Category Archives: Environmental Health Causes

The Black Death


The Black Death

The Black Death was a form of bubonic plague

The bubonic plague described by Athanasius Kircher

The bubonic plague described by Athanasius Kircher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that was pandemic throughout Europe, the Middle East, and much of Asia in the 14th century. Thought to have been caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, it killed between one-third and half of Europe’s population and at least 75 million people worldwide. Recently, it has been argued that the Black Death was not caused by bubonic plague, at all, but by what? More… Discuss

New at the #Vatican: Palestinian Liberation Organization –> State of Palestine.— Religion NewsService (@RNS) May 13, 2015


Vatican decision to recognize Palestine upsets Israeli government, Jewish advocacy groups – Religion News Service


JERUSALEM (RNS) The Vatican’s decision to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state on Wednesday (May 13) angered Israeli officials.

The move comes four days before the first-ever canonization of two Palestinian nuns and it solidifies the standing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel that the government is “disappointed by the decision. We believe that such a decision is not conducive to bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.”

Israel insists that for the Palestinians to achieve statehood, they must first end their armed struggle against Israel and recognize its right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Although the treaty codifies the Holy See’s relations with the Palestinian Authority, the Vatican has already referred to the “State of Palestine” in some official documents, including the official program handed out during Pope Francis’ Holy Land pilgrimage last year.

In recent years, the Vatican has stepped up its efforts to support Palestinian Christians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as their numbers have dwindled due to emigration spurred by wars and economic hardships.

A majority of Christians in the Holy Land — including Israel — are either ethnic Palestinians or live alongside them in the same towns and villages. Sisters Maria Baouardy and Mary Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, who were both Christian Arabs, are due to be canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday.

William Shomali, the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said the Vatican’s announcement “was not a surprise” because “the pope called President Abbas the president of the State of Palestine” during his 2014 pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

But David Harris, executive director of the AJC, the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, said the decision was “regrettable“ and “counterproductive to all who seek true peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“We are fully cognizant of the pope’s goodwill and desire to be a voice for peaceful coexistence, which is best served, we believe, by encouraging a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, rather than unilateral gestures outside the framework of the negotiating table,” Harris concluded.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the action was “premature” and would “undermine the only real solution to the decades-old conflict, which is engaging in direct negotiations.”

YS/MG END CHABIN

Categories: Institutions, Politics

Tags: AJC, Foreign Ministry, Israel, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Palestine, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Vatican

via Vatican decision to recognize Palestine upsets Israeli government, Jewish advocacy groups – Religion News Service.

today’s birthday: Sir Ronald Ross (1857)


Sir Ronald Ross (1857)

Born and raised in India, English physician Ronald Ross joined the Indian Medical Service after completing medical school and undertook the study of malaria, then a disease that was not well understood. After years of research, he demonstrated the malarial parasite, Plasmodium, in the stomach of the Anopheles mosquito, identifying the disease’s mechanism of transmission. His discoveries earned him a Nobel Prize in 1902. When is World Mosquito Day, instituted by Ross, observed? More… Discuss

Dust Bowl: Dust Storm Hits Great Plains (1934) (Watch the documentary!)


Dust Bowl: Dust Storm Hits Great Plains (1934)

In the 1930s, severe drought conditions in the Great Plains region of the US and decades of farming without crop rotation led to a series of devastating dust storms. The storms, called “dusters” or “black blizzards,” caused widespread ecological and agricultural damage. In May 1934, one of the worst storms to hit the Dust Bowl blew massive amounts of Great Plains topsoil all the way to the East Coast and dumped the equivalent of how many pounds of debris on Chicago, Illinois? More… Discuss

Stinging Dust & Forgotten Lives: The Dust Bowl (2008)

Uploaded on Aug 30, 2011

Ponder for a moment that you are huddled around a dimly lit lamp in a vast dusty room with your family. All eyes have a look of fear from the gusty winds shaking your home. The next morning, after the storm blows over, you look outside to find your house, barn, animals, fence, and water well have all been buried by feet of soil. All is lost. You must live…but how?

Over a hundred years ago people left the American east to find a better life. They migrated and established homestead throughout the Great Plains. There, they would prosper with fields of plenty, until, they exhausted the land. Again, they migrated westward to find a better life and provide opportunities for their starving children. STINGING DUST & FORGOTTEN LIVES presents the effects of the Dust Bowl on humanity during the 1930s. Meteorological conditions are often the first to blame, however, it was economic gain of the nation that doubled the unfortunate fate of the dusters.

For more information visit tcpfilms.com/​sdfl

Copyright 2008 by Cameron Douglas Craig and Kevin Harker Jeanes

From The Hill: Peppergrass trail 360 VIEW (Puente Hills (Whittier) Nature Preserve Authority): Let’s Go Hiking!


Peppergrass trail 360 VIEW (Puente Hills (Whittier) Nature Preserve Authority): Let’s Go Hiking!

How to Prepare Gaucho Mate (powdery yerba mate)


image
How to Prepare Gaucho Mate (powdery yerba mate)

Chlorophyll


Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is a green pigment that gives most plants their color and enables them to carry out photosynthesis, the process through which plants get energy from light. Chlorophyll absorbs light in the red and blue-violet portions of the visible spectrum; the green portion is not absorbed and, reflected, gives chlorophyll its characteristic green color. Only one animal has been found to use the chlorophyll it has eaten to perform photosynthesis for itself. What is it? More… Discuss

How Does Dry Cleaning Work?


How Does Dry Cleaning Work?

Dry cleaning is the process of cleaning fabrics without water. Special solvents and soaps are used so as not to harm fabrics. The practice began in France in the middle of the 19th century, after a dye-works owner noticed that his tablecloth became cleaner after his maid spilled kerosene on it. Early solvents were extremely flammable and led to many fires and explosions. Newer chlorinated hydrocarbon synthetic solvents, such as perchlorethylene, are nonflammable but pose what other dangers? More… Discuss

The Puerto Rican Parrot


The Puerto Rican Parrot

The Puerto Rican Parrot is the only remaining native parrot in US territory and one of the 10 most endangered bird species in the world. It has green feathers with black edges, a red forehead, and white ovals around the eyes. It was abundant at the time of Columbus’ arrival, but its numbers declined with the clearing of Puerto Rico’s virgin forests to make way for agricultural, mainly sugar cane, production. In 1975, the population reached an absolute low of how many individuals? More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Arbor Day


Arbor Day

Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), one of the earliest American conservationists, settled on the treeless plains of Nebraska in 1855. Morton began planting trees and urged his neighbors to do the same. On April 10, 1872, when he proposed that a day be set aside for planting trees, the response was overwhelming: a million trees were planted in Nebraska on that day alone. All 50 states now observe Arbor Day—usually on the last Friday in April. Most observances take place in public schools, where the value of trees is discussed and trees and shrubs are planted. More… Discuss

this pressed for….TRANSPARENCY: U.S. Nerve Gas Hit Our Own Troops in Iraq| via NEWSWEEK/REUTERS


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Atef Hassan/Reuters

U.S. Nerve Gas Hit Our Own Troops in Iraq

By Barbara Koeppel 3/27/15 at 11:52 AM

Atef Hassan/Reuters

Filed Under: U.S., Iraq War

During and immediately after the first Gulf War, more than 200,000 of 700,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq and Kuwait in January 1991 were exposed to nerve gas and other chemical agents. Though aware of this, the Department of Defense and CIA launched a campaign of lies and concocted a cover-up that continues today.

