Like the months of the year and the days of the week, whose names come down to us from ancient and antediluvian times, many of the symbols of Christmas pre-date Christian times.
Christmas, "Christ's Mass," in our calendar represents the feast of the nativity of Jesus Christ, which according to Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 215) took place on either December 25 or January 6. That is why in some countries, like Spain and in Latin America, gift-giving takes place at Epiphany (January 6) rather than on Christmas Day, as in most English-speaking countries. And yet, in ancient Rome, pagan priests celebrated the Saturnalia, dedicated to the god Saturn, from December 17 to 23, while December 25 was extolled as the renewal of Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun"). The northern tribes across the Danube celebrated the winter solstice (Dec. 21) as the Festive of Yule.
St. Gregory the Great (Pope, A.D. 590-604) encouraged Christian priests to adopt and reinterpret local customs while Christianizing people in foreign lands.
For ancient Germans, holly, pine branches, and other evergreens possessed magical power for their ability to remain green through the inclement winters...
A book authored earlier this year by John F. McManus, president of the John Birch Society, entitled "William F. Buckley, Jr. Pied Piper for the Establishment," has not received the attention it deserves in the mainstream media and, surprisingly, the alternative, more conservative forms of communication in this information age.
Frankly, the information may be too disturbing for some readers, particularly those who think they know what is happening in the world from watching and listening to Dan Rather on CBS News, Peter Jennings on ABC World News, or Tom Brokow on NBC News or, for that matter, to the more conservative Fox News Channel. Ditto for those also avidly perusing more conservative publications like The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Yes, gentle reader, you will be jolted out of your most comfortable reading armchair were you to engage yourself in carefully reading this highly disturbing but meticulously documented book. The 255-page tome (including index) describes assiduously the political career of William F. Buckley Jr., a man who has been considered "the patron saint of the conservatives" by orthodox liberal and authorized...
On Dec. 4, 2002, the Associated Press (AP) reported how Fidel Castro has given up smoking his beloved cigars, despite the Caribbean Island fame and investment in that tobacco product. Now Castro is critical of rum drinking as well, in the name of advocating for the well-being and public health of his people.
Speaking to a group of medical students the previous evening, the Maximum Leader, who the AP cited as the Cuban "President" Castro, rhetorically asked the question, "How much damage has rum caused any society? How many deaths from the irresponsibility of accidents and alcoholic drinks?"
The AP report carried by CNN described the so-called "heavy investment in [Havana's Latin American Medical] school by his poor country as proof of the superiority of socialist morality and as example of its health system."
Yet the report failed to mention that of the eight U.S. medical students attending Havana's "free" medical school and who arrived in April 2000, only two remain. The Rev. Lucius Walker, founder of the New York-based Pastors for Peace, who has been in charge of the admission process for U.S. medical students, blames the extremely high dropout rate not...
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. If you don't feel particularly thankful this year, go to the bookstore and buy Dr. Miguel A. Faria, Jr.'s insightful and autobiographical book, Cuba in Revolution: Escape from a Lost Paradise. You will become educated about Cuba, you will learn about America, and you will become very thankful.
Faria, now a retired neurosurgeon and naturalized American citizen, was just 13 when his father, also a physician, decided their time had run out in Fidel Castro's new revolutionary Cuba. The book opens with their highly readable clandestine escape, and later develops their circuitous route to the United States.
If your only exposure to Castro's Cuba is today's high-school textbooks or television news, be prepared for a different picture of the revolution and its human toll. Faria's family helped to topple Batista, only to find their own lives in danger not long after. Faria complements his own direct knowledge by revealing some little-known history leading up to and through the revolution.
Interwoven with this narrative are the major elements of American relations with Cuba: the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile...
Open Letter to Georges M. Halpern, M.D., Ph.D., Academy for International Medical Study (AIMS), Great Neck, N.Y.. Dear Dr. Halpern: Thank you for your repeated entreaties to accompany you in your "AIMS Brings You Cuba!" adventure. You should know that as a pragmatic decision to obtain hard cash, American physicians are welcomed in communist (fascist) Cuba, but Fidel Castro does not allow freedom-loving Cuban-Americans to participate in those indoctrinating cultural/medical exchanges. Nevertheless, I would like to give you some suggestions for your upcoming trip to Cuba.
While you are in the Caribbean prison, which is what Cuba has become, you and some of your fellow participants should independently rent a taxi (probably driven by an M.D. or professor who is forced to do so for pressing economic reasons, despite his exalted education) to see for yourselves the real, dire situation in Cuba, rather than wearing the rose-colored glasses provided to naive tourists and fellow travelers of the communist dictatorship.
Before you go on your exchange trip to communist Cuba, you should surf the Internet and read some of the articles that have been published and posted in...
