The Gulabi Gang – The Fearless Women in Pink


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members  (Source: i.facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

These women dressed in pink and with laathi (bamboo stick) in their hands are fearless!

Their leader Sampat Pal Devi is a mother of five children and a former government health worker. She has a long list of criminal charges against her: unlawful assembly, rioting, attacking government employees, obstructing officers in the discharge of duty, beating a policeman for abusing her, and so on. Once she even went underground to hide from the law. However, her actions have secured notable victories for the community.

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (born 1960) is a tough woman with a commanding personality. She hails from the Bundelkhand area in the state of Uttar Pradesh - one of the poorest region in India and notorious for its rebels-turned-armed bandits. Sampat is a vigilante and activist fighting for the rights of women in the villages.

She was given in marriage to an ice-cream vendor at the tender age of 12. She bore her first child, a girl, at 15.

In 2006, responding to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women, Sampat Pal Devi formed the Gulabi Gang (Hindi गुलाबी gulabī, “pink”), a group of Indian women vigilantes. Most Gulabi members dress in pink and carry laathis in their hand.

Despite being born into a traditional family and married off early, Sampat evolved into a charismatic leader who acts as judge and jury for girls and women who are being abused by outlawed patriarchal traditions and the caste system.

Sampat and her gang are constantly on the move fighting causes for the betterment of the community. They crusade against child marriages, dowry, and female illiteracy.

To demand their rights, the rebellious women gang submits petitions and verbally attacks corrupt officials, sneering policemen and complaisant bureaucrats. They visit abusive husbands and beat them up with laathis and warn them to stop abusing their wives in the future.

They usually travel by cart and tractor. At times, they undertake long journeys by bus and train, to fight for justice for women and dalits and other untouchable people.

In 2008, when her village was deprived of electricity because the officials of the department expected to extract bribes and sexual favours from the women, she and her stick-wielding Gulabi Gang stormed the premises of the electricity department, locked the concerned officials in a room until they cried for mercy. An hour after they left the premises, the power was on in their village.

In 2008, the group was reported to have 20,000 members as well as a chapter in Paris, France. Now, the Gulabi Gang has taken root in Banda, Mahoba, Chitrakot, Fatehpur, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Etawah and Bijnore and has about 300,000 women members.

The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.

Initially, it was reported that the Bollywood film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla as leads, is based on Sampat Pal’s life, but the director denied this, saying that he recognizes the work done by Sampat, but his movie is not based on her life.

Gulabi Gang's esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Gulabi Gang’s esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Now, the all-women Gulabi Gang is heading for a split as there is a tussle in leadership. On Sunday, March 2, 2014, six years after its inception, the group’s founder commander Sampat Pal Devi was dethroned by the Maharashtra based national convener of Gulabi gang Jayprakash Shivhare at a meeting in Banda following allegations of financial irregularities - “taking money for resolving the problems of poor and suffering women,” and “involvement in self promotion” at the cost of the organization’s mission.

The national convener of Gulabi Gang, Jayprakash Shivhare said:

“There is huge resentment in the organization against Pal. She had been playing in the hands of the Congress party… She had stopped holding meetings of the group and used to take decisions autocratically. She contested Assembly elections on
Congress ticket without taking any suggestion from other members of the group… Later, she decided to visit Rae Bareli along with other members and campaign in support of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and against Aam Aadmi Party.”

“She also went to TV reality show Bigg Boss without consulting the working committee of the group. She had gradually become extremely selfish and minting money at the cost of the organization… Removing her from all posts was the only option left with us. Since she has been defying decisions of the group, it was decided that she would no longer be its primary member.”

Suman Singh Chauhan, commander of Mahoba unit has been appointed as interim commander of the group and a seven-member committee has been constituted to run the organization as of now. A meeting of the group has been convened on March 23 to elect a full-time commander.

However, Sampat Pal Devi, asserted her authority saying she was still the leader of the Gulabi Gang.

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The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 2 – The Once Pristine Idyllic Wetland Is Now a Wasteland cum Concrete Jungle!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

 My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.

My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.

Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

Four decades ago, this pristine idyllic wetland had a water spread of approximately 5,500 hectares estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965). It serves as nature’s primary aquifer recharge system for Chennai city. It harvests rain water and the flood water during monsoons and thereby mitigates the desolation and suffering that floods could cause in low-lying areas in Chennai.

A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo:  anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo: anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

Lamentably, over the years, the Chennai Metropolitan authorities without giving any thought to the future recklessly chose to dump over one-third of the garbage, almost 2,600 tonnes per day, of the ever-growing metropolis here in this climactic wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

At present the water spread has shrunk to one-tenth its size due to indiscriminate dumping of city refuse; discharging of sewage; disgorging toxic waste products, etc.

Many nature lovers have photographed the current palpable and saddening state of the Pallikaranai wetland. On June 8, 2013, The Hindu published the article The mired marshby Shaju John. This article was augmented by photographs  captured by him in the post Photo file: The mired marsh.

A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Thousands of tonnes of trash of all sorts containing non-biodegradable waste find their way to the wetland amidst the dumped refuse.

Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

While traveling along the roads around the Velachery wetland one encounters the unbearable stench emanating from the decaying garbage hillock. Despite the widespread clamour to stop burning rubbish in the dump yard that stifles the air and impairs visibility of commuters, the incessant burning goes on.

The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Despite the toxic smoke rag-pickers, mostly children living in inhospitable slums frequent the garbage dump.

The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Continual inhaling of the ever-present malodorous germ and virus bound air, the stifling smoke, polluted and poisoned ground water subject the people living miles around the Pallikaranai wetland to major wheezing and carcinogenic health hazards.

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The incredible rate of development, such as the rampant construction of sanctioned IT parks, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) campus, Hospitals, Colleges, high-rise office and residential buildings, the Velachery MRTS railway station, the flyovers, the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram, etc., in the midst of the marshland also have immensely contributed to the shrinking of the water spread.

A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road.  (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

One of the flyovers constructed  in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)

One of the flyovers constructed in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)

Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo - Simply CVR)

Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo – Simply CVR)

With policies in place to crackdown on poaching, encroachment and illegal waste disposal, there is yet hope for the Pallikaranai wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo:  M. Karunakaran)

Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo: M. Karunakaran)

In 2007, to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, 317 hectares of the marsh were declared by notification as a reserve forest by the State of Tamilnadu.

Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve  showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

Nevertheless, it is the opinion of the scientists and researchers involved in the study of the wetland that an additional 150 hectares of undeveloped region located on both sides of the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh should also be declared a forest reserve.