A quarter of a century later, the troops nearest the explosions are dying of brain cancer at two to three times the rate of those who were farther away. Others have lung cancer or debilitating chronic diseases, and pain.

More complications lie ahead.

via U.S. Nerve Gas Hit Our Own Troops in Iraq.| NEWSWEEK/REUTERS

this day in the yesteryear: Ireland Bans Smoking in All Public Places (2004)


Ireland Bans Smoking in All Public Places (2004)

In the latter part of the 20th century, research on the health risks of secondhand tobacco smoke spurred legislative bodies throughout the world to consider smoking bans. On March 29, 2004, Ireland became the first country to implement a nationwide ban on smoking in public places, including all enclosed workplaces. Many nations have since followed with similar legislation. Which Pope instituted the first known public smoking ban in 1590 by threatening smokers with excommunication? More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: Three Mile Island nuclear power plant radiation release Accident (1979)


Three Mile Island Accident (1979)

Both mechanical failure and human error contributed to the 1979 failure of a nuclear reactor cooling system at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania, which led to overheating, partial melting of the reactor’s uranium core, and the release of radioactive gases. Though it caused no immediate deaths or injuries, the incident increased public fears about the safety of nuclear power. What nuclear accident-themed film was released just two weeks before the incident? More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (1989)


Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (1989)

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef and spilled approximately 11 million US gallons (41 million liters) of crude oil into the sea, covering 11,000 square miles (28,000 km²) of ocean. As a result of the spill, an estimated 250,000 sea birds, 1,000 sea otters, and countless fish and other wildlife died. The ship’s captain was widely criticized after the incident, but many others factors contributed to the crash. What are some examples? More… Discuss

I stand with @ewg in opposing the chemical industry’s bill that will harm families – RT if you stand with us!


Today’s holiday: Feast of Excited Insects (2015)


Feast of Excited Insects (2015)

Known as Gyeongchip in Korea and as Ching Che in China, the Feast of Excited Insects marks the transition from winter to spring. It is the day when the insects are said to come back to life after hibernating all winter. In China, it is the day when “the dragon raises his head,” summoning the insects back to life, and people perform various rituals designed to prepare for the onslaught. In Korea, this is one of 24 days in the lunar calendar that marks the beginning of a new season. Farmers prepare their fields and begin planting their barley, cabbage, and other vegetables. More… Discuss

THE DHAMMAPADA – FULL AudioBook | Buddhism – Teachings of The Buddha (“Hatred ceases by love”)


THE DHAMMAPADA – FULL AudioBook | Buddhism – Teachings of The Buddha

The Dhammapada by Unknown, Translated by F. Max Mueller – FULL AudioBook – The Dhammapada is is a Buddhist scripture, containing 423 verses in 26 categories. According to tradition, these are verses spoken by the Buddha on various occasions, most of which deal with ethics. It is is considered one of the most important pieces of Theravada literature. Despite this, the Dhammapada is read by many Mahayana Buddhists and remains a very popular text across all schools of Buddhism. (Summary from Wikipedia.org)

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Chapter listing and length:

01 — Chapters 1-4 — 00:14:36
Read by: Roger Turnau

02 — Chapters 5-8 — 00:10:52
Read by: Måns Broo

03 — Chapters 9-14 — 00:19:16
Read by: Chris Masterson

04 — Chapters 15-18 — 00:13:30
Read by: Chris Masterson

05 — Chapters 19-22 — 00:17:01
Read by: Denny Sayers

06 — Chapters 23-25 — 00:16:44
Read by: Roger Turnau

07 — Chapter 26 — 00:10:35
Read by: Scott

Total running time: 1:42:34

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This video: Copyright 2013. Greatest Audio Books. All Rights Reserved.

New Poll: Americans Want Mandatory Vaccines (because ignorance hurts more than oneself)


New Poll: Americans Want Mandatory Vaccines

A new poll conducted by Ipsos for Reuters found that 78 percent of Americans believe all children should be vaccinated. Just over 70 percent think schools should be able to suspend unvaccinated students during outbreaks of contagious diseases. And 65 … More… Discuss

Human Civilization: First Genetically Modified Apple Approved in US


First Genetically Modified Apple Approved in US

The US Department of Agriculture has approved America’s first genetically modified apple—a variety engineered not to turn brown when bruised or sliced. Scientists achieved this effect by turning off a particular gene. Although it will be several years before these apples are sold to the public, they have already sparked a backlash from critics, who say that more human studies should be conducted before genetically modified organisms are widely sold. More… Discuss

this pressed for the bees and the flowers: Flash – Nature’s ‘medicine cabinet’ fights bee disease – France 24


18 February 2015 – 01H40

Nature’s ‘medicine cabinet’ fights bee disease

© AFP/File | Honey bees gather on a moveable comb hive at the Bee Research Laboratory, in Beltsville, Maryland on August 22, 2007

PARIS (AFP) –

Floral nectar contains a bouquet of natural chemicals that may help fight parasite infection in bumble bees, a study said Wednesday.

The findings throw up clues for helping honey bee colonies battling mysterious but catastrophic decline.

Biologists in New England tested eight nectar compounds on North American bumble bees — Latin name Bombus impatiens — that had been infected in the lab with an intestinal parasite called Crithidia bombi.

Four of the eight were effective against Crithidia, which is spread by bee faeces and lowers winter survival rates and reproductive success.

via Flash – Nature’s ‘medicine cabinet’ fights bee disease – France 24.

today’s birthday: Charles Darwin (1809)


Charles Darwin (1809)

Darwin was an English naturalist who developed the modern theory of evolution. Along with naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, he proposed the principle of natural selection: the mechanism by which advantageous variations are passed on to later generations and less advantageous traits slowly disappear. Darwin’s intensely controversial theory of evolution aroused widespread argument and debate among scientists and religious leaders. How did Darwin view religion and God? More… Discuss

Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl – The Plow That Broke The Plains (1936) Documentary. News Core re-score. History.


Dust Bowl


The Dust Bowl – The Plow That Broke The Plains (1936) Documentary. News Core re-score. History.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


For other uses, see Dust Bowl (disambiguation).

