Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert – A Few Of Their Favorite Things

Stephen Colbert, the host of CBS’ “The Late Show,” took some of the Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination to task over their answers to 18 questions that were posed to them during a recent New York Times interview. Stephen took special exception to their answers about comfort food and their choice of heroes.

When Democrats Were Racists

Writing Clio always has the same problem, where do you start? Asking for a date Democrats started supporting Race Slavery is useless because they always supported Race Slavery, from their inception. Indeed the prospective loss of Slave Property was one of the precipitating causes of the Revolution we elide by talking about Yankee Smugglers who smuggled…

Well, Slaves. Also Tea and Rum.

The Republican Party on the other hand was constructed on a specifically anti-Slavery Agenda (one of the reasons it’s still so popular in the Mid-West) and the decline in their morality is much more amusing to deride because Democrats never professed it.

But this is one of those cases where the hypocrisy of your opposition does not mitigate culpability and Racist Democrats were Racist and everyone knew it at the time. It was their ‘brand’.

That Joe Carson was willing to work with them and still thinks that’s a good idea says volumes about the “pragmatist” “electoral victory” Party- Never met a constituency they wouldn’t betray or a policy too blindingly beneficial to sell-out.

He opposed School Integration, heart and soul. I hope the African-American vote deserts him in droves.

‘Segregationist’ barely begins to describe the racist Dixiecrats that Joe Biden worked with in the Senate
By Wil Haygood, Washington Post
June 23, 2019

Several days later, Joe Biden is still contending with the blowback that greeted his remarks at a fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday night extolling the “civility” of the Senate in the 1970s. The former vice president, now seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, illustrated his point by talking about working cooperatively with segregationist Democratic senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman E. Talmadge of Georgia. Even if he “didn’t agree on much of anything” with those senators, Biden said, “we got things done.”

It might be helpful to know a bit more about “Dixiecrats,” the Southern Democratic politicians at mid-century whose numbers included Eastland and Talmadge. My journeys as a biographer have often taken me through the South, where I’ve combed archives of Dixiecrat politicians and met eyewitnesses to their reign. Referring to Dixiecrats as “segregationists,” as they have been called throughout the Biden controversy, doesn’t capture the ugliness of these white supremacists.

Dixiecrats were powerful men — some appeared on the covers of national magazines — and used their offices and distinguished titles to spread racial fear and thwart the aspirations of black Americans. And they did it relentlessly.

The term “Dixiecrat” emerged from the 1948 States’ Rights Democratic Party, a breakaway group of Southern Democrats who loathed the appeal to civil rights in the Democratic platform at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia in July 1948. The Dixiecrats held their own convention in Birmingham, Ala., a few days later, with 6,000 people attending from 13 Southern states. The goal was to win their states’ 127 electoral votes, deny a victory to Republican Thomas Dewey or the Democratic incumbent, Harry Truman, throw the election to the House and use their power to force the major parties to jettison their civil rights planks.

A taste of the Dixiecrats’ platform: “We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program.”

The party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates were South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond and Mississippi Gov. Fielding Wright. Eastland, Biden’s future Senate collaborator, escorted Wright to the convention and earned Thurmond’s admiration. This from a letter I found in the Eastland archives, written to him by Thurmond: “You gave freely of your time and talents and I wish you to know that I am deeply grateful to you for the magnificent contribution you made to this great cause.” Actually, it was a lost cause, though the Dixiecrats did win four Southern states.

Though Talmadge was a repellent racist, whatever his civility as a senatorial colleague, Eastland was a particularly odious character. He made his reputation in Mississippi and in Washington by attacking black servicemen in World War II. Their medals for bravery meant nothing to him. “The Negro soldier was an utter and dismal failure in combat,” Eastland said at war’s end.

In 1967, Eastland was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when just the sort of nightmare the Dixiecrats envisioned in 1948 loomed before him: Thurgood Marshall, an African American, had been nominated to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson. Eastland immediately began scheming with a powerful Democratic colleague and fellow segregationist, John McClellan of Arkansas, to sink Marshall’s prospects. Eastland leaned on McClellan during the confirmation hearings, believing that as a former racketeer-busting prosecutor, McClellan would be able to trip Marshall up during questioning. Eastland also hoped McClellan would use his law enforcement contacts to dig up dirt on the nominee.

Both strategies failed, though, and the aging Dixiecrats were outfoxed by Johnson as he shrewdly used the levers of the Senate to win Marshall’s confirmation, just as the president had maneuvered civil rights legislation through Congress.

