Archive for April, 2017

Amazing Grace: The Perfect Hymn

April 18, 2017

“Amazing Grace”  is one of the most popular hymns because it has a simple message and readily lends itself to being performed  in different ways. It can be sung fast or slow, loud or soft.  Reporter Bill Moyers once did a PBS documentary about the hymn “Amazing Grace” which included several different ways of singing the hymn.   When I was in college I learned a version sung to the tune of “The Wanderer”.

I have heard impressive performances played on a magnificent pipe organ and on a simple harmonica.  It can be played on a heavenly sounding harp or on a jazzy trumpet.  I don’t know of any song I would rather hear on the bagpipes.  Or, “Amazing Grace” can be sung acappella as  Judy Collins did in a 1970 recording.

Some call “Amazing Grace” a white spiritual because  it combines English words with an African melody.  I had never really thought about where the melody came from until Larnell Harris mentioned it on one of the Gaither music programs.  According to Harris the melody is an Africa sorrow chant.

John Newton, who wrote  “Amazing Grace”, likely learned the melody while working on slave ships and briefly being a slave himself in West Africa.  When Newton wrote “a wretch like me” he meant it literally.  Newton’s sailing career began when he joined the crew of his sea captain father’s ship.  Newton served on various ships after his father retired before ending up on the slave ship Pegasus. He had so much trouble getting along with the rest of the crew that they eventually sold him to a west African slave trader who turned Newton over to his wife who abused Newton in the same way as her other slaves.  After a friend of Newton’s father rescued him. he returned to sailing and subsequently became the captain of a slave ship.  A religious conversion eventually led him to become  minister.  Decades later he became a leading advocate for abolishing slavery.

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Was ISIS Behind Syria Gas Attack?

April 13, 2017

Those who claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad  used poison gas against rebels need to consider the possibility that some members of his military are ISIS sympathizers.  Considering the reaction Assad generated when he previously used nerve gas, it seems unlikely he would use gas now.  He would be unlikely to receive any benefit from using gas.

ISIS could be the biggest potential beneficiary of  using gas because of the potential of an American response against Syria.  On the eve of World War II Germany created the appearance of  a Polish attack on a German radio station to justify  a German invasion of Poland.  ISIS could have had its operatives replace regular Syrian munitions with poison gas so that the Syrian government would appear to be responsible for using the gas.

I’m sure ISIS would love to get President Donald Trump to repeat President Barack Obama’s huge blunder in Libya.  Obama created  a political vacuum in Libya by overthrowing the government without the presence of a viable replacement.   Terrorists quickly took advantage of the opportunity to operate in Libya.   ISIS gained supporters from those upset about American and European “imperialism”.

Syrian rebels don’t appear any more capable of controlling the country than Libyan rebels were at the time of the Western invasion.   American overthrow of the Syrian government would give ISIS an opportunity  to replace the geographic base it is losing in Iraq.

Westerners sometimes ask why people in the Middle East hate western nations so much.   The people of the Middle East resent Western intervention in their countries.  The areas that today are the site of countries with names like “Egypt”, “Syria”, “Iran” and “Iraq” were  the locations of the capitals of great empires when Europeans were too primitive to have governments.   ISIS and other terrorist organizations claim they can restore a Middle Eastern empire.

Those who claim Adolf Hitler didn’t use poison gas in WWII ignore the gas chambers Hitler used to murder Jews.

Syria,  Bashar al-Assad, nerve gas, ISIS, President Trump, Libya, WWII, Germany

Do Gold Sellers Know Something Buyers Don’t?

April 9, 2017

Some of the tv channels  I watch have been inundated in recent years by people trying to get others to buy gold.  They tout gold as a great investment that will go up in value.

If they really believe gold will be worth more next week  why do they want to sell now?   Do they know something about future gold prices that others don’t know?  What will they invest the money they get from selling their gold in?

One reason they might want to sell is that they think the supply of gold will increase and cause a drop in price.  Some  people believe the Pebble deposit   in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska could contain a significant amount of gold.   Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.  hopes the Trump administration will approve its application to mine this region.  Approval of the application would likely cause  an increase in the price of Northern Dynasty stock and a reduction in the price of gold.