Monday, 9 April 2018


Nicaragua and its people had and still surviving earth quakes and volcanoes in their history. The country itself with its tropical forests, teeming lakes and lush lowland is absolutely beautiful.

Before Columbus or the Spaniards conquered Nicaragua the indigenous people were part of the Intermediate Area. This is between Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions. There also came an influence from the Isthmo-Colombian area. It was an area where Mesoamerican and South-American native culture met. 
The confirmation of the knowledge comes from the ancient footprint (see photo) and as well as other archaeological evidence of ceramic and statues made from volcanic stone. They were also from an island of Zapatenra and petroglyples which were found on the Ometepe island.

In the west of Nicaragua several indigenous people belonging to the Mesoamerican were still living by the end of the 15th century. These people were farmers and lived in small kingdoms.
The Chibcha lived in the coastal area and arrive from an area which is now known as Colombia. They were hunters/gatherers. The native people living on the eastern side of Nicaragua have traded and adopted the Caribbean lifestyle such as round thatched huts and canoes. The Chorojega lived in the centre. The two groups were first overran by the Spaniards and mixed with them. The result was mestizos; a race with mixed blood.

However, the Indian population reduced drastically in the next three decades. It was due to the diseases from the Spaniards and ill treatment.
Since the independence from the Spain in 1821, Nicaragua suffered many corrupt rulers which were often back by the US Government.

The Soviet Union supported the Sandinista revolutionaries and with that they won a vicious war in 1979. The new government was a socialist and was backed by the Soviet Union. They distributed the land to the peasants.
The Contras, which were backed by the US, fought against them in 1980. As a matter of fact this was the last battle of the Cold War. In 1989 a ceasefire was declared and in the next election in 1990 the Sandinista lost. The Contras handed in their arms.
Violence still flaring up and Nicaragua still faces all the problems. The unemployment is very high and in the agriculture the output is very low; The country depends on Foreign Aids.

Nicaragua is between Costa Rica in the south and Honduras in the north. The country has a volcanic mountain range and two huge lakes, Managua and Nicaragua , the low-lying tropical forests on the Caribbean coast and the Savannah land on the Pacific side.

The weather is wet and sultry. Most of the country is covered by tropical forest with hardwood trees like mahogany, rosewood and cedar.

The people are mestizos which means they are of mixed blood, Indians and Spanish. A small English-speaking community lives on the remote east-coast and forest dwelling Miskito Indians.

Nicaragua has plenty of fertile land. Farmers grow coffee, sugar cane, cotton. and cattle. These are very important for export which is the country main economy. Due all these wars the land and the economy has suffered badly.

Saturday, 17 February 2018


Mesopotamia is the ancient Greek name for the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. Agriculture was born on the very fertile soil and other features of the modern world came from there.

Mesopotamia span across most of today’s Iran, northern Syria and south-east Turkey. It saw the beginning of agriculture, literacy, urban communities and complex bureaucracy.

The ‘Fertile Crescent’ is between mountain ranges in the north and north-east in Mesopotamia. It was the birthplace of agriculture between 10,000 and 6,000 BC. Sheep, goats, cattle, pigs domesticated, wheat and barley grown there. It encouraged people to settle down and early villages were discovered in northern Mesopotamia.

The benefits of agriculture was introduced in the south. After an extensive network of canals and ditches the arid region using the annual flooding of rivers. The irrigation was developed between 6,000 and 5,000 BC. The amount of food produced was spectacular and people kept moving in, especially bureaucrats and craftsmen.

It also increased trade. Mesopotamia became the home of three major civilisations: Sumerian and Babylonian in the south and Assyrian in the north. Many famous, ancient cities were built like Babylon, Ur, Ashur, Nineveh and Nimrud.


Archaeologists have discovered monumental palaces, temples, ziggurats (temple towers) and defensive walls. Incredible works of arts include the carved stone slabs which decorated the royal palaces of the Neo-Assyrian kings, showing scenes of foreign conquest, hunting and magnificent banquets.


According to historical findings, Mesopotamia invented the earliest form of writing. The first written tablets dating from just before 3000 BC. It is in pictographs with simple drawings of the object, sheep or jar. It then developed into a more schematically using the wedge-shaped end of a reed stylus, forming cuneiform script. It then developed into signs which read language as well as objects. Now, the first attempt to write was born.

Sumerian was the first written language and so far, the oldest. It was replaced by Akkadian as a spoken language around 2000 BC. Both languages continued to be written for another two thousand years.