When Biden joined the Senate in 1973, only a handful of Dixiecrats remained — Eastland would leave in 1978, Talmadge in 1981. Thurmond, the former States’ Rights Democratic presidential nominee, held on until 2003.

Yet today, few would deny that all the dust of the Dixiecrat movement has left this nation. The battles over the Confederate battle flag and Civil War monuments are reminders of a racist past that the Dixiecrats fervently defended. As Joe Biden discovered with his clumsy remarks last week, the history is still raw.

No Joe. Just. No.

House

The Magic – Lola Blanc

Do It All The Time – I Don’t Know How But They Found me

Take a Walk – Passion Pit

The Breakfast Club (Typewriter patent- Banjo)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
 

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AP’s Today in History for June 23rd

 

A key moment in the Watergate scandal; Adolf Hitler visits Paris after France falls to Nazi Germany; The typewriter gets a patent; Polio vaccine pioneer Dr. Jonas Salk and TV producer Aaron Spelling die.

 

Breakfast Tune Pumped Up Kicks Played on Typewriter and Banjo

 

 

Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

 

Watch Bernie Sanders Deliver Speech on Why Democratic Socialism ‘Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism’
Jake Johnson


“We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights. And that is what I mean by democratic socialism.”

Read a full transcript…

 

 

Something to think about over coffee prozac

 
Bolton Calls For Forceful Iranian Response To Continuing U.S. Aggression
The Onion
 

WASHINGTON—Demanding that the Middle Eastern nation retaliate immediately in self-defense against the existential threat posed by America’s military operations, National Security Adviser John Bolton called for a forceful Iranian response Friday to continuing United States aggression.

“Iran cannot sit idly by as the American imperialist machine encroaches on their territory, threatens their sovereignty, and endangers their very way of life,” said Bolton, warning that America’s fanatical leadership, steadfast devotion to flexing their muscles in the region, and alleged access to nuclear weapons necessitated that Iran strike back with a vigorous show of force as soon—and as hard—as possible.

“The only thing these Westerners understand is violence, so it’s imperative that Iran sends a clear message that they won’t be walked over. Let’s not forget, the U.S. defied a diplomatically negotiated treaty for seemingly no reason at all-—these are dangerous radicals that cannot be reasoned with. They’ve been iven every opportunity to back down, but their goal is total domination of the region, and Iran won’t stand for that.” At press time, Bolton said that the only option left on the table was for Iran to launch a full-fledged military strike against the Great Satan.

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview EditionPondering the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

On Sunday mornings we present a preview of the guests on the morning talk shows so you can choose which ones to watch or some do something more worth your time on a Sunday morning.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX); and and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.

The roundtable guests are: ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd; Republican Strategist Sara Fagen; Democratic Strategist Arshad Hasan; and NPR White House Reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Face the Nation: Host Margaret Brennan’s guests are: Vice President Mike Pence; 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders {I-VT); Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA).

Her panel guests are: Salena Zito, The Washington Examiner and New York Post; and
Jamal Simmons, Hill.TV.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on this week’s “MTP” are: An exclusive interview with the Babbling Baboon.

The panel guests are: Peter Baker, The New York Times; Lanhee Chen, Republican analyst; Peggy “Our Lady of the Magic Dolphins” Noonan, Wall Street Journal columnist; and Kristen Welker, NBC News correspondent.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper: Mr. Tapper’s guests are: 2020 presidential candidate former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D-TX); Vice President Mike Pence; and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

His panel guests are: Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL); Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); Amanda Carpenter, Conservative commentator; and Bakari Sellers, Democratic stategist.

Six In The Morning Sunday 23 June 2019

Ethiopia army chief shot dead in Ethiopia attacks

The chief of staff of the Ethiopian army, Gen Seare Mekonnen, has been shot dead in the capital, Addis Ababa, state media confirm.

He and another officer died trying to prevent a coup attempt against the administration in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region, PM Abiy Ahmed said.

In Amhara itself, the regional governor, Ambachew Mekonnen, was killed along with an adviser.

Ethnic violence has hit Amhara and other regions in recent years.

The prime minister went on TV dressed in military fatigues to denounce the attacks.

Great Pacific garbage patch: giant plastic trap put to sea again

Floating boom is designed to trap 1.8 trillion items of plastic without harming marine life – but broke apart last time

A floating device designed to catch plastic waste has been redeployed in a second attempt to clean up a huge island of garbage swirling in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.