 
A farmer and his two sons during a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936, Photo: Arthur Rothstein

The Dust Bowl, also known as the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion (the Aeolian processes) caused the phenomenon. The drought came in three waves, 1934, 1936, and 1939–40, but some regions of the High Plains experienced drought conditions for as many as eight years.[1] With insufficient understanding of the ecology of the Plains, farmers had conducted extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains during the previous decade; this had displaced the native, deep-rooted grasses that normally trapped soil and moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. The rapid mechanization of farm equipment, especially small gasoline tractors, and widespread use of the combine harvester contributed to farmers’ decisions to convert arid grassland (much of which received no more than 10 inches (250 mm) of precipitation per year) to cultivated cropland.[citation needed]

During the drought of the 1930s, the unanchored soil turned to dust, which the prevailing winds blew away in huge clouds that sometimes blackened the sky. These choking billows of dust – named “black blizzards” or “black rollers” – traveled cross country, reaching as far as such East Coast cities as New York City and Washington, D.C. On the Plains, they often reduced visibility to 1 metre (3.3 ft) or less. Associated Press reporter Robert E. Geiger happened to be in Boise City, Oklahoma to witness the “Black Sunday” black blizzards of April 14, 1935; Edward Stanley, Kansas City news editor of the Associated Press coined the term “Dust Bowl” while rewriting Geiger’s news story.[2][3]

The drought and erosion of the Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2) that centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma and touched adjacent sections of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas.[4]

The Dust Bowl forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms. Many of these families, who were often known as “Okies” because so many of them came from Oklahoma, migrated to California and other states to find that the Great Depression had rendered economic conditions there little better than those they had left. Author John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939) about migrant workers and farm families displaced by the Dust Bowl.

 

Environment News: Coral Reefs


Coral Reefs

A coral reef is a ridge of living coral, coral skeletons, and calcium carbonate deposits from organisms such as calcareous algae, mollusks, and protozoans. The resulting structure provides a critical habitat for a wide variety of fish and marine invertebrates. Coral reefs also protect shores against erosion by causing large waves to break and lose some of their force before reaching land. More than 90% of the estimated 109,800 sq mi (284,300 sq km) of reefs in the world are in what region? More… Discuss

Bioluminescence


Bioluminescence

Fireflies light up due to bioluminescence: the ability of living organisms to convert chemical energy to light energy. Bioluminescence is also exhibited by some fungi, mollusks, and worms, and bioluminescent fish are common in the ocean’s depths, likely because the light aids in species recognition in the darkness. Other animals use luminescence in courtship and mating, to divert predators, or to attract prey. Why is most marine bioluminescence in the blue and green part of the spectrum? More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: Hydrogen Bomb Lost in the Ocean (1958)


Hydrogen Bomb Lost in the Ocean (1958)

The Tybee Bomb is a 7,600-pound (3,500-kg) nuclear bomb containing 400 pounds (180 kg) of conventional high explosives and highly enriched uranium. During a simulated combat mission, the B-47 bomber carrying it collided with an F-86 fighter plane, and the bomb was jettisoned and lost. It is presumed to be somewhere in Wassaw Sound, off the shores of Georgia’s Tybee Island, but recovery efforts have been unsuccessful. In 2004, a retired air force pilot made what discovery in the case? More… Discuss

this pressed: How Backpacking Can Put You in Touch With Your Inner Saint|National Geographic


Picture of signs along the Appalachian Trail
Picture of signs along the Appalachian Trail

Frequent mileposts break down the roughly 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine.

Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic Creative

via How Backpacking Can Put You in Touch With Your Inner Saint. |National Geographic

Rare Sierra Nevada Red Fox Spotted at Yosemite National Park – ABC News


Rare Sierra Nevada Red Fox Spotted at Yosemite National Park – ABC News.

My Buggy Valentine


My Buggy Valentine

The San Francisco Zoo has come up with a special way for the brokenhearted to mark Valentine’s Day: by adopting a giant hairy scorpion or a Madagascar hissing cockroach and naming it after a former sweetheart. Jilted lovers who take advantage of this opportunity can even send a notification to their exes, informing them of their cuddly new namesakes. Although the scorpions and cockroaches will be named in vengeance, it is ultimately all for a good cause—the money donated for naming rights will be used in conservation and research efforts. More… Discuss

Outer Space Treaty Signed (1967)


Outer Space Treaty Signed (1967)

The Outer Space Treaty represents the basic legal framework of international space law. It bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes, holds countries responsible for any damage caused by the objects they launch, and forbids any government from claiming a celestial body, such as the Moon or a planet. The Moon Treaty was approved 12 years later but was considered a failure. Why? More… Discuss

Officials May Ban Chocolate Bait after Bear Overdose


Officials May Ban Chocolate Bait after Bear Overdose

New Hampshire wildlife officials are considering proposing a ban on chocolate as bear bait after four black bears were found dead last September near a trapping site where nearly 100 pounds (45 kg) of chocolate and doughnuts were left as bait. An autopsy revealed that the bears overdosed on theobromine, a naturally occurring toxic ingredient found in chocolate. Bears are especially drawn to sweets when building up their fat stores for hibernation. The proposal may call for an outright ban on chocolate as bait, or it may recommend a limit on its use. More… Discuss

Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Mother and child in Hiroshima, Japan, December 1945


Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Mother and child in Hiroshima, Japan, December 1945 Read more: Hiroshima: Portrait of a Mother and Child in an Atomic Wasteland, 1945 | ( Click to access story) LIFE.com http://life.time.com/history/wasteland-mother-and-child-hiroshima-1945/#ixzz3PwqnNLSp

Alfred Eisenstaedt
’40s

“Japanese doctors said that those who had been killed by the blast itself died instantly. But presently, according to these doctors, those who had suffered only small burns found their appetite failing, their hair falling out, their gums bleeding. They developed temperatures of 104, vomited blood, and died. . . . Last week the Japanese announced that the count of Hiroshima’s dead had risen to 125,000.” — From “What Ended the War,” LIFE magazine, Sept. 17, 1945

Four months after the American B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, killing roughly 70,000 men, women and children outright and dooming tens of thousands more to either a torturous recovery or a slow death by radiation poisoning, burns or other injuries and afflictions, Alfred Eisenstaedt made this portrait of a Japanese mother and her child amid the ruins of the city.

Beyond the eternal debate about the “morality” of the bombing of Hiroshima and, two days later, Nagasaki; beyond the political and scientific factors that led to the development of nuclear weapons in the first place; beyond the lingering shadow cast by the Atomic Age and the Cold War—beyond all of those considerations, Eisenstaedt’s picture quietly commands us, at the very least, to pay attention.

 

Littering Singapore Smoker Slapped with $15,000 Fine


Littering Singapore Smoker Slapped with $15,000 Fine

A Singapore man recently racked up a record $15,000 in fines, and five hours of community service, after surveillance cameras caught him throwing 34 cigarette butts out of his apartment window over a four-day period. Such drastic measures are not uncommon in Singapore, which is known for its fastidiousness—caning is a typical punishment for vandalism, and the import of chewing gum is banned altogether, to avoid gunking up city streets. Singapore’s National Environment Agency claims to have doled out 206 punishments in 2014 to high-rise litterers captured on some 600 surveillance cameras. More… Discuss

Guided Missiles


Guided Missiles

A guided missile is a self-propelled, unmanned space or air vehicle whose path can be adjusted during flight, either by automatic self-contained controls or remote human control. Often propelled by rockets and carrying explosive warheads, guided missiles were first developed for military applications by the Germans, who employed V-1 and V-2 missiles in World War II. They have since become the key strategic and tactical weapon of modern warfare. What are some other types of missiles? More… Discuss

