Month: April 2020
The Spanish Cities of North Africa
Unbeknownst to me there are two cities in North Africa that belong to Spain. I discovered this a few days ago. It is European colonization that dates back to the fifteen hundreds. Ceuta and Melilla.
Ceuta is an 18.5-square-kilometre (7.1 sq mi) Spanish autonomous city located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a western border with Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies along the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta, along with the Spanish exclave Melilla, is one of two permanently inhabited Spanish territories in mainland Africa. It was part of Cádiz province until 14 March 1995 when the city’s Statute of Autonomy was passed.
Ceuta, like Melilla, was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. As of 2011, it has a population of 82,376. Its population consists of Christians, Muslims (chiefly Arabic and Berber speakers), and small minorities of Sephardic Jews and ethnic Sindhi Hindus. Spanish is the official language.
Ceuta’s location has made it an important commercial trade and military way-point for many cultures, beginning with the Carthaginians in the 5th century BC, who called the city Abyla; initially, this was also its name in Greek and Latin. Together with Gibraltar on the European side, it formed one of the famous “Pillars of Hercules”. Later, it was renamed for a formation of seven surrounding smaller mountains, collectively referred to as Septem Fratres (‘[The] Seven Brothers’) by Pomponius Mela, which lent their name to a Roman fortification known as Castellum ad Septem Fratres.
It changed hands again approximately 400 years later, when Vandal tribes ousted the Romans. After being controlled by the Visigoths, it then became an outpost of the Byzantine Empire. Ceuta was an important Christian center since the fourth century (as recent discovered ruins of a Roman basilica show), and consequently is the only place in the Maghreb where the Roman heritage has survived continuously until modern times.
In the 7th century the Umayyads tried to conquer the region but were unsuccessful. Byzantine governor, Julian (described as King of the Ghomara) who was a vassal of the Visigothic kings of Iberia changed his allegiance after the king Roderic raped his daughter, and exhorted the Muslims to invade the Iberian Peninsula. Under the leadership of the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslims used Ceuta as a staging ground for an assault on Visigothic Iberian Peninsula. After Julian’s death, the Berbers took direct control of the city, which the indigenous Berber tribes resented. They destroyed Ceuta during the Kharijite rebellion led by Maysara al-Matghari in 740.
In 1415, during the Battle of Ceuta, the city was captured by the Portuguese during the reign of John I of Portugal. The Benemerine sultan besieged the city in 1418 but was defeated. Phillip II (King of Spain 1556–1598) ascended the Portuguese throne in 1580 and Spanish kings of Portugal governed Ceuta for 60 years (Iberian Union). During this time, Ceuta attracted many residents of Spanish origin. Ceuta became the only city of the Portuguese Empire that sided with Spain when Portugal regained its independence in 1640, and war broke out between the two countries.
On 1 January 1668 by the Treaty of Lisbon, King Afonso VI of Portugal recognized the formal allegiance of Ceuta to Spain and formally ceded Ceuta to King Carlos II of Spain. However, the original Portuguese flag and coat of arms of Ceuta remained unchanged, and the modern-day Ceuta flag features the configuration of the Portuguese shield. The flag has the same background as that of the flag of the city of Lisbon. The city was besieged by Moroccan forces under Moulay Ismail from 1694 to 1727.
In July 1936, General Francisco Franco took command of the Spanish Army of Africa and rebelled against the Spanish republican government; his military uprising led to the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939. Franco transported troops to mainland Spain in an airlift using transport aircraft supplied by Germany and Italy. Ceuta became one of the first casualties of the uprising: General Franco’s rebel nationalist forces repressed the citizens of Ceuta, while at the same time the city came under fire from the air and sea forces of the official republican government.
When Spain recognized the independence of Spanish Morocco in 1956, Ceuta and the other plazas de soberanía remained under Spanish rule. Spain considered them integral parts of the Spanish state, but Morocco has disputed this point.