The Center for International Policy has a very curious speaker in Wayne Smith, Chief of Mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba appointed by Jimmy Carter. He proudly describes himself as a close friend of Fidel Castro.
Less than two months into his presidency, on March 15, 1977, Carter called for normalization of relations with Castro's Cuba. He opened the US Interests Section in Havana and put Wayne Smith in charge. (This according to a declassified White House document as stated in the U.S. Cuba Policy Report, Vol. 9, No. 5, pg. 5.)
Turning his back on Castro's crimes and blatant human rights violations, Smith began a relationship with Castro, palling around with him in his Jeep. Since leaving his official post in 1982, he has become one of the most vociferous defenders and apologists of Castro and his regime.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Wayne Smith ran an unsuccessful campaign to have Cuba removed from the State Department's list of terrorist nations in spite of the evidence supporting its inclusion.(1) His promotion and ardent defense of a terrorist designated country - the number one enemy of the U.S. in the Americas - raises...
Victor Dreke and the Real Story of the Escambray Wars
On Nov. 13, 2002, Victor Dreke, a Cuban Communist Party official, and a man accused of committing war crimes during the Escambray wars of the early 1960s in Cuba, spoke at a North Miami forum hosted by Florida International University.
According to the Miami Herald, although there were protests outside the ballroom where the forum was held and a handful of Cuban exiles within shouted asesino! ("assassin"), the majority of the crowd offered a standing ovation to the communist official!
But the affair does not end there.
Incredibly, Dreke's special visa allows him to stay in the U.S. through the end of this month, touring the country sharing his "historic experiences" and promoting his book, From the Escambray to Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution, published last year in both English and Spanish by Pathfinder Press. Could you imagine exiled writers such as Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Mea Cuba), Enrique Encinosa (Cuba en Guerra) or Juan Clark (Cuba: Mito y Realidad) touring Cuba and promoting their books in the very belly of the totalitarian beast?
Who is Comandante...
Let me respectfully point out some major weaknesses in Doug Bandow's article on Cuba ("Washington's Inadvertent Support for Cuban Communism," Ideas on Liberty, July 2002). Bandow, a writer whom I admire and whose books and commentaries I have always enjoyed, was misled by the likes of Ricardo Alarcon, a devious man characterized as a dog that barks only while under the protection of his master. Once Fidel Castro is gone, so will his lapdog Alarcon be gone. Elizardo Sanchez is a socialist, who before serving time lived in expropriated property and wants his brand of collectivism for Cuba. Sanchez and his state-controlled band of dissidents are the only opposition tolerated in Cuba. The real opposition, like Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet or Marta Beatriz Roque, is either in jail or under house arrest, unable to meet freely with journalists such as Bandow.
Cuba has been bankrupt since 1986 and has defaulted on all foreign loans. Castro owes European bankers $12 billion; Cuba's debt to Russia is estimated to be over $20 billion. Instead, Fidel asserts Russia owes him for capitulating to capitalism! Neither private property rights nor the sanctity of contracts is recognized in Cuba...
Investigative journalist and U.N. expert William F. Jasper published another exposé of the United Nations last year, a book that is yet to receive the attention it deserves: "The United Nations Exposed." (1) Since Oct. 24 is "United Nations Day" in the U.S., it's worthwhile to bring this informative and well-researched book to the attention of readers who may not be acquainted with the abominable record of the power-seeking, supranational organization.
In "The United Nations Exposed," Jasper goes beyond his earlier book, "Global Tyranny: Step-by-Step," (2) but there is enough continuity flowing mellifluously from one book to the other to be easily digested by Americans who seek to know more about the "United Nations Day" that has been placed on our calendars on a par with Presidents Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Enumerated are the U.N. proposals that stealthily and dangerously erode the sovereignty of the United States and our ability to act decisively when our freedom and national security are threatened. Consider a few of the many ominous proposals:
1. The 1998 International Criminal Court (ICC) that went into effect this year and threatens the...
Once again, the gun control lobby, headed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control, Inc.) and the nebulous Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and incarnated in Congress in the person of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is using the ghastly acts of madmen or fanatic terrorists, this time a cowardly sniper, to call for further gun control measures to disarm law-abiding Americans.
This time the false panacea is "ballistic fingerprinting," which, purportedly, would have "solved this crime after the first shooting."
First, "ballistic fingerprinting" is a misnomer, because unlike unique human characteristics, such as fingerprints, DNA, retinal topography and other biometric data, ballistic markings change for example, with repeated firing of the handgun or rifle as in hunting or sports shooting. The markings in the barrel of the gun will be obliterated from repeated firings, making "ballistic fingerprints" impossible.
Second, with a premeditated murder or terrorist shooting, as in the aforementioned case of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper, the markings on the bullet or cartridge casing could be altered by the culprit...