On the Affordable Care Act


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Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting their draft to the Congress on June 28, 1776 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Declaration of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence)

President Obama was correct when he stated, in his farewell address, that the United States had to catch up with the ideals of its Founding Fathers. Listed in the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father, is an unalienable right: the unalienable right to Life. Americans have a right to Life, and it is this right the Affordable Care Act addressed. It was “the most significant overhaul in the U.S. healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.” (See Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Wikipedia.)


The Modernization of Medicine

Times have changed. Medical tests are now performed using sophisticated tools that often cost a fortune. Such innovations and other changes have made the cost of healthcare prohibitive. Consequently, it is no longer possible for most individuals to pay health bills out-of-pocket. The rising cost of healthcare has also led to the unaffordable premiums demanded by Insurance Companies and to aberrations such as refusing benefits to the victims of a catastrophic disease. Diseases such as cancer are viewed as pre-existing and therefore uninsurable conditions.

Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies

Insurance companies are businesses and, as businesses, their main objective is to make a profit. They therefore adjust rules and raise premiums accordingly. The same is true of pharmaceutical companies. Medications are priced so pharmaceutical companies make money. It is not possible to make America “great again” by ignoring so obvious a fact as costly advancements in medicine.

A large number of societies, in Europe for instance, have recognized that individuals cannot afford today the healthcare they could afford fifty years ago. Therefore, governments around the world have relieved citizens by funding healthcare, thereby keeping up with the times and ensuring the safety of citizens. The United States has been slow to modify its social contract. But on 23 August 2010, the Affordable Care Act was voted into law.

Life as Privilege

The rules started to change after World War II. Governments around the world, beginning to my knowledge with the Scandinavian countries, set about putting into place, social programmes that protected the people. In the United States, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s New Deal brought relief to impoverished Americans. As for the Affordable Care Act, it is also a new deal that has made it possible for millions of Americans to see a doctor. However, unconscionable and somewhat petty Republican Senators seem bent on destroying it and letting people die, women first. A Republican Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, is therefore making it abundantly clear that life is not a right, but a privilege, the privilege of those who can pay. What will they do if they fall on hard times?

The Affordable Care Act is essential legislation and it cannot be taken away from United States citizens unless Senate has something better to propose and to implement. Societies must face reality. Healthcare is too expensive for individuals to protect themselves. Even those who have health insurance are denied the care they require. Nations therefore need a health plan. Besides, a new administration has nothing to gain by picking up its rifles and shooting at the former administration.

The American Civil War is over and, according to the Declaration of Independence, one has a right to Life.

Love to everyone 


Senator Mitch McConnell

© Micheline Walker
17 January 2017







President Obama’s Farewell Address


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Detail of Elihu Vedder‘s mural Government (1896), in the Library of Congress. The title figure bears a tablet inscribed with Lincoln‘s famous phrase. (Photo and caption credit: Wikipedia)

President Obama bids his Nation Farewell

On Tuesday 10 January 2017, President Obama gave his farewell address to his nation. The subscript was: “Yes we can,” his rallying cry and perhaps the rallying cry of most democracies. Democracy is not a perfect form of government. Too many voters are uninformed or misinformed, but a democracy remains the best form of government we have. However, on 8 November 2016, democracy failed the United States. Americans voted into office a nominee who is unable to play his role as President of the United States. I suspect a large number of his supporters did not know Mr Trump. It seems, moreover, that rules deemed sacred under his predecessors have to be less stringent to accommodate President-elect Donald Trump. It started during the electoral campaign.

According to Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan the medium is the message. I may be rearranging Mr McLuhan’s theory, but not by much. When Americans voted Mr Trump into the presidency, they probably embraced an image. They saw in Donald Trump a successful  white American and felt so comforted that they elected him and conferred upon him a degree of immunity. In the case of Mr Trump, sexual misconduct seemed a lesser offence. So did lying. In fact, whether or not Mr Trump had paid his taxes did not seem to matter, nor did his inability to fulfill the duties of a president of the United States. He’s “the Donald!”

Mr Trump may have known he would need assistance. He appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as his main advisor. As for Mr Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, she will probably play the role of first lady more than Melania Trump, Mr Trump’s wife. Mr Kushner has not come up through the ranks, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It is as though the presidency were under revision.

Still fresh in my mind is the obstructionism and scapegoating President Obama faced day after day. He could not do anything right, but incoming President Trump is unlikely ever to do anything wrong. I suspect Mr Trump is the one who will criticize the press, and not the press Mr Trump.


President-elect Donald J Trump


Yet, as noted above, it appears President Obama is of the opinion that democracy is its own corrective. In a democracy, the government is the people. One elects one’s leader(s) and one then attempts to keep them honest. There is little doubt that, four years from now, Americans will vote again and that a different president may be elected, but protecting the planet cannot wait four years.

President Obama’s address was indeed empowering. Americans remain the government. At times,  President Obama seemed to be inviting Americans to get organized and to resist: “Yes we can.”

Can fallible democracy be its own remedy?  It may be, in the long run. But in the short term mistakes may be made. President Obama stated that he would support a good health care plan, if a good health care plan was proposed. I could be mistaken, but it seems President Obama was expressing confidence in Donald Trump. It may have been simple civility.