The Thylacine


The Thylacine

The last captive thylacine—or Tasmanian wolf—died in Tasmania’s Hobart Zoo in 1936. Though the species is believed to have become extinct in the 20th century, sightings have persisted. The large carnivorous marsupial looks like a wolf or dog, but it evolved independently of those animals. About the size of a collie, the thylacine has a long tail, short ears, and a brownish coat with black stripes. Its extinction was caused largely by overhunting. Why were thylacines hunted so aggressively? More… Discuss

today’s birthday: Edward Teller (1908)


Edward Teller (1908)

Teller was a Hungarian-born physicist who worked on the first atom bomb and the first hydrogen bomb. After studying with Werner Heisenberg in Germany, Teller came to the US in 1935 to escape the Nazis. Six years later, he began working on the physics of the hydrogen bomb. He took the lead on that project and was instrumental in making possible the first successful US explosion of the device in November 1952. Soon after, he alienated much of the scientific community by speaking out about what? More… Discuss

Canine Commuter Rides Bus Alone to Dog Park


Canine Commuter Rides Bus Alone to Dog Park

A black Labrador retriever named Eclipse has recently turned heads by riding the bus—alone—to her local dog park in Seattle, Washington. Commuters and transit employees alike have reported seeing Eclipse board the bus in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood and then ride about four stops to the dog park. While dogs are allowed on Seattle buses, they usually have human companions. Eclipse’s independent streak does not bother her owner, however, who says that he just meets up with her later at the dog park. More… Discuss

today’s birthday: Albert Schweitzer (1875) – “The reverence for life man”


Albert Schweitzer (1875)

Schweitzer was an Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. Determined to become a medical missionary, he established a hospital in Gabon, Africa, in 1913 and later expanded it to include a leper colony. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his medical and humanitarian work and for his “reverence for life” concept of universal ethics, which emphasizes respect for the lives of all beings. An organist to boot, he interpreted the music of what composer? More… Discuss

20 Exotic and Breathtaking Places From Around the World | ViralSmash


20 Exotic and Breathtaking Places From Around the World | ViralSmash.

this pressed for #jesuischarlie: World Leaders Head Paris March Honoring Terror Victims – ABC News


Home> International

World Leaders Head Paris March Honoring Terror Victims

Jan 11, 2015, 11:21 AM ET

By ABC News via Good Morning America

PHOTO: The crowd gather at Republique square in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.

The crowd gather at Republique square in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.

Peter Dejong/AP Photo

Next Video Terror Suspect May Have Fled to Syria

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Roughly one million people – including leaders from around the world – today marched as part of “a cry for freedom” to honor those killed in this week’s terror attacks in Paris.

The march began Sunday afternoon at the Place de la Republique, near the Charlie Hebdo offices where 12 people were killed Wednesday.

People huddled in the windy streets – some appearing solemn, some upbeat – marching with French flags and “Je suis Charlie” signs. Portions of the crowd spontaneously burst into applause as they marched.

via World Leaders Head Paris March Honoring Terror Victims – ABC News.

New Antibiotic Could Stop Superbugs


New Antibiotic Could Stop Superbugs

Scientists this week announced the discovery of an antibiotic that could prove to be effective against drug-resistant infections caused by superbugs like MRSA. The antibiotic, called teixobactin, works by binding to multiple targets, which may slow the resistance process. Derived from uncultured bacteria, teixobactin has been patented by NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals. Although the antibiotic has shown promise in trials on mice, experts say it is yet to be determined whether it will be effective in humans. More… Discuss

this pressed for your awareness: 10 Household Products That Have KILLED People – Likes


10 Household Products That Have KILLED People – Likes.

Pope Francis meets two American stars: Angelina Jolie and Cardinal Burke


today in the yesteryear: Sputnik 1 Falls to Earth (1958)


Sputnik 1 Falls to Earth (1958)

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite to be put into orbit. It was launched by the Soviet Union in October 1957 and acted as the starting gun for the Space Race. The first Sputnik, Russian for “fellow traveler,” was able to transmit radio signals for 22 days, emitting a beeping sound heard around the world. The US created NASA in October 1958, largely in response to this momentous occasion. How did US President Dwight Eisenhower react when he got word of Sputnik? More… Discuss

environment: Bear, Wolves Thriving in Europe


Brown Bear, the National Animal of Finland

Brown Bear, the National Animal of Finland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bear, Wolves Thriving in Europe

Large predator species, long considered vulnerable, are now rebounding in Europe, according to a new study in the journal Science. Europe has twice the number of gray wolves as the United States, with more than 12,000 of them spread among 28 different countries. Even more widespread is the brown bear, whose population numbers more than 17,000 among 22 different countries. Both animals can be found around 10 major population centers in Europe. The study also highlights thriving populations of Eurasian lynx and wolverines. More… Discuss

Article: Diamond Simulants (you know look alikes)


Diamond Simulants

Country singers and Las Vegas dancers, among others, can thank diamond simulants for jazzing up their glitzy ensembles. Diamond simulants are materials with gemological characteristics resembling those of real diamonds. They are distinct from synthetic diamonds, which, unlike simulants, are made of the same chemical elements as natural diamonds. Common examples of artificial diamond simulants are rhinestones and cubic zirconia. What are some examples of natural diamond simulants? More… Discuss

Muslim conquest of Egypt: “We have conquered Alexandria. In this city there are 4,000 palaces, 400 places of entertainment, and untold wealth. -‘Amr”


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Muslim conquest of EgyptPart of the Muslim conquests and the Arab–Byzantine WarsGiza Plateau - Great Sphinx with Pyramid of Khafre in background.JPG

Date 639–642
Location Egypt, Libya
Result Rashidun victory.
Territorial
changes
Muslims annexed Egypt, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan.

BelligerentsEastern Roman EmpireRashidun CaliphateCommanders and leadersEmperor Heraclius
Theodorus
Aretion
Constans II

Cyrus of Alexandria

Caliph Umar
Amr ibn al-Aas
Zubair ibn al-Awam
Miqdad bin Al-Aswad
Ubaida bin As-Samit

Kharija bin Huzafa

At the commencement of the Muslim conquest of Egypt, Egypt was part of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire with its capital at Constantinople. However, it had been conquered just a decade before by the Persian Empire under Khosrau II (616 to 629 AD). Emperor Heraclius re-captured Egypt after a series of campaigns against the Sassanid Persians, only to lose it to the Muslim Rashidun army ten years later. Before the Muslim conquest of Egypt had begun, the Eastern Romans had already lost the Levant and its Arab ally, the Ghassanid Kingdom, to the Muslims. All this left the Eastern Roman Empire dangerously exposed and vulnerable.[1]

Rashidun invasion of Egypt

Prologue

Rashidun army crossing the Egyptian border

 

Pyramids of Gizah.