However, even now, dumping of garbage by the Chennai metropolitan authorities goes on unabated.

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Cleavage! What’s in It?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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English: Cleavage of a woman holding documents...

Cleavage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the man gaping at a woman’s cleavage is handsome, she will coyly say: “He is audacious!,” if not she would retort: “He is a pervert!”

If the woman with an eyeful cleavage pays attention to a man, he will chuckle and say: “She is sexy!,” if not he would riposte: “She is a whore!”

Cleavage, anatomically known as the intermammary cleft or the intermammary sulcus, is the space between a woman’s breasts lying over the sternum.

From time immemorial, women’s breasts are synonymous with feminineness. Invariably, well-endowed women often use cleavage to physically attract and sexually lure others (mainly men). They accentuate their cleavage by wearing garments with low necklines, alluring evening attire, flimsy lingerie and revealing swimwear. Thus, they find sadistic pleasure in kindling jealousy in other less-endowed women.

Midhuna Waliya in Transparent Saree (Source: zimbio.com)

Most men derive erotic pleasure when their female companions display their cleavage with aesthetic effect. However, a few envious men, mainly companions of slim flat-chested women, resort to branding the copious women as flirts and seductresses.

Bartholomeus van der Helst. Anna du Pire as Granida. 1660. Oil on canvas, 70 x 58 cm. National Gallery, Prague.

In western societies, opinions differ about how much cleavage exposure is acceptable in public. In many cases, though displaying cleavage is permissible, it may be prohibited by dress codes set by churches, schools, and workplaces, where flagrant exposure of any part of the female breast might be considered inappropriate, and a woman who dares to show her nipples or areolae is almost always considered immodest, lewd, and indecent.

When it comes to cleavages, former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, former US Senator Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vera Lengsfeld, the Conservative Christian Democratic Union candidate for Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district gained attention on the international political front for wearing low-cut blouses revealing just the slightest hint of cleavage.

Former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith

Revealing: Jacqui Smith in the Commons (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

Jacqui Smith, a member of the British Labour Party was appointed Home Secretary in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet reshuffle of June 28, 2007. Just one day into her new job bombs were found in London and a terrorist attack took place in Glasgow the following day.

Jacqui Smith drew attention for wearing a revealing black top under her tightly fitting white jacket. It caused a stir as other MPs struggled to concentrate on the security threat under discussion.

Her attire prompted the House of Commons wags to wisecrack as “Weapons of mass distraction.”

 Former US Senator Hillary Clinton

On July 20, 2007, Washington Post published an article written by Pulitzer Prize winner Robin Givhan in its Fashion section titled “Hillary Clinton’s Tentative Dip Into New Neckline Territory.” Givhan wrote:

There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn’t an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

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The Washington Post’s editorial writer, Ruth Marcus, criticized Robin Givhan’s article. She wrote that Robin Givhan “dissected” Hillary Clinton “for showing cleavage.” Marcus added, “Might I suggest that sometimes a V-neck top is only a V-neck top? As a person of cleavage, I’d guess that Clinton’s low-cut shirt simply reflected a few centimeters of sartorial miscalculation, not a deliberate Fashion statement.”

Another Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, also seemed to distance himself from the Givhan article during a July 26 appearance on MSNBC News Live.

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel 

Don’t look down: Angela Merkel with Mr Stoltenberg on April 12, 2008 (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wore a glamorous and impressive blue décolletage with a blue bolero shawl designed by Anna von Griesham while chatting with Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway, at the opening of the Olso Opera House on April 12, 2008. Mr Stoltenberg maintained crucial, and diplomatic, eye contact with his guest at the inauguration of the cultural landmark.

On April 14, 2008, Gawker, a media gossip website published a page titled “German Chancellor Angela Merkel not Afraid to Show Her Breastesses” written by Shea. The writer wrote:

“For my upcoming vacation in Germany, I decided to study up on some of its elected leaders. What was discovered about Chancellor Angela Merkel? She’s not afraid to show a little cleavage during a night out at the Opera! Click for it… if you dare.

Gawker welcomed commentators to make light of the German leader’s outfit with quips ranging from the flippant: “Deutschland boober alles” to the politically slanted: “Imagine. A female head of state okay with being a woman.

This photo of Chancellor Angela Merkel provided enough fodder for the media around the world. The media focused on the German leader’s appearance. Unflattering photos of the chancellor wearing a peach-colored dress with sweat stains under her arms at the 2005 Bayreuth festival were widely circulated. In 2006, the British tabloid

"I'm Big in the Bumdestag"

“I’M BIG IN THE BUMDESTAG”

The Sun published photos of Merkel changing into a bathing suit while on vacation in Italy, giving its article the headline “I’M BIG IN THE BUMDESTAG,” in a reference to the Bundestag, home of the German federal parliament. The article and photos solicited an indignant response from a number of German publications, which felt the country’s leader deserved more respect.

Vera Lengsfeld

An election campaign poster for the 2009 general election with the words ‘ We have more to offer’ shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Vera Lengsfeld (Photo: REUTERS)

During a tough political campaign for the 2009 general election, Vera Lengsfeld (61), the Conservative Christian Democratic Union candidate for Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, used pictures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and herself in low-cut dresses. To draw attention to serious election issues she put up 750 provocative campaign posters accompanied by the slogan “Wir haben mehr zu bieten” (“We Have More to Offer”).  Lengsfield bought the rights to use the picture of Merkel but did not seek the Chancellor’s permission. However, the posters had a positive impact.

To her critics Lengsfield said: “It is ridiculous to suggest that I am being sexist or antifeminist. I am a woman and I am proud of that.”

A mother breast-feeding her baby by sculptor Aryanad Rajendran conveys the message of love.

A mother breastfeeding her baby by sculptor Aryanad Rajendran conveys the message of love.

It is said that a child’s fascination with breasts starts from the moment it is breastfed as a baby. The odor of milk emanating from a mother’s breast draws her infant towards her. The basic instinct in any living being is to seek safety from the  surrounding environment. Hence, the child too finds comfort by nestling on its mother’s breasts. It finds not only nourishment while suckling the mother’s breast, but also the mother’s unconditional love.

If this assumption is true, then what about the children who were not breastfed?

Many bottle-fed children, especially those whose mothers were buxom are just as fascinated with breasts as those who were breast-fed.

When children, whether breastfed or bottle-fed grow up the embedded image on their brain of their mother’s breast surfaces sporadically as sexual fantasies. They eye women with large breasts and quite often become obsessed with them.

