Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (December 29, 2013 - January 4, 2014)

A quotation of Henri Frederic Amiel on 'thankfulness and gratitude,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (December 22 - 28, 2013)

A quotation of Fyodor Dostoevsky on 'lying,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (A scene on way to Waterloo from Toronto: May 19, 2013) © Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (December 15 - 21, 2013)

A quotation of Plato on 'light,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (A dance of light in Toronto: October 27, 2013) © Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (December 8-14, 2013)

A quotation of Nelson Mandela on 'education,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (A street in Tongi, where white-dressed Bangladeshi Muslim girls, on the right, are walking to school through a maze of vehicles) © Jerome D'Costa

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nelson Mandela, a Symbol of Freedom and Reconciliation, Dies at 95

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Photo courtesy: chicagonow.com

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former first-democratically-elected President, fighter for freedom, and anti-apartheid leader, died on the night of December 5 in Johannesburg after a long illness from lung infection. He was 95 years old. 

He will receive a state funeral  on December 15 after a week of national mourning. He will be buried at Qunu, his ancestral village in the Eastern Cape.

After 27 years of his imprisonment under the white-only apartheid (in South Africa, a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on the basis of race) regimes, he gained freedom in 19   and after a long negotiation the apartheid was ended and environment was created for the first democratic election.

In 1994, he was elected the first democratically-elected president of South Africa. He was president for one term that ended in 1999. Due to his powerful influence there was a reconciliation between the blacks and whites. 

Tributes from World Leaders

Upon his death, world leaders paid tribute to him in large numbers.
According to the Sky News, U.S. President Barack Obama said: “Today he [Nelson Mandela] has gone home and we have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time on this Earth…He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.”

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said: “A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time: a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero.”

South African President Jacob Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son.”
South Africa’s last white president F.W. de Klerk, who shared Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993, said: “[Mandela] was a great unifier…This emphasis on reconciliation was his greatest legacy.”

South Africa’s Anglican archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu said, “He was a unifier from the moment he walked out of prison.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: ““Nelson Mandela’s enduring legacy for his country, and the world, is the example he set through his own ‘long walk to freedom.’ With grace and humility, he modelled how peoples can transform their own times and in doing so, their own lives.”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said: “History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion of human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity.”

According to the News.va, Pope Francis in a telegram sent his condolence to President Jacob Zuma and wrote: “I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations.”

Nelson Mandela and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) Connection

Especially before 1972, Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom and long imprisonment struck a chord with a section of the students of the University of Dhaka and politicians in East Pakistan (later called Bangladesh). I still remember how some students demonstrated against the South African apartheid and demanded release of Nelson Mandela. There were posters of Mandela in different sections of the city, too. East Pakistani politician Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and some others, who always spoke for the rights and self-governing of the East Pakistanis, were imprisoned for long period of time, too, by the West Pakistani ruling elite, mostly influenced by the military leaders. 

The Appeal of Nelson Mandela Will Always Last 

As long as there will be discrimination, injustice, and enslavement in societies around the world, the example and lesson of Nelson Mandela will be present there. His appeal will always be there.

Resources on Nelson Mandela

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (December 1-7. 2013)

A quotation of Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly, CSC, on 'love and forgiveness,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (Reflection of a camera flash on a TV screen - Toronto: April 5, 2012) © Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's Assassination

President John F. Kennedy in his desk in the White House
Photo courtesy: www.jfklibrary.org/

It was November 22, 1963. Fifty years ago on this day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, popularly known as President John F. Kennedy or President Kennedy, was assassinated on a visit to Dallas in Texas, USA. He was the 35th president of the United States of America and the first ever a Roman Catholic holding this position. 

On this fateful day I was a seminarian at the Little Flower Minor Seminary at Bandura of Dhaka District, East Pakistan (latter called Bangladesh), studying in grade (class) ten at the nearby Holy Cross High School. Most of us knew of President Kennedy since his election in 1960 as his news would get wide publicity all over the world. We felt close to him as he was a Catholic. We felt proud of him as he was an exuberant, youthful and lively person coming up with new ideas and programmes for the USA. His sudden death stunned us, we could not believe such a person could be a victim to assassination. Like many others all over the world, we wept profusely and felt empty in our hearts. The seminary rector and vice rector comforted us all.  

