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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Photo of the ‘Syrian Boy’ Sleeping Between the Graves of His Parents


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A little boy from Syria sleeping between the graves of his parents. (Photo by abdulaziz_099)
A little boy from Syria sleeping between the graves of his parents. (Photo by abdulaziz_099)

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If you regularly visit your social media pages, you would have certainly come across this photo of the little Syrian boy covered by a blanket purportedly sleeping between the graves of his parents.

This heartrending image is a fake and is not related to the current happenings in Syria. However, the image went viral on the net because many people appropriated it on social networks to reflect the tragic situation in Syria without knowing it was a fake that originated not from Syria, but from Saudi Arabia.

One source claims  it has been viewed over a million times on Imgur. It evoked lots of sympathy. Here are some comments I came across on Reddit:

  • I think the part that got me right in the heart is the fact that he looks peaceful and happy. Like nothings wrong. God damn it, I just made it worse.
  • He must have already seen some horrible things, and it seems he is now in peace, sleeping next to his mommy and daddy. Even if they aren’t alive anymore, they are still his source of comfort. This is sad on so many levels.
  • The more you think about it the deeper it goes until you’re looking down at the planet saying, wtf!
  • ****. Why’d you have to call them “mommy” and “daddy” that just makes it too real.
  • It’ll be a whole different world when he wakes.
  • This is actually the saddest picture I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of fucking morbid, disgusting, blood-soaked pictures and I’ve never batted an eye since I’m so desensitized to it, but I can barely hold in tears as I look at this one. What that kid has experienced is the epitome of non-physical human suffering. His parents aren’t coming back, man.
  • In the Middle East death is not something we’re not used to, unfortunately. Most simply embrace it due to how difficult life is.
  • I didn’t see peaceful and happy, I see a kid who doesn’t know what to do. His world is gone. I’m 40 and can’t stand the thought of losing my parents, and when they go I’ll be crushed. 8-ish years old? Jesus.

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Photographer Abdul Aziz
Photographer Abdul Aziz al-Otaibi

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Blogger Harald Doornbos claims he unearthed the truth behind the photograph by interviewing the photographer Abdul Aziz Al-Otaibi, a 25-year-old Saudi national and published it on his blog

According to Harald Doornbos, Abdul Aziz lives in Yanbu al Bahr, a major Red Sea port in the Al Madinah province of western Saudi Arabia, about 250 kilometers northwest of Jeddah.

Abdul Aziz is a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah, Georgia in USA. His major is Photography. As a keen photographer brimming with ideas, Abdul Aziz as a project wanted to depict the irreplaceable love of a child for his parents, even  if they are dead. So, three weeks ago, he drove to the outskirts of Yanbu with his nephew. There after piling stones to resemble two graves, he bade his nephew lie between two ‘graves’ and covered him with a blanket.

Abdul Aziz  Al-Otaibi has the following social media accounts:

He posted the photograph on Facebook. He made it very clear on Facebook that the graves were not real. He even published pictures of his smiling nephew seated next to the graves. Abdul Aziz told Harald Doornbos: “I also published the backstage story. I just wanted to be sure that people drew no wrong conclusions.

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Screenshot of Facebook page -abdulaziz_099
Screenshot of Facebook page -abdulaziz_099

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Though Abdul Aziz published this creation as an art work, an American Muslim convert posted the picture on his twitter account @americanbadu, that has over 187,000 followers. He claimed the picture was from Syria and suggested that the Assad-regime killed the parents of the sleeping boy.

The image spreads like wildfire. Hundreds of accounts, especially in jihad circles re-tweeted the picture from @americanbadu. An Islamic NGO from Kuwait, @Yathalema, with 175,000 followers tweeted the image. 

Even the Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba failed to verify the authenticity of the image and tweeted it on Friday, January 17, 2014. He too did not fail to accuse Assad on wretched fate of the boy in the  picture. Here is the image of Jarba’s tweet:

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Source: blog.foreignpolicy.com
Source: blog.foreignpolicy.com

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Jarba deleted the photo of the boy beside the graves about 30 minutes after posting it.

