News and Current Events
(3/20/2012 2:50:00 AM)
First Day of Spring & World Storytelling Day
Today is the first day of spring, or the vernal equinox, when the earth's axis is aligned with the center of the sun.
The word equinox comes from Latin: aequus means equal, level, or calm; nox means night, or darkness. The equinox, in spring or fall, is a time when the day and night are as close to equal as they ever are, and when the hours of night are exactly equal for people living equidistant from the equator either north or south.
" Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today; / And give us not to think so far away / As the uncertain harvest; keep us here / All simply in the springing of the year."
" A Prayer in Spring" by Robert Frost
Today is also the World Storytelling Day, a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling.
It is celebrated every year on the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, the first day of autumn equinox in the southern. On World Storytelling Day, as many people as possible tell and listen to stories in as many languages and at as many places as possible, during the same day and night. Participants tell each other about their events in order to share stories and inspiration, to learn from each other and create international contacts.
The significance in the event lies in the fact that it is the first global celebration of storytelling of its kind, and has been important in forging links between storytellers often working far apart from each other. It has also been significant in drawing public and media attention to storytelling as an art form.
World Storytelling Day has its roots in a national day for storytelling in Sweden, circa 1991-2. At that time, an event was organized for March 20 in Sweden called " Alla berättares dag" (All storytellers day) . The Swedish national storytelling network passed out some time after, but the day stayed alive, celebrated around the country by different enthusiasts. In 1997, storytellers in Perth, Western Australia coordinated a five-week long Celebration of Story, commemorating March 20 as the International Day of Oral Narrators. At the same time, in Mexico and other South American countries, March 20 was already celebrated as the National Day of Storytellers.
Each year, many of the individual storytelling events that take place around the globe are linked by a common theme. Each year, the theme is identified by and agreed upon by storytellers from around the world using the WSD listserve. This years theme is: Trees
(3/17/2012 4:03:00 AM)
Today is St. Patrick's Day. It is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461) , the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland) , the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century, and has gradually become a celebration of Irish culture in general.
The day is generally characterised by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire and the lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating, and drinking alcohol, which is often proscribed during the rest of the season.
Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora, especially in places such as Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Today, St. Patrick's Day is probably the most widely celebrated saint's day in the world.
Here's a poem for this day: " St Patrick's Day" by Francis Duggan
Above the fields by her old home the dawn breaks cold and gray
And the peace of the morning is disturbed when the brown donkey bray
But she doesn't think of her Homeland thousands of miles away
As she walks home up from the beach on the feast of St Patrick's day.
Happy St Patrick's Day!
(3/8/2012 1:32:00 AM)
Today is International Women's Day (IWD)
Originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and St Valentine's Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.
Activists across the globe are drawing attention to a variety of concerns, including discriminatory laws, the high rate of pregnancy-related deaths in many parts of the world, the skewed sex ratio in China and India, the disproportionately high number of women who are killed and victimized by wars, the comparatively heavier burden of poverty on women, and the continuing disparity between men and women in terms of the quality of available employment and wages received.
The United Nation theme for International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty.
Healthcare, education, gender inequality and limited access to credit, have posed a number of challenges for rural women. It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls.
More facts and Figures on Rural Women on UN site
Here's a poem for this day: Women's Rights by Annie Louisa Walker
(2/21/2012 4:19:00 AM)
Today is International Mother Language Day. This day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.
International Mother Language Day originated as the international recognition of Language Movement Day, which has been commemorated in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) since 1952, when a number of students including the students of the University of Dhaka were killed by the Pakistani police in Dhaka during Bengali Language Movement protests.
It is estimated that nearly half of the approximately 6,000 languages spoken in the world could die out by the end of the century, with 96 percent of these languages spoken by a mere 4 percent of the world’s population.
UNESCO sets the theme for each International Mother Language Day and holds related events at its headquarters in Paris on or around 21 February each year.
A poem for Mother Language Day Our Mother Tongue by Jose Rizal
If truly a people dearly love
The tongue to them by Heaven sent,
They'll surely yearn for liberty
Like a bird above in the firmament.
More about International Mother Language Day on UNESCO website
(2/20/2012 5:07:00 AM)
Today is the World Day of Social Justice.
This is a day recognizing the need to promote efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment. The United Nations General Assembly has decided to observe 20 February annually, starting in 2009, as the World Day of Social Justice.