Boyan Slat, creator of the Ocean Cleanup project, announced on Twitter that a 600-metre (2,000-foot) long floating boom that broke apart late last year was sent back to the Great Pacific garbage patch this week after four months of repair.

A ship towed the U-shaped barrier from San Francisco to the patch in September to trap the plastic. But during the four months at sea, the boom broke apart under constant waves and wind and the boom wasn’t retaining the plastic it caught.

Turkey mayor election: Erdogan’s party faces massive loss in Kurdish vote

Kurds who once voted for the AKP are increasingly abandoning the party, staying home or even voting for the candidate of the CHP

For the third time in less than four years, Ahmet is changing his vote.

Years ago, the 39-year-old Kurdish cook, who works at an Istanbul restaurant, used to vote for the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who appealed to Kurdish voters by relaxing restrictions on their language and cultural practices.

Then, in 2015, he began voting for the Kurdish-led Democratic People’s Party, or HDP, led by Selahattin Demirtas, the now-imprisoned Kurdish politician.

India rejects critical US religious freedom report

India hit out Sunday at a US report saying religious intolerance was growing under its right-wing government, setting off a new spat ahead of a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

An annual report on international religious freedom released by Pompeo on Friday said Hindu-groups had used “violence, intimidation, and harassment” against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insisted that no foreign country had the right to criticise its record.

Pompeo arrives in New Delhi on Tuesday for a trip intended to strengthen ties, but already complicated by spats over trade tariffs, data protection rules, US visas for Indians and buying arms from Russia.

After 18 years of ‘liberating’ war, Afghanistan’s children are starving to death

Drought, floods and a never-ending war have driven Afghanistan’s poor over the brink again.

By Jacob Saulwick

Using his thumbs, Dr Nesar Ahmed Timory began compressing the chest of three-month-old Safiullah at 10.23am on Tuesday.

Safiullah was severely malnourished. He was fevered and had diarrhoea. A month ago his twin brother, Atiqulla, died from similar afflictions in the same hospital.

On the other side of the bed from where Dr Timory applied a sure but gentle press, a nurse, Shima Osmani, held oxygen to the child’s mouth. Safiullah’s mother, Tahera, stood by and groaned.

I’M A JOURNALIST BUT I DIDN’T FULLY REALIZE THE TERRIBLE POWER OF U.S. BORDER OFFICIALS UNTIL THEY VIOLATED MY RIGHTS AND PRIVACY

I SHOULD HAVE kept my mouth shut about the guacamole; that made things worse for me. Otherwise, what I’m about to describe could happen to any American who travels internationally. It happened 33,295 times last year.

My work as a journalist has taken me to many foreign countries, including frequent trips to Mexico. On May 13, I was returning to the U.S. from Mexico City when, passing through immigration at the Austin airport, I was pulled out of line for “secondary screening,” a quasi-custodial law enforcement process that takes place in the Homeland Security zone of the airport.

 

 

 

 

Cervical Injuries

Feeling a little Whiplash? In the last week Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio has brought us within minutes of War with Iran (if you believe his story which is squirrely as hell) and also a Pogrom against Brown People which is now umm…, postponed.

Trump says he will hold off on planned ICE raids for now
By Kayla Epstein, Washington Post
June 22, 2019

Hours after defending his plan to deport undocumented immigrants Saturday, President Trump changed course, tweeting that he had “delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”

“If not, Deportations start!” he warned.

The tweet comes after immigration advocates and officials in some major U.S. cities condemned plans for Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids aimed at rounding up thousands of families facing deportation orders, which were to begin Sunday.

Speaking to reporters at the White House lawn before departing for Camp David on Saturday morning, Trump said that “exportation raids are groups of very, very good law enforcement people going by the law, going by our court system taking people out who came in illegally and out legally.”

He anticipated that “some cities are going to fight it,” but claimed that the resistance was from sanctuary cities, which, along with some states, have policies aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation.

But hours later he tweeted the delay.

The Washington Post reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to target about 2,000 families who had received deportation orders in up to 10 cities — including Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston — starting on Sunday, even though the president had originally claimed on Monday that “millions” would be removed.

My Junior Woodchuck Guidebook recommends field immobilization and trained assistance. That dizziness? That’s where your brain kind of exploded. ER and CAT scans for you my friend.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

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What To Cook

Summer has arrived and it’s time to start thinking about picnics and grilling. Here are few recipes that will start your Summer off right.