The official currency of Ceuta is the euro. It is part of a special low tax zone in Spain. Ceuta is one of two Spanish port cities on the northern shore of Africa, along with Melilla. They are historically military strongholds, free ports, oil ports, and also fishing ports. Today the economy of the city depends heavily on its port (now in expansion) and its industrial and retail centres. Ceuta Heliport is now used to connect the city to mainland Spain by air.
Melilla is a Spanish autonomous city located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a border with Morocco with an area of 12.3 square kilometres (4.7 sq mi). Melilla, along with Ceuta, is one of two permanently inhabited Spanish cities in mainland Africa. It was part of Málaga province until 14 March 1995 when the city’s Statute of Autonomy was passed.
Melilla, like Ceuta, was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. As of 2011, it had a population of 78,476 made up of ethnic Spaniards, ethnic Riffian Berbers, and a small number of Sephardic Jews and Sindhi Hindus. Both Spanish and Riffian-Berber are the two most widely spoken languages, with Spanish as the only official language.
Melilla is officially claimed by Morocco, which considers it “occupied territory”.
The current Berber name of Melilla is Mřič or Mlilt which means the “white one”. Melilla was an ancient Berber village and a Phoenician and later Punic trade establishment under the name of Rusadir. Rusaddir was supposed to have once been the seat of a bishop, but there is no record of any bishop of the supposed see, which is not included in the Catholic Church’s list of titular sees. As centuries passed, it went through Vandal, Byzantine and Hispano-Visigothic hands. The political history is similar to that of towns in the region of the Moroccan Rif and southern Spain. Local rule passed through Amazigh, Phoenician, Punic, Roman, Umayyad, Idrisid, Almoravid, Almohad, Marinid, and then Wattasid rulers. During the Middle Ages it was the Berber city of Mlila. It was part of the Kingdom of Fez when the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon requested Juan Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia, to take the city.
In the Conquest of Melilla, the duke sent Pedro Estopiñán, who conquered the city virtually without a fight in 1497, a few years after Castile had taken control of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, the last remnant of Al-Andalus, in 1492. Melilla was immediately threatened with reconquest and was besieged during 1694–1696 and 1774–1775. One Spanish officer reflected, “an hour in Melilla, from the point of view of merit, was worth more than thirty years of service to Spain.”
The current limits of the Spanish territory around the fortress were fixed by treaties with Morocco in 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1894. In the late 19th century, as Spanish influence expanded, Melilla became the only authorized center of trade on the Rif coast between Tetuan and the Algerian frontier. The value of trade increased, goat skins, eggs and beeswax being the principal exports, and cotton goods, tea, sugar, and candles being the chief imports.
The government of Morocco has requested from Spain the sovereignty of Ceuta and Melilla, of Perejil Island, and of some other small territories. The Spanish position is that both Ceuta and Melilla are integral parts of the Spanish state, and have been since the 15th century. Morocco denies these claims and maintains that the Spanish presence on or near its coast is a remnant of the colonial past which should be ended. The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories does not include these Spanish territories.
The principal industry is fishing. Cross-border commerce (legal or smuggled) and Spanish and European grants and wages are the other income sources.
Melilla is regularly connected to the Iberian peninsula by air and sea traffic and is also economically connected to Morocco: most of its fruits and vegetables are imported across the border. Moroccans in the city’s hinterland are attracted to it: 36,000 Moroccans cross the border daily to work, shop, or trade goods. The port of Melilla offers several daily connections to Almeria and Málaga. Melilla Airport offers daily flights to Almería, Málaga and Madrid. Spanish operator Air Europa uses nearby Nador International Airport for their connections to mainland Spain.
Many people traveling between Europe and Morocco use the ferry links to Melilla, both for passengers and for freight. Because of this, the port and related companies form an important economic driver for the city.
The Melilla border fence aims to stop illegal immigration into Spain.
Spanish territories of North Africa
1955 Lincoln Futura: the concept car that would become the original Batmobile
The Lincoln Futura is a concept car promoted by Ford’s Lincoln brand, designed by Ford’s lead stylists Bill Schmidt and John Najjar, and hand-built by Ghia in Turin, Italy — at a cost of $250,000 (equivalent to $2,200,000 in 2016).
