The importance of resources in the world

[1] The ever-present necessity of gaining resources in the world, but to what costs throughout history?

One of my favourite parts of history apart from the Cold War era, has to be the imperial and colonial period in the world by the European powers of Spain, Portugal, France, England, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy during the 15th to mid-20th centuries covering all the corners of the globe. I have used different components to try answer this idea of importance in resources, from the definitions of imperialism and colonialism, to causes of wars and to expand these ideas in full, a few examples throughout history (from the ancient era all the way to the present times) are utilised to evaluate this notion. As per usual, any constructive comments are welcome and I hope you enjoy your read here.

Before we focus on the various reasons why countries vie for resources, let us understand two main and recurring ideas of ‘imperialism’ and ‘colonialism’, particularly in what I am about to analyse and in international relations.

Firstly, imperialism is defined as a way of administration, influencing a territory with forceful power and authority. [2] There are arguably two main types of imperialism, one the ‘old’ and the second the ‘new’ type. The ‘old’ type of imperialism can be traced back to historical periods which encouraged slavery, spread of religion (which was a form of political ideology – Catholicism or Protestantism) and language. For convenience, I will focus on the colonisation in the Americas, primarily by the Europeans during the 15th to late 17th century. The ‘new’ type of imperialism can be related to current international relations and affairs, where the bi-lateral dominance in China and America in many impoverished continents namely Africa, some parts of South America and South East Asia.

Secondly, colonialism is known as the control of a country or territory, by the use of settlers, where it is exploited economically, which normally means resources. [3] Despite the fact that there is not a proper and clear-cut appellation of the term ‘old’ colonialism and ‘new’ colonialism like imperialism does, there is neo-colonialism that can be rather fitting to show new forms of this act.

Evidently, there are many causes of wars or conflict throughout the creation of man. Personally, the main three reasons or causes for breakouts of wars are all related to resources in social, economic or political terms somehow. Apart from resources itself as a main cause of countless wars, opposing religions and ideologies, from different countries have always tried to seek prestige and to enlarge territories for their own ‘spheres of influences’, going vis-à-vis with other countries for world dominance. I have made a small list of wars or conflicts that has occurred over the years due to these three reasons in order to simplify things further.

1) Religion – Wars of Religion, the Arab-Palestinian Wars and currently Sudan (divided between Christian and Muslim).
2) Ideology – Wars of Religion (religion was a form of ideological competition) and the Cold War
3) Resources – Territorial dominance in global empire – British vs French empire

Now that we briefly covered the areas of imperialism, colonialism and reasons for wars, the main comprehension of the importance of resources can be put into prospect. I have divided this analysis in four main parts, ranging from ancient, medieval, early modern and modern eras.

1.1) Ancient: Roman invasion and conquest of Gaul (France) 

During the Iron Age from 58 BC to 52 BC, the Romans under Julius Caesar had many expansionist campaigns throughout modern day Europe, against tribes namely the Helvetti (modern day Switzerland), Belgae (modern day Belgium), Northern Gaul and Britain. [4] The Romans had frequently fought for expansion of land, trying to expand their empire to increase area for agriculture and living space. Furthermore, they had always tried to implement their ideology on the defeated tribes, making them loyal subjects to Rome. [4]

One of the most important battles that saw the Gauls in France defeated was the attempted rebellion led by Vercingetorix with his potent Arverni tribe. He had based in central Gaul against Roman rule, allying with many other Gallic tribes to become United Gauls. [4] In turn, he was elected to be King of these tribes, all fighting against the Romans ultimately for independence, where they asserting aggressive tactics, killing Roman citizens and traders anywhere they could find. [4] Despite having fortified many cities including Alesia (modern day French territory and region of Alsace) with many troops, Caesar’s men had built a wall around the city and starved the Gallic tribes, tiring their brave efforts. Unfortunately for Vercingetorix, he could not continue with his rebellious campaign, unwilling to have his city and people destroyed by the Romans. Consequently, he surrendered and joined the Roman confederation in 52 BC. [4]

2.1) Medieval: Spanish conquests in Mexico primarily by Cortés
During the early 16th century, around 1518, the Spanish were on a colonial campaign in Mexico led mainly by Hernan Cortes, a Spanish conquistador starting ventures in the Caribbean and known to have started the Mexican conquest without Velazquez, the Spanish governor’s permission from Cuba. [5] By using many aggressive imperial and colonial policies such as slavery, purification and cultivation of the supposedly barbaric, inferior natives anywhere they went within Mexico and beyond in the Americas. This was mainly done by spreading Roman Catholicism as a form of ideology and trying to rule territories for important riches namely gold, food and statues from the Aztec tribes. In turn, the Spanish gained a lot of resources from this colonial venture and became a colonial superpower with Portugal for a long time to come. [5]

Below are excerpts on the Spanish conquest of Mexico from two books; The Americas: The History of a Hemisphere by Fernandez-Armesto and The Ancient Kingdoms of Mexico by Davies:

“Columbus’ encounter with the natives in the New world – two attitudes: to those who wanted to conquer, expropriate, and exploit them, they were brutish, uncivilizable, and irredeemable. To other beholders, who wanted to evangelize them, learn from them, or enjoy the benefits of collaboration with them, American natives – or some of them, at least – evinced positive qualities. (Fernandez-Armesto: 63) [6]

This should not be mistaken as evidence that Spanish colonists were morally superior to others. In most of the regions they settled or ruled, they needed their Indians to supply labour and keep old, intensive agriculture going; they therefore strove to keep natives alive and bitterly regretted the visitations of plague that killed off their workers and tributaries. Spaniards blamed Indians for dying too easily. (Fernandez-Armesto: 67) [6]

Historians of the new commerce opened up by the Spanish empire have traditionally concentrated on the world-changing transoceanic trades: the carrera de Indias, which linked Spain to America and injectd Europe’s specie-starved economies with veins of bullion’ the slaves suppliers’ asientos, which let other European mercahnts into the Spanish main and linked the Americas to Africa… (Fernandez-Armesto: 75, 76) [6]”