Women, whether breastfed or bottle-fed, do not react the same way as men because breasts naturally grow on their own in women. However, studies show that breastfed women have a healthier opinion of their own breasts in their adulthood.

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sigmund Freud, a firm supporter of the nature argument, believed that sexual drives are instinctive. He viewed sexuality as the central source of human personality. He said that a child’s first erotic object is the mother’s breast.

Source: lolzbook.com

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Modern Day Slavery in Brick Kilns in India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A Child Brick worker in India (Source: BBC)

A Child Brick worker in India (Source: bbc.co.uk)

A century ago only 10% of India’s population lived in urban areas and now expected to increase to 40% by 2030.

The outcome of India’s economic growth has transformed small trading towns into bustling business centres with multinational enterprises, setting up factories, call centres, software development units, etc., eager to capitalize on high skill labour at low pay.

This stupendous metropolitan and rural boom need factories, offices, apartments, shopping malls, etc., constructed with bricks made of clay burnt in a kiln, as one of the needed primary building material. Bricks are used as filler materials for framework structures as well as to build load bearing structures.

Making the Brick

The process of making a brick has not changed over the centuries or across geographies. Traditionally the main steps followed to make a brick are:

1. Procuring the materials: Clay, the main raw material after mining is stored in the open to make the clay soft and remove unwanted embedded oxides.

Brick field labourer in India.

Brick field labourer in India.

2. Tempering: Clay is mixed with water to the right consistency for moulding. It is then kneaded manually with hands and feet. In certain regions, animal driven pug mills are used.

Brick Making - Tempering (Source: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Tempering (Source: ecobrick.in)

3. Moulding: The kneaded clay after rolling in sand is filled into wooden or metal moulds. Sand is used to prevent the brick from sticking to the mould.

Brick Making - Moulding (Sourc: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Moulding (Sourc: ecobrick.in)

4. Drying: The moulded clay arranged in a herring bone pattern are placed in the drying area to dry in the sun. To speed up uniform drying and to prevent warping the green bricks are turned over every two days. After two weeks, the green bricks will dry enough ready for firing.

Brick Making - Drying (Source: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Drying (Source: ecobrick.in)

5. Firing: The green bricks are arranged in a kiln. Insulation is provided by packing with mud. Fire holes used to ignite the kiln are sealed to prevent heat from escaping. The heat is maintained for a week.

Brick Making -Firing (Source: indianjourneys.wordpress.com)

Brick Making -Firing (Source: indianjourneys.wordpress.com)

6. Sorting: On disassembling, the bricks are sorted according to colour. Colour indicates the level of burning. Over-burnt bricks are used for paving or covering the kiln. The under-burnt bricks are burned once again, or used for building the inner walls of the next  kiln.

Brick Making - Sorting (Source: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Sorting (Source: ecobrick.in)

India’s Brick Industry

India’s brick industry – the second largest in the world after China, has more than 150,000 brick production units employing an estimated 10 million workers. The brick kilns that feed the booming construction sector of India are a crucial part of India’s growing economy that contributes around र300 billion to the country’s economy every year. However, the brick workers do not get to benefit much from that amount since brick kilns use forced labour.

Millions of men, women, young boys, young girls, and children get paid meagre amounts that allow them to merely subsist. In many brick kilns in India, bonded labourers working in near-slavery conditions, are on average paid around र150 to produce over 1,500 bricks during a 12-hour-workday. They are paid in advance and are allowed to leave, along with their children suffering from severe respiratory problems, only after six months.

The trade unions, NGOs, and local people do organize and mobilize thousands of workers to fight for increased wages, combat child labour and sexual exploitation. However, these efforts have not achieved much for the welfare of the workers.

Union_Solidarity_International_logo

Over the last two years, Union Solidarity International (USI), a UK-based NGO has been campaigning to improve the conditions of the brick labourers. Andrew Brady of the USI says:

“It’s modern-day slavery. Entire families of men, women and children are working for a pittance, up to 16 hours a day, in terrible conditions. There are horrific abuses of minimum wage rates and health and safety regulations, and it’s often bonded labour, so they can’t escape.”

Prayas logo

To capture international attention on this issue the USI in partnership with the Indian human rights group, Prayas, will launch the Blood Bricks campaign next week. USI and Prayas have been working to organize brick kiln workers into unions. This initiative has already seen 70% wage increase in some areas.

The campaign comes after the Observer’s recent revelations of horrific labour abuses on Abu Dhabi’s new pleasure island of Saadiyat, where new outposts of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums are under construction. The investigation discovered thousands of foreign workers living in squalid conditions, their passports confiscated and trapped until they paid back hefty recruitment fees. Brady says:

“It’s a worldwide issue. We’re merely using India as the example, but we’ve seen the same abuses with projects in Qatar and Brazil for the World Cup and Olympics – iconic projects built on the back of the blood and sweat of bonded labour. It’s time to put an end to this trade in blood bricks.”

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View of the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls from Luna Island.


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Niagara Falls as seen from the observation deck at Prospect Point. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Niagara Falls as seen from the observation deck at Prospect Point. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful places in the world I have ever seen.

Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that sprawl the international border between the United States and Canada. It is located between the international twin cities of Niagara Falls, in the state of New York, United States, and Niagara Falls, in the province of Ontario, Canada. These falls form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge where Lake Erie drains into Lake Ontario.

The international boundary line separating the United States and Canada was originally drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819 has long been in dispute due to natural erosion and construction.

Panoramic View of Niagara Falls (Source: niagarafallslive.com)

Panoramic View of Niagara Falls (Source: niagarafallslive.com)

From the largest to the smallest, the three waterfalls are:

On the Canadian side:
the Horseshoe Falls (also known as the Canadian Falls) on the right between Goat Island and Table Rock.

On the American side:
The American Falls on the far left between Prospect Point and Luna Island, and the Bridal Veil Falls mid left between Luna Island and Goat Island.

On board the Maid of the Mist. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the background. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

On board the Maid of the Mist. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the background. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

The breathtaking bluish-green colour of the Niagara River is caused by

  1. refraction of sunlight and reflection of the blue sky
  2. dissolved minerals picked up primarily from the limestone bed
  3. from the shale and sandstone under the limestone cap at the falls
  4. microscopic plants such as algae and plankton in the water.

Around 60 tons of dissolved minerals are swept over Niagara Falls every minute.

At Luna Island located between American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

At Luna Island located between American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

Though these three falls are not exceptionally high, they are very wide. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls have a crest line of 1,100 feet (335 meters) and a height of 176 feet (54 meters).

