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Greek Mythology

April 4, 2018

The origins
Greek Mythology was developed to explain the origin of the world and of mankind. So myths appeared to relate the stories of ancestors, origins and gods. Mythology tries to answer the most difficult and the most normal questions of human existence: “the origin of the world”.
Therefore the population had true faith in gods. They were making sacrifices for them and prayers. All the rules were made according to them; relationships between gods and humans were based on exchanges. If humans were making sacrifices and gifts then the gods thanked them by providing fertility, prosperity and health on earth.

The most famous myth is called “Demeter” which explains the origin of season. Demeter had a daughter: Persephone, the latter was kidnapped by Hades, god of the hell  because Persephone had eaten in the underworld so she broke the rules. As a consequence she had to pass half of the year in  hell and the other with her mother. The year is halved: when Persephone is in hell it is the winter because she is in darkness and when she is with her mother it is spring she is happy, free, and outside.

How did these gods appear in Greece?    

 

Context/

Gaia, goddess of the earth  gave birth to Uranus without any help, then Gaia and Uranus united. From this union six males Titans were born:  Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Oceanus  and six females: Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Rhea, Theia, Themis, and Tethys. The most known, Cronus, had betrayed her father and became the ruler Titan with his wife and sister Rhea. After these events Rhea became pregnant many times. Unfortunately Cronus was afraid that the story of father-son conflict repeated so he ate the children. Rhea decided once to hide her new-born called Zeus.  Zeus defeated his father by sending him in the Tartarus (a place even deeper than Hell). He gave to his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, the sea and the underworld, respectively, for their domains. He married Hera with whom he had many children ; he also had children with other women.

These ones are know as the Olympians

At the center of Greek mythology is the Pantheon of Deities who were said to be on the highest mountain in Greece. From there  they ruled on human life. Olympian gods and goddesses looked like men and women  but  they could change themselves into animals and other things.

The twelve main Olympians are:

-Zeus (Jupiter, in Roman mythology): the king of all the gods; and god of weather, law and fate
-Hera (Juno): the queen of the gods and goddess of women and marriage
-Aphrodite (Venus): goddess of beauty and love
-Apollo (Apollo): god of prophecy, music and poetry and knowledge
-Ares (Mars): god of war
-Artemis (Diana): goddess of hunting, animals and childbirth
-Athena (Minerva): goddess of wisdom and defense
-Demeter (Ceres): goddess of agriculture and grain
-Dionysos (Bacchus): god of wine, pleasure and festivity
-Hephaistos (Vulcan): god of fire, metalwork and sculpture
-Hermes (Mercury): god of travel, hospitality and trade and Zeus’s personal messenger
-Poseidon (Neptune): god of the sea

Mythology in life

The wedding/

Women were married to men according to their father’s will. Indeed marriage was usually arranged between the parents of the bride and the groom himself. There were usually no established age limits for marriage. Many women were married by the age of 14 or 16, while men commonly married around the age of 30.
The ceremony was divided into three parts:
-the Proaulia : the day before the wedding, the bride was with her mother and other women.
the Gamos: which was equivalent to the wedding day. It’s started with a sacrifice which was for the gods to bless their union. Then the future wife would cut her hair signifying her previous virginity. After that the two took a ceremonial bath in holy water.
-the Epaulia: was the time when the bride would spend her last days with her mother. During this ceremony, the bride would make various offerings, called the proteleia, to gods such as Artemis and Aphrodite. These offerings signified the bride’s separation from childhood. It could be for example toys.

Death/

This ritual is very significant. When a person died, the body was “exposed” on a bed where anybody could make offerings to the deceased. A coin was put between his teeth in order to pay for his passing on the other side. If the deceased didn’t have the ritual it was said that the soul was condemned to wander for eternity and was considered as damaged, harmful.

Modern Mythology

Mythology is an ancient subject but we still use it nowadays. To set an example you can watch movies or read books inspired by it. I discovered mythology thanks to the books  called Percy Jackson or even in French literature with Cocteau in Eurydice; this book gives a new representation of the meeting between Orphee and Eurydice in a station. Movies such as Pompei , Hercules , Troy are  inspired  by mythology. The fact that we are still inspired and curious about it shows that it is something that fascinates us.

Manoa

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OJ Simpson (part 1)

March 30, 2018

Tabloïds now refer to him as the most hated man in America. 