Clay tablets are very hardy when baked and therefore thousands of cuneiform tablets were found. They gave us great information of the live in Mesopotamia about accounts, contracts, letters and school exercises, lists of kings and treaties and literary works, Epic of Gilgamesh. It mentioned a flood story like mentioned in the Bible.

The school curriculum included many compositions, and trainees had to copy.

The Law Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon (1792-1750 BC) were inscribed on stone because it was most important to be kept, of course. He proclaimed Justice had been made for the strong not to oppress the weak.

Other greatest achievements were made in the Mesopotamia culture, advances in astronomy and mathematics which is the most surprising and unbelievable fact for that time.

The ancient Greeks, who ruled over the region in the later part of the 1st millennium BC, passed the knowledge on to the West.

Friday, 16 February 2018


Mexico lies in Central America. The country’s history stretches back to 10,000 years. It is famous for Maya from 300 to 900; Toltecs 900 to 1200; Aztec from 1200 to 1519.

The arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, Hernan Cortes, brought the Aztec ruler Montezuma II in 1519 to an end. In 1535 the territory was made the viceroyalty of New Spain under Antonio de Mendoza.

Spain introduced Mercantilism, from 16th the 18th century, which means that the quantity of trade is fixed. It brought the ‘colony’ down. Discontent was growing and in 1808 when Napoleon I conquered Spain a revolution started in 1810 TO 1815 in New Spain. Although the revolution was crushed but Mexico became independent in 1821.

In 1823 Mexico was declared a republic and in 1824 Guadalupe Victoria was its first president.

In 1845 America’s annexation of Texas started the Mexican-American War.

In 1848 a treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed and gave US Texas for a payment of US$15million. Mexico lost two-fifths of its territory which included New Mexico, Arizona and California.


After the war President Santa Anna turned Mexico into a dictatorship till 1855. It was overthrown in a liberal revolution but Conservatives opposite the new constitution and led to civil war in 1857. The War of Reform from 1858 to 1861.

Three years later Napoleon III put Ferdinand Joseph Maximillian as Mexican emperor. He was a Habsburg prince from the Austrian dynasty. The empire collapsed when France withdrew its support in 1867. Liberals cam to power under President Benito Juarez.


In 1876 Porfirio Diaz commanded armed rebels and overthrew Lerdo de Tajada, the successor of Juarez. Diaz state in power till 1911. His regime preferred Mexico’s elite but failed to bring the middle class or labour groups into his politics.

In 1910 a 30 years Mexican revolution started under Anti-Re-election leader Francisco Madero. Diaz resigned in 1911 and Madero became President. Madero was assassinated in 1913.

Within two years a coalition faction led by Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa, Venustiano Caranza and Alvaro Obregon to overthrow the government. Political differences split them.  On party wanted to reform the 1857 constitution; the other to implement radical proposal drawn up in 1914 convention of Aguascalientes.

Another civil war followed, and Carranza gained power and February 1917 he proclaimed a reformed constitution. It was ignored and in 1920 Carranza was assassinated. 

In 1928 the Cristeros Christian peasants rose against the ‘Godless’ state. They were defeated in 1930.  Skirmishes and confrontation lasted another 10 years. Newly elected President Manual Avila Camacho brought some period of peace.

During the Second World War Mexico fought on the side of the Allies from 1942. After the war industrialisation brought Mexico a golden era till 1980 when oil reserves fell in value. Unemployment and inflation followed.

In 1993 Mexico joined Canada and the USA in the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In 1994 the Zapatista National Liberation Army rose in the state of Chiapas and received a peace agreement with the government of President Ernesto Zedillo in September 1995.    

Saturday, 10 February 2018


1918 A young soldier Harry Underwood returned to the front after being injured in action. He felt bad again and was sent to the military hospital.

The next morning, he was dead after gasping for air, chocking and his skin turned grey. It is assumed that he was one of the first victims of the Spanish Flu which costs 100 million lives the world over.

The pandemic spread rapidly across Europe, USA, China and India, just to name a few of the countries.

In looking back, it was one of the worst medical catastrophe and claimed more victims than any others in history.

The most baffling point was for the medicals that it struck down the fit and healthy men and women. Since the World War I was still raging it did not get the full attention.

The pandemic of the 1918 influenza claimed more victims then the whole World War 1. It seemed unstoppable and there was no cure for it. People started to wear facemasks which seemed to only way to hopefully prevent catching it.

Flu has a long history and date back to Roman and Greek times. The word influenza was first mentioned in 1500 by Italians describing an illness they thought being “influenced” by the stars.