And now, Mr Trump is saying that “big pharma” is “getting away with murder.” That would be Bernie Sanders‘ opinion. Pharmaceutical companies are like Insurance Companies. They are businesses and their goal is to make a profit.


However Senate took a “major step toward repealing health care law.” As a result, there could be another election sooner than we think. There is a huge price to pay for destabilizing and humiliating a nation. And there is an even greater price to pay for letting less affluent citizens suffer and die. What these politicians are doing is denying the middle class and the poor the services the well-to-do can afford.


I will miss President Obama enormously. The  United States’ first black president earned the respect and the admiration of the world. For eight years, a humble but brilliant Barack Obama was the world’s finest leader.

Love to everyone.

This is a good video about the Obama years.


© Micheline Walker
12 January 2017

Israel & the Growth of Nationalism


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Jewish-Roman Wars


Philistines settled in Palestine in the 12th century BCE, which confirms that Palestine had long been a nation (see Palestine, Britannica). After the three Jewish-Roman Wars, fought between 66 CE and 136 CE, Palestine was renamed Syria Palaestina by Roman Emperor Hadrian (24 January 76 – 10 July 138) after he crushed the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-136, thus named after Simon bar Kokhba (d. 135). The Bar Kokhba revolt is the third of three Jewish-Roman wars, but it is sometimes called the second, the Kitos War being omitted.

Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina, and Jews could no longer enter the city.


Expulsion of the Jews during the Reign of Hadrian


The concept of nationalism was not new to the 19th century. Traits and circumstances shared by a number of individuals such as language, religion, foklore, location, not to mention climate, lead to nationhood. We owe the théorie des climats (the climate theory) to Montesquieu as well as Madame de Staël, the author of De l’Allemagne (1810-1813).  

The Growth of Nationalism

  • the Congress of Vienna, 1815
  • the attrition of the Ottoman Empire
  • balkanization

Although nationalism was not born in the 19th century, the 19th century is nevertheless associated with an unprecedented surge in nationalism.

The Congress of Vienna, held in 1815, but suspended when Napoleon returned from Elba, the Hundred Days, les Cent-Jours, was one of nationalism’s first 19th-century location. France returned land conquered by Napoleon and Prussia returned Alsace-Lorraine to France. However, nations represented at the Congress of Vienna, France, England, Prussia, and Russia, quite shamelessly rearranged Europe. During the 19th century, European countries conquered by the Ottomans, as of 1453, fought wars of independence leading to the attrition of the Ottoman Empire. Also to be taken into account is the balkanization of several states. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, fragmented countries in Eastern Europe were victims of genocidal ethnic cleansing. The term balkanization was coined at the end of World War I.


Zionism also grew out of 19th-century nationalism. Its founder was Theodor Herzl (2 May 1860 – 3 July 1904). Zionists dreamed of a land of Israel which it lost beginning in the 8th century BCE. The exile was completed in 135 CE, when Roman Emperor Hadrian had the Bar Kokhba revolt crushed. Israeli nationalism seems to be developing into a state and faith nationalism.

The Balfour Declaration

At the time Jewish scientist Chaim Weizmann (27 November 1874  – 9 November 1952) was negotiating the Balfour Declaration (1917), he said the following:

“Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?” He sat up, looked at me, and answered: “But Dr. Weizmann, we have London.” “That is true,” I said, “but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.” He … said two things which I remember vividly. The first was: “Are there many Jews who think like you?” I answered: “I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves.”… To this he said: “If that is so you will one day be a force.”[1]

The Balfour Declaration, a letter dated 2 November 1917 from Foreign Secretary James Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, did not reflect Zionist objectives:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. (See Balfour Declaration, Wikipedia.)

Chaim Weizmann‘s statement is misleading. Yes, the Jews had Jerusalem a very long time ago, but they had lost their land and had been exiled. As noted above, this process had begun in the 8th century BCE and was complete as of 135 CE, when the Third Roman-Jewish War was fought under Roman Emperor Hadrian. Although several Jews remained in the newly created Syria Palaestina, most left. Assyrians, a Mesopotamian East Semitic-speaking kingdom and an independent state since the 25th BCE, converted to Christianity “[b]etween the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, a period which also saw Assyria become a major centre of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East.” (See Assyria, Wikipedia.)

Assyrians, who or many of whom had converted to Christianity, were not exiled. However,  in the 7th century in particular (see Muhammad, Wikipedia), countries from Asia to the Iberian Peninsula were Arabised, a process that continued after Constantinople fell to the Seljuk Turks, in 1453. Ottomans were Muslims and conquered several countries in Eastern Europe that fought wars of independence in the 19th century.