 

Chapter One: The Juice

The career of Orenthal James Simpson took off thanks to football. In spite of being one of the best players of his town, he couldn’t apply to his state colleges because of his far-from-perfect academic results. He entered the local community college where he played as running back. He was quickly spotted by the NFL to play in the Buffalo Bills team where he signed the most lucrative contracts for the time as a rookie.

He was one of the best runners in 1972, hence he became the following year best player of the season, by running more than 2,000 yards. Back in the day he was nicknamed The Juice given his initials (they were the same as orange juice) but he was moreover endowed with this “juice” that made him one of the best players of the NFL.

Concerning his love life, Simpson was married then divorced to Marguerite Whitley, with whom he had three children. Few months after the divorce, their youngest daughter drowned in their home swimming-pool before she even turned two. This episode would leave Simpson convinced that this first marriage was a failure and he refused to get engaged again.

Meanwhile he was married to Marguerite Whitley, he got involved with a Los Angeles waitress called Nicole Brown. Surprisingly enough, they got married four years after his daughter’s loss, in 1985. He got two children with her. On the night of January 1st 1989, Nicole called 911 from the Simpson household. When the officer arrived, Nicole hurried to him saying that O.J was going to kill her. The police knew that Nicole was coping with violence from her husband during their marriage. The Police came several times to the household but never did anything. A judicial battle between the two took place. Nicole asked for divorce in mid-February 1992 considering the domestic violences she couldn’t bare any longer.

Chapter Two: The drama

On the night of 12th June 1994, a man walking his dog in Brentwood neighbourhood saw another dog with his paws marred in blood. He took the found dog to his house to clean it, but it was too nervous to stay in place and tried to escape. He led the man to the number 875 of Bundy Avenue, the residence of her owner, Nicole Brown Simpson. A policeman patrolling in the neighbourhood was told to go check on this house. Once there, he found Nicole Brown Simpson’s corpse lying down and bleeding out. A glove tainted in blood was found next to a wall after neighbors reported hearing impacts on it. The policemen on the premises thought of a robbery. But then stains of blood led them to O.J.’s car where the matching glove was found. On the next day, O.J. returned home where a crowd of journalists awaited him. The police officer took him out of the cameras’ sight and handcuffed him. In the meantime, a journalist secretly filmed this scene and disclosed to everyone that O.J. was a suspect.

On 17th June 1994, OJ was at the house of his close friend Robert Kardashian. Robert Shapiro, OJ’ lawyer was writing his defence. Doctors examined the former football player. Several people were present in the house a few hours before OJ’s arrest. As he is accused of murder, his lawyers advised him to surrender to the LAPD at 11 am. Shapiro negotiated  a deadline with the police. The LAPD who had already planned on a press conference had no other choice but to cancel it. Shapiro had to give Robert Kardashian’s address so a police car could come and pick up OJ. Just before the police came, OJ got away with his childhood friend Al Cowlings in his white Ford Bronco.

The prosecutor Gil Garcetti claimed that OJ Simpson was a fugitive and that “anyone who would help Simpson in his run in any way would commit a crime”.  Then, Robert Shapiro who was worried about the worsened relations between his client and the police gave a conference around 5 pm in which he publicly advised OJ to immediately surrender. In the same conference, Robert Kardashian read out loud a found letter of OJ which sounded like a suicide note. Journalists joined the hunt of Simpson.

(to be continued)

 

WILL THE USA INVADE VENEZUELA?

March 28, 2018

Since August 2017, the United Stades’ President, Donald Trump, has been saying that having the American army taking actions over the Venezuelan government is an actual option and also a way of getting rid of this country’s crisis.

The real question is: Will he really make such a move? Invading militarily a country is not an easy thing to do; if you want all your soldiers to move and attack people of another nation means that you are extremely interested in something there, something that you really want; what does Venezuela have that could make Trump act this way?

The reality is, Trump should not – and will not – invade Venezuela, this country does not have anything so valuable as to make the American military make such a move, but this does not mean that he cannot help the country from the outside by taking some actions. Since 2015 the USA has been sanctioning Venezuelan civil servants, cancelling their American bank accounts; but this has not made a difference in Venezuelan government, because we can see that the same people are still in power and have no intentions of getting out of there.

Maybe the USA would be interested in Venezuela because of its oil? Venezuela’s income comes from oil. Well, it seems like the Americans do not have enough financial interest in that to go seek this country.