Harald Doornbos says: “By now the picture goes viral. Nobody checks if the image was indeed from Syria. I was the first reporter who called Al-Otaibi to ask.

In the meantime, photographer Abdul Aziz Al-Otaibi complained via Direct Message (DM) to @americanbadu: “Why did you take my picture and claim it as an image from Syria? Please correct it.

@americanbadu replied via DM: “Why don’t you just let go and claim it is a picture from Syria and gain a reward from God. You are exaggerating.”

Shortly after, @americanbadu removed his tweet. Nevertheless, the  irreversible damage was already done.

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Love My Enemies?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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 “First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love… Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:43-48

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I had a very difficult time trying to write about loving my enemies. I wrote and deleted, wrote and deleted, more than a dozen times. Then I remembered having read long ago a thought-provoking speech by late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on this subject.

The colossal mountain called Martin Luther King, Jr., the greatest champion of Jesus, still lives in and will never fade away from our memory. So, today, I have taken the easy way out by quoting one of the speeches made by Martin Luther King.

In this speech Reverend King talks to us on loving our enemies.

This is a very long speech; so take your time to read it. Digest, understand and follow his way of loving your enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered this speech titled “Loving Your Enemies” at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, 17 November 1957.

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Martin Luther King Jr. (source: biography.com)
Martin Luther King Jr. (source: biography.com)

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Loving Your Enemies

” I am forced to preach under something of a handicap this morning. In fact, I had the doctor before coming to church. And he said that it would be best for me to stay in the bed this morning. And I insisted that I would have to come to preach. So he allowed me to come out with one stipulation, and that is that I would not come in the pulpit until time to preach, and that after, that I would immediately go back home and get in the bed. So I’m going to try to follow his instructions from that point on.

I want to use as a subject from which to preach this morning a very familiar subject, and it is familiar to you because I have preached from this subject twice before to my knowing in this pulpit. I try to make it a, something of a custom or tradition to preach from this passage of Scripture at least once a year, adding new insights that I develop along the way out of new experiences as I give these messages. Although the content is, the basic content is the same, new insights and new experiences naturally make for new illustrations.

So I want to turn your attention to this subject: “Loving Your Enemies.” It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: “Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.

Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command.

Now first let us deal with this question, which is the practical question: How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self. And I’m sure that seems strange to you, that I start out telling you this morning that you love your enemies by beginning with a look at self. It seems to me that that is the first and foremost way to come to an adequate discovery to the how of this situation.

Now, I’m aware of the fact that some people will not like you, not because of something you have done to them, but they just won’t like you. I’m quite aware of that. Some people aren’t going to like the way you walk; some people aren’t going to like the way you talk. Some people aren’t going to like you because you can do your job better than they can do theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because other people like you, and because you’re popular, and because you’re well-liked, they aren’t going to like you. Some people aren’t going to like you because your hair is a little shorter than theirs or your hair is a little longer than theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little brighter than theirs; and others aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little darker than theirs. So that some people aren’t going to like you. They’re going to dislike you, not because of something that you’ve done to them, but because of various jealous reactions and other reactions that are so prevalent in human nature.

But after looking at these things and admitting these things, we must face the fact that an individual might dislike us because of something that we’ve done deep down in the past, some personality attribute that we possess, something that we’ve done deep down in the past and we’ve forgotten about it; but it was that something that aroused the hate response within the individual. That is why I say, begin with yourself. There might be something within you that arouses the tragic hate response in the other individual.

This is true in our international struggle. We look at the struggle, the ideological struggle between communism on the one hand and democracy on the other, and we see the struggle between America and Russia. Now certainly, we can never give our allegiance to the Russian way of life, to the communistic way of life, because communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. When we look at the methods of communism, a philosophy where somehow the end justifies the means, we cannot accept that because we believe as Christians that the end is pre-existent in the means. But in spite of all of the weaknesses and evils inherent in communism, we must at the same time see the weaknesses and evils within democracy.