Philistine captives being led away after their failed invasion of Egypt from a relief (Wermer Forman Archive/Heritage-Images) 

Eschatological Connotations

As for Israel, its land of Israel and the dispersal of Jews, may find a correct description in the Encyclopædia Britannica:

Although the term refers to the physical dispersal of Jews throughout the world, it also carries religious, philosophical, political, and eschatological connotations, inasmuch as the Jews perceive a special relationship between the land of Israel and themselves. Interpretations of this relationship range from the messianic hope of traditional Judaism for the eventual “ingathering of the exiles” to the view of Reform Judaism that the dispersal of the Jews was providentially arranged by God to foster pure monotheism throughout the world.[2]

The people of Quebec can understand the relationship between a people and a land, the pays du Québec. Quebec is a province, not a country. It has a Parti Québécois, consisting of Quebec nationalists, but Quebec has now chosen interculturalism, a form of humanist nationhood rooted in Martha Nussbaum‘s Cultivating Humanity.  

Quebecers’ first homeland was its “literary homeland,” or patrie littéraire, a subject I have researched and pondered. One of my articles is online, in French. It is a reading of Antonine Maillet‘s Pélagie-la-Charrette.[3] Metaphors are taken from the Bible, mainly. I have lectured on this subject at the University of Stuttgart.

The Creation of Israel

In 1948, Palestine was a state. However, it had been part of the Ottoman Empire and was divided by the recently established League of Nations, whose blueprint was the Zykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. Mark Sykes, for Britain, and François Georges-Picot , for France, were protecting spheres of influence. Therefore, in 1920, Palestine was not free. From a possession of the Ottoman Empire, Palestine was transformed into a protectorate of Britain. As we have seen, in 1917, under the terms of the Balfour Declaration, Britain supported the creation of a homeland for Israel, but its Israel was in Palestine.

When Israel was created in 1948, statesmen may have hoped Israel would be in Palestine. That would have been the two-state solution, but partitioning Palestine made room for a State of Israel that would expand. The Jews had been the victims of various persecutions culminating in the Nazi Holocaust. The Holocaust then weighed heavily on a collective conscience, so it may have obscured safer resolutions. United States President Harry S. Truman  had befriended a Zionist and may not have foreseen that the partitioning of Palestine could lead to a lengthy conflict and considerable resistance on the part of Palestinians, not to mention decades of resentment on the part of Arabs.

Moreover, it may not have occurred to President Truman and other statesmen that the creation of Israel was an option rather than an imperative. There were options. Many Jews moved to the United States and to Canada. Moreover, after denazification, survivors of the Holocaust could return to their homes if they wished.  As for the creation of a land of Israel, the means were questionable. Given the objectives of Zionists, the establishment of a “land of Israel,” creating Israel, could not be mere ownership of a part of Palestine. After the diaspora and the Holocaust, the land of Israel had acquired mythical dimensions.


On 23 December 2016, 14 members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favour of condemning Israeli settlements and the 15th member, the United States, did not veto their decision. In his Remarks on the Middle East Peace, Secretary of State John Kerry quoted Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations who stated that the United States had not acted according to “values that we share:”

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share,” and veto this resolution. 

If the figures I published on 3 January 2017 are accurate, the financial support  given Israel is staggering and it may have fostered in Israeli a sense of entitlement allowing it to occupy territory that it wasn’t apportioned in 1948. There is practically nothing left of Palestine.

Truth be told, Israel started encroaching on neighbouring territory almost as soon as it was created, and it has yet to return the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem which it conquered during the Six-Day War, in June 1967.


If the United States provides military aid amounting to more than 10 million dollars a day to Israel, Israel is truly privileged and the statement of its representative to the United Nations: “values we share,” is inappropriate. Israel can no longer settle beyond borders not allotted Israel in 1948. If it does, it will endanger its own safety as well as the safety of the United States. The United States stands to be attacked as it was on 11 September 2001 and its support of Israel may encourage terrorist attacks in Europe. It short, Israel cannot spill out of its borders.

Finally, how can the United States refuse to provide social programs for its citizens if the money it collects from taxpayers, the middle class mainly, is used to support a nation that will not respect Palestinians and consider peace.

The two-state solution cannot forever be kicked down the road, nor can time be wasted on agreements that are not implemented. We cannot rewrite the past, but the future is ours and, more importantly, it is our children’s.

Nationalism is fine, but it does not justify encroachment on a neighbour’s territory.


Sources and Resources


[1] Weizmann, Trial and Error, p.111, as quoted in W. Lacquer, The History of Zionism, 2003, ISBN 978-1-86064-932-5. p.188 (See Balfour Declaration of 1917, Wikipedia).

[2] “Diaspora”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 21 Aug. 2016 or

 [3] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « La Patrie littéraire: Errance et Résistance », Francophonies d’Amérique, Numéro 13, été 2002, pp. 47-65.



Woman in Nakba Dress, fleeing Palestine

© Micheline Walker
7 January 2017

Israel & Palestine


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Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, at the State Department (Photograph by Zach Gibson / Getty)

The Security Council Punch Knocks Netanyahu Down from Hubris to Humiliation



At the moment, I am completing a factual post about the 68-year old conflict between Israeli and Palestinians and the nearly 50-year old occupation of the Golan Heights by Israel. But I must first provide figures reflecting the assistance provided Israel by the United States.