As hard as it may seem, the Venezuelan government does not have anything that valuable to make other countries want to go there and invade them; it is just easier to let them fix their problems on their own.

Venezuelan people are waiting for a miracle, they need help, they just do not have options anymore. It seems like a lot of countries are interested in helping them, but they have not done enough. Venezuela is drowning each day, maybe it is not easy to help this country, but this needs to be done.

Oriana

 

 

India: an emerging country divided between a soaring economy and a mitigated social situation.

March 23, 2018

The Implusion of the BRICS : Mumbai, mirror of the country’s situation.

Taj Mahal in Agra, India

India is reaching a period of economic growth. Opening to the world, the whole country is building new infrastructures to better communicate with the rest of the planet. Its economic capital, Mumbai, is a real reflect of it. A new Airport, Santa Cruz, was created, but there are also many other projects to improve the exchanges of flows within the city, the country, and widerly, the world.  Indeed, a project of building 3 new Subway lines is ongoing with more than a dozen of stations connecting all Mumbai. We can also observe many CBD such as the Bandra Kurla complex, or Worli.

Its skyline has also changed with the presence of a lot of buildings and luxurious hotels or even luxurious towers such as the Antilla tower, the most expensive of the world owned by Mukesh Ambani, a famous business man.

The attractivity and dynamism of Bollywood is also a springboard for India’s economy. Located in Mumbai, its studios know a more flourishing activity than Hollywood : The Indian production makes more than 1000 every year whereas Hollywood makes aproximatively 800 movies.

However the other side of the coin shows a less attractive part of India. The caste system restrains a complete fulfilment of the country. The Dalit is a kind of outcaste Indian people, rejected by the population, meant to achieve the dirtiest chores, have the less valued jobs. They are sometimes even unpaid. Massacres against Dalits happen everyday in India. Furthermore, women are also the target in the country. Indeed, although considered as inferior, women try to gain their independence and happen to be more efficient at university than men. But the male population is acting even more violently for fear that they should lose their supremacy upon women.                          Sexism, which most of the time is characterized by gang rapes or killings and the phenomenon of caste segregation, is a real issue in India, stronger in the rural areas.

India is a soaring country, thanks to the benefits of globalization, but also struck by sexism and caste segregation which lead the population to a massive violent movement that parcels out people. However, women are trying to obtain a more assumed independence. We may wonder until when the caste system and all the violence it engenders will last.

Johane

Buddhist Extremism

March 21, 2018

In western countries, we often consider Buddhism as the religion of peace, tolerance and harmony. But like every religious belief, an extremist way can be developed. Therefore in some Asian countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, or India  some nationalist and fundamentalist monks incite racial hatred and violence against Muslim communities. Nowadays, Myanmar has become the strongest example of this new form of extremism. Rohingyas, a Muslim community who live in Myanmar, are actually considered as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Let’s see the causes and the development of this process of exclusion and persecution.

A plethora of old causes can explain this hatred against Muslims in Myanmar. One of the main reasons is that during World War II, Muslims and Buddhists weren’t in the same camp : Muslims fought with the British army whereas Buddhists fought with the Japenese.  With the independence of Myanmar in 1947, Muslims asked to be attached to eastern Pakistan, but their request wasn’t honored. These events show us the ancient and severe dispute there is between the two populations.

In 1962, the Army took power, that led to an increase of the tensions between communities. This dicrimination was established as an institution by the government in 1982 : a new law gave  citizenship to some ethnic groups but not to all of them.

Then, the Rohingyas became the biggest stateless community in the world. At that moment, a long series of forced movings and exclusion started for this population, who have been facing persecutions for decades. Such as the Jewish population during World War II, we can observe a progressive abolition of Muslims’ rights. They have no access to the labour market, schools and hospitals. Many violences happened, such as vandalism or boycott of Muslims’ shops, burning of  their mosques…

In Myanmar, Buddhists represent 90 % of the population, and this religion is deeply linked with their national identity : monks are indeed considered as the guardians of worship and nation. 969 Movement (which is a sacred number referring to the three Buddha’s jewels) was created in 1999. This Buddhist extremist anti-muslim movement, guided by the monk  Ashin Wirathu, aims to protect the Buddhist identity. 969 was forbidden in 2013, because of violent interracial riots. Then, Wirathu changed the name of his party to Ma Ba Tha in 2014 (Organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion) in order to pursue his anti-Muslim crusade. This ultranationalist group knows a spectacular increase : today it counts more than 10 million sympathisers (out of 51 million  Burmese), and 300 regional offices. His financing sources are shady. A cult of personality is getting organized around the central figure of Wirathu. Ma Ba Tha also sponsored the first public and free further studies establisment of the country, which allows the movement to spread its influence among the young and its islamophobic ideology.