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

More than six million cubic feet (168,000 cubic meters) of water fall over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet (110,000 cubic meters) on average. The summer daytime flow at the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls is 75,000 gal/Sec (285,000 Liters/Sec).

About eight million tourists visit the American side and about 20 million tourists visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls every year.

On August 2, 2012, our son Subas Raj took me and my wife to Niagara Falls, in the state of New York. We were there for three days. We enjoyed the magnificent views of the three falls.

Here is a short video of the breathtaking view of the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls from Luna Island.

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Since 1925, every evening beginning at dusk, the Niagara Falls are lit in the colours of the rainbow, financed and operated by The Niagara Falls Illumination Board. Also, year after year, the Niagara Parks Commission, an agency of government of Ontario which maintains the Ontario shoreline of the Niagara River, hosts Canada’s longest-running fireworks series in Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls in the province of Ontario, Canada.

The unmatched beauty of the Niagara Falls at night illuminated by strobe lights from the Canadian side, and the spectacular fireworks display before an unforgettable backdrop captivated us. I captured this video “Niagara Falls by Night – Illuminations & Fireworks” using my Canon Powershot camera from Prospect Point in Niagara Falls, New York. I regret that I did not have a high-end camera with high-resolution to capture the unmatched beauty of the Niagara Falls at night.

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Ever wondered what the falls on the American side would look like when dry?

Dry Niagara - This photo shows the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls during the preservation work carried out in 1969 (Photo: Wikipedia)

Dry Niagara – This photo shows the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls during the preservation work carried out in 1969 (Photo: Wikipedia)

The above photo shows the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls during the preservation work carried out in 1969.

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Dr. Bill Cosby’s “Pound Cake” / “We can’t blame white people” Speech


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Dr. William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937)

Dr. William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an African American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 with the mission:

“To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”

On May 17, 2004, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision on Brown vs Topeka Board of Education that struck down school segregation. At this gala event, Dr. Bill Cosby, the American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist gave a speech on the theme of blacks in America taking responsibility for their own lives.

In this speech, Bill Cosby said that African Americans should no longer blame discrimination, segregation, governmental institutions, or others for higher unemployment rates among Blacks or the racial achievement gap; rather, they have their own culture of poverty to blame.

While Cosby’s speech was much appreciated, it also evoked severe criticism from various quarters.

Michael Eric Dyson - American academic, author, and radio host.

Michael Eric Dyson – American academic, author, and radio host.

In his book “Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?“, published in 2005, sociologist Michael Eric Dyson criticized Bill Cosby. Dyson said that Cosby, who built up years of mainstream credibility by ignoring race in his comedy routines and in his television programs, had chosen to address the issues of race by chastising poor Blacks instead of defending them.

On May 19, 2004, a write up in the “Reliable Source” column of the Washington Post, that was reprinted in several news media in the United States, overlooked a significant part of the information from Cosby’s statements. The article in the Post failed to point out that Cosby’s statements were explicitly in the context of focusing on the epidemic of nearly 50% of African American males in the inner city, dropping out of school. The Post article incorrectly ascertained Cosby’s statements as an overall assessment of the lower economic classes of the Blacks.

Bill Cosby explained that his comments were intended to be a call to action, to “turn the mirror around on ourselves.”

“I think that it is time for concerned African Americans to march, galvanize and raise the awareness about this epidemic to transform our helplessness, frustration and righteous indignation into a sense of shared responsibility and action.”

“I travel the country and see these patterns in every community-stories of 12-year-old children killed in the crossfire between knuckleheads selling drugs, the 14-year-olds with a sealed envelope as their first step into the criminal justice system, the young males who become fathers and not held responsible, the young women having children and moving back in with their mothers and grandmothers, and the young people who choose not to learn standard English.”

Since 2004, this famous “Pound Cake Speech” also known as “We can’t blame white people” speech has frequently surfaced on the internet and many times important pieces of information from the speech had been left out. There is a version on Snopes.com, and today I came across another version on Facebook.

Here is a version (edited) of the “Pound Cake Speech” I found on YouTube:

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I searched the net for the original version and found the following transcript provided by Bill Cosby’s public relations representatives. Due to audio to text software resolution issues there may be some minor typographical inaccuracies.

Ladies and gentlemen, I really have to ask you to seriously consider what you’ve heard, and now this is the end of the evening so to speak. I heard a prize fight manager say to his fellow who was losing badly, “David, listen to me. It’s not what’s he’s doing to you. It’s what you’re not doing.”

Ladies and gentlemen, these people set — they opened the doors, they gave us the right, and today, ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have 50% drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child.

Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic and lower middle economic people are not holding their end in this deal. In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on. In the old days, you couldn’t hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye. And before your mother got off the bus and to the house, she knew exactly where you had gone, who had gone into the house, and where you got on whatever you had one and where you got it from. Parents don’t know that today.

I’m talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? Where were you when he was twelve? Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don’t know he had a pistol? And where is his father, and why don’t you know where he is? And why doesn’t the father show up to talk to this boy?

The church is only open on Sunday. And you can’t keep asking Jesus to ask doing things for you. You can’t keep asking that God will find a way. God is tired of you. God was there when they won all those cases — fifty in a row. That’s where God was because these people were doing something. And God said, “I’m going to find a way.” I wasn’t there when God said it — I’m making this up. But it sounds like what God would do.

We cannot blame white people. White people — White people don’t live over there. They close up the shop early. The Korean ones still don’t know us as well — they stay open 24 hours.

I’m looking and I see a man named Kenneth Clark, he and his wife Mamie. Kenneth’s still alive. I have to apologize to him for these people because Kenneth said it straight. He said you have to strengthen yourselves, and we’ve got to have that black doll. And everybody said it. Julian Bond said it. Dick Gregory said it. All these lawyers said it. And you wouldn’t know that anybody had done a damned thing. 

Fifty percent drop out rate, I’m telling you, and people in jail, and women having children by five, six different men. Under what excuse? I want somebody to love me. And as soon as you have it, you forget to parent. Grandmother, mother, and great grandmother in the same room, raising children, and the child knows nothing about love or respect of any one of the three of them. All this child knows is “gimme, gimme, gimme.” These people want to buy the friendship of a child, and the child couldn’t care less. Those of us sitting out here who have gone on to some college or whatever we’ve done, we still fear our parents. And these people are not parenting. They’re buying things for the kid — $500 sneakers — for what? They won’t buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics. 