“For several months after his first landing, Cortés dallied on the coast. During this time a bizarre exchange of messages and gifts ensued between himself and Moctezuma, whose intelligence service offered copious reports, complete with illustrations, on the strange intruders; from these Moctezuma learned to his amazement of the Spaniards’ hairy white faces, the black skins of their Negroes, the ferocity of their dogs, and the swiftness of their horses; horse and rider were taken to be a single Centaur-like being. Moctezuma also sent envoys who were first struck dumb by demonstration of cannon fire and then made drunk on Spanish wine. (Davies: 189) [7]

The climax of the invasion followed, when Cortés and Moctezuma met face to face. The chronicler, Bernal Díaz, gives an eye-witness description:
When we came close to Mexico, at a place where there were other, smaller towers, Moctezuma descended from his litter while these great chiefs supported him with their arms beneath a marvellously rich canopy of green feathers, worked with gold and silver, pearls and green stones, which hung from a kind of border that was wonderful to see. He was richly dressed and wore shoes like sandals, with soles of gold covered with precious stones. The four chiefs who supported him were also richly dressed…(Davies: 189) [7]

Moctzeuma, addressing Cortés as the rightful successor of all the former tlatoanis, surrendered to him their throne and made him guardian of their people. The Spaniards then entered the capital, where they lodged in the palace of the former ruler, Axayacatl. (Davies: 190) [7]”

2.2) Medieval: French Wars of Religion 
Throughout the years 1562-1598, France was under many conflicts and wars (seven wars and the Saint Bartholomew’s Massacre) religiously, which can also constitute as a type of ideology at that time. There were two main umbrellas of religions, one was Catholicism (mainly helping the King himself with divine providence and the Church) and the other was Protestantism. [8] The common idea was “une foi, un loi, un roi”, meaning one faith, law and king. Unfortunately for Francis I, the heir to Henry II, there were a lot of religious and social upheaval in France and beyond Europe, churning in a complicated conflict of different royals spanning from France (there were House of the Bourbons who were Protestants, and the House of Guise, Montmorency and Navarre who were Catholic), to Spain, the Habsburgs in Austria-Hungary, the Netherlands, England and Italy. Despite initial attempts of religious toleration by Francis, his rule was becoming more and more of an absolutist monarchy, spreading authority and control over key merchants and nobles. As a result, the nobles turned to Protestantism and being the group known as the Huguenots. [8]

3.1) Early Modern: The causes of the American Revolutionary War
The British despite being very successful in their colonial campaigns particularly off with a decisive defeat of the French at the Plains of Abraham in the Seven Years’ War in 1763, the French administration wanted to avenge for their losses in Nouvelle France, their territories covering modern day Quebec, the Maritimes and Ontario. However, the British tightened their rule in the 13 colonies of America, giving many restrictions and acts (namely the Tea Act, the Boston Massacre, the Port Act, the Navigation Act and the Stamp Act) that distressed the civilians in Boston, Philadelphia and Massachusetts who now had a lack of rights as colonial subjects. [10] These were all acts for resources, in both imperialist and colonial terms. One of the most important events was the Boston Tea Party, where there were many political protests about the heavy taxes and increased payment imposed on the imported tea by the British and their East India Company, upon docking on the eastern ports of America. Below are many important excerpts by respected American historian Jack Rakove on the matter. [9]

“But once the ‘Mohawks’, numbering fifteen or twenty a vessel, boarded the ships, the crowd watched silently as 340 massive chests of the East India Company were hauled on deck and whacked open with axes; then the contents were dumped overboard. By 9 P.M. a cargo valued at a hefty nine thousand pounds sterling was weakly brewing in the low-tide waters. (Rakove: 30) [10]

Acts of government against basic rights and interests of the American people
Had the value of the tea not been so dear, the Boston Tea Party might be remembered, if at all, as a minor piece of political theater with critics hailing the players’ costumes as its most noteworthy feature. Americans were heirs to a rich tradition of extralegal political protest – effigy burnings and the like – which communities mounted when acts of government threatened their basic rights and interests. Some of these popular actions combined symbolic protest with dollops of violence, like the rare tarring and feathering, which left victims painfully burnt. With its gross assault on private property, however the Tea Party crossed the line between extralegal and illegal, defying the authority of the British government in ways that smearing “Hillsborough paint” on merchants’ houses and shops did not. (Rakove: 30) [10]

Just as we speculate whether the guns of August 1914 might never had fired had Archduke Franz Ferndinand’s driver not made the wrong turn in Sarajevo on June 28, the Boston Tea Party is one of those events that leaves us to wonder whether history – even History – might easily have turned out differently. (Rakove: 30) [10]

In the sixteen months between the Rotch and Revere missions, two developments had altered the underlying structure of American politics, laying a foundation for revolution upheaval. First, the British program to punish Boston had produced exactly the opposite of its intended result. Instead of making Massachusetts an object lesson in the costs of defying imperial policy, the British response unified colonial opinion in support of that defiance. Just as important, that unity was no longer a matter of mere opinion or sentiment. On their own, Americans had created a new central political authority in the Continental Congress, which first met at Philadelphia in September 1774 and was set to reconvene in May 1775. (Rakove: 31) [10]”

4.1) Modern: Cold War 
During the Cold War years or post-WWII years, the importance of resources came through ideology and territorial dominance. There has been countless wars between the Americans and Russians throughout the world, bringing many continents under battle for dominance between the ‘blue sea’ called Capitalism, and the ‘red sea’ called Communism. One always played aggressor, and the other was in store for an act of ‘containment’. It was a simple act of the post-revisionist views, where there was ‘action’ and ‘reaction’ or simply put, a ‘cat and mouse’ scenario. Throughout the world, whether it was Asia, Europe, South America or Africa, there was always a feeling for dominance and spread of the ‘sphere of ideology’ between these two superpowers. For a nice summary, have a look at number 11 in the references.