These are some exemples of ideas spread by Wirathu and his party :  Muslims ? ” Like catfish in Africa, they breed very fast and they eat each other.” Buddhism ? “an army where fighters are born. It must act like a battlement against Islam.” Rohingya ? “There has never been an ethnic Rohingya minority in History. Therefore, we know that it’s to get international aid that they’re burning their houses”.”It’s better to get married with a dog than with a Muslim.”

Violences against Muslims, and especially Rohingyas, have suddenly soared since August 2017. At that time soldiers started burning villages, raping women, killing people…  Now we can talk about an ethnic cleansing for the Rohingyas’s case, because there is the attempt of creating geographic areas characterised by their ethnic homogeneity (deportation of people, suppression of their monuments such as cemeteries…). It’s also a genocide.

The political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who received the Nobel Peace Prize  in 1991, is very criticized by foreign countries and international institutions for her lack of stance and compassion in the Rohingyas’ case. A lot of personalities such as 14th Daïla-Lama or the Pope stated loud and clear their disapproval of her attitude. But we have to take her delicate situation into account. She must indeed manage with a powerful army (which kept the power for more than 40 years) and a very xenophobic and anti-Muslim public opinion.

These horrible events explain the massive exodus of Rohingyas, who try to take refuge in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world. It estimates that around 1 million refugees reached Bangladesh in the last 5 months. This event has became a humanitary urgency because people are living in bad conditions in those camps.

An agreement about the Rohingya’s repatriation in Myanmar « within two years» was signed on 16th January 2018 between Bengladesh and Myanmar, but the period won’t probably be respected.

If you want to learn more about the Monk Wirathu, you can read Time Magazine

or watch the documentary by Barbet Schroeder, Le vénérable W.

 Marianne.

Roswell and Zone “51”

March 10, 2018

In mid 1947 something crashed at a ranch near the city of Roswell , New Mexico. The U.S military stated that in fact it was merely a conventional weather balloon.

In the late 1970s ufologist began to say that the military were covering another reality. Theories said that an alien spacecraft had crash-landed near Roswell and that the extraterrestrial occupants had been taken by the military to make experiments and  other studies on them.

In 1990 the U.S military pusblished two reports disclosing the true nature of the crashed object :  a nuclear test surveillance balloon from Project Mogul.

Those reports were also published to put an end to all those  “alienal theories” but the Roswell incident continues to be of interest in popular media; theories about the real nature of the crash and its ocupants persist. Roswell has been described as ” the world’s most famous , most exhaustively investigated , and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim”.

The city of Roswell:

Roswell is a city in New Mexico; in 2010 the population was of  48 411 inhabitants, making it the fifth-largest city in New Mexico. It is a center for irrigated farming, dairying, ranching, manufacturing, distribution, and petroleum production.

The city is also the home of New Mexico Military Institute founded in 1891.

Roswell is particulary well known because its name is related to the Roswell UFO incident even if the site of the crash happened at 75 (miles(121km) of the city.

Roswell is a popular town for tourists from around the country because of its many alien-themed stores, restaurants, museums, and other attractions, including a McDonald’s location built in the form of a flying saucer.

Area “51”:

The United States air force facility commonly known as Area 51 is a highly classified remote detachment of Edwards Air Force base, within the Nevada test and training range. According to the C.I.A, the correct names for the facility are Homey airport and Groom lake , though the name Area 51 was used in a C.I.A document from the Vietnam war. It has also been referred to  as Dreamland and Paradise Land. The base’s current primary purpose is publicly unknown. However , based on historical evidence, it most likely supports the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapon systems.

Series and movie around it:

We can talk about the famous series which carries the same name as the city “Roswell”. The show began in 1999 and lasted until 2002.

The series is based on the Roswell young adult book series, written by Melinda Metz and edited by Laura J.Burns.