Democracy is the greatest form of government to my mind that man has ever conceived, but the weakness is that we have never touched it. Isn’t it true that we have often taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes? Isn’t it true that we have often in our democracy trampled over individuals and races with the iron feet of oppression? Isn’t it true that through our Western powers we have perpetuated colonialism and imperialism? And all of these things must be taken under consideration as we look at Russia. We must face the fact that the rhythmic beat of the deep rumblings of discontent from Asia and Africa is at bottom a revolt against the imperialism and colonialism perpetuated by Western civilization all these many years. The success of communism in the world today is due to the failure of democracy to live up to the noble ideals and principles inherent in its system.

And this is what Jesus means when he said: “How is it that you can see the mote in your brother’s eye and not see the beam in your own eye?” Or to put it in Moffatt’s translation: “How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?” And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves.

A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.

I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul. And there is this continual struggle within the very structure of every individual life. There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.” There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Goethe, “There is enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue.” There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Apostle Paul, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.”

So somehow the “isness” of our present nature is out of harmony with the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts us. And this simply means this: That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

The Greek language, as I’ve said so often before, is very powerful at this point. It comes to our aid beautifully in giving us the real meaning and depth of the whole philosophy of love. And I think it is quite apropos at this point, for you see the Greek language has three words for love, interestingly enough. It talks about love as eros. That’s one word for love. Eros is a sort of, aesthetic love. Plato talks about it a great deal in his dialoguesa sort of yearning of the soul for the realm of the gods. And it’s come to us to be a sort of romantic love, though it’s a beautiful love. Everybody has experienced eros in all of its beauty when you find some individual that is attractive to you and that you pour out all of your like and your love on that individual. That is eros, you see, and it’s a powerful, beautiful love that is given to us through all of the beauty of literature; we read about it.

Then the Greek language talks about philia, and that’s another type of love that’s also beautiful. It is a sort of intimate affection between personal friends. And this is the type of love that you have for those persons that you’re friendly with, your intimate friends, or people that you call on the telephone and you go by to have dinner with, and your roommate in college and that type of thing. It’s a sort of reciprocal love. On this level, you like a person because that person likes you. You love on this level, because you are loved. You love on this level, because there’s something about the person you love that is likeable to you. This too is a beautiful love. You can communicate with a person; you have certain things in common; you like to do things together. This is philia.

The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word agape. And agape is more than eros;agape is more than philiaagape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen.

And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, “Love your enemy.” And it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.

Now for the few moments left, let us move from the practical how to the theoretical why. It’s not only necessary to know how to go about loving your enemies, but also to go down into the question of why we should love our enemies. I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. [tapping on pulpit] It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.

I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: “I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power.” And I looked at him right quick and said: “Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.”

Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights. And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater. And this is why Jesus says hate [recording interrupted]

. . . that you want to be integrated with yourself, and the way to be integrated with yourself is be sure that you meet every situation of life with an abounding love. Never hate, because it ends up in tragic, neurotic responses. Psychologists and psychiatrists are telling us today that the more we hate, the more we develop guilt feelings and we begin to subconsciously repress or consciously suppress certain emotions, and they all stack up in our subconscious selves and make for tragic, neurotic responses. And may this not be the neuroses of many individuals as they confront life that that is an element of hate there. And modern psychology is calling on us now to love. But long before modern psychology came into being, the world’s greatest psychologist who walked around the hills of Galilee told us to love. He looked at men and said: “Love your enemies; don’t hate anybody.” It’s not enough for us to hate your friends because—to to love your friends—because when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