4.2) Modern: Sino-American domination in Africa
Ever since the ‘Scramble for Africa’ occurred in the 19th to the mid-20th centuries, the Europeans and Western countries were always in control of their respective lands and territories in the continent. However, recently, the Chinese have stamped their authority, with apparent missions of ‘equality and mutual benefit’ with their African counterparts. They have been given use of the African resources, rich in crude oil, minerals and steel. [12] In return, the Chinese have provided the Africans with technologies, advanced products and infrastructure to boost their economy and social aspects, such as schools, hospitals and clinics to cure HIV and AID patients, in a $15 billion deal. [12]

If you ever visit Google and type ‘Africa’ in the image search engine, there would always be a picture of this continent being divided into two clear sections; one being covered in the Chinese flag, whilst the second one in the American one. Recently, in a bid to strengthen Afro-American ties to counter-act or contain the ever-growing economic influences of the Chinese in Africa, the Americans have turned on the defensive mode, establishing the Institute of African Consensus, a non-governmental organisation which controls African governments economically from Washington. [13] As if the Cold War ever really ended in 1991 when the USSR was dissolved by Gorbachev’s revolutionary reforms!

In June 2011, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton travelled to Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. Clinton had warned the world of threats in “new colonialism’, indirectly pointing at China for huge investments in Africa, where there are many African workers and resources being taken advantage of. Consequently, many US diplomats have been sent to observe and analyse these projects in detail. Furthermore, Clinton has assured that America was to cooperate with these countries in a fair partnership, and not to impose any patriarchal stance or authority on the country and its people. Instead, it is to offer many jobs and opportunities, ultimately to create much sought-after economic stability within the region. [14]

Effectively, the importance of resources is very much linked to the three principal reasons for war: religion, ideology and resources. The six examples given in the analysis; the Roman invasion and conquest of Gaul (France), the Spanish conquests in Mexico primarily by Cortés, the French Wars of Religion, the causes of the American Revolutionary War, the Cold War and the Sino-American dominance in Africa are all examples that highlight the main idea of how countries fight for resources. These specific examples, together with the two definitions of imperialism and colonialism, are also fundamental, as they are reasons why and how countries assert their power on their territories throughout the period of time, whether it is in the ancient through to the modern, with empires, religion or ideology imposed on territories or people. Despite being complicated at times, I hope you understand better the importance of resources itself throughout the world up to the present era.

Stay tuned, I really hope you liked this article and I will try my best to write one, maybe two articles in the near future. This is mainly because as I am soon to return to university, and need to pack and get ready! Peace 🙂

References
[1] http://www.b-fair.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/saupload_world_20in_20oil_lr_shutterstock_4174132.jpg
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imperialism
[3] http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/colonialism
[4] http://www.heritage-history.com/www/heritage.php?Dir=wars&FileName=wars_gallic.php
[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/cortes_hernan.shtml
[6] Fernandez-Armesto, F., The Americas: The History of a Hemisphere, Phoenix Books, London
[7] Davies, N., 1982, The Ancient Kingdoms of Mexico, Penguin Books, New York
[8] http://www.lepg.org/wars.htm
[9] http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/teaparty.htm
[10] Rakove, J., 2010, Revolutionaries: Inventing an American Nation, Vintage Books, London
[11] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/what%20was%20the%20cold%20war.htm
[12] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18901656
[13] http://www.currentanalyst.com/index.php/external-actors/164-us-attempts-at-countering-chinese-influence-in-africa
[14] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/11/hillary-clinton-africa-new-colonialism_n_875318.html

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Food profile: The potato

Potato was always an important ingredient in many cuisines…but what makes, if not made, it so special?

The last article you read by me was about the garlic clove itself, a great ingredient with many medicinal and culinary properties to it. I thought I would try and continue another food profile type of article, but this time about the famous potato. What makes it so special to so many cuisines? Where does it come from? What is it? What properties and nutrients does it contain? I will be trying to tackle these specific questions closely in this research article. I hope you like this, and any constructive comments as usual are welcome.

Ahhhhh, the good old potato. Peel the skin, cut it, boil it, put it in the oven and you got yourself some roast potatoes. Steam it and you got steamed potatoes for a healthy diet. Fry it with pork spare ribs, chili and spring onions to make Chinese meat gravy with rice. Mash it and you got potato mash or purée. Mash it, put it with egg and flour and you got potato gnocchi. Fry it again with some cheese, spring onions and lemon juice and you got polpettes or Greek potato cakes. Deep fry it and you got your famous French fries (there are question marks over its origins as we shall find out later). Fry it again and add it to your favourite meat or vegetable stew. Without hesitation, I think you understand me by now, it is a very versatile ingredient that you can almost add into any dish you like. But like the garlic, let us put the potato in focus with its origins, properties and some interesting facts here and there.

Once upon a time…alright, let’s talk about the history of the potato itself. I think what is the most surprising thing is that a lot of people perceive that since the potato is found and used extensively throughout Britain and Europe, the origins of it must lie somewhere within Europe. In fact, the potato dates back to 8,000 years ago, in the Peruvian heights of the Andes, in the Western part of South America. [2] Also, there is not only the potato which has a yellow interior and a muddy exterior, that we normally find in any local supermarket. There are, believe or not, 1,000 different varieties of the produce itself. [2] Then, an important question arises, how to connect the potato back to Europe then? As you may know, the Spanish conquistadors, like their Portuguese counterparts set sail all over America, Asia and Africa, as pioneers of the imperial trade and business. They were both there to find riches for their respective monarchs and bring prestige back to the European political domain. Apart from the gold, incredible riches and artifacts found across North, Central and South America (with three main tribes starting from the Aztecs in Mexico, through to Honduras and its neighbouring countries like Nicaragua with the Mayans, through to the Incas in Peru), the Spanish colonists and merchants managed to bring home potatoes throughout the 16th century and beyond in Europe, where they called this specimen the ‘patata’, deriving from the Mesoamerican word ‘batata’. [2]

Now that we are done with some introduction of the potato itself, let us look at some interesting points about it:

1) Popularity in France 
Of course, many French people would tell you that the French medical officer Antoine-Augustine Parmentier made the potato famous. Unluckily for the old chap, during the Seven Years’ War (1759-63), he was imprisoned and given rations of potatoes for punishment in Prussia. Although the French Parliament had originally banned the consumption of potatoes, Parmentier and the famine finally convinced the French government and population the potato was indeed fit to eat. [2]