Grilled Clambake with Miso-Lime Butter

All the best components of a classic summer clambake—potatoes, shrimp, corn on the cob—get an extra layer of flavor when grilled and brushed with gingery miso butter in this festive, large-format feast.

Foolproof Grilled Chicken

For the very best results, we brine the chicken before it goes on the grill; sear it over the flames; finish cooking it on the other side of the grill; then toss it in a robust vinaigrette when it’s done.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers

These zesty chicken fingers get their flavor from a tangy buttermilk marinade and a breading spiked with smoked paprika. Be sure to plan ahead—these chicken pieces taste best when marinated for 24 hours before they a’re cooked.

Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

Because they are lower in starch than Yukon Golds or russets, baby red potatoes hold their shape when tossed.

3-Ingredient Grilled and Fresh Tomato Salsa

Grilling the onions and half of the tomatoes adds smoky depth and sweetness to this riff on pico de gallo.

Classic Cheese Ball

Served alongside boozy martinis, this is the classic cheese ball of yesteryear. A few updates make it perfect for family get-togethers and retro-chic parties alike. This recipe sneaks in a small amount of Brie to add an extra layer of creamy goodness that will make guests proclaim, “This is the best cheese ball ever!”

Swans Down 1-2-3-4 Pound Cake

This moist pound cake is the most requested Swans Down recipe of all time. Whether it’s your first time trying it or a perennial favorite, the fork-tender cake is unforgettable.

Stone Fruit Clafoutis

Choose cherries or apricots or a mix of both for this classic French baked custard. And no special equipment needed means this is the best summer vacation rental house dessert we know.

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House

Señorita – Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

Smooth – Santana featuring Rob Thomas

Mi Tierra – Gloria Estefan

The Breakfast Club (Summer Breeze)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

France falls to Nazi Germany on what becomes a day of several key events during World War II; Joe Louis knocks out Max Schmeling in their boxing rematch; Entertainers Judy Garland and Fred Astaire die.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Everything does go in a circle.

Cyndi Lauper

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Six In The Morning Saturday 22 June 2019

 

Trump warns Iran of ‘obliteration’ in event of war

President Trump has said he does not want war but warned Iran it would face “obliteration” if conflict broke out.

Speaking to NBC on Friday, he said the US was open to talks but would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

He also expanded on his last-minute decision to call off strikes planned in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone this week, saying he had been told 150 Iranians would be killed.

“I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was proportionate,” he said.

Tehran says the unmanned US aircraft entered Iranian airspace early on Thursday morning. The US maintains it was shot down in international airspace.

The rise of the deepfake and the threat to democracy

O4 May 2016, Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, appeared in a sketch dressed as Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee. Wearing a blond wig and three coats of bronzer, he pretended to phone Barack Obama – played by Dion Flynn – to brag about his latest primary win in Indiana. Both men appeared side by side in split screen, facing the camera. Flynn’s straight-man impression of Obama, particularly his soothing, expectant voice, was convincing, while Fallon played the exaggerated caricature that all of Trump’s mimics – and the man himself – settle into.
Three years later, on 5 March 2019, footage of the sketch was posted on the YouTube channel derpfakes under the title The Presidents. The first half of the clip shows the opening 10 seconds or so of the sketch as it originally aired. Then the footage is replayed, except the faces of Fallon and Flynn have been transformed into, seemingly, the real Trump and Obama, delivering the same lines in the same voices, but with features rendered almost indistinguishable from those of the presidents.

Missouri refuses to renew licence for state’s last abortion provider

Clinic has been existing through series of shot measure legal reprieves
Jim SalterSt Louis
 

Missouri’s only abortion clinic has lost its licence to perform the procedure, though it remains open at least temporarily under a judge’s order.

The state health department notified the Planned Parenthood clinic in St Louis on Friday its abortion licence will not be renewed. A letter from the state cited “serious and extensive” deficiencies.

The state’s decision came at the deadline set by St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer. During a brief hearing, Stelzer said a preliminary injunction he previously issued would remain in place, meaning the clinic can continue to perform abortions at least until he issues a final ruling outlining the next steps. He offered no timetable for that ruling.

Fashion world shaken by cultural appropriation claims

The women embroiderers of the remote Mexican mountain village of Tenango de Doria made worldwide headlines this week when their government went to war with an American designer for “plagiarising” their patterns.

