Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
The despot, known as Saddam, had oppressed Iraq for more than 30 years, unleashing devastating regional wars and reducing his once promising, oil-rich nation to a claustrophobic police state.
For decades, it had seemed that his unflinching hold on Iraq would endure, particularly after he lasted through disastrous military adventures against first Iran and then Kuwait, where an American-led coalition routed his unexpectedly timid military in 1991.
His own conviction that he was destined by God to rule Iraq forever was such that he refused to accept that he would be overthrown in April 2003, even as American tanks penetrated the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in a war that has become a bitterly contentious, bloody occupation.
After eluding capture for eight months, Mr. Hussein became the American military’s High Value Detainee No. 1.(...)
“I didn’t say ‘former president,’ I said ‘president,’ and I have rights according to the Constitution, among them immunity from prosecution,” he growled from the docket. The outburst underscored the boundless egotism and self-delusion of a man who fostered such a fierce personality cult during the decades that he ran the Middle Eastern nation that joking about him or criticizing him in public could bring a death sentence. (...)
Ultimately, (...) Mr. Hussein held onto the ethos of a village peasant who believed that the strongman was everything. He was trying to be a tribal leader on a grand scale. (...)
December 30, 2006
NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year was begun in Greece around 600 BC. It was their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth.
Although the early Christians denounced the practice as pagan, the popularity of the baby as a symbol of rebirth forced the Church to reevaluate its position. The Church finally allowed its members to celebrate the new year with a baby, which was to symbolize the birth of the baby Jesus.
The use of an image of a baby with a New Years banner as a symbolic representation of the new year was brought to early America by the Germans.
Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune.
Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the new year by consuming black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Happy New Year
a new year
never stop dreaming
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
New Year's Quotes...
Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.
Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.
A New Year. . . . . . . . . . . . . .William Arthur Ward
Another fresh new year is here …
This bright new year is given me
I have the opportunity
Pope John XXIII, 4/11/63
"May He banish from the hearts of all men and women whatever might endanger peace.
May He transform them into witnesses of truth, justice and love.
May He enkindle the rulers of peoples so that in addition to their solicitude for the proper welfare of their citizens, they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace.
May He enkindle the wills of all so that they may overcome the barriers that divide, cherish the bonds of mutual charity, understand others, and pardon those who have done them wrong.
May all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters, and may the most longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always among men and women."
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
In the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas occurs during the summer. This clashes with the traditional winter iconography, resulting in images such as a fur-coated Santa Claus surfing in for a turkey barbecue on Australia's Bondi Beach. New Zealanders also commonly celebrate Christmas at the beach, coinciding with the vibrant red flowering of the coastal Pohutukawa or "New Zealand Christmas Tree".
Japan has adopted Santa Claus for its secular Christmas celebration, but New Year's Day is a far more important holiday. In South Korea Christmas is celebrated as an official holiday, and in India it is often called bada din ("the big day"). Celebrations revolve around Santa Claus and shopping.
In Poland, Santa Claus ( Święty Mikołaj) gives gifts on two occasions: on the night of December 5 (so that children find them on the morning of December 6), and on Christmas Eve. In addition to the major observances of Christmas, German children also put shoes out at their doors on the night of December 5, and find them filled with candy and small gifts the next morning. Santa Claus ( Mikulás), or Father Winter ( Télapó) also visits Hungary on December 6, bringing small gifts, and is often accompanied by a black creature called Krampusz; while on Christmas Eve (Holy Night - (Szenteste) the Little Jesus (Kisjézus or Jézuska) delivers the presents.
In Spain, gifts are brought by the Magi on Epiphany (January 6), and in Scotland, presents were traditionally given on Hogmanay, which is New Year's Eve. In recent times, both countries have also adopted gift-giving on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. In England and Wales, children traditionally hang up a stocking on Christmas eve , into which Father Christmas places gifts which are discovered and opened on December 25.
The Declaration of Christmas Peace has been a tradition in Finland from the Middle Ages every year, except in 1939 . The declaration takes place in the Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official Christmas City and former capital. It is broadcast on Finnish radio and television. Sauna bathing has an important role in Finnish Christmas, often after the visit of Joulupukki on Christmas Eve.
Saint Nicholas' Day remains the principal day for gift giving in the Netherlands while Christmas Day is a more religious holiday.
In Russia, Grandfather Frost brings presents on New Year's Eve, and these are opened on the same night. However, after the Russian Revolution, Christmas celebration was banned in that country from 1917 until 1992. Even today, throughout the U.S. and Europe, several Christian denominations, notably the Jehovah's Witnesses , Puritans, and some fundamentalists, view Christmas as a pagan holiday not sanctioned by the Bible.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.
Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.
Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims's second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out "pagan mockery" of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against "the heathen traditions" of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated "that sacred event." In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.
In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.
By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.
The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.
THE HISTORY CHANNEL
Friday, December 15, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
We should never forget the real meaning of Christmas... the celebration of Jesus birth, the religious ideal of celebrating a better world in which we join hands, regardless of our origins or social backgrounds.
Christmas is the celebration of life!..
Friday, December 01, 2006
A very small word that brings about a huge meaning, in what suffering is concerned.
In the meantime, governments and society, in general, must change their attitudes and no longer hide from the public eye the numbers and the faces of AIDS victims.
They need our support and love so that their fate doesn't seem so difficult. They need to be given some dignity and comfort, when death is inevitable.
Most researchers believe that HIV originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century; it is now a pandemic, with an estimated 38.6 million people now living with the disease worldwide. As of January 2006, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization estimate that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on June 5, 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. In 2005 alone, AIDS claimed an estimated 2.4–3.3 million lives, of which more than 570,000 were children. A third of these deaths are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and destroying human capital.
Additionally, people with AIDS often have systemic symptoms of infection like fevers, sweats (particularly at night), swollen glands, chills, weakness, and weight loss. After the diagnosis of AIDS is made, the current average survival time with antiretroviral therapy is estimated to be more than 5 years, but because new treatments continue to be developed and because HIV continues to evolve resistance to treatments, estimates of survival time are likely to continue to change. Without antiretroviral therapy, death normally occurs within a year. Most patients die from opportunistic infections or malignancies associated with the progressive failure of the immune system.