2) The ‘French’ fries – the myth
There are three main possibilities of how the origins of the ‘French’ fries came about:

  • During the exposure of Parmentier’s potato dishes, he served it to many important personnels in France at that time, namely King Louis XVI, Queen Marie-Antoinette, American ambassadors and politicians Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. With the two Americans eating this delicacy, they formally recognised this as the ‘French’ fries. [2, 3]
  • There are two sides to another appellation, whether it is eligible to be ‘French’ or in fact ‘Belgian’. On one hand, the Belgians are normally thought to make fries themselves, whilst on the other hand, argues both nations were making their own versions of the fries itself. [2, 3]
  • During the War of the Austrian Succession in 1859, where Italy (comprised primarily by the Sardinian army) was liberated of Austrian rule in the northern states of Lombardy and Piedmont by French aid, it is also possible that the Belgians served fries to the French soldiers, spreading across France through time. Or indeed, it could be plausible to believe that the Belgians were influenced by the French preparations of the potato snack. [2, 3, 4]

3) The Crisp 
Some people prefer calling it the ‘crisp’, whereas others the ‘chip’. In 1853, the American railway worker Commodore Vanderbilt sent a sample of his potatoes to a particular restaurant in Saratoga Springs, USA. His idea was rejected as too thick by one of the restaurant’s chefs, George Crum. Vanderbilt, therefore sliced them very thin and fried the potatoes in oil, serving them with a pinch of salt and gave them back to the restaurant. This time, however, Vanderbilt successfully made this crisp or the “Saratoga Crunch Chips” famous throughout the area and beyond! [2]

4) Nutritional facts  
No, the potato is not only a big blob of carbohydrates and energy you consume primarily with your meat gravy dishes. It also has very important nutrients when eating them:

  • High in fibre with the skin in tact
  • High in minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium)
  • Low in fat
  • Low in cholestoral
  • Low in calories [5]
Right, so we have a list of the advantages of eating potatoes, but I thought it would be suitable for us to understand the benefits of eating foods with the aforementioned nutrients.

  • Fibre
Helps to loosen the digestive system, avoiding constipation
Absorb nutrients and process the food in the digestive system
Lower blood cholesterol
Makes you have the perception of being fuller, controlling your meal consumption. [6]
  • Calcium 

To strengthen our teeth and bones
Reduce the chances of osteoporosis – a bone disease where the chances of bone fractures are significantly increased). [7]

  • Magnesium 
     This particular type of mineral helps the digestion and absorption of different nutrients and foods
Helps make the brain and muscles in our bodies function properly [7]
  • Potassium 

Helps maintain body fluids [7]

  • Fat (in calories)
Fats are primarily to protect internal organs with an ‘outer layer’.
It can also improve flavour in foods, making them richer in texture as well
It aids membrane structure [8]
  • Cholesterol 
Cholesterol is very important in the human body, especially as it helps it function properly with many properties.
Can help with membrane structure around every cell in body
Make hormones
Carry chemical signals around body [9]
Effectively, the potato is an ancient and diverse ingredient that was originally discovered by the Incans in Peru, and spread throughout Europe by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. [2] It is and was a very versatile and an eventual popular ingredient in European cuisine, was shown through the debates over the origin of the French fries, whether the French or Belgian influenced, and Vandervilt, the American railway manager, inventing the crisp or the “Saratoga Crunch Chips”. [2] The potato itself has many nutrients that were not too obvious at first, namely the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium, each of them essential in our diets to help the body function properly in various ways.

That’s a wrap! I’m off to make some potato purée to celebrate the potato!
Nah, that’s me done and I hope you liked your read and I will come back soon with another article, so stay tuned! 🙂

References 
[1] http://eatseasonably.co.uk/images/uploads/cache/potatoes-352×308.jpg
[2] http://www.lovepotatoes.co.uk/the-potato/history-of-potatoes/
[3] http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/09/the-history-of-french-fries/
[4] http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/india/italy1859.htm
[5] http://www.lovepotatoes.co.uk/the-potato/potato-nutrition/
[6] http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/focus/nutrition/facts/lifestylemanagement/fibre.htm
[7] http://www.wellbeing-nutrition.com/nutrition.htm
[8] http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/treatments/healthy_living/nutrition/healthy_fatsugar.shtml
[9] http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/cholesterol1.shtml

The power of a garlic clove

MONDAY, 13 AUGUST 2012

[1] Some bulbs of garlic, an important element in many dishes across the world.

The power of a garlic clove 

Haaaaah. Can you smell that? It’s my garlic breath! What did you say? Yes, I know it’s rather revolting and off-putting (I might actually need to brush my teeth now). Whoops. Anyway, after a few history and international relations articles, I thought I would expand to a cooking and food related piece for a change. All constructive comments for improvement are welcome.

In many cuisines, be it Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Arabic, Indian, Indo-Chinese (could go on forever)…the use of garlic is extensive to enhance flavour of dishes. Two big cloves of finely chopped garlic in a meat, seafood, vegetable, sauce, chutney, curry recipe and you have the difference between  a respectable dish and your friends and family applauding your strenuous efforts in the kitchen. But what I really wanted to find out was the benefits of the garlic itself, especially having seen it being the central core element of countless dishes. At the dinner table, I was always told that garlic was ‘good for preventing cancer and lowering the high-blood pressure’. Hopefully with some background research done, I can finally understand why it is so, and also learn something new here and there. As National Geographic always says to its audiences, “live curious”. I couldn’t agree more here.

