Japan Abdication, New Emperor

I’ve found the story of the abdication of Japan’s Emperor Akihito. He’s the first emperor to leave office. Akihito is 86 and decided to abdicate due to his age and health. Many thought he should stay in this role till his death as is the custom. This weekend on NHK, the Japanese PBS channel, they offered several documentaries on the Emperor Emeritus’ long reign.

In Japan the year is determined by the current Emperor so this year will be Reiwa 1. Emperor Akihito’s era was Heisei and till April 30 the year was Heisei 30.

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Images of Notre-Dame

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Jean Fouquet, 1410

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Noel Ballemare, 1525

Notre Dame is still on my mind. Here are some images from its past. Clearly, it’s fascinated artists through the ages.

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Charles Negre, 1853 ( a negative)

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Paul Signac, 1910

To see more images, click here.

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Matisse, 1902

 

On the Notre Dame Fire

After the horrible fire that’s destroyed much of Notre Dame Cathedral, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to see the cathedral and am noting which cultural sites I’ve put off seeing. I though Notre Dame would always be around. When a building’s been around for centuries, you take their existence for granted. It’s easy to forget that “this too shall pass” applies to everything.

At the top of my list is Chartres Cathedral. I’ve been to Paris and think of visiting Chartres, and wind up postponing it till “next time.”

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I’ve never been to Greece and I would like to see their ancient ruins.

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Monestary, Lisbon

I’ve never been to Portugal, but would to see Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon.

Though I lived rather close I never visited Koyasan, a temple town in western Japan.

 

Avocados & Drug Cartels

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Photo by Foodie Factor on Pexels.com

I heard about this story earlier in the week when Dennis Prager read it on air. Here’s the start and the link to the whole article.

In the past ten years, the amount of avocados consumed in the US has more than quadrupled, to over a million tons a year. Most of this is used to make guacamole, a traditional Mexican food that has now become popular in the United States. While many avocados consumed in the US are grown in California, about 60% are imported from Mexico–where they have sparked a long-running battle between local farmers and one of Mexico’s drug cartels.

In the 1980s, the Mexican state of Michoacán saw good times. The area had long been a center of production for avocados, the fleshy green fruit that is used to make guacamole. Under the NAFTA treaty, the United States lifted its trade restrictions on Mexican avocados, and the region found itself at the center of a growth industry. Michoacán was the only Mexican state approved by the USDA to export avocados to America, and even as the American maquiladora factories that had appeared in Mexico under NAFTA were closed down and moved to China, the avocado industry continued to expand. By 2010, Michoacán contained almost three-fourths of all the avocado plantations in Mexico and was exporting some 80% of its entire crop to the US, worth over $1 billion a year. A single hectare of orchard, yielding two crops a year, could produce as much as $100,000. Farmers began referring to the avocado as oro verde, “green gold”. The fruit was the largest cash crop in the region, outselling even the marijuana trade.

And that caught somebody’s attention. For years, the marijuana industry in Michoacán was run by a cartel known as La Familia, headed by Nazario Moreno, a former minister who quoted Bible verses to justify the kidnapping and execution of rivals and opponents. In 2010 Moreno was killed in a cartel dispute, and La Familia collapsed, leaving a power vacuum . . . (Click here for the rest.)

Reference

Flank, L. (2016). Avocados and the Mexican Drug Cartels. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/7/12/1546610/-Avocados-and-the-Mexican-Drug-Cartels on April 5, 2019.
 

Spy Merchants

Here’s a troubling yet, fascinating documentary on illegal sales of surveillance equipment that can surveil all cell phones in an area or that can track all the internet information in an entire country.

Yes, you read that correctly.

It’s chilling to say the least. I had no idea.