In 2012, the US provided $3,705,000,000 in military help

  • FMF – Foreign Military Financing (direct military aid)
  • ESF – Economic Support Fund (open-ended monetary assistance that can be used to offset military spending and arms purchases, as well as for non-military purposes)

See Israel–United States military relations


Figures from another source are:

The U.S. provides Israel $10.2 million* in military aid each day,
while it gives the Palestinians $0** in military aid.

See If Americans knew

See Israel-Palestine Timeline: the Human Cost of the Conflict

The United Nations Security Council: US Abstention

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/23/us-abstention-allows-un-to-demand-end-to-israeli-settlements (video)

On 23 December 2016, the United Nations Security Council condemned Israeli settlements on territory not belonging to Israel. The United States did not veto the vote. US Secretary of State John Kerry, addressed the State Department on 28 December 2016.

One may read the full text at:

Remarks on Middle East Peace: John Kerry


In his address Mr Kerry stated that:

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share,” and veto this resolution. I am compelled to respond today that the United States did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values, just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us.


My factual post on the Israel-Palestine conflict may not be published as it may be misinterpreted. But I will write the following.

The Jewish Diaspora

The Jewish Diaspora started in the 8th century BCE and ended during the Third Jewish-Roman war, when Roman Emperor Hadrian (24 January 76 – 10 July 138) crushed the Bar Kokhba rebellion. Jesus lived in Roman-occupied Palestine.

In 132 CE, the remaining Jews, under Bar Kokhba, rebelled against Hadrian. In 135 CE, Hadrian’s army defeated the Jewish armies and Jewish independence was lost. As punishment, Hadrian exiled more Jews, sold them into slavery, changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, turned it into a Roman pagan city and forbade the Jews from living there. Judea and Samaria were renamed by Hadrian to Syria Palaestina, after the Assyrians and Philistines respectively, both as an insult to the Jews and as a means of erasing the land’s Jewish identity.
(See Jewish Diaspora, Wikipedia.)

Islamisation & Colonialism

In the 7th century in particular, Arabs conquered territory spreading from Asia to the Iberian Peninsula. Islamisation continued under the Seljuq Turks. The Ottoman Empire was a large empire that included Palestine and nearly reached Vienna.

After the fall of Constantinople (1453), the capital of the Byzantine Empire, a large part of eastern Europe was conquered. The Ottomans were Turks, not Arabs. But they were and are Muslims. The genocide of Armenians was perpetrated under a Pan-Islamism ideology as the Ottoman Empire was about to fall. In 1916, the yet to be defeated Ottoman Empire was partitioned under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Colonialism died a slow death. It lingers to this day.

At any rate, Britain France and the Russian Empire constituted the Triple Entente. They were the signatories of the Zykes-Picot-Agreement. However, although it agreed with the partitioning, Russia did not sign. The Russian Empire fell to the Bolsheviks and the Tsar’s family was executed on 17 July 1918. The last Tsar of Imperial Russia was Nicholas II.

Israel’s Settlements

Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since the Six-Day War (June 1967). After 50 years, it has yet to return it to its Arab owners (Syria, I believe). Israeli are still settling on territory located outside the borders of Israel which the United Nations Security Council condemned and the United States did not veto. Palestinians are being evicted to this day.

Descendants of Jews killed during the Nazi Holocaust still have a right of return to Germany, which, at first, was mostly ignored. Matters have changed. A substantial number of Israeli are exercising that right. So are British Jews. After denazification, the safest opion for several survivors of the Holocaust was to return to their homes. So are British Jews. After denazification, the safest option for several survivors of the Holocaust was to return to their homes.


Many lies are circulating at the moment as well as unacceptable and false accusations. Our common goal should be peace in the Middle East. Eleven million individuals have left Syria and Iraq and 300,000 have died. Most are Muslims, but Christians celebrated Christmas in Aleppo. The United Nations Security Council’s resolution condemning Israeli settlements outside Israel was a call for peace.

Israel must become an instrument of peace.

Jewish spiritual song – Jerusalem if I forget you (Hebrew Yiddish Israeli jewish beautiful songs)


Eliahu Elath presenting ark to President Truman

© Micheline Walker
3 January 2017




Laudate Dominum


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Happy New Year to all of you.
I wish you good health and glorious days.

The year 2016 was somewhat bumpy. It brought Brexit and Donald Trump. Mr Trump may not be a duly-elected President of the United States because Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in an American election.

Let us hope Mr Trump does not change what has been put into place radically. He does not have a clear mandate and countries need stability and continuity. Moreover, what happens in the United States affects the entire world.

A New Year is a beginning and I hope 2017 will bring us joy and peace.

I am inserting Mozart’s Laudate Dominum. It is one of the finest compositions ever.
(See Vesperæ sollenes de confessore, K. 339, Wikipedia)

Elīna Garanča – Wikipedia


© Micheline Walker
1 January 2017

Feasts and Liturgy


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Madonna della Sedia by Raphaël

Feasts and Liturgy

I just posted a page listing most of my posts on “Feasts & Liturgy.” It is not a complete list and some posts should be edited. At times, music is removed from YouTube, which makes an update necessary. However, unless posts are listed, they are difficult to access. One needs a list, and it is under construction.