In Latin, garlic is translated as allium sativum, which is in the umbrella family of…you guessed it, Allium. No wonder we say ‘ail’ in French, makes more sense to me now! [1] This group includes shallots, its bigger sibling the onion, their cousins the leeks and chives. In fact, the garlic is used throughout the course of history as a medicine and an important ingredient for many cuisines (as aforementioned) [1]. Additionally, in European culture and superstitions have it that garlic can ward away demons and more importantly, the orthodox belief of vampires! They are usually hung in windows or a doorway. [1] You might want to get some extra pungent ones now! Oh wait…

Now with a brief introduction of the garlic done, I think it is time to really understand the health benefits of the spice itself in detail. The main chemical in garlic that makes it so healthy is called allicin, which after chewing, releases the pungent smelling sulphur compounds in our breaths. [2] Moreover, these compounds release hydrogen sulphide whilst reacting with our red blood cells, which in turn, relaxes the tiring blood vessels, carrying more oxygen, decreasing the heart rate significantly and allows blood circulation to be better. [2] Believe it or not, hydrogen sulphide generates a particular type of odour that is also utilised to make stink bombs as well. However, if taken in small amounts, the garlic can be more beneficial than detrimental to the human body.

Garlic has, as mentioned before, medicinal qualities for a very legitimate reason, curing many different types of symptoms and diseases:

  • Firstly, garlic can cure many symptoms concerning the throat itself, namely asthma, coughs, hesitations in breathing and lung malfunctions. I learnt that to slowly cure asthma, a garlic syrup can be easily made by boiling some garlic bulbs (the whole garlic) with a considerable amount of vinegar until the garlic becomes soft. [1] Once ready, take out the garlic and add sugar, allowing it to turn into a thick texture resembling a type of syrup. Pour over the garlic bulb and allow to dry, preferably to preserve in a glass jar. To consume daily. For sore throats, peel and put a garlic clove and leave in your mouth for about 10 to 15 minutes. Do bite the garlic so that the juice is released and slowly sliding down your throat, relieving your soreness. [1]
  • Secondly, whenever you have insect bites, bruises and sprains from scorpions and centipedes, garlic juice can be mixed with salt to heal them. [1]
  • Thirdly and probably why I started this research article was how garlic can prevent cancer. With an increased consumption of garlic and onion, they both have the ability to reduce the production of cancerous cells in our bodies. [1] In a research carried out in October 2000, the American Journal of Nutrition discovered that people who ate garlic (either raw or cooked) periodically, had 50 per cent less of a possibility to contract stomach cancer and around a third to contract colorectal (something relating to blood vessels) cancer. [1] Given that garlic has many antioxidants namely quercetin and allin, it can prevent cancer agents which normally link themselves to vital organs especially the stomach and lung cancers. [1]
  • Fourthly and lastly, garlic can have immense health benefits in the human body, preventing sickness from many nutrients and allows weight control. By consuming garlic, the immune system in a human body can be a lot stronger, preventing common maladies or malfunctions namely colds and helps relieve the nasal area to breathe better. [1] This is particularly because garlic is a great source of vitamins C and B6, being important antioxidants and enhancing immune functions of the body. Furthermore, according to a research made by the American Journal of Hypertension, garlic, as aforementioned, has a very important substance called allicin, which can also prevent weight gain. [1]
In conclusion, garlic is an essential ingredient to many cultures and cuisines, which has been used extensively to cure different types of symptoms throughout the course of history namely sore throats, nasal blockage and most importantly, various types of cancer. There is no doubting the power of the garlic clove itself, with its main substance the allicin being very beneficial to the human body. It is definitely advisable to consume the garlic daily, but obviously with it having the ability to reduce one’s blood pressure mainly due to the sulfuric compounds, we should be wary not to take too much. A perfect case of ‘less is more’. And then, for those of you who were not too fond of the garlic clove itself, why not give it a good go, and maybe try eating more in the future?
Thank you again for reading my article, stay tuned for more.
Bye now!

References 
[1] http://lukehoney.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/03/20/garlic1.jpg
[2] http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/garlic-benefit.shtml
[3] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7045557.stm

What does it mean for the world that the Syrian government allying with their Chinese and Russian counterparts?

What does it mean for the world that the Syrian government allying with their Chinese and Russian counterparts? 

 
[1] Map of the countries where the Arab Spring Revolution of which toppled dictatorship, favouring a more equal and democratic government in each respective country. Can Syria be next?

With the global quest of achieving human rights and pro-democratic forms of government, Syria poses a great question to the world: “Can the Arab Spring Revolution topple another authoritarian and dictator-led government, ultimately making the local people more inclined to have better treatment?” With the vetoing of both Syria’s main and potent allies, China and Russia, this question is very much in the balance for the world. The positive and negative effects that the Syrian alliance to its Chinese and Russian counterparts will be considered in this analysis here. As always, constructive comments on how I can improve or positive views in general are welcome.

Syria, like so many Arab countries, be it Libya, Tunisia, Egypt as main Arabic revolutionary countries that saw their respective leaders’ long-term reigns topple, saw their own people fight for democracy and liberty over an extremely repressive, war-torn and corrupt Syrian government and society under the authoritarian or ‘iron-fist’ rule by President Bashar al-Assad. This is significant, because despite the best efforts of peaceful protestors and anti-Assad rebels against the Syrian government, this symbolises how dictatorship and authoritarian governments are not completely removed from the world.

Before we analyse in detail about the effects of the Sino-Russian alliance with Syria on the world, it is fundamental that we understand more about the vetoing act that both countries have done. It has to be understood that both Russia and China have very apt veto rights and power on the world stage, and as as part of the United Nations’ Security Council. [2] Though Britain’s role as protagonist to secure Russia, key diplomatic ally to Syria, to veto against Assad and his regime, effectively halting the violence, the leader’s deployment of troops and use of heavy weapons for good and imminently as well. [2] According to statistics, eleven out of the total 15 countries have voted in favour to stop the violence in Syria, only two have pulled out, those being the Sino-Russian governments. [2]