In December 639 ‘Amr ibn al-‘As left for Egypt with a force of 4,000 troops. Most of the soldiers belonged to the Arab tribe of ‘Ak, although Al-Kindi mentions that one third of the soldiers belonged to the Arab tribe of Ghafik. The Arab soldiers were also joined by some Roman and Persian converts to Islam. However, ‘Umar, the Muslim caliph, reconsidered his orders to Amr, thinking it foolhardy to expect to conquer such a large country as Egypt with a mere 4,000 soldiers. Accordingly, he wrote a letter to ‘Amr commanding him to come back.[2]

The messenger, ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amr, caught up to Amr at Rafah, a little short of the Egyptian frontier. Guessing what might be in the letter, ‘Amr ordered the army to quicken its pace. Turning to ‘Uqbah, ‘Amr said that he would receive the caliph’s letter from him when the army had halted after the day’s journey. ‘Uqbah, being unaware of the contents of the letter, agreed and marched along with the army. The army halted for the night at Shajratein, a little valley near the city of El Arish, which ‘Amr knew to be beyond the Egyptian border.[3] ‘Amr then received and read the ‘Umar’s letter and went on to consult his companions as to the course of action to be adopted. The unanimous view was that as they had received the letter on Egyptian soil, they had permission to proceed.

When ‘Umar received the reply, he decided to watch further developments and started concentrating fresh forces at Madinah which could be dispatched to Egypt as reinforcements. On Eid al-Adha, the Muslim army marched from Shajratein to El Arish,[2] a small town lacking a garrison. The town put up no resistance, and the citizens offered allegiance on the usual terms. The Muslim soldiers celebrated the Eid festival there.

Conquering of Pelusium and Belbeis

In the later part of December 639 or in early January 640, the Muslim army reached Pelusium, an Eastern Roman garrison city that was considered Egypt’s eastern gate at the time. The Muslims siege of the town dragged on for two months. In February 640 an assault group led by a prominent field commander Huzaifah ibn Wala successfully assaulted and captured the fort and city.[4][5][6][7][8][9] Armanousa, the daughter of Cyrus who fiercely resisted the Muslims in Pelusium and fell hostage in their hands, was sent to her father in the Babylon Fortress.[10]

The losses incurred by the Arab Muslim army were ameliorated by the number of Sinai Bedouins who, taking the initiative, had joined them in conquering Egypt.[11] These Bedouins belonged to the tribes of Rashidah and Lakhm[12] The ease with which Pelusium fell to the Muslim Arabs, and the lack of Byzantine reinforcements to aid the city during the month-long siege is often attributed to the treachery of the Egyptian governor, Cyrus, who was also the Melchite (i.e., Byzantine–Chalcedonian Diaphysite) Patriarch of Alexandria.[13][11]

After the fall of Pelusium the Muslims marched to Bilbeis, 40 miles from Memphis via desert roads and besieged it. Belbeis was the first place in Egypt where the Byzantines showed some measure of resistance towards the Arab invaders. Two Christian monks accompanied by Cyrus of Alexandria and the famous Roman general Aretion came out to negotiate with ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. Aretion was previously the Byzantine governor of Jerusalem, and had fled to Egypt when the city fell to the Muslims. ‘Amr gave them three options: to either convert to Islam, or to pay Jizya, or to fight the Muslims. They requested three days to reflect, then – as mentions al-Tabari – requested two extra days. At the end of the five days, the two monks and the general decided to reject Islam and Jizya and fight the Muslims. They thus disobeyed their ruler, Cyrus of Alexandria, who wanted to surrender and pay Jizya. Cyrus subsequently left for the Babylon Fortress, while the two monks and Aretion decided to fight the Arabs. The fight resulted in the victory of the latter and the death of Aretion. ‘Amr ibn al-‘As subsequently attempted to convince the native Egyptians to aid the Arabs and surrender the city, based on the kinship between Egyptians and Arabs via Hagar.[14] When the Egyptians refused, the siege of Bilbeis was continued until the city fell after a month. Towards the end of March 640 the city surrendered to the Muslims.[13] With the fall of Belbeis, the Arabs were only one day away from the head of the Delta.

Siege of Babylon

 

Map detailing the route of the Muslims’ invasion of Egypt.

Amr had visualized that the conquest of Egypt would be a walkover. This expectation turned out to be wrong. Even at the outposts of Pelusium and Bilbeis the Muslims had met stiff resistance. The siege of Pelusium had lasted for two months and that of Bilbeis for one month. Both battles were preludes to the siege of Babylon, which was a larger and more important city. Here resistance on a larger scale was expected.[15] After the fall of Bilbeis the Muslims advanced to Babylon, near modern Cairo. The Muslims arrived at Babylon some time in May 640 AD.[16] Babylon was a fortified city, and the Romans had prepared it for a siege. Outside the city, a ditch had been dug, and a large force was positioned in the area between the ditch and the city walls. The Muslims besieged the fort of Babylon some time in May 640. The fort was a massive structure 60 ft. high with walls more than 6 ft. thick and studded with numerous towers and bastions. A Muslim force of some 4,000 men attacked the Roman positions unsuccessfully. Early Muslim sources place the strength of the Byzantine force in Babylon about six times the strength of the Muslim force.[17] For the next two months fighting remained inconclusive, with the Byzantines having the upper hand by repulsing every Muslim assault.[18]

Some time in May 640 AD, ‘Amr sent a detachment to raid the city of Fayoum. The Byzantines had anticipated this raid, and thus strongly guarded the roads leading to the city. They had also fortified their garrison in the nearby town of Lahun. When the Muslim Arabs realized that Fayoum was too strong for them to invade, they headed towards the Western Desert where they looted all the cattle and animals they could. They subsequently headed to Oxyrhynchus (Per-Medjed), which was defeated. The Arabs then returned to Lower Egypt down the River Nile.[19]

Reinforcements from Madinah

In July, ‘Amr wrote to ‘Umar requesting reinforcement; but before the letter reached him, the caliph had already dispatched the first reinforcement, which was 4000 strong. The army was composed mostly of the veterans of Syrian campaigns. Even with these reinforcements, ‘Amr was unsuccessful. By August 640, ‘Umar’s assembling of the 4000 strong elite force had been completed. It consisted of four columns. Each column was one thousand strong and appointed a commander each, while Zubair ibn al-Awam, a renowned warrior and commander, veteran of the Battle of Yarmouk and once a part of Khalid ibn Walid‘s elite force mobile guard, was appointed the supreme commander of army. ‘Umar had indeed offered Zubair the chief command and governorship of Egypt, but Zubair had declined the offer. Other commanders were Miqdad ibn al-Aswad; Ubaidah ibn as-Samit, and Kharijah ibn Huzaifah. These reinforcements arrived at Babylon sometime in September 640. The total strength of the Muslim force now rose to 12,000, quite a modest strength to resume the offensive.[3]

Battle of Heliopolis

Ten miles from Babylon was Heliopolis.[20] The Muslim army reached Heliopolis in July 640.[21] It was the city of the Sun Temple of the Pharaohs, and was famous for its grandiose monuments and learning institutions.[22] There was the danger that forces from Heliopolis could attack the Muslims from the flank while it was engaged with the Roman army at Babylon. With some detachments ‘Amr and Zubair marched to Heliopolis. There was a cavalry clash near the current neighbourhood of Abbaseya. The engagement was not decisive although it resulted in the occupation of the fortress located between the current neighbourhoods of Abdyn and Azbakeya. The defeated Byzantine soldiers retreated to either the Babylon Fortress or the fortress of Nikiû.[23] At an unguarded point of the wall of Heliopolis, Zubair and some of his picked soldiers scaled the wall of the city, and after overpowering the guards, opened the gates for the main Muslim army to enter the city. Heliopolis was thus captured by the Muslims. ‘Amr and Zubair returned to Babylon.