Roswell is about teenage alien/human hybrids living in Roswell, New Mexico who attempted to survive as humans and hide their alien sides, while trying to learn more about their alien powers, as well as figuring out how to get home.

The series was filmed on location in West Covina, California, USA. Fans purchased the original location of the “Crashdown Cafe” and converted it into a real restaurant, later named “Citrus Grill”.

We can aslo talk about the movie Roswell made in 1994 by Jeremy Kagan.

the plot: Beginning at a 30-year reunion for members of a military nuclear bomb unit, flashbacks are presented that follow the attempts of Major Jesse Marcel to discover the truth about strange debris found on a local rancher’s field in July of 1947. Told by his superiors that what he has found is nothing more than a downed weather balloon, Marcel maintains his military duty until the weight of the truth, however out of this world it may be, forces him to piece together what really occurred. Adapted from real-life events portrayed in the book UFO Crash at Roswell by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt.

We can see that the mystery of Roswell and the UFO crash incident still hasn’t got any answers and the theories still persist. Maybe one day the truth will be reavealed …. maybe it won’t . For now, the only thing we can do is wonder, imagine what really happened and try to figure it out what or who may have been in the spacecraft.

Alexandra

 

 

 

 

L$D

March 9, 2018

definition:

The LSD ( Lysergic acid Diethylamide) is a psychotropic hallucinogenic. Its active principle is a derivative of the rye ergot. It is one of the central nervous system disruptors. The use of this substance is prohibited everywhere.

History of the LSD:

The LSD was synthesized for the first time on 16th November 1938 at the Sandoz laboratories, in Bazel (Switzerland) by the chemists Arthur Stoll and Albert Hoffmann. On 19th April 1943, Hoffmann decided to experiment the effects of the LSD on himself. This was called the “bicycle ride”. Indeed, because of the war, cars were taken away so he went home by bicycle. Starting to panic, he drank milk, thinking he was poisoned. He described a state of anxiety and decorporation. But the doctor who inspected him only identified a mydriasis ( a dilatation of the pupils).            As early as 1951, an ancient US secret agent, Alfred Hubbard found interest in the LSD and showed its effects to the writer Aldous Huxley in 1955. He became a doctor and opened a clinic to cure people with LSD.

In the middle of the 1950’s, many articles relating to the LSD started to spread, considering it as a “miraculous drug”. So the use of this psychotropic began getting out of the medical framework.     This was the turning point that created the American counterculture. People of that time were from what we call the “beat generation”, then called the “hippies”.

The American counterculture:

It is a time period characterized by McCarthysm, the liberation of drug subjects and homosexuality, also the Vietnam war and the hippie movement.

This movement started in the 1950’s with the Beatnik movement also associated with hippies. This is a movement against the prejudices of the middle class, and the taboos of sex and drugs. Hippies organized parties where drugs were extolled.

The use:

It’s mostly taken orally with:

  • a small blotting paper decorated with many psychedelic drawings.
  • little drops in a tube
  • a piece of sugar
  • gelatin (called “gelat”)
  • a microtip ( LSD in a gastrosoluble wrap)

The effects:

The first effects are felt 30 or 90 minutes after the take. They depend on the feeling and the state of mind of the user. If he is anxious before taking this substance, he will have what is called a “bad trip”.

  • hallucinations
  • troubled perceptions of colors
  • paranoia sometimes
  • mydriasis (dilataion of the pupils)
  • hyperglycemia
  • euphoria
  • laughters
  • acceleration of the cardiac rythm
  • pilo-erection
  • hyperthermia (sweat)
  • synesthesia
  • it also makes the user reflect easily, faster
  • sensation of superpower, overkilling

The descent:

Once the effects vanished comes now the descent. It is characterized by tiredness, depressive symptoms.

Sometimes, it can enhance schyzophrenia on people affected by this illness, or create serious and durable psychatric accidents.

The LSD acts on the connection between the neurons and the central nervous system. It affects the regulation of many neurotransmitters. The molecules of LSD stick on the neuroreceptors of serotonin which explains the modified perception of the colors.

It also disrupts the ways of regulation of the glutamate, increasing it, which causes a real acceleration of the reflection. Then, it increases also the production of dopamin which creates a sensation of euphoria.

To conclude, LSD was at first considered as a medicinal product, but given its disastrous side effects, it has been banned by law because too dangerous. Will we soon discover that a daily product is going to face the same faith?

Johane.