Today’s flu is nothing in comparisons to the outbreak in 1918. There was no country being spared. To matter worse because of an even second outbreak in the autumn. It was so bad that people collapsed in the street and bled from lungs and noses which suffocated them. Children starved to death because parents were so ill they could not care for them. Undertakers had not enough coffins to bury the dead.

Scientists studied the 1918 influenza thought they traced the outbreak to the camp in Etaples, France. It was the camp where farmer’s son from Kent Harry Underwood age 20 died.

At the end of 1917 men were crammed in the camp and the flu went through like wild fire but the virus was suspected to come from animals or birds kept for food.

Adding to it was the war which had huge army movements plus the resistance of men was very low because of the terrible conditions in the trenches.

As usually, the authorities were slow in trying to stop spreading by organising isolations. In those days influenza was thought it is a bacteria, not a virus.

News announced that Spain is badly affected and therefore the label “Spanish Flu” sprang up and it stuck.

In Britain Whitehall did not see the point to introduce quarantine on trams and buses or close theatres for fear to lower morals. As always, their disorganisation let the flu spread quicker and further.

To prove the point, Manchester had a lower death rate because Dr James Niven, the city’s medical officer, did establish quarantine rules.  

On the contrary, in Newcastle, mines and docks nearly ground to a standstill because 70 per cent of workers fell ill.

The German army was also affected by 150,000 men in summer of 1918. If you like to call it a blessing; it could have brought an earlier end to the war.

The last death in the year 1918 was William Leefe Robinson, 23, who won a Victoria Cross being the first pilot to shoot down a Graf Zeppelin.

Armistice Day celebration brought everyone out on the street which could have ignite another pandemic but fortunately it didn’t.

Scientists now know it was a H1N1 strain related to the avian flu.

The question remains, can it happen again despite medical advances, communications and vaccinations? There is no doubt the danger is still there. 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018


Lady Astor died 28 December, 2017 aged 87.

She was celebrated as one of the world’s great beauties in 1950.

She was born on 6 June, 1930 in London. Her parents were Welsh County court judge Sir Alan Pugh and his wife, Kathleen. Bronwen was their third daughter.

Bronwen’s ambition was to be a teacher and trained at Central School of Speech and Drama. She went on TV presenting BBC.

When she took up modelling and went to Paris she became top in no time because of her beauty. She signed up with Balmain fashion house. Bronwen never lost her beauty.

She was introduced to the millionaire son of Nancy Astor by Patrick de Laszio. Nancy Astor was the first woman in the House of Common.

Bronwen Pugh and Viscount Astor married on 14 October 1960. Lady Astor changed to running the Cliveden estate in Buckinghamshire. They were the most celebrated couple in society.


The bliss did not last, a scandal broke lose about an affair of Christine Keeler and the war secretary John Profumo in 1961 at Cliveden. As details emerged it came to light that Christine Keeler also had a brief encounter, at the time, with Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet naval attache which really blew the lid off.


John Profumo died in 2006.

To make matter worse, it was at a time when USA, West and Russia were at a cold war and the tension could have blown into a full-scale war.

Keeler’s affairs were a serious security risk at the best of time but situated in the tense atmosphere of the 1960s it blew into a huge scandal which brought even the Harold Macmillan’s government down.

The backlash of being ignored and losing business hit Bronwen and Bill Astor hard, although they were the most innocent party. To add to their trouble Mandy Rice-Davies, a friend of Keeler, accused Bill of having an affair with her. It was denied many years later.

Their marriage survived but Bill never got over the scandal and died in 1966 of a heart attack.

After his death, Lady Astor moved to Tuesley Manor in Godalming, Surrey.

She converted to Catholicism and set up a religious community.

In 1986 She qualified as psychotherapist and ran a practice for over 20 years, but she never quite got over the stigma of being ostracised. She remembered that it was like a nightmare, being labelled, and people talking behind her back. She always felt that she was to blame for the scandal.

Lady and Viscount Astor, may they be together and rest in peace.

They had two daughters Janet and Pauline who survived them.

Monday, 5 February 2018



A movie had been made with Helen Mirren about the live of Sarah Winchester. She lived in the 19th century and was an heiress of the fortune made by the Winchester rifle. Sarah Winchester was convinced that her family was haunted by the spirits of the thousands death caused by the Winchester Rifle.

To make it up to them Sarah built a mansion for their spirits. She was also convinced that as long as she built the mansion she will not die.

The Winchester mansion was an eight-bedroom cottage. She spent a fortune building a mansion for ghosts which became America’s largest private home.

Sarah slept in a different bedroom every night to avoid haunting spirits.

