Posted in history, tagged 1870, 1922, Benny Thomas, Franco-Prussian War, history, integration principle, Paris, Sedan, starvation on February 6, 2014 |
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Prussians after routing the French Army at Sedan headed towards the city of Paris. They were methodical and French towns were notified in advance of their route and requirements at each place. The list included one-and-a-half pound bread per soldier,one pound meat and one-quarter pound coffee, to five cigars and either a pint of wine and a pint of beer for soldier. Towns that didn’t come up with the required supplies were burned to the ground.
News reached the Parisians and the city was in panic. To the pervasive beating of drums that relentlessly went on citoyens drilled in the streets days and nights men and boys alike, even at nights under the gas jets. Some 40,000 oxen and 250,000sheep were brought in from all directions to pasture in the Bois de Boulogne. Foods were packed into warehouses to prepare the city for siege. Rumor mill went on and every foreigner was suspect. Most foreigners had left Paris by August.
After the surrender of the Emperor the Government of National Defense had taken over the promise,’Not an inch of our soil will we cede, not a stone of our fortress.’ The US wanted Bismarck to lift the siege and also sent Civil War Generals, Sheridan and Burnside and Leonard Jerome(Churchill’s maternal grandfather).
The three envoys found the city starving. Warehouses were emptied long ago and so were the horses in the Bois de Boulogne. Some two months before Christmas menu at a Paris restaurant had listed:soup from horse meat,mince of cat,shoulder of dog with tomato sauce,roast donkey and potatoes, mice on toast.
According to one ‘sewer rats were considered far more delicate than young chickens. One gourmet found rat tasted like a mixture of pork and partridge.
Dogs sold for four francs a pound when it was available, compared to horse at 40centimes a kilogram. Cats were a delicacy and the price was 20 fr. per pound. According to Chronique de Siege the Parisians had eaten 25,523 cats not counting alley cats. Wen the zoo was closed elephant trunks went around eight dollars a pound. Camel kidneys were much cheaper. Bread seems to have been made from panama hats picked up from gutter and a piece of bread was the selling rate for a prostitute.
The only plentiful food was mustard and champagne. The prolonged siege made crush of starving men and women throwing at the Prussian soldiers for food. It angered Bismarck who wanted the troops to fire on the citizens. When someone pointed out that the Prussian soldiers may not do that the Iron Chancellor was sure that the soldiers ought to be punished for disobedience. He seemed to have remarked ,’I attach no great importance to human life, because I believe in another world.’ Concluded.
(ack:i)Napoleon II-and his carnival empire/John Murray-1988/John Bierman.ii)Jennie/The life of Lady Randolph Churchill/Signet,1970/Ralph G. Martin)
Tailspin: The terrible misery that visited Germany during the Hyperinflation and Paris under siege are two sides of the same coin. Integration principle works slowly but sets man’s inhumanity to one another on the same yardstick.
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Posted in history, tagged Atahualpa, Benny Thomas, Diego de Almagro, Francisco Pozarro, history, Inca empire, mestizo, Peru, Pizarro, Spanish conquistadore on October 12, 2012 |
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Francisco Pizarro’s bold plan paid off and the handful of Spaniards had conquered the Inca king and his phalanxes of Indians. Every Spaniard pressed into action had killed an average of 15 natives during those two terrible hours. They bearded Spaniard conquistadors had come for 3 Gs ,-gold glory and God. At the end of the skirmish the Spaniards were sure God led them. Yes Indeed!
What followed was gold and silver that was waiting to be grabbed. On the day after the massacre Hernando de Soto confiscated 800 pounds of gold,more than 3500 pounds of silver and 14 emeralds. The greed with which they stole the royal table service was an eyeopener to the king. The hapless king did not think his life was in peril. So he parleyed with Pizarro to win freedom. He promised,’a room full of gold also the entire hut filled twice over with silver.” Pizarro promised him no harm. Little did he know that these 160 strangers were the advance party of a colonial invasion.
The King was imprisoned for eight months. His ransom was fulfilled by mid 1533.
All the gold and silver melted and ingots were divided into five where the one fifth went to the king of Spain.
Meanwhile Pizarro’s partner, Diego de Alamgro reached Cajamarca with reinforcements from Panama. The Spaniards consulted and they dared not set the king free. They decided to execute the king. It was done as the night fell on Saturday, July 26,1533. There was a mock conversion administered by friar Valverde and the king tied to a stake on the square was garroted to death. It was condemned by the Spanish authorities in Panama and also by the king. King Charles wrote to Pizarro,” we have been displeased by the death of Atahualpa, since he was a monarch and particularly as it was done in the name of justice.”