Additionally, the British ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Mark Lyall-Grant has slammed the Sino-Russian vetoing, by saying:
“Russia and China are failing in their responsibilities as permanent members, they are failing the people of Syria … The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime. They have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians. The consequence of their decision is further descent into bloodshed and all out civil war”. [2]
The main question that one may have been asking themselves is why the refusal of these two powerhouses, and why are they letting this regime continue? The simple reason is that neither the governments in Beijing or Moscow are willing to support for toppling another authoritarian or dictator regimes, unlike the rest of the world. [2] As a matter of fact, the two governments believe that the balance of power among the nations vetoing against Assad, is ineffective to improve the dire situation in Syria at the moment, and it could even trigger worse results than expected. [2] Some might consider the conscious approach as legitimate, as Sir Lyall-Grant, together with many other nations and diplomats, think the vetoing could be a two-way street: either a decrease in violence and death toll, or simply a Syrian civil war. [2] For those interested more on this topic, I do recommend the second source or site I have given in the references.
According to the educational newspaper site Neontommy, President Bashar al-Assad cannot be easily stopped with Russia and China being Syria’s two major trade partners and supporters of his authoritarian regime. [3] Recently, Hilary Clinton, the American secretary of state has had a meeting in Paris with over 100 nations of the world to discuss how to impose sanctions of Russia and China, as a way of punishment or simply to “pay the price” for supporting Assad’s reign as Syria’s dictator, but more importantly,the ongoing augmentation of deaths in the Middle Eastern country. [3]

Furthermore, according to the British newspaper Dailymail, with the Sino-Russian alliance with Syria underway, French President François Hollande wants stricter sanctions against the Syrian regime, as the general view was that by not imposing any sanctions, the killings would only continue to cause chaos and destruction to an already war-torn nation. [4] Consequently, Great Britain, France, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) increased their support for rebels by sending more weapons. However, with the sanctions unable to fall through and be successfully imposed because of China’s vetoing of the case, and despite their best collaborative efforts, this did not sway away from the fact that approximately 15,000 people have been murdered in around a year and a half period. [4] To make matters worse, there has recently been Iraqi terrorists crossing the Iraqi-Syrian border to diffuse and quell the anti-Assad rebel forces, which only added to the perpetual fear and desperation sentiment felt across Syria and the world. [4]

Moreover, apparently from the online news site Turkish Weekly, the Sino-Russian alliance with Syria causes a stall in diplomacy decision-making, causing more and more casualties, ever increasing the death toll. Recently, there has been 200 civilians dying in Tremseh (a city located in the north-west part of Syria). [5] Despite UN’s best efforts to stop the Syrian regime with General Mood ready to send UN troops to the province of Hama, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s elite representative, stated of her contempt towards the continuous killings: “Those responsible need to be identified in order to hold them accountable for their heinous acts. There can be no impunity for the perpetrators of these alleged human rights violations.” [5] Speaking of which, Abdel Rahman, the executive of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has stated that 30 bodies that have been found in Tremseh have been discovered to be burnt, in which 18 bodies had gunshots to the eye and head areas, most of whom were the Syrian rebels against Assad’s regime. [5]

With the perpetual aggression shown Assad’s supporters, Sheikh Hamad, Qatar’s Prime Minister has recently claimed that the Arab league has encouraged the rebel army in Syria to “transitional government” [6]. Relating to the topic, Hamad said in a meeting with other Arab League countries that “we call on the opposition and the Free Syrian Army to form a government of national unity”. According to the South China Morning Post, Hamad also “urged Assad to take the ‘courageous’ decision to save his country, where fierce fighting continued to rage between government troops and rebels.” [6]

In conclusion, with the lack of progress on the situation, the massacre will only continue to worsen. In spite of the best efforts by different powerful institutions, namely the EU, the UN or the Arab League, Syria is still holding onto its regime with an iron fist under Assad, especially with the pivotal and conscious stance taken by the Sino-Russian alliance to Syria. More strikingly and to make matters worse, the Syrian government has recently claimed that it would not hesitate to use violence in case of foreign intervention imposed on its regime, with the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al Muallem proclaiming that “Syria will not use any chemical or other unconventional weapons against its civilians, and will only use them in case of external aggression”. [6]
The present regime process does not only mean violence and much discussion, precaution needs to be taken at any point of the rebels’ victory. The Israelite government has recently showed their fear towards Assad’s regime and the chaos that would follow Syria’s dictatorship rule, which would only equate to Israel’s political adversaries to use Syria’s chemical weapons. Thus, Israel, another country, would need to assert military intervention to avoid this cause. [6]  Evidently, this is a very complex situation with so many questions and possible consequences to consider attentively, and with many attempts by the EU, UN and the Arab League to try and prevent Assad to continue, the question still looms, can Syria really be next to topple its dictatorship rule?

Stay tuned, with more political and historical articles to come from me. (It is simply the copious amount of research that needs the fitting in!) Hope you enjoyed your read on my blog though! (:

References 
[1] http://warrenlarson.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/arab-spring4.png
http://articles.cnn.com/2012-02-09/asia/world_asia_syria-china-florcruz_1_xi-jinping-global-times-cui-tiankai?_s=PM:ASIA
[2] http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/charlescrawford/100172018/syria-by-using-their-veto-russia-and-china-are-following-the-example-of-margaret-thatcher/
[3] http://www.neontommy.com/news/2012/07/clinton-tells-china-russia-syrian-allies-will-pay-price
[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2169619/Syria-news-Hague-tells-world-leaders-failing-impose-sanctions-Assad-allows-brutal-regime.html
[5] http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/138385/syrian-regime-deliberately-murdered-civilians-hillary-clinton-.html
[6] South China Morning Post, July 24th 2012, World News, Page A9

American Revolutionary Wars – Book Summary (1)

American Revolutionary Wars – Book Summary (1) 

 
[1] The use of force and repression on American civilians, during acts of frustration and control by the British forces was widely used to impose control and stability throughout the Thirteen Colonies of America.

My previous post has been principally on footballing terms, covering other aspects concerning social, political and economic problems as well. This time, I would like to dwell into another thing of my interest, be it history. Moreover, in order to increase my understanding of a complex situation over mainly how and why the American Revolutionary War started, I would also like use this post to list out the most essential aspects on the matter using bullet points for more simplicity. By using the bookRevolutionaries: Inventing an American Nation by respected American historian and political scientist Jack Rakove, of which I am continuing to read recently, I hope I can do a decent job of really picking out the key points in an ongoing research process forpersonal understanding onlyLet this be not in any way, to claim credit for Jack Rakove’s historical and analytical work, but rather to appreciate.