Wes Gordon, the artistic director of the New York label founded by Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera, found himself accused of cultural appropriation.

The women of the indigenous community in the east of the country told AFP how they felt cheated of their traditional motifs where “each element has a personal, family or community meaning”.

The Istanbul race is personal for Erdoğan. The result could transform Turkey

Updated 0342 GMT (1142 HKT) June 22, 2019

On a recent afternoon at a coffee house in the Istanbul neighborhood where Turkey’s president grew up, Güngör Saytuğ was ruminating on his old friend’s rise to power.

Decades ago, Saytuğ and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were sitting in the locker room after an amateur soccer game when Erdoğan announced out of the blue that he would someday become prime minister, and then president.
Not long after that, Erdoğan launched his political career as a self-styled man of the people, playing on his “Kasımpaşalı” roots to rocket from relative obscurity to mayor of Istanbul in 1994. To many voters here, he is still the local boy from Kasımpaşa, a working-class neighborhood known for its naval tradition and its top-flight soccer team. Erdoğan never made it to the pros, but the stadium now bears his name.

The Supreme Court overturned Curtis Flowers’s murder conviction, citing racial bias

Doug Evans, a white prosecutor from Mississippi, deliberately excluded black potential jurors from a black man’s case, the court ruled.

The Supreme Court has overturned a murder conviction for Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man who has been tried for murder six times, saying that the prosecutor violated the Constitution by excluding black potential jurors from the trial.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Friday that Doug Evans, a white prosecutor, unconstitutionally excluded eligible black jurors from Flowers’s trial for murdering four people in 1996 inside a furniture store. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

This isn’t the first time Flowers, who was featured on the second season of the In the Darkpodcast from American Public Media, has had his conviction overturned in court. In fact, Evans has tried Flowers six times — 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010 — and, each time, the jury has either failed to reach a verdict or the conviction was thrown out on appeal. In his last trial, in 2010, the jury, made up of one black and 11 white jurors, sentenced him to death.

 

Summer Solstice 2019

Summer arrived this morning on the East Coast at 11:54 AM when the Sun reached the Tropic of Cancer. People living there would have seen the sun pass directly overhead at Noon. The Solstice is the 24 hour period during the year when the most daylight hits the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun’ angle relative to the Earth’s Equator changes so gradually close to the Solstice that, without instruments, the shift s difficult to perceive for about 10 days. It appears that the sun has stopped moving, thus the origin of the word “solstice” which means “solar standstill.”

The Summer Solstice has has links to many ancient cultural practices as different cultures have celebrated it being symbolic of renewal, fertility and harvest. At Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, where the rising sun and the ancient stones align on the Solstices, hundreds of Pagans and non-Pagans gather each Summer Solstice to celebrate at dawn. Another ritual is a fire ritual to celebrate the occasion. People with unlit candles forming a circle around a large central candle and lighting theirs off it one at a time.

In Sweden, it’s traditional to eat your way through the entire day. Feasts typically involve lots of potatoes and herring. In 1982, French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, and by Maurice Fleuret created Fête de la Musique, also known as Music Day, which is celebrated on the Solsttice. citizens of a city or country are allowed and urged to play music outside in their neighborhoods or in public spaces and parks. Free concerts are also organized, where musicians play for fun and not for payment. It is now celebrated around the world in 120 countries.

A Solstice Approaches, Unnoticed By James Caroll

ONCE, HUMANS were intimate with the cycles of nature, and never more than on the summer solstice. Vestiges of such awareness survive in White Nights and Midnight Sun festivals in far northern climes, and in neo-pagan adaptations of Midsummer celebrations, but contemporary people take little notice of the sun reaching its far point on the horizon. Tomorrow is the longest day of the year, the official start of the summer season, the fullest of light – yet we are apt to miss this phenomenon of Earth’s axial tilt, as we miss so much of what the natural world does in our surrounds.

In recent months, catastrophic weather events have dominated headlines as rarely before – earthquakes and tsunami in Asia; volcanic cloud in Europe; massive ice melts at the poles; tornadoes, floods, and fires in America. “Records are not just broken,” an atmospheric scientist said last week, “they are smashed.” Without getting into questions of causality, and without anthropomorphizing nature, we can still take these events as nature’s cri de coeur – as the degraded environment’s grabbing of human lapels to say, “Pay attention!”

Tonight light a fire, even if it’s just a candle, put your bare feet inthe warming earth and look to the sky in wonder.

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