The conquest of Peru started with a checkmate- the capture and death of the Inca king. The fighting came later. There were four battles with Atahualpa’s armies during their 8oo-mile march along the great Inca road from Cajamarca to Cuzco.
The inca armies fought against impossible odds and the Spanish superior firepower,- and cavalry was a decisive factor. Finally on November 15,1533 Pizarro’s men seized their ultimate prize, Cuzco the heart of Inca capital. Pizarro, now in his late 5os set about governing and plundering th land he had conquered. The natives were forced to work relentlessly for their new masters. As Barthelome de Vega wrote,” Men are loaded with it (tributes), and so are the women, the pregnant women with their heads (bent down) on their swollen bellies and those who have given birth their babies on top of their loads.” Rape and looting went on everywhere and the Indian population declined catastrophically.
The victory was a poison chalice for Pizarro in terms of the falling out of their partnership. Diego de Almagro resented at being cut out of the share of the royal ransom and his ire knew no bounds for all the glory Pizarro garnered. The king had invested Pizarro with the governorship of Peru and he was left out. In order to placate him Almagro was given the governorship of land south of Peru. When he and his men rode out to his seat he found no treasure. He was unaware that the Spaniards would strike at Potosi the richest silver mines. Deeply bitter and wracked by envy Almagro laid claim for Cusco. The Spaniards were soon at each other’s throats. The war ended with Almagro’s defeat by Pizarro’s brother, Hernando in 1538. Almagro and 120 of his men were summarily executed for which Hernando will be shut in a prison on his return home.
A handful of Almagro’s men in Lima vowed revenge and they deputed a young son of Almagro. On the morning of Sunday, July 26,1541 the dead man’s followers breached the palace of Pizarro and brutally murdered him.
The conquest of Peru left two important legacies. One is that one third of all Peruvians today are mestizo- of mixed Indian and Spanish blood. The other is the rooting out of traditional Inca beliefs by Catholic Church has cloned itself as the single religious solace of most Andean Indians.
(Ack:Pizarro, conqueror of the Inca/ John Hemming-National Geographic Magazine-Feb. 1992)
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Posted in anecdotes, tagged Benny Thomas, De Gaulle, dictator, Europe, governance, history, Joseph Stalin, Molotov, Russia, scale, soviet Union on September 29, 2012 |
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Molotov told de Gaulle that he once stood behind Stalin who believed himself alone. With his two hands he covered large parts of the globe that stood in his study. The entire Europe lay covered by his one palm and he was heard muttering,”It’s small, Europe.”
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Had the USA done differently these would have happened:
The Cold War would have ended by itself.
Soviets would not have been able to hold on under the weight of its personality cult and mis-rule; Gorbachev did call for more openeness because he had no other alternative. A catastrophic event like Chernobyl showed the USSR had to update its technology and let in expertise from outside; Its ageing submarines around the Baltic and the North Sea for example and deeply ingrained black market profiteering was a symptom of the weak authority or lack of will in cleaning up administration. Dwindling population already decimated by WWII and under repression were not strong to force changes..
2. Osama bin Laden would have been the founder
of a chain of companies: or directing his own construction company from one of the Saudi office blocks spending his time with with his team setting new goals for branching out into different parts of UAE. Name of the company: Al Quaida Construction Co.,
3. Saddam Hussein would have moved from being one of those street- smart hoodlum into the the service of some ageing Sheik. Or he would have continued in Egypt, sucking upto rich tourists coming in to visit the pyramids.
4. As for Iraq the British interests were already on the wane. America would have had greater role to play in the Middlle East. So many deaths on the sides of Iraq,Iran and of US Marines would have been spared.
This is terrible, I mean to rewrite history. (from my post of April 1,2007 in Journalspace )
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Muslim convert from New York was sentenced on Friday to 11-1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to threatening the writers of the satirical “South Park” television show for their depiction of the Prophet Mohammad and to other criminal charges.
Jesse Curtis Morton, 33, who is also known as Younus Abdullah Muhammed, was put on three years of probation after he completes his prison term. The sentence was handed down in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Morton, who ran a website that encouraged Muslims to engage in violence against enemies of Islam, pleaded guilty in February to making threatening communications, using the Internet to put others in fear and using his position as leader of the Revolution Muslim organization’s Internet sites to conspire to commit murder.