This list reflects knowledge and interest I acquired as a student of the history of music, or musicology. The Greeks developed polyphony or music in “parts,” but polyphony developed during the Middle Ages. At the moment, the main ‘parts’ are Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (SATB). But, as polyphony developed certain composers divided music into a larger number of parts.

If the development of polyphonic music were to be given a location, one of its best lieux would  be the Franco-Flemish lands, the cultural hub of Europe before the Renaissance, which began as of the Fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, on 29 May 1453. Although the Franco-Flemish lands produced fine composers of polyphonic music, it also developed in various European countries such as France, Italian city-states, Spain…

Liturgical and Secular Music

Polyphony developed in medieval Europe, but, as we have seen, it is an invention of the Greek and is called Western Music. Music composed elsewhere had one part and it is called monophonic. The birthplace of polyphony is, for the most part, the Church. Such music is called liturgical (or sacred music) and it encompasses Motets, Masses, Hymns and many other form. The Church needed music, hence the preeminence of liturgical music in the very Christian Middle Ages and its association with the history of music.

Yet, polyphony also has secular roots, the Madrigal, in particular, songs in the mother (madre) tongue.


Monophonic music features one part: the melody. Gregorian chant is monophonic and it has its own notation. Troubadours (southern France, trouvères (northern France) and the Minnesang (Germany) composed monophonic secular songs.


I look forward to completing this list and writing more on Feasts, providing some details.

The seasonal antiphon is the Alma Mater Redemptoris. There are four Marian antiphons. The Alma Mater Redemptoris will be sung until 2 February or Candlemas. The best known Alma Mater Redemptoris was composed by Palestrina (c. 1525 – February 1594).

Love to everyone

Palestrina: Alma Redemptoris Mater (Julian Podger, Monteverdi Choir) – YouTube
(Julian Podger, Monteverdi Choir)


Madonna Sistine Chapel by Raphaël (detail)

© Micheline Walker
29 December 2016








Christmas at Aleppo


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Working Title/Artist: Stefano Veneziano: Madonna Enthroned (Correr) Department: Islamic Art Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: photography supplied by Islamic department – Filename – 018.tif film and media (jnc) 2_26_07

Stefano Veneziano: Madonna Enthroned (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)
(Stefano Veneziano, Wikipedia.)

Christmas in Aleppo

Aleppo was one of the jewels of the Middle East and it is now rubble. However, although it seems impossible, the few Christians left in Aleppo celebrated Christmas in a bombed church. We cannot resurrect those who have perished, but these courageous Syrians gave life to ruins. They celebrated the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.



Unconditional Love

Human institutions are abominably fallible, but would that people remembered that Jesus of Nazareth taught unconditional love. Theologians I have spoken with assure me that love unconditional was Jesus’ only teaching. Yet, an ignorant and cruel world crucified him as it crucified young Armenian women and destroyed Aleppo. However, Aleppo will rise again, like the phœnix.

Although many Christians born in Asia Minor have been killed, some fled their native land several years ago. There is, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, a Syriac Orthodox Church. It is named St. Ephrem’s Syriac Orthodox Church, but it is changing its name to St. Ephrem’s Syrian Church. You may remember that Céline Dion‘s deceased husband, René Angélil, was born to a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother, and raised in Montreal. Members of his family attended the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Céline married René at Notre-Dame Basilica, in Montreal, but there was a second wedding ceremony. (See René Angélil, Wikipedia.)

When I prepared my posts on the Armenian genocide and my Christmas post, I realized that there had been many Christians in the Near East and Middle East. Saint Nicholas was the bishop of Myra, in Anatolia. He saved people who were about to be beheaded. (See Saint Nicholas, Wikipedia.) We have long beheaded people and the practice has intensified in the Middle East. Before the rise of Islamism, beginning in c. 1980, women in the Middle East were not wrapped in clothes and hidden behind a veil. It seems we are returning to the past. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is not a descendant of the last Sultan, Mehmed VI, as though he were. Strange things are happening everywhere, especially in the United States.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was not as fine as Christmas Day. I remembered my home and work in Antigonish. Why did a woman, a case manager at an Insurance Company, let me sell my house, knowing I would have to return? She had me see an Independent Medical Examiner who asked her to tell me not to sell my house or make serious decisions. I was very sick, but he was convinced I would be able to re-enter the classroom. But my doctor’s note was not taken seriously so I was not replaced. After a very short rest, I returned to work so my students would have a teacher. She thought I was an imaginary invalid. Not relaying her IME’s message was malice on her part, unadulterated malice.

I suffer from ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), better known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which it isn’t. It hasn’t taken away my intelligence nor has it dimmed all the knowledge I acquired. But, once I had sold my house, my university did not want me to re-enter the classroom. A friend warned me that returning was dangerous, but it may have been less dangerous than not returning.

The episode that began in 2002 was triggered by exertion. I had to prepare two new courses, including Animals in Literature, during a sabbatical (2000-2001) I was devoting to writing my book on Molière. It was my worst ever episode of ME. I fell ill in February 2002.

Back to Aleppo

At any rate, Christians at Aleppo celebrated Christmas in a bombed church. They  are courageous individuals. The siege of Aleppo was a calamity. One wonders what happened to unconditional love?