Displayed on the auto show circuit in 1955, the Futura was modified by George Barris into the Batmobile, for the 1966 TV series Batman.
The Futura’s styling was original by 1950s standards — with a double, clear-plastic canopy top, exaggerated hooded headlight pods, and very large, outward-canted tailfins. Nevertheless, the Futura had a complete powertrain and was fully operable, in contrast to many show cars. Its original color was white, and was one of the first pearlescent color treatments, using ground pearl to achieve the paint effect. The Futura was powered by a 368 cubic inch Lincoln engine and powertrain; the chassis derived from a Continental Mark II.
The Futura was a success as a show car, garnering favorable publicity for Ford. It was released as a model kit and a toy, and in a much more subdued form its headlight and tailfin motifs would appear on production Lincolns for 1956 and 1957, such as the Lincoln Premiere and Lincoln Capri. The concave front grille inspired the grille on the 1960 Mercury Monterey and the 1961 Ford Galaxie.
The Futura played a prominent part in the 1959 movie It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford. For the movie, it was painted red, as the white pearlescent finish did not photograph well.
The concept car was subsequently sold to auto customizer George Barris. Having originally cost $250,000, the Futura was sold to Barris for $1.00 and “other valuable consideration” by Ford Motor Company. As the car was never titled and was therefore uninsurable, it was parked behind Barris’ shop, sitting idle and deteriorating for several years.
In 1966 Barris was asked to design a theme car for the Batman television series. Originally the auto stylist Dean Jeffries was contracted to build the car for the show in late 1965, but when the studio wanted the car faster than he could deliver, the project was given to Barris. With the short notice, Barris thought the Futura might work well, and using Jeffries’s initial car, decided that its unusual winged shape would be an ideal starting point for the Batmobile. Barris hired Bill Cushenberry to modify the car’s metalwork. Barris went on to build three fiberglass replicas using the frames and running gear from 1966 Ford Galaxie cars for the show circuit, three of which were covered with a felt-like flocking finish in the 1970s. Barris later acquired a fourth replica, a metal car built on a 1958 Thunderbird.
Barris retained ownership of the car, both after its conversion to the Batmobile, leasing it to the TV studio for filming and after production of the TV series ended, displayed in Barris’ own museum in California. It has also been displayed in the Cayman Motor Museum on Grand Cayman Island.
Barris sold the Batmobile to Rick Champagne at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction on Saturday, January 19, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona for US4.62 million dollars.
What will this Fool come up with next?
Trump gets stung from all sides after floating injections of disinfectants
The president, who has championed unproven coronavirus treatments, embraced the dangerous practice as a potential cure.
Trump’s own word:
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Trump said. “Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So you’re going to have to use medical doctors with — but it sounds interesting to me.”
President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Americans should inject themselves with household disinfectants as a coronavirus remedy provoked an apparently universal rebuke Friday — including from congressional lawmakers, the medical community and the makers of the cleaning products themselves.
On the advice of the President of the United States of America, aka stable genius.
The gun buy scene from the classic film noir ‘Taxi Driver’
Flashback: Martin Short, John Candy Go Punk as ‘The Queenhaters’ on ‘SCTV’
The greatest punk band in history only released one song, but “I Hate the Bloody Queen” remains a classic.
In 2011, Rolling Stone asked readers to name their favorite punk bands of all time, with thousands of fans anointing the Ramones, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Green Day and others as the best the genre has to offer.
They were all wrong.
There is only one right answer: The greatest punk band of all time is the Queenhaters. Formed (and disbanded) on March 18th, 1983, the British punk group, comprised of Martin Short, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty and Andrea Martin, appeared on Mel’s Rock Pile, a show also hosted by Levy that was a regular bit on Canadian cult sketch-comedy show SCTV. As the perpetually nerdy “Rockin’” Mel Slirrup, Levy hosted an American Bandstand–esque segment that sometimes featured actual musicians like Roy Orbison. But now, it was the punks’ turn to take over.
