Near the town of Nimes, and built either in the last century BCE or the first century CE, the aqueduct and bridge known as the Pont du Gard may be the best remaining example of the genius that was Roman engineering.
Jun 22 2009
Jun 14 2009
By the beginning of the 14th Century, Italy was wracked by wars between rival religious and political factions, rival merchant states, and rival factions within these factions and merchant states. The “Holy” “Roman” “Emperor” Heinrich VII invaded, but failed to take Rome. And amidst this violent turmoil, Giotto reinvented art and launched the southern Renaissance, while Dante and Petrarch reinvented poetry. And also amidst this turmoil, and with his papacy threatened, Pope Clement V, under pressure from the French King Philippe IV le Bel, moved the papal court to Avignon, which was not actually in France, but was in the Venaissan enclave granted to the papacy by its Angevin clients. The next seven popes would be French, but not all Catholic nations would accept them. The Catholic Church again would be torn by schisms.
The 14th Century saw Europe torn apart and reinvented, and France was at the heart of it. The Black Death would kill perhaps eight million people, in France alone. Jews and lepers would be burned, on order of King Philip V. The Hundred Years War with England would rage. The Capetian dynasty would end. The Dukes of Burgundy, who controlled not only that modern French region, but also what are now the modern Benelux nations, sided with England, attempting to form a sort of middle kingdom, between the war-ravaged France and Germany. Under their patronage, Claus Sluter would launch the northern Renaissance.
In the 1330s, Pope Benedict XII began the massive renovation of the Avignon ecclesiastical palace, tranforming it into the grand Palais des Papes. In 1377, St. Catherine of Siena convinced Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome, which soon led to yet more schisms within the Church, including the election of an alternate pope in Avignon.
(Photo intensive, after the jump…)
Nov 10 2008
My Son, my friend,
Decided to send you a note on lunch in rural France, on politics and how the French now perceive us since the election. And, maybe a little more.
In Arzal, right now, I’ve taken a break from the lunch we are having with Bertrand, Nadine, the kids and Joe and Martine from up the street. In September Joe and some of his friends shot and killed a few wild boar. Seems that wild boar are everywhere here, a bad overpopulation problem, and hunting them is becoming a passion with the French who go in for such things. As you know, I don’t care one way or the other about hunting. I won’t do it for it doesn’t interest me, but if others wish to, well c’est la guerre.
Bertrand took the boar meat and combined it with carrots, red wine, onion, celery, mushrooms, prunes soaked in alcohol (!) and many herbs. Cooked it for 4 hours. Also made potatoes mashed. Wonderful preparation. The lunch started with two bottles of Champaign and many toasts to Obama!. They love my rental car, a little Citron C1, complete with my last Obama/Biden bumper sticker stuck to the rear bumper. The French are absolutely geeked about the election results. Everyone’s just so freaking happy!! It’s suddenly a good time to be an American abroad in the world.
May 09 2008
YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar said Friday it was not ready to let in foreign aid workers, rejecting international pressure to allow experts into the isolated nation where disease and starvation are stalking cyclone survivors.
One week after the devastating storm killed tens of thousands, Myanmar’s ruling generals — deeply suspicious of the outside world — said the country needed outside aid for those still alive, but would deliver it themselves.
The foreign ministry announcement came as a top UN official warned time was running out to move in disaster experts and supplies to prevent diseases that could claim even more victims.
Instead, the ministry said some relief workers who arrived on an aid flight from Qatar on Wednesday had been deported.
Al Jazeera has an exemplary in-depth analysis of this tragedy, including an extended round table featuring UN Humanitarian Chief John Holmes, Bo Hla Tint, spokesperson for the Burmese Government in Exile and Marie Lall of the Asia Programme at Chatham House:
Apr 14 2008
Biofuels are of increasing interest as an alternative to fossil fuels. This pure image allows industry, politicians, the World Bank, the United Nations and even the International Panel on Climate Change to present fuels made from corn, sugarcane, soy and other crops as the next step in a smooth transition from oil to a not yet defined renewable fuel economy. But, at what price?
From BBC News:
Agriculture minister Michel Barnier said Europe could not remain passive and leave the situation to the markets.
He said producing biofuels, a key part of the EU’s plans to tackle climate change, was a “crime against humanity”.
Apr 10 2008
crossposted from dailykos at the suggestion of Jay Elias
The second paragraph of Nick Kristof’s piece, after recognizing Condoleeza Rice’s correct observation that we cannot simply invade a 3rd Muslim country, reads as follows:
But this week marks the 14th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide – the last time we said “never again.” And while Ms. Rice is right that we can’t send in American ground troops, there are concrete steps that President Bush can take if he wants to end his shameful passivity
I am no expert in this part of the world, nor in military and diplomatic affairs. I am also a Quaker, and prefer the use of diplomacy to that of force. But I also refuse to stand silently by in the face of slaughter. And I think Kristof’s Memo to Bush on Darfur should be mandatory reading, and the starting point of serious discussions. Let me explain why.
Apr 07 2008
From The Press Association:
Protesters have forced police to extinguish the Olympic torch amid heavy demonstrations as it set off across Paris.
Officers in jogging gear who had been escorting the flame put it out and took it on a bus, apparently to get it away from the protesters.
The flame, which started out at the Eiffel Tower amid tight security, was being carried down a road next to the Seine near demonstrators carrying Tibetan flags when the relay was stopped.
Sky News has footage of the security guarding the torch, including the police on rollerblades:
Apr 06 2008
cross posted from The Dream Antilles
Ingrid Betancourt In Captivity (11/30/07)
Ingrid Betancourt, while campaigning for the presidency of Colombia, was kidnapped by FARC on February 23, 2002. More than six years later, she remains a hostage somewhere in Colombia. She suffers from hepatitis B and leishmaniasis, a skin disease caused by insect bites. She is also rumored to be losing the will to live. She is the public face of kidnapping in Colombia. She is the most famous of hundreds of hostages. Unlike most of the hostages, she has ties outside the country.
Please join me in the selva.
Mar 26 2008
First, more news about brutality being used against protesters in Qinghai:
“They were beating up monks, which will only infuriate ordinary people,” the source said of the protest on Tuesday in Qinghai’s Xinghai county.
A resident in the area confirmed the demonstration, saying that paramilitaries dispersed the 200 to 300 protesters after half and hour, that the area was crawling with armed security forces and that workers were kept inside their offices.
The Beijing source said resentment at the paramilitary presence around Lhasa’s monasteries prompted one monk at the Ramoche temple to hang himself.
“It’s very harsh. They are taking in and questioning anyone who saw the protests,” the source said. “The prisons are full. Detainees are being held at prisons in counties outside Lhasa.”