Kenneth Clark, somewhere in his home in upstate New York — just looking ahead. Thank God he doesn’t know what’s going on. Thank God. But these people — the ones up here in the balcony fought so hard. Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged: “The cops shouldn’t have shot him.” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else. And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said if you get caught with it you’re going to embarrass your mother.” Not, “You’re going to get your butt kicked.” No. “You’re going to embarrass your mother.” “You’re going to embarrass your family.” If you knock that girl up, you’re going to have to run away because it’s going to be too embarrassing for your family. In the old days, a girl getting pregnant had to go down South, and then her mother would go down to get her. But the mother had the baby. I said the mother had the baby. The girl didn’t have a baby. The mother had the baby in two weeks. We are not parenting.

Ladies and gentlemen, listen to these people. They are showing you what’s wrong. People putting their clothes on backwards. Isn’t that a sign of something going on wrong? Are you not paying attention? People with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. Isn’t that a sign of something or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn’t it a sign of something when she’s got her dress all the way up to the crack — and got all kinds of needles and things going through her body. What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don’t know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail. (When we give these kinds names to our children, we give them the strength and inspiration in the meaning of those names. What’s the point of giving them strong names if there is not parenting and values backing it up).

Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We’ve got to take the neighborhood back. We’ve got to go in there. Just forget telling your child to go to the Peace Corps. It’s right around the corner. It’s standing on the corner. It can’t speak English. It doesn’t want to speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk: “Why you ain’t where you is go ra?” I don’t know who these people are. And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. Then I heard the father talk. This is all in the house. You used to talk a certain way on the corner and you got into the house and switched to English. Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t land a plane with, “Why you ain’t…” You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. There is no Bible that has that kind of language. Where did these people get the idea that they’re moving ahead on this. Well, they know they’re not; they’re just hanging out in the same place, five or six generations sitting in the projects when you’re just supposed to stay there long enough to get a job and move out.

Now, look, I’m telling you. It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing. 50 percent drop out. Look, we’re raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There’s no English being spoken, and they’re walking and they’re angry. Oh God, they’re angry and they have pistols and they shoot and they do stupid things. And after they kill somebody, they don’t have a plan. Just murder somebody. Boom. Over what? A pizza? And then run to the poor cousin’s house.

They sit there and the cousin says, “What are you doing here?”

“I just killed somebody, man.”

“What?”

“I just killed somebody; I’ve got to stay here.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Well, give me some money, I’ll go….”

 “Where are you going?”

“North Carolina.”

Everybody wanted to go to North Carolina. But the police know where you’re going because your cousin has a record.

Five or six different children — same woman, eight, ten different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you’re going to have to have DNA cards so you can tell who you’re making love to. You don’t who this is. It might be your grandmother. I’m telling you, they’re young enough. Hey, you have a baby when you’re twelve. Your baby turns thirteen and has a baby, how old are you? Huh? Grandmother. By the time you’re twelve, you could have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I’m just predicting.

I’m saying Brown versus the Board of Education. We’ve got to hit the streets, ladies and gentlemen. I’m winding up, now — no more applause. I’m saying, look at the Black Muslims. There are Black Muslims standing on the street corners and they say so forth and so on, and we’re laughing at them because they have bean pies and all that, but you don’t read, “Black Muslim gunned down while chastising drug dealer.” You don’t read that. They don’t shoot down Black Muslims. You understand me. Muslims tell you to get out of the neighborhood. When you want to clear your neighborhood out, first thing you do is go get the Black Muslims, bean pies and all. And your neighborhood is then clear. The police can’t do it.

I’m telling you Christians, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you hit the streets? Why can’t you clean it out yourselves? It’s our time now, ladies and gentlemen. It is our time. And I’ve got good news for you. It’s not about money. It’s about you doing something ordinarily that we do — get in somebody else’s business. It’s time for you to not accept the language that these people are speaking, which will take them nowhere. What the hell good is Brown v. Board of Education if nobody wants it? 

What is it with young girls getting after some girl who wants to still remain a virgin. Who are these sick black people and where did they come from and why haven’t they been parented to shut up? To go up to girls and try to get a club where “you are nobody….” This is a sickness, ladies and gentlemen, and we are not paying attention to these children. These are children. They don’t know anything. They don’t have anything. They’re homeless people. All they know how to do is beg. And you give it to them, trying to win their friendship. And what are they good for? And then they stand there in an orange suit and you drop to your knees: “He didn’t do anything. He didn’t do anything.” Yes, he did do it. And you need to have an orange suit on, too.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for the award — and giving me an opportunity to speak because, I mean, this is the future, and all of these people who lined up and done — they’ve got to be wondering what the hell happened. Brown V. Board of Education — these people who marched and were hit in the face with rocks and punched in the face to get an education and we got these knuckleheads walking around who don’t want to learn English. I know that you all know it. I just want to get you as angry that you ought to be. When you walk around the neighborhood and you see this stuff, that stuff’s not funny. These people are not funny anymore. And that‘s not my brother. And that’s not my sister. They’re faking and they’re dragging me way down because the state, the city, and all these people have to pick up the tab on them because they don’t want to accept that they have to study to get an education.

We have to begin to build in the neighborhood, have restaurants, have cleaners, have pharmacies, have real estate, have medical buildings instead of trying to rob them all. And so, ladies and gentlemen, please, Dorothy Height, where ever she’s sitting, she didn’t do all that stuff so that she could hear somebody say “I can’t stand algebra, I can’t stand…” and “what you is.” It’s horrible.

Basketball players — multimillionaires can’t write a paragraph. Football players, multimillionaires, can’t read. Yes. Multimillionaires. Well, Brown v. Board of Education, where are we today? It’s there. They paved the way. What did we do with it? The White Man, he’s laughing — got to be laughing. 50 percent drop out — rest of them in prison.

You got to tell me that if there was parenting — help me — if there was parenting, he wouldn’t have picked up the Coca Cola bottle and walked out with it to get shot in the back of the head. He wouldn’t have. Not if he loved his parents. And not if they were parenting! Not if the father would come home. Not if the boy hadn’t dropped the sperm cell inside of the girl and the girl had said, “No, you have to come back here and be the father of this child.” Not ..“I don’t have to.”