That conflict must end. But I have difficulty making sense of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin‘s involvement. They seem to be both friends and foes.


We will be celebrating the New Year as we celebrated Christmas. The same friends will join me. It will be the beginning of a new and, hopefully, better year. There is a fine Pâtisserie liégeoise nearby. I will purchase a cake. I am thankful for these small pleasures.

Love to every one ♥

Natacha Kudritskaya – Rameau – Suite en la Gavotte et six Doubles

170px-saint_nicholasSaint Nicholas, Russian icon from first quarter of the 18th century (Kizhi monastery, Karelia).

© Micheline Walker
28 December 2016

Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas & Santa Claus


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Annonce aux bergers (Announcement to the Shepherds)
Livre d’images de Madame Marie Hainaut, vers 1285-1290.
Paris BnF Naf 16251

I used this beautiful image last year and continue to love it. I like the angel’s little feet and the animals.  It is une nuit étoilée: a starry night.

The Internet has several entries on the Livre d’images de Marie Hainaut.  Facsimiles are also available. One is the work of Alison Stones. It is affordable, but others are more expensive.


“The Announcement to the Shepherds” is classified as a Bestiaire by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) which houses the original Livre d’images. But Le Livre d’images de Madame Marie Hainault is also, and perhaps mainly, a martyrology and it contains a picture of Saint Nicholas given alms.


Saint Nicolas, Livre d’images de Marie Hainault by Maître Henri. XIIIe

Sinterklaas & Santa Claus

  • la Saint Nicolas, le 6 décembre
  • Sinterklaas becomes Santa Claus

Born in today’s Turkey, Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343) is a prominent figure for Christians. He was the Bishop of Myra.

When I was a child growing up in a cold Quebec, my mother kept traditions alive. We celebrated la Saint-Nicolas, food and decorations.

La Saint-Nicolas is celebrated on 6 December. One eats mandarines and drinks hot chocolate. One also eats mannalas (small figures) and schnakalas (escargots). Mandarines and hot chocolate quite satisfied us.

Saint Nicolas came to North America when New York was New Amsterdam. He was called Sinterklaas (Dutch) which became Santa Claus, the English for le père Noël. (See Saint Nicholas, Wikipedia)

Pictures of St Nicolas

  • please follow this link and to see more pictures of Saint Nicholas



Saint Nicolas et les trois enfants tués par le charcutier. Psautier cistercien. XIIIe

« La Légende de Saint Nicolas »

Associated with Saint Nicholas is the legend of Saint Nicholas, the story of three children cut into pieces by a butcher (le charcutier), but resurrected seven years later by Saint Nicolas. It appears the legend originates in Alsace-Lorraine. Benjamin Britten composed a cantata entitled Saint Nicholas.


Ils étaient trois petits enfants     There we three little children
Qui s’en allaient glaner aux champs.     Who were gathering food [gleaning] in the fields.

1. Tant sont allés, tant sont venus     They so went here, they so went there
Que vers le soir se sont perdus.     That come evening, they were lost.
S’en sont allés chez un boucher :     So they went to a butcher:
Boucher, voudrais-tu nous loger ?    Butcher, would you give us lodging? [1]

2. Ils n’étaient pas sitôt entrés     But no sooner did they enter
Que le boucher les a tués,     Then the butcher killed them,
Les a coupés en p’tits morceaux       Cut them up into tiny pieces
Mis au saloir comme un pourceau.     Put them in his salting box, like pork. 

3. Saint Nicolas au bout d’sept ans     Seven years had passed when Saint Nicholas 
Vint à passer auprès du champ,     Happened to go near that field,
Alla frapper chez le boucher :     He went and knocned at the butcher’s:
Boucher, voudrais-tu me loger ?     Butcher, would you give me lodging?

4. Entrez, entrez, Saint Nicolas,     Come in, come in, Saint Nicholas,
Y’a de la place, n’en manque pas.   There’s room, there’s no want of it.
Il n’était pas sitôt entré,    No sooner did he enter,
Qu’il a demandé à souper.    Then he asked for supper

5.  Voulez-vous un morceau d’gâteau ?     Do you want a piece of cake?
Je n’en veux pas, il n’est point beau.    I don’t want any, it isn’t good.
Voulez-vous un morceau de veau ?   Do you want a piece of veal?
Je n’en veux pas, il n’est point beau !    I don’t want any, it doesn’t look nice!

6. Du p’tit salé je veux avoir,    I want something from the saloir,
Qu’il y a sept ans qu’est au saloir.    That has been there for seven years.
Quand le boucher entendit cela,    When the butcher heard that,
Hors de sa porte il s’enfuya.    Out of his door he fled.

7. Petits enfants qui dormez là,    Little children who sleep there,
Je suis le grand saint Nicolas.    I am the great Saint Nicholas.
Sur le saloir posa trois doigts,    On the saltoir he put three fingers,
Les p’tits soldats n’entendaient pas.    The little sodiers couldn’t hear. 