“Jesse Morton sought to inspire Muslims to engage in terrorism by providing doctrinal justification for violence against civilians in the name of Islam,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said.
“His crimes not only put people’s lives forever in danger, but they also chilled free expression out of fear of retaliation by violent terrorists,” MacBride said in a statement.
I hold no truck with those who incite passion and terror, and those who beat the memory of the dead prophet. The Muslim convert changed his father’s faith for another. Ok, fine for one to get rid of unwanted baggage. Instead of feeling relieved that he came into a man’s estate, he saddled himself with another. What is the worth of religion in the way practiced these days by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Yemen, Pakistan,Kabul and in Nigeria? Hatred and pure nonsense whereas the prophet stood for something nobler. If Islam is a religion of peace what he did was wrong and senseless. He followed some idiots who take the name of Prophet and took the wrong road to urge violence. Only look at the needless slaughter of children and women! Just because terrorists want to create terror among ordinary folks or media attention they don’t mind killing their brethren as well. On that account itself they have repudiated their prophet’s words. So the fellow who threatened South Park writers merely was a tool to further the cause of terrorists.
Why should comedians harp on Mohammed? He is dead and there is no merit in poking fun at one who for great many is a revered figure. I am unashamedly a follower of Christ and yet I can admire him for the noble purpose he made his life’s work. Go make fun of the living, for a change. If you ridicule the hollow sounding political nit- wits who are ‘ready to fix the economy or immigration problem’ by some magic formula the jabs may have some effect. Prophet Mohammed, let him rest. He whether the west likes it not was a great prophet. If you study his life without prejudice and objectively you shall find he wanted to purify both Christian and Jewish religion of his time. He stood for something noble just as George Washington stood for something in terms of politics. Just as with all religion Prophet Mohammed was ill- served by his followers who were all jockeying for control, call it self interest. Now what benefit you can get by ridiculing him? It is just like beating a dog or a donkey after the beast has served you all its life. Even if you were to do this now you will be taken by the hand of law for cruelty to animals.
The new converts may not know for a believer despises such converts for their inability to be true to their belief.
From history you can see how these blind believers who dared not think themselves brought upon them the backwardness they merited. Now they can only bury in the Word and blindly fool around like puppets for some mad Ayatollahs and clerics. They lost Jerusalem just because of their inability to co-exist with their neighbors or go with the trends that made the homeless Jews to find a homeland in the 20th Century.
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Posted in history, philosophy, tagged Benny Thomas, historical narrative, history, life, narrative, non-persons, Seige of Stalingrad, shifts in focus, simplification, the enemy at the gates, Vasily Zaitsev on June 1, 2012 |
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During the bitter struggle for Stalingrad in the Second World War the Germans had the initial advantage but the element of surprise was worn thin by the indomitable courage of the Russians who were fighting for the Motherland. The Russians would not give up and were reduced to fight for every street. In this close combat snipers were an essential part. Vasily Zaitsev was a hero who killed some 300 Germans. He was awarded by the Party for his crucial role.
If one reads German invasion of Soviet Russia the siege of Stailngrad is reduced to a few pages and the role of Vasily may be told in a line at the most. Suppose we were to look at the whole WWII the role of Vasily, most certainly will be left out. In simplification some shift in focus is necessary.
It is like reducing the earth to the size of a golf ball. There shall be no Grand Canyon or the Himalayas. It will be smoother than the golf ball. We are all players in terms of history. Only that we don’t get written about. Our waking lives we may not have place for anything else but of ourselves. Yet we have become non-persons in the human narraive of time and place.
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Posted in culture, history, tagged Benny Thomas, Buddhism, culture, Daoism, Genghiz Khan, history, Islam, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, recidivism, the Black Death, the Mongols on May 3, 2012 |
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outline: Silk road carried trade,exchange of ideas, culture,religion- ups and downs
Trade along the route was adversely affected by the strife which built up between the Christian and Moslem worlds. The Crusades brought the Christian world a little nearer to Central Asia, but the unified Moslem armies under Saladin drove them back again. In the Fourth Crusade, the forces of Latin Christianity scored a triumph over their Greek rivals, with the capture of Constantinople (Istanbul). However, it was not the Christians who finally split the Moslem world, but the Mongols from the east.