I think of one of the best examples of this. We all remember the great president of this United States, Abraham Lincoln—these United States rather. You remember when Abraham Lincoln was running for president of the United States, there was a man who ran all around the country talking about Lincoln. He said a lot of bad things about Lincoln, a lot of unkind things. And sometimes he would get to the point that he would even talk about his looks, saying, “You don’t want a tall, lanky, ignorant man like this as the president of the United States.” He went on and on and on and went around with that type of attitude and wrote about it. Finally, one day Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States. And if you read the great biography of Lincoln, if you read the great works about him, you will discover that as every president comes to the point, he came to the point of having to choose a Cabinet. And then came the time for him to choose a Secretary of War. He looked across the nation, and decided to choose a man by the name of Mr. Stanton. And when Abraham Lincoln stood around his advisors and mentioned this fact, they said to him: “Mr. Lincoln, are you a fool? Do you know what Mr. Stanton has been saying about you? Do you know what he has done, tried to do to you? Do you know that he has tried to defeat you on every hand? Do you know that, Mr. Lincoln? Did you read all of those derogatory statements that he made about you?” Abraham Lincoln stood before the advisors around him and said: “Oh yes, I know about it; I read about it; I’ve heard him myself. But after looking over the country, I find that he is the best man for the job.”

Mr. Stanton did become Secretary of War, and a few months later, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. And if you go to Washington, you will discover that one of the greatest words or statements ever made by, about Abraham Lincoln was made about this man Stanton. And as Abraham Lincoln came to the end of his life, Stanton stood up and said: “Now he belongs to the ages.” And he made a beautiful statement concerning the character and the stature of this man. If Abraham Lincoln had hated Stanton, if Abraham Lincoln had answered everything Stanton said, Abraham Lincoln would have not transformed and redeemed Stanton. Stanton would have gone to his grave hating Lincoln, and Lincoln would have gone to his grave hating Stanton. But through the power of love Abraham Lincoln was able to redeem Stanton.

That’s it. There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.”

And oh this morning, as I think of the fact that our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution. Our nation is facing a revolution, our nation. One of the things that concerns me most is that in the midst of the revolution of the world and the midst of the revolution of this nation, that we will discover the meaning of Jesus’ words.

History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.

Another way is to acquiesce and to give in, to resign yourself to the oppression. Some people do that. They discover the difficulties of the wilderness moving into the promised land, and they would rather go back to the despots of Egypt because it’s difficult to get in the promised land. And so they resign themselves to the fate of oppression; they somehow acquiesce to this thing. But that too isn’t the way because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that.

Not only did Jesus discover it, even great military leaders discover that. One day as Napoleon came toward the end of his career and looked back across the years—the great Napoleon that at a very early age had all but conquered the world. He was not stopped until he became, till he moved out to the battle of Leipzig and then to Waterloo. But that same Napoleon one day stood back and looked across the years, and said: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have built great empires. But upon what did they depend? They depended upon force. But long ago Jesus started an empire that depended on love, and even to this day millions will die for him.”

Yes, I can see Jesus walking around the hills and the valleys of Palestine. And I can see him looking out at the Roman Empire with all of her fascinating and intricate military machinery. But in the midst of that, I can hear him saying: “I will not use this method. Neither will I hate the Roman Empire.” [Radio Announcer:] (WRMA, Montgomery, Alabama. Due to the fact of the delay this morning, we are going over with the sermon.) [several words inaudible] . . . and just start marching.

And I’m proud to stand here in Dexter this morning and say that that army is still marching. It grew up from a group of eleven or twelve men to more than seven hundred million today. Because of the power and influence of the personality of this Christ, he was able to split history into a.d. and b.c. Because of his power, he was able to shake the hinges from the gates of the Roman Empire. And all around the world this morning, we can hear the glad echo of heaven ring:

Jesus shall reign wherever sun,

Does his successive journeys run;

His kingdom spreads from shore to shore,

Till moon shall wane and wax no more.

We can hear another chorus singing: “All hail the power of Jesus name!”

We can hear another chorus singing: “Hallelujah, hallelujah! He’s King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah, hallelujah!”

We can hear another choir singing:

In Christ there is no East or West.

In Him no North or South,

But one great Fellowship of Love

Throughout the whole wide world.

This is the only way.

And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.

So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.

Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, this controlling power that can solve every problem that we confront in all areas. Oh, we talk about politics; we talk about the problems facing our atomic civilization. Grant that all men will come together and discover that as we solve the crisis and solve these problems—the international problems, the problems of atomic energy, the problems of nuclear energy, and yes, even the race problem—let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus. Give us this strong determination. In the name and spirit of this Christ, we pray. Amen.”

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Thai Pongal: The Harvest Festival of South India


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Happy Pongal

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The Tamils in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, celebrate the festival called Pongal (பொங்கல்) or Thai Pongal (தைப்பொங்கல்). This festival marks the end of the harvest season. The farmers thank the Sun, the principal energizer that helps to reap a bountiful harvest.

In Tamilnadu and Puducherry, Pongal is a four-day festival. It begins on the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi and culminates on the third day of the Tamil month Thai (January 13 to January 16 in the Gregorian calendar).

The Tamil word Pongal means “overflowing” signifying abundance and prosperity. “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the birth of Thai heralds new prospects” is an oft-quoted popular saying among the Tamils.

The four days of Pongal  are Bhogi Pandigai, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal.

First day: Bhogi Pandigai

In Tamil, the first day of the festival, namely the day preceding Pongal, is known as Bhogi Pandigai. Telugu people in Andhra Pradesh too observe this day and call it “Bhogi“.

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Bhogi Pandigai (Source - mylaporetimes.com)
Bhogi Pandigai (Source – mylaporetimes.com)

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In Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh people light bonfires at dawn and burn the derelict items found in their household. This practice is like Holika in North India.

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Pongal Kolam (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)
My neighbours creating the Pongal Kolam (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

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Next, they clean their house, whitewash and paint it if necessary, and decorate the house with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with kolams or rangoli (decorative patterns) drawn using brightly coloured rice powder/chalk/chalk powder/ white rock powder.

In villages, owners of cattle paint the horns of oxen and buffaloes in bright colours.

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Elders showering ‘bhogi pallu’ on children at a programme organised by Sri Gayatri Welfare Assocation and Cultural Youth Academy in Visakhapatnam. (Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam / thehindu.com)
Elders showering ‘bhogi pallu’ on children at a programme organised by Sri Gayatri Welfare Association and Cultural Youth Academy in Visakhapatnam. (Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam / thehindu.com)

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In Andhra Pradesh, in a ceremony called Bhogi-pallu, elders shower a mix of ‘regi-pallu‘, flower petals, pieces of sugarcane, coins and jaggery on children attired in colourful ‘langa-voni’ and other traditional wear.  Elders conduct this ceremony to ward off the evil eye from the children and bless them with abundance and long life.

Second day: Thai Pongal

The second day of the four days of Pongal is the principal day of the festival. This day is known as Thai Pongal by the Tamils which they celebrate on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai (January 14). All the states in India  also celebrate this day which coincides with Makara Sankranthi, a winter harvest festival. On this day the Sun begins its six-month long journey northwards or the Uttarayanam. This also represents the Indic solstice when the sun enters Makara (Capricorn), the 10th house of the Indian zodiac

In Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia it is celebrated as Thai Pongal.

In Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh it is celebrated as Makara Sankranthi.

Gujarathis and Rajasthanis celebrate it as Uttarayana.

In Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab it is celebrated as Lohri.

Assamese celebrated it as Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu.

Nepaesel celebrate it as Maghe Sankranti or Makar Sankranti.

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Thai Pongal - Boiling milk

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In Tamilnadu, it is a tradition for the housewives to boil milk in a new clay pot at dawn. When the milk boils and spills over the vessel, the folk blow the sanggu (a conch) shout “Pongalo Pongal!” Tamils consider it an auspicious to watch the milk boil over as it connotes good luck and prosperity.

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Chakkarai Pongal

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Later, the women prepare Pongal by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new clay pots. When the rice is half-cooked, sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins are added to the pot. This traditional preparation of sweet rice or Chakkarai Pongal derives its name from the festival.

Newly cooked rice is first offered to the Sun at sunrise as gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Women prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam which they share with their neighbours.