Some of the seminarians, including me, knew more of President Kennedy as we were used to reading the weekly TIME magazine. In 1960, Father Leo J. Sullivan, CSC, was the seminary rector, who used to receive the TIME magazine regularly. After his reading he used to place this magazine in his waste paper basket for disposal. Some of us would collect it regularly for our reading and expansion of knowledge. We would compete and test our knowledge on world affairs and general knowledge. Michael Gomes of (of St. Michael’s Engineering) at Tejgaon, Dhaka, and I would be the ones who would do it on regular basis. Through this magazine, we had come to know a lot about the Kennedy family – how their strictly Catholic mother raised her brood of children inculcating Catholic teachings, how she used to place news clippings on a board in the house for her sons and daughters to be knowledgeable about politics, world affairs, religion and so on, how his father was the ambassador in the U.K. and made a lot o money as a businessman, and how President Kennedy studied in choice schools and university, and how he was hurt in the back when serving in the US Marine during the World War II. As a result, we felt an affinity with him and were eager to see him get elected. We were elated at his winning as the President of the United States. 

After being the President, his positive and proactive actions, like forming of the Peace Corps, his support to the civil rights movement by sending in National Guards during anti-black riots in the southern states, his ultimatum to the Soviet Union to withdraw nuclear weapons from Cuba, a plan to limit the war in Vietnam, and the like made him more popular to us. However, some people, including those in the US government, were not happy with his plans and actions. Mind you, some Americans were not happy with him as he was a Roman Catholic. They could not trust him fully. 

Even being in another country, we never believed in the Warren Commission Report that a lone gunman was the only person to plan and kill this President. Our gut feeling was that some powerful persons were behind this killing and they shrewdly removed all evidences of a plot. Later, his younger brother, who wanted to be a president, was assassinated as well. If there were no such plot to remove the Kennedys once for all, both the brothers could not have been killed in a similar fashion.

Although his extramarital affairs had diminished his image a bit with us, still we had a great regard for him for his public work. 

Through his untimely death, President John F. Kennedy became more alive in the hearts of men and women in the USA as well as in the world.

To know more about President John F. Kennedy and see his photos, you may access the following:

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The Quotation of the Week (November 24-30, 2013)

A quotation of Margaret Thatcher on 'politics,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
A doodle by Jerome D'Costa (Dhaka: September 29, 1994)

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (November 17-23, 2013)

A quotation of Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio (later Pope Francis) on 'inequality in mankind,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
 Photo (A panhandler in the walkway of the College Subway Station in Toronto: Oct. 15, 2013) © Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (November 10 - 16, 2013)

A quotation of Seneca on 'speech,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (Leaves - Toronto: July 4, 2012) © Jerome D'Costa

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: His Fall from Grace Is of His Own Making

The City Hall at Toronto (Photo by Jerome D'Costa: Nov. 8, 2013)
The Toronto Star of November 6, 2013 reporting Mayor Rob Ford's admission of smoking crack cocaine
National Post of Nov. 6, 2013
Toronto Sun of November 6, 2013
The weekly Maclean's  (Toronto)
Now weekly of November 7, 2013 (Toronto)
The Grid weekly of November 7, 2013 (Toronto)
Rob Ford, with the full name of Robert Bruce Ford, is the present mayor of Toronto, the largest city in Canada. The people of Toronto elected him a mayor because of his emphasis on reducing excessive costs in running the city and not burdening people with more increased taxes. In so doing, he faced opposition from a number of councilors as well as city-dwellers.

His work style and personal behavior also began to antagonize some councilors and some citizens although suburban people in a great number were still supporting him.
In the last three years, the mistakes he made brought about his recent fall from grace that is of his own making. 