Whilst Europe and Western Asia were torn by religious differences, the Mongols had only the vaguest of religious beliefs. Several of the tribes of Turkestan which had launched offensives westwards towards Persia and Arabia, came to adopt Islam, and Islam had spread far across Central Asia, but had not reached as far as the tribes which wandered the vast grasslands of Mongolia. These nomadic peoples had perfected the arts of archery and horsemanship. With an eye to expanding their sphere of influence, they met in 1206 and elected a leader for their unified forces; he took the title Great Khan. Under the leadership of Genghis Khan, they rapidly proceeded to conquer a huge region of Asia. The former Han city of Jiaohe, to the west of Turfan, was decimated by the Mongols as they passed through on their way westwards. The Empire they carved out enveloped the whole of Central Asia from China to Persia, and stretched as far west as the Mediterranean. This Mongol empire was maintained after Genghis’ death, with the western section of the empire divided into three main lordships, falling to various of his descendents as lesser Khans, and with the eastern part remaining under the rule of the Great Khan, a title which was inherited from by Kublai Khan. Kubilai completed the conquest of China, subduing the Song in the South of the country, and established the Yuan dynasty.
The partial unification of so many states under the Mongol Empire allowed a significant interaction between cultures of different regions. The route of the Silk Road became important as a path for communication between different parts of the Empire, and trading was continued. Although less `civilised’ than people in the west, the Mongols were more open to ideas. Kubilai Khan, in particular, is reported to have been quite sympathetic to most religions, and a large number of people of different nationalities and creeds took part in the trade across Asia, and settled in China. The most popular religion in China at the time was Daoism, which at first the Mongols favoured. However, from the middle of the thirteenth century onwards, buddhist influence increased, and the early lamaist Buddhism from Tibet was particularly favoured. The two religions existed side by side for a long period during the Yuan dynasty. This religious liberalism was extended to all.
Any history on the Silk Road would be incomplete without mention of Marco Polo. As a member of a merchant family from Venice he took the route. Starting in 1271, at the age of only seventeen, he trekked across Persia, and then along the southern branch of the Silk Road, via Khotan, finally ending at the court of Kubilai Khan at Khanbalik, the site of present-day Beijing, and the summer palace, better known as Xanadu.
Mongol invasion was a turning point in the history of the region. Islam will fall back from what they had gained: all the turbulence,-force released by falling edifices of old beliefs, cultures muddied by trades, wars was for their taking. There was the Black Death that hit as far as Europe. Two thirds of Europe will succumb to it. History would never be the same. Islam will make a giant leap backwards and would never be the same.
(To be Cont’d)
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Posted in history, tagged 1909, David Lloyd George, history, Liberal government, rejection, taxation, the Asquith government, the House of Lords, the Limehouse speech, the People's Budget, United Kingdom on April 9, 2012 |
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….Now, what is going to happen in the future? In future those landlords will have to contribute to the taxation of the country on the basis of the real value – only one halfpenny in the pound! Only a halfpenny! And that is what all the howling is about. But there is another little tax called the increment tax. For the future what will happen? We mean to value all the land in the kingdom. And here you can draw no distinction between agricultural land and other land, for the simple reason that East and West Ham was agricultural land a few years ago! And if land goes up in the future by hundreds and thousands an acre through the efforts of the community, the community will get 20 per cent. of that increment. Ah! What a misfortune it is that there was not a Chancellor of the Exchequer who did this thirty years ago. Only thirty years ago, and we should now be enjoying an abundant revenue from this source.
Now I have given you West Ham. Let me give you a few more cases. Take cases like Golders Green and other cases of similar kind where the value of land has gone up in the course, perhaps, of a couple of years through a new tramway or a new railway being opened. Golders Green is a case in point. A few years ago there was a plot of land there which was sold at £160. Last year I went and opened a Tube railway there.
What was the result? This year that very piece of land has been sold for £2,100 – £160 before the railway was opened – before I was there – £2,100 now. I am entitled to 20 per cent. Now there are many cases where landlords take advantage of the exigencies of commerce and of industry – take advantage of the needs of municipalities and even of national needs and of the monopoly which they have got in land in a particular neighbourhood in order to demand extortionate prices. Take the very well known case of the Duke of Northumberland when a County Council wanted to buy a small plot of land as a site for a school to train the children, who in due course would become the men labouring on his property. The rent was quite an insignificant thing.
His contribution to the rates – I forget – I think it was on the basis of 30s. an acre. What did he demand for it for a school? £900 an acre. All we say is this – Mr Buxton and I say – if it is worth £900, let him pay taxes on £900…’
Rothschild was incensed and resisted the move to tax but in the end had to accept the inevitable.