  • Many restrictions made by the British government on the 13 colonies, particularly Boston and Massachusetts, particularly on the civilians’ liberties in terms of trade and commerce, loyal and active for the British Crown. Many acts of repression were drawn out to favour and help the British, restricting the benefits and freedom the American people.
    • Tea Act
    • Port Act
    • Navigation Act
    • Stamp Act
    • Boston Massacre
  • Many Americans wanted reconciliation and not revolutionary acts through warfare and violence against the British forces
  • Noncompliance of the Americans to the British limitations of liberties
  • Defence of self-preservation – use of arms the only way
    • “Without seeking to force or provoke events in Massachusetts, they had concluded that a military confrontation there was likely, and perhaps sooner rather than later” (Rakove, 2010: 60).
  • Role of the British Kings
    • King Charles II
    • King George III
  • Allegiance to France
    • “If Britain pursued a military solution in America, the colonists would need to secure supplies and succor from foreign sources – above all, France” (Rakove, 2010: 99).
  • Repression by British authority
    • Use of German troops
      • “First came reports that Britain had signed treaties with several small German states to supply mercenaries who would be used as combat troops and not (as once thought) to replace British troops sent to America. Items in the British press suggested that forty thousand soldiers would sail for America by summer” (Rakove, 2010: 98, 99).
    • Use of force by the British forces
      • “Only a government bent on restoring its rule by force would resort to so great an expense and effort. Then in early June word came of another bellicose pronouncement from the king, brusquely rejecting an address from the City of London urging the Crown to negotiate with the Americans” (Rakove, 2010: 99).
  • Fight for independence
    • “Now that the state of affairs was inverted. The British and Hessian troops and loyalist auxiliaries who reveled in ransacking their property felt no qualms about the desolation they were wreaking. The ‘patriots’ had renounced their allegiance, after all, and such destruction was the familiar price of rebellion” (Rakove, 2010: 110).
    • Political situation – with Britain
      • “In mid-February 1776, however, word arrived that Lord North had told Parliament that the government did plan to appoint an American peace commission. Its powers, composition, and instructions remained uncertain. Moreover, this proposal was part of a Prohibitory Bill extending the partial bans on colonial commerce into a sweeping measure subjecting all American ships and cargo to confiscation” (Rakove, 2010: 97).
      • “Amazingly , North believed these measures were conciliatory because the commissioners would be empowered to exempt from this severe decree any colony that returned to obedience” (Rakove, 2010: 97).
      • “The new and destructive turn the war took after July 1776 revealed intention and strategy, the military extension of the British government’s judgement that Americans were fit only to be pardoned or punished. Knowing that their desire for reconciliation was sincere, the moderates took this as an affront to their own sense of political morality and a damning indictment of the empire they reluctantly renounced” (Rakove, 2010: 110).
      • They may have thought that stupidity and misinformation offered a better explained of British errors than the ideology-laden belief that evil ministers were mounting a sinister campaign against human liberty. But the results of such errors, as evidenced by the escalating campaign of 1776, were what mattered. For men who had made the improvement and accumulation of property the great goal of life, the war’s wanton and needless destructiveness best explained why Americans were right to fight” (Rakove, 2010: 110, 111).
    • Political situation – within America
      • Roles of politicians
        • Dickinson
        • Robert Morris
        • Samuel Adams
        • John Adams
        • John Jay
  • Support from foreign forces/countries
    • France
    • Spain
    • Native Americans
    • African Americans
    • Netherlands (eventually)
  • Roles of different political groups
    • Patriots
    • Loyalists
    • Moderates

References 
[1]http://ushistoryimages.com/images/american-revolutionary-war/fullsize/american-revolution-war-2.jpg
[2]Rakove, J., 2010, Revolutionaries: Inventing an American Nation, Vintage Books, London

How the Euro’s 2012 in Poland and Ukraine is not simply about football…

How the Euro’s 2012 in Poland and Ukraine is not simply about football…

WEDNESDAY, 4 JULY 2012

This is my first article, and it is about football, with some elements of history and politics, things I take very close to my heart. With many articles regarding these aforementioned elements, I thought I would have a go myself. Hope you, the reader, enjoy this read, any constructive comments for improvement, much appreciated. 
It is another two years after the World Cup. Another European Championship where the cream of the cream players vie against each other in a heated contest of football. You have your star players in the traditional powerhouses, be it Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France, England, Netherlands. The Spanish players came in as favourites with their free-flowing, ‘tiki-taka’, one-touch football that Dutch legend Johann Cruyff had once introduced so greatly in his beloved teams, Ajax Amsterdam and Barcelona FC.
We all saw how magnitude of tactics and chance can impact in a football match. Denmark against Netherlands (see link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glgNaXCZjfI&feature=related), and Greece against Russia (see link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XxbB88q8nM&feature=related).  These matches definitely raised a few eyebrows, when Dick Advocaat’s men had not made it through, especially with a rather efficient, attacking football. Once we had reached the quarter-finals, no one had expected the Czech Republic out of all the traditional powerhouses (see above for reference) to qualify properly. Despite their best efforts, the Czechs were ousted by the fancy, however, at times wasteful Portuguese contingent set of players, only to come to the rescue with their talismanic captain, Cristiano Ronaldo once again.
However, up till this stage, no one had thought much about the politics that entered the game in the Greece against Germany quarter-finals, or simply the manner and way that the Ukrainian women, football fans or Dutch players of African and Caribbean origins were treated, at times disciplined, during the course of the tournament. Quite evidently, this leaves the football tournament being not only a sporting and pride matter, but a political and social one as well. Of course, a wise person would instantly tell us that this was not the sole football competition that inherited political and social elements.
Before we dwell any further in these recent examples, let us look at past instances. There are two examples that highlight these particular concepts, namely the European Championships which saw West Germany being put under the microscope for around more than a month’s duration in the years 1972 held in Belgium and 1988 held in West Germany respectively. The masterclass of the German team comprising of the monumental talents including Gerd Muller, Franz Beckenbauer, Jupp Heynckes, Herbert Wimmer and many more[1]. They had aided the national team to win and progress far into the finals with a 3-0 drilling of the Soviet Union in 1972, only to be disappointed 16 years later, with an unfortunate 2-1 semi-final defeat by the Dutch team spearheaded by players of the Dutch ‘golden age’ with likes of Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit[2]. Football aside, the political elements shall now be considered.