“How many kids here are into ‘punk music’?” Slirrup asks to a sea of boos. The children want to boogie. They will not today. After interviewing clueless students — “Although I have a powerful command of the English language, I can neither read nor write,” says Short. “I still firmly believe that Italy is nestled between Australia and New Zealand and that my morning glass of milk comes from cats.” — Slirrup welcomes the Britpunks to perform their enduring contribution to the canon: “I Hate the Bloody Queen,” a song about hating the bloody queen.
Hungry Condors Eye Poodles
A wild video out of Chile shows a pair of massive condors sizing up a group of frightened poodles that were, fortunately, protected by a window. The unsettling scene was reportedly captured by Gabriela Leonardi while on lockdown at her penthouse apartment in the city of Las Condes last week and subsequently posted on her TikTok account.
In the video, which can be seen below, the monstrous birds of prey can be seen perched outside Leonardi’s window watching the diminutive dogs that would likely have wound up becoming a meal were they not protected by the glass. To that end, the poodles eventually seem to realize that they are safe and one particularly pugnacious pup presses up against the window as if to challenge the condors.
Leonardi’s footage went viral on social media in Chile, amassing over 100,000 viewers in just a few days. Since the condors living around the city are known to scavenge food left behind by residents, it is speculated that they were particularly hungry because the coronavirus lockdown has turned the city into a veritable ghost town.
The Cowboy Look
The Cowboy look has many variations. From Roy Rogers to Paladin in ‘Have Gun Will Travel’, the colourful and very serious dark look and everything in-between.
John Wayne with his trademark light red shirt
The Earp’s and Doc Holliday
The Lone Ranger and Tonto
Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin in “Cat Ballou.”
And of course the super cool and mysterious Clint Eastwood
Mini Me gets in on the action
A Gigantic Jagged Piece of Rock Towering out of the Tasman Sea
Ball’s Pyramid is an erosional remnant of a shield volcano and caldera that formed about 6.4 million years ago. It lies 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Lord Howe Island in the Pacific Ocean. It is 562 metres (1,844 ft) high, while measuring only 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in length and 300 metres (980 ft) across, making it the tallest volcanic stack in the world. Ball’s Pyramid is part of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park in Australia.
Like Lord Howe Island and the Lord Howe seamount chain, Ball’s Pyramid is based on the Lord Howe Rise, part of the submerged continent of Zealandia.
Ball’s Pyramid has a few satellite islets. Observatory Rock and Wheatsheaf Islet lie about 800 metres (2,600 ft) west-northwest and west-southwest respectively, of the western extremity of Ball’s Pyramid. Southeast Rock is a pinnacle located about 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) southeast of Ball’s Pyramid.
Ball’s Pyramid is positioned in the centre of a submarine shelf. The shelf is 20 kilometres (12 mi) in length and averages 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) in width and lies under an average depth of 50 metres (160 ft) of water. It is separated by a 500 metres (1,600 ft) deep submarine canyon from another shelf on which Lord Howe Island is located. The cliffs of the stack continue under the water surface to the level of the shelf.
Ball’s Pyramid lies approximately 500 kilometres off the Australian mainland.
The pyramid at 1,844 feet tall, is higher than the CN Tower which is 1,815 feet high.
In 1964 a Sydney team, which included adventurer Dick Smith and other members of the Scouting movement, attempted to climb to the summit of the pyramid. However, they were forced to turn back on the fifth day as they ran short of food and water.
The first successful climb to the summit was made on 14 February 1965 by a team of climbers from the Sydney Rock Climbing Club, consisting of Bryden Allen, John Davis, Jack Pettigrew and David Witham.
In 1979, Smith returned to the pyramid, together with climbers John Worrall and Hugh Ward. They successfully reached the summit and unfurled a flag of New South Wales provided to them by Premier Neville Wran, declaring the island Australian territory (a formality which it seems had not previously been done).
Climbing was banned in 1982 under amendments to the Lord Howe Island Act, and in 1986, all access to the island was banned by the Lord Howe Island Board. In 1990, the policy was relaxed to allow some climbing under strict conditions, which in recent years has required an application to the relevant state minister.