Some of these mistakes being:

  • Allowing too much “brothering” in the City Hall: Instead of using experienced deputy mayors and councilors, Rob Ford allowed his brother Doug Ford, a rookie councilor, to be with him in the City Hall in all matters. His brother served as his enabler, mentor, adviser, and even a spokesperson. His brother was the first to defend the mayor from all attacks and oppositions.  His brother’s presence with him was a constant fixture. This was not only an eyesore, but also disturbing to many in the city. Too much brothering also gave one the impression that other councilors were inferior or incapable. This led to a low morale among the City Hall staff.
  •  Alienating media personnel: For some reason or other, Mayor Rob Ford ignored some media people and gave preference to others. This created enemies who were after him trying to find fault with him right and left. As a result, the mayor had to waste much time in denials. Initially, The Toronto Star was after him, later followed by The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Sun and some other media. The relentless pursuit of these media ultimately proved that the mayor smoked crack cocaine during a drunken stupor. 
  •  Failure to articulate his views and plans: Being an introverted type of person, Rob Ford is a man of few words and he desperately avoided facing people, media personnel, and opponents with difficult questions. His one or two-word answers were irritating and left people in the dark. His few words created more puzzles than answers. He lacked in persuasive language, resulting in fewer answers than solutions. Being a public person, when speaking, he failed to show empathy, explain things to the satisfaction of the people. He, thereby, failed to be transparent.
  •  A man with a big ego and arrogance: His egotistic attitude and arrogant behavior alienated many, who were eager to see his downfall. People are ready to accept an incompetent person with some humility and approachableness than an expert with egoistic and arrogant attitude. He gave the feeling that he and his brother were the only ones with all the right answers and solutions to problems. This was not a healthy situation at all. 
  •  Being a creature of his habit: Experts say that frequent heavy drinking gradually leads a person to taking drugs. In case of the mayor, this might have been so. But he was in denial for a long time even after the media revealed it. It is a common sense that a newbie drug-taker would never be in a place, known to be a “crack house,” with a number of unsavory druggie buddies. What his powerful opponents and journalists could not do in years, his druggie pals did in minutes! A few seconds’ video made Rob Ford to admit that he in fact had taken drug in a drunken stupor. 
  •  Using office time for personal reasons. The media showed with proof how the mayor used office hours to meet with his questionable friend as well as for coaching Don Bosco School football team members. Yet he was in denial.
Heavy drinking and taking crack cocaine are a person’s personal matter, but when this very act is done by a public servant it becomes a public matter. It shows how responsible and accountable a public servant is to the public. This brings in the question of whether that person is a reliable leader. 

Under these circumstances, our Mayor Rob Ford needs to stop acting like an immature person. He needs to own up to his actions. He requires to stand up and take such a decision now that will help stop wasting any more time, money, and energy of the Mayor’s office. City Hall workers are also constantly being distracted and humiliated. His appropriate decision will save the City of Toronto from further ridicule of the world media and their audiences.

To read more on Mayor Bob Ford and the situation of the City of Toronto, you may read the following:

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (November 3 - 9, 2013)

A quotation of Vance Havner on 'brokenness,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (Clouds seen from a parking lot in Toronto: October 30, 2013) © Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (October 27 - November 2, 2013)

A quotation of Melvyn Brown on 'good works,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Quotation of the Week (October 20-26, 2013)

A quotation of Edward Bulwer-Lytton on 'personal liberty,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (A farmland in Ontario, Canada: Sept. 8, 2013) © Jerome D'Costa

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Friday, October 18, 2013

One of The National Geographic Society’s Publications Has a Glaring Typo

The cover page of the special National Geographic publication on world's greatest empires
The page with the typo 'Nur Jahar' in place of 'Nur Jahan'

The National Geographic Society, based in Washington, D.C., USA, is a world-renowned scientific and educational organization interested in “geography, archaeology and natural science, and the promotion of environmental and historical conservation.” It is also a publisher of a number of publications, including magazines like National Geographic, books and other occasional publications that are read all over the world. It has made a name for accuracy, attractive illustrations and colorful photography in all its publications. 

Recently it has published a 130-page publication, the world’s empires: A History of Power. It briefly deals with different empires of the ancient, middle age and modern world. As usual, it draws one’s attention immediately.

As I was glancing through its pages, under the topic “Conquerors of India,” I came across a serious typo and proofreading mistake in the subhead on page 115. In place of ‘Nur Jahan,’ it is printed ‘Nur Jahar.’ Nur Jahan ("the light of the world") was one of the wives of Mughal emperor Jahangir.

This printing error is not only unexpected, but also unusual for The National Geographic Society. For this very reason, this publication may turn into a collector’s item!

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