41 newspapers on June 19, 1978.


 I'm not lazy. I'm a master of energy conservation.
 
Garfield

Sunday, 18 June 2017

SALLY RIDE: THE FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN IN SPACE

Sally Ride
Sally Kristen Ride (1951-2012) was an American physicist and astronaut. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983

Ride was the third woman in space overall, after USSR cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982). 

Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space, having done so at the age of 32. After flying twice on the Orbiter Challenger, she left NASA in 1987. She worked for two years at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control, then at the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics, primarily researching nonlinear optics and Thomson scattering. She served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, the only person to participate in both.

More information: Sally Ride Science

Ride attended Swarthmore College for three semesters, took physics courses at University of California, Los Angeles, and then entered Stanford University as a junior, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English and physics. At Stanford, she earned a master's degree in 1975 and a PhD in physics in 1978 while doing research on the interaction of X-rays with the interstellar medium. Astrophysics and free electron lasers were her specific areas of study.

Sally Ride
Ride was one of 8,000 people who answered an advertisement in the Stanford student newspaper seeking applicants for the space program. 

She was chosen to join NASA in 1978. 

During her career, Ride served as the ground-based capsule communicator, CapCom, for the second and third space shuttle flights (STS-2 and STS-3) and helped develop the space shuttle's Canadarm robot arm.

On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space as a crew member on space shuttle Challenger for STS-7. The five-person crew of the STS-7 mission deployed two communications satellites and conducted pharmaceutical experiments. Ride was the first woman to use the robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite.

More information: NASA

Her second space flight was in 1984, also on board the Challenger. She spent a total of more than 343 hours in space. Ride had completed eight months of training for her third flight when the space shuttle Challenger disaster occurred. She was named to the Rogers Commission and headed its subcommittee on operations. Following the investigation, Ride was assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she led NASA's first strategic planning effort, authored a report titled NASA Leadership and America's Future in Space and founded NASA's Office of Exploration

Sally Ride visiting Sesame Street in 1984.
According to Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who warned of the technical problems that led to the Challenger disaster, after the entire workforce of Morton-Thiokol shunned him Ride was the only public figure to show support for him when he went public with his pre-disaster warnings. Sally Ride hugged him publicly to show her support for his efforts.

Ride wrote or co-wrote seven books on space aimed at children, with the goal of encouraging children to study science.

Ride was a member of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, an independent review requested by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on May 7, 2009.

After Sally Ride's death in 2012, General Donald Kutyna revealed that she had discreetly provided him with key information about O-rings that eventually led to identification of the cause of the explosion.

Download Sally Ride's Report Leadership and America's Future in Space


Science is fun. Science is curiosity. We all have natural curiosity. 
Science is a process of investigating. It's posing questions 
and coming up with a method. It's delving in. 

Sally Ride