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Third day: Maattu Pongal

Maattu Pongal (Source: happy-2013.blogspot.com)
Maattu Pongal (Source: happy-2013.blogspot.com)

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Cattle are important to life in rural India. They are a form of wealth to the rural folks.

The Tamils of Tamil Nadu celebrate Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்) on the day after the Thai Pongal day. This day is also celebrated in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

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Maattu Pongal (Source - tamilrasigan.wordpress.com)

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The rural folk show their affection towards their cattle by applying kungumam (kumkum) on their cattle’s foreheads and garlanding them. They then feed their cattle with a mixture of venn pongal (sweetened rice), jaggery, banana, sugar cane and other fruits.

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Youths trying to tame a bull at a jallikattu held at Idaiyathur, near Ponnamaravathy, in Pudukottai district, Tamilnadu, India (Source - thehindu.com)
Youths trying to tame a bull at a jallikattu held at Idaiyathur, near Ponnamaravathy, in Pudukottai district, Tamilnadu, India (Source – thehindu.com)

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In many parts of Tamilnadu, youth take part in the adventurous game of Jallikkattu also known as Manju Virattu, or taming the ferocious bulls, to test their valour.

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Fourth day: Kaanum Pongal

People throng the Marina beach to celebrate Kaanum Pongal in Chennai (Phot: R. Ravindran/thehindu.com)
People throng the Marina beach to celebrate Kaanum Pongal in Chennai (Phot: R. Ravindran/thehindu.com)

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Kaanum Pongal is an auspicious day for family reunions for Tamils in Tamilnadu.

The Tamil word “kaanum” means “to view”. Siblings pay special tribute to their married brothers and sisters by giving gifts as a token of their filial love. People visit relatives and friends to rejoice the festive season. People have a day out with their families on river banks, beaches and theme parks.

Kaanum Pongal culminates the end of the Pongal festivities for the year.

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Imagine Finding Me: Photographer Chino Otsuka Meets Herself as a Child


Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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“The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.” – Chino Otsuka 

In today’s globalized world, each one of us yearn for a personal identity. Self-portrait in photography is one of the means to meet that goal.

Memoriography

A photographic exhibition titled “Memoriography” was run throughout the British Library from October 2 to December 30, 2008. It displayed works of Chino Otsuka, a London-based Japanese photographer. The exhibition was a sensory experience that encouraged visitors to relate their own memories with hers.

In 1982, at age 10, Chino Otsuka moved from Japan to the United Kingdom. She left the strict traditional Japanese school system for Summerhill School in Suffolk, England. There, for the first two years, she attended no lessons at all. When she left the school she had certificates in English, Chemistry and Photography. She studied photography at the University of Westminster. She received a post-graduate degree in Fine Art Photography from the Royal College of Art.

She has exhibited her work in the UK, Europe and Asia. She had a major solo show at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography, Amsterdam.

Chino Otsuka’s adolescent experience in the new country – its people, language and customs – shaped her writing. She has published four books in Japan. Her first autobiography published at the age of 15 was much acclaimed.

Imagine Finding Me

Chino Otsuka uses photography and video, to explore the seamless relationship between time and lingering memory.

Chino Otsuka wondered what it might be like to meet herself as a child. Her series “Imagine Finding Me” consists of twelve digitally manipulated composite double self-portraits of her present and past selves. She visits her younger self by digitally amalgamating recent photographs of herself, taken in 2005 and 2009, with photographs of her journeys with her parents when she was a child. This evokes a subtle and wistful realization of the transience of time.

Her choice of transitional objects such as parks, bridges, vacation spots, hotels, trains, etc., was deliberate. She says:

“things are not quite past or present, or somewhere in between… that has reflected from my upbringing, where I’m neither here nor there, and I’m not really Japanese or English.”

The series “Imagine Finding Me” has become her most exhibited work shown over 14 countries.

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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 herringbone 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 are organizing unions for  brick-kiln workers. This initiative has already seen a 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)

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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, in the 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.