Conquering of Fayoum and Babylon

When news of the Muslims’ victory at Heliopolis reached Fayoum, its Byzantine garrison under the command of Domentianus evacuated the city during the night and fled to Abuit. From Abuit, they fled down the Nile to Nikiu without informing the people of Fayoum and Abuit that they were abandoning their cities to the enemy. When news of this reached ‘Amr, he ordered a body of his troops to cross the Nile and invade Fayoum and Abuit. The Muslim soldiers captured the entire province of Fayoum without any resistance from the Byzantines.[24]

The Byzantine garrison at Babylon now grew bolder then ever before and had begun to sally forth across the ditch, though with little success. There had been a stalemate between the Muslim and Byzantine forces at Babylon, until the Muslim commanders devised an ingenious strategy and inflicted heavy casualties on the Byzantine forces by encircling them from three sides in one of their such sallies. The Byzantines were able to retreat back to the fort but were left too weak for any further offensive action. This situation forced the Byzantines to enter in negotiations with the Muslims. The Byzantine general Theodorus shifted his headquarters to the Isle of Rauda, whilst Cyrus of Alexandria, popularly known as Muqawqis in Muslim history entered in negotiations with the Muslims, which failed to give any productive results. Emissaries were also exchanged between Theodorus and ‘Amr, leading to ‘Amr meeting Theodorus in person. After fruitless negotiations, the Muslims acted on 20 December, when, in a night assault, a company of hand picked warriors led by Zubair managed to scale the wall, kill the guards and open the gates for the Muslim army to enter. The city of Babylon was captured by the Muslims on 21 December 640, using tactics similar to those used by Khalid ibn Walid at Damascus. However Theodorus and his army managed to slip away to the island of Rauda during the night.[25]

Surrender of Thebaid (Southeastern Egypt)

On the 22nd of December, Cyrus of Alexandria entered into a treaty with the Muslims.[26] By the treaty, Muslim sovereignty over the whole of Egypt, and effectively on Thebaid, was recognized, and the Egyptians agreed to pay Jizya at the rate of 2 diners per male adult.[27] The treaty was subject to the approval of the emperor Heraclius, but Cyrus stipulated that even if the emperor repudiated the treaty, he and the Copts of whom he was the High Priest would honor its terms, recognize the supremacy of the Muslims and pay them Jizya.[28] Cyrus submitted a report to Heraclius and asked for his approval to the terms of the treaty. He also offered reasons in justification of the acceptance of the terms of the treaty. ‘Amr submitted a detailed report to ‘Umar and asked for his further instructions. When ‘Umar received this report, he wrote back to say that he approved of the terms provided Heraclius agreed to submit to them.[29] He desired that as soon as the reactions of Heraclius were known, he should be informed so that further necessary instructions could be issued promptly.[30] Heraclius’s reaction to Cyrus’s report was violent. He removed him from the viceroyship of Egypt, but he remained the Head of the Coptic Church: this was a matter in which the emperor could not interfere. Heraclius sent strict orders to the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine forces in Egypt that the Muslims should be driven out from Egypt. Cyrus waited on ‘Amr and told him that Heraclius had repudiated the treaty of Babylon. He assured ‘Amr that so far as the Copts were concerned the terms of the treaty would be followed. ‘Amr reported these developments to ‘Umar. ‘Umar desired that before the Byzantines could gather further strength the Muslims should strike at them and drive them from Alexandria. It is recorded that Cyrus requested three favors from the Muslims, namely:

  1. Do not break your treaty with the Copts;
  2. If the Byzantines after this repudiation ask for peace, do not make peace with them, but treat them as captives and slaves; and
  3. When I am dead allow me to be buried in the Church of St. John at Alexandria.[3][31]

This position was to the advantage of the Muslims as the Copts were the natives of the land of Egypt and[32] both the Byzantines and the Muslims were strangers. Though some Copts from personal considerations continued to support the Byzantines, the sympathies of the Copts were now by and large with the Muslims. The Copts were not supposed to fight against the Byzantines on behalf of the Muslims, but they undertook to help the Muslims in the promotion of war effort and in the provision of stores, build roads and bridges for them, and provide them moral support.[33]

March to Alexandria

 

Ancient Roman theaters in Alexandria.

The Byzantine commanders knew that the next target of the Muslims would be Alexandria. They accordingly prepared for the expected siege of the city. Their strategy was to keep the Muslims away from Alexandria by destroying their power through continued sallies and attacks from the fort. Even if this did not keep them away, it would weaken them morally and physically. It would be more of a war of patience than strength.[34] In February 641, ‘Amr set off for Alexandria from Babylon with his army. All along the road from Babylon to Alexandria, the Byzantines had left regiments to delay, and if possible, inflict losses on the advancing Muslims. On the third day of their march from Babylon the Muslims’ advance guard encountered a Byzantine detachment at Tarnut on the west bank of the Nile.[35] The Byzantines failed to inflict heavy losses, but they were able to delay the advance by one more day. The Muslim commanders decided to halt the main army at Tarnut and send the advance guard cavalry forward to clear the way from the possible Byzantine detachments. This was done so that the main army could reach Alexandria as soon as possible without being delayed by Byzantine regiments mid-way. Twenty miles from Tarnut, the Byzantine detachment that had withdrawn from Tarnut the day before, joined the detachment already present at Shareek to form a strong offensive force. They attacked and routed the Muslim advance guard. The next day, before the Byzantines could resume their offensive to annihilate the Muslim advance guard completely, the main Muslim army arrived, prompting the Byzantines to withdraw. At this point the Muslim commanders decided not to send forward the advance guard, so the whole army marched forward, beginning the following day. The Muslims reached Sulteis where they encountered a Byzantine detachment. Hard fighting followed, but the Byzantine resistance soon broke down and they withdrew to Alexandria. The Muslims halted at Sulteis for a day. Alexandria was still two days’ march from Sulteis. After one day’s march the Muslim forces arrived at Kirayun, twelve miles from Alexandria. Here the Muslim advance to Alexandria was blocked by a Byzantine detachment about 20,000 strong. The strategy of the Byzantines was that either the Muslims would be driven away before they actually arrived at Alexandria, or that they would be as weak as possible if they did. The two armies were deployed and fighting followed, but action remained indecisive,.[3] This state of affairs persisted for ten days. On the tenth day the Muslims launched a vigorous assault. The Byzantines were defeated and they retreated to Alexandria. The way to Alexandria was now cleared, and the Muslim forces resumed the march from Kirayun and reached the outskirts of Alexandria in March 641 AD.

Conquest of Alexandria and fall of Egypt

The Muslims laid siege to Alexandria in March 641 AD.[36] The city was heavily fortified: there were walls within walls, and forts within forts. There was no dearth of provisions and food supply in the city. The city also had direct access to the sea, and through the sea route help from Constantinople in the form of men and supplies could come at any time.