As recognized by the World Summit, social development aims at social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality within and among countries and social justice, equality and equity constitute the fundamental values of all societies. To achieve “a society for all” governments made a commitment to the creation of a framework for action to promote social justice at national, regional and international levels. They also pledged to promote the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality and opportunity for all. The governments recognized as well that economic growth should promote equity and social justice and that “a society for all” must be based on social justice and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Here is a poem for this day: The Lovers of the Poor by Gwendolyn Brooks
arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment League
Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting
In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag
Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting
(2/15/2012 1:41:00 AM)
Today is the birtday of Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
He was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the father of modern observational astronomy, the father of modern physics, the father of science, and the Father of Modern Science.
Galileo was an astronomer and mathematician, but his discoveries also affected creative realms during the Renaissance. His astronomical discoveries challenged philosophy; his mathematics gave realistic perspective to artists. These innovations challenged the literary community to seek improvement as well.
Galileo in artistic and popular media
Galileo is mentioned several times in the opera section of the Queen song, Bohemian Rhapsody. He features prominently in the song Galileo performed by the Indigo Girls.
Twentieth-century plays have been written on Galileo's life, including Life of Galileo (1943) by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, with a film adaptation (1975) of it, and Lamp At Midnight (1947) by Barrie Stavis, as well as the 2008 play Galileo Galilei.
Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a science fiction novel entitled Galileo's Dream (2009) , in which Galileo is brought into the future to help resolve a crisis of scientific philosophy; the story moves back and forth between Galileo's own time and a hypothetical distant future.
A poem for the astronomer: When I Heard the Learned Astronomer by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
Happy Birthday Galileo Galilei!
(2/2/2012 1:44:00 AM)
Today is World Wetlands Day
On February 2,1971, countries around the world came together and signed the Convention on Wetlands (an Intergovernmental Treaty) - the first ecologically focused convention – Ramsar, Iran. Since then,160 countries have signed the Treaty and 1,911 wetland sites have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance.
To learn more about what people all over the world are doing to celebrate World Wetlands Day, log on to www.ramsar.org.
And here is a poem for this day:
Homer's Hymn To The Earth: Mother Of All by Percy Bysshe Shelley
O universal Mother, who dost keep
From everlasting thy foundations deep,
Eldest of things, Great Earth, I sing of thee!
(1/27/2012 6:33:00 AM)
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
27 January, is an international memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million European Jews,2 million Gypsies (Roma and Sinti) ,15,000 homosexual people and millions of others by the Nazi regime.
27 January is the date, in 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.
A poem for this day:
After Auschwitz by Anne Sexton
(12/28/2011 4:16:00 AM)
Seamus Heaney donated his personal archive to National Library of Ireland
Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has donated a collection of his literary papers to the National Library of Ireland.
The world famous poet's collection, worth tens of thousands of pounds and regarded as a treasure trove by scholars, was handed over at a reception in Dublin on Wednesday.
The fascinating literary archive, regarded as the working papers of one of Ireland's greatest living writers, has been welcomed as an extraordinary addition to the National Library's treasures.
Continues on: http: //www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-16275858
More about Seamus Heaney and his poems on Poemhunter: http: //www.poemhunter.com/seamus-heaney-3/
(12/21/2011 7:22:00 AM)
Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician Václav Havel died this Sunday, on 18 December 2011.
He was a A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, he was the tenth and last president of Czechoslovakia (1989–1992) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993–2003) . He wrote over 20 plays and numerous non-fiction works, translated internationally.
Havel was a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, that proposed the establishment of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. He also received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the freedom medal of the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award and several other distinctions.
Havel was voted 4th in Prospect magazine's 2005 global poll of the world's top 100 intellectuals.
At the time of his death he was Chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. Equally, he was the founder of VIZE97 foundation, and the Forum 2000 annual global conference.
Beginning in the 1960s, his work turned to focus on the politics of Czechoslovakia. After the Prague Spring, he became increasingly active. In 1977, he co-authored the Human Rights charter called Charter 77, which brought him an international recognition as the leader of opposition in Czechoslovakia. Consequently, this led to his persecution by the communist regime, and repeated imprisonment.
The 1989 Velvet Revolution launched Havel into the presidency. In this role, he led Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic to multiparty democracy. His thirteen years in office saw radical change in his nation, including its split with Slovakia, which Havel opposed, its accession into NATO and start of the negotiations for membership in the European Union, which was attained in 2004.
Quotations from Václav Havel on Poemhunter
http: //www.poemhunter.com/quotations/famous.asp? people=V%E1clav%20Havel