Therefore, you have the pile up of these sweet beautiful things born by nature — raised by no one. Give them presents. You’re raising pimps. That’s what a pimp is. A pimp will act nasty to you so you have to go out and get them something. And then you bring it back and maybe he or she hugs you. And that’s why pimp is so famous. They’ve got a drink called the “Pimp-something.” You all wonder what that’s about, don’t you? Well, you’re probably going to let Jesus figure it out for you. Well, I’ve got something to tell you about Jesus. When you go to the church, look at the stained glass things of Jesus. Look at them. Is Jesus smiling? Not in one picture. So, tell your friends. Let’s try to do something. Let’s try to make Jesus smile. Let’s start parenting. Thank you, thank you.

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Robert Gibbs, the Morbidly Obese Californian, Has Shed 254 Pounds of Unwanted Fat


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“If you can still breathe and have a heartbeat there is still time to save your life.” – Robert Gibbs

 On his 23rd birthday, at 764 pounds (346.5 kg), Robert Gibbs says he is a prisoner in his own body. (Source: KPIX/CBS)


On his 23rd birthday, at 764 pounds (346.5 kg), Robert Gibbs says he is a prisoner in his own body. (Source: KPIX/CBS)

The obese Californian, Robert Gibbs, 23, fearing he would lose his life to obesity, recorded a three-minute tearful plea for help and posted it as “ragingrobert” on YouTube in March 2012. The clip was an instant hit. It went viral and was viewed more than 200,000 times in 24 hours.

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To date, the above clip has been viewed 1,512,570 times.

Dr. Phil

Phil McGraw, the host of Dr. Phil talk show.

In 2012, Robert Gibbs weighed 764 pounds (346.5 kg) when he first met Phil McGraw, the host of Dr. Phil talk show. Phil arranged for Robert to go to one of the Wellspring Academies (formerly Academy of the Sierras), in Reedley, California.

“I am glad to see less of you,” Phil said when he met Robert again in 2013. Here is the video from Dr. Phil Show uploaded to YouTube on June 4, 2013.

Robert credits his astonishing loss of weight to diet and exercise and admits that getting started was tough. He climbs stairs at home every day.

Robert  Gibbs says that he now climbs stairs at home every day (Source:  dailymail.co.uk)

Robert Gibbs says that he now climbs stairs at home every day (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

He says that he wants to be an inspiration and instil hope in people who are in the same predicament he was in two years back.

How much weight has Robert lost?

He has shed 254 Pound (115.2 kg) unwanted fat. However, he is still overweight at 510 pounds (231 kg).

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Assam Moves an Hour Ahead of IST


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Tea plantation in Assam

Tea plantation in Assam

Surprisingly, though India is a very large country spanning more than 15 degrees of longitude, from points further east than Bangladesh to the western Arabian Sea, it has only one time zone of +5:30 from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The Indian Standard Time (IST) corresponds to 82.5°E longitude. Though this line passes through several major Indian cities, the Vindhyachal town, west of the town of Mirzapur near Allahabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh is most cited.

The difference in longitude between Vindhyachal town and the United Kingdom’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich translates to an exact time difference of 5 hours 30 minutes. Though the National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi, has the task of officially keeping time, a clock tower at the Allahabad Observatory (25.15°N 82.5°E) is used to calculate Indian local time.

Since there is only one time zone throughout India, states to the east of this longitude have less daylight hours in comparison to the other states lying west of Vindhyachal town.

Parts of eastern India, particularly the Northeast, bear the twin burden of very early summer sunrises and very early winter sunsets. Parts of the Northeast are brighter by about 4 am in June and dark before 5 pm in December.

Pre-independence India had two time zones - the Calcutta Time and the Bombay Time. In the East, Calcutta Time was 5:30:21 hours ahead of GMT, while Bombay Time in the West was 4:51:00 hours ahead of GMT. Calcutta Time was abandoned in 1948 and Bombay Time in 1955.

Since independence in 1947, the IST has been the official time for the whole country.

In the research paper published in 2012, scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bangalore recommended advancing IST by half-hour, setting it at +6.00 GMT instead of the current +5.30 GMT by shifting the time zone from 82.5°E longitude to 90°E longitude, closer to the Assam-Bengal border. This move will benefit all states in India, not just the northeast, by saving more than 2.7 billion units of electricity – enough to power 1.35 million more urban middle-class homes.

 

Dr. Dilip Ahuja, Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore

Dr. Dilip Ahuja, NIAS, Bangalore

Dr. Dilip Ahuja, author of the 2012 research paper, in response to queries by email said that different time zones can be potentially problematic in India.

“Government offices in those states will close at different times and would be accessible only 75% of the time which can cause a potential loss of productivity.”

Dr. Ahuja also said that different time zones could cause chaos for Indian railways, although airlines may still manage.

“India is a country where trains change tracks by manual switching. Different time zones could cause major confusion in communications between train operators and lead to accidents.”

Additional daylight hours in the evenings would be people-friendly, would help save power at home and in offices, reduce petty crimes among other gains, scientists have said.

Kapil Kaul, CEO South Asia CAPA - Centre for Aviation, India

Kapil Kaul, CEO South Asia CAPA – Centre for Aviation, India

Mr. Kapil Kaul, CEO South Asia CAPA – Centre for Aviation, India, said:

“Separate time zone would not have a major impact on airlines, except they will have to adapt to arrival and departure timings. In the US, there is a time difference between West coast and East coast, but it does not create big problems for airlines.”

Earlier, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi, too has found that the 116-minute time difference between the easternmost and westernmost points of India imply that two time zones for the country may be apt. However, The Department of Science and Technology has recommended otherwise.

The Centre discarded the move citing administrative challenges.

Now, the state of Assam has decided to follow the ‘chaibagaan’ time instead of the Indian Standard Time that was in vogue more than 150 years ago.

Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister of Assam

Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister of Assam

Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister of Assam, had said that IST has not only affected productivity, but also has forced the state to follow a schedule not suitable to the time zone Assam is in. Gogoi is quoted as saying:

“The northeastern states have been asking New Delhi for a separate time zone. We have now decided to set our clocks to bagaan time.”

More than 150 years ago, the British introduced the chaibagaan time (or bagaan time), a daylight saving schedule for better energy savings on tea plantations and reflects labour laws, such as the Plantations Labour Act of 1951, which allows governments to set local times for particular areas. Tea gardens in Assam already work to local clocks set an hour in advance of IST.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the change in time zone will help not only cut down on energy consumption, but also will help people to become more energetic.

The clocks in Assam would soon be advanced by an hour ahead of the IST. However, Tarun Gogoi has not stated whether the Centre has accepted the decision.