As ‘Amr surveyed the military situation, he felt that Alexandria would be a hard nut to crack.[37] The Byzantines had high stakes in Alexandria, and they were determined to offer stiff resistance to the Muslims. They mounted catapults on the walls of the city, and these engines pounded the Muslims with boulders. This caused considerable damage to the Muslims and ‘Amr ordered his men back from the advance position so that they might be beyond the range of the missiles. A see-saw war followed.[3] When the Muslims tried to go close to the city they were hit with missiles. When the Byzantines sallied from the fort, they were invariably beaten back by the Muslims.

It is said that Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, collected a large army at Constantinople. He intended to march at the head of these reinforcements personally to Alexandria. But before he could finalize the arrangements, he died. The troops mustered at Constantinople dispersed, and consequently no help came to Alexandria. This further demoralized the Byzantines. The siege dragged on for six months, and in Madinah ‘Umar got impatient. In a letter addressed to ‘Amr, the caliph expressed his concern at the inordinate delay in the invasion of Egypt. He further instructed that the new field commander would be ‘Ubaidah, and he would launch an assault on the fort of Alexandria. ‘Ubaidah’s assault was successful and Alexandria was captured by the Muslims in September 641. Thousands of Byzantine soldiers were killed or taken captive while others managed to flee to Constantinople on ships that had been anchored in the port. Some wealthy traders also left.[38]

On behalf of the Egyptians, Cyrus of Alexandria sued for peace, and his request was granted. After the invasion of Egypt ‘Amr is reported to have written to Caliph ‘Umar:

“We have conquered Alexandria. In this city there are 4,000 palaces, 400 places of entertainment, and untold wealth.”

The permanent loss of Egypt meant a loss of a huge amount of Byzantium’s food and money. The loss of Egypt and Syria, followed later by the invasion of the Exarchate of Africa also meant that the Mediterranean, long referred to as the “Roman lake”, was now contested between two powers: the Muslim Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire. In these events, the Byzantine Empire, although sorely tested, would be able to hold on to Anatolia, while the mighty walls of Constantinople would save it during two great Arab sieges, from the fate of the Persian Empire.[39]

An attempt was made in the year 645 to regain Alexandria for the Byzantine Empire, but it was retaken by ‘Amr in 646. In 654 an invasion fleet sent by Constans II was repulsed. From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain possession of the country.

Invasion of Nubia

The land of Nubia lay to the south of Egypt. It stretched from Aswan to Khartoum and from the Red Sea to the Libyan Desert. The Nubians were Christians and were ruled by a king. The capital of the kingdom was Dongola. In the summer of 642, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As sent an expedition to Nubia under the command of his cousin ‘Uqbah ibn Nafi. The expedition was ordered by ‘Amr on his own account. It was not a whole scale invasion but merely a pre-emptive raid to show the arrival of a new ruling in Egypt to the bordering kingdoms.[40] ‘Uqbah ibn Nafi, who later made a great name for himself as the Conqueror of Africa, and led his horse to the Atlantic came in for an unhappy experience in Nubia. In Nubia, no pitched battle was fought. There were only skirmishes and haphazard engagements and in such type of warfare the Nubians excelled at. They were skilful archers and subjected the Muslims to a merciless barrage of arrows. These arrows were aimed at the eyes and in the encounter 250 Muslims lost their eyes.

The Nubians were very fast in their movements.[13] The Muslim cavalry was known for its speed and mobility, but it was no match for the Nubian horse riders. The Nubians would strike hard against the Muslims, and then vanish before the Muslims could recover their balance and take counter action. The hit-and-run raids by the Nubians caused considerable damage to the Muslims. ‘Uqbah wrote to ‘Amr of this state of affairs.[41] He said that the Nubians avoided pitched battle, and in the guerilla tactics that they followed the Muslims suffered badly. ‘Uqbah further came to know that Nubia was a very poor land, and there was nothing therein worth fighting for.[citation needed] Thereupon ‘Amr ordered ‘Uqbah to withdraw from Nubia. ‘Uqbah accordingly pulled out of Nubia with his forces.

Conquest of North Africa

After the preemptive raid on Nubia in the south ‘Amr decided to undertake campaigns in the west, so as to secure the western borders of Egypt and clear the region of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan from Byzantine influence. Some time in September 642, ‘Amr led his troops west. After one month of marching the Muslim forces reached the city of Pentapolis. From Burqa, ‘Uqbah bin Nafi was sent at the head of a column to undertake a campaign against Fezzan. ‘Uqbah marched to Zaweela, the capital of Fezzan. No resistance was offered, and the entire district of Fezzan, what is present day north-western Libya, submitted to the Muslims. ‘Uqbah then returned to Burqa. Soon after the Muslim army marched westward from Burqa. They arrived at Tripoli in the spring of 643 C.E. and laid siege to the city. The city fell after a siege of one month. From Tripoli, ‘Amr sent a detachment to Sabratha, a city forty miles from Tripoli. The city put up feeble resistance, and soon surrendered and agreed to pay Jizya. From Tripoli, ‘Amr is reported to have written to the caliph the details of the operations in the following words:

“We have conquered Burqa, Tripoli and Sabratha. The way to the west is clear, and if the Commander of the Faithful wishes to conquer more lands, we could do so with the grace of God.”

‘Umar, whose armies were already engaged in a massive campaign of conquering the Sassanid Empire did not wanted to engage himself further along north Africa, when Muslim rule in Egypt was as yet insecure. The caliph accordingly disapproved of any further advances and ordered ‘Amr to first consolidate the Muslims’ position in Egypt, and issued strict orders that there should be no further campaigning. ‘Amr obeyed, abandoning Tripoli and Burqa and returning to Fustat. This was towards the close of the year 643 AD.[42]

Stance of the Egyptians towards the invading Muslims

The Muslims were assisted by some Copts, who resented the persecutions of the Byzantines, and of these some turned to Islam. Others sided with the Byzantines, hoping that they would provide a defense against the Arab invaders.[43]

In return for a tribute of money and food for the occupying troops, the Christian inhabitants of Egypt were excused from military service and left free in the observance of their religion and the administration of their affairs. This system was a new institution, as a mandate by a religion. But it was adopted as an institution, by the Muslims from previous poll tax systems in the ancient Middle East. Indeed, the Egyptians had been subject to it – as non-Romans – during Roman rule before the adoption of Christianity by the Roman state. After that, all non-Christian subjects of the Roman Empire had to pay it, including non-Christian Egyptians. The Persians also had a similar poll tax system.

On the twentieth of Maskaram Byzantine general Theodorus and all his troops and officers set out and proceeded to the island of Cyprus, abandoning the city of Alexandria. Thereupon ‘Amr, the Muslim commander, made his entry into the city of Alexandria. The inhabitants received him with respect, for they were in great tribulation and affliction. ‘Amr exacted the taxes which had been determined upon, but he took none of the property of the churches, and he committed no act of spoliation or plunder.

Egypt under Muslim rule

 

Rashidun Empire at its peak under third Rashidun Caliph, Uthman- 654

  Strongholds of Rashidun Caliphate

Muslims gained control over Egypt due to a variety of factors, including internal Byzantine politics, religious zeal and the difficulty of maintaining a large empire. The Byzantines did attempt to regain Alexandria, but it was retaken by ‘Amr in 646. In 654 an invasion fleet sent by Constans II was repelled. From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain possession of Egypt.