8. Le premier dit: « J’ai bien dormi ! »    The first [child] said: “I slept well!’
Le second dit: « Et moi aussi ! »     The second said: “Me too!”
Et le troisième, le plus petitt :    And the third answered:
« Je croyais être en paradis ! »   “I thought I was in paradise!”

(Except for the last stanza, I omitted quotation marks.)

« Ils étaient trois petits enfants. » is believed to date back to the 16th century but the legend is older. There are several versions of the song. Mine is based on the recording and it is translated accordingly.

One version is by Gérard de Nerval, a celebrated 19th-century French poet, essayist and translator. Nerval is a tragic figure. He suffered two mental breakdowns and committed suicide.

[1] I found a version of La Légende de Saint Nicolas [click], with a translation and a recording. It contains familiar lines: Saint Nicolas tells the butcher not to flee but to repent as Good will forgive him. The words salting-tub and salter are used. I borrowed the better: “give us/me lodging.”

In Saint Nicolas festivities (he visits schools, etc.), the butcher is called Père Fouettard [click].


l wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. 

saint_25© Micheline Walker
25 December 2016

The Arctic: Paul Nicklen


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Photo by Paul Nicklen

Paul Nicklen on the Arctic

Following the publication of my last post, I received information from Paul Nicklen, a scientist and a photographer for Sea Legacy and National Geographic magazine. The document Mr Nicklen sent me was on official White House stationary and, I suspect, many individuals were sent a copy. It was signed in the following manner.

Paul Nicklen
Wildlife Photojournalist
Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, Canada.

The document seemed private, which may no longer be the case.

The link below took me to Mr Nicklen’s fascinating but alarming account of the Arctic and the word “yesterday” was the day before yesterday, probably 20 December 2016. The following is a link to the document, but the document inserted itself at the bottom of my post automatically:

Yesterday, President Obama designated vast portions of the United States’ Arctic Ocean as indefinitely off limits for future oil and gas leasing.


I am not a scientist. Therefore I cannot speak personally and accurately about the effects of global warming in the Arctic. I have to rely on the testimonial of experts. All I know is that the Arctic is very rich, but I have now read that:

“The danger of an oil spill would deliver a fatal blow to this pristine and critically important ecosystem.”

Mr Nicklen wrote:

“As a scientist, what I know about the Arctic is terrifying. Currently, it’s warming twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet. As a photographer, I can observe and document these effects first-hand: receding glaciers, struggling wildlife populations, and cities impacted by rising sea levels.

And as the landscape changes, driven by climate change, I am watching the Arctic region become increasingly vulnerable. In particular, we should see the rapid disappearance of sea ice here for what it is: a sign of imminent and catastrophic change. The danger of an oil spill would deliver a fatal blow to this pristine and critically important ecosystem.”

But — with the leadership of President Obama — we’ve taken a step forward.”

I gather that, given the above, Mr Putin cannot come in and drill. The Arctic may be very rich, but it is “off limits” for excellent reasons. We cannot kill the Arctic because we would lose what it has to give. There would be no remedy. In other words, it’s a “Poule aux œufs d’or” (Hen with the Golden Eggs) narrative. (See RELATED ARTICLES.)


  • good and bad
  • education, an example
  • healthcare
  • global warming

The Trump presidency will affect Americans in many ways, but, first and foremost, we must expect privatization. In this regard, citizens of the United States must act. In certain areas, privatization will not be harmful to citizens, but in others, it could wreak havoc.

For instance, limits must be put on the privatization of education. An education cannot be the privilege of the rich. A good education is an extraordinary tool in that it gives everyone more freedom. For instance, it allows informed voting, which was needed on 8 November 2016. The 2016 American Election was so flawed we can call it a disgrace!

However, everything has to be put into perspective and we must then go from plan A to plan B.

Healthcare, for instance, is a “right.” Taxes buy protection and safety. They also buy a good education or job-training,  adequate housing and, as we advance, they may also guarantee a universal minimum income.

The well-to-do can also buy safe and effective contraceptives, a vasectomy, tubal ligation, a hysterectomy and an abortion when it constitutes a medical imperative, which is why the Ohio “Heartbeat” Bill is a slap in the face for women belonging the middle-class and poor women. It is the beginning of serious cuts in health-care legislation and must not be voted into law. A five-year old is too young to carry a child. (See Lina Medina, Wikipedia.)

However, if Insurance Companies have a monopoly on healthcare, the United States will be stepping back to an era where cancer was considered a pre-existing condition and the sick were left to die in pain. An insurance company’s first goal is a profit. They are in business. The same is true of pharmaceutical companies.

Mr Trump has stated that he does not “believe in” global warming. Well, global warming is not a matter of faith (I believe in); it is a matter of fact. If the United States does not protect the environment, the world will not survive. This would be the ultimate genocide.

Canada and the United States: an Agreement

On 10 March 2016, Canada signed an agreement with the United States concerning the Arctic and the environment:



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama hold a joint press conference in Washington, D. C.


As I surfed the Internet yesterday, I saw a comment that caught my attention. Mr Trump likes Russian President Vladimir Putin because he is a good “leader.” What does Mr Trump mean? Mr Trump would have liked to silence the press, a freedom the press will not abandon. Mr Trump may also intimidate a few leaders, but all he does will be screened by the press.  Freedom of speech will never have been so free and focused. Moreover, it will still be the government of the people by the people.