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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).

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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)

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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)

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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 gallons/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 the 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?

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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)

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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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Assamese Gang Apprehended in Chennai for Circulating Fake Indian Currency Notes


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“City residents should be cautious about transactions involving currency and must alert the police if they find anything suspicious.”
S. George, Chennai Police Commissioner.

A file photo of fake Indian currency र1000 and र500 displayed at Chennai Police Commissioner Office (Photo : S.Thanthoni / thehindu.com)
A file photo of fake Indian currency र1000 and र500 displayed at Chennai Police Commissioner Office (Photo : S. Thanthoni / thehindu.com)

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Chennaites are now apprehensive and cautious when accepting र1,000 currency notes.

On New Year’s Day, the Fishing Harbour police in Chennai arrested three men from Assam when they attempted to purchase a wristwatch at a showroom on Adam Sahib Street in Royapuram using fake Indian currency notes.

According to C. Sridhar, joint commissioner of police, North, the shop owner suspected the trio when they gave a thousand rupee counterfeit note as payment for the wristwatch, and he alerted the police.

The police arrested the suspects and then raided the house in Manali New Town where they were staying. There the police found four more fake notes along with र30,000 genuine currency and various items purchased by the gang using fake notes. The three identified as Hameed Rehman (19), Rafiqul Islam (22) and Fasil Islam (28) were arrested for circulating fake Indian currency notes of र1,000 denomination.

The three arrested men from Assam had come to Chennai six months ago and were working as security guards at a private firm in Manali. Three more Assamese frequently visited the city and replenished them with almost-genuine fake Indian currency notes originating from Maldah district in West Bengal. The three Assamese security guards had exploited the counterfeit currency in shopping hubs Purasawalkam, Washermenpet, T. Nagar, and in various other areas in the city. They even maintained bank accounts to deposit their harvest from the exchanges.

On Saturday, January 4, 2013, another private security guard, identified as Jelbar Hosfin (21) from Assam, tendered a fake र1,000 note at a photocopying shop in New Colony, Adambakkam, for taking a few photo copies. The shop owner, suspecting the note to be a fake, alerted the police.

Police took Hosfin into custody. When RBI officials confirmed the note was a fake, Hosfin told the police that his friend Mohammad Quaid Ali, employed with a private security agency in Koyambedu had given the note to him and asked him to spend र500 and return the balance.

The police team picked up Quaid Ali from his office and recovered र2.74 lakh fake Indian currency notes he had hidden in a pile of sand dumped at a construction site near his office in Brindavan Nagar, Adambakkam. Quaid Ali also revealed that he got the counterfeit currencies from Saddam Hussain, believed to be the brain behind the network circulating fake notes in Chennai, the police said.

The special police team traced Saddam Hussain to a hideout in the city and arrested him.

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The police seized some debit cards from the arrested duo and also recovered Rs. 19,900, which they had obtained in exchange of purchases made with the counterfeit notes. (Photo - B. Jothi Ramalingam - one.in)
The police seized some debit cards from the arrested duo and recovered Rs. 19,900, which they had obtained in exchange of purchases made with the counterfeit notes. (Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam / one.in)

 

The three men – Jelbar Hosfin, Mohammad Quaid Ali, and Sdadam Hussain – revealed that they had so far harvested र19,000 in genuine money by circulating र1,000 counterfeit currency notes totalling र26,000. Three remit cards used by the accused to deposit money in bank accounts after the counterfeit harvest were also seized from Saddam Hussain.

These three culprits seem to have a connection with the three arrested at the beginning of the year for trying to circulate fake notes, police said. Saddam Hussain is the brother of one of the three arrested earlier.

S. Thirugnanam, South Chennai joint commissioner of police said that Saddam Hussain had stayed in the Chennai for some time in 2011. He then returned  to Chennai in 2012 and brought several people from Assam and got them jobs as security guards and construction workers.

Chennai Police Commissioner S. George said the case would be transferred to CB-CID, the main agency that deals with such cases.

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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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