Amr ibn al-Aas had popular support in Egypt amongst the Coptic Christian population. In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes that Cyrus the Roman governor had expelled the Coptic patriarch Benjamin into exile. When Amr occupied Alexandria, a Coptic nobleman (duqs) called Sanutius persuaded him to send out a proclamation of safe conduct for Benjamin and an invitation to return to Alexandria. When he arrived, after thirteen years in concealment, Amr treated him with respect. He was then instructed by the governor to resume control over the Coptic Church. He arranged for the restoration of the monasteries in the Wadi Natrun that had been ruined by the Chalcedonian Christians, which still exists as a functioning monastery in the present day.” [44]

On Amr’s return the Egyptian population also worked with Amr.[45] In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes “The pious biographer of Coptic patriarch Benjamin presents us with the striking image of the patriarch prayed for the success of the Muslim commander Amr against the Christians of the Cyrenaica. Benjamin survived for almost twenty years after the fall of Egypt to the Muslims, dying of full years and honour in 661. His body was laid to rest in the monastery of St Macarius, where he is still venerated as a saint. There can be no doubt that he played a major role in the survival of the Coptic Church” [44] Coptic patriarch Benjamin also prayed for Amr when he moved to take Libya.[46]

In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes “Even more striking is the verdict of John of Nikiu. John was no admirer of Muslim government and was fierce in his denunciation, but he says of Amr: ‘He extracted the taxes which had been determined upon but he took none of the property of the churches, and he committed no act of spoliation or plunder, and he preserved them throughout all his days'”[47] He writes “Of all the early Muslim conquests, that of Egypt was the swiftest and most complete. Within a space of two years the country had come entirely under Arab rule. Even more remarkably, it has remained under Muslim rule ever since. Seldom in history can so massive a political change have happened so swiftly and been so long lasting” [47]

Uqba ibn Nafi then used Egypt as a launch pad to move across North Africa all the way to the Atlantic ocean.[48] In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes “When Uqba reached the Atlantic. The moment has passed into legend. He is said to have ridden his horse into the sea until the water came up to its belly. He shouted out ‘O Lord, if the sea did not stop me, I would go through lands like Alexander the Great (Dhu’l l-Qarnayan), defending your faith’ The image of the Arab warrior whose progress in conquering in the name of God was halted only by the ocean remains one of the most arresting and memorable in the whole history of the conquests.[49]

Fustat, the new capital

With the fall of Alexandria the Muslims were the masters of Egypt. At the time of their Egyptian campaign, Alexandria was the capital of the country. When Alexandria was captured by the Muslims, the houses vacated by the Byzantines were occupied by the Muslims. The Muslims were impressed and attracted by Alexandria, “the queen of cities”. ‘Amr wished for Alexandria to remain the capital of Muslim Egypt.[3] He wrote to Caliph ‘Umar seeking his permission to do this. ‘Umar rejected the proposal on the basis that Alexandria was a maritime city and there would always be a danger of Byzantine naval attacks.[50]

He suggested that the capital should be established further inland at a central place, where no mass of water intervened between it and Arabia.[51] As per the treaty with Cyrus of Alexandria, the wealth of the Egyptians in Alexandria was spared and that of Romans and Greeks was taken as booty. Greek citizens were given a choice, to return to Greek territories safely without their wealth, or to stay in Alexandria and pay Jizya. Some chose to stay, while others went to Byzantine lands.

‘Amr next proceeded to choose a suitable site for the capital of Egypt. His choice fell on the site where he had pitched his tent at the time of the battle of Babylon. His tent had been fixed about a quarter of a mile north east of the fort. It is reported that after the battle was over, and the army was about to march to Alexandria, the men began to pull down the tent and pack it for the journey, when it was found that a dove had nested on top of the tent and laid eggs. ‘Amr ordered that the tent should remain standing where it was. The army marched away but the tent remained standing in the plain of Babylon. In this unusual episode ‘Amr saw a sign from Heaven. He decided “where the dove laid its nest, let the people build their city”. As ‘Amr’s tent was to be the focal point of the city, the city was called Fustat, which in Arabic means the tent. The first structure to be built was the mosque which later became famous as Mosque of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As.[43] The city of Fustat was built due east of Babylon. In the course of time, Fustat extended to include the old town of Babylon. It grew to become a bustling city and the commercial centre of Egypt.[52]

Reforms of Caliph Umar

To consolidate his rule in Egypt, ‘Umar imposed the jizya on Egyptians. However, during later Umayyad rule higher taxes were imposed on the Egyptians.

By ‘Umar’s permission, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As decided to build a canal to join the Nile with the Red Sea; it would help the traders and Arabia would flourish through this new trade route. Moreover it would open new markets for the Egyptian merchants and open for them an easy route for the markets of Arabia and Iraq. This project was presented to Caliph ‘Umar, who approved it. A canal was dug, and within a few months was opened for merchants. It was named Nahar Amir ul-Mu’mineen i.e. The canal of Commander of the Faithful referring to the title of the Caliph ‘Umar.[53]

Amr proposed another project: digging a canal that would join the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.[54] The project was once again sent to ‘Umar for approval, but Umar viewed it as a threat to national security and rejected on the basis that it would open a way for Byzantine navy to enter the Red Sea via that canal and posing a threat to Madinah itself.[3] This project however was completed in the form of what is now known as the Suez Canal 1300 years later. Each year the caliph instructed a large amount of jizya to be used on the building and repairing of canals and bridges.[55] The Arabs remained in control of the country from this point until 1250, when it fell under the control of the Mamelukes.

Coptic Architecture 2: Authenticity and Innovation on the common theme: The Christian Church


 kroeffelbach_koptisches_kloster

kroeffelbach_koptisches_kloster

2006-10-egypt-aswan-0179.jjpg

2006-10-egypt-aswan-0179.jjpg

St Mary and St Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church in Wales

St Mary and St Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church in Wales

Kairo_Hanging_Church_BW_1

Kairo_Hanging_Church_BW_1

StMarkCathAlexandria

StMarkCathAlexandria

The Hanging Church is Cairo's most famous Coptic church first built in the AD 3rd or 4th century

The Hanging Church is Cairo’s most famous Coptic church first built in the AD 3rd or 4th century

United Nations News Centre – UN: Palestine moves to join International Criminal Court, numerous global treaties


English: The building of the International Cri...

English: The building of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands Deutsch: Das Gebäude des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofes in Den Haag, Niederlande (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN Riyad Mansour (right) speaks to the press. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN Riyad Mansour (right) speaks to the press. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

 UN: Palestine moves to join International Criminal Court, numerous global treaties

Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN Riyad Mansour (right) speaks to the press. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

More information here:  http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49723#.VKb6RnuWxL9

2 January 2015 – Palestinian Authority officials today presented to the United Nations documents for accession to 16 international conventions and treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world body has confirmed.

The documents – for accession to conventions and treaties for which the UN Secretary-General performs depositary functions – are being reviewed with a view to determining the appropriate next steps, according to a note issued to the media by a UN spokesperson.

via United Nations News Centre – UN: Palestine moves to join International Criminal Court, numerous global treaties.

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