A modern history student or historian simply put, would understand that in the contemporary age and during the years 1949 and 1988, West Germany was still a controlled federation consisting of the predominantly American, British and French trilateral powers under the proposed Potsdam Conference of 1945 amongst others, and then the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990[3][4].  The two modern German regions were contending in a constant struggle of dominance in the sporting world particularly in the Seoul Olympics of 1988. With strenuous efforts of a frequent ‘showcasing’ of the rich and more developed West Germany, with a total population of 65 million people as compared to a lot less significant one of 17 million people, the East Germans dominated the Olympics with a staggering 102 medals in total, ahead of the United States and more importantly beat their West cousins who won a mere 40 medals in comparison [5]. This was significant, as this highlighted how, despite being stages of rapprochement  and a mix of political and economic co-operation between the two controlled states [6], the West Germans were not only vying in footballing terms, there were still some areas of political competition.

With consideration of the past European Championships, it is now important to consider the present one in Poland and Ukraine as co-hosts of the 2012 competition. There have been extreme instances where people have been affected politically, socially and economically, which can be evident in the fighting for Ukrainian women’s rights, the racial discrimination of the Dutch players by Polish fans and the Greece-Germany match itself.

An example of how football is not only a sporting matter, but rather a political one is summed up well here [7]. During the course of the UEFA Championships this year, there has been an ongoing case of encouraging the sex industry in Ukraine, much to the dismay of the local Ukrainian feminist group, Femen [7]. This was significant, because despite the legitimacy of the protest, this shows another social problem being unresolved. Also, with football being dominated by men as a sport, people often forget the opposite gender in their relation to it, which in my personal opinion, poses a huge question to their rights as women.

A very frequent social issue with football that has always troubled players of all races, was racism itself. Recently, the Dutch players, captained by Mark van Bommel, were racially discriminated with monkey chants by the local and Russian fans in their training camp in Krakow [8]. This was significant, because this is not the first time that racism has affected football, especially with a similar, if not worse scenario with Mario Balotelli slammed in Italy for his Ghanian roots [9]. Furthermore, it seems to me that no matter how much the UEFA try to prevent racism in football, it still remains and exists, with it very much unsolved. Fining a set of Football Associations in countries, be it Russia or Poland is not the best solution, particularly since it is perpetual and fans continue to do malicious things in the stands. Thus, this issue really has to be considered properly, if racism is to escape from stadiums and players’ troubles once and for all.

A third, but final and important example is the match between Greece and Germany itself. On one hand, Greece had come in as a respective underdog, surprising fans worldwide with their effective 1-0 defeat of an entertaining Russian team in their qualifications campaign in Group A [10]. On the other hand, Germany came in as favourites, playing with an efficient style of football, winning and qualifying rather comfortably in their respective qualifications campaign in Group B [10]. However, entering the match, a lot of football fans did silently realise that this was more of a political and economic problem between the two teams, particularly with the bankruptcy of Greece and the attempted rehabilitation by one of two strongest European economies apart from France. Greek fans knew that with the austerity or deficit-cutting terms that German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to impose on their country apart from their European counterparts in countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, this could well be their chance of show-casing their talents and their worthiness on footballing and nationalistic terms, in what was dubbed as a “debt derby” by many [11]. This is important, as with this fixture, only to the recent request back the Greeks to have more agreeable economic terms with the European economic giants, add to not only sporting, but political and economic tensions as well, especially with the German government growing increasingly impatient with the Greek state of economy and employment rates, so that it could potentially recover from an enormous debt [11]. (An interesting read to the link 11 provided below in the references).

Effectively, football can not only be about sports, but also about social, political and economic aspects as well. This was evident as the examples given through the 1988 European Championships held in West Germany (going back into the political regards and agreements of the Cold War in the post-WWII years and beyond), the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, the racial discrimination of the Dutch players during their qualifying campaign and the Greece against Germany quarter-finals match. All of them are important for further consideration, with the UEFA and FIFA acting cohesively together with world governments. Otherwise, without that key act, football will always remain with this darker side looming over it. But then again, that is probably why it is such a popular sport globally?

References 
[5]http://www.atlantic-times.com/archive_detail.php?recordID=1954
[6]http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-5139.html
[7]http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/3284/euro-2012/2012/06/25/3198769/uefa-acting-like-pimps-in-ukraine-femen
[8]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/euro-2012/9322217/Euro-2012-insults-hurled-at-Mark-van-Bommels-Dutch-and-other-incidents-raise-fears-for-what-may-lie-ahead.html[9]http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/2012/06/27/mario-balotelli-gets-apology-after-italian-newspaper-depicts-him-as-king-kong-86908-23901660/
[10]http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/football/euro/groups.html;_ylt=As.dJN34227BwOKdgJAIZ8HNg4t4;_ylu=X3oDMTE3aHE2OXVnBG1pdAMEcG9zAzUEc2VjA01lZGlhTmF2aWdhdGlvbl9FdXJvMjAxMg–;_ylg=X3oDMTFtOXVjbTluBGludGwDZ2IEbGFuZwNlbi1nYgRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANldXJvMjAxMgRwdANzZWN0aW9ucw–;_ylv=3
[11]http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-22/greece-vs-dot-germany-the-real-fireworks-come-after-the-soccer-match

New blog site

This is the same guy from http://sebr835.blogspot.hk/
I appreciate the respectful and respectable comments that my friends have given me, and I will continue to post my views on the aforementioned site. I would like to improve as well, with more exposure as well, thus I decided to publish my posts also on this site!

Right, for those of you who might not know already, I would hopefully use this space to to analyse and to give my views on my favourite few things that are really close to my heart. Those being history, cooking, international relations and of course sports (particularly football and fencing). Than you for your time and enjoy (if you can) my posts. Bye for now!

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