It was built – round the clock – for 38 years with stairs go nowhere or leading into the ceiling, doors and cabinets open to walls. Small rooms are built within larger ones and secret doors can only be opened from one side.

The construction is so complex that hidden rooms were lost because new rooms been added. In 2016 a room was found with a pump organ, Victorian couch, sewing machine and paintings. Another one in 1975 with chairs, old photographs, speaker and a 1910 latch on the door.

The house is known as the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, northern California. It has 10,000 windows, 2,500 doors, 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases, 13 bathrooms and nine kitchens.

Sarah Lockwood Pardee married in 1862 William Winchester when she was 22. He was the son of Oliver who invented the Winchester Repeating Arms Co in 1866. It was also the same year her only child died, six weeks old.

Oliver died in 1880 and her husband in 1881 of tuberculosis. Sarah inherited $20million and was one of America’s richest women. 

Eight million Winchester rifles helped to open-up the West and costs thousands Native Americans’ lives.


Sarah tried to cope with her family’s tragedy and consulted a Boston psychic who told her the spirits of Winchester victims were haunting her. She moved from Connecticut to San Jose.

She started to built the huge monstrosity. There are rumours that she held nightly seances to receive new construction. It is also thought that she built rooms to trap the spirits.

She employed 16 carpenters to work round the clock and 365 days a year. She paid them three times as much making sure the hammering never stopped.

Everything had to be 13. Chandeliers had 13 arms; clothes hooks had 13 holes; ceilings 13 panels; many windows had 13 panes and stairways had 13 steps.

Till 1906 the home had 400 rooms and was seven storeys high but the San Francisco’ earthquake made several cupolas and its 100-feet-tall Observatory Tower collapse.

Sarah was trapped in a bedroom behind a huge wall of rubble, but the construction workers were able to dig her out.

Although the home today is evidence of her chaotic mind, but many rooms are of outstanding beauty and great craftmanship.

The wood-panelled grand ballroom, built almost without nails. Its parquet floor is made of six woods changing colours with the lights.

The Crystal Ballroom wallpapered with sparkly mica.

The “Witch’s Cap” is a conical tower, dauting, because the purpose remains hidden.

Sarah died in 1922 after giving back to a lot of employment for builders and founded a hospital in Connecticut. She was 82 and on her death the builders put down their hammers and never return. Some spent their entire working life there.

Original the house stood in a 161 acres of apricot and olive orchards.

Today the house is a tourist attraction and is now in between an eight-lane Interstate 280 freeway and mobile home park. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017


Korea is in north-eastern Asia.

In the 4th century Korea adopted Buddhism as its religion.

The Silla kingdom became a tribal state of China in 658 and ruled a unified Korea for 200 years.

Koryo Kingdom ruled from 918 and when a civil war broke out it ended its supremacy in 1392.

Under the Yi dynasty from 1392 till 1910 Korea was very much influence by Ming China. Confucianism replaced most of Buddhism and a new capital was built Seoul.

During the Russo-Japanese War from 1904 till 1905; Korea was a battleground and became a Japanese colony.

In 1945 when the Second World War finally found its end the Allies divided Korea into a Soviet controlled zone north of the 38th parallel and the US controlled the south.

Plan to reunify the country was not successful. In 1948, the communist declared the north as Democratic People’s Republic and the south being supported by the West became Republic of Korea.

The US withdrew its troops in 1949 and on June 25, 1950 the North Korean troops launched a surprise attack and soon overrun most of the south.

The conflict became part of the larger Cold War and the invasion was condemned by the United Nations. The Soviet Union delegation was not attending the meeting at the UN and it was voted to assist the south.

General Douglas McArthur, supreme commander of a 16-nation UN force landed in south Korea in September 1950. At the end of October 1950, the North Korean were pushed back to the border of Communist China. China sent troops to support the North Korean.

January 1951, the two armies reached the South Korean capital Seoul but by the time spring arrived they were driven back behind the 38th parallel.

Eventually, after many months of fighting it reached a deadlock.

General Mathew Ridgway, replacing General McArthur’s, started peace negotiation. It lasted till 1953 when an armistice was signed at Panmunjom. The confrontation cost four million people’s lives or being wounded.

A ceasefire was agreed and a demilitarised buffer zone was established between the north and south at the 38th parallel.

Today, it causes the biggest fear of a Nuclear war. President Kim Jong-un managed to develop nuclear rockets and threatens USA, Japan and the rest of the world with it.

Russia and China are on the side of North Korea but both super powers are trying to calm the situation down.

The threat of a Nuclear War was never so real.