Mr Trudeau fils should perhaps remember his father Pierre Trudeau‘s words:

“Living next to you [the US] is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

  • « Être votre voisin, c’est comme dormir avec un éléphant; quelque douce et placide que soit la bête, on subit chacun de ses mouvements et de ses grognements. »
  • Addressing the Press Club in Washington, D.C. (25 March 1969)

The Latest in Canada

Canada freezes arctic drilling.


Love to everyone


Sources and Resources



A Seal by Paul Nicklen

© Micheline Walker
22 December 2016

View at Medium.com


America: Putin’s & Trump’s


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The election of Donald Trump into the presidency of the United States stood to elevate Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, it has been determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cyber attack that increased Mr Trump’s chance of winning the American election. In my opinion, we may never know the precise result of the 2016 election. Russia should not have interfered in the American election.

After meddling was confirmed, I saw a photograph of US President Obama revealing considerable sadness. However, in his final conference of the year, the outgoing President stated that “he would not weigh in on whether Russian hacking actually swayed the election.” “Weighing in” may not be judicious. However, the President promised “methodical” retaliation.





US President Barack Obama

Putin’s United States

  • national
  • international
  • supranational

News of the hacking were very disturbing. No nation should interfere in an election taking place in another country. It is a major assault on democracy. There is, of course, an internationally community and supranational legislation. The United Nations is a supranational community and would that every country respected its Declaration of Human Rights. We are also answerable to an international court. But it is for the citizens of the United States to choose their president, without interference from Russia or any other country.

Mr Putin should not have meddled in the American election and Mr Trump cannot say that the “end justified the means.” The wording is Machiavellian, but interfering in an American election, the means, is undemocratic. Mr Trump has stated that he would not accept defeat, but United States residents elect their various representatives. The Electoral College met yesterday, 19 December 2016. Their decision is that Mr Trump will remain President-elect of the United States. Therefore, it may be best to look upon the entire kerfuffle, the campaign, the election and the meddling, with some detachment.

Although Mr Putin meddled in the American election, my neighbours to the south will still buy their groceries where they usually do. Daily life will not change. However,  Republicans are not pleased. President-elect Donald J. Trump may be given less elbow room by fellow Republicans.

Mr Trump plans to visit with Mr Putin after his inauguration. As expected The New Yorker‘s satirist, Andy Borowitz, has announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin would sing and Mr. Trump’s inauguration. I wonder if Mr Borowitz knowns that in French chantage (le, noun) means blackmail and faire chanter means to blackmail. The Fox makes the Crow drop the cheese by telling him that he is a good singer and that he would like to hear him sing. The Crow (le corbeau) sings and Reynard catches the cheese. (See RELATED ARTICLES.)


The United States under Trump

  • self-interest
  • the Arctic
  • global warming

The Arctic

Mr Putin will not change the United States. However, Americans should remember that Vladimir Putin announced that the Canadian Arctic belonged to Russia. Mr Putin may also attempt to claim Alaska. Mr Putin interfered, but did so out of self-interest. He may have viewed Mr Trump as a lesser opponent than Mrs Clinton. Americans should make sure Russia does not start drilling in Alaska. If Mr Trump builds walls, the border he should protect is the American Arctic.

Global Warming

President-elect Donald J. Trump does not “believe in” global warming. Global warming is a fact. No American President has the right to kill the planet.


Mr Trump’s election does not bode well. The President-elect was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, whose members stand in the way of stricter gun-control, and by the Ku Klux Klan, who are white supremacists and nativist. Shame on him! It will be a white United States.

Problematical Areas

  • Social programmes
  • The Middle East

My main concern is the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Americans pay their taxes and should be protected.

As for the Middle East, rumour has it that Mr Trump will join Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Putin in their attempt to crush Daesh (Isil). What about the Syrian Civil War? Eleven million Syrians—Muslims, mostly but also Christians, have had to flee Syria not only because of Isil, or terrorism, but also because of President Bashar al-Assad’s autocratic régime. President Assad’s forces have killed thousands of Syrians and have resorted to the use of chemical weapons.

With all due respect to the Electoral College, Mr Trump is unfit to deal with the conflict in the Middle East.


It all began with the Migrant Crisis. The result of the British referendum, Brexit, which took place on 23 June 2016, inaugurated a wave of nativism. It weakened the European Union. Nativism then swept across several countries, including the United States. Mr Trump’s promise to prevent Muslims from entering the United States is nativistic and populist. The President-elect’s decision to build a wall separating the United States is also nativistic and populist. In short, the American election was a Russian-assisted, populist, and undemocratic Republican victory.


I expect to post one or two articles before Christmas, but would like to wish you a very merry Christmas at this time.

Love to everyone


A Christmas Special with Luciano Pavarotti (1978)
at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Montréal, joined by a boys choir, Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, and an adult choir, Les Disciples de Massenet
conductor: Franz-Paul Decker



© Micheline Walker
20 December 2016