The Sun Sets over the Peers
Finally, the whole controversy over the budget and the Parliament Act contributed powerfully to the steady decline of the House of Lords and the peerage in the British system of government. In 1911 the Conservatives claimed that Asquith had virtually created one-chamber government and they therefore promised a complete reform of the composition as well as the powers of the upper chamber which would have involved some modification of the hereditary principle. Indeed, as the preamble to the Act indicated, even the Liberals regarded their reform as an interim measure not a final solution. Yet, significantly the Tory leaders failed to redeem their promise despite rank and file pressure to do so even during the inter-war period. Tacitly they accepted the marginalisation of the House of Lords and, thus, of peers in general. This was underlined in 1923 when, following the resignation of the Conservative prime minister, Andrew Bonar Law, the obvious successor, Lord Curzon, was turned down because of his membership of the upper house. Never again would a peer become prime minister, though in 1963 Lord Home achieved the impossible by renouncing his peerage and returning to the House of Commons.
Financial and Social Consequences of the Budget
Finally, it remains to assess the long-term significance of the budget for British national finance. This can best be done by looking back into the Victorian period and forward into the twentieth century. It is sobering to think that since its introduction to cope with the costs of the French Revolutionary wars the income tax had been regarded as a temporary expedient. As late as the 1870s Gladstone had proposed to abolish it. He never quite succeeded, and in the 1880s and 1890s the rate rose to eight (old) pence in the pound. By 1914 Lloyd George had pushed the standard rate up to one shilling and four pence. By the end of the First World War it stood at six shillings. During the 1920s and 1930s despite enormous political pressure, income tax was only modestly reduced to four shillings. In short, all governments came to rely heavily on income tax as the central element in national finance. Even the government of Mrs Thatcher managed totrim income tax only to 25 (new) pence, equivalent to five shillings, which was historically a high rate.
The only aspect of the 1909 budget which failed to survive was Lloyd George’s famous land taxes. The laborious process of land valuation went ahead up to 1914. But during the war his involvement in the coalition government put the whole enterprise in jeopardy. Although Lloyd George remained prime minister until 1922 he was too dependent on his Conservative colleagues to resurrect the land taxes; by 1920 they had been abandoned.
In spite of this setback, the social consequences of the Edwardian reforms were enduring. The effect of a graduated system of taxation combined with social welfare measures was to begin the process of redistributing national income from the rich to the poor, albeit slightly. This process continued in each succeeding decade regardless of changing circumstances and political parties. Not until after 1979 was the trend finally checked by reductions in taxation for very high earners and a shift to taxes on consumption paid by the poor and those on average incomes. (www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~semp/budget.htm)
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Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Aesop, art, Benny Thomas, black and white comic strips, comic strip, fly on the wheel, history, Islamists, Muslim Brotherhood, political analysis, the Arab Spring on April 2, 2012 |
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A servant woman went on vigorously dusting and it created lot of dust. A fly sitting on the handle of the broom saw so much dust that it could not help exclaiming,’Ah what a lot of dust I raise!’ Later when the dust settled down the fly flew around and settled among dust in one corner. It laid a clutch of eggs saying,’Ah a new world order. I shall raise my family in peace.’
In a similar way man thinks he is creating a new world order from the dust raised up. After Arab Spring certain events seem to be playing up in favor of Islamists and might think they can establish a Caliphate of sorts. But where will they raise it except in that dusty corner and how long?
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What it to be a man but feel sorry he is not as perfect as he thinks? So excuses fall thick and fast through corridors of time
Like Adam telling God,’Sorry this fig leaf is poorly hung.’
Julius Caesar: ‘Never mind this falling sickness, it is a moral thing. And this too shall pass off.’
Octavius Caesar on finding Cleo dead on his arrival: ” what a poor excuse by dying on me! Now I have to build Rome in marble all by myself.’
Washington refusing a third term,’Not to the Capitol I will. You will have to take me in a wallet instead’ Since then he is on a dollar bill.
Otto von Bismarck: Blood and Iron! I made with these Germany above all. Now I need dialysis and iron supplements if I have to keep my job.
Hitler moments before his suicide: All I wanted was to play Siegfried. Instead I get to play Alberich!’
Einstein laying his violin aside,’I have this wonderful melody, e=mc2 but I can’t play it for nuts. So I will just write out the score’.
Captain Schettino,’ Me abandon ship!I just went out to get some fresh air.’
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