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A Short Biography of Hank Williams, Sr., Who Sang “30 pieces of silver, 30 shekels of shame”


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr

Hank Williams Sr

Hiram Hank Williams Sr., an American singer-songwriter and musician is considered one of the greatest American country music artist of all time. He was country music’s first superstar with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank’s father, Elonzo Huble Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company and was frequently relocated, and the family lived in many southern Alabama towns. Drafted during the First World War, he was severely injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and sustaining a severe hit to the head. He served for one year from July 1918 until June 1919.

After his return, the family’s first child, Irene, was born on August 8, 1922. His second child, a son, died shortly after birth. Hiram King Williams, the third child, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama. Since Elonzo was a Free Mason, and his wife a member of Order of the Eastern Star they named him after Hiram I of Tyre, one of the three founders of the Masons according to Masonic legend.

Hank was born with spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain. Due to this spinal condition he felt separated from other kids his age and the world around him. This pain he endured was the main cause for his abuse of alcohol and drugs in later years.

In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father was afflicted with facial paralysis. At a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors diagnosed the cause as brain aneurysm. They sent Elonzo to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana where he remained hospitalized for eight years. Hank saw his father rarely throughout Hank’s childhood.

Since Elonzo Williams was bedridden, his wife Lillie assumed responsibility for the family. In the fall of 1934 she moved the family to Greenville, Alabama, where she
opened a boarding house.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshiner and selling peanuts on the street.

Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne

In 1935, when Hank was about 12 years old, he met Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne, an African-American hillbilly blues musician in Greenville, who entertained folks on the street corners with his guitar to earn a few coins. Their relationship became a legend.

Locals called Rufus Payne by his nickname ‘Tee Tot ‘, short for teetotaler, but it more likely had to do with the ‘tea’, a blend of home-brew whiskey and tea that he always had in his flask.

Rufus worked part-time for at Peagler’s Drug Store doing odd jobs such as cleaning or delivery. He spent his spare time playing music with two others for anyone that would listen and toss a few coins. When asked, he would play at local dances.

A determined Hank approached Rufus Payne to teach him to play the guitar. Rufus taught Hank more than just the guitar. From him Hank learned how to draw a crowd and entertain them and keep them happy. Since a street singer does not have a captive audience, Rufus taught him how to grab the attention of the crowd with a style and delivery that would make them want to stop, listen to a couple of songs or three, and drop a few coins in appreciation.

Jay Caress writes that Hank Williams was “…too frail for sports, too smart for farming, too poor for politics and still a bit too young for girls, performing with Tee Tot was the challenge of his young life.”

Rufus visited Hank mom’s kitchen frequently. She fed him in exchange for her sons tutelage. Hank while talking to jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason said, “I learned to play the guitar from an old colored man. …I’d give him 15 cents, or whatever I could get a hold of for the lesson.”

Hank Williams and Rufus Payne were so much attached to each other, and the locals called them the “Greenville Troubadours.” The merchants of Greenville invited them to perform in front of their stores. It was during this time that Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country music.

Colin Escott in his book “Hank Williams The Biography” cites the Montgomery Advertiser article from 1951 that said that Hank always gave credit to Rufus Payne: “All the musical training I ever had was from him.”

After some time, the Williams family moved to Georgiana, Alabama, where Lillie worked in a cannery during the day and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital to support the family during the Great Depression.

After leaving Greenville in 1937 for Montgomery, Alabama, Hank did not keep in touch with his Rufus Payne, his mentor. Not much is known about Rufus Payne’s life after Hank left.

Rufus Payne Epitaph

Rufus Payne Epitaph

On March 17, 1939, Rufus Payne died in a ‘charity hospital’, and was buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. No one knew and could tell Hank he had died. Rufus was about 55 at the time of his death. In his lifetime Rufus Payne remained largely unknown outside southern Alabama.

During the early 1950s it was unfashionable to acknowledge the influence of black musicians. However, in 1951 during a homecoming tribute held for him at Greenville, Hank Williams acknowledged Rufus Payne and gave him full credit for his formative years.

Hank’s music career began there in 1937 in Montgomery when WSFA radio station producers hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed his own band, the Drifting Cowboys. His mother managed the band. Hank dropped out of school to devote full-time to his career. Lilee drove her son and his band to shows throughout southern Alabama.

During World War II, when several of Hank’s band members were conscripted into military service, he had trouble with their replacements. During this period Hank became an alcoholic and eventually WSFA dismissed him due to his alcoholism.

In 1943, Hank met Audrey Mae Sheppard, joined Hank’s band and under his guidance she played bass. She had got separated from her husband recently and had a young daughter. On December 15, 1944, Hank and Audrey got married. In 1949 they had a son together, Hank Williams Jr. On July 10, 1952 their divorce was finalized.

Hank traveled to Nashville in 1946 and met music publisher Fred Rose and the Acuff-Rose Publications company. Hank wrote material for singer Molly O’Day which led
to a record contract with the recently created MGM label. A year later Hank Williams had his first hit, “Move It On Over.” In April 1948 he scored a second Billboard
success “Honky Tonkin” with Sterling Records.

Along with this early success Hank’s behaviour became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,”
a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of
“Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

Hank Williams Memorial

Hank Williams Memorial

Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. Five of the 35 songs were released posthumously. He earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

I am an ardent fan of Hank Williams, Sr. His song “30 Pieces Of Silver” is one of my favourites. I created the following video clip using this song as a tribute to Hiram Hank Williams Sr.

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Lyrics - 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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Foolish Americans in the United Stupids of America (USA)


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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When I visited United States a year ago, I was shocked when I listened to some Americans blabber nonsense about India.

Then, I saw this video clip, a real eye opener, titled “Americans are NOT stupid” aired on CNNNN (Chaser NoN-stop News Network) with Julian Morrow interviewing normal, very stupid Americans, posing questions about the world. The answers are indeed very funny and hilarious.

Julian Morrow

Julian Morrow

Julian Francis Xavier Morrow (born 1975) is an Australian comedian and television producer from Sydney. He is best known for being a member of the satirical team The Chaser. He has appeared on several ABC Television programs including CNNNN.

Luckily for those like me who do not have the ‘ear’ to understand the American enunciation this version of the video clip is mercifully subtitled. However, I also prepared a transcript of the video so that you could read it at your leisure.

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Video Transcription

“Julian Morrow reporting: A lot of people give American a bum rap for being stupid and knowing nothing about the world, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. As I discovered on the street here, asking US locals about the very world their country runs.”

Julian Morrow: “Name a country that begins with U?”

“Yugaslavia?”

“Utah.”

“Utopia.”

Julian Morrow: “Who is in the coalition of the willing?”

“No freaking idea.”

“Afghanistan, Kuwait.”

“Iraq, Pakistan …”

Julian Morrow: “New Zealand.”

“New Zealand.”

Julian Morrow: “What’s the religion of Israel?”

“Israeli?”

“Muslim.”

“Islamic.”

“Catholic, probably.”

Julian Morrow: “What religion are buddist monks?”

“Budhist monks?”

Old woman: “????”

“Islamic? I don’t know.”

Julian Morrow: “Who won the Vietnam war?”

Young woman: “We did … Were we even in the Vietnam war!?”

Julian Morrow: “Who is Fidel Castro?”

“A singer?”

Julian Morrow: “How many sides does a triangle have?”

Man: “Damn, four.”

Young woman: “There’s no sides… One?”

Julian Morrow: “What is the currency in the United Kingdom?”

Old woman: “????”

Old woman: “What is the United Kingdom? I don’t know.”

Middleaged man: “Possibly American money.”

Old woman: “Queen Elisabeth’s money? That’s all I know.”

Julian Morrow: “”Name a country that begins with U?”

Teenage girl: “A country?”

Julian Morrow: “What about this one?”

Teenager: “”What”

Julian Morrow: “United States of America.”

Julian Morrow: “In terms of the war on terror, who do you think should be the
next country to invade?”

Middleaged woman: “Saudi Arabia.”

Middleaged man: “Somebody in the middle-east.”

Another middleaged man: “We make a big blast crater out of the ****ing
middle-east for all I care.”

Teenage boy: “I’m thinking … Italy.”

Julian Morrow: “Italy?”

Another Middleaged man: “Cuba.”

Julian Morrow: “Cuba?”

Another Middleaged man: “Yeah”

Teenage girl: “Iran.”

Julian Morrow: “Iran? Why’s that?

Teenage girl: “I think there’s a revolution going on pretty soon.”

Middleaged Afro-American: “Russia, China.”

Man: “India and Pakistan.”

Middleaged Afro-American: “Indonesia, Brazil.”

Middleaged man: “Korea.”

Julian Morrow: “Korea? Why do you say that?”

Middleaged man: “They’re trouble.”

Julian Morrow: “They’re trouble? Yeah? What’s troubling about them?”

Middleaged man: “Their attitude.”

Middleaged Afro-American: “Canada.”

Julian Morrow asks a woman to pin Sri Lanka on a map.

First woman: “Sri Lanka?”

Second woman pins correctly and says: “Right there.”

First woman: “Never heard of it.”

Julian Morrow approaches a couple.

Man: “Iran?”

Julian Morrow: “Put number one on Iran then.”

Man: ” South … south, south, south. Where are we.”

The man places the pin on Australia.

Another man: “North Korea.”

Julian Morrow: “North Korea? Why do you think North Korea?”

“Nuclear.”

Julian Morrow: “Nuclear?”

Another Afro-American: “Probably France.”

Julian Morrow: “Put a number 2 on France. Why do you say France?”

The man places number 2 on Australia. “It just seems to be some friction
between France and the United States.”

Julian Morrow: “Where do you think the best place to invade Iran would be
from? There would be from the north or south or the east or the west?”

Man: “The East.”

Woman: “West.”

Man pointing to Australia on the map says: “You know what it’s amazing
’cause I realized just now that North Korea is a lot larger than South Korea. I
didn’t know it was large like that!

Julian Morrow: “Kofi Anan is a drink, true or false?”

Man: “Coffee is a drink”

Another man: “Coffee in what?”

A woman: “It sounds like a law firm.”

Julian Morrow: “Who is Tony Blair?”

Man: “I don’t even know him.”

Julian Morrow: “Ok, alright. Any guess?”

Man: “Any guess … Skater?”

Another man: “Tony Blair is an actor.”

Another man: “Linda Blair’s brother?”

Julian Morrow: “Which countries are in the axis of evil?”

Young man: “Ehm, I know Germany is one of them, ehm, I’m not sure about
others.”

Another man: “Ok. California… New York.”

Woman: “Jerusalem.”

Another woman: “Jerusalem?”

Julian Morrow: “There’s more than one.”

Another woman: “I think all of them.”

Another man: “Florida.”

A jogger: “Ok. I’m a little bit mixed up over the Palestinians and the Israelis…
Which one is throwing the rocks?”

A woman: “The fella with the turban thing … I call it a diaper-head, really.”

Another man: “I believe … Mississipi.”

Julian Morrow: “Who was the first man on the moon?”

Man: “John Glen.”

Woman: “Armstrong walked on the moon but … I think it was a Russian, I’m not
sure.”

Another man: “Well, I can tell you some people don’t believe that happened,
they believe that it was reincarnated in Arizona somewhere.”

Julian Morrow: “What is a mosque?”

Woman: “Don’t have any idea.”

Julian Morrow: “Wanna guess?”

Woman: “An animal.”

Teenager: “I have no intelligent guess.”

Julian Morrow: “Ok, what about a stupid guess?”

Julian Morrow: “How may kidneys does a person have?”

Young man: “One.”

Julian Morrow: “What is collateral damage?”

Man: “Well, they just made a film about it, but that stuff I don’t know what it is.
It probably has something to do with what the movie was about. But not
necessarily related to the movie. Do you know what I mean?”

Julian Morrow: “How many World Wars have there been?”

Old man: “Three.”

Julian Morrow: “Which state does KFC come from?”

Jogger: “What the chicken? I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Julian Morrow: “Ok, do you know what KFC stands for?”

Jogger: “Kentucky Fried Chicken, right?”

Julian Morrow: “Star Wars is based on a true story. True or false?”

Teenager: “True.”

Julian Morrow: “What are Hiroshima and Nagasaki famous for?”

Old man: “Judo-wrestling?”

Julian Morrow: “How many Eiffel Towers are there in Paris?”

Teenager: “I say, about ten.”

Julian Morrow: “What is Al-Queda?”

Young man: “Al-Queda is a group … a suicide group in Israel, in the Middle East, they do suicide bombs and stuff. And the president of it is Yasser Arafat … Everybody knows that.”

Very old man: “Al-Queda is a wing of the Masonic Order.”

Julian Morrow: “Where was the Berlin wall?”

No answer from young man.

Julian Morrow: “What is the main religion of Israel?”

Teenager: “I don’t know”

Young man: “Believe me, I don’t know the answer to this question, but I’m thinking … Israel?”

Julian Morrow: “The language they speak in Latin-America is Latin. True or false?”

Teenager: “The what?”

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